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phaedo   


That is certain.

But are real equals ever unequal? or is the idea of equality ever

inequality?

That surely was never yet known, Socrates.

Then these (so-called) equals are not the same with the idea of

equality?

I should say, clearly not, Socrates.

And yet from these equals, although differing from the idea of

equality, you conceived and attained that idea?

Very true, he said.

Which might be like, or might be unlike them?

Yes.

But that makes no difference; whenever from seeing one thing you

conceived another, whether like or unlike, there must surely have been

an act of recollection?

Very true.

But what would you say of equal portions of wood and stone, or other

material equals? and what is the impression produced by them? Are they

equals in the same sense as absolute equality? or do they fall short

of this in a measure?

Yes, he said, in a very great measure, too.

And must we not allow that when I or anyone look at any object,

and perceive that the object aims at being some other thing, but falls

short of, and cannot attain to it-he who makes this observation must

have had previous knowledge of that to which, as he says, the other,

although similar, was inferior?

Certainly.

And has not this been our case in the matter of equals and of

absolute equality?

Precisely.

Then we must have known absolute equality previously to the time

when we first saw the material equals, and reflected that all these

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