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Metaphysics   


white and not-white, and existent and non-existent, and all other
assertions and negations are similarly compatible or the theory is
true of some statements and not of others. And if not of all, the
exceptions will be contradictories of which admittedly only one is
true; but if of all, again either the negation will be true wherever
the assertion is, and the assertion true wherever the negation is,
or the negation will be true where the assertion is, but the assertion
not always true where the negation is. And (a) in the latter case
there will be something which fixedly is not, and this will be an
indisputable belief; and if non-being is something indisputable and
knowable, the opposite assertion will be more knowable. But (b) if
it is equally possible also to assert all that it is possible to deny,
one must either be saying what is true when one separates the
predicates (and says, for instance, that a thing is white, and again
that it is not-white), or not. And if (i) it is not true to apply
the predicates separately, our opponent is not saying what he
professes to say, and also nothing at all exists; but how could
non-existent things speak or walk, as he does? Also all things would
on this view be one, as has been already said, and man and God and
trireme and their contradictories will be the same. For if
contradictories can be predicated alike of each subject, one thing
will in no wise differ from another; for if it differ, this difference
will be something true and peculiar to it. And (ii) if one may with
truth apply the predicates separately, the above-mentioned result
follows none the less, and, further, it follows that all would then be
right and all would be in error, and our opponent himself confesses
himself to be in error.-And at the same time our discussion with him
is evidently about nothing at all; for he says nothing. For he says
neither 'yes' nor 'no', but 'yes and no'; and again he denies both
of these and says 'neither yes nor no'; for otherwise there would
already be something definite.
Again if when the assertion is true, the negation is false, and
when this is true, the affirmation is false, it will not be possible
to assert and deny the same thing truly at the same time. But
perhaps they might say this was the very question at issue.
Again, is he in error who judges either that the thing is so or
that it is not so, and is he right who judges both? If he is right,
what can they mean by saying that the nature of existing things is
of this kind? And if he is not right, but more right than he who
judges in the other way, being will already be of a definite nature,
and this will be true, and not at the same time also not true. But
if all are alike both wrong and right, one who is in this condition
will not be able either to speak or to say anything intelligible;
for he says at the same time both 'yes' and 'no.' And if he makes no
judgement but 'thinks' and 'does not think', indifferently, what
difference will there be between him and a vegetable?-Thus, then, it
is in the highest degree evident that neither any one of those who
maintain this view nor any one else is really in this position. For
why does a man walk to Megara and not stay at home, when he thinks
he ought to be walking there? Why does he not walk early some
morning into a well or over a precipice, if one happens to be in his
way? Why do we observe him guarding against this, evidently because he
does not think that falling in is alike good and not good?
Evidently, then, he judges one thing to be better and another worse.
And if this is so, he must also judge one thing to be a man and
another to be not-a-man, one thing to be sweet and another to be
not-sweet. For he does not aim at and judge all things alike, when,
thinking it desirable to drink water or to see a man, he proceeds to
aim at these things; yet he ought, if the same thing were alike a
man and not-a-man. But, as was said, there is no one who does not
obviously avoid some things and not others. Therefore, as it seems,
all men make unqualified judgements, if not about all things, still
about what is better and worse. And if this is not knowledge but
opinion, they should be all the more anxious about the truth, as a

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