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While Socrates was speaking, Pythodorus thought that Parmenides

and Zeno were not altogether pleased at the successive steps of the

argument; but still they gave the closest attention and often looked

at one another, and smiled as if in admiration of him. When he had

finished, Parmenides expressed their feelings in the following words:-

Socrates, he said, I admire the bent of your mind towards

philosophy; tell me now, was this your own distinction between ideas

in themselves and the things which partake of them? and do you think

that there is an idea of likeness apart from the likeness which we

possess, and of the one and many, and of the other things which Zeno


I think that there are such ideas, said Socrates.

Parmenides proceeded: And would you also make absolute ideas of

the just and the beautiful and the good, and of all that class?

Yes, he said, I should.

And would you make an idea of man apart from us and from all other

human creatures, or of fire and water?

I am often undecided, Parmenides, as to whether I ought to include

them or not.

And would you feel equally undecided, Socrates, about things of

which the mention may provoke a smile?-I mean such things as hair,

mud, dirt, or anything else which is vile and paltry; would you

suppose that each of these has an idea distinct from the actual

objects with which we come into contact, or not?

Certainly not, said Socrates; visible things like these are such

as they appear to us, and I am afraid that there would be an absurdity

in assuming any idea of them, although I sometimes get disturbed,

and begin to think that there is nothing without an idea; but then

again, when I have taken up this position, I run away, because I am

afraid that I may fall into a bottomless pit of nonsense, and

perish; and so I return to the ideas of which I was just now speaking,

and occupy myself with them.

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