he afterwards imagines to be false, whether really false or not, and
then another and another, he has no longer any faith left, and great
disputers, as you know, come to think, at last that they have grown to
be the wisest of mankind; for they alone perceive the utter
unsoundness and instability of all arguments, or, indeed, of all
things, which, like the currents in the Euripus, are going up and down
in never-ceasing ebb and flow.
That is quite true, I said.
Yes, Phaedo, he replied, and very melancholy too, if there be such a
thing as truth or certainty or power of knowing at all, that a man
should have lighted upon some argument or other which at first
seemed true and then turned out to be false, and instead of blaming
himself and his own want of wit, because he is annoyed, should at last
be too glad to transfer the blame from himself to arguments in
general; and forever afterwards should hate and revile them, and
lose the truth and knowledge of existence.
Yes, indeed, I said; that is very melancholy.
Let us, then, in the first place, he said, be careful of admitting
into our souls the notion that there is no truth or health or
soundness in any arguments at all; but let us rather say that there is
as yet no health in us, and that we must quit ourselves like men and
do our best to gain health-you and all other men with a view to the
whole of your future life, and I myself with a view to death. For at
this moment I am sensible that I have not the temper of a philosopher;
like the vulgar, I am only a partisan. For the partisan, when he is
engaged in a dispute, cares nothing about the rights of the
question, but is anxious only to convince his hearers of his own
assertions. And the difference between him and me at the present
moment is only this-that whereas he seeks to convince his hearers that
what he says is true, I am rather seeking to convince myself; to
convince my hearers is a secondary matter with me. And do but see
how much I gain by this. For if what I say is true, then I do well