republic (books 6 - 10)
And the maker of either of them makes a bed or he makes
a table for our use, in accordance with the idea--that is our
way of speaking in this and similar instances--but no artificer
makes the ideas themselves: how could he?
And there is another artist--I should like to know what you
would say of him.
Who is he?
One who is the maker of all the works of all other workmen.
What an extraordinary man!
Wait a little, and there will be more reason for your saying
so. For this is he who is able to make not only vessels of every
kind, but plants and animals, himself and all other things--
the earth and heaven, and the things which are in heaven or
under the earth; he makes the gods also.
He must be a wizard and no mistake.
Oh! you are incredulous, are you? Do you mean that there
is no such maker or creator, or that in one sense there might
be a maker of all these things, but in another not? Do you see
that there is a way in which you could make them all yourself?
An easy way enough; or rather, there are many ways in
which the feat might be quickly and easily accomplished, none
quicker than that of turning a mirror round and round--you
would soon enough make the sun and the heavens, and the
earth and yourself, and other animals and plants, and all the
other things of which we were just now speaking, in the mirror.
Yes, he said; but they would be appearances only.
Very good, I said, you are coming to the point now. And
the painter, too, is, as I conceive, just such another--a creator
of appearances, is he not?
But then I suppose you will say that what he creates is un-
true. And yet there is a sense in which the painter also creates
Yes, he said, but not a real bed.
And what of the maker of the bed? were you not saying that
he too makes, not the idea which, according to our view, is the
essence of the bed, but only a particular bed?
Yes, I did.
Then if he does not make that which exists he cannot make
true existence, but only some semblance of existence; and if
anyone were to say that the work of the maker of the bed, or
of any other workman, has real existence, he could hardly be