insight? Are not these, my friend, the real advantages which are to be
gained from wisdom? And are not we looking and seeking after something
more than is to be found in her?
That is very likely, he said.
That is very likely, I said; and very likely, too, we have been
enquiring to no purpose; as I am led to infer, because I observe that
if this is wisdom, some strange consequences would follow. Let us, if
you please, assume the possibility of this science of sciences, and
further admit and allow, as was originally suggested, that wisdom is
the knowledge of what we know and do not know. Assuming all this,
still, upon further consideration, I am doubtful, Critias, whether
wisdom, such as this, would do us much good. For we were wrong, I
think, in supposing, as we were saying just now, that such wisdom
ordering the government of house or state would be a great benefit.
How so? he said.
Why, I said, we were far too ready to admit the great benefits which
mankind would obtain from their severally doing the things which they
knew, and committing the things of which they are ignorant to those
who were better acquainted with them.
Were we not right in making that admission?
I think not.
How very strange, Socrates!
By the dog of Egypt, I said, there I agree with you; and I was
thinking as much just now when I said that strange consequences would
follow, and that I was afraid we were on the wrong track; for however
ready we may be to admit that this is wisdom, I certainly cannot make
out what good this sort of thing does to us.
What do you mean? he said; I wish that you could make me understand
what you mean.
I dare say that what I am saying is nonsense, I replied; and yet if a
man has any feeling of what is due to himself, he cannot let the
thought which comes into his mind pass away unheeded and unexamined.
I like that, he said.
Hear, then, I said, my own dream; whether coming through the horn or
the ivory gate, I cannot tell. The dream is this: Let us suppose that
wisdom is such as we are now defining, and that she has absolute sway
over us; then each action will be done according to the arts or
sciences, and no one professing to be a pilot when he is not, or any
physician or general, or any one else pretending to know matters of
which he is ignorant, will deceive or elude us; our health will be
improved; our safety at sea, and also in battle, will be assured; our
coats and shoes, and all other instruments and implements will be
skilfully made, because the workmen will be good and true. Aye, and if
you please, you may suppose that prophecy, which is the knowledge of
the future, will be under the control of wisdom, and that she will
deter deceivers and set up the true prophets in their place as the
revealers of the future. Now I quite agree that mankind, thus
provided, would live and act according to knowledge, for wisdom would
watch and prevent ignorance from intruding on us. But whether by
acting according to knowledge we shall act well and be happy, my dear
Critias,-this is a point which we have not yet been able to determine.
Yet I think, he replied, that if you discard knowledge, you will
hardly find the crown of happiness in anything else.
But of what is this knowledge? I said. Just answer me that small
question. Do you mean a knowledge of shoemaking?
Or of working in brass?
Or in wool, or wood, or anything of that sort?
No, I do not.
Then, I said, we are giving up the doctrine that he who lives
according to knowledge is happy, for these live according to
knowledge, and yet they are not allowed by you to be happy; but I
think that you mean to confine happiness to particular individuals who