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theaetetus   


snub-nosedness has left an impression on my mind different from the
snub-nosedness of all others whom I have ever seen, and until your
other peculiarities have a like distinctness; and so when I meet you
tomorrow the right opinion will be re-called?
Theaet. Most true.
Soc. Then right opinion implies the perception of differences?
Theaet. Clearly.
Soc. What, then, shall we say of adding reason or explanation to
right opinion? If the meaning is, that we should form an opinion of
the way in which something differs from another thing, the proposal is
ridiculous.
Theaet. How so?
Soc. We are supposed to acquire a right opinion of the differences
which distinguish one thing from another when we have already a
right opinion of them, and so we go round and round:-the revolution of
the scytal, or pestle, or any other rotatory machine, in the same
circles, is as nothing compared with such a requirement; and we may be
truly described as the blind directing the blind; for to add those
things which we already have, in order that we may learn what we
already think, is like a soul utterly benighted.
Theaet. Tell me; what were you going to say just now, when you asked
the question?
Soc. If, my boy, the argument, in speaking of adding the definition,
had used the word to "know," and not merely "have an opinion" of the
difference, this which is the most promising of all the definitions of
knowledge would have come to a pretty end, for to know is surely to
acquire knowledge.
Theaet. True.
Soc. And so, when the question is asked, What is knowledge? this
fair argument will answer "Right opinion with knowledge,"-knowledge,
that is, of difference, for this, as the said argument maintains, is
adding the definition.
Theaet. That seems to be true.
Soc. But how utterly foolish, when we are asking what is
knowledge, that the reply should only be, right opinion with knowledge
of difference or of anything! And so, Theaetetus, knowledge is neither
sensation nor true opinion, nor yet definition and explanation
accompanying and added to true opinion?
Theaet. I suppose not.
Soc. And are you still in labour and travail, my dear friend, or
have you brought all that you have to say about knowledge to the
birth?
Theaet. I am sure, Socrates, that you have elicited from me a good
deal more than ever was in me.
Soc. And does not my art show that you have brought forth wind,
and that the offspring of your brain are not worth bringing up?
Theaet. Very true.
Soc. But if, Theaetetus, you should ever conceive afresh, you will
be all the better for the present investigation, and if not, you
will be soberer and humbler and gentler to other men, and will be
too modest to fancy that you know what you do not know. These are
the limits of my art; I can no further go, nor do I know aught of
the things which great and famous men know or have known in this or
former ages. The office of a midwife I, like my mother, have
received from God; she delivered women, I deliver men; but they must
be young and noble and fair.
And now I have to go to the porch of the King Archon, where I am
to meet Meletus and his indictment. To-morrow morning, Theodorus, I
shall hope to see you again at this place.
-THE END-

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