Just as that which is greater is of a nature to be greater than
Which is less, if the other is conceived to be greater?
To be sure.
And if we could find something which is at once greater than itself,
and greater than other great things, but not greater than those things
in comparison of which the others are greater, then that thing would
have the property of being greater and also less than itself?
That, Socrates, he said, is the inevitable inference.
Or if there be a double which is double of itself and of other
doubles, these will be halves; for the double is relative to the half?
That is true.
And that which is greater than itself will also be less, and that
which is heavier will also be lighter, and that which is older will
also be younger: and the same of other things; that which has a nature
relative to self will retain also the nature of its object: I mean to
say, for example, that hearing is, as we say, of sound or voice. Is
Then if hearing hears itself, it must hear a voice; for there is no
other way of hearing.
And sight also, my excellent friend, if it sees itself must see a
colour, for sight cannot see that which has no colour.
Do you remark, Critias, that in several of the examples which have
been recited the notion of a relation to self is altogether
inadmissible, and in other cases hardly credible-inadmissible, for
example, in the case of magnitudes, numbers, and the like?
But in the case of hearing and sight, or in the power of self-motion,
and the power of heat to burn, this relation to self will be regarded
as incredible by some, but perhaps not by others. And some great man,
my friend, is wanted, who will satisfactorily determine for us,
whether there is nothing which has an inherent property of relation to
self, or some things only and not others; and whether in this class of
self-related things, if there be such a class, that science which is
called wisdom or temperance is included. I altogether distrust my own
power of determining these matters: I am not certain whether there is
such a science of science at all; and even if there be, I should not
acknowledge this to be wisdom or temperance, until I can also see
whether such a science would or would not do us any good; for I have
an impression that temperance is a benefit and a good. And therefore,
O son of Callaeschrus, as you maintain that temperance or wisdom is a
science of science, and also of the absence of science, I will request
you to show in the first place, as I was saying before, the
possibility, and in the second place, the advantage, of such a
science; and then perhaps you may satisfy me that you are right in
your view of temperance.
Critias heard me say this, and saw that I was in a difficulty; and as
one person when another yawns in his presence catches the infection of
yawning from him, so did he seem to be driven into a difficulty by my
difficulty. But as he had a reputation to maintain, he was ashamed to
admit before the company that he could not answer my challenge or
determine the question at issue; and he made an unintelligible attempt
to hide his perplexity. In order that the argument might proceed, I
said to him, Well then Critias, if you like, let us assume that there
is this science of science; whether the assumption is right or wrong
may hereafter be investigated. Admitting the existence of it, will you
tell me how such a science enables us to distinguish what we know or
do not know, which, as we were saying, is self-knowledge or wisdom: so
we were saying?
Yes, Socrates, he said; and that I think is certainly true: for he who