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phaedo   


confused notion of another method, and can never admit this.

Then I heard someone who had a book of Anaxagoras, as he said, out

of which he read that mind was the disposer and cause of all, and I

was quite delighted at the notion of this, which appeared admirable,

and I said to myself: If mind is the disposer, mind will dispose all

for the best, and put each particular in the best place; and I

argued that if anyone desired to find out the cause of the

generation or destruction or existence of anything, he must find out

what state of being or suffering or doing was best for that thing, and

therefore a man had only to consider the best for himself and

others, and then he would also know the worse, for that the same

science comprised both. And I rejoiced to think that I had found in

Anaxagoras a teacher of the causes of existence such as I desired, and

I imagined that he would tell me first whether the earth is flat or

round; and then he would further explain the cause and the necessity

of this, and would teach me the nature of the best and show that

this was best; and if he said that the earth was in the centre, he

would explain that this position was the best, and I should be

satisfied if this were shown to me, and not want any other sort of

cause. And I thought that I would then go and ask him about the sun

and moon and stars, and that he would explain to me their

comparative swiftness, and their returnings and various states, and

how their several affections, active and passive, were all for the

best. For I could not imagine that when he spoke of mind as the

disposer of them, he would give any other account of their being as

they are, except that this was best; and I thought when he had

explained to me in detail the cause of each and the cause of all, he

would go on to explain to me what was best for each and what was

best for all. I had hopes which I would not have sold for much, and

I seized the books and read them as fast as I could in my eagerness to

know the better and the worse.

What hopes I had formed, and how grievously was I disappointed! As I

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