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Euthydemus B. Jowett Trans. - Plato

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by Plato

Translated by Benjamin Jowett


The Euthydemus, though apt to be regarded by us only as an elaborate jest,
has also a very serious purpose.  It may fairly claim to be the oldest
treatise on logic; for that science originates in the misunderstandings
which necessarily accompany the first efforts of speculation.  Several of
the fallacies which are satirized in it reappear in the Sophistici Elenchi
of Aristotle and are retained at the end of our manuals of logic.  But if
the order of history were followed, they should be placed not at the end
but at the beginning of them; for they belong to the age in which the human
mind was first making the attempt to distinguish thought from sense, and to
separate the universal from the particular or individual.  How to put
together words or ideas, how to escape ambiguities in the meaning of terms
or in the structure of propositions, how to resist the fixed impression of
an 'eternal being' or 'perpetual flux,' how to distinguish between words
and things--these were problems not easy of solution in the infancy of
philosophy.  They presented the same kind of difficulty to the half-
educated man which spelling or arithmetic do to the mind of a child.  It
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