Welcome
   Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Authors
Works by Plato
Pages of theaetetus



Previous | Next
                  

theaetetus   


Soc. Capital; and what followed?
Theaet. The lines, or sides, which have for their squares the
equilateral plane numbers, were called by us lengths or magnitudes;
and the lines which are the roots of (or whose squares are equal to)
the oblong numbers, were called powers or roots; the reason of this
latter name being, that they are commensurable with the former
[i.e., with the so-called lengths or magnitudes] not in linear
measurement, but in the value of the superficial content of their
squares; and the same about solids.
Soc. Excellent, my boys; I think that you fully justify the
praises of Theodorus, and that he will not be found guilty of false
witness.
Theaet. But I am unable, Socrates, to give you a similar answer
about knowledge, which is what you appear to want; and therefore
Theodorus is a deceiver after all.
Soc. Well, but if some one were to praise you for running, and to
say that he never met your equal among boys, and afterwards you were
beaten in a race by a grown-up man, who was a great runner-would the
praise be any the less true?
Theaet. Certainly not.
Soc. And is the discovery of the nature of knowledge so small a
matter, as just now said? Is it not one which would task the powers of
men perfect in every way?
Theaet. By heaven, they should be the top of all perfection!
Soc. Well, then, be of good cheer; do not say that Theodorus was
mistaken about you, but do your best to ascertain the true nature of
knowledge, as well as of other things.
Theaet. I am eager enough, Socrates, if that would bring to light
the truth.
Soc. Come, you made a good beginning just now; let your own answer
about roots be your model, and as you comprehended them all in one
class, try and bring the many sorts of knowledge under one definition.
Theaet. I can assure you, Socrates, that I have tried very often,
when the report of questions asked by you was brought to me; but I can
neither persuade myself that I have a satisfactory answer to give, nor
hear of any one who answers as you would have him; and I cannot
shake off a feeling of anxiety.
Soc. These are the pangs of labour, my dear Theaetetus; you have
something within you which you are bringing to the birth.
Theaet. I do not know, Socrates; I only say what I feel.
Soc. And have you never heard, simpleton, that I am the son of a
midwife, brave and burly, whose name was Phaenarete?
Theaet. Yes, I have.
Soc. And that I myself practise midwifery?
Theaet. No, never.
Soc. Let me tell you that I do though, my friend: but you must not
reveal the secret, as the world in general have not found me out;
and therefore they only say of me, that I am the strangest of
mortals and drive men to their wits' end. Did you ever hear that too?
Theaet. Yes.
Soc. Shall I tell you the reason?
Theaet. By all means.
Soc. Bear in mind the whole business of the mid-wives, and then
you will see my meaning better:-No woman, as you are probably aware,
who is still able to conceive and bear, attends other women, but
only those who are past bearing.
Theaet. Yes; I know.
Soc. The reason of this is said to be that Artemis-the goddess of
childbirth-is not a mother, and she honours those who are like
herself; but she could not allow the barren to be mid-wives, because
human nature cannot know the mystery of an art without experience; and
therefore she assigned this office to those who are too old to bear.
Theaet. I dare say.
Soc. And I dare say too, or rather I am absolutely certain, that the

Previous | Next
Site Search