Le Nom, comme la Peinture,
est une Imitation
Socrates: And would you further acknowledge that the name is an imitation
of the thing?
Socrates: And you would say that pictures are also imitations of things,
but in another way?
Socrates: I believe you may be right, but I do not rightly understand you.
Please to say, then, whether both sorts of imitation (I mean both pictures
or words) are not equally attributable and applicable to the things of
which they are the imitation.
Cratylus: They are.
Socrates: First look at the matter thus: you may attribute the likeness
of the man to the man, and of the woman to the woman; and so on?
Socrates: And conversely you may attribute the likeness of the man to the
woman, and of the woman to the man?
Cratylus: Very true.
Socrates: And are both modes of assigning them right, or only the first?
Cratylus: Only the first.
Socrates: That is to say, the mode of assignment which attributes to each
that which belongs to them and is like them?
Cratylus: That is my view.
Socrates: Now then, as I am desirous that we being friends should have a
good understanding about the argument, let me state my view to you: the
first mode of assignment, whether applied to figures or to names, I call
right, and when applied to names only, true as well as right; and the other
mode of giving and assigning the name which is unlike, I call wrong, and in
the case of names, false as well as wrong.
Cratylus: That may be true, Socrates, in the case of pictures; they may be
wrongly assigned; but not in the case of names--they must be always right.
Socrates: Why, what is the difference? May I not go to a man and say to
him, 'This is your picture,' showing him his own likeness, or perhaps the
likeness of a woman;
and when I say 'show,'
I mean bring
before the sense
And may I not go to him again, and say,
'This is your name'?
for the name, like the picture,
is an imitation.
May I not say to him
'This is your name'?
and may I not then bring to his sense of hearing the
imitation of himself,
when I say,
'This is a man'; or of a female of the
when I say, 'This is a woman,'
as the case may be?
all that quite possible?