And in some cases the name of the idea is not confined to the
idea; but anything else which, not being the idea, exists only in
the form of the idea, may also lay claim to it. I will try to make
this clearer by an example: The odd number is always called by the
name of odd?
But is this the only thing which is called odd? Are there not
other things which have their own name, and yet are called odd,
because, although not the same as oddness, they are never without
oddness?-that is what I mean to ask-whether numbers such as the number
three are not of the class of odd. And there are many other
examples: would you not say, for example, that three may be called
by its proper name, and also be called odd, which is not the same with
three? and this may be said not only of three but also of five, and
every alternate number-each of them without being oddness is odd,
and in the same way two and four, and the whole series of alternate
numbers, has every number even, without being evenness. Do you admit
Yes, he said, how can I deny that?
Then now mark the point at which I am aiming: not only do
essential opposites exclude one another, but also concrete things,
which, although not in themselves opposed, contain opposites; these, I
say, also reject the idea which is opposed to that which is
contained in them, and at the advance of that they either perish or
withdraw. There is the number three for example; will not that
endure annihilation or anything sooner than be converted into an
even number, remaining three?
Very true, said Cebes.
And yet, he said, the number two is certainly not opposed to the
It is not.
Then not only do opposite ideas repel the advance of one another,