Tuesday, January 8, 2013

"Only flux and motion"

SOCRATES:  By the dog of Egypt I have not a bad notion which came into my head only this moment.  I believe that the primeval givers of names were undoubtedly like too many of our modern philosophers, who, in their search after the nature of things, are always getting dizzy from constantly going round and round, and then they imagine that the world is going round and round and moving in all directions.  And this appearance, which arises out of their own internal condition, they suppose to be a reality of nature; they think that there is nothing stable or permanent, but only flux and motion, and that the world is always full of every sort of motion and change.  The consideration of the names which I mentioned has led me into making this reflection.
The above passage from Plato's Cratylus, translated here by Benjamin Jowett and available in the collected dialogues of Plato edited by Edith Hamilton (page 447), appears to be more important than Socrates (and Plato) are letting on. 

I would even guess that the interjection which starts this brief passage, "By the dog of Egypt," is meant to carry a hidden message.