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CRATYLUS by Plato, Part 01

<DIV ALIGN="CENTER"><FONT SIZE="+1"><B>Cratylus</B></FONT> <BR><BR>By Plato <BR><BR>Written 360 B.C.E <BR><BR>Translated by Benjamin Jowett</DIV> <BR> <FONT SIZE="+1"><B>Persons of the Dialogue</B></FONT><BR> SOCRATES<BR> HERMOGENES<BR> CRATYLUS<BR> </BLOCKQUOTE><HR SIZE="1" COLOR="990033" NOSHADE><BLOCKQUOTE> <BR><BR><B>Hermogenes.</B> Suppose that we make Socrates a party to the argument? <BR><BR><B>Cratylus.</B> If you please. <BR><BR><B>Her.</B> I should explain to you, Socrates, that our friend Cratylus has been arguing about names; he says that they are natural and not conventional; not a portion of the human voice which men agree to use; but that there is a truth or correctness in them, which is the same for Hellenes as for barbarians. Whereupon I ask him, whether his own name of Cratylus is a true name or not, and he answers "Yes." And Socrates? "Yes." Then every man's name, as I tell him, is that which he is called. To this he replies- "If all the world were to call you Hermogenes, that would not be your name." And when I am anxious to have a further explanation he is ironical and mysterious, and seems to imply that he has a notion of his own about the matter, if he would only tell, and could entirely convince me, if he chose to be intelligible. Tell me, Socrates, what this oracle means; or rather tell me, if you will be so good, what is your own view of the truth or correctness of names, which I would far sooner hear. <BR><BR><B>Socrates.</B> Son of Hipponicus, there is an ancient saying, that "hard is the knowledge of the good." And the knowledge of names is a great part of knowledge. If I had not been poor, I might have heard the fifty-drachma course of the great Prodicus, which is a complete education in grammar and language- these are his own words- and then I should have been at once able to answer your question about the correctness of names. But, indeed, I have only heard the single-drachma course, and therefore, I do not know the truth about such matters; I will, however, gladly assist you and Cratylus in the investigation of them. When he declares that your name is not really Hermogenes, I suspect that he is only making fun of you;- he means to say that you are no true son of Hermes, because you are always looking after a fortune and never in luck. But, as I was saying, there is a good deal of difficulty in this sort of knowledge, and therefore we had better leave the question open until we have heard both sides. <BR><BR><B>Her.</B> I have often talked over this matter, both with Cratylus and others, and cannot convince myself that there is any principle of correctness in names other than convention and agreement; any name which you give, in my opinion, is the right one, and if you change that and give another, the new name is as correct as the old- we frequently change the names of our slaves, and the newly-imposed name is as good as the old: for there is no name given to anything by nature; all is convention and habit of the users;- such is my view. But if I am mistaken I shall be happy to hear and learn of Cratylus, or of any one else. <BR><BR><B>Soc.</B> I dare say that you be right, Hermogenes: let us see;- Your meaning is, that the name of each thing is only that which anybody agrees to call it? <BR><BR><B>Her.</B> That is my notion. <BR><BR><B>Soc.</B> Whether the giver of the name be an individual or a city? <BR><BR><B>Her.</B> Yes. <BR><BR><B>Soc.</B> Well, now, let me take an instance;- suppose that I call a man a horse or a horse a man, you mean to say that a man will be rightly called a horse by me individually, and rightly called a man by the rest of the world; and a horse again would be rightly called a man by me and a horse by the world:- that is your meaning? <BR><BR><B>Her.</B> He would, according to my view. <BR><BR><B>Soc.</B> But how about truth, then? you would acknowledge that there is in words a true and a false? <BR><BR><B>Her.</B> Certainly. <BR><BR><B>Soc.</B> And there are true and false propositions? <BR><BR><B>Her.</B> To be sure. <BR><BR><B>Soc.</B> And a true proposition says that which is, and a false proposition says that which is not? <BR><BR><B>Her.</B> Yes; what other answer is possible? <BR><BR><B>Soc.</B> Then in a proposition there is a true and false? <BR><BR><B>Her.</B> Certainly. <BR><BR><B>Soc.</B> But is a proposition true as a whole only, and are the parts untrue? <BR><BR><B>Her.</B> No; the parts are true as well as the whole. <BR><BR><B>Soc.</B> Would you say the large parts and not the smaller ones, or every part? <BR><BR><B>Her.</B> I should say that every part is true. <BR><BR><B>Soc.</B> Is a proposition resolvable into any part smaller than a name? <BR><BR><B>Her.</B> No; that is the smallest. <BR><BR><B>Soc.</B> Then the name is a part of the true proposition? <BR><BR><B>Her.</B> Yes. <BR><BR><B>Soc.</B> Yes, and a true part, as you say. <BR><BR><B>Her.</B> Yes. <BR><BR><B>Soc.</B> And is not the part of a falsehood also a falsehood? <BR><BR><B>Her.</B> Yes. <BR><BR><B>Soc.</B> Then, if propositions may be true and false, names may be true and false? <BR>

 

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