“Then we must have had knowledge of equality before the time when we first saw equal things and thought, ‘All these things are aiming to be like equality but fall short.’”
“That is true.”
"And we agree, also, that we have not gained knowledge of it, and that it is impossible to gain this knowledge, except by sight or touch or some other of the senses? I consider that all the senses are alike.”
“Yes, Socrates, they are all alike, for the purposes of our argument.”
“Then it is through the senses that we must learn that all sensible objects strive after absolute equality and fall short of it. Is that our view?”
“Then before we began to see or hear or use the other senses we must somewhere have gained a knowledge of abstract or absolute equality, if we were to compare with it the equals which we perceive by the senses, and see that all such things yearn to be like abstract equality but fall short of it.”
I feel like I'm misunderstanding something here. Socrates says, "we have not gained knowledge of it, and... it is impossible to gain this knowledge, except by... the senses." What does "it" refer to?
Later he says, "... before we began to... use the... senses we must have gained a knowledge of abstract or absolute equality..."
This seems to show that "it" wasn't referring to abstract equality, because Socrates has stated that we must have gained knowledge of abstract equality without using physical senses. This would make me seem that "it" might then be referring to equal things (that fall short of abstract equality), because these are the two things that were being discussed. But if "it" refers to equal things, then how have we not gained knowledge of it? We have gained knowledge of it through seeing it.
Am I missing something, or is there a contradiction?