Part 2 out of 3
Quite true, said Parmenides; but I think that you should go a step further,
and consider not only the consequences which flow from a given hypothesis,
but also the consequences which flow from denying the hypothesis; and that
will be still better training for you.
What do you mean? he said.
I mean, for example, that in the case of this very hypothesis of Zeno's
about the many, you should inquire not only what will be the consequences
to the many in relation to themselves and to the one, and to the one in
relation to itself and the many, on the hypothesis of the being of the
many, but also what will be the consequences to the one and the many in
their relation to themselves and to each other, on the opposite hypothesis.
Or, again, if likeness is or is not, what will be the consequences in
either of these cases to the subjects of the hypothesis, and to other
things, in relation both to themselves and to one another, and so of
unlikeness; and the same holds good of motion and rest, of generation and
destruction, and even of being and not-being. In a word, when you suppose
anything to be or not to be, or to be in any way affected, you must look at
the consequences in relation to the thing itself, and to any other things
which you choose,--to each of them singly, to more than one, and to all;
and so of other things, you must look at them in relation to themselves and
to anything else which you suppose either to be or not to be, if you would
train yourself perfectly and see the real truth.
That, Parmenides, is a tremendous business of which you speak, and I do not
quite understand you; will you take some hypothesis and go through the
steps?--then I shall apprehend you better.
That, Socrates, is a serious task to impose on a man of my years.
Then will you, Zeno? said Socrates.
Zeno answered with a smile:--Let us make our petition to Parmenides
himself, who is quite right in saying that you are hardly aware of the
extent of the task which you are imposing on him; and if there were more of
us I should not ask him, for these are not subjects which any one,
especially at his age, can well speak of before a large audience; most
people are not aware that this roundabout progress through all things is
the only way in which the mind can attain truth and wisdom. And therefore,
Parmenides, I join in the request of Socrates, that I may hear the process
again which I have not heard for a long time.
When Zeno had thus spoken, Pythodorus, according to Antiphon's report of
him, said, that he himself and Aristoteles and the whole company entreated
Parmenides to give an example of the process. I cannot refuse, said
Parmenides; and yet I feel rather like Ibycus, who, when in his old age,
against his will, he fell in love, compared himself to an old racehorse,
who was about to run in a chariot race, shaking with fear at the course he
knew so well--this was his simile of himself. And I also experience a
trembling when I remember through what an ocean of words I have to wade at
my time of life. But I must indulge you, as Zeno says that I ought, and we
are alone. Where shall I begin? And what shall be our first hypothesis,
if I am to attempt this laborious pastime? Shall I begin with myself, and
take my own hypothesis the one? and consider the consequences which follow
on the supposition either of the being or of the not-being of one?
By all means, said Zeno.
And who will answer me? he said. Shall I propose the youngest? He will
not make difficulties and will be the most likely to say what he thinks;
and his answers will give me time to breathe.
I am the one whom you mean, Parmenides, said Aristoteles; for I am the
youngest and at your service. Ask, and I will answer.
Parmenides proceeded: 1.a. If one is, he said, the one cannot be many?
Then the one cannot have parts, and cannot be a whole?
Because every part is part of a whole; is it not?
And what is a whole? would not that of which no part is wanting be a whole?
Then, in either case, the one would be made up of parts; both as being a
whole, and also as having parts?
To be sure.
And in either case, the one would be many, and not one?
But, surely, it ought to be one and not many?
Then, if the one is to remain one, it will not be a whole, and will not
But if it has no parts, it will have neither beginning, middle, nor end;
for these would of course be parts of it.
But then, again, a beginning and an end are the limits of everything?
Then the one, having neither beginning nor end, is unlimited?
And therefore formless; for it cannot partake either of round or straight.
Why, because the round is that of which all the extreme points are
equidistant from the centre?
And the straight is that of which the centre intercepts the view of the
Then the one would have parts and would be many, if it partook either of a
straight or of a circular form?
But having no parts, it will be neither straight nor round?
And, being of such a nature, it cannot be in any place, for it cannot be
either in another or in itself.
Because if it were in another, it would be encircled by that in which it
was, and would touch it at many places and with many parts; but that which
is one and indivisible, and does not partake of a circular nature, cannot
be touched all round in many places.
But if, on the other hand, one were in itself, it would also be contained
by nothing else but itself; that is to say, if it were really in itself;
for nothing can be in anything which does not contain it.
But then, that which contains must be other than that which is contained?
for the same whole cannot do and suffer both at once; and if so, one will
be no longer one, but two?
Then one cannot be anywhere, either in itself or in another?
Further consider, whether that which is of such a nature can have either
rest or motion.
Why, because the one, if it were moved, would be either moved in place or
changed in nature; for these are the only kinds of motion.
And the one, when it changes and ceases to be itself, cannot be any longer
It cannot therefore experience the sort of motion which is change of
Then can the motion of the one be in place?
But if the one moved in place, must it not either move round and round in
the same place, or from one place to another?
And that which moves in a circle must rest upon a centre; and that which
goes round upon a centre must have parts which are different from the
centre; but that which has no centre and no parts cannot possibly be
carried round upon a centre?
But perhaps the motion of the one consists in change of place?
Perhaps so, if it moves at all.
And have we not already shown that it cannot be in anything?
Then its coming into being in anything is still more impossible; is it not?
I do not see why.
Why, because anything which comes into being in anything, can neither as
yet be in that other thing while still coming into being, nor be altogether
out of it, if already coming into being in it.
And therefore whatever comes into being in another must have parts, and
then one part may be in, and another part out of that other; but that which
has no parts can never be at one and the same time neither wholly within
nor wholly without anything.
And is there not a still greater impossibility in that which has no parts,
and is not a whole, coming into being anywhere, since it cannot come into
being either as a part or as a whole?
Then it does not change place by revolving in the same spot, nor by going
somewhere and coming into being in something; nor again, by change in
Then in respect of any kind of motion the one is immoveable?
But neither can the one be in anything, as we affirm?
Yes, we said so.
Then it is never in the same?
Because if it were in the same it would be in something.
And we said that it could not be in itself, and could not be in other?
Then one is never in the same place?
It would seem not.
But that which is never in the same place is never quiet or at rest?
One then, as would seem, is neither at rest nor in motion?
It certainly appears so.
Neither will it be the same with itself or other; nor again, other than
itself or other.
How is that?
If other than itself it would be other than one, and would not be one.
And if the same with other, it would be that other, and not itself; so that
upon this supposition too, it would not have the nature of one, but would
be other than one?
Then it will not be the same with other, or other than itself?
It will not.
Neither will it be other than other, while it remains one; for not one, but
only other, can be other than other, and nothing else.
Then not by virtue of being one will it be other?
But if not by virtue of being one, not by virtue of itself; and if not by
virtue of itself, not itself, and itself not being other at all, will not
be other than anything?
Neither will one be the same with itself.
Surely the nature of the one is not the nature of the same.
It is not when anything becomes the same with anything that it becomes one.
What of that?
Anything which becomes the same with the many, necessarily becomes many and
But, if there were no difference between the one and the same, when a thing
became the same, it would always become one; and when it became one, the
And, therefore, if one be the same with itself, it is not one with itself,
and will therefore be one and also not one.
Surely that is impossible.
And therefore the one can neither be other than other, nor the same with
And thus the one can neither be the same, nor other, either in relation to
itself or other?
Neither will the one be like anything or unlike itself or other.
Because likeness is sameness of affections.
And sameness has been shown to be of a nature distinct from oneness?
That has been shown.
But if the one had any other affection than that of being one, it would be
affected in such a way as to be more than one; which is impossible.
Then the one can never be so affected as to be the same either with another
or with itself?
Then it cannot be like another, or like itself?
Nor can it be affected so as to be other, for then it would be affected in
such a way as to be more than one.
That which is affected otherwise than itself or another, will be unlike
itself or another, for sameness of affections is likeness.
But the one, as appears, never being affected otherwise, is never unlike
itself or other?
Then the one will never be either like or unlike itself or other?
Again, being of this nature, it can neither be equal nor unequal either to
itself or to other.
How is that?
Why, because the one if equal must be of the same measures as that to which
it is equal.
And if greater or less than things which are commensurable with it, the one
will have more measures than that which is less, and fewer than that which
And so of things which are not commensurate with it, the one will have
greater measures than that which is less and smaller than that which is
But how can that which does not partake of sameness, have either the same
measures or have anything else the same?
And not having the same measures, the one cannot be equal either with
itself or with another?
It appears so.
But again, whether it have fewer or more measures, it will have as many
parts as it has measures; and thus again the one will be no longer one but
will have as many parts as measures.
And if it were of one measure, it would be equal to that measure; yet it
has been shown to be incapable of equality.
Then it will neither partake of one measure, nor of many, nor of few, nor
of the same at all, nor be equal to itself or another; nor be greater or
less than itself, or other?
Well, and do we suppose that one can be older, or younger than anything, or
of the same age with it?
Why, because that which is of the same age with itself or other, must
partake of equality or likeness of time; and we said that the one did not
partake either of equality or of likeness?
We did say so.
And we also said, that it did not partake of inequality or unlikeness.
How then can one, being of this nature, be either older or younger than
anything, or have the same age with it?
In no way.
Then one cannot be older or younger, or of the same age, either with itself
or with another?
Then the one, being of this nature, cannot be in time at all; for must not
that which is in time, be always growing older than itself?
And that which is older, must always be older than something which is
Then, that which becomes older than itself, also becomes at the same time
younger than itself, if it is to have something to become older than.
What do you mean?
I mean this:--A thing does not need to become different from another thing
which is already different; it IS different, and if its different has
become, it has become different; if its different will be, it will be
different; but of that which is becoming different, there cannot have been,
or be about to be, or yet be, a different--the only different possible is
one which is becoming.
That is inevitable.
But, surely, the elder is a difference relative to the younger, and to
Then that which becomes older than itself must also, at the same time,
become younger than itself?
But again, it is true that it cannot become for a longer or for a shorter
time than itself, but it must become, and be, and have become, and be about
to be, for the same time with itself?
That again is inevitable.
Then things which are in time, and partake of time, must in every case, I
suppose, be of the same age with themselves; and must also become at once
older and younger than themselves?
But the one did not partake of those affections?
Not at all.
Then it does not partake of time, and is not in any time?
So the argument shows.
Well, but do not the expressions 'was,' and 'has become,' and 'was
becoming,' signify a participation of past time?
And do not 'will be,' 'will become,' 'will have become,' signify a
participation of future time?
And 'is,' or 'becomes,' signifies a participation of present time?
And if the one is absolutely without participation in time, it never had
become, or was becoming, or was at any time, or is now become or is
becoming, or is, or will become, or will have become, or will be,
But are there any modes of partaking of being other than these?
There are none.
Then the one cannot possibly partake of being?
That is the inference.
Then the one is not at all?
Then the one does not exist in such way as to be one; for if it were and
partook of being, it would already be; but if the argument is to be
trusted, the one neither is nor is one?
But that which is not admits of no attribute or relation?
Of course not.
Then there is no name, nor expression, nor perception, nor opinion, nor
knowledge of it?
Then it is neither named, nor expressed, nor opined, nor known, nor does
anything that is perceive it.
So we must infer.
But can all this be true about the one?
I think not.
1.b. Suppose, now, that we return once more to the original hypothesis;
let us see whether, on a further review, any new aspect of the question
I shall be very happy to do so.
We say that we have to work out together all the consequences, whatever
they may be, which follow, if the one is?
Then we will begin at the beginning:--If one is, can one be, and not
partake of being?
Then the one will have being, but its being will not be the same with the
one; for if the same, it would not be the being of the one; nor would the
one have participated in being, for the proposition that one is would have
been identical with the proposition that one is one; but our hypothesis is
not if one is one, what will follow, but if one is:--am I not right?
We mean to say, that being has not the same significance as one?
And when we put them together shortly, and say 'One is,' that is equivalent
to saying, 'partakes of being'?
Once more then let us ask, if one is what will follow. Does not this
hypothesis necessarily imply that one is of such a nature as to have parts?
In this way:--If being is predicated of the one, if the one is, and one of
being, if being is one; and if being and one are not the same; and since
the one, which we have assumed, is, must not the whole, if it is one,
itself be, and have for its parts, one and being?
And is each of these parts--one and being--to be simply called a part, or
must the word 'part' be relative to the word 'whole'?
Then that which is one is both a whole and has a part?
Again, of the parts of the one, if it is--I mean being and one--does either
fail to imply the other? is the one wanting to being, or being to the one?
Thus, each of the parts also has in turn both one and being, and is at the
least made up of two parts; and the same principle goes on for ever, and
every part whatever has always these two parts; for being always involves
one, and one being; so that one is always disappearing, and becoming two.
And so the one, if it is, must be infinite in multiplicity?
Let us take another direction.
We say that the one partakes of being and therefore it is?
And in this way, the one, if it has being, has turned out to be many?
But now, let us abstract the one which, as we say, partakes of being, and
try to imagine it apart from that of which, as we say, it partakes--will
this abstract one be one only or many?
One, I think.
Let us see:--Must not the being of one be other than one? for the one is
not being, but, considered as one, only partook of being?
If being and the one be two different things, it is not because the one is
one that it is other than being; nor because being is being that it is
other than the one; but they differ from one another in virtue of otherness
So that the other is not the same--either with the one or with being?
And therefore whether we take being and the other, or being and the one, or
the one and the other, in every such case we take two things, which may be
rightly called both.
In this way--you may speak of being?
And also of one?
Then now we have spoken of either of them?
Well, and when I speak of being and one, I speak of them both?
And if I speak of being and the other, or of the one and the other,--in any
such case do I not speak of both?
And must not that which is correctly called both, be also two?
And of two things how can either by any possibility not be one?
Then, if the individuals of the pair are together two, they must be
And if each of them is one, then by the addition of any one to any pair,
the whole becomes three?
And three are odd, and two are even?
And if there are two there must also be twice, and if there are three there
must be thrice; that is, if twice one makes two, and thrice one three?
There are two, and twice, and therefore there must be twice two; and there
are three, and there is thrice, and therefore there must be thrice three?
If there are three and twice, there is twice three; and if there are
two and thrice, there is thrice two?
Here, then, we have even taken even times, and odd taken odd times, and
even taken odd times, and odd taken even times.
And if this is so, does any number remain which has no necessity to be?
Then if one is, number must also be?
But if there is number, there must also be many, and infinite multiplicity
of being; for number is infinite in multiplicity, and partakes also of
being: am I not right?
And if all number participates in being, every part of number will also
Then being is distributed over the whole multitude of things, and nothing
that is, however small or however great, is devoid of it? And, indeed, the
very supposition of this is absurd, for how can that which is, be devoid of
In no way.
And it is divided into the greatest and into the smallest, and into being
of all sizes, and is broken up more than all things; the divisions of it
have no limit.
Then it has the greatest number of parts?
Yes, the greatest number.
Is there any of these which is a part of being, and yet no part?
But if it is at all and so long as it is, it must be one, and cannot be
Then the one attaches to every single part of being, and does not fail in
any part, whether great or small, or whatever may be the size of it?
But reflect:--Can one, in its entirety, be in many places at the same time?
No; I see the impossibility of that.
And if not in its entirety, then it is divided; for it cannot be present
with all the parts of being, unless divided.
And that which has parts will be as many as the parts are?
Then we were wrong in saying just now, that being was distributed into the
greatest number of parts. For it is not distributed into parts more than
the one, into parts equal to the one; the one is never wanting to being, or
being to the one, but being two they are co-equal and co-extensive.
Certainly that is true.
The one itself, then, having been broken up into parts by being, is many
Then not only the one which has being is many, but the one itself
distributed by being, must also be many?
Further, inasmuch as the parts are parts of a whole, the one, as a whole,
will be limited; for are not the parts contained by the whole?
And that which contains, is a limit?
Then the one if it has being is one and many, whole and parts, having
limits and yet unlimited in number?
And because having limits, also having extremes?
And if a whole, having beginning and middle and end. For can anything be a
whole without these three? And if any one of them is wanting to anything,
will that any longer be a whole?
Then the one, as appears, will have beginning, middle, and end.
But, again, the middle will be equidistant from the extremes; or it would
not be in the middle?
Then the one will partake of figure, either rectilinear or round, or a
union of the two?
And if this is the case, it will be both in itself and in another too.
Every part is in the whole, and none is outside the whole.
And all the parts are contained by the whole?
And the one is all its parts, and neither more nor less than all?
And the one is the whole?
But if all the parts are in the whole, and the one is all of them and the
whole, and they are all contained by the whole, the one will be contained
by the one; and thus the one will be in itself.
That is true.
But then, again, the whole is not in the parts--neither in all the parts,
nor in some one of them. For if it is in all, it must be in one; for if
there were any one in which it was not, it could not be in all the parts;
for the part in which it is wanting is one of all, and if the whole is not
in this, how can it be in them all?
Nor can the whole be in some of the parts; for if the whole were in some of
the parts, the greater would be in the less, which is impossible.
But if the whole is neither in one, nor in more than one, nor in all of the
parts, it must be in something else, or cease to be anywhere at all?
If it were nowhere, it would be nothing; but being a whole, and not being
in itself, it must be in another.
The one then, regarded as a whole, is in another, but regarded as being all
its parts, is in itself; and therefore the one must be itself in itself and
also in another.
The one then, being of this nature, is of necessity both at rest and in
The one is at rest since it is in itself, for being in one, and not passing
out of this, it is in the same, which is itself.
And that which is ever in the same, must be ever at rest?
Well, and must not that, on the contrary, which is ever in other, never be
in the same; and if never in the same, never at rest, and if not at rest,
Then the one being always itself in itself and other, must always be both
at rest and in motion?
And must be the same with itself, and other than itself; and also the same
with the others, and other than the others; this follows from its previous
Everything in relation to every other thing, is either the same or other;
or if neither the same nor other, then in the relation of a part to a
whole, or of a whole to a part.
And is the one a part of itself?
Since it is not a part in relation to itself it cannot be related to itself
as whole to part?
But is the one other than one?
And therefore not other than itself?
If then it be neither other, nor a whole, nor a part in relation to itself,
must it not be the same with itself?
But then, again, a thing which is in another place from 'itself,' if this
'itself' remains in the same place with itself, must be other than
'itself,' for it will be in another place?
Then the one has been shown to be at once in itself and in another?
Thus, then, as appears, the one will be other than itself?
Well, then, if anything be other than anything, will it not be other than
that which is other?
And will not all things that are not one, be other than the one, and the
one other than the not-one?
Then the one will be other than the others?
But, consider:--Are not the absolute same, and the absolute other,
opposites to one another?
Then will the same ever be in the other, or the other in the same?
They will not.
If then the other is never in the same, there is nothing in which the other
is during any space of time; for during that space of time, however small,
the other would be in the same. Is not that true?
And since the other is never in the same, it can never be in anything that
Then the other will never be either in the not-one, or in the one?
Then not by reason of otherness is the one other than the not-one, or the
not-one other than the one.
Nor by reason of themselves will they be other than one another, if not
partaking of the other.
How can they be?
But if they are not other, either by reason of themselves or of the other,
will they not altogether escape being other than one another?
Again, the not-one cannot partake of the one; otherwise it would not have
been not-one, but would have been in some way one.
Nor can the not-one be number; for having number, it would not have been
not-one at all.
It would not.
Again, is the not-one part of the one; or rather, would it not in that case
partake of the one?
If then, in every point of view, the one and the not-one are distinct, then
neither is the one part or whole of the not-one, nor is the not-one part or
whole of the one?
But we said that things which are neither parts nor wholes of one another,
nor other than one another, will be the same with one another:--so we said?
Then shall we say that the one, being in this relation to the not-one, is
the same with it?
Let us say so.
Then it is the same with itself and the others, and also other than itself
and the others.
That appears to be the inference.
And it will also be like and unlike itself and the others?
Since the one was shown to be other than the others, the others will also
be other than the one.
And the one is other than the others in the same degree that the others are
other than it, and neither more nor less?
And if neither more nor less, then in a like degree?
In virtue of the affection by which the one is other than others and others
in like manner other than it, the one will be affected like the others and
the others like the one.
How do you mean?
I may take as an illustration the case of names: You give a name to a
And you may say the name once or oftener?
And when you say it once, you mention that of which it is the name? and
when more than once, is it something else which you mention? or must it
always be the same thing of which you speak, whether you utter the name
once or more than once?
Of course it is the same.
And is not 'other' a name given to a thing?
Whenever, then, you use the word 'other,' whether once or oftener, you name
that of which it is the name, and to no other do you give the name?
Then when we say that the others are other than the one, and the one other
than the others, in repeating the word 'other' we speak of that nature to
which the name is applied, and of no other?
Then the one which is other than others, and the other which is other than
the one, in that the word 'other' is applied to both, will be in the same
condition; and that which is in the same condition is like?
Then in virtue of the affection by which the one is other than the others,
every thing will be like every thing, for every thing is other than every
Again, the like is opposed to the unlike?
And the other to the same?
And the one was also shown to be the same with the others?
And to be the same with the others is the opposite of being other than the
And in that it was other it was shown to be like?
But in that it was the same it will be unlike by virtue of the opposite
affection to that which made it like; and this was the affection of
The same then will make it unlike; otherwise it will not be the opposite of
Then the one will be both like and unlike the others; like in so far as it
is other, and unlike in so far as it is the same.
Yes, that argument may be used.
And there is another argument.
In so far as it is affected in the same way it is not affected otherwise,
and not being affected otherwise is not unlike, and not being unlike, is
like; but in so far as it is affected by other it is otherwise, and being
otherwise affected is unlike.
Then because the one is the same with the others and other than the others,
on either of these two grounds, or on both of them, it will be both like
and unlike the others?
And in the same way as being other than itself and the same with itself, on
either of these two grounds and on both of them, it will be like and unlike
Again, how far can the one touch or not touch itself and others?--consider.
I am considering.
The one was shown to be in itself which was a whole?
And also in other things?
In so far as it is in other things it would touch other things, but in so
far as it is in itself it would be debarred from touching them, and would
touch itself only.
Then the inference is that it would touch both?
But what do you say to a new point of view? Must not that which is to
touch another be next to that which it is to touch, and occupy the place
nearest to that in which what it touches is situated?
Then the one, if it is to touch itself, ought to be situated next to
itself, and occupy the place next to that in which itself is?
And that would require that the one should be two, and be in two places at
once, and this, while it is one, will never happen.
Then the one cannot touch itself any more than it can be two?
Neither can it touch others.
The reason is, that whatever is to touch another must be in separation
from, and next to, that which it is to touch, and no third thing can be
Two things, then, at the least are necessary to make contact possible?
And if to the two a third be added in due order, the number of terms will
be three, and the contacts two?
And every additional term makes one additional contact, whence it follows
that the contacts are one less in number than the terms; the first two
terms exceeded the number of contacts by one, and the whole number of terms
exceeds the whole number of contacts by one in like manner; and for every
one which is afterwards added to the number of terms, one contact is added
to the contacts.
Whatever is the whole number of things, the contacts will be always one
But if there be only one, and not two, there will be no contact?
How can there be?
And do we not say that the others being other than the one are not one and
have no part in the one?
Then they have no number, if they have no one in them?
Of course not.
Then the others are neither one nor two, nor are they called by the name of
One, then, alone is one, and two do not exist?
And if there are not two, there is no contact?
There is not.
Then neither does the one touch the others, nor the others the one, if
there is no contact?
For all which reasons the one touches and does not touch itself and the
Further--is the one equal and unequal to itself and others?
How do you mean?
If the one were greater or less than the others, or the others greater or
less than the one, they would not be greater or less than each other in
virtue of their being the one and the others; but, if in addition to their
being what they are they had equality, they would be equal to one another,
or if the one had smallness and the others greatness, or the one had
greatness and the others smallness--whichever kind had greatness would be
greater, and whichever had smallness would be smaller?
Then there are two such ideas as greatness and smallness; for if they were
not they could not be opposed to each other and be present in that which
How could they?
If, then, smallness is present in the one it will be present either in the
whole or in a part of the whole?
Suppose the first; it will be either co-equal and co-extensive with the
whole one, or will contain the one?
If it be co-extensive with the one it will be co-equal with the one, or if
containing the one it will be greater than the one?
But can smallness be equal to anything or greater than anything, and have
the functions of greatness and equality and not its own functions?
Then smallness cannot be in the whole of one, but, if at all, in a part
And surely not in all of a part, for then the difficulty of the whole will
recur; it will be equal to or greater than any part in which it is.
Then smallness will not be in anything, whether in a whole or in a part;
nor will there be anything small but actual smallness.
Neither will greatness be in the one, for if greatness be in anything there
will be something greater other and besides greatness itself, namely, that
in which greatness is; and this too when the small itself is not there,
which the one, if it is great, must exceed; this, however, is impossible,
seeing that smallness is wholly absent.
But absolute greatness is only greater than absolute smallness, and
smallness is only smaller than absolute greatness.
Then other things not greater or less than the one, if they have neither
greatness nor smallness; nor have greatness or smallness any power of
exceeding or being exceeded in relation to the one, but only in relation to
one another; nor will the one be greater or less than them or others, if it
has neither greatness nor smallness.
Then if the one is neither greater nor less than the others, it cannot
either exceed or be exceeded by them?
And that which neither exceeds nor is exceeded, must be on an equality; and
being on an equality, must be equal.
And this will be true also of the relation of the one to itself; having
neither greatness nor smallness in itself, it will neither exceed nor be
exceeded by itself, but will be on an equality with and equal to itself.
Then the one will be equal both to itself and the others?
And yet the one, being itself in itself, will also surround and be without
itself; and, as containing itself, will be greater than itself; and, as
contained in itself, will be less; and will thus be greater and less than
Now there cannot possibly be anything which is not included in the one and
Of course not.
But, surely, that which is must always be somewhere?
But that which is in anything will be less, and that in which it is will be
greater; in no other way can one thing be in another.
And since there is nothing other or besides the one and the others, and
they must be in something, must they not be in one another, the one in the
others and the others in the one, if they are to be anywhere?
That is clear.
But inasmuch as the one is in the others, the others will be greater than
the one, because they contain the one, which will be less than the others,
because it is contained in them; and inasmuch as the others are in the one,
the one on the same principle will be greater than the others, and the
others less than the one.
The one, then, will be equal to and greater and less than itself and the
And if it be greater and less and equal, it will be of equal and more and
less measures or divisions than itself and the others, and if of measures,
also of parts?
And if of equal and more and less measures or divisions, it will be in
number more or less than itself and the others, and likewise equal in
number to itself and to the others?
How is that?
It will be of more measures than those things which it exceeds, and of as
many parts as measures; and so with that to which it is equal, and that
than which it is less.
And being greater and less than itself, and equal to itself, it will be of
equal measures with itself and of more and fewer measures than itself; and
if of measures then also of parts?
And being of equal parts with itself, it will be numerically equal to
itself; and being of more parts, more, and being of less, less than itself?
And the same will hold of its relation to other things; inasmuch as it is
greater than them, it will be more in number than them; and inasmuch as it
is smaller, it will be less in number; and inasmuch as it is equal in size
to other things, it will be equal to them in number.
Once more, then, as would appear, the one will be in number both equal to
and more and less than both itself and all other things.
Does the one also partake of time? And is it and does it become older and
younger than itself and others, and again, neither younger nor older than
itself and others, by virtue of participation in time?
How do you mean?
If one is, being must be predicated of it?
But to be (einai) is only participation of being in present time, and to
have been is the participation of being at a past time, and to be about to
be is the participation of being at a future time?
Then the one, since it partakes of being, partakes of time?
And is not time always moving forward?
Then the one is always becoming older than itself, since it moves forward
And do you remember that the older becomes older than that which becomes
Then since the one becomes older than itself, it becomes younger at the
Thus, then, the one becomes older as well as younger than itself?
And it is older (is it not?) when in becoming, it gets to the point of time
between 'was' and 'will be,' which is 'now': for surely in going from the
past to the future, it cannot skip the present?
And when it arrives at the present it stops from becoming older, and no
longer becomes, but is older, for if it went on it would never be reached
by the present, for it is the nature of that which goes on, to touch both
the present and the future, letting go the present and seizing the future,
while in process of becoming between them.
But that which is becoming cannot skip the present; when it reaches the
present it ceases to become, and is then whatever it may happen to be
And so the one, when in becoming older it reaches the present, ceases to
become, and is then older.
And it is older than that than which it was becoming older, and it was
becoming older than itself.
And that which is older is older than that which is younger?
Then the one is younger than itself, when in becoming older it reaches the
But the present is always present with the one during all its being; for
whenever it is it is always now.
Then the one always both is and becomes older and younger than itself?
And is it or does it become a longer time than itself or an equal time with
An equal time.
But if it becomes or is for an equal time with itself, it is of the same
age with itself?
And that which is of the same age, is neither older nor younger?
The one, then, becoming and being the same time with itself, neither is nor
becomes older or younger than itself?
I should say not.
And what are its relations to other things? Is it or does it become older
or younger than they?
I cannot tell you.
You can at least tell me that others than the one are more than the one--
other would have been one, but the others have multitude, and are more than
They will have multitude.
And a multitude implies a number larger than one?
And shall we say that the lesser or the greater is the first to come or to
have come into existence?
Then the least is the first? And that is the one?
Then the one of all things that have number is the first to come into
being; but all other things have also number, being plural and not
And since it came into being first it must be supposed to have come into
being prior to the others, and the others later; and the things which came
into being later, are younger than that which preceded them? And so the
other things will be younger than the one, and the one older than other
What would you say of another question? Can the one have come into being
contrary to its own nature, or is that impossible?
And yet, surely, the one was shown to have parts; and if parts, then a
beginning, middle and end?
And a beginning, both of the one itself and of all other things, comes into
being first of all; and after the beginning, the others follow, until you
reach the end?
And all these others we shall affirm to be parts of the whole and of the
one, which, as soon as the end is reached, has become whole and one?
Yes; that is what we shall say.
But the end comes last, and the one is of such a nature as to come into
being with the last; and, since the one cannot come into being except in
accordance with its own nature, its nature will require that it should come
into being after the others, simultaneously with the end.
Then the one is younger than the others and the others older than the one.
That also is clear in my judgment.
Well, and must not a beginning or any other part of the one or of anything,
if it be a part and not parts, being a part, be also of necessity one?
And will not the one come into being together with each part--together with
the first part when that comes into being, and together with the second
part and with all the rest, and will not be wanting to any part, which is
added to any other part until it has reached the last and become one whole;
it will be wanting neither to the middle, nor to the first, nor to the
last, nor to any of them, while the process of becoming is going on?
Then the one is of the same age with all the others, so that if the one
itself does not contradict its own nature, it will be neither prior nor
posterior to the others, but simultaneous; and according to this argument
the one will be neither older nor younger than the others, nor the others
than the one, but according to the previous argument the one will be older
and younger than the others and the others than the one.
After this manner then the one is and has become. But as to its becoming
older and younger than the others, and the others than the one, and neither
older nor younger, what shall we say? Shall we say as of being so also of
becoming, or otherwise?
I cannot answer.
But I can venture to say, that even if one thing were older or younger than
another, it could not become older or younger in a greater degree than it
was at first; for equals added to unequals, whether to periods of time or
to anything else, leave the difference between them the same as at first.
Then that which is, cannot become older or younger than that which is,
since the difference of age is always the same; the one is and has become
older and the other younger; but they are no longer becoming so.
And the one which is does not therefore become either older or younger than
the others which are.
But consider whether they may not become older and younger in another way.
In what way?
Just as the one was proven to be older than the others and the others than
And what of that?
If the one is older than the others, has come into being a longer time than
But consider again; if we add equal time to a greater and a less time, will
the greater differ from the less time by an equal or by a smaller portion
By a smaller portion.
Then the difference between the age of the one and the age of the others
will not be afterwards so great as at first, but if an equal time be added
to both of them they will differ less and less in age?
And that which differs in age from some other less than formerly, from
being older will become younger in relation to that other than which it was
And if the one becomes younger the others aforesaid will become older than
they were before, in relation to the one.
Then that which had become younger becomes older relatively to that which
previously had become and was older; it never really is older, but is
always becoming, for the one is always growing on the side of youth and the
other on the side of age. And in like manner the older is always in
process of becoming younger than the younger; for as they are always going
in opposite directions they become in ways the opposite to one another, the
younger older than the older, and the older younger than the younger. They
cannot, however, have become; for if they had already become they would be
and not merely become. But that is impossible; for they are always
becoming both older and younger than one another: the one becomes younger
than the others because it was seen to be older and prior, and the others
become older than the one because they came into being later; and in the
same way the others are in the same relation to the one, because they were
seen to be older, and prior to the one.
That is clear.
Inasmuch then, one thing does not become older or younger than another, in
that they always differ from each other by an equal number, the one cannot
become older or younger than the others, nor the others than the one; but
inasmuch as that which came into being earlier and that which came into
being later must continually differ from each other by a different portion
--in this point of view the others must become older and younger than the
one, and the one than the others.
For all these reasons, then, the one is and becomes older and younger than
itself and the others, and neither is nor becomes older or younger than
itself or the others.
But since the one partakes of time, and partakes of becoming older and
younger, must it not also partake of the past, the present, and the future?
Of course it must.
Then the one was and is and will be, and was becoming and is becoming and
And there is and was and will be something which is in relation to it and
belongs to it?
And since we have at this moment opinion and knowledge and perception of
the one, there is opinion and knowledge and perception of it?
Then there is name and expression for it, and it is named and expressed,
and everything of this kind which appertains to other things appertains to
Certainly, that is true.
Yet once more and for the third time, let us consider: If the one is both
one and many, as we have described, and is neither one nor many, and
participates in time, must it not, in as far as it is one, at times partake
of being, and in as far as it is not one, at times not partake of being?
But can it partake of being when not partaking of being, or not partake of
being when partaking of being?
Then the one partakes and does not partake of being at different times, for
that is the only way in which it can partake and not partake of the same.
And is there not also a time at which it assumes being and relinquishes
being--for how can it have and not have the same thing unless it receives
and also gives it up at some time?
And the assuming of being is what you would call becoming?
And the relinquishing of being you would call destruction?
The one then, as would appear, becomes and is destroyed by taking and
giving up being.
And being one and many and in process of becoming and being destroyed, when
it becomes one it ceases to be many, and when many, it ceases to be one?
And as it becomes one and many, must it not inevitably experience
separation and aggregation?
And whenever it becomes like and unlike it must be assimilated and
And when it becomes greater or less or equal it must grow or diminish or be
And when being in motion it rests, and when being at rest it changes to
motion, it can surely be in no time at all?
How can it?
But that a thing which is previously at rest should be afterwards in
motion, or previously in motion and afterwards at rest, without
experiencing change, is impossible.
And surely there cannot be a time in which a thing can be at once neither
in motion nor at rest?
But neither can it change without changing.
When then does it change; for it cannot change either when at rest, or when
in motion, or when in time?
And does this strange thing in which it is at the time of changing really
The moment. For the moment seems to imply a something out of which change
takes place into either of two states; for the change is not from the state
of rest as such, nor from the state of motion as such; but there is this
curious nature which we call the moment lying between rest and motion, not
being in any time; and into this and out of this what is in motion changes
into rest, and what is at rest into motion.
So it appears.
And the one then, since it is at rest and also in motion, will change to
either, for only in this way can it be in both. And in changing it changes
in a moment, and when it is changing it will be in no time, and will not
then be either in motion or at rest.
It will not.
And it will be in the same case in relation to the other changes, when it
passes from being into cessation of being, or from not-being into becoming
--then it passes between certain states of motion and rest, and neither is
nor is not, nor becomes nor is destroyed.
And on the same principle, in the passage from one to many and from many to
one, the one is neither one nor many, neither separated nor aggregated; and
in the passage from like to unlike, and from unlike to like, it is neither
like nor unlike, neither in a state of assimilation nor of dissimilation;
and in the passage from small to great and equal and back again, it will be
neither small nor great, nor equal, nor in a state of increase, or
diminution, or equalization.
All these, then, are the affections of the one, if the one has being.
1.aa. But if one is, what will happen to the others--is not that also to
Let us show then, if one is, what will be the affections of the others than
Let us do so.
Inasmuch as there are things other than the one, the others are not the
one; for if they were they could not be other than the one.
Nor are the others altogether without the one, but in a certain way they
participate in the one.
In what way?
Because the others are other than the one inasmuch as they have parts; for
if they had no parts they would be simply one.
And parts, as we affirm, have relation to a whole?
So we say.
And a whole must necessarily be one made up of many; and the parts will be
parts of the one, for each of the parts is not a part of many, but of a
How do you mean?
If anything were a part of many, being itself one of them, it will surely
be a part of itself, which is impossible, and it will be a part of each one
of the other parts, if of all; for if not a part of some one, it will be a
part of all the others but this one, and thus will not be a part of each
one; and if not a part of each, one it will not be a part of any one of the
many; and not being a part of any one, it cannot be a part or anything else
of all those things of none of which it is anything.
Then the part is not a part of the many, nor of all, but is of a certain
single form, which we call a whole, being one perfect unity framed out of
all--of this the part will be a part.
If, then, the others have parts, they will participate in the whole and in
Then the others than the one must be one perfect whole, having parts.