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PARMENIDES by Plato, Part 12


Yes.
Then the one, being moved, is altered?
Yes.
And, further, if not moved in any way, it will not be altered in any way?

No.
Then, in so far as the one that is not is moved, it is altered, but in so far as it is not moved, it is not altered?

Right.
Then the one that is not is altered and is not altered?
That is clear.
And must not that which is altered become other than it previously was, and lose its former state and be destroyed; but that which is not altered can neither come into being nor be destroyed?

Very true.
And the one that is not, being altered, becomes and is destroyed; and not being altered, neither becomes nor is destroyed; and so the one that is not becomes and is destroyed, and neither becomes nor is destroyed?

True.

And now, let us go back once more to the beginning, and see whether these or some other consequences will follow.

Let us do as you say.
If one is not, we ask what will happen in respect of one? That is the question.

Yes.
Do not the words "is not" signify absence of being in that to which we apply them?

Just so.
And when we say that a thing is not, do we mean that it is not in one way but is in another? or do we mean, absolutely, that what is not has in no sort or way or kind participation of being?

Quite absolutely.
Then, that which is not cannot be, or in any way participate in being?

It cannot.
And did we not mean by becoming, and being destroyed, the assumption of being and the loss of being?

Nothing else.
And can that which has no participation in being, either assume or lose being?

Impossible.
The one then, since it in no way is, cannot have or lose or assume being in any way?

True.
Then the one that is not, since it in no way partakes of being, neither nor becomes?

No.
Then it is not altered at all; for if it were it would become and be destroyed?

True.
But if it be not altered it cannot be moved?
Certainly not.
Nor can we say that it stands, if it is nowhere; for that which stands must always be in one and the same spot?

Of course.
Then we must say that the one which is not never stands still and never moves?

Neither.
Nor is there any existing thing which can be attributed to it; for if there had been, it would partake of being?

That is clear.
And therefore neither smallness, nor greatness, nor equality, can be attributed to it?

No.
Nor yet likeness nor difference, either in relation to itself or to others?

Clearly not.
Well, and if nothing should be attributed to it, can other things be attributed to it?

Certainly not.
And therefore other things can neither be like or unlike, the same, or different in relation to it?

They cannot.
Nor can what is not, be anything, or be this thing, or be related to or the attribute of this or that or other, or be past, present, or future. Nor can knowledge, or opinion, or perception, or expression, or name, or any other thing that is, have any concern with it?

No.
Then the one that is not has no condition of any kind?
Such appears to be the conclusion.
Yet once more; if one is not, what becomes of the others? Let us determine that.

Yes; let us determine that.
The others must surely be; for if they, like the one, were not, we could not be now speaking of them.

True.
But to speak of the others implies difference-the terms "other" and "different" are synonymous?

True.
Other means other than other, and different, different from the different?

Yes.
Then, if there are to be others, there is something than which they will be other?

Certainly.
And what can that be?-for if the one is not, they will not be other than the one.

They will not.
Then they will be other than each other; for the only remaining alternative is that they are other than nothing.

True.
And they are each other than one another, as being plural and not singular; for if one is not, they cannot be singular but every particle of them is infinite in number; and even if a person takes that which appears to be the smallest fraction, this, which seemed one, in a moment evanesces into many, as in a dream, and from being the smallest becomes very great, in comparison with the fractions into which it is split up?

Very true.
And in such particles the others will be other than one another, if others are, and the one is not?

Exactly.
And will there not be many particles, each appearing to be one, but not being one, if one is not?

True.
And it would seem that number can be predicated of them if each of them appears to be one, though it is really many?

It can.
And there will seem to be odd and even among them, which will also have no reality, if one is not?

Yes.
And there will appear to be a least among them; and even this will seem large and manifold in comparison with the many small fractions which are contained in it?

Certainly.
And each particle will be imagined to be equal to the many and little; for it could not have appeared to pass from the greater to the less without having appeared to arrive at the middle; and thus would arise the appearance of equality.

Yes.
And having neither beginning, middle, nor end, each separate particle yet appears to have a limit in relation to itself and other.

How so?
Because, when a person conceives of any one of these as such, prior to the beginning another beginning appears, and there is another end, remaining after the end, and in the middle truer middles within but smaller, because no unity can be conceived of any of them, since the one is not.

Very true.
And so all being, whatever we think of, must be broken up into fractions, for a particle will have to be conceived of without unity?

Certainly.
And such being when seen indistinctly and at a distance, appears to be one; but when seen near and with keen intellect, every single thing appears to be infinite, since it is deprived of the one, which is not?

Nothing more certain.
Then each of the others must appear to be infinite and finite, and one and many, if others than the one exist and not the one.

They must.
Then will they not appear to be like and unlike?
In what way?
Just as in a picture things appear to be all one to a person standing at a distance, and to be in the same state and alike?

True.
But when you approach them, they appear to be many and different; and because of the appearance of the difference, different in kind from, and unlike, themselves?

True.
And so must the particles appear to be like and unlike themselves and each other.

Certainly.
And must they not be the same and yet different from one another, and in contact with themselves, although they are separated, and having every sort of motion, and every sort of rest, and becoming and being destroyed, and in neither state, and the like, all which things may be easily enumerated, if the one is not and the many are?

Most true.

Once more, let us go back to the beginning, and ask if the one is not, and the others of the one are, what will follow.

Let us ask that question.
In the first place, the others will not be one?
Impossible.
Nor will they be many; for if they were many one would be contained in them. But if no one of them is one, all of them are nought, and therefore they will not be many.

True.
If there be no one in the others, the others are neither many nor one.

They are not.
Nor do they appear either as one or many.
Why not?
Because the others have no sort or manner or way of communion with any sort of not-being, nor can anything which is not, be connected with any of the others; for that which is not has no parts.

True.
Nor is there an opinion or any appearance of not-being in connection with the others, nor is not-being ever in any way attributed to the others.

No.
Then if one is not, the others neither are, nor any of the others either as one or many; for you cannot conceive the many without the one.

You cannot.
Then if one is not, there is no conception of can be conceived to be either one or many?

It would seem not.
Nor as like or unlike?
No.
Nor as the same or different, nor in contact or separation, nor in any of those states which we enumerated as appearing to be;-the others neither are nor appear to be any of these, if one is not?

True.
Then may we not sum up the argument in a word and say truly: If one is not, then nothing is?

Certainly.
Let thus much be said; and further let us affirm what seems to be the truth, that, whether one is or is not, one and the others in relation to themselves and one another, all of them, in every way, are and are not, and appear to be and appear not to be.

Most true.


THE END

 

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