thus prove that falsehood exists; and therein we will imprison the
Sophist, if he deserves it, or, if not, we will let him go again and
look for him in another class.
Theaet. Certainly, Stranger, there appears to be truth in what was
said about the Sophist at first, that he was of a class not easily
caught, for he seems to have abundance of defences, which he throws
up, and which must every one of them be stormed before we can reach
the man himself. And even now, we have with difficulty got
first defence, which is the not-being of not-being, and lo! here is
another; for we have still to show that falsehood exists in
of language and opinion, and there will be another and
another line of
defence without end.
Str. Any one, Theaetetus, who is able to advance even a
to be of good cheer, for what would he who is dispirited at a little
progress do, if he were making none at all, or even undergoing a
repulse? Such a faint heart, as the proverb says, will never take a
city: but now that we have succeeded thus far, the citadel is ours,
and what remains is easier.
Theaet. Very true.
Str. Then, as I was saying, let us first of all obtain a
conception of language and opinion, in order that we may have
clearer grounds for determining, whether not-being has any concern
with them, or whether they are both always true, and neither of them
Str. Then, now, let us speak of names, as before we were
ideas and letters; for that is the direction in which the answer may
Theaet. And what is the question at issue about names?
Str. The question at issue is whether all names may be connected
with one another, or none, or only some of them.
Theaet. Clearly the last is true.
Str. I understand you to say that words which have a
meaning when in
sequence may be connected, but that words which have no meaning when
in sequence cannot be connected?
Theaet. What are you saying?
Str. What I thought that you intended when you gave your
there are two sorts of intimation of being which are given by the
Theaet. What are they?
Str. One of them is called nouns, and the other verbs.
Theaet. Describe them.
Str. That which denotes action we call a verb.
Str. And the other, which is an articulate mark set on those who
do the actions, we call a noun.
Theaet. Quite true.
Str. A succession of nouns only is not a sentence any more than of
verbs without nouns.
Theaet. I do not understand you.
Str. I see that when you gave your assent you had something else
in your mind. But what I intended to say was, that a mere succession
of nouns or of verbs is not discourse.
Theaet. What do you mean?
Str. I mean that words like "walks," "runs," "sleeps," or any
other words which denote action, however many of them you string
together, do not make discourse.