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[525c] to enter upon that study of calculation and take hold of it, not as amateurs, but to follow it up until they attain to the contemplation of the nature of number,1 by pure thought, not for the purpose of buying and selling,2 as if they were preparing to be merchants or hucksters, but for the uses of war and for facilitating the conversion of the soul itself from the world of generation to essence and truth.” “Excellently said,” he replied. “And, further,” I said, “it occurs to me,3 now that the study of reckoning has been mentioned,

1 It is not true as Adam says that “the nature of numbers cannot be fully seen except in their connection with the Good.” Plato never says that and never really meant it, though he might possibly have affirmed it on a challenge. Numbers are typical abstractions and educate the mind for the apprehension of abstractions if studied in their nature, in themselves, and not in the concrete form of five apples. There is no common sense nor natural connection between numbers and the good, except the point made in the Timaeus 53 B, and which is not relevant here, that God used numbers and forms to make a cosmos out of a chaos.

2 Instead of remarking on Plato's scorn for the realities of experience we should note that he is marking the distinctive quality of the mind of the Greeks in contrast with the Egyptians and orientals from whom they learned and the Romans whom they taught. Cf. 525 Dκαπηλεύειν, and Horace, Ars Poetica 323-332, Cic.Tusc. i. 2. 5. Per contraXen. Mem. iv. 7, and Libby, Introduction to History of Science, p. 49: “In this the writer did not aim at the mental discipline of the students, but sought to confine himself to what is easiest and most useful in calculation, ‘such as men constantly require in cases of inheritance, legacies, partition, law-suits, and trade, and in all their dealings with one another, or where the measuring of lands, the digging of canals, geometrical computation, and other objects of various sorts and kinds are concerned.’”

3 Cf. on 521 D, p. 147, note e.

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