Plato's Republic

word, correctly but inadequately, as "way" and [179] "manner." τρόπος means how one is turned, in what direction he turns, in what he maintains himself, to what he applies himself, where he turns to and remains tied, and with what intention he does so. What does that suggest for the realm of pro-duction? One may say that the way the shoemaker proceeds is different from that in which the tablemaker goes to work. Certainly, but the difference here is defined by what in each case is to be produced, by the requisite materials, and by the kind of refinements or operations such materials demand. Nevertheless, the same τρόπος prevails in all these ways of producing. How so? This query is to be answered by that part of the discussion we shall now follow.

καὶ τίς, ἔφη, ὁ τρόπος οὗτος; "And what τρόπος is that," which makes possible a production that is capable of producing ἅπαντα, "anything and everything," to the extent designated, which is in no way limited? Such a τρόπος presents no difficulties: by means of it one can go ahead and produce things everywhere and without delay. τάχιστα δέ που, εἰ 'θέλεις λαβὼν κάτοπτρον περιφέρειν πανταχῇ (596 d), "but you can do it quickest if you just take a mirror and point it around in all directions."

ταχὺ μὲν ἥλιον ποιήσεις καὶ τὰ ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ταχὺ δὲ γῆν, ταχὺ δὲ σαυτόν τε καὶ τἆλλα ζῷα καὶ σκεύη καὶ φυτὰ καὶ πάντα ὅσα νυνδὴ ἐλέγετο. "That way you will quickly produce the sun and what is in the heavens; quickly too the earth; and quickly also you yourself and all other living creatures and implements and plants and everything else we mentioned just now."

With this turn of the conversation we see how essential it is to think of ποιειν-"making"-as pro-ducing in the Greek sense. A mirror accomplishes such production of outward appearance; it allows all beings to become present just as they outwardly appear.

But at the same time, this is the very place to elaborate an important distinction in the τρόπος of production. It will [180] enable us for the first time to attain a clearer concept of the δημιουργός and thereby also of μίμησις, "copying." Were we to understand ποιείν-"making"-in some indefinite sense of manufacturing, then the example of the mirror would have no effect, since the mirror does not manufacture the sun.