Hegel’s Lectures on the History of Philosophy
Part One: Greek Philosophy. First Period, Second Division.
Consciousness had reached this point in Greece, when in Athens the great form of Socrates, in whom the subjectivity of thought was brought to consciousness in a more definite and more thorough manner, now appeared. But Socrates did not grow like a mushroom out of the earth, for he stands in continuity with his time, and thus is not only a most important figure in the history of Philosophy — perhaps the most interesting in the philosophy of antiquity — but is also a world-famed personage. For a mental turning-point exhibited itself in him in the form of philosophic thought. If we shortly recall the periods already passed over, we find that the ancient Ionic philosophers certainly thought, but without reflecting on the thought or defining its product as thought. The Atomists made objective existence into thoughts, but these were to them only abstractions, pure entities. Anaxagoras, on the other hand, raised thought as such, into a principle which thereby presented itself as the all-powerful Notion, as the negative power over all that is definite and existent. Protagoras finally expresses thought as real existence, but it is in this its movement, which is the all-resolving consciousness, the unrest of the Notion. This unrest is in itself at the same time something restful or secure. But the fixed point of motion as such, is the ‘I,’ for it has the moments of movement outside of it; as the self-retaining, which only abrogates what is different, the ‘I’ is negative unity, but just in that very way individual, and not yet the universal reflected within itself. Now we here find the ambiguity of dialectic and sophistry, which rests in the fact that if the objective disappears, the signification of the fixed subjective is either that of the individual opposed to the objective, and thereby the contingent and lawless will, or that of the objective and universal in itself. Socrates expresses real existence as the universal ‘I,’ as the consciousness which rests in itself; but that is the good as such, which is free from existent reality, free from individual sensuous consciousness of feeling and desire, free finally from the theoretically speculative thought about nature, which, if indeed thought, has still the form of Being and in which I am not certain of my existence.
Socrates herein adopted firstly the doctrine of Anaxagoras that thought, the understanding, is the ruling and self-determining universal, though this principle did not, as with the Sophists, attain the form of formal culture or of abstract philosophizing. Thus, if with Socrates, as with Protagoras, the self-conscious thought that abrogates all that is determined, was real existence, with Socrates this was the case in such a way that he at the same time grasped in thought rest and security. This substance existing in and for itself, the self-retaining. has become determined as end, and further as the true and the good.
To this determination of the universal,, we have, in the second place, to add that this good, which has by me to be esteemed as substantial end, must be known by me; with this the infinite subjectivity, the freedom of self-consciousness in Socrates breaks out. This freedom which is contained therein, the fact that consciousness is clearly present in all that it thinks, and must necessarily be at home with itself, is in our time constantly and plainly demanded; the substantial, although eternal and in and for itself, must as truly be produced through me; but this my part in it is only the formal activity. Thus Socrates’ principle is that man has to find from himself both the end of his actions and the end of the world, and must attain to truth through himself. True thought thinks in such a way that its import is as truly objective as subjective. But objectivity has been the significance of substantial universality, and not of external objectivity; thus truth is now posited as a product mediated through thought, while untrained morality, as Sophocles makes Antigone ray (vers. 454-457), is “the eternal law of the Gods”:
“And no one knew from whence it came.”
But though in modern times we hear much said of immediate knowledge and belief, it is a misconception to maintain that their content, God, the Good, Just, &c., although the content of feeling and conception, is not, as spiritual content, also posited through thought. The animal has no religion, because it only feels; but what is spiritual rests on the mediation of thought, and pertains to man.
Since Socrates thus introduces the infinitely important element of leading back the truth of the objective to the thought of the subject, just as Protagoras says that the objective first is through relation to us, the battle of Socrates and Plato with the Sophists cannot rest on the ground that these, as belonging to the old faith, maintained against the others the religion and customs of Greece. for the violation of which Anaxagoras was condemned. Quite the contrary. Reflection, and the reference of any judgment to consciousness, is held by Socrates in common with the Sophists. But the opposition into which Socrates and Plato were in their philosophy necessarily brought in regard to the Sophists, as the universal philosophic culture of the times, was as follows: — The objective produced through thought, is at the same time in and for itself, thus being raised above all particularity of interests and desires, and being the power over them. Hence because, on the one hand, to Socrates and Plato the moment of subjective freedom is the directing of consciousness into itself, on the other, this return is also determined as a coming out from particular subjectivity. It is hereby implied that contingency of events is abolished, and man has this outside within him, as the spiritual universal. This is the true, the unity of subjective and objective in modern terminology, while the Kantian ideal is only phenomenal and not objective in itself.
In the third place Socrates accepted the Good at first only in the particular significance of the practical, which nevertheless is only one mode of the substantial Idea; the universal is not only for me, but also, as end existent in and for itself, the principle of the philosophy of nature, and in this higher sense it was taken by Plato and Aristotle. Of Socrates it is hence said, in the older histories of Philosophy, that his main distinction was having added ethics as a new conception to Philosophy, which formerly only took nature into consideration. Diogenes Laertius, in like manner says (III., 56), that the Ionics founded natural philosophy, Socrates ethics, and Plato added to them dialectic. Now ethics is partly objective, and partly subjective and reflected morality [Sittlichkeit und Moralität], and the teaching of Socrates is properly subjectively moral, because in it the subjective side, my perception and meaning, is the prevailing moment, although this determination of self-positing is likewise sublated, and. the good and eternal is what is in and for itself. Objective morality is, on the contrary, natural, since it signifies the knowledge and doing of what is in and for itself good. The Athenians before Socrates were objectively, and not subjectively, moral, for they acted rationally in their relations without knowing that they were particularly excellent. Reflective morality adds to natural morality the reflection that this is the good and not that; the Kantian philosophy, which is reflectively moral, again showed the difference.
Because Socrates in this way gave rise to moral philosophy, all succeeding babblers about morality and popular philosophy constituted him their patron and object of adoration, and made him into a cloak which should cover all false philosophy. As he treated it, it was undoubtedly popular; and what contributed to make it such was that his death gave him the never-failing interest derived from innocent suffering. Cicero (Tusc. Quæst. V. 4), whose manner of thought was, on the one hand, of the present, and who, on the ether hand, had the belief that Philosophy should yield itself up, and hence succeeded in attaining to no content in it, boasted of Socrates (what has often enough been said since) that his most eminent characteristic was to have brought Philosophy from heaven to earth, to the homes and every-day life of men, or, as Diogenes Laertius expresses it (II. 21), “into the market place.” There we have what has just been said. This would seem as if the best and truest Philosophy were only a domestic or fireside philosophy, which conforms to all the ordinary ideas of men, and in which we see friends and faithful ones talk together of righteousness, and of what can be known on the earth, without having penetrated the depths of the heavens, or rather the depths of consciousness. But this last is exactly what Socrates, as these men themselves indicate, first ventured to do. And it was not incumbent on him to reflect upon all the speculations of past Philosophy, in order to be able to come down in practical philosophy to inward thought. This gives a general idea of his principle.
We must examine more closely this noteworthy phenomenon, and begin with the history of Socrates’ life. This is, however, closely intertwined with his interest in Philosophy, and the events of his life are bound up with his principles. We have first of all to consider the beginning of his life only. Socrates, whose birth occurs in the fourth year of the 77th Olympiad (469 B.C.), was the son of Sophroniscus, a sculptor, and of Phænarete, a midwife. His father brought him up to sculpture, and it is said that Socrates acquired skill in the art, and long after, statues of draped Graces, found. in the Acropolis, were ascribed to him. But his art did not satisfy him; a great desire for Philosophy, and love of scientific research, got possession of him. He pursued his art merely to get money for a necessary subsistence, and to be able to apply himself to the study of the sciences; and it is told of Crito, an Athenian, that he defrayed the cost of Socrates’ instruction by masters in all the arts. During the exercise of his art, and specially after he gave it up altogether, he read the works of ancient philosophers in so far as he could get possession of them. At the same time he attended Anaxagoras’ instructions, and, after his expulsion from Athens, at which time Socrates was thirty-seven years old, those of Archelaus, who was regarded as Anaxagoras’ successor, besides those of Sophists celebrated in other sciences. Amongst these he heard Prodicus, a celebrated teacher of oratory, whom, according to Xenophon (Memorab. II. c. 1, §§ 21, 34), he mentions with affection, and other teachers of music, poetry, — etc. He was esteemed as on all sides a man of culture, who was instructed in everything then requisite thereto.
Another feature in his life was that he fulfilled the duty of protecting his country, which rested on him as an Athenian citizen. Hence lid made three campaigns in the Peloponnesian war, which occurred during his life. The Peloponnesian war led to the dissolution of Greek life, inasmuch as it was preparatory to it; and what took place politically was by Socrates carried out in thinking consciousness. In these campaigns he not only acquired the fame of a brave warrior, but, what was best of all, the merit of having saved the lives of other citizens. In the first, he was present at the tedious siege of Potidæa in Thrace. Here Alcibiades had already attached himself to him, and, according to Plato, he recited in the Banquet (p. 219-222, Steph.; p. 461-466, Bekk.), a eulogy on Socrates for being able to endure all toil, hunger and thirst, heat and cold, with mind at rest and health of body. In an engagement in this campaign he saw Alcibiades wounded in the midst of the enemy, lifted him up, forced his way through, and saved both him and his arms. The generals rewarded him with a wreath, which was the prize of the bravest; Socrates did not, however, take it, maintaining that it was given to Alcibiades. In this campaign it is said that once, sunk in deep meditation, he stood immovable on one spot the whole day and night, until the morning sun awoke him from his trance — a condition in which he is said often to have been. This was a cataleptic state, which may bear some relation to magnetic somnambulism, in which. Socrates became quite dead to sensuous consciousness. From this physical setting free of the inward abstract self from the concrete bodily existence of the individual, we have, in the outward manifestation, a proof of how the depths of his mind worked within him. In him we see pre-eminently the inwardness of consciousness that in an anthropological way existed in the first instance in him, and became later on a usual thing. He made his other campaign in Boetia at Delium, a small fortification which the Athenians possessed not far from the sea, and where they had an unfortunate, though not an important engagement. Here Socrates saved another of his favourites, Xenophon; he saw him in the flight, for Xenophon, having lost his horse, lay wounded on the ground. Socrates took him over his shoulders, carried him off, defending himself at the same time with the greatest tranquillity and presence of mind from the pursuing enemy. Finally he made his last campaign at Amphipolis in Edonis, on the Strymonian Bay.
Besides this, be occupied various civil offices. At the time when the democratic constitution of Athens hitherto existing, was taken away by the Lacedæmonians, who now introduced everywhere an aristocratic and indeed tyrannical rule, whereby they in great measure put themselves at the head of affairs, he was chosen for the council, which, as a representative body, took the place of the people. Here he distinguished himself by his immovable firmness in what he held to be right as against the wills of the thirty tyrants, as formerly against the will of the people. For he sat in the tribunal which condemned the ten generals to death, because, as admirals at the battle of Arginusæ, though they certainly had conquered, yet, being kept back through storm, they had not dragged out the bodies nor buried them on the shore, and because they neglected to erect trophies; i.e. really because they did not stand their ground, and thus appeared to have been beaten. Socrates alone did not agree with this decision, declaring himself more emphatically against the people than against the rulers. To-day he fares badly who says anything against the people. “The people have excellent intelligence, understand everything, and have only the most excellent intentions.” As to rulers, governments, ministers, it is self-evident that “they understand nothing, and only desire and bring forth what is bad.”
Along with these to him more accidental relationships to the State, in which he acted only from the ordinary sense of citizenship, without spontaneously making the affairs of the State his real business, or pressing on to the head of public affairs, the real business of his life was to discuss moral philosophy with any who came in his way. His philosophy, which asserts that real existence is in consciousness as a universal. is still not a properly speculative philosophy, but remained individual; yet the aim of his philosophy was that it should have a universal significance. Hence we have to speak of his own individual being, of his thoroughly noble character, which usually is depleted as a complete catalogue of the virtues adorning the life of a private citizen; and these virtues of Socrates are certainly to be looked at as his own, and as made habitual to him by his own will. It has to be noted that with the ancients these qualities have generally more of the character of virtue, because with the ancients, in ordinary morality, individuality, as the form of the universal, was given free scope, so that virtues were regarded more as the actions of the individual will, and thus as personal qualities; while with, us they seem to be less what is meritorious to the individual, or what comes from himself as this unit. We are accustomed to think of them much more as what exists, as duty, because we have a fuller consciousness of the universal, and consider the pure individual, the personal inward consciousness, as real existence and duty. With us virtues are hence actually either elements in our dispositions and nature, or they have the form of the universal and of what is necessary; but with Socrates they have the form, not of ordinary morality or of a natural or necessary thing, but of an independent determination. It is well known that his appearance indicated naturally low and hateful qualities, which, as indeed he says, he himself subdued.
He lived amongst his fellow-citizens, and stands before us as one of those great plastic natures consistent through and through, such as we often see in those times — resembling a perfect classical work of art which has brought itself to this height of perfection. Such individuals are not made, but have formed themselves into what they are; they have become that which they wished to be, and are true to this. In a real work of art the distinguishing point is that some idea is brought forth, a character is presented in which every trait is determined by the idea, and, because this is so, the work of art is, on the one hand, living, and, on the other, beautiful, for the highest beauty is just the most perfect carrying out of all sides of the individuality in accordance with the one inward principle. Such works of art are also seen in the great men of every time. The most plastic individual as a statesman is Pericles, and round him, like stars, Sophocles, Thucydides, Socrates, &c., worked out their individuality into an existence of its own — into a character which regulated their whole being, and which was one principle running throughout the whole of their existence. Pericles alone lived with the sole end of being a statesman. Plutarch (in Pericle, c. 5, 7) says of him that, from the time that he devoted himself to the business of the State, he laughed no more, and never again went to a feast. Thus, too, Socrates formed himself, through his art and through the power of self-conscious will, into this particular character, and acquired this capacity for the business of his life. Through his principle he attained that far-reaching influence which has lasted to the present day in relation to religion, science, and justice, for since his time the genius of inward conviction has been the basis which must be fundamental. And since this principle proceeded from the plasticity of his character, it is very inappropriate when Tennemann regrets (Vol. II. p. 26) “that though we know what he was, we do not know how he became such.”
Socrates was a peaceful, pious example of the moral virtues of wisdom, discretion, temperance, moderation, justice, courage, inflexibility, firm sense of rectitude in relation to tyrants and people; he was equally removed from cupidity and despotism. His indifference to money was due to his own determination, for, according to the custom of the times, he could acquire it through the education of youth, like other teachers. On the other side, this acquisition was purely matter of choice, and not, as with us, something which is accepted, so that to take nothing would be to break through a custom, thus to present the appearance of wishing to become conspicuous, and to be more blamed than praised. For this was not yet a State affair; it was under the Roman emperors that there first were schools with payment. This moderation of his life was likewise a power proceeding, from conscious knowledge, but this is not a principle found to hand, but the regulation of self in accordance with circumstances; in company he was, however, a good fellow. His sobriety in respect to wine is best depicted in Plato’s “Symposium,” in a very characteristic scene in which we see what Socrates called virtue. Alcibiades there appears, no longer sober, at a feast given by Agathon. on the occasion of a success which his tragedy had obtained on the previous day at the games. Since the company had drunk much on the first day of the feast, the assembled guests, amongst whom was Socrates, this evening took a resolution, in opposition to the Greek custom at meals, to drink little. Alcibiades, finding that he was coming in amongst abstemious men, and that there was no one else in his own frame of wind, made himself king of the feast, and offered the goblet to the others, in order to bring them into the condition reached by himself; but with Socrates he said that he could do nothing. because he remained as he was, however much he drank. Plato then makes the individual who tells what happened at the Banquet, also tell that he, with the others, at last fell asleep on the couch, and as he awoke in the morning. Socrates, cup in hand, still talked with Aristophanes and Agathon about comedy and tragedy, and whether one man could write both comedies and tragedies, and then went at the usual time into the public places, to the Lyceum, as if nothing had happened, and walked about the whole day as usual. This is not a moderation which exists in the least possible enjoyment, no aimless abstemiousness and self-mortification, but a power belonging to consciousness, which keeps its self-possession in bodily excess. We see from this that we have not to think of Socrates throughout after the fashion of the litany of moral virtues.
His behaviour to others was not only just. true. open without rudeness, and honourable. but we also see in him an example of the most perfect Attic urbanity; i.e. he moves in the freest possible relations, has a readiness for conversation which is always judicious, and, because it has an inward universality, at the same time always has the right living relationship to the individual, and bears upon the case on which it operates. The intercourse is that of a most highly cultured man who, in his relation to others, never places anything personal in all his wit, and sets aside all that is unpleasant. Thus Xenophon’s, but particularly Plato’s Socratic Dialogues belong to the highest type of this fine social culture.
Because the philosophy of Socrates is no withdrawal from existence now and here into the free, pure regions of thought, but is in a piece with his life, it does not proceed to a system; and the manner of his philosophizing, which appears to imply a withdrawal from actual affairs as it did to Plato, yet in that very way gives itself this inward connection with ordinary life. For his more special business was his philosophic teaching, or rather his philosophic social intercourse (for it was not, properly speaking, teaching) with all; and this outwardly resembled ordinary Athenian life in which the greater part of the day was passed without any particular business, in loitering about the market-place, or frequenting the public Lyceum, and there partly partaking of bodily exercises, and partly and principally, talking with one another. This kind of intercourse was only possible in the Athenian mode of life, where most of the work which is now done by a free citizen — by a free republican and free imperial citizen alike — was performed by slaves, seeing that it was deemed unworthy of free men. A free citizen could in Athens certainly be a handicraftsman, but he had slaves who did the work, just as a master now has workmen. At the present day such a life of movement would not be suitable to our customs. Now Socrates also lounged about after. this manner, and lived in this constant discussion of ethical questions. Thus what he did was what came naturally to him, and what can in general be called moralizing; but its nature and method was not that of preaching, exhortation or teaching; it was not a dry morality. For amongst the Athenians and in Attic urbanity, this had no place, since it is not a reciprocal, free, and rational relationship. But with all men, however different their characters, he entered on one kind of dialogue, with all that Attic urbanity which, without presumption on his part, without instructing others, or wishing to command them, while maintaining their perfect right to freedom, and honouring it, yet causes all that is rude to be suppressed.
In this conversation Socrates’ philosophy is found, as also what is known as the Socratic method, which must in its nature be dialectic, and of which we must speak before dealing with the content. Socrates’ manner is not artificial; the dialogues of the moderns, on the contrary, just because no internal reason justifies their form, are necessarily tedious and heavy. But the principle of his philosophy falls in with the method itself, which thus far cannot be called method, since it is a mode which quite coincides with the moralizing peculiar to Socrates. For the chief content is to know the good as the absolute, and that particularly in relation to actions. Socrates gives this point of view so high a place, that he both puts aside the sciences which involve the contemplation of the universal in nature, mind, &c., himself, and calls upon others to do the same. Thus it can be said that in content his philosophy had an altogether practical aspect, and similarly the Socratic method, which is essential to it, was distinguished by the system of first bringing a person to reflection upon his duty by any occasion that might either happen to be offered spontaneously, or that was brought about by Socrates. By going to the work-places of tailors and shoemakers, and entering into discourse with them, as also with youths and old men, Sophists, statesmen, and citizens of all kinds, he in the first place took their interests as his topic — whether these were household interests, the education of children, or the interests of knowledge or of truth. Then he led them on from a definite case to think of the universal, and of truths and beauties which had absolute value, since in every case, from the individual’s own thoughts, he derived the conviction and consciousness of that which is the definite right. This method has two prominent aspects, the one the development of the universal from the concrete case, and the exhibition of the notion which implicitly exists in every consciousness, and the other is the resolution of the firmly established, and, when taken immediately in consciousness, universal determinations of the sensuous conception or of thought, and the causing of confusion between these and what is concrete.
a. If we proceed from the general account of Socrates’ method to a nearer view, in the first place its effect is to inspire men with distrust towards their presuppositions, after faith had become wavering and they were driven to seek that which is, in themselves. Now whether it was that he wished to bring the manner of the Sophists into disrepute, or that he was desirous to awaken the desire for knowledge and independent thought in the youths whom he attracted to himself, he certainly began by adopting the ordinary conceptions which they considered to be true. But in order to bring others to express these, he represents himself as in ignorance of them, and, with a seeming, ingenuousness, puts questions to his audience as if they were to instruct him, while he really wished to draw them out. This is the celebrated Socratic irony, which in his case is a particular mode of carrying on intercourse between one person and another, and is thus only a subjective form of dialectic, for real dialectic deals with the reasons for things. What he wished to effect was, that when other people brought forward their principles, he, from each definite proposition, should deduce as its consequence the direct opposite of what the proposition stated, or else allow the opposite to be deduced from their own inner consciousness without maintaining it directly against their statements. Sometimes he also derived the opposite from a concrete case. But as this opposite was a principle held by men as firmly as the other, he then went on to show that they contradicted themselves. Thus Socrates taught those with whom he associated to know that they knew nothing; indeed, what is more, he himself said that he knew nothing, and therefore taught nothing. It may actually be said that Socrates knew nothing., for he did not reach the systematic construction of a philosophy. He was conscious of this, and it was also not at all his aim to establish a science.
On the one view, this irony seems to be something untrue. But when we deal with objects which have a universal interest, and speak about them to one and to another, it is always the case that one does not understand another’s conception of the object. For every individual has certain ultimate words as to which he presupposes a common knowledge. But if we really are to come to an understanding, we find it is these presuppositions which have to be investigated. For instance., if in more recent times belief and reason are discussed as the subjects of present intellectual interest, everyone pretends that he knows quite well what reason, &c., is, and it is considered ill-bred to ask for an explanation of this, seeing that all are supposed to know about it. A very celebrated divine, ten years ago, published ninety theses on reason, which contained very interesting questions, but resulted in nothing, although they were much discussed, because one person’s, assertions issued from the point of view of faith, and the other’s from that of reason, and each remained in this state of opposition, without the one’s knowing what the other meant. Thus what would make an understanding possible is just the explanation of what we think is understood, without really being so. If faith and knowledge certainly differ from one another at the first, yet through this declaration of their notional determinations the common element will at once appear; in that way questions like these and the trouble taken with them may, for the first time, become fruitful; otherwise men may chatter this way and that for years, without making any advance. For if I say I know what reason, what belief is. these are only quite abstract ideas it is necessary, in order to become concrete, that they should be explained, and that it should be understood that what they really are, is unknown. The irony of Socrates has this great quality of showing how to make abstract ideas concrete and effect their development, for on that alone depends the bringing of the Notion into consciousness.
In recent times much has been said about the Socratic irony which, like all dialectic, gives force to what is — taken immediately, but only in order to allow the dissolution inherent in it to come to pass; and we may call this the universal irony of the world. Yet men have tried to make this irony of Socrates into something quite different, for they extended it into a universal principle; it is said to be the highest attitude of the mind, and has been represented as the most divine. It was Friedrich von Schlegel who first brought forward this idea, and Ast repeated it, saying, “The most ardent love of all beauty in the Idea, as in life, inspires Socrates’ words with inward, unfathomable life.” This life is now said to be irony! But this irony issues from the Fichtian philosophy, and is an essential point in the comprehension of the conceptions of most recent times. It is when subjective consciousness maintains its independence of everything, that it says, “It is I who through my educated thoughts can annul all determinations of right, morality, good, &c., because I am clearly master of them, and I know that if anything seems good to me I can easily subvert it, because things are only true to me in so far as they please me now.” This irony is thus only a trifling with everything, and it can transform all things into show: to this subjectivity nothing is any longer serious, for any seriousness which it has, immediately becomes dissipated again in jokes, and all noble or divine truth vanishes away or becomes mere triviality. But the Greek gaiety, as it breathes in Homer’s poems, is ironical, for Eros mocks the power of Zeus and of Mars; Vulcan, limping along, serves the gods with wine, and brings upon himself the uncontrollable laughter of the immortal gods. Juno boxes Diana’s ears. Thus, too, there is irony in the sacrifices of the ancients, who themselves consumed the best; in the pain that laughs, in the keenest joy which is moved to tears, in the scornful laughter of Mephistopheles, and in every transition fro m one extreme to another — from what is best to what is worst. Sunday morning may be passed in deep humility, profoundest contrition and self-abasement, in striking the breast in penitence, and the evening, in eating and drinking to the full, going the round of pleasures, thus allowing self to re-assert its independence of any such subjection. Hypocrisy, which is of the same nature, is the truest irony. Socrates and Plato were falsely stated to be the originators of this irony, of which it is said that it is the “inmost and deepest life,” although they possessed the element of subjectivity; in our time it was not permitted to us to give effect to this irony. Ast’s “inmost, deepest life” is just the subjective and arbitrary will, the inward divinity which knows itself to be exalted above all. The divine is said to be the purely negative attitude, the perception of the vanity of everything, in which my vanity alone remains. Making the consciousness of the nullity of everything ultimate, might indeed indicate depth of life, but it only is the depth of emptiness, as may be seen from the ancient comedies of Aristophanes. From this irony of our times, the irony of Socrates is far removed; as is also the case with Plato, it has a significance which is limited. Socrates’ premeditated irony may be called a manner of speech, a pleasant rallying; there is in it no satirical laughter or pretence, as though the idea were nothing but a joke. But his tragic irony is his opposition of subjective reflection to morality as its exists, not a consciousness of the fact that he stands above it, but the natural aim of leading men, through thought, to the true good and to the universal Idea.
b. Now the second element is what Socrates has called the art of midwifery — an art which came to him from his mother. It is the assisting into the world of the thought which is already contained in the consciousness of the individual — the showing from the concrete, unreflected consciousness, the universality of the concrete, or from the universally posited, the opposite which already is within it. Socrates hence adopts a questioning attitude, and this kind of questioning and answering has thus been called the Socratic method; but in this method there is more than can be given in questions and replies. For the answer seems occasionally to be quite different from what was intended by the question, while in printed dialogue, answers are altogether under the author’s control; but to say that in actual life people are found to answer as they are here made to do, is quite another thing. To Socrates those who reply may be called pliable youths, because they reply directly to the questions, which are so formed that they make the answer very easy, and exclude any originality in reply. To this plastic manner, which we see in the method of Socrates, as represented. by Plato and Xenophon, it is objected that we do not answer in the same relation iii which the questioner asks; while, with Socrates, the relation which the questioner adopts is respected in the reply.
The other way, which is to bring forward another point of view, is undoubtedly the spirit of an animated conversation, but such emulation is excluded from this Socratic method, in which the principal matter is to keep to the point. The spirit of dogmatism, self-assertion, stopping short when we seem to get into difficulties, and escaping from them by a jest, or by setting them aside — all these attitudes and methods are here excluded; they do not constitute good manners, nor do they have a place in Socrates’ dialogues. In these dialogues, it is hence not to be wondered at that those questioned answered so precisely to the point, while in the best modern dialogues there is always an arbitrary element.
This difference concerns only what is external and formal. But the principal point, and the reason why Socrates set to work with questions in bringing the good and right into consciousness in universal. form; was that he did not proceed from what is present in our consciousness in a simple form through setting forth the conception allied to it in pure necessity, which would be a deduction, a proof or, speaking generally, a consequence following from the conception, But this concrete, as it is in natural consciousness without thinking of it, or universality immersed in matter, he analyzed, so that through the separation of the concrete, he brought the universal contained therein to consciousness as universal. We see this method also carried on to a large extent in Plato’s dialogues, where there is, in this regard, particular skill displayed. It is the same method which forms in every man his knowledge of the universal; an education in self-consciousness, which is the development of reason. The child, the uncultured man, lives in concrete individual ideas, but to the man who grows and educates himself, because he thereby goes back into himself as thinking, reflection becomes reflection on the universal and the permanent establishment of the same; and a freedom — formerly that of moving in concrete ideas — is now that of so doing in abstractions and in thoughts. We see such a development of universal from particular, where a number of examples are given, treated in a very tedious way. For us who are trained in presenting to ourselves what is abstract, who are taught from youth up in universal principles, the Socratic method of so-called deference, with its eloquence, has often something tiresome and tedious about it. The universal of the concrete case is already present to us as universal, because our reflection is already accustomed to the universal, and we do not require, first of all, to take the trouble of making a separation; and thus, if Socrates were now to bring what is abstract before consciousness, we should not require, in order to establish it as universal, that all these examples should be adduced, so that through repetition the subjective certainty of abstraction might arise.
c. The next result of this method of procedure may be that consciousness is surprised that what it never looked for should be found in consciousness. If we reflect, for example, on the universally known idea of Becoming, we find that what becomes is not and yet it is; it is the identity of Being and non-being, and it may surprise us that in this simple conception so great a distinction should exist.
The result attained was partly the altogether formal and negative one of bringing home to those who conversed with Socrates, the conviction that, however well acquainted with the subject they had thought themselves, they now came to the conclusion, “that what we knew has refuted itself.” Socrates thus put questions in the intent that the speaker should be drawn on to make admissions, implying a point of view opposed to that from which he started. That these contradictions arise because they bring their ideas together, is the drift of the greater part of Socrates’ dialogues; their main tendency consequently was to show the bewilderment and confusion which exist in knowledge. By this means, he tries to awaken shame, and the perception that what we consider as true is not the truth, from which the necessity for earnest effort after knowledge must result. Plato, amongst others, gives these examples in his Meno (p. 71-80, Steph.; p. 32 7-346, Bekk.). Socrates is made to say, “By the gods, tell me what is virtue.” Meno proceeds to make various distinctions: “Man’s virtue is to be skilful in managing state affairs, and thereby to help friends and harm fobs; woman’s to rule her household; other virtues are those of boys, of young men, of old men,” &c. Socrates interrupts him by saying, that it is not that about which he inquires, but virtue in general, which comprehends every thing in itself. Meno says “It is to govern and rule over others.” Socrates brings forward the fact that the virtue of boys and slaves does not consist in governing. Meno says that he cannot tell what is common in all virtue. Socrates replies that it is the same as figure, which is what is common in roundness,, squareness, &c. There a digression occurs. Meno says, “Virtue is the power of securing the good desired.” Socrates interposes that it is superfluous to say the good, for from the time that men know that something is an evil, they do not desire it; and also the good must be acquired in a right way. Socrates thus confounds Meno, and he sees that these ideas are false. The latter says, “I used to hear of you, before I knew you, that you were yourself in doubt (aporeiς), and also brought others into doubt, and now you cast a spell on me too, so that I am at ray wits’ end (aporiaς). You seem, if I may venture to jest, to be like the torpedo fish, for it is said of it that it makes torpid (narkan) those who come near it and touch it. You have done this to me, for I am become torpid in body and soul, and I do not know how to answer you, although I have talked thousands of times about virtue with many persons, and, as it seemed to me, talked very well. But now I do not know at all what to say. Hence you do well not to travel amongst strangers, for you might be put to death as a magician.” Socrates again wishes to “inquire.” Now Meno says,” How can you inquire about what you say you do not know? Can you have a desire for what you do not know? And if you find it out by chance, how can you know that it is what you looked for, since you acknowledge that, you do not know it? “A number of dialogues end in the same manner, both in Xenophon and Plato, leaving us quite unsatisfied as to the result. It is so in the Lysis, where Plato asks the question of what love and friendship secures to men; and similarly the Republic commences by inquiring what justice is. Philosophy must, generally speaking, begin with a puzzle in order to bring about reflection; everything must be doubted, all presuppositions given up, to reach the truth as created through the Notion.
This, in short, is Socrates’ method. The affirmative, what Socrates develops in the consciousness, is nothing but the good in as far as it is brought forth from consciousness through knowledge — it is the eternal, in and for itself universal, what is called the Idea, the true, which just in so far as it is end, is the Good. In this regard Socrates is opposed to the Sophists, for the proposition that man is the measure of all things, to them still comprehends particular ends, while to Socrates the universal brought forth through free thought is thereby expressed in objective fashion. Nevertheless, we must not blame the Sophists because, in the aimlessness of their time, they did not discover the principle of the Good; for every discovery has its time, and that of the Good, which as end in itself is now always made the starting point, had not yet been made by Socrates. Is now seems as if we had not yet shown forth much of the Socratic philosophy, for we have merely kept to the principle; but the main point with Socrates is that his knowledge for the first time reached this abstraction. The Good is nevertheless no longer as abstract as the nouς of Anaxagoras, but is the universal which determines itself in itself, realizes itself, and has to be realized as the end of the world and of the individual. It is a principle, concrete within itself, which, however, is not yet manifested in its development, and in this abstract attitude we find what is wanting in the Socratic standpoint, of which nothing, that is affirmative can, beyond this, be adduced.
a. As regards the Socratic principle, the first determination is the great determination which is, however, still merely formal, that consciousness creates and has to create out of itself what is the true. This principle of subjective freedom was present to the consciousness of Socrates himself so vividly that he despised the other sciences as being. empty learning and useless to mankind; he has, to concern himself with his moral nature only in order to do what is best — a one-sidedness which is very characteristic of Socrates. This religion of the Good is to Socrates, not only the essential point to which men have to direct their thoughts, but it is that exclusively. We see him showing how from every individual this universal, this absolute in consciousness may be found as his reality. Here we see law, the true and good, what was formerly present as an existent, return into consciousness. But it is not a single chance manifestation in this individual Socrates, for we have to comprehend Socrates and his manifestation. In the universal consciousness, in the spirit of the people to which he belongs, we see natural turn into reflective morality, and he stands above as the consciousness of this change. The spirit of the world here begins to change, a change which was later on carried to its completion. From this higher standpoint, Socrates, as well as the Athenian people and Socrates in them, have to be considered. The reflection of consciousness into itself begins here, the knowledge of the consciousness of self as such, that it is real existence — or that God is a Spirit, or again, in a cruder and more sensuous form, that God takes human form. This epoch begins where essence is given up as Being — even though it be, as hitherto, abstract Being, Being as thought. But this epoch in a naturally moral people in the highest state of development, makes its appearance as the destruction threatening them or breaking in upon them unprevented. For its morality, as was usually so with the ancients, consisted in the fact that the Good was present as a universal, without its having had the form of the conviction of the individual in his individual consciousness but simply that of the immediate absolute. It is the authoritative, present law, without testing investigation, but yet an ultimate ground on which this moral consciousness rests. It is the law of the State; it has authority as the law of the gods, and thus it is universal destiny which has the form of an existent, and is recognized as such by all. But moral consciousness asks if this is actually law in itself? This consciousness turned back within itself from everything that has the form of the existent, requires to understand, to know, that the above law is posited in truth, i.e. it demands that it should find itself therein as consciousness. In thus returning into themselves the Athenian people are revealed to us: uncertainty as to existent laws as existent has arisen, and a doubt about what was held to be right, the greatest freedom respecting all that is and was respected. This return into itself represents the highest point reached by the mind of Greece, in so far as it becomes no longer the mere existence of these moralities, but the living consciousness of the same, which has a content which is similar, but which, as spirit, moves freely in it. This is a culture which we never find the Lacedænonians reach. This deepest life of morality is so to speak a free personal consciousness of morality or of God, and a happy enjoyment of them. Consciousness and Being have here exactly the same value and rank; what is, is consciousness; neither is powerful above another. The authority of law is no oppressive bond to consciousness, and all reality is likewise no obstacle to it, for it is secure in itself. But this return is just on the point of abandoning the content, and indeed of positing itself as abstract consciousness, without the content, and, as existent, opposed to it. From this equilibrium of consciousness and Being, consciousness takes up its position as independent. This aspect of separation is an independent conception, because consciousness, in the perception of its independence, no longer immediately acknowledges what is put before it, but requires that this should first justify itself to it, i.e. it must comprehend itself therein. Thus this return is the isolation of the individual from the universal, care for self at the cost of the State; to us, for instance, it is the question as to whether I shall be in eternal bliss or condemnation, whereas philosophic eternity is present now in time, and is nothing other than the substantial man himself. The State has lost its power, which consisted in the unbroken continuity of the universal spirit, as formed of single individuals, so that the individual consciousness knew no other content and reality than law. Morals have become shaken, because we have the idea present that man creates his maxims for himself. The fact that the individual comes to care for his own morality, means that he becomes reflectively moral; when public morality disappears, reflective morality is seen to have arisen. We now see Socrates bringing forward the opinion, that in these times every one has to look after his own morality, and thus he looked after his through consciousness and reflection regarding himself; for he sought the universal spirit which had disappeared from reality, in his own consciousness. He also helped others to care for their morality, for he awakened in them this consciousness of having in their thoughts the good and true, i.e. having the potentiality of action and of knowledge. This is no longer there immediately, but must be provided, just as a ship must make provision of water when it goes to places where none is to be found. The immediate has no further authority but must justify itself to thought. Thus we comprehend the special qualities of Socrates, and his method in Philosophy, from the whole; and we also understand his fate from the same.
This direction of consciousness back into itself takes the., form — very markedly in Plato — of asserting that man can learn nothing, virtue included, and that not because the latter has no relation to science. For the good does not come from without, Socrates shows; it cannot be taught, but is implied in the nature of mind. That is to say, man cannot passively receive anything that is given from without like the wax that is moulded to a form, for everything is latent in the mind of man, and he only seems to learn it. Certainly everything begins from without, but this is only the beginning; the truth is that this is only an impulse towards the development of spirit. All that has value to men, the eternal, the self-existent, is contained in man himself, and has to develop from himself. To learn here only means to receive knowledge of what is externally determined. This external comes indeed through experience, but the universal therein belongs to thought, not to the subjective and bad, but to the objective and true. The universal in the opposition of subjective and objective, is that which is as subjective as it is objective; the subjective is only a particular, the objective is similarly only a particular as regards the subjective, but the universal is the unity of both. According to the Socratic principle, nothing has any value to men to which the spirit does not testify. Man in it is free, is at home with himself, and that is the subjectivity of spirit. As it is said in the Bible, “Flesh of my flesh, and bone of my bone,” that which is held by me as truth and right is spirit of my spirit. But what spirit derives from itself must come from it as from the spirit which acts in a universal manner, and — not from its passions, likings, and arbitrary desires. These, too, certainly come from something inward which is “implanted in us by nature,” but which is only in a natural way our own, for it belongs to the particular; high above it is true thought, the Notion, the rational. Socrates opposed to the contingent and particular inward, that universal, true inward of thought. And Socrates awakened this real conscience, for he not only said that man is the measure of all things, but man as thinking is the measure of all things. With Plato we shall, later on, find it formulated that what man seems to receive he only remembers.
As to the question of what is the Good, Socrates recognized its determination as being not only a determination in particularity to the exclusion of the natural side, as determination is understood in empirical science, but even in relation to the actions of men, he holds the Good to be still undetermined, and the ultimate determinateness, or the determining, is what we may call subjectivity generally That the Good should be determined, primarily signifies that while, at first, in opposition to the Being of reality, it was a general maxim only, that to which the activity of individuality was still wanting, in the second place it was not permitted to be inert, to be mere thought, but bad to be present as the determining and actual, and thus as the effectual. It is such only through subjectivity, through the activity of man. That the Good is a determinate thus further means that individuals know what the Good is, and we call this standpoint reflective morality, while natural morality does right unconsciously. Thus to Socrates virtue is perception. For to the proposition of the Platonic Protagoras that all other virtues have a relationship to one another, but that it is not so with valour, since many brave men are to be found who are the most irreligious, unjust, intemperate and uncultured of people (such as a band of robbers), Plato makes Socrates answer that valour, like all virtues, also is a science, that is, it is the knowledge and the right estimation of what is to be feared. By this the distinctive qualities of valour are certainly not unfolded. The naturally moral and upright man is such without his having considered the matter at all; it is his character, and what is good is securely rooted within him. When, on the other hand, consciousness is concerned, the question arises as to whether I directly desire the good or not. Hence this consciousness of morality easily becomes dangerous, and causes the individual to be puffed up by a good opinion of himself, which proceeds from the consciousness of his own power to decide for the good. The ‘I’ is then the master, he who chooses the Good, and in that there is the conceit of my knowing that I am an excellent man. With Socrates this opposition of the good and the subject as choosing is not reached, for what is dealt with is only the determination of the Good and the connection therewith of subjectivity; this last, as an individual person who can choose, decides upon the inward universal. We have here on the one side the knowledge of the Good, but, on the other, it is implied that the subject is good, since this is his ordinary character; and the fact that the subject is such, was by the ancients called virtue.
We understand from this the following criticism which Aristotle makes (Magna Mor. I. 1) on the quality of virtue as expounded by Socrates. He says: “Socrates spoke better of virtue than did Pythagoras, but not quite justly, for he made virtues into a science (episthmaς). But this is impossible, since, though all knowledge has some basis (logoς) this basis only exists in thought. Consequently, he places all the virtues in the thinking (logistikw) side of the soul. Hence it comes to pass that he does away with the feeling (alogon) part of the soul, that is, the inclination (paqoς) and the habits (hqoς),” which, however, also pertain to virtue. “But Plato rightly distinguished the thinking and the feeling sides of the soul.” This is a good criticism. We see that what Aristotle misses in the determination of virtue in Socrates, is the side of subjective actuality, which we now call the heart. Certainly virtue is determination in accordance with universal, and not with particular ends, but perception is not the only element in virtue. For in order that the good perceived should be virtue, it must come to pass that the whole man, the heart and mind, should be identical with it, and this aspect of Being or of realization generally, is what Aristotle calls to alogon. If we understand the reality of the good as universal morality, substantiality is wanting to the perception; but matter, when we regard the inclination of the individual subjective will as this reality. This double want may also be considered as a want of content and of activity, in so far as to the universal development is wanting; and in the latter case, determining activity comes before us as negative only in reference to the universal. Socrates thus omits, in characterizing virtue, just what we saw had also disappeared in actuality, that is, first the real spirit of a people, and then reality as the sympathies of the individual. For it is just when consciousness is not yet turned back into itself, that the universal good appears to the individual as the object of his sympathy. To us, on the other hand, because we are accustomed to put on one side the good or virtue as practical reason, the other side, which is opposed to a reflective morality, is an equally abstract sensuousness, inclination, passion, and hence the bad. But in order that the universal should be reality, it must be worked out through consciousness as individual, and the carrying into effect pertains to this individuality. A passion, as for example, love, ambition, is the universal itself, as it is self-realizing, not in perception, but in activity; and if we did not fear being misunderstood, we should say that for the individual the universal is his own interests. Yet this is not the place in which to unravel all the false ideas and contradictions present in oar culture.
Aristotle (Eth. Nicom. VI. 13), supplementing the one-sidedness of Socrates, further says of him: “Socrates in one respect worked on right lines, but not in the other. For to call virtue scientific knowledge is untrue, but to say that it is not without scientific basis is right. Socrates made virtues into perceptions (logous), but we say that virtue exists with perception.” This is a very true distinction; the one side in virtue is that the universal of end belongs to thought. But in virtue, as character, the other side, active individuality, real soul, must necessarily come forth; and indeed with Socrates the latter appears in a characteristic form of which we shall speak below (p. 421 et seq.).
b. If we consider the universal first, it has within it a positive and a negative side, which we find both united in Xenophon’s “Memorabilia,” a work which aims at justifying Socrates. And if we inquire whether he or Plato depicts Socrates to us most faithfully in his personality and doctrine, there is no question that in regard to the personality and method, the externals of his teaching, we may certainly receive from Plato a satisfactory, and perhaps a more complete representation of what Socrates was. But in regard to the content of his teaching and the point reached by him in the development of thought, we have in the main to look to Xenophon.
The fact that the reality of morality had become shaken in the mind of the people, came to consciousness in Socrates; he stands so high because he gave expression to what was present in the times. In this consciousness he elevated morality into perception, but this action is just the bringing to consciousness of the fact that it is the power of the Notion which sublates the determinate existence and the immediate value of moral laws and the sacredness of their implicitude. When perception likewise positively acknowledges as law that which was held to be law (for the positive subsists through having recourse to laws), this acknowledgment of them always passes through the negative mode, and no longer has the form of absolute being-in-itself: it is, however, just as far from being a Platonic Republic. To the Notion too, because to it the determinateness of laws in the form in which they have value to unperceiving consciousness has dissolved, only the purely implicit universal Good is the true. But since this is empty and without reality, we demand, if we are not satisfied with a dull monotonous round, that again a movement should be made towards the extension of the determination of the universal. Now because Socrates remains at the indeterminateness of the good, its determination means for him simply the expression of the particular good. Then it comes to pass that the universal results only from the negation of the particular good; and since this last is just the existing laws of Greek morality, we have here the doubtlessly right, but dangerous element in perception, the showing in all that is particular only its deficiencies. The inconsistency of making what is limited into an absolute, certainly becomes unconsciously corrected in the moral man; this improvement rests partly on the morality of the subject and partly on the whole of the social life; and unfortunate extremes resulting in conflict are unusual and unfrequent. But since the dialectic sublates the particular, the abstract universal also becomes shaken.
a. Now as regards the positive side, Xenophon tells us in the fourth book of the Memorabilia (c. 2, § 40), how Socrates, once having made the need for perception sensible to the youths, then actually instructed them, and no longer wandered through mere subtleties in his talk, but taught them the good in the clearest and most open way. That is, he showed them the good and true in what is determined, going back into it because lie did not wish to remain in mere abstraction. Xenophon gives an example of this (Memorab. IV. c. 4, §§ 12-16, 25) in a dialogue with the Sophist Hippias. Socrates there asserts that the just man is he who obeys the law, and that these laws are divine. Xenophon makes Hippias reply by asking how Socrates could declare it to be an absolute duty to obey the laws, for the people and the governors themselves often condemn them by changing them, which is allowing that they are not absolute. But Socrates answers by demanding if those who conduct war do not again make peace, which is not, any more than in the other case, to condemn war, for each was just in its turn. Socrates thus says, in a word, that the best and happiest State is that in which the citizens are of one mind and obedient to law. Now this is the one side in which Socrates looks away from the contradiction and makes laws and justice, as they are accepted by each individually, to be the affirmative content. But if we here ask what these laws are, they are, we find, just those which have a value at some one time, as they happen to be present in the State and in the idea; at another time they abrogate themselves as determined, and are not held to be absolute.
b. We hence see this other negative side in the same connection when Socrates brings Euthydemus into the conversation, for he asks him whether he did not strive after the virtue without which neither the private man nor the citizen could be useful to himself or to his people or the State. Euthydemus declares that this undoubtedly is so. But without justice, replies Socrates, this is not possible, and he further asks whether Euthydemus had thus attained to justice in himself. Euthydemus answers affirmatively, for he says that he thinks he is no less just than any other man. Socrates now replies, “Just as workmen can show their work, the just will be able to say what their works are.” This he also agrees to, and replies that he could easily do so. Socrates now proposes if this is so to write, “on the one band under A the actions of the just, and on the other, under A, those of the unjust? “With the approbation of Enthydemus, lies, deceit, robbery, making a slave of a free man, thus fall on the side of the unjust. Now Socrates asks, “But if a general subdues the enemy’s State, would this not be justice? “Euthydemus says “Yes.” Socrates replies, “Likewise if he deceives and robs the enemy and makes slaves? “Enthydemus has to admit the justice of this. It is thus shown “that the same qualities come under the determination both of justice and of injustice.” Here it strikes Euthydemus to add the qualification that he intended that Socrates should understand the action to be only in reference to friends; as regards them it is wrong. Socrates accepts this, but proceeds, “If a general at the decisive moment of the battle saw his own army in fear, and he deceived them by falsely saying that help was coming in order to lead them on to victory, could it be deemed right? “Euthydemus acknowledges that it could. Socrates says, “If a father gives a sick child a medicine which it does not wish to take, in its food, and makes it well through deceit, is this right?” Euthydemus — “Yes.” Socrates — “Or is anyone wrong who takes arms from his friend secretly or by force, when he sees him in despair, and in the act of taking his own life?” Euthydemus has to admit that this is not wrong. Thus it is again shown here, that as regards friends also, the same determinations have to hold good on both sides, as justice as well as injustice. Here we see that abstention from lying, deceit, and robbery, that which we naturally hold to be established, contradicts itself by being put into connection with something different, and something which holds equally good. This example further explains how through thought, which would lay hold of the universal in the form of the universal only, the particular becomes uncertain.
g. The positive, which Socrates sets in the place of what was fixed and has now become vacillating, in order to give a content to the universal, is, on the one hand, and in opposition to this last, obedience to law (p. 416), that is, the mode of thought and idea which is inconsistent; and, on the other hand, since such determinations do not hold good for the Notion, it is perception, in which the immediately posited has now, in the mediating negation, to justify itself as a determination proceeding out of the constitution of the whole. But it is both true that we do not find this perception present in Socrates, for it remains in its content undetermined, and that in reality it is a contingent, which is seen in the fact, that the universal commands, such as “Thou shalt not kill,” are connected with a particular content which is conditioned. Now whether the universal maxim in this particular case has value or not, depends first on the circumstances; and it is the perception which discovers the conditions and circumstances whereby exceptions to this law of unconditioned validity arise. However, because through this contingency in the instances, the fixed nature of the universal principle disappears, since it, too, appears as a particular only, the consciousness of Socrates arrives at pure freedom in each particular content. This freedom, which does not leave the content as it is in its dissipated determination to the natural consciousness, but makes it to be penetrated by the universal, is the real mind which, as unity of the universal content and of freedom, is the veritable truth. Thus if we here consider further what is the true in this consciousness, we pass on to the mode in which the realization of the universal appeared to Socrates himself.
Even the uneducated mind does not follow the content of its consciousness as this content appears in it; but, as mind, it corrects that which is wrong in its consciousness, and is thus implicitly, if not explicitly as consciousness. free. That is, though this consciousness expresses the universal law, “Thou shalt not kill,” as a duty, that consciousness if no cowardly spirit dwells within it — will still bravely attack and slay the enemy in war. Here, if it is asked whether there is a command to kill one’s enemies, the reply would be affirmative as likewise when a hangman puts to death a criminal. But when in private life we become involved with adversaries, this command to kill one’s enemies will not occur to us. We may thus call this the mind which thinks at the right time, first of the one, and then of the other; it is spirit, but an unspiritual consciousness. The first step towards reaching a spiritual consciousness is the negative one of acquiring freedom for one’s consciousness. For since perception attempts to prove individual laws, it proceeds from a determination to which, as a universal basis, particular duty is submitted; but this basis is itself not absolute, and falls under the same dialectic. For example, were moderation commanded as a duty on the ground that intemperance undermined the health, health is the ultimate which is here considered as absolute; but it is at the same time not absolute, for there are other duties which ordain that health, and even life itself, should be risked and sacrificed. The so-called conflict of duties is nothing but duty, which is expressed as absolute, showing itself as not absolute; in the constant contradiction morals become unsettled. For a consciousness which has become consistent, law, because it bas then been brought into contact with its opposite, has been sublated. For the positive truth has not yet become known in its determination. But to know the universal in its determination, i.e. the limitation of the universal which comes to us as fixed and not contingent, is only possible in connection with the whole system of actuality. Thus if with Socrates the content has become spiritualized, yet manifold independent grounds have merely taken the place of manifold laws. For the perception is not yet expressed as the real perception of these grounds over which it rules; but the truth of consciousness simply is this very movement of pure perception. The true ground is, however, spirit, and the spirit of the people — a perception of the constitution of a people, and the connection of the individual with this real universal spirit. Laws, morals, the actual social life, thus have in themselves their own corrective against the inconsistent, which consists of the expression of a definite content as absolute. In ordinary life we merely forget this limitation of universal principles, and these still hold their place with us; but the other point of view is thus when the limitation comes before our consciousness.
When we have the perfect consciousness that in actual life fixed duties and actions do not exist, for each concrete case is really a conflict of many duties which separate themselves in the moral understanding, but which mind treats as not absolute, comprehending them in the unity of its judgment, we call this pure, deciding individuality, the knowledge of what is right, or conscience, just as we call the pure universal of consciousness not a particular but an all-comprehensive one, duty. Now both sides here present, the universal law and the deciding spirit which is in its abstraction the active individual, are also necessary to the consciousness of Socrates as the content and the power over this content. That is, because with Socrates the particular law has become vacillating, there now comes in the place of the universal single mind, which, with the Greeks, was unconscious determination through unreflective morality, individual mind as individuality deciding for itself. Thus with Socrates the deciding spirit is transformed into the subjective consciousness of man, since the power of deciding originates with himself; and the first question now is, how this subjectivity appears in Socrates himself. Because the person, the individual, now gives the decision, we come back to Socrates as person, as subject, and what follows is a development of his personal relations. But since the moral element is generally placed in the personality of Socrates, we see the contingent nature of the instruction and of the culture which was obtained through Socrates, character; for it was the actual basis on which men fortified themselves in associating with Socrates, by actual communication with him and by their manner of life. Thus it, was true that “the intercourse with his friends was, on. the whole, beneficial and instructive to them, but in many cases they became unfaithful to Socrates,” because not everyone attains to perception, and he who possesses it may remain at the negative. The education of the citizens, life in the people, is quite a fresh force in the individual, and does not mean that he educates himself through arguments; hence, however truly educative the intercourse with Socrates was, this contingency still entered into it. We thus see as an unhappy symptom of disorder, how Socrates’ greatest favourites, and those endowed with the most genial natures (such as Alcibiades, that genius of levity, who played with the Athenian people, and Critias, the most active of the Thirty) afterwards experienced the fate of being judged in their own country, one as an enemy and traitor to his fellows, and the other as an oppressor and tyrant of the State. They lived according to the principle of subjective perception, and thus cast a bad light on Socrates, for it is shown in this how the Socratic principle in another form brought about the ruin of Greek life.
c. The characteristic form in which this subjectivity — this implicit and deciding certainty — appears in Socrates, has still to be mentioned. That is, since everyone here has this personal mind which appears to him to be his mind, we see how in connection with this, we have what is known under the name of the Genius (daimonion) of Socrates; for it implies that now man decides in accordance with his perception and by himself. But in this Genius of Socrates — notorious as a much discussed bizarrerie of his imagination — we are neither to imagine the existence of protective spirit, angel, and such-like, nor even of conscience. For conscience is the idea of universal individuality, of the mind certain of itself, which is at the same time universal truth. But the Genius of Socrates is rather all the other and necessary sides of his universality, that is, the individuality of mind which came to consciousness in him equally with the former. His pure consciousness stands over both sides. The deficiency in the universal, which lies in its indeterminateness, is unsatisfactorily supplied in an individual way, because Socrates’ judgment, as coming from himself, was characterized by the form of an unconscious impulse. The Genius of Socrates is not Socrates himself, not his opinions and conviction, but an oracle which, however, is not external, but is subjective, bis oracle. It bore the form of a knowledge which was directly associated with a condition of unconsciousness; it was a knowledge which may also appear under other conditions as a magnetic state. It may happen that at death, in illness and catalepsy, men know about circumstances future or present, which, in the understood relations of things, are altogether unknown. These are facts which are usually rudely denied. That in Socrates we should discover what comes to pass through reflection in the form of the unconscious., makes it appear to be an exceptional matter. revealed to the individual only, and not as being what it is in truth. Thereby it certainly receives the stamp of imagination, but there is nothing more of what is visionary or superstitious to be seen in it. for it is a necessary manifestation, though Socrates did not recognize the necessity, this element being only generally before his imagination.
In connection with what follows, we must yet further consider the relationship of the Genius to the earlier existent form of decision, and that into which it led Socrates; regarding both Xenophon expresses himself in his history most distinctly. Because the standpoint of the Greek mind was natural morality, in which man did not yet determine himself, and still less was what we call conscience present, since laws were, in their fundamental principles, regarded as traditional, these last now presented an appearance of being sanctioned by the gods. We know that the Greeks undoubtedly had laws on which to form their judgments, but on the other hand, both in private and public life, immediate decisions had to be made. But in them the Greeks, with all their freedom, did not decide from the subjective will. The general or the people did not take upon themselves to decide as to what was best in the State, nor did the indi vidual do so in the family. For in making these decisions, the Greeks took refuge in oracles, sacrificial animals, soothsayers, or, like the Romans, asked counsel of birds in flight. The general who had to fight a battle was guided in his decision by the entrails of animals, as we often find in Xenophon’s Anabasis. Pausanias tormented himself thus a whole day long before he gave the command to fight. This element, the fact that the people had not the power of decision but were determined from without, was a real factor in Greek consciousness; and oracles were everywhere essential where man did not yet know himself inwardly as being sufficiently free and independent to take upon himself to decide as we do. This subjective freedom, which was not yet present with the Greeks, is what we mean in the present day when we speak of freedom; in the Platonic Republic we shall see more of it. Our responsibility for what we do is a characteristic of modern times; we wish to decide according to grounds of common sense, and consider this as ultimate. The Greeks did not possess the knowledge of this infinitude.
In the first book of Xenophon’s Memorabilia (chap. 1, §§ 7-9), on the occasion of the defence by Socrates of his daimonion, Socrates says at the very beginning: “The gods have reserved to themselves what is most important in knowledge. Architecture, agriculture, forging, are human arts, as also government, the science of law, management of the household and generalship. In all this man can attain to skill, but for the other, divination is necessary. He who cultivates a field does not know who will enjoy the fruit, nor does he who builds a house know who will inhabit it; the general does not know whether the army should be brought into the field; he who rules a State whether it is good for him” (the individual) “or bad. Nor does he who marries a wife know whether he will experience happiness or whether grief and sorrow will not come through this to him; neither can he who has powerful relations in the State, know whether, on account of these, he may not be banished from the State. Because of this uncertainty, men have to take refuge in divination.” Regarding it Xenophon expresses himself (ibid. §§ 3, 4) to the effect that it manifests itself in different ways through oracles, sacrifices, flight of birds, &c., but to Socrates this oracle is his Genius. To hold the future, or what is foreseen by the somnambulist or at death to be a higher kind of insight, is a perversion which easily arises even in our ideas; but looked at more closely, we find in this the particular interests of individuals merely, and the knowledge of what is right and moral is something much higher. If anyone wishes to marry or to build a house, &c., the result is important to the individual only. The truly divine and universal is the institution of agriculture, the state, marriage, &c.; compared to this it is a trivial matter to know whether, when I go to sea, I shall perish or not. The Genius of Socrates moreover reveals itself in him through nothing other than the counsel given respecting these particular issues, such as when and whether his friends ought to travel. To anything true, existing in and for itself in art and science, he made no reference, for this pertains to the universal mind, and these dæmonic revelations are thus much more unimportant than those of his thinking mind. There is certainly something universal in them, since a wise man can often foresee whether anything is advisable or not. But what is truly divine pertains to all, and though talents and genius are also personal characteristics, they find their first truth in their works which are universal.
Now because with Socrates judgment from within first begins to break free from the external oracle, it was requisite that this return into itself should, in its first commencement, still appear in physiological guise (sup ra, pp. 390, 39 1). The Genius of Socrates stands midway between the externality of the oracle and the pure inwardness of the mind; it is inward, but it is also presented as a personal genius, separate from human will, and not yet as the wisdom and free will of Socrates himself. The further investigation of this Genius consequently presents to us a form which passes into somnambulism, into this double of consciousness; and in Socrates there clearly appears to be something of the kind, or something which is magnetic, for, as we already mentioned (p. 390), he is said often to have fallen into trances and catalepsy. In modern times we have seen this in the form. of a rigid eye, an inward knowledge, perception of this thing and that, of what is gone, of what is best to do, &c.; but magnetism carries science no further than this. The Genius of Socrates is thus to be taken as an actual state, and is remarkable because it is not morbid but was necessarily called up through a special condition of his consciousness. For the turning point in the whole world-famed change of views constituting the principle of Socrates, is that in place of the oracle, the testimony of the mind of the individual has been brought forward and that the subject has taken upon itself to decide.
With this Genius of Socrates as one of the chief points of his indictment, we now enter upon the subject of his fate, which ends with his condemnation. We may find this fate out of harmony with his professed business of instructing his fellow-citizens in what is good, but taken in connection with what Socrates and his people were, we shall recognize the necessity of it. The contemporaries of Socrates, who came forward as his accusers before the Athenian people, laid hold on him as the man who made known that what was held as absolute was not absolute. Socrates, with this new principle, and as one who was an Athenian citizen whose express business was this form of instruction, came, through this his personality, into relationship with the whole Athenian people; and this relationship was not merely with a certain number or with a commanding number, but it was a living relationship with the spirit of the Athenian people. The spirit of this people in itself, its constitution, its whole life, rested, however, on a moral ground, on religion, and could not exist without this absolutely secure basis. Thus because Socrates makes the truth rest on the judgment of inward consciousness, he enters upon a struggle with the Athenian people as to what is right and true. His accusation was therefore just, and we have to consider this accusation as also the end of his career. The attacks which Socrates experienced are well known, and were from two sources; Aristophanes attacked him in the “Clouds,” and then he was formally accused before the people.
Aristophanes regarded the Socratic philosophy from the negative side, maintaining that through the cultivation of reflecting consciousness, the idea of law had been shaken, and we cannot question the justice of this conception. Aristophanes’ consciousness of the one-sidedness of Socrates may be regarded as a prelude to his death; the Athenian people likewise certainly recognized his negative methods in condemning him. It is known that Aristophanes brought upon the stage along with Socrates, not only such men as Aeschylus, and more specially Euripides, but also the Athenians generally and their generals — the personified Athenian people and the gods themselves — a freedom which we would not dream of were it not historically authenticated. We have not here to consider the real nature of the Comedy of Aristophanes, nor the wanton way in which he was said to have treated Socrates. As to the first, it should not startle us, nor do we require to justify Aristophanes or to excuse him. The Comedy. of Aristophanes is in itself as real a part of the Athenian people, and Aristophanes is as essential a figure, as were the sublime Pericles, the happy Alcibiades, the divine Sophocles, and the moral Socrates, for he belongs as much as any other to this circle of luminaries (Vol. I., p. 322). Thus much can alone be said, that it certainly goes against our German seriousness to see how Aristophanes brings on the boards men living in the State, by name, in order to make a jest of them; and we feel this specially in regard to so upright a man as Socrates.
By chronological considerations, some have tried hard to refute the fact that Aristophanes’ representations had no influence on the condemnation of Socrates. It is seen that, on the one hand, Socrates was treated quite. unjustly; but then we must recognize the merit of Aristophanes, who in his “Clouds” was perfectly right. This poet, who exposed Socrates to scorn in the most laughable and bitter way, was thus no ordinary joker and shallow wag who mocked what is highest and best, and sacrificed all to wit with a view to making the Athenians laugh. For everything has to him a much deeper basis, and in all his jokes there lies a depth of seriousness. He did not wish merely to mock; and moreover to mock what was worthy of honour would be perfectly bald and flat. It is a pitiful wit which has no substance, and does not rest on contradictions lying in the matter itself. But Aristophanes was no bad jester. It is, generally speaking, not possible to joke in an external way about what does not contain matter for joking or irony in itself. For what really is comic is to show a man or a thing as they disclose themselves in their extent; and if the thing is not itself its contradiction, the comic element is superficial and groundless. Hence, when Aristophanes makes merry over the Democracy, there is a deep political earnestness at heart, and from all his works it appears what a noble, excellent, true Athenian citizen he was. We thus have a real patriot before us, who, though it involved the punishment of death, did not fear in one of his works to counsel peace. In him, as one who had a patriotism of the most enlightened kind, we find the blissful self-satisfied enjoyment of a people giving free rein to itself. There is, in what is humorous, a self-security which, though with all seriousness it strives after some particular thing, while the opposite of what it aims at always comes to pass, never has for that reason any doubts nor any reflection about itself, since it remains perfectly certain of itself and of what concerns it. We enjoy in Aristophanes this side of the free Athenian spirit, this perfect enjoyment of itself in loss, this untroubled certainty of itself in all miscarriage of the result in real life, and this is the height of humour.
In the “Clouds” we do not indeed see this natural humour, but a contradiction with definite intention. Aristophanes indeed depicts Socrates humorously too, for he brings forth in his moral works the opposite of that from which he starts, and his scholars derive delight from the far-extending discoveries reached through him, which they think are made by their own good luck, but which afterwards turn hateful to them, and become the very opposite of what they intended. The wonderful perception which the followers of Socrates are here represented as having attained, is just a perception of the nullity of the laws of the determinate good as it is to the natural consciousness. Aristophanes made fun of the fact that Socrates occupied himself with elementary researches as to how far fleas spring, and of his putting wax on their feet in order to discover this. This is not historic, but it is well known that Socrates had in his philosophy the side which Aristophanes showed up with such acrimony. Shortly, the fable of the “Clouds” is this: Strepsiades, an honourable Athenian citizen of the old school., had great trouble with his new-fashioned extravagant son, who, spoiled by mother and uncle, kept horses and led a life out of keeping with his position. The father thus got into trouble with his creditors, and went in distress to Socrates, and became his disciple. There the old man learned that not this or that, but another is the right, or rather he learned the stronger (kreittwn) and weaker reasons (httwn logoς). He learned the dialectic of laws, and how, by reasoning, the payment of debts can be disregarded, and he then required that his son should go to the School of Socrates; and the latter like wise profited from his wisdom. But we find the result ensuing from the universal which has now through the Socratic dialectic become empty, in the private interest or the wrong spirit of Strepsiades and his son, which spirit is merely the negative consciousness of the content of laws.
Equipped with this new wisdom of reasons, and the discovery of reasons, Strepsiades is armed against the chief evil that presses on him, as regards his threatening creditors. These now come one after another to obtain payment. But Strepsiades knows how to put them off with excellent reasons, and to argue them away, for he pacifies them by all sorts of titulos, and shows them that he does not need to pay them; indeed he even mocks them, and is very glad that he learned all this from Socrates., But soon the scene changes, and the whole affair alters. The son comes, behaves in a very unseemly way to, his father, and finally beats him. The father cries to the supreme power, as if this were the last indignity, but the son shows him, with equally good reasons, obtained by the method derived by him from Socrates, that he had a perfect right to strike him. Strepsiades ends the comedy with execrations on the Socratic dialectic, with a return to his old ways) and with the burning of Socrates’ house. The exaggeration which may be ascribed to Aristophanes, is that he drove this dialectic to its bitter end, but it cannot be said that injustice is done to Socrates by this representation. Indeed we must admire the depth of Aristophanes in having recognized the dialectic side in Socrates as being a negative, and — though after his own way — in having presented it so forcibly. For the power of judging in Socrates’ method is always placed in the subject, in conscience, but where this is bad, the story of Strepsiades must repeat itself.
With regard to the formal public accusation of Socrates, we must not, like Tennemann (Vol. II., p. 39 seq.), say of Socrates’ treatment, that “it is revolting to humanity that this excellent man had to drink the cup of poison as a sacrifice to cabals — so numerous in democracies. A man like Socrates, who had made right” (right is not being discussed, but we may ask what right? The right of moral freedom) “the sole standard of his action, and did, not stray from the straight path, must necessarily make many enemies” (Why? This is foolish; it is a moral hypocrisy to pretend to be better than others who are then called enemies) “who are accustomed to act from quite different motives. When we think of the corruption, and of the rule of the thirty tyrants, we must simply wonder that he could have worked on to his sixtieth year unmolested. But since the Thirty did not venture to lay hands on him themselves, it is the more to be wondered at that in the reconstituted and just rule and freedom which followed the overthrow of despotism” — in that very way the danger in which their principle was, came to be known _cc a man like Socrates could be made a sacrifice to cabals. This phenomenon is probably explained by the fact that the enemies of Socrates had first of all to gain time in order to obtain a following, and that under the rule of the Thirty, they played too insignificant a part,” and so on.
Now, as regards the trial of Socrates, we have to distinguish two points, the one the matter of the accusation, the judgment of the court, and the other the relation of Socrates to the sovereign people. In the course of justice there are thus these two parts — the relation of the accused to the matter on account of which he is accused, and his relation to the competency of the people, or the recognition of their majesty. Socrates was found guilty by the judges in respect of the content of his accusation, but was condemned to death because he refused to recognize the competency and majesty of the people as regards the accused.
a. The accusation consisted of two points: “That Socrates did not consider as gods those who were held to be such by the Athenian people, but introduced new ones; and that he also led young men astray.” The leading away of youth was his casting doubt on what was held to be immediate truth. The first accusation has in part the same foundation, for he made it evident that what was usually so considered, was not acceptable to the gods; and in part it is to be taken in connection with his Daemon, not that he called this his god. But with the Greeks this was the direction which the individuality of judgment took; they took it to be a contingency of the individual, and hence, as contingency of circumstances is an external, they also made the contingency of judgment into something external, i.e. they consulted their oracles — conscious that the individual will is itself a contingent. But Socrates, who placed the contingency of judgment in himself, since he had his Daemon in his own consciousness, thereby abolished the external universal Dæmon from which the Greeks obtained their judgments. This accusation, as also Socrates’ defence, we wish now to examine further; Xenophon represents both to us, and Plato has also supplied us with an Apology. Meanwhile we may not rest content with saying that Socrates was an excellent man who suffered innocently, &c. (p. 430), for in this accusation it was the popular mind of Athens that rose against the principle which became fatal to him.
a. As regards the first point of the accusation, that Socrates did not honour the national gods, but introduced new ones, Xenophon’ makes him answer that he always brought the same sacrifices as others to the public altars, as all his fellow-citizens could see his accusers likewise. But as to the charge that he introduced new Dæmons, in that he heard the voice of God showing him what he should do, he appealed to them whether by soothsayers the cry and flight of birds, the utterances of men (like the voice of Pythia), the position of the entrails of sacrificial animals, and even thunder and lightning were not accepted as divine revelations. That God knows the future beforehand, and, if He wishes, reveals it in these ways, all believe with him; but God can also reveal the future otherwise. He could show that he did not lie in maintaining that he heard the voice of God, from the testimony of his friends, to whom he often announced what was said; and in its results this was always found to be true. Xenophon (Memorab. I. c. 1, § II) adds, “No-one ever saw or heard Socrates do or say anything godless or impious, for he never tried to find out the nature of the Universe, like most of the others, when they sought to understand how what the Sophists called the world began.” That is, from them came the earlier atheists, who, like Anaxagoras, held that the sun was a stone.
The effect which the defence against this part of the accusation made on the judges is expressed thus by Xenophon: “One section of them was displeased because they did inot believe what Socrates said, and the other part because they were envious that he was more highly honoured of the gods than they.” This effect is very natural. In our times this also happens in two ways. Either the individual is not believed when he boasts of special manifestations, and particularly of manifestations which have to do with individual action and life; it is neither believed that such manifestations took place at all, or that they happened to this subject. Or if anyone does have dealings with such divinations, rightly enough his proceedings are put an end to, and he is shut up. By this it is not denied in a general way that God foreknows everything, or that He can make revelations to individuals; this may be admitted in abstracto, but not in actuality, and it is believed in no individual cases. Men do not believe that to him, to this individual, there has been a revelation. For why to him more than to others? And why just this trifle, some quite personal circumstances as to whether someone should have a successful journey, or whether he should converse with another person, or whether or not he should in a speech properly defend himself? And why not others amongst the infinitely many things which may occur to the individual? Why not much more important things, things concerning the welfare of whole States? Hence it is not believed of an individual, in spite of the fact that if it is possible, it must be to the individual that it happens. This unbelief, which thus does not deny the general fact and general possibility, but believes it in no particular case, really does not believe in the actuality and truth of the thing. It does not believe it because the absolute consciousness — and it must be such — certainly knows nothing of a positive kind of trivialities such as form the subject of these divinations and also those of Socrates; in spirit such things immediately vanish away. The absolute consciousness does not know about the future as such, any more than about the past; it knows only about the present. But because in its present, in its thought, the opposition of future and past to present becomes apparent, it likewise knows about future and past, but of the past as something which has taken shape. For the past is the preservation of the present as reality, but the future is the opposite of this, the Becoming of the present as possibility, and thus the formless. From out of this formlessness the universal first comes into form in the present; and hence in the future no form can be perceived. Men have the dim feeling that when God acts it is not in a particular way, nor for particular objects. Such things are held to be too paltry to be revealed by God in a particular case. It is acknowledged that God determines the individual, but by this the totality of individuality, or all individualities, is understood; hence it is said that God’s way of working is found in universal nature.
Now while with the Greeks judgment had the form of a contingency externally posited through the flight and cries of birds, in our culture we decide by an inward contingency, because I myself desire to be this contingency, and the knowledge of individuality is likewise a consciousness of this contingency. But if the Greeks, for whom the category of the contingency of consciousness was an existent, a knowledge of it as an oracle, had this individuality as a universal knowledge of which everyone could ask counsel, in Socrates — in whom what was here externally established had become inward consciousness, as with us, though not yet fully, being still represented as an actual voice, and conceived of as something which he separated from his individuality — the decision of the single individual had the form of personality as a particular, and it was not a universal individuality. This his judges could not in justice tolerate, whether they believed it or not. With the Greeks such revelations had to have a certain nature and method; there were, so to speak, official oracles (not subjective), such as Pythia, a tree, etc. Hence when this appeared in any particular person like a common citizen, it was considered incredible and wrong; the Dæmon of Socrates was a medium of a different kind to any formerly respected in the Greek Religion. It is so much the more noteworthy, that nevertheless the oracle of the Delphian Apollo, Pythia, declared Socrates to be the wisest Greek. Socrates it was who carried out the command of the God of knowledge, “Know Thyself,” and made it the motto of the Greeks, calling it the law of the mind, and not interpreting it as meaning a mere acquaintanceship with the particular nature of man. Thus Socrates is the hero who established in the place of the Delphic oracle, the principle that man must look within himself to know what is Truth. Now seeing that Pythia herself pronounced that utterance, we find in it a complete revolution in the Greek mind, and the fact that in place of the oracle, the personal self-consciousness of every thinking man has come into play. This inward certainty, however, is undoubtedly another new god, and not the god of the Athenians existing hitherto, and thus the accusation of Socrates was quite just.
b. If we now consider the second point of the accusation, that Socrates led youth astray, we find that he first sets against it the fact that the oracle of Delphi declared that none could be nobler, juster or wiser than he. And then he sets against this accusation his whole manner of life, and asks whether by the example that he gave, particularly to those with whom he went about, he ever led any into evil. The general accusation had to be further defined and witnesses came forward. “Melitus said that he knew some whom he advised to obey him rather than their parents.” 4 This point of the accusation principally related to Anytus, and since he made it good by sufficient testimony, the point was undoubtedly proved in accordance with law. Socrates explained himself further on this point when he left the court. For Xenophon tells us (Apol. Socr. §§ 27, 29-31 that Anyttis was inimical to Socrates, because he said to Anytus, a respected citizen, that he should not bring up his son to the trade of a tanner, but in manner befitting a free man. Anytus was himself a tanner, and although his business was mostly conducted by slaves, it was in itself not ignominious, and Socrates’ expression was hence wrong, although, as we have seen (p. 366), quite in the spirit of Greek thought. Socrates added that he had made acquaintance with this son of Anytus and discovered no evil in him, but he prophesied that he would not remain at this servile work to which his father kept him. Nevertheless, because he had no rational person near to look after him, he would come to have evil desires and be brought into dissolute ways. Xenophon added that Socrates’ prophecy had come to pass literally, and that the young man gave himself up to drink, and drank day and night, becoming totally depraved. This can be easily understood, for a man who feels himself. to be fit for something better (whether truly so or not) and through this discord in his mind is discontented with the circumstances in which he lives, yet capable of attaining to no other, is led out of this disgust into listlessness, and is thus on the way to the evil courses which so often ruin men. The prediction of Socrates is thus quite natural. (Supra, p. 424.)
To this definite accusation that lie led sons into disobedience to their parents, Socrates replied by asking the question whether in selecting men for public offices, such as that of general, parents, or those experienced in war, were selected. Similarly in all cases those most skilful in an art or science are picked out. He demanded whether it was not matter of astonishment that he should be brought before a judge because he was preferred to parents by the sons in their aspirations after the highest human good which is to be made a noble man. This reply of Socrates is, on the one hand, quite just, but we see at the same time that we cannot call it exhaustive, for the real point of the accusation is not touched. What his judges found unjust was the intrusion morally of a third into the absolute relation between parents and children. On the whole not much can be said on this point, for all depends on the mode of intervention, and if it is necessary in certain cases, it need not take place generally, and least of all when some private individual takes that liberty. Children must have the feeling of unity with their parents; this is the first immediately moral relationship; every teacher must respect it, keep it pure, and cultivate the sense of being thus connected. Hence, when a third person is called into this relation between parents and children, *hat happens through the new element introduced, is that the children are for their own good prevented from confiding in their parents, and made to think that their parents are bad people who harm them by their intercourse and training; and hence we find this revolting. The worst thing which can happen to children in regard to their morality and their mind, is that the bond which must ever be held in reverence should become loosened or even severed, thereby causing hatred, disdain, and ill-will. Whoever does this, does injury to morality in its truest form. This unity, this confidence, is the mother’s milk of morality on which man is nurtured; the early loss of parents is therefore a great misfortune. The son, like the daughter, must indeed come out of his natural unity with the family and become independent, but the separation must be one which is natural or unforced, and not defiant and disdainful. When a pain like this has found a place in the heart, great strength of mind is required to overcome it and to heal the wound. If we now speak of the example given us by Socrates, he seems, through his intervention, to have made the young man dissatisfied with his position. Anytus’ son might, indeed, have found his work generally speaking uncongenial, but it is another thing when such dislike is brought into consciousness and established by the authority of a man such as Socrates. We may very well conjecture that if Socrates had to do with him, he strengthened and developed in him the germ of the feeling of incongruity. Socrates remarked on the subject of his capacities, saying that he was fit for something better, and thus established a feeling of dissatisfaction in the young man, and strengthened his dislike to his father, which thus became the reason of his ruin. Hence this accusation of having destroyed the relationship of parents and children may be regarded as not unfounded, but as perfectly well established. It was also thought very bad in Socrates’ case particularly, and made a matter of reproach that he had such followers as Critias and Alcibiades, who brought Athens almost to the brink of ruin (supra, p. 421). For when he mixed himself in the education which others gave their children, men were justified in the demand that the result should not belie what he professed to do for the education of youth.
The only question now is, how the people came to take notice of this, and in how far such matters can be objects of legislation and be brought into court. In our law, as regards the first part of the accusation, divination such as Cagliostro’s is illegal, and it would be forbidden as it formerly was by the Inquisition. Respecting the second point, such a moral interference is no doubt more recognized with us, where there is a particular office having this duty laid upon it; but this interference must keep itself general, and dare not go so far as to call forth disobedience to parents, which is the first immoral principle. But should such questions come before the court? This first of all brings up the question of what is the right of the State, and here great laxity is now allowed. Nevertheless, when some professor or preacher attacks a particular religion, the legislature would certainly take notice of it, and it would have a complete right to do so, although there would be an outcry when it did it. There is undoubtedly a limit which in liberty of thought and speech is difficult to define and rests on tacit agreement; but there is a point beyond which we find what is not allowed, such as direct incitement to insurrection. It is indeed said, that “bad principles destroy themselves by themselves and find no entrance..” But that is only true in part, for with the populace the eloquence of sophistry stirs up their passions. It is also said, This is only theoretic, no action follows.” But the State really rests on thought, and its existence depends on the sentiments of men, for it is a spiritual and not a physical kingdom. Hence it has in so far maxims and principles which constitute its support, and if these are attacked, the Government must intervene. Added to this, it was the case that in Athens quite a different state of things was present than with us; in order to be able to judge rightly of Socrates’ case we must first consider the Athenian State and its customs. According to Athenian laws, i.e. according to the spirit of the absolute State, both these things done by Socrates were destructive of this spirit, while in our constitution the universal of the states is a stronger universal, which last undoubtedly permits of individuals having freer play, since they cannot be so dangerous to this universal. Hence it would undoubtedly in the first, place mean the subversion of the Athenian State, if this public religion on which everything was built and without which the State could not subsist, went to pieces; with us the State may be called an absolute and independent power. The Dæmon is now, in fact, a deity differing from any known, and because it stood in contradiction to the public religion, it gave to it a subjective arbitrariness. But since established religion was identified with public life so closely that it constituted a part of public law, the introduction of a new god who formed self-consciousness into a principle and occasioned disobedience, was necessarily a crime. We may dispute with the Athenians about this, but we must allow that they are consistent. In the second place, the moral connection between parents and children is stronger, and much more the moral foundation of life with the Athenians than with us, where subjective freedom reigns; for family piety is the substantial key-note of the Athenian State. Socrates thus attacked and destroyed Athenian life in two fundamental points; the Athenians felt and became conscious of it. Is it then to be wondered at that Socrates was found guilty? We might say that it had to be so. Tennemann (Vol. II., p. 41) says: “Though these charges contained the most palpable untruths, Socrates was condemned to death because his mind was too lofty for him to descend to the common unworthy means, by which the judgment of the court was usually perverted.” But all this is false; he was found guilty of these deeds, but not for that reason condemned to death.
b. We here come to the second occurrence in his history. In accordance with Athenian laws, the accused had, after the Heliasts (resembling the English jury) pronounced him guilty, the liberty of suggesting (antitimasqai) a penalty different from the punishment which the accuser proposed; this implied a mitigation of the punishment without a formal appeal — an excellent provision in Athenian law, testifying to its humanity. In this penalty the punishment in itself is not brought into question, but only the kind of punishment; the judges had decided that Socrates deserved punishment. But when it was left to the accused to determine what his punishment should be, it might not be arbitrary, but must be in conformity with the crime, a money or bodily punishment (o, ti crh paqein h apotiqat). But it was implied in the guilty person’s constituting himself his own judge that he submitted himself to the decision of the court and acknowledged himself to be guilty. Now Socrates declined to assign a punishment for himself consisting either of fine or. banishment, and he had the choice between these and death, which his accusers proposed. He declined to choose the former punishment because he, according to Xenophon’s account (Apol. Socr. § 23), in the formality of the exchange-penalty (to upotimasqai), as he said, would acknowledge guilt; but there was no longer any question as to the guilt, but only as to the kind of punishment.
This silence may indeed be considered as moral greatness, but, on the other hand, it contradicts in some measure what Socrates says later on in prison, that he did not wish to flee, but remained there, because it seemed better to the Athenians and better to him to submit to the laws (Vol. L, p. 342). But the first submission would have meant that as the Athenians had found him guilty, he respected this decision, and acknowledged himself as guilty. Consistently he would thus have held it better to impose his punishment, since thereby he would not only have submitted himself to the laws, but also to the judgment. We see in Sophocles (Antig., verses 925, 926), the heavenly Antigone, that noblest of figures that ever appeared on earth, going to her death, her last words merely stating —
“If this seems good unto the gods,
Suffering, we may be made to know our error.”
Pericles also submitted himself to the judgment of the people as sovereign; we saw him (Vol. L, p. 328) going round the citizens entreating for Aspasia and Anaxagoras. In the Roman Republic we likewise find the noblest men begging of the citizens. There is nothing dishonouring to the individual in this, for he must bend before the general power, and the real and noblest power is the people. This acknowledgment the people must have direct from those who raise themselves amongst them. Here, on the contrary, Socrates disclaims the submission to, and humiliation before the power of the people, for he did not wish to ask for the remission of his punishment. We admire in him a moral independence which, conscious of its own right, insists upon it and does not bend either to act otherwise, or to recognize as wrong what it itself regards as right. Socrates hence exposed himself to death, which could not be regarded as the punishment for the fault of which he was found guilty; for the fact that he would not himself determine the punishment, and thus disdained the juridical power of the people, was foremost in leading to his condemnation. In a general way he certainly recognized the sovereignty of the people, but not in this individual case; it has, however, to be recognized, not only in general, but in each separate case. With us the competency of the court is presupposed, and the criminal judged. without further ado; to-day the whole matter is also open to the light of day and accepted as an acknowledged fact. But with the Athenians we find the characteristic request that the prisoner should, through the act of imposing on himself a penalty, sanction the judge’s sentence of guilt. In England this is certainly not the case, but there still remains a like form of asking the accused by what law he wishes to be judged. He then answers, by the law of the land and by the judges of his country. Here we have the recognition of legal operations.
Socrates thus set his conscience in opposition to the judges’ sentence, and acquitted himself before its tribunal. But no people, and least of all a free people like the Athenians, bas by this freedom to recognize a tribunal of conscience which knows no consciousness of having fulfilled its duty excepting its own consciousness. To this government and law, the universal spirit of the people, may reply: “If you have the consciousness of having done your duty, we must also have the consciousness that you have so done.”
For the first principle of a State is that there is no reason or conscience or righteousness or anything else, higher than what the State recognizes as such. Quakers, Anabaptists, &c., who resist any demands made on them by the State, such as to defend the Fatherland, cannot be tolerated in a true State. This miserable freedom of thinking and believing what men will, is not permitted, nor any such retreat behind personal consciousness of duty. If this consciousness is no mere hypocrisy, in order that what the individual does should be recognized as duty, it must be recognized as such by all. If the people can make mistakes the individual may do so much more easily, and he must be conscious that he can do this much more easily than the people. Now law also has a conscience and has to speak through it; the law-court is the privileged conscience. Now if the miscarriage of justice in atrial is shown by every conscience clamouring for something different, the conscience of the court alone possesses any value as being the universal legalized conscience, which does not require to recognize the particular conscience of the accused. Men are too easily convinced of having fulfilled their duty, but the judge finds out whether duty is in fact fulfilled, even if men have the consciousness of its being so.
We should expect nothing else of Socrates than that he should go to meet his death in the most calm and manly fashion. Plato’s account of the wonderful scene his last hours presented, although containing nothing very special, forms an elevating picture, and will be to us a permanent representation of a noble deed. The last dialogue of Plato is popular philosophy, for the immortality of the soul is here first brought forward; yet it brings no consolation, for, as Homer makes Achilles say in the nether world. he would prefer to be a ploughboy on the earth.
But though the people of Athens asserted through the execution of this judgment the rights of their law as against the attacks of Socrates, and had punished the injury caused to their moral life by Socrates, Socrates was still the hero who possessed for himself the absolute right of the mind, certain of itself and of the inwardly deciding consciousness, and thus expressed the higher principle of mind with consciousness. Now because, as has been said, this new principle by effecting an entrance into the Greek world, has come into collision with the substantial spirit and the existing sentiments of the Athenian people, a reaction had to take place, for the principle of the Greek world could not yet bear the principle of subjective reflection. The Athenian people were thus, not only justified, but also bound to react against it according to their law, for they regarded this principle as a crime. In general history we find that this is the position of the heroes through whom a new world commences, and whose principle stands in contradiction to what has gone before and disintegrates it: they appear to be violently destroying the laws. Hence individually they are vanquished, but it is only the individual, and not the principle, which is negated in punishment, and the spirit of the Athenian people did not in the removal of the individual, recover its old position. The false form of individuality is taken away, and that, indeed, in a violent way, by punishment; but the principle itself will penetrate later, if in another form, and elevate itself into a form of the world-spirit. This universal mode in which the principle comes forth and permeates the present is the true one; what was wrong was the fact that the principle came forth only as the peculiar possession of one individual. His own world could not comprehend Socrates, but posterity can, in as far as it stands above both. It may be conceived that the life of Socrates had no need to have such an. end, for Socrates might have lived and died a private philosopher, and his teaching might have been quietly accepted by his disciples, and have spread farther still without receiving any notice from State or people; the accusation thus would seem to have been contingent. But it must be said that it was through the manner of that event that this principle became so highly honoured. The principle is not merely something new and peculiar to itself, but it is an absolutely essential moment in the self-developing consciousness of self which is designed to bring to pass as a totality, a new and higher actuality. The Athenians perceived correctly that this principle not only meant opinion and doctrine, for its true attitude was that of a direct and even hostile and destructive relation to the actuality of the Greek mind; and they proceeded in accordance with this perception. Hence, what follows in Socrates’ life is not contingent, but necessarily follows upon his principle. Or the honour of having recognized that relation, and indeed of having felt that they themselves were tinged with this principle, is due to the Athenians.
c. The Athenians likewise repented of their condemnation of Socrates, and punished some of his accusers with death itself, and others with banishment; for according to Athenian laws, the man who made an accusation, and whose accusation was found to be false, usually underwent the same punishment that otherwise the criminal would have borne. This is the last act in this drama. On the one hand the Athenians recognized through their repentance the individual greatness of the man; but on the other (and this we find by looking closer) they also recognized that this principle in Socrates, signifying the introduction of new gods and disrespect to parents, has — while destructive and hostile to it — been introduced even into their own spirit, and that they themselves are in the dilemma of having in Socrates only condemned their own principle. In that they regretted the just judgment of Socrates, it seems to be implied that they wished that it had not occurred. But from the regret it does not follow that in itself it should not have occurred, but only that it should not have happened for their consciousness. Both together constitute the innocence which is guilty and atones for its guilt; it would only be senseless and despicable if there were no guilt. An innocent person who comes off badly is a simpleton; hence it is a very flat and uninteresting matter when tyrants and innocent persons are represented in tragedies, just because this is an empty contingency. A great man would be guilty and overcome the great crisis that ensues; Christ thus gave up his individuality, but what was brought forth by him remained.
The fate of Socrates is hence really tragic, not in the superficial sense of the word and as every misfortune is called tragic. The death of an estimable individual must, in such a sense, be specially tragic, and thus it is said of Socrates, that because he was innocent and condemned to death, his fate was tragic. But such innocent suffering would only be sad and not tragic, for it would not be a rational misfortune. Misfortune is only rational when it is brought about by the will of the subject, who must be absolutely justified and moral in what he does, like the power against which he wars — which must therefore not be a merely natural power, or the power of a tyrannic will. For it is only in such a case that man himself has any part in his misfortune, while natural death is only an absolute right which nature exercises over men. Hence, in what is truly tragic there must be valid moral powers on both the sides which come into collision; this was so with Socrates. His is likewise not merely a personal, individually romantic lot; for we have in it the universally moral and tragic fate, the tragedy of Athens, the tragedy of Greece. Two opposed rights come into collision, and the one destroys the other. Thus both suffer loss and yet both are mutually justified; it is not as though the one alone were right and the other wrong. The one power is the divine right, the natural morality whose laws are identical with the will which dwells therein as in its own essence, freely and nobly; we may call it abstractly objective freedom. The other principle, on the contrary, is the right, as really divine, of consciousness or of subjective freedom; this is the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, i.e. of self-creative reason; and it is the universal principle of Philosophy for all successive times. It is these two principles which we see coming into opposition in the life and the philosophy of Socrates.
The Athenian people had come into a period of culture, in which this individual consciousness made itself independent of the universal spirit and became for itself. This was perceived by them in Socrates, but at the same time it was felt that it meant, rain, and thus they punished an element which was their own. The principle of Socrates is hence not the transgression of one individual, for all were implicated; — the crime was one that the spirit of the people committed against itself. Through this perception the condemnation of Socrates was retracted; Socrates appeared to have committed no crime, for the spirit of the people has now generally reached the consciousness which turns back from the universal into itself. This meant the disintegration of this people, whose mind, and spirit consequently soon disappeared from the world, but yet out of its ashes a higher took its rise, for the world-spirit had raised itself into a higher consciousness. The Athenian State, indeed, endured for long, but the bloom of its character soon faded. It is characteristic of Socrates that he grasped the principle of the inwardness of knowledge, not practically merely, as did Critias and Alcibiades (supra, pp. 421, 438), but in thought, making it valid to thought, and this is the higher method. ]Knowledge, brought about the Fall, but it also contains the principle of Redemption. Thus what to others was only ruin, to Socrates, because it was the principle of knowledge, was also a principle of healing. The development of this principle, which constitutes the content of all successive history, is explicitly the reason that the later philosophers withdrew from the affairs of the State, restricted themselves to cultivating an inner world, separated from themselves the universal aim of the moral culture of the people, and took up a position contrary to the spirit of Athens and the Athenians. From this it came to pass that particularity of ends and interests now became powerful in Athens. This has, in common with the Socratic principle, the fact that what seems right and duty, good and useful to the subject in relation to himself as well as to the State, depends on his inward determination and choice, and not on the constitution and the universal. This principle of self-determination for the individual has, however, become the ruin of the Athenian people, because it was not yet identified with the constitution of the people; and thus the higher principle must in every case appear to bring ruin with it where it is not yet identified with the substantial of the people. The Athenian life became weak, and the State outwardly powerless, because its spirit was divided within itself. Hence it was dependent on Lacedæmon, and we finally see the external subordination of these States to the Macedonians.
We axe done with Socrates. I have been more detailed here because all the features of the case have been so completely in harmony, and he constitutes a great historic turning point. Socrates died at sixty-nine years of age, in Olympiad 95, 1 (399-400 B.C.), an Olympiad after the end of the Pelopennesian war, twenty-nine years after the death of Pericles, and forty-four years before the birth of Alexander. He saw Athens in its greatness and the beginning of its fall; he experienced the height of its bloom and the beginning of its misfortunes.
1. The distinction between these two words is a very important one. Schwegler, in explaining Hegel’s position in his “History of Philosophy,” states that Hegel asserts that Socrates set Moralität, the subjective morality of individual conscience, in the place of Sittlichkeit, “the spontaneous, natural, half-unconscious (almost instinctive) virtue that rests in obedience to established custom (use and wont, natural objective law, that is at bottom, according to Hegel, rational, though not yet subjectively cleared, perhaps, into its rational principles).” As Dr. Stirling says in his Annotations to the same work (p. 394), There is a period in the history of the State when people live in tradition; that is a period of unreflected Sittlichkeit, or natural observance. Then there comes a time when the observances are questioned, and when the right or truth they involve is reflected into the subject. This is a period of Aufklärung, and for Sittlichkeit there is substituted Moralität, subjective morality: the subject will approve nought but what he finds inwardly true to himself, to his conscience.”
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