his mind can rest; and so he will utterly destroy the power of
reasoning, as you seem to me to have particularly noted.
Very true, he said.
But, then, what is to become of philosophy? Whither shall we turn,
if the ideas are unknown?
I certainly do not see my way at present.
Yes, said Parmenides; and I think that this arises, Socrates, out of
your attempting to define the beautiful, the just, the good, and the
ideas generally, without sufficient previous training. I noticed
your deficiency, when I heard you talking here with your friend
Aristoteles, the day before yesterday. The impulse that carries you
towards philosophy is assuredly noble and divine; but there is an
art which is called by the vulgar idle talking, and which is of
imagined to be useless; in that you must train and exercise
yourself, now that you are young, or truth will elude your grasp.
And what is the nature of this exercise, Parmenides, which you would
That which you heard Zeno practising; at the same time, I give you
credit for saying to him that you did not care to examine the
perplexity in reference to visible things, or to consider the question
that way; but only in reference to objects of thought, and to what may
be called ideas.
Why, yes, he said, there appears to me to be no difficulty in
showing by this method that visible things are like and unlike and may
Quite true, said Parmenides; but I think that you should go a step
further, and consider not only the consequences which flow from a
given hypothesis, but also the consequences which flow from denying
the hypothesis; and that will be still better training for you.
What do you mean? he said.
I mean, for example, that in the case of this very hypothesis of
Zeno's about the many, you should inquire not only what will be the