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theaetetus   


Theaet. True.
Soc. In the third case, not knowing and not perceiving either of
you, I cannot think that one of you whom I do not know is the other
whom I do not know. I need not again go over the catalogue of excluded
cases, in which I cannot form a false opinion about you and Theodorus,
either when I know both or when I am in ignorance of both, or when I
know one and not the other. And the same of perceiving: do you
understand me?
Theaet. I do.
Soc. The only possibility of erroneous opinion is, when knowing
you and Theodorus, and having on the waxen block the impression of
both of you given as by a seal, but seeing you imperfectly and at a
distance, I try to assign the right impression of memory to the
right visual impression, and to fit this into its own print: if I
succeed, recognition will take place; but if I fad and transpose them,
putting the foot into the wrong shoe-that is to say, putting the
vision of either of you on to the wrong impression, or if my mind,
like the sight in a mirror, which is transferred from right to left,
err by reason of some similar affection, then "heterodoxy" and false
opinion ensues.
Theaet. Yes, Socrates, you have described the nature of opinion with
wonderful exactness.
Soc. Or again, when I know both of you, and perceive as well as know
one of you, but not the other, and my knowledge of him does not accord
with perception-that was the case put by me just now which you did not
understand
Theaet. No, I did not.
Soc. I meant to say, that when a person knows and perceives one of
you, his knowledge coincides with his perception, he will never
think him to be some other person, whom he knows and perceives, and
the knowledge of whom coincides with his perception-for that also
was a case supposed.
Theaet. True.
Soc. But there was an omission of the further case, in which, as
we now say, false opinion may arise, when knowing both, and seeing, or
having some other sensible perception of both, I fail in holding the
seal over against the corresponding sensation; like a bad archer, I
miss and fall wide of the mark-and this is called falsehood.
Theaet. Yes; it is rightly so called.
Soc. When, therefore, perception is present to one of the seals or
impressions but not to the other, and the mind fits the seal of the
absent perception on the one which is present, in any case of this
sort the mind is deceived; in a word, if our view is sound, there
can be no error or deception about things which a man does not know
and has never perceived, but only in things which are known and
perceived; in these alone opinion turns and twists about, and
becomes alternately true and false;-true when the seals and
impressions of sense meet straight and opposite-false when they go
awry and crooked.
Theaet. And is not that, Socrates, nobly said?
Soc. Nobly! yes; but wait a little and hear the explanation, and
then you will say so with more reason; for to think truly is noble and
to be deceived is base.
Theaet. Undoubtedly.
Soc. And the origin of truth and error is as follows:-When the wax
in the soul of any one is deep and abundant, and smooth and
perfectly tempered, then the impressions which pass through the senses
and sink into the heart of the soul, as Homer says in a parable,
meaning to indicate the likeness of the soul to wax (Kerh Kerhos);
these, I say, being pure and clear, and having a sufficient depth of
wax, are also lasting, and minds, such as these, easily learn and
easily retain, and are not liable to confusion, but have true
thoughts, for they have plenty of room, and having clear impressions
of things, as we term them, quickly distribute them into their

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