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If you make me an authority in matters of love, for the sake of
the argument, I assent.
And what do you say of lovers of wine? Do you not see them doing the
same? They are glad of any pretext of drinking any wine.
And the same is true of ambitious men; if they cannot command an
army, they are willing to command a file; and if they cannot be
honoured by really great and important persons, they are glad to be
honoured by lesser and meaner people, but honour of some kind they
Once more let me ask: Does he who desires any class of goods, desire
the whole class or a part only?
And may we not say of the philosopher that he is a lover, not of a
part of wisdom only, but of the whole?
Yes, of the whole.
And he who dislikes learnings, especially in youth, when he has no
power of judging what is good and what is not, such an one we maintain
not to be a philosopher or a lover of knowledge, just as he who
refuses his food is not hungry, and may be said to have a bad appetite
and not a good one?
Very true, he said.
Whereas he who has a taste for every sort of knowledge and who is
curious to learn and is never satisfied, may be justly termed a
philosopher? Am I not right?
Glaucon said: If curiosity makes a philosopher, you will find many a
strange being will have a title to the name. All the lovers of
sights have a delight in learning, and must therefore be included.
Musical amateurs, too, are a folk strangely out of place among
philosophers, for they are the last persons in the world who would
come to anything like a philosophical discussion, if they could
help, while they run about at the Dionysiac festivals as if they had
let out their ears to hear every chorus; whether the performance is in
town or country --that makes no difference --they are there. Now are
we to maintain that all these and any who have similar tastes, as well
as the professors of quite minor arts, are philosophers?
Certainly not, I replied; they are only an imitation.
He said: Who then are the true philosophers?
Those, I said, who are lovers of the vision of truth.
That is also good, he said; but I should like to know what you mean?
To another, I replied, I might have a difficulty in explaining;
but I am sure that you will admit a proposition which I am about to
What is the proposition?
That since beauty is the opposite of ugliness, they are two?
And inasmuch as they are two, each of them is one?
And of just and unjust, good and evil, and of every other class, the
same remark holds: taken singly, each of them one; but from the
various combinations of them with actions and things and with one
another, they are seen in all sorts of lights and appear many? Very
And this is the distinction which I draw between the sight-loving,
art-loving, practical class and those of whom I am speaking, and who
are alone worthy of the name of philosophers.
How do you distinguish them? he said.
The lovers of sounds and sights, I replied, are, as I conceive, fond
of fine tones and colours and forms and all the artificial products
that are made out of them, but their mind is incapable of seeing or
loving absolute beauty.
True, he replied.
Few are they who are able to attain to the sight of this.
And he who, having a sense of beautiful things has no sense of
absolute beauty, or who, if another lead him to a knowledge of that
beauty is unable to follow --of such an one I ask, Is he awake or in a
dream only? Reflect: is not the dreamer, sleeping or waking, one who
likens dissimilar things, who puts the copy in the place of the real
I should certainly say that such an one was dreaming.
But take the case of the other, who recognises the existence of
absolute beauty and is able to distinguish the idea from the objects
which 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 awake?
He is wide awake.
And may we not say that the mind of the one who knows has knowledge,
and that the mind of the other, who opines only, has opinion
But suppose that the latter should quarrel with us and dispute our
statement, can we administer any soothing cordial or advice to him,
without revealing to him that there is sad disorder in his wits?
We must certainly offer him some good advice, he replied.
Come, then, and let us think of something to say to him. 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? (You must answer for him.)
I answer that he knows something.
Something that is or is not?
Something that is; for how can that which is not ever be known?
And are we assured, after looking at the matter from many points
of view, that absolute being is or may be absolutely known, but that
the utterly non-existent is utterly unknown?
Nothing can be more certain.
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?
Yes, between them.
And, as knowledge corresponded to being and ignorance of necessity
to not-being, for that intermediate between being and not-being
there has to be discovered a corresponding intermediate between
ignorance and knowledge, if there be such?
Do we admit the existence of opinion?
As being the same with knowledge, or another faculty?
Then opinion and knowledge have to do with different kinds of matter
corresponding to this difference of faculties?
And knowledge is relative to being and knows being. But before I
proceed further I will make a division.
I will begin by placing faculties in a class by themselves: they are
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 explained the class which I mean?
Yes, I quite understand.
Then let me tell you my view about them. I do not see them, and
therefore the distinctions of fire, colour, and the like, which enable
me to discern the differences of some things, do not apply to them. In
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
faculty, but that which has another sphere and another result I call
different. Would that be your way of speaking?
And will you be so very good as to answer one more question? Would
you say that knowledge is a faculty, or in what class would you
Certainly knowledge is a faculty, and the mightiest of all
And is opinion also a faculty?
Certainly, he said; for opinion is that with which we are able to
form an opinion.
And yet you were acknowledging a little while ago that knowledge
is not the same as opinion?
Why, yes, he said: how can any reasonable being ever identify that
which is infallible with that which errs?
An excellent answer, proving, I said, that we are quite conscious of
a distinction between them.
Then knowledge and opinion having distinct powers have also distinct
spheres or subject-matters?
That is certain.
Being is the sphere or subject-matter of knowledge, and knowledge is
to know the nature of being?
And opinion is to have an opinion?
And do we know what we opine? or is the subject-matter of opinion
the same as the subject-matter of knowledge?
Nay, he replied, that has been already disproven; if difference in
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.
Then if being is the subject-matter of knowledge, something else
must be the subject-matter of opinion?
Yes, something else.
Well then, is not-being the subject-matter of opinion? or, rather,
how can there be an opinion at all about not-being? Reflect: when a
man has an opinion, has he not an opinion about something? Can he have
an opinion which is an opinion about nothing?
He who has an opinion has an opinion about some one thing?
And not-being is not one thing but, properly speaking, nothing?
Of not-being, ignorance was assumed to be the necessary correlative;
of being, knowledge?
True, he said.
Then opinion is not concerned either with being or with not-being?
Not with either.
And can therefore neither be ignorance nor knowledge?
That seems to be true.
But is opinion to be sought without and beyond either of them, in
a greater clearness than knowledge, or in a greater darkness than
Then I suppose that opinion appears to you to be darker than
knowledge, but lighter than ignorance?
Both; and in no small degree.
And also to be within and between them?
Then you would infer that opinion is intermediate?
But were we not saying before, that if anything appeared to be of
a sort which is and is not at the same time, that sort of thing
would appear also 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
And in that interval there has now been discovered something which
we call opinion?
Then what remains to be discovered is the object which partakes
equally of the nature of being and not-being, and cannot rightly be