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phaedo   


knowledge before birth?

That is true.

But if, after having acquired, we have not forgotten that which we

acquired, then we must always have been born with knowledge, and shall

always continue to know as long as life lasts-for knowing is the

acquiring and retaining knowledge and not forgetting. Is not

forgetting, Simmias, just the losing of knowledge?

Quite true, Socrates.

But if the knowledge which we acquired before birth was lost by us

at birth, and afterwards by the use of the senses we recovered that

which we previously knew, will not that which we call learning be a

process of recovering our knowledge, and may not this be rightly

termed recollection by us?

Very true.

For this is clear, that when we perceived something, either by the

help of sight or hearing, or some other sense, there was no difficulty

in receiving from this a conception of some other thing like or unlike

which had been forgotten and which was associated with this; and

therefore, as I was saying, one of two alternatives follows: either we

had this knowledge at birth, and continued to know through life; or,

after birth, those who are said to learn only remember, and learning

is recollection only.

Yes, that is quite true, Socrates.

And which alternative, Simmias, do you prefer? Had we the

knowledge at our birth, or did we remember afterwards the things which

we knew previously to our birth?

I cannot decide at the moment.

At any rate you can decide whether he who has knowledge ought or

ought not to be able to give a reason for what he knows.

Certainly, he ought.

But do you think that every man is able to give a reason about these

very matters of which we are speaking?

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