PARMENIDES by Plato
Public Domain English Translation by Benjamin Jowett
Persons of the Dialogue:
Setting of the Dialogue:
Cephalus rehearses a dialogue which is supposed to have been narrated in his presence by Antiphon, the half-brother of Adeimantus and Glaucon, to certain Clazomenians.
We had come from our home at Clazomenae to Athens, and met Adeimantus and Glaucon in the Agora. Welcome, Cephalus, said Adeimantus, taking me by the hand; is there anything which we can do for you in Athens?
Yes; that is why I am here; I wish to ask a favour of you.
What may that be? he said. I want you to tell me the name of your half brother, which I have forgotten; he was a mere child when I last came hither from Clazomenae, but that was a long time ago; his father's name, if I remember rightly, was Pyrilampes?
Yes, he said, and the name of our brother, Antiphon; but why do you ask?
Let me introduce some countrymen of mine, I said; they are lovers of philosophy, and have heard that Antiphon was intimate with a certain Pythodorus, a friend of Zeno, and remembers a conversation which took place between Socrates, Zeno, and Parmenides many years ago, Pythodorus having often recited it to him.
Quite true. And could we hear it? I asked. Nothing easier, he replied; when he was a youth he made a careful study of the piece; at present his thoughts run in another direction; like his grandfather Antiphon he is devoted to horses. But, if that is what you want, let us go and look for him; he dwells at Melita, which is quite near, and he has only just left us to go home.
Accordingly we went to look for him; he was at home, and in the act of giving a bridle to a smith to be fitted. When he had done with the smith, his brothers told him the purpose of our visit; and he saluted me as an acquaintance whom he remembered from my former visit, and we asked him to repeat the dialogue. At first he was not very willing, and complained of the trouble, but at length he consented. He told us that Pythodorus had described to him the appearance of Parmenides and Zeno; they came to Athens, as he said, at the great Panathenaea; the former was, at the time of his visit, about 65 years old, very white with age, but well favoured. Zeno was nearly 40 years of age, tall and fair to look upon; in the days of his youth he was reported to have been beloved by Parmenides. He said that they lodged with Pythodorus in the Ceramicus, outside the wall, whither Socrates, then a very young man, came to see them, and many others with him; they wanted to hear the writings of Zeno, which had been brought to Athens for the first time on the occasion of their visit. These Zeno himself read to them in the absence of Parmenides, and had very nearly finished when Pythodorus entered, and with him Parmenides and Aristoteles who was afterwards one of the Thirty, and heard the little that remained of the dialogue. Pythodorus had heard Zeno repeat them before.
When the recitation was completed, Socrates requested that the first thesis of the first argument might be read over again, and this having been done, he said: What is your meaning, Zeno? Do you maintain that if being is many, it must be both like and unlike, and that this is impossible, for neither can the like be unlike, nor the unlike like-is that your position?
Just so, said Zeno. And if the unlike cannot be like, or the like unlike, then according to you, being could not be many; for this would involve an impossibility. In all that you say have you any other purpose except to disprove the being of the many? and is not each division of your treatise intended to furnish a separate proof of this, there being in all as many proofs of the not-being of the many as you have composed arguments? Is that your meaning, or have I misunderstood you?
No, said Zeno; you have correctly understood my general purpose.
I see, Parmenides, said Socrates, that Zeno would like to be not only one with you in friendship but your second self in his writings too; he puts what you say in another way, and would fain make believe that he is telling us something which is new. For you, in your poems, say The All is one, and of this you adduce excellent proofs; and he on the other hand says There is no many; and on behalf of this he offers overwhelming evidence. You affirm unity, he denies plurality. And so you deceive the world into believing that you are saying different things when really you are saying much the same. This is a strain of art beyond the reach of most of us.
Yes, Socrates, said Zeno. But although you are as keen as a Spartan hound in pursuing the track, you do not fully apprehend the true motive of the composition, which is not really such an artificial work as you imagine; for what you speak of was an accident; there was no pretence of a great purpose; nor any serious intention of deceiving the world. The truth is, that these writings of mine were meant to protect the arguments of Parmenides against those who make fun of him and seek to show the many ridiculous and contradictory results which they suppose to follow from the affirmation of the one. My answer is addressed to the partisans of the many, whose attack I return with interest by retorting upon them that their hypothesis of the being of many, if carried out, appears to be still more ridiculous than the hypothesis of the being of one. Zeal for my master led me to write the book in the days of my youth, but some one stole the copy; and therefore I had no choice whether it should be published or not; the motive, however, of writing, was not the ambition of an elder man, but the pugnacity of a young one. This you do not seem to see, Socrates; though in other respects, as I was saying, your notion is a very just one.
I understand, said Socrates, and quite accept your account. But tell me, Zeno, do you not further think that there is an idea of likeness in itself, and another idea of unlikeness, which is the opposite of likeness, and that in these two, you and I and all other things to which we apply the term many, participate-things which participate in likeness become in that degree and manner like; and so far as they participate in unlikeness become in that degree unlike, or both like and unlike in the degree in which they participate in both? And may not all things partake of both opposites, and be both like and unlike, by reason of this participation?-Where is the wonder? Now if a person could prove the absolute like to become unlike, or the absolute unlike to become like, that, in my opinion, would indeed be a wonder; but there is nothing extraordinary, Zeno, in showing that the things which only partake of likeness and unlikeness experience both. Nor, again, if a person were to show that all is one by partaking of one, and at the same time many by partaking of many, would that be very astonishing. But if he were to show me that the absolute one was many, or the absolute many one, I should be truly amazed. And so of all the rest: I should be surprised to hear that the natures or ideas themselves had these opposite qualities; but not if a person wanted to prove of me that I was many and also one. When he wanted to show that I was many he would say that I have a right and a left side, and a front and a back, and an upper and a lower half, for I cannot deny that I partake of multitude; when, on the other hand, he wants to prove that I am one, he will say, that we who are here assembled are seven, and that I am one and partake of the one. In both instances he proves his case. So again, if a person shows that such things as wood, stones, and the like, being many are also one, we admit that he shows the coexistence the one and many, but he does not show that the many are one or the one many; he is uttering not a paradox but a truism. If however, as I just now suggested, some one were to abstract simple notions of like, unlike, one, many, rest, motion, and similar ideas, and then to show that these admit of admixture and separation in themselves, I should be very much astonished. This part of the argument appears to be treated by you, Zeno, in a very spirited manner; but, as I was saying, I should be far more amazed if any one found in the ideas themselves which are apprehended by reason, the same puzzle and entanglement which you have shown to exist in visible objects.
While Socrates was speaking, Pythodorus thought that Parmenides and Zeno were not altogether pleased at the successive steps of the argument; but still they gave the closest attention and often looked at one another, and smiled as if in admiration of him. When he had finished, Parmenides expressed their feelings in the following words:-
Socrates, he said, I admire the bent of your mind towards philosophy; tell me now, was this your own distinction between ideas in themselves and the things which partake of them? and do you think that there is an idea of likeness apart from the likeness which we possess, and of the one and many, and of the other things which Zeno mentioned?
I think that there are such ideas, said Socrates. Parmenides proceeded: And would you also make absolute ideas of the just and the beautiful and the good, and of all that class?
Yes, he said, I should. And would you make an idea of man apart from us and from all other human creatures, or of fire and water?
I am often undecided, Parmenides, as to whether I ought to include them or not.
And would you feel equally undecided, Socrates, about things of which the mention may provoke a smile?-I mean such things as hair, mud, dirt, or anything else which is vile and paltry; would you suppose that each of these has an idea distinct from the actual objects with which we come into contact, or not?
Certainly not, said Socrates; visible things like these are such as they appear to us, and I am afraid that there would be an absurdity in assuming any idea of them, although I sometimes get disturbed, and begin to think that there is nothing without an idea; but then again, when I have taken up this position, I run away, because I am afraid that I may fall into a bottomless pit of nonsense, and perish; and so I return to the ideas of which I was just now speaking, and occupy myself with them.
Yes, Socrates, said Parmenides; that is because you are still young; the time will come, if I am not mistaken, when philosophy will have a firmer grasp of you, and then you will not despise even the meanest things; at your age, you are too much disposed to regard opinions of men. But I should like to know whether you mean that there are certain ideas of which all other things partake, and from which they derive their names; that similars, for example, become similar, because they partake of similarity; and great things become great, because they partake of greatness; and that just and beautiful things become just and beautiful, because they partake of justice and beauty?
Yes, certainly, said Socrates that is my meaning. Then each individual partakes either of the whole of the idea or else of a part of the idea? Can there be any other mode of participation?
There cannot be, he said. Then do you think that the whole idea is one, and yet, being one, is in each one of the many?
Why not, Parmenides? said Socrates. Because one and the same thing will exist as a whole at the same time in many separate individuals, and will therefore be in a state of separation from itself.
Nay, but the idea may be like the day which is one and the same in many places at once, and yet continuous with itself; in this way each idea may be one; and the same in all at the same time.
I like your way, Socrates, of making one in many places at once. You mean to say, that if I were to spread out a sail and cover a number of men, there would be one whole including many-is not that your meaning?
I think so. And would you say that the whole sail includes each man, or a part of it only, and different parts different men?
The latter. Then, Socrates, the ideas themselves will be divisible, and things which participate in them will have a part of them only and not the whole idea existing in each of them?
That seems to follow. Then would you like to say, Socrates, that the one idea is really divisible and yet remains one?
Certainly not, he said. Suppose that you divide absolute greatness, and that of the many great things, each one is great in virtue of a portion of greatness less than absolute greatness-is that conceivable?
No. Or will each equal thing, if possessing some small portion of equality less than absolute equality, be equal to some other thing by virtue of that portion only?
Impossible. Or suppose one of us to have a portion of smallness; this is but a part of the small, and therefore the absolutely small is greater; if the absolutely small be greater, that to which the part of the small is added will be smaller and not greater than before.
How absurd! Then in what way, Socrates, will all things participate in the ideas, if they are unable to participate in them either as parts or wholes?
Indeed, he said, you have asked a question which is not easily answered.
Well, said Parmenides, and what do you say of another question?
What question? I imagine that the way in which you are led to assume one idea of each kind is as follows: -You see a number of great objects, and when you look at them there seems to you to be one and the same idea (or nature) in them all; hence you conceive of greatness as one.
Very true, said Socrates. And if you go on and allow your mind in like manner to embrace in one view the idea of greatness and of great things which are not the idea, and -to compare them, will not another greatness arise, which will appear to be the source of all these?
It would seem so. Then another idea of greatness now comes into view over and above absolute greatness, and the individuals which partake of it; and then another, over and above all these, by virtue of which they will all be great, and so each idea instead of being one will be infinitely multiplied.
But may not the ideas, asked Socrates, be thoughts only, and have no proper existence except in our minds, Parmenides? For in that case each idea may still be one, and not experience this infinite multiplication.
And can there be individual thoughts which are thoughts of nothing?
Impossible, he said. The thought must be of something? Yes. Of something which is or which is not? Of something which is. Must it not be of a single something, which the thought recognizes as attaching to all, being a single form or nature?
Yes. And will not the something which is apprehended as one and the same in all, be an idea?
From that, again, there is no escape. Then, said Parmenides, if you say that everything else participates in the ideas, must you not say either that everything is made up of thoughts, and that all things think; or that they are thoughts but have no thought?
The latter view, Parmenides, is no more rational than the previous one. In my opinion, the ideas are, as it were, patterns fixed in nature, and other things are like them, and resemblances of them-what is meant by the participation of other things in the ideas, is really assimilation to them.
But if, said he, the individual is like the idea, must not the idea also be like the individual, in so far as the individual is a resemblance of the idea? That which is like, cannot be conceived of as other than the like of like.
Impossible. And when two things are alike, must they not partake of the same idea?
They must. And will not that of which the two partake, and which makes them alike, be the idea itself?
Certainly. Then the idea cannot be like the individual, or the individual like the idea; for if they are alike, some further idea of likeness will always be coming to light, and if that be like anything else, another; and new ideas will be always arising, if the idea resembles that which partakes of it?
Quite true. The theory, then that other things participate in the ideas by resemblance, has to be given up, and some other mode of participation devised?
It would seem so. Do you see then, Socrates, how great is the difficulty of affirming the ideas to be absolute?
Yes, indeed. And, further, let me say that as yet you only understand a small part of the difficulty which is involved if you make of each thing a single idea, parting it off from other things.
What difficulty? he said. There are many, but the greatest of all is this:-If an opponent argues that these ideas, being such as we say they ought to be, must remain unknown, no one can prove to him that he is wrong, unless he who denies their existence be a man of great ability and knowledge, and is willing to follow a long and laborious demonstration; he will remain unconvinced, and still insist that they cannot be known.
What do you mean, Parmenides? said Socrates. In the first place, I think, Socrates, that you, or any one who maintains the existence of absolute essences, will admit that they cannot exist in us.
No, said Socrates; for then they would be no longer absolute.
True, he said; and therefore when ideas are what they are in relation to one another, their essence is determined by a relation among themselves, and has nothing to do with the resemblances, or whatever they are to be termed, which are in our sphere, and from which we receive this or that name when we partake of them. And the things which are within our sphere and have the same names with them, are likewise only relative to one another, and not to the ideas which have the same names with them, but belong to themselves and not to them.
What do you mean? said Socrates. I may illustrate my meaning in this way, said Parmenides:-A master has a slave; now there is nothing absolute in the relation between them, which is simply a relation of one man to another. But there is also an idea of mastership in the abstract, which is relative to the idea of slavery in the abstract. These natures have nothing to do with us, nor we with them; they are concerned with themselves only, and we with ourselves. Do you see my meaning?
Yes, said Socrates, I quite see your meaning. And will not knowledge-I mean absolute knowledge-answer to absolute truth?
Certainly. And each kind of absolute knowledge will answer to each kind of absolute being?
Yes. But the knowledge which we have, will answer to the truth which we have; and again, each kind of knowledge which we have, will be a knowledge of each kind of being which we have?
Certainly. But the ideas themselves, as you admit, we have not, and cannot have?
No, we cannot. And the absolute natures or kinds are known severally by the absolute idea of knowledge?
Yes. And we have not got the idea of knowledge? No. Then none of the ideas are known to us, because we have no share in absolute knowledge?
I suppose not. Then the nature of the beautiful in itself, and of the good in itself, and all other ideas which we suppose to exist absolutely, are unknown to us?
It would seem so. I think that there is a stranger consequence still. What is it? Would you, or would you not say, that absolute knowledge, if there is such a thing, must be a far more exact knowledge than our knowledge; and the same of beauty and of the rest?
Yes. And if there be such a thing as participation in absolute knowledge, no one is more likely than God to have this most exact knowledge?
Certainly. But then, will God, having absolute knowledge, have a knowledge of human things?
Why not? Because, Socrates, said Parmenides, we have admitted that the ideas are not valid in relation to human things; nor human things in relation to them; the relations of either are limited to their respective spheres.
Yes, that has been admitted. And if God has this perfect authority, and perfect knowledge, his authority cannot rule us, nor his knowledge know us, or any human thing; just as our authority does not extend to the gods, nor our knowledge know anything which is divine, so by parity of reason they, being gods, are not our masters, neither do they know the things of men.
Yet, surely, said Socrates, to deprive God of knowledge is monstrous.
These, Socrates, said Parmenides, are a few, and only a few of the difficulties in which we are involved if ideas really are and we determine each one of them to be an absolute unity. He who hears what may be said against them will deny the very existence of them-and even if they do exist, he will say that they must of necessity be unknown to man; and he will seem to have reason on his side, and as we were remarking just now, will be very difficult to convince; a man must be gifted with very considerable ability before he can learn that everything has a class and an absolute essence; and still more remarkable will he be who discovers all these things for himself, and having thoroughly investigated them is able to teach them to others.
I agree with you, Parmenides, said Socrates; and what you say is very much to my mind.
And yet, Socrates, said Parmenides, if a man, fixing his attention on these and the like difficulties, does away with ideas of things and will not admit that every individual thing has its own determinate idea which is always one and the same, he will have nothing on which his mind can rest; and so he will utterly destroy the power of reasoning, as you seem to me to have particularly noted.
Very true, he said. But, then, what is to become of philosophy? Whither shall we turn, if the ideas are unknown?
I certainly do not see my way at present. Yes, said Parmenides; and I think that this arises, Socrates, out of your attempting to define the beautiful, the just, the good, and the ideas generally, without sufficient previous training. I noticed your deficiency, when I heard you talking here with your friend Aristoteles, the day before yesterday. The impulse that carries you towards philosophy is assuredly noble and divine; but there is an art which is called by the vulgar idle talking, and which is of imagined to be useless; in that you must train and exercise yourself, now that you are young, or truth will elude your grasp.
And what is the nature of this exercise, Parmenides, which you would recommend?
That which you heard Zeno practising; at the same time, I give you credit for saying to him that you did not care to examine the perplexity in reference to visible things, or to consider the question that way; but only in reference to objects of thought, and to what may be called ideas.
Why, yes, he said, there appears to me to be no difficulty in showing by this method that visible things are like and unlike and may experience anything.
Quite true, said Parmenides; but I think that you should go a step further, and consider not only the consequences which flow from a given hypothesis, but also the consequences which flow from denying the hypothesis; and that will be still better training for you.
What do you mean? he said. I mean, for example, that in the case of this very hypothesis of Zeno's about the many, you should inquire not only what will be the consequences to the many in relation to themselves and to the one, and to the one in relation to itself and the many, on the hypothesis of the being of the many, but also what will be the consequences to the one and the many in their relation to themselves and to each other, on the opposite hypothesis. Or, again, if likeness is or is not, what will be the consequences in either of these cases to the subjects of the hypothesis, and to other things, in relation both to themselves and to one another, and so of unlikeness; and the same holds good of motion and rest, of generation and destruction, and even of being and not-being. In a word, when you suppose anything to be or not to be, or to be in any way affected, you must look at the consequences in relation to the thing itself, and to any other things which you choose-to each of them singly, to more than one, and to all; and so of other things, you must look at them in relation to themselves and to anything else which you suppose either to be or not to be, if you would train yourself perfectly and see the real truth.
That, Parmenides, is a tremendous business of which you speak, and I do not quite understand you; will you take some hypothesis and go through the steps?-then I shall apprehend you better.
That, Socrates, is a serious task to impose on a man of my years.
Then will you, Zeno? said Socrates. Zeno answered with a smile:-Let us make our petition to Parmenides himself, who is quite right in saying that you are hardly aware of the extent of the task which you are imposing on him; and if there were more of us I should not ask him, for these are not subjects which any one, especially at his age, can well speak of before a large audience; most people are not aware that this round-about progress through all things is the only way in which the mind can attain truth and wisdom. And therefore, Parmenides, I join in the request of Socrates, that I may hear the process again which I have not heard for a long time.
When Zeno had thus spoken, Pythodorus, according to Antiphon's report of him, said, that he himself and Aristoteles and the whole company entreated Parmenides to give an example of the process. I cannot refuse, said Parmenides; and yet I feel rather like Ibycus, who, when in his old age, against his will, he fell in love, compared himself to an old racehorse, who was about to run in a chariot race, shaking with fear at the course he knew so well-this was his simile of himself. And I also experience a trembling when I remember through what an ocean of words I have to wade at my time of life. But I must indulge you, as Zeno says that I ought, and we are alone. Where shall I begin? And what shall be our first hypothesis, if I am to attempt this laborious pastime? Shall I begin with myself, and take my own hypothesis the one? and consider the consequences which follow on the supposition either of the being or of the not being of one?
By all means, said Zeno. And who will answer me? he said. Shall I propose the youngest? He will not make difficulties and will be the most likely to say what he thinks; and his answers will give me time to breathe.
I am the one whom you mean, Parmenides, said Aristoteles; for I am the youngest and at your service. Ask, and I will answer.
Parmenides proceeded: If one is, he said, the one cannot be many?
Impossible. Then the one cannot have parts, and cannot be a whole? Why not? Because every part is part of a whole; is it not? Yes. And what is a whole? would not that of which no part is wanting be a whole?
Certainly. Then, in either case, the one would be made up of parts; both as being a whole, and also as having parts?
To be sure. And in either case, the one would be many, and not one? True. But, surely, it ought to be one and not many? It ought. Then, if the one is to remain one, it will not be a whole, and will not have parts?
No. But if it has no parts, it will have neither beginning, middle, nor end; for these would of course be parts of it.
Right. But then, again, a beginning and an end are the limits of everything?
Certainly. Then the one, having neither beginning nor end, is unlimited?
Yes, unlimited. And therefore formless; for it cannot partake either of round or straight.
But why? Why, because the round is that of which all the extreme points are equidistant from the centre?
Yes. And the straight is that of which the centre intercepts the view of the extremes?
True. Then the one would have parts and would be many, if it partook either of a straight or of a circular form?
Assuredly. But having no parts, it will be neither straight nor round?
Right. And, being of such a nature, it cannot be in any place, for it cannot be either in another or in itself.
How so? Because if it were in another, it would be encircled by that in which it was, and would touch it at many places and with many parts; but that which is one and indivisible, and does not partake of a circular nature, cannot be touched all round in many places.
Certainly not. But if, on the other hand, one were in itself, it would also be contained by nothing else but itself; that is to say, if it were really in itself; for nothing can be in anything which does not contain it.
Impossible. But then, that which contains must be other than that which is contained? for the same whole cannot do and suffer both at once; and if so, one will be no longer one, but two?
True. Then one cannot be anywhere, either in itself or in another?
No. Further consider, whether that which is of such a nature can have either rest or motion.
Why not? Why, because the one, if it were moved, would be either moved in place or changed in nature; for these are the only kinds of motion.
Yes. And the one, when it changes and ceases to be itself, cannot be any longer one.
It cannot. It cannot therefore experience the sort of motion which is change of nature?
Clearly not. Then can the motion of the one be in place? Perhaps. But if the one moved in place, must it not either move round and round in the same place, or from one place to another?
It must. And that which moves in a circle must rest upon a centre; and that which goes round upon a centre must have parts which are different from the centre; but that which has no centre and no parts cannot possibly be carried round upon a centre?
Impossible. But perhaps the motion of the one consists in change of place?
Perhaps so, if it moves at all. And have we not already shown that it cannot be in anything?
Yes. Then its coming into being in anything is still more impossible; is it not?
I do not see why. Why, because anything which comes into being in anything, can neither as yet be in that other thing while still coming into being, nor be altogether out of it, if already coming into being in it.
Certainly not. And therefore whatever comes into being in another must have parts, and then one part may be in, and another part out of that other; but that which has no parts can never be at one and the same time neither wholly within nor wholly without anything.
True. And is there not a still greater impossibility in that which has no parts, and is not a whole, coming into being anywhere, since it cannot come into being either as a part or as a whole?
Clearly. Then it does not change place by revolving in the same spot, not by going somewhere and coming into being in something; nor again, by change in itself?
Very true. Then in respect of any kind of motion the one is immoveable?
Immoveable. But neither can the one be in anything, as we affirm. Yes, we said so. Then it is never in the same? Why not? Because if it were in the same it would be in something.
Certainly. And we said that it could not be in itself, and could not be in other?
True. Then one is never in the same place? It would seem not. But that which is never in the same place is never quiet or at rest?
Never. One then, as would seem, is neither rest nor in motion? It certainly appears so. Neither will it be the same with itself or other; nor again, other than itself or other.
How is that? If other than itself it would be other than one, and would not be one.
True. And if the same with other, it would be that other, and not itself; so that upon this supposition too, it would not have the nature of one, but would be other than one?
It would. Then it will not be the same with other, or other than itself?
It will not. Neither will it be other than other, while it remains one; for not one, but only other, can be other than other, and nothing else.
True. Then not by virtue of being one will it be other? Certainly not. But if not by virtue of being one, not by virtue of itself; and if not by virtue of itself, not itself, and itself not being other at all, will not be other than anything?
Right. Neither will one be the same with itself. How not? Surely the nature of the one is not the nature of the same.
Why not? It is not when anything becomes the same with anything that it becomes one.
What of that? Anything which becomes the same with the many, necessarily becomes many and not one.
True. But, if there were no difference between the one and the same, when a thing became the same, it would always become one; and when it became one, the same?
Certainly. And, therefore, if one be the same with itself, it is not one with itself, and will therefore be one and also not one.
Surely that is impossible. And therefore the one can neither be other than other, nor the same with itself.
Impossible. And thus the one can neither be the same, nor other, either in relation to itself or other?
No. Neither will the one be like anything or unlike itself or other.
Why not? Because likeness is sameness of affections. Yes. And sameness has been shown to be of a nature distinct from oneness?
That has been shown. But if the one had any other affection than that of being one, it would be affected in such a way as to be more than one; which is impossible.
True. Then the one can never be so affected as to be the same either with another or with itself?
Clearly not. Then it cannot be like another, or like itself? No. Nor can it be affected so as to be other, for then it would be affected in such a way as to be more than one.
It would. That which is affected otherwise than itself or another, will be unlike itself or another, for sameness of affections is likeness.
True. But the one, as appears, never being affected otherwise, is never unlike itself or other?
Never. Then the one will never be either like or unlike itself or other?
Plainly not. Again, being of this nature, it can neither be equal nor unequal either to itself or to other.
How is that? Why, because the one if equal must be of the same measures as that to which it is equal.
True. And if greater or less than things which are commensurable with it, the one will have more measures than that which is less, and fewer than that which is greater?
Yes. And so of things which are not commensurate with it, the one will have greater measures than that which is less and smaller than that which is greater.
Certainly. But how can that which does not partake of sameness, have either the same measures or have anything else the same?
Impossible. And not having the same measures, the one cannot be equal either with itself or with another?
It appears so. But again, whether it have fewer or more measures, it will have as many parts as it has measures; and thus again the one will be no longer one but will have as many parts as measures.
Right. And if it were of one measure, it would be equal to that measure; yet it has been shown to be incapable of equality.
It has. Then it will neither partake of one measure, nor of many, nor of few, nor of the same at all, nor be equal to itself or another; nor be greater or less than itself, or other?
Certainly. Well, and do we suppose that one can be older, or younger than anything, or of the same age with it?
Why not? Why, because that which is of the same age with itself or other, must partake of equality or likeness of time; and we said that the one did not partake either of equality or of likeness?
We did say so. And we also said, that it did not partake of inequality or unlikeness.
Very true. How then can one, being of this nature, be either older or younger than anything, or have the same age with it?
In no way. Then one cannot be older or younger, or of the same age, either with itself or with another?
Clearly not. Then the one, being of this nature, cannot be in time at all; for must not that which is in time, be always growing older than itself?
Certainly. And that which is older, must always be older than something which is younger?
True. Then, that which becomes older than itself, also becomes at the same time younger than itself, if it is to have something to become older than.
What do you mean? I mean this:-A thing does not need to become different from another thing which is already different; it is different, and if its different has become, it has become different; if its different will be, it will be different; but of that which is becoming different, there cannot have been, or be about to be, or yet be, a different-the only different possible is one which is becoming.
That is inevitable. But, surely, the elder is a difference relative to the younger, and to nothing else.
True. Then that which becomes older than itself must also, at the same time, become younger than itself?
Yes. But again, it is true that it cannot become for a longer or for a shorter time than itself, but it must become, and be, and have become, and be about to be, for the same time with itself?
That again is inevitable. Then things which are in time, and partake of time, must in every case, I suppose, be of the same age with themselves; and must also become at once older and younger than themselves?
Yes. But the one did not partake of those affections? Not at all. Then it does not partake of time, and is not in any time?
So the argument shows. Well, but do not the expressions "was," and "has become," and "was becoming," signify a participation of past time?
Certainly. And do not "will be," "will become," "will have become," signify a participation of future time?
Yes. And "is," or "becomes," signifies a participation of present time?
Certainly. And if the one is absolutely without participation in time, it never had become, or was becoming, or was at any time, or is now become or is becoming, or is, or will become, or will have become, or will be, hereafter.
Most true. But are there any modes of partaking of being other than these?
There are none. Then the one cannot possibly partake of being? That is the inference. Then the one is not at all? Clearly not. Then the one does not exist in such way as to be one; for if it were and partook of being, it would already be; but if the argument is to be trusted, the one neither is nor is one?
True. But that which is not admits of no attribute or relation?
Of course not. Then there is no name, nor expression, nor perception, nor opinion, nor knowledge of it?
Clearly not. Then it is neither named, nor expressed, nor opined, nor known, nor does anything that is perceive it.
So we must infer. But can all this be true about the one? I think not.
Suppose, now, that we return once more to the original hypothesis; let us see whether, on a further review, any new aspect of the question appears.
I shall be very happy to do so. We say that we have to work out together all the consequences, whatever they may be, which follow, if the one is?
Yes. Then we will begin at the beginning:-If one is, can one be, and not partake of being?
Impossible. Then the one will have being, but its being will not be the same with the one; for if the same, it would not be the being of the one; nor would the one have participated in being, for the proposition that one is would have been identical with the proposition that one is one; but our hypothesis is not if one is one, what will follow, but if one is:-am I not right?
Quite right. We mean to say, that being has not the same significance as one?
Of course. And when we put them together shortly, and say "One is," that is equivalent to saying, "partakes of being"?
Quite true. Once more then let us ask, if one is what will follow. Does not this hypothesis necessarily imply that one is of such a nature as to have parts?
How so? In this way:-If being is predicated of the one, if the one is, and one of being, if being is one; and if being and one are not the same; and since the one, which we have assumed, is, must not the whole, if it is one, itself be, and have for its parts, one and being?
Certainly. And is each of these parts-one and being to be simply called a part, or must the word "part" be relative to the word "whole"?
The latter. Then that which is one is both a whole and has a part? Certainly. Again, of the parts of the one, if it is-I mean being and one-does either fail to imply the other? is the one wanting to being, or being to the one?
Impossible. Thus, each of the parts also has in turn both one and being, and is at the least made up of two parts; and the same principle goes on for ever, and every part whatever has always these two parts; for being always involves one, and one being; so that one is always disappearing, and becoming two.
Certainly. And so the one, if it is, must be infinite in multiplicity?
Clearly. Let us take another direction. What direction? We say that the one partakes of being and therefore it is?
Yes. And in this way, the one, if it has being, has turned out to be many?
True. But now, let us abstract the one which, as we say, partakes of being, and try to imagine it apart from that of which, as we say, it partakes-will this abstract one be one only or many?
One, I think. Let us see:-Must not the being of one be other than one? for the one is not being, but, considered as one, only partook of being?
Certainly. If being and the one be two different things, it is not because the one is one that it is other than being; nor because being is being that it is other than the one; but they differ from one another in virtue of otherness and difference.
Certainly. So that the other is not the same either with the one or with being?
Certainly not. And therefore whether we take being and the other, or being and the one, or the one and the other, in every such case we take two things, which may be rightly called both.
How so. In this way-you may speak of being? Yes. And also of one? Yes. Then now we have spoken of either of them? Yes. Well, and when I speak of being and one, I speak of them both?
Certainly. And if I speak of being and the other, or of the one and the other-in any such case do I not speak of both?
Yes. And must not that which is correctly called both, be also two?
Undoubtedly. And of two things how can either by any possibility not be one?
It cannot. Then, if the individuals of the pair are together two, they must be severally one?
Clearly. And if each of them is one, then by the addition of any one to any pair, the whole becomes three?
Yes. And three are odd, and two are even? Of course. And if there are two there must also be twice, and if there are three there must be thrice; that is, if twice one makes two, and thrice one three?
Certainly. There are two, and twice, and therefore there must be twice two; and there are three, and there is thrice, and therefore there must be thrice three?
Of course. If there are three and twice, there is twice three; and if there are two and thrice, there is thrice two?
Undoubtedly. Here, then, we have even taken even times, and odd taken odd times, and even taken odd times, and odd taken even times.
True. And if this is so, does any number remain which has no necessity to be?
None whatever. Then if one is, number must also be? It must. But if there is number, there must also be many, and infinite multiplicity of being; for number is infinite in multiplicity, and partakes also of being: am I not right?
Certainly. And if all number participates in being, every part of number will also participate?
Yes. Then being is distributed over the whole multitude of things, and nothing that is, however small or however great, is devoid of it? And, indeed, the very supposition of this is absurd, for how can that which is, be devoid of being?
In no way. And it is divided into the greatest and into the smallest, and into being of all sizes, and is broken up more than all things; the divisions of it have no limit.
True. Then it has the greatest number of parts? Yes, the greatest number. Is there any of these which is a part of being, and yet no part?
Impossible. But if it is at all and so long as it is, it must be one, and cannot be none?
Certainly. Then the one attaches to every single part of being, and does not fail in any part, whether great or small, or whatever may be the size of it?
True. But reflect:-an one in its entirety, be in many places at the same time?
No; I see the impossibility of that. And if not in its entirety, then it is divided; for it cannot be present with all the parts of being, unless divided.
True. And that which has parts will be as many as the parts are?
Certainly. Then we were wrong in saying just now, that being was distributed into the greatest number of parts. For it is not distributed into parts more than the one, into parts equal to the one; the one is never wanting to being, or being to the one, but being two they are co-equal and coextensive.
Certainly that is true. The one itself, then, having been broken up into parts by being, is many and infinite?
True. Then not only the one which has being is many, but the one itself distributed by being, must also be many?
Certainly. Further, inasmuch as the parts are parts of a whole, the one, as a whole, will be limited; for are not the parts contained the whole?
Certainly. And that which contains, is a limit? Of course. Then the one if it has being is one and many, whole and parts, having limits and yet unlimited in number?
Clearly. And because having limits, also having extremes? Certainly. And if a whole, having beginning and middle and end. For can anything be a whole without these three? And if any one of them is wanting to anything, will that any longer be a whole?
No. Then the one, as appears, will have beginning, middle, and end.
It will. But, again, the middle will be equidistant from the extremes; or it would not be in the middle?
Yes. Then the one will partake of figure, either rectilinear or round, or a union of the two?
True. And if this is the case, it will be both in itself and in another too.
How? Every part is in the whole, and none is outside the whole.
True. And all the parts are contained by the whole? Yes. And the one is all its parts, and neither more nor less than all?
No. And the one is the whole? Of course. But if all the parts are in the whole, and the one is all of them and the whole, and they are all contained by the whole, the one will be contained by the one; and thus the one will be in itself.
That is true. But then, again, the whole is not in the parts-neither in all the parts, nor in some one of them. For if it is in all, it must be in one; for if there were any one in which it was not, it could not be in all the parts; for the part in which it is wanting is one of all, and if the whole is not in this, how can it be in them all?
It cannot. Nor can the whole be in some of the parts; for if the whole were in some of the parts, the greater would be in the less, which is impossible.
Yes, impossible. But if the whole is neither in one, nor in more than one, nor in all of the parts, it must be in something else, or cease to be anywhere at all?
Certainly. If it were nowhere, it would be nothing; but being a whole, and not being in itself, it must be in another.
Very true. The one then, regarded as a whole, is in another, but regarded as being all its parts, is in itself; and therefore the one must be itself in itself and also in another.
Certainly. The one then, being of this nature, is of necessity both at rest and in motion?
How? The one is at rest since it is in itself, for being in one, and not passing out of this, it is in the same, which is itself.
True. And that which is ever in the same, must be ever at rest?
Certainly. Well, and must not that, on the contrary, which is ever in other, never be in the same; and if never in the same, never at rest, and if not at rest, in motion?
True. Then the one being always itself in itself and other, must always be both at rest and in motion?
Clearly. And must be the same with itself, and other than itself; and also the same with the others, and other than the others; this follows from its previous affections.
How so? Every thing in relation to every other thing, is either the same or other; or if neither the same nor other, then in the relation of a part to a whole, or of a whole to a part.
Clearly. And is the one a part of itself? Certainly not. Since it is not a part in relation to itself it cannot be related to itself as whole to part?
It cannot. But is the one other than one? No. And therefore not other than itself? Certainly not. If then it be neither other, nor a whole, nor a part in relation to itself, must it not be the same with itself?
Certainly. But then, again, a thing which is in another place from "itself," if this "itself" remains in the same place with itself, must be other than "itself," for it will be in another place?
True. Then the one has been shown to be at once in itself and in another?
Yes. Thus, then, as appears, the one will be other than itself?
True. Well, then, if anything be other than anything, will it not be other than that which is other?
Certainly. And will not all things that are not one, be other than the one, and the one other than the not-one?
Of course. Then the one will be other than the others? True. But, consider:-Are not the absolute same, and the absolute other, opposites to one another?
Of course. Then will the same ever be in the other, or the other in the same?
They will not. If then the other is never in the same, there is nothing in which the other is during any space of time; for during that space of time, however small, the other would be in the game. Is not that true?
Yes. And since the other-is never in the same, it can never be in anything that is.
True. Then the other will never be either in the not one, or in the one?
Certainly not. Then not by reason of otherness is the one other than the not-one, or the not-one other than the one.
No. Nor by reason of themselves will they be other than one another, if not partaking of the other.
How can they be? But if they are not other, either by reason of themselves or of the other, will they not altogether escape being other than one another?
They will. Again, the not-one cannot partake of the one; otherwise it would not have been not-one, but would have been in some way one.
True. Nor can the not-one be number; for having number, it would not have been not-one at all.
It would not. Again, is the not-one part of the one; or rather, would it not in that case partake of the one?
It would. If then, in every point of view, the one and the not-one are distinct, then neither is the one part or whole of the not-one, nor is the not-one part or whole of the one?
No. But we said that things which are neither parts nor wholes of one another, nor other than one another, will be the same with one another: -so we said?
Yes. Then shall we say that the one, being in this relation to the not-one, is the same with it?
Let us say so. Then it is the same with itself and the others, and also other than itself and the others.
That appears to be the inference. And it will also be like and unlike itself and the others?
Perhaps. Since the one was shown to be other than the others, the others will also be other than the one.
Yes. And the one is other than the others in the same degree that the others are other than it, and neither more nor less?
True. And if neither more nor less, then in a like degree? Yes. In virtue of the affection by which the one is other than others and others in like manner other than it, the one will be affected like the others and the others like the one.
How do you mean? I may take as an illustration the case of names: You give a name to a thing?
Yes. And you may say the name once or oftener? Yes. And when you say it once, you mention that of which it is the name? and when more than once, is it something else which you mention? or must it always be the same thing of which you speak, whether you utter the name once or more than once?
Of course it is the same. And is not "other" a name given to a thing? Certainly. Whenever, then, you use the word "other," whether once or oftener, you name that of which it is the name, and to no other do you give the name?
True. Then when we say that the others are other than the one, and the one other than the others, in repeating the word "other" we speak of that nature to which the name is applied, and of no other?
Quite true. Then the one which is other than others, and the other which is other than the one, in that the word "other" is applied to both, will be in the same condition; and that which is in the same condition is like?
Yes. Then in virtue of the affection by which the one is other than the others, every thing will be like every thing, for every thing is other than every thing.
True. Again, the like is opposed to the unlike? Yes. And the other to the same? True again. And the one was also shown to be the same with the others?
Yes. And to be, the same with the others is the opposite of being other than the others?
Certainly. And in that it was other it was shown to be like? Yes. But in that it was the same it will be unlike by virtue of the opposite affection to that which made it and this was the affection of otherness.
Yes. The same then will make it unlike; otherwise it will not be the opposite of the other.
True. Then the one will be both like and unlike the others; like in so far as it is other, and unlike in so far as it is the same.
Yes, that argument may be used. And there is another argument. What? In so far as it is affected in the same way it is not affected otherwise, and not being affected otherwise is not unlike, and not being unlike, is like; but in so far as it is affected by other it is otherwise, and being otherwise affected is unlike.
True. Then because the one is the same with the others and other than the others, on either of these two grounds, or on both of them, it will be both like and unlike the others?
Certainly. And in the same way as being other than itself, and the same with itself on either of these two grounds and on both of them, it will be like and unlike itself.
Of course. Again, how far can the one touch or not touch itself and others?-Consider.
I am considering. The one was shown to be in itself which was a whole? True. And also in other things? Yes. In so far as it is in other things it would touch other things, but in so far as it is in itself it would be debarred from touching them, and would touch itself only.
Clearly. Then the inference is that it would touch both? It would. But what do you say to a new point of view? Must not that which is to touch another be next to that which it is to touch, and occupy the place nearest to that in which what it touches is situated?
True. Then the one, if it is to touch itself, ought to be situated next to itself, and occupy the place next to that in which itself is?
It ought. And that would require that the one should be two, and be in two places at once, and this, while it is one, will never happen.
No. Then the one cannot touch itself any more than it can be two?
It cannot. Neither can it touch others. Why not? The reason is, that whatever is to touch another must be in separation from, and next to, that which it is to touch, and no third thing can be between them.
True. Two things, then, at the least ate necessary to make contact possible?
They are. And if to