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theaetetus   


Ephesians themselves, who profess to know them, are downright mad, and
you cannot talk with them on the subject. For, in accordance with
their text-books, they are always in motion; but as for dwelling
upon an argument or a question, and quietly asking and answering in
turn, they can no more do so than they can fly; or rather, the
determination of these fellows not to have a particle of rest in
them is more than the utmost powers of negation can express. If you
ask any of them a question, he will produce, as from a quiver, sayings
brief and dark, and shoot them at you; and if you inquire the reason
of what he has said, you will be hit by some other newfangled word,
and will make no way with any of them, nor they with one another;
their great care is, not to allow of any settled principle either in
their arguments or in their minds, conceiving, as I imagine, that
any such principle would be stationary; for they are at war with the
stationary, and do what they can to drive it out everywhere.
Soc. I suppose, Theodorus, that you have only seen them when they
were fighting, and have never stayed with them in time of peace, for
they are no friends of yours; and their peace doctrines are only
communicated by them at leisure, as I imagine, to those disciples of
theirs whom they want to make like themselves.
Theod. Disciples! my good sir, they have none; men of their sort are
not one another's disciples, but they grow up at their own sweet will,
and get their inspiration anywhere, each of them saying of his
neighbour that he knows nothing. Fro these men, then, as I was going
to remark, you will never get a reason, whether with their will or
without their will; we must take the question out of their hands,
and make the analysis ourselves, as if we were doing geometrical
problem.
Soc. Quite right too; but as touching the aforesaid problem, have we
not heard from the ancients, who concealed their wisdom from the
many in poetical figures, that Oceanus and Tethys, the origin of all
things, are streams, and that nothing is at rest? And now the moderns,
in their superior wisdom, have declared the same openly, that the
cobbler too may hear and learn of them, and no longer foolishly
imagine that some things are at rest and others in motion-having
learned that all is motion, he will duly honour his teachers. I had
almost forgotten the opposite doctrine, Theodorus,
Alone Being remains unmoved, which is the name for the all.
This is the language of Parmenides, Melissus, and their followers, who
stoutly maintain that all being is one and self-contained, and has
no place which to move. What shall we do, friend, with all these
people; for, advancing step by step, we have imperceptibly got between
the combatants, and, unless we can protect our retreat, we shall pay
the penalty of our rashness-like the players in the palaestra who
are caught upon the line, and are dragged different ways by the two
parties. Therefore I think that we had better begin by considering
those whom we first accosted, "the river-gods," and, if we find any
truth in them, we will help them to pull us over, and try to get
away from the others. But if the partisans of "the whole" appear to
speak more truly, we will fly off from the party which would move
the immovable, to them. And if I find that neither of them have
anything reasonable to say, we shall be in a ridiculous position,
having so great a conceit of our own poor opinion and rejecting that
of ancient and famous men. O Theodorus, do you think that there is any
use in proceeding when the danger is so great?
Theod. Nay, Socrates, not to examine thoroughly what the two parties
have to say would be quite intolerable.
Soc. Then examine we must, since you, who were so reluctant. to
begin, are so eager to proceed. The nature of motion appears to be the
question with which we begin. What do they mean when they say that all
things are in motion? Is there only one kind of motion, or, as I
rather incline to think, two? should like to have your opinion upon
this point in addition to my own, that I may err, if I must err, in
your company; tell me, then, when a thing changes from one place to

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