live according to knowledge, such for example as the prophet, who, as
I was saying, knows the future. Is it of him you are speaking or of
some one else?
Yes, I mean him, but there are others as well.
Yes, I said, some one who knows the past and present as well as the
future, and is ignorant of nothing. Let us suppose that there is such
a person, and if there is, you will allow that he is the most knowing
of all living men.
Certainly he is.
Yet I should like to know one thing more: which of the different kinds
of knowledge makes him happy? or do all equally make him happy?
Not all equally, he replied.
But which most tends to make him happy? the knowledge of what past,
present, or future thing? May I infer this to be the knowledge of the
game of draughts?
Nonsense about the game of draughts.
Or of computation?
Or of health?
That is nearer the truth, he said.
And that knowledge which is nearest of all, I said, is the knowledge
The knowledge with which he discerns good and evil.
Monster! I said; you have been carrying me round in a circle, and all
this time hiding from me the fact that the life according to knowledge
is not that which makes men act rightly and be happy, not even if
knowledge include all the sciences, but one science only, that of good
and evil. For, let me ask you, Critias, whether, if you take away
this, medicine will not equally give health, and shoemaking equally
produce shoes, and the art of the weaver clothes?-whether the art of
the pilot will not equally save our lives at sea, and the art of the
general in war?
And yet, my dear Critias, none of these things will be well or
beneficially done, if the science of the good be wanting.
But that science is not wisdom or temperance, but a science of human
advantage; not a science of other sciences, or of ignorance, but of
good and evil: and if this be of use, then wisdom or temperance will
not be of use.
And why, he replied, will not wisdom be of use? For, however much we
assume that wisdom is a science of sciences, and has a sway over other
sciences, surely she will have this particular science of the good
under her control, and in this way will benefit us.
And will wisdom give health? I said; is not this rather the effect of
medicine? Or does wisdom do the work any of the other arts, do they
not each of them do their own work? Have we not long ago asseverated
that wisdom is only the knowledge of knowledge and of ignorance, and
of nothing else?
That is obvious.
Then wisdom will not be the producer of health.
The art of health is different.
Nor does wisdom give advantage, my good friend; for that again we have
just now been attributing to another art.
How then can wisdom be advantageous, when giving no advantage?
That, Socrates, is certainly inconceivable.
You see then, Critias, that I was not far wrong in fearing that I
could have no sound notion about wisdom; I was quite right in
depreciating myself; for that which is admitted to be the best of all
things would never have seemed to us useless, if I had been good for
anything at an enquiry. But now I have been utterly defeated, and have