apparent equals aim at this absolute equality, but fall short of it?
That is true.
And we recognize also that this absolute equality has only been
known, and can only be known, through the medium of sight or touch, or
of some other sense. And this I would affirm of all such conceptions.
Yes, Socrates, as far as the argument is concerned, one of them is
the same as the other.
And from the senses, then, is derived the knowledge that all
sensible things aim at an idea of equality of which they fall short-is
not that true?
Then before we began to see or hear or perceive in any way, we
must have had a knowledge of absolute equality, or we could not have
referred to that the equals which are derived from the senses-for to
that they all aspire, and of that they fall short?
That, Socrates, is certainly to be inferred from the previous
And did we not see and hear and acquire our other senses as soon
as we were born?
Then we must have acquired the knowledge of the ideal equal at
some time previous to this?
That is to say, before we were born, I suppose?
And if we acquired this knowledge before we were born, and were born
having it, then we also knew before we were born and at the instant of
birth not only equal or the greater or the less, but all other
ideas; for we are not speaking only of equality absolute, but of
beauty, goodness, justice, holiness, and all which we stamp with the
name of essence in the dialectical process, when we ask and answer
questions. Of all this we may certainly affirm that we acquired the