“Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.” is a phrase popularly attributed to Plato on the internet, but after extensive googling, I can't see any reference to any of his works that contain it. Does it appear in his writings, or is there anything similar in his writings? and, if so where does it appear?

  • Welcome, Abijah. One problem is that no Greek text is supplied and so all we have, even if the statement is genuinely Platonic, is this version of it in English. There are so very many English translations of all the Platonic dialogues and letters (if any of the letters are authentic) that it would be a huge task to look among the translations for this English rendering of a Platonic statement unless one happened to know which translation (if any) the English statement or something similar in sense to it appeared.
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 12:20
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    Seems like a case of "Don't trust everything you read on the internet" - Plato
    – CriglCragl
    Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 12:42
  • 7
    @CriglCragl Given the new answer that found an actual source for this from Plato, maybe a case of "Even the internet is right sometimes." Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 20:07
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    @GeoffreyThomas I would argue that this is exactly what makes it a case for Stack Exchange, as opposed to a search engine. Commented Jul 13, 2021 at 6:19
  • @Jann Poppinga. I did not say that it was not a case for Stack Exchange. I merely pointed out one problem in answering it. I am glad to see that it has now been answered.
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Commented Jul 13, 2021 at 8:18

2 Answers 2


This is from the dialogue titled Sophist, the Fowler translation at perseus.tufts.edu gives it as:

No one should be discouraged, Theaetetus, who can make constant progress, even though it be slow.

And the Jowett translation at Project Gutenberg translates it as:

Any one, Theaetetus, who is able to advance even a little ought to be of good cheer

And in the Nicholas P. White translation in Hackett Publishing's Plato: Complete Works, it's translated on p. 285 as:

Even if you can only make a little progress, Theaetetus, you should cheer up.

According to the perseus.tufts.edu page, this line is from location 261b in the text, the corresponding Greek text can be seen here.

  • 17
    +1. Note a subtle difference between the version the OP came across and the real versions: the real versions are directed at the person who's making progress (telling that person not to be discouraged), whereas the OP's version is directed at other people (telling them not to discourage him/her). The Fowler translation is somewhat ambiguous between the two readings, so may explain how the OP's version came about.
    – ruakh
    Commented Jul 13, 2021 at 7:41
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    Well done - Geoffrey.
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Commented Jul 13, 2021 at 8:20
  • The difference between "one named person should not feel discouraged" and "no-one should discourage anyone" is not "subtle." It's blatant mistranslation.
    – alephzero
    Commented Jul 13, 2021 at 13:14
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    @slebetman that doesn’t seem correct
    – Tim
    Commented Jul 13, 2021 at 21:38
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    @slebetman where are you seeing anything to imply it's not OK to tell others not to criticize you for being slow.?
    – TKoL
    Commented Jul 14, 2021 at 12:15

Does it really matter who said it? I mean don't get me wrong here, it's always good to find the source of any information you gather, but what I'm trying to say is if you like the quote, does it really matter who said it or how it was translated or even how it was originally meant? It's a good quote with a good message. It could of been elmo who said it, but I would still follow the teaching because I agree with it's underlining moral belief. Only a fool would criticize anyone for making progress. No matter how slow.

  • Depends on how you want to use it. if you'd like to use it as a self-contained and self-explanatory piece of wisdom then the name of the author is something of an argument from authority. But after having skimmed some philosophers who liked to define literally every word in a sentence, there might be meaning below the surface of the quote. So the quote might be a shorthand for a philosophy or even contradict their philosophy or might be some encrypted message, so that the reference to the author is vital information to understand the quote. So yeah as with most things: It depends.
    – haxor789
    Commented Jul 19, 2022 at 11:50

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