Diotima concludes her description of the provenance and nature of Eros with the following picture: ‘He is by nature neither mortal nor immortal (kai oute hôs athanatos pephuke oute hôs thnêtos), but alive and flourishing at one moment when he is in plenty, and dead at another moment in the same day (alla tote men tês autês hêmeras thallei te kai zê̢, hotan euporêsê̢, tote de apothnê̢skei), and again alive (palin de anabiôsketai) by reason of his father’s nature (dia tên tou patros phusin). But that which is always flowing in (to de porizomenon) is always flowing out (aei hupekrei), and so he is never in want (hôste oute aporei Erôs pote) and never in wealth (oute ploutei); and further, he is a mean between ignorance and knowledge (sophias te au kai amathias en mesô̢ estin). The truth of the matter is this (echei gar hôde): No god is a philosopher (theôn oudeis philosophei) or seeker after wisdom (oud’ epithumei sophos genesthai), for he is wise already (esti gar); nor does any man who is wise (oud’ ei tis allos sophos) seek after wisdom (ou philosophei). Neither do the ignorant seek after wisdom (oud’ au hoi amatheis philosophousin oud’ epithumousi sophoi genesthai); for herein is the evil of ignorance (auto gar touto esti chalepon amathia), that he who is neither a man of honour (to mê onta kalon k’agathon) nor wise (mêde phronimon) is nevertheless satisfied with himself (dokein hautô̢ einai hikanon): there is no desire when there is no feeling of want (oukoun epithumei ho mê oiomenos endeês einai hou an mê oiêtai epideisthai).’ (Pl. Symp. 203d8-204a7, tr. Jowett)
In ‘From Plato’s Symposium to Aristophanes’ Birds’, posted on May 13, I related Diotima’s story of the provenance and the nature of Eros – lines 203b1-d8 – to Aristophanes’ comedy; the Ancient commentators saw the link, and when Plato wrote that part of Diotima’s speech, he had in front of his eyes the caricatures of Socrates in the comedy, apart from Socrates in his own dialogues. But the concluding part, lines 203d8-204a7 quoted above, has no parallel in the comic caricatures of Socrates; only the picture of Socrates in Plato’s dialogues provides the reference point to which it can be meaningfully related.
Unfortunately, Jowett’s ‘that which is always flowing in is always flowing out’ for Plato’s to de porizomenon aei hupekrei seriously misrepresents the text. As if Jowett had in front of his mind the passage in Plato’s Gorgias, where Callicles maintains that ‘living pleasantly is in this (en toutô̢ estin to hêdeôs zên) – in having as much as possible flowing in (en tô̢ hôs pleiston epirrein). – Socrates: ‘But if the inflow is large, mustn’t the outflow be large too (Oukoun anankê g’, an polu epirreê̢, polu kai to apion einai), and mustn’t there be big holes for the outflow (kai megal’ atta ta trêmata einai tais ekroais;)?’ – Callicles: ‘Of course (Panu men oun).’ – Soc. ‘Then you speak of some torrent-bird’s life (Charadriou tina au su bion legeis).’ (Pl. Gorg. 494b1-6, tr. T. Irwin). On the margin of my Oxford text I noted a scholiast’s remark: Charadrios, ornis tis, hos hama tô̢ esthiein ekkrinei ‘Charadrios is a bird that at the same time eats and secrets.’ – Viewed in the light of Jowett’s translation, the concluding part of Diotima’s picture of the provenance of Eros can be seen as related to comic caricatures of Socrates. But Plato’s to de porizomenon does not mean ‘that which is always flowing in’; porizesthai means ‘furnish oneself with’, ‘procure’, ‘acquire’. It refers to Socrates’ strenuous searching for truth, for knowledge, where at the point when we think it is in his reach, he subjects his ‘find’ to doubting, thus ending in not-knowing. On reflection, a good example can be found in Plato’s Charmides.
The Charmides is narrated by Socrates to a noble (ô gennada, 155d3) friend (ô hetaire, 153b8, ô phile, 155c5). It begins with Socrates’ pronounced interest in philosophy, which gets him involved in an erotic scene, which he transforms into pursuit of philosophy, involving his interlocutors in search of sôphrosunê.
Sôphrosunê is commonly translated as ‘self-control’ or ‘temperance’, and it was commonly understood by the Greeks as such. Plato’s Socrates had no settled view of it. Thus in the Phaedrus he says: ‘When judgment guides us rationally towards what is best (doxês men oun epi to ariston logô̢ agousês), and has the mastery (kai kratousês), that mastery is called temperance (tô̢ kratei sôphrosunê onoma, 237e2-3, tr. Hackforth)’. In the Cratylus he derives the meaning of sôphrosunê from its etymology, defining it as the salvation of wisdom (sôphrosunê sôtêria phronêseôs, 411e4-412a1). In the Symposium Agathon says: ‘Temperance is the acknowledged ruler of the pleasures and desires (einai gar homologeitai sôphrosunê to kratein hêdonôn kai epithumiôn, 196c4-5, tr. Jowett). In the Phaedo Socrates says: ‘And then temperance too (Oukoun kai hê sôphrosunê), even what most people name “temperance” (hên kai hoi polloi onomazousi sôphrosunên) – not being excited over one’s desires (to peri tas epithumias mê eptoêsthai), but being scornful of them (all’ oligôrôs echein) and well-ordered (kai kosmiôs) – belongs, doesn’t it, only to those who utterly scorn the body (ar’ ou toutois monois prosêkei, tois malista tou sômatos oligôrousin te) and live in love of wisdom (kai en philosophiâ̢ zôsin; 68c8-12, tr. D. Gallop)?’ In the Republic Socrates says that ‘Temperance is the ordering or controlling of certain pleasures and desires (Kosmos pou tis hê sôphrosunê estin kai hêdonôn tinôn kai epithumiôn enkrateia, 430e6-7, tr. Jowett), and ‘the same opinion (hê autê doxa) present (enesti) in the rulers (tois te archousi) and the ruled (kai archomenois) as to the question (peri tou) who are to rule (houstinas dei archein, 431d9-e1)’. In the Alcibiades Socrates defines sôphrosunê as ‘knowing oneself’ (sôphrosunê esti to heauton gignôskein, 131b4).
In the Charmides sôphrosunê is the subject of investigation; this is why I refrain from translating it, as well as the related adjective sôphrôn (‘self-controlled’, ‘temperate’). I nevertheless ‘translate’ in square brackets the adverb sôphronôs [‘wisely’], and the verb forms sôphronein (infinitive), sôphronei (the 3rd person singular), sôphronousin (the 3rd person plural) I ‘translate’ in brackets as [‘think wisely’], for it is essential to view sôphronein as an activity, as the verb suggests.
Socrates says that in the evening of the preceding day he returned from the camp at Potidaea: ‘Having been away a long time (hoion de dia chronou aphigmenos), I gladly went (hasmenôs ê̢a) to engage in my usual pursuits (epi tas sunêtheis diatribas, 153a2-3).’ He went to the wrestling-school of Taureas, where he found a number of friends. They all wanted to know what happened at Potidea, for they just learnt that there was a great battle in which many Athenians died: ‘When we had enough of those things (Epeidê de tôn toioutôn hikanôs eichomen), I, in my turn, asked them about the things here (authis egô autous anêrôtôn ta tê̢de), about philosophy (peri philosophias), in what state was it at present (hopôs echoi ta nun), and about the young (peri te tôn neôn), if any among them (ei tines en autois) became pre-eminent for wisdom or beauty or both (diapherontes ê sophia̢ ê kallei ê amphoterois engegonotes eien, 153d2-5).’ Chaerephon and Critias, friends of Socrates of old, were both full of praise of young Charmides.
As Charmides entered the wrestling-school, Socrates narrates, ‘Chaerephon called to me and said (kai ho Chairephôn kalesas me): “What do you think of our young man (Ti soi phainetai ho neaniskos), Socrates (ô Sôkrates;)? Hasn’t he got a lovely face (ouk euprosôpos;)?” “Extraordinarily so (Huperphuôs),” I said (ên d’ egô). “But this young man (Houtos mentoi),” he said (ephê), “if he wanted to strip (ei etheloi apodunai), you would think nothing of his face (doxei soi aprosôpos einai), so beautiful is the form of his body (houtôs to eidos pankalos estin).” To this they all agreed with Chaerephon (Sunephasan oun kai hoi alloi t’auta tauta tô̢ Chairephônti), and I (k’agô): “By Heracles (Hêrakleis),” I said (ephên), “how irresistible (hôs amachon) you make the man (legete ton andra), if he happens to have one more thing in addition (ei eti autô̢ hen dê monon tunchanei proson), a small one (smikron ti).” “What (Ti;)?” said (ephê) Critias (ho Kritias). “If his soul (Ei tên psuchên), I said (ên d’ egô), happens to be of good nature (tunchanei eu pephukôs).” “But (All’),” he said (ephê), “he is very beautiful and good in this respect too (panu kalos kai agathos estin kai tauta).” “Then why (Ti oun),” I said (ephên), “don’t we strip naked this itself of him (ouk apedusamen autou auto touto), and look at it (kai etheasametha) before his body-form (proteron tou eidous)? He is surely of such an age (pantôs gar pou têlikoutos ôn) that he already wants to engage in discussion (hôs êdê ethelei dialegesthai).” “And very much so (Kai panu ge), said Critias (ephê ho Critias), for he is a philosopher, you know (epei toi kai estin philosophos, 154c8-155a1).’
Socrates asked Critias to call Charmides: ‘”You’re quite right (Alla kalôs legeis),” Critias said (ephê). “We’ll call him (kai kaloumen auton).” With that he turned to his attendant (Kai hama pros ton akolouthon). “Boy (Pai),” he said (ephê), “call Charmides (kalei Charmidên). Tell him (eipôn) I want to have him see a doctor (hoti boulomai auton iatrô̢ sustêsai) about the complaint (peri tês astheneias) he spoke to me of the day before yesterday (hês prô̢ên pros me elegen hoti asthenoi).” Critias then turned and said to me (Pros oun eme ho Critias), “You see, he said recently he’d been having headaches (Enanchos toi ephê barunesthai ti tên kephalên) when he got up in the morning (heôthen anistamenos). Now what’s to stop you pretending (alla ti se kôluei prospoiêsasthai) to him (pros auton) that you know some remedy for a headache (epistasthai ti kephalês pharmakon)?” “Nothing (Ouden),” I said (ên d’ egô). Just let him come (monon elthetô).” “He’ll be here (All’ hêxei),” he replied (ephê).’
‘Which is just what happened (Ho oun kai egeneto). He came (hêke gar), and he caused a great deal of laughter (kai epoiêse gelôta polun): each of us (hekastos gar hêmôn) who were sitting down (tôn kathêmenôn) tried to make room for him by pushing his neighbour away in a frantic attempt to have the boy sit next to him (sunchôrôn ton plêsion eôthei spoudê̢, hina par hautô̢ kathezoito), until we forced the man sitting at one end of the row to stand up (heôs tôn ep’ eschatô̢ kathêmenôn ton men anestêsamen) and tipped the man at the other off sideways (ton de plagion katebalomen). In the event Charmides came and sat between me and Critias (ho de elthôn metaxu emou te kai tou Kritiou ekathezeto). Well, by then (entautha mentoi), my friend (ô phile), I was in difficulties (egô êdê êporoun), and the self-assurance I’d felt earlier that I’d talk to him quite easily had been knocked out of me (kai mou hê prosthen thrasutês exekekopto, hên eichon egô hôs panu ra̢diôs autô̢ dialexomenos). When (epeidê de) Critias told him I was the man who knew the remedy (phrasantos tou Kritiou hoti egô eiên ho to pharmakon epistamenos), he gave me a look (aneblepsen te moi tois ophthalmois) that is impossible to describe (amêchanon ti hoion) and made ready to ask me something (kai anêgeto hôs erôtêsôn). Everyone in the wrestling-school (kai hoi en tê̢ palaistra̢ hapantes) swarmed all around us (perierreon hêmas kuklô̢ komidê̢). That was the moment (tote dê), my noble friend (ô gennada), when I saw what was inside his cloak (eidon te ta entos tou himatiou). I was on fire (kai ephlegomên), I lost my head (kai ouket’ en emautou ên), and I considered (kai enomisa) Cydias to be the wisest man (sophôtaton einai ton Kudian) in matters of love (ta erôtika). When speaking of a handsome boy, he said (hos eipen epi kalou legôn paidos), by way of advice to someone (allô̢ hupotithemenos), “Take care (eulabeisthai) not to go as a fawn into a presence of a lion (mê katenanta leontos nebron elthonta) and be snatched as a portion of meat (moiran haireisthai kreôn).” I felt (autos gar moi edokoun) I’d been caught by just such a creature (hupo tou toioutou thremmatos healôkenai). All the same (homôs de), when Charmides asked me (autou erôtêsantos) whether I knew (ei epistaimên) the remedy for his headaches (to tês kephalês pharmakon), I somehow managed to answer (mogis pôs apekrinamên) that I did (hoti epistaimên).’ (155a8-e3; these lines are translated by Donald Watt.)
Socrates said that the head could be cured only if the soul were cured first. He claimed to have a leaf that would cure Charmides’ headaches if he submitted to a charm (epô̢dê, 155e5 and passim) that instils sôphrosunê in the soul.
Critias said that Charmides excelled in sôphrosunê, upon which Socrates turned to Charmides: ‘Tell me yourself (autos oun moi eipe) whether you agree with him (poteron homologies tô̢de) and say (kai phê̢s) that you already sufficiently participate in sôphrosunê (hikanôs êdê sôphrosunês metechein), or whether you are deficient in it (ê endeês einai, 158c2-4).’ – Charmides: ‘If I say I’m not sôphrôn (ean men gar mê phô einai sôphrôn), that would be strange to say such things against oneself (hama men atopon auton kath’ heautou toiauta legein), and at the same time I should show Critias here to be a liar (hama de kai Kritian tonde pseudê epideixô), and many others too (kai allous pollous), who think I am sôphrôn (hois dokô sôphrôn), as he maintains (hôs ho toutou logos). But if I say I am (ean d’ au phô) and praise myself (kai emauton epainô), it will perhaps appear obnoxious (isôs epachthes phaneitai). So I don’t have (hôste ouk echô) what I might answer you (hoti soi apokrinômai, 158d1-6).’
Socrates therefore proposed to examine him: ‘For it is clear (dêlon gar) that if sôphrosunê is present in you (hoti ei soi parestin sôphrosunê), you have some opinion about it (echeis ti peri autês doxazein). For surely it must, being in you (anankê gar enousan autên), if it is in you (eiper enestin), provide some perception (aisthêsin tina parechein), from which (ex hês) you would have an opinion about it (doxa an tis soi peri autês eiê), what sôphrosunê is, and what kind of a thing it is (hoti estin kai hopoion ti hê sôphrosunê, 158e7-159a3) … In order to find out (hina toinun topasômen) whether it is in you (eite soi enestin) or not (eite mê), tell me (eipe), what you say sôphrosunê is (ti phê̢s einai sôphrosunên) in your opinion (kata tên sên doxan, 159a9-10).
Charmides answered that it is ‘a sort of calmness’ (hêsuchiôtês tis, 159b5). Socrates found the answer wanting, for ‘sôphrosunê is one of those things that are kala (‘beautiful’, ‘admirable’)’ (tôn kalôn mentoi hê sôphrosunê estin, 159c1), yet the unfolding discussion shows that ‘things done quickly are just as kala (‘beautiful’, ‘admirable’) as things done calmly’ (kala de ouch hêtton ta tachea tôn hêsuchiôn pephantai, 160d2-3).
Socrates: ‘So again (Palin toinun), Charmides (ô Charmnidê), concentrating your mind more (mallon prosechôn ton noun) and looking into yourself (kai eis seauton emblepsas), taking thought of what kind of man sôphrosunê makes you by being present in you (ennoêsas hopoion tina se poiei hê sôphrosunê parousa), and what kind of thing it is (kai poia tis ousa) that it makes you such a man (toiouton apergazoito an), bringing all this together in your account (panta tauta sullogisamenos), say well (eipe eu) and manly (kai andreiôs), what it appears to you to be (ti soi phainetai einai).’ – Charmides: ‘I think then (Dokei toinun moi) that sôphrosunê makes a man feel shame and be easily ashamed (aischunesthai poiein hê sôphrosunê kai aischuntêlon ton anthrôpon), and that it is the same as the sense of shame (kai einai hoper aidôs hê sôphrosunê).’ (160d5-e5)
Socrates points out that sôphrosunê is not only kalon (‘beautiful’, ‘admirable’), but agathon (‘good’) as well: ‘Don’t you trust that Homer is right (Homêrô̢ ou pisteueis kalôs legein) when he says that (legonti hoti) “sense of shame (aidôs) is not good (ouk agathê) for a needy man (kechrêmenô̢ andri pareinai)”?’ Charmides agrees with Homer. Socrates: ‘And sôphrosunê is a good (Sôphrosunê de ge agathon) since it makes good those (eiper agathous poiei) in whom it is present (hois an parê̢) … So sôphrosunê can’t be a sense of shame (Ouk ara sôphrosunê an eiê aidôs), since it is agathon [‘a good’] (eiper to men agathon tunchanei on), but a sense of shame (aidôs de) is no more good (ouden mallon agathon) than bad (ê kai kakon, 161a8-b2).
Having failed to find a satisfactory definition of sôphrosunê by self-reflection, Charmides tells Socrates, in Jowett’s translation: ‘I have just remembered that I heard from someone, “Temperance is doing your own business.” Please consider whether he was right who affirmed that.’ – in Watt’s translation: ‘I’ve just remembered I heard from someone once: that self-control might be doing one’s own job. Give me your considered opinion. Was the man who said that right?’
Jowett’s ‘doing your own business’ and Watt’s ‘doing one’s own job’ for ta hautou prattein – ‘doing one’s own things’, ‘doing what is one’s own’ – turns Socrates’ questioning, which follows, into irrelevant quibbles. Let me give Socrates’ first query as an example. Socrates: ‘I should be surprised if we actually discover what it means (all’ ei kai heurêsomen auto hopê̢ echei, thaumazoim’ an), for it looks like a riddle (ainigmati gar tini eoiken) … for he presumably did not mean what his words pronounced (Hoti ou dêpou hê̢ ta rêmata ephthenxato tautê̢ kai enoei) when he said (legôn) that sôphrosunê is doing one’s own things (sôphrosunên einai to ta hautou prattein). Or do you think that the schoolmaster does nothing (ê su ouden hêgê̢ prattein ton grammatistên) when he writes (hotan graphê̢) or reads (ê anagignôskê̢)? … Then do you think (Dokei oun soi) that it’s only his own name that the schoolmaster writes (to hautou onoma monon graphein ho grammatistês) and reads (kai anagignôskein), or teaches you boys (ê humas tous paidas didaskein), or didn’t you write your enemies’ names just as much as your own and your friends’ names (ê ouden hêtton ta tôn echthrôn egraphete ê ta humetera kai ta tôn philôn onomata;)?’ (161c8-d9)
In Greek, once you accept that ‘writing’ and ‘reading’ are activities designated as prattein, then ‘writing your own name’ is a perfect example of to hautou prattein ‘doing one’s own thing’.
Critias, when he took over, attempted to save the definition by drawing a difference between ‘making’ (poiein) and ‘doing’ (prattein), defining ta hautou prattein as ‘doing good things’ (tên tôn agathôn praxin, 162e-163e). Socrates said to him: ‘I have no objection to your giving names any signification which you please (all egô soi tithesthai men tôn onomatôn didômi hopê̢ an boulê̢ hekaston), just make it clear (dêlou de monon) to what you apply (eph’ hoti an pherê̢s) whichever name you use (t’ounoma hoti an legê̢s). Now then (nun oun), begin again (palin ex archês), and define it plainer (saphesteron horisai). Is it doing good things (ara tên tôn agathôn praxin), or making (ê poiêsin) or whatever you want to call it (ê hopôs su boulei onomazein), which you are saying sôphrosunê is (tautên legeis su sôphrosunên einai)? – Critias: ‘I am’ (Egôge). – Soc. ‘So it is not the man who does bad things that sôphronei [‘thinks wisely’] (Ouk ara sôphronei ho ta kaka prattôn), but the one who does good things (all’ ho t’agatha;)? – Crit. ‘But you don’t think it to be so (Soi de ouch houtô dokei;)? – Soc. ‘Leave it (Ea); for let us not investigate what I think, just yet (mê gar pô to emoi dokoun skopômen), but what you’re saying now (all’ ho su legeis nun).’ – Crit. ‘Well then (Alla mentoi); I say that the man who does not make good things, but bad ones, does not sôphronei [‘think wisely’] (egôge ton mê agatha alla kaka poiounta ou phêmi sôphronein), whereas the one that does good things (ton de agatha), but not bad ones (alla mê kaka), sôphronei ‘thinks wisely’] (sôphronein). For I plainly define sôphrosunê as the doing of good things (tên gar tôn agathôn praxin sôphrosunên einai saphôs soi diorizomai).’ – Soc. ‘And perhaps nothing stands in the way of your being right (Kai ouden ge se isôs kôluei alêthê legein); I nevertheless marvel at this (tode ge mentoi thaumazô), that you think that men who sôphronousi [‘who think wisely’] (ei sôphronountas anthrôpous hêgê̢ su) do not know that they sôphronousi [‘that they think wisely’] (agnoein hoti sôphronousin).’ (163d5-164a3)
It is very difficult to express the last section, in which the verb sôphronein plays a significant role, in English. Thus Benjamin Jowett translates Socrates’ last words ‘but I am surprised that you think temperate men to be ignorant of their own temperance’; Donald Watt ‘However, I am surprised that you believe that men who are self-controlled do not know that they are self-controlled.’ But if we are to understand Socrates’ subsequent refutation of Critias’ thesis, we must understand the verb sôphronein in its function as a verb, i.e. expressing an activity. That’s why I translate it in square brackets as ‘thinking wisely’.
Critias denies thinking ‘that men who sôphronousi [‘who think wisely’] do not know that they sôphronousi [‘that they think wisely’]: ‘But I do not think so (All’ ouch hêgoumai). – Soc. ‘Weren’t you saying a short while ago (Ouk oligon proteron elegeto hupo sou) that nothing prevents craftsmen (hoti tous dêmiourgous ouden kôluei), who are making other people’s things (kai au ta tôn allôn prattontas), from sôphronein [‘from thinking wisely’] (sôphronein)? -Crit. ‘I was (Elegeto gar). But what of it (alla ti touto;)?’ (164a5-8)
Before proceeding to Socrates’ answering Critias’ ‘But what of it’, let us revert to the exchange between the two, which took place ‘a short while ago’. Critias took over from Charmides, and Socrates turned to him: ‘Tell me (Kai moi lege), do you also agree with what I was now asking (ê kai ha nundê elegon sunchôreis), that all craftsmen make something (tous dêmiourgous pantas poiein ti;)?’ – Crit. ‘I do (Egôge).’ – Soc. ‘Well then (Ê oun), do you think they make only their own things (dokousi soi ta heautôn monon poiein) or other people’s things too (ê kai ta tôn allôn)?’ – Crit. ‘Other people’s things too (Kai ta tôn allôn).’ – Soc. ‘Sôphronousin [‘do they think wisely’] then (Sôphronousin oun), when they are not doing only their own things (ou ta heautôn monon prattontes;)? – Crit. ‘For what prevents it (Ti gar kôluei;)?’ – Soc. ‘Nothing as far as I am concerned (Ouden eme ge); but see (all’ hora) whether it does not prevent that man (mê ekeinon kôluei) who assumes (hos hupothemenos) that sôphrosunê is doing one’s own things (sôphrosunên einai to ta heautou prattein) and then maintains that nothing prevents (epeita ouden phêsi kôluein) even those who do other people’s things sôphronein [to think wisely’] (kai tous ta tôn allôn prattontas sôphronein).’ Crit. ‘For I presumably agreed to this (Egô gar pou touth’ hômologêka), that those who do other people’s things sôphronousin (hôs hoi ta tôn allôn prattontes sôphronousin), had I agreed that those who make (ei tous poiountas hômologêka).’ – Soc. ‘Tell me (Eipe moi), don’t you call “making” and “doing” the same thing (ou t’auton kaleis to poiein kai to prattein)?’ – Crit. ‘I don’t (Ou mentoi).’ (162e7-163b3)
By making a distinction between “making” and “doing” Critias attempted to avoid being refuted, with little success. To give the refutation in full, let me start again.
Critias: ‘I plainly define sôphrosunê as the doing of good things (tên gar tôn agathôn praxin sôphrosunên einai saphôs soi diorizomai).’ – Soc. ‘And perhaps nothing stands in the way of your being right (Kai ouden ge se isôs kôluei alêthê legein); I nevertheless marvel at this (tode ge mentoi thaumazô), that you think that men who sôphronousi [‘who think wisely’] (ei sôphronountas anthrôpous hêgê̢ su) do not know that they sôphronousi [‘that they think wisely’] (agnoein hoti sôphronousin).’ – Crit. ‘But I do not think so (All’ ouch hêgoumai). – Soc. ‘Weren’t you saying a short while ago (Ouk oligon proteron elegeto hupo sou) that nothing prevents craftsmen (hoti tous dêmiourgous ouden kôluei), who are doing other people’s things (kai au ta tôn allôn prattontas), from sôphronein [‘from thinking wisely’] (sôphronein)? -Crit. ‘I was (Elegeto gar). But what of it (alla ti touto;)?’– Soc. ‘Nothing (Ouden); but tell me (alla lege) whether you think that a doctor (ei dokei tis soi iatros), when making someone healthy (hugia tina poiôn), does what is beneficial both to himself (ôphelima kai heautô̢ poiein) and to the man (kai ekeinô̢) he is curing (hon iô̢to)?’ – Crit. ‘I do (Emoige).’ … Soc. ‘Then must a doctor know (ê oun kai gignôskein anankê tô̢ iatrô̢) when his curing is beneficial (hotan te ôphelimôs iatai) and when it’s not (kai hotan mê;)? Must every craftsman know (kai hekastô̢ tôn dêmiourgôn) when he’s likely to profit (hotan te mellê̢ onêsesthai) from whatever work he does (apo tou ergou hou an prattê̢) and when he’s not (kai hotan mê;)?’ – Crit. ‘Perhaps not (Isôs ou).’ – Soc. ‘So sometimes (Eniote ara) having done something beneficial (ôphelimôs praxas) or harmful (ê blaberôs), the doctor (ho iatros) does not know himself (ou gignôskei heauton), which he has done (hôs epraxen). And yet (kaitoi), having done what is beneficial (ôphelimôs praxas), he has done it sôphronôs [‘wisely’]. Or wasn’t this what you said (ê ouch houtôs eleges;)?’ – Crit. ‘Yes, it was (Egôge).’ -Soc. ‘Then (Oukoun), as it seems (hôs dokei), sometimes (eniote) having done what is beneficial (ôphelimôs praxas), he is doing sôphronôs [‘wisely’] (prattei men sôphronôs) and sôphronei [‘thinks wisely’] (kai sôphronei), but he does not know himself that he sôphronei [‘thinks wisely’] (agnoei d’ heauton hoti sôphronei).’ (163e10-164c6)
When Critias realizes that by re-defining sôphrosunê as ‘the doing of good things’ (tên gar tôn agathôn praxin), he appears to be losing the self-reflexivity implied in ‘doing one’s own things’ (ta hautou prattein) – the re-defined sôphrosunê appears to involve ‘not knowing oneself that one sôphronei’ – he is ready to abandon it: ‘But this (Alla touto men), Socrates (ô Sôkrates), can never happen (ouk an pote genoito). But if you think that something I said in my previous admissions (all’ ei ti su oiei ek tôn emprosthen hup’ emou hômologêmenôn) necessarily leads to this (eis touto anankaion einai sumbainein), I would rather withdraw something from those admissions (ekeinôn an ti egôge mallon anatheiên), and I would not be ashamed (kai ouk an aischuntheiên) to admit that what I said was not right (mê ouchi orthôs phanai eirêkenai), rather than ever agree (mallon ê pote sunchôrêsaim’ an) that a man, who does not know himself (agnoounta auton heauton anthrôpon), sôphronei [‘thinks wisely’] (sôphronein). For I dare say that sôphrosunê is this itself (schedon gar ti egôge auto touto phêmi einai sôphrosunên), “to know oneself” (to gignôskein heauton), and I agree with him (kai sumpheromai tô̢) who dedicated such an inscription at Delphi (en Delphois anathenti to toiouton gramma, 164c7-d5) … now I want to prove it to you (nun d’ ethelô toutou soi didonai logon), if you do not agree with me (ei mê homologies), that sôphrosunê is knowing oneself (sôphrosunên einai to gignôskein auton heauton).’ – Socrates: ‘But (All’), Critias (ô Kritia), you talk to me as if I am maintaining I know what I am asking about (su men hôs phaskontos emou eidenai peri hôn erôtô prospherê̢ pros me), and as if I’ll agree with you, if I really want to (kai ean dê boulômai, homologêsontos soi). But it’s not like that (to d’ ouch houtôs echei). For in fact I am investigating each proposition together with you (alla zêtô meta sou aei to protithemenon) because I do not know myself (dia to mê autos eidenai). So, when I’ve considered it (skepsamenos oun), I will say whether I agree with you or not. But wait (all’ episches) until I’ve considered it (heôs an skepsômai). – Crit. ‘Consider it, then (Skopei dê).’ – Soc. ‘And I am considering (Kai gar skopô). For if sôphrosunê is indeed knowing something (ei gar dê gignôskein ge ti estin hê sôphrosunê), it is clear (dêlon) that (hoti) it will be a knowledge (epistêmê tis an eiê), and of something (kai tinos). – Crit. ‘It is (Estin), of oneself (heautou ge).’ (165b3-c7)
Socrates: ‘Well then, tell me, (lege toinun) what do you say about sôphrosunê (peri tês sôphrosunês pôs legeis;).’ – Critias: ‘Well, I say (legô toinun) that it alone (hoti monê) of the knowledges (tôn allôn epistêmôn) is the knowledge both of itself and of the other knowledges (autê te heautês estin kai tôn allôn epistêmôn epistêmê).’ – Soc. ‘Would it be a knowledge of ignorance too (Oukoun kai anepistêmosunês epistêmê an eiê), if it is of knowledge (eiper kai epistêmês)?’ – Crit. ‘Certainly (Panu ge).’ – Soc. ‘So the sôphrôn (Ho ara sôphrôn [Watt’s ‘self-controlled man’, Jowett’s ‘wise or temperate man’] alone (monos) will know himself (autos te heauton gnôsetai) and be able to examine (kai hoios te estai exetasai) both what he knows and what he doesn’t know (ti te tunchanei eidôs kai ti mê), and he will be capable of investigating other people in the same way (kai tous allous hôsautôs dunatos estai episkopein), what any of them knows (ti tis oiden) and thinks he knows (kai oietai), if he does know (eiper oiden); and, again, what he thinks he knows (kai ti au oietei men eidenai), but does not (oiden d’ ou). No one else will be able to do that (tôn de allôn oudeis). And sôphronein [‘to think wisely’] is this (kai estin dê touto to sôphronein te), and sôphrosunê (kai sôphrosunê), and the knowing oneself (kai to heauton auton gignôskein): to know (to eidenai) what one knows (ha te oiden) and what one doesn’t know (kai ha mê oiden). Is this what you’re saying (ara tauta estin ha legeis:)? – Crit. ‘Yes (Egôge).’ (166e4-167a8)
After an intervening inquiry, Socrates presented Critias with the following picture: ‘If indeed (ei men gar), as we were supposing at first (ho ex archês hupetithemetha), the sôphrôn would know (ê̢dei ho sôphrôn) what he knew and what he did not know (ha te ê̢dei kai ha mê ê̢dei), that he knows the former (ta men hoti oiden) and that he does not know the latter (ta d’ hoti ouk oiden), and would be able to recognize another man in the same state (kai allon t’auton touto peponthota episkepsasthai hoios t’ ên), it would be of a great advantage to us to be sôphrones [nom. pl. of sôphrôn ‘to be wise’] (megalôsti an hêmin ôphelimon ên sôphrosin einai); for we would live our life without making mistakes (anamartêtoi gar an ton bion diezômen), both we, who would be having the sôphrosunê (autoi te hoi tên sôphrosunên echontes), and all those who would be governed by us (kai hoi alloi pantes hosoi huph’ hêmôn êrchonto). For neither should we (oute gar an autoi) attempt to do what we did not know (epecheiroumen prattein ha mê êpistametha), but finding those who know (all’ exeuriskontes tous epistamenous) we would give it over to them (ekeinois an paredidometha), nor should we allow others (oute tois allois epetrepomen), whom we governed (hôn êrchomen), to do anything else than that which they would do well (allo ti prattein ê hoti prattontes orthôs emellon prattein), and this would be (touto d’ ên an) of which they had knowledge (hou epistêmên eichon); and thus a house under the rule of sôphrosunê (kai houtô dê hupo sôphrosunês oikia te oikoumenê) would be beautifully ordered (emellen kalôs oikeisthai), and a state administered (polis te politeuomenê), and everything else that sôphrosunê governed (kai allo pan hou sôphrosunê archoi); for with error eliminated (hamartias gar exê̢rêmenês), and rightness in charge (orthotêtos de hêgoumenês), men, who are in this state, must do nobly and well in all their doings (en pasê̢ praxei kalôs kai eu prattein anankaion tous houtô diakeimenous), and those who do well (tous de eu prattontas) must have happiness (tous de eu prattontas eudaimonas einai). Was it not thus (ar’ ouch houtôs), Critias (ô Kritia), that we spoke of sôphrosunê (elegomen peri sôphrosunês), when we were saying (legontes) what a great good (hoson agathon) would be to know (eiê to eidenai) what one knows (ha te oiden tis) and what one does not know (kai ha mê oiden;)?’ – Crit. ‘Very true (Panu men oun, houtôs).’ (171d2-172a6)
From this point on Socrates involves Critias in questioning that ends in not-knowing: ‘Do you see (Hora̢s oun), Critias (ô Kritia), how all this time I had good reason to be apprehensive (hôs egô palai eikotôs ededoikê), and was quite right (kai dikaiôs) to accuse myself (emauton ê̢tiômên) of not conducting a worthwhile inquiry into sôphrosunê (hoti ouden chrêston peri sôphrosunês skopô;)? Something that is agreed to be the most admirable of all things wouldn’t have seemed to us to be of no benefit (ou gar an pou to ge kalliston pantôn homologeitai einai, touto hêmin anôpheles ephanê), if I had been any use at making a proper investigation (ei ti emou ophelos ên pros to kalôs zêtein). For as it is now, we have been utterly defeated (nun de pantachê̢ gar hêttômetha), and are unable to discover (kai ou dunametha heurein) to which actual thing (eph’ hotô̢ pote tôn ontôn) the lawgiver (ho nomothetês) gave this name (touto t’ounoma etheto), the sôphrosunê (tên sôphrosunên).’ (175a9-b4)
Diotima’s depiction of Eros in the Symposium thus chimes with Plato’s presentation of Socrates in the Charmides.