Then now mark the point at which I am aiming: — not only do essential opposites exclude one another, but also concrete things, which, although not in themselves opposed, contain opposites; these, I say, likewise reject the idea which is opposed to that which is contained in them, and when it approaches them they either perish or withdraw. For example; Will not the number three endure annihilation or anything sooner than be converted into an even number, while remaining three?
Very true, said Cebes.
And yet, he said, the number two is certainly not opposed to the number three?
It is not.
Then not only do opposite ideas repel the advance of one another, but also there are other natures which repel the approach of opposites.
Very true, he said.
Suppose, he said, that we endeavour, if possible, to determine what these are.
By all means.
Are they not, Cebes, such as compel the things of which they have possession, not only to take their own form, but also the form of some opposite?
What do you mean?
I mean, as I was just now saying, and as I am sure that you know, that those things which are possessed by the number three must not only be three in number, but must also be odd.
And on this oddness, of which the number three has the impress, the opposite idea will never intrude?
And this impress was given by the odd principle?
And to the odd is opposed the even?
Then the idea of the even number will never arrive at three?
Then three has no part in the even?
Then the triad or number three is uneven?
To return then to my distinction of natures which are not opposed, and yet do not admit opposites — as, in the instance given, three, although not opposed to the even, does not any the more admit of the even, but always brings the opposite into play on the other side; or as two does not receive the odd, or fire the cold — from these examples (and there are many more of them) perhaps you may be able to arrive at the general conclusion, that not only opposites will not receive opposites, but also that nothing which brings the opposite will admit the opposite of that which it brings, in that to which it is brought. And here let me recapitulate — for there is no harm in repetition. The number five will not admit the nature of the even, any more than ten, which is the double of five, will admit the nature of the odd. The double has another opposite, and is not strictly opposed to the odd, but nevertheless rejects the odd altogether. Nor again will parts in the ratio 3:2, nor any fraction in which there is a half, nor again in which there is a third, admit the notion of the whole, although they are not opposed to the whole: You will agree?
Yes, he said, I entirely agree and go along with you in that.
And now, he said, let us begin again; and do not you answer my question in the words in which I ask it: let me have not the old safe answer of which I spoke at first, but another equally safe, of which the truth will be inferred by you from what has been just said. I mean that if any one asks you 'what that is, of which the inherence makes the body hot,' you will reply not heat (this is what I call the safe and stupid answer), but fire, a far superior answer, which we are now in a condition to give. Or if any one asks you 'why a body is diseased,' you will not say from disease, but from fever; and instead of saying that oddness is the cause of odd numbers, you will say that the monad is the cause of them: and so of things in general, as I dare say that you will understand sufficiently without my adducing any further examples.
Yes, he said, I quite understand you.
Tell me, then, what is that of which the inherence will render the body alive?
The soul, he replied.
And is this always the case?
Yes, he said, of course.
Then whatever the soul possesses, to that she comes bearing life?