Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Works by Plato
Pages of charmides,-or-temperance

Previous | Next


went on pointing out that he had been refuted, at which Critias grew
angry, and appeared, as I thought, inclined to quarrel with him; just
as a poet might quarrel with an actor who spoiled his poems in
repeating them; so he looked hard at him and said--
Do you imagine, Charmides, that the author of this definition of
temperance did not understand the meaning of his own words, because
you do not understand them?
Why, at his age, I said, most excellent Critias, he can hardly be
expected to understand; but you, who are older, and have studied, may
well be assumed to know the meaning of them; and therefore, if you
agree with him, and accept his definition of temperance, I would much
rather argue with you than with him about the truth or falsehood of
the definition.
I entirely agree, said Critias, and accept the definition.
Very good, I said; and now let me repeat my question-Do you admit, as
I was just now saying, that all craftsmen make or do something?
I do.
And do they make or do their own business only, or that of others
They make or do that of others also.
And are they temperate, seeing that they make not for themselves or
their own business only?
Why not? he said.
No objection on my part, I said, but there may be a difficulty on his
who proposes as a definition of temperance, "doing one's own
business," and then says that there is no reason why those who do the
business of others should not be temperate.
Nay, said he; did I ever acknowledge that those who do the business of
others are temperate? I said, those who make, not those who do.
What! I asked; do you mean to say that doing and making are not the
No more, he replied, than making or working are the same; thus much I
have learned from Hesiod, who says that "work is no disgrace." Now do
you imagine that if he had meant by working and doing such things as
you were describing, he would have said that there was no disgrace in
them-for example, in the manufacture of shoes, or in selling pickles,
or sitting for hire in a house of ill-fame? That, Socrates, is not to
be supposed: but I conceive him to have distinguished making from
doing and work; and, while admitting that the making anything might
sometimes become a disgrace, when the employment was not honourable,
to have thought that work was never any disgrace at all. For things
nobly and usefully made he called works; and such makings he called
workings, and doings; and he must be supposed to have called such
things only man's proper business, and what is hurtful, not his
business: and in that sense Hesiod, and any other wise man, may be
reasonably supposed to call him wise who does his own work.
O Critias, I said, no sooner had you opened your mouth, than I pretty
well knew that you would call that which is proper to a man, and that
which is his own, good; and that the markings of the good you would
call doings, for I am no stranger to the endless distinctions which
Prodicus draws about names. Now I have no objection to your giving
names any signification which you please, if you will only tell me
what you mean by them. Please then to begin again, and be a little
plainer. Do you mean that this doing or making, or whatever is the
word which you would use, of good actions, is temperance?
I do, he said.
Then not he who does evil, but he who does good, is temperate?
Yes, he said; and you, friend, would agree.
No matter whether I should or not; just now, not what I think, but
what you are saying, is the point at issue.
Well, he answered; I mean to say, that he who does evil, and not good,
is not temperate; and that he is temperate who does good, and not
evil: for temperance I define in plain words to be the doing of good

Previous | Next
Site Search