In this dialogue, Socrates seeks to discover the true nature of virtue by trying to define a single virtue, namely temperance. The young philosopher Charmides, whose beauty initially overwhelms Socrates, first says that temperance consists of doing things in an orderly and quiet way; when Socrates points out the inadequacy of such a definition, Charmides says that temperance is a form of modesty. When Socrates proves to him that modesty can be both good and bad, he retreats and refers to someone else's notion that temperance consists of minding one's own business. Critias then jumps into the fray to defend this third position; once he is put on the defensive, he falls back on two alternate definitions--first, that temperance consists of doing good things, and then that temperance is equivalent to knowing oneself. In the end, no satisfactory definition of temperance is arrived at, although one is left with the impression that temperance has much to do with the knowledge of good and evil.
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