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phaedo   


misanthropists or haters of men, there are also misologists or

haters of ideas, and both spring from the same cause, which is

ignorance of the world. Misanthropy arises from the too great

confidence of inexperience; you trust a man and think him altogether

true and good and faithful, and then in a little while he turns out to

be false and knavish; and then another and another, and when this

has happened several times to a man, especially within the circle of

his most trusted friends, as he deems them, and he has often quarreled

with them, he at last hates all men, and believes that no one has

any good in him at all. I dare say that you must have observed this.

Yes, I said.

And is not this discreditable? The reason is that a man, having to

deal with other men, has no knowledge of them; for if he had knowledge

he would have known the true state of the case, that few are the

good and few the evil, and that the great majority are in the interval

between them.

How do you mean? I said.

I mean, he replied, as you might say of the very large and very

small, that nothing is more uncommon than a very large or a very small

man; and this applies generally to all extremes, whether of great

and small, or swift and slow, or fair and foul, or black and white:

and whether the instances you select be men or dogs or anything

else, few are the extremes, but many are in the mean between them. Did

you never observe this?

Yes, I said, I have.

And do you not imagine, he said, that if there were a competition of

evil, the first in evil would be found to be very few?

Yes, that is very likely, I said.

Yes, that is very likely, he replied; not that in this respect

arguments are like men-there I was led on by you to say more than I

had intended; but the point of comparison was that when a simple man

who has no skill in dialectics believes an argument to be true which

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