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" Reflection is the path of immortality; thoughtlessness the path of death ; those who reflect do not die, those who are thoughtless are as if dead already."
Buddhaghosha's Parables. p. 13.
p. 171 c.—p. 177 c.
THEODORUS. You are running down my friend too hardly, Socrates.
SOCRATES. Well, my friend, I am not sure that we are not outrunning fairness and truth. At any rate he is older than we are and therefore presumably wiser; and if he were this instant to appear with just his head above the ground at this very spot, he would with justice convict me of talking and you of admitting a good deal of nonsense, and then sink again into the earth and vanish from our sight. But we are bound in my opinion to make use of whatever powers we possess, and to speak boldly out and always say what we really think.
And so in this present
instance we must assert that anyone would admit that there are various degrees of ignorance and wisdom-must we not?
THEO. So I take it.
Soc. That is, that the argument will be best maintained as we sketched it when we were advocating Protagoras' cause. Heat, dryness, sweetness, all such qualities in short, are as a rule such as they appear to each; but if in any case the theory will allow that one man differs from another, it would concede this, that with regard to things wholesome and unwholesome it is not every weak woman or child, or even beast, that is competent to cure itself from a knowledge of what is wholesome for it, but that here if anywhere there exists a difference between individuals— would it not?
THEO. I should fancy so.
Soc. And so with states: honour and dishonour, justice and injustice, piety and impiety, are, it is true, determined for each community by its particular institutions, and in these matters there are no varying degrees of wisdom either among states or individuals; but in deciding what is expedient for itself or inexpedient, in this if in anything it will as before be admitted that one statesman excels another, and the decision of one state that of another with regard to truth. And it will not venture to assert that whatever enactments a state makes, under the impression that they are expedient, must necessarily be so. But with regard to justice and injustice, piety and impiety, to which I just now referred, they persistently maintain that these have no absolute existence of their own, and that the truth is determined by the general decision at the time when it is formed, and lasts as long as that decision holds. And even those
who but partially uphold the doctrine of Protagoras entertain some such notion of philosophy. But one subject leads to another, Theodorus, the less to the greater.
Theo. We have leisure, Socrates, have we not?
Soc. It would appear so: and let me tell you, my friend, I have frequently remarked, and never more clearly than at the present time, how natural it is that men who have spent much time in philosophical studies should prove ridiculous orators when they enter the courts of law.
Theo. How do you make that out ?
Soc. If we were to compare those who have been jostled about in law courts, and such like places, from their youth up, with such as have been educated in the pursuit of philosophy and the like, it is not improbable that the former will appear to have received the education of slaves, the latter that of freemen.
THEO. Tell me how so.
Soc. In this way. Philosophers always, as you said just now, have leisure and converse undisturbed and at their leisure. Just as we are now leaving our second subject of conversation and taking up a third, so they, if any subject occurs to them which pleases them better than the one in hand (as is the case with us) take it up and do not care one whit whether their words be many or few, so jong only as they get at the truth. Lawyers on the contrary are always hurried in their speech, for the water as it ebbs urges them forwards and they are not allowed to speak on such topics as they may wish, but their opponent stands at their side, armed with all the powers of the law, ever and anon referring to the prescribed course of proceedings --what they call the bill of indictment-and to these points he must confine himself. And their speech is always about some fellow slave, and is addressed to a master who sits in state with the case before him, and the trial is never concerning some abstract question, but always a personal one, nay, often 'tis a race for life. All these causes conspire to make them energetic and shrewd; they understand how to flatter their master with words and serve him by deeds, but their minds are narrow and corrupt. For their growth has been stunted, their honesty and independence have been destroyed by the slavery in which they have lived from their childhood. By it they are compelled to be crooked in their actions, since it throws their yet tender souls in the way of great risks and terrors; and they being unable to bear up against them with justice and truth, straightway betaking themselves to falsehood and mutual retaliation, are so terribly deformed and stunted, that they pass from youth to manhood without having any thoughts that are wholesome; but have become clever and wise in their own conceit. Such, Theodorus, is the character of these men. With regard to those who form our own band, would you rather that we should leave them alone, or that we should first discuss them and then return to our argument, that we may not abuse that liberty of digression of which we spoke just now?
THEO. Nay, Socrates, let us discuss them; for you were quite right when you said it was not we, the members of this band who were the slaves of our subjects, but that they were our slaves, as it were, and that each of them awaits our good pleasure for its completion; for we have no judge or spectator standing by to criticize or control us, as poets have.
Soc. Since you are so disposed, then, let us speak-as