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Yes, Socrates, said Parmenides; that is because you are still young;

the time will come, if I am not mistaken, when philosophy will have

a firmer grasp of you, and then you will not despise even the

meanest things; at your age, you are too much disposed to regard

opinions of men. But I should like to know whether you mean that there

are certain ideas of which all other things partake, and from which

they derive their names; that similars, for example, become similar,

because they partake of similarity; and great things become great,

because they partake of greatness; and that just and beautiful

things become just and beautiful, because they partake of justice

and beauty?

Yes, certainly, said Socrates that is my meaning.

Then each individual partakes either of the whole of the idea or

else of a part of the idea? Can there be any other mode of


There cannot be, he said.

Then do you think that the whole idea is one, and yet, being one, is

in each one of the many?

Why not, Parmenides? said Socrates.

Because one and the same thing will exist as a whole at the same

time in many separate individuals, and will therefore be in a state of

separation from itself.

Nay, but the idea may be like the day which is one and the same in

many places at once, and yet continuous with itself; in this way

each idea may be one; and the same in all at the same time.

I like your way, Socrates, of making one in many places at once. You

mean to say, that if I were to spread out a sail and cover a number of

men, there would be one whole including many-is not that your meaning?

I think so.

And would you say that the whole sail includes each man, or a part

of it only, and different parts different men?

The latter.

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