Frederick Percy Long.

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This selection of passages is primarily intended for
students of the Oxford school oiLiterae Humaniores, but
the compiler hopes that it may also be found useful by
any others who are commencing their study of Plato, on
its metaphysical or logical side. Some slight experience
of teaching, coupled with his own recollection of early
days, has convinced him that merely to give pupils a list
of references to parallel passages, bearing on any particular
point under discussion, is in most cases quite inadequate.
And yet no single dialogue, not even one so compre-
hensive as the Repuhlic, can be understood without
a knowledge of much contained elsewhere ; and to know
all about one involves knowing something about all.

The author, however, admits that his original design
was not to illustrate Plato. It was rather to put into
Greek dress the more permanent problems of Metaphysics
in all ages, and to shoAV that the questions which to-day
divide philosophers were most of them raised and debated
years ago by the Greeks, with all the additional power
and lucidity that their unrivalled language lent them.
Such an object proved subsequently to be chimerical ;
and, having determined to draw his illustrations of these
problems from the writings of Plato, the compiler was
gradually obliged to limit himself to a rudimentary
exegesis of Plato. That this contains very likely many
serious defects he is well aware, but he trusts that they
are not of sufficient moment seriously to mislead beginners,



for whom alone the book is designed. A graver objection,
perhaps, may be brought against its method, and many
may demur to a procedure which quotes a dialogue of
one period in illusti-ation of one belonging to quite
another. In answer, the compiler would plead his
original design, in accordance with which he has begun
with the Theaetetus, thus plunging in medias res; and
he would also ask to be allowed to doubt whether, in
spite of the lately accumulated stylistic evidence, it is
not still premature to acquiesce in any settled historical
order for the dialogues.

A translation has been added on the advice of a friend,
and if the author has substituted one of his own for
those that were ready to his hand, it was only because
again he desired to render the Greek into more modern
philosophical terminology, and he is fully conscious of
the uncouthness and verbosity he has thereby displayed.
The passages are not always continuous, but no trouble
will be found, it is hoped, in picking them up from
a complete text, which, as far as was accessible, has here
been the new Oxford edition. For the sake of readers
chiefly occupied with the Republic the quotations from
this dialogue are printed in heavier type.

The compiler takes this opportunity to thank the friends
who have kindly read the selection and helped him with
various suggestions. It would be unbecoming to mention
these by name in connexion with a work so slight, and
might also be misleading, since they are in no wise the
sponsors of any thing contained in it.

Oxford, May 1905.


Before beginning the study of Metaphysics we -A
need a definition of the term. Amongst many that
might pass let us construct two : —

(a) The investigation of the meaning of Reality ;

(b) The study of the conditions of Knowledge.
The two easily and naturally run up into each other,

since Object and Subject, which they respectively
accentuate, cannot be sharply divided.

Now to both alike a solution is obviously suggested
by an examination of sense-perception ; for the plain
man not unnaturally answers that Reality is the world
as known by his senses, and that Knowledge lies in
the right use of these : in other words he would
proceed with Locke, ' by looking into his own under-
standing and seeing how it wrought.' But as the
inquirer, starting thus ab initio, keeps himself rigidly
to himself, in the attempt to discover what and how
he himself knows, it is not surprising that amongst
the earliest answers to the problem we get an extreme
form of individualism, whose formula is expressed
thus : —

UdvToov XPW^"^^^ iMirpov avdpcairov elvai, rStv fxkv ovtcov i
fc)S eoTt, T(av 6e /ur) ovroiv ws ovk 'iariv ^. Theaet. 152 A.

' Each man is the measure of all things, con-
stituting by himself both the existence of things

^ For TO. fx^ ovTa see § J.


A existent and the non-existence of things non-

The grounds for this extreme individualism are
twofold — (i) subjective, the differences in human
organisms, (2) objective, the physical conditions of
sensation itself.

ii (l) YIviovTos avijxov rod avrov 6 \xkv -^ficov piyol 6 8'

ov ; KOL jiaka. iroTepov ovv tot^ avrb €(f)' kavTo to TTvevfjia
yl/V)(^pov rj ov \\fvy^pov <pi](ToiJi€v ; rj TT^icrojXiOa rw ripoorayopa
on rw ixkv ptyovvTL y\/v\p6v, rw he ixr] ov ; ^olk^v.
ovKovv Kal (jyaiveTat ovrois cKarepo) ; vaL ro hi ye
' (fyaCveraL ' aladdvecrOai ia-riv ; eort yap' (fyavrarria apa
KOL aX(r6r](Ti<5 ravrov ev re OepfJiol^ kol ttclo-l toIs tolovtols'
ola yap alaOdverai 'iKacrros roiavra kKdarco Kal KLvhwevet
chat. Theaet. 152 B.

* With the same wind blowing, does not one of
us feel cold and another not '? Certainly. In such
cases shall we say that the wind itself is cold or
not cold, or shall we hold with Protagoras that
for him who feels cold it is cold, and for him who
does not it is not "] I suppose so. In both cases it
is a question of appearance ? Yes. But appear-
ance implies sensation '? Granted. Appearance,
therefore, and sensation, in judging of heat and
all similar qualities, are identical, if it is true that
the reports of each man's senses are what constitute
for him reality.'

(2) Sensation is the result of the action of external
molecular stimulus [to tjoiovv) upon the internal nervous
organism (ro -ndaxov). From their interaction arises
both the sensation and its object, neither of which
exists independently. Indeed phenomena cannot be
said to exist at all: they merely come into being
(ytyrerat) for each sentient subject [tivCj.


'Ek cl)opas re kol Kivqa-ecos kol Kpaaews TTpos aWrjXa A
yiyveTaL TravTa^ a 877 (fyajxcv elvai, ovk 6p6m irpocrayopevov- iii
res* €OTt )U€i^ yap ovbeTTOT ov5eV, ael 8e yiyverai.

Theaet. 152 D.

' All sensible objects are but temporary products
of rhythmical movement and interaction of forces,
and though we attribute existence to them we are
at fault in our terminology : the truth being that
nothing ever exists, but on every occasion merely

'Ek r/jj TTpoo-jSoXrjs tw oixixdrctiv TTpos r-qv TrpoariKovcrav iv
(f)opav (pavelrat yeyevr\\xivov, ovre to iipoa^aKkov ovre to
TTpoa-^aXkopievov lorai, akka fX€Ta^v tl eKaoTO) tbiop
yeyovos. Theaet. 153 E.

' Every visible quality will clearly be a result of
contact between the eyes on the one hand and the
external motion naturally adapted to affect them on
the other : in short, it w^ill be neither that which
meets this motion nor the motion that is thus met,
but with each individual alike it will be a tertiuiin
quid, — a product peculiar to himself.'

'Ek r?79 TOVTdiv ofjukias re kol TpLxj/eoiS irpos akkrika V
yiyveTat to ij.€v alaOijTOVj to be at(r6r]o-Ls, aet avveK'ni-
TiTOvaa KOL y€vv(i>p,ivrj jieTo, tov alcrOriTov. Theaet. 1 56 A.

' It is from the mutual relations and contact
between these two kinds of motion that there
results, on the one hand the sensible object, and
on the other the sensation of this object^ the latter
being always thrown up as a concomitant product
with the former.'

Oi^re yap ttolovv iaTL tl TTplv av r<S TrdaxovTt (rvvekOrj, vi
oi^re TTaa-^^ov irplv av rw 7:olovvtl. Theaet. 157 A.

' The external or objective element has no definite
qualification till after contact with the internal or
subjective, nor has the latter until it meets the

B 2,


A Aeyofiev kv fi-qheu avTO KaO' avro elvai fjn-jb^ av to

VI TTOLOvv i] -ndayov, aAA.' 6^ afJ-cfyoT^pooi^ irpds ak\ii\a avyyi-

yvo\i.kvuiV raf alaOrjcr^LS Kal Taala-OrjTa aTTOTLKTOvra ra [xkv

TTota arra yiyvecrOai to. 8e aladavoixeva. Theaet. 182 A,

* Our contention is that nothing has independent
existence, neither the objective nor the subjective
element, but that these two, by their inter-relation,
produce our sensations on the one side and sensible
objects on the other^ whereby, not only do these
objects receive definitive qualities, but at the same
time our senses become actually sensible of them.'

vii "Q.(rT€ ovbev etvai ev avro Ka6* avro, aWd tlvl a€l

yiyv^a-Oai^ to 8' * elvat ' iravTaxoOev ((aipeTiov.

Kal etre tls eXvai tl ovofJidC^L ' tlvl ' etvai t) ' tlvos '
7] ' TTpos TL ' pifTeov avT(^ etr€ ylyvea-OaL,

TkvKV yap J jJL-qhevl be yXvKV, ahwaTov yevicrOai.

Theaet, 157 A.

* Nothing therefore exists independently and
universally, but on all occasions presents itself
solely as an appearance to some individual subject,
and the term " existence " should be generally

' And when we say that something exists we
should always add "for a certain individual," or
" as the content of some one's thought " ; or " in
relation to something else " ; the same holding good
also of becoming.'

' That a thing should appear as sweet, indepen-
dently of some sentient subject, is a contradiction in

These passages, especially the last, seem at first
sight to express as clearly as is possible the doctrine
of the relativity of knowledge, or rather the truth
that subject and object are correlatives ; that, in other
words, the existence of an object apart from a subject
that knows it, and the existence of a subject apart


from objects known by it are equally unintelligible. A
We shall see, however, that the Greeks had not a fu-m
hold on this commonplace of modern thought, and
their failure in this respect led to frequent confusion.
The standpoint here throughout is always dualistic ;
the sensible or material world on the one hand, exist-
ing in its own indefeasible right, and a sentient
organism on the other, which somehow, through its
peculiar structure, is capable of being impressed by
this independent matter, which it thereupon becomes
aware of through psychical processes representing
physical counterparts. All that the above phrases
imply, therefore, is that such qualities as heat and
cold, sweet and sour, &c., are purely subjective,
though they may be due in part to certain molecular
movements of matter. As we shall see later, modern
idealism is really based on an extension of the dictum
yXvKV yap fi-qhevl he ykvKv ahvvaTov yevicrBai, and embraces
not merely qualities that obviously have no existence
apart from feelings of the body, but every possible
attribute of the material world, all of which alike it
holds to be relative to a thinking subject.

Bearing in mind, therefore, that our attitude is at B
present a purely psychological one, we can now view
the results of such extreme individualistic sensation-
alism, where knowledge is simply identified with
sense-perception, or rather with unqualified sensation,
whose formula is ovk oKKo tl ianv iina-rriixr] t) alcrdriais.
It involves the impossibility of not only predication,
which would generally be accepted as the common
factor and indispensable condition of all knowledge,
but even of nomenclature. For if the real is nothing
more than the ceaseless flux of sense, changing every


B moment and for every individual, clearly nothing can
be named. The most we can do is to express by mere
sounds the recurring changes as they flow ^. To give
any feeling or sensation a name implies fixity and
identity, and such is, ex hypothesi, impossible. Each
sensation has, and has not, every possible quality,
for we cannot even call it ' this ' or ' that,' as such
terms at once arrest the constant stream which we
assume. Even the recipient of the sensations must
not call them ' his,' for that would be to take them
out of their place — if ^ place ' indeed they can be said
to have — in the flux, and to endue them with the
permanency of a permanent subject ; whereas we are
now assuming nothing but a ceaseless succession of
psychical states. Whether there c^n be such psychical
states apart from the unity given by a ^^vyji, or
whether a succession of feelings ' in time ' can be
known as such, except by a principle which itself is
not * in time,' we shall have to inquire later. At
present we notice that this form of sensationalism
entails the destruction of all language.

iii Ov hei ovT^ ' rt ' (jvy\ci>peiv ovre ' tov ' ovt ' efxov ' ovre

' Tohe ' OVT ' iKelvo ' o^re aWo ovh\v ovoiia, 6 tl av Io-tt],
akXa Kara (pvatv (f)d€yy€(76aL yiyv6\x€va koX TToiovix^va
Kol aiToXkviJL^va kol akKoLOVfxeva' wj edv tl tls (TT7](Tr] ra>
Xoy(j) evikeyKTo^ 6 tovto iroLcav.

* We have no right to admit the term " something"
or " somebody's " or "mine" or " this " or "that"
or any word whatever implying fixity, but as
phenomena pass before us, thi^ough their origin,
their cessation, and their various transformations,
we should mark each successive change by mere
sounds which nature may suggest, since any attempt

1 Cf. T. H. Green, Introd. to Hume, §§ 213, 205.


Aet be Kol Kara fxipo^ ovroi Xiyetv, kol irepl iroWoiv B
aOpoLorOivTODV, w hrj aOpotafjiaTL ' avOpMirov ' re TiOevrai koX viii
^ KiOov^ Kal €Ka(TTov C^ov re Kal et8os. Theaet. 157 B.
to fix them by the use of rational language is open
to obvious and fatal objections.

' These strictures apply both to proper and to
common terms, such as '^ man," " stone," and every
other animal and species.'

For, suppose we name a sensation that of ' white-
ness ' :

'E-TreiS^ 6e ovhe tovto /xeVet (since Trai^ra pet koL ovh\v ix
/otei/ei) — TO ^ XevKOV peh; to peov, — aWa /mera^aXAet,


IxeTa/Bokriv els akkrjv y^poav Xva [xr] aA^ TavTj] fjievov, apd
TTOTe olov re rt iipoa-enieiv xP^/^ct? coore Kal opQSt^
■npoaayopeveiv ; koX tls ixr])(^avrj, o) ScoKpare? ; 17 aWo
yi rt Tcov tolovtmv, etTrep aet KiyovTos L'Tre^epxerat, aTe
8t) piov ; rt 6e Trept ato-^TJcrecoy ipovpiev diroiaa-ovv, olov
TTJs Tov opav 7) cLKOveLv ; [xevetv Trore ev avT^ rw opav r)
OLKOveiv ; ovkovv 8et ye etTrep irdvTa KiveiTai. ovTe apa
opav TTpoa-prjTeov rt piakkov rj jur) opav ovbe tiv akkrjv

' Since it is a fact that there is no permanency
even in this point, viz. that this particular flux
should continue to flow as "white," but, on the
contrary, undergoes a change, with the result that
the very thing we are considering, i. e. whiteness,
also partakes of the flux and passes into another
colour, refusing to be convicted of definite attributes,
can we ever speak of any specific colour without
an abuse of language ? I can't see the possibility,
Socrates. And the same applies to all similar
qualities, if the thing escapes you as fast as you
predicate the word. What then are we to say about
any one of the senses, e. g. that of sight or sound, —
that they ever exhibit any permanency in the sight
or the sound ? Obviously we cannot, if motion is
universal. Our conclusion, therefore, forbids us to
speak of seeing any object any more than of not


B ataO-qaLV jxaWov rj fjufj, iravTOiv ye 7ravT0)S KLVOVfihiiiV.
ix oi yap ovv. Theaet. 182, D.

seeing it ; and similarly with any other of the
senses, if we accept this doctrine of universal and
all-pervading change. It does.'

The logical result of this total absence of perma-
nency is the breakdown of all order in the qualities of
the objects of our supposed knowledge, since every-
thing may, on this view, exhibit any and every
possible attribute, including contradictories. For we
are assuming now that kma-Trnxr] is simply the equiva-
lent of at(Tdt]aL9 ; and, therefore, if the sense of touch,
e.g., reports an object as now hard, and now, in com-
parison with something else, as soft, then the same
thing evidently possesses contrary qualities. For our
formula forbids us to inquire into the grounds of the
paradox, since all relations constituted by the mind
for itself, to help it to right judgement upon its sensa-
tions, are on this theory strictly precluded. The
world becomes a chaos instead of a cosmos.

X To 8', 0)9 €OLK€Vj €(f)dvri, el TTCLVTa Kivelrai, Traaa 0.1:6-

Kpims, irepl otov av rt? aTTOKpivriTai^ ofJiOLoys opdrj eTvat,
*ovT(o' re 'e^eti^' ^avai koI ' [xi] oi^rco?,' et be /BovKet,
^ yiyvea-dai^ tva /xr/ aTrjo-ooiJiev avrov? rw Aoyw. 6pdu>s
Xeyei9. irkriv ye, S> &e6hoipe, on ^ ovTm " re eX-nov koI

' We may take it that, on the hypothesis of
universal movement, any one answer as to the
quality of any given sensation has been shown
to be just as correct as any other, and we may sa}^
indifferently ^' it is such " or " it is not such " ; or, if
you prefer it, '• it becomes such," since we must
avoid bringing these running gentlemen (sc. the
Heracliteans) to any halt during our argument.
A fair conclusion. Fair enough, Theodorus, with the


* ovx ovro).' b€L he ovb^ tovto {to) '^ ovtci)^ KiyeiV ovhe B
yap av €tl klvoIto {to) ' ot/ro)' ' ovb^ av ^ (jltj ovtco' ' ovbe X
yap TOVTO KLvrjais' aXXa tiv aWrjv (f)(t)vr]v deriov, o)?
vvv ye TTpbs T-qv amc^v vTroOeaLv ovk expvcn prip.aTa, €t
fXT) apa to ' o{i6' otto)?.' Theciet. 183 A.

exception that I mentioned the words " such " and
" not such " ; whereas one has no right even to
this term " such," which would imply an exception
from the universal law of change, and so too with
" not such " which is also the negation of change.
In short, they must invent some other system of
language ; for, as things stand, they have no words
capable of meeting the logical results of their own
theory, — unless perhaps we make them a present of

Such nihilism then is the direct conclusion from the
premises of both Heracleitus and Protagoras, expressed
either as iTavTa pel or iravTcxiv jxiTpov avOpoi-nos. Such is
the result of the unqualified statement that k-niuTrnxr] =
ata-O-qcTLs, ov that ' the real ' is an unconnected or only
casually connected congeries, where ro 6v simply =
TToXXd, multiplicity.


Now Heracleiteanism on its physical side may very Q
well represent the substantial truth of the matter.
Allowing for necessary imperfections in the formulat-
ing of the doctrine, due to the elementary state of
contemporary Physics, we may admit the applicability
of TTCLVTa pa. to the ceaseless processes of Nature ; and
if this were all, if the mind were simply a sort of
photographic plate on to which an eternal succession
of pictures is impressed, each one gone as the next


C appears, with no active functions of its own to dis-
criminate between them or between them and itself,
then knowledge indeed would be a delusion, and we
should have to acquiesce in the inevitable scepticism
which is generally associated with the name of
Heracleitus. Before doing so, however, it may be
well to have another look at the act of sense-perception
from which such nihilism is said to flow, in the hope
of discovering some surer foothold, some principle or
principles of unity in this multiplicity of sense.

The first and most obvious distinction revealed by
such analysis is that between (i) qualities given by
one particular sense, e. g. colour by the eyes, &c., and
(2) qualities common to two or more of these senses
e. g. number, figure, &c., as to which, whether they may
be properly termed sensations or not, remains to be
seen. The former are, roughly speaking, what Locke
calls ' simple ideas,' Hume ' simple impressions,' and
Aristotle ibta alard-qra, being also known as ' secondary
qualities ' : the latter are distinguished as ' primary
qualities,' and are by Locke attributed to the ' work of
the mind'; they are also the kolvo, alaOrjTo. of Aristotle.

xi Kat fxoL Xeye' Oepfia kol (rK\r]pa kol Kovcfya Kai y\vK€a

bi (Lv aL(T6dv€L, apa ov tov a-oi>\xaros ^Kaara Ti6r]<s ; r) aXXov
TLvos ; ovbevbs aKXov. rj kol eOeXijfreis SfioXoyelv a bi'
krepas bvvdfieods aladdrei, dbvvaTov ^Tvai bi dXXrjs ravr
aio-dio-dai, olov a bi a/cof/s-, 8t' o'x/Aecoj, rj a bi ov//ea)?, bi

Tell me, — the sources of your perception of heat,
resistance, weight, sweetness, &c., would you not
attribute them each and all to the body ? Certainly,
to nothing else. You are also prepared to admit
that the reports given by one faculty cannot be
obtained through another, e. g. those of sound
through that of sight, or vice versal Of course.


aKorjs ; TTci)? yap ov ; et rt apa irepl cnx^oripiav biavoel, C
ovK av hid ye rov hipov opydvov ovh^ av hta rod krepov xi
TTept djXi^OTipoiv ala-Odvoi dv. ov yap ovv. irepl hrj
(poivfjs Kal -nepl XP^^^ irputTOv [ikv avrb tovto irepl
dix(j)OT€p(i)v rj hiavo^ly on diKpoTepcD iarov ; iymye. ovkovv
Kal OTL eKarepov kKaripov ixkv €T€pov eavTu> be ravrov ;
TL \xriv ; Kal on dix(f)OT€po) hvo eKdrepov be ev ; Kal tovto.
OVKOVV Kal etre dvofxoLit) etre ofioLoo dAATJAoiz^, bvvaTos el
e-nia-KeylraaOai ; to-oos. (i. e. existence, identity, num-
ber, resemblance) TavTa 8r) iravTa bid tivos Trepl avTolv
biavoel; ovTe yap bi aKorjs ovTe bi oxj/eoos olov re to
KOLvbv \ap.^dveiv irepl avTcav. rj be bid tivos bvyap-is to
T eirl TracTt kolvov Kal to eirl tovtols brjXoi crot w ro ' ecTTiv
(TTOvoiJidCeLS Kal to ' ovk eaTt,^ Kal a br} rjpMTOviiev irepl
avT&v ; ovaCav keyeis Kal to jut) etvat, Kal dpLOioTriTa Kau
dvofxaLOT-qTa Kal to TavTov re Kal to eTepov, ert 8e ev re Kai
Then, supposing you notice some common property
of both these reports, this thing, which is common
to the two objects, could hardly be due to either one
or the other of your two organs, in the way of sense-
perception ? Assuredly not. But, now, in the case
of any given sound and colour, you surely, in the
first place, do notice this common point about the
two, viz. that they are both there together"? Not
a doubt of it. And further, that each is distinct
from the other and identical with itself? Naturally.
And that both together make two and either of them
one? Even so. And, lastly, you are able to judge
of their mutual likeness or unlikeness ? Presumably.
By what power do you notice these numerous
properties of theirs, seeing that neither the ear
alone nor the eye alone can possibly become cogni-
zant of what is common to both ? And what is
the source of the faculty that reveals to us attri-
butes, common alike to these and all objects of sense,
which we designate by the terms "is," "is not,"
and the rest of the qualities we were discussing
about them? You mean of course existence and
non-existence, identity and distinction, singleness


C Tov aWov apLOfiov Trepl avrcav. aX\a /xa Aia, eycuye ovk

XI av €\oiixL elir^'iv 7TX't]v y on (jlol boKil ttjv apxrjv ovb' etvaL

TOLovTov ovh^v TovTOLS opyavov Ihiov uxnrep eKetvoL^, a\)C

avTT] bi avTijs r] yl/vyj] ra kolvcl fJLOi (fyaiveraL irepl -navTcnv

kiticrKo-n^lv. Theaet. 184 E.

and plurality. The solution of the problem, I confess,
lies be^^ond me, except in this one point, that at all
events I hold that there is no special sense-organ
for the perception of such qualities as there are for
those others, but that the mind apprehends these
common properties by its own intrinsic faculties.'

Again, it is but a crude psychology which makes
distinct compartments of the different senses, like the
separate warriors in a wooden horse. Our senses are
organic, and unified in the unity of consciousness.

xii Aetz/OL' yap ttov, el TToWai tlv€S h i]pXv axrirep h

hovp€ioi9 17777019 alcrd-qcreLS eyKdOrfrraL, aWa firj €ty p-tav
TLva Ibiav, etre \l/V)('t]v etre 6 n 8et Kakelv, TTavra ravra
avvT€iV€L, f] bta TovTcov olov opydvcov alaOai'oixeda oaa
ala-drjTa. Theaet. 184 d.

'Surely it is an extraordinary view which sees
a number of separate senses implanted in us like
soldiers packed into a wooden horse, instead of
regarding them as all co-ordinated upon a single
living principle — call it mind or what not, — which is

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