Preliminary Considerations

We set the whole following endeavour under a principle enunciated by Plato in the course of the dialogue (187 e 2): κρεῖττον γάρ που σμικρὸν εὖ ἢ πολὺ μὴ ἱκανῶς περᾶναι. 'More is accomplished by a proper treatment of little than by an inadequate treatment of much.'

§ 20. The Question Concerning the Essence of ἐπιστήμη: Man's Attack on the Self-evidences of His Self-understanding

The necessary method of interpretation leads us to the centre of our question. We do not therefore go schematically through the dialogue1 from beginning to end; we completely abandon the attitude of the mere reader. In somewhat impertinent fashion we cut into, as co-questioning auditors, the already progressing conversation, without knowing the beginning or end, yet at a point where we immediately feel something of the whole.2

We encounter Socrates, the mathematician Theodorus, and the young Theaetetus, all in conversation, at just the moment when Socrates says to Theaetetus (184 b 4ff.):3

Ἔτι τοίνυν, ὦ Θεαίτητε, τοσόνδε περὶ τῶν εἰρημένων ἐπίσκεψαι. αἴσθησιν γὰρ δὴ ἐπιστήμην ἀπεκρίνω: ἦ γάρ;


'With regard to what we have been talking about, Theaetetus, consider this further point. You answered that perception is knowledge, did you not?'


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