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added, the theory of philosophical method of which it was the expression. For it is easily seen that to Plato's mind the merits of dialogue and the evils of sustained or epideictic' speaking were in great measure symbolical. The one represented and exemplified the Socratic spirit—freedom from foregone conclusions, patience and mutual help in enquiry, acquiescence in ignorance in preference to the mere show of knowledge. The other contained in it all the opposite elements of passion and illusion; it was therefore the fitting weapon of pleaders and demagogues.
It does not appear that Plato had any predecessors in the form of composition which he adopted. Greek philosophy clothed herself first in the garb of the epic singer, and afterwards borrowed the fashion of the law-courts. Plato first went back to living models, and created a fresh type of art from the conversations of Socrates. In so doing, he obeyed the analogies of Greek literature. The disposition to idealise a historical situation, to treat the speakers as personifications of moral or political tendencies, is strongly marked both in Herodotus and Thucydides. It may not be too fanciful to say that Plato meant to oppose his ideal Socrates to the caricature which had already gained the ear of Athens through the genius of Aristophanes. But the character of the Socratic teaching, as Plato understood and applied it, pointed in an especial manner to Socrates as the fitting protagonist in the new cycle of dramas. The older philosophies, he tells us, delivered their wisdom 'in a somewhat oracular form; “they went on their several ways with a good deal of disdain of people like ourselves; they did not care whether they took us with them or left us behind them' (vol. iii. p.506). Socrates represented the principle of ceaseless research : his method is a perpetual living process. It is therefore in a manner independent of any one life, for it is ‘graven in the soul of him who has learned, and can defend itself, and knows when to speak and when to be silent' (vol. iii. p. 611). No positive opinions or discoveries could be attributed in a strict modern sense to Socrates; yet all that was gained by his method might be treated as implicitly belonging to him. But Plato's habit of endeavouring to carry on the thoughts of his predecessors is not confined to Socrates. Thus in the “Theætetus' he is at pains to draw out what Protagoras might say in answer to certain objections (vol. iii. p. 388 ff.); and he 'makes a very valorous defence,' sparing no artifice of dramatic effect. He admits, however, that he is a stranger to the cause of Protagoras, who might possibly have made a different defence for himself. With the thoughts of Socrates he has no such hesitation, for he is one of the heirs
(to use his favourite comparison) of his master's argument, entitled to speak without reserve on that behalf. Yet he avoids representing him in contradiction with well-known traits : in the Timæus, for example, the chief part of the dialogue is not assigned to Socrates, probably because it was notorious that the real Socrates had not favoured purely physical speculations.
These considerations obviously prepare us to find that the gradual and spontaneous growth of Plato's system out of the ideas of Socrates may be traced, to some extent, in the • Platonic Dialogues.' It is true that we have little or no external evidence to fix the order in which they were written, and that the internal criteria, as in the case of most great writers, are of an unusually subtle nature. Few, indeed, of the tasks of philology have been as laborious as that of determining the canon of the Platonic writings, and distributing them over the wide space of his philosophical life. Mr. Jowett is far from claiming the character of finality for his own arrangement. Many points in it, however, may be considered as ascertained. A considerable group of dialogues, for instance, is distinguished by features which agree with those of the historical, as opposed to the Platonic or ideal, Socrates. Of these dialogues the Protagoras' is the most striking example. The search for definitions, the simple form of the doctrine that Virtue is knowledge, the seeming readiness to identify Pleasure with the Good, the absence of the Platonic theory of Ideas—these are so many indications of a comparatively Socratic, and therefore early stage of Plato's philosophy. At the other end of the series, external and internal testimony concur in placing the Laws’-a work in which the figure of Socrates does not appear, and in which the theory of ideas, though still affirmed, is set aside-as inapplicable to the practical wants of the time. Earlier again than the Laws,' and not earlier than the meridian of Plato's genius, must be placed his great constructive effort, the Republic. These are the three cardinal points of Platonic chronology, with reference to which the place of the remaining dialogues has to be determined.
The chief novelty of Mr. Jowett's arrangement (compared, for example, with that which was proposed by Zeller) appears in the number of dialogues placed alter the 'Republic. Besides the • Gorgias' (which closely resembles the 'Republic,' and probably belongs to the same period of Plato's life) and the Theætetus, already mentioned, we find the Philebus,' • Parmenides,' 'Sophist,' and 'Statesman.' Some modern critics, of whom Professor Schaarschmidt, of Bonn, is the chief representative, have doubted or denied the Platonic authorship of this whole group. The question is one which we shall not attempt to discuss at
length, length, especially as Mr. Jowett has reserved it for the detailed examination which he has promised to give of the order and genuineness of the Platonic writings (vol. iii. p. 571). The issue, it may be said in passing, depends very inuch upon the possibility of explaining the various characteristics of these dialogues as intermediate between those of the earlier works on the one hand, and the “Timæus' and · Laws' on the other. *
The • Euthydemus'-a broad caricature of the verbal puzzles so curiously prominent in the age of Plato—is placed by Mr. Jowett after the Protagoras.' Dr. Thompson, in a graceful review of the book, makes this collocation one of the few exceptions to his general agreement with Mr. Jowett's arrangement. Perhaps the best defence in the case of the ‘Euthydemus' is to be found in the epilogue, where an attack is made on the writers of speeches as amphibious animals, who being half philosophers and half politicians, succeed in combining the drawbacks of both. The passage could hardly have been written if Plato had then foreseen, even in a dream, his own conception of the philosopher-king as it appears in the Republic and the Statesman.'
Of the endless points of view from which different dialogues may be compared, and their relative place—didactic or chronological—more or less plausibly determined, it will be found that the most useful are those which are derived immediately from the theory of Ideas. The history of that theory is in reality the history of Plato's lifelong speculation; and no one has seen this truth more clearly than Mr. Jowett, or has applied it more subtly to the various aspects of Platonism. It is impossible, in of brief
such as we shall now attempt, to give a just notion of the finish and delicacy of his treatment of the subject; and it is especially difficult to avoid the fault from which he is most free, that of giving effect to a statement by exaggerating one or two points of view. Nevertheless it is necessary, in order to gain an idea of the main result of the book, that we should reproduce in some shape the impression which it conveys of what Platonism is in its essence, and what is its place in the general course of human thought.
Socrates, according to the well-known saying, brought down philosophy from heaven to earth. The current of speculation, which in earlier times busied itself chiefly with nature and the universe, was diverted by his teaching to the moral and political questions that in various forms had been more and more perplexing the active world of Greece. The example of the
* Mr. Campbell's Introduction to his edition of the 'Sophist' and “Statesman" contains a valuable contribution to this part of the question.
heroic age was still the main source, apart from the laws of the several states, to which men turned for direction. But in Homer, beyond a sense of the splendour of certain human qualities and a respect for the sacredness of existing custom, there is nothing which can be called morality. There is no moral system, however simple-no classification of actions as right or wrong. In the time of the Peloponnesian War the traditional maxims became more than ever inadequate. They barely sufficed within the most stable communities, or for those who, like Cephalus in the · Republic,' were favoured by nature and circumstances. They utterly failed in the wider sphere of action in which the larger units,' the Greek states themselves, had to deal as moral agents with each other. The Spartans, says Thucydides, ‘are the best of men at home, but abroad they know no duty except their own interest.' It is enough to allude to the darker pictures which he gives of other parts of Greece.
The overturning of ancient landmarks, the fierce passions roused, the demoralization which follows alike victory and defeat, combined with the intellectual activity of the time to bring about the crisis in morality which, in the minds of most readers of Greek history, is associated with certain teachers of wisdom' called the Sophists. We shall not now enter upon the question between Mr. Grote and Mr. Jowett as to the existence of a distinct class bearing that name—a question which brings out to peculiar advantage the subtlety and exactness of Mr. Jowett's critical powers (see especially vol. iii. pp. 448 ff.). For the present it will be enough to glance at two leading Sophists. The picture of Protagoras which is given in the dialogue of the same name is full of friendly and even admiring touches. Protagoras is the venerable missionary of virtue; one whose preaching (as it may almost be termed) exposes him to some danger from the blind upholders of existing things, but who scorns to hide it under the veil of other kinds of instruction, glorying rather in the despised name of Sophist. Moreover, his opinions are far from being sophistical,' in the worst sense of the word. As Mr. Jowett observes, there is quite as much truth on the side of Protagoras as on that of Socrates. The difference is that (to speak in Platonic language) he is inferior in dialectics. He has faith in goodness, and uses his great powers of persuasion in its cause; but he is wanting in the scientific methods and aims which belonged to Socrates. The weakness attributed (in the “Gorgias') to the rhetoricians Gorgias and Polus is of the same kind. Gorgias is refuted because he is unwilling to admit that rhetoric can be wholly separated from justice and injustice (vol. iii. p. 6). The
Sophists—if we may judge by the greatest names among them -fail because, instead of quarrelling with the world, they are content to represent the better mind of the world to itself.
Socrates took a different course. He undertook at once to defend and to explain morality by applying to it the conception of knowledge. He sought for the universal element in each class of cases—that which answers the question, What is such and such a virtue? He easily convicted his countrymen of the want of this knowledge. They were in the habit of pronouncing actions good or bad, but without knowing why. They knew how to make shoes and build temples, for they could tell in what the goodness of a shoe or a temple consisted ; and they could teach the knowledge as an art of shoemaking or of architecture. The arts of life-justice, housekeeping, rhetoric, governmenthad none of these characteristics of knowledge. He himself was not wiser than others, but he knew his own ignorance; and he was convinced that a science of conduct was yet to be attained which would change the face of the moral world.
The course of thought which led from the Socratic position to the Platonic theory of Ideas has been often analysed, but can hardly ever cease to afford the materials of interesting inquiry. It may be regarded as the result of two distinct processes-distinct in theory, but always perhaps combined in fact: first, the natural development of Socratic principles; secondly, the contact of Plato's mind with other philosophies, chiefly, as we shall see, those of Heraclitus, Pythagoras, and Parmenides, but including the later systems, which owed their rise, like his own, to the Socratic impulse. The scientific ethics of Socrates led directly to a new and more profound metaphysics. He saw that knowledge is the apprehension of the universal, of something that is true of a class of things; and he had applied this conception, gained from the arts of everyday life, to the whole of human conduct. It was left to others to ask in what this apprehension of the universal itself consists, and to extend it to branches of knowledge which he had neglected or undervalued. Plato is distinguished among the followers of Socrates by the comprehensive spirit in which he undertook this new and great enquiry, and the zeal with which he pursued it through the theories and sciences of his time. In particular, he returned with new aims and methods to the earlier doctrines. In successive dialogues we find him supplementing or explaining one saying or opinion of an older philosopher by another, testing them in turn by the questioning method, and using all his strength against principles which seemed to stand in the way of scientific progress. Hence the unique value of the