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phaedo   


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

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