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theaetetus   


they appear to you?
Theaet. Far from it.
Soc. Or that anything appears the same to you as to another man? Are
you so profoundly convinced of this? Rather would it not be true
that it never appears exactly the same to you, because you are never
exactly the same?
Theaet. The latter.
Soc. And if that with which I compare myself in size, or which I
apprehend by touch, were great or white or hot, it could not become
different by mere contact with another unless it actually changed; nor
again, if the comparing or apprehending subject were great or white or
hot, could this, when unchanged from within become changed by any
approximation or affection of any other thing. The fact is that in our
ordinary way of speaking we allow ourselves to be driven into most
ridiculous and wonderful contradictions, as Protagoras and all who
take his line of argument would remark.
Theaet. How? and of what sort do you mean?
Soc. A little instance will sufficiently explain my meaning: Here
are six dice, which are more by a half when compared with four, and
fewer by a half than twelve-they are more and also fewer. How can
you or any one maintain the contrary?
Theaet. Very true.
Soc. Well, then, suppose that Protagoras or some one asks whether
anything can become greater or more if not by increasing, how would
you answer him, Theaetetus?
Theaet. I should say "No," Socrates, if I were to speak my mind in
reference to this last question, and if I were not afraid of
contradicting my former answer.
Soc. Capital excellent! spoken like an oracle, my boy! And if you
reply "Yes," there will be a case for Euripides; for our tongue will
be unconvinced, but not our mind.
Theaet. Very true.
Soc. The thoroughbred Sophists, who know all that can be known about
the mind, and argue only out of the superfluity of their wits, would
have had a regular sparring-match over this, and would -have knocked
their arguments together finely. But you and I, who have no
professional aims, only desire to see what is the mutual relation of
these principles-whether they are consistent with each or not.
Theaet. Yes, that would be my desire.
Soc. And mine too. But since this is our feeling, and there is
plenty of time, why should we not calmly and patiently review our
own thoughts, and thoroughly examine and see what these appearances in
us really are? If I am not mistaken, they will be described by us as
follows:-first, that nothing can become greater or less, either in
number or magnitude, while remaining equal to itself-you would agree?
Theaet. Yes.
Soc. Secondly, that without addition or subtraction there is no
increase or diminution of anything, but only equality.
Theaet. Quite true.
Soc. Thirdly, that what was not before cannot be afterwards, without
becoming and having become.
Theaet. Yes, truly.
Soc. These three axioms, if I am not mistaken, are fighting with one
another in our minds in the case of the dice, or, again, in such a
case as this-if I were to say that I, who am of a certain height and
taller than you, may within a year, without gaining or losing in
height, be not so tall-not that I should have lost, but that you would
have increased. In such a case, I am afterwards what I once was not,
and yet I have not become; for I could not have become without
becoming, neither could I have become less without losing somewhat
of my height; and I could give you ten thousand examples of similar
contradictions, if we admit them at all. I believe that you follow me,
Theaetetus; for I suspect that you have thought of these questions
before now.

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