[Socrates] And this is the distinction which I draw between
art-loving, practical class and those of whom I am speaking,
and who are
alone worthy of the name of philosophers.
[Glaucon] How do you distinguish them? he said.
[Socrates] The lovers of sounds and sights, I replied, are,
conceive, fond of
fine tones and colours and forms and all the artificial
products that are
made out of them, but their minds are incapable of seeing or
[Glaucon] True, he replied.
[Socrates] Few are they who are able to attain to the sight
[Glaucon] Very true.
[Socrates] And he who, having a sense of beautiful things
has no sense
beauty, or who, if another lead him to a knowledge of that
beauty is unable
to follow - of such a one I ask, Is he awake or in a dream
not the dreamer, sleeping or waking, one who likens dissimilar
puts the copy in the place of the real object?
[Glaucon] I should certainly say that such a one was
[Socrates] But take the case of the other, who recognizes
beauty and is able to distinguish the idea from the objects
participate in the idea, neither putting the objects in the
place of the
idea nor the idea in the place of the objects - is he a
dreamer, or is he
[Glaucon] He is wide awake.
[Socrates] And may we not say that the mind of the one who
knowledge, and that the mind of the other, who opines only,
[Socrates] But suppose that the latter should quarrel with
statement, can we administer any soothing cordial or advice to
revealing to him that there is sad disorder in his wits?
[Glaucon] We must certainly offer him some good advice, he
[Socrates] Come, then, and let us think of something to say
Shall we begin
by assuring him that he is welcome to any knowledge which he
may have, and
that we are rejoiced at his having it? But we should like to
ask him a
question: Does he who has knowledge know something or nothing?
answer for him).
[Glaucon] I answer that he knows something.
[Socrates] Something that is or is not?
[Glaucon] Something that is; for how can that which is not
[Socrates] And are we assured, after looking at the matter
view, that absolute being is or may be absolutely known, but
utterly non-existent is utterly unknown?
[Glaucon] Nothing can be more certain.
[Socrates] Good. But if there be anything which is of such
a nature as
to be and not to be, that will have a place intermediate
between pure being
and the absolute negation of being?
[Glaucon] Yes, between them.
[Socrates] And, as knowledge corresponded to being and
not-being, for that intermediate between being and not-being
there has to
be discovered a corresponding intermediate between ignorance
if there be such?
[Socrates] Do we admit the existence of opinion?
[Socrates] As being the same with knowledge, or another
[Glaucon] Another faculty.
[Socrates] Then opinion and knowledge have to do with
different kinds of
corresponding to this difference of faculties?
[Socrates] And knowledge is relative to being and knows
before I proceed
further I will make a division.
[Glaucon] What division?
[Socrates] I will begin by placing faculties in a class by
powers in us, and in all other things, by which we do as we
do. Sight and
hearing, for example, I should call faculties. Have I clearly
class which I mean?
[Glaucon] Yes, I quite understand.
[Socrates] Then let me tell you my view about them. I do
not see them,
therefore the distinctions of figure, colour, and the like,
which enable me
to discern the differences of some things, do not apply to
speaking of a faculty I think only of its sphere and its
result; and that
which has the same sphere and the same result I call the same
that which has another sphere and another result I call
that be your way of speaking?
[Socrates] And will you be so very good as to answer one
say that knowledge is a faculty, or in what class would you
[Glaucon] Certainly knowledge is a faculty, and the
mightiest of all
[Socrates] And is opinion also a faculty?
[Glaucon] Certainly, he said; for opinion is that with
which we are able
[Socrates] And yet you were acknowledging a little while
knowledge is not
the same as opinion?
[Glaucon] Why, yes, he said: how can any reasonable being
is infallible with that which errs?
[Socrates] An excellent answer, proving, I said, that we
conscious of a
distinction between them.
[Socrates] Then knowledge and opinion having distinct
powers have also
spheres or subject-matters?
[Glaucon] That is certain.
[Socrates] Being is the sphere or subject-matter of
knowledge is to
know the nature of being?
[Socrates] And opinion is to have an opinion?
[Socrates] And do we know what we opine? or is the
same as the subject-matter of knowledge?
[Glaucon] Nay, he replied, that has been already disproven;
faculty implies difference in the sphere or subject-matter,
and if, as we
were saying, opinion and knowledge are distinct faculties,
then the sphere
of knowledge and of opinion cannot be the same.
[Socrates] Then if being is the subject-matter of
else must be
the subject-matter of opinion?
[Glaucon] Yes, something else.
[Socrates] Well, then, is not-being the subject-matter of
opinion? or, rather, how can there be an opinion at all about
Reflect: when a man has an opinion, has he not an opinion
Can he have an opinion which is an opinion about nothing?
[Socrates] He who has an opinion has an opinion about some
[Socrates] And not-being is not one thing, but, properly
[Socrates] Of not-being, ignorance was assumed to be the
correlative; of being, knowledge?
[Glaucon] True, he said.
[Socrates] Then opinion is not concerned either with being
[Glaucon] Not with either.
[Socrates] And can therefore neither be ignorance nor
[Glaucon] That seems to be true.
[Socrates] But is opinion to be sought without and beyond
them, in a
greater clearness than knowledge, or in a greater darkness
[Glaucon] In neither.
[Socrates] Then I suppose that opinion appears to you to be
but lighter than ignorance?
[Glaucon] Both; and in no small degree.
[Socrates] And also to be within and between them?
[Socrates] Then you would infer that opinion is
[Glaucon] No question.
[Socrates] But were we not saying before, that if anything
be of a sort
which is and is not at the same time, that sort of thing would
to lie in the interval between pure being and absolute
not-being; and that
the corresponding faculty is neither knowledge nor ignorance,
but will be
found in the interval between them?
[Socrates] And in that interval there has now been
discovered some thing
[Glaucon] There has.
[Socrates] Then what remains to be discovered is the object
of the nature of being and not-being, and cannot rightly be
pure and simple; this unknown term, when discovered, we may
truly call the
subject of opinion, and assign each to their proper faculty -
to the faculties of the extremes and the mean to the faculty
of the mean.
[Socrates] This being premised, I would ask the gentleman
who is of
there is no absolute or unchangeable idea of beauty - in
whose opinion the
beautiful is the manifold - he, I say, your lover of beautiful
cannot bear to be told that the beautiful is one, and the just
is one, or
that anything is one - to him I would appeal, saying, Will you
be so very
kind, sir, as to tell us whether, of all these beautiful
things, there is
one which will not be found ugly; or of the just, which will
not be found
unjust; or of the holy, which will not also be unholy?
[Glaucon] No, he replied; the beautiful will in some point
of view be
found ugly; and the same is true of the rest.
[Socrates] And may not the many which are doubles be also
is, of one thing, and halves of another?
[Glaucon] Quite true.
[Socrates] And things great and small, heavy and light, as
not be denoted by these any more than by the opposite names?
[Glaucon] True; both these and the opposite names will
always attach to
[Socrates] And can any one of those many things which are
names be said to be this rather than not to be this?
[Glaucon] He replied: They are like the punning riddles
which are asked
or the children's puzzle about the eunuch aiming at the bat,
with what he
hit him, as they say in the puzzle, and upon what the bat was
individual objects of which I am speaking are also a riddle,
and have a
double sense: nor can you fix them in your mind, either as
not-being, or both, or neither.
[Socrates] Then what will you do with them? I said. Can
they have a
than between being and not-being? For they are clearly not in
darkness or negation than not-being, or more full of light and
[Glaucon] That is quite true, he said.
[Socrates] Thus then we seem to have discovered that the
multitude entertain about the beautiful and about all other
tossing about in some region which is half way between pure
being and pure
[Glaucon] We have.
[Socrates] Yes; and we had before agreed that anything of
which we might
find was to be described as matter of opinion, and not as
knowledge; being the intermediate flux which is caught and
detained by the
[Glaucon] Quite true.
[Socrates] Then those who see the many beautiful, and who
beauty, nor can follow any guide who points the way thither;
who see the
many just, and not absolute justice, and the like - such
persons may be
to have opinion but not knowledge?
[Glaucon] That is certain.
[Socrates] But those who see the absolute and eternal and
be said to
know, and not to have opinion only?
[Glaucon] Neither can that be denied.
[Socrates] The one love and embrace the subjects of
knowledge, the other
opinion? The latter are the same, as I dare say you will
listened to sweet sounds and gazed upon fair colours, but
tolerate the existence of absolute beauty.
[Glaucon] Yes, I remember.
[Socrates] Shall we then be guilty of any impropriety in
opinion rather than lovers of wisdom, and will they be very
angry with us
for thus describing them?
[Glaucon] I shall tell them not to be angry; no man should
be angry at
[Socrates] But those who love the truth in each thing are
to be called
wisdom and not lovers of opinion.
The page numbers are the Stephanus page numbers. Clicking on
brown words takes you to an example.
words takes you to an explanation.
Andrew Roberts' web Study Guide
Take a Break - Read a Poem
Click coloured words to go where
Andrew Roberts likes to hear from users:
use the Communication