Hegel’s Lectures on the History of Philosophy
THE development of philosophic science as science, and, further, the progress from the Socratic point of view to the scientific, begins with Plato and. is completed by Aristotle. They of all others deserve to be called teachers of the human race.
Plato, who must be numbered among the Socratics, was the most renowned of the friends and disciples of Socrates, and he it was who grasped in all its truth Socrates’ great principle that ultimate reality lies in consciousness, since, according to him, the absolute is in thought, and all reality is Thought. He does not understand by this a one-sided thought, nor what is understood by the false idealism which makes thought once more step aside and contemplate itself as conscious thought, and as in opposition to reality; it is the thought which embraces in an absolute unity reality as well as thinking, the Notion and its reality in the movement of science, as the Idea of a scientific whole. While Socrates had comprehended the thought which is existent in and for itself, only as an object for self-conscious will, Plato forsook this narrow point of view, and brought the merely abstract right of self-conscious thought, which Socrates had raised to a principle, into the sphere of science. By so doing he rendered it possible to interpret and apply the principle, though his manner of representation may not be altogether scientific.
Plate is one of those world-famed individuals, his philosophy one of those world-renowned creations, whose influence, as regards the culture and development of the mind, has from its commencement down to the present time been all-important. For what is peculiar in the philosophy of Plato is its application to the intellectual and supersensuous world, and its elevation of consciousness into the realm of spirit. Thus the spiritual element which belongs to thought obtains in this form an importance for consciousness, and is brought into consciousness; just as, on the other hand, consciousness obtains a foothold on the soil of the other. The Christian religion has certainly adopted the lofty principle that man’s inner and spiritual nature is his true nature, and taker, it as its universal principle, though interpreting it in its own way as man’s inclination for holiness; but Plato and his philosophy had the greatest share in obtaining for Christianity its rational organization, and in bringing it into the kingdom of the supernatural, for it was Plato who made the first advance in this direction.
We must begin by mentioning the facts of Plato’s life. Plato was an Athenian, born in the third year of the 87th Olympiad, or, according to Dodwell, 01. 87, 4 (B.C. 429), at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war, in the year in which Pericles died. He was, according to this, thirty-nine or forty years younger than Socrates. His father, Ariston, traced his lineage from Cadrus; his mother, Perictione, war descended from Solon. The paternal uncle of his mother was the celebrated Critias, who was for a time among the associates of Socrates, and who was the most talented and brilliant, but also the most dangerous and obnoxious, of the Thirty Tyrants of Athens. Critias is usually represented by the ancients as an atheist, with the Cyrenaic Theodorus and Diagoras of Melos; Sextus Empiricus has preserved to us a fine fragment from one of his poems. Sprung from this noble race, and with no lack of means for his culture, Plato received from the most highly esteemed of the Sophists an education in all the arts which were then thought to befit an Athenian. In his family he was called Aristocles; it was only later that he received from his teacher the name of Plato. Some say that he was so styled because of the breadth of his forehead; others, because of the richness and breadth of his discourse; others again, because of his well-built form.
In his youth he cultivated poetry, and wrote tragedies — very much like young poets in our day — also dithyrambs and songs. Various specimens of the last are still preserved to us in the Greek anthology, and have as subject his various loves; we have amongst others a well-known epigram on a certain Aster, one of his best friends, which contains a pretty fancy, found also in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet :
“To the stars thou look’st, mine Aster,
O would that I were Heaven,
With eyes so many thus to gaze on thee.”
[Diog. Laërt. III, 5,29.]
In his youth he had every intention of devoting himself to politics. He was brought by his father to Socrates when in his twentieth year, and enjoyed intimate friendship with him for eight years. It is related that Socrates dreamt on the preceding night that he had a young swan perched on his knees, whose wings quickly developed, and which then flew up to heaven, singing the sweetest songs. Many such incidents are mentioned by the ancients, and they bear witness to the deep reverence and love with which both contemporaries and those of later times regarded the calm dignity of Plato, and that loftiness of demeanour which he combined with extreme simplicity and lovableness, traits of character which won for him the name of “the divine.” Plato did not content himself with the society and wisdom of Socrates, but studied in addition the older philosophers, particularly Heraclitus. Aristotle (Met. 1. 6) states that Plato, before he ever came to Socrates, associated with Cratylus, and had been initiated into the doctrines of Heraclitus. He also studied the Eleatics, and very particularly the Pythagoreans, and he frequented the society of the most noted Sophists. Thus deeply immersed in Philosophy, he lost his interest in poetry and politics, and gave them up altogether, that he might devote himself entirely to scientific pursuits. He fulfilled, like Socrates, his term of military service as an Athenian citizen, and is said to have taken part in three campaigns.
We have already mentioned that, after Socrates was put to death, Plato, like many other philosophers, fled from Athens, and betook himself to Euclides at Megara. Leaving Megara before long, he travelled first to Cyrene in Africa, where he turned his attention specially to mathematics, under the guidance of the celebrated mathematician Theodorus, whom he introduces as taking part in several of his dialogues. Plato himself soon attained to high proficiency in mathematics. To him is attributed the solution of the Delian or Delphic problem, which was proposed by the oracle, and, like the Pythagorean dogma, has reference to the cube. The problem is, to draw a line the cube of which will be equal to the sum of two given cubes. This requires a construction through two curves. The nature of the tasks then set by the oracles is very curious; on this particular occasion application bad been made to the oracle in a time of pestilence, and it responded by proposing an entirely scientific problem; the change indicated in the spirit of the oracle is highly significant. From Cyrene Plato went to Italy and Egypt. In Magna Graecia he made the acquaintance of the Pythagoreans of that day, Archytas of Tarentum, the celebrated mathematician, Philolaus and others; and he also bought the writings of the older Pythagoreans at a high price. In Sicily he made friends with Dion. Returning to Athens, he opened a school of Philosophy in the Academy, a grove or promenade in which stood a gymnasium, and there he discoursed to his disciples. This pleasure-ground had been laid out in honour of the hero Academus, but Plato was the true hero of the Academy who did away with the old significance of the name, and overshadowed the fame of the original hero, whose place he so completely took that the latter comes down to after ages only as connected with Plato.
Plato’s busy life in Athens was twice interrupted by a journey to Sicily, to the Court of Dionysius the younger, ruler of Syracuse and Sicily. This connection with Dionysius was the most important, if not the only external relation into which Plato entered; it had, however, no lasting result. Dion, the nearest relative of Dionysius, and other respected Syracusans, his friends, deluded themselves with vain hopes regarding Dionysius. He had been allowed by his father to grow up almost without education, but his friends had instilled into him some notion of and respect for Philosophy, and had roused in him a desire to make acquaintance with Plato. They hoped that Dionysius would profit greatly by his intimacy with Plato, and that his character, which was still unformed, and to all appearance far from unpromising, would be so influenced by Plato’s idea of the constitution of a true state. that this might, through him, come to be realized in Sicily. It was partly his friendship with Dion, and partly and more especially the high hopes he himself cherished of seeing a true form of government actually established by Dionysius, that induced Plato to take the mistaken step of journeying to Sicily. On the surface it seems an excellent idea that a young prince should have a wise man at his elbow to instruct and inspire him; and on this idea a hundred political romances have been based; the picture has, however, no reality behind it. Dionysius was much pleased with Plato, it is true, and conceived such a respect for him that he desired to be respected by him in turn; but this did not last long. Dionysius was one of those mediocre natures who may indeed in a half-hearted way aspire to glory and honour, but are capable of no depth and earnestness, however much they may affect it, and who lack all strength of character. His intentions were good, but the power failed him to carry them out; it was like our own satirical representations in the theatre, of a person who aspires to be quite a paragon, and turns out an utter fool. The position of affairs represented thereby can be nothing but this, seeing that lack of energy alone allows itself to be guided; but it is also the same lack of energy which renders impossible of execution even a plan made by itself. The rupture between Plato and Dionysius took place on personal grounds. Dionysius fell out with his relative Dion, and Plato became involved in the quarrel, because he would not give up his friendship with Dion. Dionysius was incapable of a friendship based on esteem and sympathy in pursuits; it was partly his personal inclination to Plato, and partly mere vanity, which had made him seek the philosopher’s friendship. Dionysius could not, however, induce Plato to come under any obligation to him; he desired that Plato should give himself up to him entirely, but this was a demand that Plato refused to entertain.
Plato accordingly took his departure. After the separation, however, both felt the desire to be again together. Dionysius recalled Plato, in order to effect a reconciliation with him; he could not endure that he should have failed in the attempt to attach Plato permanently to himself, and he found it specially intolerable that Plato would not give up Dion. Plato yielded to the urgent representations, not only of his family and Dion, but also of Archytas and other Pythagoreans of Tarentum, to whom Dionysius had applied, and who were taking an interest in the reconciliation of Dionysius with Dion and Plato; indeed, they went so far as to guarantee safety and liberty of departure to Plato. But Dionysius found that he could endure Plato’s presence no better than his absence; he felt himself thereby constrained. And though, by the influence of Plato and his other companions, a respect for science had been awakened in Dionysius, and he had thus become more cultured, he never penetrated beyond the surface. His interest in Philosophy was just as superficial as his repeated attempts in poetry; and while he wished to be everything — poet, philosopher, and statesman — he would not submit to be under the guidance of others. Thus no closer tie between Plato and Dionysius was formed; they drew together again, and again parted, so that the third visit to Sicily ended also in coldness, and the connection was not again established. This time the ill-feeling with regard to the continued relations with Dion ran so high, that when Plato wished to leave Sicily, on account of the treatment his friend had met with from Dionysius, the latter deprived him of the means of conveyance, and at last would have forcibly prevented his departure from Sicily. The Pythagoreans of Tarentum came at length to the rescue, [This circumstance is assigned by Diogenes Laertius, in the passage quoted (III. 21, 22), not to the time of Plato’s second journey to Dionysius the younger, i.e. of his third visit to Sicily, where it is placed by the writers of Plato’s Letters, but to the second journey of Plato to Sicily, which corresponds with his first visit to Dionysius the younger. — Ed.] demanded Plato back from Dionysius, got him conveyed away safely, and brought him to Greece. They were aided by the circumstance that Dionysius was afraid of an ill report being spread that he was not on good terms with Plato. Thus Plato’s hopes were shattered, and his dream of shaping the constitution in accordance with the demands of his own philosophic ideas, through the agency of Dionysius, proved vain.
At a later date, therefore, he actually refused to be the lawgiver of other States, though they had made application to him for that very purpose; amongst these applicants were the inhabitants of Cyrene and the Arcadians. It was a time when many of the Greek States found their constitutions unsatisfactory, and yet could not devise anything new. Now in the last thirty years [from the lectures of 1825] many constitutions have been drawn up, and it would be no hard task for anyone having had much experience in this work to frame another. But theorizing is not sufficient for a constitution; it is not individuals who make it; it is something divine and spiritual, which develops in history. So strong is this power of the world-spirit that the thought of an individual is as nothing against it; and when such thoughts do count for something, i.e. when they can be realized, they are then none other than the product of this power of the universal spirit. The idea that Plato should become lawgiver was not adapted for the times; Solon and Lycurgus were lawgivers, but in Plato’s day such a thing was impracticable. He declined any further compliance with the wishes of these States, because they would not agree to the first condition which he imposed, namely, the abolition of all private property, a principle which we shall deal with later, in considering Plato’s practical philosophy. Honoured thus throughout the whole land, and especially in Athens, Plato lived until the first year of the 108th Olympiad (B.C. 348); and died on his birthday, at a wedding feast in the eighty-first year of his age.
We have to speak, in the first place, of the direct mode in which Plato’s philosophy has come down to us; it is to be found in those of his writings which we possess; indubitably they are one of the fairest gifts which fate has preserved from the ages that are gone. His philosophy is not, however, properly speaking, presented there in systematic form, and to construct it from such writings is difficult, not so much from anything in itself, as because this philosophy has been differently understood in different periods of time; and, more than all, because it has been much and roughly handled in modern times by those who have either read into it their own crude notions, being unable to conceive the spiritual spiritually, or have regarded as the essential and’ most significant element in Plato’s philosophy that which in reality does not belong to Philosophy at all, but only to the mode of presentation; in truth, however, it is only ignorance of Philosophy that renders it difficult to grasp the philosophy of Plato. The form and matter of these works are alike of interest and importance. In studying them we must nevertheless make sure, in the first place, what of Philosophy we mean to seek and may find within them, and, on the other hand, what Plato’s point of view never can afford us, because in his time it was not there to give. Thus it may be that the longing with which we approached Philosophy is left quite unsatisfied; it is, however, better that we should not be altogether satisfied than that, such conclusions should be regarded as final. Plato’s point of view is clearly defined and necessary, but it is impossible for us to remain there, or to go back to it; for Reason. now makes higher demands. As for regarding it as the highest standpoint, and that which we must take for our own — it belongs to the weaknesses of our time not to be able to bear the greatness, the immensity of the claims made by the human spirit, to feel crushed before them, and to flee from them faint-hearted. We must stand above Plato, i.e. we must acquaint ourselves with the needs of thoughtful minds in our own time, or rather we must ourselves experience these needs. Just as the pedagogue’s aim is to train up men so as to shield them from the world, or to keep them in a particular sphere — the counting-house, for instance, or bean-planting, if you wish to be idyllic — where they will neither know the world nor be known by it; so in Philosophy a return has been made to religious faith, and therefore to the Platonic philosophy. Both are moments which have their due place and their own importance, but they are not the philosophy of our time. It would be perfectly justifiable to return to Plato in order to learn anew from him the Idea of speculative Philosophy, but it is idle to — speak of him with extravagant enthusiasm, as if he represented beauty and excellence in general. Moreover, it is quite superfluous for Philosophy, and belongs to the hypercriticism of our times, to treat Plato from a literary point of view, as Schleiermacher does, critically examining whether one or another of the minor dialogues is genuine or not. Regarding the more important of the dialogues, we may mention that the testimony of the ancients leaves not the slightest doubt.
Then of course the very character of Plato’s works, offering us in their manysidedness various modes of treating Philosophy, constitutes the first difficulty standing in the way of a comprehension of his philosophy. If we still had the oral discourses (agrafa dogmata) of Plato, under the title “Concerning the Good” (peri tagaqon), which his scholars noted down, we should have had his philosophy before us in simpler, because in more systematic form. Aristotle seems to have had these discourses before him, when dealing with the philosophy of Plato, and he quotes them in his work “On Philosophy,” or, “On the Ideas,” or, “On the Good” (Brandis has written on this topic). But, as it happens, we have only Plato’s Dialogues, and their form renders it all the more difficult for us to gather a definite idea of his philosophy. For the dialogue form contains very heterogeneous elements; Philosophy proper in the treatment of absolute Being, and, intermingled with that, its particular mode of representation. It is just this which constitutes the manysidedness of Plato’s works.
A second difficulty is said to lie in the distinction drawn between exoteric and esoteric philosophy. Tennemann (Vol. II. p. 220) says: “Plato exercised the right, which is conceded to every thinker, of communicating only so much of his discoveries as he thought good, and of so doing only to those whom he credited with capacity to receive it. Aristotle, too, had an esoteric and an exoteric philosophy, but with this difference, that in his case the distinction was merely formal, while with Plato it was also material!” How nonsensical! This would appear as if the philosopher kept possession of his thoughts in the same way as of his external goods : the philosophic Idea is, however, something utterly different, and instead of being possessed by, it possesses a man. When philosophers discourse on philosophic subjects, they follow of necessity the course of their ideas; they cannot keep them in their pockets; and when one man speaks to another, if his words have any meaning at all, they must contain the idea present to him. It is easy enough to hand over an external possession, but the communication of ideas requires a certain skill; there is always something esoteric in this, something more than the merely exoteric. This difficulty is therefore trifling.
Thirdly, as one of the circumstances that render it difficult to comprehend Plato’s own speculative thought, we can scarcely reckon the external consideration that in his Dialogues he does not speak in his own person, but introduces Socrates and many others as the speakers, without always making it plain which of them expresses the writer’s own opinion. By reason of this historic circumstance, which seems to bear out the manysidedness of Plato, it has of course been often said, by ancients as well as moderns, that he merely expounded, from a historical point of view, the system and doctrine of Socrates, that he adapted much in the Dialogues from various Sophists, and avowedly advanced many theorems belonging to an earlier date, especially those of the Pythagoreans, Heraclitics, and Eleatics, even adopting, in the last case, the Eleatic mode of treatment. Hence it was said that to these philosophies the whole matter of the treatise belonged, the out. ward form alone being Plato’s. It is therefore necessary to distinguish what is peculiarly his and what is not, or whether the component parts are in harmony. In the Socratic Dialogues that we have from Cicero, the personages can be much more readily made out; but in Cicero there is nothing of’ real interest offered to us. With Plato there can be no talk of this ambiguity, and the difficulty is only in appearance. In the Dialogues of Plato his philosophy is quite clearly expressed; they are not constructed as are the conversations of some people, which consist of many monologues, in which one person expresses a certain opinion and another person differs from him, and both hold to their own way of thinking. Here, on the contrary, the divergency of opinions which comes out is examined, and a conclusion arrived at as to the truth; or, if the result is negative, the whole process of knowledge is what is seen in Plato. There is, therefore, no need to inquire further as to what belongs to Socrates in the Dialogues, and what belongs to Plato. This further observation we must, however, make, that since Philosophy in its ultimate essence is one and the same, every succeeding philosopher will and must take up into his own, all philosophies that went before, and what falls specially to him is their further development. Philosophy is not a thing apart, like a work of art; though even in a work of art it is the skill which the artist learns from others that he puts into practice. What is original in the artist is his conception as a whole, and the intelligent use of the means already at his command; there may occur to him in working an endless variety of ideas and discoveries of his own. But Philosophy has one thought, one reality, as its foundation; and nothing can be put in the place of the true knowledge of this already attained; it must of necessity make itself evident in later developments. Therefore, as I have already observed (Vol. 1. p. 166), Plato’s Dialogues are not to be considered as if their aim were to put forward a variety of philosophies, nor as if Plato’s were an eclectic philosophy derived from them; it forms rather the knot in which these abstract and one-sided principles have become truly united in a concrete fashion. In giving a general idea of the history of Philosophy, we have already seen (Vol. I. p. 54) that such points of union, in which the true is concrete, must occur in the onward course of philosophical. development. The concrete is the unity of diverse determinations and principles; these, in order to be perfected, in order to come definitely before the consciousness, must first of all be presented separately. Thereby they of course acquire an aspect of one-sidedness in comparison with the higher principle which follows: this, nevertheless, does not annihilate them, nor even leave them where they were, but takes them up into itself as moments. Thus in Plato’s philosophy we see all manner of philosophic teaching from earlier times absorbed into a deeper principle, and therein united. It is in this way that Plato’s philosophy shows itself to be a totality of ideas : therefore, as the result, the principles of others are comprehended in itself. Frequently Plato does nothing more than explain the doctrines of earlier philosophers; and the only particular feature in his representation of them is that their scope is extended. His Timæus is, by unanimous testimony, the amplification of a still extant work of Pythagoras; and, in like manner, his amplification of the doctrine of Parmenides is of such a nature that its principle is freed from its one-sided character.
These last two difficulties having been disposed of, if we would likewise solve the first mentioned, we must proceed to describe the form in which Plato has propounded his ideas, keeping it, on the other hand, distinct from Philosophy proper, as we find it with him. The form of the Platonic philosophy is, as is well known, the dialogue. The beauty of this form is highly attractive : yet we must not think, as many do, that it is the most perfect form in which to present Philosophy; it is peculiar to Plato, and as a work of art is of course to be much esteemed.
In the first place, scenery and dramatic form belong to what is external. Plato gives to his Dialogues a setting of reality, both as regards place and persons, and chooses out some particular occasion which has brought his characters together; this in itself is very natural and charming.
Socrates takes the leading part, and among the other actors there are many stars well known to us, such as Agathon, Zeno, and Aristophanes. We find ourselves in some particular spot; in the Phædrus it is at the plane tree beside the clear waters of the Ilyssus, through which Socrates and Phædrus pass; in other dialogues we are conducted to the halls of the gymnasia, to the Academy, or to a banquet. By never allowing himself to appear in person, but putting his thoughts always in the mouth of others, any semblance of preaching or of dogmatizing is avoided by Plato, and the narrator appears just as little as he does in the History of Thucydides or in Homer. Xenophon sometimes brings himself forward, sometimes he entirely loses sight of the aim he had in view, of vindicating by what he tells of them the life of Socrates and his method of instruction. With Plato, on the contrary, all is quite objective and plastic; and he employs great art in removing from himself all responsibility for his assertions, often assigning them even to a third or fourth person.
As regards the tone of the intercourse between the characters in these Dialogues, we find that the noblest urbanity of well-bred men reigns supreme; the Dialogues are a lesson in refinement; we see in them the savoir faire of a man acquainted with the world. The term courtesy does not quite express urbanity; it is too wide, and includes the additional notion of testifying respect, of expressing deference and personal obligation; urbanity is true courtesy, and forms its real basis. But urbanity makes a point of granting complete liberty to all with whom we converse, both as regards the character and matter of their opinions, and also the right of giving expression to the same. Thus in our counter-statements and contradictions we make it evident that what we have ourselves to say against the statement made by our opponent is the mere expression of our subjective opinion; for this is a conversation carried on by persons as persons, and not objective reason talking with itself. However energetically we may then express ourselves, we must always acknowledge that our opponent is also a thinking person; just as one must not take to speaking with the air of being an oracle, nor prevent anyone else from opening his mouth in reply. This urbanity is, however, not forbearance, but rather the highest degree of frankness and candour, and it is this very characteristic which gives such gracefulness to Plato’s Dialogues.
Finally, this dialogue is not a conversation, in which what is said has, and is meant to have, a merely casual connection, without any exhaustive treatment of the subject. When one talks only for amusement, the casual and arbitrary sequence of ideas is quite to be expected. In the introduction, to be sure, the Dialogues of Plato have sometimes this very character of being mere conversations, and consequently appear to take an accidental form; for Socrates is made to take his start from the particular conceptions of certain individuals, and from the circle of their ideas (Vol. I. p. 397). Later, however, these dialogues become a systematic development of the matter in hand, wherein the subjective character of the conversation disappears, and the whole course of the argument shows a beautifully consistent dialectic process. Socrates talks turns the conversation, lays down his own views, draws a conclusion, and does all this through the apparent instrumentality of the question; most questions are so framed as to be answered by merely Yes or No. The dialogue seems to be the form best adapted for representing an argument, because it sways hither and thither; the different sides are allotted to different persons, and thus the argument is made more animated, The dialogue bus, however, this disadvantage, that it seems to be carried on arbitrarily, so that at the end the feeling always remains that the matter might have turned out differently. But in the Platonic Dialogues this arbitrary character is apparent only, it has been got rid of by limiting the development to the development of the subject in hand, and by leaving very little to be said by the second speaker. Such personages are, as we already saw in connection with Socrates (Vol. 1. p. 402), plastic personages as regards the conversation; no one is put there to state his own views, or, as the French express it, pour placer son mot. Just as in the Catechism the answers are prescribed to the questions asked, so is it in these dialogues, for they who answer have to say what the author pleases. The question is so framed that a quite simple answer is alone possible, and, thanks to the artistic beauty and power of the dialogues, such an answer appears at the same time perfectly natural.
In the next place, there is connected with this outward aspect of personality the circumstance that the Platonic philosophy does not proclaim itself to be one particular field, where some one begins a science of his own in a sphere of his own; for it sometimes enters into the ordinary conceptions of culture, like those of Socrates, sometimes into those of the Sophists, at other times into those of earlier philosophers, and in so doing brings before us exemplifications from ordinary knowledge, and also uses the methods of the same. A systematic exposition of Philosophy we cannot in this way find; and of course it is all the less easy for us to take a comprehensive view of the subject, since there are at hand no means of judging whether the treatment has been exhaustive or not. Nevertheless, there is present there one spirit, one definite point of view as regards Philosophy, even though Mind does not make its appearance in the precise form which we demand. The philosophic culture of Plato, like the general culture of his time, was not yet ripe for really scientific work; the Idea was still too fresh and new; it was only in Aristotle that it attained to a systematic scientific form of representation.
Connected with this deficiency in Plato’s mode of representation, there is also a deficiency in respect of the concrete determination of the Idea itself, since the various elements of the Platonic philosophy which are represented in these dialogues, namely the merely popular conceptions of Being and the apprehending knowledge of the same, are really mixed up in a loose, popular way, so that the former more especially come to be represented in a myth or parable; such intermingling is inevitable in this beginning of science proper in its true form. — Plato’s lofty mind, which had a perception or conception of Mind, penetrated through his subject with the speculative Notion, but he only began to penetrate it thus, and he did not yet embrace the whole of its reality in the Notion; or the knowledge which appeared in Plato did not yet fully realize itself in him. Here it therefore happens sometimes that the ordinary conception of reality again separates itself from its Notion, and that the latter comes into opposition with it, without any statement having been made that the Notion alone constitutes reality. Thus we find Plato speaking of God, and again, in the Notion, of the absolute reality of things, but speaking of them as separated, or in a connection in which they both appear separated; and God, as an uncomprehended existence, is made to belong to the ordinary conception. Sometimes, in order to give greater completeness and reality, in place of following out the Notion, mere pictorial conceptions are introduced, myths, spontaneous imaginations of his own, or tales derived from the sensuous conception, which no doubt are determined by thought, but which this has never permeated in truth, but only in such a way that the intellectual is determined by the forms of ordinary conception. For instance, appearances of the body or of nature, which are perceptible by the senses, are brought forward along with thoughts regarding them, which do not nearly so completely exhaust the subject as if it had been thoroughly thought out, and the Notion allowed to pursue an independent course.
Looking at this as it bears on the question of how Plato’s philosophy is to be apprehended, we find, owing to these two circumstances, that either too much or too little is found in it. Too much is found by the ancients,, the so-called Neoplatonists, who sometimes dealt with Plato’s philosophy as they dealt with the Greek mythology. This they allegorized and represented as the expression of ideas — which the myths certainly are — and in the same way they first raised the ideas in Plato’s myths to the rank of theorems: for the merit of Philosophy consists alone in the fact that truth is expressed in the form of the Notion. Sometimes, again, they took what with Plato is in the form of the Notion for the expression of Absolute Being — the theory of Being in the Parmenides, for instance, for the knowledge of God — just as if Plato had not himself drawn a distinction between them. But in the pure Notions of Plato the ordinary conception as such is not abrogated; either it is not said that these Notions constitute its reality, or they are to Plato no more than a conception, and not reality. Again, we certainly see that too little is found in Plato by the moderns in particular; for they attach themselves pre-eminently to the side of the ordinary conception, and see in it reality. What in Plato relates to the Notion, or what is purely speculative, is nothing more in their eyes than roaming about in abstract logical notions, or than empty subtleties : on the other hand, they take that for theorem which was enunciated as a popular conception. Thus we find in Tennemann (Vol. II. p. 376) and others an obstinate determination to lead back the Platonic Philosophy to the forms of our former metaphysic, e.g. to the proof of the existence of God.
However much, therefore, Plato’s mythical presentation of Philosophy is praised, and however attractive it is in his Dialogues, it yet proves a source of misapprehensions; and it is one of these misapprehensions, if Plato’s myths are held to be what is most excellent in his philosophy. Many propositions, it is true, are made more easily intelligible by being presented in mythical form; nevertheless, hat is not the true way of presenting them; propositions are thoughts which, in order to be pure, must be brought forward as such. The myth is always a mode of representation which. as belonging to an earlier stage, introduces sensuous images, which are directed to imagination, not to thought; in this, however, the activity of thought is suspended, it cannot yet establish itself by its own power, and so is not yet free. The myth belongs to the pedagogic stage of the human race, since it entices and allures men to occupy themselves with the content; but as it takes away from the purity of thought through sensuous forms, it cannot express the meaning of Thought. When the Notion attains its full development, it has no more need of the myth. Plato often says that it is difficult to express one’s thoughts on such and such a subject, and he therefore will employ a myth; no doubt this is easier. Plato also says of simple Notions that they are dependent, transitory moments, which have their ultimate truth in God; and in this first mention of God by Plato, He is made a mere conception. Thus the manner of conception and the genuinely speculative element are confounded.
In order to gather Plato’s philosophy from his dialogues, what we have to do is to distinguish what belongs to ordinary conception — especially where Plato has recourse to myths for the presentation of a philosophic idea — from the philosophic idea itself; only then do we know that what belongs only to the ordinary conception, as such, does not belong to thought, is not the essential. But if we do not recognize what is Notion, or what is speculative, there is inevitably the danger of these myths leading us to draw quite a host of maxims and theorems from the dialogues, and to give them out as Plato’s philosophic propositions, while they are really nothing of the kind, but belong entirely to the manner of presentation. Thus, for instance, in the Timæus Plato makes use of the form, God created the world, and the daemons had a certain share in the work; this is spoken quite after the manner of the popular conception. If, however, it is taken as a philosophic dogma on Plato’s part that God made the world, that higher beings of a spiritual kind exist, and, in the creation of the world, lent God a helping hand, we may see that this stands word for word in Plato, and yet it does not belong to his philosophy. When in pictorial fashion he says of the soul of man that it has a rational and an irrational part, this is to be taken only in a general sense; Plato does not thereby make the philosophic assertion that the soul is compounded of two kinds of substance, two kinds of thing. When he represents knowledge or learning as a process of recollection, this may be taken to mean that the soul existed before man’s birth. In like manner, when he speaks of the central point of his philosophy, of Ideas, of the Universal, as the permanently self-existent, as the patterns of things sensible, we may easily be led to think of these Ideas, after the manner of the modern categories of the understanding, as substances which exist outside reality, in the Understanding of God; or on their own account and as independent — like the angels, for example. In short, all that is expressed in the manner of pictorial conception is taken by the moderns in sober earnest for philosophy. Such a representation of Plato’s philosophy can be supported by Plato’s own words; but one who knows what Philosophy is, cares little for such expressions, and recognizes what was Plato’s true meaning.
In the account of the Platonic philosophy to which I must now proceed, the two cannot certainly be separated, but they must be noted and judged of in a very different manner from that which has prevailed amongst the moderns. We have, on the one hand, to make clear Plato’s general conception of what Philosophy and Knowledge really are, and on the other to develop the particular branches of Philosophy of which he treats.
In considering his general conception of Philosophy, the first point that strikes us is the high estimation in which Plato held Philosophy. The lofty nature of the knowledge of Philosophy deeply impressed him, and he shows a real enthusiasm for the thought which deals with the absolute. Just as the Cyrenaics treat of the relation of the existent to the individual consciousness, and the Cynics assert immediate freedom to be reality, Plato upholds the self-mediating unity of consciousness and reality, or knowledge. He everywhere expresses the most exalted ideas regarding the value of Philosophy, as also the deepest and strongest sense of the inferiority of all else; he speaks of it with the greatest energy and enthusiasm, with all the pride of science, and in a manner such as nowadays we should not venture to adopt. There is in him none of the so-called modest attitude of this science towards other spheres of knowledge, nor of man towards God. Plato has a full consciousness of how near human reason is to God, and indeed of its unity with Him. Men do not mind reading this in Plato, an ancient, because it is no longer a present thing, but were it coming from a modern philosopher, it would be taken much amiss. Philosophy to Plato is man’s highest possible possession and true reality; it alone has to be sought of man. Out of many passages on this subject I shall quote in the first instance the following from the Timæus: “Our knowledge of what is most excellent begins with the eyes. The distinction between the visible day and the night, the months and courses of the planets, have begotten a knowledge of time, and awakened a desire to know the nature of the whole. From this we then obtained Philosophy, and no greater gift than this, given by God to man, has ever come or will come.”
The manner in which Plato expresses his opinions on this subject in the Republic is very well known, as it is greatly decried, because it so completely contradicts the common ideas of men, and it is all the more surprising in that it concerns the relation of Philosophy to the state, and therefore to actuality. For before this , though a certain value might indeed be attributed to Philosophy, it still remained confined to the thoughts of the individual; here, however, it goes forth into questions of constitution, government, actuality. After Plato made Socrates, in the Republic, expound the nature of a true state, he caused Glaucon to interrupt by expressing his desire that Plato should show how it could be possible for such a state to exist. Socrates parries the question, will not come to the point, seeks evasive pleas, and tries to extricate himself by asserting that in describing what is just, he does not bind himself to show how it might be realized in actuality, though some indication must certainly be given of how an approximate, if not a complete realization of it might be possible. Finally, when pressed, he says: “Then it shall be expressed, even though a flood of laughter and utter disbelief overwhelm me. When philosophers rule the states, or the so-called kings and princes of the present time are truly and completely philosophers, when thus political greatness and Philosophy meet in one, and the many natures who now follow either side to the exclusion of the other, come together, then, and not till then, can there be an end, dear Glaucon, either to the evils of the state or, as I believe, to those of the human race. Then only will this state of which I spoke be possible or see the light of day.” “This,” adds Socrates, “is what I have so long hesitated to say, because I know that it is so much opposed to ordinary ideas.” Plato makes Glaucon answer, “Socrates, you have expressed what, you must recollect, would cause many men, and not bad men either, to pull off their coats and seize the first weapon that comes to hand, and set upon you one and all with might and main; and if you don’t know how to appease them with your reasons, you will have to answer for it.”
Plato here plainly asserts the necessity for thus uniting Philosophy with government. As to this demand, it may seem a piece of great presumption to say that philosophers should have the government of states accorded to them, for the territory or ground of history is different from that of Philosophy. In history, the Idea, as the absolute power, has certainly to realize itself; in other words, God rules in the world. But history is the Idea working itself out in a natural way, and not with the consciousness of the Idea. The action is certainly in accordance with general reflections on what is right, moral, and pleasing to God; but we must recognize that action represents at the same time the endeavours of the — subject as such for particular ends. The realization of the Idea thus takes place through an intermingling of thoughts and Notions with immediate and particular ends. Hence it is only on the one side produced through thoughts, and on the other through circumstances, through human actions in their capacity of means. These means often seem opposed to the Idea, but that does not really matter; all those particular ends are really only means of bringing forth the Idea, because it is the absolute power. Hence the Idea comes to pass in the world, and no difficulty is caused, but it is not requisite that those who rule should have the Idea.
In order, however, to judge of the statement that the regents of the people should be philosophers, we must certainly consider what was understood by Philosophy in the Platonic sense and in the sense of the times. The word Philosophy has had in different periods very different significations. There was a time when a man who did not believe in spectres or in the devil was called a philosopher. When such ideas as these pass away, it does not occur to people to call anyone a philosopher for a reason such as this. The English consider what we call experimental physics to be Philosophy; a philosopher to them is anyone who makes investigations in, and possesses a theoretic knowledge of chemistry, mechanics, &c. (Vol. I. p. 57). In Plato Philosophy becomes mingled with the knowledge of the supersensuous, or what to us is religious knowledge. The Platonic philosophy is thus the knowledge of the absolutely true and right, the knowledge of universal ends in the state, and the recognition of their validity. In all the history of the migration of the nations, when the Christian religion became the universal religion, the only point of interest was to conceive the supersensuous kingdom — which was at first independent, absolutely universal and true — as actualized, and to determine actuality in conformity thereto. This has been from. that time forth the business of culture. A state, a government and constitution of modern times has hence quite a different basis from a state of ancient times, and particularly from one of Plato’s day. The Greeks were then altogether dissatisfied with their democratic constitution, and the conditions resulting from it (supra, p. 8), and similarly all philosophers condemned the democracies of the Greek states in which such things as the punishment of generals (supra, Vol. I. p. 391) took place. In such a constitution it might certainly be thought that what was best for the state would be the first subject of consideration; but arbitrariness prevailed, and this was only temporarily restrained by preponderating individualities, or by masters in statesmanship like Aristides, Themistocles, and others. This condition of matters preceded the disintegration of the constitution. In our states, on the other hand, the end of the state, what is best for all, is immanent and efficacious in quite another way than was the case in olden times. The condition of the laws and courts of justice, of the constitution and spirit of the people, is so firmly established in itself that matters of the passing moment alone remain to be decided; and it may even be asked what, if anything, is dependent on the individual.
To us government means that in the actual state procedure will be in accordance with the nature of the thing, and since a knowledge of the Notion of the thing is requisite to this, actuality is brought into harmony with the Notion, and thereby the Idea is realized in existence. The result of this thus is that when Plato says that philosophers should rule, he signifies the determination of the whole matter through universal principles. This is realized much more in modern states, because universal principles really form the bases — certainly not of all, but of most of them. Some have already reached this stage, others are striving to reach it, but all recognize that such principles must constitute the real substance of administration and rule.
What Plato demands is thus, in point of fact, already present. But what we call Philosophy, movement in pure thoughts, has to do with form, and this is something peculiar to itself; nevertheless, the form is not responsible if the universal, freedom, law, is not made a principle in a state. Marcus Aurelius is an example of what a philosopher upon a throne could effect; we have, however. only private actions to record of him, and the Roman Empire was made no better by him. Frederick H. was, on the other hand , justly called the philosopher king. He occupied himself with the Wolffian metaphysics and French philosophy and verses, and was thus, according to his times, a philosopher. Philosophy appears to have been an affair of his own particular inclination, and quite distinct from the fact that he was king. But he was also a philosophic king in the sense that he made for himself an entirely universal end, the well-being and good of the state, a guiding principle in his actions and in all his regulations in respect to treaties with other states, and to the rights of individuals at home; these last he entirely subordinated to absolutely universal ends. If, however, later on, procedure of this kind became ordinary custom, the succeeding princes are no longer called philosophers, even if the same principle is present to them, and the government, and especially the institutions, are founded on it.
In the Republic, Plato further speaks in a figure of the difference between a condition of philosophic culture and a lack of Philosophy: it is a long comparison which is both striking and brilliant. The idea which he makes use of is as follows. — “Let us think of an underground den like a cave with along entrance opening to the light. Its inhabitants are chained so that they cannot move their necks, and can see only the back of the cave. Far behind their backs a torch burns above them. In the intervening space there is a raised way and also a low wall; and behind this wall” (towards the light) “there are men who carry and raise above it all manner of statues of men and animals like puppets in a marionette show, sometimes talking to one another meanwhile, and sometimes silent. Those who are chained would see only the shadows which fall on the opposite wall, and they would take them for reality; they would hear, moreover, by means of the echo, what was said by those who moved the figures, and they would think that it was the voice of the shadows. Now if one of the prisoners were released, and compelled to turn his neck so as to see things as they are, he would think that what he saw was an illusive dream, and that the shadows were the reality. And if any. one were to take him out of the prison into the light itself, he would be dazzled by the light and could see nothing; and he would hate the person who brought him to the light, as having taken away what was to him the truth, and prepared only pain and evil in its place.” This kind of myth is in harmony with the character of the Platonic philosophy, in that it separates the conception of the sensuous world present in men from the knowledge of the supersensuous.
Since we now speak more fully of this matter, we must in the second place consider the nature of knowledge according to Plato, and in so doing commence our account of the Platonic philosophy itself.
a. Plato gave a more precise definition of philosophers as those “who are eager to behold the truth.” — Glaucon: “That is quite right. But how do you explain it?” Socrates: “I tell this not to everyone, but you will agree with me in it.” “In what?” “In this, that as the Beautiful is opposed to the Ugly, they are two things.” “Why not?” “With the Just and the Unjust, the Good and the Evil, and every other Idea (eidoς) the case is the same, that each of them is by itself a One; on the other hand, on account of its combination with actions and bodies and other Ideas springing up on every side, each appears as a Many.” “You are right.” “I distinguish now, according to this, between the sight-loving, art-loving, busy class on the one side, and those on the other side, of whom we were just speaking as alone entitled to be called philosophers.” “What do you mean by that?” “I mean by that, such as delight in seeing and hearing, who love beautiful voices, and colours, and forms, and all that is composed thereof, while their mind is still incapable of seeing and loving the Beautiful in its own nature.” “Such is the case.” “Those, however, who have the power of passing on to the Beautiful itself, and seeing what it is in itself (kaq auto), are they not rare?” “They are indeed.” “He then who sees that beautiful things are beautiful, but does not apprehend Beauty itself, and cannot follow if another should seek to lead him to the knowledge of the same, — think you that he lives his life awake, or in a dream?” (That is to say, those who are not philosophers are like men who dream.) “For look, is it not dreaming when one in sleep, or even when awake, takes what merely resembles a certain thing to be not something that resembles it, but the very thing that it is like?” “I should certainly say of such an one that he was dreaming.” “The waking man, on the other hand, is he who holds the Beautiful itself to be the Existent, and can recognize its very self as well as that which only partakes of it (merexouta), and does not confuse between the two.”
In this account of Philosophy, we at once see what the so much talked of Ideas of Plato are. The Idea is nothing else than that which is known to us more familiarly by the name of the Universal, regarded, however, not as the formal Universal, which is only a property of things, but as implicitly and explicitly existent, as reality, as that which alone is true. We translate eidoς first of all as species or kind; and the Idea is no doubt the species, but rather as it is apprehended by and exists for Thought. Of course when we understand by species nothing but the gathering together by our reflection, and for convenience sake, of the like characteristics of several individuals as indicating their distinguishing features, we have the universal in quite an external form. But the specific character of the animal is its being alive; this being alive is that which makes it what it is, and deprived of this. it ceases to exist. To Plato, accordingly, Philosophy is really the science of this implicitly universal, to which, as contrasted with the particular, he always continues to return. “When Plato spoke of tableness and cupness, Diogenes the Cynic said: ‘I see a table and a cup, to be sure, but not tableness and cupness.’ ‘Right,’ answered Plato; ‘for you have eyes wherewith to see the table and the cup, but mind, by which one sees tableness and cupness, you have not (noun ouk exeiς).” What Socrates began was carried out by Plato, who acknowledged only the Universal, the Idea, the Good, as that which has existence. Through the presentation of his Ideas. Plato opened up the intellectual world, which, however, is not beyond reality, in heaven, in another place, but is the real world. With Leucippus, too, the Ideal is brought closer to reality, and not — metaphysically — thrust away behind Nature. The essence of the doctrine of Ideas is thus the view that the True is not that which exists for the senses, but that only what has its determination in itself, the implicitly and explicitly Universal, truly exists in the world; the intellectual world is therefore the True, that which is worthy to be known — indeed, the Eternal, the implicitly and explicitly divine. The differences are not essential, but only transitory; yet the Absolute of Plato, as being the one in itself and identical with itself, is at the same time concrete in itself, in that it is a movement returning into itself, and is eternally at home with itself. But love for Ideas is that which Plato calls enthusiasm.
The misapprehension of Plato’s Ideas takes two directions; one of these has to do with the thinking, which is formal, and holds as true reality the sensuous alone, or what is conceived of through the senses — this is what Plato asserts to be mere shadows. For when Plato speaks of the Universal as the real, his conception of it is met either by the statement that the Universal is present to us only as a property, and is therefore a mere thought in our understanding, or else that Plato takes this same Universal as substance, as an existence in itself, which, however, falls outside of us. When Plato further uses the expression that sensuous things are, like images (eikoneς), similar to that which has absolute existence, or that the Idea is their pattern and model (paradeigma), if these Ideas are not exactly made into things, they are made into a kind of transcendent existences which lie somewhere far from us in an understanding outside this world, and are pictures set up which we merely do not see; they are like the artist’s model, following which he works upon a given material, and thereon impresses the likeness of the original. And owing to their not only being removed from this sensuous present reality, which passes for truth, but also being liberated from the actuality of the individual consciousness, their subject, of which they are originally the representations, passes out of consciousness, and even comes to be represented only as something which is apart from consciousness.
The second misapprehension that prevails with regard to these Ideas takes place when they are not transferred beyond our consciousness, but pass for ideals of our reason, which are no doubt necessary, but which produce nothing that either has reality now or can ever attain to it. As in the former view the Beyond is a conception that lies outside the world, and in which species are hypostatized, so in this view our reason is just such a realm beyond reality. But when species are looked on as if they were the forms of reality in us, there is again a misapprehension, just as if they were looked at as aesthetic in nature. By so doing, they are defined as intellectual perceptions which must present themselves immediately, and belong either to a happy genius or else to a condition of ecstasy or enthusiasm. In such a case they would be mere creations of the imagination, but this is not Plato’s nor the true sense. They are not immediately in consciousness, but they are in the apprehending knowledge; and they are immediate perceptions only in so far as they are apprehending knowledge comprehended in its simplicity and in. relation to the result; in other words, the immediate perception is only the moment of their simplicity. Therefore we do not possess them, they are developed in the mind through the apprehending knowledge; enthusiasm is the first rude shape they take, but knowledge first brings them to light in rational developed form; they are in this form none the less real, for they alone are Being.
On this account Plato first of all distinguishes Science, the Knowledge of the True, from opinion. “Such thinking (dianoian) an of one who knows, we may justly call knowledge (gnwmhn); but the other, opinion (doxan). Knowledge proceeds from that which is; opinion is opposed to it; but it is not the case that its content is Nothing that would be ignorance — for when an opinion is held, it is held about Something. Opinion is thus intermediate between ignorance and science, its content is a mixture of Being and Nothing. The object of the senses, the object of opinion, the particular, only participates in the Beautiful, the Good, the Just, the Universal; but it is at the same time also ugly, evil, unjust, and so on. The double is at the same time the half. The particular is not only large or small, light or heavy, and any one of these opposites, but every particular is as much the one as the other. Such a mixture of Being and non-Being is the particular, the object of opinion;” — a mixture in which the opposites have not resolved themselves into the Universal. The latter would be the speculative Idea of knowledge, while to opinion belongs the manner of our ordinary consciousness.
b. Before we commence the examination of the objective implicitly existent content of knowledge, we must consider more in detail, on the one hand, the subjective existence of knowledge in consciousness as we find it in Plato, and, on the other, how the content is or appears in ordinary conception as soul; and the two together form the relation of knowledge, as the universal, to the individual consciousness.
a. The source through which we become conscious of the divine is the same as that already seen in Socrates. The spirit of man contains reality in itself, and in order to learn what is divine he must develop it out of himself and bring it to consciousness. With the Socratics this discussion respecting the immanent nature of knowledge in the mind of man takes the form of a question as to whether virtue can be taught or not, and with the sophist Protagoras of asking whether feeling is the truth, which is allied with the question of the content of scientific knowledge, and with the distinction between that and opinion. But Plato goes on to say that the process by which we come to know is not, properly speaking, learning, for that which we appear to learn we really only recollect. Plato often comes back to this subject, but In particular he treats of the point in the Meno, in which he asserts that nothing can, properly speaking, be learned, for learning is just a recollection of what we already possess, to which the perplexity in which our minds are placed, merely acts as stimulus. Plato here gives the question a speculative significance, in which the reality of knowledge, and not the empirical view of the acquisition of knowledge, is dealt with. For learning, according to the immediate ordinary conception of it, expresses the taking up of what is foreign into thinking consciousness, a mechanical mode of union and the filling of an empty space with things which are foreign and indifferent to this space itself. An external method of effecting increase such as this, in which the soul appears to be a tabula rasa, and which resembles the idea we form of growth going on in the living body through the addition of particles, is dead, and is incompatible with the nature of mind, which is subjectivity, unity, being and remaining at home with itself. But Plato presents the true nature of consciousness in asserting that it is mind in which, as mind, that is already present which becomes object to consciousness, or which it explicitly becomes. This is the Notion of the true universal in its movement; of the species which is in itself its own Becoming, in that it is already implicitly what it explicitly becomes — a process in which it does not come outside of itself. Mind is this absolute species, whose process is only the continual return into itself; thus nothing is for it which it is not in itself. According to this, the process of learning is not that something foreign enters in, but that the mind’s own essence becomes actualized, or it comes to the knowledge of this last. What has not yet learned is the soul, the consciousness represented as natural being. What causes the mind to turn to science is the semblance, and the confusion caused through it, of the essential nature of mind being something different, or the negative of itself — a mode of manifestation which contradicts its real nature, for it has or is the inward certainty of being — all reality. In that it abrogates this semblance of other-being, it comprehends the objective, i.e. gives itself immediately in it the consciousness of itself, and thus attains to science. Ideas of individual, temporal, transitory things undoubtedly come from without, but not the universal thoughts which, as the true, have their toot in the mind and belong to its nature; by this means all authority is destroyed.
In one sense recollection [Erinnerung] is certainly an unfortunate expression, in the sense, namely, that an idea is reproduced which has already existed at another time. But recollection has another sense, which is given by its etymology, namely that of making oneself inward, going inward, and this is the profound meaning of the word in thought. In this sense it may undoubtedly be said that knowledge of the universal is nothing but a recollection, a going within self, and that we make that which at first shows itself in external form and determined as a manifold, into an inward, a universal, because we go into ourselves and thus bring what is inward in us into consciousness. With Plato, however, as we cannot deny, the word recollection has constantly the first and empirical sense. This comes from the fact that Plato propounds — the true Notion that consciousness in itself is the content of knowledge, partly in the form of popular idea and in that of myths. Hence ‘here even, the already mentioned intermingling of idea and Notion commences. In the Meno Socrates tries to show, by experiment on a slave who had received no instruction, that learning is a recollection. Socrates merely questions him, leaving him to answer in his own way, without either teaching him or asserting the truth of any fact, and at length brings him to the enunciation of a geometrical proposition on the relation which the diagonal of a square bears to its side. The slave obtains the knowledge out of himself alone, so that it appears as though he only recollected what he already knew but had forgotten. Now if Plato here calls this coming forth of knowledge from consciousness a recollection, it follows that this knowledge has been already in this consciousness, i.e. that the individual consciousness has not only the content of knowledge implicitly, in accordance with its essential nature, but has also possessed it as this individual consciousness and not as universal. But this moment of individuality belongs only to the ordinary conception, and recollection is not thought; for recollection relates to man as a sensuous “this. and not as a universal. The essential nature of the coming forth of knowledge is hence here mingled with the individual, with ordinary conception, and knowledge here appears in the form of soul, as of the implicitly existent reality, the one, for the soul is still only a moment of spirit. As Plato herd passes into a conception the content of which has no longer the pure significance of the universal, but of the individual, he further depicts it in the form of a myth. He represents the implicit existence of mind in the form of a pre-existence in time, as if the truth had already been for us in another time. But at the same time we must remark that he does not propound this as a philosophic doctrine, but in the form of a saying received from priests and priestesses who comprehend what is divine. Pindar and other holy men say the same. According to these sayings, the human soul is immortal; it both ceases to be, or, as men say, it dies, and it comes again into existence, but in no way perishes. “Now if the soul is immortal and often reappears” (metempsychosis), “and if it has seen that which is here as well as in Hades.” (in unconsciousness) “and everything else, learning has no more meaning, for it only recollects what it has already known.” Historians seize upon this allusion to what is really an Egyptian idea, and a sensuous conception merely, and say that Plato has laid down that such and such was the case. But Plato made no such statement whatever; what he here says has nothing to do with Philosophy, and more particularly nothing to do with his philosophy, any more than what afterwards is said regarding God.
b. In other Dialogues this myth is further and more strikingly developed; it certainly employs remembrance in its ordinary sense, which is that the mind of man has in past time seen that which comes to his consciousness as the true and absolutely existent. Plato’s principal effort is, however, to show through this assertion of recollection, that the mind, the soul, thought, is on its own account free, and this has to the ancients, and particularly to the Platonic idea, a close connection with what we call immortality of the soul.
aa. In the Phædrus Plato speaks of this in order to show that the Eros is a divine madness (mania), and is given to us as the greatest happiness. It is a state of enthusiasm, which here has a powerful, predominating aspiration towards the Idea: but it is not an enthusiasm proceeding from the heart and feeling, it is not an ordinary perception, but a consciousness and knowledge of the ideal. Plato says that he must expound the nature of the divine and human soul in order to demonstrate the Eros. “The first point is that the soul is immortal. For what moves itself is immortal and eternal, but what obtains its movement from another is transient. What moves itself is the first principle, for it certainly has its origin and first beginning in itself and derived from no other. And just as little can it cease to move, for that alone can cease which derives its motion from another.” Plato thus first develops the simple Notion of the soul as of the self-moving, and, thus far, an element in mind; but the proper life of the mind in and for itself is the consciousness of the absolute nature and freedom of the “I.” When we speak of the immortality of the soul, the idea is most frequently present to us that the soul is like a physical thing . which has qualities of all kinds, and while these can certainly be changed, it yet seems that, as being independent of them, it is not subject to change. Now thought is one of these qualities, which are thus independent of the thing; and thought is also here defined as a thing, and as if it could pass away or cease to be. As regards this point, the main feature of the idea is that the soul should be able to subsist as an imperishable thing without having imagination, thought, &c. With Plato the immortality of the soul is, on the other hand, immediately connected with the fact that the soul is itself that which thinks; and hence that thought is not a quality of soul, but its substance. It is as with body, where the weight is not a quality, but its substance; for as the body would no longer exist if the weight were abstracted, the soul would not exist if thought were taken away. Thought is the activity of the universal, not an abstraction, but the reflection into self and the positing of self that takes place in all conceptions. Now because thought is an eternal which remains at home with itself in every change. soul preserves its identity in what is different, just as, for instance, in sensuous perception it deals with what is different, with outside matter, and is yet at home with itself. Immortality has not then the interest to Plato which it has to us from a religious point of view; in that to him it is associated in greater measure with the nature of thought, and with the inward freedom of the same, it is connected with the determination that constitutes the principle of what is specially characteristic of Platonic philosophy, it is connected with the supersensuous groundwork which Plato has established. To Plato the immortality of the soul is hence likewise of great importance.
He proceeds : “To seek to make clear the Idea of the soul would involve investigation laborious for any but a god; but the tongue of man may speak of this more easily through a figure.” Here follows an allegory in which there is) however, something extravagant and inconsistent. He says: “The soul resembles the united power of a chariot and charioteer.” This image expresses nothing to us. “Now the horses” (the desires) “of the gods and the charioteers are good, and of a good breed. With us men, the charioteer at first takes the reins, but one of the horses only is noble and good and of noble origin; the other is ignoble and of ignoble origin. As might be expected, the driving is very difficult. How mortal differ from immortal creatures, we must endeavour to discover. The soul has the care of the inanimate everywhere, and traverses the whole heavens, passing from one idea to another. When perfect and fully winged, she soars upwards” (has elevated thoughts), “and is the ruler of the universe. But the soul whose wings droop roams about till she has found solid ground; then she takes an earthly form which is really moved by her power, and the whole, the soul and body, put together, is called a living creature, a mortal."’ The one is thus the soul as thought, existence in and for itself; the other is the union with matter. This transition from thought to body is very difficult, too difficult for the ancients to understand; we shall find more about it in Aristotle. From what has been said, we may find the ground for representing Plato as maintaining the dogma that the soul existed independently prior to this life, and then lapsed into matter, united itself to it, contaminating itself by so doing, and that it is incumbent on it to leave matter again. The fact that the spiritual realizes itself from itself is a point not sufficiently examined by the ancients; they take two abstractions, soul and matter, and the connection is expressed only in the form of a deterioration on the part of soul.
“But as to the immortal,” continues Plato, “if we do not express it in accordance with an apprehending thought, but form an ordinary conception of it, owing to our lack of insight and power to comprehend the nature of God, we conclude that the immortal life of God is that which has a body and soul which, however, are united in one nature (sumpefukota), i.e. not only externally but intrinsically made one. Soul and body are both abstractions, but life is the unity of both; and because God’s nature is to popular conception the holding of body and soul unseparated in one, He is the Reason whose form and content are an undivided unity in themselves. This is an important definition of God — a great idea which is indeed none other than the definition of modern times. It signifies the identity of subjectivity and objectivity, the inseparability of the ideal and real, that is, of soul and body. The mortal and finite is, on the contrary, correctly defined by Plato as that of which the existence is not absolutely adequate to the Idea, or, more definitely, to subjectivity.
Plato now further explains what happens in the life of the divine Being, which drama the soul thus has before it, and how the wasting of its wings occurs. “The chariots of the gods enter in bands, led by Zeus, the mighty leader, from his winged chariot. An array of other gods and goddesses follow him, marshalled in eleven bands. They present — each one fulfilling his work — the noblest and most blessed of scenes. The colourless and formless and intangible essence requires thought, the lord of the soul, as its only spectator, and thus true knowledge takes its rise. For there it sees what is (to on), and lives in the contemplation of reality, because it follows in an ever-recurring revolution” (of ideas). “In this revolution (of gods) it beholds justice, temperance, and knowledge, not in the form of what men call things, for it sees what in truth is absolute (to ontws on).” This is thus expressed as though it were something which had happened. “When the soul returns from thus beholding, the charioteer puts up his horses at the stall, gives them ambrosia to cat and nectar to drink. This is the life of the gods. But other souls, through fault of charioteer or horses, fall into confusion, with broken wings depart from these heavenly places, cease to behold the truth, nourish themselves on opinion as their food, and fall to the ground; according as a soul has beheld more or less of truth, it takes a higher or lower place. In this condition it retains a recollection of what it has seen, and if it perceives anything beautiful or right, it is rapt in amazement. The wings once more obtain strength, and the soul, particularly that of a philosopher, recollects its former condition in which, however, it had not seen what was beautiful, just, etc., but beauty and justice themselves.” Thus because the life of the gods is for the soul, when in individual beauty it is reminded of the universal, it is implied that in the soul, as thus absolutely existing, there is the Idea of the beautiful, good and just, as absolute and as potentially and actually universal. This constitutes the general principle of the Platonic conception. But when Plato speaks of knowledge as of a recollection, he knows all the time that this is only putting the matter in similes and metaphors; he did not ask, as theologians used gravely to do, whether the soul had existed before its birth, and if so, in what particular place. It cannot be said of Plato that he had any such belief, and he never speaks of the matter in the sense that theologians did; in the same way he never spoke about a Fall from a perfect state, for example, as if man had to look on the present life as an imprisonment. But what Plato expressed as the truth is that consciousness in the individual is in reason the divine reality and life; that man perceives and recognizes it in pure thought, and that this knowledge is itself the heavenly abode and movement.
bb: Knowledge in the form of soul, is more clearly dealt with in the Phædo, where Plato has further developed the ideas about the immortality of the soul. What in the Phædrus is kept definitely apart as myth and truth respectively, and which is made to appear as such, appears less evidently so in the Phædo — that celebrated dialogue in which Plato makes Socrates speak of the immortality of the soul. That Plato should have connected this discussion with the account of the death of Socrates has in all time been matter of admiration. Nothing could seem more suitable than to place the conviction of immortality in the mouth of him who is in the act of leaving life, and to make this conviction living to us through the scene, just as, on the other hand, a death-scene like this is made living to us through that conviction. We must at the same time remark that in what is fitting the following conditions are implied. It must first be really appropriate for the dying person to occupy himself with himself instead of with the universal, with this certainty of himself as a “this” instead of with the Truth. We hence here meet with the ordinary point of view but slightly separated from that of the Notion, but, although this is so, this ordinary point of view is far removed from sinking into that coarse conception of the soul which considers it to be a thing, and asks about its continuance or subsistence as if it were a thing. Thus we find Socrates expressing himself to the effect that the body and what relates to the body is a hindrance in striving after wisdom, the sole business of Philosophy, because the sensuous perception shows nothing purely, or as it is in itself, and what is true becomes known through the removal of the spiritual from the corporeal. For justice, beauty and such things are what alone exists in verity; they are that to which all change and decay is foreign; and these are not perceived through the body, but only in the soul.
We see in this separation the essence of the soul not considered in a material category of Being, but as the universal; we see it still more in what follows, by which Plato proves immortality.. A principal point in this argument is that already considered, that the soul has existed before this life. because learning is only a recollection, and this implies that the soul is already implicitly what it becomes. We must not think that the bald conception of innate ideas is hereby indicated — such an expression implies the existence of ideas by nature, as though our thoughts were in part already implanted, and had in part a natural existence which did not first produce itself through the movement of the mind. But Plato mainly founds the idea of immortality on the fact that what is put together is liable to dissolution and decay, while the simple can in no manner be dissolved or destroyed; what is always like itself and the same. is, however, simple. The beautiful, the good, the like, being simple, are incapable of all change; that, on the contrary, in which these universals are, men, things, &c., are the changeable. They are perceptible by the senses, while the former is the supersensuous. Hence the soul which is in thought, and which applies itself to this, as to what is related to it, must therefore be held to have itself a simple nature. Here, then, we again see that Plato does not take simplicity as the simplicity of a thing — not as if it wore of anything like a chemical ingredient, for example, which can no longer be represented as inherently distinguished; this would only be empty, abstract identity or universality, the simple as an existent.
But finally the universal really does appear to take the form of an existent, as Plato makes Simmias assert: a harmony which we hear is none else than a universal, a simple which is a unity of the diverse; but this harmony is associated with a sensuous thing and disappears with it, just as music does with the lyre. On the other hand Plato makes Socrates show that the soul is not a harmony in this sense, for the sensuous harmony first exists after its elements, and is a consequence that follows from them. The harmony of the soul is, however, in and for itself, before every sensuous thing. Sensuous harmony may further have diversities within it, while the harmony of the soul has no quantitative distinction. From this it is clear that Plato receives the reality of the soul entirely in the universal, and does not place its true being in sensuous individuality, and hence the immortality of the soul cannot in his case be understood in the ordinary acceptation, as that of an individual thing. Although later on we come across the myth of the sojourn of the soul after death in another and more brilliant earth, we have seen above (pp. 40, 41) what kind of heaven this would be.
g. The development and culture of the soul must be taken in connection with what precedes. However the idealism of Plato must not be thought of as being subjective idealism, and as that false idealism which has made its appearance in modern times, and which maintains that we do not learn anything, are not influenced from without, but that all conceptions are derived from out of the subject. It is of ten said that idealism means that the individual produces from himself all his ideas, even the most immediate. But this is an unhistoric, and quite false conception; if we take this rude definition of idealism, there have been no idealists amongst the philosophers, and Platonic idealism is certainly far removed from anything of the kind. In the seventh book of his Republic Plato says in connection with what I have already stated, and in particular reference to the manner in which this learning is created, by which the universal which before was secreted in the mind. develops out of it alone: “We must believe of science and learning (paideiaς), that its nature is not as some assert” (by this he means the Sophists), “who speak of culture as though knowledge were not contained within the soul, but could be implanted therein as sight into blind eyes.” The idea that knowledge comes entirely from without is in modern times found in empirical philosophies of a quite abstract and rude kind, which maintain that everything that man knows of the divine nature comes as a matter of education and habituation, and that mind is thus a quite indeterminate potentiality merely. Carried to an extreme, this is the doctrine of revelation in which everything is given from without. In the Protestant religion we do not find this rude idea in its abstract form. for the witness of the spirit is an essential part of faith, i.e. faith demands that the individual subjective spirit shall on its own account accept and set forth the determination which comes to it in the form of something given from without. Plato speaks against any such idea, for, in relation to the merely popularly expressed myth given above, he says: “Reason teaches that every man possesses the inherent capacities of the soul and the organ with which he learns. That is, just as we might imagine the eye not capable of turning from darkness to light otherwise than with the whole body, so must we be turned with the whole soul from the world of Becoming” (contingent feelings and ideas) “to that of Being, and the soul must gradually learn to endure this sight, and to behold the pure light of Being. But we say that this Being is the good. The art of so doing is found in culture, as being the art of the conversion of the soul — that is, the manner in which a person can most easily and effectually be converted; it does not seek to implant (empoihsai) sight, but — inasmuch as he already possesses it only it has not been properly turned upon himself and hence he does not see the objects that he ought to see — it brings it into operation. The other virtues of the soul are more in conformity with the body; they are not originally in the soul, but come gradually through exercise and habit. Thought (to fronhsai) on the contrary, as divine, never loses its power, and only becomes good or evil through the manner of this conversion.” This is what Plato establishes in regard to the inward and the outward. Such ideas as that mind determines the good from out of itself are to us much more familiar than to Plato; but it was by Plato that they were first maintained.
c. In that Plato places truth in that alone which is produced through thought, and yet the source of knowledge is manifold — in feelings, sensations, &c. — we must state the different kinds of knowledge, as given by Plato. Plato is entirely opposed to the idea that the truth is given through sensuous consciousness, which is what is known and that from which we start; for this is the doctrine of the Sophists with which we met in dealing with Protagoras, for instance. As regards feeling, we easily make the mistake of placing everything in feeling, as indeed that Platonic rage for beauty contained the truth in the guise of feeling; but this is not the true form of the truth, because feeling is the entirely subjective consciousness. Feeling as such is merely a form with which men make the arbitrary will the principle of the truth, for what is the true content is not given through feeling; in it every content has a place. The highest content must likewise be found in feeling; to have a thing in thought and understanding is quite different from having it in heart and feeling, i.e. in our most inward subjectivity, in this “I”; and we say of the content that it is for the first time in its proper place when it is in the heart, because it then is entirely identical with our individuality. The mistake, however, is to say that a content is true because it is in our feeling. Hence the — importance of Plato’s doctrine that the content becomes filled by thought alone; for it is the universal which can be grasped by the activity of thought alone. Plato has defined this universal content as Idea.
At the close of the sixth book of the Republic Plato distinguishes the sensuous and the intellectual in our knowledge more exactly, so that in each sphere he again presents two modes of consciousness. “In the sensuous (oraton) the one division is the external manifestation, for in it are shadows, reflections in water, and also in solid, smooth, and polished bodies, and the like. The second section of which this is only the resemblance, includes animals. plants.” (this concrete life), “and everything in art. The intelligible (nohton) is also divided into two parts. In the one sub-division the soul uses the sensuous figures given before, and is obliged to work on hypotheses (ex upoqesewn) because it does not go to the principle but to the result.” Reflection, which is not on its own account sensuous, but undoubtedly belongs to thought, mingles thought with the first sensuous consciousness,, although its object is not as yet a pure existence of the understanding. “The other division” (what is thought in the soul itself) “is that in which the soul, proceeding from an hypothesis, makes its way (meqodon) to a principle which is above hypotheses, not by means of images, as in the former cases, but through the ideas themselves. Those who study geometry. arithmetic, and kindred sciences, assume the odd and the even, the figures. three kinds of angles, and the like. And since they start from these hypotheses, they do not think it necessary to give any account of them, for everybody is supposed to know them. You farther know that they make use of figures which are visible, and speak of them, although they are not thinking of them, but of the ideals which they represent; for they think of the “(absolute) “square itself and of its diagonals, and not of the “ (sensuous) “images that they draw. And so it is with other things.” Thus, according to Plato, this is certainly the place where real knowledge begins, because we have nothing further to do with the sensuous as such; at the same time this is not the true knowledge which considers the spiritual universal on its own account, but the arguing and reasoning knowledge that forms universal laws and particular kinds or species out of what is sensuous. “These figures which they draw or make, and which also have shadows and images in water, they use only as images, and seek to behold their originals, which can only be seen with the understanding” (dianoiς). — “That is true.” — “This I have named above that species of the intelligible, in inquiring into which the soul is compelled to use hypotheses, not proceeding to a first principle, because it is not able to get above those hypotheses, but employing those secondary images as images which are made absolutely similar to the originals in every respect” — “I understand that you are speaking of geometry and the kindred arts” — “Now learn about the other division of the intelligible in which reason (logos) itself is concerned, since by the power of the dialectic it makes use of hypotheses, not as principles, but only as hypotheses — that is to say, as steps and points of departure in order to reach a region above hypotheses, the first principle of all” (which is in and for itself), “and clinging to this and to that which depends on this, it descends again to the result, for it requires no sensuous aid at all, but only ideas, and thus it reaches the ideas finally through the ideas themselves.” To know this is the interest and business of Philosophy; this is investigated by pure thought in and for itself, which only moves in such pure thoughts. “I understand you, but not perfectly. You seem to me to wish to assert that what is contemplated in Being and Knowledge through the science of dialectic is clearer than what is contemplated by the so-called sciences which have hypotheses as their principle, and where those who contemplate them have to do so with the understanding and not with the senses. Yet because in their contemplation they do not ascend to the absolute principle, but speculate from hypotheses, they appear not to exercise thought (noun) upon these objects, although these objects are cognizable by thought if a principle is added to them (nohtwn ontwn meta arxhς). The methods (exin) of geometry and its kindred sciences you appear to me to call understanding; and that because it stands midway between reason (nouς) and ‘sensuous’ opinion (doxa).” — “You have quite grasped my meaning. Corresponding to these four sections, I will suppose four faculties (paquhata) in the soul-conceiving reason (nohsiς) has the highest place (epi tw anwtatw), understanding the second; the third is called faith (pistiς)” “the true conception for animals and plants in that they are living, homogeneous and identical with ourselves;” and the last the knowledge of images (eikasia),” opinion. “Arrange them according to the fact that each stage has as much clearness (safhveiaς) as that to which it is related has truth.” This is the distinction which forms the basis of Plato’s philosophy, and which came to be known from his writings.
Now if we go from knowledge to its content, in which the Idea becomes sundered, and thereby organizes itself more completely into a scientific system, this content, according to Plato, begins to fall into three parts which we distinguish as the logical, natural, and mental philosophy. The logical Philosophy the ancients called dialectic, and its addition to philosophy is by the ancient writers on the subject ascribed to Plato (Vol. 1. p. 387). This is not a dialectic such as we met with in the Sophists, which merely brings one’s ideas altogether into confusion, for this first branch of Platonic philosophy is the dialectic which moves in pure Notions — the movement of the speculatively logical, with which several dialogues, and particularly that of Parmenides, occupy themselves. The second, according to Plato, is a kind of natural philosophy, the principles of which are more especially propounded in the Timæus. The third is the philosophy of the mind — an ethical philosophy — and its representation is essentially that of a perfect state in the Republic. The Critias should be taken in connection with the Timæus and the Republic, but we need not make further reference to it, for it is only a fragment. Plato makes these three dialogues one connected conversation. In the Critias and the Timæus the subject is so divided that while the Timæus dealt with the speculative origin of man and of nature, the Critias was intended to represent the ideal history of human culture, and to be a philosophical history of the human race, forming the ancient history of the Athenians as preserved by the Egyptians. Of this, however, only the beginning has come down to us. Hence if the Parmenides be taken along with the Republic and the Timæus, the three together constitute the whole Platonic system of philosophy divided into its three parts or sections. We now wish to consider the philosophy of Plato more in detail in accordance with these three different points of view.
We have already remarked by way of preparation that the Notion of true dialectic is to show forth the necessary movement of pare Notions, without thereby resolving these into nothing; for the result, simply expressed, is that they are this movement, and the universal is just the unity of these opposite Notions. We certainly do not find in Plato a full consciousness that this is the nature of dialectic. but we find dialectic itself present; that is, we find absolute existence thus recognized in pure Notions, and the representation of the movement of these Notions. What makes the study of the Platonic dialectic difficult is the development and the manifestation of the universal out of ordinary conceptions. This beginning, which appears to make knowledge easier, really makes the difficulty greater, since it introduces us into a field in which there is quite a different standard from what we have in reason, and makes this field present to us; when, on the contrary, progression and motion take place in pure Notions alone, the other is not remembered at all. But in that very way the Notions attain greater truth. For otherwise pure logical movement might easily appear to us to exist on its own account, like a private territory, which has another region alongside of it, also having its own particular place. But since both are there brought together, the speculative element begins to appear as it is in truth; that is, as being the only truth, and that, indeed, through the transformation of sensuous opinion into thought. For in our consciousness we first of all find the immediate individual, the sensuous real; or there are also categories of the understanding which are held by us to be ultimate and true. But contrasted with merely external reality, it is rather the ideal that is the most real, and it was Plato who perceived that it was the only real, for he characterized the universal or thought as the true, in opposition to what is sensuous.
Thus the aim of many of Plato’s Dialogues, which conclude without any positive affirmation, is to show that the immediately existent, the many things that appear to us, although we may have quite true conceptions of them, are still not in themselves. in an objective sense, the true, because they alter and are determined through their relation to something else and not through themselves; thus we must even in the sensuous individuals consider the universal, or what Plato has called the Idea. The sensuous, limited, and finite is, in fact, both itself and the other, which is also considered as existent; and thus there is an unsolved contradiction, for the other has dominion in the first. We have been before reminded that the aim of the Platonic dialectic is to confuse and to resolve the finite ideas of men, in order to bring about in their consciousness what science demands, the consideration of that which is. By being thus directed against the form of the finite, dialectic has in the first place the effect of confounding the particular, and this is brought about by the negation therein present being shown forth, so that, in fact, it is proved that it is not what it is, but that it passes into its opposite, into the limitations which are essential to it. But if this dialectic is laid hold of, the particular passes away and becomes another than that which it is taken to be. Formal philosophy cannot look at dialectic in any other way than as being the art of confusing ordinary conceptions or even Notions, and demonstrating their nullity, thus making their result to be merely negative. For this reason, Plato in his Republic advised the citizens not to allow dialectic to be studied before the thirtieth year, because by its means anyone might transform the beautiful, as he had received it from his masters, into that which is hateful. We find this dialectic a great deal in Plato, both in the more Socratic and moralizing dialogues, and in the many dialogues which relate to the conceptions of the Sophists in regard to science.
In connection with this, the second part of dialectic makes its first aim the bringing of the universal in men to consciousness, which, as we formerly remarked when speaking of Socrates (Vol. I. p. 398), was the main interest of Socratic culture. From this time on, we may look at such an aim as having been discarded, and simply remark that a number of Plato’s Dialogues merely aim at bringing to consciousness a general conception, such as we have without taking any trouble at all; hence this prolixity on Plato’s part often wearies us. This dialectic is, indeed, also a movement of thought, but it is really only necessary in an external way and for reflecting consciousness, in order to allow the universal, what is in and for itself, unalterable and immortal, to come forth. Hence these first two sides of the dialectic, directed as they are towards the dissolution of the particular and thus to the production of the universal, are not yet dialectic in its true form : it is a dialectic which Plato has in common with the Sophists, who understood very well how to disintegrate the particular. A subject which Plato very often treats of with this end in view, is virtue, which he proves to be only one, and thereby he makes the universal good emerge from the particular virtues.
Now because the universal which has emerged from the confusion of the particular, i.e. the true, beautiful and good, that which taken by itself is species, was at first undetermined and abstract, it is, in the third place, a principal part of Plato’s endeavours further to determine this universal in itself. This determination is the relation which the dialectic movement in thought bears to the universal, for through this movement the Idea comes to these thoughts which contain the opposites of the finite within themselves. For the Idea, as the self-determining, is the unity of these differences, and thus the determinate Idea. The universal is hence determined as that which resolves and has resolved the contradictions in itself, and hence it is the concrete in itself; thus this sublation of contradiction is the affirmative. Dialectic in this higher sense is the really Platonic; as speculative it does not conclude with a negative result, for it demonstrates the union of opposites which have annulled themselves. Here begins what is difficult for the understanding to grasp. The form of Plato’s methods being not yet, however, developed purely on its own account, this is the reason that his dialectic is still often merely reasoning, and that it proceeds from individual points of view and frequently remains without result. On the other hand, Plato’s own teaching is directed against this merely reasoning dialectic; yet we see that it gives him trouble properly to show forth the difference. The speculative dialectic which. commences with him, is thus the most interesting but also the most difficult part of his work; hence acquaintance is not usually made with it when the Platonic writings are studied. Tennemann, for example, did not at all comprehend what was most important in the Platonic philosophy, and only gathered some of it together in the form of dry ontological determinations — for that was what he could comprehend. But it shows the greatest lack of intellect in a historian of Philosophy only to see in a great philosophic form whether there is anything yielding profit to himself or not.
What we have thus to deal with in the dialectic of Plato is the pure thought of reason, from which he very clearly distinguishes the understanding (dianoia). We may have thoughts about many things — if indeed, we do have thought at all — but this is not what Plato means. Plato’s true speculative greatness, and that through which he forms an epoch in the history of Philosophy, and hence in the history of the world, lies in the fuller determination of the Idea; this extension of knowledge is one which some centuries later constituted the main element in the ferment which took place in universal history, and in the transformation which the human mind passed through. This fuller determination may, from what has gone before, be understood thus: Plato first comprehended the Absolute as the Being of Parmenides, but as the Universal which, as species, is also end, i.e. which rules, penetrates, and produces the particular and manifold. Plato, however, had not yet developed this self-producing activity, and hence often stumbled into an external teleology. As the union of the preceding principles, Plato further led this Being into determinateness and into difference, as the latter is contained in the triad of Pythagorean number-determinations, and expressed the same in thought. That is, he grasped the Absolute as the unity of Being and non-being — in Becoming, as Heraclitus says — or of the one and the many, &c. He further now took into the objective dialectic of Heraclitus the Eleatic dialectic, which is the external endeavour of the subject to show forth contradiction, so that in place of an external changing of things, their inward transition in themselves, i.e. in their Ideas, or, as they are here, in their categories, has come to pass out of and through themselves. Plato finally set forth the belief of Socrates, which the latter put forward in regard to the moral self-reflection of the subject only, as objective, as the Idea, which is both universal thought, and the existent. The previous philosophies thus do not disappear because refuted by Plato, being absorbed in him.
In addition to Being and non-being, one and many, the unlimited and limiting are, for instance, likewise pure thoughts such as these, in whose absolute contemplation, from an all-embracing point of view, the Platonic investigation occupies itself. The purely logical and quite abstruse consideration of such objects certainly contrasts strongly with our conception of the beautiful, pleasing, and attractive content of Plato. Such consideration to him signifies all that is best in Philosophy, and it is that which he everywhere calls the true method of Philosophy, and the knowledge of the truth; in it he places the distinction between philosophers and Sophists. The Sophists on their part look at appearances, and these they obtain in opinion; this, indeed, implies thought, but not pure thought, or what is in and for itself. This is one reason why many turn from the study of Plato’s works unsatisfied. When we commence a Dialogue, we find, in the free Platonic method of composition, beautiful scenes in nature, a superb introduction that promises to lead us through flowery fields into Philosophy — and that the highest Philosophy, the Platonic. We meet with elevated thoughts, which are responded to more specially by youth, but these soon disappear. If at first we have allowed ourselves to be carried away by these bright scenes, they must now be all renounced, and as we have come to the real dialectic, and truly speculative, we must keep to the wearisome path, and allow ourselves to be pricked by the thorns and thistles of metaphysics. For behold, we then come to what is best and highest, to investigations respecting the one and many, Being and nothing; this was not what was anticipated, and men go quietly away, only wondering that Plato should seek knowledge here. From the most profound dialectic investigation, Plato then again proceeds to representations and images, to the description of dialogues amongst intelligent men. Thus in the Phædo, for example, which Mendelssohn has modernized and transformed into Wolffian metaphysics, the beginning and end are elevating and beautiful, and the middle deals with dialectic. Hence in making one’s way through Plato’s Dialogues very many mental qualities are called into play, and in their study we consequently ought to keep our minds open and free as regards the very various points of interest. If we read with interest what is speculative, we are apt to overlook what is most beautiful; if our interest lies in the elevation and culture of the mind, we forget the speculative element and find that it does not appeal to us. With some it is like the young man in the Bible, who had fulfilled his various duties and who asked Christ what good thing he still had to do to become His follower. But when the Lord commanded him to sell what he had and give to the poor, the young man went away sorrowful; this was not what he had anticipated. Just in the same way many mean well as regards Philosophy; they study Fries, and heaven knows whom else. Their hearts are full of the true, good and beautiful; they would know and see what they ought to do, but their breasts swell with good-will alone.
While Socrates remained at the good and universal, at implicitly concrete thoughts, without having developed them or having revealed them through development, Plato certainly goes on to the Idea as determined. His defect, however, is that this determinateness and that universality are still outside one another. We should certainly obtain the determinate Idea by reducing the dialectic movement to its result, and that forms an important element in knowledge. Yet when Plato speaks of justice, beauty, goodness, truth, their origin is not revealed; they are not shown as being results, but merely as hypotheses accepted in their immediacy. Consciousness certainly has an innate conviction that they form the highest end, but this their determination is not discovered. Since Plato’s dogmatic expositions of Ideas are lost (supra, p. 11), the dialectic of pure thought is only placed before us ‘by the Dialogues dealing with the subject, and these, just because they deal with pure thought, are amongst the most difficult, viz. : the Sophist, the Philebus, and, more especially, the Parmenides. We here pass over the Dialogues which contain only negative dialectic and Socratic dialogue, because they treat only of concrete ideas and not of dialectic in As higher signification; they leave us unsatisfied, because their ultimate end is only to confuse one’s opinions, or awaken a sense of the necessity for knowledge. But those three express the, abstract speculative Idea in its pure Notion. The embracing of the opposites in one, and the expression of this unity, is chiefly lacking in the Parmenides, which has hen ce, like some other Dialogues, only a negative result. But both in the Sophist and the Philebus Plato expresses the unity also.
a. The fully worked-out and genuine dialectic is, however, contained in the Parmenides — that most famous masterpiece of Platonic dialectic. Parmenides and Zeno are there represented as meeting Socrates in Athens; but the most important part of it is the dialectic which is put in the mouths of Parmenides and Zeno. At the very beginning the nature of this dialectic is given in detail as follows : Plato makes Parmenides praise Socrates thus: “I notice that in conversing with Aristoteles,” (one of those present; it might quite well have been the philosopher, but that he was born sixteen years after Socrates’ death) “you were trying to define in what the nature of the beautiful, just and good, and all such ideas lay. This your endeavour is noble and divine. But train and exercise yourself even more in what the multitude call idle chatter, and look on as useless, as long as you are young, for otherwise the truth will escape you. — In what, Socrates asks, does this exercise consist? I was much pleased because you said before that we must not be content with contemplating the sensuous and its illusions, but must consider that which thought alone can grasp, and that which alone exists.” I have before remarked that men at all times have believed that the truth could be found through reflection only, for in reflection thought is found, and that which we have before us in the guise of ordinary conception and of belief is transformed into thought. Socrates now replies to Parmenides: “I believed that I should in that way best discern the like and unlike, and the other general determinations in things.” Parmenides replies,” Certainly. But if you begin from a point of view such ass that, you must not only consider what follows from such an hypothesis, but also what follows from the opposite of that hypothesis. For example, in the case of the hypothesis ‘the many is,’ you have to consider what will be the consequences of the relation of the many to itself and to the one, and likewise what the consequences of the relation of the one to itself and to the many.” The marvellous fact that meets us in thought when we take determinations such as these by themselves, is that each one is turned round into the opposite of itself. “"But again we must consider, if the many is not, as to what will be the result as regards the one and the many, both to themselves and to one another. The same consideration must be employed in respect of identity and non-identity, rest and motion, origination and passing away, and likewise in regard to Being and non-being. We must ask what is each of these in relation to itself, and what is their relation in event of the one or the other being accepted? In exercising yourself fully in this, you will learn to know real truth.” Plato thus lays great stress on the dialectical point of view, which is not the point of view of the merely external, but is a living point of view whose content is formed of ‘pure thoughts only, whose movement consists in their making themselves the other of themselves, and thus showing that only their unity is what is truly justified.
Plato makes Socrates say, as regards the meaning of the unity of the one and many, ‘"If anyone proved to me that I am one and many, it would not surprise me. For since he shows me that I am a many, and points out in me the right and left side, an upper and lower half, a front and. back, I partake of the manifold; and again I partake of unity because I am one of us seven. The case is the same with stone, wood, & c. But if anyone, after determining the simple ideas of similarity and dissimilarity, multiplicity, and unity, rest and movement, and so on, were to show that these in their abstract form admit of admixture and separation, I should be very much surprised.” The dialectic of Plato is, however, not to be regarded as complete in every regard. Though his main endeavour is to show that in every determination the opposite is contained, it can still not be said that this is strictly carried out in all his dialectic movements, for there are often external considerations which exercise an influence in his dialectic. For example, Parmenides says:
“Are either of the two parts of the one which is — I mean the One and Being — ever wanting to one another? Is the One ever set free from being a part (tou einai morion) and Being set free from the one part (tou enos moriou)? Once more, each part thus possesses both the one and Being, and the smallest part still always consists of these two parts.’ In other words: “The one is; from this it follows that the one is not synonymous with ‘is,’ and thus the one and ‘is’ are distinguished. There hence is in the proposition “the one is a distinction; the many is therefore contained in it, and thus even with the one I express the many.” This dialectic is certainly correct, but it is not quite pure, because it begins from this union of two determinations.
The result of the whole investigation in the Parmenides is summarized at the close by saying “that whether the one is or is not, it, as also the many (talla), in relation to themselves and in relation to one another — all of them both are and are not, appear and do not appear.” This result may seem strange. We are far from accepting, in our ordinary conception of things, quite abstract determinations such as the one,, Being, non-being, appearance, rest, movement, &c., as Ideas; but these universals are taken by Plato as Ideas, and this Dialogue thus really contains the pure Platonic doctrine of Ideas. He shows of the one that when it is as well as when it is not, whether like itself or not like itself, both in movement and rest, origination and decay, it both is and is not; or the unity as well as all these pure Ideas. both are and are not, the one is one as much as it is many. In the proposition “the one is,” it is also implied that “the one is not one but many;” and, conversely, “the many is” also indicates that ‘"the many is not many, but one.” They show themselves dialectically and are really the identity with their “other'; and this is the truth. An example is given in Becoming: in Becoming Being and non-being are in inseparable unity, and yet they are also present there as distinguished; for Becoming only exists because the one passes into the other.
In this respect, perhaps, the result arrived at in the Parmenides may not satisfy us, since it seems to be negative in character, and not, as the negation of the negation, expressive of true affirmation. Nevertheless, the Neo-platonists, and more especially Proclus, regard the result arrived at in the Parmenides as the true theology, as the true revelation of all the mysteries of the divine essence. And it cannot be regarded ass anything else, however little this may at first appear, and though Tiedemann speaks of these assertions as merely the wild extravagances of the Neo-platonists. In fact, however, we understand by God the absolute essence of things, which even in its simple Notion is the unity and movement of these pure realities, the Ideas of the one and many, &c. The divine essence is the Idea in general, as it is either for sensuous consciousness or for thought. In as far as the divine Idea is the absolute self-reflection, dialectic is nothing more than this activity of self-reflection in itself; the Neo-Platonists regarded this connection as metaphysical only, and have recognized in it their theology, the unfolding of the secrets of the divine essence. But here there appears the double interpretation already remarked upon, which has now to be more clearly expounded. It is that God and the essential reality of things may be understood in two different ways. For, on the one hand, when it is said that the essential reality of things is the unity of opposites, it would seem as though only the, immediate essence of these immediately objective things were indicated, and as if this doctrine of real essence or ontology were distinguished from the knowledge of God, or theology. These simple realities and their relation and movement seem only to express moments of the objective and not mind, because there is lacking in them one element — that is to say, reflection into themselves — which we demand for the existence of the divine essence. For mind, the truly absolute essence, is not only the simple and immediate, but that which reflects itself into itself, for which in its opposition the unity of itself and of that which is opposed is; but these moments and their movement do not present it as such, for they make their appearance as simple abstractions. On the other hand, they may also be taken to be pure Notions, which pertain purely to reflection into itself. In this case Being is wanting to them, or what we likewise demand for reflection into itself as essential to the divine essence; and then their movement is esteemed an empty round of empty abstractions, which belong only to reflection and have no reality. For the solution of this contradiction we must know the nature of apprehension and knowledge, in order to obtain in the Notion everything there present. Thus shall we have the consciousness that the Notion is in truth neither the immediate only, although it is the simple, nor merely that which reflects itself into itself, the thing of consciousness; for it is of spiritual simplicity, thus really existent — as it is thought turned back on itself, so it is also Being in itself, i.e. objective Being, and consequently all reality. Plato did not state this knowledge of the nature of the Notion so expressly, nor did he say that this essential Being of things is the same as the divine essence. But really it is simply not put into words, for the fact is undoubtedly present, and the only distinction is one of speech as between the mode of the ordinary conception and that of the Notion. On the one hand, this reflection into itself, the spiritual, the Notion, is present in the speculation of Plato; for the unity of the one and many, &c., is just this individuality in difference, this being-turned-back-within-itself in its opposite, this opposite which is implicit; the essential reality of the world is really this movement returning into itself of that which is turned back within itself. But, on the other hand, for this very reason, this being reflected into self — like the God of ordinary conception — still remains with Plato something separated; and in his representation of the Becoming of Nature in the Timæus, God, and the essential reality of things, appear as distinguished.
b. In the Sophist Plato investigated the pure Notions or Ideas of movement and rest, self-identity and other-being, Being and non-being. He here proves, as against Parmenides, that non-being is, and likewise that the simple self-identical partakes of other-being, and unity of multiplicity. He says of the Sophists that they never get beyond non-being, and he also refutes their whole ground-principle, which is non-being, feeling, and the many. Plato has thus so determined the true universal, that he makes it the unity of, for example, the one and many, Being and non-being; but at the same time he has avoided, or it was his endeavour to avoid, the double meaning which lies in our talk of the unity of Being and nothing, &c. For in this expression we emphasize the unity, and then the difference disappears, just as if we merely abstracted from it. Plato tried, however, to preserve the difference likewise. The Sophist is a further development of Being and non. being, both of which are applicable to all things; for because things are different, the one being the other of the other, the determination of the negative is present. First of all, however, Plato expresses in the Sophist a clearer consciousness of Ideas as abstract universalities, and his conviction that this point of view could not endure, because it was opposed to the unity of the Idea with itself. Plato thus first refutes what is sensuous, and then even the Ideas themselves. The Brat of these points of view is what is later on called materialism, which makes the corporeal alone to be the substantial, admitting nothing to have reality excepting what can be laid hold of by the hand, such as rocks and oaks. “Let us,” says Plato, in the second place,” proceed to the other, to the friends of Ideas.” Their belief is that the substantial is incorporeal, intellectual, and they separate from it the region of Becoming, of change, into which the sensuous falls, while the universal is for itself. These represent Ideas as immovable, and neither active nor passive. Plato asserts, as against this, that movement, life, soul, and thought, cannot be denied to true Being (tantelws onti), and that the holy reason (agion noun) can be nowhere, and in nothing that is unmoved.’ Plato thus has a clear consciousness of having got further than Parmenides when he says: —
Keep your mind from this way of inquiry,
For never will you show that non-being is.”
Plato says that Being in anyone partakes both of Being and non-being; but what thus participates is different both from Being and non-being as such.
This dialectic combats two things in particular; and in the first place it is antagonistic to the common dialectic in the ordinary sense, of which we have already spoken. Examples of this false dialectic to which Plato often comes back, are specially frequent amongst the Sophists; yet he did not show sufficiently clearly how they are distinguished from the purely dialectical knowledge which is in the Notion. For example, Plato expressed his dissent when Protagoras and others said that no determination is absolutely certain — that bitter is not objective, for what to one person is bitter, to another is sweet. Similarly, large and small, more and less, &c., are relative, because the large will be, in other circumstances, small, and the small will be great. That is to say, the unity of opposites is present to us in everything we know, but the common way of looking at things, in which the rational does not come to consciousness, always holds the opposites asunder, as though they were simply opposed in a determinate way. As in each thing we demonstrate unity, so do we also show its multiplicity, for it has many parts and qualities. In the Parmenides, Plato, as we saw above, objected to this unity of opposites, because it must thereby be said that something is one in quite another respect from that in which it is many. We thus do not here bring these thoughts together, for the conception and the words merely go backwards and forwards from the one to the other; if this passing to and fro is performed with consciousness, it is the empty dialectic which does not really unite the opposites. Of this Plato says, “If anyone thinks he has made a wonderful discovery in ascertaining that he can drag thoughts this way and that, from one determination to another, he may be told that he has done nothing worthy of praise; for in so doing there is nothing excellent or difficult.” The dialectic that annuls a determination because it reveals in it some defect, and then goes on to establish another, is thus wrong. “The point of difficulty, and what we ought to aim at, is to show that what is the other is the same, and what is the same, is another, and likewise in the same regard and from the same point of view to show that the one has in them come into existence if the other determination is revealed within them. But to show that somehow the same is another, and the other also the same, that the great is also small” (e.g. Protagoras’s die), “and the like also unlike, and to delight in thus always proving opposites, is no true inquiry (elegxoς), but simply proves that he who uses such arguments is a neophyte,” in thought, “who has just begun to investigate truth. To separate all existences from one another is the crude attempt of an uncultured and unphilosophical mind. To cause everything to fall asunder means the perfect annihilation of all thought, for thought is the union of ideas. Thus Plato expressly speaks against the dialectic of showing how anything may be refuted from some point of view or another. We see that Plato, in respect of content, expresses nothing excepting what is called indifference in difference, the difference of absolute opposites and their unity. To this speculative knowledge he opposes the ordinary way of thinking, which is positive as well as negative; the former, not bringing the thoughts together, allows first one and then the other to have value in their separation; the latter is, indeed, conscious of a unity, though it is of a superficial, differentiating unity in which the two moments are separate, as standing in different aspects.
The second point against which Plato argues is the dialectic of the Eleatics, and their assertion, which in its nature resembles that of the Sophists, that only Being is, and non-being is not. To the Sophists this means, as Plato puts it: Since the negative is not, but only Being is, there is nothing false; everything existent, everything which is for us, is thus necessarily true, and what is not, we do not know or feel. Plato reproaches the Sophists for thus doing away with the difference between true and false.’ Having arrived at this stage in the knowledge of the dialectic (and the whole matter is merely a difference of stages) the Sophists could allow what they promise — that everything that the individual, according to his belief, makes his end and interest, is affirmative and right. Hence it cannot be said that such and such an act is wrong, wicked, a crime; for this would be to say that the maxim of the action is wrong. No more can it be said that such and such opinion is deceptive, for in the opinion of the Sophists the proposition implies that what I feel or represent to myself, in as far as it is mine, is an affirmative content, and thus true and right. The proposition in itself seems quite abstract and innocent, but we first notice what is involved in such abstractions when we see them in concrete form. According to this innocent proposition there would be no wickedness and no crime. The Platonic dialectic is essentially different from this kind of dialectic.
What is further present to the mind of Plato is that the Idea, the absolute universal, good, true, and beautiful, is to be taken for itself. The myth, which I have already quoted, indeed goes to prove that we must not consider a good action, a noble man — not the subject of which these determinations are predicated. For that which appears in such conceptions or perceptions as predicate, must be taken for itself, and this is the absolute truth. This tallies with the nature of the dialectic which has been described. An action, taken in accordance with the empirical conception, may be called right; in another aspect, quite opposite determinations may be shown to be in it. But the good and true must be taken on their own account without such individualities, without this empirical and concrete character; and the good and true thus taken alone, constitute that which is. The soul which, according to the divine drama, is found in matter, rejoices in a beautiful and just object; but the only actual truth is in absolute virtue, justice, and beauty. It is thus the universal for itself which is further determined in the Platonic dialectic; of this several forms appear, but these forms are themselves still very general and abstract. Plato’s highest form is the identity of Being, and non-being. The true is that which is, but this Being is not without negation. Plato’s object is thus to show that non-being is an essential determination in Being, and that the simple, self-identical, partakes of other-being. This unity of Being and non-being is also found in the Sophists; but this alone is not the end of the matter. For in further investigation Plato comes to the conclusion that non-being, further determined, is the essence of the ‘other’: “Ideas mingle, and Being and the other (qateron) go through everything and through one another; the other, because it participates (metasxon) in Being, certainly is through this indwelling Being, but it is not identical with that of which it partakes, being something different, and being other than Being, it is clearly non-being. But since Being likewise partakes of other-being, it also is different from other Ideas, and is not any one of them; so that there are thousands of ways in which it is not, and as regards all else, whether looked at individually or collectively, it in many respects is, and in many respects is not.” Plato thus maintains that the other, as the negative, non-identical, is likewise in one and the same respect the self-identical; there are not different sides which are in mutual opposition.
These are the principal points in Plato’s peculiar dialectic. The fact that the Idea of the divine, eternal, beautiful. is absolute existence, is the beginning of the elevation of consciousness into the spiritual, and into the consciousness that the universal is true. It may be enough for the ordinary idea to be animated and satisfied by the conception of the beautiful and good, but thinking knowledge demands the determination of this eternal and divine. And this determination is really only free determination which certainly does not prevent universality — a limitation (for every determination is limitation) which likewise leaves the universal in its infinitude free and independent. Freedom exists only in a return into itself; the undistinguished is the lifeless; the active, living, concrete universal is hence what inwardly distinguishes itself, but yet remains free in so doing. Now this determinateness consists in the one being identical with itself in the other, in the many, in what is distinguished. This constitutes the only truth, and the only interest for knowledge in what is called Platonic philosophy, and if this is not known, the main point of it is not known. While in the example already often quoted, in which Socrates is both one and many, the two thoughts are made to fall asunder, it is left to speculative thought alone to bring the thoughts together, and this union of what is different, of Being and non-being, of one and many, &c., which takes place without a mere transition from one to another, constitutes the inmost reality and true greatness of Platonic philosophy. This determination is the esoteric element in Platonic philosophy, and the other is the exoteric — the distinction is doubtless an unwarranted one, indicating, as it seems to do, that Plato could have two such philosophies — one for the world, for the people, and the other, the inward, reserved for the initiated. But the esoteric is the speculative, which, even though written and printed, is yet, without being any secret, hidden from those who have not sufficient interest in it to exert themselves. To this esoteric portion pertain the two dialogues hitherto considered, along with which the Philebus may in the third place be taken.
c. In the Philebus, Plato investigates the nature of pleasure; and the opposition of the infinite and finite, or of the unlimited (apeiron) and limiting (peraς), is there more especially dealt with. In keeping this before us, it would scarcely occur to us that through the metaphysical knowledge of the nature of the infinite and undetermined, what concerns enjoyment is likewise determined; but these pure thoughts are the substantial through which everything, however concrete or seemingly remote, is decided. When Plato treats of pleasure and wisdom as contrasted, it is the opposition of finite and infinite. By pleasure we certainly represent to ourselves the immediately individual, the sensuous; but pleasure is the indeterminate in respect that it is the merely elementary, like fire and water, and not the self-determining. Only the Idea is the self-determinate, or self-identity. To our reflection the infinite appears to be what is best and highest, limitation being inferior to it; and ancient philosophers so determined it. By Plato, however, it is, on the other hand, shown that the limited is the true, as the self-determining, while the unlimited is still abstract; it certainly can be determined in many different ways, but when thus determined it is only the individual. The infinite is the formless; free form as activity is the finite, which finds in the infinite the material for self-realization. Plato thus characterizes enjoyment dependent on the senses as the unlimited which does not determine itself; reason alone is the active determination. But the infinite is what in itself passes over to the finite; thus the perfect good, according to Plato, is neither to be sought for in happiness or reason, but in a life of both combined. But wisdom, as limit, is the true cause from which what is excellent arises.’ As that which posits measure and end, it is what absolutely determines the end — the immanent determination with which and in which freedom likewise brings itself into existence.
Plato further considers the fact that the true is the identity of opposites, thus. The infinite ‘ as the indeterminate, is capable of a more or less, it may be more intensive or not; thus colder and warmer, drier and moister, quicker and slower, &c., are all such. What is limited is the equal, the double, and every other measure; by this means the opposite ceases to be unlike and becomes uniform and harmonious. Through the unity of these opposites, such as cold and warm, dry and moist, health arises; similarly the harmony of music takes its origin from the limitation. of high tones and deep, of quicker and slower movement, and, generally speaking, everything beautiful and perfect arises through the union of opposites. Health, happiness, beauty, &c., would thus appear to be begotten, in as far as the opposites are allied thereto, but they are likewise an intermingling of the same. The ancients make copious use of intermingling, participation, &c., instead of individuality; but for us these are indefinite and inadequate expressions. But Plato says that the third, which is thus begotten, presupposes the cause or that from which it is formed; this is more excellent than those through whose instrumentality that third arose. Hence Plato has four determinations; first the unlimited, the undetermined; secondly the limited, measure, proportion, to which pertains wisdom; the third is what is mingled from both, what has only arisen; the fourth is cause. This is in itself nothing else than the unity of differences, subjectivity, power and supremacy over opposites, that which is able to sustain the opposites in itself; but it is only the spiritual which has this power and which sustains opposition, the highest contradiction in itself. Weak corporeality passes away as soon as ‘another’ comes into it. The cause he speaks of is divine reason, which governs the world; the beauty of the world which is present in air, fire, water, and in all that lives, is produced thereby.’ Thus the absolute is what in one unity is finite and infinite.
When Plato speaks thus of the beautiful and good, these are concrete ideas, or rather there is only one idea. But we are still far from these concrete ideas when we begin with such abstractions as Being, non-being, unity, and multiplicity. If Plato, however, has not succeeded in bringing these abstract thoughts through further development and concretion, to beauty, truth, and morality, there at least lies in the knowledge of those abstract determinations, the criterion by which the concrete is determined, as also its sources. This transition to the concrete is made in the Philebus, since the principle of feeling and of pleasure is there considered. The ancient philosophers knew very well what they had of concrete in those abstract thoughts. In the atomic principle of multiplicity we thus find the source of a construction of the state, for the ultimate thought-determination of such state-principles is the logical. The ancients in their pure Philosophy had not the same end in view as we — they had not the end of a metaphysical sequence placed before them like a problem. We, on the other hand, have something concrete before us, and desire to reduce it to settled order. With Plato Philosophy offers the path which the individual must follow in order to attain to any knowledge, but, generally speaking, Plato places absolute and explicit happiness, the blessed life itself, in the contemplation during life of the divine objects named above.’ This contemplative life seems aimless, for the reason that all its interests have disappeared. But to live in freedom in the kingdom of thought had become the absolute end to the ancients, and they knew that freedom existed only in thought.
With Plato Philosophy likewise commenced to devote more attention to the understanding of what is further determined, and in this way the matter of knowledge began to fall into divisions. In the Timæus the Idea thus makes its appearance as expressed in its concrete determinateness, and the Platonic Philosophy of Nature hence teaches us to have a better knowledge of the reality of the world; we cannot, however, enter into details, and if we did, they have little interest. It is more especially where Plato treats of physiology that his statements in no way correspond with what we now know, although we cannot fail to wonder at the brilliant glimpses of the truth there found, which have been only too ranch misconceived by the moderns. Plato derived a great deal from the Pythagoreans; how much is theirs. however, cannot be satisfactorily determined. We remarked before (p. 14) that the Timæus is really the fuller version of a Pythagorean treatise; other would-be wise persons have indeed said that the treatise is only an abstract made by a Pythagorean of the larger work of Plato, but the first theory is the more probable. The Timæus has in all times been esteemed the most difficult and obscure of the Platonic dialogues. This difficulty is due in part to the apparent mingling of conceiving knowledge and ordinary perception already mentioned (p. 20), just as we shall presently find an intermingling of Pythagorean numbers; and it is due still more to the philosophic nature of the matter in hand, of which Plato was as yet unconscious. The second difficulty lies in the arrangement of the whole, for what at once strikes one is that Plato repeatedly breaks off the thread of his argument, often appearing to turn back and begin again from the beginning. This moved critics such as August Wolff and others, who could not understand it philosophically, to take the Timæus to be an accumulation of fragments put together, or else to be several works which had only been loosely strung together into one, or into the Platonic portion of which much that is foreign had been introduced. Wolff accordingly thought it was evident from this that the dialogue, like Homer’s poems, had been, in its first form, spoken and not written. But although the connection seems unmethodical, and Plato himself makes what may be called copious excuses for the confusion, we shall find how the whole matter really falls into natural divisions, and we shall also find the deep inward reason which makes necessary the frequent return to what apparently is the beginning.
An exposition of the reality of nature or of the becoming of the world is introduced by Plato in the following way: “God is. the Good,” this stands also at the head of the Platonic Ideas in the verbally delivered discourses; “goodness, however, has no jealousy of anything, and being free from jealousy, God desired to make all things like Himself.” God here is still without determination, and a name which has no meaning for thought; nevertheless, where Plato in the Timæus again begins from the beginning, he is found to have a more definite idea of God. That God is devoid of envy undoubtedly is a great, beautiful, true, and childlike thought. With the ancients, on the contrary, we find in Nemesis, Dike, Fate, Jealousy, the one determination of the gods: moved by this they cast down the great and bring it low, and suffer not what is excellent and elevated to exist. The later high-minded philosophers controverted this doctrine. For in the mere idea of the Nemesis no moral determination is as yet implied, because punishment there is only the humiliation of what oversteps limits, but these limits are not yet presented as moral, and punishment is thus not yet a recognition of the moral as distinguished from the immoral. Plato’s thought is thus much higher than that of most of our moderns, who, in saying that God is a hidden God who has not revealed Himself to us and of whom we can know nothing, ascribe jealousy to God. For why should He not reveal Himself to us if we earnestly seek the knowledge of Him? A light loses nothing by another’s being kindled therefrom, and hence there was in Athens a punishment imposed on those who did not permit this to be done. If the knowledge of God were kept from us in order that we should know only the finite and not attain to the infinite, God would be a jealous God, or God would then become an empty name. Such talk means no more than that we wish to neglect what is higher and divine ‘ and seek after our own petty interests and opinions. This humility is sin — the sin against the Holy Ghost.
Plato continues: ‘"God found the visible” (paralabwn) — a mythical expression proceeding from the necessity of beginning with an immediate, which, however, as it presents itself, cannot in any way be allowed — “not at rest, but moving in an irregular and disorderly manner; and out of disorder he brought order, considering that this was far better than the other.” From this it appears as if Plato had considered that God was only the dhmiourgoς, i.e. the disposer of matter, and that this, being eternal and independent, was found by Him as chaos; but in view of what has been said, this is false. These are nut the philosophic doctrines which Plato seriously held, for he speaks here only after the manner of the ordinary conception, and such expressions have hence no philosophic content. It is only the introduction of the subject, bringing us, as it does, to determinations such as matter. Plato then comes in course of his progress to further determinations, and in these we first have the Notion; we must hold to what is speculative in Plato, and not to the first-mentioned ordinary conception. Likewise, when he says that God esteemed order to be the best, the mode of expression is naïve. Now-a-days we should ask that God should first be proved; and just as little should we allow the visible to be established without much further ado. What is proved by Plato from this more naive method of expression is, in the first place, the true determination of the Idea, which only appears later on. It is further said: “God reflecting that of what is visible, the unintelligent (anohton) could not be fairer than the intelligent (nouς), and that intelligence could not exist in anything devoid of soul, for these reasons put intelligence in the soul, and the soul in the body, and so united them that the world became a living and intelligent system, an animal.” We have reality and intelligence, and the soul as the bond connecting the two extremes, without which intelligence could not have part in the visible body; we saw the true reality comprehended by Plato in a similar way in the Phædrus. “There is, however, only one such animal, for were there two or more, these would be only parts of the one, and only one.”
Plato now first proceeds to the determination of the Idea of corporeal existence: “Because the world was to become corporeal, visible and tangible, and since without fire nothing can be seen, and without solidity, without earth, nothing can be touched, God in the beginning made fire and earth.” In this childlike way Plato introduces these extremes, solidity and life. “But two things cannot be united without a third, there must be a bond between them, uniting both” — one of Plato’s simple methods of expression. “The fairest bond, however, is that which most completely fuses itself and that which is bound by it.” That is a profound saying, in which the Notion is contained; the bond is the subjective and individual, the power which dominates the other, which makes itself identical with it. “Proportion (analogia) is best adapted to effect such a fusion; that is, whenever of three numbers or magnitudes or powers, that which is the mean is to the last term what the first term is to the mean, and again when the mean is to the first term as the last term is to the mean” (a:b = b:c) “then the mean having become the first and last, and the first and last both having become means, all things will necessarily come to be the same; but having come to be the same, everything will be one.” This is excellent, we have still preserved this in our Philosophy; it is the distinction which is no distinction. This diremption from which Plato proceeds, is the conclusion which we know from logic; it appears in the form of the ordinary syllogism, in which, however, the whole rationality of the Idea is, at least externally, contained. The distinctions are the extremes, and the mean is the identity which in a supreme degree makes them one; the conclusion is thus speculative, and in the extremes unites itself with itself, because all the terms pass through all the different positions. It is hence a mistake to disparage the conclusion and not to recognize it as the highest and absolute form; in respect of the conclusions arrived at by the understanding, on the contrary, we should be right in rejecting it. This last has no such mean; each of the differences is there recognized as different in its own independent form, as having a character different from that of the other. This, in the Platonic philosophy, is abrogated, and the speculative element in it constitutes the proper and true form of conclusion, in which the extremes neither remain in independence as regards themselves, nor as regards the mean. In the conclusion of the understanding, on the contrary, the unity which is constituted is only the unity of essentially different contents which remain such; for here a subject, a determination, is, through the mean, simply bound up with another, or “some conception is joined to some other conception.” In a rational conclusion, however, the main point of its speculative content is the identity of the extremes which are joined to one another; in this it is involved that the subject presented in the mean is a content which does not join itself with another, but only through the other and in the other with itself. In other words, this constitutes the essential nature of God, who, when made subject, is the fact that He begot His Son, the world; but in this reality which appears as another, He still remains identical with Himself, does away with the separation implied in the Fall, and, in the other, merely unites Himself to Himself and thus becomes Spirit. When the immediate is elevated over the mediate and it is then said that God’s actions are immediate, there is, indeed, good ground for the assertion; but the concrete fact is that God is a conclusion which, by differentiating itself, unites itself to itself, and, through the abrogation of the mediation, reinstates its own immediacy. In the Platonic philosophy we thus have what is best and highest; the thoughts are, indeed, merely pure thoughts, but they contain everything in themselves; for all concrete forms depend on thought-determinations alone. The Fathers thus found in Plato the Trinity which they wished to comprehend and prove in thought: with Plato the truth really has the same determination as the Trinity. But these forms have been neglected for two thousand years since Plato’s time, for they have not passed into the Christian religion as thoughts; indeed they were considered to be ideas which had entered in through error, until quite recent times, when men began to understand that the Notion is contained in these determinations, and that nature and spirit can thus be comprehended through their means.
Plato continues: “Since what is solid requires two means, because it not only has breadth but also depth, God has placed air and water between fire and earth; and indeed He gave to them the same proportion, so that fire is related to air as air to water, and as air is to water, so is water to earth.” Thus we have, properly speaking, four methods of representing space, inasmuch as the point is, through line and surface, closely bound up with the solid body. The sundered mean here discovered, again indicates an important thought of logical profundity; and the number four which here appears, is in nature a fundamental number. For as being the different which is turned towards the two extremes, the mean must be separated in itself. In the conclusion in which God is the One, the second (the mediating), the Son; the third, the Spirit; the mean indeed is simple. But the cause why that which in the rational conclusion is merely three-fold, passes in nature to the four-fold, rests in what is natural, because what in thought is immediately the one, becomes separate in Nature. But in order that in Nature the opposition should exist as opposition, it must itself be a two-fold, and thus, when we count, we have four. This also takes place in the conception of God, for when we apply it to the world. we have nature as mean and the existent spirit as the way of return for nature : when the return is made, this is the absolute Spirit. This living process, this separation and unifying of differences, is the living God.
Plato says further : “Through this unity the visible and tangible world has been made. And it comes to pass by God’s having given to it these elements entire and unseparated, that it is perfect, and unaffected by age and disease. For old age and disease only arise from a body’s being worked upon by a superabundance of such elements from without. But here this is not so, for the world contains those elements entirely in itself, and nothing can come to it from without. The world is spherical in form,” (as it was to Parmenides and the Pythagoreans) “as being most perfect, and as containing all others in itself; it is perfectly smooth, since for it there is nothing outside, and it requires no limbs.” Finitude consists in this, that a distinction as regards something else is an externality to some other object. In the Idea we certainly have determination, limitation, difference, other-being, but it is at the same time dissolved, contained, gathered together, in the one. Thus it is a difference through which no finitude arises, seeing that it likewise is sublated. Finitude is thus in the infinite itself, and this is, indeed, a great thought. “God gave the world the most appropriate motion of all the seven, being that which harmonizes best with mind and consciousness, motion in a circle; the other six He took away from it and liberated it from their variations” (movements backwards and forwards). This is only a popular way of putting it.
We read further: “Since God wished to make the world a God, He gave it soul, and this was placed in the centre and diffused through the whole, which. was also surrounded by it externally; and in this way He brought to pass the self-sufficing existence which required no other, and which needed no other friendship or acquaintance than itself. Through these means God created the world as a blessed God.” We may say that here, where the world is a totality through the world-soul, we first have the knowledge of the Idea; for the first time this newly-begotten God, as the mean and identity, is the true absolute. That first God which was only goodness, is, on the contrary, a mere hypothesis, and hence neither determined nor self-determining. “Now though we have spoken of the soul last,” Plato goes on, “it does not for that reason come last; for this is merely our manner of speech. The soul is the ruler, the king, and the body is its subject.” It is only Plato’s naivety which ascribes the reversal of the order of the two to a manner of speech. What here appears as contingent is really necessary — that is, to begin with the immediate and then come to the concrete. We must likewise adopt this method, but with the consciousness that when we begin with determinations such as Being, or God, Space, Time, &c., we speak of them in an immediate manner, and this content, in accordance with its nature, is at first immediate, and consequently undetermined in itself. God, for example, with whom we begin as an immediate, is proved only at the last, and then, indeed, as the true first. Thus we can, as already remarked, (show Plato’s confusion of mind in such presentations; but it depends entirely on what Plato’s standard of truth is.
Plato further shows us the nature of the Idea in one of the most famous and profound of passages, where in the essence of the soul he recognizes again the very same idea that he also expressed as the essence of the corporeal. For he says: “The soul is created in the following way: Of the indivisible and unchangeable and also of the divisible which is corporeal, God made a third kind of intermediate essence, which partook of the nature of the same and of the nature of the other or diverse.” (The divisible is to Plato likewise the other as such, or in itself, and not of anything else.) “And God in like manner made the soul a sort of intermediate between the indivisible and the divisible!” Here the abstract determinations of the one which is identity, of the many or non-identical, which is opposition and difference, once more appear. If we say: “God, the Absolute, is the identity of the identical and non-identical,” a cry is raised of barbarism and scholasticism. Those who speak of it so still hold Plato in high esteem, and yet it was thus that he determined the truth. “And taking these three elements as separate, God mingled them all into one Idea, because he forcibly compressed the incongruous nature of the other into the same.” This is undoubtedly the power of the Notion, which posits the many, the separate, as the ideal, and that is also the force applied to the under. standing when anything is placed before it.
Plato now describes how the self-identical, as itself a moment, and the other or matter, and the third, the apparently dissoluble union which has not returned into the first unity — which three were originally separated — have now, in simple reflection into self and resumption of that beginning, been degraded into moments. “Mingling the identical and the other with the essence (ousia),” the third moment, and making them all one, God again divided this whole into as many parts was as fitting.” Since this substance of the soul is identical with that of the visible world, the one whole is for the first time the now systematized substance, the true matter, the absolute element which is internally divided, an enduring and unseparable unity of the one and many; and no other essence must be demanded. The manner and mode of the division of this subjectivity contain the famous Platonic numbers, which doubtless originally pertain to the Pythagoreans, and respecting which both ancients and moderns, and even Kepler himself in his Harmonia mundi, have taken much pains, but which no one has properly understood, To understand would mean two things, and in the first place, the recognition of their speculative significance, their Notion. But, as already remarked of the Pythagoreans, these distinctions of number give only an indefinite conception of difference, and that only in the earlier numbers; where the relationships become more complicated, they are quite incapable of designating them more closely. In the second place, because of their being numbers, they express, as differences of magnitude, differences in what is sensuous only. The system of apparent magnitude — and it is in the heavenly system that magnitude appears most purely and freely, liberated from what is qualitative — must correspond to them. But these living number-spheres are themselves systems composed of many elements — both of the magnitude of distance and. of velocity and mass. No one of these elements, taken as a succession of simple numbers, can be likened to the system of heavenly spheres, for the series corresponding to this system can, as to its members, contain nothing else than the system of all these moments. Now if the Platonic numbers were also the elements of each system such as this, it would not be only this element which would have to be taken into account, for the relationship of moments which become distinguished in movement has to be conceived of as a whole, and is the true object of interest and reason. What we have to do is to give briefly the main points as matter of history; we have the most thorough treatment of it given us by Bockh “On the Constitution of the World-Soul in the Timæus; of Plato,” in the third volume of the Studies of Daub and Creuzer.
The fundamental series is very simple : “God first took one part out of the whole; then the second, the double of the first; the third is one and a half times as many as the second, or three times the first; the next is double the second; the fifth is three times the third; the sixth is eight times the first; the seventh is twenty-seven times greater than the first.” Hence the series is: 1; 2; 3; 4 = 22 ;9 = 32; 8 = 23; 27 = 33. “Then God filled up the double and triple intervals” (the relations 1:2 and 1:3) “by again abstracting portions from the whole. These parts he placed in the intervals in such a way that in each interval there were two means, the one exceeding and exceeded by the extremes in the same ratio, the other being that kind of mean which by an equal number exceeds and is exceeded by the extremes.” That is, the first is a constant geometric relationship, and the other is an arithmetical. The first mean, brought about through the quadration, is thus in the relation 1:2, for example, the proportion 1 : √2 : 2; the other is in the same relation, the number 1 ½. Hereby new relations arise which are again in a specially given and more difficult method inserted into that first, but this is done in such a way that everywhere something has been left out, and the last relation of number to number is 256 : 243, or 28 : 35.
Much progress is not, however, made with these number-relations, for they do not present much to the speculative Notion. The relationships and laws of nature cannot be expressed by these barren numbers; they form an empirical relation which does not constitute the basis of the proportions of nature. Plato now says: “God divided this entire series lengthways into two parts which he set together crosswise like an X, and he bent their ends into a circular form and comprehended them in a uniform motion — forming an inner circle and an outer — and he called the motion of the outer circle the motion of the same, and that of the inner the motion of the diverse, giving supremacy to the former, and leaving it intact. But the inner motion he again split into seven orbits after the same relations; three of these he made to move with equal velocity, and four with unequal velocity to the three and to one another. This is the system of the soul within which all that is corporeal is formed; the soul is the centre, it penetrates the whole and envelopes it from without and moves in itself. Thus it has the divine beginning of a never-ceasing and rational life in itself.” This is not quite devoid of Confusion, and from it we can only grasp the general fact that as to Plato with the idea of the corporeal universe that of the soul enters in as the all-embracing and simple, to him the essence of the corporeal and of the soul is unity in difference. This double essence, posited in and for itself in difference, becomes systematized within the one in many moments, which are, however, movements; thus this reality and that essence both pertain to this whole in the antithesis of soul and body, and this again is one. Mind is what penetrates all, and to it the corporeal is opposed as truly as that it itself is mind.
This is a general description of the soul which is posited in the world and reigns over it; and in as far as the substantial, which is in matter, is similar to it, their inherent identity is asserted. The fact that in it the same moments which constitute its reality are contained, merely signifies that God, as absolute Substance, does not see anything other than Himself. Plato hence describes the relation of soul to objective reality thus : it, if it touches any of the moments, whether dispersed in parts or indivisible, is stirred in all its powers to declare the sameness and the difference of that or some other thing, and how, where, and when, the individual is related to the other and to the universal. “Now when the orbit of the sensuous, moving in its due course, imparts knowledge of itself to its whole soul” (where the different orbits of the world’s course show themselves to correspond with the inwardness of mind) “true opinions and beliefs arise. But when the soul applies itself to the rational and the orbit of the self-identical makes itself known, thought is perfected into knowledge.” This is the essential reality of the world as of the inherently blessed God; here the Idea of the whole is for the first time perfected, and, in accordance with this Idea, the world first makes its appearance. What had hitherto appeared was the reality of the sensuous only and not the world as sensuous, for though Plato certainly spoke before of fire, &c., he there gave only the reality of the sensuous; he would hence have done better to have omitted these expressions. In them we have the reason for its appearing as if Plato had here begun to consider from the beginning that of which he has already treated. For since we must begin from the abstract in order to reach the true and the concrete, which first appears later on, this last, when it has been found, has the appearance and form of a new commencement, particularly in Plato’s loose style.
Plato now goes on further, for he calls this divine world the pattern which is in thought (nohton) alone, and always in self-identity; but he again places this whole in opposition to itself, so that there is a second, the copy of the first, the world, which has origination and is visible. This second is the system of the heavenly movement, the first is the eternally living. The second, which has origination and becoming within it, cannot be made perfectly like the first, the eternal Idea. But it is made a self-moving image of the eternal that remains in the unity; and this eternal image that moves rhythmically, after the manner of numbers, is what we call time. Plato says of it that we are in the habit of calling the ‘was’ and ‘will be’ parts of time, and we transfer these indications of change which operate in time, into absolute essence. But the true time is eternal, or the present. For the substance can neither become older nor younger, and time, as the immediate image of the eternal, has neither the future nor the present in its parts. Time is ideal, like space, not sensuous, but the immediate mode in which mind comes forth in objective form, the Sensuous non-sensuous. The real moments of the principle of absolute movement in what is temporal, are those in which changes appear. “From the mind and will of God in the creation of time, there arose the sun, moon, and five other stars which are called the planets, and which serve to distinguish and preserve the relations of time.” For in them the numbers of time are realized. Thus the heavenly movement, as the true time, is the image of the eternal which yet remains in unity, i.e. it is that in which the eternal retains the determination of the ‘same.’ For everything is in time, that is, in negative unity which does not allow anything to root itself freely in itself, and thus to move and to be moved according to chance.
But this eternal is also in the determinateness of the other reality, in the Idea of the self-changing and variable principle whose universal is matter. The eternal world has a likeness in the world which belongs to time, but opposed to this there is a second world where change really dwells. The ‘same’ and the ‘other’ are the most abstract opposites that we hitherto have had. The eternal world as posited in time has thus two forms — the form of similarity and the form of differentiality, of variability. The three moments as they appear in the last sphere, are, in the first place, simple essence which is begotten, which has arisen, or determinate matter; secondly the place in which it is begotten, and thirdly that in which what is begotten has its pattern. Plato gives them thus : “Essence (on), place, and generation.” We thus have the conclusion in which space is the mean between individual generation and the universal. If we now oppose this principle to time in its negativity, the mean is this principle of the “other’ as the universal principle — “ a receiving medium like a mother” — an essence which contains everything, gives to everything an independent subsistence and the power to do as is desired. This principle is destitute of form, yet capable of receiving all forms, the universal principle of all that appears different; it is the false passive matter that we understand when we speak of it — the relative substantial, existence generally, but external existence here, and only abstract Being-for-self. Form is in our reflection distinguished from it, and this, Plato tells us, first comes into existence through the mother. In this principle we have what we call the phenomenal, for matter is just this subsistence of individual generation, in which division is posited. But what appears herein is not to be posited as the individual of earthly existence, but is to be apprehended as the universal in such determinateness. Since matter, as the universal, is the principle of all that is individual, Plato in the first place reminds us that we cannot speak of these sensuous things — fire, water, earth, air, &c. (which thus once more come before us here); for hereby they are expressed as a fixed determination which remains as such — but what remains is only their universality, or they, as universal, are only the fiery, earthly, &c.
Plato further expounds the determinate reality of these sensuous things, or their simple determinateness. In this world of change form is figure in space; for as in the world, which is the immediate image of the eternal, time is the absolute principle, here the absolute ideal principle is pure matter as such, i.e. the existence of space. Space is the ideal essence of this phenomenal world, the mean which unites positivity and negativity, but its determinations are figures. And, indeed, of the different dimensions of space, it is surface which must be taken as true reality, for it is the absolute mean between the line and point in space, and in its first real limitation it is three; similarly the triangle is first among the figures, while the circle has no limit as such within it. Here Plato comes to the deduction of configuration, in which the triangle forms the principle; thus triangles form the essence of sensuous things. Hence he says, in Pythagorean fashion, that the compounding and uniting together of these triangles, as their Idea pertaining to the mean, constitutes once more, according to the original number-relations, the sensuous elements. This if; the principle, but how Plato determines the figures of the elements, and the union of the triangles, I refrain from considering.
From this point Plato passes to a system of Physics and Physiology into which we have no intention of following him. It is to be regarded as a first, child-like endeavour to understand sensuous phenomena in their manifold character, but as yet it is superficial and confused. Sensuous manifestations, such as the parts and limbs of the body, are here taken into consideration, and an account of this is given intermingled with thoughts which resemble our formal explanations, and in which the Notion really vanishes. We. have to remember the elevated nature of the Idea; as being the main point of excellence in his explanations, for, as far as the realization of the same is concerned, Plato merely felt and expressed it to be a necessity. Speculative thought is often recognizable, but, for the most part, consideration is directed to quite external modes of explanation, such as that of end. The method of treating Physics is a different one from ours, for while with Plato empirical knowledge is still deficient, in modern Physics, on the other hand, the deficiency is found in the Idea. Plato, although he does not seem to conform to our theory of Physics, ignoring as it does the theory of life, and though he proceeds to talk in a childlike way in external analogies, yet in certain cases gives utterance to very deep perceptions, which would be well worthy of our consideration if the contemplation of nature as living had any place with our physicists. His manner of relating the physiological to the physical would be as interesting. Certain portions of his system contain a general element, such as his representation of colours, and from this he goes on to more general considerations. For when Plato begins to talk on this subject, he says of the difficulty of distinguishing and recognizing the individual, that in the contemplation of nature there are “two causes to be distinguished, the one necessary and the other divine. The divine must be sought for in all things with the view of attaining to a blessed life” (this endeavour is an end in and for itself, and in it we find happiness) “in as far as our nature admits, but the necessary causes need be sought only for the sake of divine things, considering that without these necessary causes” (as conditions of knowledge) “we cannot know them.” Contemplation in accordance with necessity is the external contemplation of objects, their connection, relation, &c. “Of the divine, God Himself was the creator,” the divine belongs to that first eternal world — not as to one beyond, but to one now present. “But the creation and disposition of the mortal He committed to His off ring (gennhnasi).” This is a simple way of passing from the divine to the finite and earthly. “Now they, imitating the divine, because they had received the immortal principle of a soul, fashioned a mortal body, and placed in this a soul of another nature, which was mortal. This mortal nature was subject to violent and irresistible affections — the first of these was pleasure, the greatest incitement to evil, and then pain which is the deterrent (fugaς) from doing good; also rashness (qarroς) and fear, two foolish counsellors; anger, hope, &c. These sensations all belong to the mortal soul. And that the divine might not be polluted more than necessary, the subordinate gods separated this mortal nature from the scat of the divine, and gave it a different habitation in another part of the body, placing the neck so as to be the isthmus and boundary between head and breast.” The sensations, affections, &c., dwell in the breast or in the heart (we place that which is immortal in the heart); the spiritual is in the head. But in order to make the former as perfect as might be, “they placed,” for instance, “as a supporter to the heart which was burnt with passion, the lung, soft and bloodless, and which had within it hollows like the pores of a sponge, in order that, receiving the breath and drink, it might cool the heart and allow of refreshment and an alleviation of the heat.”
What Plato says of the liver is specially worthy of notice. “Since the irrational part of the soul which desires eating and drinking does not listen to reason, God made the liver so that the soul might be inspired with terror by the power of thought which originates from reason, and which descends upon the liver as on a mirror, receiving upon it figures and giving back images. But if this part of the soul is once more assuaged, in sleep it participates in visions, For the authors of our being, remembering the command of their father to make the human race as good as they could, thus ordered our inferior parts in order that they also might obtain a measure of truth, and placed the oracle in them.” Plato thus ascribes divination to the irrational, corporeal part of man, and although it is often thought that revelation, &c., is by Plato ascribed to reason, this is a false idea; he says that there is a reason, but in irrationality. “” Herein we have a conclusive proof that God has given the art of divination to the irrationality of man, for no man when in his wits, attains prophetic truth and inspiration, but when he receives the inspiration either his intelligence is enthralled by sleep or he is demented by some distemper or possession.” Thus Plato makes divination of a lower grade than conscious knowledge. “And when he has recovered his senses he has to remember and explain what he has received, for while he is demented, he cannot judge of it. The ancient saying is therefore very true that only a man who has his wits can act. or judge about himself or his own affairs.” Plato is called the patron saint of mere possession, but, according to this, the assertion is entirely false. These are the principal points in Plato’s Philosophy of Nature.
We have already dealt generally from the theoretical side with the speculative nature of mind as yet unrealized, as well as with the highly important differences with respect to the kinds of knowledge. It must also be considered that we find in Plato as yet no developed consciousness of the organization of the theoretic mind, though certainly sensation, memory, &c., are distinguished by him from reason; these moments of the mind are, however, neither accurately discriminated, nor exhibited in their connection, so as to show the necessary relations between them. The only point of interest for us then in Plato’s philosophy of mind is his view of man’s moral nature; and this real, practical side of consciousness is Plato’s greatest glory, and hence must now be specially dealt with by us. Its form certainly does not suggest that Plato gave himself much trouble to discover a supreme moral principle, as it is now called, which, for the very reason that it is supposed to be all-embracing, has in it a certain lack of content. Neither did he trouble himself about a natural right, which is but a trivial abstraction foisted on to the real practical existence, the right; but it is of man’s moral nature that he treats in the Republic. Man’s moral nature seems to us to have little to do with the State; to Plato, however, the reality of mind — that is, of mind as opposed to nature — appeared in its highest truth as the organization of a state which, as such, is essentially moral; and he recognized that the moral nature (free will in its rationality) comes to its right, to its reality, only in an actual nation.
We must further remark that in the Republic Plato introduces the investigation of his subject with the object of showing what justice (dikaiosunh) is. After much discussion has taken place, and several definitions of justice have been taken into consideration only to be rejected, Plato at last says in his simple way : “’the present investigation is very like the case of a man who is required to read small handwriting at a distance; if it were observed that the same letters were to be seen at a shorter distance and of a larger size, he would certainly prefer to read first the letters where they were written larger, and then would be able to read more easily the small letters also. The same plan should be followed now with justice. Justice is not only in the individual, but also in the state, and the state is greater than the individual; justice is therefore imprinted on states in larger characters, and its more easily recognizable.” (This is different from what the Stoics say of the wise man.) “It is therefore preferable to consider justice as it is to be found in the state.” By making this comparison Plato transforms the question anent justice into an investigation of the state; it is a very simple and graceful transition, though it seems arbitrary. It was great force of insight that really led the ancients to the truth; and what Plato brings forward as merely simplifying the difficulty, may, in fact, be said to exist in the nature of the thing. For it is not convenience which leads him to this position, but the fact that justice can be carried out only in so far as man is a member of a state, for in the state alone is justice present in reality and truth. Justice, not as the understanding, but as mind in its striving to realize itself, is the existence of freedom here and now, the actuality of the self-conscious, intelligent existence in and at home with itself and possessing activity — just as in property, for instance, I place my freedom in this particular thing. But the principle of the state again is the objective reality of justice, the reality in which the whole mind is present and not only the knowledge of myself as this individual. For as the free and reasonable will determines itself, there are laws of freedom; but these laws are nothing else than state-laws, for the Notion of the state implies the existence of a reasoning will. Thus laws have force in the state, and are there matter of practice and of custom; but because self-will is also therein its immediacy, they are not only matter of custom, but must also be a force operating against arbitrary self-will, and showing itself in the courts of justice and in governments. Thus Plato, in order to discern the features of justice, with the instinct of reason fixes his attention on their manner of representation in the state.
Justice in itself is ordinarily represented by us in the form of a natural right, right in a condition of nature; such a condition of nature is, however, a direct moral impossibility. That which is in itself is, by those who do not attain to the universal, held to be something natural, as the necessary moments of the mind are held to be innate ideas. The natural is rather what should be sublated by the mind, and the justice of the condition of nature can only emerge as the absolute injustice of the mind. In contrast with the state, which is the real spirit, the spirit in its simple and as yet unrealized Notion is the abstract implicitude; this Notion must of course precede the construction of its reality; it is this which is conceived of as a condition of nature. We are accustomed to take our start from the fiction of a condition of nature, which is truly no condition of mind, of reasonable will, but of animals among themselves: wherefore Hobbes has justly remarked that the true state of nature is a war of every man against his neighbour. This implicitude of the mind is at the same time the individual man, for in the ordinary conception the universal separates itself from the particular, as if the particular were absolutely and in and for itself what it certainly is, and the Universal did not make it that which it is in truth — as if this were not its essence, but as if the individual element were the most important. The fiction of a state of nature starts from the individuality of the person, his free will, and his relation to other persons according to this free will. Natural justice has thus been a term applied to that which is justice in the individual and for the individual; and the condition of society and of the state has been recognized only as a medium for the individual person, who is the chief end and object. Plato, in direct contrast with this, lays as his foundation the substantial, the universal, and he does this in such a way that the individual as such has this very universal as his end, and the subject has his will, activity, life and enjoyment in the state, so that it may be called his second nature, his habits and his customs. This moral substance which constitutes the spirit, life and Being of individuality, and which is its foundation, systematizes itself into a living, organic whole, and at the same time it differentiates itself into its members, whose activity signifies the production of the whole.
This relation of the Notion to its reality certainly did not come into consciousness with Plato, and thus we do not find in him a philosophic method of construction, which shows first the absolute Idea, then the necessity, inherently existent, for its realization, and this realization itself. The judgment that has been delivered respecting Plato’s Republic therefore is that Plato has therein given a so-called ideal for the constitution of a state; this has become proverbial as a sobriquet, in the sense that this conception is a chimera, which may be mentally conceived of — and in itself, as Plato describes it, it is doubtless excellent and true — that it is also capable of being carried out, but only on the condition that men should be of an excellence such as may possibly be present among the dwellers in the moon, but that it is not realizable for men like those on the earth. But since men must be taken as they are, this ideal cannot be realized by reason of men’s wickedness; and to frame such an ideal is therefore altogether idle.
As to this, the first remark to be made is that in the Christian world in general there passes current an ideal of a perfect man which certainly cannot be carried out in the great body of a nation. We may, perhaps, see it realized in monks or Quakers, or other similar pious folk, but a set of melancholy specimens such as these could never form a nation, any more than lice or parasitic plants could exist, for themselves, or otherwise than on an organic body. If such men were to constitute a nation, there would have to be an end of this lamb-like gentleness, this vanity which occupies itself exclusively with its own individual self, which pets and pampers itself, and ever has the image and consciousness of its own excellence before its eyes. For life in the universal and for the universal demands, not that lame and cowardly gentleness, but gentleness combined with a like measure of energy, and which is not occupied with itself and its own sins, but with the universal and what is to be done for it. They before whose eyes that false ideal floats of course find men to be always compassed with weakness and depravity, and never find that ideal realized. For they raise into importance the veriest trifles, which no reasonable man would give heed to; and they think such weaknesses and defects are present even when they overlook them. But we need not esteem this forbearance to be generosity; for it rather implies a perception on their part that from what they call weakness and defect proceeds their own destruction, which wines to pass from their making such defects of importance. The man who has them is immediately through himself absolved from them. in so far as he makes nothing of them. The crime is a crime only when they are real to him, and his destruction is in holding them to be something real. Such an ideal must therefore not stand in our way, whatever be the fairness of its form, and this oven when it does not appear exactly as it does to monks and Quakers, but, for instance, when it is the principle of renouncing sensuous things, and abandoning energy of action, which principle must bring to nought much that would otherwise be held of value. It is contradictory to try to keep intact all our relationships, for in those that otherwise hold good there always is a side where opposition is encountered. Moreover, what I have already said regarding the relation between philosophy and the state shows that the Platonic ideal is not, to be taken in this sense. When an ideal has truth in itself through the Notion, it is no chimera, just because it is true, for the truth is no chimera. Such an idea is therefore nothing idle and powerless, but the real. It is certainly permissible to form wishes, but when pious wishes are all that a man has in regard to the great and true, he may be said to be godless. It is just as if we could do nothing, because everything was so ‘holy and inviolable, or as if we refused to be anything definite, because all that is definite has its defects. The true ideal is not what ought to be real, but what is real, and the only real; if an ideal is held to be too good to exist, there must be some fault in the ideal itself, for which reality is too good. The Platonic Republic would thus be a chimera, not because excellence such as it depicts is lacking to mankind, but because it, this excellence, falls short of man’s requirements. For what is real, is rational. The point to know, however, is what exactly is real; in common life all is real, but there is a difference between the phenomenal world and reality. The real has also an external existence, which displays arbitrariness and contingency, like a tree, a house, a plant, which in nature come into existence. What is on the surface in the moral sphere, men’s action, involves much that is evil) and might in many ways be better; men will ever be wicked and depraved, but this is not the Idea. If the reality of the substance is recognized, the surface where the passions battle must be penetrated. The temporal and transitory certainly exists, and may cause us trouble enough, but in spite of that it is no true reality, any more than the particularity of the subject, his wishes and inclinations, are so.
In connection with this observation, the distinction is to be called to mind which was drawn when we were speaking above (pp. 84, 88) of Plato’s Philosophy of Nature : the eternal world, as God holy in Himself, is reality, not a world above us or beyond, but the present world looked at in its truth, and not as it meets the senses of those who hear, see, &c. When we thus study the content of the Platonic Idea, it will become clear that Plato has, in fact, represented Greek morality according to its substantial mode, for it is the Greek state-life which constitutes the true content of the Platonic Republic. Plato is not the man to dabble in abstract theories and principles; his truth-loving mind has recognized and represented the truth, and this could not be anything else than the truth of the world he lived in, the truth of the one spirit which lived in him as well as in Greece. No man can overleap his time, the spirit of his time is his spirit also; but the point at issue is, to recognize that spirit by its content.
On the other hand, a constitution that would be perfect in respect to one nation, is to be regarded as not, perhaps, suitable for every nation. Thus, when it is said that a true constitution does not do for men as they now are, we must no doubt keep in mind that the more excellent a nation’s constitution is, it renders the nation also so much the more excellent; but, on the other hand, since the morals commonly practised form the living constitution, the constitution in its abstraction is nothing at all in its independence; it must relate itself to the common morality, and be filled with the living spirit of the people. It can, therefore, certainly not be said that a true constitution suits any and every nation; and it is quite the case that for men as they are — for instance, as they are Iroquois, Russians, French — not every constitution is adapted. For the nation has its Place in history. But as the individual man is trained in the state, that is, as individuality is raised into universality, and the child grows into a man, so is every nation trained; or barbarism, the condition in which the nation is a child, passes over into a rational condition. Men do not remain at a standstill, they alter, as likewise do their constitutions. And the question here is, What is the true constitution which the nation must advance towards; just as it is a question which is the true science of mathematics or of anything else, but not whether children or boys should possess this science, as they must rather be first so educated that they may be capable of understanding it. Thus the true constitution stands before the nation of history, so that it may advance towards it. Every nation in course of time makes such alterations in its existing constitution as will bring it nearer to the true constitution. The nation’s mind itself shakes off its leading-strings, and the constitution expresses the consciousness of what it is in itself, — the form of truth, of self-knowledge. If a nation can no longer accept as implicitly true what its constitution expresses to it as the truth, if its consciousness or Notion and its actuality are not at one, then the nation’s mind is torn asunder. Two things may then occur. First, the nation may either by a supreme internal effort dash into fragments this law which still claims authority, or it may more quietly and slowly effect changes on the yet operative law, which is, however, no longer true morality, but which the mind has already passed beyond. In the second place, a nation’s intelligence and strength may not suffice for this, and it may hold to the lower law; or it may happen that another nation has reached its higher constitution, thereby rising in the scale, and the first gives up its nationality and becomes subject to the other. Therefore it is of essential importance to know what the true constitution is; for what is in opposition to it has no stability, no truth, and passes away. It has a temporary existence, but cannot hold its ground; it has been accepted, but cannot secure permanent acceptance; that it must be cast aside, lies in the very nature of the constitution. This insight can be reached through Philosophy alone. Revolutions take place in a state without the slightest violence when the insight becomes universal; institutions, somehow or other, crumble and disappear, each man agrees to give up his right. A government must, however, recognize that the time for this has come; should it, on the contrary, knowing not the truth, cling to temporary institutions, taking what — though recognized — is unessential, to be a bulwark guarding it from the essential (and the essential is what is contained in the Idea), that government will fall, along with its institutions, before the force of mind. The breaking up of its government breaks up the nation itself; a new government arises, — or it may be that the government and the unessential retain the upper hand.
Thus the main thought which forms the groundwork of Plato’s Republic is the same which is to be regarded as the principle of the common Greek morality, namely, that established morality has in general the relation of the substantial, and therefore is maintained as divine. This is without question the fundamental determination. The de. termination which stands in contrast to this substantial relation of the individual to established morality, is the subjective will of the individual, reflective morality. This exists when individuals, instead of being moved to action by respect and reverence for the institutions of the state and of the fatherland, from their own convictions, and after moral deliberation, come of themselves to a decision, and determine their actions accordingly. This principle of subjective freedom is a later growth, it is the principle of our modern days of culture: it, however, entered also into the Greek world, but as the principle of the destruction of Greek state-life. It was looked on as a crime, because the spirit, political constitution, and laws of the Greeks were not, and could not be calculated to admit of the rise of this principle within them. Because these two elements were not homogeneous, traditional and conventional morality in Greece was overthrown. Plato recognized and caught up the true spirit of his times, and brought it forward in a more definite way, in that he desired to make this new principle an impossibility in his Republic. It is thus a substantial position on which Plato takes his stand, seeing that the substantial of his time forms his basis, but this standpoint is at the same time relative only, in so far as it is but a Greek standpoint, and the later principle is consciously banished This is the universal of Plato’s ideal of the state, and it is from this point of view that we must regard it. Investigations as to whether such a state is possible, and the best possible, which start from quite modern points of view, can only lead us astray. In modern states we have freedom of conscience, according to which every individual may demand the right of following out his own interests; but this is excluded from the Platonic idea.
a. I will now indicate more fully the main features, in so far as they possess philosophic interest. Though Plato represents what the state is in its truth, yet this state has a limit, which we shall learn to know, namely, that the individual — in formal justice — is not opposed to this universality, as in the dead constitution of the ideal states founded on the theory of legal right. The content is but the whole; the nature of the individual, no doubt, but as reflecting itself into the universal, not unbending, or as having absolute validity; so that practically the state and the individual are the same in essence. Because Plato thus takes his start from that justice which implies that the just man exists only as a moral member of the state, in dealing with his subject in greater detail, in order to show how this’ reality of the substantial mind is produced, he in the first place opens up before us the organism of the moral commonwealth, i.e. the, differences which lie in the Notion of moral substance. Through the development of these moments it becomes living and existing, but these moments are not independent, for they are held in unity. Plato regards these moments of the moral organism under three aspects, first, as they exist in the state as classes; secondly, as virtues, or moments in morality; thirdly, as moments of the individual subject, in the empirical actions of the will. Plato does not preach the morality of reflection, he shows how traditional morality has a living movement in itself; he demonstrates its functions, its inward organism. For it is inner systematization, as in organic life, and not solid, dead unity, like that of metals, which comes to pass by means of the different functions of the organs which go to make up this living, self-moving unity.
a. Without classes, without this division into great masses, the state has no organism; these great distinctions are the distinction of the substantial. The opposition which first comes before us in the state is that of the universal, in the form of state life and business, and the individual, as life and work for the individual; these two fields of activity are so distinct that one class is assigned to the one, and another to the other. Plato further cites three systems of reality in the moral, the functions (aa) of legislation, counsel, in short, of diligence and foresight in the general behalf, in the interest of the whole as such; (bb) of defence of the commonwealth against foes from without; (gg) of care for the individual, the supplying of wants, agriculture, cattle-rearing, the manufacture of clothing and utensils, the building of houses, &c. Speaking generally, this is quite as it should be, and yet it appears to be rather the satisfaction of external necessities, because such wants are found without being developed out of the Idea of mind itself. Further, these distinct functions are allotted to different systems, being assigned to a certain number of individuals specially set apart for the purpose, and this brings about the separate classes of the state, as Plato is altogether opposed to the superficial conception that one and the same must be everything at one time. lie accordingly represents three classes, (aa) that of the governors, men of learning and wisdom, (bb) that of the warriors, (gg) that of the producers of necessaries, the husbandmen and handicraftsmen. The first he also speaks of as guardians (fulakaς), who are really philosophically educated statesmen, possessing true knowledge; they have the warriors to work on their behalf (epikourous te kai bohqouς), but in such a way that there is no line of separation between the civil and military classes, both being united,[nb] and the most advanced in years are the guardians. Although Plato does not deduce this division of the classes, they follow from the constitution of the Platonic state, and every state is necessarily a system within itself of these systems. Plato then passes on to particular determinations, which are in some measure trifling, and might with advantage have been dispensed with; for instance, among other things, he goes so far as to settle for the highest rank their special titles, and he states what should be the duties of the nurses.
NB. Following the outline here given by Plato, Hegel, in an earlier attempt to treat the philosophy of Justice (Werke, Vol. I. pp. 380, 381), included in one these two classes, and later named them the general class (Werke, Vol. VIII. p. 267); the “other” class (as Hegel expresses it, in the first of the passages referred to above), which by Plato is not included in this, Hegel divided, however, in both his narratives, into the second class (that of city handicraftsmen), and the third (that of tillers of the soil). — Editor’s note.
b. Then Plato points out that the moments which are here realized in the classes, are moral qualities which are present in individuals, and form their true essence, the simple ethical Notion divided into its ‘universal determinations. For he states as the result of this distinction of the classes that through such an organism all virtues are present in the commonwealth; he distinguishes four of these, and they have been named cardinal virtues.
aa. Wisdom (sofia) or knowledge appears as the first virtue; such a state will be wise and good in counsel, not because of the various kinds of knowledge therein present which have to do with the many particular ordinary occupations falling to the multitude, such as the trade of blacksmith, and the tillage of the soil (in short, what we should call skill in the industrial arts, and in finance). The state is called wise, by reason of the true knowledge which is realized in the presiding and governing class, who advise regarding the whole state, and decide upon the policy that is best, both at home and in relation to foreign states. This faculty of perception is properly the peculiar possession of the smallest class.
bb. The second virtue is courage (andria) which Plato defines as a firm opinion about what may justly and lawfully be considered an object of fear, courage which, in its strength of purpose, remains unshaken either by desires or pleasures. To this virtue corresponds the class of the warriors.
gg. The third virtue is temperance (swfrosunh), the mastery over the desires and passions , which like a harmony pervades the whole; so that, whether understanding, or strength, or numbers, or wealth, or anything else be regarded, the weaker and the stronger work together for one and the same object, and are in agreement one with another. This virtue therefore is not, like wisdom and courage, confined to one part of the state, but like a harmony it is shared by governors and governed alike, and is the virtue of all classes. Notwithstanding that this temperance is the harmony in which all work towards one end, it is yet peculiarly the virtue of the third class, to whom it is allotted to procure the necessaries of life by work, although at the first glance the one does not appear to have much correspondence with the other. But this virtue is present precisely when no moment, no determination or particularity isolates itself; or, more closely viewed in a moral aspect, it is when no want asserts its reality and thus becomes a crime. Now work is just this moment of activity concentrating itself on the particular, which nevertheless goes back into the universal, and is for it.. Therefore, if this virtue is universal, it yet has special application to the third class, which at first is the only one to be brought into harmony, as it has not the absolute harmony which the other classes possess in themselves.
dd. Finally, the fourth virtue is justice, which was what Plato began by considering. This, as right-doing, is to be found in the state when each individual does only one kind of work for the state, that work for which by the original constitution of his nature he is best fitted; so that in this way each man is not a jack-of-all-trades, but all have their special work, young and old, women and children, bond and free, handicraftsmen, rulers and subjects. The first remark we make on this is, that Plato here places justice on a level with the other moments, and it thus appears as one of the four determinations, But he now retracts this statement and makes it justice which first gives to wisdom, courage and temperance the power to exist at all, and when they have once come into existence, the power to continue. This is the reason of his also saying that justice will be met with independently, if only the other virtues spoken of are forthcoming. To express it more definitely, the Notion of justice is the foundation, the Idea of the whole, which falls into organic divisions, so that every part is only, as it were, a moment in the whole, and the whole exists through it. Thus the classes or qualities spoken of are nothing else than the moments of this whole. Justice is only the general and all-pervading quality; but at the same time it implies the independence of every part, to which the state gives liberty of action.
In the second place, it is clear from what he says, that Plato did not understand by justice the rights of property, the meaning which the term commonly bears in jurisprudence, but rather this, that the mind in its totality makes for itself a law as evidence of the existence of its freedom. In a highly abstract sense my personality, my altogether abstract freedom, is present in property. To explain what comes under this science of law, Plato considers on the whole superfluous. To be sure we find him giving laws concerning property, police regulations, &c., “But,” he says, “to impose laws about such matters on men of noble character does not repay the trouble.” In truth, how can we expect to find divine laws in what contains contingencies alone? Even in the Laws he considers ethics chiefly, though he gives a certain amount of attention to the rights of property. But as justice, according to Plato, is really the entire being, which presents itself to the individual in such a way that each man learns to do the work he is born to do as well as it can be done, and does it, it is only as determined individuality that man reaches what is law for him; only thus does he belong to the universal spirit of the state, coming in it to the universal of himself as a “this.” While law is a universal with a definite content, and thus a formal universal only, the content in this case is the whole determined individuality, not this or that thing which is mine by the accident of possession; what I properly hold as my own is the perfected possession and use of my nature. To each particular determination justice gives its rights, and thus leads it back into the whole; in this way it is by the particularity of an individual being of necessity developed and brought into actuality, that each man is in his place and fulfils his vocation. Justice, therefore, according to its true conception, is in our eyes freedom in the subjective sense, because it is the attainment of actuality by the reason, and seeing that this right on the part of liberty to attain to actuality is universal, Plato sets up justice as the determination of the whole, indicating that rational freedom comes into existence through the organism of the state, — an existence which is then, as necessary, a mode of nature.
g. The particular subject, as subject, has in the same, way these qualities in himself; and these moments of the subject correspond with the three real moments of the state. That there is thus one rhythm, one type, in the Idea of the state, forms for Plato’s state a great and grand basis. This third form, in which the above moments are exhibited, Plato characterizes in the following manner. There manifest themselves in the subject, first of all sundry wants and desires (epiqumiai), like hunger and thirst, each of which has something definite as its one and only object. Work for the satisfaction of desires corresponds to the calling of the third class. But, secondly there is also at the same time to be found in the individual consciousness something else which suspends and hinders the gratification of these desires, and. has the mastery over the temptation thus to gratify them; this is reasonableness (logoς). To this corresponds the class of rulers, the wisdom of the state. Besides these two ideas of the soul there is a third, anger (qumog), which on one side is allied to the desires, but of which it is just as true that it resists the desires and takes the side of reason. ‘"It may happen that a man has done wrong to another, and suffers hunger and cold at the hands of him whom he considers entitled to inflict them upon him; in this case, the nobler he is, the less will his anger be excited. But it may also happen that he suffers a wrong; if this is the case, he boils and chafes, and takes the side of what he believes to be justice, and endures hunger and cold and other hardships, and overcomes them, and will not desist from the right until he conquers or dies, or is calmed down by reason, as a shepherd quiets his dog.” Anger corresponds with the class of the brave defenders in the state; as these grasp their weapons in behalf of reason within the state, so does anger take the part of reason, if it has not been perverted by an evil upbringing. Therefore wisdom in the state is the same as in the individual, and this is true of courage also. For the rest, temperance is the harmony of the several moments of what pertains to nature; and justice, as in external matters it consists in each doing his own duty, so, in the inner life, it consists in each moment of the mind obtaining its right, and not interfering in the affairs of the others, but leaving them to do as they will.’ We have thus the deduction of three moments, where the middle place between universality and. particularity is filled by anger in its independence and as directed against the objective: it is the freedom which turns back within itself and acts negatively. Even here, where Plato has no consciousness of his abstract ideas, as he has in the Timæus. this of a truth is inwardly present to him, and everything is moulded thereby. This is given as the plan according to which Plato draws up the great whole. To fill up the outlines is a mere detail, which in itself has no further interest.
b. In the second place Plato indicates the means of maintaining the state. As, speaking generally, the whole commonwealth rests on common morality as the minds of individuals grown into nature, this question is asked: How does Plato arrange that everyone takes as his own that form of activity for which he is specially marked out, and that it presents itself as the moral acting and willing of the individual, — that everyone, in harmony with temperance, submits to filling this his post? The main point is to train the individuals thereto. Plato would produce this ethical quality directly in the individuals, and first and foremost in the guardians, whose education is therefore the most important part of the whole, and constitutes the very foundation. For as it is to the guardians themselves that the care is committed of producing this ethical quality through maintenance of the laws, in these laws special attention must be given to the guardians’ education; after that also to the education of the warriors. The condition of affairs in the industrial class causes the state but little anxiety, ‘"for though cobblers should prove poor and worthless, and should be only in appearance what they ought to be, that is no great misfortune for the state.” The education of the presidents should, however, be carried on chiefly by means of philosophic science, which is the knowledge of the universal and absolute. Plato in this passes over the particular means of education, religion, art, science. Further on he speaks again and more in detail on the question of how far music and gymnastic are to be permitted as means. But the poets Homer and Hesiod he banishes from his state, because he thinks their representations of God unworthy. For then began in real earnest an inquiry into the belief in Jupiter and the stories told by Homer, inasmuch as such particular representations had been taken as universal maxims and divine laws. At a certain stage of education childish tales do no harm; but were they to be made the foundation of the truth of morality, as present law, the case would be different. The extermination of the nations which we read of in the writings of the Israelites, the Old Testament, might for instance be taken as a standard of national rights, or we might try to make a precedent of the numerous base acts committed by David, the man of God, or of the horrors which the priesthood, in the person of Samuel, practised and authorized against Saul. Then it would be high. time to place these records on a lower level, as something past, something merely historical. Plato would further have preambles to the laws, wherein citizens would be admonished as to their duties, and convinced that these exist, &c. They also should be shown how to choose that which is most excellent, in short, to choose morality.
But here we have a circle: the public life of the state subsists by means of morality, and, conversely, morality subsists by means of institutions. Morals cannot be independent of institutions, that is, institutions cannot be brought to beer on morals through educational establishments or religion only. For institutions must be looked on as the very first condition of morality, for this is the manner in which institutions are subjective. Plato himself gives us to understand how much contradiction he expects to find. And even now his defect is commonly considered to lie in his being too idealistic, while his real deficiency consists in his not being ideal enough. For if reason is the universal force, it is essentially spiritual; thus to the realm of the spiritual belongs subjective freedom, which had already been held up as a principle in the philosophy of Socrates. Therefore reason ought to be the basis of law, and so it is, on the whole. But, on the other hand, conscience, personal conviction, — in short, all the forms of subjective freedom — are essentially therein contained. This subjectivity at first, it is true, stands in opposition to the laws and reason of the state-organism as to the absolute power which desires to appropriate to itself — through the external necessity of wants, in which, however, there is absolute reason — the individual of the family. Individual conscience proceeds from the subjectivity of free-will, connects itself with the whole, chooses a position for itself, and thus makes itself a moral fact. But this moment, this movement of the individual, this principle of subjective freedom, is sometimes ignored by Plato, and sometimes even intentionally disparaged, because it proved itself to be what had wrought the ruin of Greece; and he considers only how the state may best be organized, and not subjective individuality. In passing beyond the principle of Greek morality, which in its substantial liberty cannot brook the rise of subjective liberty, the Platonic philosophy at once grasps the above principle, and in so doing proceeds still farther.
c. In the third place, in regard to the exclusion of the principle of subjective freedom, this forms a chief feature in the Republic of Plato, the spirit of which really consists in the fact, that all aspects in which particularity as such has established its position, are dissolved in the universal, — all men simply rank as man in general.
a. It specially harmonizes with this particular quality of excluding the principle of subjectivity, that Plato in the first place does not allow individuals to choose their own class; this we demand as necessary to freedom. It is not, however, birth which marks off the different ranks, and determines individuals for these; but everyone is tested by the governors of the state, who are the elders of the first class, and. have the education of individuals in their hands. According as anyone has natural ability and talents, these elders make choice and selection, and assign each man to a definite occupation.’ This seems in direct contradiction to our principle, for although it is considered right that to a certain class there should belong a special capacity and skill, it always remains a matter of inclination which class one is to belong to; and with this inclination, as an apparently free choice, the class makes itself for itself. But it is not permitted that another individual should prescribe as to this, or say, for example: “Because you are not serviceable for anything better, you are to be a labourer.” Everyone may make the experiment for himself; he must be allowed to decide regarding his own affairs as subject in a subjective manner, by his own free will, as well as in consideration of external circumstances; and nothing must therefore be put in his way if he says, for instance: “I should like to apply myself to study.”
b. From this determination it further follows that Plato in like manner altogether abolished in his state the principle of private property. For in it individuality, the individual consciousness, becomes absolute; or the person is looked on as implicit, destitute of all content. In law, as such, I rank as “this” implicitly and explicitly. All rank thus, and I rank only because all rank, or I rank only as universal; but the content of this universality is fixed particularity. When in a question of law we have to do with law, as such, to the judges of the case it matters not a whit whether this or that man actually possesses the house, and likewise the contending parties think nothing of the possession of the thing for which they strive, but of right for right’s sake, (as in morality duty is done for duty’s sake) : thus a firm hold is kept of the abstraction, and from the content of reality abstraction is made. But Being to Philosophy is no abstraction, but the unity of the universal and reality, or its content. The content has therefore weight only in as far as it is negatively posited in the universal; thus only as returning into it, and not absolutely. In so far as I use things, not in so far as I have them merely in my possession, or as they have worth for me as existent, as definitely fixed on me, — they stand in living relation to me. With Plato, then, those of the other class carry on handicrafts, trade, husbandry, and procure what will satisfy the general requirements, without acquiring personal property by means of their work, for they are all one family, wherein each has his appointed occupation; but the product of the work is common, and he receives as much as he requires both of his own and of the general product. Personal property is a possession which belongs to me as a certain person, and in which my person as such comes into existence, into reality; on this ground Plato excludes it. It remains, however, unexplained how in the development of industries, if there is no hope of acquiring private property, there can be any incentive to activity; for on my being. a person of energy very much depends my capacity for holding property. That an end would be put to all strifes and dissensions and hatred and avarice by the abolition of private property, as Plato thinks, may very well be imagined in a general way; but that is only a subordinate result in comparison with the higher and reasonable principle of the right of property: and liberty has actual existence only so far as property falls to the share of the person. In this way we see subjective freedom consciously removed by Plato himself from his state.
g. For the same reason Plato also abolishes marriage, because it is a connection in which persons of opposite sex, as such, remain mutually bound to one another, even beyond the more natural connection. Plato does not admit into his state family life — the particular arrangement whereby a family forms a whole by itself, — because the family is nothing but an extended personality, a relationship to others of an exclusive character within natural morality, — which certainly is morality, but morality of such a character as belongs to the individual as particularity. According to the conception of subjective freedom, however, the family is just as necessary, yea, sacred to the individual as is property. Plato, on the contrary, causes children to be taken away from their mothers immediately after birth, and has them gathered together in a special establishment, and reared by nurses taken from among the mothers who gave them birth; he has them brought up in common, so that no mother can possibly recognize her child. There are certainly to be marriage celebrations, and each man is to have his particular wife, but in such a way that the intercourse of man and wife does not pre-suppose a personal inclination, and that it should not be their own pleasure which marks out individuals for one another. The women should bear children from the twentieth to the fortieth year, the men should have wives from the thirtieth to the fifty-fifth year. To prevent incest, all the children born at the time of a man’s marriage shall be known as his children.’ The women, whose natural vocation is family life, are by this arrangement deprived of their sphere. In the Platonic Republic it therefore follows that as the family is broken up, and the women no longer manage the house, they are also no longer private persons, and adopt the manners of the man as the universal individual in the state. And Plato accordingly allows the women to take their part like the men in all manly labours, and even to share in the toils of war. Thus he places them on very nearly the same footing as the men, though all the same he has no great confidence in their bravery, but stations them in the rear only, and not even as reserve, but only as arrière-garde, in order that they may at least inspire the foe with terror by their numbers, and, in case of necessity, hasten to give aid.
These are the main features of the Platonic Republic, which has as its essential the suppression of the principle of individuality; and it would appear as though the Idea demanded this) and as if this were the very point on which Philosophy is opposed to the ordinary way of looking at things, which gives importance to the individual, and thus in the state, as also in actualized mind, looks on the rights of property, and the protection of persons and their possessions, as the basis of everything that is. Therein, however, lies the very limit of the Platonic Idea — to emerge only as abstract idea. But, in fact, the true Idea is nothing else than this, that every moment should perfectly realize and embody itself, and make itself independent, while at the same time, in its independence, it is for mind a thing sublated. In conformity with this Idea, individuality must fully realize itself, must have its sphere and domain in the state, and yet be resolved in it. The element of the state is the family, that is, the family is the natural unreasoning state; this element must, as such, be present. Then the Idea of the state constituted by reason has to realize all the moments of its Notion in such a way that they become classes, and the moral substance divides itself into portions, as the bodily substance is separated into intestines and organs, each of which lives on in a particular way of its own, yet all of which together form only one life. The state in general, the whole, must finally pervade all. But in exactly the same way the formal principle of justice, as abstract universality of personality with individual Being as its existent content, must pervade the whole; one class, nevertheless, specially belongs to it. There must, then, also be a class in which property is held immediately and permanently, the possession of the body and the possession of a piece of land alike; and in the next place, a class where acquisition is continually going on, and possession is not immediate, as in the other, but property is ever fluctuating and changing. These two classes the nation gives up as a part of itself to the principle of individuality, and allows rights to reign here, permitting the constant, the universal, the implicit to be sought in this principle, which really is a principle of variability. This principle must have its full and complete reality, it must indeed appear in the shape of property. We have here for the first time the true, actual mind, with each moment receiving its complete independence, and the mind itself attaining to being-another in perfect indifference of Being. Nature cannot effect this production of independent life in her parts, except in the great system. This is, as we shall elsewhere see, the great advance of the modern world beyond the ancient, that in it the objective attains to greater, yea, to absolute independence, but for the very same reason returns with all the greater difficulty into the unity of the Idea.
The want of subjectivity is really the want of the Greek moral idea. The principle which became prominent with Socrates had been present up to this time only in a more subordinate capacity; now it of necessity became an even absolute principle, a necessary moment in the Idea itself. By the exclusion of private property and of family life, by the suspension of freedom in the choice of the class, i.e. by the exclusion of all the determinations which relate to the principle of subjective freedom, Plato believes he has barred the doors to all the passions; he knew very well that the ruin of Greek life proceeded from this, that individuals, as such, began to assert their aims, inclinations, and interests, and made them dominate over the common mind. But since this principle is necessary through the Christian religion — in which the soul of the individual is an absolute end, and thus has entered into the world as necessary in the Notion of the mind — it is seen that the Platonic state-constitution cannot fulfil what the higher demands of a moral organism require. Plato has not recognized the knowledge, wishes, and resolutions of the individual, nor his self-reliance, and has not succeeded in combining them with his Idea; but justice demands its rights for this just as much as it requires the higher resolution of the same, and its harmony with the universal. The opposite to Plato’s principle is the principle of the conscious free will of individuals, which in later times was by Rousseau more especially raised to prominence: the theory that the arbitrary choice of the individual, the outward expression of the individual, is necessary. In this the principle is carried to the very opposite extreme, and has emerged in its utter one-sidedness. In opposition to this arbitrariness and culture there must be the implicitly and explicitly universal, that which is in thought, not as wise governor or morality, but as law, and at the same time as my Being and my thought, i.e. as subjectivity and individuality. Men must have brought forth from themselves the rational along with their interests and their passions, just as it must enter into reality through the necessities, opportunities, and motives that impel them.
There is still another celebrated side of the Platonic philosophy which may be considered, namely aesthetics, the knowledge of the beautiful. In respect to this, Plato has in like manner seized the one true thought, that the essence of the beautiful is intellectual, the Idea of reason. When he speaks of a spiritual beauty, he is to be understood in the sense that beauty, as beauty, is sensuous beauty, which is not in some other place — no one knows where; but what is beautiful to the senses is really the spiritual. The case is the same here as it is with his Idea. As the essence and truth of phenomena in general is the Idea, the truth of phenomenal beauty must also be this Idea. The relation to the corporeal, as a relation of the desires, or of pleasure and utility, is no relation to it as the beautiful; it is a relation to it as the sensuous alone, or a relation of particular to particular. But the essence of the beautiful is just the simple Idea of reason present to the sensuous apprehension as a thing; the content of the thing is nothing else than this. The beautiful is essentially of spiritual nature; it is thus not merely a sensuous thing, but reality subject to the form of universality, to the truth. This universal does not, however, retain the form of universality, but the universal is the content whose form is the sensuous mode; and therein lies the determination of the beautiful. In science, the universal has again the form of the universal or of the Notion; but the beautiful appears as an actual thing — or, when put into words, as a popular conception, in which mode the material exists in mind. The nature, essence, and content of the beautiful is recognized and judged by reason alone, as its content is the same as that of Philosophy. But because reason appears in the beautiful in material guise, the beautiful ranks below knowledge, and Plato has for this very reason placed the true manifestation of reason in knowledge, where it is spiritually manifested.
This may be regarded as the kernel of Plato’s philosophy. His standpoint is: first, the contingent form of speech, in which men of noble and unfettered nature converse without other interest than that of the theory which is being worked out; secondly, led on by the content, they reach the deepest Notions and the finest thoughts, like jewels on which one stumbles, if not exactly in a sandy desert, yet at least upon the and path; in the third place, no systematic connection is to be found, though one interest is the source of all; in the fourth place, the subjectivity of the Notion is lacking throughout; but in the fifth place, the substantial Idea forms the principle.
Plato’s philosophy had two stages through which it of necessity developed and worked its way up to a higher principle. The universal which is in reason had first to fall into two divisions opposed to each other in the most direct and unmitigated contradiction, in the independence of the personal consciousness which exists for itself: thus in the New Academy self-consciousness goes back into itself, and becomes a species of scepticism — the negative reason, which turns against all that is universal, and fails to find the unity of self-consciousness and the universal, coming accordingly to a standstill at that point. But, in the second place, the Neo-Platonists constitute the return, this unity of self-consciousness and the absolute essence; to them God is directly present in reason, reasoned knowledge itself is the Divine Spirit, and the content of this knowledge is the Being of God. Both of these we shall consider later.
Translated by E.S. Haldane and Frances H. Simson, published by K. Paul Trench, Trübner in 1894.
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