Describing the constant change, which is the predicament of all mortal living beings, Diotima finds it ‘still more surprising (polu de toutôn atopôteron eti) that it is equally true of science (hoti kai hai epistêmai); not only do some of the sciences come to life in our minds (mê hoti hai men gignontai), and others die away (hai de apolluntai hêmin), so that we are never the same in regard of them either (kai oudepote hoi autoi esmen oude kata tas epistêmas): but the same fate happens to each of them individually (alla kai mia hekastê tôn epistêmôn t’auton paschei, 207e5-208a3; translations from the Symposium are Jowett’s ).
Critias in the Charmides defined sôphrosunê as ‘knowing oneself (to gignôskein auton heauton, 165b4’), which he specified as the knowledge, ‘which alone of all sciences (hê monê tôn allôn epistêmôn) is the knowledge both of itself and of the other sciences (autê te heautês estin kai tôn allôn epistêmôn epistêmê)’. – Socrates: ‘Wouldn’t it be a knowledge of not-knowing as well (Oukoun kai anepistêmosunês epistêmê an eiê), if it is of knowledge (eiper kai epistêmês;)?’ – Critias: ‘Yes, certainly (Panu ge). (166a5-9) Socrates rephrased Critias’ definition, to make sure he understood: ‘And sôphronein [‘to think wisely’] is this (kai estin dê touto to sôphronein te), and sôphrosunê (kai sôphrosunê), and 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)
Having clarified this point, Socrates questions the very possibility of self-reflexivity: ‘See (Ide dê) what a strange thing (hôs atopon) we’re trying to say, my friend (epicheiroumen, ô hetaire, legein). If you look at that same proposition in other cases (en allois gar pou to auto touto ean skopê̢s), it’ll come to seem to you (doxei soi), I think (hôs egô̢mai), that it is impossible (adunaton einai).’ – Crit. ‘How (Pôs dê)? In what cases (kai pou;)?’ – Soc. ‘In these (En toisde). Consider (ennoei gar) whether you think there is a vision (ei soi dokei opsis tis einai) which is not the vision of what the other visions are visions of (hê hôn men hai allai opseis eisin, ouk estin toutôn opsis), but is the vision of itself and the other visions, and non-vision in the same way (heautês de kai tôn allôn opseôn opsis estin kai mê opseôn hôsautôs): and though it is a vision, it sees no colour (kai chrôma men hora̢ ouden opsis ousa), only itself (hautên de) and the other visions (kai tas allas opseis). Do you think there is such a vision (Dokei tis soi einai toiautê;)?’ – Crit. ‘Heavens (Ma Di’), no, I don’t (ouk emoige).’ – Soc. ‘What about hearing (Ti de akoên) which hears no sound (hê phônês men oudemias akouei), but hears itself and the other hearings (hautês de kai tôn allôn akoôn akouei) and non-hearings (kai tôn mê akoôn;)’ – Crit. ‘No, not that either (Oude touto).’ (167c4-d5, tr. D. Watt) … Soc. ‘Do you see (Hora̢s), then (oun), Critias (ô Kritia), that of all the examples we’ve gone through (hoti hosa men dielêluthamen), for some it seems to us absolutely impossible (ta men autôn adunata pantapasi phainetai hêmin), while in the case of the others it is very difficult to believe (ta d’ apisteitai sphodra), that they could ever relate their own faculty to themselves (mê pot’ an tên heautôn dunamin pros heauta schein; 168e3-5, tr. D. Watt)?’
Having rounded up the enquiry into Critias’ definition of sôphrosunê as self-reflective science by admitting his inability to either admit its possibility, or to reject it as impossible, Socrates changes the focus of his enquiry, saying that even if it were possible for there to be knowledge of knowledge, he could not accept that it is sôphrosunê, until he considered whether it would benefit us or not: ‘for I divine that sôphrosunê is something beneficial and good (tên gar oun dê sôphrosunên ôphelimon te kai agathon manteuomai einai, 169b4-5’).
Socrates: ‘Supposing there is knowledge of knowledge (epistêmê pou epistêmês ousa), will it be able to determine anything more (ara pleon ti hoia t’ estai diairein) than that one thing is knowledge (ê hoti toutôn tode men epistêmê) and another is not (tode d’ ouk epistêmê)?’ – Critias: ‘No (Ouk), just that (alla tosouton)’ – Soc. ‘Is it the same thing as knowledge and ignorance of what is healthy (T’auton oun estin epistêmê̢ te kai anepistêmosunê̢ hugieinou;)? Is it the same as knowledge and ignorance of what is just (kai epistêmê̢ te kai anepistêmosunê̢ dikaiou;)?’ – Crit. ‘Not at all (Oudamôs).’ – Soc. ‘The one is (Alla to men), I think (oimai), medicine (iatrikê), the other (to de) public affairs (politikê), while this one (to de) is nothing other (ouden allo) than knowledge (ê epistêmê).’ – Crit. ‘Of course (Pôs gar ou;)’ – Soc. ‘If a man doesn’t know in addition (Oukoun ean mê prosepistêtai tis) what is healthy (to hugieinon) and what is just (kai to dikaion), but knows only knowledge (all’ epistêmên monon gignôskê̢), inasmuch as he possesses knowledge only of that (hate toutou monon echôn epistêmên), he would in all probability know, both about himself and about others, that he or they know something and possess some knowledge (hoti men ti epistatai kai hoti epistêmên tina echei, eikotôs an gignôskoi kai peri hautou kai peri tôn allôn), wouldn’t he (ê gar;)?’ – Crit. ‘Yes (Nai).’ – Soc. ‘How will he know by that knowledge what he knows (Ho ti de gignôskei, tautê̢ tê̢ epistêmê̢ pôs eisetai;)? For example, he knows what is healthy by medicine (gignôskei gar dê to men hugieinon tê̢ iatrikê̢), not by sôphrosunê [D. Watt: ‘self-control’] (ou sôphrosunê̢); what is harmonious (to d’ harmonikon) by music (mousikê̢), not by sôphrosunê [D. W.: ‘self-control’] (all’ ou sôphrosunê̢); what makes a building (to d’ oikodomikon), by the art of building (oikodomikê̢), not by sôphrosunê [D. W.: ‘self-control’] (all’ ou sôphrosunê̢); and so on (kai houtô panta). Doesn’t he (ê ou;)?’ – Crit. ‘So it seems (Phainetai).’ – Soc. ‘How will he know by sôphrosunê [D. W.: ‘self-control’], if it is only the knowledge of knowledge (Sôphrosunê̢ de, eiper monon estin epistêmôn epistêmê, pôs eisetai), that he knows what is healthy (hoti to hugieinon gignôskei) or what makes a building (ê hoti to oikodomikon;)? – Crit. ‘He won’t at all (Oudamôs)’ – Soc. ‘So the man who is ignorant of that won’t know what he knows (Ouk ara eisetai ho oiden ho touto agnoôn), but only that he knows (all’ hoti oiden monon).’ – Crit. ‘It would appear so (Eoiken).’ – Soc. ‘Sôphronein [D.W.: ‘Being self-controlled’], or sôphrosunê [D.W.: ‘self-control’], wouldn’t be (Ouk ara sôphronein tout an eiê oude sôphrosunê) knowing (eidenai) what one knows (ha te oiden) and what one doesn’t know (kai ha mê oiden), but only, it would appear, that one knows and that one doesn’t know (all’, hôs eoiken, hoti oiden kai hoti ouk oiden monon).’ – Crit. ‘It may well be (Kinduneuei).’ – Soc. ‘Nor will the man be able to examine another man (Oude allon ara hoios te estai houtos exetasai) who claims he knows something (phaskonta ti epistasthai), to see whether he knows (poteron epistatai) what he says he knows (ho phêsin epistasthai) or whether he does not (ê ouk epistatai).’ (170a6-d7, tr. D. Watt)
Socrates clarifies this point even further by referring specifically to medicine: ‘So the sôphrôn [D.W.: ‘self-controlled man’] will know that the doctor possesses some knowledge (Hoti men dê epistêmên tina echei, gnôsetai ho sôphrôn ton iatron); but when he has to try to find out what it is (deon de peiran labein hêtis estin), won’t he consider what it is knowledge of (allo ti skepsetai hôntinôn;)? Hasn’t each knowledge been defined not just as a knowledge (ê ou toutô̢ hôristai hekastê epistêmê mê monon epistêmê einai), but also as a specific one (alla kai tis), by reference to (tô̢) what it is of (tinôn einai;)? – Crit. ‘Yes, indeed (Toutô̢ men oun).’ – Soc. ‘Medicine, then (Kai hê iatrikê dê), is distinguished from the other knowledges (hetera einai tôn allôn epistêmôn hôristhê) by being defined as the knowledge of what is healthy and what is deseased (tô̢ tou hugieinou einai kai nosôdous epistêmê).’ – Crit. ‘Yes (Nai).’ – Soc. ‘Then the man who wants to look at medicine must look at whatever things it is concerned with (Oukoun en toutois anankaion skopein ton boulomenon iatrikon skopein, en hois pot’ estin), and surely not at things with which it is not concerned (ou gar dêpou en ge tois exô, en hois ouk estin).’ – Crit. ‘Certainly (Ou dêta).’ – Soc. ‘The man looking at it properly, then, will consider the doctor qua medical man, in relation to what is healthy and what is deseased (En tois hugieinois ara kai nosôdesin episkepsetai ton iatron, hê̢ iatrikos estin, ho orthôs skopoumenos).’ – Crit. ‘It would appear so (Eoiken).’ – Soc. ‘As regards what is said or done in such a case (Oukoun en tois houtôs legomenois ê prattomenois), he’ll consider whether what is said is true (ta men legomena, ei alêthê legetai, skopoumenos) and whether what is done is right (ta de prattomena ei orthôs prattetai;)?’ – Crit. ‘He must (Anankê).’ – Soc. ‘Could anyone follow up either of those questions without medicine (Ê oun aneu iatrikês dunait’ an tis toutôn poterois epakolouthêsai;)?’ – Crit. ‘Certainly not (Ou dêta).’ – Soc. ‘No one could, it would appear, except a doctor (Oude ge allos oudeis, hôs eoiken, plên iatros); nor could the sôphrôn [D.W.: ‘self-controlled man’] either (oute dê ho sôphrôn), unless he were a doctor in addition to sôphrosunê [D.W.: ‘being self-controlled’] (iatros gar an eiê pros tê̢ sôphrosunê̢).’ – Crit. ‘That’s so (Esti tauta).’ – Soc. ‘So inevitably (Pantos ara mallon), if sôphrosunê [D.W.: ‘self-control’] is only the knowledge of knowledge (ei hê sôphrosunê epistêmês epistêmê monon estin) and of ignorance (kai anepistêmosunês), it won’t be able to distinguish the doctor (oute iatron diakrinai hoia te estai) who knows his art (epistamenon ta tês technês) from one who doesn’t (ê mê epistamenon), but pretends he does (prospoioumenon de) or thinks he does (ê oiomenon), or any other of those people (oute allon oudena) who know anything at all (tôn epistamenôn kai hotioun), except for the man who practices the same art as itself (plên ge ton hautou homotechnon), in the way other craftsmen do (hôsper hoi alloi dêmiourgoi).’ – Crit. ‘So it seems (Phainetai).’
And so Socrates asks: ‘What benefit would we get from sôphrosunê [D.W.: ‘self-control’] in that case, Critias? (Tis oun, ô Kritia, ôphelia hêmin eti an eiê apo tês sôphrosunês toiautês ousês;)’ (171a3-d2, tr. D. Watt)
But instead of waiting for Critias’ answer, Socrates presents him with an imposing picture of sôphrosunê: ‘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)
True to the picture of Eros-the philosopher, the sun of Poros (‘Inventiveness’, ‘Plenty’) and Penia (‘Poverty’), with which Diotima presents us in the Symposium, Socrates responds to Critias’ ‘Very true’ with a disclaimer: ‘But as things are (Nun de), you can see (hora̢s) that there is obviously no knowledge like that anywhere (hoti oudamou epistêmê oudemia toiaute ousa pephantai).’ – Crit. ‘I can (Horô).’ (172a7-9, tr. D. Watt)
Diotima’s reflection on ‘sciences’ in the Symposium chimes with Socrates’ reflections on ‘knowledges’ (epistêmai) so far discussed in the Charmides. But after revoking his magnificent picture of sôphrosunê in the name of all the doubts that preceded its formulation, Socrates waves the doubts and evokes it once again, but only to discard it definitively by pointing to an entirely new science.
Socrates: ‘Let’s see (idômen gar): if you like (ei boulei), let’s agree (sunchôrêsantes) that it’s possible to know knowledge (kai epistasthai epistêmên dunaton einai), and let’s not reject what we assumed at the beginning, that sôphrosunê [D.W.: ‘self-control’] is (kai ho ge ex archês etithemetha sôphrosunên einai) knowing (to eidenai) what one knows (ha te oiden) and what one doesn’t know (kai ha mê oiden). Let’s grant it for the sake of argument (mê aposterêsômen, alla dômen). Having granted all that (kai panta tauta dontes), let’s consider even more carefully (eti beltion episkepsômetha) whether something like that will in fact benefit us (ei ara ti kai hêmas onêsei toiouton on), because I don’t think that we were right in allowing what we were saying a minute ago, that sôphrosunê [D.W.: ‘self-control’] would be a great good if it were a thing like that, and organized the running of both house and state (ha gar nundê elegomen, hôs mega an eiê agathon hê sôphrosunê ei toiouton eiê, hêgoumenê dioikêseôs kai oikias kai poleôs, ou moi dokoumen, ô Kritia, kalôs hômologêkenai).’ – Crit. ‘Why (Pôs dê;)?’ – Soc. ‘Because (Hoti) we readily allowed that it was a great good (ra̢diôs hômologêsamen mega ti agathon einai) for men (tois anthrôpois) if each group of us (ei hekastoi hêmôn) were to do what it knows (ha men isasin, prattoien tauta) and were to hand over what it doesn’t know to others who do know (ha de mê epistainto, allois paradidoien tois epistamenois) (172c6-d10) … Supposing sôphrosunê [D.W.: ‘self-control’] were as we now define it, and did govern us completely (ei gar hoti malista hêmôn archoi hê sôphrosunê, ousa hoian nun horizometha) – wouldn’t everything be done as various knowledges directed (allo ti kata tas epistêmas pant’ an prattoito)? No one who claimed to be a pilot (kai oute tis kubernêtês phaskôn einai), but wasn’t (ôn de ou), would deceive us (exapatô̢ an hêmas); no doctor (oute iatros), no general (oute stratêgos), or anyone else (out’ allos oudeis) who pretended to know something (prospoioumenos ti eidenai) he didn’t know (ho mê oiden), would escape our notice (lanthanoi an). Under those circumstances (ek dê toutôn houtôs echontôn), wouldn’t the result be (allo an hêmin ti sumbainoi) that we should be healthier of body (ê huguiesin te ta sômata einai mallon) than now (ê nun), that when in danger at sea (kai en tê̢ thalattê̢ kinduneuontas) or in war (kai en polemô̢) we should escape unharmed (sô̢zesthai), and that all our utensils (kai ta skeuê), clothing (kai tên ampechonên), footwear (kai hupodesin pasan), indeed all our possessions (kai ta chrêmata panta) and many other things too, would be works of skill and art (technikôs hêmin eirgasmena einai kai alla polla), because we employed true craftsmen (dia to alêthinois dêmiourgois chrêsthai)? (173a8-c2) … Now, I agree that the human race, given this, would do things and live as knowledge directed (kateskeuasmenon dê houtô to anthrôpinon genos hoti men epistêmonôs an prattoi kai zô̢ê, hepomai) – because sôphrosunê [D.W.: ‘self-control’] would mount guard (hê gar sôphrosunê phulattousa) and wouldn’t let (ouk an eô̢ê) ignorance creep in (parempiptousan tên anepistêmosunên) and be a partner in our work (sunergon hêmin einai). But that doing things as knowledge directed (hoti d’ epistêmonôs an prattontes) we’d do well (eu an prattoimen) and be happy (kai eudaimonoimen), that is something we can’t as yet be sure of (touto de oupô dunametha mathein), my dear Critias (ô phile Kritia).’ – Critias: ‘On the other hand (alla mentoi), you won’t easily find any other complete form of success (ou râ̢diôs heurêseis allo ti telos tou eu prattein), if you disregard doing things as knowledge directs (ean to epistêmonôs atimasê̢s).’ (173c7-d7)
The text from 172c6-173d7 is given in Watt’s translation; I merely substituted sôphrosunê for his ‘self-control’, giving his ‘translation’ in square brackets. I have nevertheless misgivings concerning his translation of the last Critias’ entry. His ‘any other complete form of success’, which stands for Plato’s allo ti telos tou eu prattein, loses the most important word, telos, which means ‘that which is aimed for’, ‘the end of action’, ‘that which one strives to achieve’; eu prattein means ‘doing well’, and, as used by Socrates at the end of his peroration (at 173d4), it is tantamount to ‘being happy’. Jowett’s translation of Critias’ words is nearer the mark: ‘Yet I think that if you discard knowledge, you will hardly find the crown of happiness in anything else.’
Socrates (in Jowett’s translation): ‘Well, just answer me one small question (Smikron toinun me eti prosdidaxon). Of what is this knowledge (tinos epistêmonôs legeis; 173d8-9)? … which of the different kinds of knowledge makes him happy (tis auton tôn epistêmôn poiei eudaimona, 174a10-11)?’ Pressed by further questions, Critias finds the answer Socrates wants to hear: ‘The knowledge with which he discerns good and evil (hê̢ to agathon kai kakon).’ – Socrates: ‘You villain (Ô miare)! You have been carrying me round in a circle, and all this time hiding from me (palai me perielkeis kuklô̢, apokruptomenos) the fact that it is not the life according to knowledge (hoti ou to epistêmonôs ên zên) which makes men act rightly and be happy (to eu prattein te kai eudaimonein poioun), not even if it be knowledge of all the other sciences (oude sumpasôn tôn allôn epistêmôn), but one science only (alla mias ousês tautês monon), that of good and evil (tês peri to agathon te kai kakon).’ (174b10-c3, tr. Jowett)
In the last part of the discussion, in the course of which Socrates led Critias to ‘the knowledge/science of good and bad’, I skipped two passages, which seemed to me skippable. But these passages are important, for in them Socrates focusses attention on the broad spectrum of sciences, to which corresponds Diotima’s depiction of sciences as part of the world subjected to change. To make this point, let me give the Symposium passage in full (in Jowett’s translation, with lines 208a3-5 corrected in accordance with my preceding post), followed by the passages I skipped:
Diotima: ‘Nay, even in the life of the same individual there is succession and not absolute uniformity: a man is called the same, and yet in the interval between youth and age, during which every animal is said to have life and identity, he is undergoing a continual process of loss and reparation (epei kai en hô̢ hen hekaston tôn zô̢ôn zên kaleitai kai einai to auto, hoion ek paidariou ho autos legetai heôs an presbutês genêtai, houtos mentoi oudepote ta auta echôn en hautô̢ homôs ho autos kaleitai, alla neos aei genomenos, ta de apollus) – hair, flesh, bones, blood, and the whole body are always changing (kai kata tas trichas kai sarka kai osta kai haima kai sumpan to sôma). Which is true not only of the body (kai mê hoti kata to sôma), but also of the soul (alla kai kata tên psuchên), whose habits (hoi tropoi), tempers (ta êthê), opinions (doxai), desires (epithumiai), pleasures (hêdonai), pains (lupai), fears (phoboi), never remain the same in any one of us (toutôn hekasta oudepote ta auta parestin hekastô̢), but are always coming (alla ta men gignetai ‘but some are generated’) and going (ta de apollutai ‘others perish’). What is still more surprising (polu de toutôn atopôteron eti), it is equally true of science (hoti kai hai epistêmai); not only do some of the sciences come to life in our minds (mê hoti hai men gignontai), and others die away (hai de apolluntai hêmin), so that we are never the same in regard of them either (kai oudepote hoi autoi esmen oude kata tas epistêmas): but the same fate happens to each of them individually (alla kai mia hekastê tôn epistêmôn t’auton paschei). For what is implied in the word “rehearsing”, but the departure of knowledge (ho gar kaleitai meletan hôs exiousês esti tês epistêmês), which is ever being forgotten (lêthê gar epistêmês exodos), and is renewed and preserved by rehearsing, and appears to be the same although in reality new (meletê de palin kainên empoiousa anti tês apiousês mnêmên sô̢zei tên epistêmên, hôste tên autên dokein einai), according to that law by which all mortal things are preserved (toutô̢ gar tô̢ tropô̢ pan to thnêton sô̢zetai), not absolutely the same (ou tô̢ pantapasin to auto aei einai hôsper to theion), but by substitution, the old worn-out mortality leaving another new and similar existence behind (alla tô̢ to apion kai palaioumenon heteron neon enkataleipein hoion auto ên).’ (207d4-208b2)
Here Diotima views epistêmê (‘science’/’knowledge’) as intimately involved in human life. We differentiate between science and knowledge, viewing science as something existing on its own, apart from scientists, knowledge as something that pertains to those who know, scientists as well as non-scientists. In Plato’s concept of epistêmê, as discussed by Socrates in the Charmides within the ambit of sôphrosunê, and by Diotima in her speech concerning the birth and nature of Eros in the Symposium, there is no separation between science and knowledge; epistêmê is viewed as a human activity.
Reproduced in their context, the two skipped Charmides passages constitute a single passage. Critias: ‘Yet I think (alla mentoi) that if you discard knowledge, you will hardly find the crown of happiness in anything else (ou râ̢diôs heurêseis allo ti telos tou eu prattein ean to epistêmonôs atimasê̢s).’ – Socrates: ‘Well, just answer me one small question (Smikron toinun me eti prosdidaxon ‘teach me one thing more, a small thing’). Of what is this knowledge (tinos epistêmonôs legeis)? Do you mean a knowledge of shoe-making (ê skutôn tomês;)? – Crit. ‘God forbid (Ma Di’ ouk egôge).’ – Soc. ‘Or of working in brass (Alla chalkou ergasias;)?’ – Crit. ‘Certainly not (Oudamôs).’ – Soc. ‘Or in wool, or wood, or anything of that sort (Alla eriôn ê xulôn ê allou tou tôn toioutôn;)?’ – Crit. ‘No, I don’t (Ou dêta)’ – Soc. ‘Then we are giving up the doctrine (Ouk ara eti emmenomen tô̢ logô̢) that he who lives according to knowledge is happy (tô̢ eudaimona einai ton epistêmonôs zônta), for these live according to knowledge (houtoi gar epistêmonôs zôntes), and yet they are not allowed by you to be happy (ouch’ homologountai para sou eudaimones einai). But I think that you mean to confine happiness to those who live according to knowledge of some particular thing (alla peri tinôn epistêmonôs zônta su dokeis moi aphorizesthai ton eudaimona), such for example as the prophet, who, as I was saying [at 173c27, another passage I skipped], knows the future (kai isôs legeis hon nundê egô elegon, ton eidota ta mellonta esesthai panta, ton mantin). Is it of him you are speaking or of someone else (touton ê allon tina legeis;)?’ – Crit. ‘Yes, I mean him, but there are others as well (Kai touton egôge, kai allous).’ – Soc. ‘Who (Tina;)? Evidently someone (ara mê ton toionde) who knows the past and present as well as the future (ei tis pros tois mellousi kai ta gegonota panta eideiê kai ta nun onta), and is ignorant of nothing (kai mêden agnooi). Let us suppose that there is such a person (thômen gar tina einai auton), and if there is, you will allow that he is the most knowing of all living men (ou gar oimai toutou ge eti an eipois oudena epistêmonesteron zônta einai). – Crit. ‘Certainly he is (Ou dêta).’ – Soc. ‘Yet I should like to know one thing more (Tode dê eti prospothô): which of the different kinds of knowledge makes him happy (tis auton tôn epistêmôn poiei eudaimona)? Or do all equally make him happy (ê hapasai homoiôs;)?’ – Crit. ‘Not all equally (Oudamôs homoiôs).’ – Soc. ‘But which most tends to make him happy (Alla poia malista;)? The knowledge of what past, present, or future thing (hê̢ ti oiden kai tôn ontôn kai tôn gegonotôn kai tôn mellontôn esesthai;)? Is it, for example, the knowledge of the game of draughts (ara ge hê̢ to petteutikon;)?’ – Crit. ‘Nonsense: draughts indeed! (Poion, petteutikon;)’
[A good draughtsman must keep track of the opponent’s previous moves, be aware of the present state of the figures on the draughts board, and the expected forthcoming moves of the opponent. By mentioning the game of draughts Socrates, with his irony, brings down to earth the knowledge of the future, present, and past.]
Socrates: ‘Or of computation: (All’ hê̢ to logistikon;) – Crit. ‘No (Oudamôs).’ – Soc. ‘Or of health (All’ hê̢ to hugieinon;)?’ – Crit. ‘That is nearer the truth (Mallon).’ – Soc. ‘And that knowledge which is nearest of all (Ekeinê d’ hên legô malista), is the knowledge of what (hê̢ ti;)?’ – Crit. ‘The knowledge with which he discerns good and evil (Hê̢ to agathon kai kakon).’ (173d6-174b10, tr. B. Jowett)
***The way in which Socrates leads Critias to the knowledge/science that ascertains human happiness, that of the good and evil, can be seen to advantage in the light of the way in which Diotima leads the young Socrates to understand Eros, desire, in its relation to the good. When she explained to Socrates the birth and the nature of Eros, Socrates asked: ‘Assuming Love to be such as you say (toioutos ôn ho erôs), what is the use of him to men (tina chreian echei tois anthrôpois;)?’ – Diotima: ‘That (Touto dê meta taut’), Socrates (ô Sôkrates), I will attempt to unfold (peirasomai se didaxai): of his nature and birth I have already spoken (esti men gar dê toioutos kai houtô gegonôs ho Erôs); and you acknowledge that love is of the beautiful (esti de tôn kalôn, hôs su phê̢s). But someone will say (ei de tis hêmas eroito): What does it consist in (Ti tôn kalôn estin ho Erôs), Socrates and Diotima (ô Sôkrates te kai Diotima;)? – or rather let me put the question more clearly, and ask (hôde de saphesteron): When a man loves the beautiful (era̢ ho erôn tôn kalôn), what does his love desire (ti era̢;)?’ – Soc. ‘That the beautiful may be his (Genesthai hautô̢).’ – D.: ‘Still, the answer suggests a further question (All’ eti pothei hê apokrisis erôtêsin toiande): What is given by the possession of beauty (Ti estai ekeinô̢ hô̢ an genêtai ta kala;)?’ – S.: ‘To what you have asked, I have no answer ready (Ou panu ephên eti echein egô pros tautên tên erôtêsin procheirôs apokrinesthai).’ – D.: ‘Then, let me put the word “good” in the place of the beautiful, and repeat the question once more (All’ hôsper an ei tis metabalôn anti tou kalou tô̢ agathô̢ chrômenos punthanoito): If he who loves the good (Phere, ô Sôkrates, era̢ ho erôn tôn agathôn), what is it then that he loves (ti era̢)?’ – S.: ‘The possession of the good (Genesthai hautô̢).’ – D.: ‘And what does he gain (Kai ti estai ekeinô̢) who possesses the good (hô̢ an genêtai t’agatha;)?’ – S.: ‘Happiness, there is little difficulty in answering that question (Tout’ euporôteron echô apokrinasthai, hoti eudaimôn estai).’ – D.: ‘Yes, the happy are made happy by the acquisition of good things (Ktêsei gar agathôn hoi eudaimones eudaimones). Nor is there any need to ask (kai ouketi prosdei eresthai) why a man desires happiness (Hina ti bouletai eudaimôn einai ho boulomenos;); the answer is already final (alla telos dokei echein hê apokrisis).’ – S.: ‘You are right (Alêthê legeis).’ – D.: ‘And is this wish and this desire common to all (Tautên de tên boulêsin kai ton erôta touton potera koinon oiei einai pantôn anthrôpôn)?’ and do all men always desire their own good, or only some men (kai pantas t’agatha boulesthai hautois einai aei)? – what say you (ê pôs legeis;)?’ – S.: ‘All men, the desire is common to all (Houtôs, koinon einai pantôn).’ (204c8-205a8, tr. Jowett)