"But what is it that nourishes the soul?"

— Plato (427 BC - 347 BC)

Work Title
387 B.C.?
"But what is it that nourishes the soul?"
Metaphor in Context
Can we say then, Hippocrates, that a Sophist is really a merchant or peddler of the goods by which a soul is nourished? To me he appears to be something like that .

But what is it that nourishes the soul?

What it learns presumably, I said. And we must see that the Sophist in commending his wares does not deceive us, like the wholesaler and the retailer who deal in food for the body. These people do not know themselves which of the wares they offer is good or bad for the body, but in selling them praise them all alike, and those who buy from them don't know either, unless one of them happens to be a trainer or a doctor. So too those who take the various subjects of knowledge from city to city, and offer them for sale retail to whoever wants them, commend everything that they have for sale, but it may be, my dear Hippocrates, that some of these men also are ignorant of the beneficial or harmful effects on the soul of what they have for sale, and so too are those who buy from them, unless one of them happens to be a physician of the soul. If then you chance to be an expert in discerning which of them is good or bad, it is safe for you to buy knowledge from Protagoras or anyone else, but if not, take care you don't find yourself gambling dangerously with all of you that is dearest to you. Indeed the risk you run in purchasing knowledge is much greater than that in buyin provisions. When you buy food and drink, you can carry it away from the shop or warehouse in a receptacle, and before you receive it into your body by eating or drinking you can store it away at home and take the advice of an expert as to what you should eat and drink and what not, and how much you should consume and when; so there is not much risk in the actual purchase. But knowledge cannot be taken away in a parcel. When you have paid for it you must receive it straight into the soul. You go away having learned it and are benefited or harmed accordingly.
(313c-314b, pp. 312-313)
Reading Paul S.MacDonald's History of the Concept of Mind: Speculations About Soul, Mind and Spirit from Homer to Hume. Aldershot, Hants: Ashgate, 2003. p. 41.
Hamilton, E. and Cairns, H., Eds. The Collected Dialogues of Plato. Bollingen Series. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978.
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The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.