has this science or knowledge which knows itself will become like the
knowledge which he has, in the same way that he who has swiftness will
be swift, and he who has beauty will be beautiful, and he who has
knowledge will know. In the same way he who has that knowledge which
is self-knowing, will know himself.
I do not doubt, I said, that a man will know himself, when he
possesses that which has self-knowledge: but what necessity is there
that, having this, he should know what he knows and what he does not
Because, Socrates, they are the same.
Very likely, I said; but I remain as stupid as ever; for still I fail
to comprehend how this knowing what you know and do not know is the
same as the knowledge of self.
What do you mean? he said.
This is what I mean, I replied: I will admit that there is a science
of science;-can this do more than determine that of two things one is
and the other is not science or knowledge?
No, just that.
But is knowledge or want of knowledge of health the same as knowledge
or want of knowledge of justice?
The one is medicine, and the other is politics; whereas that of which
we are speaking is knowledge pure and simple.
And if a man knows only, and has only knowledge of knowledge, and has
no further knowledge of health and justice, the probability is that he
will only know that he knows something, and has a certain knowledge,
whether concerning himself or other men.
Then how will this knowledge or science teach him to know what he
knows? Say that he knows health;-not wisdom or temperance, but the art
of medicine has taught it to him; and he has learned harmony from the
art of music, and building from the art of building, neither, from
wisdom or temperance: and the same of other things.
That is evident.
How will wisdom, regarded only as a knowledge of knowledge or science
of science, ever teach him that he knows health, or that he knows
It is impossible.
Then he who is ignorant of these things will only know that he knows,
but not what he knows?
Then wisdom or being wise appears to be not the knowledge of the
things which we do or do not know, but only the knowledge that we know
or do not know?
That is the inference.
Then he who has this knowledge will not be able to examine whether a
pretender knows or does not know that which he says that he knows: he
will only know that he has a knowledge of some kind; but wisdom will
not show him of what the knowledge is?
Neither will he be able to distinguish the pretender in medicine from
the true physician, nor between any other true and false professor of
knowledge. Let us consider the matter in this way: If the wise man or
any other man wants to distinguish the true physician from the false,
how will he proceed? He will not talk to him about medicine; and that,
as we were saying, is the only thing which the physician understands.
And, on the other hand, the physician knows nothing of science, for
this has been assumed to be the province of wisdom.
And further, since medicine is science, we must infer that he does not
know anything of medicine.