That is certain.
But are real equals ever unequal? or is the idea of equality ever
That surely was never yet known, Socrates.
Then these (so-called) equals are not the same with the idea of
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?
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?
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?
And has not this been our case in the matter of equals and of
Then we must have known absolute equality previously to the time
when we first saw the material equals, and reflected that all these