But did you ever behold any of them with your eyes?
Or did you ever reach them with any other bodily sense? (and I speak
not of these alone, but of absolute greatness, and health, and
strength, and of the essence or true nature of everything). Has the
reality of them ever been perceived by you through the bodily
organs? or rather, is not the nearest approach to the knowledge of
their several natures made by him who so orders his intellectual
vision as to have the most exact conception of the essence of that
which he considers?
And he attains to the knowledge of them in their highest purity
who goes to each of them with the mind alone, not allowing when in the
act of thought the intrusion or introduction of sight or any other
sense in the company of reason, but with the very light of the mind in
her clearness penetrates into the very fight of truth in each; he
has got rid, as far as he can, of eyes and ears and of the whole body,
which he conceives of only as a disturbing element, hindering the soul
from the acquisition of knowledge when in company with her-is not this
the sort of man who, if ever man did, is likely to attain the
knowledge of existence?
There is admirable truth in that, Socrates, replied Simmias.
And when they consider all this, must not true philosophers make a
reflection, of which they will speak to one another in such words as
these: We have found, they will say, a path of speculation which seems
to bring us and the argument to the conclusion that while we are in
the body, and while the soul is mingled with this mass of evil, our
desire will not be satisfied, and our desire is of the truth. For
the body is a source of endless trouble to us by reason of the mere
requirement of food; and also is liable to diseases which overtake and
impede us in the search after truth: and by filling us so full of