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Title: Plato and the Other Companions of Sokrates, 3rd ed. Volume III (of 4)
Author: Grote, George, 1794-1871
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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_The right of Translation is reserved._




These two are the two erotic dialogues of Plato. Phædrus is the
originator of both   1

Eros as conceived by Plato. Different sentiment prevalent in
Hellenic antiquity and in modern times. Position of women in
Greece   _ib._

Eros, considered as the great stimulus to improving philosophical
communion. Personal Beauty, the great point of approximation
between the world of sense and the world of Ideas. Gradual
generalisation of the sentiment   4

All men love Good, as the means of Happiness, but they pursue it
by various means. The name _Eros_ is confined to one special case
of this large variety   5

Desire of mental copulation and procreation, as the only
attainable likeness of immortality, requires the sight of personal
beauty as an originating stimulus   6

Highest exaltation of the erotic impulse in a few privileged
minds, when it ascends gradually to the love of Beauty in general.
This is the most absorbing sentiment of all   7

Purpose of the Symposion, to contrast this Platonic view of Eros
with several different views of it previously enunciated by the
other speakers; closing with a panegyric on Sokrates, by the
drunken Alkibiades   8

Views of Eros presented by Phædrus, Pausanias, Eryximachus,
Aristophanes, Agathon   9

Discourse of Sokrates from revelation of Diotima. He describes
Eros as not a God, but an intermediate Dæmon between Gods and men,
constantly aspiring to divinity, but not attaining it   9

Analogy of the erotic aspiration with that of the philosopher, who
knows his own ignorance and thirsts for knowledge   10

Eros as presented in the Phædrus--Discourse of Lysias, and
counter-discourse of Sokrates, adverse to Eros--Sokrates is seized
with remorse, and recants in a high-flown panegyric on Eros   11

Panegyric--Sokrates admits that the influence of Eros is a variety
of madness, but distinguishes good and bad varieties of madness,
both coming from the Gods. Good madness is far better than
sobriety   _ib._

Poetical mythe delivered by Sokrates, describing the immortality
and pre-existence of the soul, and its pre-natal condition of
partial companionship with
Gods and eternal Ideas   12

Operation of such pre-natal experience upon the Intellectual
faculties of man--Comparison and combination of particular
sensations indispensable--Reminiscence   13

Reminiscence is kindled up in the soul of the philosopher by the
aspect of visible Beauty, which is the great link between the
world of sense and the world of Ideas   14

Elevating influence ascribed, both in Phædrus and Symposion, to
Eros Philosophus. Mixture in the mind of Plato, of poetical fancy
and religious mysticism, with dialectic theory   15

Differences between Symposion and Phædrus. In-dwelling conceptions
assumed by the former, pre-natal experiences by the latter   17

Nothing but metaphorical immortality recognised in Symposion _ib._

Form or Idea of Beauty presented singly and exclusively in
Symposion   18

Eros recognised, both in Phædrus and Symposion, as affording the
initiatory stimulus to philosophy--Not so recognised in Phædon,
Theætêtus, and elsewhere   _ib._

Concluding scene and speech of Alkibiades in the
Symposion--Behaviour of Sokrates to Alkibiades and other handsome
youths   19

Perfect self-command of Sokrates--proof against every sort of
trial   20

Drunkenness of others at the close of the Symposion--Sokrates is
not affected by it, but continues his dialectic process   21

Symposion and Phædon--each is the antithesis and complement of the
other   22

Symposion of Plato compared with that of Xenophon    _ib._

Small proportion of the serious, in the Xenophontic Symposion   24

Platonic Symposion more ideal and transcendental than the
Xenophontic   25

Second half of the Phædrus--passes into a debate on Rhetoric. Eros
is considered as a subject for rhetorical exercise   26

Lysias is called a logographer by active politicians. Contempt
conveyed by the word. Sokrates declares that the only question is,
Whether a man writes well or ill   27

Question about teaching the art of writing well or speaking well.
Can it be taught upon system or principle? Or does the successful
Rhetor succeed only by unsystematic knack?   28

Theory of Sokrates--that all art of persuasion must be founded
upon a knowledge of the truth, and of gradations of resemblance to
the truth _ib._

Comparison made by Sokrates between the discourse of Lysias and
his own. Eros is differently understood: Sokrates defined what he
meant by it: Lysias did not define   29

Logical processes--Definition and Division--both of them
exemplified in the two discourses of Sokrates   _ib._

View of Sokrates--that there is no real Art of Rhetoric, except
what is already comprised in Dialectic--The rhetorical teaching is
empty and useless   30

What the Art of Rhetoric ought to be--Analogy of Hippokrates and
the medical Art   31

Art of Rhetoric ought to include a systematic classification of
minds with all their varieties, and of discourses with all their
varieties. The Rhetor must know how to apply the one to the other,
suitably to each particular case   32

The Rhetorical Artist must farther become possessed of real truth,
as well as that which his auditors believe to be truth. He is not
sufficiently rewarded for this labour   33

Question about Writing--As an Art, for the purpose of instruction,
it can do little--Reasons why. Writing may remind the reader of
what he already knows   _ib._

Neither written words, nor continuous speech, will produce any
serious effect in teaching. Dialectic and cross-examination are
necessary   34

The Dialectician and Cross-Examiner is the only man who can really
teach. If the writer can do this, he is more than a writer   37

Lysias is only a logographer: Isokrates promises to become a
philosopher   38

Date of the Phædrus--not an early dialogue _ib._

Criticism given by Plato on the three discourses--His theory of
Rhetoric is more Platonic than Sokratic   _ib._

His theory postulates, in the Rhetor, knowledge already assured--it
assumes that all the doubts have been already removed   39

The Expositor, with knowledge and logical process, teaches minds
unoccupied and willing to learn   _ib._

The Rhetor does not teach, but persuades persons with minds
pre-occupied--guiding them methodically from error to truth   40

He must then classify the minds to be persuaded, and the means of
persuasion or varieties of discourse. He must know how to fit on
the one to the other in each particular case   41

Plato's _Idéal_ of the Rhetorical Art--involves in part
incompatible conditions--the Wise man or philosopher will never be
listened to by the public   _ib._

The other part of the Platonic _Idéal_ is grand but
unattainable--breadth of psychological data and classified
modes of discourse   42

Plato's ideal grandeur compared with the rhetorical
teachers--Usefulness of these teachers for the wants of an
accomplished man   44

The Rhetorical teachers conceived the Art too narrowly: Plato
conceived it too widely. The principles of an Art are not required
to be explained to all learners   45

Plato includes in his conception of Art, the application thereof
to new particular cases. This can never be taught by rule   46

Plato's charge against the Rhetorical teachers is not made out

Plato has not treated Lysias fairly, in neglecting his greater
works, and selecting for criticism an erotic exercise for a
private circle   47

No fair comparison can be taken between this exercise of Lysias
and the discourses delivered by Sokrates in the Phædrus  48

Continuous discourse, either written or spoken, inefficacious as a
means of instruction to the ignorant   49

Written matter is useful as a memorandum for persons who know--or
as an elegant pastime   50

Plato's didactic theories are pitched too high to be realised   51

No one has ever been found competent to solve the difficulties
raised by Sokrates, Arkesilaus, Karneades, and the negative vein
of philosophy _ib._

Plato's _idéal_ philosopher can only be realised under the
hypothesis of a pre-existent and omniscient soul, stimulated into
full reminiscence here   52

Different proceeding of Plato in the Timæus   53

Opposite tendencies co-existent in Plato's mind--Extreme of the
Transcendental or Absolute--Extreme of specialising adaptation to
individuals and occasions   54



Character of dialogues immediately preceding--much transcendental
assertion. Opposite character of the Parmenides   56

Sokrates is the juvenile defendant--Parmenides the veteran censor
and cross-examiner. Parmenides gives a specimen of exercises to be
performed by the philosophical aspirant   _ib._

Circumstances and persons of the Parmenides   57

Manner in which the doctrine of Parmenides was impugned. Manner in
which his partisan Zeno defended him   58

Sokrates here impugns the doctrine of Zeno. He affirms the
Platonic theory of ideas separate from sensible objects, yet
participable by them   60

Parmenides and Zeno admire the philosophical ardour of Sokrates.
Parmenides advances objections against the Platonic theory of
Ideas   60

What Ideas does Sokrates recognise? Of the Just and Good? Yes. Of
Man, Horse, &c.? Doubtful. Of Hair, Mud, &c.? No   _ib._

Parmenides declares that no object in nature is mean to the
philosopher   61

Remarks upon this--Contrast between emotional and scientific
classification   _ib._

Objections of Parmenides--How can objects participate in the
Ideas. Each cannot have the whole Idea, nor a part thereof   62

Comparing the Idea with the sensible objects partaking in the
Idea, there is a likeness between them which must be  represented
by a higher Idea--and so on _ad infinitum_   63

Are the Ideas conceptions of the mind, and nothing more?
Impossible   64

The Ideas are types or exemplars, and objects partake of them by
being likened to them. Impossible   65

If Ideas exist, they cannot be knowable by us. We can know only
what is relative to ourselves. Individuals are relative to
individuals: Ideas relative to Ideas   _ib._

Forms can be known only through the Form of Cognition, which we do
not possess   66

Form of cognition, superior to our Cognition, belongs to the Gods.
We cannot know them, nor can they know us   _ib._

Sum total of objections against the Ideas is grave. But if we do
not admit that Ideas exist, and that they are knowable, there can
be no dialectic discussion   67

Dilemma put by Parmenides--Acuteness of his objections   68

The doctrine which Parmenides attacks is the genuine Platonic
theory of Ideas. His objections are never answered in any part of
the Platonic dialogues   _ib._

Views of Stallbaum and Socher. The latter maintains that Plato
would never make such objections against his own theory, and
denies the authenticity of the Parmenidês   69

Philosophers are usually advocates, each of a positive system of
his own   70

Different spirit of Plato in his Dialogues of Search   _ib._

The Parmenidês is the extreme manifestation of the negative
element. That Plato should employ one dialogue in setting forth
the negative case against the Theory of Ideas is not unnatural

Force of the negative case in the Parmenidês. Difficulties about
participation of sensible objects in the world of Ideas   _ib._

Difficulties about the Cognizability of Ideas. If Ideas are
absolute, they cannot be cognizable: if they are cognizable, they
must be relative. Doctrine of Homo Mensura   72

Answer of Sokrates--That Ideas are mere conceptions of the mind.
Objection of Parmenides correct, though undeveloped   73

Meaning of Abstract and General Terms, debated from ancient times
to the present day--Different views of Plato and Aristotle upon it

Plato never expected to make his Ideas fit on to the facts of
sense: Aristotle tried to do it and partly succeeded   78

Continuation of the Dialogue--Parmenides admonishes Sokrates that
he has been premature in delivering a doctrine, without sufficient
preliminary exercise   79

What sort of exercise? Parmenides describes: To assume
provisionally both the affirmative and the negative of many
hypotheses about the most general terms, and to trace the
consequences of each   _ib._

Impossible to do this before a numerous audience--Parmenides is
entreated to give a specimen--After much solicitation he agrees

Parmenides elects his own theory of the _Unum_, as the topic for
exhibition--Aristoteles becomes respondent   _ib._

Exhibition of Parmenides--Nine distinct deductions or
Demonstrations, first from _Unum Est_--next from _Unum non Est_

The Demonstrations in antagonising pairs, or Antinomies.
Perplexing entanglement of conclusions given without any
explanation   _ib._

Different judgments of Platonic critics respecting the Antinomies
and the dialogue generally   82

No dogmatical solution or purpose is wrapped up in the dialogue.
The purpose is negative, to make a theorist keenly feel all the
difficulties of theorising   85

This negative purpose is expressly announced by Plato himself. All
dogmatical purpose, extending farther, is purely hypothetical, and
even inconsistent with what is declared   87

The Demonstrations or Antinomies considered. They include much
unwarranted assumption and subtlety. Collection of unexplained
perplexities or [Greek: a)pori/ai]   88

Even if Plato himself saw through these subtleties, he might still
choose to impose and to heap up difficulties in the way of a
forward affirmative aspirant   89

The exercises exhibited by Parmenides are exhibited only as
illustrative specimens of a method enjoined to be applied to many
other Antinomies   91

These Platonic Antinomies are more formidable than any of the
sophisms or subtleties broached by the Megaric philosophers

In order to understand fully the Platonic Antinomies, we ought to
have before us the problems of the Megarics and others.
Uselessness of searching for a positive result   93

Assumptions of Parmenides in his Demonstrations convey the minimum
of determinate meaning. Views of Aristotle upon these
indeterminate predicates, Ens,  Unum, &c.   94

In the Platonic Demonstrations the same proposition in words is
made to bear very different meanings   95

First demonstration ends in an assemblage of negative conclusions.
_Reductio ad Absurdum_, of the assumption--Unum non Multa   96

Second Demonstration   97

It ends in demonstrating _Both_, of that which the first
Demonstration had demonstrated _Neither_   98

Startling paradox--Open offence against logical canon--No logical
canon had then been laid down   99

Demonstration third--Attempt to reconcile the contradiction of
Demonstrations I. and II.   100

Plato's imagination of the Sudden or Instantaneous--Breaches or
momentary stoppages in the course of time   _ib._

Review of the successive pairs of Demonstrations or Antinomies in
each, the first proves the Neither, the second proves the Both

The third Demonstration is mediatorial but not satisfactory--The
hypothesis of the Sudden or Instantaneous found no favour   102

Review of the two last Antinomies. Demonstrations VI. and VII.

Demonstration VII. is founded upon the genuine doctrine of
Parmenides   104

Demonstrations VI. and VII. considered--Unwarrantable steps in the
reasoning--The fundamental premiss differently interpreted, though
the same in words   105

Demonstrations VIII. and IX.--Analysis of Demonstration VIII.

Demonstration VIII. is very subtle and Zenonian   107

Demonstration IX. _Neither_ following _Both_   _ib._

Concluding words of the Parmenides--Declaration that he has
demonstrated the Both and the Neither of many different
propositions   108

Comparison of the conclusion of the Parmenides to an enigma of the
Republic. Difference. The constructor of the enigma adapted its
conditions to a foreknown solution. Plato did not   _ib._



Subjects and personages in the Theætêtus   110

Question raised by Sokrates--What is knowledge or Cognition? First
answer of Theætêtus, enumerating many different cognitions.
Corrected by Sokrates   111

Preliminary conversation before the second answer is given.
Sokrates describes his own peculiar efficacy--mental obstetric--He
cannot teach, but he can evolve knowledge out of pregnant minds

Ethical basis of the cross-examination of Sokrates--He is
forbidden to pass by falsehood without challenge   113

Answer of Theætêtus--Cognition is sensible perception: Sokrates
says that this is the same doctrine as the _Homo Mensura_ laid
down by Protagoras, and that both are in close affinity with the
doctrines of Homer, Herakleitus, Empedoklês, &c., all except
Parmenides   _ib._

Plato here blends together three distinct theories for the purpose
of confuting them; yet he also professes to urge what can be said
in favour of them. Difficulty of following his exposition   114

The doctrine of Protagoras is completely distinct from the other
doctrines. The identification of them as one and the same is only
constructive--the interpretation of Plato himself   115

Explanation of the doctrine of Protagoras--_Homo Mensura_   116

Perpetual implication of Subject with Object--Relate and Correlate

Such relativity is no less true in regard to the ratiocinative
combinations of each individual, than in regard to his percipient
capacities   _ib._

Evidence from Plato proving implication of Subject and Object, in
regard to the intelligible world   121

The Protagorean measure is even more easily shown in reference to
the intelligible world than in reference to sense   122

Object always relative to Subject--Either without the other,
impossible. Plato admits this in Sophistes   126

Plato's representation of the Protagorean doctrine in intimate
conjunction with the Herakleitean   126

Relativity of sensible facts, as described by him   _ib._

Relations are nothing in the object purely and simply without a
comparing subject   127

Relativity twofold--to the comparing Subject--to another object,
besides the one directly described   _ib._

Statement of the doctrine of Herakleitus--yet so as to implicate
it with that of Protagoras   128

Agent and Patient--No absolute Ens   129

Arguments derived from dreams, fevers, &c., may be answered   130

Exposition of the Protagorean doctrine, as given here by Sokrates
is to a great degree just. You cannot explain the facts of
consciousness by independent Subject and Object   131

Plato's attempt to get behind the phenomena. Reference to a double
potentiality--Subjective and Objective   133

Arguments advanced by the Platonic Sokrates against the
Protagorean doctrine. He says that it puts the wise and foolish on
a par--that it contradicts the common consciousness. Not every
one, but the wise man only, is a measure   135

In matters of present sentiment every man can judge for himself.
Where future consequences are involved special knowledge is
required   136

Plato, when he impugns the doctrine of Protagoras, states that
doctrine without the qualification properly belonging to it. All
belief relative to the condition of the believing mind   137

All exposition and discussion is an assemblage of individual
judgments and affirmations. This fact is disguised by elliptical
forms of language   139

Argument--That the Protagorean doctrine equalises all men and
animals. How far true. Not true in the sense requisite to sustain
Plato's objection   141

Belief on authority is true to the believer himself--The efficacy
of authority resides in the believer's own mind   142

Protagorean formula--is false, to those who dissent from it   143

Plato's argument that the wise man alone is a measure--Reply to it

Plato's argument as to the distinction between present sensation
and anticipation of the future   145

The formula of Relativity does not imply that every man believes
himself to be infallible   _ib._

Plato's argument is untenable--That if the Protagorean formula be
admitted, dialectic discussion would be annulled--The reverse is
true--Dialectic recognises the autonomy of the Individual mind

Contrast with the Treatise De Legibus--Plato assumes infallible
authority--sets aside dialectic   148

Plato in denying the Protagorean formula, constitutes himself the
measure for all. Counter proposition to the formula   _ib._

Import of the Protagorean formula is best seen when we state
explicitly the counter-proposition   150

Unpopularity of the Protagorean formula--Most believers insist
upon making themselves a measure for others, as well as for
themselves. Appeal to Abstractions   150

Aristotle failed in his attempts to refute the Protagorean
formula--Every reader of Aristotle will claim the right of
examining for himself Aristotle's canons of truth   152

Plato's examination of the other doctrine--That knowledge is
Sensible Perception. He adverts to sensible facts which are
different with different Percipients   153

Such is not the case with all the facts of sense. The conditions
of unanimity are best found among select facts of sense--weighing,
measuring, &c.   154

Arguments of Sokrates in examining this question. Divergence
between one man and another arises, not merely from different
sensual impressibility, but from mental and associative difference

Argument--That sensible Perception does not include
memory--Probability that those who held the doctrine meant to include
memory   157

Argument from the analogy of seeing and not seeing at the same
time   _ib._

Sokrates maintains that we do not see _with_ our eyes, but that
the mind sees _through_ the eyes: that the mind often conceives
and judges by itself without the aid of any bodily organ   159

Indication of several judgments which the mind makes by itself--It
perceives Existence, Difference, &c.   160

Sokrates maintains that knowledge is to be found, not in the
Sensible Perceptions themselves, but in the comparisons add
computations of the mind respecting them   161

Examination of this view--Distinction from the views of modern
philosophers   162

Different views given by Plato in other dialogues   163

Plato's discussion of this question here exhibits a remarkable
advance in analytical psychology. The mind rises from Sensation,
first to Opinion, then to Cognition   164

Plato did not recognise Verification from experience, or from
facts of sense, as either necessary or possible   168

Second definition given by Theætêtus--That Cognition consists in
right or true opinion   _ib._

Objection by Sokrates--This definition assumes that there are
false opinions. But how can false opinions be possible? How can we
conceive Non-Ens: or confound together two distinct realities?

Waxen memorial tablet in the mind, on which past impressions are
engraved. False opinion consists in wrongly identifying present
sensations with past impressions   169

Sokrates refutes this assumption. Dilemma. Either false opinion is
impossible, or else a man may know what he does not know   170

He draws distinction between possessing knowledge, and having it
actually in hand. Simile of the pigeon-cage with caught pigeons
turned into it and flying about   _ib._

Sokrates refutes this. Suggestion of Theætêtus--That there may be
non-cognitions in the mind as well as cognitions, and that false
opinion may consist in confounding one with the other. Sokrates
rejects this   171

He brings another argument to prove that Cognition is not the same
as true opinion. Rhetors persuade or communicate true opinion; but
they do not teach or communicate knowledge   172

New answer of Theætêtus--Cognition is true opinion, coupled with
rational explanation   173

Criticism on the answer by Sokrates. Analogy of letters and words,
primordial elements and compounds. Elements cannot be explained:
compounds alone can be explained   _ib._

Sokrates refutes this criticism. If the elements are unknowable,
the compound must be unknowable also   174

Rational explanation may have one of three different meanings. 1.
Description in appropriate language. 2. Enumeration of all the
component elements in the compound. In neither of these meanings
will the definition of Cognition hold   _ib._

Third meaning. To assign some mark, whereby the thing to be
explained differs from everything else. The definition will not
hold. For rational explanation, in this sense, is already included
in true opinion   175

Conclusion of the dialogue--Summing up by Sokrates--Value of the
result, although purely negative   176

Remarks on the dialogue. View of Plato. False persuasion of
knowledge removed. Importance of such removal   _ib._

Formation of the testing or verifying power in men's minds, value
of the Theætêtus, as it exhibits Sokrates demolishing his own
suggestions   177

Comparison of the Philosopher with the Rhetor. The Rhetor is
enslaved to the opinions of auditors   178

The Philosopher is master of his own debates   179

Purpose of dialogue to qualify for a life of philosophical Search

Difficulties of the Theætêtus are not solved in any other Dialogue

Plato considered that the search for Truth was the noblest
occupation of life   182

Contrast between the philosopher and the practical
statesman--between Knowledge and Opinion   183



Persons and circumstances of the two dialogues   185

Relation of the two dialogues to the Theætêtus   187

Plato declares that his first purpose is to administer a lesson in
logical method: the special question chosen, being subordinate to
that purpose   188

Method of logical Definition and Division   _ib._

Sokrates tries the application of this method, first, upon a
vulgar subject. To find the logical place and deduction of the
Angler. Superior classes above him. Bisecting division   189

Such a lesson in logical classification was at that time both
novel and instructive. No logical manuals then existed   190

Plato describes the Sophist as analogous to an angler. He traces
the Sophist by descending subdivision from the acquisitive genus
of art   191

The Sophist traced down from the same, by a second and different
descending subdivision   192

Also, by a third   193

The Sophist is traced down, from the genus of separating or
discriminating art   194

In a logical classification, low and vulgar items deserve as much
attention as grand ones. Conflict between emotional and scientific
classification   195

The purifier--a species under the genus discriminator--separates
good from evil. Evil is of two sorts; the worst sort is,
Ignorance, mistaking itself for knowledge   197

Exhortation is useless against this worst mode of evil.
Cross-examination, the shock of the Elenchus, must be brought to bear
upon it. This is the sovereign purifier   _ib._

The application of this Elenchus is the work of the Sophist,
looked at on its best side. But looked at as he really is, he is a
juggler who teaches pupils to dispute about every thing--who palms
off falsehood for truth   198

Doubt started by the Eleate. How can it be possible either to
think or to speak falsely?   199

He pursues the investigation of this problem by a series of
questions   _ib._

The Sophist will reject our definition and escape, by affirming
that to speak falsely is impossible. He will require us to make
out a rational theory, explaining Non-Ens   200

The Eleate turns from Non-Ens to Ens. Theories of various
philosophers about Ens   _ib._

Difficulties about Ens are as great as those about Non-Ens   201

Whether Ens is Many or One? If Many, how Many? Difficulties about
One and the Whole. Theorists about Ens cannot solve them   201

Theories of those who do not recognise a definite number of Entia
or elements. Two classes thereof   202

1. The Materialist Philosophers. 2. The Friends of Forms or
Idealists, who recognise such Forms as the only real Entia   _ib._

Argument against the Materialists--Justice must be something,
since it may be either present or absent, making sensible
difference--But Justice is not a body   203

At least many of them will concede this point, though not all Ens
is common to the corporeal and the incorporeal. Ens is equivalent
to potentiality   204

Argument against the Idealists--who distinguish Ens from the
generated, and say that we hold communion with the former through
our minds, with the latter through our bodies and senses   _ib._

Holding communion--What? Implies Relativity. Ens is known by the
mind. It therefore suffers or undergoes change. Ens includes both
the unchangeable and the changeable   205

Motion and rest are both of them Entia or realities. Both agree in
Ens. Ens is a _tertium quid_--distinct from both. But how can
anything be distinct from both?   206

Here the Eleate breaks off without solution. He declares his
purpose to show, That Ens is as full of puzzle as Non-Ens   _ib._

Argument against those who admit no predication to be legitimate,
except identical. How far Forms admit of intercommunion with each
other   _ib._

No intercommunion between any distinct forms. Refuted. Common
speech is inconsistent with this hypothesis   207

Reciprocal intercommunion of all Forms--inadmissible   _ib._

Some Forms admit of intercommunion, others not. This is the only
admissible doctrine. Analogy of letters and syllables   _ib._

Art and skill are required to distinguish what Forms admit of
intercommunion, and what Forms do not. This is the special
intelligence of the Philosopher, who lives in the bright region of
Ens: the Sophist lives in the darkness of Non-Ens   208

He comes to enquire what Non-Ens is. He takes for examination five
principal Forms--Motion--Rest--Ens--Same--Different   _ib._

Form of Diversum pervades all the others   209

Motion is different from Diversum, or is not Diversum. Motion is
different from Ens--in other words, it is Non-Ens. Each of these
Forms is both Ens and Non-Ens   210

By Non-Ens, we do not mean anything contrary to Ens--we mean only
something different from Ens. Non-Ens is a real Form, as well as
Ens   _ib._

The Eleate claims to have refuted Parmenides, and to have shown
both that Non-Ens is a real Form, and also what it is   211

The theory now stated is the only one, yet given, which justifies
predication as a legitimate process, with a predicate different
from the subject   212

Enquiry, whether the Form of Non-Ens can come into intercommunion
with the Forms of Proposition, Opinion, Judgment   213

Analysis of a Proposition. Every Proposition must have a noun and
a verb--it must be proposition of _Something_. False propositions,
involve the Form of Non-Ens, in relation to the particular subject

Opinion, Judgment, Fancy, &c., are akin to Proposition, and may be
also false, by coming into partnership with the Form Non-Ens   214

It thus appears that Falsehood, imitating Truth, is theoretically
possible, and that there may be a profession, like that of the
Sophist, engaged in producing it   _ib._

Logical distribution of Imitators--those who imitate what they
know, or what they do not know--of these last, some sincerely
believe themselves to know, others are conscious that they do not
know, and designedly impose upon others   215

Last class divided--Those who impose on numerous auditors by long
discourse, the Rhetor--Those who impose on select auditors, by
short question and answer, making the respondent contradict
himself--the Sophist   215

Dialogue closed. Remarks upon it. Characteristics ascribed to a
Sophist   216

These characteristics may have belonged to other persons, but they
belonged in an especial manner to Sokrates himself   _ib._

The conditions enumerated in the dialogue (except the taking of a
fee) fit Sokrates better than any other known person   217

The art which Plato calls "the thoroughbred and noble Sophistical
Art" belongs to Sokrates and to no one else. The Elenchus was
peculiar to him. Protagoras and Prodikus were not Sophists in this
sense   218

Universal knowledge--was professed at that time by all
Philosophers--Plato, Aristotle, &c.   219

Inconsistency of Plato's argument in the Sophistês. He says that
the Sophist is a disputatious man who challenges every one for
speaking falsehood. He says also that the Sophist is one who
maintains false propositions to be impossible   220

Reasoning of Plato about Non-Ens--No predications except identical

Misconception of the function of the copula in predication   _ib._

No formal Grammar or Logic existed at that time. No analysis or
classification of propositions before the works of Aristotle   222

Plato's declared purpose in the Sophistês--To confute the various
schools of thinkers--Antisthenes, Parmenides, the Materialists,
&c.   223

Plato's refutation throws light upon the doctrine of Antisthenes

Plato's argument against the Materialists   224

Reply open to the Materialists   _ib._

Plato's argument against the Idealists or Friends of Forms. Their
point of view against him   225

Plato argues--That to know, and be known, is action and passion, a
mode of relativity   226

Plato's reasoning--compared with the points of view of both

The argument of Plato goes to an entire denial of the Absolute,
and a full establishment of the Relative   227

Coincidence of his argument with the doctrine of Protagoras in the
Theætêtus   _ib._

The Idealists maintained that Ideas or Forms were entirely
unchangeable and eternal. Plato here denies this, and maintains
that ideas were partly changeable, partly unchangeable   228

Plato's reasoning against the Materialists   _ib._

Difference between Concrete and Abstract, not then made
conspicuous. Large meaning here given by Plato to
Ens--comprehending not only objects of Perception, but objects of
Conception besides   229

Narrower meaning given by Materialists to Ens--they included only
Objects of Perception. Their reasoning as opposed to Plato   _ib._

Different definitions of Ens--by Plato--the Materialists, the
Idealists   231

Plato's views about Non-Ens examined   _ib._

His review of the select Five Forms   233

Plato's doctrine--That Non-Ens is nothing more than different from
Ens   _ib._

Communion of Non-Ens with proposition--possible and explicable

Imperfect analysis of a proposition--Plato does not recognise the
predicate   _ib._

Plato's explanation of Non-Ens is not satisfactory--Objections to
it   236

Plato's view of the negative is erroneous. Logical maxim of
contradiction   239

Examination of the illustrative propositions chosen by Plato--How
do we know that one is true, the other false?   _ib._

Necessity of accepting the evidence of sense   240

Errors of Antisthenes--depended partly on the imperfect formal
logic of that day   241

Doctrine of the Sophistês--contradicts that of other Platonic
dialogues   242

The persons whom Plato here attacks as Friends of Forms are those
who held the same doctrine as Plato himself espouses in Phædon,
Republic, &c.   246

The Sophistês recedes from the Platonic point of view, and
approaches the Aristotelian   247

Aristotle assumes without proof, that there are some propositions
true, others false   249

Plato in the Sophistês has undertaken an impossible task--He could
not have proved, against his supposed adversary, that there _are_
false propositions   _ib._

What must be assumed in all dialectic discussion   251

Discussion and theorising presuppose belief and disbelief,
expressed in set forms of words. They imply predication, which
Antisthenes discarded   252

Precepts and examples of logical partition, illustrated in the
Sophistês   253

Recommendation of logical bipartition   254

Precepts illustrated by the Philêbus   _ib._

Importance of founding logical Partition on resemblances perceived
by sense   255

Province of sensible perception--is not so much narrowed by Plato
here as it is in the Theætêtus   256

Comparison of the Sophistês with the Phædrus   257

Comparison of the Politikus with the Parmenidês   258

Variety of method in dialectic research--Diversity of Plato   259



The Politikus by itself, apart from the Sophistês   260

Views of Plato on mensuration. Objects measured against each
other. Objects compared with a common standard. In each Art, the
purpose to be attained is the standard   _ib._

Purpose in the Sophistês and Politikus is--To attain dialectic
aptitude. This is the standard of comparison whereby to judge
whether the means employed are suitable   261

Plato's defence of the Politikus against critics. Necessity that
the critic shall declare explicitly what his standard of
comparison is   262

Comparison of Politikus with Protagoras, Phædon, Philêbus, &c.

Definition of the statesman, or Governor. Scientific competence.
Sokratic point of departure. Procedure of Plato in subdividing

King during the Saturnian period, was of a breed superior to the
people--not so any longer   264

Distinction of causes Principal and Causes Auxiliary. The King is
the only Principal Cause, but his auxiliaries pretend to be
principal also   266

Plato does not admit the received classification of government. It
does not touch the point upon which all true distinction ought to
be founded--Scientific or Unscientific   267

Unscientific governments are counterfeits. Government by any
numerous body must be counterfeit. Government by the one
scientific man is the true government   268

Fixed laws, limiting the scientific Governor, are mischievous, as
they would be for the physician and the steersman. Absurdity of
determining medical practice by laws, and presuming every one to
know it   269

Government by fixed laws is better than lawless government by
unscientific men, but worse than lawless government by scientific
men. It is a second-best   _ib._

Comparison of unscientific governments. The one despot is the
worse. Democracy is the least bad, because it is least of a
government   270

The true governor distinguished from the General, the Rhetor, &c.
They are all properly his subordinates and auxiliaries   271

What the scientific Governor will do. He will aim at the formation
of virtuous citizens. He will weave together the energetic virtues
with the gentle virtues. Natural dissidence between them   272

If a man sins by excess of the energetic element, he is to be
killed or banished: if of the gentle, he is to be made a slave.
The Governor must keep up in the minds of the citizens an
unanimous standard of ethical orthodoxy   272

Remarks--Sokratic Ideal--Title to govern mankind derived
exclusively from scientific superiority in an individual person

Different ways in which this ideal is worked out by Plato and
Xenophon. The man of speculation and the man of action   _ib._

The theory in the Politikus is the contradiction to that theory
which is assigned to Protagoras in the Protagoras   274

Points of the Protagorean theory--rests upon common sentiment

Counter-Theory in the Politikus. The exigencies of the Eleate in
the Politikus go much farther than those of Protagoras   276

The Eleate complains that under the Protagorean theory no adverse
criticism is allowed. The dissenter is either condemned to silence
or punished   _ib._

Intolerance at Athens, not so great as elsewhere. Plato complains
of the assumption of infallibility in existing societies, but
exacts it severely in that which he himself constructs   277

Theory of the Politikus--distinguished three gradations of polity.
Gigantic individual force the worst   278

Comparison of the Politikus with the Republic. Points of analogy
and difference   279

Comparison of the Politikus with the Kratylus. Dictatorial,
constructive, science or art, common to both: applied in the
former to social administration--in the latter to the formation
and modification of names   281

Courage and Temperance are assumed in the Politikus. No notice
taken of the doubts and difficulties raised in Lachês and
Charmidês   282

Purpose of the difficulties in Plato's Dialogues of Search--To
stimulate the intellect of the hearer. His exposition does not
give solutions   284



Persons and subjects of the dialogue Kratylus--Sokrates has no
formed opinion, but is only a Searcher with the others   285

Argument of Sokrates against Hermogenes--all proceedings of nature
are conducted according to fixed laws--speaking and naming among
the rest   286

The name is a didactic instrument; fabricated by the law-giver
upon the type of the Name-Form, and employed as well as
appreciated, by the philosopher   287

Names have an intrinsic aptitude for signifying one thing and not
another   289

Forms of Names, as well as Forms of things nameable--essence of
the Nomen, to signify the Essence of its Nominatum   _ib._

Exclusive competence of a privileged lawgiver, to discern these
essences, and to apportion names rightly   290

Counter-Theory, which Sokrates here sets forth and impugns--the
Protagorean doctrine--Homo Mensura   291

Objection by Sokrates--That Protagoras puts all men on a level as
to wisdom and folly, knowledge and ignorance   292

Objection unfounded--What the Protagorean theory really
affirms--Belief always relative to the believer's mind   _ib._

Each man believes others to be wiser on various points than
himself--Belief on authority--not inconsistent with the
affirmation of Protagoras   293

Analogy of physical processes (cutting and burning) appealed to by
Sokrates--does not sustain his inference against Protagoras   294

Reply of Protagoras to the Platonic objections   295

Sentiments of Belief and Disbelief, common to all men--Grounds of
belief and disbelief, different with different men and different
ages   295

Protagoras did not affirm, that Belief depended upon the will or
inclination of each individual but that it was relative to the
circumstances of each individual mind   297

Facts of sense--some are the same to all sentient subjects, others
are different to different subjects. Grounds of unanimity   298

Sokrates exemplifies his theory of the Absolute Name or the
Name-Form. He attempts to show the inherent rectitude of many
existing names. His etymological transitions   299

These transitions appear violent to a modern reader. They did not
appear so to readers of Plato until this century. Modern
discovery, that they are intended as caricatures to deride the
Sophists   302

Dissent from this theory--No proof that the Sophists ever proposed
etymologies   304

Plato did not intend to propose mock-etymologies, or to deride any
one. Protagoras could not be ridiculed here. Neither Hermogenes
nor Kratylus understand the etymologies as caricature   306

Plato intended his theory as serious, but his exemplifications as
admissible** guesses. He does not cite particular cases as proofs of
a theory, but only as illustrating what he means   308

Sokrates announces himself as Searcher. Other etymologists of
ancient times admitted etymologies as rash as those of Plato   310

Continuance of the dialogue--Sokrates endeavours to explain how it
is that the Names originally right have become so disguised and
spoiled   312

Letters, as well as things, must be distinguished with their
essential properties, each must be
adapted to each   313

Essential significant aptitude consists in resemblance   _ib._

Sokrates assumes that the Name-giving Lawgiver was a believer in
the Herakleitean theory   314

But the Name-Giver may be mistaken or incompetent--the rectitude
of the name depends upon his knowledge   315

Changes and transpositions introduced in the name--hard to follow

Sokrates qualifies and attenuates his original thesis   316

Conversation of Sokrates with Kratylus; who upholds that original
thesis without any qualification   _ib._

Sokrates goes still farther towards retracting it   317

There are names better and worse--more like, or less like to the
things named: Natural Names are the best, but they cannot always
be had. Names may be significant by habit, though in an inferior
way   318

All names are not consistent with the theory of Herakleitus: some
are opposed to it   319

It is not true to say, That Things can only be known through their
names   320

Unchangeable Platonic Forms--opposed to the Herakleitean flux,
which is true only respecting
sensible particulars   _ib._

Herakleitean theory must not be assumed as certain. We must not
put implicit faith in names   321

Remarks upon the dialogue. Dissent from the opinion of Stallbaum
and others, that it is intended to deride Protagoras and other
Sophists   _ib._

Theory laid down by Sokrates _à priori_, in the first part--Great
difficulty, and ingenuity necessary, to bring it into harmony with
facts   322

Opposite tendencies of Sokrates in the last half of the dialogue--he
disconnects his theory of Naming from the Herakleitean doctrine

Ideal of the best system of naming--the Name-Giver ought to be
familiar with the Platonic Ideas or Essences, and apportion his
names according to resemblances among them   325

Comparison of Plato's views about naming with those upon social
institutions. Artistic, systematic construction--contrasted with
unpremeditated unsystematic growth   327

Politikus compared with Kratylus   328

Ideal of Plato--Postulate of the One Wise Man--Badness of all
reality   329

Comparison of Kratylus, Theætêtus, and Sophistês, in treatment of
the question respecting Non-Ens, and the possibility of false
propositions   331

Discrepancies and inconsistencies of Plato, in his manner of
handling the same subject   332

No common didactic purpose pervading the Dialogues--each is a
distinct composition, working out its own peculiar argument



Character, Personages, and Subject of the Philêbus   334

Protest against the Sokratic Elenchus, and the purely negative
procedure   335

Enquiry--What mental condition will ensure to all men a happy
life? Good and Happiness--correlative and co-extensive. Philêbus
declares for Pleasure, Sokrates for Intelligence   _ib._

Good--object of universal choice and attachment by men, animals,
and plants--all-sufficient--satisfies all desires   _ib._

Pleasures are unlike to each other, and even opposite cognitions
are so likewise   336

Whether Pleasure, or Wisdom, corresponds to this description?
Appeal to individual choice   337

First Question submitted to Protarchus--Intense Pleasure, without
any intelligence--He declines to accept it   338

Second Question--Whether he will accept a life of Intelligence
purely without any pleasure or pain? Answer--_No_   _ib._

It is agreed on both sides, That the Good must be a Tertium Quid.
But Sokrates undertakes to show, That Intelligence is more cognate
with it than Pleasure   339

Difficulties about Unum et Multa. How can the One be Many? How can
the Many be One? The difficulties are greatest about Generic
Unity--how it is distributed among species and individuals   _ib._

Active disputes upon this question at the time   340

Order of Nature--Coalescence of the Finite with the Infinite. The
One--The Finite Many--The Infinite Many   _ib._

Mistake commonly made--To look only for the One, and the Infinite
Many, without looking for the intermediate subdivisions   341

Illustration from Speech and Music   342

Plato's explanation does not touch the difficulties which he had
himself recognised as existing   343

It is nevertheless instructive, in regard to logical division and
classification   344

At that time little thought had been bestowed upon classification
as a logical process   _ib._

Classification--unconscious and conscious   345

Plato's doctrine about classification is not necessarily connected
with his Theory of Ideas   _ib._

Quadruple distribution of Existences. 1. The Infinite. 2. The
Finient 3. Product of the two former. 4. Combining Cause or Agency

Pleasure and Pain belong to the first of these four
Classes--Cognition or Intelligence belongs to the fourth   347

In the combination, essential to Good, of Intelligence with
Pleasure, Intelligence is the more important of the two
constituents   _ib._

Intelligence is the regulating principle--Pleasure is the
Indeterminate, requiring to be regulated   348

Pleasure and Pain must be explained together--Pain arises from the
disturbance of the fundamental harmony of the system--Pleasure
from the restoration of it   _ib._

Pleasure presupposes Pain   349

Derivative pleasures of memory and expectation belonging to mind
alone. Here you may find pleasure without pain   _ib._

A life of Intelligence alone, without pain and without pleasure,
is conceivable. Some may prefer it: at any rate it is second-best

Desire belongs to the mind, presupposes both a bodily want, and
the memory of satisfaction previously had for it. The mind and
body are here opposed. No true or pure pleasure therein   350

Can pleasures be true or false? Sokrates maintains that they are
so   351

Reasons given by Sokrates. Pleasures attached to true opinions,
are true pleasures. The just man is favoured by the Gods, and will
have true visions sent to him   _ib._

Protarchus disputes this--He thinks that there are some pleasures
bad, but none false--Sokrates does not admit this, but reserves
the question   352

No means of truly estimating pleasures and pains--False estimate
habitual--These are the false pleasures   _ib._

Much of what is called pleasure is false. Gentle and gradual
changes do not force themselves upon our notice either as pleasure
or pain. Absence of pain not the same as pleasure   353

Opinion of the pleasure-hating philosophers--That pleasure is no
reality, but a mere juggle. There is no reality except pain, and
the relief from pain   354

Sokrates agrees with them in part, but not wholly   _ib._

Theory of the pleasure-haters--We must learn what pleasure is by
looking at the intense pleasures--These are connected with
distempered body and mind   355

The intense pleasures belong to a state of sickness; but there is
more pleasure, on the whole, enjoyed in a state of health   356

Sokrates acknowledges some pleasures to be true. Pleasures of
beautiful colours, odours, sounds, smells, &c. Pleasures of
acquiring knowledge   _ib._

Pure and moderate pleasures admit of measure and proportion   357

Pleasure is generation, not substance or essence: it cannot
therefore be an End, because all generation is only a means
towards substance--Pleasure therefore cannot be the Good   _ib._

Other reasons why pleasure is not the Good   358

Distinction and classification of the varieties of Knowledge or
Intelligence. Some are more true and exact than others, according
as they admit more or less of measuring and computation   _ib._

Arithmetic and Geometry are twofold: As studied by the philosopher
and teacher: As applied by the artisan   359

Dialectic is the truest and purest of all Cognitions. Analogy
between Cognition and Pleasure: in each, there are gradations of
truth and purity   360

Difference with Gorgias, who claims superiority for Rhetoric.
Sokrates admits that Rhetoric is superior in usefulness and
celebrity: but he claims superiority for Dialectic, as satisfying
the lover of truth   _ib._

Most men look to opinions only, or study the phenomenal
manifestations of the Kosmos. They neglect the unchangeable
essences, respecting which alone pure truth can be obtained   361

Application. Neither Intelligence nor Pleasure separately, is the
Good, but a mixture of the two--Intelligence being the most
important. How are they to be mixed?   _ib._

We must include all Cognitions--not merely the truest, but the
others also. Life cannot be carried on without both   362

But we must include no pleasures except the true, pure, and
necessary. The others are not compatible with Cognition or
Intelligence--especially the intense sexual pleasures   _ib._

What causes the excellence of this mixture? It is Measure,
Proportion, Symmetry. To these Reason is more akin than Pleasure

Quintuple gradation in the Constituents of the Good. 1. Measure.
2. Symmetry. 3. Intelligence. 4. Practical Arts and Right
Opinions. 5. True and Pure Pleasures   364

Remarks. Sokrates does not claim for Good the unity of an Idea,
but a quasi-unity of analogy   365

Discussions of the time about Bonum. Extreme absolute view,
maintained by Eukleides: extreme relative by the Xenophontic
Sokrates. Plato here blends the two in part; an Eclectic doctrine

Inconvenience of his method, blending Ontology with Ethics   366

Comparison of Man to the Kosmos (which has reason, but no emotion)
is unnecessary and confusing   367

Plato borrows from the Pythagoreans, but enlarges their doctrine.
Importance of his views in dwelling upon systematic classification

Classification broadly enunciated, and strongly recommended--yet
feebly applied--in this dialogue   369

What is the Good? Discussed both in Philêbus and in Republic.
Comparison   370

Mistake of talking about Bonum confidently, as if it were known,
while it is subject of constant dispute. Plato himself wavers
about it; gives different explanations, and sometimes professes
ignorance, sometimes talks about it confidently   _ib._

Plato lays down tests by which Bonum may be determined: but the
answer in the Philêbus does not satisfy those tests   371

Inconsistency of Plato in his way of putting the question--The
alternative which he tenders has no fair application   372

Intelligence and Pleasure cannot be fairly compared--Pleasure is
an End, Intelligence a Means. Nothing can be compared with
Pleasure, except some other End   373

The Hedonists, while they laid down attainment of pleasure and
diminution of pain, postulated Intelligence as the governing
agency   374

Pleasures of Intelligence may be compared, and are compared by
Plato, with other pleasures, and declared to be of more value.
This is arguing upon the Hedonistic basis   375

Marked antithesis in the Philêbus between pleasure and avoidance
of pain   377

The Hedonists did not recognise this distinction--They included
both in their acknowledged End   _ib._

Arguments of Plato against the intense pleasures--The Hedonists
enforced the same reasonable view   378

Different points of view worked out by Plato in different
dialogues--Gorgias, Protagoras, Philêbus--True and False Pleasures

Opposition between the Gorgias and Philêbus, about Gorgias and
Rhetoric   380

Peculiarity of the Philêbus--Plato applies the same principle of
classification--true and false--to Cognitions and Pleasures   382

Distinction of true and false--not applicable to pleasures   _ib._

Plato acknowledges no truth and reality except in the
Absolute--Pleasures which he admits to be true--and why   385

Plato could not have defended this small list of Pleasures, upon
his own admission, against his opponents--the Pleasure-haters, who
disallowed pleasures altogether   387

Sokrates in this dialogue differs little from these
Pleasure-haters   389

Forced conjunction of Kosmology and Ethics--defect of the Philêbus

Directive sovereignty of Measure--how explained and applied in the
Protagoras   _ib._

How explained in Philêbus--no statement to what items it is
applied   393

Classification of true and false--how Plato applies it to
Cognitions   394

Valuable principles of this classification--difference with other
dialogues   395

Close of the Philêbus--Graduated elements of Good   397

Contrast between the Philêbus and the Phædrus, and Symposion, in
respect to Pulchrum, and intense Emotions generally   398



Persons and situation of the dialogue   401

Funeral harangue at Athens--Choice of a public orator--Sokrates
declares the task of the public orator to be easy--Comic
exaggeration of the effects of the harangue   401

Sokrates professes to have learnt a funeral harangue from Aspasia,
and to be competent to recite it himself. Menexenus entreats him
to do so   402

Harangue recited by Sokrates   403

Compliments of Menexenus after Sokrates has finished, both to the
harangue itself and to Aspasia   _ib._

Supposed period--shortly after the peace of Antalkidas   _ib._

Custom of Athens about funeral harangues. Many such harangues
existed at Athens, composed by distinguished orators or
logographers--Established type of the harangue   404

Plato in this harangue conforms to the established type--Topics on
which he insists   405

Consolation and exhortation to surviving relatives   407

Admiration felt for this harangue, both at the time and afterwards

Probable motives of Plato in composing it, shortly after he
established himself at Athens as a teacher--His competition with
Lysias--Desire for celebrity both as rhetor and as dialectician

Menexenus compared with the view of rhetoric presented in the
Gorgias--Necessity for an orator to conform to established
sentiments   409

Colloquial portion of the Menexenus is probably intended as
ridicule and sneer at Rhetoric--The harangue itself is serious,
and intended as an evidence of Plato's ability   410

Anachronism of the Menexenus--Plato careless on this point   411



Persons and circumstances of Kleitophon   413

Conversation of Sokrates with Kleitophon alone: he alludes to
observations of an unfavourable character recently made by
Kleitophon, who asks permission to explain   _ib._

Explanation given. Kleitophon expresses gratitude and admiration
for the benefit which he has derived from long companionship with
Sokrates   414

The observations made by Sokrates have been most salutary and
stimulating in awakening ardour for virtue. Arguments and
analogies commonly used by Sokrates   _ib._

But Sokrates does not explain what virtue is, nor how it is to be
attained. Kleitophon has had enough of stimulus, and now wants
information how he is to act   415

Questions addressed by Kleitophon with this view, both to the
companions of Sokrates and to Sokrates himself   416

Replies made by the friends of Sokrates unsatisfactory   _ib._

None of them could explain what the special work of justice or
virtue was   417

Kleitophon at length asked the question from Sokrates himself. But
Sokrates did not answer clearly. Kleitophon believes that Sokrates
knows, but will not tell   417

Kleitophon is on the point of leaving Sokrates and going to
Thrasymachus. But before leaving he addresses one last entreaty,
that Sokrates will speak out clearly and explicitly   418

Remarks on the Kleitophon. Why Thrasyllus placed it in the eighth
Tetralogy immediately before the Republic, and along with Kritias,
the other fragment   419

Kleitophon is genuine, and perfectly in harmony with a just theory
of Plato   420

It could not have been published until after Plato's death   _ib._

Reasons why the Kleitophon was never finished. It points out the
defects of Sokrates, just as he himself confesses them in the
Apology   421

The same defects also confessed in many of the Platonic and
Xenophontic dialogues   422

Forcible, yet respectful, manner in which these defects are set
forth in the Kleitophon. Impossible to answer them in such a way
as to hold out against the negative Elenchus of a Sokratic pupil

The Kleitophon represents a point of view which many objectors
must have insisted on against Sokrates and Plato   424

The Kleitophon was originally intended as a first book of the
Republic, but was found too hard to answer. Reasons why the
existing first book was substituted   _ib._





[Side-note: These two are the two erotic dialogues of Plato.
Phædrus is the originator of both.]

I put together these two dialogues, as distinguished by a marked
peculiarity. They are the two erotic dialogues of Plato. They have
one great and interesting subject common to both: though in the
Phædrus, this subject is blended with, and made contributory to,
another. They agree also in the circumstance, that Phædrus is, in
both, the person who originates the conversation. But they differ
materially in the manner of handling, in the comparisons and
illustrations, and in the apparent purpose.

[Side-note: Eros as conceived by Plato. Different sentiment
prevalent in Hellenic antiquity and in modern times. Position of
women in Greece.]

The subject common to both is, Love or Eros in its largest sense,
and with its manifold varieties. Under the totally different vein
of sentiment which prevails in modern times, and which recognises
passionate love as prevailing only between persons of different
sex--it is difficult for us to enter into Plato's eloquent
exposition of the feeling as he conceives it. In the Hellenic
point of view,[1] upon which Plato builds, the attachment of man
to woman was regarded as a natural impulse, and as a domestic,
social, sentiment; yet as belonging to a common-place rather than
to an exalted mind, and seldom or never rising to that pitch of
enthusiasm which overpowers all other emotions, absorbs the whole
man, and aims either at the joint performance of great exploits or
the joint prosecution of intellectual improvement by continued
colloquy. We must remember that the wives and daughters of
citizens were seldom seen abroad: that the wife was married very
young: that she had learnt nothing except spinning and weaving:
that the fact of her having seen as little and heard as little as
possible, was considered as rendering her more acceptable to her
husband:[2] that her sphere of duty and exertion was confined to
the interior of the family. The beauty of women yielded
satisfaction to the senses, but little beyond. It was the
masculine beauty of youth that fired the Hellenic imagination with
glowing and impassioned sentiment. The finest youths, and those
too of the best families and education, were seen habitually
uncovered in the Palæstra and at the public festival-matches;
engaged in active contention and graceful exercise, under the
direction of professional trainers. The sight of the living form,
in such perfection, movement, and variety, awakened a powerful
emotional sympathy, blended with aesthetic sentiment, which in the
more susceptible natures was exalted into intense and passionate
devotion. The terms in which this feeling is described, both by
Plato and Xenophon, are among the strongest which the language
affords--and are predicated even of Sokrates himself. Far from
being ashamed of the feeling, they consider it admirable and
beneficial; though very liable to abuse, which they emphatically
denounce and forbid.[3] In their view, it was an idealising
passion, which tended to raise a man above the vulgar and selfish
pursuits of life, and even above the fear of death. The devoted
attachments which it inspired were dreaded by the despots, who
forbade the assemblage of youths for exercise in the palæstra.[4]

[Footnote 1: Schleiermacher (Einleit. zum Symp. p. 367) describes
this view of Eros as Hellenic, and as "gerade den anti-modernen
and anti-christlichen Pol der Platonischen Denkungsart". Aristotle
composed [Greek: The/seis E)rôtikai\] or [Greek: E)rôtika/s],
Diogenes Laert. v. 22-24. See Bernays, Die Dialoge des
Aristoteles, p. 133, Berlin, 1863.

Compare the dialogue called [Greek: E)rôtiko/s], among the works
of Plutarch, p. 750 seq., where some of the speakers, especially
Protogenes, illustrate and enlarge upon this Platonic construction
of Eros--[Greek: a)lêthinou= de\ E)/rôtos ou)d' o(tiou=n tê=|
gunaikôni/tidi me/testin], &c. (750 C, 761 B, &c.)

In the Treatise De Educatione Puerorum (c. 15, p. 11 D-F) Plutarch
hesitates to give a decided opinion on the amount of restriction
proper to be imposed on youth: he is much impressed with the
authority of Sokrates, Plato, Xenophon, Æschines, Kebês, [Greek:
kai\ to\n pa/nta cho/ron e)kei/nôn tô=n a)ndrô=n, oi( tou\s
a)/r)r(enas e)doki/masan e)/rôtas], &c. See the anecdote about
Episthenes, an officer among the Ten Thousand Greeks under
Xenophon, in Xenophon, Anabasis, vii. 4, 7, and a remarkable
passage about Zeno the Stoic, Diog. Laert. vii. 13. Respecting the
general subject of [Greek: paiderasti/a] in Greece, there is a
valuable Excursus in Bekker's Charikles, vol. i. pp. 347-377,
Excurs. ii. I agree generally with his belief about the practice
in Greece, see Cicero, Tusc. Disp. iv. 33, 70. Bekker quotes
abundant authorities, which might be farther multiplied if
necessary. In appreciating the evidence upon this point, we cannot
be too careful to keep in mind what Sokrates says (in the
Xenophontic Symposion, viii. 34) when comparing the Thebans and
Eleians on one side with the Athenians and Spartans on the
other--[Greek: E)kei/nois me\n ga\r tau=ta no/mima, ê(mi=n de\
e)ponei/dista.] We must interpret passages of the classical
authors according to their fair and real meanings, not according
to the conclusions which we might wish to find proved.

If we read the oration of Demosthenes against Neæra (which is full
of information about Athenian manners), we find the speaker
Apollodôrus distributing the relations of men with women in the
following manner (p. 1386)--[Greek: to\ ga\r sunoikei=n tou=t'
e)sti/n, o(\s a)\n paidopoiê=tai kai\ ei)sa/gê| ei)/s te tou\s
dêmo/tas kai\ tou\s phra/toras tou\s ui(ei=s, kai\ ta\s
thugate/ras e)kdidô=| ô(s au)tou= ou)/sas toi=s a)ndra/si. Ta\s
me\n ga\r e(tai/ras, ê(donê=s e(/neka e)/chomen--ta\s de\
pallaka/s, tê=s kath' ê(me/ran therapei/as tou= sô/matos--ta\s de\
gunai=kas, tou= paidopoiei=sthai gnêsi/ôs, kai\ tô=n e(/ndon
phu/laka pi/stên e)/chein.]

To the same purpose, the speaker in Lysias ([Greek: U(pe\r tou=
E)ratosthe/nous pho/nou]--sect. 7), describing his wife,
says--[Greek: e)n me\n ou)=n tô=| prô/tô| chro/nô| pasô=n ê)=n
belti/stê; kai\ ga\r oi)kono/mos deinê\ kai\ pheidôlo\s a)gathê\
kai\ a)kribô=s pa/nta dioikou=sa.]

Neither of these three relations lent itself readily to the
Platonic vein of sentiment and ideality: neither of them led to
any grand results either in war--or political ambition--or
philosophical speculation; the three great roads, in one or other
of which the Grecian ideality travelled. We know from the Republic
that Plato did not appreciate the value of the family life, or the
purposes for which men marry, according to the above passage cited
from Demosthenes. In this point, Plato differs from Xenophon, who,
in his Oeconomicus, enlarges much (in the discourse of
Ischomachus) upon the value of the conjugal union, with a view to
prudential results and good management of the household; while he
illustrates the sentimental and affectionate side of it, in the
story of Pantheia and Abradates (Cyropædia).]

[Footnote 2: See the Oeconomicus of Xenophon, cap. iii. 12, vii.

[Footnote 3: The beginning of the Platonic Charmidês illustrates
what is here said, pp. 154-155; also that of the Protagoras and
Lysis, pp. 205-206.

Xenophon, Sympos. i. 8-11; iv. 11, 15. Memorab. i. 3, 8-14 (what
Sokrates observes to Xenophon about Kritobulus). Dikæarchus
(companion of Aristotle) disapproved the important influence which
Plato assigned to Eros (Cicero, Tusc. D. iv. 34-71).

If we pass to the second century after the Christian Era, we find
some speakers in Athenæus blaming severely the amorous sentiments
of Sokrates and the narrative of Alkibiades, as recited in the
Platonic Symposium (v. 180-187; xi. 506-508 C). Athenæus remarks
farther, that Plato, writing in this strain, had little right to
complain (as we read in the Republic) of the licentious
compositions of Homer and other poets, and to exclude them from
his model city. Maximus Tyrius, in one of his four discourses
(23-5) on the [Greek: e)rôtikê\] of Sokrates, makes the same remark as
Athenæus about the inconsistency of Plato in banishing Homer from
the model city, and composing what we read in the Symposion; he
farther observes that the erotic dispositions of Sokrates provoked
no censure from his numerous enemies at the time (though they
assailed him upon so many other points), but had incurred great
censure from contemporaries of Maximus himself, to whom he
replies--[Greek: tou\s nuni\ katêgo/rous] (23, 6-7). The
comparisons which he institutes (23, 9) between the sentiments and
phrases of Sokrates, and those of Sappho and Anakreon, are very

Dionysius of Halikarnassus speaks of the [Greek: e)gkô/mia] on
Eros in the Symposion, as "unworthy of serious handling or of
Sokrates". (De Admir. Vi Dic. Demosth. p. 1027.)

But the most bitter among all the critics of Plato, is
Herakleitus--author of the Allegoriæ Homericæ. Herakleitus repels,
as unjust and calumnious, the sentence of banishment pronounced by
Plato against Homer, from whom all mental cultivation had been
derived. He affirms, and tries to show, that the poems of
Homer--which he admits to be full of immorality if literally
understood--had an allegorical meaning. He blames Plato for not having
perceived this; and denounces him still more severely for the
character of his own writings--[Greek: e)r)r(i/phthô de\ kai\
Pla/tôn o( ko/lax, O(mê/rou sukopha/ntês--Tou\s de\ Pla/tônos
dialo/gous, a)/nô kai\ ka/tô paidikoi\ kathubri/zousin e)/rôtes,
ou)damou= de ou)chi tê=s a)r)r(e/nos e)pithumi/as mesto/s e)stin
o( a)nê/r] (Herakl. All. Hom., c. 4-74, ed. Mehler, Leiden,

[Footnote 4: Plato, Sympos. 182 C. The proceedings of Harmodius
and Aristogeiton, which illustrate this feeling, are recounted by
Thucydides, vi. 54-57. These two citizens were gratefully
recollected and extensively admired by the Athenian public.]

[Side-note: Eros, considered as the great stimulus to improving
philosophical communion. Personal Beauty, the great point of
approximation between the world of sense and the world of Ideas.
Gradual generalisation of the sentiment.]

Especially to Plato, who combined erotic and poetical imagination
with Sokratic dialectics and generalising theory--this passion
presented itself in the light of a stimulus introductory to the
work of philosophy--an impulse at first impetuous and
undistinguishing, but afterwards regulated towards improving
communion and colloquy with an improvable youth. Personal beauty
(this is[5] the remarkable doctrine of Plato in the Phædrus) is
the main point of visible resemblance between the world of sense
and the world of Ideas: the Idea of Beauty has a brilliant
representative of itself among concrete objects--the Ideas of
Justice and Temperance have none. The contemplation of a beautiful
youth, and the vehement emotion accompanying it, was the only way
of reviving in the soul the Idea of Beauty which it had seen in
its antecedent stage of existence. This was the first stage
through which every philosopher must pass; but the emotion of love
thus raised, became gradually in the better minds both expanded
and purified. The lover did not merely admire the person, but also
contracted the strongest sympathy with the feelings and character,
of the beloved youth: delighting to recognise and promote in him
all manifestations of mental beauty which were in harmony with the
physical, so as to raise him to the greatest attainable perfection
of human nature. The original sentiment of admiration, having been
thus first transferred by association from beauty in the person to
beauty in the mind and character, became gradually still farther
generalised; so that beauty was perceived not as exclusively
specialised in any one individual, but as invested in all
beautiful objects, bodies as well as minds. The view would
presently be farther enlarged. The like sentiment would be
inspired, so as to worship beauty in public institutions, in
administrative arrangements, in arts and sciences. And the mind
would at last be exalted to the contemplation of that which
pervades and gives common character to all these
particulars--Beauty in the abstract--or the Self-Beautiful--the Idea
or Form of the Beautiful. To reach this highest summit, after mounting
all the previous stages, and to live absorbed in the contemplation of
"the great ocean of the beautiful," was the most glorious
privilege attainable by any human being. It was indeed attainable
only by a few highly gifted minds. But others might make more or
less approach to it: and the nearer any one approached, the
greater measure would he ensure to himself of real good and

[Footnote 5: Plato, Phædrus, pp. 249 E, 250 B-E.]

[Footnote 6: Plato, Sympos. pp. 210-211.

Respecting the Beautiful, I transcribe here a passage from
Ficinus, in his Argument prefixed to the Hippias Major, p. 757.
"Unumquodque è singulis pulchris, _pulchrum hoc_ Plato vocat:
formam in omnibus, pulchritudinem; speciem et ideam supra omnia,
ipsum pulchrum. Primum sensus attingit opinioque. Secundum ratio
cogitat. Tertium mens intuetur.

"Quid ipsum Bonum? Ipsum rerum omnium principium, actus purus,
actus sequentia cuncta vivificans. Quid ipsum Pulchrum? Vivificus
actus e primo fonte bonorum effluens, Mentem primo divinam idearum
ordine infinité decorans, Numina deinde sequentia mentesque
rationum serie complens, Animas tertio numerosis discursibus
ornans, Naturas quarto seminibus, formis quinto materiam."]

[Side-note: All men love Good, as the means of Happiness, but they
pursue it by various means. The name _Eros_ is confined to one
special case of this large variety.]

Such is Plato's conception of Eros or Love and its object. He
represents it as one special form or variety of the universal law
of gravitation pervading all mankind. Every one loves, desires, or
aspires to _happiness_: this is the fundamental or primordial law
of human nature, beyond which we cannot push enquiry. Good, or
good things, are nothing else but the means to happiness:[7]
accordingly, every man, loving happiness, loves good also, and
desires not only full acquisition, but perpetual possession of
good. In this wide sense, love belongs to all human beings: every
man loves good and happiness, with perpetual possession of
them--and nothing else.[8] But different men have different ways of
pursuing this same object. One man aspires to good or happiness by
way of money-getting, another by way of ambition, a third by
gymnastics--or music--or philosophy. Still no one of these is said
to love, or to be under the influence of Eros. That name is
reserved exclusively for one special variety of it--the impulse
towards copulation, generation, and self-perpetuation, which
agitates both bodies and minds throughout animal nature. Desiring
perpetual possession of good, all men desire to perpetuate
themselves, and to become immortal. But an individual man or
animal cannot be immortal: he can only attain a quasi-immortality
by generating a new individual to replace himself.[9] In fact even
mortal life admits no continuity, but is only a succession of
distinct states or phenomena: one always disappearing and another
always appearing, each generated by its antecedent and generating
its consequent. Though a man from infancy to old age is called the
same, yet he never continues the same for two moments together,
either in body or mind. As his blood, flesh, bones, &c., are in
perpetual disappearance and renovation, always coming and going--so
likewise are his sensations, thoughts, emotions, dispositions,
cognitions, &c. Neither mentally nor physically does he ever
continue the same during successive instants. The old man of this
instant perishes and is replaced by a new man during the next.[10]
As this is true of the individual, so it is still more true of the
species: continuance or immortality is secured only by perpetual
generation of new individuals.

[Footnote 7: Plato, Sympos. pp. 204-205. [Greek: Phe/re, o( e)rô=n
tô=n a)gathô=n, ti/ e)ra=|? Gene/sthai, ê)=n d' e)gô/, au)tô=|.
Kai\ ti/ e)/stai e)kei/nô| ô(=| a)\n ge/nêtai ta)gatha/? Tou=t'
eu)porô/teron, ê)=n d' e)gô/, e)/chô a)pokri/nasthai, o(/ti
eu)dai/môn e)/stai. Ktê/sei ga/r, e)/phê, a)gathô=n, oi(
eu)dai/mones eu)dai/mones; Kai\ ou)ke/ti prosdei= e)re/sthai,
i(/na ti/ de\ bou/letai eu)dai/môn ei)=nai o( boulo/menos, a)lla\
te/los dokei= e)/chein ê( a)po/krisis. . . . Tau/tên dê\ tê\n
bou/lêsin kai\ to\n e)/rôta tou=ton, po/tera koino\n ei)=nai
pa/ntôn a)nthrô/pôn, kai\ pa/ntas ta)gatha\ bou/lesthai au)toi=s
ei)=nai a)ei/, ê)\ pô=s le/geis? Ou(/tôs, ê)=n d' e)gô/, koino\n
ei)=nai pa/ntôn.]]

[Footnote 8: Plato, Sympos. p. 206 A. [Greek: ô(s ou)de/n ge
a)/llo e)sti\n ou)= e)rô=sin a)/nthrôpoi ê)\ tou= a)gathou=.]]

[Footnote 9: Plato, Sympos. p. 207 C.]

[Footnote 10: Plato, Sympos. pp. 207-208.]

[Side-note: Desire of mental copulation and procreation, as the
only attainable likeness of immortality, requires the sight of
personal beauty as an originating stimulus.]

The love of immortality thus manifests itself in living beings
through the copulative and procreative impulse, which so
powerfully instigates living man in mind as well as in body.
Beauty in another person exercises an attractive force which
enables this impulse to be gratified: ugliness on the contrary
repels and stifles it. Hence springs the love of beauty--or
rather, of procreation in the beautiful--whereby satisfaction is
obtained for this restless and impatient agitation.[11] With some,
this erotic impulse stimulates the body, attracting them towards
women, and inducing them to immortalise themselves by begetting
children: with others, it acts far more powerfully on the mind,
and determines them to conjunction with another mind for the
purpose of generating appropriate mental offspring and products.
In this case as well as in the preceding, the first stroke of
attraction arises from the charm of physical, visible, and
youthful beauty: but when, along with this beauty of person, there
is found the additional charm of a susceptible, generous,
intelligent mind, the effect produced by the two together is
overwhelming; the bodily sympathy becoming spiritualised and
absorbed by the mental. With the inventive and aspiring
intelligences--poets like Homer and Hesiod, or legislators like
Lykurgus and Solon--the erotic impulse takes this turn. They look
about for some youth, at once handsome and improvable, in
conversation with whom they may procreate new reasonings
respecting virtue and goodness--new excellences of
disposition--and new force of intellectual combination, in both
the communicants. The attachment between the two becomes so strong
that they can hardly live apart: so anxious are both of them to
foster and confirm the newly acquired mental force of which each
is respectively conscious in himself.[12]

[Footnote 11: Plato, Sympos. p. 206 E. [Greek: o(/then dê\ tô=|
kuou=nti/ te kai\ ê)/dê spargô=nti pollê\ ê( pto/êsis ge/gone
peri\ to\ kalo\n dia\ to\ mega/lês ô)di=nos a)polu/ein to\n
e)/chonta. E)sti\ ga\r ou) tou= kalou= o( e)/rôs, a)lla\--tê=s
gennê/seôs kai\ tou= to/kou e)n tô=| kalô=|.]]

[Footnote 12: Plato, Sympos. p. 209.]

[Side-note: Highest exaltation of the erotic impulse in a few
privileged minds, when it ascends gradually to the love of Beauty
_in genere_. This is the most absorbing sentiment of all.]

Occasionally, and in a few privileged natures, this erotic impulse
rises to a still higher exaltation, losing its separate and
exclusive attachment to one individual person, and fastening upon
beauty in general, or that which all beautiful persons and
beautiful minds have in common. The visible charm of beautiful
body, though it was indispensable as an initial step, comes to be
still farther sunk and undervalued, when the mind has ascended to
the contemplation of beauty _in genere_, not merely in bodies and
minds, but in laws, institutions, and sciences. This is the
highest pitch of philosophical love, to which a few minds only are
competent, and that too by successive steps of ascent: but which,
when attained, is thoroughly soul-satisfying. If any man's vision
be once sharpened so that he can see beauty pure and absolute, he
will have no eyes for the individual manifestations of it in gold,
fine raiment, brilliant colours, or beautiful youths.[13] Herein
we have the climax or consummation of that erotic aspiration which
first shows itself in the form of virtuous attachment to

[Footnote 13: Plato, Symposion, p. 211.]

[Footnote 14: Plato, Symposion, p. 211 B. [Greek: o(/tan dê/ tis
a)po\ tô=nde dia\ to\ o)rthô=s paiderastei=n e)paniô\n e)kei=no
to\ kalo\n a)/rchêtai kathora=|n, schedo\n a)/n ti a(/ptoito tou=
te/lous], &c.]

[Side-note: Purpose of the Symposion, to contrast this Platonic
view of Eros with several different views of it previously
enunciated by the other speakers; closing with a panegyric on
Sokrates, by the drunken Alkibiades.]

It is thus that Plato, in the Symposion, presents Love, or erotic
impulse: a passion taking its origin in the physical and mental
attributes common to most men, and concentrated at first upon some
individual person--but gradually becoming both more intense and
more refined, as it ascends in the scale of logical generalisation
and comes into intimate view of the pure idea of Beauty. The main
purpose of the Symposion is to contrast this Platonic view of Eros
or Love--which is assigned to Sokrates in the dialogue, and is
repeated by him from the communication of a prophetic woman named
Diotima[15]--with different views assigned to other speakers. Each
of the guests at the Banquet--Phædrus, Pausanias, Eryximachus,
Aristophanes, Agathon, Sokrates--engages to deliver a panegyric on
Eros: while Alkibiades, entering intoxicated after the speeches
are finished, delivers a panegyric on Sokrates, in regard to
energy and self-denial generally, but mainly and specially in the
character of Erastes. The pure and devoted attachment of Sokrates
towards Alkibiades himself--his inflexible self-command under the
extreme of trial and temptation--the unbounded ascendancy which he
had acquired over that insolent youth, who seeks in every
conceivable manner to render himself acceptable to Sokrates--are
emphatically extolled, and illustrated by singular details.

[Footnote 15: Plat. Sympos. p. 201 D. [Greek: gunaiko\s mantikê=s
Dioti/mas, ê( tau=ta/ te sophê\ ê)=n kai\ a)/lla polla/, kai\
A)thênai/ois pote\ thusame/nois pro\ tou= loimou= de/ka e)/tê
a)nabolê\n e)poi/êse tê=s no/sou, ê)\ dê\ kai\ e)me\ ta\ e)rôtika\

Instead of [Greek: gunaiko\s mantikê=s], which was the old
reading, Stallbaum and other editors prefer to write [Greek:
gunaiko\s Mantinikê=s], also 211 D. I cannot but think that
[Greek: mantikê=s] is right. There is no pertinence or fit
meaning in [Greek: Mantinikê=s], whereas the word [Greek:
mantikê=s] is in full keeping with what is said about the special
religious privileges and revelations of Diotima--that she procured
for the Athenians an adjournment of the plague for ten years. The
Delphian oracle assured the Lydian king Kroesus that Apollo had
obtained from the [Greek: Moi=rai] a postponement of the ruin of
the Lydian kingdom for three years, but that he could obtain from
them no more (Herodot. i. 91).]

[Side-note: Views of Eros presented by Phædrus, Pausanias,
Eryximachus, Aristophanes, Agathon.]

Both Phædrus[16] and Pausanias, in their respective encomiums upon
Eros, dwell upon that God as creating within the human bosom by
his inspirations the noblest self-denial and the most devoted
heroism, together with the strongest incentives to virtuous
behaviour. Pausanias however makes distinctions: recognising and
condemning various erotic manifestations as abusive, violent,
sensual--and supposing for these a separate inspiring Deity--Eros
Pandêmus, contrasted with the good and honourable Eros Uranius[17]
or Coelestis. In regard to the different views taken of Eros by
Eryximachus, Aristophanes, and Agathon--the first is medical,
physiological, cosmical[18]--the second is comic and imaginative,
even to exuberance--the third is poetical or dithyrambic:
immediately upon which follows the analytical and philosophical
exposition ascribed to Sokrates, opened in his dialectic manner by
a cross-examination of his predecessor, and proceeding to
enunciate the opinions communicated to him by the prophetess

[Footnote 16: Sydenham conceives and Boeckh (ad Plat. Legg. iii.
694) concurs with him, that this discourse, assigned to Phædrus,
is intended by Plato as an imitation of the style of Lysias. This
is sufficiently probable. The encomium on Eros delivered by
Agathon, especially the concluding part of it (p. 197), mimics the
style of florid effeminate poetry, overcharged with balanced
phrases ([Greek: i)so/kôla, a)nti/theta]), which Aristophanes
parodies in Agathon's name at the beginning of the
Thesmophoriazusæ, Athenæus, v. 187 C.]

[Footnote 17: Plato, Sympos. pp. 180-181.]

[Footnote 18: Respecting this view of Eros or Aphrodite, as a
cosmical, all-pervading, procreative impulse, compare Euripides,
Frag. Incert. 3, 6, assigned by Welcker (Griech. Trag. p. 737) to
the lost drama--the first Hippolytus; also the beautiful
invocation with which the poem of Lucretius opens, and the
fragmentary exordium remaining from the poem of Parmenides.]

[Side-note: Discourse of Sokrates from revelation of Diotima. He
describes Eros as not a God, but an intermediate Dæmon between
Gods and men, constantly aspiring to divinity, but not attaining

Sokrates treats most of the preceding panegyrics as pleasing
fancies not founded in truth. In his representation (cited from
Diotima) Eros is neither beautiful, nor good, nor happy; nor is he
indeed a God at all. He is one of the numerous intermediate body
of Dæmons, inferior to Gods yet superior to men, and serving as
interpreting agents of communication between the two.[19] Eros is
the offspring of Poverty and Resource (Porus).[20] He represents
the state of aspiration and striving, with ability and energy,
after goodness and beauty, but never actually possessing them: a
middle condition, preferable to that of the person who neither
knows that he is deficient in them, nor cares to possess them: but
inferior to the condition of him who is actually in possession.
Eros is always Love of something--in relation to something yet
unattained, but desired: Eros is to be distinguished carefully
from the object desired.[21] He is the parallel of the
philosopher, who is neither ignorant nor wise: not ignorant,
because genuine ignorance is unconscious of itself and fancies
itself to be knowledge: not wise, because he does not possess
wisdom, and is well aware that he does not possess it. He is in
the intermediate stage, knowing that he does not possess wisdom,
but constantly desiring it and struggling after it. Eros, like
philosophy, represents this continual aspiration and advance
towards a goal never attained.[22]

[Footnote 19: Plato, Sympos. pp. 202-203.]

[Footnote 20: What Sokrates says here in the Symposion about Eros
is altogether at variance with what Sokrates says about Eros in
Phædrus, wherein we find him speaking with the greatest reverence
and awe about Eros as a powerful God, son of Aphroditê (Phædrus,
pp. 242 D, 243 D, 257 A).]

[Footnote 21: Plato, Symposion, pp. 199-200. [Greek: O( E)/rôs
e)/rôs e)sti\n ou)deno\s ê(\ tino/s? Pa/nu me\n ou)=n
e)/stin. . . . Po/teron o( E)/rôs e)kei/nou ou(= e)/stin e)/rôs,
e)pithumei= au)tou= ê)\ ou)/? Pa/nu ge. . . . A)na/gkê to\
e)pithumou=n e)pithumei=n ou)= e)ndee/s e)stin, ê)\ mê\
e)pithumei=n, e)a\n mê\ e)ndee\s ê)=|.]]

[Footnote 22: Plato, Sympos. p. 204 A. [Greek: Ti/nes ou)=n oi(
philosophou=ntes, ei) mê/te oi( sophoi\ mê/te oi( a)mathei=s?
. . . Oi( metaxu\ tou/tôn a)mphote/rôn, ô(=n au)= kai\ o( E)/rôs.
E)sti\ ga\r dê\ tô=n kalli/stôn ê( sophi/a, E)/rôs d' e)sti\n
e)/rôs peri\ to\ kalo/n; ô(/ste a)nagkai=on E)/rôta philo/sophon
ei)=nai, philo/sophon de\ o)/nta metaxu\ ei)=nai sophou= kai\

[Side-note: Analogy of the erotic aspiration with that of the
philosopher, who knows his own ignorance and thirsts for

It is thus that the truly Platonic conception of Love is brought
out, materially different from that of the preceding
speakers--Love, as a state of conscious want, and of aspiration or
endeavour to satisfy that want, by striving after good or
happiness--Philosophy as the like intermediate state, in regard to
wisdom. And Plato follows out this coalescence of love and philosophy
in the manner which has been briefly sketched above: a vehement
impulse towards mental communion with some favoured youth, in the
view of producing mental improvement, good, and happiness to both
persons concerned: the same impulse afterwards expanding, so as to
grasp the good and beautiful in a larger sense, and ultimately to
fasten on goodness and beauty in the pure Idea: which is
absolute--independent of time, place, circumstances, and all variable
elements--moreover the object of the one and supreme science.[23]

[Footnote 23: Plato, Symposion, pp. 210-211.]

[Side-note: Eros as presented in the Phædrus--Discourse of Lysias,
and counter-discourse of Sokrates, adverse to Eros--Sokrates is
seized with remorse, and recants in a high-flown panegyric on

I will now compare the Symposion with the Phædrus. In the first
half of the Phædrus also, Eros, and the Self-Beautiful or the pure
Idea of the Beautiful, are brought into close coalescence with
philosophy and dialectic--but they are presented in a different
manner. Plato begins by setting forth the case against Eros in two
competing discourses (one cited from Lysias,[24] the other
pronounced by Sokrates himself as competitor with Lysias in
eloquence) supposed to be addressed to a youth, and intended to
convince him that the persuasions of a calm and intelligent friend
are more worthy of being listened to than the exaggerated promises
and protestations of an impassioned lover, from whom he will
receive more injury than benefit: that the inspirations of Eros
are a sort of madness, irrational and misguiding as well as
capricious and transitory: while the calm and steady friend,
unmoved by any passionate inspiration, will show himself worthy of
permanent esteem and gratitude.[25] By a sudden revulsion of
feeling, Sokrates becomes ashamed of having thus slandered the
divine Eros, and proceeds to deliver a counter-panegyric or
palinode upon that God.[26]

[Footnote 24: Plato, Phædrus, p. 230 seq.]

[Footnote 25: Plato, Phædrus, p. 237 seq.]

[Footnote 26: Eros, in the Phædrus, is pronounced to be a God, son
of Aphroditê (p. 242 E); in the Symposion he is not a God but a
Dæmon, offspring of Porus and Penia, and attendant on Aphroditê,
according to Diotima and Sokrates (p. 203).]

[Side-note: Panegyric--Sokrates admits that the influence of Eros
is a variety of madness, but distinguishes good and bad varieties
of madness, both coming from the Gods. Good madness is far better
than sobriety.]

Eros (he says) is, mad, irrational, superseding reason and
prudence in the individual mind.[27] This is true: yet still Eros
exercises a beneficent and improving influence. Not all madness is
bad. Some varieties of it are bad, but others are good. Some arise
from human malady, others from the inspirations of the Gods: both
of them supersede human reason and the orthodoxy of established
custom[28]--but the former substitute what is worse, the latter
what is better. The greatest blessings enjoyed by man arise from
madness, when it is imparted by divine inspiration. And it is so
imparted in four different phases and by four different Gods:
Apollo infuses the prophetic madness--Dionysus, the ritual or
religious--The Muses, the poetical--and Eros, the erotic.[29] This
last sort of madness greatly transcends the sober reason and
concentration upon narrow objects which is so much praised by
mankind generally.[30] The inspired and exalted lover deserves
every preference over the unimpassioned friend.

[Footnote 27: Plato, Phædrus, pp. 265-266. [Greek: to\ a)/phron
tê=s dianoi/as e(/n ti koinê=| ei)=dos. . . . to\ tê=s paranoi/as
ô(s e(\n e)n ê(mi=n pephuko\s ei)=dos.] Compare p. 236 A.]

[Footnote 28: Plato, Phædrus, p. 265 A. [Greek: Mani/as de/ ge
ei)/dê du/o; tê\n me/n, u(po\ nosêma/tôn a)nthrôpi/nôn, tê\n de/,
u(po\ thei/as e)xallagê=s tô=n ei)ôtho/tôn nomi/môn gignome/nên.]
Compare 249 D.]

[Footnote 29: Plato, Phædrus, p. 244 A. [Greek: ei) me\n ga\r ê)=n
a(plou=n to\ mani/an kako\n ei)=nai, kalô=s a)\n e)le/geto; nu=n
de\ ta\ me/gista tô=n a)gathô=n ê(mi=n gi/gnetai dia\ mani/as,
thei/a| me/ntoi do/sei didome/nês.]

Compare Plutarch, [Greek: E)rôtiko/s], c. 16. pp. 758-759, &c.]

[Footnote 30: Plato, Phædrus, p. 245 B. [Greek: mêde/ tis ê(ma=s
lo/gos thorubei/tô deditto/menos ô(s pro\ tou= kekinême/nou to\n
sô/phrona dei= proairei=sthai phi/lon.]

P. 256 E; [Greek: ê( de\ a)po\ tou= mê\ e)rô=ntos oi)keio/tês,
sôphrosu/nê| thnêtê=| kekrame/nê, thnêta/ te kai\ pheidôla\
oi)konomou=sa, a)neleutheri/an u(po\ plê/thous e)panoume/nên ô(s
a)retê\n tê=| phi/lê|** psuchê=| e)ntekou=sa], &c.]

[Side-note: Poetical mythe delivered by Sokrates, describing the
immortality and pre-existence of the soul, and its pre-natal
condition of partial companionship with Gods and eternal Ideas.]

Plato then illustrates, by a highly poetical and imaginative
mythe, the growth and working of love in the soul. All soul or
mind is essentially self-moving, and the cause of motion to other
things. It is therefore immortal, without beginning or end: the
universal or cosmic soul, as well as the individual souls of Gods
and men.[31] Each soul may be compared to a chariot with a winged
pair of horses. In the divine soul, both the horses are excellent,
with perfect wings: in the human soul, one only of them is good,
the other is violent and rebellious, often disobedient to the
charioteer, and with feeble or half-grown wings.[32] The Gods, by
means of their wings, are enabled to ascend up to the summit of
the celestial firmament--to place themselves upon the outer
circumference or back of the heaven--and thus to be carried round
along with the rotation of the celestial sphere round the Earth.
In the course of this rotation they contemplate the pure essences
and Ideas, truth and reality without either form or figure or
colour: they enjoy the vision of the Absolute--Justice,
Temperance, Beauty, Science. The human souls, with their defective
wings, try to accompany the Gods; some attaching themselves to one
God, some to another, in this ascent. But many of them fail in the
object, being thrown back upon earth in consequence of their
defective equipment, and the unruly character of one of the
horses: some however succeed partially, obtaining glimpses of
Truth and of the general Ideas, though in a manner transient and

[Footnote 31: Plato, Phædrus, pp. 245-246. Compare Krische, De
Platonis Phædro, pp. 49-50 (Göttingen, 1848).

Plato himself calls this panegyric in the mouth of Sokrates a
[Greek: muthiko/s tis u(/mnos] (Phædr. p. 265 D).]

[Footnote 32: The reader will recollect Homer, Iliad, xvi. 152,
where the chariot and horses of Patroklus are described, when he
is about to attack the Trojans; the mortal horse Pedasus is
harnessed to it alongside of the two immortal horses Xanthus and

[Side-note: Operation of such pre-natal experience upon the
Intellectual faculties of man--Comparison and combination of
particular sensations indispensable--Reminiscence.]

Those souls which have not seen Truth or general Ideas at all, can
never be joined with the body of a man, but only with that of some
inferior animal. It is essential that some glimpse of truth should
have been obtained, in order to qualify the soul for the condition
of man:[33] for the mind of man must possess within itself the
capacity of comparing and combining particular sensations, so as
to rise to one general conception brought together by reason.[34]
This is brought about by the process of reminiscence; whereby it
recalls those pure, true, and beautiful Ideas which it had
partially seen during its prior extra-corporeal existence in
companionship with the Gods. The rudimentary faculty of thus
reviving these general Conceptions--the visions of a prior state
of existence--belongs to all men, distinguishing them from other
animals: but in most men the visions have been transient, and the
power of reviving them is faint and dormant. It is only some few
philosophers, whose minds, having been effectively winged in their
primitive state for ascent to the super-celestial regions, have
enjoyed such a full contemplation of the divine Ideas as to be
able to recall them with facility and success, during the
subsequent corporeal existence. To the reminiscence of the
philosopher, these Ideas present themselves with such brilliancy
and fascination, that he forgets all other pursuits and interests.
Hence he is set down as a madman by the generality of mankind,
whose minds have not ascended beyond particular and present
phenomena to the revival of the anterior Ideas.

[Footnote 33: Plato, Phædrus, pp. 249-250. [Greek: pa=sa me\n
a)nthrô/pou psuchê\ phu/sei tethe/atai ta\ o)/nta--ê)\ ou)k a)\n
ê)=lthen ei)s to/de** to\ zô=on; a)namimnê/skesthai d' e)k tô=nde
e)kei=na ou) r(a/|dion a(pa/sê|], &c.]

[Footnote 34: Plato, Phædrus, p. 249 B. [Greek: Ou) ga\r ê(/ ge
mê/ pote i)dou=sa tê\n a)lê/theian ei)s to/de ê(/xei to\ schê=ma.
Dei= ga\r a)/nthrôpon xunie/nai kat' ei)=dos lego/menon, e)k
pollô=n i)o\n ai)sthê/seôn ei)s e(\n logismô=| xunairou/menon.
Tou=to de/ e)stin a)na/mnêsis e)kei/nôn, a(/ pot' ei)=den ê(mô=n
ê( psuchê\ sumporeuthei=sa theô=| kai\ u(peridou=sa a(\ nu=n
ei)=nai/ phamen, kai\ a)naku/psasa ei)s to\ o)\n o)/ntôs.]]

[Side-note: Reminiscence is kindled up in the soul of the
philosopher by the aspect of visible Beauty, which is the great
link between the world of sense and the world of Ideas.]

It is by the aspect of visible beauty, as embodied in
distinguished youth, that this faculty of reminiscence is first
kindled in minds capable of the effort. It is only the embodiment
of beauty, acting as it does powerfully upon the most intellectual
of our senses, which has sufficient force to kindle up the first
act or stage of reminiscence in the mind, leading ultimately to
the revival of the Idea of Beauty. The embodiments of justice,
wisdom, temperance, &c., in particular men, do not strike forcibly
on the senses, nor approximate sufficiently to the original Idea,
to effect the first stroke of reminiscence in an unprepared mind.
It is only the visible manifestation of beauty, which strikes with
sufficient shock at once on the senses and the intellect, to
recall in the mind an adumbration of the primitive Idea of Beauty.
The shock thus received first develops the reminiscent faculty in
minds apt and predisposed to it, and causes the undeveloped wings
of the soul to begin growing. It is a passion of violent and
absorbing character; which may indeed take a sensual turn, by the
misconduct of the unruly horse in the team, producing in that case
nothing but corruption and mischief--but which may also take a
virtuous, sentimental, imaginative turn, and becomes in that case
the most powerful stimulus towards mental improvement in both the
two attached friends. When thus refined and spiritualised, it can
find its satisfaction only in philosophical communion, in the
generation of wisdom and virtue; as well as in the complete
cultivation of that reminiscent power, which vivifies in the mind
remembrance of Forms or Ideas seen in a prior existence. To attain
such perfection, is given to few; but a greater or less
approximation may be made to it. And it is the only way of
developing the highest powers and virtues of the mind; which must
spring, not from human prudence and sobriety, but from divine
madness or erotic inspiration.[35]

[Footnote 35: Plato, Phædrus, p. 256 B. [Greek: ou(= mei=zon
a)gatho\n ou)/te sôphrosu/nê a)nthrôpi/nê ou)/te thei/a mani/a
dunatê\ pori/sai a)nthrô/pô|.]--245 B: [Greek: e)p' eu)tuchi/a
tê=| megi/stê| para\ theô=n ê( toiau/tê mani/a di/dotai.]

The long and highly poetical mythe, of which I have given some of
the leading points, occupies from c. 51 to c. 83 (pp. 244-257) of
the dialogue. It is adapted to the Hellenic imagination, and
requires the reader to keep before him the palæstræ of Athens, as
described in the Lysis, Erastæ, and Charmidês of Plato--visited
both by men like Sokrates and by men like Kritias (Xenoph. Memor.
i. 2, 29).]

Such is the general tenor of the dialogue Phædrus, in its first
half: which presents to us the Platonic love, conceived as the
source and mainspring of exalted virtue--as the only avenue to
philosophy--as contrasted, not merely with sensual love, but also
with the sobriety of the decent citizen who fully conforms to the
teaching of Law and Custom. In the Symposion, the first of these
contrasts appears prominently, while the second is less noticed.
In the Phædrus, Sokrates declares emphatically that madness, of a
certain sort, is greatly preferable to sobriety: that the
temperate, respectable, orthodox citizen, is on the middle line,
some madmen being worse than he, but others better: that madness
springing from human distemper is worse, but that when it springs
from divine inspiration, it is in an equal degree better, than
sobriety: that the philosophical _oestrus_, and the reminiscence
of the eternal Ideas (considered by Plato as the only true and
real Entia), is inconsistent with that which is esteemed as
sobriety: and is generated only by special inoculation from Eros
or some other God. This last contrast, as I have just observed, is
little marked in the Symposion. But on the other hand, the
Symposion (especially the discourse of Sokrates and his repetition
of the lessons of Diotima), insists much more upon the
generalisation of the erotic impulse. In the Phædrus, we still
remain on the ground of fervent attachment between two
individuals--an attachment sentimental and virtuous, displaying
itself in an intercourse which elicits from both of them active
intelligence and exalted modes of conduct: in the Symposion, such
intercourse is assimilated explicitly to copulation with
procreative consequences, but it is represented as the first stage
of a passion which becomes more and more expanded and
comprehensive: dropping all restriction to any single individual,
and enlarging itself not merely to embrace pursuits, and
institutions, but also to the plenitude and great ocean of Beauty
in its largest sense.

[Side-note: Elevating influence ascribed, both in Phædrus and
Symposion, to Eros Philosophus. Mixture in the mind of Plato, of
poetical fancy and religious mysticism, with dialectic theory.]

The picture here presented by Plato, of the beneficent and
elevating influence of Eros Philosophus, is repeated by Sokrates
as a revelation made to him by the prophetess Diotima. It was much
taken to heart by the Neo-Platonists.[36] It is a striking
manifestation of the Platonic characteristics: transition from
amorous impulse to religious and philosophical
mysticism--implication of poetical fancy with the conception of the
philosophising process--surrender of the mind to metaphor and
analogy, which is real up to a certain point, but is forcibly
stretched and exaggerated to serve the theorising purpose of the
moment. Now we may observe, that the worship of youthful masculine
beauty, and the belief that contemplation of such a face and form
was an operative cause, not only raising the admiration but also
quickening the intelligence of the adult spectator, and serving as
a provocative to instructive dialogue--together with a decided
attempt to exalt the spiritual side of this influence and
depreciate the sensual--both these are common to Plato with
Sokrates and Xenophon. But what is peculiar to Plato is, that he
treats this merely as an initial point to spring from, and soars
at once into the region of abstractions, until he gets clear of
all particulars and concomitants, leaving nothing except Beauty
Absolute--[Greek: to\ Kalo\n--to\ au)to\-kalo\n]--the "full sea of
the beautiful". Not without reason does Diotima express a doubt
whether Sokrates (if we mean thereby the historical Sokrates)
could have followed so bold a flight. His wings might probably
have failed and dropped him: as we read in the Phædrus respecting
the unprepared souls who try to rise aloft in company with the
Gods. Plato alone is the true Dædalus equal to this flight, borne
up by wings not inferior to those of Pindar[37]--according to the
comparison of Dionysius of Halikarnassus.

[Footnote 36: Porphyry, Vit. Plotini, 23.

Plato's way of combining, in these two dialogues--so as to pass by
an easy thread of association from one to the other--subjects
which appear to us unconnected and even discordant, is certainly
remarkable. We have to recognise material differences in the turn
of imagination, as between different persons and ages. The
following remark of Professor Mohl, respecting the Persian lyric
poet Hafiz, illustrates this point. "Au reste, quand même nous
serions mieux renseignés sur sa vie, il resterait toujours pour
nous le singulier spectacle d'un homme qui tantôt célèbre
l'absorption de l'âme dans l'essence de Dieu, tantôt chante le vin
et l'amour, sans grossièreté, il est vrai, mais avec un laisser
aller et un naturel qui exclut toute idée de symbolisme--et qui
généralement glisse de l'une dans l'autre de ces deux manières de
sentir, qui nous paraissent si différentes, sans s'apercevoir
lui-même qu'il change de sujet. Les Orientaux ont cherché la solution
de cette difficulté dans une interprétation mystique de toutes ses
poésies; mais les textes s'y refusent. Des critiques modernes ont
voulu l'expliquer en supposant une hypocrisie de l'auteur, qui lui
aurait fait mêler une certaine dose de piété mystique, à ses vers
plus légers, pour les faire passer: mais ce calcul parait étranger
à la nature de l'homme. Je crois qu'il faut trouver le mot de
l'énigme dans l'état général des esprits et de la culture de son
temps: et la difficulté pour nous est seulement de nous
réprésenter assez vivement l'état des esprits en Perse à cette
époque, et la nature de l'influence que le Soufisme y exerçait
depuis des siècles sur toutes les classes cultivées de la
nation."--Mohl (Rapport Annuel à la Société Asiatique, 1861, p.

[Footnote 37: Dionys. Hal. De Adm. Vi Dic. in Demosth., p. 972,

Various remarks may be made, in comparing this exposition of
Diotima in the Symposion with that which we read in the Phædrus
and Phædon.

[Side-note: Differences between Symposion and Phædrus. In-dwelling
conceptions assumed by the former, pre-natal experiences by the

First, in the Phædrus and Phædon (also in the Timæus and
elsewhere), the pre-existence of the soul, and its antecedent
familiarity, greater or less, with the world of Ideas,--are
brought into the foreground; so as to furnish a basis for that
doctrine of reminiscence, which is one of the peculiar
characteristics of Plato. The Form or Idea, when once disengaged
from the appendages by which it has been overgrown, is said to be
recognised by the mind and welcomed as an old acquaintance. But in
the Symposion, no such doctrine is found. The mind is described as
rising by gradual steps from the concrete and particular to the
abstract and general, by recognising the sameness of one attribute
as pervading many particulars, and by extending its comparisons
from smaller groups of particulars to larger; until at length one
and the same attribute is perceived to belong to all. The mind is
supposed to evolve out of itself, and to generate in some
companion mind, certain abstract or general conceptions,
correlating with the Forms or Concepta without. The fundamental
postulate here is, not that of pre-existence, but that of
in-dwelling conceptions.

[Side-note: Nothing but metaphorical immortality recognised in

Secondly, in the Phædrus and Phædon, the soul is declared to be
immortal, _à parte post_ as well as _à parte ante_. But in the
Symposion, this is affirmed to be impossible.[38] The soul yearns
for, but is forbidden to reach, immortality: or at least can only
reach immortality in a metaphorical sense, by its prolific
operation--by generating in itself as long as it lasts, and in
other minds who will survive it, a self-renewing series of noble
thoughts and feelings--by leaving a name and reputation to survive
in the memory of others.

[Footnote 38: Plato, Sympos. pp. 207-208.]

[Side-note: Form or Idea of Beauty presented singly and exclusively
in Symposion.]

Thirdly, in Phædrus, Phædon, Republic, and elsewhere, Plato
recognises many distinct Forms or Ideas--a world or aggregate of
such Entia Rationis[39]--among which Beauty is one, but only one.
It is the exalted privilege of the philosophic mind to come into
contemplation and cognition of these Forms generally. But in the
Symposion, the Form of Beauty ([Greek: to\ kalo\n]) is presented
singly and exclusively--as if the communion with this one Form
were the sole occupation of the most exalted philosophy.

[Footnote 39: Plat. Repub. v. 476. He recognises Forms of [Greek:
a)/dikon, kako/n, ai)schro/n], as well as Forms of [Greek:
di/kaion, a)gatho/n, kalo/n], &c.]

[Side-note: Eros recognised, both in Phædrus and Symposion, as
affording the initiatory stimulus to philosophy--Not so recognised
in Phædon, Theætêtus, and elsewhere.]

Fourthly, The Phædrus and Symposion have, both of them in common,
the theory of Eros as the indispensable, initiatory, stimulus to
philosophy. The spectacle of a beautiful youth is considered
necessary to set light to various elements in the mind, which
would otherwise remain dormant and never burn: it enables the
pregnant and capable mind to bring forth what it has within and to
put out its hidden strength. But if we look to the Phædon,
Theætêtus, Sophistês, or Republic, we shall not find Eros invoked
for any such function. The Republic describes an elaborate scheme
for generating and developing the philosophic capacity: but Eros
plays no part in it. In the Theætêtus, the young man so named is
announced as having a pregnant mind requiring to be disburthened,
and great capacity which needs foreign aid to develop it: the
service needed is rendered by Sokrates, who possesses an obstetric
patent, and a marvellous faculty of cross-examination. Yet instead
of any auxiliary stimulus arising from personal beauty, the
personal ugliness of both persons in the dialogue is emphatically

I note these peculiarities, partly of the Symposion, partly of the
Phædrus along with it--to illustrate the varying points of view
which the reader must expect to meet in travelling through the
numerous Platonic dialogues.

[Side-note: Concluding scene and speech of Alkibiades in the
Symposion--Behaviour of Sokrates to Alkibiades and other handsome

In the strange scene with which the Symposion is wound up, the
main purpose of the dialogue is still farther worked out. The
spirit and ethical character of Eros Philosophus, after having
been depicted in general terms by Diotima, are specially
exemplified in the personal history of Sokrates, as recounted and
appreciated by Alkibiades. That handsome, high-born, and insolent
youth, being in a complete state of intoxication, breaks in
unexpectedly upon the company, all of whom are as yet sober: he
enacts the part of a drunken man both in speech and action, which
is described with a vivacity that would do credit to any
dramatist. His presence is the signal for beginning to drink hard,
and he especially challenges Sokrates to drink off, after him, as
much wine as will fill the large water-vessel serving as cooler;
which challenge Sokrates forthwith accepts and executes, without
being the least affected by it. Alkibiades instead of following
the example of the others by delivering an encomium on Eros,
undertakes to deliver one upon Sokrates. He proceeds to depict
Sokrates as the votary of Eros Philosophus, wrapped up in the
contemplation of beautiful youths, and employing his whole time in
colloquy with them--yet as never losing his own self-command, even
while acquiring a magical ascendency over these companions.[40]
The abnormal exterior of Sokrates, resembling that of a Satyr,
though concealing the image of a God within--the eccentric
pungency of his conversation, blending banter with seriousness,
homely illustrations with impressive principles--has exercised an
influence at once fascinating, subjugating, humiliating. The
impudent Alkibiades has been made to feel painfully his own
unworthiness, even while receiving every mark of admiration from
others. He has become enthusiastically devoted to Sokrates, whom
he has sought to attach to himself, and to lay under obligation,
by tempting offers of every kind. The details of these offers are
given with a fulness which cannot be translated to modern readers,
and which even then required to be excused as the revelations of a
drunken man. They present one of the boldest fictions in the Greek
language--if we look at them in conjunction with the real
character of Alkibiades as an historical person.[41] Sokrates is
found proof against every variety of temptation, however seductive
to Grecian feeling. In his case, Eros Philosophus maintains his
dignity as exclusively pure, sentimental, and spiritual: while
Alkibiades retires more humiliated than ever. We are given to
understand that the like offers had been made to Sokrates by many
other handsome youths also--especially by Charmides and
Euthydemus--all of them being treated with the same quiet and
repellent indifference.[42] Sokrates had kept on the
vantage-ground as regards all:--and was regarded by all with
the same mixture of humble veneration and earnest attachment.

[Footnote 40: Plato, Sympos. p. 216 C-D.]

[Footnote 41: Plato, Sympos. p. 219. See also, respecting the
historical Alkibiades and his characte, Thucyd. vi. 15; Xenoph.
Memor. i. 1; Antisthenes, apud Athenæum, xii. 534.

The invention of Plato goes beyond that of those ingenious men who
recounted how Phrynê and Lais had failed in attempts to overcome
the continence of Xenokrates, Diog. L. iv. 7: and the saying of
Lais, [Greek: ô(s ou)k a)p' a)ndro/s, a)ll' a)p' a)ndri/antos,
a)nastai/ê.] Quintilian (viii. 4, 22-23) aptly enough compares the
description given by Alkibiades--as the maximum of testimony to
the "invicta continentia" of Sokrates--with the testimony to the
surpassing beauty of Helen, borne by such witnesses as the Trojan
[Greek: dêmoge/rontes] and Priam himself (Hom. Iliad iii. 156).
One of the speakers in Athenæus censures severely this portion of
the Platonic Symposion, xi. 506 C, 508 D, v. 187 D. Porphyry (in
his life of Plotinus, 15) tells us that the rhetor Diophanes
delivered an apology for Alkibiades, in the presence of Plotinus;
who was much displeased, and directed Porphyry to compose a

[Footnote 42: Plato, Symp. p. 222 B.

In the Hieron of Xenophon (xi. 11)--a conversation between the
despot Hieron and the poet Simonides--the poet, exhorting Hieron
to govern his subjects in a mild, beneficent, and careful spirit,
expatiates upon the popularity and warm affection which he will
thereby attract to himself from them. Of this affection one
manifestation will be (he says) as follows:--[Greek: ô(/ste ou)
mo/non philoi=o a)/n, a)lla\ kai\ e)rô=|o, u(p' a)nthrô/pôn; _kai\
tou\s kalou\s ou) peira=|n, a)lla\ peirô/menon u(p' au)tô=n
a)ne/chesthai a)/n se de/oi_], &c.

These words illustrate the adventure described by Alkibiades in
the Platonic Symposion.

Herakleides of Pontus, Dikæarchus, and the Peripatetic Hieronymus,
all composed treatises [Greek: Peri\ E)rôtos], especially [Greek:
peri\ paidikô=n e)rô/tôn] (Athenæ. xiii. 602-603).]

[Side-note: Perfect self-command of Sokrates--proof against every
sort of trial.]

Not merely upon this point but upon others also, Alkibiades
recounts anecdotes of the perfect self-mastery of Sokrates: in
endurance of cold, heat, hunger, and fatigue--in contempt of the
dangers of war, in bravery on the day of battle--even in the power
of bearing more wine than any one else, without being intoxicated,
whenever the occasion was such as to require him to drink: though
he never drank much willingly. While all his emotions are thus
described as under the full control of Reason and Eros
Philosophus--his special gift and privilege was that of
conversation--not less eccentric in manner, than potent,
soul-subduing,[43] and provocative in its effects.

[Footnote 43: Plato, Sympos. pp. 221-222.

Alkibiades recites acts of distinguished courage performed by
Sokrates, at the siege of Potidæa as well as at the battle of

About the potent effect produced by the conversation of Sokrates
upon his companions, compare Sympos. p. 173 C-D.

In the Xenophontic Apology (s. 18), Sokrates adverts to the
undisturbed equanimity which he had shown during the long blockade
of Athens after the battle of Ægospotami, while others were
bewailing the famine and other miseries.]

[Side-note: Drunkenness of others at the close of the
Symposion--Sokrates is not affected by it, but continues his dialectic

After the speech of Alkibiades is concluded, the close of the
banquet is described by the primary narrator. He himself, with
Agathon and Aristophanes, and several other fresh revellers,
continue to drink wine until all of them become dead drunk. While
Phædrus, Eryximachus, and others retire, Sokrates remains. His
competency to bear the maximum of wine without being disturbed by
it, is tested to the full. Although he had before, in acceptance
of the challenge of Alkibiades, swallowed the contents of the wine
cooler, he nevertheless continues all the night to drink wine in
large bowls, along with the rest. All the while, however, he goes
on debating his ordinary topics, even though no one is
sufficiently sober to attend to him. His companions successively
fall asleep, and at day-break, he finds himself the only person
sober,[44] except Aristodemus (the narrator of the whole scene),
who has recently waked after a long sleep. Sokrates quits the
house of Agathon, with unclouded senses and undiminished
activity--bathes--and then visits the gymnasium at the Lykeion;
where he passes all the day in his usual abundant colloquy.[45]

[Footnote 44: In Sympos. p. 176 B, Sokrates is recognised as
[Greek: dunatô/tatos pi/nein], above all the rest: no one can be
compared with him. In the two first books of the Treatise De
Legibus, we shall find much to illustrate what is here said (in
the Symposion) about the power ascribed to him of drinking more
wine than any one else, without being at all affected by it. Plato
discusses the subject of strong potations ([Greek: me/thê]) at
great length; indeed he seems to fear that his readers will think
he says too much upon it (i. 642 A). He considers it of great
advantage to have a test to apply, such as wine, for the purpose
of measuring the reason and self-command of different men, and of
determining how much wine is sufficient to overthrow it, in each
different case (i. 649 C-E). You can make this trial (he argues)
in each case, without any danger or harm; and you can thus escape
the necessity of making the trial in a real case of emergency.
Plato insists upon the [Greek: chrei/a tê=s me/thês], as a genuine
test, to be seriously employed for the purpose of testing men's
reason and force of character (ii. p. 673). In the Republic, too
(iii. p. 413 E), the [Greek: phu/lakes] are required to be tested,
in regard to their capacity of resisting pleasurable temptation,
as well as pain and danger.

Among the titles of the lost treatises of Theophrastus, we find
one [Greek: Peri\ Me/thês] (Diog. L. v. 44). It is one of the
compliments that the Emperor Marcus Antoninus (i. 16) pays to his
father--That he was, like Sokrates, equally competent both to
partake of, and to abstain from, the most seductive enjoyments,
without ever losing his calmness and self-mastery.]

[Footnote 45: Plato, Sympos. p. 223.]

[Side-note: Symposion and Phædon--each is the antithesis and
complement of the other.]

The picture of Sokrates, in the Symposion, forms a natural
contrast and complement to the picture of him in the Phædon;
though the conjecture of Schleiermacher[46]--that the two together
are intended to make up the Philosophus, or third member of the
trilogy promised in the Sophistês--is ingenious rather than
convincing. The Phædon depicts Sokrates in his last conversation
with his friends, immediately before his death; the Symposion
presents him in the exuberance of life, health, and cheerfulness:
in both situations, we find the same attributes
manifested--perfect equanimity and self-command, proof against every
variety of disturbing agency--whether tempting or terrible--absorbing
interest in philosophical dialectic. The first of these two
elements, if it stood alone, would be virtuous sobriety, yet not
passing beyond the limit of mortal virtue: the last of the two
superadds a higher element, which Plato conceives to transcend the
limit of mortal virtue, and to depend upon divine inspiration or

[Footnote 46: Einleitung zum Gastmahl, p. 359 seq.]

[Footnote 47: Plato, Phædrus, p. 256 C-E. [Greek: sôphrosu/nê
thnêtê/--e)rôtikê\ mani/a: sôphrosu/nê a)nthrôpi/nê--thei/a
mani/a.] Compare p. 244 B.]

[Side-note: Symposion of Plato compared with that of Xenophon.]

The Symposion of Plato affords also an interesting subject of
comparison with that of his contemporary Xenophon, as to points of
agreement as well as of difference.[48] Xenophon states in the
beginning that he intends to describe what passed in a scene where
he himself was present; because he is of opinion that the
proceedings of excellent men, in hours of amusement, are not less
worthy of being recorded than those of their serious hours. Both
Plato and Xenophon take for their main subject a festive banquet,
destined to celebrate the success of a young man in a competitive
struggle. In Plato, the success is one of mind and genius--Agathon
has gained the prize of tragedy: in Xenophon, it is one of bodily
force and skill--Autolykus victor in the pankration. The Symposion
of Xenophon differs from that of Plato, in the same manner as the
Memorabilia of Xenophon generally differ from the Sokratic
dialogues of Plato--that is, by approaching much nearer to common
life and reality. It describes a banquet such as was likely enough
to take place, with the usual accompaniments--a professional
jester, and a Syracusan ballet-master who brings with him a
dancing-girl, a girl to play on the flute and harp, and a handsome
youth. These artists contribute to the amusement of the company by
music, dancing, throwing up balls and catching them again, jumping
into and out of a circle of swords. All this would have occurred
at an ordinary banquet: here, it is accompanied and followed by
remarks of pleasantry, buffoonery and taunt, interchanged between
the guests. Nearly all the guests take part, more or less: but
Sokrates is made the prominent figure throughout. He repudiates
the offer of scented unguents: but he recommends the drinking of
wine, though moderately, and in small cups. The whole company are
understood to be somewhat elevated with wine, but not one of them
becomes intoxicated. Sokrates not only talks as much fun as the
rest, but even sings, and speaks of learning to dance, jesting on
his own corpulence.[49] Most part of the scene is broad farce, in
the manner, though not with all the humour, of Aristophanes.[50]
The number and variety of the persons present is considerable,
greater than in most of the Aristophanic plays.[51] Kallias,
Lykon, Autolykus, Sokrates, Antisthenes, Hermogenes, Nikeratus,
Kritobulus, have each his own peculiarity: and a certain amount of
vivacity and amusement arises from the way in which each of them
is required, at the challenge of Sokrates, to declare on what it
is that he most prides himself. Sokrates himself carries the
burlesque farther than any of them; pretending to be equal in
personal beauty to Kritobulus, and priding himself upon the
function of a pander, which he professes to exercise. Antisthenes,
however, is offended, when Sokrates fastens upon him a similar
function: but the latter softens the meaning of the term so as to
appease him. In general, each guest is made to take pride in
something the direct reverse of that which really belongs to him;
and to defend his thesis in a strain of humorous parody.
Antisthenes, for example, boasts of his wealth. The Syracusan
ballet-master is described as jealous of Sokrates, and as
addressing to him some remarks of offensive rudeness; which
Sokrates turns off, and even begins to sing, for the purpose of
preventing confusion and ill-temper from spreading among the
company:[52] while he at the same time gives prudent advice to the
Syracusan about the exhibitions likely to be acceptable.

[Footnote 48: Pontianus, one of the speakers in Athenæus (xi.
504), touches upon some points of this comparison, with a view of
illustrating the real or supposed enmity between Plato and
Xenophon; an enmity not in itself improbable, yet not sufficiently

Athenæus had before him the Symposion of Epikurus (not preserved)
as well as those of Plato, Xenophon, and Aristotle (xv. 674); and
we learn from him some of its distinctive points. Masurius (the
speaker in Athenæus, v. init.) while he recognises in the Symposia
of Xenophon and Plato a dramatic variety of characters and
smartness--finds fault with both, but especially with Plato, for
levity, rudeness, indecency, vulgarity, sneering, &c. The talk was
almost entirety upon love and joviality. In the Symposion of
Epikurus, on the contrary, nothing was said about these topics;
the guests were fewer, the conversation was grave and dull, upon
dry topics of science, such as the atomic theory ([Greek:
prophê/tas a)to/môn], v. 3, 187 B, 177 B. [Greek: E)pi/kouros de\
sumpo/sion philoso/phôn mo/non pepoi/êtai]), and even upon bodily
ailments, such as indigestion or fever (187 C). The philosophers
present were made by Epikurus to carry on their debate in so
friendly a spirit, that the critic calls them "flatterers praising
each other"; while he terms the Platonic guests "sneerers
insulting each other" ([Greek: muktêristô=n a)llê/lous
tôthazo/ntôn], 182 A), though this is much more true about the
Xenophontic Symposion than about the Platonic. He remarks farther
that the Symposion of Epikurus included no libation or offering to
the Gods (179 D).

It is curious to note these peculiarities in the compositions (now
lost) of a philosopher like Epikurus, whom many historians of
philosophy represent as thinking about nothing but convivial and
sexual pleasure.]

[Footnote 49: Xenophon, Sympos. vii. 1; ii. 18-19. [Greek:
proga/stôr], &c.]

[Footnote 50: The taunt ascribed to the jester Philippus, about
the cowardice of the demagogue Peisander, is completely
Aristophanic, ii. 14; also that of Antisthenes respecting the bad
temper of Xanthippê, ii. 10; and the caricature of the movements
of the [Greek: o)rchêstri\s] by Philippus, ii. 21. Compare also
iii. 11.]

[Footnote 51: Xen. Symp. c. 4-5.]

[Footnote 52: Xen. Symp. vi. [Greek: Au)tê\ me\n ê( paroini/a
ou(/tô katesbe/sthê], vii. 1-5.

Epiktêtus insists upon this feature in the character of Sokrates--his
patience and power of soothing angry men (ii. 12-14).]

[Side-note: Small proportion of the serious, in the Xenophontic

Though the Xenophontic Symposion is declared to be an alternate
mixture of banter and seriousness,[53] yet the only long serious
argument or lecture delivered is by Sokrates; in which he
pronounces a professed panegyric upon Eros, but at the same time
pointedly distinguishes the sentimental from the sensual. He
denounces the latter, and confines his panegyric to the
former--selecting Kallias and Autolykus as honourable examples of it.[54]

[Footnote 53: Xen. Symp. iv. 28. [Greek: a)nami\x e)skôpsa/n te
kai\ e)spou/dasan], viii. 41.]

[Footnote 54: Xen. Symp. viii. 24. The argument against the
sensual is enforced with so much warmth that Sokrates is made to
advert to the fact of his being elate with wine--[Greek: o(/ te
ga\r oi)=nos sunepai/rei, kai\ o( a)ei\ su/noikos e)moi\ e)/rôs
kentri/zei ei)s to\n a)nti/palon e)/rôta au)tou=

The contrast between the customs of the Thebans and Eleians, and
those of the Lacedæmonians, is again noted by Xenophon, Rep.
Laced. ii. 13. Plato puts (Symp. 182) a like contrast into the
mouth of Pausanias, assimilating the customs of Athens in this
respect to those of Sparta. The comparison between Plato and
Xenophon is here curious; we see how much more copious and
inventive is the reasoning of Plato.]

The Xenophontic Symposion closes with a pantomimic scene of
Dionysus and Ariadnê as lovers represented (at the instance of
Sokrates) by the Syracusan ballet-master and his staff. This is
described as an exciting spectacle to most of the hearers, married
as well as unmarried, who retire with agreeable emotions. Sokrates
himself departs with Lykon and Kallias, to be present at the
exercise of Autolykus.[55]

[Footnote 55: Xen. Symp. viii. 5, ix. 7. The close of the
Xenophontic Symposion is, to a great degree, in harmony with
modern sentiment, though what is there expressed would probably be
left to be understood. The Platonic Symposion departs altogether
from that sentiment.]

[Side-note: Platonic Symposion more ideal and transcendental than
the Xenophontic.]

We see thus that the Platonic Symposion is much more ideal, and
departs farther from common practice and sentiment, than the
Xenophontic. It discards all the common accessories of a banquet
(musical or dancing artists), and throws the guests altogether
upon their own powers of rhetoric and dialectic, for amusement. If
we go through the different encomiums upon Eros, by Phædrus,
Pausanias, Eryximachus, Aristophanes, Agathon, Diotima--we shall
appreciate the many-coloured forms and exuberance of the Platonic
imagination, as compared with the more restricted range and
common-place practical sense of Xenophon.[56] All the Platonic
speakers are accomplished persons--a man of letters, a physician,
two successful poets, a prophetess: the Xenophontic personages,
except Sokrates and Antisthenes, are persons of ordinary capacity.
The Platonic Symposion, after presenting Eros in five different
points of view, gives pre-eminence and emphasis to a sixth, in
which Eros is regarded as the privileged minister and conductor to
the mysteries of philosophy, both the lowest and the highest: the
Xenophontic Symposion dwells upon one view only of Eros (developed
by Sokrates) and cites Kallias as example of it, making no mention
of philosophy. The Platonic Symposion exalts Sokrates, as the
representative of Eros Philosophus, to a pinnacle of elevation
which places him above human fears and weaknesses[57]--coupled
however with that eccentricity which makes the vulgar regard a
philosopher as out of his mind: the Xenophontic Symposion presents
him only as a cheerful, amiable companion, advising temperance,
yet enjoying a convivial hour, and contributing more than any one
else to the general hilarity.

[Footnote 56: The difference between the two coincides very much
with that which is drawn by Plato himself in the Phædrus--[Greek:
thei/a mani/a] as contrasted with [Greek: sôphrosu/nê thnêtê\] (p.
256 E). Compare Athenæus, v. 187 B.]

[Footnote 57: Plato, Phædrus, p. 249 D. [Greek: nouthetei=tai me\n
u(po\ tô=n pollô=n ô(s parakinô=n, e)nthousia/zôn de\ le/lêthe
tou\s pollou\s. . . . ai)ti/an e)/chei ô(s manikô=s

Such are the points of comparison which present themselves between
the same subject as handled by these two eminent contemporaries,
both of them companions, and admirers of Sokrates: and each
handling it in his own manner.[58]

[Footnote 58: Which of these two Symposia was the latest in date
of composition we cannot determine with certainty: though it seems
certain that the latest of the two was not composed in imitation
of the earliest.

From the allusion to the [Greek: dioi/kisis] of Mantineia (p. 193
A) we know that the Platonic Symposion must have been composed
after 385 B.C.: there is great probability also, though not full
certainty, that it was composed during the time when Mantineia was
still an aggregate of separate villages and not a town--that is,
between 385-370 B.C., in which latter year Mantineia was
re-established as a city. The Xenophontic Symposion affords no mark
of date of composition: Xenophon reports it as having been himself
present. It does indeed contain, in the speech delivered by
Sokrates (viii. 32), an allusion to, and a criticism upon, an
opinion supported by Pausanias [Greek: o( A)ga/thônos tou=
poiêtou= e)rastê/s], who discourses in the Platonic Symposion: and
several critics think that this is an allusion by Xenophon to the
Platonic Symposion. I think this opinion improbable. It would
require us to suppose that Xenophon is inaccurate, since the
opinion which he ascribes to Pausanias is not delivered by
Pausanias in the Platonic Symposion, but by Phædrus. Athenæus (v.
216) remarks that the opinion is not delivered by Pausanias, but
he does not mention that it _is_ delivered by Phædrus. He remarks
that there was no known written composition of Pausanias himself:
and he seems to suppose that Xenophon must have alluded to the
Platonic Symposion, but that he quoted it inaccurately or out of
another version of it, different from what we now read. Athenæus
wastes reasoning in proving that the conversation described in the
Platonic Symposion cannot have really occurred at the time to
which Plato assigns it. This is unimportant: the speeches are
doubtless all composed by Plato. If Athenæus was anxious to prove
anachronism against Plato, I am surprised that he did not notice
that of the [Greek: dioi/kisis] of Mantineia mentioned in a
conversation supposed to have taken place in the presence of
Sokrates, who died in 399 B.C.

I incline to believe that the allusion of Xenophon is not intended
to apply to the Symposion of Plato. Xenophon ascribes one opinion
to Pausanias, Plato ascribes another; this is noway inconceivable.
I therefore remain in doubt whether the Xenophontic or the
Platonic Symposion is earliest. Compare the Præf. of Schneider to
the former, pp. 140-143.]

[Side-note: Second half of the Phædrus--passes into a debate on
Rhetoric. Eros is considered as a subject for rhetorical

I have already stated that the first half of the Phædrus differs
materially from the second; and that its three discourses on the
subject of Eros (the first two depreciating Eros, the third being
an effusion of high-flown and poetical panegyric on the same
theme) may be better understood by being looked at in conjunction
with the Symposion. The second half of the Phædrus passes into a
different discussion, criticising the discourse of Lysias as a
rhetorical composition: examining the principles upon which the
teaching of Rhetoric as an Art either is founded, or ought to be
founded: and estimating the efficacy of written discourse
generally, as a means of working upon or instructing other minds.

[Side-note: Lysias is called a logographer by active politicians.
Contempt conveyed by the word. Sokrates declares that the only
question is, Whether a man writes well or ill.]

I heard one of our active political citizens (says Phædrus)
severely denounce Lysias, and fasten upon him with contempt, many
times over, the title of a logographer. Active politicians will
not consent to compose and leave behind them written discourses,
for fear of being called Sophists.[59] To write discourses
(replies Sokrates) is noway discreditable: the real question is,
whether he writes them well.[60] And the same question is the only
one proper to be asked about other writers on all subjects--public
or private, in prose or in verse. How to speak _well_,
and how to write _well_--is the problem.[61] Is there any art or
systematic method, capable of being laid down beforehand and
defended upon principle, for accomplishing the object _well_? Or
does a man succeed only by unsystematic knack or practice, such as
he can neither realise distinctly to his own consciousness, nor
describe to others?

[Footnote 59: Plato, Phædrus, p. 257 C.]

[Footnote 60: Plato, Phædrus, pp. 257 E, 258 D.

The two appellations--[Greek: logogra/phos] and [Greek:
sophistê/s]--are here coupled together as terms of reproach, just
as they stand coupled in Demosthenes, Fals. Leg. p. 417. It is
plain that both appellations acquired their discreditable import
mainly from the collateral circumstance that the persons so
denominated took money for their compositions or teaching. The
[Greek: logogra/phos] wrote for pay, and on behalf of any client
who could pay him. In the strict etymological sense, neither of
the two terms would imply any reproach.

Yet Plato, in this dialogue, when he is discussing the worth of
the reproachful imputation fastened on Lysias, takes the term
[Greek: logogra/phos] only in this etymological, literal sense,
omitting to notice the collateral association which really gave
point to it and made it serve the purpose of a hostile speaker.
This is the more remarkable, because we find Plato multiplying
opportunities, even on unsuitable occasions, of taunting the
Sophists with the fact that they took money. Here in the Phædrus,
we should have expected that if he noticed the imputation at all,
he would notice it in the sense intended by the speaker. In this
sense, indeed, it would not have suited the purpose of his
argument, since he wishes to make it an introduction to a
philosophical estimate of the value of writing as a means of

Heindorf observes, that Plato has used a similar liberty in
comparing the [Greek: logogra/phos] to the proposer of a law or
decree. "Igitur, quum solemne legum initium ejusmodi esset,
[Greek: e)/doxe tê=| boulê=|], &c., Plato aliter longé quam vulgo
acciperetur, neque sine calumniâ quâdam, interpretatus est" (ad p.

[Footnote 61: Plato, Phædrus, p. 259 E. [Greek: o(/pê| kalô=s
e)/chei le/gein te kai\ gra/phein, kai\ o(/pê| mê/,
skepte/on.]--p. 258 D. [Greek: ti/s o( tro/pos tou= kalô=s te
kai\ mê\ gra/phein.]]

[Side-note: Question about teaching the art of writing well or
speaking well. Can it be taught upon system or principle? Or does
the successful Rhetor succeed only by unsystematic knack?.]

First let us ask--When an orator addresses himself to a listening
crowd upon the common themes--Good and Evil, Just and Unjust--is
it necessary that he should know what is really and truly good and
evil, just and unjust? Most rhetorical teachers affirm, that it is
enough if he knows what the audience or the people generally
believe to be so: and that to that standard he must accommodate
himself, if he wishes to persuade.[62]

[Footnote 62: Plato, Phædrus, p. 260 A.]

[Side-note: Theory of Sokrates--that all art of persuasion must be
founded upon a knowledge of the truth, and of gradations of
resemblance to the truth.]

He may persuade the people under these circumstances (replies
Sokrates), but if he does so, it will be to their misfortune and
to his own. He ought to know the real truth--not merely what the
public whom he addresses believe to be the truth--respecting just
and unjust, good and evil, &c. There can be no genuine art of
speaking, which is not founded upon knowledge of the truth, and
upon adequate philosophical comprehension of the
subject-matter.[63] The rhetorical teachers take too narrow a view of
rhetoric, when they confine it to public harangues addressed to
the assembly or to the Dikastery. Rhetoric embraces all guidance
of the mind through words, whether in public harangue or private
conversation, on matters important or trivial. Whether it be a
controversy between two litigants in a Dikastery, causing the
Dikasts to regard the same matters now as being just and good,
presently as being unjust and evil: or between two dialecticians
like Zeno, who could make his hearers view the same subjects as
being both like and unlike--both one and many--both in motion and
at rest: in either case the art (if there be any art) and its
principles are the same. You ought to assimilate every thing to
every thing, in all cases where assimilation is possible: if your
adversary assimilates in like manner, concealing the process from
his hearers, you must convict and expose his proceedings. Now the
possibility or facility of deception in this way will depend upon
the extent of likeness between things. If there be much real
likeness, deception is easy, and one of them may easily be passed
off as the other: if there be little likeness, deception will be
difficult. An extensive acquaintance with the real resemblances of
things, or in other words with truth, constitutes the necessary
basis on which all oratorical art must proceed.[64]

[Footnote 63: Plato, Phædrus, pp. 260-261.]

[Footnote 64: Plato, Phædrus, p. 262.]

[Side-note: Comparison made by Sokrates between the discourse of
Lysias and his own. Eros is differently understood: Sokrates
defined what he meant by it: Lysias did not define.]

Sokrates then compares the oration of Lysias with his own two
orations (the first depreciating, the second extolling, Eros) in
the point of view of art; to see how far they are artistically
constructed. Among the matters of discourse, there are some on
which all men are agreed, and on which therefore the speaker may
assume established unanimity in his audience: there are others on
which great dissension and discord prevail. Among the latter (the
topics of dissension), questions about just and unjust, good and
evil, stand foremost:[65] it is upon these that deception is most
easy, and rhetorical skill most efficacious. Accordingly, an
orator should begin by understanding to which of these two
categories the topic which he handles belongs: If it belongs to
the second category (those liable to dissension) he ought, at the
outset, to define what he himself means by it, and what he intends
the audience to understand. Now Eros is a topic on which great
dissension prevails. It ought therefore to have been defined at
the commencement of the discourse. This Sokrates in his discourse
has done: but Lysias has omitted to do it, and has assumed Eros to
be obviously and unanimously apprehended by every one. Besides,
the successive points in the discourse of Lysias do not hang
together by any thread of necessary connection, as they ought to
do, if the discourse were put together according to rule.[66]

[Footnote 65: Plato, Phædrus, p. 263 B. Compare Plato, Alkibiad.
i. p. 109.]

[Footnote 66: Plato, Phædrus, pp. 263-265.]

[Side-note: Logical processes--Definition and Division--both of
them exemplified in the two discourses of Sokrates.]

Farthermore, in the two discourses of Sokrates, not merely was the
process of _logical definition_ exemplified in the case of Eros--but
also the process of _logical division_, in the case of Madness
or Irrationality. This last extensive genus was divided first into
two species--Madness, from human distemper--Madness, from divine
inspiration, carrying a man out of the customary orthodoxy.[67]
Next, this last species was again divided into four branches or
sub-species, according to the God from whom the inspiration
proceeded, and according to the character of the inspiration--the
prophetic, emanating from Apollo--the ritual or mystic, from
Dionysus--the poetic, from the Muses--the amatory, from Eros and
Aphroditê.[68] Now both these processes, definition and division,
are familiar to the true dialectician or philosopher: but they are
not less essential in rhetoric also, if the process is performed
with genuine art. The speaker ought to embrace in his view many
particular cases, to gather together what is common to all, and to
combine them into one generic concept, which is to be embodied in
words as the definition. He ought also to perform the
counter-process: to divide the genus not into parts arbitrary and
incoherent (like a bad cook cutting up an animal without regard to
the joints) but into legitimate species;[69] each founded on some
positive and assignable characteristic. "It is these divisions and
combinations (says Sokrates) to which I am devotedly attached, in
order that I may become competent for thought and discourse: and
if there be any one else whom I consider capable of thus
contemplating the One and the Many as they stand in nature--I
follow in the footsteps of that man as in those of a God. I call
such a man, rightly or wrongly, a Dialectician."[70]

[Footnote 67: Plato, Phædrus, p. 265 A. [Greek: u(po\ thei/as
e)xallagê=s tô=n ei)ôtho/tôn nomi/môn.]]

[Footnote 68: Plato, Phædrus, p. 265.]

[Footnote 69: Plato, Phædrus, pp. 265-266. 265 D: [Greek: ei)s
mi/an te i)de/an sunorô=nta a)/gein ta\ pollachê= diesparme/na,
i(/n' e(/kaston o(rizo/menos dê=lon poi=ê| peri\ ou(= a)\n a)ei\
dida/skein e)the/lê|.] 265 E: [Greek: to\ pa/lin kat' ei)/dê
du/nasthai te/mnein kat' a)/rthra, ê(=| pe/phuke, kai\ mê\
e)picheirei=n katagnu/nai me/ros mêde/n, kakou= magei/rou tro/pô|

Seneca, Epist. 89, p. 395, ed. Gronov. "Faciam ergo quod exigis,
et philosophiam in partes, non in frusta, dividam. Dividi enim
illam, non concidi, utile est."]

[Footnote 70: Plato, Phædrus, p. 266 B. [Greek: Tou/tôn dê\
e)/gôge au)to/s te e)rastê/s, ô)= Phai=dre, tô=n diaire/seôn kai\
sunagôgô=n, i(/n' oi(=o/s te ô)= le/gein te kai\ phronei=n; e)a/n
te/ tin' a)/llon ê(gê/sômai dunato\n ei)s e(\n kai\ e)pi\ polla\
pephuko\s o(ra=|n, tou=ton diô/kô kato/pisthe met' i)/chnion
ô(/ste theoi=o. kai\ me/ntoi kai\ tou\s duname/nous au)to\ dra=|n
ei) me\n o)rthô=s ê)\ mê\ prosagoreu/ô, theo\s oi)=de; kalô= de\
ou)=n me/chri tou=de dialektikou/s.]]

This is Dialectic (replies Phædrus); but it is not Rhetoric, as
Thrasymachus and other professors teach the art.

[Side-note: View of Sokrates--that there is no real Art of
Rhetoric, except what is already comprised in Dialectic--The
rhetorical teaching is empty and useless.]

What else is there worth having (says Sokrates), which these
professors teach? The order and distribution of a discourse:
first, the exordium, then recital, proof, second proof,
refutation, recapitulation at the close: advice how to introduce
maxims or similes: receipts for moving the anger or compassion of
the dikasts. Such teaching doubtless enables a speaker to produce
considerable effect upon popular assemblies:[71] but it is not the
art of rhetoric. It is an assemblage of preliminary
accomplishments, necessary before a man can acquire the art: but
it is not the art itself. You must know when, how far, in what
cases, and towards what persons, to employ these
accomplishments:[72] otherwise you have not learnt the art of
rhetoric. You may just as well consider yourself a physician
because you know how to bring about vomit and purging--or a
musician, because you know how to wind up or unwind the chords of
your lyre. These teachers mistake the preliminaries or antecedents
of the art, for the art itself. It is in the right, measured,
seasonable, combination and application of these preliminaries, in
different doses adapted to each special matter and audience--that
the art of rhetoric consists. And this is precisely the thing
which the teacher does not teach, but supposes the learner to
acquire for himself.[73]

[Footnote 71: Plato, Phædrus, pp. 267-268.]

[Footnote 72: Plato, Phædrus, p. 268 B. [Greek: e)re/sthai ei)
prosepi/statai kai\ ou(sti/nas dei= kai\ o(po/te e(/kasta tou/tôn
poiei=n, kai\ me/chri o(po/sou?]]

[Footnote 73: Plato, Phædrus, p. 269.]

[Side-note: What the Art of Rhetoric ought to be--Analogy of
Hippokrates and the medical Art.]

The true art of rhetoric (continues Sokrates) embraces a larger
range than these teachers imagine. It deals with mind, as the
medical researches of Hippokrates deal with body--as a generic
total with all its species and varieties, and as essentially
relative to the totality of external circumstances. First,
Hippokrates investigates how far the body is, in every particular
man, simple, homogeneous, uniform: and how far it is complex,
heterogeneous, multiform, in the diversity of individuals. If it
be one and the same, or in so far as it is one and the same, he
examines what are its properties in relation to each particular
substance acting upon it or acted upon by it. In so far as it is
multiform and various, he examines and compares each of the
different varieties, in the same manner, to ascertain its
properties in relation to every substance.[74] It is in this way
that Hippokrates discovers the nature or essence of the human
body, distinguishing its varieties, and bringing the medical art
to bear upon each, according to its different properties. This is
the only scientific or artistic way of proceeding.

[Footnote 74: Plato, Phædrus, p. 270 D. [Greek: A)=r' ou)ch ô(=de
dei= dianoei=sthai peri\ o(touou=n phu/seôs? Prô=ton me\n,
a(plou=n ê)\ polueide/s e)stin, ou(= peri\ boulêso/metha ei)=nai
au)toi\ technikoi\ kai\ a)/llon dunatoi\ poiei=n? e)/peita de/,
e)a\n me\n a(plou=n ê)=|, skopei=n tê\n du/namin au)tou=, ti/na
pro\s ti/ pe/phuken ei)s to\ dra=|n e)/chon ê)\ ti/na ei)s to\
pathei=n u(po\ tou=? e)a\n de\ plei/ô ei)/dê e)/chê|, tau=ta
a)rithmêsa/menos, o(/per e)ph' e(no/s, tou=t' i)dei=n e)ph'
e(ka/stou, tô=| ti/ poiei=n au)to\ pe/phuken ê)\ tô=| ti/ pathei=n
u(po\ tou=?]]

[Side-note: Art of Rhetoric ought to include a systematic
classification of minds with all their varieties, and of
discourses with all their varieties. The Rhetor must know how to
apply the one to the other, suitably to each particular case.]

Now the true rhetor ought to deal with the human mind in like
manner. His task is to work persuasion in the minds of certain men
by means of discourse. He has therefore, first, to ascertain how
far all mind is one and the same, and what are the affections
belonging to it universally in relation to other things: next, to
distinguish the different varieties of minds, together with the
properties, susceptibilities, and active aptitudes, of each:
carrying the subdivision down until he comes to a variety no
longer admitting division.[75] He must then proceed to distinguish
the different varieties of discourse, noting the effects which
each is calculated to produce or to hinder, and the different ways
in which it is likely to impress different minds.[76] Such and
such men are persuadable by such and such discourses--or the
contrary. Having framed these two general classifications, the
rhetor must on each particular occasion acquire a rapid tact in
discerning to which class of minds the persons whom he is about to
address belong: and therefore what class of discourses will be
likely to operate on them persuasively.[77] He must farther know
those subordinate artifices of speech on which the professors
insist; and he must also be aware of the proper season and limit
within which each can be safely employed.[78]

[Footnote 75: Plato, Phædrus, p. 277 B. [Greek: o(risa/meno/s te
pa/lin kat' ei)/dê me/chri tou= a)tmê/tou te/mnein e)pistêthê=|.]]

[Footnote 76: Plato, Phædrus, p. 271 A. [Greek: _Prô=ton_, pa/sê|
a)kribei/a| gra/psei te kai\ poiê/sei psuchê\n i)dei=n, po/teron
e(\n kai\ o(/moion pe/phuken ê)\ kata\ sô/matos morphê\n
polueide/s; tou=to ga/r phamen _phu/sin_ ei)=nai deiknu/nai.

_Deu/teron_ de/ ge, o(/tô| ti/ poiei=n ê)\ pathei=n u(po\ tou=

_Tri/ton_ de\ dê\ diataxa/menos ta\ lo/gôn te kai\ psuchê=s ge/nê
kai\ ta\ tou/tôn pathê/mata, di/eisi ta\s ai)ti/as, prosarmo/ttôn
e(/kaston e(ka/stô|, kai\ dida/skôn oi(/a ou)=sa u(ph' oi(/ôn
lo/gôn di' ê(\n ai)ti/an e)x a)na/gkês ê( me\n pei/thetai, ê( de\

[Footnote 77: Plato, Phædrus, p. 271 D. [Greek: dei= mê\ tau=ta
i(kanô=s noê/santa, meta\ tau=ta theô/menon au)ta\ e)n tai=s
pra/xesin o)/nta te kai\ pratto/mena, _o)xe/ôs_ tê=| ai)sthê/sei
du/nasthai e)pakolouthei=n], &c.]

[Footnote 78: Plato, Phædrus, p. 272 A. [Greek: tau=ta de\ ê)/dê
pa/nt' e)/chonti, _proslabo/nti kairou\s tou= po/te lekte/on kai\
e)pischete/on_, brachulogi/as te au)= kai\ e)leeinologi/as kai\
deinô/seôs, e(ka/stôn te o(/s' a)\n ei)/dê ma/thê| lo/gôn, tou/tôn
_tê\n eu)kairi/an te kai\ a)kairi/an diagno/nti_, kalô=s te kai\
tele/ôs e)sti\n ê( te/chnê a)peirgasme/nê, _pro/teron d' ou)/_.]]

[Side-note: The Rhetorical Artist must farther become possessed of
real truth, as well as that which his auditors believe to be
truth. He is not sufficiently rewarded for this labour.]

Nothing less than this assemblage of acquirements (says Sokrates)
will suffice to constitute a real artist, either in speaking or
writing. Arduous and fatiguing indeed the acquisition is: but
there is no easier road. And those who tell us that the rhetor
need not know what is really true, but only what his audience will
believe to be true--must be reminded that this belief, on the part
of the audience, arises from the likeness of that which they
believe, to the real truth. Accordingly, he who knows the real
truth will be cleverest in suggesting apparent or quasi-truth
adapted to their feelings. If a man is bent on becoming an artist
in rhetoric, he must go through the process here marked out: yet
undoubtedly the process is so laborious, that rhetoric, when he
has acquired it, is no adequate reward. We ought to learn how to
speak and act in a way agreeable to the Gods, and this is worth
all the trouble necessary for acquiring it. But the power of
speaking agreeably and effectively to men, is not of sufficient
moment to justify the expenditure of so much time and labour.[79]

[Footnote 79: Plato, Phædrus, pp. 273-274.]

[Side-note: Question about Writing--As an Art, for the purpose of
instruction, it can do little--Reasons why. Writing may remind the
reader of what he already knows.]

We have now determined what goes to constitute genuine art, in
speaking or in writing. But how far is writing, even when art is
applied to it, capable of producing real and permanent effect? or
indeed of having art applied to it at all? Sokrates answers
himself--Only to a small degree. Writing will impart amusement and
satisfaction for the moment: it will remind the reader of
something which he knew before, if he really did know. But in
respect to any thing which he did not know before, it will neither
teach nor persuade him: it may produce in him an impression or
fancy that he is wiser than he was before, but such impression is
illusory, and at best only transient. Writing is like painting--one
and the same to all readers, whether young or old, well or ill
informed. It cannot adapt itself to the different state of mind of
different persons, as we have declared that every finished speaker
ought to do. It cannot answer questions, supply deficiencies,
reply to objections, rectify misunderstanding. It is defenceless
against all assailants. It supersedes and enfeebles the memory,
implanting only a false persuasion of knowledge without the

[Footnote 80: Plato, Phædrus, p. 275 D-E. [Greek: tau)to\n de\
kai\ oi( lo/goi (oi( gegramme/noi); do/xais me\n a)\n ô(/s ti
phronou=ntas au)tou\s le/gein e)a\n de/ ti e(/rê| tô=n legome/nôn
boulo/menos mathei=n, e(/n ti sêmai/nei mo/non tau)to\n a)ei/.
O(/tan de\ a(/pax graphê=|, kulindei=tai me\n pantachou= pa=s
lo/gos o(moi/ôs para\ toi=s e)pai+/ousin, ô(s d' au)tô=s par'
oi(=s ou)de\n prosê/kei, kai\ ou)k e)pi/statai le/gein oi(=s dei=
ge kai\ mê/.]]

[Side-note: Neither written words, nor continuous speech, will
produce any serious effect in teaching. Dialectic and
cross-examination are necessary.]

Any writer therefore, in prose or verse--Homer, Solon, or
Lysias--who imagines that he can by a ready-made composition, however
carefully turned,[81] _if simply heard or read without
cross-examination or oral comment_, produce any serious and permanent
effect in persuading or teaching, beyond a temporary
gratification--falls into a disgraceful error. If he intends to
accomplish any thing serious, he must be competent to originate
spoken discourse more effective than the written. The written word
is but a mere phantom or ghost of the spoken word: which latter is
the only legitimate offspring of the teacher, springing fresh and
living out of his mind, and engraving itself profoundly on the
mind of the hearer.[82] The speaker must know, with discriminative
comprehension, and in logical subdivision, both the matter on
which he discourses, and the minds of the particular hearers to
whom he addresses himself. He will thus be able to adapt the
order, the distribution, the manner of presenting his subject, to
the apprehension of the particular hearers and the exigencies of
the particular moment. He will submit to cross-examination,[83]
remove difficulties, and furnish all additional explanations which
the case requires. By this process he will not indeed produce that
immediate, though flashy and evanescent, impression of suddenly
acquired knowledge, which arises from the perusal of what is
written. He will sow seed which for a long time appears buried
under ground; but which, after such interval, springs up and
ripens into complete and lasting fruit.[84] By repeated dialectic
debate, he will both familiarise to his own mind and propagate in
his fellow-dialogists, full knowledge; together with all the
manifold reasonings bearing on the subject, and with the power
also of turning it on many different sides, of repelling
objections and clearing up obscurities. It is not from writing,
but from dialectic debate, artistically diversified and adequately
prolonged, that full and deep teaching proceeds; prolific in its
own nature, communicable indefinitely from every new disciple to
others, and forming a source of intelligence and happiness to

[Footnote 81: Plato, Phædrus, pp. 277-278. [Greek: ô(s oi(
r(apsô|dou/menoi (lo/goi) a)/neu a)nakri/seôs kai\ didachê=s
peithou=s e(/neka e)le/chthêsan], &c.]

[Footnote 82: Plato, Phædrus, p. 276 A. [Greek: a)/llon o(rô=men
lo/gon tou/tou a)delpho\n gnê/sion tô=| tro/pô| te gi/gnetai, kai\
o(/sô| a)mei/nôn kai\ dunatô/teros tou/tou phu/etai? . . . . O(/s
met' e)pistê/mês gra/phetai e)n tê=| tou= mantha/nontos psuchê=|,
dunato\s me\n a)mu=nai e(autô=|, e)pistê/môn de\ le/gein te kai\
siga=|n pro\s ou(\s dei=. To\n tou= ei)do/tos lo/gon le/geis
zô=nta kai\ e)/mpsuchon, ou(= o( gegramme/nos ei)/dôlon a)/n ti
le/goito dikai/ôs], &c. 278 A.]

[Footnote 83: Plato, Phædrus, p. 278 C. [Greek: ei) me\n ei)dô\s
ê(=| ta)lêthe\s e)/chei sune/thêke tau=ta (ta\ suggra/mmata) kai\
e)/chôn boêthei=n, ei)s e)/legchon i)ô\n peri\ ô(=n e)/grapse,
kai\ le/gôn au)to\s dunato\s ta\ gegramme/na phau=la a)podei=xai],

[Footnote 84: Plato, Phædrus, p. 276 A.]

[Footnote 85: Plato, Phædrus, pp. 276-277.]

This blending of philosophy with rhetoric, which pervades the
criticisms on Lysias in the Phædrus, is farther illustrated by the
praise bestowed upon Isokrates in contrast with Lysias. Isokrates
occupied that which Plato in Euthydêmus calls "the border country
between philosophy and politics". Many critics declare (and I
think with probable reason[86]) that Isokrates is the person
intended (without being named) in the passage just cited from the
Euthydêmus. In the Phædrus, Isokrates is described as the intimate
friend of Sokrates, still young; and is pronounced already
superior in every way to Lysias--likely to become superior in
future to all the rhetors that have ever flourished--and destined
probably to arrive even at the divine mysteries of philosophy.[87]

[Footnote 86: See above, vol. ii. ch. xxi. p. 227.]

[Footnote 87: Plato, Phædrus, p. 279 A.]

When we consider that the Phædrus was pretty sure to bring upon
Plato a good deal of enmity--since it attacked, by name, both
Lysias, a resident at Athens of great influence and ability, and
several other contemporary rhetors more or less celebrated--we can
understand how Plato became disposed to lighten this amount of
enmity by a compliment paid to Isokrates. This latter rhetor, a
few years older than Plato, was the son of opulent parents at
Athens, and received a good education; but when his family became
impoverished by the disasters at the close of the Peloponnesian
war, he established himself as a teacher of rhetoric at Chios:
after some time, however, he returned to Athens, and followed the
same profession there. He engaged himself also, like Lysias, in
composing discourses for pleaders before the dikastery[88] and for
speakers in the assembly; by which practice he acquired both
fortune and reputation. Later in life, he relinquished these
harangues destined for real persons on real occasions, and
confined himself to the composition of discourses (intended, not
for contentious debate, but for the pleasure and instruction of
hearers) on general questions--social, political, and
philosophical: at the same time receiving numerous pupils from
different cities of Greece. Through such change, he came into a
sort of middle position between the rhetoric of Lysias and the
dialectic of Plato: insomuch that the latter, at the time when he
composed the Phædrus, had satisfaction in contrasting him
favourably with Lysias, and in prophesying that he would make yet
greater progress towards philosophy. But at the time when Plato
composed the Euthydêmus, his feeling was different.[89] In the
Phædrus, Isokrates is compared with Lysias and other rhetors, and
in that comparison Plato presents him as greatly superior: in the
Euthydêmus, he is compared with philosophers as well as with
rhetors, and is even announced as disparaging philosophy
generally: Plato then declares him to be a presumptuous half-bred,
and extols against him even the very philosopher whom he himself
had just been caricaturing. To apply a Platonic simile, the most
beautiful ape is ugly compared with man--the most beautiful man is
an ape compared with the Gods:[90] the same intermediate position
between rhetoric and philosophy is assigned by Plato to Isokrates.

[Footnote 88: Dion. Hal. De Isocrate Judicium, p. 576. [Greek:
desma\s pa/nu polla\s dikanikô=n lo/gôn periphe/resthai/ phêsin
u(po\ tô=n bibliopôlô=n A)ristote/lês], &c.

Plutarch, Vit. x. Oratt. pp. 837-838.

The Athenian Polykrates had been forced, by loss of property, to
quit Athens and undertake the work of a Sophist in Cyprus.
Isokrates expresses much sympathy for him: it was a misfortune
like what had happened to himself (Orat. xi. Busiris 1). Compare
De Permutation. Or. xv. s. 172.

The assertion made by Isokrates--that he did not compose political
and judicial orations, to be spoken by individuals for real causes
and public discussions--may be true comparatively, and with
reference to a certain period of his life. But it is only to be
received subject to much reserve and qualification. Even out of
the twenty-one orations of Isokrates which we possess, the last
five are composed to be spoken by pleaders before the dikastery.
They are such discourses as the logographers, Lysias among the
rest, were called upon to furnish, and paid for furnishing.]

[Footnote 89: Plato, Euthydêm. p. 306. I am inclined to agree with
Ueberweg in thinking that the Euthydêmus is later than the
Phædrus. Ueberweg, Aechtheit der Platon. Schriften, pp.

[Footnote 90: Plato, Hipp. Major, p. 289.]

From the pen of Isokrates also, we find various passages
apparently directed against the viri Socratici including Plato
(though without his name): depreciating,[91] as idle and
worthless, new political theories, analytical discussions on the
principles of ethics, and dialectic subtleties; maintaining that
the word philosophy was erroneously interpreted and defined by
many contemporaries, in a sense too much withdrawn from practical
results: and affirming that his own teaching was calculated to
impart genuine philosophy. During the last half of Plato's life,
his school and that of Isokrates were the most celebrated among
all that existed at Athens. There was competition between them,
gradually kindling into rivalry. Such rivalry became vehement
during the last ten years of Plato's life, when his scholar
Aristotle, then an aspiring young man of twenty-five, proclaimed a
very contemptuous opinion of Isokrates, and commenced a new school
of rhetoric in opposition to him.[92] Kephisodôrus, a pupil of
Isokrates, retaliated; publishing against Aristotle, as well as
against Plato, an acrimonious work which was still read some
centuries afterwards. Theopompus, another eminent pupil of
Isokrates, commented unfavourably upon Plato in his writings: and
other writers who did the same may probably have belonged to the
Isokratean school.[93]

[Footnote 91: Isokrates, Orat. x. 1 (Hel. Enc.); Orat. v.
(Philipp.) 12; Or. xiii. (Sophist.) 9-24; Orat. xv. (Permut.)
sect. 285-290. [Greek: philosophi/an me\n ou)=n ou)k oi)=mai dei=n
prosagoreu/ein tê\n mêde\n e)n tô=| paro/nti mê/te pro\s to\
le/gein mê/te pro\s to\ pra/ttein ô(/phelou=san--tê\n kaloume/nên
u(po/ tinôn philosophi/an ou)k ei)=nai phêmi/], &c.]

[Footnote 92: Cicero, De Oratore, iii. 35, 141; Orator. 19, 62;
Numenius, ap. Euseb. Præp. Evang. xiv. 6, 9. See Stahr,
Aristotelia, i. p. 63 seq., ii. p. 44 seq.

Schroeder's Quæstiones Isocrateæ (Utrecht, 1859), and Spengel's
work, Isokrates und Plato, are instructive in regard to these two
contemporary luminaries of the intellectual world at Athens. But,
unfortunately, we can make out few ascertainable facts. When I
read the Oration De Permut., Or. xv. (composed by Isokrates about
fifteen years before his own death, and about five years before
the death of Plato, near 353 B.C.), I am impressed with the belief
that many of his complaints about unfriendly and bitter criticism
refer to the Platonic School of that day, Aristotle being one of
its members. See sections 48-90-276, and seq. He certainly means
the Sokratic men, and Plato as the most celebrated of them, when
he talks of [Greek: oi( peri\ ta\s e)rôtê/seis kai\ a)pokri/seis,
ou(\s a)ntilogikou\s kalou=sin--oi( peri\ ta\s e)/ridas
spouda/zontes]--those who are powerful in contentious dialectic,
and at the same time cultivate geometry and astronomy, which
others call [Greek: a)doleschi/a] and [Greek: mikrologi/a]
(280)--those who exhorted hearers to virtue about which others knew
nothing, and about which they themselves were in dispute. When he
complains of the [Greek: perittolo/giai] of the ancient Sophists,
Empedokles, Ion, Parmenides, Melissus, &c., we cannot but suppose
that he had in his mind the Timæus of Plato also, though he avoids
mention of the name.]

[Footnote 93: Athenæus, iii. p. 122, ii. 60; Dionys. Hal. Epistol.
ad Cn. Pomp. p. 757.]

[Side-note: The Dialectician and Cross-Examiner is the only man who
can really teach. If the writer can do this, he is more than a

This is the true philosopher (continues Sokrates)--the man who
alone is competent to teach truth about the just, good, and
honourable.[94] He who merely writes, must not delude himself with
the belief that upon these important topics his composition can
impart any clear or lasting instruction. To mistake fancy for
reality hereupon, is equally disgraceful, whether the mistake be
made by few or by many persons. If indeed the writer can explain
to others orally the matters written--if he can answer all
questions, solve difficulties, and supply the deficiencies, of
each several reader--in that case he is something far more and
better than a writer, and ought to be called a philosopher. But if
he can do no more than write, he is no philosopher: he is only a
poet, or nomographer, or logographer.[95]

[Footnote 94: Plato, Phædrus, p. 277 D-E.]

[Footnote 95: Plato, Phædrus, pp. 278-279.]

[Side-note: Lysias is only a logographer: Isokrates promises to
become a philosopher.]

In this latter class stands Lysias. I expect (concludes Sokrates)
something better from Isokrates, who gives promise of aspiring one
day to genuine philosophy.[96]

[Footnote 96: Respecting the manner in which Plato speaks of
Isokrates in the Phædrus, see what I have already observed upon
the Euthydêmus, vol. ii. ch. xxi. pp. 227-229.]

*  *  *  *  *

[Side-note: Date of the Phædrus--not an early dialogue.]

I have already observed that I dissent from the hypothesis of
Schleiermacher, Ast, and others, who regard the Phædrus either as
positively the earliest, or at least among the earliest, of the
Platonic dialogues, composed several years before the death of
Sokrates. I agree with Hermann, Stallbaum, and those other
critics, who refer it to a much later period of Plato's life:
though I see no sufficient evidence to determine more exactly
either its date or its place in the chronological series of
dialogues. The views opened in the second half of the dialogue, on
the theory of rhetoric and on the efficacy of written compositions
as a means of instruction, are very interesting and remarkable.

[Side-note: Criticism given by Plato on the three discourses--His
theory of Rhetoric is more Platonic than Sokratic.]

The written discourse of Lysias (presented to us as one greatly
admired at the time by his friends, Phædrus among them) is
contrasted first with a pleading on the same subject (though not
directed towards the attainment of the same end) by Sokrates
(supposed to be improvised on the occasion); next with a second
pleading of Sokrates directly opposed to the former, and intended
as a recantation. These three discourses are criticised from the
rhetorical point of view,[97] and are made the handle for
introducing to us a theory of rhetoric. The second discourse of
Sokrates, far from being Sokratic in tenor, is the most exuberant
effusion of mingled philosophy, poetry, and mystic theology, that
ever emanated from Plato.

[Footnote 97: Plato, Phædrus, p. 235 A.]

[Side-note: His theory postulates, in the Rhetor, knowledge already
assured--it assumes that all the doubts have been already

The theory of rhetoric too is far more Platonic than Sokratic. The
peculiar vein of Sokrates is that of confessed ignorance, ardour
in enquiry, and testing cross-examination of all who answer his
questions. But in the Phædrus we find Plato (under the name of
Sokrates) assuming, as the basis of his theory, that an expositor
shall be found who _knows_ what is really and truly just and
unjust, good and evil, honourable and dishonourable--distinct
from, and independent of, the established beliefs on these
subjects, traditional among his neighbours and
fellow-citizens:[98] assuming (to express the same thing in other
words) that all the doubts and difficulties, suggested by the
Sokratic cross-examination, have been already considered, elucidated,
and removed.

[Footnote 98: Plato, Phædrus, pp. 259 E, 260 E, and 262 B.]

[Side-note: The Expositor, with knowledge and logical process,
teaches minds unoccupied and willing to learn.]

The expositor, master of such perfect knowledge, must farther be
master (so Plato tells us) of the arts of logical definition and
division: that is, he must be able to gather up many separate
fragmentary particulars into one general notion, clearly
identified and embodied in a definition: and he must be farther
able to subdivide such a general notion into its constituent
specific notions, each marked by some distinct characteristic
feature.[99] This is the only way to follow out truth in a manner
clear and consistent with itself: and truth is equally honourable
in matters small or great.[100]

[Footnote 99: Plato, Phædrus, p. 266.]

[Footnote 100: Plato, Phædrus, p. 261 A.

That truth upon matters small and contemptible deserves to be
sought out and proved as much as upon matters great and sublime,
is a doctrine affirmed in the Sophistês, Politikus, Parmenidês:
Sophist. pp. 218 E, 227 A; Politik. 266 D; Parmenid. 130 E.]

Thus far we are in dialectic: logical exposition proceeding by way
of classifying and declassifying: in which it is assumed that the
expositor will find minds unoccupied and unprejudiced, ready to
welcome the truth when he lays it before them. But there are many
topics on which men's minds are, in the common and natural course
of things, both pre-occupied and dissentient with each other. This
is especially the case with Justice, Goodness, the Honourable,
&c.[101] It is one of the first requisites for the expositor to be
able to discriminate this class of topics, where error and
discordance grow up naturally among those whom he addresses. It is
here that men are liable to be deceived, and require to be
undeceived--contradict each other, and argue on opposite sides:
such disputes belong to the province of Rhetoric.

[Footnote 101: Plato, Phædrus, p. 263 A.]

[Side-note: The Rhetor does not teach, but persuades persons with
minds pre-occupied--guiding them methodically from error to

The Rhetor is one who does not teach (according to the logical
process previously described), but persuades; guiding the mind by
discourse to or from various opinions or sentiments.[102] Now if
this is to be done _by art_ and methodically--that is, upon
principle or system explicable and defensible--it pre-supposes
(according to Plato) a knowledge of truth, and can only be
performed by the logical expositor. For when men are deceived, it
is only because they mistake what is like truth for truth itself:
when they are undeceived, it is because they are made to perceive
that what they believe to be truth is only an apparent likeness
thereof. Such resemblances are strong or faint, differing by many
gradations. Now no one can detect, or bring into account, or
compare, these shades of resemblance, except he who knows the
truth to which they all ultimately refer. It is through the slight
differences that deception is operated. To deceive a man, you must
carry him gradually away from the truth by transitional stages,
each resembling that which immediately precedes, though the last
in the series will hardly at all resemble the first: to undeceive
him (or to avoid being deceived yourself), you must conduct him
back by the counter-process from error to truth, by a series of
transitional resemblances tending in that direction. You cannot do
this like an artist (on system and by pre-determination), unless
you know what the truth is.[103] By anyone who does not know, the
process will be performed without art, or at haphazard.

[Footnote 102: Plato, Phædrus, p. 261 A. [Greek: ê( r(êtorikê\
te/chnê psuchagôgi/a tis dia\ lo/gôn], &c.]

[Footnote 103: Plato, Phædrus, pp. 262 A-D, 273 D.]

[Side-note: He must then classify the minds to be persuaded, and
the means of persuasion or varieties of discourse. He must know
how to fit on the one to the other in each particular case.]

The Rhetor--being assumed as already knowing the truth--if he
wishes to make persuasion an art, must proceed in the following
manner:--He must distribute the multiplicity of individual minds
into distinct classes, each marked by its characteristic features
of differences, emotional and intellectual. He must also
distribute the manifold modes of discourse into distinct classes,
each marked in like manner. Each of these modes of discourse is
well adapted to persuade some classes of mind--badly adapted to
persuade other classes: for such adaptation or non-adaptation
there exists a rational necessity,[104] which the Rhetor must
examine and ascertain, informing himself which modes of discourse
are adapted to each different class of mind. Having mastered this
general question, he must, whenever he is about to speak, be able
to distinguish, by rapid perception,[105] to which class of minds
the hearer or hearers whom he is addressing belong: and
accordingly, which mode of discourse is adapted to their
particular case. Moreover, he must also seize, in the case before
him, the seasonable moment and the appropriate limit, for the use
of each mode of discourse. Unless the Rhetor is capable of
fulfilling all these exigencies, without failing in any one point,
his Rhetoric is not entitled to be called an Art. He requires, in
order to be an artist in persuading the mind, as great an
assemblage of varied capacities as Hippokrates declares to be
necessary for a physician, the artist for curing or preserving the

[Footnote 104: Plato, Phædrus, pp. 270 E, 271 A-D. [Greek: Tri/ton
de\ dê\ diataxa/menos ta\ lo/gôn te kai\ psuchê=s ge/nê, kai\ ta\
tou/tôn pathê/mata, di/eisi ta\s ai)ti/as, prosarmo/ttôn e(/kaston
e(ka/stô|, kai\ dida/skôn oi(/a ou)=sa u(ph' oi(/ôn lo/gôn di'
ê(\n ai)ti/an e)x a)na/gkês ê( me\n pei/thetai, ê( de\

[Footnote 105: Plato, Phædrus, p. 271 D-E. [Greek: dei= dê\ tau=ta
i(kanô=s noê/santa, meta\ tau=ta theô/menon au)ta\ e)n tai=s
pra/xesin o)/nta te kai\ pratto/mena, _o)xe/ôs tê=| ai)sthê/sei
du/nasthai e)pakolouthei=n_, ê)\ mêde\ ei)de/nai pô ple/on au)tô=n
ô(=n to/te ê)/koue lo/gôn xunô/n.]]

[Footnote 106: Plato, Phædrus, p. 270 C.]

[Side-note: Plato's _Idéal_ of the Rhetorical Art--involves in part
incompatible conditions--the Wise man or philosopher will never be
listened to by the public.]

The total, thus summed up by Plato, of what is necessary to
constitute an Art of Rhetoric, is striking and comprehensive. It
is indeed an _idéal_, not merely unattainable by reason of its
magnitude, but also including impracticable conditions. He begins
by postulating a perfectly wise man, who knows all truth on the
most important social subjects; on which his country-men hold
erroneous beliefs, just as sincerely as _he_ holds his true
beliefs. But Plato has already told us, in the Gorgias, that such
a person will not be listened to: that in order to address
auditors with effect, the rhetor must be in genuine harmony of
belief and character with them, not dissenting from them either
for the better or the worse: nay, that the true philosopher (so we
read in one of the most impressive portions of the Republic) not
only has no chance of guiding the public mind, but incurs public
obloquy, and may think himself fortunate if he escapes
persecution.[107] The dissenter will never be allowed to be the
guide of a body of orthodox believers; and is even likely enough,
unless he be prudent, to become their victim. He may be permitted
to lecture or discuss, in the gardens of the Academy, with a few
chosen friends, and to write eloquent dialogues: but if he
embodies his views in motions before the public assembly, he will
find only strenuous opposition, or something worse. This view,
which is powerfully set forth by Sokrates both in the Gorgias and
Republic, is founded on a just appreciation of human societies:
and it is moreover the basis of the Sokratic procedure--That the
first step to be taken is to disabuse men's minds of their false
persuasion of knowledge--to make them conscious of ignorance--and
thus to open their minds for the reception of truth. But if this
be the fact, we must set aside as impracticable the postulate
advanced by Sokrates here in the Phædrus--of a perfectly wise man
as the employer of rhetorical artifices. Moreover I do not agree
with what Sokrates is here made to lay down as the philosophy of
Error:--that it derives its power of misleading from resemblance
to truth. This is the case to a certain extent: but it is very
incomplete as an account of the generating causes of error.

[Footnote 107: Plato, Gorg. p. 513 B, see supra, ch. xxiv.;
Republic, vi. pp. 495-496.]

[Side-note: The other part of the Platonic _Idéal_ is grand but
unattainable--breadth of psychological data and classified modes
of discourse.]

But the other portion of Plato's sum total of what is necessary to
an Art of Rhetoric, is not open to the same objection. It involves
no incompatible conditions: and we can say nothing against it,
except that it requires a breadth and logical command of
scientific data, far greater than there is the smallest chance of
attaining. That Art is an assemblage of processes, directed to a
definite end, and prescribed by rules which themselves rest upon
scientific data--we find first announced in the works of
Plato.[108] A vast amount of scientific research, both inductive
and deductive, is here assumed as an indispensable foundation--and
even as a portion--of what he calls the Art of Rhetoric: first, a
science of psychology, complete both in its principles and
details: next, an exhaustive catalogue and classification of the
various modes of operative speech, with their respective
impression upon each different class of minds. So prodigious a
measure of scientific requirement has never yet been filled up: of
course, therefore, no one has ever put together a body of precepts
commensurate with it. Aristotle, following partially the large
conceptions of his master, has given a comprehensive view of many
among the theoretical postulates of Rhetoric; and has partially
enumerated the varieties both of persuadable auditors, and of
persuasive means available to the speaker for guiding them.
Cicero, Dionysius of Halikarnassus, Quintilian, have furnished
valuable contributions towards this last category of data, but not
much towards the first: being all of them defective in breadth of
psychological theory. Nor has Plato himself done anything to work
out his conception in detail or to provide suitable rules for it.
We read it only as an impressive sketch--a grand but unattainable
_idéal_--"qualem nequeo monstrare et sentio tantum".

[Footnote 108: I repeat the citation from the Phædrus, one of the
most striking passages in Plato, p. 271 D.

[Greek: e)/peidê\ lo/gou du/namis tugcha/nei psuchagôgi/a ou)=sa,
to\n me/llonta r(êtoriko\n e)/sesthai a)na/gkê ei)de/nai psuchê\
o(/sa ei)/dê e)/chei. e)/stin ou)=n to/sa kai\ to/sa, kai\ toi=a
kai\ toi=a; o(/then oi( me\n toioi/de, oi( de\ toioi/de
gi/gnontai. tou/tôn de\ dê\ diê|rême/nôn, lo/gôn au)= to/sa kai\
to/sa e)/stin ei)/dê, toio/nde e(/kaston. oi( me\n ou)=n toioi/de
u(po\ tô=n toiô=nde logôn dia\ tê/nde tê\n aiti/an e)s ta\ toia/de
eu)peithei=s, oi( de\ toioi/de dia\ ta/de duspeithei=s], &c. Comp.
p. 261 A.

The relation of Art to Science is thus perspicuously stated by Mr.
John Stuart Mill, in the concluding chapter of his System of
Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive (Book vi. ch. xii. § 2):

"The relation in which rules of Art stand to doctrines of Science
may be thus characterised. The Art proposes to itself an end to be
attained, defines the end, and hands it over to the Science. The
Science receives it, considers it as a phenomenon or effect to be
studied, and having investigated its causes and conditions, sends
it back to Art with a theorem of the combinations of circumstances
by which it could be produced. Art then examines these
combinations of circumstances, and according as any of them are or
are not in human power, pronounces the end attainable or not. The
only one of the premisses, therefore, which Art supplies, is the
original major premiss, which asserts that the attainment of the
given end is desirable. Science then lends to Art the proposition
(obtained by a series of inductions or of deductions) that the
performance of certain actions will attain the end. From these
premisses Art concludes that the performance of these actions is
desirable; and finding it also practicable, converts the theorem
into a rule or precept."]

[Side-note: Plato's ideal grandeur compared with the rhetorical
teachers--Usefulness of these teachers for the wants of an
accomplished man.]

Indeed it seems that Plato himself regarded it as unattainable--and
as only worth aiming at for the purpose of pleasing the Gods,
not with any view to practical benefit, arising from either speech
or action among mankind.[109] This is a point to be considered,
when we compare his views on Rhetoric with those of Lysias and the
other rhetors, whom he here judges unfavourably and even
contemptuously. The work of speech and action among mankind, which
Plato sets aside as unworthy of attention, was the express object
of solicitude to Lysias, Isokrates, and rhetors generally: that
which they practised efficaciously themselves, and which they
desired to assist, cultivate, and improve in others: that which
Perikles, in his funeral oration preserved by Thucydides,
represents as the pride of the Athenian people
collectively[110]--combination of full freedom of preliminary contentious
debate, with energy in executing the resolution which might be ultimately
adopted. These rhetors, by the example of their composed speeches
as well as by their teaching, did much to impart to young men the
power of expressing themselves with fluency and effect before
auditors, either in the assembly or in the dikastery: as Sokrates
here fully admits.[111] Towards this purpose it was useful to
analyse the constituent parts of a discourse, and to give an
appropriate name to each part. Accordingly, all the rhetorical
teachers (Quintilian included) continued such analysis, though
differing more or less in their way of performing it, until the
extinction of Pagan civilisation. Young men were taught to learn
by heart regular discourses,[112]--to compose the like for
themselves--to understand the difference between such as were well
or ill composed--and to acquire a command of oratorical means for
moving or convincing the hearer. All this instruction had a
practical value: though Plato, both here and elsewhere, treats it
as worthless. A citizen who stood mute and embarrassed, unable to
argue a case with some propriety before an audience, felt himself
helpless and defective in one of the characteristic privileges of
a Greek and a freeman: while one who could perform the process
well, acquired much esteem and influence.[113] The Platonic
Sokrates in the Gorgias consoles the speechless men by
saying--What does this signify, provided you are just and virtuous?
Such consolation failed to satisfy: as it would fail to satisfy the
sick, the lame, or the blind.

[Footnote 109: Plato, Phædrus, pp. 273-274. [Greek: ê(\n ou)ch
e(/neka tou= le/gein kai\ pra/ttein pro\s a)nthrô/pous dei=
diaponei=sthai to\n sô/phrona, a)lla\ tou= theoi=s kecharisme/na
me\n le/gein du/nasthai], &c. (273 E).]

[Footnote 110: Thucyd. ii. 39-40-41.]

[Footnote 111: Plato, Phædrus, p. 288 A.]

[Footnote 112: See what is said by Aristotle about [Greek: ê(
Gorgi/ou pragmatei/a] in the last chapter of De Sophisticis

[Footnote 113: I have illustrated this point in my History of
Greece, by the example of Xenophon in his command of the Cyreian
army during its retreat.

His democratical education, and his powers of public speaking,
were of the greatest service not only in procuring influence to
himself, but also in conducting the army through its many perils
and difficulties.

See Aristot. Rhet. i. 1, 3, p. 1355, b. 1.]

[Side-note: The Rhetorical teachers conceived the Art too narrowly:
Plato conceived it too widely. The principles of an Art are not
required to be explained to all learners.]

The teaching of these rhetors thus contributed to the security,
dignity, and usefulness of the citizens, by arming them for public
speech and action. But it was essentially practical, or empirical:
it had little system, and was founded upon a narrow theory. Upon
these points Plato in the Phædrus attacks them. He sets little
value upon the accomplishments arming men for speech and action
([Greek: lektikou\s kai\ praktikou\s ei)=nai])--and he will not
allow such teaching to be called an Art. He explains, in
opposition to them, what he himself conceived the Art of Rhetoric
to be, in the comprehensive way which I have above described.

But if the conception of the Art, as entertained by the Rhetors,
is too narrow--that of Plato, on the other hand, is too wide.

First, it includes the whole basis of science or theory on which
the Art rests: it is a Philosophy of Rhetoric, expounded by a
theorist--rather than an Art of Rhetoric, taught to learners by a
master. To teach the observance of certain rules or precepts is
one thing: to set forth the reasons upon which those rules are
founded, is another--highly important indeed, and proper to be
known by the teacher; yet not necessarily communicated, or even
communicable, to all learners. Quintilian, in his Institutio
Rhetorica, gives both:--an ample theory, as well as an ample
development of rules, of his professional teaching. But he would
not have thought himself obliged to give this ample theory to all
learners. With many, he would have been satisfied to make them
understand the rules, and to exercise them in the ready observance

[Side-note: Plato includes in his conception of Art, the
application thereof to new particular cases.--This can never be
taught by rule.]

Secondly, Plato, in defining the Art of Rhetoric, includes not
only its foundation of science (which, though intimately connected
with it, ought not to be considered as a constituent part), but
also the application of it to particular cases; which application
lies beyond the province both of science and of art, and cannot be
reduced to any rule. "The Rhetor" (says Plato) "must teach his
pupils, not merely to observe the rules whereby persuasion is
operated, but also to know the particular persons to whom those
rules are to be applied--on what occasions--within what limits--at
what peculiar moments, &c.[114] Unless the Rhetor can teach thus
much, his pretended art is no art at all: all his other teaching
is of no value." Now this is an amount of exigence which can never
be realised. Neither art nor science can communicate that which
Plato here requires. The rules of art, together with many
different hypothetical applications thereof, may be learnt: when
the scientific explanation of the rules is superadded, the learner
will be assisted farther towards fresh applications: but after
both these have been learnt, the new cases which will arise can
never be specially foreseen. The proper way of applying the
general precepts to each case must be suggested by conjecture
adapted to the circumstances, under the corrections of past
experience.[115] It is inconsistent in Plato, after affirming that
nothing deserves the name of art[116] except what is
general--capable of being rationally anticipated and prescribed
beforehand--then to include in art the special treatment required
for the multiplicity of particular cases; the analogy of the medical
art, which he here instructively invokes, would be against him on this

[Footnote 114: Plato, Phædr. pp. 268 B, 272 A.]

[Footnote 115: What Longinus says about critical skill is
applicable here also--[Greek: pollê=s e)/sti pei/ras teleutai=on
e)pige/nnêma.] Isokrates (De Permut. Or. xv. sect. 290-312-316)
has some good remarks about the impossibility of [Greek:
e)pistê/mê] respecting particulars. Plato, in the Gorgias, puts
[Greek: te/chnê], which he states to depend upon reason and
foreknowledge, in opposition to [Greek: e)mpeiri/a] and [Greek:
tribê/], which he considers as dependant on the [Greek: phu/sis
stochastikê/]. But in applying the knowledge or skill called Art to
particular cases, the [Greek: phu/sis stochastikê\] is the best
that can be had (p. 463 A-B). The conception of [Greek: te/chnê]
given in the Gorgias is open to the same remark as that which we
find in the Phædrus. Plato, in another passage of the Phædrus,
speaks of the necessity that [Greek: phu/sis, e)pistê/mê], and
[Greek: mele/tê], shall concur to make an accomplished orator.
This is very true; and Lysias, Isokrates, and all the other
rhetors whom Plato satirises, would have concurred in it. In his
description of [Greek: te/chnê] and [Greek: e)pistê/mê], and in
the estimate which he gives of all that it comprises, he leaves no
outlying ground for [Greek: mele/tê]. Compare Xenophon, Memor.
iii. 1, 11; also Isokrates contra Sophistas, a. 16; and a good
passage of Dionysius Halik. De Compos. Verborum, in which that
rhetor remarks that [Greek: kairo\s] or opportunity neither has
been nor can be reduced to art and rule.]

[Footnote 116: Plato, Gorgias, pp. 464-465.]

[Side-note: Plato's charge against the Rhetorical teachers is not
made out.]

While therefore Plato's view of the science or theory of Rhetoric
is far more comprehensive and philosophical than any thing given
by the rhetorical teachers--he has not made good his charge
against them, that what they taught as an art of Rhetoric was
useless and illusory. The charge can only be sustained if we
grant--what appears to have been Plato's own feeling--that the
social and political life of the Athenians was a dirty and corrupt
business, unworthy of a virtuous man to meddle with. This is the
argument of Sokrates (in the Gorgias,[117] the other great
anti-rhetorical dialogue), proclaiming himself to stand alone and
aloof, an isolated, free-thinking dissenter. As representing his
sincere conviction, and interpreting Plato's plan of life, this
argument deserves honourable recognition. But we must remember
that Lysias and the rhetorical teachers repudiated such a point of
view. They aimed at assisting and strengthening others to perform
their parts, not in speculative debate on philosophy, but in
active citizenship; and they succeeded in this object to a great
degree. The rhetorical ability of Lysias personally is attested
not merely by the superlative encomium on him assigned to
Phædrus,[118] but also by his great celebrity--by the frequent
demand for his services as a logographer or composer of discourses
for others--by the number of his discourses preserved and studied
after his death. He, and a fair proportion of the other rhetors
named in the Phædrus, performed well the useful work which they

[Footnote 117: Plato, Gorg. 521 D.]

[Footnote 118: Plato, Phædr. p. 228 A.]

[Side-note: Plato has not treated Lysias fairly, in neglecting his
greater works, and selecting for criticism an erotic exercise for
a private circle.]

When Plato selects, out of the very numerous discourses before him
composed by Lysias, one hardly intended for any real
auditors--neither deliberative, nor judicial, nor panegyrical, but an
ingenious erotic paradox for a private circle of friends--this is
no fair specimen of the author. Moreover Plato criticises it as if
it were a philosophic exposition instead of an oratorical
pleading. He complains that Lysias does not begin his discourse by
defining--but neither do Demosthenes and other great orators
proceed in that manner. He affirms that there is no organic
structure, or necessary sequence, in the discourse, and that the
sentences of it might be read in an inverted order:[119]--and this
remark is to a certain extent well-founded. In respect to the
skilful marshalling of the different parts of a discourse, so as
to give best effect to the whole, Dionysius of Halikarnassus[120]
declares Lysias to be inferior to some other orators--while
ascribing to him marked oratorical superiority on various other
points. Yet Plato, in specifying his objections against the erotic
discourses of Lysias, does not show that it offends against the
sound general principle which he himself lays down respecting the
art of persuasion--That the topics insisted on by the persuader
shall be adapted to the feelings and dispositions of the
persuadend. Far from violating this principle, Lysias kept it in
view, and employed it to the best of his power--as we may see, not
merely by his remaining orations, but also by the testimonies of
the critics:[121] though he did not go through the large
preliminary work of scientific classification, both of different
minds and different persuasive apparatus, which Plato considers
essential to a thorough comprehension and mastery of the

[Footnote 119: Plato, Phædrus, pp. 263-264.]

[Footnote 120: Dionysius (Judicium De Lysiâ, pp. 487-493) gives an
elaborate criticism on the [Greek: pragmatiko\s charaktê\r] of
Lysias. The special excellence of Lysias (according to this
critic) lay in his judicial orations, which were highly persuasive
and plausible: the manner of presenting thoughts was ingenious and
adapted to the auditors: the narration of facts and details,
especially, was performed with unrivalled skill. But as to the
marshalling of the different parts of a discourse, Dionysius
considers Lysias as inferior to some other orators--and still more
inferior in respect to [Greek: deinotê\s] and to strong emotional

[Footnote 121: Dionys. Hal. (Ars Rhetorica, p. 381) notices the
severe exigencies which Plato here imposes upon the Rhetor,
remarking that scarcely any rhetorical discourse could be produced
which came up to them. The defect did not belong to Lysias alone,
but to all other rhetors also--[Greek: o(po/te ga\r _kai\ Lusi/an_
e)le/gchei, pa=san tê\n ê(mete/ran r(êtorikê\n e)/oiken
e)le/gchein.] Demosthenes almost alone (in the opinion of
Dionysius) contrived to avoid the fault, because he imitated

[Side-note: No fair comparison can be taken between this exercise
of Lysias and the discourses delivered by Sokrates in the

The first discourse assigned by Plato to Sokrates professes to be
placed in competition with the discourse of Lysias, and to aim at
the same object. But in reality it aims at a different object: it
gives the dissuasive arguments, but omits the persuasive--as
Phædrus is made to point out: so that it cannot be fairly compared
with the discourse of Lysias. Still more may this be said
respecting the second discourse of Sokrates: which is of a
character and purpose so totally disparate, that no fair
comparison can be taken between it and the ostensible competitor.
The mixture of philosophy, mysticism, and dithyrambic poetry,
which the second discourse of Sokrates presents, was considered by
a rhetorical judge like Dionysius as altogether inconsistent with
the scope and purpose of reasonable discourse.[122] In the
Menexenus, Plato has brought himself again into competition with
Lysias, and there the competition is fairer:[123] for Plato has
there entirely neglected the exigencies enforced in the Phædrus,
and has composed a funeral discourse upon the received type; which
Lysias and other orators before him had followed, from Perikles
downward. But in the Phædrus, Plato criticises Lysias upon
principles which are a medley between philosophy and rhetoric.
Lysias, in defending himself, might have taken the same ground as
we find Sokrates himself taking in the Euthydêmus. "Philosophy and
politics are two distinct walks, requiring different aptitudes,
and having each its own practitioners. A man may take whichever he
pleases; but he must not arrogate to himself superiority by an
untoward attempt to join the two together."[124]

[Footnote 122: See the Epistol. of Dion. Halikarn. to Cneius
Pompey--De Platone--pp. 755-765.]

[Footnote 123: Plato, Menexen. p. 237 seq. Stallbaum, Comm. in
Menexenum, pp. 10-11.]

[Footnote 124: Plato, Euthydêm. p. 306 A-C.]

[Side-note: Continuous discourse, either written or spoken,
inefficacious as a means of instruction to the ignorant.]

Another important subject is also treated in the Phædrus. Sokrates
delivers views both original and characteristic, respecting the
efficacy of continuous discourse--either written to be read, or
spoken to be heard without cross-examination--as a means of
instruction. They are re-stated--in a manner substantially the
same, though with some variety and fulness of illustration--in
Plato's seventh Epistle[125] to the surviving friends of Dion. I
have already touched upon these views in my eighth** Chapter, on the
Platonic Dialogues generally, and have pointed out how much Plato
understood to be involved in what he termed _knowledge_. No man
(in his view) could be said to know, who was not competent to
sustain successfully, and to apply successfully, a Sokratic
cross-examination. Now knowledge, involving such a competency,
certainly cannot be communicated by any writing, or by any fixed and
unchangeable array of words, whether written or spoken. You must
familiarise learners with the subject on many different sides, and
in relation to many different points of view, each presenting more
or less chance of error or confusion. Moreover, you must apply a
different treatment to each mind, and to the same mind at
different stages: no two are exactly alike, and the treatment
adapted for one will be unsuitable for the other. While it is
impossible, for these reasons, to employ any set forms of words,
it will be found that the process of reading or listening leaves
the reader or listener comparatively passive: there is nothing to
stir the depths of the mind, or to evolve the inherent forces and
dormant capacities. Dialectic conversation is the only process
which can adapt itself with infinite variety to each particular
case and moment--and which stimulates fresh mental efforts ever
renewed on the part of each respondent and each questioner.
Knowledge--being a slow result generated by this stimulating
operation, when skilfully conducted, long continued, and much
diversified--is not infused into, but evolved out of, the mind. It
consists in a revival of those unchangeable Ideas or Forms, with
which the mind during its state of eternal pre-existence had had
communion. There are only a few privileged minds, however, that
have had sufficient communion therewith to render such revival
possible: accordingly, none but these few can ever rise to

[Footnote 125: Plato, Epistol. vii. pp. 341-344.]

[Footnote 126: Schleiermacher, in his Introduction to the Phædrus,
justly characterises this doctrine as genuine Sokratism--"die ächt
Sokratische erhabene Verachtung alles Schreibens and alles
rednerischen Redens," p. 70.]

[Side-note: Written matter is useful as a memorandum for persons
who know--or as an elegant pastime.]

Though knowledge cannot be first communicated by written matters,
yet if it has been once communicated and subsequently forgotten,
it may be revived by written matters. Writing has thus a real,
though secondary, usefulness, as a memorandum. And Plato doubtless
accounted written dialogues the most useful of all written
compositions, because they imitated portions of that long oral
process whereby alone knowledge had been originally generated. His
dialogues were reports of the conversations purporting to have
been held by Sokrates with others.

[Side-note: Plato's didactic theories are pitched too high to be

It is an excellent feature in the didactic theories of Plato, that
they distinguish so pointedly between the passive and active
conditions of the intellect; and that they postulate as
indispensable, an habitual and cultivated mental activity, worked
up by slow, long-continued, colloquy. To read or hear, and then to
commit to memory, are in his view elegant recreations, but nothing
more. But while, on this point, Plato's didactic theories deserve
admiration, we must remark on the other hand that they are pitched
so high as to exceed human force, and to overpass all possibility
of being realised.[127] They mark out an _idéal_, which no person
ever attained, either then or since--like the Platonic theory of
rhetoric. To be master of any subject, in the extent and
perfection required for sustaining and administering a Sokratic
cross-examination--is a condition which scarce any one can ever
fulfil: certainly no one, except upon a small range of subjects.
Assuredly, Plato himself never fulfilled it.

[Footnote 127: A remark made by Sextus Empiricus (upon another
doctrine which he is discussing) may be applied to this view of
Plato--[Greek: to\ de\ le/gein o(/ti tê=| diomalismô=| tô=n
pra/xeôn katalamba/nomen to\n e)/chonta tê\n peri\ to\n bi/on
te/chnên, _u(perphtheggome/nôn e)/sti tê\n a)nthrô/pôn phu/sin_,
kai\ eu)chome/nôn ma=llon ê)\ a)lêthê= lego/ntôn] (Pyrrh. Hyp.
iii. 244).]

[Side-note: No one has ever been found competent to solve the
difficulties raised by Sokrates, Arkesilaus, Karneades, and the
negative vein of philosophy.]

Such a cross-examination involved the mastery of all the openings
for doubt, difficulty, deception, or refutation, bearing on the
subject: openings which a man is to profit by, if assailant--to
keep guarded, if defendant. Now when we survey the Greek negative
philosophy, as it appears in Plato, Aristotle, and Sextus
Empiricus--and when we recollect that between the second and the
third of these names, there appeared three other philosophers
equally or more formidable in the same vein, all whose arguments
have perished (Arkesilaus, Karneades, Ænesidêmus)--we shall see
that no man has ever been known competent both to strike and parry
with these weapons, in a manner so skilful and ready as to amount
to knowledge in the Platonic sense. But in so far as such
knowledge is attainable or approachable, Plato is right in saying
that it cannot be attained except by long dialectic practice.
Reading books, and hearing lectures, are undoubtedly valuable
aids, but insufficient by themselves. Modern times recede from it
even more than ancient. Regulated oral dialectic has become
unknown; the logical and metaphysical difficulties--which negative
philosophy required to be solved before it would allow any farther
progress--are now little heeded, amidst the multiplicity of
observed facts, and theories adapted to and commensurate with
those facts. This change in the character of philosophy is
doubtless a great improvement. It is found that by acquiescing
provisionally in the _axiomata media_, and by applying at every
step the control of verification, now rendered possible by the
multitude of ascertained facts--the sciences may march safely
onward: notwithstanding that the logical and metaphysical
difficulties, the puzzles ([Greek: a)pori/ai]) involved in
_philosophia prima_ and its very high abstractions, are left
behind unsolved and indeterminate. But though the modern course of
philosophy is preferable to the ancient, it is not for that reason
to be considered as satisfactory. These metaphysical difficulties
are not diminished either in force or relevancy, because modern
writers choose to leave them unnoticed. Plato and Aristotle were
quite right in propounding them as problems, the solution of which
was indispensable to the exigencies and consistent schematism of
the theorising intelligence, as well as to any complete
discrimination between sufficient and insufficient evidence. Such
they still remain, overlooked yet not defunct.

[Side-note: Plato's _idéal_ philosopher can only be realised under
the hypothesis of a pre-existent and omniscient soul, stimulated
into full reminiscence here.]

Now all these questions would be solved by the _idéal_ philosopher
whom Plato in the Phædrus conceives as possessing knowledge: a
person who shall be at once a negative Sokrates in excogitating
and enforcing all the difficulties--and an affirmative match for
Sokrates, as respondent in solving them: a person competent to
apply this process to all the indefinite variety of individual
minds, under the inspirations of the moment. This is a magnificent
_idéal_. Plato affirms truly, that those teachers who taught
rhetoric and philosophy by writing, could never produce such a
pupil: and that even the Sokratic dialectic training, though
indispensable and far more efficacious, would fail in doing so,
unless in those few cases where it was favoured by very superior
capacity--understood by him as superhuman, and as a remnant from
the pre-existing commerce of the soul with the world of Forms or
Ideas. The foundation therefore of the whole scheme rests upon
Plato's hypothesis of an antecedent life of the soul, proclaimed
by Sokrates here in his second or panegyrical discourse on Eros.
The rhetorical teachers, with whom he here compares himself and
whom he despises as aiming at low practical ends--might at any
rate reply that they avoided losing themselves in such unmeasured
and unwarranted hypotheses.

[Side-note: Different proceeding of Plato in the Timæus.]

One remark yet remains to be made upon the doctrine here set forth
by Plato: that no teaching is possible by means of continuous
discourse spoken or written--none, except through prolonged and
varied oral dialectic.[128] To this doctrine Plato does not
constantly conform in his practice: he departs from it on various
important occasions. In the Timæus, Sokrates calls upon the
philosopher so named for an exposition on the deepest and most
mysterious cosmical subjects. Timæus delivers the exposition in a
continuous harangue, without a word of remark or question
addressed by any of the auditors: while at the beginning of the
Kritias (the next succeeding dialogue) Sokrates greatly commends
what Timæus had spoken. The Kritias itself too (though unfinished)
is given in the form of continuous exposition. Now, as the Timæus
is more abstruse than any other Platonic writing, we cannot
imagine that Plato, at the time when he composed it, thought so
meanly about continuous exposition, as a vehicle of instruction,
as we find him declaring in the Phædrus. I point this out, because
it illustrates my opinion that the different dialogues of Plato
represent very different, sometimes even opposite, points of view:
and that it is a mistake to treat them as parts of one
preconceived and methodical system.

[Footnote 128: The historical Sokrates would not allow his oral
dialectic process to be called teaching. He expressly says "I have
never been the teacher of any one" (Plat. Apol. Sokr. pp. 33 A, 19
E): and he disclaimed the possession of knowledge. Aristotle too
considers teaching as a presentation of truths, ready made and
supposed to be known, by the teacher to learners, who are bound to
believe them, [Greek: dei= ga\r pisteu/ein to\n mantha/nonta]. The
Platonic Sokrates, in the Phædrus and Symposion, differs from
both; he recognises no teaching except the perpetual generation of
new thoughts and feelings, by means of stimulating dialectic
colloquy, and the revival in the mind thereby of the experience of
an antecedent life, during which some communion has been enjoyed
with the world of Ideas or Forms.]

[Side-note: Opposite tendencies co-existent in Plato's
mind--Extreme of the Transcendental or Absolute--Extreme of specialising
adaptation to individuals and occasions.]

Plato is usually extolled by his admirers, as the champion of the
Absolute--of unchangeable forms, immutable truth, objective
necessity cogent and binding on every one. He is praised for
having refuted Protagoras; who can find no standard beyond the
individual recognition and belief, of his own mind or that of some
one else. There is no doubt that Plato often talks in that strain:
but the method followed in his dialogues, and the general
principles of method which he lays down, here as well as
elsewhere, point to a directly opposite conclusion. Of this the
Phædrus is a signal instance. Instead of the extreme of
generality, it proclaims the extreme of specialty. The objection
which the Sokrates of the Phædrus advances against the didactic
efficacy of written discourse, is founded on the fact, that it is
the same to all readers--that it takes no cognizance of the
differences of individual minds nor of the same mind at different
times. Sokrates claims for dialectic debate the valuable
privilege, that it is constant action and re-action between two
individual minds--an appeal by the inherent force and actual
condition of each, to the like elements in the other--an ever
shifting presentation of the same topics, accommodated to the
measure of intelligence and cast of emotion in the talkers and at
the moment. The individuality of each mind--both questioner and
respondent--is here kept in view as the governing condition of the
process. No two minds can be approached by the same road or by the
same interrogation. The questioner cannot advance a step except by
the admission of the respondent. Every respondent is the measure
to himself. He answers suitably to his own belief; he defends by
his own suggestions; he yields to the pressure of contradiction
and inconsistency, _when he feels them_, and not before. Each
dialogist is (to use the Protagorean phrase) the measure to
himself of truth and falsehood, according as he himself believes
it. Assent or dissent, whichever it may be, springs only from the
free working of the individual mind, in its actual condition then
and there. It is to the individual mind alone, that appeal is
made, and this is what Protagoras asks for.

We thus find, in Plato's philosophical character, two extreme
opposite tendencies and opposite poles co-existent. We must
recognise them both: but they can never be reconciled: sometimes
he obeys and follows the one, sometimes the other.

If it had been Plato's purpose to proclaim and impose upon every
one something which he called "Absolute Truth," one and the same
alike imperative upon all--he would best proclaim it by preaching
or writing. To modify this "Absolute," according to the varieties
of the persons addressed, would divest it of its intrinsic
attribute and excellence. If you pretend to deal with an Absolute,
you must turn away your eyes from all diversity of apprehending
intellects and believing subjects.



[Side-note: Character of dialogues immediately preceding--much
transcendental assertion. Opposite character of the Parmenides.]

In the dialogues immediately preceding--Phædon, Phædrus,
Symposion--we have seen Sokrates manifesting his usual dialectic,
which never fails him: but we have also seen him indulging in a
very unusual vein of positive affirmation and declaration. He has
unfolded many novelties about the states of pre-existence and
post-existence: he has familiarised us with Ideas, Forms,
Essences, eternal and unchangeable, as the causes of all the facts
and particularities of nature: he has recognised the inspired
variety of madness, as being more worthy of trust than sober,
uninspired, intelligence: he has recounted, with the faith of a
communicant fresh from the mysteries, revelations made to him by
the prophetess Diotima,--respecting the successive stages of
exaltation whereby gifted intelligences, under the stimulus of
Eros Philosophus, ascend into communion with the great sea of
Beauty. All this is set forth with as much charm as Plato's
eloquence can bestow. But after all, it is not the true character
of Sokrates:--I mean, the Sokrates of the Apology, whose mission
it is to make war against the chronic malady of the human
mind--false persuasion of knowledge, without the reality. It is, on the
contrary, Sokrates himself infected with the same chronic malady
which he combats in others, and requiring medicine against it as
much as others. Such is the exact character in which Sokrates
appears in the Parmenides: which dialogue I shall now proceed to

[Side-note: Sokrates is the juvenile defendant--Parmenides the
veteran censor and cross-examiner. Parmenides gives a specimen of
exercises to be performed by the philosophical aspirant.]

The Parmenides announces its own purpose as intended to repress
premature forwardness of affirmation, in a young philosophical
aspirant: who, with meritorious eagerness in the search for truth,
and with his eyes turned in the right direction to look for
it--has nevertheless not fully estimated the obstructions besetting
his path, nor exercised himself in the efforts necessary to
overcome them. By a curious transposition, or perhaps from
deference on Plato's part to the Hellenic sentiment of
Nemesis,--Sokrates, who in most Platonic dialogues stands forward
as the privileged censor and victorious opponent, is here the juvenile
defendant under censorship by a superior. It is the veteran
Parmenides of Elea who, while commending the speculative impulse
and promise of Sokrates, impresses upon him at the same time that
the theory which he had advanced--the self-existence, the separate
and substantive nature, of Ideas--stands exposed to many grave
objections, which he (Sokrates) has not considered and cannot
meet. So far, Parmenides performs towards Sokrates the same
process of cross-examining refutation as Sokrates himself applies
to Theætêtus and other young men elsewhere. But we find in this
dialogue something ulterior and even peculiar. Having warned
Sokrates that his intellectual training has not yet been carried
to a point commensurate with the earnestness of his
aspirations--Parmenides proceeds to describe to him what exercises he
ought to go through, in order to guard himself against premature assertion
or hasty partiality. Moreover, Parmenides not only indicates in
general terms what ought to be done, but illustrates it by giving
a specimen of such exercise, on a topic chosen by himself.

[Side-note: Circumstances and persons of the Parmenides.]

Passing over the dramatic introduction[1] whereby the personages
discoursing are brought together, we find Sokrates, Parmenides,
and the Eleatic Zeno (the disciple of Parmenides), engaged in the
main dialogue. When Parmenides begins his illustrative exercise, a
person named Aristotle (afterwards one of the Thirty oligarchs at
Athens), still younger than Sokrates, is made to serve as

[Footnote 1: This dramatic introduction is extremely complicated.
The whole dialogue, from beginning to end, is recounted by
Kephalus of Klazomenæ; who heard it from the Athenian Antiphon--who
himself had heard it from Pythodôrus, a friend of Zeno,
present when the conversation was held. A string of circumstances
are narrated by Kephalus, to explain how he came to wish to hear
it, and to find out Antiphon. Plato appears anxious to throw the
event back as far as possible into the past, in order to justify
the bringing Sokrates into personal communication with Parmenides:
for some unfriendly critics tried to make out that the two could
not possibly have conversed on philosophy (Athenæus, xi. 505).
Plato declares the ages of the persons with remarkable exactness:
Parmenides was 65, completely grey-headed, but of noble mien: Zeno
about 40, tall and graceful: Sokrates very young. (Plat. Parmen.
p. 127 B-C.)

It required some invention in Plato to provide a narrator,
suitable for recounting events so long antecedent as the young
period of Sokrates.]

Sokrates is one among various auditors, who are assembled to hear
Zeno reading aloud a treatise of his own composition, intended to
answer and retort upon the opponents of his preceptor Parmenides.

[Side-note: Manner in which the doctrine of Parmenides was
impugned. Manner in which his partisan Zeno defended him.]

The main doctrine of the real Parmenides was, "That Ens, the
absolute, real, self-existent, was One and not many": which
doctrine was impugned and derided by various opponents, deducing
from it absurd conclusions. Zeno defended his master by showing
that the opposite doctrine (--"That Ens, the absolute,
self-existent universe, is Many--") led to conclusions absurd in an
equal or greater degree. If the Absolute were Many, the many would
be both like and unlike: but they cannot have incompatible and
contradictory attributes: therefore Absolute Ens is not Many. Ens,
as Parmenides conceived it, was essentially homogeneous and
unchangeable: even assuming it to be Many, all its parts must be
homogeneous, so that what was predicable of one must be predicable
of all; it might be all alike, or all unlike: but it could not be
both. Those who maintained the plurality of Ens, did so on the
ground of apparent severalty, likeness, and unlikeness, in the
sensible world. But Zeno, while admitting these phenomena in the
sensible world, as _relative to us_, apparent, and subject to the
varieties of individual estimation--denied their applicability to
absolute and self-existent Ens.[2] Since absolute Ens or Entia are
Many (said the opponents of Parmenides), they will be both like
and unlike: and thus we can explain the phenomena of the sensible
world. The absolute (replied Zeno) cannot be both like and unlike;
therefore it cannot be many. We must recollect that both
Parmenides and Zeno renounced all attempt to explain the sensible
world by the absolute and purely intelligible Ens. They treated
the two as radically distinct and unconnected. The one was
absolute, eternal, unchangeable, homogeneous, apprehended only by
reason. The other was relative, temporary, variable,
heterogeneous; a world of individual and subjective opinion, upon
which no absolute truth, no pure objectivity, could be reached.

[Footnote 2: I have already given a short account of the Zenonian
Dialectic, ch. ii. p. 93 seq.]

[Side-note: Sokrates here impugns the doctrine of Zeno. He affirms
the Platonic theory of ideas separate from sensible objects, yet
participable by them.]

Sokrates, depicted here as a young man, impugns this doctrine of
Zeno: and maintains that the two worlds, though naturally
disjoined, were not incommunicable. He advances the Platonic
theory of Ideas: that is, an intelligible world of many separate
self-existent Forms or Ideas, apprehended by reason only--and a
sensible world of particular objects, each participating in one or
more of these Forms or Ideas. "What you say (he remarks to Zeno),
is true of the world of Forms or Ideas: the Form of Likeness _per
se_ can never be unlike, nor can the Form of Unlikeness be ever
like. But in regard to the sensible world, there is nothing to
hinder you and me, and other objects which rank and are numbered
as separate individuals, from participating both in the Form of
likeness and in the Form of unlikeness.[3] In so far as I, an
individual object, participate in the Form of Likeness, I am
properly called like; in so far as I participate in the Form of
Unlikeness, I am called unlike. So about One and Many, Great and
Little, and so forth: I, the same individual, may participate in
many different and opposite Forms, and may derive from them
different and opposite denominations. I am one and many--like and
unlike--great and little--all at the same time. But no such
combination is possible between the Forms themselves,
self-existent and opposite: the Form of Likeness cannot become unlike,
nor _vice versâ_. The Forms themselves stand permanently apart,
incapable of fusion or coalescence with each other: but different
and even opposite Forms may lend themselves to participation and
partnership in the same sensible individual object."[4]

[Footnote 3: Plato, Parmenid. p. 129 A. [Greek: ou) nomi/zeis
ei)=nai au)to\ kath' au)to\ ei)=do/s ti o(moio/têtos, kai\ tô=|
toiou/tô| ai)= a)/llo ti e)nanti/on, o(\ e)/stin a)no/moion?
tou/toin de\ duoi=n o)/ntoin kai\ e)me\ kai\ se\ kai\ ta\ a)/lla
a(\ dê\ polla\ kalou=men, metalamba/nein?]]

[Footnote 4: Plato, Parmenid. pp. 129-130.]

[Side-note: Parmenides and Zeno admire the philosophical ardour of
Sokrates. Parmenides advances objections against the Platonic
theory of Ideas.]

Parmenides and Zeno are represented as listening with surprise and
interest to this language of Sokrates, recognising two distinct
worlds: one, of invisible but intelligible Forms,--the other that
of sensible objects, participating in these Forms. "Your ardour
for philosophy" (observes Parmenides to Sokrates), "is admirable.
Is this distinction your own?"[5]

[Footnote 5: Plato, Parmenid. p. 130 A. [Greek: Ô)= Sô/krates, ô(s
a)/xios ei)= a)/gasthai tê=s o(rmê=s tê=s e)pi\ tou\s lo/gous;
kai/ moi ei)pe/, _au)to\s su\ ou(/tô diê/|rêsai_ ô(s le/geis,
chôri\s me\n ei)/dê au)ta\ a)/tta, chôri\s de\ ta\ tou/tôn au)=

Plato now puts into the mouth of Parmenides--the advocate of One
absolute and unchangeable Ens, separated by an impassable gulf
from the sensible world of transitory and variable appearances or
phenomena--objections against what is called the Platonic theory
of Ideas: that is, the theory of an intelligible world, comprising
an indefinite number of distinct intelligible and unchangeable
Forms--in partial relation and communication with another world of
sensible objects, each of which participates in one or more of
these Forms. We thus have the Absolute One pitted against the
Absolute Many.

[Side-note: What Ideas does Sokrates recognise? Of the Just and
Good? Yes. Of Man, Horse, &c.? Doubtful. Of Hair, Mud, &c.? No.]

What number and variety of these intelligible Forms do you
recognise--(asks Parmenides)? Likeness and Unlikeness--One and
Many--Just, Beautiful, Good, &c.--are all these Forms absolute and
existent _per se_? _Sokr._--Certainly they are. _Parm._--Do you
farther recognise an absolute and self-existent Form of Man, apart
from us and all other individuals?--or a Form of fire, water, and
the like? _Sokr._--I do not well know how to answer:--I have often
been embarrassed with the question. _Parm._--Farther, do there
exist distinct intelligible Forms of hair, mud, dirt, and all the
other mean and contemptible objects of sense which we see around?
_Sokr._--No--certainly--no such Forms as these exist. Such objects
are as we see them, and nothing beyond: it would be too absurd to
suppose Forms of such like things.[6] Nevertheless there are times
when I have misgivings on the point; and when I suspect that there
must be Forms of them as well as of the others. When such
reflections cross my mind, I shrink from the absurdity of the
doctrine, and try to confine my attention to Forms like those
which you mentioned first.

[Footnote 6: Plato, Parmenid. p. 130 D. [Greek: Ou)damô=s, pha/nai
to\n Sôkra/tên, a)lla\ tau=ta me/n ge, a(/per o(rô=men, tau=ta
kai\ ei)=nai; ei)=dos de/ ti au)tô=n oi)êthê=nai ei)=nai mê\ li/an
ê)=| a)/topon.]

Alexander, who opposes the doctrine of the Platonists about Ideas,
treats it as understood that they did not recognise Ideas of
worms, gnats, and such like animals. Schol. ad Aristot. Metaphys.
A. 991 a. p. 575, a. 30 Brandis.]

[Side-note: Parmenides declares that no object in nature is mean to
the philosopher.]

_Parm._--You are still young, Sokrates:--you still defer to the
common sentiments of mankind. But the time will come when
philosophy will take stronger hold of you, and will teach you that
no object in nature is mean or contemptible in her view.[7]

[Footnote 7: Plato, Parmenid. p. 130 E. [Greek: Ne/os ga\r ei)=
e)/ti, kai\ ou(/pô sou a)ntei/lêptai philosophi/a ô(s e(/ti
a)ntilê/psetai, kat' e)mê\n do/xan, o(/te _ou)de\n au)tô=n_
a)tima/seis; nu=n de\ e)/ti _pro\s a)nthrô/pôn a)poble/peis
do/xas_ dia\ tê\n ê(liki/an.]]

*  *  *  *  *

[Side-note: Remarks upon this--Contrast between emotional and
scientific classification.]

This remark deserves attention. Plato points out the radical
distinction, and frequent antipathy between classifications
constructed by science, and those which grow up spontaneously
under the associating influence of a common emotion. What he calls
"the opinions of men,"--in other words, the associations naturally
working in an untaught and unlettered mind--bring together the
ideas of objects according as they suggest a like
emotion--veneration, love, fear, antipathy, contempt, laughter, &c.[8]
As things which inspire like emotions are thrown into the same
category and receive the same denomination, so the opposite
proceeding inspires great repugnance, when things creating
antipathetic emotions are forced into the same category. A large
proportion of objects in nature come to be regarded as unworthy of
any serious attention, and fit only to serve for discharging on
them our laughter, contempt, or antipathy. The investigation of
the structure and manifestations of insects is one of the marked
features which Aristophanes ridicules in Sokrates: moreover the
same poet also brings odium on the philosopher for alleged study
of astronomy and meteorology--the heavenly bodies being as it were
at the opposite emotional pole, objects of such reverential
admiration and worship, that it was impious to watch or
investigate them, or calculate their proceedings beforehand.[9]
The extent to which anatomy and physiology were shut out from
study in antiquity, and have continued to be partially so even in
modern times, is well known. And the proportion of phenomena is
both great and important, connected with the social relations,
which are excluded both from formal registration and from
scientific review; kept away from all rational analysis either of
causes or remedies, because of the strong repugnances connected
with them. This emotional view of nature is here noted by Plato as
conflicting with the scientific. No object (he says) is mean in
the eyes of philosophy. He remarks to the same effect in the
Sophistês and Politikus, and the remark is illustrated by the
classifying processes there exhibited:[10] mean objects and
esteemed objects being placed side by side.

[Footnote 8: Plato, himself, however, occasionally appeals [Greek:
pro\s a)nthrô/pôn do/xas], and becomes [Greek: a)technô=s
dêmê/goros], when it suits his argument; see Gorgias, 494 C.]

[Footnote 9: Aristophan. Nubes, 145-170-1490.

[Greek: ti/ ga\r matho/nt' e)s tou\s theou\s u(bri/zeton,
kai\ tê=s selê/nês e)skopei=sthe tê\n e)/dran?]

Compare Xenoph. Memor. i. 1, 11-13, iv. 7, 6-7; Plutarch,
Perikles, 23; also the second chapter of the first Book of
Macrobius, about the discredit which is supposed to be thrown upon
grand and solemn subjects by a plain and naked exposition.
"Inimicam esse naturæ nudam expositionem sui."]

[Footnote 10: Plato, Sophist. p. 227 B; Politik. p. 266 D; also
Theætêt. p. 174 D.

Both the Platonic Sokrates, and the Xenophontic Sokrates,
frequently illustrate the education of men by comparison with the
bringing up of young animals as well as with the training of
horses: they also compare the educator of young men with the
trainer of young horses. Indeed this comparison occurs so
frequently, that it excites much displeasure among various modern
critics (Forchhammer, Köchly, Socher, &c.), who seem to consider
it as unseemly and inconsistent with "the dignity of human
nature". The frequent allusions made by Plato to the homely arts
and professions are noted by his interlocutors as tiresome.

See Plato, Apolog. Sokr. p. 20 A. [Greek: ô)= Kalli/a, ei) me/n
sou tô\ ui(e/e pô/lô ê)\ mo/schô e)gene/sthên], &c.

The Zoological works of Aristotle exhibit a memorable example of
scientific intelligence, overcoming all the contempt and disgust
usually associated with minute and repulsive organisms. To Plato,
it would be repugnant to arrange in the same class the wolf and
the dog. See Sophist. p. 231 A.]

*  *  *  *  *

Parmenides now produces various objections against the Platonic
variety of dualism: the two distinct but partially
inter-communicating worlds--one, of separate, permanent, unchangeable,
Forms or Ideas--the other, of individual objects, transient and
variable; participating in, and receiving denomination from, these

[Side-note: Objections of Parmenides--How can objects participate
in the Ideas. Each cannot have the whole Idea, nor a part

1. How (asks Parmenides) can such participation take place? Is the
entire Form in each individual object? No: for one and the same
Form cannot be at the same time in many distant objects. A part of
it therefore must be in one object; another part in another. But
this assumes that the Form is divisible--or is not essentially
One. Equality is in all equal objects: but how can a part of the
Form equality, less than the whole, make objects equal? Again,
littleness is in all little objects: that is, a part of the Form
littleness is in each. But the Form littleness cannot have parts;
because, if it had, the entire Form would be greater than any of
its parts,--and the Form littleness cannot be greater than any
thing. Moreover, if one part of littleness were added to other
parts, the sum of the two would be less, and not greater, than
either of the factors. It is plain that none of these Forms can be
divisible, or can have parts. Objects therefore cannot participate
in the Form by parts or piecemeal. But neither can each object
possess the entire Form. Accordingly, since there remains no third
possibility, objects cannot participate in the Forms at all.[11]

[Footnote 11: Plato, Parmenid. p. 131. A similar argument, showing
the impossibility of such [Greek: me/thexis], appears in Sextus
Empiric. adv. Arithmeticos, sect. 11-20, p. 334 Fab., p. 724 Bek.]

[Side-note: Comparing the Idea with the sensible objects partaking
in the Idea, there is a likeness between them which must be
represented by a higher Idea--and so on _ad infinitum_.]

2. Parmenides now passes to a second argument. The reason why you
assume that each one of these Forms exists, is--That when you
contemplate many similar objects, one and the same ideal phantom
or Concept is suggested by all.[12] Thus, when you see many
_great_ objects, one common impression of _greatness_ arises from
all. Hence you conclude that The Great, or the Form of Greatness,
exists as One. But if you take this Form of Greatness, and
consider it in comparison with each or all the great individual
objects, it will have in common with them something that makes it
great. You must therefore search for some higher Form, which
represents what belongs in common both to the Form of Greatness
and to individual great objects. And this higher Form again, when
compared with the rest, will have something in common which must
be represented by a Form yet higher: so that there will be an
infinite series of Forms, ascending higher and higher, of which
you will never reach the topmost.[13]

[Footnote 12: Plato, Parmenid. p. 132. [Greek: Oi)=mai se e)k tou=
toiou=de e(\n e(/kaston ei)=dos oi)/esthai ei)=nai. O(/tan _po/ll'
a)/tta mega/la soi do/xê|_ ei)=nai, _mi/a tis i)/sôs dokei=
i)de/a_ ê( au)tê\ ei)=nai _e)pi\ pa/nta i)do/nti_, o(/then _e(\n
to\ me/ga ê(gei= ei)=nai_.]]

[Footnote 13: Plato, Parmenid. p. 132 A. See this process, of
comparing the Form with particular objects denominated after the
Form, described in a different metaphysical language by Mr. John
Stuart Mill, System of Logic, book iv. ch. 2, sect. 3. "As the
general conception is itself obtained by a comparison of
particular phenomena, so, when obtained, the mode in which we
apply it to other phenomena is again by comparison. We compare
phenomena with each other to get the conception; and we then
compare those and other phenomena _with_ the conception. We get
the conception of an animal by comparing different animals, and
when we afterwards see a creature resembling an animal, we compare
it with our general conception of an animal: and if it agrees with
our general conception, we include it in the class. The conception
becomes the type of comparison. We may perhaps find that no
considerable number of other objects agree with this first general
conception: and that we must drop the conception, and beginning
again with a different individual case, proceed by fresh
comparisons to a different general conception."

The comparison, which the argument of the Platonic Parmenides
assumes to be instituted, between [Greek: to\ ei)=dos] and [Greek:
ta\ mete/chonta au)tou=], is denied by Proklus; who says that
there can be no comparison, nor any [Greek: koino/tês], except
between [Greek: ta\ o(motagê=]: and that the Form is not [Greek:
o(motage\s] with its participant particulars. (Proklus ad
Parmenidem, p. 125, p. 684 ed. Stallbaum.)

This argument of Parmenides is the memorable argument known under
the name of [Greek: o( tri/tos a)/nthrôpos]. Against the Platonic
[Greek: ei)/dê] considered as [Greek: chôrista/], it is a forcible
argument. See Aristot. Metaphys. A. 990, b. 15 seq., where it is
numbered among [Greek: oi( a)kribe/steroi tô=n lo/gôn]. We find
from the Scholion of Alexander (p. 566 Brandis), that it was
advanced in several different ways by Aristotle, in his work
[Greek: Peri\ I)deô=n]: by his scholar Eudemus [Greek: e)n toi=s
peri\ Le/xeôs]: and by a contemporary [Greek: sophistê\s] named
Polyxenus, as well as by other Sophists.]

[Side-note: Are the Ideas conceptions of the mind, and nothing
more? Impossible.]

3. Perhaps (suggests Sokrates) each of these Forms is a Conception
of the mind and nothing beyond: the Form is not competent to exist
out of the mind.[14] How? (replies Parmenides.) There cannot be in
the mind any Conception, which is a Conception of nothing. Every
Conception must be of something really existing: in this case, it
is a Conception of some one thing, which you conceive as belonging
in common to each and all the objects considered. The Something
thus conceived as perpetually One and the same in all, is, the
Form. Besides, if you think that individual objects participate in
the Forms, and that these Forms are Conceptions of the mind,--you
must suppose, either that all objects are made up of Conceptions,
and are therefore themselves Concipients: or else that these
Forms, though Conceptions, are incapable of conceiving. Neither
one nor the other is admissible.[15]

[Footnote 14: Plato, Parmenid. p. 132 B. [Greek: mê\ _tô=n
ei)dô=n_ e(/kaston ê)=| _tou/tôn noê/ma_, kai\ _ou)damou= au)tô=|
prosê/kê e)ggi/gnesthai a)/llothi ê)\ e)n psuchai=s_. . . . Ti/
ou)=n? pha/nai, e(\n e(/kasto/n e)sti tô=n noêma/tôn, no/êma de\
ou)deno/s? A)ll' a)du/naton, ei)pei=n. A)lla\ tino/s? Nai/.
O)/ntos ê)\ ou)k o)/ntos? O)/ntos. Ou)ch e(no/s tinos, o(\ e)pi\
pa=sin e)kei=no to\ no/êma e)po\n noei=, mi/an tina\ ou)=san
i)de/an? Nai/.]

Aristotle (Topic. ii. 113, a. 25) indicates one way of meeting
this argument, if advanced by an adversary in dialectic
debate--[Greek: ei) ta\s i)de/as _e)n ê(mi=n_ e)/phêsen ei)=nai].]

[Footnote 15: Plato, Parmenid. p. 132 D. [Greek: ou)k a)na/gkê,
ei) ta)/lla phê\| tô=n ei)dô=n mete/chein, ê)\ dokei=n soi e)k
noê/mata o)/nta a)no/êta ei)=nai? A)ll' ou)de\ tou=to, pha/nai,
e)/chei lo/gon.]

The word [Greek: a)no/êta] here is used in its ordinary sense, in
which it is the negation, not of [Greek: noêto/s] but of [Greek:
noêtiko/s]. There is a similar confusion, Plato, Phædon, p. 80 B.
Proklus (pp. 699-701, Stall.) is prolix but very obscure.]

[Side-note: The Ideas are types or exemplars, and objects partake
of them by being likened to them. Impossible.]

4. Probably the case stands thus (says Sokrates). These Forms are
constants and fixtures in nature, as models or patterns.
Particular objects are copies or likenesses of them: and the
participation of such objects in the Form consists in being made
like to it.[16] In that case (replies Parmenides), the Form must
itself be like to the objects which have been made like to it.
Comparing the Form with the objects, that in which they resemble
must itself be a Form: and thus you will have a higher Form above
the first Form--and so upwards in the ascending line. This follows
necessarily from the hypothesis that the Form is like the objects.
The participation of objects in the Form, therefore, cannot
consist in being likened to it.[17]

[Footnote 16: Aristotle (Metaphys. A. 991, a. 20) characterises
this way of presenting the Platonic Ideas as mere [Greek:
kenologi/a] and poetical metaphor. See also the remarkable
Scholion of Alexander, pp. 574-575, Brandis.]

[Footnote 17: Plato, Parmenid. pp. 132-133.

This is again a repetition, though differently presented, of the
same argument--[Greek: o( tri/tos a)/nthrôpos]--enunciated p. 132

[Side-note: If Ideas exist, they cannot be knowable by us. We can
know only what is relative to ourselves. Individuals are relative
to individuals: Ideas relative to Ideas.]

5. Here are grave difficulties (continues Parmenides) opposed to
this doctrine of yours, affirming the existence of self-existent,
substantive, unchangeable, yet participated, Forms. But
difficulties still graver remain behind. Such Forms as you
describe cannot be cognizable by us: at least it is hard to show
how they can be cognizable. Being self-existent and substantive,
they are not _in us_: such of them as are relative, have their
relation with each other, not with those particular objects among
us, which are called _great_, _little_, and so forth, from being
supposed to be similar to or participant in the forms, and bearing
names the same as those of the Forms. Thus, for example, if I, an
individual man, am in the relation of master, I bear that relation
to another individual man who is my servant, not to servantship in
general (_i.e._ the Form of servantship, the _Servus per se_). My
servant, again, bears the relation of servant to me, an individual
man as master,--not to mastership in general (_i.e._ to the Form
of mastership, the _Dominus per se_). Both terms of the relation
are individual objects. On the other hand, the Forms also bear
relation to each other. The Form of servantship (_Servus per se_)
stands in relation to the Form of mastership (_Dominus per se_).
Neither of them correlates with an individual object. The two
terms of the relation must be homogeneous, each of them a

[Footnote 18: Plato, Parmenid. p. 133 E.]

[Side-note: Forms can be known only through the Form of Cognition,
which we do not possess.]

Now apply this to the case of cognition. The Form of Cognition
correlates exclusively with the Form of Truth: the Form of each
special Cognition, geometrical or medical, or other, correlates
with the Form of Geometry or Medicine. But Cognition as we possess
it, correlates only with Truth relatively to us: also, each
special Cognition of ours has its special correlating Truth,
relatively to us.[19] Now the Forms are not in or with us, but
apart from us: the Form of Cognition is not our Cognition, the
Form of Truth is not our Truth. Forms can be known only through
the Form of Cognition, which _we_ do not possess: we cannot
therefore know Forms. We have our own cognition, whereby we know
what is relative to us; but we know nothing more. Forms, which are
not relative to us, lie out of our knowledge. _Bonum per se,
Pulchrum per se_, and the other self-existent Forms or Ideas, are
to us altogether unknowable.[20]

[Footnote 19: Plato, Parmenid. p. 134 A. [Greek: Ou)kou=n kai\
e)pistê/mê, au)tê\ me\n o(\ e)/stin e)pistê/mê, tê=s o(\ e)/stin
a)lê/theia, au)tê=s a)\n e)kei/nês ei)/ê e)pistê/mê? . . . Ê( de\
par' ê(mi=n e)pistê/mê ou) tê=s par' ê(mi=n a)\n a)lêthei/as
ei)/ê? kai\ au)= e(ka/stê ê( par' ê(mi=n e)pistê/mê tô=n par'
ê(mi=n o)/ntôn e(ka/stou a)\n e)pistê/mê su/mbainoi ei)=nai?]

Aristotle (Topica, vi. p. 147, a. 6) adverts to this as an
argument against the theory of Ideas, but without alluding to the
Parmenides; indeed he puts the argument in a different
way--[Greek: to\ d' ei)=dos pro\s to\ ei)=dos dokei= le/gesthai, oi(=on
au)tê\ e)pithumi/a au)tou= ê(de/os, kai\ au)tê\ bou/lêsis au)tou=
a)gathou=.] Aristotle argues that there is no place in this
doctrine for the [Greek: phaino/menon a)gatho/n], which
nevertheless men often wish for, and he remarks, in the Nikom.
Ethica, i. 4, 1096 b. 33--that the [Greek: au)to\-a)gatho\n] is
neither [Greek: prakto\n] nor [Greek: ktêto\n a)nthrô/pô|].]

[Footnote 20: Plato, Parmenid. p. 134 C. [Greek: A)/gnôston a)/ra
ê(mi=n kai\ au)to\ to\ kalo\n o(\ e)/sti, kai\ to\ a)gatho/n, kai\
pa/nta a(\ dê\ ô(s i)de/as au)ta\s ou)/sas u(polamba/nomen.]]

[Side-note: Form of cognition, superior to our Cognition, belongs
to the Gods. We cannot know them, nor can they know us.]

6. Again, if there be a real self-existent Form of Cognition,
apart from that which we or others possess--it must doubtless be
far superior in accuracy and perfection to that which we
possess.[21] The Form of Beauty and the other Forms, must be in
like manner superior to that which is found under the same name in
individual objects. This perfect Form of Cognition must therefore
belong to the Gods, if it belong to any one. But if so, the Gods
must have a Form of Truth, the proper object of their Form of
Cognition. They cannot know the truth relatively to us, which
belongs to _our_ cognition--any more than we can know the more
perfect truth belonging to them. So too about other Forms. The
perfect Form of mastership belongs to the Gods, correlating with
its proper Form of servantship. _Their_ mastership does not
correlate with individual objects like us: in other words, they
are not our masters, nor are we their servants. _Their_ cognition,
again, does not correlate with individual objects like us: in
other words, they do not know us, nor do we know them. In like
manner, we in our capacity of masters are not masters of them--we
as cognizant beings know nothing of them or of that which they
know. They can in no way correlate with us, nor can we correlate
with them.[22]

[Footnote 21: An argument very similar is urged by Aristotle
(Metaph. [Greek: Th]. 1050, b. 34) [Greek: ei) a)/ra tine/s ei)si
phu/seis toiau=tai ê)\ ou)si/ai oi(/as le/gousin oi( e)n toi=s
lo/gois ta\s i)de/as, polu\ ma=llon e)pistê=mon a)/n ti ei)/ê ê(
au)toepistê/mê kai\ kinou/menon ê( ki/nêsis.]]

[Footnote 22: Plato, Parmenid. p. 135 A. [Greek: Tau=ta me\ntoi,
ô)= Sô/krates, e)/phê o( Parmeni/dês, _kai\ e)/ti a)/lla pro\s
tou/tois pa/nu polla\ a)nagkai=on e)/chein ta\ ei)/dê_, ei)
ei)si\n au)tai ai( i)de/ai tô=n o)/ntôn], &c.]

[Side-note: Sum total of objections against the Ideas is grave. But
if we do not admit that Ideas exist, and that they are knowable,
there can be no dialectic discussion.]

Here are some of the objections, Sokrates (concludes Parmenides),
which beset your doctrine, that there exist substantive,
self-standing, Forms of Ideas, each respectively definable. Many
farther objections might also be urged.[23] So that a man may
reasonably maintain, either that none such exist--or that,
granting their existence, they are essentially unknowable by us.
He must put forth great ingenuity to satisfy himself of the
affirmative; and still more wonderful ingenuity to find arguments
for the satisfaction of others, respecting this question.

[Footnote 23: Plato, Parmenid. p. 134 D-E. [Greek: Ou)/koun ei)
para\ tô=| theô=| au(/tê e)/stin ê( a)kribesta/tê despotei/a kai\
au(/tê ê( a)kribesta/tê e)pistê/mê, ou)/t' a)\n ê( despotei/a ê(
e)kei/nôn] (i.e. [Greek: tô=n theô=n]) [Greek: ê(mô=n pote\ a)\n
despo/seien, _ou)/t' a)\n ê( e)pistê/mê ê(ma=s gnoi/ê ou)de/ ti
a)/llo tô=n par' ê(mi=n_; a)lla\ o(moi/ôs ê(mei=s t' e)kei/nôn
ou)k a)/rchomen tê=| par' ê(mi=n a)rchê=|, ou)de gignô/skomen tou=
thei/ou ou)de\n tê=| ê(mete/ra| e)pistê/mê, _e)kei=noi/ te au)=_]
(sc. [Greek: oi( theoi/]) [Greek: kata\ to\n au)to\n lo/gon ou)/te
despo/tai ê(mô=n ei)si\n _ou)/te gignô/skousi ta\ a)nthrô/peia
pra/gmata theoi\ o)/ntes_. A)lla\ mê\ li/an, e)/phê] (Sokrates),
[Greek: ê)=| thaumasto\s o( lo/gos, ei)/ tis theo\n a)posterê/seis
tou= ei)de/nai.]

The inference here drawn by Parmenides supplies the first mention
of a doctrine revived by (if not transmitted to) Averroes and
various scholastic doctors of the middle ages, so as to be
formally condemned by theological councils. M. Renan tells us--"En
1269, Étienne Tempier, évêque de Paris, ayant rassemblé le conseil
des maîtres en théologie . . . condamna, de concert avec eux,
treize propositions qui ne sont presque toutes que les axiomes
familiers de l'averroïsme: Quod intellectus hominum est unus et
idem numero. Quod mundus est æternus. Quod nunquam fuit primus
homo. _Quod Deus non cognoscit singularia_," &c. (Renan, Averroès,
p. 213, 2nd ed., p. 268.)]

Nevertheless, on the other side (continues Parmenides), unless we
admit the existence of such Forms or Ideas--substantive, eternal,
unchangeable, definable--philosophy and dialectic discussion are

[Footnote 24: Plato, Parmenid. p. 135 B.]

*  *  *  *  *

[Side-note: Dilemma put by Parmenides--Acuteness of his

Here then, Parmenides entangles himself and his auditors in the
perplexing dilemma, that philosophical and dialectic speculation
is impossible, unless these Forms or Ideas, together with the
participation of sensible objects in them, be granted; while at
the same time this cannot be granted, until objections, which
appear at first sight unanswerable, have been disposed of.

The acuteness with which these objections are enforced, is
remarkable. I know nothing superior to it in all the Platonic
writings. Moreover the objections point directly against that
doctrine which Plato in other dialogues most emphatically insists
upon, and which Aristotle both announces and combats as
characteristic of Plato--the doctrine of separate, self-existent,
absolute, Forms or Ideas. They are addressed moreover to Sokrates,
the chief exponent of that doctrine here as well as in other
dialogues. And he is depicted as unable to meet them.

[Side-note: The doctrine which Parmenides attacks is the genuine
Platonic theory of Ideas. His objections are never answered in any
part of the Platonic dialogues.]

It is true that Sokrates is here introduced as juvenile and
untrained; or at least as imperfectly trained. And accordingly,
Stallbaum with others think, that this is the reason of his
inability to meet the objections: which (they tell us), though
ingenious and plausible, yet having no application to the genuine
Platonic doctrine about Ideas, might easily have been answered if
Plato had thought fit, and are answered in other dialogues.[25]
But to me it appears, that the doctrine which is challenged in the
Parmenidês is the genuine Platonic doctrine about Ideas, as
enunciated by Plato in the Republic, Phædon, Philêbus, Timæus, and
elsewhere--though a very different doctrine is announced in the
Sophistês. Objections are here made against it in the Parmenidês.
In what other dialogue has Plato answered them? and what proof can
be furnished that he was able to answer them? There are indeed
many other dialogues in which a real world of Ideas absolute and
unchangeable, is affirmed strenuously and eloquently, with various
consequences and accompaniments traced to it: but there are none
in which the Parmenidean objections are elucidated, or even
recited. In the Phædon, Phædrus, Timæus, Symposion, &c., and
elsewhere, Sokrates is made to talk confidently about the
existence and even about the cognoscibility of these Ideas; just
as if no such objections as those which we read in the Parmenidês
could be produced.[26] In these other dialogues, Plato accepts
implicitly one horn of the Parmenidean dilemma; but without
explaining to us upon what grounds he allows himself to neglect
the other.

[Footnote 25: Stallbaum, Prolegom. pp. 52-286-332.]

[Footnote 26: According to Stallbaum (Prolegg. pp. 277-337) the
Parmenidês is the only dialogue in which Plato has discussed, with
philosophical exactness, the theory of Ideas; in all the other
dialogues he handles it in a popular and superficial manner. There
is truth in this--indeed more truth (I think) than Stallbaum
himself supposed: otherwise he would hardly have said that the
objections in the Parmenides could easily have been answered, if
Plato had chosen.

Stallbaum tells us, not only respecting Socher but respecting
Schleiermacher (pp. 324-332), "Parmenidem omnino non intellexit".
In my judgment, Socher understands the dialogue better than
Stallbaum, when he (Socher) says, that the objections in the first
half bear against the genuine Platonic Ideas; though I do not
agree with his inference about the spuriousness of the dialogue.]

[Side-note: Views of Stallbaum and Socher. The latter maintains
that Plato would never make such objections against his own
theory, and denies the authenticity of the Parmenidês.]

Socher has so much difficulty in conceiving that Plato can have
advanced such forcible objections against a doctrine, which
nevertheless in other Platonic dialogues is proclaimed as true and
important,--that he declares the Parmenidês (together with the
Sophistês and Politikus) not to be genuine, but to have been
composed by some unknown Megaric contemporary. To pass over the
improbability that any unknown author should have been capable of
composing works of so much ability as these--Socher's decision
about spuriousness is founded upon an estimate of Plato's
philosophical character, which I think incorrect. Socher expects
(or at least reasons as if he expected) to find in Plato a
preconceived system and a scheme of conclusions to which every
thing is made subservient.

[Side-note: Philosophers are usually advocates, each of a positive
system of his own.]

In most philosophers, doubtless, this is what we do find. Each
starts with some favourite conclusions, which he believes to be
true, and which he supports by all the arguments in their favour,
as far as his power goes. If he mentions the arguments against
them, he usually answers the weak, slurs over or sneers at the
strong: at any rate, he takes every precaution that these counter
arguments shall appear unimportant in the eyes of his readers. His
purpose is, like that of a speaker in the public assembly, to
obtain assent and belief: whether the hearers understand the
question or not, is a matter of comparative indifference: at any
rate, they must be induced to embrace his conclusion. Unless he
thus foregoes the character of an impartial judge, to take up that
of an earnest advocate; unless he bends the whole force of his
mind to the establishment of the given conclusion--he becomes
suspected as deficient in faith or sincerity, and loses much in
persuasive power. For an earnest belief, expressed with eloquence
and feeling, is commonly more persuasive than any logic.

[Side-note: Different spirit of Plato in his Dialogues of Search.]

Now whether this exclusive devotion to the affirmative side of
certain questions be the true spirit of philosophy or not, it is
certainly not the spirit of Plato in his Dialogues of Search;
wherein he conceives the work of philosophy in a totally
different manner. He does not begin by stating, even to himself a
certain conclusion at which he has arrived, and then proceed to
prove that conclusion to others. The search or debate (as I have
observed in a preceding chapter) has greater importance in his
eyes than the conclusion: nay, in a large proportion of his
dialogues, there is no conclusion at all: we see something
disproved, but nothing proved. The negative element has with him a
value and importance of its own, apart from the affirmative. He is
anxious to set forth what can be said against a given conclusion;
even though not prepared to establish any thing in its place.

[Side-note: The Parmenidês is the extreme manifestation of the
negative element. That Plato should employ one dialogue in setting
forth the negative case against the Theory of Ideas is not

Such negative element, manifested as it is in so many of the
Platonic dialogues, has its extreme manifestation in the
Parmenidês. When we see it here applied to a doctrine which Plato
in other dialogues insists upon as truth, we must call to mind
(what sincere believers are apt to forget) that a case may always
be made out against truth as well as in its favour: and that its
privilege as a certified portion of "reasoned truth," rests upon
no better title than the superiority of the latter case over the
former. It is for testing the two cases--for determining where the
superiority lies--and for graduating its amount--that the process
of philosophising is called for, and that improvements in the
method thereof become desirable. That Plato should, in one of his
many diversified dialogues, apply this test to a doctrine which,
in other dialogues, he holds out as true--is noway inconsistent
with the general spirit of these compositions. Each of his
dialogues has its own point of view, worked out on that particular
occasion; what is common to them all, is the process of
philosophising applied in various ways to the same general topics.

Those who, like Socher, deny Plato's authorship of the Parmenidês,
on the ground of what is urged therein against the theory of
Ideas, must suppose, either that he did not know that a negative
case could be made out against that theory; or that knowing it, he
refrained from undertaking the duty.[27] Neither supposition is
consistent with what we know both of his negative ingenuity, and
of his multifarious manner of handling.

[Footnote 27: Plato, Philêbus, p. 14, where the distinction taken
coincides accurately enough with that which we read in Plato,
Parmenid. p. 129 A-D.

Strümpell thinks that the Parmenidês was composed at a time of
Plato's life when he had become sensible of the difficulties and
contradictions attaching to his doctrine of self-existent Forms or
Ideas, and when he was looking about for some way of extrication
from them: which way he afterwards thought that he found in that
approximation to Pythagorism--that exchange of Ideas for Ideal
numbers, &c.--which we find imputed to him by Aristotle (Gesch.
der Griech. Phil. sect. 96, 3). This is not impossible; but I find
no sufficient ground for affirming it. Nor can I see how the
doctrine which Aristotle ascribes to Plato about the Ideas (that
they are generated by two [Greek: stoichei=a] or elements, [Greek:
to\ e(/n] along with [Greek: to\ me/ga kai\ to\ mikro/n]) affords
any escape from the difficulties started in the Parmenidês.

Strümpell considers the dialogue Parmenidês to have been composed
"ganz ausdrücklich zur dialektischen Uebung," ib. s. 96, 2, p.

[Side-note: Force of the negative case in the Parmenidês.
Difficulties about participation of sensible objects in the world
of Ideas.]

The negative case, made out in the Parmenidês against the theory
of Ideas, is indeed most powerful. The hypothesis of the Ideal
World is unequivocally affirmed by Sokrates, with its four
principal characteristics. 1. Complete essential separation from
the world of sense. 2. Absolute self-existence. 3. Plurality of
constituent items, several contrary to each other. 4. Unchangeable
sameness and unity of each and all of them.--Here we have full
satisfaction given to the Platonic sentiment, which often delights
in soaring above the world of sense, and sometimes (see Phædon) in
heaping contemptuous metaphors upon it. But unfortunately Sokrates
cannot disengage himself from this world of sense: he is obliged
to maintain that it partakes of, or is determined by, these
extra-sensible Forms or Ideas. Here commence the series of difficulties
and contradictions brought out by the Elenchus of Parmenides. Are
all sensible objects, even such as are vulgar, repulsive, and
contemptible, represented in this higher world? The Platonic
sentiment shrinks from the admission: the Platonic sense of
analogy hesitates to deny it. Then again, how can both assertions
be true--first that the two worlds are essentially separate, next,
that the one participates in, and derives its essence from, the
other? How (to use Aristotelian language[28]) can the essence be
separated from that of which it is the essence? How can the Form,
essentially One, belong at once to a multitude of particulars?

[Footnote 28: Arist. Met. A. 991, b. 1. [Greek: a)du/naton,
chôri\s ei)=nai tê\n ou)si/an kai\ ou)= ê( ou)si/a.]]

Two points deserve notice in this debate respecting the doctrine
of Ideas:--

[Side-note: Difficulties about the Cognizability of Ideas. If Ideas
are absolute, they cannot be cognizable: if they are cognizable,
they must be relative. Doctrine of Homo Mensura.]

1. Parmenides shows, and Sokrates does not deny, that these Forms
or Ideas described as absolute, self-existent, unchangeable, must
of necessity be unknown and unknowable to us.[29] Whatever we do
know, or can know, is relative to us;--to our actual cognition, or
to our cognitive power. If you declare an object to be absolute,
you declare it to be neither known nor knowable by us: if it be
announced as known or knowable by us, it is thereby implied at the
same time not to be absolute. If these Forms or Objects called
absolute are known, they can be known only by an absolute Subject,
or the Form of a cognizant Subject: that is, by God or the Gods.
Even thus, to call them _absolute_ is a misnomer: they are
relative to the Subject, and the Subject is relative to them.

[Footnote 29: Plato, Parmenid. 133 B. [Greek: ei)/ tis phai/ê
mêde\ prosê/kein au)ta\ gignô/skesthai o)/nta toiau=ta oi(=a/
phamen dei=n ei)=nai ta\ ei)/dê. . . . a)pi/thanos a)\n ei)/ê o(
a)/gnôsta au)ta\ a)nagka/zôn ei)=nai.] 134 A. [Greek: ê( de\ par'
ê(mi=n e)pistê/mê ou) tê=s par' ê(mi=n a)\n a)lêthei/as ei)/ê?
kai\ au)= e(ka/stê ê( par' ê(mi=n e(pistê/mê tô=n par' ê(mi=n
o)/ntôn e(ka/stou a)\n e)pistê/mê xu/mbainoi ei)=nai?] 134 C.
[Greek: a)/gnôston a)/ra ê(mi=n e)/sti kai\ au)to\ to\ kalo\n o(\
e)/sti, kai\ to\ a)gatho/n, kai\ pa/nta a(\ dê\ ô(s i)de/as
au)ta\s ou)/sas u(polamba/nomen.]]

The opinion here advanced by the Platonic Parmenides asserts, in
other words, what is equivalent to the memorable dictum of
Protagoras--"Man is the measure of all things--of things existent,
that they do exist--and of things non-existent, that they do not
exist". This dictum affirms universal relativity, and nothing
else: though Plato, as we shall see in the elaborate argument
against it delivered by Sokrates in the Theætêtus, mixed it up
with another doctrine altogether distinct and independent--the
doctrine that knowledge is sensible perception.[30] Parmenides
here argues that if these Forms or Ideas are known by us, they can
be known only as relative to us: and that if they be not relative
to us, they cannot be known by us at all. Such relativity belongs
as much to the world of Conception, as to the world of Perception.
And it is remarkable that Plato admits this essential relativity
not merely here, but also in the Sophistês: in which latter
dialogue he denies the Forms or Ideas to be absolute existences,
on the special ground that they are known:--and on the farther
ground that what is known must act upon the knowing mind, and must
be acted upon thereby, _i.e._, must be relative. He there defines
the existent to be, that which has power to act upon something
else, or to be acted upon by something else. Such relativeness he
declares to constitute _existence_:[31] defining existence to mean

[Footnote 30: I shall discuss this in the coming chapter upon the

[Footnote 31: Plato, Sophistês, pp. 248-249. This reasoning is put
into the mouth of the Eleatic Stranger, the principal person in
that dialogue.]

[Side-note: Answer of Sokrates--That Ideas are mere conceptions of
the mind. Objection of Parmenides correct, though undeveloped.]

2. The second point which deserves notice in this portion of the
Parmenidês, is the answer of Sokrates (when embarrassed by some of
the questions of the Eleatic veteran)--"That these Forms or Ideas
are conceptions of the mind, and have no existence out of the
mind". This answer gives us the purely Subjective, or negation of
Object: instead of the purely Objective (Absolute), or negation of
Subject.[32] Here we have what Porphyry calls the deepest question
of philosophy[33] explicitly raised: and, as far as we know, for
the first time. Are the Forms or Ideas mere conceptions of the
mind and nothing more? Or are they external, separate,
self-existent realities? The opinion which Sokrates had first given
declared the latter: that which he now gives declares the former.
He passes from the pure Objective (_i.e._, without Subject) to the
pure Subjective (_i.e._, without Object). Parmenides, in his
reply, points out that there cannot be a conception of nothing:
that if there be Conceptio, there must be _Conceptum aliquid_:[34]
and that this Conceptum or Concept is what is common to a great
many distinct similar Percepta.

[Footnote 32: Plato, Parmenid. p. 132 A-B.

The doctrine, that [Greek: poio/têtes] were [Greek: philai\
e)/nnoiai], having no existence without the mind, was held by
Antisthenes as well as by the Eretrian sect of philosophers,
contemporary with Plato and shortly after him. Simplikius, Schol.
ad Aristot. Categ. p. 68, a. 30, Brandis. See, respecting
Antisthenes, the first volume of the present work, p. 165.]

[Footnote 33: See the beginning of Porphyry's Introduction to the
Categories of Aristotle. [Greek: bathuta/tê ou)/sês tê=s toiau/tês
pragmatei/as], &c. Simplikius (in Schol. ad Aristot. Categ. p. 68,
a. 28, ed. Brandis) alludes to the Eretrian philosophers and
Theopompus, who considered [Greek: ta\s poio/têtas] as [Greek:
phila\s mo/nas e)nnoi/as diakenô=s legome/nas kat' ou)demi/as
u(posta/seôs, oi(=on a)nthrôpo/têta ê)\ i(ppo/têta], &c.]

[Footnote 34: Compare Republic, v. p. 476 B. [Greek: o( gignô/skôn
gignô/skei ti\ ê)\ ou)de\n? Gignô/skei ti/], &c.

The following passage in the learned work of Cudworth bears on the
portion of the Parmenidês which we are now considering. Cudworth,
Treatise of Immutable Morality, pp. 243-245.

"But if any one demand here, where this [Greek: a)ki/nêtos
ou)si/a], these immutable Entities do exist? I answer, first, that
as they are considered formally, they do not properly exist in the
Individuals without us, as if they were from them imprinted upon
the Understanding, which some have taken to be Aristotle's
opinion; because no Individual Material thing is either Universal
or Immutable. . . . Because they perish not together with them, it
is a certain argument that they exist independently upon them.
Neither, in the next place, do they exist somewhere else apart
from the Individual Sensibles, and without the Mind, which is that
opinion that Aristotle justly condemns, but either unjustly or
unskilfully attributes to Plato. . . . Wherefore these
Intelligible Ideas or Essences of Things, those Forms by which we
understand all Things, exist nowhere but in the mind itself; for
it was very well determined long ago by Socrates, in Plato's
Parmenidês, that these things are nothing else but Noemata: 'These
Species or Ideas are all of them nothing but Noemata or Notions
that exist nowhere but in the Soul itself'. . . .

"And yet notwithstanding, though these Things exist only in the
Mind, they are not therefore mere Figments of the
Understanding. . . .

"It is evident that though the Mind thinks of these Things at
pleasure, yet they are not arbitrarily framed by the Mind, but
have certain, determinate, and immutable Natures of their own,
which are independent upon the Mind, and which are blown (quære
_not blown_) away into Nothing at the pleasure of the same Being
that arbitrarily made them."

It is an inadvertence on the part of Cudworth to cite this passage
of the Parmenidês as authenticating Plato's opinion that Forms or
Ideas existed only in the mind. Certainly Sokrates is here made to
express that opinion, among others; but the opinion is refuted by
Parmenidês and dropped by Sokrates. But the very different
opinion, which Cudworth accuses Aristotle of _wrongly_ attributing
to Plato, is repeated by Sokrates in the Phædon, Republic, and
elsewhere, and never refuted.]

This reply, though scanty and undeveloped, is in my judgment both
valid, as it negatives the Subject pure and simple, and affirms
that to every conception in the mind, there must correspond a
Concept out of (or rather along with) the mind (the one
correlating with or implying the other)--and correct as far as it
goes, in declaring what that Concept is. Such Concept is, or may
be, the Form. Parmenides does not show that it is not so. He
proceeds to impugn, by a second argument, the assertion of
Sokrates--that the form is a Conception _wholly within_ the mind:
he goes on to argue that individual things (which are _out_ of the
mind) cannot participate in these Forms (which are asserted to be
altogether _in_ the mind): because, if that were admitted, either
every such thing must be a Concipient, or must run into the
contradiction of being a _Conceptio non concipiens_.[35] Now this
argument may refute the affirmation of Sokrates literally taken,
that the Form is a Conception entirely belonging to the mind, and
having nothing Objective corresponding to it--but does not refute
the doctrine that the Form is a Concept correlating with the
mind--or out of the mind as well as in it. In this as in other
Concepts, the subjective point of view preponderates over the
objective, though Object is not altogether eliminated: just as, in
the particular external things, the objective point of view
predominates, though Subject cannot be altogether dismissed.
Neither Subject nor Object can ever entirely disappear: the one is
the inseparable correlative and complement of the other: but
sometimes the subjective point of view may preponderate, sometimes
the objective. Such preponderance (or logical priority), either of
the one or the other, may be implied or connoted by the
denomination given. Though the special connotation of the name
creates an illusion which makes the preponderant point of view
seem to be all, and magnifies the Relatum so as to eclipse and
extinguish the Correlatum--yet such preponderance, or logical
priority, is all that is really meant when the Concepts are said
to be "_in the mind_"--and the Percepts (Percepta, things
perceived) to be "_out of the mind_": for both Concepts and
Percepts are "_of the mind_, or _relative to the mind_".[36]

[Footnote 35: On this point the argument in the dialogue itself,
as stated by Parmenides, is not clear to follow. Strümpell remarks
on the terms employed by Plato. "Der Umstand, dass die Ausdrücke
[Greek: ei)=dos] und [Greek: i)de/a] nicht sowie [Greek: lo/gos]
den Unterschied, zwischen Begriff und dem durch diesen begriffenen
Realen, hervortreten lassen--sondern, weil dieselben bald im
subjektiven Sinne den Begriff, bald im objektiven Sinne das Reale
bezeichnen--bald in der einen bald in der andern Bedeutung zu
nehmen sind--kann leicht eine Verwechselung und Unklarheit in der
Auffassung veranlassen," &c. (Gesch. der Gr. Philos. s. 90, p.

[Footnote 36: This preponderance of the Objective point of view,
though without altogether eliminating the Subjective, includes all
that is true in the assertion of Aristotle, that the _Perceptum_
is prior to the _Percipient_--the _Percipiendum_ prior to the
_Perceptionis Capax_. He assimilates the former to a _Movens_, the
latter to a _Motum_. But he declares that he means not a priority
in time or real existence, but simply a _priority in nature_ or
_logical priority_; and he also declares the two to be relatives
or reciproca. The Prius is relative to the Posterius, as the
Posterius is relative to the Prius.--Metaphys. [Greek: G]. 1010,
b. 36 seq. [Greek: a)ll' e)/sti ti kai\ e(/teron para\ tê\n
ai)/sthêsin, o(\ a)nagkê pro/teron ei)=nai tê=s ai)sthê/seô=s; to\
ga\r kinou=n tou= kinoume/nou _phu/sei pro/tero/n_ e)sti; ka)\n
ei) le/getai pro\s a)/llêla tau=ta, ou)de\n ê(=tton.]

See respecting the [Greek: pro/teron phu/sei], Aristot. Categor.
p. 12, b. 5-15, and Metaphys. [Greek: D]. 1018, b. 12--[Greek:
a(plô=s kai\ tê=| phu/sei pro/teron].]

[Side-note: Meaning of Abstract and General Terms, debated from
ancient times to the present day--Different views of Plato and
Aristotle upon it.]

The question--What is the real and precise meaning attached to
abstract and general words?--has been debated down to this day,
and is still under debate. It seems to have first derived its
importance, if not its origin, from Sokrates, who began the
practice of inviting persons to define the familiar generalities
of ethics and politics, and then tested by cross-examination the
definitions given by men who thought that common sense would
enable any one to define.[37] But I see no ground for believing
that Sokrates ever put to himself the question--Whether that which
an abstract term denotes is a mental conception, or a separate and
self-existent reality. That question was raised by Plato, and
first stands clearly brought to view here in the Parmenidês.

[Footnote 37: Aristotel. Metaphys. A. 987, b. 3. M. 1078, b.

If we follow up the opinion here delivered by the Platonic
Sokrates, together with the first correction added to it by
Parmenides, amounting to this--That the Form is a Conception of
the mind with its corresponding Concept: if, besides, we dismiss
the doctrine held by Plato, that the Form is a separate
self-existent unchangeable Ens ([Greek: e(\n para\ ta\ polla\]):
there will then be no greater difficulty in understanding how it
can be partaken by, or be at once in, many distinct particulars,
than in understanding (what is at bottom the same question) how
one and the same attribute can belong at once to many different
objects: how hardness or smoothness can be at once in an indefinite
number of hard and smooth bodies dispersed everywhere.[38] The
object and the attribute are both of them relative to the same
percipient and concipient mind: we may perceive or conceive many
objects as distinct individuals--we may also conceive them all as
resembling in a particular manner, making abstraction of the
individuality of each: both these are psychological facts, and
the latter of the two is what we mean when we say, that all of them
possess or participate in one and the same attribute. The concrete
term, and its corresponding abstract, stand for the same facts of
sense differently conceived. Now the word _one_, when applied to the
attribute, has a different meaning from _one_ when applied to an
individual object. Plato speaks sometimes elsewhere as if he felt
this diversity of meaning: not however in the Parmenidês, though
there is great demand for it. But Aristotle (in this respect far
superior) takes much pains to point out that _Unum Ens_--and the
preposition _In_ (to be _in_ any thing)--are among the [Greek:
pollachô=s lego/mena], having several different meanings derived
from one primary or radical by diverse and distant
ramifications.[39] The important logical distinction between _Unum
numero_ and _Unum specie_ (or _genere_, &c.) belongs first to

[Footnote 38: That "the attribute is in its subject," is explained
by Aristotle only by saying That it is _in_ its subject, not as a
part in the whole, yet as that which cannot exist apart from its
subject (Categor. 1, a. 30-3, a. 30). Compare Hobbes, Comput. or
Logic. iii. 3, viii. 3. Respecting the number of different modes
[Greek: tou= e)/n tini ei)=nai], see Aristot. Physic. iii. p. 210,
a. 18 seq., with the Scholia, p. 373 Brandis, and p. 446, 10
Brand. The commentators made out, variously, nine, eleven, sixteen
distinct [Greek: tro/pous tou= e)/n tini ei)=nai]. In the language
of Aristotle, _genus_, _species_, [Greek: ei)=dos], and even
_differentia_ are not [Greek: e)n u(pokeime/nô|], but are
predicated [Greek: kath' u(pokeime/nou] (see Cat. p. 3, a. 20).
The _proprium_ and _accidens_ alone are [Greek: e)n
u(pokeime/nô|]. Here is a difference between his language and that
of Plato, according to whom [Greek: to\ ei)=dos] is [Greek: e)n
e(ka/stô| tô=n pollô=n] (Parmenid. 131 A). But we remark in that
same dialogue, that when Parmenides questions Sokrates whether he
recognises [Greek: ei)/dê au)ta\ kath' au)ta/] he first asks
whether Sokrates admits [Greek: dikai/ou ti ei)=dos au)to\ kath'
au(to/, kai\ kalou=, kai\ a)gathou=, kai\ pa/ntôn tô=n toiou/tôn].
Sokrates answers without hesitation, _Yes_. Then Parmenides
proceeds to ask, Do you recognise an [Greek: ei)=dos] of man,
separate and apart from all of us individual men?--or an [Greek:
ei)=dos] of fire, water, and such like? Here Sokrates hesitates:
he will neither admit nor deny it (130 D). The first list, which
Sokrates at once accepts, is of what Aristotle would call
_accidents_: the second, which Sokrates doubts about, is of what
Aristotle would call _second substances_. We thus see that the
conception of a self-existent [Greek: ei)=dos] realised itself
most easily and distinctly to the mind of Plato in the case of
_accidents_. He would, therefore, naturally conceive [Greek: ta\
ei)/dê] as being [Greek: e)n u(pokeime/nô|], agreeing
substantially, though not in terms, with Aristotle. It is in the
case of accidents or attributes that abstract names are most
usually invented; and it is the abstract name, or the neuter
adjective used as its equivalent, which suggests the belief in an
[Greek: ei)=dos].]

[Footnote 39: Aristotel. Metaphys. [Greek: D]. 1015-1016, I. 1052,
a. 29 seq. [Greek: ta\ me\n dê\ ou(/tôs e(\n ê)\ suneche\s ê)\
o(/lon; ta\ de\ ô(=n a)\n o( lo/gos ei(=s ê)=|; toiau=ta de\ ô(=n
ê( no/êsis mi/a], &c.

About abstract names, or the names of attributes, see Mr. John
Stuart Mill's 'System of Logic,' i. 2, 4, p. 30, edit. 5th. "When
only one attribute, neither variable in degree nor in kind, is
designated by the name--as visibleness, tangibleness, equality,
&c.--though it denotes an attribute of many different objects,
the attribute itself is always considered as _one_, not as
_many_." Compare, also, on this point, p. 153, and a note added by
Mr. Mill to the fifth edition, p. 203, in reply to Mr. Herbert
Spencer. The _oneness_ of the attribute, in different subjects, is
not conceded by every one. Mr. Spencer thinks that the same
abstract word denotes one attribute in Subject A, and another
attribute, though exactly like it, in Subject B (Principles of
Psychology, p. 126 seq.) Mr. Mill's view appears the correct one;
but the distinction (pointed out by Archbishop Whately) between
_undistinguishable likeness_ and _positive identity_, becomes in
these cases imperceptible or forgotten.

Aristotle, however, in the beginning of the Categories ranks
[Greek: ê( ti/s grammatikê\] as [Greek: a)/tomon kai\ _e(\n
a)rithmô=|_] (pp. 1, 6, 8), which I do not understand; and it
seems opposed to another passage, pp. 3, 6, 15.

The argument between two such able thinkers as Mr. Mill and Mr.
Spencer, illustrates forcibly the extreme nicety of this question
respecting the One and the Many, under certain supposable
circumstances. We cannot be surprised that it puzzled the
dialecticians of the Platonic Aristotelian age, who fastened by
preference on points of metaphysical difficulty.]

[Footnote 40: See interesting remarks on the application of this
logical distinction in Galen, De Methodo Medendi, Book iii. vol.
x. p. 130 seq. Aristotle and Theophrastus both dwelt upon it.]

[Side-note: Plato never expected to make his Ideas fit on to the
facts of sense: Aristotle tried to do it and partly succeeded.]

Plato has not followed out the hint which he has here put into the
mouth of Sokrates in the Parmenidês--That the Ideas or Forms are
conceptions existing only in the mind. Though the opinion thus
stated is not strictly correct (and is so pointed out by himself),
as falling back too exclusively on the subjective--yet if followed
out, it might have served to modify the too objective and absolute
character which in most dialogues (though not in the Sophistês) he
ascribes to his Forms or Ideas: laying stress upon them as
objects--and as objects not of sensible perception--but
overlooking or disallowing the fact of their being relative to the
concipient mind. The bent of Plato's philosophy was to dwell upon
these Forms, and to bring them into harmonious conjunction with
each other: he neither took pains, nor expected, to make them fit
on to the world of sense. With Aristotle, on the contrary, this
last-mentioned purpose is kept very generally in view. Amidst all
the extreme abstractions which he handles, he reverts often to the
comparison of them with sensible particulars: indeed Substantia
Prima was by him, for the first time in the history of philosophy,
brought down to designate the concrete particular object of sense:
in Plato's Phædon, Republic, &c, the only Substances are the Forms
or Ideas.

[Side-note: Continuation of the Dialogue--Parmenides admonishes
Sokrates that be has been premature in delivering a doctrine,
without sufficient preliminary exercise.]

Parmenides now continues the debate. He has already fastened upon
Sokrates several difficult problems: he now proposes a new one,
different and worse. Which way are we to turn then, if these Forms
be beyond our knowledge? I do not see my way (says Sokrates) out
of the perplexity. The fact is, Sokrates (replies Parmenides), you
have been too forward in producing your doctrine of Ideas, without
a sufficient preliminary exercise and enquiry. Your love of
philosophical research is highly praiseworthy: but you must employ
your youth in exercising and improving yourself, through that
continued philosophical discourse which the vulgar call _useless
prosing_: otherwise you will never attain truth.[41] You are
however right in bestowing your attention, not on the objects of
sense, but on those objects which we can best grasp in discussion,
and which we presume to exist as Forms.[42]

[Footnote 41: Plato, Parmenid. p. 135 C. [Greek: Prô\| ga/r, pri\n
gumnasthê=nai, ô)= Sô/krates, o(ri/zesthai e)picheirei=s kalo/n
te/ ti kai\ di/kaion kai\ a)gatho\n kai\ e(\n e(/kaston tô=n
ei)dô=n . . . kalê\ me\n ou)=n kai\ thei/a, ei)= i)/sthi, ê(
o(rmê\ ê(\n o(rma=|s e)pi\ tou\s lo/gous; e(/lkuson de\ sauto\n
kai\ gumna/sai, ma=llon dia\ tê=s dokou/sês a)chrê/stou ei)=nai
kai\ kaloume/nês u(po\ tô=n pollô=n a)doleschi/as, e(/ôs e)/ti
ne/os ei)=; ei) de\ mê\, se\ diapheu/xetai ê( a)lê/theia.]]

[Footnote 42: Plato, Parmenid. p. 135 E.]

[Side-note: What sort of exercise? Parmenides describes: To assume
provisionally both the affirmative and the negative of many
hypotheses about the most general terms, and to trace the
consequences of each.]

What sort of exercise must I go through? asks Sokrates. Zeno
(replies Parmenides) has already given you a good specimen of it
in his treatise, when he followed out the consequences flowing
from the assumption--"That the self-existent and absolute Ens is
plural". When you are trying to find out the truth on any
question, you must assume provisionally, first the affirmative and
then the negative, and you must then follow out patiently the
consequences deducible from one hypothesis as well as from the
other. If you are enquiring about the Form of Likeness, whether it
exists or does not exist, you must assume successively both one
and the other;[43] marking the deductions which follow, both with
reference to the thing directly assumed, and with reference to
other things also. You must do the like if you are investigating
other Forms--Unlikeness, Motion, and Rest, or even Existence and
Non-Existence. But you must not be content with following out only
one side of the hypothesis: you must examine both sides with equal
care and impartiality. This is the only sort of preparatory
exercise which will qualify you for completely seeing through the

[Footnote 43: Plato, Parmenid. p. 136 A. [Greek: kai\ au)=this
au)= e)a\n u(pothê=|, ei) e)/stin o(moio/tês ê)\ ei) mê/ e)sti,
ti/ e)ph' e(kate/ras tê=s u(pothe/seôs sumbê/setai, kai\ au)toi=s
toi=s u(potethei=si kai\ toi=s a)/llois kai\ pro\s au(ta\ kai\
pro\s a)/llêla.]]

[Footnote 44: Plato, Parmenid. p. 136 B.]

[Side-note: Impossible to do this before a numerous
audience--Parmenides is entreated to give a specimen--After much
solicitation he agrees.]

You propose to me, Parmenides (remarks Sokrates), a work of awful
magnitude. At any rate, show me an example of it yourself, that I
may know better how to begin.--Parmenides at first declines, on
the ground of his old age: but Zeno and the others urge him, so
that he at length consents.--The process will be tedious (observes
Zeno); and I would not ask it from Parmenides unless among an
audience small and select as we are here. Before any numerous
audience, it would be an unseemly performance for a veteran like
him. For most people are not aware that, without such discursive
survey and travelling over the whole field, we cannot possibly
attain truth or acquire intelligence.[45]

[Footnote 45: Plato, Parmenid. p. 136 D. [Greek: ei) me\n ou)=n
plei/ous ê)=men, ou)k a)\n a)/xion ê)=n dei=sthai; _a)prepê= ga\r
ta\ toiau=ta pollô=n e)nanti/on le/gein_, a)/llôs te kai\
têlikou/tô|; a)gnoou=si ga\r oi( polloi\ o(/ti a)/neu tau/tês tê=s
dia\ pa/ntôn diexo/dou kai\ pla/nês, a)du/naton e)ntucho/nta tô=|
a)lêthei= nou=n schei=n.] Hobbes remarks (Computatio sive Logica,
i. 3, 12): "Learners ought to go through logical exercises
silently and by themselves: for it will be thought both ridiculous
and absurd, for a man to use such language publicly". Proklus
tells us, that the difficulty of the [Greek: gumnasi/a], here set
out by the Platonic Parmenides, is so prodigious, that no one
after Plato employed it. (Prok. ad Parmen. p. 801, Stallb.)]

[Side-note: Parmenides elects his own theory of the _Unum_, as the
topic for exhibition--Aristoteles becomes respondent.]

It is especially on this ground--the small number and select
character of the auditors--that Parmenides suffers himself to be
persuaded to undertake what he calls "amusing ourselves with a
laborious pastime".[46] He selects, as the subject of his
dialectical exhibition, his own doctrine respecting the One. He
proceeds to trace out the consequences which flow, first, from
assuming the affirmative thesis, _Unum Est_: next, from assuming
the negative thesis, or the Antithesis, _Unum non Est_. The
consequences are to be deduced from each hypothesis, not only as
regards _Unum_ itself, but as regards _Cætera_, or other things
besides _Unum_. The youngest man of the party, Aristoteles,
undertakes the duty of respondent.

[Footnote 46: Plato, Parmenid. p. 137 A. [Greek: dei= ga\r
chari/zesthai, _e)peidê\_ kai\ o(\ Zê/nôn le/gei, _au)toi/ e)smen_
. . . ê)\ bou/lesthe _e)peidê/per dokei= pragmateiô/dê paidia\n
pai/zein_,] &c.]

[Side-note: Exhibition of Parmenides--Nine distinct deductions or
Demonstrations, first from _Unum Est_--next from _Unum non Est_.]

The remaining portion of the dialogue, half of the whole, is
occupied with nine distinct deductions or demonstrations given by
Parmenides. The first five start from the assumption, _Unum Est_:
the last four from the assumption, _Unum non Est_. The three first
draw out the deductions from _Unum Est_, in reference to _Unum_:
the fourth and fifth draw out the consequences from the same
premiss, in reference to _Cætera_. Again, the sixth and seventh
start from _Unum non Est_, to trace what follows in regard to
_Unum_: the eighth and ninth adopt the same hypothesis, and reason
it out in reference to _Cætera_.

[Side-note: The Demonstrations in antagonising pairs, or
Antinomies. Perplexing entanglement of conclusions given without
any explanation.]

Of these demonstrations, one characteristic feature is, that they
are presented in antagonising pairs or Antinomies: except the
third, which professes to mediate between the first and second,
though only by introducing new difficulties. We have four distinct
Antinomies: the first and second, the fourth and fifth, the sixth
and seventh, the eighth and ninth, stand respectively in emphatic
contradiction with each other. Moreover, to take the
demonstrations separately--the first, fifth, seventh, ninth, end
in conclusions purely negative: the other four end in double and
contradictory conclusions. The purpose is formally proclaimed, of
showing that the same premisses, ingeniously handled, can be made
to yield these contradictory results.[47] No attempt is made to
reconcile the contradictions, except partially by means of the
third, in reference to the two preceding. In regard to the fourth
and fifth, sixth and seventh, eighth and ninth, no hint is given
that they can be, or afterwards will be, reconciled. The dialogue
concludes abruptly at the end of the ninth demonstration, with
these words: "We thus see that--whether Unum exists or does not
exist--Unum and Cætera both are, and are not, all things in every
way--both appear, and do not appear, all things in every way--each
in relation to itself, and each in relation to the other".[48]
Here is an unqualified and even startling announcement of double
and contradictory conclusions, obtained from the same premisses
both affirmative and negative: an announcement delivered too as
the fulfilment of the purpose of Parmenides. Nothing is said at
the end to intimate how the demonstrations are received by
Sokrates, nor what lesson they are expected to administer to him:
not a word of assent, or dissent, or surprise, or acknowledgment
in any way, from the assembled company, though all of them had
joined in entreating Parmenides, and had expressed the greatest
anxiety to hear his dialectic exhibition. Those who think that an
abrupt close, or an abrupt exordium, is sufficient reason for
declaring a dialogue not to be the work of Plato (as Platonic
critics often argue), are of course consistent in disallowing the
Parmenides. For my part, I do not agree in the opinion. I take
Plato as I find him, and I perceive both here and in the
Protagoras and elsewhere, that he did not always think it
incumbent upon him to adapt the end of his dialogues to the
beginning. This may be called a defect, but I do not feel called
upon to make out that Plato's writings are free from defects; and
to acknowledge nothing as his work unless I can show it to be

[Footnote 47: See the connecting words between the first and
second demonstration, pp. 142 A, 159. [Greek: Ou)kou=n tau=ta me\n
ê)/dê e)ô=men ô(s phanera/, e)piskopô=men de\ pa/lin, e(\n ei)
e)/stin, _a)=ra kai\ ou)ch ou(/tôs e)/chei ta)/lla tou= e(no\s ê)\
ou(/tô mo/non?_] Also p. 163 B.]

[Footnote 48: Plato, Parmenid. ad fin. [Greek: Ei)rê/sthô toi/nun
tou=to/ te kai\ o(/ti, ô(s e)/oiken, e(\n ei)/t' e)/stin ei)/te
mê\ e)/stin, au)to/ te kai\ ta)/lla kai\ pro\s au(ta\ kai\ pro\s
a)/llêla pa/nta pa/ntôs e)sti/ te kai\ ou)k e)sti kai\ phai/netai/
te kai\ ou) phai/netai.]]

[Side-note: Different judgments of Platonic critics respecting the
Antinomies and the dialogue generally.]

The demonstrations or Antinomies in the last half of the
Parmenides are characterised by K. F. Hermann and others as a
masterpiece of speculative acuteness. Yet if these same
demonstrations, constructed with care and labour for the purpose
of proving that the same premisses will conduct to double and
contradictory conclusions, had come down to us from antiquity
under the name either of the Megaric Eukleides, or Protagoras, or
Gorgias--many of the Platonic critics would probably have said of
them (what is now said of the sceptical treatise remaining to us
under the name of Gorgias) that they were poor productions worthy
of such Sophists, who are declared to have made a trade of
perverting truth. Certainly the conclusions of the demonstrations
are specimens of that "Both and Neither," which Plato (in the
Euthydemus[49]) puts into the mouth of the Sophist Dionysodorus as
an answer of slashing defiance--and of that intentional evolution
of contradictions which Plato occasionally discountenances, both
in the Euthydemus and elsewhere.[50] And we know from Proklus[51]
that there were critics in ancient times, who depreciated various
parts of the Parmenides as sophistical. Proklus himself denies the
charge with some warmth. He as well as the principal
Neo-Platonists between 200-530 A.D. (especially his predecessors and
instructors at Athens, Jamblichus, Syrianus, and Plutarchus)
admired the Parmenides as a splendid effort of philosophical
genius in its most exalted range, inspired so as to become
cognizant of superhuman persons and agencies. They all agreed so
far as to discover in the dialogue a sublime vein of mystic
theology and symbolism: but along with this general agreement,
there was much discrepancy in their interpretation of particular
parts and passages. The commentary of Proklus attests the
existence of such debates, reporting his own dissent from the
interpretations sanctioned by his venerated masters, Plutarchus
and Syrianus. That commentary, in spite of its prolixity, is
curious to read as a specimen of the fifth century, A.D., in one
of its most eminent representatives. Proklus discovers a string of
theological symbols and a mystical meaning throughout the whole
dialogue: not merely in the acute argumentation which
characterises its middle part, but also in the perplexing
antinomies of its close, and even in the dramatic details of
places, persons, and incidents, with which it begins.[52]

[Footnote 49: Plato, Euthydem. p. 300 C. [Greek: A)ll' ou) tou=to
e)rôtô=, a)lla\ ta\ pa/nta siga=| ê)\ le/gei? _Ou)de/tera kai\
a)mpho/tera_, e)/phê u(pharpa/sas o( Dionuso/dôros; eu)= ga\r
oi)=da o(/ti tê=| a)pokri/sei ou)ch e(/xeis o(/, ti chrê=|.]]

[Footnote 50: Plato, Sophist. p. 259 B. [Greek: ei)/te ô(s ti
chalepo\n katanenoêkô\s chai/rei, tote\ me\n e)pi\ tha/tera tote\
d' e)pi\ tha/tera tou\s lo/gous e(/lkôn, ou)k a)/xia pollê=s
spoudê=s e)spou/daken, ô(s oi( nu=n lo/goi phasi/n.]--Also p. 259
D. [Greek: To\ de\ tau)to\n e(/teron a)pophai/nein a(mê=| ge/ pê|,
kai\ to\ tha/teron tau)to/n, kai\ to\ me/ga smikro/n, kai\ to\
o(/moion a)no/moion, kai\ chai/rein ou(/tô ta)nanti/a a)ei\
prophe/ronta e)n toi=s lo/gois, ou)/ te/ tis e)/legchos ou(=tos
a)lêthino/s, a)/rti te tô=n o)/ntôn tino\s e)phaptome/nou dê=los
neogenê\s ô)/n.]]

[Footnote 51: Proklus, ad Platon. Parmen. p. 953, ed. Stallb.;
compare p. 976 in the last book of the commentary, probably
composed by Damaskius. K. F. Hermann, Geschichte und System der
Platon. Philos. p. 507.]

[Footnote 52: This commentary is annexed to Stallbaum's edition of
the Parmenides. Compare also the opinion of Marinus (disciple and
biographer of Proklus) about the Parmenidês--Suidas v. [Greek:
Mari=nos]. Jamblichus declared that Plato's entire theory of
philosophy was embodied in the two dialogues, Parmenides and
Timæus: in the Parmenides, all the intelligible or universal Entia
were deduced from [Greek: to\ e(/n]: in the Timæus, all cosmical
realities were deduced from the Demiurgus. Proklus ad Timæeum, p.
5 A, p. 10 Schneider.

Alkinous, in his Introduction to the Platonic Dialogues (c. 6, p.
159, in the Appendix Platonica attached to K. F. Hermann's edition
of Plato) quotes several examples of syllogistic reasoning from
the Parmenides, and affirms that the ten categories of Aristotle
are exhibited therein.

Plotinus (Ennead. v. 1, 8) gives a brief summary of what he
understood to be contained in the Antinomies of the Platonic
Parmenides; but the interpretation departs widely from the

I transcribe a few sentences from the argument of Ficinus, to show
what different meanings may be discovered in the same words by
different critics. (Ficini Argum. in Plat. Parmen. p. 756.) "Cum
Plato per omnes ejus dialogos totius sapientiæ semina sparserit,
in libris De Republicâ cuncta moralis philosophiæ instituta
collegit, omnem naturalium rerum scientiam in Timæo, universam in
Parmenide complexus est Theologiam. Cumque in aliis longo
intervallo cæteros philosophos antecesserit, in hoc tandem seipsum
superasse videtur. Hic enim divus Plato de ipso Uno subtilissimé
disputat: quemadmodum Ipsum Unum rerum omnium principium est,
super omnia, omniaque ab illo: quo pacto ipsum extra omnia sit et
in omnibus: omniaque ex illo, per illud, atque ad illud. Ad hujus,
quod super essentiam est, Unius intelligentiam gradatim ascendit.
In iis quæ fluunt et sensibus subjiciuntur et sensibilia
nominantur: In iis etiam quas semper eadem sunt et sensibilia
nuncupantur, non sensibus amplius sed solâ mente percipienda: Nec
in iis tantum, verum etiam supra sensum et sensibilia,
intellectumque et intelligibilia:--ipsum Unum existit.--Illud
insuper advertendum est, quod in hoc dialogo cum dicitur _Unum_,
Pythagoreorum more quæque substantia a materiâ penitus absoluta
significari potest: ut Deus, Mens, Anima. Cum vero dicitur Aliud
et Alia, tam materia, quam illa quæ in materiâ fiunt, intelligere

The Prolegomena, prefixed by Thomson to his edition of the
Parmenides, interpret the dialogue in the same general way as
Proklus and Ficinus: they suppose that by Unum is understood
Summus Deus, and they discover in the concluding Antinomies
theological demonstrations of the unity, simplicity, and other
attributes of God. Thomson observes, very justly, that the
Parmenides is one of the most difficult dialogues in Plato
(Prolegom. iv.-x.) But in my judgment, his mode of exposition, far
from smoothing the difficulties, adds new ones greater than those
in the text.]

The various explanations of it given by more recent commentators
may be seen enumerated in the learned Prolegomena of
Stallbaum,[53] who has also set forth his own views at
considerable length. And the prodigious opposition between the
views of Proklus (followed by Ficinus in the fifteenth century),
who extols the Parmenides as including in mystic phraseology
sublime religious truths--and those of the modern Tiedemann, who
despises them as foolish subtleties and cannot read them with
patience--is quite sufficient to inspire a reasonable Platonic
critic with genuine diffidence.

[Footnote 53: Stallbaum, Prolegg. in Parmen. ii. 1, pp. 244-265.
Compare K. F. Hermann, Gesch. und Syst. der Platon. Phil. pp.

To the works which he has there enumerated, may be added the
Dissertation by Dr. Kuno Fischer, Stuttgart, 1851, De Parmenide
Platonico, and that of Zeller, Platonische Studien, p. 169 seqq.

Kuno Fischer (pp. 102-103) after Hegel (Gesch. der Griech. Phil.
I. p. 202), and some of the followers of Hegel, extol the
Parmenides as a masterpiece of dialectics, though they complain
that "der philosophirende Pöbel" misunderstand it, and treat it as
obscure. Werder, Logik, pp. 92-176, Berlin, 1841. Carl Beck,
Platon's Philosophie im Abriss ihrer genetischen Entwickelung, p.
75, Reutlingen, 1852. Marbach, Gesch. der Griech. Phil. sect. 96,
pp. 210-211.]

[Side-note: No dogmatical solution or purpose is wrapped up in the
dialogue. The purpose is negative, to make a theorist keenly feel
all the difficulties of theorising.]

In so far as these different expositions profess, each in its own
way, to detect a positive dogmatical result or purpose in the
Parmenides,[54] none of them carry conviction to my mind, any more
than the mystical interpretations which we read in Proklus. If
Plato had any such purpose, he makes no intimation of it, directly
or indirectly. On the contrary, he announces another purpose not
only different, but contrary. The veteran Parmenides, while
praising the ardour of speculative research displayed by Sokrates,
at the same time reproves gently, but distinctly, the confident
forwardness of two such immature youths as Sokrates and Aristotle
in laying down positive doctrines without the preliminary exercise
indispensable for testing them.[55] Parmenides appears from the
beginning to the end of the dialogue as a propounder of doubts and
objections, not as a doctrinal teacher. He seeks to restrain the
haste of Sokrates--to make him ashamed of premature affirmation
and the false persuasion of knowledge--to force upon him a keen
sense of real difficulties which have escaped his notice. To this
end, a specimen is given of the exercise required. It is certainly
well calculated to produce the effect intended--of hampering,
perplexing, and putting to shame, the affirmative rashness of a
novice in philosophy. It exhibits a tangled skein of ingenious
contradiction which the novice must somehow bring into order,
before he is in condition to proclaim any positive dogma. If it
answers this purpose, it does all that Parmenides promises.
Sokrates is warned against attaching himself exclusively to one
side of an hypothesis, and neglecting the opposite: against
surrendering himself to some pre-conception, traditional, or
self-originated, and familiarising his mind with its consequences,
while no pains are taken to study the consequences of the negative
side, and bring them into comparison. It is this one-sided mental
activity, and premature finality of assertion, which Parmenides
seeks to correct. Whether the corrective exercises which he
prescribes are the best for the purpose, may be contested: but
assuredly the malady which he seeks to correct is deeply rooted in
our human nature, and is combated by Sokrates himself, though by
other means, in several of the Platonic dialogues. It is a rare
mental endowment to study both sides of a question, and suspend
decision until the consequences of each are fully known.

[Footnote 54: I agree with Schleiermacher, in considering that the
purpose of the Parmenides is nothing beyond [Greek: gumnasi/a], or
exercise in the method and perplexities of philosophising (Einl.
p. 83): but I do not agree with him, when he says (pp. 90-105)
that the objections urged by Parmenides (in the middle of the
dialogue) against the separate substantiality of Forms or Ideas,
though noway answered in the dialogue itself, are sufficiently
answered in other dialogues (which he considers later in time),
especially in the Sophistes (though, according to Brandis, Handb.
Gr.-Röm. Phil. p. 241, the Sophistes is earlier than the
Parmenides). Zeller, on the other hand, denies that these
objections are at all answered in the Sophistes; but he maintains
that the second part of the Parmenides itself clears up the
difficulties propounded in the first part. After an elaborate
analysis (in the Platon. Studien, pp. 168-178) of the Antinomies
or contradictory Demonstrations in the concluding part of the
dialogue, Zeller affirms the purpose of them to be "die richtige
Ansicht von den Ideen als der Einheit in dem Mannichfaltigen der
Erscheinung dialektisch zu begründen, die Ideenlehre möglichen
Einwürfen und Missverständnissen gegenüber dialektisch zu
begründen" (pp. 180-182). This solution has found favour with some
subsequent commentators. See Susemihl, Die genetische Entwickelung
der Platon. Philosophie, pp. 341-353; Heinrich Stein,
Vorgeschichte und System des Platonismus, pp. 217-220.

To me it appears (what Zeller himself remarks in p. 188, upon the
discovery of Schleiermacher that the objections started in the
Parmenides are answered in the Sophistes) that it requires all the
acuteness of so able a writer as Zeller to detect any such result
as that which he here extracts from the Parmenidean Antinomies--from
what Aristeides calls (Or. xlvii. p. 430) "the One and Many,
the multiplied twists and doublings, of this divine dialogue". I
confess that I am unable to perceive therein what Zeller has
either found or elicited. Objections and misunderstandings
(Einwürfe und Missverständnisse), far from being obviated or
corrected, are accumulated from the beginning to the end of these
Antinomies, and are summed up in a formidable total by the final
sentence of the dialogue. Moreover, none of these objections which
Parmenides had advanced in the earlier part of the dialogue are at
all noticed, much less answered, in the concluding Antinomies.

The general view taken by Zeller of the Platonic Parmenides, is
repeated by him in his Phil. der Griech. vol. ii. pp. 394-415-429,
ed. 2nd. In the first place, I do not think that he sets forth
exactly (see p. 415) the reasoning as we read it in Plato; but
even if that were exactly set forth, still what we read in Plato
is nothing but an assemblage of difficulties and contradictions.
These are indeed suggestive, and such as a profound critic may
meditate with care, until he finds himself put upon a train of
thought conducting him to conclusions sound and tenable in his
judgment. But the explanations, sufficient or not, belong after
all not to Plato but to the critic himself. Other critics may
attach, and have attached, totally different explanations to the
same difficulties. I see no adequate evidence to bring home any
one of them to Plato; or to prove (what is the main point to be
determined) that any one of them was present to his mind when he
composed the dialogue.

Schwegler also gives an account of what he affirms to be the
purpose and meaning of the Parmenides--"The positive meaning of
the antinomies contained in it can only be obtained by inferences
which Plato does not himself expressly enunciate, but leaves to
the reader to draw" (Geschichte der Philosophie im Umriss, sect.
14, 4 c. pp. 52-53, ed. 5).

A learned man like Schwegler, who both knows the views of other
philosophers, and has himself reflected on philosophy, may perhaps
find affirmative meaning in the Parmenides; just as Sokrates, in
the Platonic Protagoras, finds his own ethical doctrine in the
song of the poet Simonides. But I venture to say that no
contemporary reader of Plato could have found such a meaning in
the Parmenides; and that if Plato intended to communicate such a
meaning, the whole structure of the dialogue would be only an
elaborate puzzle calculated to prevent nearly all readers from
reaching it.

By assigning the leadership of the dialogue to Parmenides
(Schwegler says) Plato intends to signify that the Platonic
doctrine of Ideas is coincident with the doctrine of Parmenides,
and is only a farther development thereof. How can this be
signified, when the discourse assigned to Parmenides consists of a
string of objections against the doctrine of Ideas, concluding
with an intimation that there are other objections, yet stronger,
remaining behind?

The fundamental thought of the Parmenides (says Schwegler) is,
that the One is not conceivable in complete abstraction from the
Many, nor the Many in complete abstraction from the One,--that
each reciprocally supposes and serves as condition to the other.
Not so: for if we follow the argumentation of Parmenides (p. 131
E), we shall see that what he principally insists upon, is the
entire impossibility of any connection or participation between
the One and the Many--there is an impassable gulf between them.

Is the discussion of [Greek: to\ e(\n] (in the closing Antinomies)
intended as an example of dialectic investigation--or is it _per
se_ the special object of the dialogue? This last is clearly the
truth (says Schwegler). "otherwise the dialogue would end without
result, and its two portions would be without any internal
connection". Not so; for if we read the dialogue, we find
Parmenides clearly proclaiming and singling out [Greek: to\ e(\n]
as only one among a great many different notions, each of which
must be made the subject of a bilateral hypothesis, to be followed
out into its consequences on both sides (p. 136 A). Moreover, I
think that the "internal connection" between the first and the
last half of the dialogue, consists in the application of this
dialectic method, and in nothing else. If the dialogue ends
without result, this is true of many other Platonic dialogues. The
student is brought face to face with logical difficulties, and has
to find out the solution for himself; or perhaps to find out that
no solution can be obtained.]

[Footnote 55: Plato, Parmenid. p. 135 C.]

[Side-note: This negative purpose is expressly announced by Plato
himself. All dogmatical purpose, extending farther, is purely
hypothetical, and even inconsistent with what is declared.]

Such, in my judgment, is the drift of the contradictory
demonstrations here put into the mouth of Parmenides respecting
Unum and Cætera. Thus far at least, we are perfectly safe: for we
are conforming strictly to the language of Plato himself in the
dialogue: we have no proof that he meant anything more. Those who
presume that he must have had some ulterior dogmatical purpose,
place themselves upon hypothetical ground: but when they go
farther and attempt to set forth what this purpose was, they show
their ingenuity only by bringing out what they themselves have
dropped in. The number of discordant hypotheses attests[56] the
difficulty of the problem. I agree with those early Platonic
commentators (mentioned and opposed by Proklus) who could see no
other purpose in these demonstrations than that of dialectical
exercise. In this view Schleiermacher, Ast, Strümpell, and others
mainly concur: the two former however annexing to it a farther
hypothesis--which I think improbable--that the dialogue has come
to us incomplete; having once contained at the end (or having been
originally destined to contain, though the intention may never
have been realised) an appendix elucidating the perplexities of
the demonstrations.[57] This would have been inconsistent with the
purpose declared by Parmenides: who, far from desiring to
facilitate the onward march of Sokrates by clearing up
difficulties, admonishes him that he is advancing too rapidly, and
seeks to keep him back by giving him a heap of manifest
contradictions to disentangle. Plato conceives the training for
philosophy or for the highest exercise of intellectual force, to
be not less laborious than that which was required for the bodily
perfections of an Olympic athlete. The student must not be helped
out of difficulties at once: he must work his own way slowly out
of them.

[Footnote 56: Proklus ad Platon. Parmen. I. pp. 482-485, ed.
Stallb.; compare pp. 497-498-788-791, where Proklus is himself
copious upon the subject of exercise in dialectic method.

Stallbaum, after reciting many different hypothetical
interpretations from those interpreters who had preceded him, says
(Prolegg. p. 265), "En lustravimus tandem varias interpretum de
hoc libro opiniones. Quid igitur? verusne fui, quum suprà dicerem,
tantam fuisse hominum eruditorum in eo explicando fluctuationem
atque dissensionem, ut quamvis plurimi de eo disputaverint, tamen
ferè alius aliter judicaverit? Nimirum his omnibus cognitis,
facilè alicui in mentem veniat Terentianum illud--_Fecisti propé,
multo sim quam dudum incertior_."

Brandis (Handbuch Gr.-Röm. Phil. s. 105, pp. 257-258) cannot bring
himself to believe that dialectical exercise was the only purpose
with which Plato composed the Parmenides. He then proceeds to
state what Plato's ulterior purpose was, but in such very vague
language, that I hardly understand what he means, much less can I
find it in the Antinomies themselves. He has some clearer
language, p. 241, where he treats these Antinomies as preparatory
[Greek: a)pori/ai].]

[Footnote 57: Ast, Platon's Leben und Schriften, pp. 239-244;
Schleiermacher, Einleit. zum Parmen. pp. 94-99; Strümpell,
Geschichte der Theoretischen Philosophie der Griechen, sect. 96,
pp. 128-129.

I do not agree with Socher's conclusion, that the Parmenides is
not a Platonic composition. But I think he is quite right in
saying that the dialogue as it now stands performs all that
Parmenides promises, and leaves no ground for contending that it
is an unfinished fragment (Socher, Ueber Platon's Schriften, p.
286), so far as philosophical speculation is concerned. The
dialogue as a dramatic or literary composition undoubtedly lacks a
proper close; it is [Greek: a)/pous] or [Greek: kolobo\s]
(Aristot. Rhetor. iii. 8), sinning against the strict exigence
which Plato in the Phædrus applies to the discourse of Lysias.]

[Side-note: The Demonstrations or Antinomies considered. They
include much unwarranted assumption and subtlety. Collection of
unexplained perplexities or [Greek: a)pori/ai].]

That the demonstrations include assumption both unwarranted and
contradictory, mingled with sophistical subtlety (in the modern
sense of the words), is admitted by most of the commentators: and
I think that the real amount of it is greater than they admit. How
far Plato was himself aware of this, I will not undertake to say.
Perhaps he was not. The reasonings which have passed for sublime
and profound in the estimation of so many readers, may well have
appeared the same to their author. I have already remarked that
Plato's ratiocinative force is much greater on the negative side
than on the positive: more ingenious in suggesting logical
difficulties than sagacious in solving them. Impressed, as
Sokrates had been before him, with the duty of combating the false
persuasion of knowledge, or premature and untested belief,--he
undertook to set forth the pleadings of negation in the most
forcible manner. Many of his dialogues manifest this tendency, but
the Parmenides more than any other. That dialogue is a collection
of unexplained [Greek: a)pori/ai] (such as those enumerated in the
second book of Aristotle's Metaphysica) brought against a doctrine
which yet Plato declares to be the indispensable condition of all
reasoning. It concludes with a string of demonstrations by which
contradictory conclusions (Both and Neither) are successively
proved, and which appear like a _reductio ad absurdum_ of all
demonstration. But at the time when Plato composed the dialogue, I
think it not improbable that these difficulties and contradictions
appeared even to himself unanswerable: in other words, that he did
not himself see any answers and explanations of them. He had tied
a knot so complicated, that he could not himself untie it. I speak
of the state of Plato's mind when he wrote the Parmenides. At the
dates of other dialogues (whether earlier or later), he wrote
under different points of view; but no key to the Parmenides does
he ever furnish.

[Side-note: Even if Plato himself saw through these subtleties, he
might still choose to impose and to heap up difficulties in the
way of a forward affirmative aspirant.]

If however we suppose that Plato must have had the key present to
his own mind, he might still think it right to employ, in such a
dialogue, reasonings recognised by himself as defective. It is the
task imposed upon Sokrates to find out and expose these defective
links. There is no better way of illustrating how universal is the
malady of human intelligence--unexamined belief and over-confident
affirmation--as it stands proclaimed to be in the Platonic
Apology. Sokrates is exhibited in the Parmenides as placed under
the screw of the Elenchus, and no more able than others to
extricate himself from it, when it is applied by Parmenides:
though he bears up successfully against Zeno, and attracts to
himself respectful compliments, even from the aged dialectician
who tests him. After the Elenchus applied to himself, Sokrates
receives a farther lesson from the "Neither and Both"
demonstrations addressed by Parmenides to the still younger
Aristotle. Sokrates will thus be driven, with his indefatigable
ardour for speculative research, to work at the problem--to devote
to it those seasons of concentrated meditation, which sometimes
exhibited him fixed for hours in the same place and almost in the
same attitude[58]--until he can extricate himself from such
difficulties and contradictions. But that he shall not extricate
himself without arduous mental effort, is the express intention of
Parmenides: just as the Xenophontic Sokrates proceeds with the
youthful Euthydemus and the Platonic Sokrates with Lysis,
Theætetus, and others. Plausible subtlety was not unsuitable for
such a lesson.[59] Moreover, in the Parmenides, Plato proclaims
explicitly that the essential condition of the lesson is to be
strictly private: that a process so roundabout and tortuous cannot
be appreciated by ordinary persons, and would be unseemly before
an audience.[60] He selects as respondent the youngest person in
the company, one still younger than Sokrates: because (he says)
such a person will reply with artless simplicity, to each question
as the question may strike him--not carrying his mind forward to
the ulterior questions for which his reply may furnish the
handle--not afraid of being entangled in puzzling inconsistencies--not
solicitous to baffle the purpose of the interrogator.[61] All this
betokens the plan of the dialogue--to bring to light all those
difficulties which do not present themselves except to a
keen-sighted enquirer.

[Footnote 58: Plato, Symposion, p. 220 C-D: compare pp. 174-175.

In the dialogue Parmenides (p. 130 E), Parmenides himself is
introduced as predicting that the youthful Sokrates will become
more and more absorbed in philosophy as he advances in years.

Proklus observes in his commentary on the dialogue--[Greek: o(
ga\r Sôkra/tês a)/gatai ta\s a)pori/as], &c. (L. v. p. 252).]

[Footnote 59: Xenoph. Memor. iv. 2, ad fin.]

[Footnote 60: Plato, Parmenid. pp. 136 C, 137 A. Hobbes remarks
(Computatio sive Logica, Part I, ch. iii. s. 12), "Learners ought
to go through logical exercises silently and by themselves: for it
will be thought both ridiculous and absurd, for a man to use such
language publicly".

Proklus tells us, that the difficulty of the [Greek: gumnasi/a]
here enjoined by the Platonic Parmenides is so prodigious, that no
one after Plato employed it (Prokl. ad Parmenid. p. 306, p. 801,

[Greek: ei) me\n ou)=n plei/ous ê)=men, ou)k a)\n a)/xion ê)=n
dei=sthai. a)prepê= ga\r ta\ toiau=ta pollô=n e)nanti/on le/gein,
a)/llôs te kai\ têlikou/tô|; a)gnoou=si ga\r oi( polloi\ o(/ti
a)neu tau/tês tê=s dia\ pa/ntôn diexo/dou kai\ pla/nês a)du/naton
e)ntucho/nta tô=| a)lêthei= nou=n schei=n.]]

[Footnote 61: Plato, Parmenides, p. 137 B; compare Sophistes, p.
217 D.

To understand the force of this remark of Parmenides, we should
contrast it with the precepts given by Aristotle in the Topica for
dialectic debate: precepts teaching the questioner how to puzzle,
and the respondent how to avoid being puzzled. Such precautions
are advised to the respondent by Aristotle, not merely in the
Topica but also in the Analytica--[Greek: chrê\ d' o(/per
phula/ttesthai paragge/llomen a)pokrinome/nous, au)tou\s
e)picheirou=ntas peira=sthai lantha/nein] (Anal. Priora, ii. p.
66, a. 33).]

[Side-note: The exercises exhibited by Parmenides are exhibited
only as illustrative specimens of a method enjoined to be applied
to many other Antinomies.]

We must remark farther, that the two hypotheses here handled at
length by Parmenides are presented by him only as examples of a
dialectical process which he enjoins the lover of truth to apply
equally to many other hypotheses.[62] As he shows that in the case
of Unum, each of the two assumptions (Unum est--Unum non est) can
be traced through different threads of deductive reasoning so as
to bring out double and contradictory results--Both and Neither:
so also in the case of those other assumptions which remain to be
tested afterwards in like manner, antinomies of the same character
may be expected: antinomies apparent at least, if not real--which
must be formally propounded and dealt with, before we can trust
ourselves as having attained reasoned truth. Hence we see that,
negative and puzzling as the dialogue called Parmenides is, even
now--it would be far more puzzling if all that it prescribes in
general terms had been executed in detail. While it holds out, in
the face of an aspirant in philosophy, the necessity of giving
equal presumptive value to the affirmative and negative sides of
each hypothesis, and deducing with equal care, the consequences of
both--it warns him at the same time of the contradictions in which
he will thereby become involved. These contradictions are
presented in the most glaring manner: but we must recollect a
striking passage in the Republic, where Plato declares that to
confront the aspirant with manifest contradictions, is the best
way of provoking him to intellectual effort in the higher regions
of speculation.[63]

[Footnote 62: Plato, Parmenid. p. 136 B.]

[Footnote 63: Plato, Repub. vii. p. 524 E, and indeed the whole
passage, pp. 523-524.]

[Side-note: These Platonic Antinomies are more formidable than any
of the sophisms or subtleties broached by the Megaric

I have already had occasion, when I touched upon the other _viri
Socratici_, contemporaneous with or subsequent to Plato, to give
some account of the Zenonian and Megaric dialecticians, and of
their sophisms or logical puzzles, which attracted so much
attention from speculative men, in the fourth and third centuries
B.C. These Megarics, like the Sophists, generally receive very
harsh epithets from the historian of philosophy. They took the
negative side, impugned affirmative dogmas, insisted on doubts and
difficulties, and started problems troublesome to solve. I have
tried to show, that such disputants, far from deserving all the
censure which has been poured upon them, presented one
indispensable condition to the formation of any tolerable logical
theory.[64] Their sophisms were challenges to the logician,
indicating various forms of error and confusion, against which a
theory of reasoning, in order to be sufficient, was required to
guard. And the demonstrations given by Plato in the latter half of
the Parmenides are challenges of the same kind: only more
ingenious, elaborate, and effective, than any of those (so far as
we know them) proposed by the Megarics--by Zeno, or Eukleides, or
Diodorus Kronus. The Platonic Parmenides here shows, that in
regard to a particular question, those who believe the
affirmative, those who believe the negative, and those who believe
neither--can all furnish good reasons for their respective
conclusions. In each case he gives the proof confidently as being
good: and whether unimpeachable or not, it is certainly very
ingenious and subtle. Such demonstrations are in the spirit of
Sextus Empiricus, who rests his theory of scepticism upon the
general fact, that there are opposite and contradictory
conclusions, both of them supported by evidence equally good: the
affirmative no more worthy of belief than the negative.[65] Zeno
(or, as Plato calls him, the Eleatic Palamêdes[66]) did not
profess any systematic theory of scepticism; but he could prove by
ingenious and varied dialectic, both the thesis and the antithesis
on several points of philosophy, by reasons which few, if any,
among his hearers could answer. In like manner the Platonic
Parmenides enunciates his contradictory demonstrations as real
logical problems, which must exercise the sagacity and hold back
the forward impulse of an eager philosophical aspirant. Even if
this dilemma respecting Unum Est and Unum non Est, be solved,
Parmenides intimates that he has others in reserve: so that either
no tenable positive result will ever be attained--or at least it
will not be attained until after such an amount of sagacity and
patient exercise as Sokrates himself declares to be hardly
practicable.[67] Herein we may see the germ and premisses of that
theory which was afterwards formally proclaimed by Ænesidemus and
the professed Sceptics: the same holding back ([Greek: e)pochê\]),
and protest against precipitation in dogmatising,[68] which these
latter converted into a formula and vindicated as a system.

[Footnote 64: Among the commentators on the Categories of
Aristotle, there were several whose principal object it was to
propound all the most grave and troublesome difficulties which
they could think of. Simplikius does not commend the style of
these men, but he expresses his gratitude to them for the pains
which they had taken in the exposition of the negative case, and
for the stimulus and opportunity which they had thus administered
to the work of affirmative exposition (Simplikius, Schol. ad
Categ. Aristot. p. 40, a. 22-30; Schol. Brandis). David the
Armenian, in his Scholia on the Categories (p. 27, b. 41,
Brandis), defends the Topica of Aristotle as having been composed
[Greek: gumnasi/as cha/rin, i(/na thlibome/nê ê( psuchê\ e)k tô=n
e)ph' e(ka/tera e)picheirêma/tôn a)pogennê/sê| to\ tê=s
a)lêthei/as phô=s.]]

[Footnote 65: Sext. Emp. Pyrrh. Hypot. i. 8-12. [Greek: E)/sti de\
ê( skeptikê\ du/namis a)ntithetikê\ phainome/nôn te kai\
nooume/nôn kath' oi(ondê/pote tro/pon, a)ph' ê(=s e)rcho/metha,
dia\ tê\n e)n toi=s a)ntikeime/nois pra/gmasi kai\ lo/gois
i)sosthe/neian, to\ me\n prô=ton ei)s e)pochê\n to\ de\ meta\
tou=to ei)s a)taraxi/an . . . _i)sosthe/neian_ de\ le/gomen tê\n
kata\ pi/stin kai\ a)pisti/an i)so/têta, ô(s mêde/na mêdeno\s
prokei=sthai tô=n machome/nôn lo/gôn ô(s pisto/teron . . .
susta/seôs de\ tê=s skeptikê=s e)stin a)rchê\ ma/lista _to\ panti\
lo/gô| lo/gon i)/son a)ntikei=sthai_.]]

[Footnote 66: Plato, Phædrus, p. 261 D.]

[Footnote 67: Plato, Parmenid. p. 136 C-D.]

[Footnote 68: Sext. Emp. Pyrrh. Hyp. i. 20-212. [Greek: tê\n tô=n
dogmatikô=n prope/teian--tê\n dogmatikê\n prope/teian.]]

[Side-note: In order to understand fully the Platonic Antinomies,
we ought to have before us the problems of the Megarics and
others. Uselessness of searching for a positive result.]

Schleiermacher has justly observed,[69] that in order to
understand properly the dialectic manoeuvres of the Parmenides,
we ought to have had before us the works of that philosopher
himself, of Zeno, Melissus, Gorgias, and other sceptical reasoners
of the age immediately preceding--which have unfortunately
perished. Some reference to these must probably have been present
to Plato in the composition of this dialogue.[70] At the same
time, if we accept the dialogue as being (what it declares itself
to be) a string of objections and dialectical problems, we shall
take care not to look for any other sort of merit than what such a
composition requires and admits. If the objections are forcible,
the problems ingenious and perplexing, the purpose of the author
is satisfied. To search in the dialogue for some positive result,
not indeed directly enunciated but discoverable by groping and
diving--would be to expect a species of fruit inconsistent with
the nature of the tree. [Greek: Zêtô=n eu(rê/seis ou) r(o/don
a)lla\ ba/ton.]

[Footnote 69: Schleiermacher, Einleitung zum Parmen. pp. 97-99.]

[Footnote 70: Indeed, the second demonstration, among the nine
given by Parmenides (pp. 143 A, 155 C), coincides to a great
degree with the conclusion which Zeno is represented as having
maintained in his published dissertation (p. 127 E); and shows
that the difficulties and contradictions belong to the world of
invisible Ideas, as well as to that of sensible particulars, which
Sokrates had called in question (p. 129 C-E).

The Aristotelian treatise (whether by Aristotle, Theophrastus, or
any other author) De Zenone, Melisso, Xenophane, et
Gorgiâ--affords some curious comparisons with the Parmenides of Plato.
Aristotel. p. 974 seq. Bekk.; also Fragmenta Philosophorum
Græcorum, ed. Didot, pp. 278-309.]

[Side-note: Assumptions of Parmenides in his Demonstrations convey
the minimum of determinate meaning. Views of Aristotle upon these
indeterminate predicates, Ens, Unum, &c.]

It may indeed be useful for the critic to perform for himself the
process which Parmenides intended Sokrates to perform; and to
analyse these subtleties with a view to measure their bearing upon
the work of dogmatic theorising. We see double and contradictory
conclusions elicited, in four separate Antinomies, from the same
hypothesis, by distinct chains of interrogatory deduction; each
question being sufficiently plausible to obtain the acquiescence
of the respondent. The two assumptions successively laid down by
Parmenides as _principia_ for deduction--_Si Unum est_--_Si Unum
non est_--convey the very minimum of determinate meaning. Indeed
both words are essentially indeterminate. Both Unum and Ens are
declared by Aristotle to be not univocal or generic words,[71]
though at the same time not absolutely equivocal: but words
bearing several distinct transitional meanings, derived either
from each other, or from some common root, by an analogy more or
less remote. Aristotle characterises in like manner all the most
indeterminate predicates, which are not included in any one
distinct category among the ten, but are made available to
predication sometimes in one category, sometimes in another: such
as Ens, Unum, Idem, Diversum, Contrarium, &c. Now in the Platonic
Parmenides, the two first among these words are taken to form the
proposition assumed as fundamental datum, and the remaining three
are much employed in the demonstration: yet Plato neither notices
nor discriminates their multifarious and fluctuating
significations. Such contrast will be understood when we recollect
that the purpose of the Platonic Parmenides is, to propound
difficulties; while that of Aristotle is, not merely to propound,
but also to assist in clearing them up.

[Footnote 71: Aristot. Metaphys. iv. 1015-1017, ix. 1052, a. 15;
Anal. Poster. ii. p. 92, b. 14. [Greek: to\ d' ei)=nai ou)k
ou)si/a ou)deni/. ou) ga\r ge/nos to\ o)/n.]--Topica, iv. p. 127,
a. 28. [Greek: plei/ô ga\r ta\ pa=sin e(po/mena; oi(=on to\ o)\n
kai\ to\ e(\n tô=n pa=sin e(pome/nôn e)/stin], Physica, i. p.
185, b. 6.

Simplikius noted it as one among the differences between Plato and
Aristotle--That Plato admitted Unum as having only one meaning,
not being aware of the diversity of meanings which it bore; while
Aristotle expressly pointed it out as a [Greek: pollakô=s
lego/menon] (Schol. ad Aristot. Sophist. Elench. p. 320, b. 3,
Brandis). Aristotle farther remarks that Plato considered [Greek:
to\ ge/nos] as [Greek: e(\n a)rithmô=|], and that this was an
error; we ought rather to say that Plato did not clearly
discriminate [Greek: e(\n a)rithmô=|] from [Greek: e(\n ei)/dei]
(Aristot. Topic. vi. 143, b. 30).

Simplikius farther remarks, that it was Aristotle who first
rendered to Logic the important service of bringing out clearly
and emphatically the idea of [Greek: to\ o(mô/numon]--the same
word with several meanings either totally distinct and disparate,
or ramifying in different directions from the same root, so that
there came to be little or no affinity between many of them. It
was Aristotle who first classified and named these distinctions
([Greek: sunô/numon--o(mô/numon], and the intermediate [Greek:
kat' a)nalogi/an]), though they had been partially noticed by
Plato and even by Sokrates. [Greek: e(/ôs A)ristote/lous ou)
pa/mpan e)/kdêlon ê)=n to\ o(mô/numon; a)lla\ Pla/tôn te ê)/rxato
peri\ tou/tou ê)\ ma=llon e)kei/nou Sôkra/tês], Schol. ad Aristot.
Physic. p. 323, b. 24, Brandis.]

[Side-note: In the Platonic Demonstrations the same proposition in
words is made to bear very different meanings.]

Certainly, in Demonstrations 1 and 2 (as well as 4 and 5), the
foundation assumed is in words the same proposition--_Si Unum
est_: but we shall find this same proposition used in two very
different senses. In the first Demonstration, the proposition is
equivalent to _Si Unum est Unum_:[72] in the second, to _Si Unum
est Ens_, or _Si Unum existit_. In the first the proposition is
identical and the verb _est_ serves only as copula: in the second,
the verb _est_ is not merely a copula but implies Ens as a
predicate, and affirms existence. We might have imagined that the
identical proposition--_Unum est Unum_--since it really affirms
nothing--would have been barren of all consequences: and so indeed
it is barren of all affirmative consequences. But Plato obtains
for it one first step in the way of negative predicates--_Si Unum
est Unum, Unum non est Multa_: and from hence he proceeds, by a
series of gentle transitions ingeniously managed, to many other
negative predications respecting the subject _Unum_. Since it is
not Multa, it can have no parts, nor can it be a whole: it has
neither beginning, middle, nor end: it has no boundary, or it is
boundless: it has no figure, it is neither straight nor circular:
it has therefore no place, being neither in itself, nor in
anything else: it is neither in motion nor at rest: it is neither
the same with anything else, nor the same with itself:[73] it is
neither different from any thing else, nor different from itself:
it is neither like, nor unlike, to itself, nor to anything else:
it is neither equal, nor unequal, to itself nor to any thing else:
it is neither older nor younger, nor of equal age, either with
itself or with anything else: it exists therefore not in time, nor
has it any participation with time: it neither has been nor will
be, nor is: it does not exist in any way: it does not even exist
so as to be Unum: you can neither name it, nor reason upon it, nor
know it, nor perceive it, nor opine about it.

[Footnote 72: Plato, Parmenid. pp. 137 C, 142 B.]

[Footnote 73: This part of the argument is the extreme of
dialectic subtlety, p. 139 C-D-E.]

[Side-note: First demonstration ends in an assemblage of negative
conclusions. _Reductio ad Absurdum_, of the assumption--Unum non

All these are impossibilities (concludes Plato). We must therefore
go back upon the fundamental principle from which we took our
departure, in order to see whether we shall not obtain, on a
second trial, any different result.[74]

[Footnote 74: Plato, Parmenid. p. 142 A.]

Here then is a piece of dialectic, put together with ingenuity,
showing that everything can be denied, and that nothing can be
affirmed of the subject--Unum. All this follows, if you concede
the first step, that Unum is not Multa. If Unum be said to have
any other attribute except that of being Unum, it would become at
once Multa. It cannot even be declared to be either the same with
itself, or different from any thing else; because Idem and
Diversum are distinct natures from Unum, and if added to it would
convert it into Multa.[75] Nay it cannot even be affirmed to be
itself: it cannot be named or enunciated: if all predicates are
denied, the subject is denied along with them: the subject is
nothing but the sum total of its predicates--and when they are all
withdrawn, no subject remains. As far as I can understand the
bearing of this self-contradictory demonstration, it appears a
_reductio ad absurdum_ of the proposition--_Unum is not Multa_.
Now _Unum which is not Multa_ designates the [Greek: Au)to\-E(\n]
or Unum Ideale; which Plato himself affirmed, and which Aristotle
impugned.[76] If this be what is meant, the dialogue Parmenides
would present here, as in other places, a statement of
difficulties understood by Plato as attaching to his own

[Footnote 75: This is the main point of Demonstration 1, and is
stated pp. 139 D, 140 A, compared with p. 137 C.]

[Footnote 76: Aristot. Metaph. A. 987, b. 20; A. 992, a. 8; B.
1001, a. 27; I. 1053, b. 18. Some ancient expositors thought that
the purpose of Plato in the Parmenides was to demonstrate this
[Greek: Au)to\-E(\n]; see Schol. ad Aristot. Metaph. p. 786, a.
10, Brandis.

It is not easy to find any common bearing between the
demonstrations given in this dialogue respecting [Greek: E(\n] and
[Greek: Polla\]--and the observations which Plato makes in the
Philêbus upon [Greek: E(\n] and [Greek: Polla/]. Would he mean to
include the demonstrations which we read in the Parmenides, in the
category of what he calls in Philêbus "childish, easy, and
irrational debates on that vexed question?" (Plato, Philêbus, p.
14 D). Hardly: for they are at any rate most elaborate as well as
ingenious and suggestive. Yet neither do they suit the description
which he gives in Philêbus of the genuine, serious, and difficult
debates on the same question.]

[Side-note: Second Demonstration.]

Parmenides now proceeds to his second demonstration: professing to
take up again the same hypothesis--_Si Unum est_--from which he
had started in the first[77]--but in reality taking up a different
hypothesis under the same words. In the first hypothesis, _Si Unum
est_, was equivalent to, _Si Unum est Unum_: nothing besides
_Unum_ being taken into the reasoning, and _est_ serving merely as
copula. In the second, _Si Unum est_, is equivalent to, _Si Unum
est Ens_, or exists: so that instead of the isolated _Unum_, we
have now _Unum Ens_.[78] Here is a duality consisting of _Unum and
Ens_: which two are considered as separate or separable factors,
coalescing to form the whole _Unum Ens_, each of them being a part
thereof. But each of these parts is again dual, containing both
_Unum and Ens_: so that each part may be again divided into lesser
parts, each of them alike dual: and so on ad infinitum. _Unum Ens_
thus contains an infinite number of parts, or is _Multa_.[79] But
even _Unum_ itself (Parmenides argues), if we consider it
separately from _Ens_ in which it participates, is not _Unum_
alone, but _Multa_ also. For it is different from _Ens_, and _Ens_
is different from it. _Unum_ therefore is not merely _Unum_ but
also _Diversum_: _Ens_ also is not merely _Ens_ but _Diversum_.
Now when we speak of _Unum_ and _Ens_--of _Unum_ and _Diversum_--or
of _Ens_ and _Diversum_--we in each case speak of two distinct
things, each of which is _Unum_. Since each is _Unum_, the two
things become three--_Ens_, _Diversum_, _Unum_--_Unum_,
_Diversum_, _Unum_--_Unum_ being here taken twice. We thus arrive
at two and three--twice and thrice--odd and even--in short,
number, with its full extension and properties. Unum therefore is
both Unum and Multa--both Totum and Partes--both finite and
infinite in multitude.[80]

[Footnote 77: Plato, Parmenid. p. 142 A. [Greek: Bou/lei ou)=n
e)pi\ tê\n u(po/thesin pa/lin e)x a)rchê=s e)pane/lthômen, e)a/n
ti ê(mi=n e)paniou=sin a)lloi=on phanê=|?]]

[Footnote 78: This shifting of the real hypothesis, though the
terms remain unchanged, is admitted by implication a little
afterwards, p. 142 B. [Greek: _nu=n de\_ ou)ch au(/tê e)/stin ê(
u(po/thesis, _ei) e(\n e(\n_, ti/ chrê\ sumbai/nein, a)ll' _ei)
e(\n e)/stin_.]]

[Footnote 79: Plato, Parmenid. pp. 142-143. This is exactly what
Sokrates in the early part of the dialogue (p. 129 B-D) had
pronounced to be utterly inadmissible, _viz._: That [Greek: o(\
e)/stin e(\n] should be [Greek: polla\]--that [Greek: o(\ e)/stin
o(/moion] should be [Greek: a)no/moion]. The essential
characteristic of the Platonic Ideas is here denied. However, it
appears to me that Plato here reasons upon two contradictory
assumptions; first, that _Unum Ens_ is a total composed of two
parts separately assignable--_Unum_ and _Ens_; next, that _Unum_
is not assignable separately from _Ens_, nor _Ens_ from _Unum_.
Proceeding upon the first, he declares that the division must be
carried on ad infinitum, because you can never reach either the
separate _Ens_ or the separate _Unum_. But these two assumptions
cannot be admitted both together. Plato must make his election;
either he takes the first, in which case the total Unum Ens is
divisible, and its two factors, Unum and Ens, can be assigned
separately; or he takes the second, in which case _Unum_ and _Ens_
cannot be assigned separately--are not distinguishable factors,--so
that _Unum Ens_ instead of being infinitely divisible, is not
divisible at all.

The reasoning as it now stands is, in my judgment, fallacious.]

[Footnote 80: Plato, Parmen. pp. 144 A-E, 145 A.]

[Side-note: It ends in demonstrating _Both_, of that which the
first Demonstration had demonstrated _Neither_.]

Parmenides proceeds to show that Unum has beginning, middle, and
end--together with some figure, straight or curved: and that it is
both in itself, and in other things: that it is always both in
motion and at rest:[81] that it is both the same with itself and
different from itself--both the same with Cætera, and different
from Cætera:[82] both like to itself, and unlike to itself--both
like to Cætera, and unlike to Cætera:[83] that it both touches,
and does not touch, both itself and Cætera:[84] that it is both
equal, greater, and less, in number, as compared with itself and
as compared with Cætera:[85] that it is both older than itself,
younger than itself, and of the same age with itself--both older
than Cætera, younger than Cætera, and of the same age as
Cætera--also that it is not older nor younger either than itself or
than Cætera:[86] that it grows both older and younger than itself,
and than Cætera.[87] Lastly, Unum was, is, and will be; it has been,
is, and will be generated: it has had, has now, and will have,
attributes and predicates: it can be named, and can be the object
of perception, conception, opinion, reasoning, and cognition.[88]

[Footnote 81: Plato, Parmenid. p. 146 A-B.]

[Footnote 82: Plato, Parmenid. pp. 146-147 C.]

[Footnote 83: Plato, Parmenid. p. 148 A-D.]

[Footnote 84: Plato, Parmenid. p. 149 A-D.]

[Footnote 85: Plato, Parmenid. pp. 150-151 D.]

[Footnote 86: Plato, Parmen. pp. 152-153-154 A.]

[Footnote 87: Plato, Parmenid. pp. 154 B, 155 C. [Greek: kata\ dê\
pa/nta tau=ta, to\ e(\n au)to/ te au(tou= kai\ tô=n a)/llôn
presbu/teron kai\ neô/teron e)/sti te kai\ gi/gnetai, kai\ ou(/te
presbu/teron ou(/te neô/teron ou(/t' e)/stin ou(/te gi/gnetai
ou(/te au(tou= ou(/te tô=n a)/llôn.]]

[Footnote 88: Plato, Parmenid. p. 155 C-D.]

Here Parmenides finishes the long Demonstratio Secunda, which
completes the first Antinomy. The last conclusion of all, with
which it winds up, is the antithesis of that with which the first
Demonstration wound up: affirming (what the conclusion of the
first had denied) that Unum is thinkable, perceivable, nameable,
knowable. Comparing the second Demonstration with the first, we
see--That the first, taking its initial step, with a negative
proposition, carries us through a series of conclusions every one
of which is negative (like those of the second figure of the
Aristotelian syllogism):--That whereas the conclusions professedly
established in the first Demonstration are all in _Neither_ (Unum
is neither in itself nor in any thing else--neither at rest nor in
motion--neither the same with itself nor different from itself,
&c.), the conclusions of the second Demonstration are all in
_Both_ (Unum is both in motion and at rest, both in itself and in
other things, both the same with itself and different from
itself):--That in this manner, while the first Demonstration
denies both of two opposite propositions, the second affirms them

[Side-note: Startling paradox--Open offence against logical
canon--No logical canon had then been laid down.]

Such a result has an air of startling paradox. We find it shown,
respecting various pairs of contradictory propositions, first,
that both are false--next, that both are true. This offends doubly
against the logical canon, which declares, that of two
contradictory propositions, one must be true, the other must be
false. We must remember, that in the Platonic age, there existed
no systematic logic--no analysis or classification of
propositions--no recognised distinction between such as were
contrary, and such as were contradictory. The Platonic Parmenides
deals with propositions which are, to appearance at least,
contradictory: and we are brought, by two different roads, first
to the rejection of both, next to the admission of both.[89]

[Footnote 89: Prantl (in his Geschichte der Logik, vol. i. s. 3,
pp. 70-71-73) maintains, if I rightly understand him, not only
that Plato did not adopt the _principium identitatis et
contradictionis_ as the basis of his reasonings, but that one of
Plato's express objects was to demonstrate the contrary of it,
partly in the Philêbus, but especially in the Parmenides:--

"Eine arge Täuschung ist es, zu glauben, dass das principium
identitatis et contradictionis oberstes logisches Princip des
Plato sei . . Es ist gerade eine Hauptaufgabe, welche sich Plato
stellen musste, die Coexistenz der Gegensätze nachzuweisen, wie
diess bekanntlich im Philebus und _besonders im Parmenides_

According to this view, the Antinomies in the Parmenides are all
of them good proofs, and the conclusions of all of them, summed up
as they are in the final sentence of the dialogue, constitute an
addition to the positive knowledge of Sokrates. I confess that
this to me is unintelligible. I understand these Antinomies as
[Greek: a)pori/ai] to be cleared up, but in no other character.

Prantl speaks (p. 73) of "die antinomische Begründung der
Ideenlehre im Parmenides," &c. This is the same language as that
used by Zeller, upon which I have already remarked.]

[Side-note: Demonstration third--Attempt to reconcile the
contradiction of Demonstrations I. and II.]

How can this be possible? How can these four propositions all be
true--_Unum est Unum_--_Unum est Multa_--_Unum non est
Unum_--_Unum non est Multa_? Plato suggests a way out of the difficulty,
in that which he gives as Demonstration 3. It has been shown that
Unum "partakes of time"--was, is, and will be. The propositions
are all true, but true at different times: one at this time,
another at that time.[90] Unum acquires and loses existence,
essence, and other attributes: _now_, it exists and is
Unum--_before_, it did not exist and was not Unum: so too it is
alternately like and unlike, in motion and at rest. But how is
such alternation or change intelligible? At each time, whether
present or past, it must be either in motion or at rest: at no
time, neither present nor past, can it be _neither_ in motion
_nor_ at rest. It cannot, while in motion, change to rest--nor,
while at rest, change to motion. No time can be assigned for the
change: neither the present, nor the past, nor the future: how
then can the change occur at all?[91]

[Footnote 90: This is a distinction analogous to that which Plato
points out in the Sophistes (pp. 242-243) between the theories of
Herakleitus and Empedoklês.]

[Footnote 91: Plato, Parmenid. p. 156.]

[Side-note: Plato's imagination of the Sudden or
Instantaneous--Breaches or momentary stoppages in the course of time.]

To this question the Platonic Parmenides finds an answer in what
he calls the _Sudden_ or the _Instantaneous_: an anomalous nature
which lies out of, or apart from, the course of time, being
neither past, present, nor future. That which changes, changes at
once and suddenly: at an instant when it is neither in motion nor
at rest. This _Suddenly_ is a halt or break in the flow of
time:[92] an extra-temporal condition, in which the subject has no
existence, no attributes--though it revives again forthwith
clothed with its new attributes: a point of total negation or
annihilation, during which the subject with all its attributes
disappears. At this interval (the _Suddenly_) all predicates may
be truly denied, but none can be truly affirmed.[93] Unum is
neither at rest, nor in motion--neither like nor unlike--neither
the same with itself nor different from itself--neither Unum nor
Multa. Both predicates and Subject vanish. Thus all the negations
of the first Demonstration are justified. Immediately before the
_Suddenly_, or point of change, Unum was in motion--immediately
after the change, it is at rest: immediately before, it was
like--equal--the same with itself--Unum, &c.--immediately after,
it is unlike--unequal--different from itself--Multa, &c. And thus
the double and contradictory affirmative predications, of which the
second Demonstration is composed, are in their turn made good, as
successive in time. This discovery of the extra-temporal point
_Suddenly_, enables Parmenides to uphold both the double negative
of the first Demonstration, and the double affirmative of the

[Footnote 92: Plato, Parmenid. p. 156 E. [Greek: a)ll' ê(
_e)xai/phnês au(/tê phu/sis a)/topo/s tis e)gka/thêtai metaxu\
tê=s kinê/seô/s te kai\ sta/seôs_, e)n chro/nô| ou)deni\ ou)=sa,
kai\ ei)s tau/tên dê\ kai\ e)k tau/tês to/ te kinou/menon
metaba/llei e)pi\ to\ e(sta/nai, kai\ to\ e(sto\s e)pi\ to\
kinei=sthai. . . . kai\ to\ e(\n dê/, ei)/per e(/stêke/ te kai\
kinei=tai, metaba/lloi a)\n e)ph' e(ka/tera; mo/nôs ga\r a)\n
ou(/tôs a)mpho/tera poioi=; metaba/llon d' e)xai/phnês
metaba/llei, kai\ o(/te metaba/llei, e)n ou)deni\ chro/nô| a)\n
ei)/ê, ou)de\ kinoi=t' a)\n to/te, ou)d' a)\n stai/ê.]

[Greek: To\ e)xai/phnês--ê( e)xai/phnês phu/sis a)/topo/s
tis]--may be compared to an infinitesimal; analogous to what is
recognised in the theory of the differential calculus.]

[Footnote 93: This appears to be an illustration of the doctrine
which Lassalle ascribes to Herakleitus; perpetual implication of
negativity and positivity--des Nichtseins mit dem Sein: perpetual
absorption of each particular into the universal; and perpetual
reappearance as an opposite particular. See the two elaborate
volumes of Lassalle upon Herakleitus, especially i. p. 358, ii. p.
258. He scarcely however takes notice of the Platonic Parmenides.

Some of the Stoics considered [Greek: to\ nu=n] as [Greek:
mêde/n]--and nothing in time to be real except [Greek: to\
parô|chêko\s] and [Greek: to\ me/llon] (Plutarch, De Commun.
Notitiis contra Stoicos, p. 1081 D).]

[Side-note: Review of the successive pairs of Demonstrations or
Antinomies in each, the first proves the Neither, the second
proves the Both.]

The theory here laid down in the third Demonstration respecting
this extra-temporal point--the _Suddenly_--deserves all the more
attention, because it applies not merely to the first and second
Demonstration which precede it, but also to the fourth and fifth,
the sixth and seventh, the eighth and ninth, which follow it. I
have already observed, that the first and second Demonstration
form a corresponding pair, branching off from the same root or
hypothetical proposition (at least the same in terms), respecting
the subject _Unum_; and destined to prove, one the Neither, the
other the Both, of several different predicates. So also the
fourth and fifth form a pair applying to the subject Cætera; and
destined to prove, that from the same hypothetical root--_Si Unum
est_--we can deduce the Neither as well as the Both, of various
predicates of Cætera. When we pass on to the four last
Demonstrations, we find that in all four, the hypothesis _Si Unum
non est_ is substituted for that of _Si Unum est_: but the
parallel couples, with the corresponding purpose, are still kept
up. The sixth and seventh apply to the subject _Unum_, and
demonstrate respecting that subject (proceeding from the
hypothesis _Si Unum non est_) first the _Both_, then the
_Neither_, of various predicates: the eighth and ninth arrive at
the same result, respecting the subject _Cætera_. And a sentence
at the close sums up in few words the result of all the four pairs
(1-2, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, that is, of all the Demonstrations excepting
the third)--the Neither and the Both respecting all of them.

[Side-note: The third Demonstration is mediatorial but not
satisfactory--The hypothesis of the Sudden or Instantaneous found
no favour.]

To understand these nine Demonstrations properly, therefore, we
ought to consider eight among them (1-2, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9) as four
Antinomies, or couples establishing dialectic contradictions: and
the third as a mediator satisfactory between the
couples--announced as if it reconciled the contradictions of the first
Antinomy, and capable of being adapted, in the same character with
certain modifications, to the second, third, and fourth Antinomy.
Whether it reconciles them successfully--in other words, whether
the third Demonstration will itself hold good--is a different
question. It will be found to involve the singular and paradoxical
(Plato's own phrase) doctrine of the extra-temporal
_Suddenly_--conceiving Time as a Discretum and not a Continuum. This
doctrine is intended by Plato here as a means of rendering the fact
of change logically conceivable and explicable. He first states
briefly the difficulty (which we know to have been largely
insisted on by Diodorus Kronus and other Megarics) of logically
explaining the fact of change--and then enunciates this doctrine
as the solution. We plainly see that it did not satisfy
others--for the puzzle continued to be a puzzle long after--and that
it did not even satisfy Plato, except at the time when he composed
the Parmenides--since neither the doctrine itself (the
extra-temporal break or transition) nor the very peculiar phrase
in which it is embodied ([Greek: to\ e)xai/phnês, a)/topo/s tis
phu/sis]) occur in any of his other dialogues. If the doctrine
were really tenable, it would have been of use in dialectic, and
as such, would have been called in to remove the theoretical
difficulties raised among dialectical disputants, respecting time
and motion. Yet Plato does not again advert to it, either in
Sophistes or Timæus, in both of which there is special demand for
it.[94] Aristotle, while he adopts a doctrine like it (yet without
employing the peculiar phrase [Greek: to\ e)xai/phnês]) to explain
qualitative change, does not admit the same either as to
quantitative change, or as to local motion, or as to generation
and destruction.[95] The doctrine served the purpose of the
Platonic Parmenides, as ingenious, original, and provocative to
intellectual effort: but it did not acquire any permanent footing
in Grecian dialectics.

[Footnote 94: Steinhart represents this idea of [Greek: to\
e)xai/phnês]--the extra-temporal break or zero of transition--as
an important progress made by Plato, compared with the Theætêtus,
because it breaks down the absoluten Gegensatz between Sein and
Werden, Ruhe and Bewegung (Einleitung zum Parmen. p. 309).

Surely, if Plato had considered it a progress, we should have seen
the same idea repeated in various other dialogues--which is not
the case.]

[Footnote 95: Aristotel. Physic. p. 235, b. 32, with the Scholion
of Simplikius, p. 410, b. 20, Brandis.

The discussion occupies two or three pages of Aristotle's Physica.
In regard to [Greek: a)lloi/ôsis] or qualitative change, he
recognised what he called [Greek: a)thro/an metabolê/n]--a change
_all at once_, which occupied no portion of time. It is plain,
however, that even his own scholars Theophrastus and Eudemus had
great difficulty in accepting the doctrine; see Scholia, pp.
409-410-411, Brandis.]

The two last Antinomies, or four last Demonstrations, have, in
common, for their point of departure, the negative proposition,
_Si Unum non est_: and are likewise put together in parallel
couples (6-7, 8-9), a Demonstration and a Counter-Demonstration--a
Both and a Neither: first with reference to the subject
_Unum_--next with reference to the subject _Cætera_.

[Side-note: Review of the two last Antinomies. Demonstrations VI.
and VII.]

_Si Unum est_--_Si Unum non est_. Even from such a proposition as
the first of these, we might have thought it difficult to deduce
any string of consequences--which Plato has already done: from
such a proposition as the second, not merely difficult, but
impossible. Nevertheless the ingenious dialectic of Plato
accomplishes the task, and elicits from each proposition a Both,
and a Neither, respecting several predicates of Unum as well as of
Cætera. When you say _Unum non est_ (so argues the Platonic
Parmenides in Demonstration 6), you deny existence respecting
Unum: but the proposition _Unum non est_, is distinguishable from
_Magnitudo non est_--_Parvitudo non est_--and such like:
propositions wherein the subject is different, though the
predicate is the same: so that _Unum non Ens_ is still a Something
knowable, and distinguishable from other things--a logical subject
of which various other predicates may be affirmed, though the
predicate of existence cannot be affirmed.[96] It is both like and
unlike, equal and unequal--like and equal to itself unlike and
unequal to other things.[97] These its predicates being all true,
are also real existences: so that Unum partakes _quodam modo_ in
existence: though _Unum_ be _non-Ens_, nevertheless, _Unum non-Ens
est_. Partaking thus both of non-existence and of existence, it
changes: it both moves and is at rest: it is generated and
destroyed, yet is also neither generated nor destroyed.[98]

[Footnote 96: Plato, Parmenid. pp. 160-161 A. [Greek: ei)=nai me\n
dê\ tô=| e(ni\ ou)ch oi(=o/n te, ei)/per ge mê\ e)/sti, mete/chein
de\ pollô=n ou)de\n kôlu/ei, a)lla\ kai\ a)na/gkê, ei)/per to/ ge
e(\n e)kei=no kai\ mê\ a)/llo mê\ e)/stin. ei) me/ntoi mê/te to\
e(\n mê/t' _e)kei=no_ mê\ e)/stai, a)lla\ peri\ a)/llou tou o(
lo/gos, ou)de\ phthe/ggesthai dei= ou)de/n; ei) de\ to\ e(\n
e)kei=no kai\ mê\ a)/llo u(pokei=tai mê\ ei)=nai, kai\ tou=
_e)kei/nou_ kai\ a)/llôn pollô=n a)na/gkê au)tô=| metei=nai.]]

[Footnote 97: Plato, Parmenid. p. 161 C-D.]

[Footnote 98: Plato, Parmenid. pp. 162-163 A.

The steps by which these conclusions are made out are extremely
subtle, and hardly intelligible to me.]

Having thus deduced from the fundamental principle this string of
Both opposite predicates, the Platonic Parmenides reverts (in
Demonstration 7) to the same principium (_Si Unum non est_) to
deduce by another train of reasoning the Neither of these
predicates. When you say that _Unum non est_, you must mean that
it does not partake of existence in any way--absolutely and
without reserve. It therefore neither acquires nor loses
existence: it is neither generated nor destroyed: it is neither in
motion nor at rest: it partakes of nothing existent: it is neither
equal nor unequal--neither like nor unlike--neither great nor
little--neither this, nor that: neither the object of perception,
nor of knowledge, nor of opinion, nor of naming, nor of

[Footnote 99: Plato, Parmenid. pp. 163-164 A.]

[Side-note: Demonstration VII. is founded upon the genuine doctrine
of Parmenides.]

These two last counter-demonstrations (6 and 7), forming the third
Antinomy, deserve attention in this respect--That the seventh is
founded upon the genuine Parmenidean or Eleatic doctrine about
Non-Ens, as not merely having no attributes, but as being
unknowable, unperceivable, unnameable: while the sixth is founded
upon a different apprehension of Non-Ens, which is explained and
defended by Plato in the Sophistes, as a substitute for, and
refutation of, the Eleatic doctrine.[100] According to Number 7,
when you deny, of Unum, the predicate existence, you deny of it
also all other predicates: and the name Unum is left without any
subject to apply to. This is the Eleatic dogma. Unum having been
declared to be Non-Ens, is (like Non-Ens) neither knowable nor
nameable. According to Number 6, the proposition _Unum est
non-Ens_, does not carry with it any such consequences. Existence
is only one predicate, which may be denied of the subject Unum, but
which, when denied, does not lead to the denial of all other
predicates--nor, therefore, to the loss of the subject itself.
Unum still remains Unum, knowable, and different from other
things. Upon this first premiss are built up several other
affirmations; so that we thus arrive circuitously at the
affirmation of existence, in a certain way: _Unum_, though
non-existent, does nevertheless exist _quodam modo_. This coincides
with that which the Eleatic stranger seeks to prove in the
Sophistes, against Parmenides.

[Footnote 100: Plato, Sophistes, pp. 258-259.]

[Side-note: Demonstrations VI. and VII. considered--Unwarrantable
steps in the reasoning--The fundamental premiss differently
interpreted, though the same in words.]

If we compare the two foregoing counter-demonstrations (7 and 6),
we shall see that the negative results of the seventh follow
properly enough from the assumed premisses: but that the
affirmative results of the sixth are not obtained without very
unwarrantable jumps in the reasoning, besides its extreme
subtlety. But apart from this defect, we farther remark that here
also (as in Numbers 1 and 2) the fundamental principle assumed is
in terms the same, in signification materially different. The
signification of _Unum non est_, as it is construed in Number 7,
is the natural one, belonging to the words: but as construed in
Number 6, the meaning of the predicate is altogether effaced (as
it had been before in Number 1): we cannot tell what it is which
is really denied about Unum. As, in Number 1, the proposition
_Unum est_ is so construed as to affirm nothing except _Unum est
Unum_--so in Number 7, the proposition _Unum non est_ is so
construed as to deny nothing except _Unum non est Unum_, yet
conveying along with such denial a farther affirmation--_Unum non
est Unum, sed tamen est aliquid scibile, differens ab aliis_.[101]
Here this _aliquid scibile_ is assumed as a substratum underlying
_Unum_, and remaining even when Unum is taken away: contrary to
the opinion--that Unum was a separate nature and the fundamental
Subject of all--which Aristotle announces as having been held by
Plato.[102] There must be always some meaning (the Platonic
Parmenides argues) attached to the word Unum, even when you talk
of _Unum non Ens_: and that meaning is equivalent to _Aliquid
scibile, differens ab aliis_. From this he proceeds to evolve,
step by step, though often in a manner obscure and inconclusive,
his series of contradictory affirmations respecting Unum.

[Footnote 101: Plato, Parmenid. p. 160 C.]

[Footnote 102: Aristot. Metaph. B. 1001, a. 6-20.]

The last couple of Demonstrations--8 and 9--composing the fourth
Antinomy, are in some respects the most ingenious and singular of
all the nine. Si _Unum non est_, what is true about Cætera? The
eighth demonstrates the _Both_ of the affirmative predicates, the
ninth proves the _Neither_.

[Side-note: Demonstrations VIII. and IX.--Analysis of Demonstration

Si _Unum non est_ (is the argument of the eighth), Cætera must
nevertheless somehow still be Cætera: otherwise you could not talk
about Cætera.[103] (This is an argument like that in Demonstration
6: What is talked about must exist, somehow.) But if Cætera can be
named and talked about, they must be different from something,--and
from something, which is also different from them. What can
this Something be? Not certainly Unum: for Unum, by the
Hypothesis, does not exist, and cannot therefore be the term of
comparison. _Cætera_ therefore must be different among themselves
and from each other. But they cannot be compared with each other
by units: for Unum does not exist. They must therefore be compared
with each other by heaps or multitudes: each of which will appear
at first sight to be an unit, though it be not an unit in reality.
There will be numbers of such heaps, each in appearance one,
though not in reality:[104] numbers odd and even, great and
little, in appearance: heaps appearing to be greater and less than
each other, and equal to each other, though not being really so.
Each of these heaps will appear to have a beginning, middle, and
end, yet will not really have any such: for whenever you grasp any
one of them in your thoughts, there will appear another beginning
before the beginning,[105] another end after the end, another
centre more centrical than the centre,--minima ever decreasing
because you cannot reach any stable unit. Each will be a heap
without any unity; looking like one, at a distance,--but when you
come near, each a boundless and countless multitude. They will
thus appear one and many, like and unlike, equal and unequal, at
rest and moving, separate and coalescing: in short, invested with
an indefinite number of opposite attributes.[106]

[Footnote 103: Plato, Parmenid. p. 164 B. [Greek: A)/lla me/n pou
dei= au)ta\ ei)=nai; ei) ga\r mêde\ a)/lla e)sti/n, ou)k a)\n
peri\ tô=n a)/llôn le/goito.]]

[Footnote 104: Plato, Parmenid. p. 164 D. [Greek: Ou)kou=n polloi\
o)/gkoi e)/santai, ei)=s e(/kastos phaino/menos, ô)\n de\ ou)/,
ei)/per e(\n mê\ e)/stai. Ou(/tôs.]]

[Footnote 105: Plato, Parmenid. p. 165 A. [Greek: O(/ti a)ei\
au)tô=n o(/tan ti/s ti la/bê| tê=| dianoi/a| ô(/s ti tou/tôn o(/n,
pro/ te tê=s a)rchê=s a)/llê a)ei\ phai/netai a)rchê/, meta/ te
tê\n teleutê\n e(te/ra u(poleipome/nê teleutê/, e(/n te tô=|
me/sô| a)/lla mesai/tera tou= me/sou, smikro/tera de\ dia\ to\ mê\
du/nasthai e(no\s au)tô=n e(ka/stou lamba/nesthai, a)/te ou)k
o)/ntos tou= e(no/s.]]

[Footnote 106: Plato, Parmenid. p. 165 E. Compare p. 158 E.
[Greek: toi=s a)/llois dê\ tou= e(no\s. . . . ê( de\ au)tô=n
phu/sis kath' e(auta\ a)peiri/an (pa/resche).]]

[Side-note: Demonstration VIII. is very subtle and Zenonian.]

This Demonstration 8, with its strange and subtle chain of
inferences, purporting to rest upon the admission of Cætera
without Unum, brings out the antithesis of the Apparent and the
Real, which had not been noticed in the preceding demonstrations.
Demonstration 8 is in its character Zenonian. It probably
coincides with the proof which Zeno is reported (in the earlier
half of this dialogue) to have given against the existence of any
real Multa. If you assume Multa (Zeno argued), they must be both
like and unlike, and invested with many other opposite attributes;
but this is impossible; therefore the assumption is untrue.[107]
Those against whom Zeno reasoned, contended for real Multa, and
against a real Unum. Zeno probably showed, and our eighth
Demonstration here shows also,--that Multa under this supposition
are nothing real, but an assemblage of indefinite, ever-variable,
contradictory appearances: an [Greek: A)/peiron], Infinite, or
Chaos: an object not real and absolute, but relative and variable
according to the point of view of the subject.

[Footnote 107: Plato, Parmenid. p. 127 E; compare this with the
close of the eighth Demonstration, p. 165 E--[Greek: ei) e(no\s
mê\ o)/ntos polla\ e)/stin].]

[Side-note: Demonstration IX. _Neither_ following _Both_.]

To the eighth Demonstration, ingenious as it is, succeeds a
countervailing reversal in the ninth: the Neither following the
Both. The fundamental supposition is in terms the same. _Si Unum
non est_, what is to become of _Cætera_? _Cætera_ are not _Unum_:
yet neither are they _Multa_: for if there were any Multa, Unum
would be included in them. If none of the Multa were Unum, all of
them would be nothing at all, and there would be no Multa. If
therefore Unum be not included in Cætera, Cætera would be neither
Unum nor Multa: nor would they appear to be either Unum or Multa:
for Cætera can have no possible communion with Non-Entia: nor can
any of the Non-Entia be present along with any of Cætera--since
Non-Entia have no parts. We cannot therefore conceive or represent
to ourselves Non-Ens as along with or belonging to Cætera.
Therefore, _Si Unum non est_, nothing among _Cætera_ is conceived
either as Unum or as Multa: for to conceive Multa without Unum is
impossible. It thus appears, _Si Unum non est_, that Cætera
neither are Unum nor Multa. Nor are they conceived either as Unum
or Multa--either as like or as unlike--either as the same or as
different--either as in contact or as apart.--In short, all those
attributes which in the last preceding Demonstration were shown
_to belong to them_ in appearance, are now shown _not to belong_
to them either in appearance or in reality.[108]

[Footnote 108: Plato, Parmenid. p. 166 A-B. [Greek: E(\n a)/ra ei)
mê\ e)/sti, ta)/lla ou)/te e)/stin ou)/te doxa/zetai e(\n ou)/te
polla/. . . . Ou)/d' a)/ra o(/moia ou)de\ a)no/moia. . . . Ou)de\
mê\n ta\ au)ta/ ge ou)d' e(/tera, ou)de\ a(pto/mena ou)de\
chôri/s, _ou)de\ a)/ll' o(/sa e)n toi=s pro/sthen diê/lthomen_]
(compare [Greek: dielthei=n], p. 165 E) [Greek: _ô(s phaino/mena
au)ta/, tou/tôn ou)/te ti e)/stin ou)/te phai/netai ta)/lla, e(\n
ei) mê\ e)/stin_.]]

[Side-note: Concluding words of the Parmenides--Declaration that he
has demonstrated the Both and the Neither of many different

Here we find ourselves at the close of the Parmenides. Plato
announces his purpose to be, to elicit contradictory conclusions,
by different trains of reasoning, out of the same fundamental
assumption.[109] He declares, in the concluding words, that--on
the hypothesis of _Unum est_, as well as on that of _Unum non
est_--he has succeeded in demonstrating the Both and the Neither
of many distinct propositions, respecting Unum and respecting

[Footnote 109: Compare, with the passage cited in the last note,
another passage, p. 159 B, at the beginning of Demonstration 5.

[Greek: Ou)kou=n tau=ta me\n ê)/dê e)ô=men ô(s phanera/,
e)piskopô=men de\ pa/lin, e(\n ei) e)/stin, a)=ra _kai\ ou)ch
ou(/tôs e)/chei ta)/lla tou= e(no\s ê)\ ou(/tô mo/non_?]

Here the purpose to prove [Greek: _ou)ch ou(/tôs_], immediately on
the heels of [Greek: _ou(/tôs_], is plainly enunciated.]

[Side-note: Comparison of the conclusion of the Parmenides to an
enigma of the Republic. Difference. The constructor of the enigma
adapted its conditions to a foreknown solution. Plato did not.]

The close of the Parmenides, as it stands here, may be fairly
compared to the enigma announced by Plato in his Republic--"A man
and no man, struck and did not strike, with a stone and no stone,
a bird and no bird, sitting upon wood and no wood".[110] This is
an enigma, propounded for youthful auditors to guess: stimulating
their curiosity, and tasking their intelligence to find it out. As
far as I can see, the puzzling antinomies in the Parmenides have
no other purpose. They drag back the forward and youthful Sokrates
from affirmative dogmatism to negative doubt and embarrassment.
There is however this difference between the enigma in the
Republic, and the Antinomies in the Parmenides. The constructor of
the enigma had certainly a preconceived solution to which he
adapted the conditions of his problem: whereas we have no
sufficient ground for asserting that the author of the Antinomies
had any such solution present or operative in his mind. How much
of truth Plato may himself have recognised, or may have wished
others to recognise, in them, we have no means of determining. We
find in them many equivocal propositions and unwarranted
inferences--much blending of truth with error, intentionally or
unintentionally. The veteran Parmenides imposes the severance of
the two, as a lesson, upon his youthful hearers Sokrates and

[Footnote 110: Plato, Republ. v. 479 C. The allusion was to an
eunuch knocking down a bat seated upon a reed. [Greek: Ai)no/s tis
e)/stin ô(s a)nê/r te kou)k a)nê/r, O)/rnitha/ te kou)k o)/rnith'
i)dô/n te kou)k i)dô/n, E)pi\ xu/lou te kou) xu/lou kathême/nên
Li/thô| te kou) li/thô| ba/loi te kou) ba/loi.]

I read with astonishment the amount of positive philosophy which a
commentator like Steinhart extracts from the concluding enigma of
the Parmenides, and which he even affirms that no attentive reader
of the dialogue can possibly miss (Einleitung zum Parmenides, pp.



[Side-note: Subjects and personages in the Theætêtus.]

In this dialogue, as in the Parmenides immediately preceding,
Plato dwells upon the intellectual operations of mind: introducing
the ethical and emotional only in a partial and subordinate way.
The main question canvassed is, What is Knowledge--Cognition--Science?
After a long debate, turning the question over in many
distinct points of view, and examining three or four different
answers to the question--all these answers are successively
rejected, and the problem remains unsolved.

The two persons who converse with Sokrates are, Theodôrus, an
elderly man, eminent as a geometrician, astronomer, &c., and
teaching those sciences--and Theætêtus, a young man of great merit
and still greater promise: acute, intelligent, and
inquisitive--high-principled and courageous in the field, yet gentle
and conciliatory to all: lastly, resembling Sokrates in physiognomy
and in the flatness of his nose. The dialogue is supposed to have
taken place during the last weeks of the life of Sokrates, when
his legal appearance as defendant is required to answer the
indictment of Melêtus, already entered in the official record.[1]
The dialogue is here read aloud to Eukleides of Megara and his
fellow-citizen Terpsion, by a slave of Eukleides: this last person
had recorded it in writing from narrative previously made to him
by Sokrates.[2] It is prefaced by a short discourse between
Eukleides and Terpsion, intended to attract our sympathy and
admiration towards the youthful Theætêtus.

[Footnote 1: Plato, Theætêt. ad fin. p. 210.]

[Footnote 2: Plato, Theætêt. i. pp. 142 E, 143 A. Plato hardly
keeps up the fiction about the time of this dialogue with perfect
consistency. When it took place, the indictment of Melêtus had
already been recorded: Sokrates breaks off the conversation for
the purpose of going to answer it: Eukleides hears the dialogue
from the mouth of Sokrates afterwards. "Immediately on getting
home to Megara" (says Eukleides) "I wrote down memoranda (of what
I had heard): then afterwards I called it back to my mind at
leisure, and as often as I visited Athens I questioned Sokrates
about such portions as I did not remember, and made corrections on
my return here, so that now nearly all the dialogue has been
written out."

Such a process would require longer time than is consistent with
the short remainder of the life of Sokrates. Socher indeed tries
to explain this by assuming a long interval between the indictment
and the trial, but this is noway satisfactory. (Ueber Platon's
Schriften, p. 251.)

Mr. Lewis Campbell, in the Preface to his very useful edition of
this dialogue (p. lxxi. Oxford, 1861), considers that the battle
in which Theætêtus is represented as having been wounded, is
probably meant for that battle in which Iphikrates and his
peltasts destroyed the Spartan Mora, B.C. 390: if not that, then
the battle at the Isthmus of Corinth against Epaminondas. B.C.
369. Schleiermacher in his Einleitung to the dialogue (p. 185)
seems to prefer the supposition of some earlier battle or skirmish
under Iphikrates. The point can hardly be determined. Still less
can we fix the date at which the dialogue was written, though the
mention of the battle of Corinth certifies that it was later than
394 B.C. Ast affirms confidently that it was the first dialogue
composed by Plato after the Phædon, which last was composed
immediately after the death of Sokrates (Ast, Platon's Leben, &c.,
p. 192). I see no ground for this affirmation. Most of the
commentators rank it among the dialectical dialogues, which they
consider to belong to a later period of Plato's life than the
ethical, but to an earlier period than the constructive, such as
Republic, Timæus, &c. Most of them place the Theætêtus in one or
other of the years between 393-383 B.C., though they differ much
among themselves whether it is to be considered as later or
earlier than other dialogues--Kratylus, Euthydemus, Menon,
Gorgias, &c. (Stallbaum, Proleg. Theæt. pp. 6-10; Steinhart,
Einleit. zum Theæt. pp. 100-213.) Munk and Ueberweg, on the
contrary, place the Theætêtus at a date considerably later,
subsequent to 368 B.C. Munk assigns it to 358 or 357 B.C. after
Plato's last return from Sicily (Munk, Die natürliche Ordnung der
Platon. Schr. pp. 357-597: Ueberweg, Ueber die Aechtheit der
Platon. Schr. pp. 228-236).]

[Side-note: Question raised by Sokrates--What is knowledge or
Cognition? First answer of Theætêtus, enumerating many different
cognitions. Corrected by Sokrates.]

In answer to the question put by Sokrates--What is Knowledge or
Cognition? Theætêtus at first replies--That there are many and
diverse cognitions:--of geometry, of arithmetic, of arts and
trades, such as shoemaking, joinery, &c. Sokrates points out (as
in the Menon, Hippias Major, and other dialogues) that such an
answer involves a misconception of the question: which was
general, and required a general answer, setting forth the
characteristic common to all cognitions. No one can know what
cognition is in shoemaking or any particular case--unless he first
knows what is cognition generally.[3] Specimens of suitable
answers to general questions are then given (or of definition of a
general term), in the case of clay--and of numbers square and
oblong.[4] I have already observed more than once how important an
object it was with Plato to impress upon his readers an exact and
adequate conception of the meaning of general terms, and the
proper way of defining them. For this purpose he brings into
contrast the misconceptions likely to arise in the minds of
persons not accustomed to dialectic.

[Footnote 3: Plato, Theætêt. p. 147 A.

[Greek: Ou)d' a)/ra e)pistê/mên u(podêma/tôn suni/êsin, o(
e)pistê/mên mê\ ei)dio/s? Ou) ga/r.]]

[Footnote 4: Plato, Theætêt. p. 148. Oblong ([Greek: promê/keis])
numbers are such as can be produced only from two unequal factors.
The explanation of this difficult passage, requiring us to keep in
mind the geometrical conception of numbers usual among the Greek
mathematicians, will be found clearly given in Mr. Campbell's
edition of this dialogue, pp. 20-22.]

[Side-note: Preliminary conversation before the second answer is
given. Sokrates describes his own peculiar efficacy--mental
obstetric--He cannot teach, but he can evolve knowledge out of
pregnant minds.]

Theætêtus, before he attempts a second answer, complains how much
the subject had embarrassed him. Impressed with what he had heard
about the interrogatories of Sokrates, he had tried to solve this
problem: but he had not been able to satisfy himself with any
attempted solution--nor yet to relinquish the search altogether.
"You are in distress, Theætêtus" (observes Sokrates), "because you
are not empty, but pregnant.[5] You have that within you, of which
you need to be relieved; and you cannot be relieved without
obstetric aid. It is my peculiar gift from the Gods to afford such
aid, and to stimulate the parturition of pregnant minds which
cannot of themselves bring forth what is within them.[6] I can
produce no truth myself: but I can, by my art inherited from my
mother the midwife Phænaretê, extract truth from others, and test
the answers given by others: so as to determine whether such
answers are true and valuable, or false and worthless. I can teach
nothing: I only bring out what is already struggling in the minds
of youth: and if there be nothing within them, my procedure is
unavailing. My most important function is, to test the answers
given, how far they are true or false. But most people, not
comprehending my drift, complain of me as a most eccentric person,
who only makes others sceptical. They reproach me, and that truly
enough, with always asking questions, and never saying any thing
of my own: because I have nothing to say worth hearing.[7] The
young companions who frequent my society, often suffer
long-continued pains of parturition night and day, before they can
be delivered of what is within them. Some, though apparently stupid
when they first come to me, make great progress, if my divine
coadjutor is favourable to them: others again become tired of me,
and go away too soon, so that the little good which I have done
them becomes effaced. Occasionally, some of these impatient
companions wish to return to me afterwards--but my divine sign
forbids me to receive them: where such obstacle does not
intervene, they begin again to make progress."[8]

[Footnote 5: Plato, Theætêt. p. 148 E. [Greek: ô)di/neis, dia\ to\
mê\ keno\s a)ll' e)gku/môn ei)=nai.]]

[Footnote 6: Plato, Theætêt. p. 149 A, p. 150 A.]

[Footnote 7: Plato, Theætêt. p. 149 A. [Greek: oi( de/, a)/te ou)k
ei)do/tes, tou=to me\n ou) le/gousi peri\ e)mou=, o(/ti de\
a)topô/tato/s ei)mi, kai\ poiô= tou\s a)nthrô/pous a)porei=n.] 150
B-C [Greek: me/giston de\ tou=t' e(/ni tê=| ê(mete/ra| te/chnê|,
basani/zein dunato\n ei)=nai panti\ tro/pô|, po/teron ei)/dôlon
ê)\ pseu=dos a)poti/ktei tou= ne/ou ê( dianoi/a, ê)\ go/nimo/n te
kai\ a)lêthe/s; e)pei\ to/de ge kai\ e)moi\ u(pa/rchei o(/per
tai=s mai/ais; a)/gono/s ei)mi sophi/as], &c.]

[Footnote 8: Plato, Theætêt. pp. 150 E, 151 A. [Greek: e)ni/ois
me\n to\ gigno/meno/n moi daimo/nion a)pokôlu/ei xunei=nai,
e)ni/ois de\ e)a=|; kai\ pa/lin ou(=toi e)pidido/asin.]

We here see (what I have already adverted to in reviewing the
Theagês, vol. ii. ch. xv. pp. 105-7) the character of mystery,
unaccountable and unpredictable in its working on individuals,
with which Plato invests the colloquy of Sokrates.]

[Side-note: Ethical basis of the cross-examination of Sokrates--He
is forbidden to pass by falsehood without challenge.]

This passage, while it forcibly depicts the peculiar intellectual
gift of Sokrates, illustrates at the same time the Platonic manner
of describing, full of poetry and metaphor. Cross-examination by
Sokrates communicated nothing new, but brought out what lay buried
in the mind of the respondent, and tested the value of his
answers. It was applicable only to minds endowed and productive:
but for them it was indispensable, in order to extract what they
were capable of producing, and to test its value when extracted.
"Do not think me unkind," (says Sokrates,) "or my procedure
useless, if my scrutiny exposes your answers as fallacious. Many
respondents have been violently angry with me for doing so: but I
feel myself strictly forbidden either to admit falsehood, or to
put aside truth."[9] Here we have a suitable prelude to a dialogue
in which four successive answers are sifted and rejected, without
reaching, even at last, any satisfactory solution.

[Footnote 9: Plato, Theætêt. p. 151 D.]

[Side-note: Answer of Theætêtus--Cognition is sensible perception:
Sokrates says that this is the same doctrine as the _Homo Mensura_
laid down by Protagoras, and that both are in close affinity with
the doctrines of Homer, Herakleitus, Empedoklês, &c., all except

The first answer given by Theætêtus is--"Cognition is sensation
(or sensible perception)". Upon this answer Sokrates remarks, that
it is the same doctrine, though in other words, as what was laid
down by Protagoras--"Man is the measure of all things: of things
existent, that they exist: of things non-existent, that they do
not exist. As things appear to me, so they are to me: as they
appear to you, so they are to you."[10] Sokrates then proceeds to
say, that these two opinions are akin to, or identical with, the
general view of nature entertained by Herakleitus, Empedoklês, and
other philosophers, countenanced moreover by poets like Homer and
Epicharmus. The philosophers here noticed (he continues), though
differing much in other respects, all held the doctrine that
nature consisted in a perpetual motion, change, or flux: that
there was no real Ens or permanent substratum, but perpetual
genesis or transition.[11] These philosophers were opposed to
Parmenides, who maintained (as I have already stated in a previous
chapter) that there was nothing real except Ens--One, permanent,
and unchangeable: that all change was unreal, apparent, illusory,
not capable of being certainly known, but only matter of uncertain
opinion or estimation.

[Footnote 10: Plato, Theætêt. pp. 151 E--152 A.

_Theætêt._ [Greek: ou)k a)/llo ti/ e)stin e)pistê/mê ê)\
ai)/sthêsis. . . .]

_Sokrat._ [Greek: Kinduneu/eis me/ntoi lo/gon ou) phau=lon
ei)rêke/nai peri\ e)pistê/mês, a)ll' o(/n e)/lege kai\
Prôtago/ras; _tro/pon de/ tina a)/llon ei)/rêke ta\ au)ta\ tau=ta.
Phêsi\ ga/r pou--Pa/ntôn chrêma/tôn me/tron a)/nthrôpon ei)=nai,
tô=n me\n o)/ntôn, ô(s e)/sti--tô=n de\ mê\ o)/ntôn, ô(s ou)k
e)/stin._ A)ne/gnôkas ga/r pou?]

_Theætêt._ [Greek: A)ne/gnôka kai\ polla/kis.]

_Sokrat._ [Greek: Ou)kou=n ou(/tô pôs le/gei, ôs oi(=a me\n
e(/kasta e)moi\ phai/netai, toiau=ta me/n e)stin e)moi\--oi(=a de\
soi/, toiau=ta de\ au)= soi/; a)nthrôpos de\ su/ te ka)gô/.]

_Theætêt._ [Greek: Le/gei ga\r ou)=n ou(/tôs.]

Here Plato appears to transcribe the words of Protagoras (compare
p. 161 B, and the Kratylus, p. 386 A) which distinctly affirm the
doctrine of _Homo Mensura_--Man is the measure of all things,--but
do not affirm the doctrine, that knowledge is sensible perception.
The identification between the two doctrines is asserted by Plato
himself. It is Plato who asserts "that Protagoras affirmed the
same doctrine in another manner," citing afterwards the manner in
which he supposed Protagoras to affirm it. If there had been in
the treatise of Protagoras any more express or peremptory
affirmation of the doctrine "that knowledge is sensible
perception," Plato would probably have given it here.]

[Footnote 11: Plato, Theætêt. p. 152 E. [Greek: kai\ peri\ tou/tou
_pa/ntes e(xê=s oi( sophoi\ plê\n Parmeni/dou xumphere/sthôn_,
Prôtago/ras te kai\ Ê(ra/kleitos kai\ E)mpedoklê=s, kai\ tô=n
poiêtô=n oi( a)/kroi tê=s poiê/seôs e(kate/ras, kômô|di/as me\n
E)pi/charmos, tragô|di/as de\ O(/mêros.]]

[Side-note: Plato here blends together three distinct theories for
the purpose of confuting them; yet he also professes to urge what
can be said in favour of them. Difficulty of following his

The one main theme intended for examination here (as Sokrates[12]
expressly declares) is the doctrine--That Cognition is sensible
perception. Nevertheless upon all the three opinions, thus
represented as cognate or identical,[13] Sokrates bestows a
lengthened comment (occupying a half of the dialogue) in
conversation, principally with Theætêtus, but partly also with
Theodôrus. His strictures are not always easy to follow with
assurance, because he often passes with little notice from one to
the other of the three doctrines which he is examining: because he
himself, though really opposed to them, affects in part to take
them up and to suggest arguments in their favour: and further
because, disclaiming all positive opinion of his own, he sometimes
leaves us in doubt what is his real purpose--whether to expound,
or to deride, the opinions of others--whether to enlighten
Theætêtus, or to test his power of detecting fallacies.[14] We
cannot always distinguish between the ironical and the serious.
Lastly, it is a still greater difficulty, that we have not before
us either of the three opinions as set forth by their proper
supporters. There remains no work either of Protagoras or of
Herakleitus: so that we do not clearly know the subject matter
upon which Plato is commenting--nor whether these authors would
have admitted as just the view which he takes of their

[Footnote 12: Plato, Theætêt. p. 163 A.]

[Footnote 13: Plato, Theætêt. p. 160 D. _Sokrat._ [Greek:
Pagka/lôs a)/ra soi ei)/rêtai o(/ti e)pistê/mê ou)k a)/llo ti/
e)stin ê)\ ai)/sthêsis; kai\ _ei)s tau)to\n sumpe/ptôke_, kata\
me\n O(/mêron kai\ Ê(ra/kleiton kai\ pa=n to\ toiou=ton phu=lon,
oi(=on r(eu/mata kinei=sthai ta\ pa/nta--kata\ de\ Prôtago/ran
to\n sophô/taton, pa/ntôn chrêma/tôn a)/nthrôpon me/tron
ei)=nai--kata\ de\ Theai/têton, tou/tôn ou(=tôs e)cho/ntôn,
ai)/sthêsin e)pistê/mên gi/gnesthai.]]

[Footnote 14: See the answer of Theætêtus and the words of
Sokrates following, p. 157 C.]

[Footnote 15: It would be hardly necessary to remark, that when
Plato professes to put a pleading into the mouth of Protagoras
(pp. 165-166) we have no other real speaker than Plato himself, if
commentators did not often forget this. Steinhart indeed tells us
(Einleit. zum Theætêt. pp. 36-47) positively--that Plato in this
pleading keeps in the most accurate manner (auf das genaueste) to
the thoughts of Protagoras, perhaps even to his words. How
Steinhart can know this I am at a loss to understand. To me it
seems very improbable. The mere circumstance that Plato forces
into partnership three distinct theories, makes it probable that
he did not adhere to the thoughts or language of any one of them.]

[Side-note: The doctrine of Protagoras is completely distinct from
the other doctrines. The identification of them as one and the
same is only constructive--the interpretation of Plato himself.]

It is not improbable that the three doctrines, here put together
by Plato and subjected to a common scrutiny, may have been
sometimes held by the same philosophers. Nevertheless, the
language[16] of Plato himself shows us that Protagoras never
expressly affirmed knowledge to be sensible Perception: and that
the substantial identity between this doctrine, and the different
doctrine maintained by Protagoras, is to be regarded as a
construction put upon the two by Plato. That the theories of
Herakleitus and Empedokles differed materially from each other, we
know certainly: the theory of each, moreover, differed from the
doctrine of Protagoras--"Man is the measure of all things". How
this last doctrine was defended by its promulgator, we cannot say.
But the defence of it noway required him to maintain--That
knowledge is sensible perception. It might be consistently held by
one who rejected that definition of knowledge.[17] And though
Plato tries to refute both, yet the reasonings which he brings
against one do not at all tell against the other.

[Footnote 16: See Theætêt. p. 152 A. This is admitted (to be a
construction put by Plato himself) by Steinhart in his note 7, p.
214, Einleitung zum Theætêtus, though he says that Plato's
construction is the right one.]

[Footnote 17: Dr. Routh, in a note upon his edition of the
Euthydêmus of Plato (p. 286 C) observes:--"Protagoras docebat,
[Greek: Pa/ntôn chrêma/tôn me/tron a)/nthrôpon ei)=nai, tô=n me\n
o)/ntôn, ô(s e)/sti; tô=n de\ mê\ o)/ntôn, ô(s ou)k e)/sti.] Quâ
quidem opinione qualitatum sensilium sine animi perceptione
existentiam sustulisse videtur."

The definition here given by Routh is correct as far as it goes,
though too narrow. But it is sufficient to exhibit the Protagorean
doctrine as quite distinct from the other doctrine, [Greek: o(/ti
e)pistê/mê ou)k a)/llo ti/ e)stin ê)\ ai)/sthêsis.]]

[Side-note: Explanation of the doctrine of Protagoras--_Homo

The Protagorean doctrine--Man is the measure of all things--is
simply the presentation in complete view of a common
fact--uncovering an aspect of it which the received phraseology hides.
Truth and Falsehood have reference to some believing subject--and
the words have no meaning except in that relation. Protagoras
brings to view this subjective side of the same complex fact, of
which Truth and Falsehood denote the objective side. He refuses to
admit the object absolute--the pretended _thing in itself_--Truth
without a believer. His doctrine maintains the indefeasible and
necessary involution of the percipient mind in every perception--of
the concipient mind in every conception--of the cognizant mind
in every cognition. Farther, Protagoras acknowledges many distinct
believing or knowing Subjects: and affirms that every object known
must be relative to (or in his language, _measured by_) the
knowing Subject: that every _cognitum_ must have its _cognoscens_,
and every _cognoscibile_ its _cognitionis capax_: that the words
have no meaning unless this be supposed: that these two names
designate two opposite poles or aspects of the indivisible fact of
cognition--actual or potential--not two factors, which are in
themselves separate or separable, and which come together to make
a compound product. A man cannot in any case get clear of or
discard his own mind as a Subject. Self is necessarily
omnipresent; concerned in every moment of consciousness, and
equally concerned in all, though more distinctly attended to in
some than in others.[18] The Subject, self, or Ego, is that which
all our moments of consciousness have in common and alike: Object
is that in which they do or may differ--although some object or
other there always must be. The position laid down by
Descartes--_Cogito, ergo sum_--might have been stated with equal
truth--_Cogito, ergo est (cogitatum aliquid)_: _sum cogitans--est
cogitatum_--are two opposite aspects of the same indivisible
mental fact--_cogitatio_. In some cases, doubtless, the objective
aspect may absorb our attention, eclipsing the subjective: in
other cases, the subjective attracts exclusive notice: but in all
cases and in every act of consciousness, both are involved as
co-existent and correlative. That alone exists, to every man, which
stands, or is believed by him to be capable of standing, in some
mode of his consciousness as an Object correlative with himself as
a Subject. If he believes in its existence, his own believing mind
is part and parcel of such fact of belief, not less than the
object believed in: if he disbelieves it, his own disbelieving
mind is the like. Consciousness in all varieties has for its two
poles Subject and Object: there cannot be one of these poles
without the opposite pole--north without south--any more than
there can be concave without convex (to use a comparison familiar
with Aristotle), or front without back: which are not two things
originally different and coming into conjunction, but two
different aspects of the same indivisible fact.

[Footnote 18: In regard to the impossibility of carrying
abstraction so far as to discard the thinking subject, see Hobbes,
Computation or Logic, ch. vii. 1.

"In the teaching of natural philosophy I cannot begin better than
from _privation_; that is, from feigning the world to be
annihilated. But if such annihilation of all things be supposed,
it may perhaps be asked what would remain for any man (_whom only
I except from this universal annihilation of things_) to consider
as the subject of philosophy, or at all to reason upon; or what to
give names unto for ratiocination's sake.

"I say, therefore, there would remain to that man ideas of the
world, and of all such bodies as he had, before their
annihilation, seen with his eyes, or perceived by any other sense;
that is to say, the memory and imagination of magnitudes, motions,
sounds, colours, &c., as also of their order and parts. All which
things, though they be nothing but ideas and phantasms, happening
internally to him that imagineth, yet they will appear as if they
were external and not at all depending upon any power of the mind.
And these are the things to which he would give names and subtract
them from, and compound them with one another. For seeing that
after the destruction of all other things I suppose man still
remaining, and namely that he thinks, imagines, and remembers,
there can be nothing for him to think of but what is past. . . .
Now things may be considered, that is, be brought into account,
_either as internal accidents of our mind_, in which manner we
consider them when the question is about _some faculty of the
mind_: or, as _species of external things, not as really existing,
but appearing only to exist, or to have a being without us_. And
in this manner we are now to consider them."]

[Side-note: Perpetual implication of Subject with Object--Relate
and Correlate.]

In declaring that "Man is the measure of all things"--Protagoras
affirms that Subject is the measure of Object, or that every
object is relative to a correlative Subject. When a man affirms,
believes, or conceives, an object as existing, his own believing
or concipient mind is one side of the entire fact. It may be the
dark side, and what is called _the Object_ may be the light side,
of the entire fact: this is what happens in the case of tangible
and resisting substances, where Object, being the light side of
the fact, is apt to appear all in all:[19] a man thinks of the
Something which resists, without attending to the other aspect of
the fact of resistance, _viz._: his own energy or pressure, to
which resistance is made. On the other hand, when we speak of
enjoying any pleasure or suffering any pain, the enjoying or
suffering Subject appears all in all, distinguished plainly from
other Subjects, supposed to be not enjoying or suffering in the
same way: yet it is no more than the light side of the fact, of
which Object is the dark side. Each particular pain which we
suffer has its objective or differential peculiarity,
distinguishing it from other sensations, correlating with the same
sentient Subject.

[Footnote 19: "Nobiscum semper est ipsa quam quærimus (anima);
adest, tractat, loquitur--et, si fas est dicere, inter ista
nescitur." (Cassiodorus, De Animâ, c. 1, p. 594, in the edition of
his Opera Omnia, Venet. 1729).

"In the primitive dualism of consciousness, the Subject and Object
being inseparable, either of them apart from the other must be an
unknown quantity: the separation of either must be the
annihilation of both." (F. W. Farrar, Chapters on Language, c. 23,
p. 292: which chapter contains more on the same topic, well
deserving of perusal.)]

[Side-note: Such relativity is no less true in regard to the
ratiocinative combinations of each individual, than in regard to
his percipient capacities.]

The Protagorean dictum will thus be seen, when interpreted
correctly, to be quite distinct from that other doctrine with
which Plato identifies it: that Cognition is nothing else but
sensible Perception. If, rejecting this last doctrine, we hold
that cognition includes mental elements distinct from, though
co-operating with, sensible perception--the principle of relativity
laid down by Protagoras will not be the less true. My intellectual
activity--my powers of remembering, imagining, ratiocinating,
combining, &c., are a part of my mental nature, no less than my
powers of sensible perception: my cognitions and beliefs must all
be determined by, or relative to, this mental nature: to the turn
and development which all these various powers have taken in my
individual case. However multifarious the mental activities may
be, each man has his own peculiar allotment and manifestations
thereof, to which his cognitions must be relative. Let us grant
(with Plato) that the Nous or intelligent Mind apprehends
intelligible Entia or Ideas distinct from the world of sense: or
let us assume that Kant and Reid in the eighteenth century, and M.
Cousin with other French writers in the nineteenth, have destroyed
the Lockian philosophy, which took account (they say) of nothing
but the _à posteriori_ element of cognition--and have established
the existence of other elements of cognition _à priori_: intuitive
beliefs, first principles, primary or inexplicable Concepts of
Reason.[20] Still we must recollect that all such _à priori_
Concepts, Intuitions, Beliefs, &c., are summed up in the mind: and
that thus each man's mind, with its peculiar endowments, natural
or supernatural, is still the measure or limit of his cognitions,
acquired and acquirable. The Entia Rationis exist relatively to
Ratio, as the Entia Perceptionis exist relatively to Sense. This
is a point upon which Plato himself insists, in this very
dialogue. You do not, by producing this fact of innate mental
intuitions, eliminate the intuent mind; which must be done in
order to establish a negative to the Protagorean principle.[21]
Each intuitive belief whether correct or erroneous--whether held
unanimously by every one _semper et ubique_, or only held by a
proportion of mankind--is (or would be, if proved to exist) a fact
of our nature; capable of being looked at either on the side of
the believing Subject, which is its point of community with all
other parts of our nature--or on the side of the Object believed,
which is its point of difference or peculiarity. The fact with its
two opposite aspects is indivisible. Without Subject, Object
vanishes: without Object (some object or other, for this side of
the fact is essentially variable), Subject vanishes.

[Footnote 20: See M. Jouffroy, Préface à sa Traduction des
OEuvres de Reid, pp. xcvii.-ccxiv.

M. Jouffroy, following in the steps of Kant, declares these _à
priori_ beliefs or intuitions to be altogether relative to the
human mind. "Kant, considérant que les conceptions de la raison
sont des croyances aveugles auxquelles notre esprit se sent
fatalement déterminé par sa nature, en conclut qu'elles sont
rélatives à cette nature: que si notre nature était autre, elles
pourraient être différentes: que par conséquent, elles n'ont
aucune valeur absolue: et qu'ainsi notre vérité, notre science,
notre certitude, sont une vérité, une science, une certitude,
purement _subjective_, purement humaine--à laquelle nous sommes
déterminés à nous fier par notre nature, mais qui ne supporte pas
l'examen et n'a aucune valeur _objective_" (p. clxvii.) . . .
"C'est ce que répéte Kant quand il soutient que l'on ne peut
_objectiver le subjectif_: c'est à dire, faire que la vérité
humaine cesse d'être humaine, puisque la raison qui la trouve est
humaine. On peut exprimer de vingt manières différentes cette
impossibilité: elle reste toujours la même, et demeure toujours
insurmontable," p. cxc. Compare p. xcvii. of the same Preface.

M. Pascal Galuppi (in his Lettres Philosophiques sur les
Vicissitudes de la Philosophie, translated from the Italian by M.
Peisse, Paris, 1844) though not agreeing in this variety of _à
priori_ philosophy, agrees with Kant in declaring the _à priori_
element of cognition to be purely subjective, and the objective
element to be _à posteriori_ (Lett. xiv. pp. 337-338), or the
facts of sense and experience. "L'ordre _à priori_, que Kant
appelle _transcendental_, est purement idéal, et dépourvu de toute
réalité. Je vis, qu'en fondant la connaissance sur l'ordre _à
priori_, on arrive nécessairement au scepticisme: et je reconnus
que la doctrine Écossaise est la mère légitime du Criticisme
Kantien, et par conséquent, du scepticisme, qui est la conséquence
de la philosophie critique. Je considérai comme de haute
importance ce problème de Kant. Il convient de déterminer ce qu'il
y a d'objectif, et ce qu'il y a de subjectif, dans la
connaissance. Les Empiriques n'admettent dans la connaissance
d'autres élémens que les objectifs," &c.]

[Footnote 21: See this point handled in Sextus Empiric. adv.
Mathemat. viii. 355-362. We may here cite a remark of Simplikius
in his Commentary on the Categories of Aristotle (p. 64, a. in
Schol. Brandis). Aristotle (De Animâ, iii. 2, 426, a. 19; Categor.
p. 7, b. 23) lays down the doctrine that in most cases Relata or
([Greek: ta\ pro/s ti]) are "simul Naturâ, [Greek: kai\
sunanairei= a)/llêla]": but that in some Relata this is not true:
for example, [Greek: to\ e)pistêto\n] is relative to [Greek:
e)pistê/mê], yet still _it would seem prior_ to [Greek: e)pistê/mê
(pro/teron a)\n do/xeie tê=s e)pistê/mês ei)=nai)]. There cannot
be [Greek: e)pistê/mê] without some [Greek: e)pistêto/n]: but
there may be [Greek: e)pistêto\n] without any [Greek: e)pistê/mê].
There are few things, if any (he says), in which the [Greek:
e)pistêto\n] (cognoscibile) is _simul naturâ_ with [Greek:
e)pistê/mê] (or cognitio) and cannot be without it.

Upon which Simplikius remarks, What are these few things? [Greek:
Ti/na de\ ta\ o)li/ga e)sti/n, e)ph' ô(=n a(/ma tô=| e)pistêtô=|
ê( e)pistê/mê e)sti/n? Ta\ a)/neu u(/lês, ta\ noêta/, a(/ma tô=|
kat' e)nergei/an a)ei\ e)stô/sê| e)pistê/mê e)/stin, ei)/te kai\
e)n ê(mi=n e)sti/ tis toiau/tê a)ei\ a)/nô me/nousa, . . . ei)/te
kai\ e)n tô=| kat' e)nergei/an vô=| ei)/ tis kai\ tê\n no/êsin
e)kei/nên e)pistê/mên e(/loito kalei=n. du/natai de\ kai\ dia\
tê\n tô=n koinô=n u(po/stasin ei)rê=sthai, tê\n e)x a)phaire/seôs;
a(/ma ga\r tê=| u(posta/sei tou/tôn kai\ ê( e)pistê/mê e)sti/n.
a)lêthe\s de\ kai\ e)pi\ tô=n a)naplasma/tôn tô=n te e)n tê=|
phantasi/a| kai\ tô=n technitô=n; a(/ma ga\r chi/maira kai\ ê(
e)pistê/mê chimai/ras.]

We see from hence that Simplikius recognises Concepts,
Abstractions, and Fictions, to be dependent on the Conceiving,
Abstracting, Imagining, Mind--as distinguished from objects of
Sense, which he does not recognise as dependent in the like
manner. He agrees in the doctrine of Protagoras as to the former,
but not as to the latter. This illustrates what I have affirmed,
That the Protagorean doctrine of "_Homo Mensura_" is not only
unconnected with the other principle (that Knowledge is resolvable
into sensible perception) to which Aristotle and Plato would trace
it--but that there is rather a repugnance between the two. The
difficulty of proving the doctrine, and the reluctance to admit
it, is greatest in the case of material objects, least in the case
of Abstractions, and General Ideas. Yet Aristotle, in reasoning
against the Protagorean doctrine (Metaphysic. [Greek: G]. pp.
1009-1010, &c.) treats it like Plato, as a sort of corollary from
the theory that Cognition is Sensible Perception.

Simplikius farther observes (p. 65, b. 14) that Aristotle is not
accurate in making [Greek: e)pistêto\n] correlate with [Greek:
e)pistê/mê]: that in Relata, the potential correlates with the
potential, and the actual with the actual. The Cognoscible is
correlative, not with actual cognition ([Greek: e)pistê/mê]) but
with potential Cognition, or with a potential Cognoscens.
Aristotle therefore is right in saying that there may be [Greek:
e)pistêto\n] without [Greek: e)pistê/mê], but this does not prove
what he wishes to establish.

Themistius, in another passage of the Aristotelian Scholia,
reasoning against Boethus, observes to the same effect as
Simplikius, that in relatives, the actual correlates with the
actual, and the potential with the potential:--

[Greek: Kai/toi, phêsi/ ge o( Boêtho/s, ou)de\n kôlu/ei to\n
a)rithmo\n ei)=nai kai\ di/cha tou= a)rithmou=ntos, ô(/sper
oi)=mai to\ ai)sthêto\n kai\ di/cha tou= ai)sthanome/nou;
spha/lletai de/, a(/ma ga\r ta\ pro\s ti/, kai\ ta\ duna/mei pro\s
ta\ duna/mei; ô(/ste ei) mê\ kai\ a)rithmêtiko/n, ou)de\ to\
a)rithmêto/n] (Schol. ad Aristot. Physic. iv. p. 223, a. p. 393,
Schol. Brandis).

Compare Aristotel. Metaphysic. M. 1087, a. 15, about [Greek: to\
e)pi/stasthai duna/mei] and [Greek: to\ e)pi/stasthai

About the essential co-existence of relatives--Sublato uno,
tollitur alterum--see also Sextus Empiric. adv. Mathematicos, vii.
395, p. 449, Fabric.]

[Side-note: Evidence from Plato proving implication of Subject and
Object, in regard to the intelligible world.]

That this general doctrine is true, not merely respecting the
facts of sense, but also respecting the facts of mental
conception, opinion, intellection, cognition--may be seen by the
reasoning of Plato himself in other dialogues. How, for example,
does Plato prove, in his Timæus, the objective reality of Ideas or
Forms? He infers them from the subjective facts of his own mind.
The subjective fact called Cognition (he argues) is generically
different from the subjective fact called True Opinion: therefore
the Object correlating with the One must be distinct from the
Object correlating with the other: there must be a Noumenon or
[Greek: noêto/n ti] correlating with Nous, distinct from the
[Greek: doxasto/n ti] which correlates with [Greek: do/xa].[22] So
again, in the Phædon,[23] Sokrates proves the pre-existence of the
human soul from the fact that there were pre-existent cognizable
Ideas: if there were knowable Objects, there must also have been a
Subject Cognoscens or Cognitionis capax. The two are different
aspects of one and the same conception: upon which we may
doubtless reason abstractedly under one aspect or under the other,
though they cannot be separated in fact. Now Both these two
inferences of Plato rest on the assumed implication of Subject and

[Footnote 22: Plato, Timæus, p. 51 B-E, compare Republic, v. p.

See this reasoning of Plato set forth in Zeller, Die Phil. der
Griech. vol. ii. pp. 412-416, ed. 2nd.

_Nous_, according to Plato (Tim. 51 E), belongs only to the Gods
and to a select few among mankind. It is therefore only _to_ the
Gods and _to_ these few men that [Greek: Noêta\] exist. To the
rest of mankind [Greek: Noêta\] are non-apparent and

[Footnote 23: Plato, Phædon, pp. 76-77. [Greek: i)/sê a)na/gkê
tau=ta/ te] (Ideas or Forms) [Greek: ei)=nai, kai\ ta\s ê(mete/ras
psucha\s pri\n kai\ ê(ma=s gegone/nai--kai\ ei) mê\ tau=ta, ou)de\
ta/de. U(perphuô=s, e)/phê o( Simmi/as, dokei= moi ê( au)tê\
a)na/gkê ei)=nai, kai\ ei)s kalo/n ge katapheu/gei o( lo/gos ei)s
to\ o(moi/ôs ei)=nai tê/n te psuchê\n ê(mô=n pri\n gene/sthai
ê(ma=s kai\ tê\n ou)si/an ê(\n su\ nu=n le/geis.]

Compare p. 92 E of the same dialogue with the notes of Wyttenbach
and Heindorf--"Haec autem [Greek: ou)si/a] Idearum, rerum
intelligibilium, [Greek: au)tê=s e)sti\n] (_sc._ [Greek: tê=s
psuchê=s]) ut hoc loco dicitur, est propria et possessio animæ
nostræ," &c.

About the essential implication of [Greek: Nou=s] with the [Greek:
Noêta/], as well as of [Greek: to\ do/xazon] with [Greek: ta\
doxazo/mena], and of [Greek: to\ ai)sthano/menon] with [Greek: ta\
ai)sthêta/], see Plutarch, De Animæ Procreat. in Timæo, pp.
1012-1024; and a curious passage from Joannes Philoponus ad Aristot.
Physica, cited by Karsten in his Commentatio De Empedoclis
Philosophiâ, p. 372, and Olympiodorus ad Platon. Phædon, p. 21.
[Greek: to\n nou=n phame\n a)kribô=s ginô/skein, dio/ti au)to/s
e)sti to\ noêto/n.]

Sydenham observes, in a note upon his translation of the Philêbus
(note 76, p. 118), "Being Intelligent and Being Intelligible are
not only correlatives, but are so in their very essence: neither
of them can be at all, without the Being of the other".]

[Footnote 24: I think that the inference in the Phædon is not
necessary to prove that conclusion, nor in itself just. For when I
speak of Augustus and Antony as having once lived, and as having
fought the battle of Actium, it is noway necessary that I should
believe myself to have been then alive and to have seen them: nor
when I speak of civil war as being now carried on in the United
States of America, is it necessary that I should believe myself to
be or to have been on the spot as a percipient witness. I believe,
on evidence which appears to me satisfactory, that both these are
real facts: that is, if I had been at Actium on the day of the
battle, or if I were now in the United States, I should see and
witness the facts here affirmed. These latter words describe the
subjective side of the fact, without introducing any supposition
that I have been myself present and percipient.]

[Side-note: The Protagorean measure is even more easily shown in
reference to the intelligible world than in reference to sense.]

In truth, the Protagorean measure or limit is even more plainly
applicable to our mental intuitions and mental processes
(remembering, imagining, conceiving, comparing, abstracting,
combining of hypotheses, transcendental or inductive) than to the
matter of our sensible experience.[25] In regard to the Entia
Rationis, divergence between one theorist and another is quite as
remarkable as the divergence between one percipient and another in
the most disputable region of Entia Perceptionis. Upon the
separate facts of sense, there is a nearer approach to unanimity
among mankind, than upon the theories whereby theorising men
connect together those facts to their own satisfaction. An
opponent of Protagoras would draw his most plausible arguments
from the undisputed facts of sense. He would appeal to matter and
what are called its primary qualities, as refuting the doctrine.
For in describing mental intuitions, Mind or Subject cannot well
be overlaid or ignored: but in regard to the external world, or
material substance with its primary qualities, the objective side
is so lighted up and magnified in the ordinary conception and
language--and the subjective side so darkened and put out of
sight--that Object appears as if it stood single, apart, and

[Footnote 25: Bacon remarks that the processes called mental or
intellectual are quite as much relative to man as those called
sensational or perceptive. "Idola Tribûs sunt fundata in ipsâ
naturâ humanâ. Falso enim asseritur, Sensum humanum esse mensuram
rerum: quin contra, omnes perceptiones, tam Sensûs quam Mentis,
sunt ex analogiâ hominis, non ex analogiâ Universi."

Nemesius, the Christian Platonist, has a remark bearing upon this
question. He says that the lower animals have their intellectual
movements all determined by Nature, which acts alike in all the
individuals of the species, but that the human intellect is not
wholly determined by Nature; it has a freer range, larger stores
of ideas, and more varied combinations: hence its manifestations
are not the same in all, but different in different
individuals--[Greek: e)leu/theron ga/r ti kai\ au)texou/sion to\
logiko/n, o(/then ou)ch e(\n kai\ tau)to\n pa=sin e)/rgon a)nthrô/pois,
ô(s e(ka/stô| ei)/dei tô=n a)lo/gôn zô/ôn; phu/sei ga\r mo/nê| ta\
toiau=ta kinei=tai, ta\ de\ phu/sei o(moi/ôs para\ pa=si/n e)stin;
ai( de\ logikai\ pra/xeis a)/llai par' a)/llois kai\ ou)k e)x
a)na/gkês ai( au(=tai para\ pa=sin] (De Nat. Hom., c. ii. p. 53.
ed. 1565).]

A man conceives objects, like houses and trees, as existing when
he does not actually see or touch them, just as much as when he
does see or touch them. He conceives them as existing independent
of any actual sensations of his own: and he proceeds to describe
them as independent altogether of himself as a Subject--or as
absolute, not relative, existences. But this distinction, though
just as applied in ordinary usage, becomes inadmissable when
brought to contradict the Protagorean doctrine; because the
speaker professes to exclude, what cannot be excluded, himself as
concipient Subject.[26] It is he who conceives absent objects as
real and existing, though he neither sees nor touches them: he
believes fully, that if he were in a certain position near them,
he would experience those appropriate sensations of sight and
touch, whereby they are identified. Though he eliminates himself
as a _percipient_, he cannot eliminate himself as a _concipient_:
_i.e._, as conceiving and believing. He can conceive no object
without being himself the Subject conceiving, nor believe in any
future contingency without being himself the Subject believing. He
may part company with himself as percipient, but he cannot part
company with himself altogether. His conception of an absent
external object, therefore, when fully and accurately described,
does not contradict the Protagorean doctrine. But it is far the
most plausible objection which can be brought against that
doctrine, and it is an objection deduced from the facts or
cognitions of sense.

[Footnote 26: Bishop Berkeley observes:--

"But, say you, surely there is nothing easier than to imagine
trees, for instance, in a park, or books existing in a closet, and
nobody by to perceive them. I answer, you may so--there is no
difficulty in it. But what is all this, more than framing in your
mind certain ideas which you call _books_ and _trees_, and at the
same time omitting to frame the idea of any one that may perceive
them? _But do not you yourself perceive or think of them all the
while?_ This therefore is nothing to the purpose. It only shows
you have the power of imagining or forming ideas in your mind: but
it doth not show that you can conceive it possible the objects of
your thought may exist without the mind. _To make out this, it is
necessary that you conceive them existing unconceived or unthought
of, which is a manifest repugnancy._ When we do our utmost to
conceive the existence of external bodies, we are all the while
only contemplating our own ideas. _But the mind, taking no notice
of itself, is deluded to think it can and doth conceive bodies
existing unthought of or without the mind, though at the same
time they are apprehended by or exist in itself._"

Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge, sect. xxiii. p. 34, ed.
of Berkeley's Works, 1820. The same argument is enforced in
Berkeley's First Dialogue between Hylas and Philonous, pp. 145-146
of the same volume.

I subjoin a passage from the work of Professor Bain on Psychology,
where this difficult subject is carefully analysed (The Senses and
the Intellect, p. 370). "There is no possible knowledge of the
world except in reference to our minds. Knowledge means a state of
mind: the knowledge of material things is a mental thing. We are
incapable of discussing the existence of an independent material
world: the very act is a contradiction. We can speak only of a
world presented to our own minds. By an illusion of language we
fancy that we are capable of contemplating a world which does not
enter into our own mental existence: but the attempt belies
itself, for this contemplation is an effort of mind."

"Solidity, extension, space--the foundation properties of the
material world--mean, as has been said above, certain movements
and energies of our own bodies, and exist in our minds in the
shape of feelings of force, allied with visible and tactile, and
other sensible impressions. The sense of the external is the
consciousness of particular energies and activities of our own."

(P. 376). "We seem to have no better way of assuring ourselves and
all mankind, that with the conscious movement of opening the eyes
there will always be a consciousness of light, than by saying that
the light exists as an independent fact, without any eyes to see
it. But if we consider the fact fairly we shall see that this
assertion errs, not simply in being beyond any evidence that we
can have, but also in being a self-contradiction. We are affirming
_that_ to have an existence out of our minds, which we cannot know
but as in our minds. In words we assert independent existence,
while in the very act of doing so we contradict ourselves. Even a
possible world implies a possible mind to conceive it, just as
much as an actual world implies an actual mind. The mistake of the
common modes of expression on this matter is the mistake of
supposing the abstractions of the mind to have a separate and
independent existence. Instead of looking upon the doctrine of an
external and independent world as a generalisation or abstraction
grounded on our particular experiences, summing up the past and
predicting the future, we have got into the way of maintaining the
abstraction to be an independent reality, the foundation, or
cause, or origin, of all these experiences."

To the same purpose Mr. Mansel remarks in his Bampton Lectures on
"The Limits of Religious Thought," page 52:

"A second characteristic of Consciousness is, that it is only
possible in the form of a _relation_. There must be a Subject or
person conscious, and an Object or thing of which he is conscious.
There can be no consciousness without the union of these two
factors; and in that union each exists only as it is related to
the other. The subject is a subject only in so far as it is
conscious of an object: the object is an object only in so far as
it is apprehended by a subject: and the destruction of either is
the destruction of consciousness itself. It is thus manifest that
a consciousness of the Absolute is equally self-contradictory with
that of the Infinite. . . Our whole notion of Existence is
necessarily relative, for it is existence as conceived by us. But
_Existence_, as we conceive it, is but a name for the several ways
in which objects are presented to our consciousness--a general
term embracing a variety of relations. . . To assume Absolute
Existence as an object of thought is thus to suppose a relation
existing when the related terms exist no longer. An object of
thought exists, as such, in and through its relation to a thinker;
while the Absolute, as such, is independent of all relation."

Dr. Henry More has also a passage asserting the essential
correlation on which I am here insisting (Immortality of the Soul,
ch. ii. p. 3). And Professor Ferrier, in his Institutes of
Metaphysic, has given much valuable elucidation respecting the
essential relativity of cognition.

Though this note is already long, I shall venture to add from an
eminent German critic--Trendelenburg--a passage which goes to the
same point.

"Das Sein ist als die absolute Position erklärt worden. Der
Begriff des Seins drücke blos das aus: es werde bei dem einfachen
Setzen eines _Was_ sein Bewenden haben. Es hat sich hier die
abstracte Vorstellung des Seins nur in eine verwandte Anschauung
umgekleidet; denn das Gesetzte steht in dem Raum da; und insofern
fordert die absolute Position schon den Begriff des seiendem
Etwas, das gesetzt wird. _Fragt man weiter, so ist in der
absoluten Position schon derjenige mitgedacht, der da setzt._ Das
Sein wird also _nicht unabhängig aus sich selbst bestimmt_,
sondern zur Erklärung _ein Verhältniss zu der Thätigkeit des
Gedankens herbeigezogen_.

"Aehnlich würde jede von vorn herein versuchte Bestimmung des
Denkens ausfallen. Man würde es nur durch einen Bezug zu den
Dingen erläutern können, welche in dem Denken Grund und Mass
finden. Wir begeben uns daher jeder Erklärung, und setzen eine
Vorstellung des Denkens und Seins voraus, in der Hoffnung dass
beide mit jedem Schritt der Untersuchung sich in sich selbst
bestimmen werden." "Indem wir Denken und Sein unterscheiden,
fragen wir, wie ist es möglich, dass sich im Erkennen Denken und
Sein vereinigt? _Diese Vereinigung sprechen wir vorläufig als eine
Thatsache aus, die das Theoretische wie das Praktische
beherrscht._" Trendelenburg, Logische Untersuchungen, sect. 3, pp.
103-104, Berlin, 1840.]

[Side-note: Object always relative to Subject--Either without the
other, impossible. Plato admits this in Sophistes.]

I cannot therefore agree with Plato in regarding the Protagorean
doctrine--Homo Mensura--as having any dependance upon, or any
necessary connection with, the other theory (canvassed in the
Theætêtus) which pronounces cognition to be sensible perception.
Objects of thought exist in relation to a thinking Subject; as
Objects of sight or touch exist in relation to a seeing or
touching Subject. And this we shall find Plato himself declaring
in the Sophistes (where his Eleatic disputant is introduced as
impugning a doctrine substantially the same as that of Plato
himself in the Phædon, Timæus, and elsewhere) as well as here in
the Theætêtus. In the Sophistes, certain philosophers (called the
Friends of Forms or Ideas) are noticed, who admitted that all
sensible or perceivable existence ([Greek: ge/nesis]--Fientia) was
relative to a (capable) sentient or percipient--but denied the
relativity of Ideas, and maintained that Ideas, Concepts,
Intelligible Entia, were not relative but absolute. The Eleate
combats these philosophers, and establishes against them--That the
Cogitable or Intelligible existence, Ens Rationis, was just as
much relative to an Intelligent or Cogitant subject, as
perceivable existence was relative to a Subject capable of
perceiving--That Existence, under both varieties, was nothing more
than a potentiality, correlating with a counter-potentiality
([Greek: to\ gnôsto\n] with [Greek: to\ gnôstiko/n], [Greek: to\
ai)sthêto\n] with [Greek: to\ ai)sthêtiko/n], and never realised
except in implication therewith.[27]

[Footnote 27: Plato, Sophistes, pp. 247-248.

The view taken of this matter by Mr. John Stuart Mill, in the
third chapter of the first Book of his System of Logic, is very
instructive; see especially pp. 65-66 (ed. 4th).

Aristippus (one of the Sokratici viri, contemporary of Plato) and
the Kyrenaic sect affirmed the doctrine--[Greek: o(/ti mo/na ta\
pa/thê katalêpta/]. Aristokles refutes them by saying that there
can be no [Greek: pa/thos] without both Object and
Subject--[Greek: poiou=n] and [Greek: pa/schon]. And he goes on
to declare that these three are of necessary co-existence or
consubstantiality. [Greek: A)lla\ mê\n a)na/gkê ge tri/a tau=ta
sunuphi/stasthai--to/ te pa/thos au)to/, kai\ to\ poiou=n, kai\
to\ pa/schon] (ap. Eusebium, Præp. Ev. xiv. 19, 1).

I apprehend that Aristokles by these words does not really refute
what Aristippus meant to affirm. Aristippus meant to affirm the
Relative, and to decline affirming anything beyond; and in this
Aristokles agrees, making the doctrine even more comprehensive by
showing that Object as well as Subject are relative also;
implicated both with each other and in the [Greek: pa/thos].]

[Side-note: Plato's representation of the Protagorean doctrine in
intimate conjunction with the Herakleitean.]

This doctrine of the Eleate in the Platonic Sophistes coincides
with the Protagorean--_Homo Mensura_--construed in its true
meaning: Object is implicated with, limited or measured by,
Subject: a doctrine proclaiming the relativeness of all objects
perceived, conceived, known, or felt--and the omnipresent
involution of the perceiving, conceiving, knowing, or feeling,
Subject: the object varying with the Subject. "As things appear to
me, so they are to me: as they appear to you, so they are to you."
This theory is just and important, if rightly understood and
explained: but whether Protagoras did so explain or understand it,
we cannot say; nor does the language of Plato enable us to make
out. Plato passes on from this theory to another, which he
supposes Protagoras to have held without distinctly stating it:
That there is no Ens distinguishable in itself or permanent, or
stationary: that all existences are in perpetual flux, motion,
change--acting and reacting upon each other, combining with or
disjoining from each other.[28]

[Footnote 28: Plato, Theætêt. p. 152 D.

Though Plato states the grounds of this theory in his ironical
way, as if it were an absurd fancy, yet it accidentally coincides
with the largest views of modern physical science. Absolute rest
is unknown in nature: all matter is in perpetual movement,
molecular as well as in masses.]

[Side-note: Relativity of sensible facts, as described by him.]

Turning to the special theory of Protagoras (Homo Mensura), and
producing arguments, serious or ironical in its defence, Sokrates
says--What you call colour has no definite place or existence
either within you or without you. It is the result of the passing
collision between your eyes and the flux of things suited to act
upon them. It is neither in the agent nor in the patient, but is
something special and momentary generated in passing between the
two. It will vary with the subject: it is not the same to you, to
another man, to a dog or horse, or even to yourself at different
times. The object measured or touched cannot be in itself either
great, or white, or hot: for if it were, it would not appear
different to another Subject. Nor can the Subject touching or
measuring be in itself great, or white, or hot: for if so, it
would always be so, and would not be differently modified when
applied to a different object. _Great_, _white_, _hot_, denote no
positive and permanent attribute either in Object or Subject, but
a passing result or impression generated between the two, relative
to both and variable with either.[29]

[Footnote 29: Plato, Theætêt. pp. 153-154. [Greek: o(\ dê\
e(/kaston ei)=nai/ phamen chrô=ma, ou)/te to\ prosba/llon ou)/te
to\ prosballo/menon e)/stai, a)lla\ metaxu/ ti e(kastô| i)/dion

[Side-note: Relations are nothing in the object purely and simply
without a comparing subject.]

To illustrate this farther (continues Sokrates)--suppose we have
here six dice. If I compare them with three other dice placed by
the side of them, I shall call the six dice _more_ and _double_:
if I put twelve other dice by the side of them, I shall call the
six _fewer_ and _half_. Or take an old man--and put a growing
youth by his side. Two years ago the old man was taller than the
youth: now, the youth is grown, so that the old man is the shorter
of the two. But the old man, and the six dice, have remained all
the time unaltered, and equal to themselves. How then can either
of them become either greater or less? or how can either _really
be_ so, when they were not so before?[30]

[Footnote 30: Plato, Theætêt. pp. 154-155. Compare the reasoning
in the Phædon, pp. 96-97-101.]

[Side-note: Relativity twofold--to the comparing Subject--to
another object, besides the one directly described.]

The illustration here furnished by Sokrates brings out forcibly
the negation of the absolute, and the affirmation of universal
relativity in all conceptions, judgments, and predications, which
he ascribes to Protagoras and Herakleitus. The predication
respecting the six dice denotes nothing real, independent,
absolute, inhering in them: for they have undergone no change. It
is relative, and expresses a mental comparison made by me or some
one else. It is therefore relative in two different senses:--1. To
some other object with which the comparison of the dice is
made:--2. To me as comparing Subject, who determine the objects with
which the comparison shall be made.[31]--Though relativity in both
senses is comprehended by the Protagorean affirmation--Homo
Mensura--yet relativity in the latter sense is all which that
affirmation essentially requires. And this is true of all
propositions, comparative or not--whether there be or be not
reference to any other object beyond that which is directly
denoted. But Plato was here illustrating the larger doctrine which
he ascribes to Protagoras in common with Herakleitus: and
therefore the more complicated case of relativity might suit his
purpose better.

[Footnote 31: The Aristotelian Category of Relation ([Greek: ta\
pro\s ti/], Categor. p. 6, a. 36) designates one object
apprehended and named relatively to some other object--as
distinguished from object apprehended and named not thus
relatively, which Aristotle considers as _per se_ [Greek: kath'
au(to/] (Ethica Nikomach. i. p. 1096, a. 21). Aristotle omits or
excludes relativity of the object apprehended to the percipient or
concipient subject, which is the sort of relativity directly noted
by the Protagorean doctrine.

Occasionally Aristotle passes from relativity in the former sense
to relativity in the latter; as when he discusses [Greek:
e)pistêto\n] and [Greek: e)pistê/mê], alluded to in one of my
former notes on this dialogue. But he seems unconscious of any
transition. In the Categories, Object, as implicated with Subject
does not seem to have been distinctly present to his reflection.
In the third book of the Metaphysica, indeed, he discusses
professedly the opinion of Protagoras; and among his objections
against it, one is, that it makes everything relative or [Greek:
pro\s ti/] (Metaph. [Greek: G]. p. 1011, a. 20, b. 5). This is
hardly true in the sense which [Greek: pro\s ti/] bears as one of
his Categories: but it is true in the other sense to which I have

A clear and full exposition of what is meant by the Relativity of
Human Knowledge, will be found in Mr. John Stuart Mill's most
recent work, 'Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy,'
ch. ii. pp. 6-15.]

Sokrates now re-states that larger doctrine, in general terms, as

[Side-note: Statement of the doctrine of Herakleitus--yet so as to
implicate it with that of Protagoras.]

The universe is all flux or motion, divided into two immense
concurrent streams of force, one active, the other passive;
adapted one to the other, but each including many varieties. One
of these is Object: the other is, sentient, cognizant, concipient,
Subject. Object as well as Subject is, in itself and separately,
indeterminate and unintelligible--a mere chaotic Agent or Patient.
It is only by copulation and friction with each other that they
generate any definite or intelligible result. Every such
copulation, between parts adapted to each other, generates a twin
offspring: two correlative and inseparable results infinitely
diversified, but always born in appropriate pairs:[32] a definite
perception or feeling, on the subjective side--a definite thing
perceived or felt, on the objective. There cannot be one of these
without the other: there can be no objective manifestation without
its subjective correlate, nor any subjective without its
objective. This is true not merely about the external
senses--touch, taste, smell, sight, hearing--but also about the
internal,--hot and cold, pleasure and pain, desire, fear, and
all the countless variety of our feelings which have no separate
names.[33] Each of these varieties of feeling has its own object
co-existent and correlating with it. Sight, hearing, and smell,
move and generate rapidly and from afar; touch and taste, slowly
and only from immediate vicinity: but the principle is the same in
all. Thus, _e.g._, when the visual power of the eye comes into
reciprocal action with its appropriate objective agent, the result
between them is, that the visual power passes out of its abstract
and indeterminate state into a concrete and particular act of
vision--the seeing a white stone or wood: while the objective
force also passes out of its abstract and indeterminate state into
concrete--so that it is no longer whiteness, but a piece of white
stone or wood actually seen.[34]

[Footnote 32: Plato, Theætêt. p. 156 A. [Greek: ô(s to\ pa=n
ki/nêsis ê)=n, kai\ a)/llo para\ tou=to ou)de/n, tê=s de\
kinê/seôs du/o ei)/dê, plê/thei me\n a)/peiron e(ka/teron,
du/namin de\ to\ me\n poiei=n e)/chon, to\ de\ pa/schein. E)k de\
tê=s tou/tôn o(mili/as te kai\ tri/pseôs pro\s a)/llêla gi/gnetai
e)/kgona] plê/thei me\n a)/peira, di/duma de/--to\ me\n
ai)sthêto/n, to\ de\ ai)/sthêsis], a)ei\ sunekpi/ptousa kai\
gennôme/nê meta\ tou= ai)sthêtou=.]]

[Footnote 33: Plato, Theætêt. p. 156 B.]

[Footnote 34: Plato, Theætêt. p. 156 E. [Greek: o( me\n
o)phthalmo\s a)/ra o)/pseôs e)/mpleôs e)ge/neto kai\ o(ra=| dê\
to/te kai\ _e)ge/neto ou)/ ti o)/psis a)lla\ o)phthalmo\s o(rô=n_,
to\ de\ xuggennê=san to\ chrô=ma leuko/têtos perieplê/sthê kai\
_e)ge/neto ou) leuko/tês au)=_ a)lla\ leuko/n, ei)/te xu/lon
ei)/te li/thos ei)/te o(tiou=n xune/bê chrê=ma chrôsthê=nai tô=|
toiou/tô| chrô/mati.]

Plato's conception of the act of vision was--That fire darted
forth from the eyes of the percipient and came into confluence or
coalescence with fire approaching from the perceived object
(Plato, Timæus, pp. 45 C, 67 C).]

[Side-note: Agent and Patient--No absolute Ens.]

Accordingly, nothing can be affirmed to exist separately and by
itself. All existences, come only as twin and correlative
manifestations of this double agency. In fact neither of these
agencies can be conceived independently and apart from the other:
each of them is a nullity without the other.[35] If either of them
be varied, the result also will vary proportionally: each may be
in its turn agent or patient, according to the different partners
with which it comes into confluence.[36] It is therefore improper
to say--Such or such a thing _exists_. Existence absolute,
perpetual, and unchangeable is nowhere to be found: and all
phrases which imply it are incorrect, though we are driven to use
them by habit and for want of knowing better. All that is real is,
the perpetual series of changeful and transient conjunctions; each
Object, with a certain Subject,--each Subject, with a certain
Object.[37] This is true not merely of individual objects, but
also of those complex aggregates rationally apprehended which
receive generic names, _man_, animal, stone, &c.[38] You must not
therefore say that any thing _is_, absolutely and perpetually,
good, honourable, hot, white, hard, great--but only that it is so
felt or esteemed by certain subjects more or less numerous.[39]

[Footnote 35: Plato, Theætêt. p. 157 A. [Greek: e)pei\ kai\ to\
poiou=n ei)=nai ti kai\ to\ pa/schon au)= ti e)pi\ e(no\s noê=sai,
ô(/s phasin, ou)k ei)=nai pagi/ôs. Ou)/te ga\r poiou=n e)sti/ ti,
pri\n a)\n tô=| pa/schonti xune/lthê|--ou)/te pa/schon, pri\n a)\n
tô=| poiou=nti], &c.]

[Footnote 36: Plato, Theætêt. p. 157 A. [Greek: to/ te/ tini
xuneltho\n kai\ poiou=n a)/llô| au)= prospeso\n pa/schon

[Footnote 37: Plato, Theætêt. p. 157 A. [Greek: ou)de\n ei)=nai
e(\n au)to\ kath' au(to/, a)lla/ tini a)ei\ gi/gnesthai, to\ d'
ei)=nai panta/chothen e)xairete/on], &c.]

[Footnote 38: Plato, Theætêt. p. 157 B. [Greek: dei= de\ kai\
kata\ me/ros ou(/tô le/gein kai\ peri\ pollô=n a)throisthe/ntôn,
ô(=| dê\ a)throi/smati a)/nthrôpo/n te ti/thentai kai\ li/thon
kai\ e(/kaston zô=o/n te kai\ ei)=dos.]

In this passage I follow Heindorf's explanation which seems
dictated by the last word [Greek: ei)=dos]. Yet I am not sure that
Plato does really mean here the _generic_ aggregates. He had
before talked about sights, sounds, hot, cold, hard, &c., the
separate sensations. He may perhaps here mean simply individual
things as aggregates or [Greek: a)throi/smata]--a _man_, a
_stone_, &c.]

[Footnote 39: Plato, Theætêt. p. 157 E.]

[Side-note: Arguments derived from dreams, fevers, &c., may be

The arguments advanced against this doctrine from the phenomena of
dreams, distempers, or insanity, admit (continues Sokrates) of a
satisfactory answer. A man who is dreaming, sick, or mad, believes
in realities different from, and inconsistent with, those which he
would believe in when healthy. But this is because he is, under
those peculiar circumstances, a different Subject, unlike what he
was before. One of the two factors of the result being thus
changed, the result itself is changed.[40] The cardinal principle
of Protagoras--the essential correlation, and indefeasible fusion,
of Subject and Object, exhibits itself in a perpetual series of
definite manifestations. To say that I (the Subject) perceive,--is
to say that I perceive some Object: to perceive and perceive
nothing, is a contradiction. Again, if an Object be sweet, it must
be sweet to some percipient Subject: sweet, but sweet to no one,
is impossible.[41] Necessity binds the essence of the percipient
to that of something perceived: so that every name which you
bestow upon either of them implies some reference to the other;
and no name can be truly predicated of either, which implies
existence (either perpetual or temporary) apart from the

[Footnote 40: Plato, Theætêt. p. 159.]

[Footnote 41: Plato, Theætêt. p. 160 A.]

[Footnote 42: Plato, Theætêt. p. 160 B. [Greek: e)/peiper ê(mô=n
ê( a)na/gkê tê\n ou)si/an sundei= me/n, sundei= de ou)deni\ tô=n
a)/llôn, ou)d' au)= ê(mi=n au)toi=s; a)llê/lois dê\ lei/petai
sundede/sthai] (_i. e._ [Greek: to\n ai)sthano/menon] and [Greek:
to\ poiou=n ai)stha/nesthai]). [Greek: Ô/ste ei)/te _tis ei)=nai
ti/ o)noma/zei, tini\ ei)=nai, ê)\ tino/s, ê)\ pro/s ti, r(ête/on
au)tô=|, ei)/te gi/gnesthai; au)to\ de\ e)ph' au(tou= ti ê)\ o)\n
ê)\ gigno/menon ou)/te au)tô=| lekte/on, ou)/t' a)/llou le/gontos

Compare Aristot. Metaphys. [Greek: G]. 6, p. 1011, a. 23.]

[Side-note: Exposition of the Protagorean doctrine, as given here
by Sokrates is to a great degree just. You cannot explain the
facts of consciousness by independent Subject and Object.]

Such is the exposition which Sokrates is here made to give, of the
Protagorean doctrine. How far the arguments, urged by him in its
behalf, are such as Protagoras himself either really urged, or
would have adopted, we cannot say. In so far as the doctrine
asserts essential fusion and implication between Subject and
Object, with actual multiplicity of distinct Subjects--denying the
reality either of absolute and separate Subject, or of absolute
and separate Object[43]--I think it true and instructive. We are
reminded that when we affirm any thing about an Object, there is
always (either expressed or tacitly implied) a Subject or Subjects
(one, many, or all), _to whom_ the Object _is_ what it is declared
to be. This is the fundamental characteristic of consciousness,
feeling, and cognition, in all their actual varieties. All of them
are bi-polar or bi-lateral, admitting of being looked at either on
the subjective or on the objective side. Comparisons and
contrasts, gradually multiplied, between one consciousness and
another, lead us to distinguish the one of these points of view
from the other. In some cases, the objective view is brought into
light and prominence, and the subjective thrown into the dark and
put out of sight: in other cases, the converse operation takes
place. Sometimes the Ego or Subject is prominent, sometimes the
Mecum or Object.[44] Sometimes the Objective is as it were
divorced from the Subject, and projected outwards, so as to have
an illusory appearance of existing apart from and independently of
any Subject. In other cases, the subjective view is so exclusively
lighted up and conspicuous, that Object disappears, and we talk of
a mind conceiving, as if it had no correlative Concept. It is
possible, by abstraction, to indicate, to name, and to reason
about, the one of these two points of view without including
direct notice of the other: this is abstraction or logical
separation--a mental process useful and largely applicable, yet
often liable to be mistaken for real distinctness and duality. In
the present case, the two abstractions become separately so
familiar to the mind, that this supposed duality is conceived as
the primordial and fundamental fact: the actual, bilateral,
consciousness being represented as a temporary derivative state,
generated by the copulation of two factors essentially independent
of each other. Such a theory, however, while aiming at an
impracticable result, amounts only to an inversion of the truth.
It aims at explaining our consciousness as a whole; whereas all
that we can really accomplish, is to explain, up to a certain
point, the conditions of conjunction and sequence between
different portions of our consciousness. It also puts the
primordial in the place of the derivative, and transfers the
derivative to the privilege of the primordial. It attempts to find
a generation for what is really primordial--the total series of
our manifold acts of consciousness, each of a bilateral character,
subjective on one side and objective on the other: and it assigns
as the generating factors two concepts obtained by abstraction
from these very acts,--resulting from multiplied comparisons,--and
ultimately exaggerated into an illusion which treats the logical
separation as if it were bisection in fact and reality.

[Footnote 43: Aristotle, in a passage of the treatise De Animâ
(iii. 1, 2-4-7-8, ed. Trendelenburg, p. 425, b. 25, p. 426, a.
15-25, Bekk.), impugns an opinion of certain antecedent [Greek:
phusio/logoi] whom he does not specify; which opinion seems
identical with the doctrine of Protagoras. These philosophers
said, that "there was neither white nor black without vision, nor
savour without the sense of taste". Aristotle says that they were
partly right, partly wrong. They were right in regard to the
actual, wrong in regard to the potential. The actual manifestation
of the perceived is one and the same with that of the percipient,
though the two are not the same logically in the view of the
reflecting mind ([Greek: ê( de\ tou= ai)sthêtou= e)ne/rgeia kai\
tê=s ai)sthê/seôs ê( au)tê\ me/n e)sti kai\ mi/a, to\ d' ei)=nai
ou) tau)to\n au)tai=s]). But this is not true when we speak of
them potentially--[Greek: dichô=s ga\r legome/nês tê=s
ai)sthê/seôs kai\ tou= ai)sthêtou=, tô=n me\n kata\ du/namin tô=n
de\ kat' e)ne/rgeian, e)pi/ tou/tôn me\n sumbai/nei to\ lechthe/n,
e)pi\ de\ tô=n e(te/rôn ou) sumbai/nei. A)ll' e)kei=noi a(plô=s
e)/legon peri\ tô=n legome/nôn ou)ch a(plô=s.]

I think that the distinction, which Aristotle insists upon as a
confutation of these philosophers, is not well founded. What he
states, in very just language, about _actual perception_ is
equally true about _potential perception_. As the present fact of
actual perception implicates essentially a determinate percipient
subject with a determinate perceived object, and admits of being
looked at either from the one point of view or from the other--so
the concept of potential perception implicates in like manner an
indeterminate perceivable with an indeterminate subject competent
to perceive. The perceivable or cogitable has no meaning except in
relation to some Capax Percipiendi or Capax Cogitandi.]

[Footnote 44: The terms Ego and Mecum, to express the antithesis
of these two [Greek: lo/gô| mo/non chôrista\], are used by
Professor Ferrier in his very acute treatise, the Institutes of
Metaphysic, pp. 93-96. The same antithesis is otherwise expressed
by various modern writers in the terms Ego and non-Ego--le moi et
le non-moi. I cannot think that this last is the proper way of
expressing it. You do not want to negative the Ego, but to declare
its essential implication with a variable correlate; to point out
the bilateral character of the act of consciousness. The two are
not merely _Relata secundum dici_ but _Relata secundum esse_, to
use a distinction recognised in the scholastic logic.

The implication of Subject and Object is expressed in a peculiar
manner (though still clearly) by Aristotle in the treatise De
Animâ, iii. 8, 1, 431, b. 21. [Greek: ê( psuchê\ ta\ o)/nta _pô/s_
e)sti pa/nta; ê)\ ga\r ai)sthêta\ ta\ o)/nta ê)\ noêta/. e)sti\ d'
ê( e)pistê/mê me\n ta\ e)pistêta/ _pôs_, ê( d' ai)/sthêsis ta\
ai)sthêta/.] The adverb [Greek: pôs] ([Greek: tro/pon tina/], as
Simplikius explains it, fol. 78, b. 1) here deserves attention.
"The soul is all existing things _in a certain way_ (or looked at
under a certain aspect). All things are either Percepta or
Cogitata: now Cognition is in a certain sense the
Cognita--Perception is the Percepta." He goes on to say that the
Percipient Mind is the Form of Percepta, while the matter of Percepta
is without: but that the Cogitant Mind is identical with Cogitata,
for they have no matter (iii. 4, 12, p. 430, a. 3, with the
commentary of Simplikius p. 78, b. 17, f. 19, a. 12). This is in
other words the Protagorean doctrine--That the mind is the measure
of all existences; and that this is even more true about [Greek:
noêta\] than about [Greek: ai)sthêta/]. That doctrine is
completely independent of the theory, that [Greek: e)pistê/mê] is
[Greek: ai)/sthêsis].

It is in conformity with this affirmation of Aristotle (partially
approved even by Cudworth--see Mosheim's Transl. of Intell. Syst.
Vol. II. ch. viii. pp. 27-28)--[Greek: ê( psuchê\ ta\ o)/nta pô/s
e)sti pa/nta]--that Mr. John Stuart Mill makes the following
striking remark about the number of ultimate Laws of Nature:--

"It is useful to remark, that the ultimate Laws of Nature cannot
possibly be less numerous than the distinguishable sensations or
other feelings of our nature: those, I mean, which are
distinguishable from one another in quality, and not merely in
quantity or degree. For example, since there is a phenomenon _sui
generis_ called colour, which our consciousness testifies to be
not a particular degree of some other phenomenon, as heat, or
odour, or motion, but intrinsically unlike all others, it follows
that there are ultimate laws of colour . . The ideal limit
therefore of the explanation of natural phenomena would be to show
that each distinguishable variety of our sensations or other
states of consciousness has only one sort of cause." (System of
Logic, Book iii. ch. 14, s. 2.)]

[Side-note: Plato's attempt to get behind the phenomena. Reference
to a double potentiality--Subjective and Objective.]

In Plato's exposition of the Protagorean theory, the true doctrine
held by Protagoras,[45] and the illusory explanation (whether
belonging to him or to Plato himself), are singularly blended
together. He denies expressly all separate existence either of
Subject or Object--all possibility of conceiving or describing the
one as a reality distinct from the other. He thus acknowledges
consciousness and cognition as essentially bilateral. Nevertheless
he also tries to explain the generation of these acts of
consciousness, by the hypothesis of a _latens processus_ behind
them and anterior to them--two continuous moving forces, agent and
patient, originally distinct, conspiring as joint factors to a
succession of compound results. But when we examine the language
in which Plato describes these forces, we see that he conceives
them only as Abstractions and Potentialities;[46] though he
ascribes to them a metaphorical copulation and generation. "Every
thing is motion (or change): of which there are two sorts, each
infinitely manifold: one, having power to act--the other having
power to suffer." Here instead of a number of distinct facts of
consciousness, each bilateral--we find ourselves translated by
abstraction into a general potentiality of consciousness, also
essentially bilateral and multiple. But we ought to recollect,
that the Potential is only a concept abstracted from the
actual,--and differing from it in this respect, that it includes what
has been and what may be, as well as what is. But it is nothing new
and distinct by itself: it cannot be produced as a substantive
antecedent to the actual, and as if it afforded explanation
thereof. The general proposition about motion or change (above
cited in the words of Plato), as far as it purports to get behind
the fact of consciousness and to assign its cause or antecedent--is
illusory. But if considered as a general expression for that
fact itself, in the most comprehensive terms--indicating the
continuous thread of separate, ever-changing acts of
consciousness, each essentially bilateral, or subjective as well
as objective--in this point of view the proposition is just and

[Footnote 45: The elaborate Dissertation of Sir William Hamilton,
on the Philosophy of the Unconditioned (standing first in his
'Discussions on Philosophy'), is a valuable contribution to
metaphysical philosophy. He affirms and shows, "That the
Unconditioned is incognisable and inconceivable: its notion being
only a negation of the Conditioned, which last can alone be
positively known and conceived" (p. 12); refuting the opposite
doctrine as proclaimed, with different modifications, both by
Schelling and Cousin.

In an Appendix to this Dissertation, contained in the same volume
(p. 608), Sir W. Hamilton not only re-asserts the doctrine ("Our
whole knowledge of mind and matter is relative,
conditioned--relatively conditioned. Of things absolutely or in
themselves, be they external, be they internal, we know nothing, or
know them only as incognisable," &c.)--but affirms farther that
philosophers of every school, with the exception of a few late absolute
theorisers in Germany, have always held and harmoniously re-echoed
the same doctrine.

In proof of such unanimous agreement, he cites passages from
seventeen different philosophers.

The first name on his list stands as follows:--"1. Protagoras--(as
reported by Plato, Aristotle, Sextus Empiricus, Diogenes Laertius,
&c.)--Man is (for himself) the measure of all things".

Sir William Hamilton understands the Protagorean doctrine as I
understand it, and as I have endeavoured to represent it in the
present chapter. It has been very generally misconceived.

I cannot, however, agree with Sir William Hamilton, in thinking
that this theory respecting the Unconditioned and the Absolute,
has been the theory generally adopted by philosophers. The
passages which he cites from other authors are altogether
insufficient to prove such an affirmation.]

[Footnote 46: Plato, Theætêt. p. 156 A. [Greek: tê=s de\ kinê/seôs
du/o ei)/dê, plê/thei me\n a)/peiron e(ka/teron, du/namin de\ to\
me\n poiei=n e)/chon, to\ de\ pa/schein.]]

[Footnote 47: In that distinction, upon which Aristotle lays so
much stress, between Actus and Potentia, he declares Actus or
actuality to be the Prius--Potentia or potentiality to be the
Posterius. See Metaphysica, [Greek: Th]. 8, 1049, b. 5 seqq.; De
Animâ, ii. 4, 415, a. 17. The Potential is a derivative from the
Actual--derived by comparison, abstraction, and logical analysis:
a Mental concept, helping us to describe, arrange, and reason
about, the multifarious acts of sense or consciousness--but not an
anterior generating reality.

Turgot observes (OEuvres, vol. iii. pp. 108-110; Article in the
Encyclopédie, _Existence_):--

"Le premier fondement de la notion de l'_existence_ est la
conscience de notre propre sensation, et le sentiment du _moi_ qui
résulte de cette conscience. La relation nécessaire entre l'être
appercevant, et l'être apperçu considéré hors du _moi_, suppose
dans les deux termes la même réalité. Il y a dans l'un et dans
l'autre un fondement de cette relation, que l'homme, s'il avoit un
langage, pourroit désigner par le nom commun d'_existence_ ou de
_présence_: car ces deux notions ne seroient point encore
distinguées l'une de l'autre. . . .

"Mais il est très-important d'observer que ni la simple sensation
des objets présens, ni la peinture que fait l'imagination des
objets absens, ni le simple rapport de distance ou d'activité
réciproque, commun aux uns et aux autres, ne sont précisément la
chose que l'esprit voudroit désigner par le nom général
d'_existence_; c'est le fondement même de ces rapports, supposé
commun au _moi_, à l'objet vu et à l'objet simplement distant,
sur lequel tombe véritablement et le nom d'_existence_ et notre
affirmation, lorsque nous disons qu'une chose _existe_. Ce
fondement n'est ni ne peut être connu immédiatement, et ne nous
est indiqué que par les rapports différents qui le supposent: nous
nous en formons cependant une espèce d'idée que nous tirons par
voie d'abstraction du témoignage que la conscience nous rend de
nous-mêmes et de notre sensation actuelle: c'est-à-dire, que nous
transportons en quelque sorte cette conscience du _moi_ sur les
objets extérieurs, par une espèce d'assimilation vague, démentie
aussitôt** par la séparation de tout ce qui caractérise le _moi_,
mais qui ne suffit pas moins pour devenir le fondement _d'une
abstraction ou d'un signe commun, et pour être l'objet de nos

It is to be remembered, that the doctrine here criticised is
brought forward by the Platonic Sokrates as a doctrine not his
own, but held by others; among whom he ranks Protagoras as one.

Having thus set forth in his own language, and as an advocate, the
doctrine of Protagoras, Sokrates proceeds to impugn it: in his
usual rambling and desultory way, but with great dramatic charm
and vivacity. He directs his attacks alternately against the two
doctrines: 1. _Homo Mensura_: 2. Cognition is sensible perception.

I shall first notice what he advances against _Homo Mensura_.

[Side-note: Arguments advanced by the Platonic Sokrates against the
Protagorean doctrine. He says that it puts the wise and foolish on
a par--that it contradicts the common consciousness. Not every
one, but the wise man only, is a measure.]

It puts every man (he says) on a par as to wisdom and
intelligence: and not only every man, but every horse, dog, frog,
and other animal along with him. Each man is a measure for
himself: all his judgments and beliefs are true: he is therefore
as wise as Protagoras and has no need to seek instruction from
Protagoras.[48] Reflection, study, and dialectic discussion, are
superfluous and useless to him: he is a measure to himself on the
subject of geometry, and need not therefore consult a professed
geometrician like Theodôrus.[49]

[Footnote 48: Plato, Theætêt. p. 161. Compare Plato, Kratylus, p.
386 C, where the same argument is employed.]

[Footnote 49: Plato, Theætêt. p. 169 A.]

The doctrine is contradicted (continues Sokrates) by the common
opinions of mankind: for no man esteems himself a measure on all
things. Every one believes that there are some things on which he
is wiser than his neighbour--and others on which his neighbour is
wiser than he. People are constantly on the look out for teachers
and guides.[50] If Protagoras advances an opinion which others
declare to be false, he must, since he admits their opinion to be
true, admit his own opinion to be false.[51] No animal, nor any
common man, is a measure; but only those men, who have gone
through special study and instruction in the matter upon which
they pronounce.[52]

[Footnote 50: Plato, Theætêt. p. 170.]

[Footnote 51: Plato, Theætêt. p. 171 B. [Greek: Ou)kou=n tê\n
au(tou= a)\n pseudê= xugchôroi=, ei) tê\n tô=n ê(goume/nôn au)to\n
pseu/desthai o(mologei= a)lêthê= ei)=nai?]]

[Footnote 52: Plato, Theætêt. p. 171 C.]

[Side-note: In matters of present sentiment every man can judge for
himself. Where future consequences are involved special knowledge
is required.]

In matters of present and immediate sensation, hot, cold, dry,
moist, sweet, bitter, &c., Sokrates acknowledges that every man
must judge _for himself_, and that what each pronounces is true
_for himself_. So too, about honourable or base, just or unjust,
holy or unholy--whatever rules any city may lay down, are true
_for itself_: no man, no city,--is wiser upon these matters than
any other.[53] But in regard to what is good, profitable,
advantageous, healthy, &c., the like cannot be conceded. Here
(says Sokrates) one man, and one city, is decidedly wiser, and
judges more truly, than another. We cannot say that the judgment
of each is true;[54] or that what every man or every city
anticipates to promise good or profit, will necessarily realise
such anticipations. In such cases, not merely present sentiment,
but future consequences are involved.

[Footnote 53: Plato, Theætêt. pp. 172 A, 177 E.]

[Footnote 54: Plato, Theætêt. p. 172.]

Here then we discover the distinction which Plato would draw.[55]
Where present sentiment alone is involved, as in hot and cold,
sweet and bitter, just and unjust, honourable and base, &c., there
each is a judge for himself, and one man is no better judge than
another. But where future consequences are to be predicted, the
ignorant man is incapable: none but the professional Expert, or
the prophet,[56] is competent to declare the truth. When a dinner
is on table, each man among the guests can judge whether it is
good: but while it is being prepared, none but the cook can judge
whether it _will be_ good.[57] This is one Platonic objection
against the opinion of Protagoras, when he says that every opinion
of every man is true. Another objection is, that opinions of
different men are opposite and contradictory,[58] some of them
contradicting the Protagorean dictum itself.

[Footnote 55: Plato, Theætêt. p. 178.]

[Footnote 56: Plato, Theætêt. p. 179. [Greek: ei)/ pê| tou\s
suno/ntas e)/peithen, o(/ti kai\ to\ me/llon e)/sesthai/ te kai\
do/xein ou)/te ma/ntis ou)/te tis a)/llos a)/meinon kri/neien a)\n
ê)\ au)to\s au(tô=|.]]

[Footnote 57: Plato, Theætêt. p. 178.]

[Footnote 58: Plato, Theætêt. p. 179 B.

_Theodor._ [Greek: E)kei/nê| moi dokei= ma/lista a(li/skesthai o(
lo/gos, a(lisko/menos kai\ tau/tê|, ê)=| ta\s tô=n a)/llôn do/xas
kuri/as poiei=, au(=tai de\ e)pha/nêsan tou\s e)kei/nou lo/gous
ou)damê=| a)lêthei=s ê(gou/menai.]

_Sokrat._ [Greek: Pollachê=| kai\ a)/llê| a)\n to/ ge toiou=ton
a(loi/ê, mê\ pa=san panto\s a)lêthê= do/xan ei)=nai; peri\ de\ to\
paro\n e(ka/stô| pa/thos, e)x ô(=n ai( ai)sthê/seis kai\ ai( kata\
tau/tas do/xai gi/gnontai . . . I)/sôs de\ ou)de\n le/gô,
a)na/lôtoi ga/r, ei) e)/tuchon, ei)si/n.]]

[Side-note: Plato, when he impugns the doctrine of Protagoras,
states that doctrine without the qualification properly belonging
to it. All belief relative to the condition of the believing

Such are the objections urged by Sokrates against the Protagorean
doctrine--_Homo Mensura_. There may have been perhaps in the
treatise of Protagoras, which unfortunately we do not possess,
some reasonings or phrases countenancing the opinions against
which Plato here directs his objections. But so far as I can
collect, even from the words of Plato himself when he professes to
borrow the phraseology of his opponent, I cannot think that
Protagoras ever delivered the opinion which Plato here
refutes--_That every opinion of every man is true_. The opinion really
delivered by Protagoras appears to have been[59]--_That every
opinion delivered by every man is true, to that man himself_. But
Plato, when he impugns it, leaves out the final qualification;
falling unconsciously into the fallacy of passing (as logicians
say) _a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter_.[60] The
qualification thus omitted by Plato forms the characteristic
feature of the Protagorean doctrine, and is essential to the
phraseology founded upon it. Protagoras would not declare any
proposition to be true absolutely, or false absolutely. The
phraseology belonging to that doctrine is forced upon him by
Plato. Truth Absolute there is none, according to Protagoras. All
truth is and must be truth relative to some one or more persons,
either actually accepting and believing in it, or conceived as
potential believers under certain circumstances. Moreover since
these believers are a multitude of individuals, each with his own
peculiarities--so no truth can be believed in, except under the
peculiar measure of the believing individual mind. What a man
adopts as true, and what he rejects as false, are conditioned
alike by this limit: a limit not merely different in different
individuals, but variable and frequently varying in the same
individual. You cannot determine a dog, or a horse, or a child to
believe in the Newtonian astronomy: you could not determine the
author of the Principia in 1687 to believe what the child Newton
had believed in 1647.[61] To say that what is true to one man, is
false to another--that what _was_ true to an individual as a child
or as a youth, becomes false to him in his advanced years, is no
real contradiction: though Plato, by omitting the qualifying
words, presents it as if it were such. In every man's mind, the
beliefs of the past have been modified or reversed, and the
beliefs of the present are liable to be modified or reversed, by
subsequent operative causes: by new supervening sensations,
emotions, intellectual comparisons, authoritative teaching, or
society, and so forth.

[Footnote 59: Plato, Theætêt. p. 152 A. [Greek: Ou)kou=n ou(/tô
pôs le/gei] (Protagoras) [Greek: ô(s oi(=a me\n e(/kasta e)moi\
phai/netai, toiau=ta me/n e)stin e)moi/--oi(=a de\ soi/, toiau=ta
de\ au)= soi/.] 158 A. [Greek: ta\ phaino/mena e(ka/stô| tau=ta
kai\ ei)=nai tou/tô| ô(=| phai/netai.] 160 C. [Greek: A)lêthê\s
a)/ra e)moi\ ê( e)mê\ ai)/sthêsis; tê=s ga\r e)mê=s ou)si/as a)ei/
e)sti; kai\ e)gô\ kritê\s kata\ to\n Prôtago/ran tô=n te o)/ntôn
e)moi/, ô(s e)/sti, kai\ tô=n mê\ o)/ntôn, ô(s ou)k e)/stin.]

Comp. also pp. 166 D, 170 A, 177 C.

Instead of saying [Greek: ai)/sthêsis] (in the passage just cited,
p. 160 D), we might with quite equal truth put [Greek: A)lêthê\s
a)/ra e)moi\ ê( e)mê\ _no/êsis_; tê=s ga\r e)mê=s ou)si/as a)ei/
e)/stin]. In this respect [Greek: ai)/sthêsis] and [Greek:
no/êsis] are on a par. [Greek: No/êsis] is just as much relative
to [Greek: o( noô=n] as [Greek: ai)/sthêsis] to [Greek: o(

Sextus Empiricus adverts to the doctrines of Protagoras (mainly to
point out how they are distinguished from those of the Sceptical
school, to which he himself belongs) in Pyrrhon. Hypot. i. sects.
215-219; adv. Mathematicos, vii. s. 60-64-388-400. He too imputes
to Protagoras both the two doctrines. 1. That man is the measure
of all things: that what appears to each person is, _to him_: that
all truth is thus relative. 2. That all phantasms, appearances,
opinions, are _true_. Sextus reasons at some length (390 seq.)
against this doctrine No. 2, and reasons very much as Protagoras
himself would have reasoned, since he appeals to individual
sentiment and movement of the individual mind ([Greek: ou)k
ô(sau/tôs ga\r kinou/metha], 391-400). It appears to me perfectly
certain that Protagoras advanced the general thesis of Relativity:
we see this as well from Plato as from Sextus--[Greek: kai\
ou(/tôs ei)sa/gei to\ pro/s ti--tô=n pro/s ti ei)=nai tê\n
a)lêthei/an] (Steinhart is of opinion that these words [Greek:
tô=n pro/s ti ei)=nai tê\n a)lêthei/an] are an addition of Sextus
himself, and do not describe the doctrine of Protagoras; an
opinion from which I dissent, and which is contradicted by Plato
himself: Steinhart, Einleitung, note 8). If Protagoras also
advanced the doctrine--all opinions are true--this was not
consistent with his cardinal principle of relativity. Either he
himself did not take care always to enunciate the qualifications
and limitations which his theory requires, and which in common
parlance are omitted--Or his opponents left out the limitations
which he annexed, and impugned the opinion as if it stood without
any. This last supposition I think the most probable.

The doctrine of Protagoras is correctly given by Sextus in the
Pyrrhon. Hypot.]

[Footnote 60: Aristotle, in commenting on the Protagorean formula,
falls into a similar inaccuracy in slurring over the restrictive
qualification annexed by Protagoras. Metaphysic. [Greek: G]. p.
1009, a. 6. Compare hereupon Bonitz's note upon the passage, p.
199 of his edition.

This transition without warning, _à dicto secundum quid ad dictum
simpliciter_, is among the artifices ascribed by Plato to the
Sophists Euthydêmus and Dionysodôrus (Plat. Euthyd. p. 297 D).]

[Footnote 61: The argument produced by Plato to discredit the
Protagorean theory--that it puts the dog or the horse on a level
with man--furnishes in reality a forcible illustration of the
truth of the theory.

Mr. James Harris, the learned Aristotelian of the last century,
remarks, in his Dialogue on Happiness (Works, ed. 1772, pp.

"Every particular Species is, itself to itself, the Measure of all
things in the Universe. As things vary in their relations to it,
they vary also in their value. If their value be ever doubtful, it
can noway be adjusted but by recurring with accuracy to the
natural State of the Species, and to those several Relations which
such a State of course creates."]

[Side-note: All exposition and discussion is an assemblage of
individual judgments and affirmations. This fact is disguised by
elliptical forms of language.]

The fact, that all exposition and discussion is nothing more than
an assemblage of individual judgments, depositions, affirmations,
negations, &c, is disguised from us by the elliptical form in
which it is conducted. For example:--I, who write this book--can
give nothing more than my own report, as a witness, of facts known
to me, and of what has been said, thought, or done by others,--for
all which I cite authorities:--and my own conviction, belief or
disbelief, as to the true understanding thereof, and the
conclusions deducible. I produce the reasons which justify my
opinion: I reply to those reasons which have been supposed by
others to justify the opposite. It is for the reader to judge how
far my reasons appear satisfactory to his mind.[62] To deliver my
own convictions, is all that is in my power: and if I spoke with
full correctness and amplitude, it would be incumbent on me to
avoid pronouncing any opinion to be _true_ or _false_ simply: I
ought to say, it is _true to me--or false to me_. But to repeat
this in every other sentence, would be a tiresome egotism. It is
understood once for all by the title-page of the book: an opponent
will know what he has to deal with, and will treat the opinions
accordingly. If any man calls upon me to give him absolute truth,
and to lay down the canon of evidence for identifying it--I cannot
comply with the request, any farther than to deliver my own best
judgment, what is truth--and to declare what is the canon of
evidence which guides my own mind. Each reader must determine for
himself whether he accepts it or not. I might indeed clothe my own
judgments in oracular and vehement language: I might proclaim them
as authoritative dicta: I might speak as representing the Platonic
Ideal, Typical Man,--or as inspired by a [Greek: dai/môn] like
Sokrates: I might denounce opponents as worthless men, deficient
in all the sentiments which distinguish men from brutes, and
meriting punishment as well as disgrace. If I used all these harsh
phrases, I should only imitate what many authors of repute think
themselves entitled to say, about THEIR beliefs and convictions.
Yet in reality, I should still be proclaiming nothing beyond my
own feelings:--the force of emotional association, and antipathy
towards opponents, which had grown round these convictions in my
own mind. Whether I speak in accordance with others, or in
opposition to others, in either case I proclaim my own reports,
feelings and judgments--nothing farther. I cannot escape from the
Protagorean limit or measures.[63]

[Footnote 62: M. Destutt Tracy observes as follows:--

"De même que toutes nos propositions peuvent être ramenées à la
forme de propositions énonciatives, parce qu'au fond elles
expriment toutes un jugement; de même, toutes nos propositions
énonciatives peuvent ensuite être toujours réduites à n'être
qu'une de celles-ci: 'je pense, je sens, ou je perçois, que telle
chose est de telle manière, ou que tel être produit tel
effet'--_propositions dont nous sommes nous-mêmes le sujet, parce
qu'au fond nous sommes toujours le subjet de tous nos jugemens_,
puisqu'ils n'expriment jamais qu'une impression que nous
éprouvons." (Idéologie: Supplément à la première Section, vol. iv.
p. 165, ed. 1825 duodec.)

"On peut même dire que comme nous ne sentons, ne savons, et ne
connaissons, rien que par rapport à nous, l'idée, sujet de la
proposition, est toujours en définitif notre moi; car quand je dis
_cet arbre est vert_, je dis réellement _je sens, je sais, je
vois, que cet arbre est vert_. Mais _précisément parce que ce
préambule se trouve toujours et nécessairement compris dans toutes
nos propositions, nous le supprimons quand nous voulons_; et toute
idée peut être le sujet de la proposition." (Principes Logiques,
vol. iv. ch. viii. p. 231.)]

[Footnote 63: Sokrates himself states as much as this in the
course of his reply to the doctrine of Protagoras, Theætêt. 171
D.: [Greek: a)ll' ê(mi=n a)na/gkê, oi)=mai, chrê=sthai ê(mi=n
au)toi=s . . . kai\ ta\ dokou=nta a)ei/, tau=ta le/gein.]

The necessity ([Greek: a)na/gkê]) to which Sokrates here adverts,
is well expressed by M. Degérando. "En jugeant ce que pensent les
autres hommes, en comprenant ce qu'ils éprouvent, nous ne sortons
point en effet de nous-mêmes, comme on seroit tenté de le croire.
C'est dans nos propres idées que nous voyons leurs idées, leurs
manières d'être, leur existence même. Le monde entier ne nous est
connu que dans une sorte de chambre obscure: et lorsqu'au sortir
d'une société nombreuse nous croyons avoir lu dans les esprits et
dans les coeurs, avoir observé des caractères, et senti (si je
puis dire ainsi) la vie d'un grand nombre d'hommes--nous ne
faisons en effet que sortir d'une grande galerie dont notre
imagination a fait tous les frais; dont elle a créé tous les
personnages, et dessiné, avec plus ou moins de vérité, tous les
tableaux." (Degérando, Des Signes et de l'Art de Penser, vol. i.
ch. v. p. 132.)]

[Side-note: Argument--That the Protagorean doctrine equalises all
men and animals. How far true. Not true in the sense requisite to
sustain Plato's objection.]

To this theory Plato imputes as a farther consequence, that it
equalises all men and all animals. No doubt, the measure or limit
as generically described, bears alike upon all: but it does not
mark the same degree in all. Each man's bodily efforts are
measured or limited by the amount of his physical force: this is
alike true of all men: yet it does not follow that the physical
force of all men is equal. The dog, the horse, the new-born child,
the lunatic, is each a measure of truth to himself: the
philosopher is so also to himself: this is alike true, whatever
may be the disparity of intelligence: and is rather more obviously
true when the disparity is great, because the lower intelligence
has then a very narrow stock of beliefs, and is little modifiable
by the higher. But though the Protagorean doctrine declares the
dog or the child to be a measure of truth--each to himself--it
does not declare either of them to be a measure of truth to me, to
you, or to any ordinary by-stander. How far any person is a
measure of truth to others, depends upon the estimation in which
he is held by others: upon the belief which they entertain
respecting his character or competence. Here is a new element let
in, of which Plato, in his objection to the Protagorean doctrine,
takes no account. When he affirms that Protagoras by his
equalising doctrine acknowledged himself to be no better in point
of wisdom and judgment than a dog or a child, this inference must
be denied.[64] The Protagorean doctrine is perfectly consistent
with great diversities of knowledge, intellect, emotion, and
character, between one man and another. Such diversities are
recognised in individual belief and estimation, and are thus
comprehended in the doctrine. Nor does Protagoras deny that men
are teachable and modifiable. The scholar after being taught will
hold beliefs different from those which he held before. Protagoras
professed to know more than others, and to teach them: others on
their side also believed that he knew more than they, and came to
learn it. Such belief on both sides, noway contradicts the general
doctrine here under discussion. What the scholar believes to be
true, is still true to him: among those things which he believes
to be true, one is, that the master knows more than he: in coming
to be taught, he acts upon his own conviction. To say that a man
is wise, is to say, that he is wise _in some one's estimation_:
your own or that of some one else. Such estimation is always
implied, though often omitted in terms. Plato remarks very truly,
that every one believes some others to be on certain matters wiser
than himself. In other words, what is called authority--that
predisposition to assent, with which we hear the statements and
opinions delivered by some other persons--is one of the most
operative causes in determining human belief. The circumstances of
life are such as to generate this predisposition in every one's
mind to a greater or less degree, and towards some persons more
than towards others.

[Footnote 64: Plato, Theætêt. p. 161 D. [Greek: o( d' a)/ra
e)tu/gchanen ô)\n ei)s phro/nêsin ou)de\n belti/ôn batra/chou
guri/nou, mê\ o(/ti a)/llou tou a)nthrô/pôn.] I substitute the dog
or horse as illustrations.]

[Side-note: Belief on authority is true to the believer
himself--The efficacy of authority resides in the believer's own mind.]

Belief on authority is true to the believer himself, like all his
other beliefs, according to the Protagorean doctrine: and in
acting upon it,--in following the guidance of A, and not following
the guidance of B,--he is still a measure to himself. It is not to
be supposed that Protagoras ever admitted all men to be equally
wise, though Plato puts such an admission into his mouth as an
inference undeniable and obvious. His doctrine affirms something
altogether different:--that whether you believe yourself to be
wise or unwise, in either case the belief is equally your
own--equally the result of your own mental condition and
predisposition,--equally true to yourself,--and equally an item
among the determining conditions of your actions. That the beliefs
and convictions of one person might be modified by another, was a
principle held by Protagoras not less than by Sokrates: the former
employed as his modifying instrument, eloquent lecturing--the
latter, dialectical cross-examination. Both of them recognise the
belief of the person to whom they address themselves as true to
him, yet at the same time as something which may be modified and
corrected, by appealing to what they thought the better parts of
it against the worse.

[Side-note: Protagorean formula--is false, to those who dissent
from it.]

Again--Sokrates imputes it as a contradiction to Protagoras--"Your
doctrine is pronounced to be false by many persons: but you admit
that the belief of all persons is true: therefore your doctrine is
false".[65] Here also Plato omits the qualification annexed by
Protagoras to his general principle--Every man's belief is
true--that is, true _to him_. That a belief should be true, to one man,
and false to another--is not only no contradiction to the formula
of Protagoras, but is the very state of things which his formula
contemplates. He of course could only proclaim it as true to
himself. It is the express purpose of his doctrine to disallow the
absolutely true and the absolutely false. His own formula, like
every other opinion, is false to those who dissent from it: but it
is not false absolutely, any more than any other doctrine. Plato
therefore does not make out his charge of contradiction.

[Footnote 65: Plato, Theætêt. p. 171 A. Sextus Empiric. (adv.
Mathem. vii. 61) gives a pertinent answer to this objection.]

[Side-note: Plato's argument--That the wise man alone is a
measure--Reply to it.]

Some men (says Sokrates) have learnt,--have bestowed study on
special matters,--have made themselves wise upon those matters.
Others have not done the like, but remain ignorant. It is the wise
man only who is a measure: the ignorant man neither is so, nor
believes himself to be so, but seeks guidance from the wise.[66]

[Footnote 66: Plato, Theætêt. pp. 171 C, 179 B.]

Upon this we may remark--First, that even when the untaught men
are all put aside, and the erudites or Experts remain alone--still
these very erudites or Experts, the men of special study, are
perpetually differing among themselves; so that we cannot
recognise one as a measure, without repudiating the authority of
the rest.[67] If by a measure, Plato means an infallible measure,
he will not find it in this way: he is as far from the absolute as
before. Next, it is perfectly correct that if any man be known to
have studied or acquired experience on special matters, his
opinion obtains an authority with others (more or fewer), such as
the opinion of an ignorant man will not possess. This is a real
difference between the graduated man and the non-graduated. But it
is a difference not contradicting the theory of Protagoras; who
did not affirm that every man's opinion was equally trustworthy in
the estimation of others, but that every man's opinion was alike a
measure to the man himself. The authority of the guide resides in
the belief and opinion of those who follow him, or who feel
prepared to follow him if necessity arises. A man gone astray on
his journey, asks the way to his destination from residents whom
he believes to know it, just as he might look at a compass, or at
the stars, if no other persons were near. In following their
direction, he is acting on his own belief, that he himself is
ignorant on the point in question and that they know. He is a
measure to himself, both of the extent of his own ignorance, and
of the extent of his own knowledge. And in this respect all are
alike--every man, woman, child, and animal;[68] though they are by
no means alike in the estimation of others, as trustworthy

[Footnote 67: "Nam, quod dicunt omnino, se credere ei quem
judicent fuisse sapientem--probarem, si id ipsum rudes et indocti
judicare potuissent (statuere enim, qui sit sapiens, vel maximé
videtur esse sapientis). _Sed, ut potuerint, potuerunt, omnibus
rebus auditis, cognitis etiam reliquorum sententiis: judicaverunt
autem re semel auditâ, atque ad unius se auctoritatem
contulerunt._" (Cicero, Acad. Priora, ii. 3, 9.)]

[Footnote 68: Plato, Theætêt. p. 171 E. I transcribe the following
from the treatise of Fichte (Beruf des Menschen, Destination de
l'Homme; Traduction de Barchou de Penhoën, ch. i. Le Doute, pp.

"De la conscience de chaque individu, la nature se contemplant
sous un point de vue différent, il en résulte que je m'appelle
_moi_, et que tu t'appelles _toi_. Pour toi, je suis hors de toi;
et pour moi, tu es hors de moi. Dans ce qui est hors de moi, je me
saisis d'abord de ce qui m'avoisine le plus, de ce qui est le plus
à ma portée: toi, tu fais de même. Chacun de notre côté, nous
allons ensuite au delà. Puis, ayant commencé à cheminer ainsi dans
le monde de deux points de départ différens, nous suivons, pendant
le reste de notre vie, des routes qui se coupent çà et là, mais
qui jamais ne suivent exactement la même direction, jamais ne
courent parallèlement l'une à l'autre. Tous les individus
possibles peuvent être: par conséquent aussi, tous les points de
vue de conscience possibles. _La somme de ces consciences
individuelles fait la conscience universelle: il n'y a pas
d'autre._ Ce n'est en effet que dans l'individu que se trouve à la
fois et la limitation et la réalité. Dans l'individu la conscience
est entièrement déterminée par la nature intime de l'individu. Il
n'est donné à personne de savoir autre chose que ce qu'il sait. Il
ne pourrait pas davantage savoir les mêmes choses d'une autre
façon qu'il ne les sait."

The same doctrine is enforced with great originality and acuteness
in a recent work of M. Eugène Véron, Du Progrès Intellectuel dans
l'Humanité, Supériorité des Arts Modernes sur les Arts Anciens
(Paris, 1862, Guillaumin). M. Véron applies his general doctrine
mainly to the theory of Art and Æsthetics: moreover he affirms
more than I admit respecting human progress as a certain and
constant matter of fact. But he states clearly, as an universal
truth, the relative point of view--the necessary measurement for
itself, of each individual mind--and the consequent obligation, on
each, to allow to other minds the like liberty. We read, pp.

"Cela revient à dire que dans quelque cas que nous supposions,
nous ne pouvons sentir que dans la mesure de notre sensibilité,
comprendre et juger que dans la mesure de notre intelligence; et
que nos facultés étant en perpetuel developpement, les variations
de notre personnalité entrainent nécessairement celles de nos
jugemens, même quand nous n'en avons pas conscience. . . Chaque
homme a son esprit particulier. Ce que l'un comprend sans peine,
un autre ne le peut saisir; ce qui répugne à l'un, plait à
l'autre: ce qui ce me parait odieux, mon voisin l'approuve.
Quelque bonne envie que nous semblions avoir de nous perdre dans
la foule, de dépouiller notre individualité pour emprunter des
jugemens tout faits et des opinions taillées à la mesure et à
l'usage du public--il est facile de voir que, tout en ayant l'air
de répéter la leçon apprise, nous jugeons à notre manière, quand
nous jugeons: que notre jugement, tout en paraissant être celui de
tout le monde, n'en reste pas moins personnel, et n'est pas une
simple imitation: que cette ressemblance même est souvent plus
apparente que réelle: que l'identité extérieure des formules et
des expressions ne prouve pas absolument celle de la pensée. Rien
n'est élastique comme les mots, et comme les principes généraux
dans lesquels on pense enfermer les intelligences. C'est souvent
quand le langage est le plus semblable qu'on est le plus loin de

"Du reste, quand même cette ressemblance serait aussi réelle
qu'elle est fausse, en quoi prouverait-il l'identité nécessaire
des intelligences? Qu'y aurait-il d'étonnant qu'au milieu de ce
communisme intellectual qui régit l'éducation de chaque classe, et
détermine nos habitudes intellectuelles et morales, les
distinctions natives disparussent ou s'atténuassent? Ne faut-il
pas plutôt admirer l'opiniâtre vitalité des différences
originelles qui résistent à tant de causes de nivellement?
L'identité primitive des intelligences n'est qu'une fiction
logique sans réalité--une simple abstraction de langage, _qui ne
repose que sur l'identité du mot avec lui-même_. Tout se reduit à
la possibilité abstraite des mêmes développemens, dans les mêmes
conditions d'hérédité et d'éducation--mais aussi de développemens
différens dans des circonstances différentes: c'est à dire, que
l'intelligence de chacun n'est identique à celle de tous, qu'au
moment où elle n'est pas encore proprement une intelligence."]

[Side-note: Plato's argument as to the distinction between present
sensation and anticipation of the future.]

A similar remark may be made as to Plato's distinction between the
different matters to which belief may apply: present sensation or
sentiment in one case--anticipation of future sensations or
sentiments, in another. Upon matters of present sensation and
sentiment (he argues), such as hot or cold, sweet or bitter, just
or unjust, honourable or base, &c., one man is as good a judge as
another: but upon matters involving future contingency, such as
what is healthy or unhealthy,--profitable and good, or hurtful and
bad,--most men judge badly: only a few persons, possessed of
special skill and knowledge, judge well, each in his respective

[Side-note: The formula of Relativity does not imply that every man
believes himself to be infallible.]

I for my part admit this distinction to be real and important.
Most other persons admit the same.[69] In acting upon it, I follow
out my belief,--and so do they. This is a general fact, respecting
the circumstances which determine individual belief. Like all
other causes of belief, it operates relatively to the individual
mind, and thus falls under that general canon of relativity, which
it is the express purpose of the Protagorean formula to affirm.
Sokrates impugns the formula of relativity, as if it proclaimed
every one to believe himself more competent to predict the future
than any other person. But no such assumption is implied in it. To
say that a man is a measure to himself, is not to say that he is,
or, that he believes himself to be, omniscient or infallible. A
sick man may mistake the road towards future health, in many
different directions. One patient may over-estimate his own
knowledge,--that is one way, but only one among several: another
may be diffident, and may undervalue his own knowledge: a third
may over-estimate the knowledge of his professional adviser, and
thus follow an ignorant physician, believing him to be instructed
and competent: a fourth, instead of consulting a physician, may
consult a prophet, whom Plato[70] here reckons among the
authoritative infallible measures in respect to future events: a
fifth may (like the rhetor Ælius Aristeides[71]) disregard the
advice of physicians, and follow prescriptions enjoined to him in
his own dreams, believing them to be sent by Æsculapius the
Preserving God. Each of these persons judges differently about the
road to future health: but each is alike a measure to himself: the
belief of each is relative to his own mental condition and
predispositions. You, or I, may believe that one or other of them
is mistaken: but here another measure is introduced--_your_ mind
or _mine_.

[Footnote 69: Plato, Theætêt. p. 179 A. [Greek: pa=s a)\n

[Footnote 70: Plato, Theætêt. p. 179 A, where Mr. Campbell
observes in his note--"The [Greek: ma/ntis] is introduced as being
[Greek: e)pistê/môn] of the future generally; just as the
physician is of future health and disease, the musician of future
harmony," &c.]

[Footnote 71: See the five discourses of the rhetor
Aristeides--[Greek: I(erô=n Lo/goi], Oratt. xxiii.-xxvii.--containing
curious details about his habits and condition, and illustrating his
belief; especially Or. xxiii. p. 462 seqq. The perfect faith which
he reposed in his dreams, and the confidence with which he speaks
of the benefits derived from acting upon them, are remarkable.]

[Side-note: Plato's argument is untenable--That if the Protagorean
formula be admitted, dialectic discussion would be annulled--The
reverse is true--Dialectic recognises the autonomy of the
Individual mind.]

But the most unfounded among all Plato's objections to the
Protagorean formula, is that in which Sokrates is made to allege,
that if it be accepted, the work of dialectical discussion is at
an end: that the Sokratic Elenchus, the reciprocal scrutiny of
opinions between two dialogists, becomes nugatory--since every
man's opinions are _right_.[72] Instead of _right_, we must add
the requisite qualification, here as elsewhere, by reading, _right
to the man himself_. Now, dealing with Plato's affirmation thus
corrected, we must pronounce not only that it is not true, but
that the direct reverse of it is true. Dialectical discussion and
the Sokratic procedure, far from implying the negation of the
Protagorean formula, involve the unqualified recognition of it.
Without such recognition the procedure cannot even begin, much
less advance onward to any result. Dialectic operates altogether
by question and answer: the questioner takes all his premisses
from the answers of the respondent, and cannot proceed in any
direction except that in which the respondent leads him. Appeal is
always directly made to the affirmative or negative of the
individual mind, which is thus installed as measure of truth or
falsehood _for itself_. The peculiar and characteristic excellence
of the Sokratic Elenchus consists in thus stimulating the interior
mental activity of the individual hearer, in eliciting from him
all the positive elements of the debate, and in making him feel a
shock when one of his answers contradicts the others. Sokrates not
only does not profess to make himself a measure for the
respondent, but expressly disclaims doing so: he protests against
being considered as a teacher, and avows his own entire ignorance.
He undertakes only the obstetric process of evolving from the
respondent mind what already exists in it without the means of
escape--and of applying interrogatory tests to the answer when
produced: if there be nothing in the respondent's mind, his art is
inapplicable. He repudiates all appeal to authority, except that
of the respondent himself.[73] Accordingly there is neither sense
nor fitness in the Sokratic cross-examination, unless you assume
that each person, to whom it is addressed, is a measure of truth
and falsehood to himself. Implicitly indeed, this is assumed in
rhetoric as well as in dialectic: wherever the speaker aims at
persuading, he adapts his mode of speech to the predispositions of
the hearer's own mind; and he thus recognises that mind as a
measure for itself. But the Sokratic Dialectic embodies the same
recognition, and the same essential relativity to the hearer's
mind, more forcibly than any rhetoric. And the Platonic Sokrates
(in the Phædrus) makes it one of his objections against orators
who addressed multitudes, that they did not discriminate either
the specialties of different minds, or the specialties of
discourse applicable to each.[74]

[Footnote 72: Plato, Theætêt. p. 161 E.]

[Footnote 73: Read the animated passage in the conversation with
Pôlus: Plato, Gorg. 472, and Theætêt. 161 A, pp. 375, 376.

In this very argument of Sokrates (in the Theætêtus) against the
Protagorean theory, we find him unconsciously adopting (as I have
already remarked) the very language of that theory, as a
description of his own procedure, p. 171 D. Compare with this a
remarkable passage in the colloquy of Sokrates with Thrasymachus,
in Republic, i. 337 C.

Moreover, the long and striking contrast between the philosopher
and the man of the world, which Plato embodies in this dialogue
(the Theætêtus, from p. 172 to p. 177), is so far from assisting
his argument against Protagoras, that it rather illustrates the
Protagorean point of view. The beliefs and judgments of the man of
the world are presented as flowing from _his_ mental condition and
predispositions: those of the philosopher, from _his_. The two are
radically dissentient: each appears to the other mistaken and
misguided. Here is nothing to refute Protagoras. Each of the two
is a measure for himself.

Yes, it will be said; but Plato's measure is right, and that of
the man of the world is wrong. Perhaps _I_ may think so. As a
measure for myself, I speak and act accordingly. But the opponents
have not agreed to accept _me_ any more than Plato as their judge.
The case remains unsettled as before.]

[Footnote 74: Plato, Phædrus, p. 271 D-E; compare 258 A.]

[Side-note: Contrast with the Treatise De Legibus--Plato assumes
infallible authority--sets aside Dialectic.]

Though Sokrates, and Plato so far forth as follower of Sokrates,
employed a colloquial method based on the fundamental assumption
of the Protagorean formula--autonomy of each individual
mind--whether they accepted the formula in terms, or not; yet we shall
find Plato at the end of his career, in his treatise De Legibus,
constructing an imaginary city upon the attempted deliberate
exclusion of this formula. We shall find him there monopolising
all teaching and culture of his citizens from infancy upwards,
barring out all freedom of speech or writing by a strict
censorship, and severely punishing dissent from the prescribed
orthodoxy. But then we shall also find that Plato in that last
stage of his life--when he constitutes himself as lawgiver, the
measure of truth or falsehood for all his citizens--has at the
same time discontinued his early commerce with the Sokratic

[Side-note: Plato in denying the Protagorean formula, constitutes
himself the measure for all. Counter-proposition to the formula.]

On the whole then, looking at what Plato says about the
Protagorean doctrine of Relativity--_Homo Mensura_--first, his
statement what the doctrine really is, next his strictures upon
it--we may see that he ascribes to it consequences which it will
not fairly carry. He impugns it as if it excluded philosophy and
argumentative scrutiny: whereas, on the contrary, it is the only
basis upon which philosophy or "reasoned truth" can stand. Whoever
denies the Protagorean autonomy of the individual judgment, must
propound as his counter theory some heteronomy, such as he (the
denier) approves. If I am not allowed to judge of truth and
falsehood for myself, who is to judge for me? Plato, in the
Treatise De Legibus, answers very unequivocally:--assuming to
himself that infallibility which I have already characterised as
the prerogative of King Nomos: "I, the lawgiver, am the judge for
all my citizens: you must take my word for what is true or false:
you shall hear nothing except what my censors approve--and if,
nevertheless, any dissenters arise, there are stringent penalties
in store for them". Here is an explicit enunciation of the
Counter-Proposition,[75] necessary to be maintained by those who
deny the Protagorean doctrine. If you pronounce a man unfit to be
the measure of truth for himself, you constitute yourself the
measure, in his place: either directly as lawgiver--or by
nominating censors according to your own judgment. As soon as he
is declared a lunatic, some other person must be appointed to
manage his property for him. You can only exchange one individual
judgment for another. You cannot get out of the region of
individual judgments, more or fewer in number: the King, the Pope,
the Priest, the Judges or Censors, the author of some book, or the
promulgator of such and such doctrine. The infallible measure
which you undertake to provide, must be found in some person or
persons--if it can be found at all: in some person selected by
yourself--that is, in the last result, _yourself_.[76]

[Footnote 75: Professor Ferrier's Institutes of Metaphysic exhibit
an excellent example of the advantages of setting forth explicitly
the Counter-Proposition--that which an author intends to deny, as
well as the Proposition which he intends to affirm and prove.]

[Footnote 76: Aristotle says (Ethic. Nikomach. x. 1176, a. 15)
[Greek: dokei= d' e)n a(/pasi toi=s toiou/tois _ei)=nai to\
phaino/menon tô=| spoudai/ô|_.] "That _is_, which _appears to be_
in the judgment of the wise or virtuous man." The ultimate appeal
is thus acknowledged to be, not to an abstraction, but to some one
or more individual persons whom Aristotle recognises as wise.
_That_ is truth which this wise man declares to be truth. You
cannot escape from the Relative by any twist of reasoning.

What Platonic critics call "Der Gegensatz des Seins und des
Scheins" (see Steinhart, Einleit. zum Theætêt. p. 37) is
unattainable. All that is attainable is the antithesis between
that which appears to one person, and that which appears to one or
more others, choose them as you will: between that which appears
at a first glance, or at a distance, or on careless inspection--and
that which appears after close and multiplied observations and
comparisons, after full discussion, &c. _Das Sein_ is that which
appears to the person or persons whom we judge to be wise, under
these latter favourable circumstances.

Epiktetus, i. 28, 1. [Greek: Ti/ e)/stin ai)/tion tou=
sugkatati/thesthai/ tini? To\ phai/nesthai o(/ti u(pa/rchei. Tô=|
ou)=n phainome/nô| o(/ti ou)ch u(pa/rchei, sugkatati/thesthai
ou)ch oi(=o/n te.]]

[Side-note: Import of the Protagorean formula is best seen when we
state explicitly the counter-proposition.]

It is only when the Counter-Proposition to the Protagorean formula
is explicitly brought out, that the full meaning of that formula
can be discerned. If you deny it, the basis of all free discussion
and scrutiny is withdrawn: philosophy, or what is properly called
reasoned truth, disappears. In itself it says little.

[Side-note: Unpopularity of the Protagorean formula--Most believers
insist upon making themselves a measure for others, as well as for
themselves. Appeal to Abstractions.]

Yet little as its positive import may seem to be, it clashes with
various illusions, omissions, and exigencies, incident to the
ordinary dogmatising process. It substitutes the concrete in place
of the abstract--the complete in place of the elliptical. Instead
of Truth and Falsehood, which present to us the Abstract and
impersonal as if it stood alone--the Objective divested of its
Subject--we are translated into the real world of beliefs and
disbeliefs, individual believers and disbelievers: matters
affirmed or denied by some Subject actual or supposable--by you,
by me, by him or them, perhaps by all persons within our
knowledge. All men agree in the subjective fact, or in the mental
states called belief and disbelief; but all men do not agree in
the matters believed and disbelieved, or in what they speak of as
Truth and Falsehood. No infallible objective mark, no common
measure, no canon of evidence, recognised by all, has yet been
found. What is Truth to one man, is not truth, and is often
Falsehood, to another: that which governs the mind as infallible
authority in one part of the globe, is treated with indifference
or contempt elsewhere.[77] Each man's belief, though in part
determined by the same causes as the belief of others, is in part
also determined by causes peculiar to himself. When a man speaks
of Truth, he means what he himself (along with others, or singly,
as the case may be) believes to be Truth; unless he expressly
superadds the indication of some other persons believing in it.
This is the reality of the case, which the Protagorean formula
brings into full view; but which most men dislike to recognise,
and disguise from themselves as well as from others in the common
elliptical forms of speech. In most instances a believer entirely
forgets that his own mind is the product of a given time and
place, and of a conjunction of circumstances always peculiar,
amidst the aggregate of mankind--for the most part narrow. He
cannot be content (like Protagoras) to be a measure for himself
and for those whom his arguments may satisfy. This would be to
proclaim what some German critics denounce as Subjectivism.[78] He
insists upon constituting himself--or some authority worshipped by
himself--or some abstraction interpreted by himself--a measure for
all others besides, whether assentient or dissentient. That which
_he_ believes, all ought to believe.

[Footnote 77: Respecting the grounds and conditions of belief
among the Hindoos, Sir William Sleeman (Rambles and Recollections
of an Indian Official, ch. xxvi. vol. i. pp. 226-228) observes as

"Every word of this poem (the Ramaen, Ramayana) the people assured
me was written, if not by the hand of the Deity himself, at least
by his inspiration, which was the same thing, and it must
consequently be true. Ninety-nine out of a hundred, among the
Hindoos, implicitly believe, not only every word of this poem, but
every word of every poem that has ever been written in Sanscrit.
If you ask a man whether he really believes any very egregious
absurdity quoted from these books, he replies with the greatest
_naïveté_ in the world, 'Is it not written in the book; and how
should it be there written if not true?' . . . The greater the
improbability, the more monstrous and preposterous the fiction,
the greater is the charm that it has over their minds; and the
greater their learning in the Sanscrit, the more are they under
the influence of this charm. Believing all to be written by the
Deity, or by his inspirations, and the men and things of former
days to have been very different from the men and things of the
present day, and the heroes of these fables to have been demigods,
or people endowed with powers far superior to those of the
ordinary men of their own day, the analogies of nature are never
for a moment considered; nor do questions of probability, or
possibility, according to those analogies, ever obtrude to dispel
the charm with which they are so pleasingly bound. They go on
through life reading and talking of these monstrous fictions,
which shock the taste and understanding of other nations, without
once questioning the truth of one single incident, or hearing it
questioned. There was a time, and that not very distant, when it
was the same in England and in every other European nation; and
there are, I am afraid, some parts of Europe where it is so still.
But the Hindoo faith, so far as religious questions are concerned,
is not more capacious or absurd than that of the Greeks and Romans
in the days of Sokrates and Cicero; the only difference is, that
among the Hindoos a greater number of the questions which interest
mankind are brought under the head of religion."]

[Footnote 78: This is the objection taken by Schwegler, Prantl,
and other German thinkers, against the Protagorean doctrine
(Prantl, Gesch. der Logik, vol. i. p. 12 seq.; Schwegler, Gesch.
der Philos. im Umriss. s. 11, b. p. 26, ed. 5th). I had
transcribed from each of these works a passage of some length, but
I cannot find room for them in this note.

These authors both say, that the Protagorean canon, properly
understood, is right, but that Protagoras laid it down wrongly.
They admit the principle of Subjectivity, as an essential aspect
of the case, in regard to truth; but they say that Protagoras was
wrong in appealing to individual, empirical, accidental,
subjectivity of each man at every varying moment, whereas he ought
to have appealed to an ideal or universal subjectivity. "What
ought to be held true, right, good, &c.," (says Schwegler) "must
be decided doubtless by _me_, but by _me_ so far forth as a
rational, and thinking being. Now _my_ thinking, _my_ reason, is
not something specially belonging to me, but something common to
all rational beings, something universal; so far therefore as I
proceed as a rational and thinking person, my subjectivity is an
universal subjectivity. Every thinking person has the
consciousness that what he regards as right, duty, good, evil,
&c., presents itself not merely to him as such, but also to every
rational person, and that, consequently, his judgment possesses
the character of universality, universal validity: in one word,

Here it is explicitly asserted, that wherever a number of
individual men employ their reason, the specialities of each
disappear, and they arrive at the same conclusions--Reason being a
guide impersonal as well as infallible. And this same view is
expressed by Prantl in other language, when he reforms the
Protagorean doctrine by saying, "Das Denken ist der Mass der

To me this assertion appears so distinctly at variance with
notorious facts, that I am surprised when I find it advanced by
learned historians of philosophy, who recount the very facts which
contradict it. Can it really be necessary to repeat that the
reason of one man differs most materially from that of
another--and the reason of the same person from itself, at different
times--in respect of the arguments accepted, the authorities obeyed,
the conclusions embraced? The impersonal Reason is a mere fiction; the
universal Reason is an abstraction, belonging alike to all
particular reasoners, consentient or dissentient, sound or
unsound, &c. Schwegler admits the Protagorean canon only under a
reserve which nullifies its meaning. To say that the Universal
Reason is the measure of truth is to assign no measure at all. The
Universal Reason can only make itself known through an
interpreter. The interpreters are dissentient; and which of them
is to hold the privilege of infallibility? Neither Schwegler nor
Prantl are forward to specify who the interpreter is, who is
entitled to put dissentients to silence; both of them keep in the
safe obscurity of an abstraction--"Das Denken"--the Universal
Reason. Protagoras recognises in each dissentient an equal right
to exercise his own reason, and to judge for himself.

In order to show how thoroughly incorrect the language of
Schwegler and Prantl is, when they talk about the Universal Reason
as unanimous and unerring, I transcribe from another eminent
historian of philosophy a description of what philosophy has been
from ancient times down to the present.

Degérando, Histoire Comparée des Systèmes de Philosophie, vol. i.
p. 48:--"Une multitude d'hypothèses, élevées en quelque sorte au
hasard, et rapidement détruites; une diversité d'opinions,
d'autant plus sensible que la philosophie a été plus developpée;
des sectes, des partis même, des disputes interminables, des
spéculations stériles, des erreurs maintenues et transmises par
une imitation aveugle; quelques découvertes obtenues avec lenteur,
et mélangées d'idees fausses; des réformes annoncées à chaque
siècle et jamais accomplies; une succession de doctrines qui se
renversent les unes les autres sans pouvoir obtenir plus de
solidité: la raison humaine ainsi promenée dans un triste cercle
de vicissitudes, et ne s'élevant à quelques époques fortunées que
pour retomber bientôt dans de nouveaux écarts, &c. . . . les mêmes
questions, enfin, qui partagèrent il y a plus de vingt siècles les
premiers génies de la Grèce, agitées encore aujourd'hui** après tant
de volumineux écrits consacrés à les discuter".]

This state of mind in reference to belief is usual with most men,
not less at the present day than in the time of Plato and
Protagoras. It constitutes the natural intolerance prevalent among
mankind; which each man (speaking generally), in the case of his
own beliefs, commends and exults in, as a virtue. It flows as a
natural corollary from the sentiment of belief, though it may be
corrected by reflection and social sympathy. Hence the doctrine of
Protagoras--equal right of private judgment to each man for
himself--becomes inevitably unwelcome.

[Side-note: Aristotle failed in his attempts to refute the
Protagorean formula--Every reader of Aristotle will claim the
right of examining for himself Aristotle's canons of truth.]

We are told that Demokritus, as well as Plato and Aristotle, wrote
against Protagoras. The treatise of Demokritus is lost: but we
possess what the two latter said against the Protagorean formula.
In my judgment both failed in refuting it. Each of them professed
to lay down objective, infallible, criteria of truth and
falsehood: Democritus on his side, and the other dogmatical
philosophers, professed to do the same, each in his own way--and
each in a different way.[79] Now the Protagorean formula neither
allows nor disallows any one of these proposed objective criteria:
but it enunciates the appeal to which all of them must be
submitted--the subjective condition of satisfying the judgment of
each hearer. Its protest is entered only when that condition is
overleaped, and when the dogmatist enacts his canon of belief as
imperative, peremptory, binding upon all (allgemeingültig) both
assentient and dissentient. I am grateful to Aristotle for his
efforts to lay down objective canons in the research of truth; but
I claim the right of examining those canons for myself, and of
judging whether that, which satisfied Aristotle, satisfies me
also. The same right which I claim for myself, I am bound to allow
to all others. The general expression of this compromise is, the
Protagorean formula. No one demands more emphatically to be a
measure for himself, even when all authority is opposed to him,
than Sokrates in the Platonic Gorgias.[80]

[Footnote 79: Plutarch, adv. Kolot. p. 1108.

According to Demokritus all sensible perceptions were
conventional, or varied according to circumstances, or according
to the diversity of the percipient Subject; but there was an
objective reality--minute, solid, invisible atoms, differing in
figure, position, and movement, and vacuum along with them. Such
reality was intelligible only by Reason. [Greek: No/mô| gluku/,
no/mô| pikro/n, no/mô| thermo/n, no/mô| psuchro/n, no/mô| chroiê/;
e)te/ê| de\ a)/toma kai\ keno/n. A(/per nomi/zetai me\n ei)=nai
kai\ doxa/zetai ta\ ai)sthêta/, ou)k e)/sti de\ kata\ a)lêthei/an
tau=ta; a)lla\ ta\ a)/toma mo/non kai\ ke/non.]

Sextus Empiric. adv. Mathemat. vii. 135-139; Diog. Laert. ix. 72.
See Mullach, Democriti Fragm. pp. 204-208.

The discourse of Protagoras [Greek: Peri\ tou= o)/ntos], was read
by Porphyry, who apparently cited from it a passage verbatim,
which citation Eusebius unfortunately has not preserved (Eusebius,
Præpar. Evang. x. 3, 17). One of the speakers in Porphyry's
dialogue (describing a repast at the house of Longinus at Athens to
celebrate Plato's birthday) accused Plato of having copied largely
from the arguments of Protagoras--[Greek: pro\s tou\s e(\n to\
o)\n ei)sa/gontas]. Allusion is probably made to the Platonic
dialogues Parmenides and Sophistes.]

[Footnote 80: Plato, Gorgias, p. 472.]

[Side-note: Plato's examination of the other doctrine--That
knowledge is Sensible Perception. He adverts to sensible facts
which are different with different Percipients.]

After thus criticising the formula--Homo Mensura--Plato proceeds
to canvass the other doctrine, which he ascribes to Protagoras
along with others, and which he puts into the mouth of
Theætêtus--"That knowledge is sensible perception". He connects that
doctrine with the above-mentioned formula, by illustrations which
exhibit great divergence between one percipient Subject and another.
He gives us, as examples of sensible perception, the case of the
wind, cold to one man, not cold to another: that of the wine,
sweet to a man in health, bitter if he be sickly.[81] Perhaps
Protagoras may have dwelt upon cases like these, as best
calculated to illustrate the relativity of all affirmations: for
though the judgments are in reality both equally relative, whether
two judges pronounce alike, or whether they pronounce differently,
under the same conditions--yet where they judge differently, each
stands forth in his own individuality, and the relativity of the
judgment is less likely to be disputed.

[Footnote 81: Plato, Theætêt. pp. 152 A, 159 C.]

[Side-note: Such is not the case with all the facts of sense. The
conditions of unanimity are best found among select facts of
sense--weighing, measuring, &c.]

But though some facts of sense are thus equivocal, generating
dissension rather than unanimity among different individuals--such
is by no means true of the facts of sense taken generally.[82] On
the contrary, it is only these facts--the world of reality,
experience, and particulars--which afford a groundwork and
assurance of unanimity in human belief, under all varieties of
teaching or locality. Counting, measuring, weighing, are facts of
sense simple and fundamental, and comparisons of those facts:
capable of being so exhibited that no two persons shall either see
them differently or mistrust them. Of two persons exposed to the
same wind, one may feel cold, and the other not: but both of them
will see the barometer or thermometer alike.[83] [Greek: Pa/nta
me/trô| kai\ a)rithmô=| kai\ stathmô=|]--would be the perfection
of science, if it could be obtained. Plato himself recognises, in
more than one place, the irresistible efficacy of weight and
measure in producing unanimity; and in forestalling those disputes
which are sure to arise where weight and measure cannot be
applied.[84] It is therefore among select facts of sense,
carefully observed and properly compared, that the groundwork of
unanimity is to be sought, so far as any rational and universal
groundwork for it is attainable. In other words, it is here that
we must seek for the basis of knowledge or cognition.

[Footnote 82: Aristotle (Metaphysic. [Greek: G]. p. 1010, a. 25
seq.) in arguing against Herakleitus and his followers, who dwelt
upon [Greek: ta\ ai)sthêta\] as ever fluctuating and undefinable,
urges against them that this is not true of _all_ [Greek:
ai)sthêta/], but only of those in the sublunary region of the
Kosmos. But this region is (he says) only an imperceptibly small
part of the entire Kosmos; the objects in the vast superlunary or
celestial region of the Kosmos were far more numerous, and were
also eternal and unchangeable, in constant and uniform circular
rotation. Accordingly, if you predicate one or other about [Greek:
ai)sthêta\] generally, you ought to predicate constancy and
unchangeability, not flux and variation, since the former
predicates are true of much the larger proportion of [Greek:
ai)sthêta/]. See the Scholia on the above passage of Aristotle's
Metaphysica, and also upon Book A. 991, a. 9.]

[Footnote 83: Mr. Campbell, in his Preface to the Theætêtus (p.
lxxxiii.), while comparing the points in the dialogue with modern
metaphysical views, observes. "Modern Experimental Science is
equally distrustful of individual impressions of sense, but has
found means of measuring the motions by which they are caused,
through _the effect of the same motions upon other things besides
our senses_. When the same wind is blowing one of us feels warm
and another cold (Theætêt. p. 152), but the mercury of the
thermometer tells the same tale to all. And though the individual
consciousness remains the sole judge of the exact impression
momentarily received by each person, yet we are certain that the
sensation of heat and cold, like the expansion and contraction of
the mercury, is in every case dependent on a universal law."

It might seem from Mr. Campbell's language (I do not imagine that
he means it so) as if Modern Experimental Science had arrived at
something more trustworthy than "individual impressions of sense".
But the expansion or contraction of the mercury are just as much
facts of sense as the feeling of heat or cold; only they are facts
of sense determinate and uniform to all, whereas the feeling of
heat or cold is indeterminate and liable to differ with different
persons. The certainty about "universal law governing the
sensations of heat and cold," was not at all felt in the days of

[Footnote 84: Thus in the Philêbus (pp. 55-56) Plato declares that
numbering, measuring, and weighing, are the characteristic marks
of all the various processes which deserve the name of Arts; and
that among the different Arts those of the carpenter, builder,
&c., are superior to those of the physician, pilot, husbandman,
military commander, musical composer, &c., because the two
first-named employ more measurement and a greater number of
measuring instruments, the rule, line, plummet, compass, &c.

"When we talk about iron or silver" (says Sokrates in the Platonic
Phædrus, p. 263 A-B) "we are all of one mind, but when we talk
about the Just and the Good we are all at variance with each
other, and each man is at variance with himself". Compare an
analogous passage, Alkibiad. I. p. 109.

Here Plato himself recognises the verifications of sense as the
main guarantee for accuracy: and the compared facts of sense, when
select and simplified, as ensuring the nearest approach to
unanimity among believers.]

[Side-note: Arguments of Sokrates in examining this question.
Divergence between one man and another arises, not merely from
different sensual impressibility, but from mental and associative

A loose adumbration of this doctrine is here given by Plato as the
doctrine of Protagoras, in the words--Knowledge is sensible
perception. To sift this doctrine is announced as his main
purpose;[85] and we shall see how he performs the task.
_Sokr._--Shall we admit, that when we perceive things by sight or
hearing, we at the same time _know_ them all? When foreigners talk
to us in a strange language, are we to say that we do not hear what
they say, or that we both hear and know it? When unlettered men look
at an inscription, shall we contend that they do not see the writing,
or that they both see and know it? _Theætêt._--We shall say, under
these supposed circumstances, that what we see and hear, we also
know. We hear and we know the pitch and intonation of the
foreigner's voice. The unlettered man sees, and also knows, the
colour, size, forms, of the letters. But that which the
schoolmaster and the interpreter could tell us respecting their
meaning, _that_ we neither see, nor hear, nor know.
_Sokr._--Excellent, Theætêtus. I have nothing to say against your

[Footnote 85: Plato, Theætêt. p. 163 A. [Greek: ei)s ga\r tou=to/
pou pa=s o( lo/gos ê(mi=n e)/teine, kai\ tou/tou cha/rin ta\
polla\ kai\ a)/topa tau=ta e)kinê/samen.]]

[Footnote 86: Plato, Theætêt. p. 163 C.]

This is an important question and answer, which Plato
unfortunately does not follow up. It brings to view, though
without fully unfolding, the distinction between what is really
perceived by sense, and what is inferred from such perception:
either through resemblance or through conjunctions of past
experience treasured up in memory--or both together. Without
having regard to such distinction, no one can discuss
satisfactorily the question under debate.[87] Plato here abandons,
moreover, the subjective variety of impression which he had before
noticed as the characteristic of sense:--(the wind which blows
cold, and the wine which tastes sweet, to one man, but not to
another). Here it is assumed that all men hear the sounds, and see
the written letters alike: the divergence between one man and
another arises from the different prior condition of percipient
minds, differing from each other in associative and reminiscent

[Footnote 87: I borrow here a striking passage from Dugald
Stewart, which illustrates both the passage in Plato's text, and
the general question as to the relativity of Cognition. Here, the
fact of relative Cognition is brought out most conspicuously on
its intellectual side, not on its perceptive side. The fact of
sense is the same to all, and therefore, though really relative,
has more the look of an absolute; but the mental associations with
that fact are different with different persons, and therefore are
more obviously and palpably relative.--Dugald Stewart, First
Preliminary Dissertation to Encyclopæd. Britannica, pp. 66, 8th

"To this reference of the sensation of colour to the external
object, I can think of nothing so analogous as the feelings we
experience in surveying a library of books. We speak of the
volumes piled up on its shelves as _treasures_ or _magazines_ of
the knowledge of past ages; and contemplate them with gratitude
and reverence as inexhaustible _sources_ of instruction and
delight to the mind. Even in looking at a page of print or
manuscript, we are apt to say that the ideas we acquire are
received by the sense of sight; and we are scarcely conscious of a
metaphor when we apply this language. On such occasions we seldom
recollect that nothing is perceived by the eye but a multitude of
_black strokes drawn upon white paper_, and that it is our own
acquired habits which communicate to these _strokes_ the whole of
that significancy whereby they are distinguished from the
unmeaning scrawling of an infant. The knowledge which we conceive
to be preserved in books, like the fragrance of a rose, or the
gilding of the clouds, depends, for its existence, on the
_relation_ between the object and the percipient mind: and the
only difference between the two cases is, that, in the one, this
relation is the local and temporary effect of conventional habits:
in the other, it is the universal and the unchangeable work of
nature. . . What has now been remarked with respect to _written
characters_, may be extended very nearly to _oral language_. When
we listen to the discourse of a public speaker, eloquence and
persuasion seem to issue from his lips; and we are little aware
that we ourselves infuse the soul into every word that he utters.
The case is exactly the same when we enjoy the conversation of a
friend. We ascribe the charm entirely to his voice and accents;
but without our co-operation, its potency would vanish. How very
small the comparative proportion is, which in such cases the words
spoken contribute to the intellectual and moral effect, I have
elsewhere endeavoured to show."]

[Side-note: Argument--That sensible Perception does not include
memory--Probability that those who held the doctrine meant to
include memory.]

Sokrates turns to another argument. If knowledge be the same thing
as sensible perception, then it follows, that so soon as a man
ceases to see and hear, he also ceases to know. The memory of what
he has seen or heard, upon that supposition, is not knowledge. But
Theætêtus admits that a man who remembers what he has seen or
heard does know it. Accordingly, the answer that knowledge is
sensible perception, cannot be maintained.[88]

[Footnote 88: Plato, Theætêt. pp. 163, 164.]

Here Sokrates makes out a good case against the answer in its
present wording. But we may fairly doubt whether those who
affirmed the matter of knowledge to consist in the facts of sense,
ever meant to exclude memory. They meant probably the facts of
sense both as perceived and as remembered; though the wording
cited by Plato does not strictly include so much. Besides, we must
recollect, that Plato includes in the meaning of the word
Knowledge or Cognition an idea of perfect infallibility:
distinguishing it generically from the highest form of opinion.
But memory is a fallible process: sometimes quite
trustworthy--under other circumstances, not so. Accordingly, memory,
in a general sense, cannot be put on a level with present perception,
nor said to generate what Plato calls knowledge.

[Side-note: Argument from the analogy of seeing and not seeing at
the same time .]

The next argument of Plato is as follows. You can see, and not
see, the same thing at the same time: for you may close one of
your eyes, and look only with the other. But it is impossible
to know a thing, and not to know it at the same time. Therefore
_to know_ is not the same as _to see_.[89]

[Footnote 89: Plato, Theætêt. p. 165 B.]

This argument is proclaimed by Plato as a terrible puzzle, leaving
no escape.[90] Perhaps he meant to speak ironically. In reality,
this puzzle is nothing but a false inference deduced from a false
premiss. The inference is false, because if we grant the premiss,
that it is possible both to _see_ a thing, and _not to see_ it, at
the same time--there is no reason why it should not also be
possible to _know_ a thing, and _not to know_ it, at the same
time. Moreover, the premiss is also false in the ordinary sense
which the words bear: and not merely false, but logically
impossible, as a sin against the maxim of contradiction. Plato
procures it from a true premiss, by omitting an essential
qualification. I see an object with my open eye: I do not see it
with my closed eye. From this double proposition, alike
intelligible and true, Plato thinks himself authorised to discard
the qualification, and to tell me that I see a thing and do not
see it--passing _à dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter_.
This is the same liberty which he took with the Protagorean
doctrine. Protagoras having said--"Every thing which any man
believes is true _to that man_"--Plato reasons against him as if
he had said--"Every thing which any man believes is _true_".

[Footnote 90: Plato, Theætêt. p. 165 B. [Greek: to\ deino/taton
e)rô/têma--a)phu/ktô| e)rôtê/mati], &c.

Mr. Campbell observes upon this passage:--"Perhaps there is here a
trace of the spirit which was afterwards developed in the sophisms
of Eubulidês". Stallbaum, while acknowledging the many subtleties
of Sokrates in this dialogue, complains that other commentators
make the ridiculous mistake ("errore perquam ridiculo") of
accepting all the reasoning of Sokrates as seriously meant,
whereas much of it (he says) is mere mockery and sarcasm, intended
to retort upon the Sophists their own argumentative tricks and
quibbles.--"Itaquè sæpe per petulantiam quandam argutiis indulget
(Socrates), quibus isti haudquaquam abstinebant: sæpè ex
adversariorum mente disputat, sed ita tamen disputat, ut eos suis
ipsorum capiat laqueis; sæpè denique in disputando iisdem
artificiis utitur, quibus illi uti consueverant, sicuti etiam in
Menone, Cratylo, Euthydemo, fieri meminimus". (Stallbaum, Proleg.
ad Theæt. pp. 12-13, 22-29).

Stallbaum pushes this general principle so far as to contend that
the simile of the waxen tablet (p. 191 C), and that of the
pigeon-house (p. 200 C), are doctrines of opponents, which Sokrates
pretends to adopt with a view to hold them up to ridicule.

I do not concur in this opinion of Stallbaum, which he reproduces
in commenting on many other dialogues, and especially on the
Kratylus, for the purpose of exonerating Plato from the reproach
of bad reasoning and bad etymology, at the cost of opponents
"inauditi et indefensi". I see no ground for believing that Plato
meant to bring forward these arguments as paralogisms obviously
and ridiculously silly. He produced them, in my judgment, as
suitable items in a dialogue of search: plausible to a certain
extent, admitting both of being supported and opposed, and
necessary to be presented to those who wish to know a question in
all its bearings.]

Again, argues Plato,[91] you cannot say--I _know_ sharply, dimly,
near, far, &c.--but you may properly say, I _see_ sharply, dimly,
near, far, &c.: another reason to show that knowledge and sensible
perception are not the same. After a digression of some length
directed against the disciples of Herakleitus--(partly to expose
their fundamental doctrine that every thing was in flux and
movement, partly to satirise their irrational procedure in evading
argumentative debate, and in giving nothing but a tissue of
mystical riddles one after another),[92] Sokrates returns back to
the same debate, and produces more serious arguments, as

[Footnote 91: Plato, Theætêt. p. 165 D. The reasonings here given
by Plato from the mouth of Sokrates, are compared by Steinhart to
the Trug-schlüsse, which in the Euthydêmus he ascribes to that
Sophist and Dionysodorus. But Steinhart says that Plato is here
reasoning in the style of Protagoras: an assertion thoroughly
gratuitous, for which there is no evidence at all (Steinhart,
Einleitung zum Theætêt. p. 53).]

[Footnote 92: Plato, Theætêt. pp. 179-183. The description which
we read here (put into the mouth of the geometer Theodôrus) of the
persons in Ephesus and other parts of Ionia, who speculated in the
vein of Herakleitus--is full of vivid fancy and smartness, but is
for that reason the less to be trusted as accurate.

The characteristic features ascribed to these Herakleiteans are
quite unlike to the features of Protagoras, so far as we know
them; though Protagoras, nevertheless, throughout this dialogue,
is spoken of as if he were an Herakleitean. These men are here
depicted as half mad--incapable of continuous attention--hating
all systematic speech and debate--answering, when addressed, only
in brief, symbolical, enigmatic phrases, of which they had a
quiver-full, but which they never condescended to explain ([Greek:
ô(/sper e)k phare/tras r(êmati/skia ai)nigmatô/dê a)naspô=ntes
a)potoxeu/ousin], see Lassalle, vol. i. pp. 32-39--springing up by
spontaneous inspiration, despising instruction, p. 180 A), and
each looking down upon the others as ignorant. If** we compare the
picture thus given by Plato of the Herakleiteans, with the picture
which he gives of Protagoras in the dialogue so called, we shall
see that the two are as unlike as possible.

Lassalle, in his elaborate work on the philosophy of Herakleitus,
attempts to establish the philosophical affinity between
Herakleitus and Protagoras: but in my judgment unsuccessfully.
According to Lassalle's own representation of the doctrine of
Herakleitus, it is altogether opposed to the most eminent
Protagorean doctrine, [Greek: A)/nthrôpos e(autô=| me/tron]--and
equally opposed to that which Plato seems to imply as
Protagorean--[Greek: Ai)/sthêsis = E)pistê/mê]. The elucidation
given by Lassalle of Herakleitus, through the analogy of Hegel, is
certainly curious and instructive. The Absolute Process of
Herakleitus is at variance with Protagoras, not less than the
Absolute Object or Substratum of the Eleates, or the Absolute
Ideas of Plato. Lassalle admits that Herakleitus is the entire
antithesis to Protagoras, yet still contends that he is the prior
stage of transition towards Protagoras (vol. i. p. 64).]

[Side-note: Sokrates maintains that we do not see _with_ our eyes,
but that the mind sees _through_ the eyes: that the mind often
conceives and judges by itself without the aid of any bodily

_Sokr._--If you are asked, With what does a man perceive white and
black? you will answer, with his eyes: shrill or grave sounds?
with his ears. Does it not seem to you more correct to say, that
we see _through_ our eyes rather than _with_ our eyes:--that we
hear _through_ our ears, not _with_ our ears. _Theætêt._--I think
it is more correct. _Sokr._--It would be strange if there were in
each man many separate reservoirs, each for a distinct class of
perceptions.[93] All perceptions must surely converge towards one
common form or centre, call it soul or by any other name, which
perceives _through_ them, as organs or instruments, all
perceptible objects.--

[Footnote 93: Plato, Theætêt. p. 184 D. [Greek: deino\n ga/r pou,
ei) pollai/ tines e)n ê(mi=n, ô(/sper e)n dourei/ois i(/ppois,
ai)sthê/sis e)gkathêntai, a)lla\ mê\ ei)s mi/an tina\ i)de/an,
ei)/te psuchê\n ei)/te o(/, ti dei= kalei=n, pa/nta tau=ta
xuntei/nei, ê(=| dia\ tou/tôn oi(=on o)rga/nôn ai)sthano/metha
o(/sa ai)sthêta/.]]

We thus perceive objects of sense, according to Plato's language,
_with_ the central form or soul, and _through_ various organs of
the body. The various Percepta or Percipienda of tact, vision,
hearing--sweet, hot, hard, light--have each its special bodily
organ. But no one of these can be perceived through the organ
affected to any other. Whatever therefore we conceive or judge
respecting any two of them, is not performed through the organ
special to either. If we conceive any thing common both to sound
and colour, we cannot conceive it either through the auditory or
through the visual organ.[94]

[Footnote 94: Plato, Theætêt. p. 184-185.]

Now there are certain judgments (Sokrates argues) which we make
common to both, and not exclusively belonging to either. First, we
judge that they are two: that each is one, different from the
other, and the same with itself: that each _is_ something, or has
existence, and that one _is not_ the other. Here are
predicates--existence, non-existence, likeness, unlikeness, unity,
plurality, sameness, difference, &c., which we affirm, or deny, not
respecting either of these sensations exclusively, but respecting
all of them. Through what bodily organ do we derive these
judgments respecting what is common to all? There is no special
organ: the mind perceives, through itself these common

[Footnote 95: Plato, Theætêt. p. 185 D. [Greek: dokei= tê\n
a)rchê\n ou)d' ei)=nai toiou=ton ou)de\n tou/tois o)/rganon
i)/dion, ô(/sper e)kei/nois, a)ll' au)tê\ di' au(tê=s ê( psuchê\
ta\ koina/ moi phai/netai peri\ pa/ntôn e)piskopei=n.]]

[Side-note: Indication of several judgments which the mind makes by
itself--It perceives Existence, Difference, &c.]

Some matters therefore there are, which the soul or mind
apprehends through itself--others, which it perceives through the
bodily organs. To the latter class belong the sensible qualities,
hardness, softness, heat, sweetness, &c., which it perceives
through the bodily organs; and which animals, as well as men, are
by nature competent to perceive immediately at birth. To the
former class belong existence (substance, essence), sameness,
difference, likeness, unlikeness, honourable, base, good, evil,
&c., which the mind apprehends through itself alone. But the mind
is not competent to apprehend this latter class, as it perceives
the former, immediately at birth. Nor does such competence belong
to all men and animals; but only to a select fraction of men, who
acquire it with difficulty and after a long time through laborious
education. The mind arrives at these purely mental apprehensions,
only by going over, and comparing with each other, the simple
impressions of sense; by looking at their relations with each
other; and by computing the future from the present and past.[96]
Such comparisons and computations are a difficult and gradual
attainment; accomplished only by a few, and out of the reach of
most men. But without them, no one can apprehend real existence
(essence, or substance), or arrive at truth: and without truth,
there can be no knowledge.

[Footnote 96: Plato, Theætêt. p. 186 B. [Greek: Tê\n de/ ge
ou)si/an kai\ o(/ ti e)/ston kai\ tê\n e)nantio/têta pro\s
a)llê/lô] (of hardness and softness) [Greek: kai\ tê\n ou)si/an
au)= tê=s e)nantio/têtos, au)tê\ ê( psuchê\ _e)paniou=sa kai\
xumba/llousa pro\s a)/llêla kri/nein peira=tai ê(mi=n_ . . .
Ou)kou=n ta\ me\n eu)thu\s genome/nois pa/resti phu/sei
ai)stha/nesthai a)nthrô/pois te kai\ thêri/ois, o(/sa dia\ tou=
sô/matos pathê/mata e)pi\ tê\n psuchê\n tei/nei; _ ta\ de\ peri\
tou/tôn a)nalogi/smata_, pro/s te ou)si/an kai\ ô)phelei/an
_mo/gis_ kai\ e)n pollô=| chro/nô| dia\ pollô=n _pragma/tôn kai\
paidei/as paragi/gnetai, oi(=s a)\n kai\ paragi/gnêtai.]]

[Side-note: Sokrates maintains that knowledge is to be found, not
in the Sensible Perceptions themselves, but in the comparisons add
computations of the mind respecting them.]

The result therefore is (concludes Sokrates), _That knowledge is
not sensible perception_: that it is not to be found in the
perceptions of sense themselves, which do not apprehend real
essence, and therefore not truth--but in the comparisons and
computations respecting them, and in the relations between them,
made and apprehended by the mind itself.[97] Plato declares good
and evil, honourable and base, &c., to be among matters most
especially relative, perceived by the mind computing past and
present in reference to future.[98]

[Footnote 97: Plato, Theætêt. p. 186 D.** [Greek: e)n me\n a)/ra
toi=s pathê/masin ou)k e)/ni e)pistê/mê, _e)n de\ tô=| peri\
e)kei/nôn sullogismô=|_; ou)si/as ga\r kai\ a)lêthei/as e)ntau=tha
me/n, ô(s e)/oike, dunato\n a(/psasthai, e)kei= de\ a)du/naton.]
The term [Greek: sullogismo\s] is here interesting, before it had
received that technical sense which it has borne from Aristotle
downwards. Mr. Campbell explains it properly as "nearly equivalent
to abstraction and generalisation" (Preface to Theætêtus, p.
lxxiv., also note, p. 144).]

[Footnote 98: Plato, Theætêt. p. 186 A. [Greek: kalo\n kai\
ai)schro/n, kai\ a)gatho\n kai\ kako/n. Kai\ tou/tôn moi dokei=
_e)n toi=s ma/lista pro\s a)/llêla skopei=sthai tê\n ou)si/an,
a)nalogizome/nê_ (ê( psuchê\) _e)n e(autê=| ta\ gegono/ta kai\ ta\
paro/nta pro\s ta\ me/llonta_.]

Base and honourable, evil and good, are here pointed out by
Sokrates as most evidently and emphatically _relative_. In the
train of reasoning here terminated, Plato had been combating the
doctrine [Greek: Ai)/sthêsis = E)pistê/mê]. In his sense of the
word [Greek: ai)/sthêsis] he has refuted the doctrine. But what
about the other doctrine, which he declares to be a part of the
same programme--_Homo Mensura_--the Protagorean formula? That
formula, so far from being refuted, is actually sustained and
established by this train of reasoning. Plato has declared [Greek:
ou)si/a, a)lêthei/a, e)nantio/tês, a)gatho/n, kako/n], &c., to be
a distinct class of Objects not perceived by Sense. But he also
tells us that they are apprehended by the Mind through its own
working, and that they are apprehended always in relation to each
other. We thus see that they are just as much relative to the
concipient mind, as the Objects of sense are to the percipient and
sentient mind. The Subject is the correlative limit or measure (to
use Protagorean phrases) of one as well as of the other. This
confirms what I observed above, that the two doctrines, 1. Homo
Mensura, 2. [Greek: Ai)/sthêsis = E)pistê/mê],--are completely
distinct and independent, though Plato has chosen to implicate or
identify them.]

[Side-note: Examination of this view--Distinction from the views of
modern philosophers.]

Such is the doctrine which Plato here lays down, respecting the
difference between sensible perception, and knowledge or
cognition. From his time to the present day, the same topic has
continued to be discussed, with different opinions on the part of
philosophers. Plato's views are interesting, as far as his
language enables us to make them out. He does not agree with those
who treat sensation or sensible perception (in his language, the
two are not distinguished) as a bodily phenomenon, and
intelligence as a mental phenomenon. He regards both as belonging
to the mind or soul. He considers that the mind is sentient as
well as intelligent: and moreover, that the sentient mind is the
essential basis and preliminary--universal among men and animals,
as well as coæval with birth--furnishing all the matter, upon
which the intelligent mind has to work. He says nothing, in this
dialogue, about the three distinct souls or minds (rational,
courageous, and appetitive), in one and the same body, which form
so capital a feature in his Timæus and Republic: nothing about
eternal, self-existent, substantial Ideas, or about the
pre-existence of the soul and its reminiscence as the process of
acquiring knowledge. Nor does he countenance the doctrine of
innate ideas, instinctive beliefs, immediate mental intuitions,
internal senses, &c., which have been recognised by many
philosophers. Plato supposes the intelligent mind to work
altogether upon the facts of sense; to review and compare them
with one another; and to compute facts present or past, with a
view to the future. All this is quite different from the mental
intuitions and instincts, assumed by various modern philosophers
as common to all mankind. The operations, which Plato ascribes to
the intelligent mind, are said to be out of the reach of the
common man, and not to be attainable except by a few, with
difficulty and labour. The distinctive feature of the sentient
mind, according to him, is, that it operates through a special
bodily organ of sense: whereas the intelligent mind has no such
special bodily organ.

[Side-note: Different views given by Plato in other dialogues.]

But this distinction, in the first place, is not consistent with
Timæus--wherein Plato assigns to each of his three human souls a
separate and special region of the bodily organism, as its
physical basis. Nor, in the second place, is it consistent with
that larger range of observed facts which the farther development
of physiology has brought to view. To Plato and Aristotle the
nerves and the nervous system were wholly unknown: but it is now
ascertained that the optic, auditory, and other nerves of sense,
are only branches of a complicated system of sensory and motory
nerves, attached to the brain and spinal cord as a centre: each
nerve of sense having its own special mode of excitability or
manifestation. Now the physical agency whereby sensation is
carried on, is, not the organ of sense alone, but the cerebral
centre acting along with that organ: whereas in the intellectual
and memorial processes, the agency of the cerebral centre and
other internal parts of the nervous system are sufficient, without
any excitement beginning at the peripheral extremity of the
special organ of sense, or even though that organ be disabled. We
know the intelligent mind only in an embodied condition: that is,
as working along with and through its own physical agency. When
Plato, therefore, says that the mind thinks, computes, compares,
&c., by itself--this is true only as signifying that it does so
without the initiatory stimulus of a special organ of sense; not
as signifying that it does so without the central nervous force or
currents--an agency essential alike to thought, to sensation, to
emotion, and to appetite.

[Side-note: Plato's discussion of this question here exhibits a
remarkable advance in analytical psychology. The mind rises from
Sensation, first to Opinion, then to Cognition.]

Putting ourselves back to the Platonic period, we must recognise
that the discussion of the theory [Greek: Ai)/sthêsis =
E)pistê/mê], as it is conducted by Plato, exhibits a remarkable
advance in psychological analysis. In analysing the mental
phenomena, Plato displayed much more subtlety and acuteness than
his predecessors--as far at least as we have the means of
appreciating the latter. It is convenient to distinguish intellect
from sensation (or sensible perception) and emotion, though both
of them are essential and co-ordinate parts of our mental system,
and are so recognised by Plato. It is also true that the
discrimination of our sensations from each other, comparisons of
likeness or unlikeness between them, observation of co-existence
or sequence, and apprehension of other relations between them,
&c., are more properly classified as belonging to intellect than
to sense. But the language of psychology is, and always has been,
so indeterminate, that it is difficult to say how much any writer
means to include under the terms Sense[99]--Sensation--Sensible
Perception--[Greek: Ai)/sthêsis]. The propositions in which our
knowledge is embodied, affirm--not sensations detached and
isolated, but--various relations of antecedence and consequence,
likeness, difference, &c., between two or more sensations or facts
of sense. We rise thus to a state of mind more complicated than
simple sensation: including (along with sensation), association,
memory, discrimination, comparison of sensations, abstraction, and
generalisation. This is what Plato calls opinion[100] or belief; a
mental process, which, though presupposing sensations and based
upon them, he affirms to be carried on by the mind through itself,
not through any special bodily organ. In this respect it agrees
with what he calls knowledge or cognition. Opinion or belief is
the lowest form, possessed in different grades by all men, of this
exclusively mental process: knowledge or cognition is the highest
form of the same, attained only by a select few. Both opinion, and
cognition, consist in comparisons and computations made by the
mind about the facts of sense. But cognition (in Plato's view) has
special marks:--

1. That it is infallible, while opinion is fallible. You have
it[101] or you have it not--but there is no mistake possible.

2. That it apprehends what Plato calls the real essence of things,
and real truth, which, on the contrary, Opinion does not

3. That the person who possesses it can maintain his own
consistency under cross-examination, and can test the consistency
of others by cross-examining them ([Greek: lo/gon dou=nai kai\

[Footnote 99: The discussion in pp. 184-186-186 of the Theætêtus
is interesting as the earliest attempt remaining to classify
psychological phenomena. What Demokritus and others proposed with
the same view--the analogy or discrepancy between [Greek: to\
ai)stha/nesthai] and [Greek: to\ noei=n]--we gather only from the
brief notices of Aristotle and others. Plato considers himself to
have established, that "cognition is not to be sought at all in
sensible perception, but in that function, whatever it be, which
is predicated of the mind when it busies itself _per se_ (_i.e._
not through any special bodily organ) about existences" (p. 187
A). We may here remark, as to the dispute between Plato and
Protagoras, that Plato here does not at all escape from the region
of the Relative, or from the Protagorean formula, _Homo Mensura_.
He passes from Mind Percipient to Mind Cogitant; but these new
Entia cogitationis (as his language implies) are still relative,
though relative to the Cogitant and not to the Percipient. He
reduces Mind Sentient to the narrowest functions, including only
each isolated impression of one or other among the five senses.
When we see a clock on the wall and hear it strike twelve--we have
a visual impression of black from the hands, of white from the
face, and an audible impression from each stroke. But this is all
(according to Plato) which we have from sense, or which addresses
itself to the sentient mind. All beyond this (according to him) is
apprehended by the cogitant mind: all discrimination, comparison,
and relation--such as the succession, or one, two, three, &c., of
the separate impressions, the likeness of one stroke to the
preceding, the contrast or dissimilarity of the black with the
white--even the simplest acts of discrimination or comparison
belong (in Plato's view) to mental powers beyond and apart from
sense; much more, of course, apprehension of the common properties
of all, and of those extreme abstractions to which we apply the
words Ens and Non-Ens ([Greek: to/ t' e)pi\ pa=si koino\n kai\ to\
e)pi\ tou/tois, ô(=| to\ e)/stin e)ponoma/zeis kai\ to\ ou)k
e)/stin], p. 185 C).

When Plato thus narrows the sense of [Greek: ai)/sthêsis], it is
easy to prove that [Greek: e)pistê/mê] is not [Greek:
ai)/sthêsis]; but I doubt whether those who affirmed this
proposition intended what he here refutes. Neither unreflecting
men, nor early theorizers, would distinguish the impressions of
sense from the feeling of such impressions being _successive,
distinct from one another, resembling, &c._ Mr. John Stuart Mill
observes (Logic, Book i. chap. iii. sects. 10-13)--"The simplest
of all relations are those expressed by the words antecedent and
consequent, and by the word simultaneous. If we say dawn preceded
sunrise, the fact in which the two things dawn and sunrise were
jointly concerned, consisted only of the two things themselves. No
third thing entered into the fact or phenomenon at all, unless
indeed we choose to call the succession of the two objects a third
thing; _but their succession is not something added to the things
themselves_, it is something _involved in them_. To have two
feelings at all, implies having them either successively or
simultaneously. The relations of succession and simultaneity, of
likeness and unlikeness, not being grounded on any fact or
phenomenon distinct from the related objects themselves, do not
admit of the same kind of analysis. But these relations, though
not (like other relations) grounded on states of consciousness,
are themselves states of consciousness. Resemblance is nothing but
our feeling of resemblance: succession is nothing but our feeling
of succession."

By all ordinary (non-theorising) persons, these familiar
relations, _involved_ in the facts of sense, are conceived as an
essential part of [Greek: ai)/sthêsis]: and are so conceived by
those modern theorists who trace all our knowledge to sense--as
well as (probably) by those ancient theorists who defined [Greek:
e)pistê/mê] to be [Greek: ai)/sthêsis], and against whom Plato
here reasons. These theorists would have said (as ordinary
language recognises)--"We _see_ the _dissimilarity_ of the black
hands from the white face of the clock; we _hear_ the _likeness_
of one stroke of the clock to another, and the _succession_ of the
strokes one, two, three, one after the other".

The reasoning of Plato against these opponents is thus open to
many of the remarks made by Sir William Hamilton, in the notes to
his edition of Reid's works, upon Reid's objections against Locke
and Berkeley: Reid restricted the word Sensation to a much
narrower meaning than that given to it by Locke and Berkeley.
"Berkeley's _Sensation_" (observes S. W. Hamilton) "was equivalent
to Reid's _Sensation_ plus _Perception_. This is manifest even by
the passages adduced in the text" (note to p. 289). But Reid in
his remarks omits to notice this difference in the meaning of the
same word. The case is similar with Plato when he refutes those
who held the doctrine [Greek: E)pistê/mê = Ai)/sthêsis]. The
last-mentioned word, in his construction, includes only a part of
the meaning which they attributed to it; but he takes no notice of
this verbal difference. Sir William Hamilton remarks, respecting
M. Royer Collard's doctrine, which narrows prodigiously the
province of Sense,--"_Sense_ he so limits that, if rigorously
carried out, no sensible perception, as no consciousness, could be
brought to bear". This is exactly true about Plato's doctrine
narrowing [Greek: ai)/sthêsis]. See Hamilton's edit. of Reid,
Appendix, p. 844.

Aristotle understands [Greek: ai)/sthêsis--ai)sthêtikê\ psuchê\]
or [Greek: zôê/]--as occupying a larger sphere than that which
Plato assigns to them in the Theætêtus. Aristotle recognises the
five separate [Greek: ai)sthê/seis], each correlating with and
perceiving its [Greek: i)/dion ai)sthêto/n]: he also recognises
[Greek: ê( koinê\ ai)/sthêsis]--common sensation or
perception--correlating with (or perceiving) [Greek: ta\ koina\
ai)sthêta/], which are _motion_, _rest_, _magnitude_, _figure_,
_number_. The [Greek: koinê\ ai)/sthêsis] is not a distinct or sixth
sense, apart from the five, but a general power inhering in all of
them. He farther recognises [Greek: ai)/sthêsis] as discriminating,
judging, comparing, knowing: this characteristic, [Greek: to\
kritoko\n] and [Greek: gnôstiko/n], is common to [Greek:
ai)/sthêsis, phantasi/a, no/êsis], and distinguishes them all from
appetite--[Greek: to\ o)rektiko/n, kinêtiko/n], &c. See the first
and second chapters of the third Book of the Treatise De Animâ,
and the Commentary of Simplikius upon that Treatise, especially p.
56, b. Aristotle tells us that all animals [Greek: e)/chei
du/namin su/mphuton kritikê/n, ê(\n kalou=sin ai)/sthêsin.] Anal.
Poster. ii. p. 99, b. 35. And Sir William Hamilton adopts a
similar view, when he remarks, that Judgment is implied in every
act of Consciousness.

Occasionally indeed Aristotle partitions the soul between [Greek:
nou=s] and [Greek: o)/rexis]--Intelligence and
Appetite--recognising Sense as belonging to the head of Intelligence--see
De Motu Animalium, 6, p. 700, b. 20. [Greek: tau=ta de\ pa/nta
a)na/getai ei)s nou=n kai\ o)/rexin; kai\ ga\r ê( phantasi/a kai\
ê( ai)/sthêsis tê\n au)tê\n tô=| nô=| chô/ran e)/chousi; _kritika\
ga\r pa/nta_.] Compare also the Topica, ii. 4, p. 111, a. 18.

It will thus be seen that while Plato severs pointedly [Greek:
ai)/sthêsis] from anything like discrimination, comparison,
judgment, even in the most rudimentary form--Aristotle refuses to
adopt this extreme abstraction as his basis for classifying the
mental phenomena. He recognises a certain measure of
discrimination, comparison, and judgment, as implicated in
sensible perceptions. Moreover, that which he calls [Greek: koinê\
ai)/sthêsis] is unknown to Plato, who isolates each sense, and
indeed each act of each sense, as much as possible. Aristotle is
opposed, as Plato is, to the doctrine [Greek: E)pistê/mê =
Ai)/sthêsis], but he employs a different manner of reasoning
against it. See, _inter alia_, Anal. Poster. i. 31, p. 87, b. 28.
He confines [Greek: e)pistê/mê] to one branch of the [Greek:

The Peripatetic Straton, the disciple of Theophrastus, denied that
there was any distinct line of demarcation between [Greek: to\
ai)stha/nesthai] and [Greek: to\ noei=n]: maintaining that the
former was impossible without a certain measure of the latter. His
observation is very worthy of note. Plutarch, De Solertiâ
Animalium, iii. 6, p. 961 A. [Greek: Kai/toi Stra/tôno/s ge tou=
phusikou= lo/gos e)sti/n, a)podeiknu/ôn ô(s ou)d' ai)stha/nesthai
topara/pan a)/neu tou= noei=n u(pa/rchei; kai\ ga\r gra/mmata
polla/kis e)piporeuo/mena tê=| o)/psei, kai\ lo/goi prospi/ptontes
tê=| a)koiê=| _dialantha/nousin ê(ma=s_ kai\ _diapheu/gousi pro\s
e(te/rois to\n nou=n e)/chontas_; ei)=t' _au)=this e)panê=lthe_
kai\ _metathei= kai\ metadiô/kei tô=n proïeme/nôn e(/kaston
a)nalego/menos_; ê(=| kai\ le/lektai. _Nou=s o(rê=|, kai\ nou=s
a)kou/ei, ta\ de\ a)/lla kôpha\ kai\ tuphla/_;** ô(s tou= peri\ ta\
o)/mmata kai\ ô)=ta pa/thous, a)\n mê\ parê=| to\ phronou=n,
ai)/sthêsin ou) poiou=ntos.]

Straton here notices that remarkable fact (unnoticed by Plato and
even by Aristotle, so far as I know) in the process of
association, that impressions of sense are sometimes unheeded when
they occur, but force themselves upon the attention afterwards,
and are recalled by the mind in the order in which they occurred
at first.]

[Footnote 100: Plato, Theæt. p. 187 A. _Sokr._ [Greek: o(/môs de\
tosou=to/n ge probebê/kamen, ô(/ste mê\ zêtei=n au)tê\n
(e)pistê/mên) e)n ai)sthê/sei topara/pan, a)ll' e)n e)kei/nô| tô=|
o)no/mati, o(/, ti pot' e)/chei ê( psuchê/, o(/tan au)tê\ kath'
au(tê\n pragmateu/êtai peri\ ta\ o)/nta.] _Theæt._ [Greek: A)lla\
mê\n tou=to/ ge kalei=tai, ô(s e)gô)=|mai, _doxa/zein_.] _Sokr._
[Greek: O)rthô=s ga\r oi)/ei.]

Plato is quite right in distinguishing between [Greek:
ai)/sthêsis] and [Greek: do/xa], looking at the point as a
question of psychological classification. It appears to me,
however, most probable that those who maintained the theory
[Greek: E)pistê/mê = Ai)/sthêsis], made no such distinction, but
included that which he calls [Greek: do/xa] in [Greek:
ai)/sthêsis]. Unfortunately we do not possess their own
exposition; but it cannot have included much of psychological

[Footnote 101: Schleiermacher represents Plato as discriminating
Knowledge (the region of infallibility, you either possess it or
not) from Opinion (the region of fallibility, true or false, as
the case may be) by a broad and impassable line--

"Auch hieraus erwächst eine sehr entscheidende, nur ebenfalls
nicht ausdrücklich gezogene, Folgerung, dass die reine Erkenntniss
gar nicht auf demselben Gebiet liegen könne mit dem Irrthum--und
es in Beziehung auf sie kein Wahr und Falsch gebe, sondern nur ein
Haben oder Nicht Haben." (Schleiermacher, Einleit. zum Theæt. p.

Steinhart (in his Einleit. zum Theæt. p. 94) contests this opinion
of Schleiermacher (though he seems to give the same opinion
himself, p. 92). He thinks that Plato does not recognise so very
marked a separation between Knowledge and Opinion: that he
considers Knowledge as the last term of a series of mental
processes, developed gradually according to constant laws, and
ascending from Sensible Perception through Opinion to Knowledge:
that the purpose of the Theætêtus is to illustrate this theory.

Ueberweg, on the contrary, defends the opinion of Schleiermacher
and maintains that Steinhart is mistaken (Aechtheit und Zeit.
Platon. Schriften, p. 279).

Passages may be produced from Plato's writings to support both
these views: that of Schleiermacher, as well as that of Steinhart.
In Timæus, p. 51 E, the like infallibility is postulated for
[Greek: Nou=s] (which there represents [Greek: E)pistê/mê]) as
contrasted with [Greek: do/xa]. But I think that Steinhart
ascribes to the Theætêtus more than can fairly be discovered in
it. That dialogue is purely negative. It declares that [Greek:
e)pistê/mê] is _not_ [Greek: ai)/sthêsis]. It then attempts to go
a step farther towards the affirmative, by declaring also that
[Greek: e)pistê/mê] is a mental process of computation, respecting
the impressions of [Greek: ai)/sthêsis]--that it is [Greek: to\
sullogi/zesthai], which is equivalent to [Greek: to\ doxa/zein]:
compare Phædrus, 249 B. But this affirmative attempt breaks down:
for Sokrates cannot explain what [Greek: to\ doxa/zein] is, nor
how [Greek: to\ doxa/zein pseudê=] is possible; in fact he says
(p. 200 B) that this cannot be explained until we know what
[Greek: e)pistê/mê] is. The entire result of the dialogue is
negative, as the closing words proclaim emphatically. On this
point many of the commentators agree--Ast, Socher, Stallbaum,
Ueberweg, Zeller, &c.

Whether it be true, as Schleiermacher, with several others, thinks
(Einl. pp. 184-185), that Plato intends to attack Aristippus in
the first part of the dialogue, and Antisthenes in the latter
part, we have no means of determining.]

This at least is the meaning which Plato assigns to the two words
corresponding to Cognition and to Opinion, in the present
dialogue, and often elsewhere. But he also frequently employs the
word Cognition in a lower and more general signification, not
restricted, as it is here, to the highest philosophical reach,
with infallibility--but comprehending much of what is here treated
only as _opinion_. Thus, for example, he often alludes to the
various professional men as possessing _Cognition_, each in his
respective department: the general, the physician, the gymnast,
the steersman, the husbandman, &c.[102] But he certainly does not
mean, that each of them has attained what he calls real essence
and philosophical truths--or that any of them are infallible.

[Footnote 102: Compare Plato, Sophistes, pp. 232 E, 233 A.]

[Side-note: Plato did not recognise Verification from experience,
or from facts of sense, as either necessary or possible.]

One farther remark must be made on Plato's doctrine. His
remark--That Cognition consists not in the affections of sense, but
in computation or reasoning respecting those affections, (_i. e._
abstraction, generalisation, &c.)--is both true and important. But
he has not added, nor would he have admitted, that if we are to
decide whether our computation is true and right, or false and
erroneous--our surest way is to recur to the simple facts of
sense. Theory must be verified by observation; wherever that
cannot be done, the best guarantee is wanting. The facts
themselves are not cognition: yet they are the test by which all
computations, pretending to be cognitions, must be tried.[103]

[Footnote 103: See the remarks on the necessity of Verification,
as a guarantee for the Deductive Process, in Mr. John Stuart
Mill's System of Logic, Book iii. ch. xi. s. 8. Newton puts aside
his own computation or theory respecting gravity as the force
which kept the moon in its orbit, because the facts reported by
observers respecting the lunar motions were for some time not in
harmony with it. Plato certainly would not have surrendered any
[Greek: sullogismo\s] under the same respect to observed facts.
Aristotle might probably have done so; but this is uncertain.]

[Side-note: Second definition given by Theætêtus--That Cognition
consists in right or true opinion.]

We have thus, in enquiring--What is Knowledge or Cognition?
advanced so far as to discover--That it does not consist in
sensible perception, but in some variety of that purely mental
process which is called opining, believing, judging, conceiving,
&c. And here Theætêtus, being called upon for a second definition,
answers--_That Knowledge consists in right or true opinion_. All
opinion is not knowledge, because opinion is often false.[104]

[Footnote 104: Plato, Theæt. p. 187 B. It is scarcely possible to
translate [Greek: doxa/zein] always by the same English word.]

[Side-note: Objection by Sokrates--This definition assumes that
there are false opinions. But how can false opinions be possible?
How can we conceive Non-Ens: or confound together two distinct

_Sokr._--But you are here assuming that there _are_ false
opinions? How is this possible? How can any man judge or opine
falsely? What mental condition is it which bears that name? I
confess that I cannot tell: though I have often thought of the
matter myself, and debated it with others.[105] Every thing comes
under the head either of what a man knows, or of what he does not
know. If he conceives, it must be either the known, or the
unknown. He cannot mistake either one known thing for another
known thing: or a known thing for an unknown: or an unknown for a
known: or one unknown for another unknown. But to form a false
opinion, he must err in one or other of these four ways. It is
therefore impossible that he can form a false opinion.[106]

[Footnote 105: Plato, Theæt. p. 187 C.]

[Footnote 106: Plato, Theæt. p. 188.]

If indeed a man ascribed to any subject a predicate which was
non-existent, this would be evidently a false opinion. But how
can any one conceive the non-existent? He who conceives must conceive
_something_: just as he who sees or touches, must see or touch
_something_. He cannot see or touch the non-existent: for that
would be to see or touch nothing: in other words, not to see or
touch at all. In the same manner, to conceive the non-existent, or
_nothing_, is impossible.[107] _Theæt._--Perhaps he conceives two
realities, but confounds them together, mistaking the one for the
other. _Sokr._--Impossible. If he conceives two distinct
realities, he cannot suppose the one to be the other. Suppose him
to conceive, just and unjust, a horse and an ox--he can never
believe just to be unjust, or the ox to be the horse.[108] If,
again, he conceives one of the two alone and singly, neither could
he on that hypothesis suppose it to be the other: for that would
imply that he conceived the other also.

[Footnote 107: Plato, Theæt. p. 188-189.]

[Footnote 108: Plato, Theæt. p. 190.]

[Side-note: Waxen memorial tablet in the mind, on which past
impressions are engraved. False opinion consists in wrongly
identifying present sensations with past impressions.]

Let us look again in another direction (continues Sokrates). We
have been hasty in our concessions. Is it really impossible for a
man to conceive, that a thing, which he knows, is another thing
which he does not know? Let us see. Grant me the hypothesis (for
the sake of illustration), that each man has in his mind a waxen
tablet--the wax of one tablet being larger, firmer, cleaner, and
better in every way, than that of another: the gift of Mnemosynê,
for inscribing and registering our sensible perceptions and
thoughts. Every man remembers and knows these, so long as the
impressions of them remain upon his tablet: as soon as they are
blotted out, he has forgotten them and no longer knows them.[109]
Now false opinion may occur thus. A man having inscribed on his
memorial tablet the impressions of two objects A and B, which he
has seen before, may come to see one of these objects again; but
he may by mistake identify the present sensation with the wrong
past impression, or with that past impression to which it does not
belong. Thus on seeing A, he may erroneously identify it with the
past impression B, instead of A: or _vice versâ_.[110] False
opinion will thus lie, not in the conjunction or identification of
sensations with sensations--nor of thoughts (or past impressions)
with thoughts--but in that of present sensations with past
impressions or thoughts.[111]

[Footnote 109: Plato, Theæt. p. 191 C. [Greek: kê/rinon

[Footnote 110: Plato, Theæt. p. 193-194.]

[Footnote 111: Plato, Theæt. p. 195 D.]

[Side-note: Sokrates refutes this assumption. Dilemma. Either false
opinion is impossible, or else a man may know what he does not

Having laid this down, however, Sokrates immediately proceeds to
refute it. In point of fact, false conceptions are found to
prevail, not only in the wrong identification of present
sensations with past impressions or thoughts, but also in the
wrong identification of one past impression or thought with
another. Thus a man, who has clearly engraved on his memorial
tablet the conceptions of five, seven, eleven, twelve,--may
nevertheless, when asked what is the sum of seven and five, commit
error and answer eleven: thus mistaking eleven for twelve.

We are thus placed in this dilemma--Either false opinion is an
impossibility:--Or else, it is possible that what a man knows, he
may not know. Which of the two do you choose?[112]

[Footnote 112: Plato, Theæt. p. 196 C. [Greek: nu=n de\ ê)/toi
ou)k e)/sti pseudê\s do/xa, ê)\ a(/ tis oi)=den, oi(=o/n te mê\
ei)de/nai; kai\ tou/tôn po/tera ai(rei=?]]

[Side-note: He draws distinction between possessing knowledge, and
having it actually in hand. Simile of the pigeon-cage with caught
pigeons turned into it and flying about.]

To this question no answer is given. But Sokrates,--after
remarking on the confused and unphilosophical manner in which the
debate has been conducted, both he and Theætêtus having
perpetually employed the words _know_, _knowledge_, and their
equivalents, as if the meaning of the words were ascertained,
whereas the very problem debated is, to ascertain their
meaning[113]--takes up another path of enquiry. He distinguishes
between possessing knowledge,--and having it actually in hand or
on his person: which distinction he illustrates by comparing the
mind to a pigeon-cage. A man hunts and catches pigeons, then turns
them into the cage, within the limits of which they fly about:
when he wants to catch any one of them for use, he has to go
through a second hunt, sometimes very troublesome: in which he may
perhaps either fail altogether, or catch the wrong one instead of
the right. The first hunt Sokrates compares to the acquisition of
knowledge: the second, to the getting it into his hand for
use.[114] A man may _know_, in the first sense, and _not know_, in
the second: he may have to hunt about for the cognition which (in
the first sense) he actually possesses. In trying to catch one
cognition, he may confound it with another: and this constitutes
false opinion--the confusion of two _cognita_ one with

[Footnote 113: Plato, Theæt. p. 196 D.]

[Footnote 114: Plato, Theæt. p. 197-198.]

[Footnote 115: Plato, Theæt. p. 199 C. [Greek: ê( tô=n e)pistêmô=n

[Side-note: Sokrates refutes this. Suggestion of Theætêtus--That
there may be non-cognitions in the mind as well as cognitions, and
that false opinion may consist in confounding one with the other.
Sokrates rejects this.]

Yet how can such a confusion be possible? (Sokrates here again
replies to himself.) How can knowledge betray a man into such
error? If he knows A, and knows B--how can he mistake A for B?
Upon this supposition, knowledge produces the effect of ignorance:
and we might just as reasonably imagine ignorance to produce the
effects of knowledge.[116]--Perhaps (suggests Theætêtus), he may
have _non-cognitions_ in his mind, mingled with the cognitions:
and in hunting for a cognition, he may catch a non-cognition.
Herein may lie false opinion.--That can hardly be (replies
Sokrates). If the man catches what is really a non-cognition, he
will not suppose it to be such, but to be a cognition. He will
believe himself fully to _know_, that in which he is mistaken. But
how is it possible that he should confound a non-cognition with a
cognition, or _vice versâ_? Does not he know the one from the
other? We must then require him to have a separate cognition of
his own cognitions or non-cognitions--and so on _ad
infinitum_.[117] The hypothesis cannot be admitted.

[Footnote 116: Plato, Theæt. p. 199 E.]

[Footnote 117: Plato, Theæt. p. 200 B.]

We cannot find out (continues Sokrates) what false opinion is: and
we have plainly done wrong to search for it, until we have first
ascertained what knowledge is.[118]

[Footnote 118: Plato, Theæt. p. 200 C.]

[Side-note: He brings another argument to prove that Cognition is
not the same as true opinion. Rhetors persuade or communicate true
opinion; but they do not teach or communicate knowledge.]

Moreover, as to the question, Whether knowledge is identical with
true opinion, Sokrates produces another argument to prove that it
is not so: and that the two are widely different. You can
communicate true opinion without communicating knowledge: and the
powerful class of rhetors and litigants make it their special
business to do so. They persuade, without teaching, a numerous
audience.[119] During the hour allotted to them for discourse,
they create, in the minds of the assembled dikasts, true opinions
respecting complicated incidents of robbery or other unlawfulness,
at which none of the dikasts have been personally present. Upon
this opinion the dikasts decide, and decide rightly. But they
cannot possibly _know_ the facts without having been personally
present and looking on. That is essential to knowledge or
cognition.[120] Accordingly, they have acquired true and right
opinions; yet without acquiring knowledge. Therefore the two are
not the same.[121]

[Footnote 119: Plato, Theæt. p. 201 A. [Greek: ou(=toi ga/r pou
tê=| e(autô=n te/chnê| pei/thousin, ou) dida/skontes, a)lla\
doxa/zein poiou=ntes a(\ a)\n bou/lôntai.]]

[Footnote 120: Plato, Theæt. p. 201 B-C. [Greek: Ou)kou=n o(/tan
dikai/ôs peisthô=si dikastai\ peri\ _ô(=n i)do/nti mo/non e)/stin
ei)de/nai, a)/llôs de\ mê/_, tau=ta to/te _e)x a)koê=s
kri/nontes_, a)lêthê= do/xan labo/ntes, a)/neu e)pistê/mês
e)/krinan, o)rtha\ peisthe/ntes, ei)/per eu)= e)di/kasan?]]

[Footnote 121: The distinction between persuading and
teaching--between creating opinion and imparting knowledge--has been
brought to view in the Gorgias, and is noted also in the Timæus. As
it stands here, it deserves notice, because Plato not only professes
to affirm what _knowledge_ is, but also identifies it with
sensible perception. The Dikasts (according to Sokrates) would
have _known_ the case, had they been present when it occurred, so
as to see and hear it: there is no other way of acquiring

Hearing the case only by the narration of speakers, they can
acquire nothing more than a _true opinion_. Hence we learn wherein
consists the difference between the two. That which I see, hear,
or apprehend by any sensible perception, I _know_: compare a
passage in Sophistes, p. 267 A-B, where [Greek: to\ gignô/skein]
is explained in the same way. But that which I learn from the
testimony of others amounts to nothing more than opinion; and at
best to a true opinion.

Plato's reasoning here involves an admission of the very doctrine
which he had before taken so much pains to confute--the doctrine
that Cognition is Sensible Perception. Yet he takes no notice of
the inconsistency. An occasion for sneering at the Rhetors and
Dikasts is always tempting to him.

So, in the Menon (p. 97 B), the man who has been at Larissa is
said to _know_ the road to Larissa; as distinguished from another
man who, never having been there, opines correctly which the road
is. And in the Sophistes (p. 263) when Plato is illustrating the
doctrine that false propositions, as well as true propositions,
are possible, and really occur, he selects as his cases, [Greek:
Theai/têtos ka/thêtai, Theai/têtos pe/tetai]. That one of these
propositions is false and the other true, can be known only by
[Greek: ai)/sthêsis]--in the sense of that word commonly

[Side-note: New answer of Theætêtus--Cognition is true opinion,
coupled with rational explanation.]

Theætêtus now recollects another definition of knowledge, learnt
from some one whose name he forgets. Knowledge is (he says) true
opinion, coupled with rational explanation. True opinion without
such rational explanation, is not knowledge. Those things which do
not admit of rational explanation, are not knowable.[122]

[Footnote 122: Plato, Theætêt. p. 201 D. [Greek: tê\n me\n meta\
lo/gou a)lêthê= do/xan e)pistê/mên ei)=nai; tê\n de\ a)/logon,
e)kto\s e)pistê/mês; kai\ ô(=n me\n mê/ e)sti lo/gos, ou)k
e)pistêta\ ei)=nai, _ou(tôsi\ kai\ o)noma/zôn_, a)\ d' e)/chei,

The words [Greek: ou(tôsi\ kai\ o)noma/zôn] are intended,
according to Heindorf and Schleiermacher, to justify the use of
the word [Greek: e)pistêta/], which was then a neologism. Both
this definition, and the elucidation of it which Sokrates proceeds
to furnish, are announced as borrowed from other persons not

[Side-note: Criticism on the answer by Sokrates. Analogy of letters
and words, primordial elements and compounds. Elements cannot be
explained: compounds alone can be explained.]

Taking up this definition, and elucidating it farther, Sokrates
refers to the analogy of words and letters. Letters answer to the
primordial elements of things; which are not matters either of
knowledge, or of true opinion, or of rational explanation--but
simply of sensible perception. A letter, or a primordial element,
can only be perceived and called by its name. You cannot affirm of
it any predicate or any epithet: you cannot call it _existing_, or
_this_, or _that_, or _each_, or _single_, or by any other name
than its own:[123] for if you do, you attach to it something
extraneous to itself, and then it ceases to be an element. But
syllables, words, propositions--_i. e._, the compounds made up by
putting together various letters or elements--admit of being
known, explained, and described, by enumerating the component
elements. You may indeed conceive them correctly, without being
able to explain them or to enumerate their component elements: but
then you do not know them. You can only be said to know them, when
besides conceiving them correctly, you can also specify their
component elements[124]--or give explanation.

[Footnote 123: Plato, Theæt. pp. 201 E--202 A. [Greek: au)to\ ga\r
kath' au(to\ e(/kaston o)noma/sai mo/non ei)/ê, proseipei=n de\
ou)de\n a)/llo dunato/n, ou)/th' ô(s e)/stin, ou)/th' ô(s ou)k
e)/stin' ê)/dê ga\r a)\n ou)si/an ê)\ mê\ ou)si/an au)tô=|
prosti/thesthai, dei=n de\ ou)de\n prosphe/rein, ei)/per au)to\
e)kei=no mo/non tis e)rei=; e)pei\ ou)de\ to\ _au)to/_, ou)de/ to\
_e)kei=no_, ou)de\ to _e(/kaston_, ou)de\ to _mo/non_, ou)de\ to\
_tou=to_, prosoiste/on, ou)d' a)/lla polla\ toiau=ta; tau=ta me\n
ga\r peritre/chonta pa=si prosphe/resthai, e(/tera o)/nta
e(kei/nôn oi(=s prosti/thetai.] Also p. 205 C.]

[Footnote 124: Plato, Theæt. p. 202.]

[Side-note: Sokrates refutes this criticism. If the elements are
unknowable, the compound must be unknowable also.]

Having enunciated this definition, as one learnt from another
person not named, Sokrates proceeds to examine and confute it. It
rests on the assumption (he says), that the primordial elements
are themselves unknowable; and that it is only the aggregates
compounded of them which are knowable. Such an assumption cannot
be granted. The result is either a real sum total, including both
the two component elements: or it is a new form, indivisible and
uncompounded, generated by the two elements, but not identical
with them nor including them in itself. If the former, it is not
knowable, because if neither of the elements are knowable, both
together are not knowable: when you know neither A nor B you
cannot know either the sum or the product of A and B. If the
latter, then the result, being indivisible and uncompounded, is
unknowable for the same reason as the elements are so: it can only
be named by its own substantive name, but nothing can be
predicated respecting it.[125]

[Footnote 125: Plato, Theæt. pp. 203-206.]

Nor can it indeed be admitted as true--That the elements are
unknowable, and the compound alone knowable. On the contrary, the
elements are more knowable than the compound.[126]

[Footnote 126: Plato, Theæt. p. 206.]

[Side-note: Rational explanation may have one of three different
meanings. 1. Description in appropriate language. 2. Enumeration
of all the component elements in the compound. In neither of these
meanings will the definition of Cognition hold.]

When you say (continues Sokrates) that knowledge is true opinion
coupled with rational explanation, you may mean by _rational
explanation_ one of three things. 1. The power of enunciating the
opinion in clear and appropriate words. This every one learns to
do, who is not dumb or an idiot: so that in this sense true
opinion will always carry with it rational explanation.--2. The
power of describing the thing in question by its component
elements. Thus Hesiod says that there are a hundred distinct
wooden pieces in a waggon: you and I do not know nor can we
describe them all: we can distinguish only the more obvious
fractions--the wheels, the axle, the body, the yoke, &c.
Accordingly, we cannot be said to know a waggon: we have only a
true opinion about it. Such is the second sense of [Greek: lo/gos]
or rational explanation. But neither in this sense will the
proposition hold--That knowledge is right opinion coupled with
rational explanation. For suppose that a man can enumerate, spell,
and write correctly, all the syllables of the name
_Theætêtus_--which would fulfil the conditions of this definition:
yet, if he mistakes and spells wrongly in any other name, such as
_Theodôrus_, you will not give him credit for knowledge. You will
say that he writes _Theætêtus_ correctly, by virtue of right
opinion simply. It is therefore possible to have right opinion
coupled with rational explanation, in this second sense also,--yet
without possessing knowledge.[127]

[Footnote 127: Plato, Theæt. p. 207-208 B. [Greek: e)/stin a)/ra
meta\ lo/gou o)rthê\ do/xa, ê(\n ou)/pô dei= _e)pistê/mên_

[Side-note: Third meaning. To assign some mark, whereby the thing
to be explained differs from everything else. The definition will
not hold. For rational explanation, in this sense, is already
included in true opinion.]

3. A third meaning of this same word [Greek: lo/gos] or rational
explanation, is, that in which it is most commonly understood-To
be able to assign some mark whereby the thing to be explained
differs from every thing else--to differentiate the thing.[128]
Persons, who understand the word in this way, affirm, that so long
as you only seize what the thing has in common with other things,
you have only a _true opinion_ concerning it: but when you seize
what it has peculiar and characteristic, you then possess
_knowledge_ of it. Such is their view: but though it seems
plausible at first sight (says Sokrates), it will not bear close
scrutiny. For in order to have a true opinion about any thing, I
must have in my mind not only what it possesses in common with
other things, but what it possesses peculiar to itself also. Thus
if I have a true opinion about Theætêtus, I must have in my mind
not only the attributes which belong to him in common with other
men, but also those which belong to him specially and exclusively.
Rational explanation ([Greek: lo/gos]) in this sense is already
comprehended in true opinion, and is an essential ingredient in
it--not any new element superadded. It will not serve therefore as
a distinction between true opinion and knowledge.[129]

[Footnote 128: Plato, Theætêt. p. 208 C. [Greek: O(/per a)\n oi(
polloi\ ei)/poien, to\ e)/chein ti sêmei=on ei)pei=n ô(=| tô=n
a(pa/ntôn diaphe/rei to\ e)rôtêthe/n.]]

[Footnote 129: Plato, Theætêt. p. 209.]

[Side-note: Conclusion of the dialogue--Summing up by
Sokrates--Value of the result, although purely negative.]

Such is the result (continues Sokrates) of our researches
concerning knowledge. We have found that it is neither sensible
perception--nor true opinion--nor true opinion along with rational
explanation. But what it is, we have not found. Are we still
pregnant with any other answer, Theætêtus, or have we brought
forth all that is to come?--_I_ have brought forth (replies
Theætêtus) more than I had within me, through your furtherance.
Well (rejoins Sokrates)--and my obstetric science has pronounced
all your offspring to be mere wind, unworthy of being
preserved![130] If hereafter you should again become pregnant,
your offspring will be all the better for our recent
investigation. If on the other hand you should always remain
barren, you will be more amiable and less vexatious to your
companions--by having a just estimate of yourself and by not
believing yourself to know what you really do not know.[131]

[Footnote 130: Plato, Theætêt. p. 210 B. [Greek: ou)kou=n tau=ta
me\n a(/panta ê( maieutikê\ ê(mi=n te/chnê a)nemiai=a/ phêsi
gegenê=sthai kai\ ou)k a)/xia trophê=s?]]

[Footnote 131: Plato, Theæt. p. 210 C. [Greek: e)a/n te gi/gnê|
(e)gku/môn), beltio/nôn e)/sei plê/rês dia\ tê\n nu=n e)xe/tasin;
e)a/n te keno\s ê)=s, ê(=tton e)/sei baru\s toi=s sunou=si kai\
ê(merô/teros, sôphro/nôs ou)k oi)o/menos ei)de/nai a(\ mê\

Compare also an earlier passage in the dialogue, p. 187 B.]

*  *  *  *  *

[Side-note: Remarks on the dialogue. View of Plato. False
persuasion of knowledge removed. Importance of such removal.]

The concluding observations of this elaborate dialogue deserve
particular attention as illustrating Plato's point of view, at the
time when he composed the Theætêtus. After a long debate, set
forth with all the charm of Plato's style, no result is attained.
Three different explanations of knowledge have been rejected as
untenable.[132] No other can be found; nor is any suggestion
offered, showing in what quarter we are to look for the true one.
What then is the purpose or value of the dialogue? Many persons
would pronounce it to be a mere piece of useless ingenuity and
elegance: but such is not the opinion of Plato himself. Sufficient
gain (in his view) will have been ensured, if Theætêtus has
acquired a greater power of testing any fresh explanation which he
may attempt of this difficult subject: or even if he should
attempt none such, by his being disabused, at all events, of the
false persuasion of knowing where he is really ignorant. Such
false persuasion of knowledge (Plato here intimates) renders a man
vexatious to associates; while a right estimate of his own
knowledge and ignorance fosters gentleness and moderation of
character. In this view, false persuasion of knowledge is an
ethical defect, productive of positive mischief in a man's
intercourse with others: the removal of it improves his character,
even though no ulterior step towards real and positive knowledge
be made. The important thing is, that he should acquire the power
of testing and verifying all opinions, old as well as new. This,
which is the only guarantee against the delusive self-satisfaction
of sham knowledge, must be firmly established in the mind before
it is possible to aspire effectively to positive and assured
knowledge. The negative arm of philosophy is in its application
prior to the positive, and indispensable, as the single protection
against error and false persuasion of knowledge. Sokrates is here
depicted as one in whom the negative vein is spontaneous and
abundant, even to a pitch of discomfort--as one complaining
bitterly, that objections thrust themselves upon him, unsought and
unwelcome, against conclusions which he had himself just
previously taken pains to prove at length.[133]

[Footnote 132: I have already observed, however, that in one
passage of the interrogation carried on by Sokrates (p. 201 A-B,
where he is distinguishing between persuasion and teaching) he
unconsciously admits the identity between knowledge and sensible

[Footnote 133: See the emphatic passage, p. 195 B-C.]

[Side-note: Formation of the testing or verifying power in men's
minds, value of the Theætêtus, as it exhibits Sokrates demolishing
his own suggestions.]

To form in men's minds this testing or verifying power, is one
main purpose in Plato's dialogues of Search--and in some of them
the predominant purpose; as he himself announces it to be in the
Theætêtus. I have already made the same remark before, and I
repeat it here; since it is absolutely necessary for appreciating
these dialogues of Search in their true bearing and value. To one
who does not take account of the negative arm of philosophy, as an
auxiliary without which the positive arm will strike at
random--half of the Platonic dialogues will teach nothing, and will
even appear as enigmas--the Theætêtus among the foremost. Plato excites
and strengthens the interior mental wakefulness of the hearer, to
judge respecting all affirmative theories, whether coming from
himself or from others. This purpose is well served by the manner
in which Sokrates more than once in this dialogue first announces,
proves, and builds up a theory--then unexpectedly changes his
front, disproves, and demolishes it. We are taught that it is not
difficult to find a certain stock of affirmative argument which
makes the theory look well from a distance: we must inspect
closely, and make sure that there are no counter-arguments in the
background.[134] The way in which Sokrates pulls to pieces his own
theories, is farther instructive, as it illustrates the
exhortation previously addressed by him to Theætêtus--not to take
offence when his answers were canvassed and shown to be

[Footnote 134: Plato, Theætêt. p. 208 E.]

[Footnote 135: Plato, Theætêt. p. 151 C.]

[Side-note: Comparison of the Philosopher with the Rhetor. The
Rhetor is enslaved to the opinions of auditors.]

A portion of the dialogue to which I have not yet adverted,
illustrates this anxiety for the preliminary training of the
ratiocinative power, as an indispensable qualification for any
special research. "We have plenty of leisure for
investigation[136] (says Sokrates). We are not tied to time, nor
compelled to march briefly and directly towards some positive
result. Engaged as we are in investigating philosophical truth, we
stand in pointed contrast with politicians and rhetors in the
public assembly or dikastery. We are like freemen; they, like
slaves. They have before them the Dikasts, as their masters, to
whose temper and approbation they are constrained to adapt
themselves. They are also in presence of antagonists, ready to
entrap and confute them. The personal interests, sometimes even
the life, of an individual are at stake; so that every thing must
be sacrificed to the purpose of obtaining a verdict. Men brought
up in these habits become sharp in observation and emphatic in
expression; but merely with a view to win the assent and
approbation of the master before them, as to the case in hand. No
free aspirations or spontaneous enlargement can have place in
their minds. They become careless of true and sound
reasoning--slaves to the sentiment of those whom they address--and
adepts in crooked artifice which they take for wisdom.[137]

[Footnote 136: Plato, Theæt. p. 155. [Greek: ô(s pa/nu pollê\n
scholê\n a)/gontes, pa/lin e)panaskepso/metha], &c.; also p. 172.]

[Footnote 137: Plato, Theætêt. p. 172-173.

I give only an abstract of this eloquent passage, not an exact
translation. Steinhart (Einleitung zum Theætêt. p. 37) calls it "a
sublime Hymn" (einen erhabenen Hymnus). It is a fine piece of
poetry or rhetoric, and shows that Plato was by nature quite as
rhetorical as the rhetors whom he depreciates--though he had also,
besides, other lofty intellectual peculiarities of his own, beyond
these rivals.]

[Side-note: The Philosopher is master of his own debates.]

Of all this (continues Sokrates) the genuine philosopher is the
reverse. He neither possesses, nor cares to possess, the
accomplishments of the lawyer and politician. He takes no interest
in the current talk of the city; nor in the scandals afloat
against individual persons. He does not share in the common ardour
for acquiring power or money; nor does he account potentates
either happier or more estimable for possessing them. Being
ignorant and incompetent in the affairs of citizenship as well as
of common life, he has no taste for club-meetings or joviality.
His mind, despising the particular and the practical, is absorbed
in constant theoretical research respecting universals. He spares
no labour in investigating--What is man in general? and what are
the attributes, active and passive, which distinguish man from
other things? He will be overthrown and humiliated before the
Dikastery by a clever rhetor. But if this opponent chooses to
ascend out of the region of speciality, and the particular ground
of injustice alleged by A against B--into the general question,
What is justice or injustice? Wherein do they differ from each
other or from other things? What constitutes happiness and misery?
How is the one to be attained and the other avoided?--If the
rhetor will meet the philosopher on this elevated ground, then he
will find himself put to shame and proved to be incompetent, in
spite of all the acute stratagems of his petty mind.[138] He will
look like a child and become ashamed of himself:[139] but the
philosopher is noway ashamed of his incompetence for slavish
pursuits, while he is passing a life of freedom and leisure among
his own dialectics.[140]

[Footnote 138: Plato, Theæt. pp. 175-176.]

[Footnote 139: Plato, Theæt. p. 177 B.]

[Footnote 140: Plato, Theæt. p. 175 E.]

[Side-note: Purpose of dialogue to qualify for a life of
philosophical Search.]

In these words of Sokrates we read a contrast between practice and
theory--one of the most eloquent passages in the
dialogues--wherein Plato throws overboard the ordinary concerns and
purposes both of public and private life, admitting that true philosophers
are unfit for them. The passage, while it teaches us caution in
receiving his criticisms on the defects of actual statesmen and
men of action, informs us at the same time that he regarded
philosophy as the only true business of life--the single pursuit
worthy to occupy a freeman.[141] This throws light on the purpose
of many of his dialogues. He intends to qualify the mind for a
life of philosophical research, and with this view to bestow
preliminary systematic training on the ratiocinative power. To
announce at once his own positive conclusions with their reasons,
(as I remarked before) is not his main purpose. A pupil who,
having got all these by heart, supposed himself to have completed
his course of philosophy, so that nothing farther remained to be
done, would fall very short of the Platonic exigency. The life of
the philosopher--as Plato here conceives it--is a perpetual search
after truth, by dialectic debate and mutual cross-examination
between two minds, aiding each other to disembroil that confusion
and inconsistency which grows up naturally in the ordinary mind.
For such a life a man becomes rather disqualified than prepared,
by swallowing an early dose of authoritative dogmas and proofs
dictated by his teacher. The two essential requisites for it are,
that he should acquire a self-acting ratiocinative power, and an
earnest, untiring, interest in the dialectic process. Both these
aids Plato's negative dialogues are well calculated to afford: and
when we thus look at his purpose, we shall see clearly that it did
not require the presentation of any positive result.

[Footnote 141: Plato, Sophistês, p. 253 C: [Greek: ê( tô=n
e)leuthe/rôn e)pistê/mê].]

[Side-note: Difficulties of the Theætêtus are not solved in any
other Dialogue.]

The course of this dialogue--the Theætêtus--has been already
described as an assemblage of successive perplexities without any
solution. But what deserves farther notice is--That the
perplexities, as they are not solved in this dialogue, so they are
not solved in any other dialogue. The view taken by Schleiermacher
and other critics--that Plato lays out the difficulties in one
anterior dialogue, in order to furnish the solution in another
posterior--is not borne out by the facts. In the Theætêtus, many
objections are propounded against the doctrine, That Opinion is
sometimes true, sometimes false. Sokrates shows that false opinion
is an impossibility: either therefore all opinions are true, or no
opinion is either true or false. If we turn to the Sophistês, we
shall find this same question discussed by the Eleatic Stranger
who conducts the debate. He there treats the doctrine--That false
opinion is an impossibility and that no opinion could be false--as
one which had long embarrassed himself, and which formed the
favourite subterfuge of the impostors whom he calls Sophists. He
then states that this doctrine of the Sophists was founded on the
Parmenidean dictum--That Non-Ens was an impossible supposition.
Refuting the dictum of Parmenides (by a course of reasoning which
I shall examine elsewhere), he arrives at the conclusion--That
Non-Ens exists in a certain fashion, as well as Ens: That false
opinions are possible: That there may be false opinions as well as
true. But what deserves most notice here, in illustration of
Plato's manner, is--that though the Sophistês[142] is announced as
a continuation of the Theætêtus (carried on by the same speakers,
with the addition of the Eleate), yet the objections taken by
Sokrates in the Theætêtus against the possibility of false
opinion, are not even noticed in the Sophistês--much less removed.
Other objections to it are propounded and dealt with: but not
those objections which had arrested the march of Sokrates in the
Theætêtus.[143] Sokrates and Theætêtus hear the Eleatic Stranger
discussing this same matter in the Sophistês, yet neither of them
allude to those objections against his conclusion which had
appeared to both of them irresistible in the preceding dialogue
known as Theætêtus. Nor are the objections refuted in any other of
the Platonic dialogues.

[Footnote 142: See the end of the Theætêtus and the opening of the
Sophistês. Note, moreover, that the Politikus makes reference not
only to the Sophistês, but also to the Theætêtus (pp. 258 A, 266
D, 284 B, 286 B).]

[Footnote 143: In the Sophistês, the Eleate establishes (to his
own satisfaction) that [Greek: to\ mê\ o)\n] is not [Greek:
e)nanti/on tou= o)/ntos], but [Greek: e(/teron tou= o)/ntos] (p.
257 B), that it is one [Greek: ge/nos] among the various [Greek:
ge/nê] (p. 260 B), and that it ([Greek: to\ mê\ o)\n koinônei=])
enters into communion or combination with [Greek: do/xa, lo/gos,
phantasi/a], &c. It is therefore possible that there may be
[Greek: pseudê\s do/xa] or [Greek: pseudê\s lo/gos], when you
affirm, respecting any given subject, [Greek: e(/tera tô=n
o)/ntôn] or [Greek: ta\ mê\ o)/nta ô(s o)/nta] (p. 263 B-C). Plato
considers that the case is thus made out against the Sophist, as
the impostor and dealer in falsehoods; false opinion being proved
to be possible and explicable.

But if we turn to the Theætêtus (p. 189 seq.), we shall see that
this very explication of [Greek: pseudê\s do/xa] is there
enunciated and impugned by Sokrates in a long argument. He calls
it there [Greek: a)llodoxi/a, e(terodoxi/a, to\ e(terodoxei=n]
(pp. 189 A, 190 E, 193 D). No man (he says) can mistake one thing
for another; if this were so, he must be supposed both to know and
not to know the same thing, which is impossible (pp. 196 A, 200
A). Therefore [Greek: pseudê\s do/xa] is impossible.

Of these objections, urged by Sokrates in the Theætêtus, against
the possibility of [Greek: a)llodoxi/a], no notice is taken in the
Sophistês either by Sokrates, or by Theætêtus, or by the Eleate in
the Sophistês. Indeed the Eleate congratulates himself upon the
explanation as more satisfactory than he had expected to find (p.
264 B): and speaks with displeasure of the troublesome persons who
stir up doubts and contradictions (p. 259 C): very different from
the tone of Sokrates in the Theætêtus (p. 195, B-C).

I may farther remark that Plato, in the Republic, reasons about
[Greek: to\ mê\ o)\n] in the Parmenidean sense, and not in the
sense which he ascribed to it in the Sophistês, and which he
recognises in the Politikus, p. 284 B. (Republic, v. pp. 477 A,
478 C.)

Socher (Ueber Platon's Schriften, pp. 260-270) points out the
discrepancy between the doctrines of the Eleate in the Sophistês,
and those maintained by Sokrates in other Platonic dialogues;
inferring from thence that the Sophistês and Politikus are not
compositions of Plato. As between the Theætêtus and the Sophistês,
I think a stronger case of discrepancy might be set forth than he
has stated; though the end of the former is tied to the beginning
of the latter plainly, directly, and intentionally. But I do not
agree in his inference. He concludes that the Sophistês is not
Plato's composition: I conclude, that the scope for dissident
views and doctrine, within the long philosophical career and
numerous dialogues of Plato, is larger than his commentators

[Side-note: Plato considered that the search for Truth was the
noblest occupation of life.]

Such a string of objections never answered, and of difficulties
without solution, may appear to many persons nugatory as well as
tiresome. To Plato they did not appear so. At the time when
most of his dialogues were composed, he considered that the Search
after truth was at once the noblest occupation, and the highest
pleasure, of life. Whoever has no sympathy with such a
pursuit--whoever cares only for results, and finds the chase in
itself fatiguing rather than attractive--is likely to take little
interest in the Platonic dialogues. To repeat what I said in
Chapter VIII.**--Those who expect from Plato a coherent system in
which affirmative dogmas are first to be laid down, with the
evidence in their favour--next, the difficulties and objections
against them enumerated--lastly, these difficulties solved--will
be disappointed. Plato is, occasionally, abundant in his
affirmations: he has also great negative fertility in starting
objections: but the affirmative current does not come into
conflict with the negative. His belief is enforced by rhetorical
fervour, poetical illustration, and a vivid emotional fancy. These
elements stand to him in the place of positive proof; and when his
mind is full of them, the unsolved objections, which he himself
had stated elsewhere, vanish out of sight. Towards the close of
his life (as we shall see in the Treatise De Legibus), the love of
dialectic, and the taste for enunciating difficulties even when he
could not clear them up, died out within him. He becomes
ultra-dogmatical, losing even the poetical richness and fervour which
had once marked his affirmations, and substituting in their place
a strict and compulsory orthodoxy.

[Side-note: Contrast between the philosopher and the practical
statesman--between Knowledge and Opinion.]

The contrast between the philosopher and the man engaged in active
life--which is so emphatically set forth in the Theætêtus[144]--falls
in with the distinction between Knowledge and Opinion--The
Infallible and the Fallible. It helps the purpose of the dialogue,
to show what knowledge is _not_: and it presents the distinction
between the two on the ethical and emotional side, upon which
Plato laid great stress. The philosopher (or man of Knowledge,
_i.e._ Knowledge viewed on its subjective side) stands opposed to
the men of sensible perception and opinion, not merely in regard
to intellect, but in regard to disposition, feeling, character,
and appreciation of objects. He neither knows nor cares about
particular things or particular persons: all his intellectual
force, and all his emotional interests, are engaged in the
contemplation of Universals or Real Entia, and of the great
pervading cosmical forces. He despises the occupations of those
around him, and the actualities of life, like the Platonic
Sokrates in the Gorgias:[145] assimilating himself as much as
possible to the Gods; who have no other occupation (according to
the Aristotelian[146] Ethics), except that of contemplating and
theorising. He pursues these objects not with a view to any
ulterior result, but because the pursuit is in itself a life both
of virtue and happiness; neither of which are to be found in the
region of opinion. Intense interest in speculation is his
prominent characteristic. To dwell amidst these contemplations is
a self-sufficing life; even without any of the aptitudes or
accomplishments admired by the practical men. If the philosopher
meddles with their pursuits, he is not merely found incompetent,
but also incurs general derision; because his incompetence becomes
manifest even to the common-place citizens. But if _they_ meddle
with his speculations, they fail not less disgracefully; though
their failure is not appreciated by the unphilosophical spectator.

[Footnote 144: Plato, Theætêt. pp. 173-176. Compare Republic, v.
pp. 476-477, vii. p. 517.]

[Footnote 145: See above, chap. xxiv. p. 355.]

[Footnote 146: Ethic. Nikomach. x. 8, p. 1178, b. 9-25.]

The professors of Knowledge are thus divided by the strongest
lines from the professors of Opinion. And opinion itself--The
Fallible--is, in this dialogue, presented as an inexplicable
puzzle. You talk about true and false opinions: but how can false
opinions be possible? and if they are not possible, what is the
meaning of _true_, as applied to opinions? Not only, therefore,
opinion can never be screwed up to the dignity of knowledge--but
the world of opinion itself defies philosophical scrutiny. It is a
chaos in which there is neither true nor false; in perpetual
oscillation (to use the phrase of the Republic) between Ens and

[Footnote 147: Plato, Republic, v. pp. 478-479.

The Theætêtus is more in harmony (in reference to [Greek: do/xa]
and [Greek: e)pistê/mê]) with the Republic, than with the
Sophistês and Politikus. In the Politikus (p. 309 C) [Greek:
a)lêthê\s do/xa meta\ bebaiô/seôs] is placed very nearly on a par
with knowledge: in the Menon also, the difference between the two,
though clearly declared, is softened in degree, pp. 97-98.

The Alexandrine physician Herophilus attempted to draw, between
[Greek: pro/r)r(êsis] and [Greek: pro/gnôsis], the same
distinction as that which Plato draws between [Greek: do/xa] and
[Greek: e)pistê/mê]--The Fallible as contrasted with the
Infallible. Galen shows that the distinction is untenable (Prim.
Commentat. in Hippokratis Prorrhetica, Tom. xvi. p. 487. ed.

Bonitz, in his Platonische Studien (pp. 41-78), has given an
instructive analysis and discussion of the Theætêtus. I find more
to concur with in his views, than in those of Schleiermacher or
Steinhart. He disputes altogether the assumption of other Platonic
critics, that a purely negative result is unworthy of Plato; and
that the negative apparatus is an artifice to recommend, and a
veil to conceal, some great affirmative truth, which acute
expositors can detect and enunciate plainly (Schleiermacher,
Einleit. zum Theætêt. p. 124 seq.) Bonitz recognises the result of
the Theætêtus as purely negative, and vindicates the worth of it
as such. Moreover, instead of denouncing the opinions which Plato
combats, as if they were perverse heresies of dishonest
pretenders, he adverts to the great difficulty of those problems
which both Plato and Plato's opponents undertook to elucidate: and
he remarks that, in those early days, the first attempts to
explain psychological phenomena were even more liable to error
than the first attempts to explain physical phenomena (pp. 75-77).
Such recognition, of the real difficulty of a problem, is rare
among the Platonic critics.]



[Side-note: Persons and circumstances of the two dialogues.]

These two dialogues are both of them announced by Plato as forming
sequel to the Theætêtus. The beginning of the Sophistês fits on to
the end of the Theætêtus: and the Politikus is even presented as a
second part or continuation of the Sophistês.[1] In all the three,
the same interlocutors are partially maintained. Thus Sokrates,
Theodôrus, and Theætêtus are present in all three: and Theætêtus
makes the responses, not only in the dialogue which bears his
name, but also in the Sophistês. Both in the Sophistês and
Politikus, however, Sokrates himself descends from the part of
principal speaker to that of listener: it is he, indeed, who by
his question elicits the exposition, but he makes no comment
either during the progress of it or at the close. In both the
dialogues, the leading and expository function is confided to a
new personage introduced by Theodôrus:--a stranger not named, but
announced as coming from Elea--the friend and companion of
Parmenides and Zeno. Perhaps (remarks Sokrates) your friend may,
without your knowledge, be a God under human shape; as Homer tells
us that the Gods often go about, in the company of virtuous men,
to inspect the good and bad behaviour of mankind. Perhaps your
friend may be a sort of cross-examining God, coming to test and
expose our feebleness in argument. No (replies Theodôrus) that is
not his character. He is less given to dispute than his
companions. He is far from being a God, but he is a divine man:
for I call all true philosophers divine.[2]

[Footnote 1: At the beginning of the Politikus, Plato makes
Sokrates refer both to the Theætêtus and to the Sophistês (p. 258
A). In more than one passage of the Politikus (pp. 266 D, 284 B,
286 B), he even refers to the Sophistês directly and by name,
noticing certain points touched in it--a thing very unusual with
him. In the Sophistês also (p. 233 B), express reference is made
to a passage in the Theætêtus.

See also the allusion in Sophistês (to the appearance of the
younger Sokrates as respondent), p. 218 B.

Socher (in his work, Ueber Platon's Schriften, pp. 258-294)
maintains that neither the Sophistês, nor the Politikus, nor the
Parmenidês, are genuine works of Plato. He conceives the two
dialogues to be contemporary with the Theætêtus (which he holds to
have been written by Plato), but to have been composed by some
acute philosopher of the Megaric school, conversant with the
teachings of Sokrates and with the views of Plato, after the visit
of the latter to Megara in the period succeeding the death of
Sokrates (p. 268).

Even if we grant the exclusion of Plato's authorship, the
hypothesis of an author belonging to the Megaric school is highly
improbable: the rather, since many critics suppose (I think
erroneously) that the Megarici are among those attacked in the
dialogue. The suspicion that Plato is not the author of Sophistês
and Politikus has undoubtedly more appearance of reason than the
same suspicion as applied to other dialogues--though I think the
reasons altogether insufficient. Socher observes, justly: 1. That
the two dialogues are peculiar, distinguished from other Platonic
dialogues by the profusion of logical classification, in practice
as well as in theory. 2. That both, and especially the Sophistês,
advance propositions and conclusions discrepant from what we read
in other Platonic dialogues.--But these two reasons are not
sufficient to make me disallow them. I do not agree with those who
require so much uniformity, either of matter or of manner, in the
numerous distinct dialogues of Plato. I recognise a much wider
area of admissible divergence.

The plain announcement contained in the Theætêtus, Sophistês, and
Politikus themselves, that the two last are intended as sequel to
the first, is in my mind a proof of sameness of authorship, not
counterbalanced by Socher's objections. Why should a Megaric
author embody in his two dialogues a false pretence and assurance,
that they are sequel of the Platonic Theætêtus? Why should so
acute a writer (as Socher admits him to be) go out of his way to
suppress his own personality, and merge his fame in that of Plato?

I make the same remark on the views of Suckow (Form der
Platonischen Schriften, p. 87, seq., Breslau, 1855), who admits
the Sophistes to be a genuine work of Plato, but declares the
Politikus to be spurious; composed by some fraudulent author, who
wished to give to his dialogue the false appearance of being a
continuation of the Sophistes: he admits (p. 93) that it must be a
deliberate deceit, if the Politikus be really the work of a
different author from the Sophistês; for identity of authorship is
distinctly affirmed in it.

Suckow gives two reasons for believing that the Politikus is not
by Plato:--1. That the doctrines respecting government are
different from those of the Republic, and the cosmology of the
long mythe which it includes different from the cosmology of the
Timæus. These are reasons similar to those advanced by Socher, and
(in my judgment) insufficient reasons. 2. That Aristotle, in a
passage of the Politica (iv. 2, p. 1289, b. 5), alludes to an
opinion, which is found in the Politikus in the following terms:
[Greek: ê)/dê me\n ou)=n tis a)pephê/nato kai\ tô=n pro/teron
ou(/tôs], &c. Suckow maintains that Aristotle could never have
alluded to Plato in these terms, and that he must have believed
the Politikus to be composed by some one else. But I think this
inference is not justified by the premisses. It is noway
impossible that Aristotle might allude to Plato sometimes in this
vague and general way: and I think that he has done so in other
passages of the same treatise (vii. 2, 1324, a. 29--vii. 7, p.
1327, b. 37).

Ueberweg (Aechtheit der Platon. Schrift. p. 162, seq.) combats
with much force the views of Suckow. It would be rash to build so
much negative inference upon a loose phrase of Aristotle. That he
should have spoken of Plato in this vague manner is much more
probable, or much less improbable, than the counter-supposition,
that the author of a striking and comprehensive dialogue, such as
the Politikus, should have committed a fraud for the purpose of
fastening his composition on Plato, and thus abnegating all fame
for himself.

The explicit affirmation of the Politikus itself ought to be
believed, in my judgment, unless it can be refuted by greater
negative probabilities than any which Socher and Suckow produce. I
do not here repeat, what I have endeavoured to justify in an
earlier chapter of this work, the confidence which I feel in the
canon of Thrasyllus; a confidence which it requires stronger
arguments than those of these two critics to overthrow.]

[Footnote 2: Plato, Sophist. p. 216 B-C.]

This Eleate performs the whole task of exposition, by putting
questions to Theætêtus, in the Sophistês--to the younger Sokrates
in the Politikus. Since the true Sokrates is merely listener in
both dialogues, Plato provides for him an additional thread of
connection with both; by remarking that the youthful Sokrates is
his namesake, and that Theætêtus resembles him in flat nose and

[Footnote 3: Plato, Politik. p. 257 E.]

[Side-note: Relation of the two dialogues to the Theætêtus.]

Though Plato himself plainly designates the Sophistês as an
intended sequel to the Theætêtus, yet the method of the two is
altogether different, and in a certain sense even opposite. In the
Theætêtus, Sokrates extracts answers from the full and pregnant
mind of that youthful respondent: he himself professes to teach
nothing, but only to canvass every successive hypothesis elicited
from his companion. But the Eleate is presented to us in the most
imposing terms, as a thoroughly accomplished philosopher: coming
with doctrines established in his mind,[4] and already practised
in the task of exposition which Sokrates entreats him to
undertake. He is, from beginning to end, affirmative and
dogmatical: and if he declines to proceed by continuous lecture,
this is only because he is somewhat ashamed to appropriate all the
talk to himself.[5] He therefore prefers to accept Theætêtus as
respondent. But Theætêtus is no longer pregnant, as in the
preceding dialogue. He can do no more than give answers signifying
assent and dissent, which merely serve to break and diversify the
exposition. In fact, the dialogue in the Sophistês and Politikus
is assimilated by Plato himself,[6] not to that in the Theætêtus,
but to that in the last half of the Parmenides; wherein
Aristotelês the respondent answers little more than Ay or No, to
leading questions from the interrogator.

[Footnote 4: Plato, Sophist. p. 217 B. [Greek: e)pei\ diakêkoe/nai
ge/ phêsin i(kanô=s kai\ ou)k a)mnêmonei=n.]]

[Footnote 5: Plato, Sophist. pp. 216-217.]

[Footnote 6: Plato, Sophist. p. 217 C. The words of Sokrates show
that he alludes to the last half of the Parmenidês, in which he is
only present as a listener--not to the first half, in which he
takes an active part. Compare the Parmenidês, p. 137 C. In this
last-mentioned dialogue, Sokrates (then a youth) and Aristotelês
are the parallel of Theætêtus and the younger Sokrates in the
Sophistês and Politikus. (See p. 135 D.)]

[Side-note: Plato declares that his first purpose is to administer
a lesson in logical method: the special question chosen, being
subordinate to that purpose.]

In noticing the circumlocutory character, and multiplied negative
criticism, of the Theætêtus, without any ultimate profit realised
in the form of positive result--I remarked, that Plato appreciated
dialogues, not merely as the road to a conclusion, but for the
mental discipline and suggestive influence of the tentative and
verifying process. It was his purpose to create in his hearers a
disposition to prosecute philosophical research of their own, and
at the same time to strengthen their ability of doing so with
effect. This remark is confirmed by the two dialogues now before
us, wherein Plato defends himself against reproaches seemingly
made to him at the time.[7] "To what does all this tend? Why do
you stray so widely from your professed topic? Could you not have
reached this point by a shorter road?" He replies by distinctly
proclaiming--That the process, with its improving influence on the
mind, stands first in his thoughts--the direct conclusion of the
enquiry, only second: That the special topic which he discusses,
though in itself important, is nevertheless chosen principally
with a view to its effect in communicating general method and
dialectic aptitude: just as a schoolmaster, when he gives out to
his pupils a word to be spelt, looks mainly, not to their
exactness in spelling that particular word, but to their command
of good spelling generally.[8] To form inquisitive, testing minds,
fond of philosophical debate as a pursuit, and looking at opinions
on the negative as well as on the positive side, is the first
object in most of Plato's dialogues: to teach positive truth, is
only a secondary object.

[Footnote 7: Plato, Politikus, pp. 283 B, 286-287.]

[Footnote 8: Plato, Politikus, p. 285 D.

[Greek: _Xen_.--Ti/ d' au)=? nu=n ê(mi=n ê( peri\ tou= politikou=
zê/têsis e(/neka au)tou= tou/tou probe/blêtai ma=llon ê)\ tou=
peri\ pa/nta dialektikôte/rois gi/gnesthai?

_Ne/os Sôkr_.--Kai\ tou=to dê=lon o(/ti tou= peri\ pa/nta.]

Again, p. 288 D. [Greek: to/ te au)= pro\s tê\n tou=
problêthe/ntos zê/têsin, ô(s a)\n r(a=|sta kai\ ta/chista
eu)/roimen, deu/teron a)ll' ou) prô=ton o( lo/gos a)gapa=|n
paragge/lei, polu\ de\ ma/lista kai\ prô=ton tê\n me/thodon
au)tê\n tima=|n, tou= kat' ei)/dê dunato\n ei)=nai diairei=n],

[Side-note: Method of logical Definition and Division.]

Both the Sophistes and the Politikus are lessons and specimens of
that process which the logical manuals recognise under the
names--Definition and Division. What is a Sophist? What is a politician
or statesman? What is a philosopher? In the first place--Are the
three really distinct characters? for this may seem doubtful:
since the true philosopher, in his visits of inspection from city
to city, is constantly misconceived by an ignorant public, and
confounded with the other two.[9] The Eleate replies that the
three are distinct. Then what is the characteristic function of
each? How is he distinguished from other persons or other things?
To what class or classes does each belong: and what is the
specific character belonging to the class, so as to mark its place
in the scheme descending by successive logical subdivision from
the highest genus down to particulars? What other professions or
occupations are there analogous to those of Sophist and Statesman,
so as to afford an illustrative comparison? What is there in like
manner capable of serving as illustrative contrast?

[Footnote 9: Plato, Sophist. p. 216 E.]

[Side-note: Sokrates tries the application of this method, first,
upon a vulgar subject. To find the logical place and deduction of
the Angler. Superior classes above him. Bisecting division.]

Such are the problems which it is the direct purpose of the two
dialogues before us to solve. But a large proportion of both is
occupied by matters bearing only indirectly upon the solution. The
process of logical subdivision, or the formation of classes in
subordination to each other, can be exhibited just as plainly in
application to an ordinary craft or profession, as to one of grave
importance. The Eleate Stranger even affirms that the former case
will be simpler, and will serve as explanatory introduction to the
latter.[10] He therefore selects the craft of an angler, for which
to find a place in logical classification. Does not an angler
belong to the general class--men of art or craft? He is not a mere
artless, non-professional, private man. This being so, we must
distribute the class Arts--Artists, into two subordinate classes:
Artists who construct or put together some new substance or
compound--Artists who construct nothing new, but are employed in
getting, or keeping, or employing, substances already made. Thus
the class Artists is bisected into Constructive--Acquisitive. The
angler constructs nothing: he belongs to the acquisitive branch.
We now bisect this latter branch. Acquirers either obtain by
consent, or appropriate without consent. Now the angler is one of
the last-mentioned class: which is again bisected into two
sub-classes, according as the appropriation is by force or
stratagem--Fighters and Hunters. The angler is a hunter: but many
other persons are hunters also, from whom he must be distinguished.
Hunters are therefore divided into, Those who hunt inanimate
things (such as divers for sponges, &c.), and Those who hunt
living things or animals, including of course the angler among
them. The hunters of animals are distinguished into hunters of
walking animals, and hunters of swimming animals. Of the swimming
animals some are in air, others in water:[11] hence we get two
classes, Bird-Hunters and Fish-Hunters; to the last of whom the
angler belongs. The fish-hunters (or fishermen) again are bisected
into two classes, according as they employ nets, or striking
instruments of one kind or another, such as tridents, &c. Of the
striking fishermen there are two sorts: those who do their work at
night by torch-light, and those who work by day. All these
day-fishermen, including among them the angler, use instruments with
hooks at the end. But we must still make one bisection more. Some
of them employ tridents, with which they strike from above
downwards at the fishes, upon any part of the body which may
present itself: others use hooks, rods, and lines, which they
contrive to attach to the jaws of the fish, and thereby draw him
from below upward.[12] This is the special characteristic of the
angler. We have now a class comprehending the anglers alone, so
that no farther sub-division is required. We have obtained not
merely the name of the angler, but also the rational explanation
of the function to which the name is attached.[13]

[Footnote 10: Plato, Sophist. p. 218 E.]

[Footnote 11: Plato, Sophist. p. 220 B. [Greek: Neustikou= mê\n
to\ me\n ptêno\n phu=lon o(rô=men, to\ de\ e)/nudron.]

It deserves notice that Plato here considers the air as a fluid in
which birds swim.]

[Footnote 12: Plato, Sophist. pp. 219-221.]

[Footnote 13: Plato, Sophist. p. 221 A-B. [Greek: Nu=n a)/ra tê=s
a)spalieutikê=s--ou) mo/non tou)/noma, a)lla\ kai\ to\n lo/gon
peri\ au)to\ tou)/rgon, ei)lê/phamen i(kanô=s.]]

[Side-note: Such a lesson in logical classification was at that
time both novel and instructive. No logical manuals then existed.]

This is the first specimen which Plato gives of a systematic
classification descending, by successive steps of bifurcation,
through many subordinations of genera and species, each founded on
a real and proclaimed distinction--and ending at last in an
_infima species_. He repeats the like process in regard to the
Sophist, the Statesman, and other professions to which he compares
the one or the other: but it will suffice to have given one
specimen of his method. If we transport ourselves back to his
time, I think that such a view of the principles of classification
implies a new and valuable turn of thought. There existed then no
treatises on logic; no idea of logic as a scheme of mental
procedure; no sciences out of which it was possible to abstract
the conception of a regular method more or less diversified. On no
subject was there any mass of facts or details collected, large
enough to demand some regular system for the purpose of arranging
and rendering them intelligible. Classification to a certain
extent is of necessity involved, consciously or unconsciously, in
the use of general terms. But the process itself had never been
made a subject of distinct consciousness or reflection to any one
(as far as our knowledge reaches), in the time of Plato. No one
had yet looked at it as a process natural indeed to the human
intellect, up to a certain point and in a loose manner,--but
capable both of great extension and great improvement, and
requiring especial study, with an end deliberately set before the
mind, in order that it might be employed with advantage to
regularise and render intelligible even common and well-known
facts. To determine a series of descending classes, with
class-names, each connoting some assignable characteristic--to
distribute the whole of each class between two correlative
sub-classes, to compare the different ways in which this could be
done, and to select such _membra condividentia_ as were most
suitable for the purpose--this was in the time of Plato an
important novelty. We know from Xenophon[14] that Sokrates
considered Dialectic to be founded, both etymologically and
really, upon the distribution of particular things into genera or
classes. But we find little or no intentional illustration of this
process in any of the conversations of the Xenophontic Sokrates:
and we are farther struck by the fact that Plato, in the two
dialogues which we are here considering, assigns all the remarks
on the process of classification, not to Sokrates himself, but to
the nameless Eleatic Stranger.

[Footnote 14: Xenoph. Memor. iv. 5, 12.]

[Side-note: Plato describes the Sophist as analogous to an angler.
He traces the Sophist by descending subdivision from the
acquisitive genus of art.]

After giving the generic deduction of the angler from the
comprehensive idea of Art, distributed into two sections,
constructive and acquisitive, Plato proceeds to notice the analogy
between the Sophist and an angler: after which he deduces the
Sophist also from the acquisitive section of Art. The Sophist is
an angler for rich young men.[15] To find his place in the
preceding descending series, we must take our departure from the
bisection--hunters of walking animals, hunters of swimming
animals. The Sophist is a hunter of walking animals: which may be
divided into two classes, wild and tame. The Sophist hunts a
species of tame animals--men. Hunters of tame animals are bisected
into such as hunt by violent means (robbers, enslavers, despots,
&c.),[16] and such as hunt by persuasive means. Of the hunters by
means of persuasion there are two kinds: those who hunt the
public, and those who hunt individuals. The latter again may be
divided into two classes: those who hunt to their own loss, by
means of presents, such as lovers, &c., and those who hunt with a
view to their own profit. To this latter class belongs the
Sophist: pretending to associate with others for the sake of
virtue, but really looking to his own profit.[17]

[Footnote 15: Plato, Sophist. p. 222 A.]

[Footnote 16: Plato, Sophist. p. 222 C.

It illustrates the sentiment of Plato's age respecting
classification, when we see the great diversity of particulars
which he himself, here as well as elsewhere, ranks under the
general name [Greek: thê/ra], _hunting_--[Greek: thê/ra ga\r
pampolu/ ti pra=gma/ e)sti, perieilêmme/non o)no/mati nu=n
schedo\n e(ni/] (Plato, Legg. viii. 822-823-824, and Euthyd. p.
290 B). He includes both [Greek: stratêgikê\] and [Greek:
phtheiristikê\] as varieties of [Greek: thêreutikê/], Sophist. p.
227 B.

Compare also the interesting conversation about [Greek: thê/ra
a)nthrô/pôn] between Sokrates and Theodotê, Xenophon, Memorab.
iii. 11, 7; and between Sokrates and Kritobulus, ii. 6, 29.]

[Footnote 17: Plato, Sophist. p. 223 A.]

[Side-note: The Sophist traced down from the same, by a second and
different descending subdivision.]

Again, we may find the Sophist by descending through a different
string of subordinate classes from the genus--_Acquisitive Art_.
The professors of this latter may be bisected into two
sorts--hunters and exchangers. Exchangers are of two sorts--givers
and sellers. Sellers again sell either their own productions, or the
productions of others. Those who sell the productions of others
are either fixed residents in one city, or hawkers travelling
about from city to city. Hawkers again carry about for sale either
merchandise for the body, or merchandise for the mind, such as
music, poetry, painting, exhibitions of jugglery, learning, and
intellectual accomplishments, and so forth. These latter (hawkers
for the mind) may be divided into two sorts: those who go about
teaching; for money, arts and literary accomplishments--and those
who go about teaching virtue for money. They who go about teaching
virtue for money are the Sophists.[18] Or indeed if they sell
virtue and knowledge for money, they are not the less
Sophists--whether they buy what they sell from others, or prepare it
for themselves--whether they remain in one city or become itinerant.

[Footnote 18: Plato, Sophist. p. 224 B.]

[Side-note: Also, by a third.]

A third series of subordinate classes will also bring us down from
the genus--_Acquisitive Art_--down to the _infima
species_--_Sophist_. In determining the class-place of the angler,
we recognised a bisection of acquisitive art into acquirers by
exchange, or mutual consent--and acquirers by appropriation, or
without consent.[19] These latter we divided according as they
employed either force or stratagem: contenders and hunters. We
then proceeded to bisect the class hunters, leaving the contenders
without farther notice. Now let us take up the class contenders.
It may be divided into two: competitors for a set prize (pecuniary
or honorary), and fighters. The fighters go to work either body
against body, violently--or tongue against tongue, as arguers.
These arguers again fall into two classes: the pleaders, who make
long speeches, about just or unjust, before the public assembly
and dikastery: and the dialogists, who meet each other in short
question and answer. The dialogists again are divided into two:
the private, untrained antagonists, quarrelling with each other
about the particular affairs of life (who form a species by
themselves, since characteristic attributes may be assigned to
them; though these attributes are too petty and too indefinite to
have ever received a name in common language, or to deserve a name
from us[20])--and the trained practitioners or wranglers, who
dispute not about particular incidents, but about just and unjust
in general, and other general matters.[21] Of wranglers again
there are two sorts: the prosers, who follow the pursuit from
spontaneous taste and attachment, not only without hope of gain,
but to the detriment of their private affairs, incurring loss
themselves, and wearying or bothering their hearers: and those who
make money by such private dialogues. This last sort of wrangler
is the Sophist.[22]

[Footnote 19: Plato, Sophist. p. 219 E.]

[Footnote 20: Plato, Sophist. p. 225 C.

[Greek: _Xe/nos_.--Tou= de\ a)ntilogikou=, to\ me\n o(/son peri\
ta\ xumbolai=a a)mphisbêtei=tai me/n, ei)kê= de\ kai\ a)technô=s
peri\ au)to\ pra/ttetai, tau=ta _thete/on me\n ei)=dos_, e)pei/per
au)to\ die/gnôken ô(s e(/teron o)\n o( lo/gos; a)ta\r e)pônumi/as
ou)/th' u(po\ tô=n e)/mprosthen e)/tuchen, ou)/te nu=n u(ph'
ê(mô=n tuchei=n a)/xion.

_Theaitêt_.--A)lêthê=; kata\ _smikra\_ ga\r li/an kai\
_pantodapa\_ diê/|rêtai.]

These words illustrate Plato's view of an [Greek: ei)=dos] or
species. Any distinguishable attributes, however petty, and
however multifarious, might be taken to form a species upon; but
if they were petty and multifarious, there was no advantage in
bestowing a specific name.]

[Footnote 21: Plato, Sophist. p. 225 C. [Greek: to\ de/ ge
e)/ntechnon, kai\ peri\ _dikai/ôn au)tô=n_ kai\ a)di/kôn kai\
peri\ tô=n _a)/llôn o(/lôs_ a)mphisbêtou=n, a)=r' ou)k e)ristiko\n
au)= le/gein ei)thi/smetha?]]

[Footnote 22: Plato, Sophist. p. 225 E.]

[Side-note: The Sophist is traced down, from the genus of
separating or discriminating art.]

There is yet another road of class-distribution which will bring
us down to the Sophist. A great number of common arts (carding
wool, straining through a sieve, &c.) have, in common, the general
attribute of separating matters confounded in a heap. Of
separation there are two sorts: you may separate like from like
(this has no established name)--or better from worse, which is
called _purification_. Purification is of two sorts: either of
body or of mind. In regard to body, the purifying agents are very
multifarious, comprising not only men and animals, but also
inanimate things: and thus including many varieties which in
common estimation are mean, trivial, repulsive, or ludicrous. But
all these various sentiments (observes Plato) we must disregard.
We must follow out a real analogy wherever it leads us, and
recognise a logical affinity wherever we find one; whether the
circumstances brought together be vile or venerable, or some of
them vile and some venerable, in the eyes of mankind. Our sole
purpose is to improve our intelligence. With that view, all
particulars are of equal value in our eyes, provided only they
exhibit that real likeness which legitimates them as members of
the same class--purifiers of body: the correlate of that other
class which we now proceed to study--purifiers of mind.[23]

[Footnote 23: Plato, Sophist. pp. 226-227. 227 A: [Greek: tê=|
tô=n lo/gôn metho/dô| spoggistikê=s ê)\ pharmakoposi/as ou)de\n
ê(=tton ou)de/ ti ma=llon tugcha/nei me/lon, ei) to\ me\n smikra/,
to\ de\ mega/la ê(ma=s ô)phelei= kathai=ron. _Tou= ktê/sasthai
ga\r e(/neken nou=n pasô=n technô=n to\ xuggene\s kai\ to\ mê\
xuggene\s katanoei=n peirôme/nê, tima=| pro\s tou=to, e)x i)/sou
pa/sas_, kai\ tha/tera tô=n e(te/rôn kata\ tê\n o(moio/têta
ou)de\n ê(gei=tai geloio/tera, _semno/teron de/ ti to\n dia\
stratêmikê=s ê)\ phtheiristikê=s dêlou=nta thêreutikê\n ou)de\n
neno/miken_, a)ll' _ô(s to\ polu\ chauno/teron_. Kai\ dê\ kai\
nu=n, o(/per ê)/rou, ti/ proserou=men o)/noma xumpa/sas duna/meis,
o(/sai sô=ma ei)/te e)/mpsuchon ei)/te a)/psuchon ei)lê/chasi
kathai/rein, ou)de\n au)tê=| dioi/sei, poi=on ti lechthe\n
eu)prepe/staton ei)=nai do/xei; _mo/non e)che/tô chôri\s_ tô=n
tê=s psuchê=s katha/rseôn pa/nta xundê=san o(/sa a)/llo ti
kathai/rei.] To maintain the equal scientific position of [Greek:
phtheiristikê/], as two different species under the genus [Greek:
thêreutikê/], is a strong illustration.

Compare also Plato, Politikus, p. 266 D.

A similar admonition is addressed (in the Parmenidês, p. 130 E**) by
the old Parmenides to the youthful Sokrates, when the latter
cannot bring himself to admit that there exist [Greek: ei)=dê] or
Forms of vulgar and repulsive objects, such as [Greek: thri\x] and
[Greek: pê=los]. [Greek: Neos ga\r ei)= e)/ti, kai\ ou)/pô sou=
a)ntei/lêptai philosophi/a ô(s e)/ti a)ntilê/psetai kat' e)mê\n
do/xan, o(/te ou)de\n au)tô=n a)tima/seis; nu=n d' e)/ti pro\s
a)nthrô/pôn a)poble/peis do/xas dia\ tê\n ê(liki/an.]

See above, ch. xxvii. p. 60, in my review of the Parmenidês.]

[Side-note: In a logical classification, low and vulgar items
deserve as much attention as grand ones. Conflict between
emotional and scientific classification.]

This precept (repeated by Plato also in the Politikus) respecting
the principles of classification, deserves notice. It protests
against, and seeks to modify, one of the ordinary turns in the
associating principles of the human mind. With unreflecting men,
classification is often emotional rather than intellectual. The
groups of objects thrown together in such minds, and conceived in
immediate association, are such as suggest the same or kindred
emotions: pleasure or pain, love or hatred, hope or fear,
admiration, contempt, disgust, jealousy, ridicule. Community of
emotion is a stronger bond of association between different
objects, than community in any attribute not immediately
interesting to the emotions, and appreciable only intellectually.
Thus objects which have nothing else in common, except appeal to
the same earnest emotion, will often be called by the same general
name, and will be constituted members of the same class. To attend
to attributes in any other point of view than in reference to the
amount and kind of emotion which they excite, is a process
uncongenial to ordinary taste: moreover, if any one brings
together, in the same wording, objects really similar, but
exciting opposite and contradictory emotions, he usually provokes
either disgust or ridicule. All generalizations, and all general
terms connoting them, are results brought together by association
and comparison of particulars somehow resembling. But if we look
at the process of association in an unreflecting person, the
resemblances which it fastens upon will be often emotional, not
intellectual: and the generalizations founded upon such
resemblances will be emotional also.

It is against this natural propensity that Plato here enters his
protest, in the name of intellect and science. For the purpose of
obtaining a classification founded on real, intrinsic affinities,
we must exclude all reference to the emotions: we must take no
account whether a thing be pleasing or hateful, sublime or
mean:[24] we must bring ourselves to rank objects useful or grand
in the same logical compartment with objects hurtful or ludicrous.
We must examine only whether the resemblance is true and real,
justifying itself to the comparing intellect: and whether the
class-term chosen be such as to comprise all these resemblances,
holding them apart ([Greek: mo/non e)che/tô chôri\s]) from the
correlative and opposing class.[25]

[Footnote 24: Compare Politikus, p. 266 D; Parmenidês, p. 130 E.

We see that Plato has thus both anticipated and replied to the
objection of Socher (Ueber Platon's Schriften, pp. 260-262), who
is displeased with the minuteness of this classification, and with
the vulgar objects to which it is applied. Socher contends that
this is unworthy of Plato, and that it was peculiar to the subtle
Megaric philosophers.

I think, on the contrary, that the purpose of illustrating the
process of classification was not unworthy of Plato; that it was
not unnatural to do this by allusion to vulgar trades or
handicraft, at a time when no scientific survey of physical facts
had been attempted; that the allusion to such vulgar trades is
quite in the manner of Plato, and of Sokrates before him.

Stallbaum, in his elaborate Prolegomena both to the Sophistês and
to the Politikus, rejects the conclusion of Socher, and maintains
that both dialogues are the work of Plato. Yet he agrees to a
certain extent in Socher's premisses. He thinks that minuteness
and over-refinement in classification were peculiarities of the
Megaric philosophers, and that Plato intentionally pushes the
classification into an extreme subtlety and minuteness, in order
to parody their proceedings and turn them into ridicule. (Proleg.
ad Sophist. pp. 32-36, ad Politic. pp. 54-55.)

But how do Socher and Stallbaum know that this extreme minuteness
of subdivision into classes _was_ a characteristic of the Megaric
philosophers? Neither of them produce any proof of it. Indeed
Stallbaum himself says, most truly (Proleg. ad Politic. p. 55)
"Quæ de Megaricorum arte dialecticâ accepimus, sane quam sunt
paucissima". He might have added, that the little which we do hear
about their dialectic, is rather adverse to this supposed
minuteness of positive classification, than consonant with it.
What we hear is, that they were extremely acute and subtle in
contentious disputations--able assailants of the position of a
logical opponent. But this talent has nothing to do with
minuteness of positive classification: and is even indicative of a
different turn of mind. Moreover, we hear about Eukleides, the
chief of the Megaric school, that he enlarged the signification of
the Summum Genus of Parmenides--the [Greek: E(\n kai\ Pa=n].
Eukleides called it Unum, Bonum, Simile et Idem Semper, Deus, &c.
But we do not hear that Eukleides acknowledged a series of
subordinate Genera or Species, expanding by logical procession
below this primary Unum. As far as we can judge, this seems to
have been wanting in his philosophy. Yet it is exactly these
subordinate Genera or Species, which the Platonic Sophistês and
Politikus supply in abundance, and even excess, conformably to the
precept laid down by Plato in the Philêbus (p. 14). The words of
the Sophistês (p. 216 D) rather indicate that the Eleatic Stranger
is declared _not_ to possess the character and attributes of
Megaric disputation.]

[Footnote 25: Though the advice here given by Plato about the
principles of classification is very judicious, yet he has himself
in this same dialogue set an example of repugnance to act upon it
(Sophist. p. 231 A-B.) In following out his own descending series
of partitions, he finds that the Sophist corresponds with the
great mental purifier--the person who applies the Elenchus or
cross-examining test, to youthful minds, so as to clear out that
false persuasion of knowledge which is the great bar to all
improvement. But though brought by his own process to this point,
Plato shrinks from admitting it. His dislike towards the Sophist
will not allow him. "The Sophist is indeed" (he says) "very like
to this grand educator: but so also a wolf is very like to a
dog--the most savage of animals to the most gentle. We must always
be extremely careful about these likenesses: the whole body of them
are most slippery. Still we cannot help admitting the Sophist to
represent this improving process--that is, the high and true bred

It will be seen that Plato's remark here about [Greek:
o(moio/têtes] contradicts what he had himself said before (p. 227
B). The reluctance to rank _dog_ and _wolf_ together, in the same
class, is an exact specimen of that very mistake which he had been
just pointing out for correction. The scientific resemblance
between the two animals is very close; but the antithesis of
sentiment, felt by men towards the one and the other, is extreme.]

[Side-note: The purifier--a species under the genus
discriminator--separates good from evil. Evil is of two sorts; the
worst sort is, Ignorance, mistaking itself for knowledge.]

After these just remarks on classification generally, the Eleate
pursues the subdivision of his own theme. To purify the mind is to
get rid of the evil, and retain or improve the good. Now evil is
of two sorts--disease (injustice, intemperance, cowardice, &c.)
and ignorance. Disease, which in the body is dealt with by the
physician, is in the mind dealt with by the judicial tribunal:
ignorance (corresponding to ugliness, awkwardness, disability, in
the body, which it is the business of the gymnastic trainer to
correct) falls under the treatment of the teacher or
instructor.[26] Ignorance again may be distributed into two heads:
one, though special, being so grave as to counterbalance all the
rest, and requiring to be set apart by itself--that is--ignorance
accompanied with the false persuasion of knowledge.[27]

[Footnote 26: Plato, Sophist. pp. 228-229.]

[Footnote 27: Plat. Soph. p. 229 C. [Greek: A)gnoi/as d' ou)=n
me/ga ti/ moi dokô= kai\ chalepo\n a)phôrisme/non o(ra=|n ei)=dos,
pa=si toi=s a)/llois au)tê=s a)nti/stathmon me/resi . . . To\ mê\
kateido/ta ti, dokei=n ei)de/nai.]]

[Side-note: Exhortation is useless against this worst mode of evil.
Cross-examination, the shock of the Elenchus, must be brought to
bear upon it. This is the sovereign purifier.]

To meet this special and gravest case of ignorance, we must
recognise a special division of the art of instruction or
education. Exhortation, which is the common mode of instruction,
and which was employed by our forefathers universally, is of no
avail against this false persuasion of knowledge: which can only
be approached and cured by the Elenchus, or philosophical
cross-examination. So long as a man believes himself to be wise,
you may lecture for ever without making impression upon him: you do no
good by supplying food when the stomach is sick. But the examiner,
questioning him upon those subjects which he professes to know,
soon entangles him in contradictions with himself, making him feel
with shame and humiliation his own real ignorance. After having
been thus disabused--a painful but indispensable process, not to
be accomplished except by the Elenchus--his mind becomes open and
teachable, so that positive instruction may be communicated to him
with profit. The Elenchus is the grand and sovereign purification:
whoever has not been subjected to it, were he even the Great King,
is impure, unschooled, and incompetent for genuine happiness.[28]

[Footnote 28: Plato, Sophist. p. 230 D-E.]

[Side-note: The application of this Elenchus is the work of the
Sophist, looked at on its best side. But looked at as he really
is, he is a juggler who teaches pupils to dispute about every
thing--who palms off falsehood for truth.]

This cross-examining and disabusing process, brought to bear upon
the false persuasion of knowledge and forming the only antidote to
it, is the business of the Sophist looked at on its best side.[29]
But Plato will not allow the Elenchus, the great Sokratic
accomplishment and mission, to be shared by the Sophists: and he
finds or makes a subtle distinction to keep them off. The Sophist
(so the Eleate proceeds) is a disputant, and teaches all his
youthful pupils to dispute about everything as if they knew
it--about religion, astronomy, philosophy, arts, laws, politics,
and everything else. He teaches them to argue in each department
against the men of special science: he creates a belief in the
minds of others that he really knows all those different subjects,
respecting which he is able to argue and cross-examine
successfully: he thus both possesses, and imparts to his pupils, a
seeming knowledge, an imitation and pretence of reality.[30] He is
a sort of juggler: an imitator who palms off upon persons what
appears like reality when seen from a distance, but what is seen
to be not like reality when contemplated closely.[31]

[Footnote 29: Plato, Sophist. p. 231 B. [Greek: tê=s de\
paideutikê=s a( peri\ tê\n ma/taion doxosophi/an gigno/menos
e)/legchos e)n tô=| nu=n lo/gô| paraphane/nti mêde\n a)/ll' ê(mi=n
ei)=nai lege/sthô plê\n ê( ge/nei gennai/a sophistikê/.]]

[Footnote 30: Plato, Sophist. pp. 232-233 C, 235 A. Sokrates tells
us in the Platonic Apology (p. 23 A) that this was the exact
effect which his own cross-examination produced upon the hearers:
they supposed him to be wise on those topics on which he exposed
ignorance in others. The Memorabilia of Xenophon exhibit the same
impression as made by the conversation of Sokrates, even when he
talked with artisans on their own arts. Sokrates indeed professed
not to teach anyone--and he certainly took no fee for teaching.
But we see plainly that this disclaimer imposed upon no one; that
he did teach, though gratuitously; and that what he taught was,
the art of cross-examination and dispute. We learn this not merely
from his enemy, Aristophanes, and from the proceedings of his
opponents, Kritias and Charikles (Xenoph. Memor. i. 2), but also
from his own statement in the Platonic Apology (pp. 23 C. 37
E. 39 B), and from the language of Plato and Xenophon throughout.
Plato is here puzzled to make out a clear line of distinction
between the Elenchus of Sokrates, and the disputatious arguments
of those Sophists whom he calls Eristic--name deserved quite as
much by Sokrates as by any of them. Plato here accuses the
Sophists of talking upon a great many subjects which they did not
know, and teaching their pupils to do the same. This is exactly
what Sokrates passed his life in doing, and what he did better
than any one--on the negative side.]

[Footnote 31: Plato, Sophist. pp. 235-236.]

[Side-note: Doubt started by the Eleate. How can it be possible
either to think or to speak falsely?]

Here however (continues Plato) we are involved in a difficulty.
How can a thing appear to be what it is not? How can a man who
opines or affirms, opine or affirm falsely--that is, opine or
affirm the thing that is not? To admit this, we must assume the
thing that is not (or Non-Ens, Nothing) to have a real existence.
Such an assumption involves great and often debated difficulties.
It has been pronounced by Parmenides altogether inadmissible.[32]

[Footnote 32: Plato, Sophist. pp. 236 E--237 A. [Greek: pa/nta
tau=ta e)sti mesta\ a)pori/as a)ei\ e)n tô=| pro/sthen chro/nô|
kai\ nu=n. O(/pôs ga\r ei)po/nta chrê\ pseudê= le/gein ê)\
doxa/zein o)/ntôs ei)=nai, kai\ tou=to phthegxa/menon
e)nantiologi/a| mê\ xune/chesthai, panta/pasi chalepo/n . . .
Teto/lmêken o( lo/gos ou(=tos u(pothe/sthai to\ mê\ o)\n ei)=nai;
pseu=dos ga\r ou)k a)\n a)/llôs e)gi/gneto o)/n.]]

We have already seen that Plato discussed this same question in
the Theætêtus, and that after trying and rejecting many successive
hypotheses to show how false supposition, or false affirmation,
might be explained as possible, by a theory involving no
contradiction, he left the question unsolved. He now resumes it at
great length. It occupies more than half[33] the dialogue. Near
the close, but only then, he reverts to the definition of the

[Footnote 33: From p. 236 D to p. 264 D.]

[Side-note: He pursues the investigation of this problem by a
series of questions.]

First, the Eleate states the opinion which perplexes him, and
which he is anxious either to refute or to explain away.
(Unfortunately, we have no statement of the opinion, nor of the
grounds on which it was held, from those who actually held it.)
Non-Ens, or Nothing, is not the name of any existing thing, or of
any Something. But every one who speaks must speak something:
therefore if you try to speak of Non-Ens, you are trying to speak
nothing--which is equivalent to not speaking at all.[34] Moreover,
to every Something, you can add something farther: but to Non-Ens,
or Nothing, you cannot add any thing. (Non-Entis nulla sunt
prædicata.) Now Number is something, or included among the Entia:
you cannot therefore apply number, either singular or plural, to
Non-Ens: and inasmuch as every thing conceived or described must
be either one or many, it is impossible either to conceive or
describe Non-Ens. You cannot speak of it without falling into a

[Footnote 34: Plato, Sophist. p. 237 E. The Eleate here recites
this opinion, not as his own but as entertained by others, and as
one which he did not clearly see through: in Republic (v. p. 478
B-C) we find Sokrates advancing a similar doctrine as his own. So
in the Kratylus, where this same topic is brought under discussion
(pp. 429 D, 430 A), Kratylus is represented as contending that
false propositions were impossible: that propositions, improperly
called false, were in reality combinations of sounds without any
meaning, like the strokes on a bell.]

[Footnote 35: Plato, Sophist. p. 238-239.]

[Side-note: The Sophist will reject our definition and escape, by
affirming that to speak falsely is impossible. He will require us
to make out a rational theory, explaining Non-Ens.]

When therefore we characterise the Sophist as one who builds up
phantasms for realities--who presents to us what is not, as being
like to what _is_, and as a false substitute for what _is_--he
will ask us what we mean? If, to illustrate our meaning, we point
to images of things in mirrors or clear water, he will pretend to
be blind, and will refuse the evidence of sense: he will require
us to make out a rational theory explaining Non-Ens or
Nothing.[36] But when we try to do this, we contradict ourselves.
A phantasm is that which, not being a true counterpart of reality,
is yet so like it as to be mistaken for reality. _Quatenus_
phantasm, it is Ens: _quatenus_ reality, it is Non-Ens: thus the
same thing is both Ens, and Non-Ens: which we declared before to
be impossible.[37] When therefore we accuse the Sophist of passing
off phantasms for realities, we suppose falsely: we suppose
matters not existing, or contrary to those which exist: we suppose
the existent not to exist, or the non-existent to exist But this
assumes as done what cannot be done: since we have admitted more
than once that Non-Ens can neither be described in language by
itself, nor joined on in any manner to Ens.[38]

[Footnote 36: Plato, Sophist. pp. 239-240. [Greek: katagela/setai/
sou tô=n lo/gôn, o(/tan ô(s ble/ponti le/gê|s au)tô=|,
prospoiou/menos ou)/te ka/toptra ou)/te u(/data gignô/skein,
ou)/te to\ para/pan o)/psin; to\ d' e)k tô=n lo/gôn e)rôtê/sei se

[Footnote 37: Plato, Sophist. p. 240 B.]

[Footnote 38: Plato, Sophist. p. 241 B. [Greek: tô=| ga\r mê\
o)/nti to\ o)\n prosa/ptein ê(ma=s polla/kis a)nagka/zesthai,
diomologêsame/nous nu=n dê/ pou tou=to ei)=nai pa/ntôn

Stating the case in this manner, we find that to suppose falsely,
or affirm falsely, is a contradiction. But there is yet another
possible way out of the difficulty (the Eleate continues).

[Side-note: The Eleate turns from Non-Ens to Ens. Theories of
various philosophers about Ens.]

Let us turn for a moment (he says) from Non-Ens to Ens. The
various physical philosophers tell us a good deal about Ens. They
differ greatly among themselves. Some philosophers represent Ens
as triple, comprising three distinct elements, sometimes in
harmony, sometimes at variance with each other. Others tell us
that it is double--wet and dry--or hot and cold. A third sect,
especially Xenophanes and Parmenides, pronounce it to be
essentially One. Herakleitus blends together the different
theories, affirming that Ens is both many and one, always in
process of disjunction and conjunction: Empedokles adopts a
similar view, only dropping the _always_, and declaring the
process of disjunction to alternate with that of conjunction, so
that Ens is sometimes Many, sometimes One.[39]

[Footnote 39: Plato, Sophist. p. 242 D-E.]

[Side-note: Difficulties about Ens are as great as those about

Now when I look at these various theories (continues the Eleate),
I find that I do not follow or understand them; and that I know
nothing more or better about Ens than about Non-Ens. I thought, as
a young man, that I understood both: but I now find that I
understand neither.[39] The difficulties about Ens are just as
great as those about Non-Ens. What do these philosophers mean by
saying that Ens is double or triple? that there are two distinct
existing elements--Hot and Cold--or three? What do you mean by
saying that Hot and Cold _exist_? Is existence any thing distinct
from Hot and Cold? If so, then there are three elements in all,
not two. Do you mean that existence is something belonging to both
and affirmed of both? Then you pronounce both to be One: and Ens,
instead of being double, will be at the bottom only One.

[Footnote 40: Plato, Sophist. p. 243 B.]

[Side-note: Whether Ens is Many or One? If Many, how Many?
Difficulties about One and the Whole. Theorists about Ens cannot
solve them.]

Such are the questions which the Eleatic spokesman of Plato puts
to those philosophers who affirm Ens to be plural: He turns next
to those who affirm Ens to be singular, or Unum. Do you mean that
Unum is identical with Ens--and are they only two names for the
same One and only thing? There cannot be two distinct names
belonging to one and the same thing: and yet, if this be not so,
one of the names must be the name of nothing. At any rate, if
there be only one name and one thing, still the name itself is
different from the thing--so that duality must still be
recognised. Or if you take the name as identical with the One
thing, it will either be the name of nothing, or the name of a

[Footnote 41: Plato, Sophist. p. 244 D.]

Again, as to the Whole:--is the Whole the same with the Ens Unum,
or different from it. We shall be told that it is the same: but
according to the description given by Parmenides, the whole is
spherical, thus having a centre and circumference, and of course
having parts. Now a whole divisible into parts may have unity
predicable of it, as an affection or accident in respect to the
sum of its parts: but it cannot be the genuine, essential,
self-existent, One, which does not admit of parts or division. If Ens
be One by accident, it is not identical with One, and we thus have
two existent things: and if Ens be not really and essentially the
Whole, while nevertheless the Whole exists--Ens must fall short of
or be less than itself, and must to this extent be Non-Ens:
besides that Ens, and Totum, being by nature distinct, we have
more things than One existing. On the other hand, if we assume
Totum not to be Ens, the same result will ensue. Ens will still be
something less than itself;--Ens can never have any quantity, for
each quantum is necessarily a whole in itself--and Ens can never
be generated, since everything generated is also necessarily a

[Footnote 42: Plato, Sophist. p. 245 A-C.]

[Side-note: Theories of those who do not recognise a definite
number of Entia or elements. Two classes thereof.]

Such is the examination which the Eleate bestows on the theories
of theories of those philosophers who held one, two, or a definite
number of self-existent Entia or elements. His purpose is to show,
that even on their schemes, Ens is just as unintelligible, and
involves as many contradictions, as Non-Ens. And to complete the
same demonstration, he proceeds to dissect the theories of those
who do not recognise any definite or specific number of elements
or Entia.[43] Of these he distinguishes two classes; in direct and
strenuous opposition to each other, respecting what constituted

[Footnote 43: Plato, Sophist. p. 245 E.]

[Footnote 44: Plato, Sophist. p. 246 A. [Greek: e)/oike/ ge e)n
au)toi=s oi(=on gigantomachi/a tis ei)=nai dia\ tê\n
a)mphisbê/têsin peri\ tê=s ou)si/as pro\s allê/lous.]]

[Side-note: 1. The Materialist Philosophers. 2. The Friends of
Forms or Idealists, who recognise such Forms as the only real

First, the Materialist Philosophers, who recognise nothing as
existing except what is tangible; defining Essence as identical
with Body, and denying all incorporeal essence. Plato mentions no
names: but he means (according to some commentators) Leukippus and
Demokritus--perhaps Aristippus also. Secondly, other philosophers
who, diametrically opposed to the Materialists, affirmed that
there were no real Entia except certain Forms, Ideas, genera or
species, incorporeal and conceivable only by intellect: that true
and real essence was not to be found in those bodies wherein the
Materialists sought it: that bodies were in constant generation
and disappearance, affording nothing more than a transitory
semblance of reality, not tenable[45] when sifted by reason. By
these last are understood (so Schleiermacher and others think,
though in my judgment erroneously) Eukleides and the Megaric
school of philosophers.

[Footnote 45: Plato, Sophist. p. 246 B-C. [Greek: noêta\ a)/tta
kai\ a)sô/mata ei)/dê biazo/menoi tê\n a)lêthinê\n ou)si/an
ei)=nai; ta\ de\ e)kei/nôn sô/mata kai\ tê\n legome/nên u(p'
au)tô=n] (_i. e._ the Materialists) [Greek: a)lê/theian kata\
smikra\ diathrau/ontes e)n toi=s lo/gois, ge/nesin a)nt' ou)si/as
pherome/nên tina\ prosagoreu/ousin.]]

[Side-note: Argument against the Materialists--Justice must be
something, since it may be either present or absent, making
sensible difference--But Justice is not a body.]

The Eleate proceeds to comment upon the doctrines held by these
opposing schools of thinkers respecting Essence or Reality. It is
easier (he says) to deal with the last-mentioned, for they are
more gentle. With the Materialists it is difficult, and all but
impossible, to deal at all. Indeed, before we can deal with them,
we must assume them to be for this occasion better than they show
themselves in reality, and ready to answer in a more becoming
manner than they actually do.[46] These Materialists will admit
(Plato continues) that man exists--an animated body, or a compound
of mind and body: they will farther allow that the mind of one man
differs from that of another:--one is just, prudent, &c., another
is unjust and imprudent. One man is just, through the habit and
presence of justice: another is unjust, through the habit and
presence of injustice. But justice must surely be
_something_--injustice also must be _something_--if each may be present
to, or absent from, any thing; and if their presence or absence makes
so sensible a difference.[47] And justice or injustice, prudence or
imprudence, as well as the mind in which the one or the other
inheres, are neither visible or tangible, nor have they any body:
they are all invisible.

[Footnote 46: Plato, Sophist. p. 246 C. [Greek: para\ me\n tô=n
e)n ei)/desin au)tê\n (tê\n ou)si/an) titheme/nôn r(a=|on;
ê(merô/teroi ga/r; para\ de\ tô=n ei)s sô=ma pa/nta e(lko/ntôn
bi/a|, chalepô/teron; _i)/sôs de\ kai\ schedo\n a)du/naton_. A)ll'
ô(=de/ moi dokei= peri\ au)tô=n dra=|n . . . Ma/lista me/n, ei)/
pê| dunato\n ê)=n, _e)/rgô| belti/ous_ au)tou\s poiei=n; ei) de\
tou=to mê\ e)gchôrei=, _lo/gô| poiô=men_, u(potithe/menoi
_nomimô/teron_ au)tou\s ê)\ _nu=n e)the/lontas a)\n

[Footnote 47: Plato, Sophist. p. 247 A. [Greek: A)lla\ mê\n to/ ge
dunato/n tô| paragi/gnesthai kai\ a)pogi/gnesthai, pa/ntôs
ei)=nai/ ti phê/sousin.]]

[Side-note: At least many of them will concede this point, though
not all Ens is common to the corporeal and the incorporeal. Ens is
equivalent to potentiality.]

Probably (replies Theætêtus) these philosophers would contend that
the soul or mind had a body; but they would be ashamed either to
deny that justice, prudence, &c., existed as realities--or to
affirm that justice, prudence, &c. were all bodies.[48] These
philosophers must then have become better (rejoins the Eleate):
for the primitive and genuine leaders of them will not concede
even so much as that. But let us accept the concession. If they
will admit any incorporeal reality at all, however small, our case
is made out. For we shall next call upon them to say, what there
is in common between these latter, and those other realities which
have bodies connate with and essential to them--to justify the
names _real_--_essence_--bestowed upon both.[49] Perhaps they
would accept the following definition of Ens or the Real--of
Essence or Reality. Every thing which possesses any sort of power,
either to act upon any thing else or to be acted upon by any thing
else, be it only for once or to the smallest degree--every such
thing is true and real Ens. The characteristic mark or definition
of Ens or the Real is, power or potentiality.[50]

[Footnote 48: Plato, Sophist. p. 247 B. [Greek: A)pokri/nontai
. . . tê\n me\n psuchê\n au)tê\n dokei=n sphi/si sô=ma/ ti
kektê=sthai, phro/nêsin de\ kai\ tô=n a)/llôn e(/kaston ô(=n
ê)rô/têkas, ai)schu/nontai to\ tolma=|n ê)\ mêde\n tô=n o)/ntôn
au)ta\ o(mologei=n, ê)\ pa/nt' ei)=nai sô/mata

[Footnote 49: Plato, Sophist. p. 247 C-D. [Greek: ei) ga/r ti kai\
smikro\n e)the/lousi tô=n o)/ntôn sugchôrei=n a)sô/maton,
e)xarkei=. to\ ga\r e)pi/ te tou/tois a(/ma kai\ e)p' e)kei/nois
o(/sa e)/chei sô=ma xumphue\s gegono/s, ei)s o(\ ble/pontes
a)mpho/tera _ei)=nai_ le/gousi, tou=to au)toi=s r(ête/on.]]

[Footnote 50: Plato, Sophist. p. 247 D-E. [Greek: le/gô dê\ to\
kai\ o(poianou=n kektême/non _du/namin_, ei)/t' ei)s to\ poiei=n
e(/teron o(tiou=n pephuko\s ei)/t' ei)s to\ pathei=n kai\
smikro/taton u(po\ tou= phaulota/tou, ka)\n ei) mo/non ei)sa/pax,
pa=n tou=to o)/ntôs ei)=nai; ti/themai ga\r o(/ron o(ri/zein ta\
o)/nta, ô(s e)/stin ou)k a)/llo ti plê\n _du/namis_.]]

[Side-note: Argument against the Idealists--who distinguish Ens
from the generated, and say that we hold communion with the former
through our minds, with the latter through our bodies and senses.]

The Eleate now turns to the philosophers of the opposite school--the
Mentalists or Idealists,--whom he terms the friends of Forms,
Ideas, or species.[51] These men (he says) distinguish the
generated, transitory and changeable--from Ens or the Real, which
is eternal, unchanged, always the same: they distinguish
generation from essence. With the generated (according to their
doctrine) we hold communion through our bodies and our bodily
perceptions: with Ens, we hold communion through our mind and our
intellectual apprehension. But what do they mean (continues the
Eleate) by this "holding of communion"? Is it not an action or a
passion produced by a certain power of agent and patient coming
into co-operation with each other? and is not this the definition
which we just now laid down, of Ens or the Real.

[Footnote 51: Plato, Sophist. p. 248 A. [Greek: tou\s tô=n ei)dô=n

[Side-note: Holding communion--What? Implies Relativity. Ens is
known by the mind. It therefore suffers or undergoes change. Ens
includes both the unchangeable and the changeable.]

_No_--these philosophers will reply--we do not admit your
definition as a definition of Ens: it applies only to the
generated. Generation does involve, or emanate from, a reciprocity
of agent and patient: but neither power nor action, nor suffering,
have any application to Ens or the Real. But you admit (says the
Eleate) that the mind knows Ens:--and that Ens is known by the
mind. Now this _knowing_, is it not an action--and is not the
_being known_, a passion? If _to know_ is an action, then Ens,
being known, is acted upon, suffers something, or undergoes some
change,--which would be impossible if we assume Ens to be
eternally unchanged. These philosophers might reply, that they do
not admit _to know_ as an action, nor _to be known_ as a passion.
They affirm Ens to be eternally unchanged, and they hold to their
other affirmation that Ens is known by the mind. But (urges the
Eleate) can they really believe that Ens is eternally the same and
unchanged,--that it has neither life, nor mind, nor intelligence,
nor change, nor movement? This is incredible. They must concede
that Change, and the Changeable, are to be reckoned as Entia or
Realities: for if these be not so reckoned, and if all Entia are
unchangeable, no Ens can be an object of knowledge to any mind.
But though the changeable belongs to Ens, we must not affirm that
_all_ Ens is changeable. There cannot be either intellect or
knowledge, without something constant and unchangeable. It is
equally necessary to recognise something as constant and
unchangeable--something else as moving and changeable: Ens or
reality includes alike one and the other. The true philosopher
therefore cannot agree with those "Friends of Forms" who affirm
all Ens or Reality to be at rest and unchangeable, either under
one form or under many:--still less can he agree with those
opposite reasoners, who maintain all reality to be in perpetual
change and movement. He will acknowledge both and each--rest and
motion--the constant and the changeable--as making up together
total reality or Ens Totum.

[Side-note: Motion and rest are both of them Entia or realities.
Both agree in Ens. Ens is a _tertium quid_--distinct from both.
But how can anything be distinct from both?]

Still, however, we have not got over our difficulties. Motion and
Rest are contraries; yet we say that each and both are Realities
or Entia. In what is it that they both agree? Not in moving, nor
in being at rest, but simply in existence or reality. Existence or
reality therefore must be a _tertium quid_, apart from motion and
rest, not the sum total of those two items. Ens or the Real is
not, in its own proper nature, either in motion or at rest, but is
distinct from both. Yet how can this be? Surely, whatever is not
in motion, must be at rest--whatever is not at rest, must be in
motion. How can any thing be neither in motion nor at rest;
standing apart from both?[52]

[Footnote 52: Plato, Sophist. p. 250 C.]

[Side-note: Here the Eleate breaks off without solution. He
declares his purpose to show, That Ens is as full of puzzle as

Here the Eleate breaks off his enquiry, without solving the
problems which he has accumulated. My purpose was (he says[53]) to
show that Ens was just as full of difficulties and embarrassments
as Non-Ens. Enough has been said to prove this clearly. When we
can once get clear of obscurity about Ens, we may hope to be
equally successful with Non-Ens.

[Footnote 53: Plato, Sophist. p. 250 D.]

[Side-note: Argument against those who admit no predication to be
legitimate, except identical. How far Forms admit of
intercommunion with each other.]

Let us try (he proceeds) another path. We know that it is a common
practice in our daily speech to apply many different predicates to
one and the same subject. We say of the same man, that he is fair,
tall, just, brave, &c., and several other epithets. Some persons
deny our right to do this. They say that the predicate ought
always to be identical with the subject: that we can only employ
with propriety such propositions as the following--man is
man--good is good, &c.: that to apply many predicates to one and
the same subject is to make one thing into many things.[54] But in
reply to these opponents, as well as to those whom we have before
combated, we shall put before them three alternatives, of which
they must choose one. 1. Either all Forms admit of intercommunion
one with the other. 2. Or no Forms admit of such intercommunion.
3. Or some Forms do admit of it, and others not. Between these
three an option must be made.[55]

[Footnote 54: Plato, Sophist. p. 251 B. [Greek: ô(s a)du/naton ta/
te polla\ e(\n kai\ to\ e(\n polla\ ei)=nai], &c.]

[Footnote 55: Plato, Sophist. p. 251 E.]

[Side-note: No intercommunion between any distinct forms. Refuted.
Common speech is inconsistent with this hypothesis.]

If we take the first alternative--that there is no intercommunion
of Forms--then the Forms _motion_ and _rest_ can have no
intercommunion with the Forms, _essence_ or _reality_. In other
words, neither motion nor rest exist: and thus the theory both of
those who say that all things are in perpetual movement, and of
those who say that all things are in perpetual rest, becomes
unfounded and impossible. Besides, these very men, who deny all
intercommunion of Forms, are obliged to admit it implicitly and
involuntarily in their common forms of speech. They cannot carry
on a conversation without it, and they thus serve as a perpetual
refutation of their own doctrine.[56]

[Footnote 56: Plato, Sophist. p. 252 D.]

[Side-note: Reciprocal intercommunion of all Forms--inadmissible.]

The second alternative--that all Forms may enter into communion
with each other--is also easily refuted. If this were true, motion
and rest might be put together: motion would be at rest, and rest
would be in motion--which is absurd. These and other forms are
contrary to each other. They reciprocally exclude and repudiate
all intercommunion.[57]

[Footnote 56: Plato, Sophist. p. 252 E.]

[Side-note: Some Forms admit of intercommunion, others not. This is
the only admissible doctrine. Analogy of letters and syllables.]

Remains only the third alternative--that some forms admit of
intercommunion--others not. This is the real truth (says the
Eleate). So it stands in regard to letters and words in language:
some letters come together in words frequently and
conveniently--others rarely and awkwardly--others never do nor ever can
come together. The same with the combination of sounds to obtain music.
It requires skill and art to determine which of these combinations
are admissible.

[Side-note: Art and skill are required to distinguish what Forms
admit of intercommunion, and what Forms do not. This is the
special intelligence of the Philosopher, who lives in the bright
region of Ens: the Sophist lives in the darkness of Non-Ens.]

So also, in regard to the intercommunion of Forms, skill and art
are required to decide which of them will come together, and which
will not. In every special art and profession the case is similar:
the ignorant man will fail in deciding this question--the man of
special skill alone will succeed.--So in regard to the
intercommunion of Forms or Genera universally with each other, the
comprehensive science of the true philosopher is required to
decide.[58] To note and study these Forms, is the purpose of the
philosopher in his dialectics or ratiocinative debate. He can
trace the one Form or Idea, stretching through a great many
separate particulars; he can distinguish it from all different
Forms: he knows which Forms are not merely distinct from each
other, but incapable of alliance and reciprocally repulsive--which
of them are capable of complete conjunction, the one
circumscribing and comprehending the other--and which of them
admit conjunction partial and occasional with each other.[59] The
philosopher thus keeps close to the Form of eternal and
unchangeable Ens or Reality--a region of such bright light that
the eyes of the vulgar cannot clearly see him: while the Sophist
on the other hand is also difficult to be seen, but for an
opposite reason--from the darkness of that region of Non-Ens or
Non-Reality wherein he carries on his routine-work.[60]

[Footnote 58: Plato, Sophist. p. 253 B. [Greek: a)=r' ou) met'
e)pistê/mês tino\s a)nagkai=on dia\ tô=n lo/gôn poreu/esthai to\n
o)rthô=s me/llonta dei/xein poi=a poi/ois sumphônei= tô=n genô=n
kai\ poi=a a)/llêla ou) de/chetai?]]

[Footnote 59: Plato, Sophist. p. 253 D-E.]

[Footnote 60: Plato, Sophist. p. 254 A. [Greek: O( de/ ge
philo/sophos, tê=| tou= o)/ntos a)ei\ dia\ logismô=n proskei/menos
i)de/a|, dia\ to\ lampro\n au)= tê=s chô/ras ou)damô=s eu)pe/tês
o)phthê=nai; ta\ ga\r tê=s tô=n pollô=n psuchê=s o)/mmata
karterei=n pro\s to\ thei=on a)phorô=nta a)du/nata.]]

[Side-note: He comes to enquire what Non-Ens is. He takes for
examination five principal

We have still to determine, however (continues Plato), what this
Non-Ens or Non-Reality is. For this purpose we will take a survey,
not of all Forms or Genera, but of some few the most important. We
will begin with the two before noticed--Motion and Rest ( = Change
and Permanence), which are confessedly irreconcileable and
reciprocally exclusive. Ens however enters into partnership with
both: for both of them _are_, or exist.[61] This makes up three
Forms or Genera--Motion, Rest, Ens: each of the three being the
same with itself, and different from the other two. Here we have
pronounced two new words--Same--Different.[62] Do these words
designate two other Forms, over and above the three before-named,
yet necessarily always intermingling in partnership with those
three, so as to make five Forms in all? Or are these two--Same and
Different--essential appendages of the three before-named? This
last question must be answered in the negative. Same and Different
are not essential appendages, or attached as parts, to Motion,
Rest, Ens. Same and Different may be predicated both of Motion and
of Rest: and whatever can be predicated alike of two contraries,
cannot be an essential portion or appendage of either. Neither
Motion nor Rest therefore _are_ essentially either Same or
Different: though both of them partake of Same or
Different--_i.e._, come into accidental co-partnership with one as
well as the other.[63] Neither can we say that Ens is identical
with either Idem or Diversum. Not with Idem--for we speak of both
Motion and Rest as Entia or Existences: but we cannot speak of
them as the same. Not with Diversum--for _different_ is a name
relative to something else from which it is different, but Ens is
not thus relative. Motion and Rest _are_ or exist, each in itself:
but each is _different_, relatively to the other, and to other
things generally. Accordingly we have here five Forms or
Genera--Ens, Motion, Rest, Idem, Diversum: each distinct from and
independent of all the rest.[64]

[Footnote 61: Plato, Sophist. p. 254 D. [Greek: to\ de/ ge o)\n
mikto\n a)mphoi=n; _e)sto\n_ ga\r a)/mphô pou.]]

[Footnote 62: Plato, Sophist. p. 254 E. [Greek: ti/ pot' au)= nu=n
ou(/tôs ei)rê/kamen to/ te tau)to\n kai\ tha/teron? po/tera du/o
ge/nê tine\ au)tô/, tô=n me\n triô=n a)/llô], &c.]

[Footnote 63: Plato, Sophist. p. 255 B. [Greek: mete/cheton mê\n
a)/mphô tau)tou= kai\ thate/rou . . . Mê\ toi/nun le/gômen
ki/nêsi/n _g' ei)=nai_ tau)to\n ê)\ tha/teron, mêd' au)=

[Footnote 64: Plato, Sophist. p. 255 D.]

[Side-note: Form of Diversum pervades all the others.]

This Form of Diversum or Different pervades all the others: for
each one of them is different from the others, not through any
thing in its own nature, but because it partakes of the Form of
Difference.[65] Each of the five is different from others: or, to
express the same fact in other words, each of them _is not_ any
one of the others. Thus motion is different from rest, or _is not_
rest: but nevertheless motion _is_ or exists, because it partakes
of the Form--Ens. Again, Motion is different from Idem: it _is
not_ the Same: yet nevertheless it _is_ the same, because it
partakes of the nature of Idem, or is the same with itself. Thus
then both predications are true respecting motion: it _is_ the
same: it _is not_ the same, because it partakes of or enters into
partnership with both Idem and Diversum.[66] If motion in any way
partook of Rest, we should be able to talk of stationary motion:
but this is impossible: for we have already said that some Forms
cannot come into intercommunion--that they absolutely exclude each

[Footnote 65: Plato, Sophist. p. 255 E. [Greek: kai\ dia\ pa/ntôn
ge au)tê\n phê/somen ei)=nai dielêluthui=an (tê\n thate/rou
phu/sin) e(\n e(/kaston ga\r e(/teron ei)=nai tô=n a)/llôn, _ou)
dia\ tê\n au)tou= phu/sin_, a)lla\ dia\ to\ mete/chein tê=s
i)de/as tê=s thate/rou.]]

[Footnote 66: Plato, Sophist. p. 256 A. [Greek: tê\n ki/nêsin dê\
tau)to/n t' ei)=nai kai\ mê\ tau)to\n o(mologête/on kai\ ou)
duscherante/on], &c.]

[Side-note: Motion is different from Diversum, or is not Diversum.
Motion is different from Ens--in other words, it is Non-Ens. Each
of these Forms is both Ens and Non-Ens.]

Again, Motion is different not only from Rest, and from Idem, but
also from Diversum itself. In other words, it is both Diversum in
a certain way, and also not Diversum: different and not
different.[67] As it is different from Rest, from Idem, from
Diversum--so also it is different from Ens, the remaining one of
the five forms or genera. In other words Motion is not Ens,--or is
Non-Ens. It is both Ens, and Non-Ens: Ens, so far as it partakes
of Entity or Reality--Non-Ens, so far as it partakes of
Difference, and is thus different from Ens as well as from the
other Forms.[68] The same may be said of the other Forms,--Rest,
Idem, Diversum: each of them is Ens, because it partakes of entity
or reality: each of them is also Non-Ens, or different from Ens,
because it partakes of Difference. Moreover, Ens itself is
different from the other four, and so far as these others go, it
is Non-Ens.[69]

[Footnote 67: Plato, Sophist. p. 256 C. [Greek: ou)ch e(/teron
a)]r' e)sti/ pê| kai\ e(/teron kata\ to\n nu=n dê\ lo/gon.]]

[Footnote 68: Plato, Sophist. p. 256 D. [Greek: ou)kou=n dê\
saphô=s ê( ki/nêsis o)/ntôs ou)k o)/n e)sti kai\ o)\n, e)pei/per
tou= o)/ntos mete/chei?]]

[Footnote 69: Plato, Sophist. p. 257 A. [Greek: kai\ to\ o)/n
a)/r' ê(mi=n, o(/sa per e)/sti ta\ a)/lla, kata\ tosau=ta ou)k
e)/stin; e)kei=na ga\r ou)k o)\n e(\n me\n au)to/ e)stin,
a)pe/ranta de\ to\n a)rithmo\n ta)/lla ou)k e)/stin au)=.]]

[Side-note: By Non-Ens, we do not mean anything contrary to Ens--we
mean only something different from Ens. Non-Ens is a real Form, as
well as Ens.]

Now note the consequence (continues the Eleate). When we speak of
Non-Ens, we do not mean any thing contrary to Ens, but only
something different from Ens. When we call any thing _not great_,
we do not affirm it to be the contrary of great, or to be
_little_: for it may perhaps be simply equal: we only mean that it
is different from great.[70] A negative proposition, generally,
does not signify anything contrary to the predicate, but merely
something else distinct or different from the predicate.[71] The
Form of Different, though of one and the same general nature
throughout, is distributed into many separate parts or
specialties, according as it is attached to different things. Thus
_not beautiful_ is a special mode of the general Form or Genus
Different, placed in antithesis with another Form or Genus, _the
beautiful_. The antithesis is that of one Ens or Real thing
against another Ens or Real thing: _not beautiful_, _not great_,
_not just_, exist just as much and are quite as real, as
_beautiful_, _great_, _just_. If the Different be a real Form or
Genus, all its varieties must be real also. Accordingly Different
from Ens is just as much a real Form as Ens itself:[72] and this
is what we mean by Non-Ens:--not any thing contrary to Ens.

[Footnote 70: Plato, Sophist. p. 257 B. [Greek: O(po/tan to\ mê\
o)\n le/gômen, ô(s e)/oiken, ou)k e)nanti/on ti le/gomen tou=
o)/ntos, a)ll' e(/teron mo/non . . . Oi(=on o(/tan ei)pôme/n _ti
mê\ me/ga_, to/te ma=llo/n ti/ soi phaino/metha to\ smikro\n ê)\
to\ i)/son dêlou=n tô=| r(ê/mati.]

Plato here means to imply that [Greek: to\ smikro\n] is the real
contrary of [Greek: to\ me/ga]. When we say [Greek: mê\ me/ga], we
do not necessarily mean [Greek: smikro/n]--we may mean [Greek:
i)/son]. Therefore [Greek: to\ mê\ me/ga] does not (in his view)
imply the contrary of [Greek: me/ga].]

[Footnote 71: Plato, Sophist. p. 257 B. [Greek: Ou)k a)/r'
e)nanti/on, o(/tan a)po/phasis le/gêtai, sêmai/nein
sugchôrêso/metha, tosou=ton de\ mo/non, o(/ti tô=n a)/llôn ti
mênu/ei to\ mê\ kai\ to\ ou) protithe/mena tô=n e)pio/ntôn
o)noma/tôn, ma=llon de\ tô=n pragma/tôn peri\ a)/tt' a)\n ke/êtai
ta\ e)piphtheggo/mena u(/steron tê=s a)popha/seôs o)no/mata.]]

[Footnote 72: Plato, Sophist. p. 258 B. [Greek: ê( tê=s thate/rou
mori/ou phu/seôs kai\ tê=s tou= o)/ntos pro\s a)/llêla
a)ntikeime/nôn a)ntithesis ou)de\n ê)=tton, ei) the/mis ei)pei=n
au)tou= tou= o)/ntos ou)si/a e)sti/n; ou)k e)nanti/on e)kei/nô|
sêmai/nousa, a)lla\ tosou=ton mo/non, e(/teron e)kei/nou.]]

[Side-note: The Eleate claims to have refuted Parmenides, and to
have shown both that Non-Ens is a real Form, and also what it is.]

Here then the Eleate professes to have found what Non-Ens is: that
it is a real substantive Form, numerable among the other Forms,
and having a separate constant nature of its own, like _not
beautiful_, _not great_:[73] that it is real and existent, just as
much as _Ens_, _beautiful_, _great_, &c. Disregarding the
prohibition of Parmenides, we have shown (says he) not only that
Non-Ens exists, but also what it is. Many Forms or Genera enter
into partnership or communion with each other; and Non-Ens is the
partnership between Ens and Diversum. Diversum, in partnership
with Ens, _is_ (exists), in consequence of such partnership:--yet
_it is not_ that with which it is in partnership, but different
therefrom--and being thus different from Ens, it is clearly and
necessarily Non-Ens: while Ens also, by virtue of its partnership
with Diversum, is different from all the other Forms, or _is not_
any one of them, and to this extent therefore Ens is Non-Ens. We
drop altogether the idea of contrariety, without enquiring whether
it be reasonably justifiable or not: we attach ourselves entirely
to the Form--_Different_.[74]

[Footnote 73: Plato, Sophist. p. 258 B-C. [Greek: to\ mê\ o)\n
bebai/ôs e)sti\ tê\n au)tou= phu/sin e)/chon . . . e)na/rithmon
tô=n pollô=n o)/ntô=n ei)=dos e(/n.]]

[Footnote 74: Plato, Sophist. pp. 258 E--259 A. [Greek: ê(mei=s
ga\r peri\ me\n e)nanti/ou tino\s au)tô=| chai/rein pa/lai
le/gomen, ei)/t' e)/stin ei)/te mê\ lo/gon e)/chon ê)\ kai\
panta/pasin a)/logon], &c.

[Greek: to\ me\n e(/teron metascho\n tou= o)/ntos _e)/sti_ me\n
dia\ tau/tên tê\n me/thexin, ou) mê\n e)kei=no ge ou)= me/teschen,
a)ll' e(/teron, e(/teron de\ tou= o)/ntos o)/n e)sti saphe/stata
e)x a)na/gkês ei)=nai mê\ o)/n], &c.]

[Side-note: The theory now stated is the only one, yet given, which
justifies predication as a legitimate process, with a predicate
different from the subject.]

Let those refute this explanation, who can do so (continues the
Eleate), or let them propose a better of their own, if they can:
if not, let them allow the foregoing as possible.[75] Let them not
content themselves with multiplying apparent contradictions, by
saying that the same may be in some particular respect different,
and that the different may be in some particular respect the same,
through this or the other accidental attribute.[76] All these
sophisms lead but to make us believe--That no one thing can be
predicated of any other--That there is no intercommunion of the
distinct Forms one with another, no right to predicate of any
subject a second name and the possession of a new attribute--That
therefore there can be no dialectic debate or philosophy, which is
all founded upon such intercommunion of Forms.[77] We have shown
that Forms do really come into conjunction, so as to enable us to
conjoin, truly and properly, predicate with subject, and to
constitute proposition and judgment as taking place among the true
Forms or Genera. Among these true Forms or Genera, Non-Ens is
included as one.[78]

[Footnote 75: Plato, Sophist. p. 259 A-C. [Greek: o(\ de\ nu=n
ei)rê/kamen ei)=nai to\ mê\ o)/n, ê)\ peisa/tô tis ô(s ou) kalô=s
le/gomen e)le/gxas, ê)\ me/chri per a)\n a)dunatê=|, lekte/on kai\
e)kei=nô| katha/per ê(mei=s le/gomen . . . to\ tau=ta _e)a/santa
ô(s dunata/_. . . .]

The language of the Eleate here is altogether at variance with the
spirit of Plato in his negative or Searching Dialogues. To say, as
he does, "Either accept the explanation which I give, or propose a
better of your own"--is a dilemma which the Sokrates of the
Theætêtus, and other dialogues, would have declined altogether.
The complaint here made by the Eleate, against disputants who did
nothing but propound difficulties--is the same as that which the
hearers of Sokrates made against _him_ (see Plato, Philêbus, p. 20
A, where the remark is put into the mouth, not of an opponent, but
of a respectful young listener); and many a reader of the Platonic
Parmenidês has indulged in the complaint.]

[Footnote 76: Plato, Sophist. p. 259 D. [Greek: e)kei/nê| kai\
kat' e)kei=no o(/ phêsi tou/tôn peponthe/nai po/teron.]]

[Footnote 77: Plato, Sophist. p. 259 B, E. [Greek: dia\ ga\r tê\n
a)llê/lôn tô=n ei)dô=n sumplokê\n o( lo/gos ge/gonen ê(mi=n.] 252
B: [Greek: oi( mêde\n e)ô=ntes koinôni/a| pathê/matos e(te/rou
tha/teron prosagoreu/ein.]]

[Footnote 78: Plato, Sophist. p. 260 A. [Greek: pro\s to\ to\n
lo/gon ê(mi=n tô=n o)/ntôn e(/n ti genô=n ei)=nai.] 258 B: [Greek:
to\ mê\ o)\n bebai/ôs e)sti\ tê\n au(tou= phu/sin e)/chon.]]

[Side-note: Enquiry, whether the Form of Non-Ens can come into
intercommunion with the Forms of Proposition, Opinion, Judgment.]

The Eleate next proceeds to consider, whether these two Genera or
Forms--Proposition, Judgment, Opinion, on the one hand, and
Non-Ens on the other--are among those which may or do enter into
partnership and conjunction with each other. For we have admitted
that there are some Forms which cannot come into partnership; and
the Sophist against whom we are reasoning, though we have driven
him to concede that Non-Ens is a real Form, may still contend that
it is one of those which cannot come into partnership with
Proposition, Judgment, Opinion--and he may allege that we can
neither embody in language, nor in mental judgment, that which _is

[Footnote 79: Plato, Sophist. p. 260 C-D-E.]

[Side-note: Analysis of a Proposition. Every Proposition must have
a noun and a verb--it must be proposition of _Something_. False
propositions, involve the Form of Non-Ens, in relation to the
particular subject.]

Let us look attentively what Proposition, Judgment, Opinion, are.
As we said about Forms and letters, so about words: it is not
every combination of words which is possible, so as to make up a
significant proposition. A string of nouns alone will not make
one, nor a string of verbs alone. To compose the simplest
proposition, you must put together at least one noun and one verb,
in order to signify something respecting things existing, or
events past, present, and future.[80] Now every proposition must
be a proposition about something, or belonging to a certain
subject: every proposition must also be of a certain quality.[81]
_Theætêtus is sitting down_--_Theætêtus is flying._ Here are two
propositions, both belonging to the same subject, but with
opposite qualities: the former true, the latter false. The true
proposition affirms respecting Theætêtus real things as they are;
the false proposition affirms respecting him things different from
real, or non-real, as being real. The attribute of _flying_ is
just as real in itself as the attribute of _sitting_: but as
respects Theætêtus, or as predicated concerning him, it is
different from the reality, or non-real.[82] But still Theætêtus
is the subject of the proposition, though the predicate _flying_
does not really belong to him: for there is no other subject than
he, and without a subject the proposition would be no proposition
at all. When therefore different things are affirmed as the same,
or non-realities as realities, respecting you or any given
subject, the proposition so affirming is false.[83]

[Footnote 80: Plato, Sophist. pp. 261-262.]

[Footnote 81: Plato, Sophist. p. 262 E. [Greek: lo/gon
a)nagkai=on, o(/tan per ê)=|, tino\s ei)=nai lo/gon; mê\ de/ tinos
a)du/naton . . . Ou)kou=n kai\ _poi=o/n tina_ au)to\n ei)=nai

[Footnote 82: Plato, Sophist. p. 263 B [Greek: O)/ntôn de/ ge
o)/nta e(/tera peri\ sou=.]

That is, [Greek: e(/tera tô=n o)/ntôn],--being the explanation
given by Plato of [Greek: ta\ mê\ o)/nta].]

[Footnote 83: Plato, Sophist. p. 263 D.]

[Side-note: Opinion, Judgment, Fancy, &c., are akin to Proposition,
and may be also false, by coming into partnership with the Form

As propositions may be true or false, so also opinion or judgment
or conception, may be true or false: for opinion or judgment is
only the concluding result of deliberation or reflection--and
reflection is the silent dialogue of the mind with itself: while
conception or phantasy is the coalescence or conjunction of
opinion with present perception.[84] Both opinion and conception
are akin to proposition. It has thus been shown that false
propositions, and false opinions or judgments, are perfectly real,
and involve no contradiction: and that the Form or
Genus--Proposition, Judgment, Opinion--comes properly and naturally
into partnership with the Form Non-Ens.

[Footnote 84: Plato, Sophist. pp. 263-264. 264 A-B: [Greek:
Ou)kou=n e)/peiper lo/gos a)lêthê\s ê)=n kai\ pseudê/s, tou/tôn d'
e)pha/nê dia/noia me\n au)tê=s pro\s e(autê\n psuchê=s dia/logos,
do/xa de\ dianoi/as a)poteleu/têsis, phai/netai de\ o(\ le/gomen
(phantasi/a) su/mmixis ai)sthê/seôs kai\ do/xês, a)na/gkê dê\ kai\
tou/tôn tô=| lo/gô| xuggenô=n o)/ntôn pseudê= te au)tô=n e)/nia
kai\ e)ni/ote ei)=nai?]]

This was the point which Plato's Eleate undertook to prove against
Parmenides, and against the plea of the Sophist founded on the
Parmenidean doctrine.

*  *  *  *  *

[Side-note: It thus appears that Falsehood, imitating Truth, is
theoretically possible, and that there may be a profession, like
that of the Sophist, engaged in producing it.]

Here Plato closes his general philosophical discussion, and
reverts to the process of logical division from which he had
deviated. In descending the predicamental steps, to find the
logical place of the Sophist, Plato had reached a point where he
assumed Non-Ens, together with false propositions and judgments
affirming Non-Ens. To which the Sophist is conceived as replying,
that Non-Ens was contradictory and impossible, and that no
proposition could be false. On these points Plato has produced an
elaborate argument intended to refute him, and to show that there
was such a thing as falsehood imitating truth, or passing itself
off as truth: accordingly, that there might be an art or
profession engaged in producing such falsehood.

[Side-note: Logical distribution of Imitators--those who imitate
what they know, or what they do not know--of these last, some
sincerely believe themselves to know, others are conscious that
they do not know, and designedly impose upon others.]

Now the imitative profession may be distributed into those who
know what they imitate--and those who imitate without knowing.[85]
The man who mimics your figure or voice, knows what he imitates:
those who imitate the figure of justice and virtue often pass
themselves off as knowing it, yet do not really know it, having
nothing better than fancy or opinion concerning it. Of these
latter again--(_i.e._ the imitators with mere opinion, but no
knowledge, respecting that which sincerely they imitate)--there
are two classes: one, those who sincerely mistake their own mere
opinions for knowledge, and are falsely persuaded that they really
know: the other class, those who by their perpetual occupation in
talking, lead us to suspect and apprehend that they are conscious
of not knowing things, which nevertheless they discuss before
others as if they did know.[86]

[Footnote 85: Plato, Sophist. p. 267 A-D.]

[Footnote 86: Plato, Sophist. p. 268 A. [Greek: to\ de\ thate/rou
schê=ma, dia\ tê\n e)n toi=s lo/gois kuli/ndêsin, e)/chei pollê\n
u(popsi/an kai\ pho/bon ô(s a)gnoei= tau=ta a(\ pro\s tou\s
a)/llous ô(s ei)dô\s e)schêma/tistai.]]

[Side-note: Last class divided--Those who impose on numerous
auditors by long discourse, the Rhetor--Those who impose on select
auditors, by short question and answer, making the respondent
contradict himself--the Sophist.]

Of this latter class, again, we may recognise two sections: those
who impose upon a numerous audience by long discourses on public
matters: and those who in private, by short question and answer,
compel the person conversing with them to contradict himself.[87]
The man of long discourse is not the true statesman, but the
popular orator: the man of short discourse, but without any real
knowledge, is not the truly wise man, since he has no real
knowledge--but the imitator of the wise man, or Sophist.

[Footnote 87: Plato, Sophist. p. 268 B. [Greek: to\n me\n
dêmosi/a| te kai\ makroi=s lo/gois pro\s plê/thê dunato\n
_ei)rôneu/esthai_ kathorô=; to\n de\ i)di/a| te kai\ brache/si
lo/gois a)nagka/zonta to\n prosdialego/menon e)nantiologei=n
au)to\n au)tô=|.]]

*  *  *  *  *

[Side-note: Dialogue closed. Remarks upon it. Characteristics
ascribed to a Sophist.]

We have here the conclusion of this abstruse and complicated
dialogue, called Sophistês. It ends by setting forth, as the
leading characteristics of the Sophist--that he deals in short
question and answer so as to make the respondent contradict
himself: That he talks with small circles of listeners, upon a
large variety of subjects, on which he possesses no real
knowledge: That he mystifies or imposes upon his auditors; not
giving his own sincere convictions, but talking for the production
of a special effect. He is [Greek: e)nantiopoiologiko\s] and
[Greek: ei)/rôn], to employ the two original Platonic words,
neither of which is easy to translate.

[Side-note: These characteristics may have belonged to other
persons, but they belonged in an especial manner to Sokrates

I dare say that there were some acute and subtle disputants in
Athens to whom these characteristics belonged, though we do not
know them by name. But we know one to whom they certainly
belonged: and that was, Sokrates himself. They stand manifest and
prominent both in the Platonic and in the Xenophontic dialogues.
The attribute which Xenophon directly predicates about him, that
"in conversation he dealt with his interlocutors just as he
pleased,"[88] is amply exemplified by Plato in the Protagoras,
Gorgias, Euthyphron, Lachês, Charmides, Lysias, Alkibiadês I. and
II., Hippias I. and II., &c. That he cross-examined and puzzled
every one else without knowing the subjects on which he talked,
better than they did--is his own declaration in the Apology. That
the Athenians regarded him as a clever man mystifying
them--talking without sincere persuasion, or in a manner so strange
that you could not tell whether he was in jest or in
earnest--overthrowing men's established convictions by subtleties which
led to no positive truth--is also attested both by what he himself
says in the Apology, and by other passages of Plato and

[Footnote 88: Xen. Memor. i. 2, 14, [Greek: toi=s de\
dialegome/nois au)tô=| pa=si chrô/menon e)n toi=s lo/gois o(/pôs

Compare, to the same purpose, i. 4, 1, where we are told that
Sokrates employed his colloquial Elenchus as a means of chastising
([Greek: kolastêri/ou e(/neka]) those who thought that they knew
every thing: and the conversation of Sokrates with the youthful
Euthydêmus, especially what is said by Xenophon at the close of it
(iv. 4, 39-40).

The power of Sokrates to vanquish in dialogue the persons called
Sophists, and to make them contradict themselves in answering--is
clearly brought out, and doubtless intentionally brought out, in
some of Plato's most consummate dialogues. Alkibiades says, in the
Platonic Protagoras (p. 336), "Sokrates confesses himself no match
for Protagoras in long speaking. If Protagoras on his side
confesses himself inferior to Sokrates in dialogue, Sokrates is

[Footnote 89: Plato, Apolog. p. 37 E. [Greek: e)a/n te ga\r le/gô,
o(/ti tô=| theô=| a)peithei=n tou=t' e)/stin, kai\ dia\ tou=t'
a)du/naton ê(suchi/an a)/gein, ou) pei/sesthe/ moi ô(s

Xen. Memor. iv. 4, 9. [Greek: a)rkei= ga\r] (says Hippias to
Sokrates), [Greek: o(/ti tô=n a)/llôn katagela=|s, e)rôtô=n kai\
e)le/gchôn pa/ntas, au)to\s de\ ou)deni\ the/lôn u(pe/chein
lo/gon, ou)de\ gnô/mên a)pophai/nesthai peri\ ou)deno/s.] See also
Memorab. iii. 5, 24.

Compare a striking passage in Plato's Menon, p. 80 A; also
Theætêt. p. 149; and Plutarch, Quæst. Platonic. p. 1000.

The attribute [Greek: ei)rônei/a], which Plato here declares as
one of the main characteristics of the Sophists, is applied to
Sokrates in a very special manner, not merely in the Platonic
dialogues, but also by Timon in the fragments of his Silli
remaining--[Greek: Au)tê\ e)kei/nê ê( eiôthui=a _ei)rônei/a
Sôkra/tous_] (Plato, Repub. i. p. 337 A); and again--[Greek:
prou)/legon o(/ti su\ a)pokri/nasthai me\n ou)k e)thelêsois,
_ei)rôneu/soio_ de\ kai\ pa/nta ma=llon poiê/sois ê)\
a)pokri/noio, ei)/ tis ti/ se e)rôta=|.] So also in the Symposion,
p. 216 E, Alkibiades says about Sokrates [Greek: _ei)rôneuo/menos_
de\ kai\ pai/zôn pa/nta to\n bi/on pro\s tou\s a)nthrô/pous
diatelei=.] And Gorgias, p. 489 E. In another part of the Gorgias
(p. 481 B), Kallikles says, "Tell me, Chærephon, does Sokrates
mean seriously what he says, or is he bantering?" [Greek:
spouda/zei tau=ta Sôkra/tês ê)\ pai/zei?] Protagoras, Prodikus,
Hippias, &c., do not seem to have been [Greek: ei)/rônes] at all,
as far as our scanty knowledge goes.

The words [Greek: ei)/rôn, ei)rôniko/s, ei)rônei/a] seem to
include more than is implied in our words _irony_, _ironical_.
Schleiermacher translates the words [Greek: a(plou=n mimê/tên,
ei)rôniko\n mimê/tên], at the end of the Sophistês, by "den
ehrlichen, den Schlauen, Nachahmer"; which seems to me near the
truth,--meaning one who either speaks what he does not think, or
evades speaking what he does think, in order to serve some special

[Side-note: The conditions enumerated in the dialogue (except the
taking of a fee) fit Sokrates better than any other known person.]

Moreover, if we examine not merely the special features assigned
to the Sophist in the conclusion of the dialogue, but also those
indicated in the earlier part of it, we shall find that many of
them fit Sokrates as well as they could have fitted any one else.
If the Sophists hunted after rich young men,[90] Sokrates did the
same; seeking opportunities for conversation with them by
assiduous frequentation of the palæstræ, as well as in other ways.
We see this amply attested by Plato and Xenophon:[91] we see
farther that Sokrates announces it as a propensity natural to him,
and meritorious rather than otherwise. Again, the argumentative
dialogue--disputation or eristic reduced to an art, and debating
on the general theses of just and unjust, which Plato notes as
characterising the Sophists[92]--belonged in still higher
perfection to Sokrates. It not only formed the business of his
life, but is extolled by Plato elsewhere,[93] as the true walk of
virtuous philosophy. But there was undoubtedly this difference
between Sokrates and the Sophists, that he conversed and argued
gratuitously, delighting in the process itself: while they both
asked and received money for it. Upon this point, brought forward
by Plato both directly and with his remarkable fertility in
multiplying indirect allusions, the peculiarity of the Sophist is
made mainly to turn. To ask or receive a fee for communicating
knowledge, virtue, aptitude in debate, was in the view of Sokrates
and Plato a grave enormity: a kind of simoniacal practice.[94]

[Footnote 90: Plato, Sophist. p. 223. [Greek: ne/ôn plousi/ôn kai\
e)ndo/xôn thê/ra].]

[Footnote 91: In the opening words of the Platonic Protagoras, we
read as a question from the friend or companion of Sokrates,
[Greek: Po/then, ô)= Sô/krates, phai/nei? ê)\ _a)po\ kunêgesi/ou
tou=_ peri\ tê\n A)lkibia/dou ô(/ran?]

See also the opening of the Charmides, Lysis, Alkibiadês I., and
the speech of Alkibiades in the Symposion.

Compare also Xenophon, Memorab. iv. 2, 1-2-6, with the
commencement of the Platonic Protagoras; in which the youth
Hippokrates, far from being run after by the Sophist Protagoras,
is described as an enthusiastic admirer of that Sophist from
reputation alone, and as eagerly soliciting Sokrates to present
him to Protagoras (Protag. pp. 310-311).]

[Footnote 92: Plato, Sophist. p. 225 C. [Greek: To\ de/ ge
e)/ntechnon kai\ peri\ dikai/ôn au)tôn kai\ a)di/kôn kai\ peri\
tô=n a)/llôn o(/lôs a)mphisbêtou=n.]

Spengel says truly--in his [Greek: Sunagôgê\ Technô=n]
p. 40--"Quod si sermo et locus hic esset de Sophistarum doctrinâ et
philosophiâ, odium quod nunc vulgo in eos vertunt, majore ex parte
sine causâ et ratione esse conceptum, eosque laude magis quam
vituperatione dignos esse censendos--haud multâ cum operâ exponi
posset. Sic, quo proscinduntur convicio, juvenes non nisi magno
pretio eruditos esse, levissimum est: immo hoc sophistas suæ
ipsorum scientiæ satis confisos esse neque eam despexisse, docet:
et vitium, si modo vitium dicendum, commune est vel potius ortum
optimis lyricæ poeseos asseclis, Simonide, Pindaro, aliis."]

[Footnote 93: Plato, Theætet. p. 175 C.]

[Footnote 94: It is to be remembered, however, that Plato, though
doubtless exacting no fee, received presents from rich admirers
like Dion and Dionysius: and there were various teachers who found
presents more lucrative than fees. "M. Antonius Guipho, fuisse
dicitur ingenii magni, memoriæ singularis, nec minus Graicé, quam
Latino, doctus: præterea comi fucilique naturâ, _nec unquam de
mercedibus pactus--eoque plura ex liberalitate discentium
consecutus._" (Sueton. De Illustr. Grammat. 7.)]

[Side-note: The art which Plato calls "the thoroughbred and noble
Sophistical Art" belongs to Sokrates and to no one else. The
Elenchus was peculiar to him. Protagoras and Prodikus were not
Sophists in this sense.]

We have seen also that Plato assigns to what he terms "the
thoroughbred and noble Sophistic Art" ([Greek: ê( ge/nei gennai/a
sophistikê\]), the employment of the Elenchus, for the purpose of
destroying, in the minds of others, that false persuasion of
existing knowledge which was the radical impediment to their
imbibing acquisitions of real knowledge from the teacher.[95] Here
Plato draws a portrait not only strikingly resembling Sokrates,
but resembling no one else. As far as we can make out, Sokrates
stood alone in this original conception of the purpose of the
Elenchus, and in his no less original manner of working it out. To
prove to others that they knew nothing, is what he himself
represents to be his mission from the Delphian oracle. Sokrates is
a Sophist of the most genuine and noble stamp: others are
Sophists, but of a more degenerate variety. Plato admits the
analogy with reluctance, and seeks to attenuate it.[96] We may
remark, however, that according to the characteristic of the true
Sophist here given by Plato, Protagoras and Prodikus were less of
Sophists than Sokrates. For though we know little of the two
former, yet there is good reason to believe, That the method which
they generally employed was, that of continuous and eloquent
discourse, lecture, exhortation: that disputation by short
question and answer was less usual with them, and was not their
strong point: and that the Elenchus, in the Sokratic meaning, can
hardly be said to have been used by them at all. Now Plato, in
this dialogue, tells us that the true and genuine Sophist
renounces the method of exhortation as unprofitable; or at least
employs it only subject to the condition of having previously
administered the Elenchus with success, as his own patent
medicine.[97] Upon this definition, Sokrates is more truly a
Sophist than either Protagoras or Prodikus: neither of whom, so
far as we know, made it their business to drive the respondent to

[Footnote 95: Plato, Sophist. p. 230 D. [Greek: pri\n a)\n
e)le/gchôn tis to\n e)legcho/menon ei)s ai)schu/nên katastê/sas,
ta\s toi=s mathê/masin e)mpodi/ous do/xas e)xelô/n, katharo\n
a)pophê/nê| kai\ tau=ta ê(gou/menon, a(/per oi)=den ei)de/nai
mo/na, plei/ô de\ mê/.]]

[Footnote 96: Plato, Sophist. p. 231 C.]

[Footnote 97: Plato, Sophist. p. 230 E.]

[Side-note: Universal knowledge--was professed at that time by all
Philosophers--Plato, Aristotle, &c.]

Again, Plato tells us that the Sophist is a person who disputes
about all matters, and pretends to know all matters: respecting
the invisible Gods, respecting the visible Gods, Sun, Moon, Stars,
Earth, &c., respecting transcendental philosophy, generation and
essence--and respecting all civil, social, and political
questions--and respecting special arts. On all these miscellaneous
topics, according to Plato, the Sophists pretended to be
themselves instructed, and to qualify their disciples for arguing
on all of them.

Now it is possible that the Sophists of that day may have
pretended to this species of universal knowledge; but most
certainly Plato and Aristotle did the same. The dialogues of Plato
embrace all that wide range of topics which he tells us that the
Sophists argued about, and pretended to teach. In an age when the
amount of positive knowledge was so slender, it was natural for a
clever talker or writer to fancy that he knew every thing. In
reference to every subject then discussed, an ingenious mind could
readily supply deductions from both hypotheses--generalities
ratiocinative or imaginative--strung together into an apparent
order sufficient for the exigencies of hearers. There was no large
range of books to be studied; no stock of facts or experience to
be mastered. Every philosopher wove his own tissue of theory for
himself, without any restraint upon his intellectual impulse, in
regard to all the problems then afloat. What the theories of the
Sophists were, we do not know: but Plato, author of the Timæus,
Republic, Leges, Kratylus, Menon--who affirmed the pre-existence
as well as post-existence of the mind, and the eternal
self-existence of Ideas--has no fair ground for reproaching them with
blamable rashness in the extent and diversity of topics which they
presumed to discuss. They obtained indeed (he says justly) no
truth or knowledge, but merely a fanciful semblance of knowledge--an
equivocal show or imitation of reality.[98] But Plato himself
obtains nothing more in the Timæus: and we shall find Aristotle
pronouncing the like condemnation on the Platonic self-existent
Ideas. If the Sophists professed to be encyclopedists, this was an
error natural to the age; and was the character of Grecian
philosophy generally, even in its most illustrious manifestations.

[Footnote 98: Plato, Sophistês, p. 233 C. [Greek: doxastikê\n
a)/ra tina\ peri\ pa/ntôn e)pistê/mên o( sophistê\s ê(mi=n, a)ll'
ou)k a)lêthei/an e)/chôn a)nape/phantai.] 234 B: [Greek: mimê/mata
kai\ o(mô/numa tô=n o)/ntôn.]

When the Eleate here says about the Sophists (p. 233 B), [Greek:
dokou=si pro\s tau=ta e)pistêmo/nôs e)/chein au)toi\ pro\s a(/per
a)ntile/gousin], this is exactly what Sokrates, in the Platonic
Apology, tells us about the impression made by his own dialectics
or refutative conversation, Plato, Apolog. p. 23 A.

[Greek: e)k tau/têsi dê\ tê=s e)xeta/seôs pollai\ me\n
a)pe/chtheiai/ moi gego/nasi kai\ oi(=ai chalepô/tatai kai\
baru/tatai, ô(/ste polla\s diabola\s a)p' au)tô=n gegone/nai,
o)/noma/ te tou=to le/gesthai, sopho\s ei)=nai; oi)=ontai ga/r me
e(ka/stoth' oi( paro/ntes tau=t' ei)=nai sopho\n a(\ a)\n a)/llon

[Side-note: Inconsistency of Plato's argument in the Sophistês. He
says that the Sophist is a disputatious man who challenges every
one for speaking falsehood. He says also that the Sophist is one
who maintains false propositions to be impossible.]

Having traced the Sophist down to the character of a man of
delusion and imposture, passing off appearance as if it were
reality, and falsehood as if it were truth--Plato (as we have
seen) suddenly turns round upon himself, and asks how such a
character is possible. He represents the Sophist as maintaining
that no man could speak falsely[99]--that a false proposition was
self-contradictory, inasmuch as Non-Ens was inconceivable and
unutterable. I do not see how the argument which Plato here
ascribes to the Sophist, can be reconciled with the character
which he had before given of the Sophist--as a man who passed his
life in disputation and controversy; which involves the perpetual
arraigning of other men's opinions as false. A professed disputant
may perhaps be accused of admitting nothing to be true: but he
cannot well be charged with maintaining that nothing is false.

[Footnote 99: Plato, Sophist. pp. 240-241. Compare 260 E.]

[Side-note: Reasoning of Plato about Non-Ens--No predications
except identical.]

To pass over this inconsistency, however--the reasoning of Plato
himself on the subject of Non-Ens is an interesting relic of
ancient speculation. He has made for himself an opportunity of
canvassing, not only the doctrine of Parmenides, who emphatically
denied Non-Ens--but also the opposite doctrine of other schools.
He farther comments upon a different opinion, advanced by other
philosophers--That no proposition can be admitted, in which the
predicate is different from the subject: That no proposition is
true or valid, except an identical proposition. You cannot say,
Man is good: you can only say, Man is Man, or Good is good. You
cannot say--Sokrates is good, brave, old, stout, flat-nosed, &c.,
because you thereby multiply the one Sokrates into many. One thing
cannot be many, nor many things one.[100]

[Footnote 100: Plato, Sophist. p. 251 B-C. Compare Plato, Philêbus,
p. 14 C.]

[Side-note: Misconception of the function of the copula in

This last opinion is said to have been held by Antisthenes, one of
the disciples of Sokrates. We do not know how he explained or
defended it, nor what reserves he may have admitted to qualify it.
Plato takes no pains to inform us on this point. He treats the
opinion with derision, as an absurdity. We may conceive it as one
of the many errors arising from a misconception of the purpose and
function of the copula in predication. Antisthenes probably
considered that the copula implied identity between the predicate
and the subject. Now the explanation or definition of _man_ is
different from the explanation or definition of _good_:
accordingly, if you say, Man is good, you predicate identity
between two different things: as if you were to say Two is Three,
or Three is Four. And if the predicates were multiplied, the
contradiction became aggravated, because then you predicated
identity not merely between one thing and another different thing,
but between one thing and many different things. The opinion of
Antisthenes depends upon two assumptions--That each separate word,
whether used as subject or as predicate, denotes a Something
separate and existent by itself: That the copula implies identity.
Now the first of these two assumptions is not unfrequently
admitted, even in the reasonings of Plato, Aristotle, and many
others: while the latter is not more remarkable than various other
erroneous conceptions which have been entertained, as to the
function of the copula.

[Side-note: No formal Grammar or Logic existed at that time. No
analysis or classification of propositions before the works of

What is most important to observe is--That at the time which we
are here discussing, there existed no such sciences either grammar
or formal logic. There was a copious and flexible language--a
large body of literature, chiefly poetical--and great facility as
well as felicity in the use of speech for the purposes of
communication and persuasion. But no attempt had yet been made to
analyse or theorise on speech: to distinguish between the
different functions of words, and to throw them into suitable
classes: to generalise the conditions of good or bad use of speech
for proving a conclusion: or to draw up rules for grammar, syntax,
and logic. Both Protagoras and Prodikus appear to have contributed
something towards this object, and Plato gives various scattered
remarks going still farther. But there was no regular body either
of grammar or of formal logic: no established rules or principles
to appeal to, no recognised teaching, on either topic. It was
Aristotle who rendered the important service of filling up this
gap. I shall touch hereafter upon the manner in which he
proceeded: but the necessity of laying down a good theory of
predication, and precepts respecting the employment of
propositions in reasoning, is best shown by such misconceptions as
this of Antisthenes; which naturally arise among argumentative men
yet untrained in the generalities of grammar and logic.

[Side-note: Plato's declared purpose in the Sophistês--To confute
the various schools of thinkers--Antisthenes, Parmenides, the
Materialists, &c.]

Plato announces his intention, in this portion of the Sophistês,
to confute all these different schools of thinkers, to whom he has
made allusion.[101] His first purpose, in reasoning against those
who maintained Non-Ens to be an incogitable absurdity, is, to show
that there are equal difficulties respecting Ens: that the
Existent is just as equivocal and unintelligible as the
Non-Existent. Those who recognise two co-ordinate and elementary
principles (such as Hot and Cold) maintain that both are really
existent, and call them both, Entia. Here (argues Plato) they
contradict themselves: they call their two elementary principles
_one_. What do they mean by existence, if this be not so?

[Footnote 101: Plato, Sophist. p. 251 C-D. [Greek: I(/na toi/nun
pro\s a(/pantas ê(mi=n o( lo/gos ê)=| tou\s pô/pote peri\ ou)si/as
kai\ o(tiou=n dialechthe/ntas, e)/stô kai\ pro\s tou/tous kai\
pro\s tou\s a)/llous, o(/sois e)/mprosthen dieile/gmetha, ta\ nu=n
ô(s e)n e)rôtê/sei lechthêso/mena.]]

Then again, Parmenides--and those who affirm that Ens Totum was
essentially Unum, denying all plurality--had difficulties on their
side to surmount. Ens could not be identical with Unum, nor was
the name _Ens_, identical with the thing named Ens. Moreover,
though Ens Unum was _Totum_, yet Totum was not identical with Ens
or with Unum. _Totum_ necessarily implied _partes_: but the _Unum
per se_ was indivisible or implied absence of parts. Though it was
true therefore that Ens was both Unum and Totum, these two were
both of them essentially different from Ens, and belonged to it
only by way of adjunct accident. Parmenides was therefore wrong in
saying that Unum alone existed.

[Side-note: Plato's refutation throws light upon the doctrine of

The reasoning here given from Plato throws some light upon the
doctrine just now cited from Antisthenes. You cannot say (argues
Plato against the advocates of duality) that _two_ elements (Hot
and Cold) are both of them Entia or Existent, because by so doing
you call them _one_. You cannot say (argues Antisthenes) that
Sokrates is good, brave, old, &c., because by such speech you call
one thing three. Again, in controverting the doctrine of
Parmenides, Plato urges, That Ens cannot _be_ Unum, because it is
Totum (Unum having no parts, while Totum has parts): but it may
carry with it the accident Unum, or may have Unum applied to it as
a predicate by accident. Here again, we have difficulties similar
to those which perplexed Antisthenes. For the same reason that
Plato will not admit, That Ens _is_ Unum--Antisthenes will not
admit, That Man _is_ good. It appeared to him to imply essential
identity between the predicate and the subject.

All these difficulties and others to which we shall come
presently, noway peculiar to Antisthenes--attest the incomplete
formal logic of the time: the want of a good theory respecting
predication and the function of the copula.

[Side-note: Plato's argument against the Materialists.]

Pursuing the purpose of establishing his conclusion (_viz._ That
Ens involved as many perplexities as Non-Ens), Plato comes to the
two opposite sects:--1. Those (the Materialists) who recognised
bodies and nothing else, as the real Entia or Existences. 2. Those
(the Friends of Forms, the Idealists) who maintained that
incorporeal and intelligible Forms or Species were the only real
existences; and that bodies had no existence, but were in
perpetual generation and destruction.[102]

[Footnote 102: Plato, Sophist. p. 246 B.]

Respecting the first, Plato says that they must after all be
ashamed not to admit, that justice, intelligence, &c., are
something real, which may be present or absent in different
individual men, and therefore must exist apart from all
individuals. Yet justice and intelligence are not bodies.
Existence therefore is something common to body and not-body. The
characteristic mark of existence is, power or potentiality.
Whatever has power to act upon any thing else, or to be acted on
by any thing else, is a real Ens or existent something.[103]

[Footnote 103: Plato, Sophist. p. 247 D-E. [Greek: le/gô dê\ to\
kai\ o(poianou=n kektême/non _du/namin_, ei)/t' ei)s to\ poiei=n
e(/teron o(tiou=n pephuko\s ei)/t' ei)s to\ pathei=n** kai\
smikro/taton u(po\ tou= phaulota/tou, ka)\n ei) mo/non ei)sa/pax,
pa=n tou=to o)/ntôs ei)=nai; ti/themai ga\r o(/ron o(ri/zein ta\
o)/nta, ô(s e)/stin ou)k a)/llo ti plê\n _du/namis_.]]

[Side-note: Reply open to the Materialists.]

Unfortunately we never know any thing about the opponents of
Plato, nor how they would have answered his objection--except so
much as he chooses to tell us. But it appears to me that the
opponents whom he is here confuting would have accepted his
definition, and employed it for the support of their own opinion.
"We recognise (they would say) just men, or hard bodies, as
existent, because they conform to your definition: they have power
to act and be acted upon. But justice, apart from just
men--hardness, apart from hard bodies--has no such power: they neither
act upon any thing, nor are acted on by any thing: therefore we do
not recognise them as existent." According to their view, objects
of perception acted on the mind, and therefore were to be
recognised as existent: objects of mere conception did not act on
the mind, and therefore had not the same claim to be ranked as
existent: or at any rate they acted on the mind in a different
way, which constitutes the difference between the real and unreal.
Of this difference Plato's definition takes no account.[104]

[Footnote 104: Plato, Sophist. p. 247 E. [Greek: to\ kai\
o(poianou=n kektême/non du/namin], &c.]

[Side-note: Plato's argument against the Idealists or Friends of
Forms. Their point of view against him.]

Plato now presents this same definition to the opposite class of
philosophers: to the Idealists, or partisans of the incorporeal--or
of self-existent and separate Forms. These thinkers drew a
marked distinction between the Existent and the Generated--between
Ens and Fiens--[Greek: to\ o)\n] and [Greek: to\ gigno/menon]. Ens
or the Existent was eternal and unchangeable: Fiens or the
Generated was always in change or transit, coming or going. We
hold communion (they said) with the generated or transitory,
through our bodies and sensible perceptions: we hold communion
with unchangeable Ens through our mind and by intellection. They
did not admit the definition of existence just given by Plato.
They contended that that definition applied only to Fiens or to
the sensible world--not to Ens or the intelligible world.[105]
Fiens had power to act and be acted upon, and existed only under
the condition of being so: that is, its existence was only
temporary, conditional, relative: it had no permanent or absolute
existence at all. Ens was the real existent, absolute and
independent--neither acting upon any thing nor being acted upon.
They considered that Plato's definition was not a definition of
Existence, or the Absolute: but rather of Non-Existence, or the

[Footnote 105: Plato, Sophist. p. 248 C.]

[Side-note: Plato argues--That to know, and be known, is action and
passion, a mode of relativity.]

But (asks Plato in reply) what do you mean by "the mind holding
communion" with the intelligible world? You mean that the mind
knows, comprehends, conceives, the intelligible world: or in other
words, that the intelligible world (Ens) is known, is
comprehended, is conceived, by the mind. To be known or conceived,
is to be acted on by the mind.[106] Ens, or the intelligible
world, is thus acted upon by the mind, and has a power to be so
acted upon: which power is, in Plato's definition here given, the
characteristic mark of existence. Plato thus makes good his
definition as applying to Ens, the world of intelligible Forms--not
less than to Fiens, the world of sensible phenomena.

[Footnote 106: Plato, Sophist. p. 248 D. [Greek: ei)
prosomologou=si tê\n me\n psuchê\n ginô/skein, tê\n d' ou)si/an
gignô/skesthai . . . Ti/ de/? to\ ginô/skein ê)\ gignô/skesthai
phate\ poi/êma ê)\ pa/thos ê)\ a)mpho/teron?]]

The definition of _existence_, here given by Plato, and the way in
which he employs it against the two different sects of
philosophers--Materialists and Idealists--deserves some remark.

[Side-note: Plato's reasoning--compared with the points of view of

According to the Idealists or Immaterialists, Plato's definition
of existence would be supposed to establish the case of their
opponents the Materialists, who recognised nothing as existing
except the sensible world: for Plato's definition (as the
Idealists thought) fitted the sensible world, but fitted nothing
else. Now these Idealists did not recognise the sensible world as
existent at all. They considered it merely as Fiens, ever
appearing and vanishing. The only Existent, in their view, was the
intelligible world--Form or Forms, absolute, eternal,
unchangeable, but neither visible nor perceivable by any of the
other senses. This is the opinion against which Plato _here_
reasons, though in various other dialogues he gives it as his own
opinion, or at least, as the opinion of his representative

In this portion of the present dialogue (Sophistês) the point
which he makes is, to show to the Idealists, or Absolutists, that
their Forms are not really absolute, or independent of the mind:
that the existence of these forms is relative, just as much as
that of the sensible world. The sensible world exists relatively
to our senses, really or potentially exercised: the intelligible
world exists relatively to our intelligence, really or potentially
exercised. In both cases alike, we hold communion with the two
worlds: the communion cannot be left out of sight, either in the
one case or in the other. The communion is the entire and
fundamental fact, of which the Subject conceiving and the Object
conceived, form the two opposite but inseparable faces--the
concave and convex, to employ a favourite illustration of
Aristotle. Subject conceiving, in communion with Object conceived,
are one and the same indivisible fact, looked at on different
sides. This is, in substance, what Plato urges against those
philosophers who asserted the absolute and independent existence
of intelligible Forms. Such forms (he says) exist only in
communion with, or relatively to, an intelligent mind: they are
not absolute, not independent: they are Objects of intelligence to
an intelligent Subject, but they are nothing without the Subject,
just as the Subject is nothing without them or some other Object.
Object of intelligence implies an intelligent Subject: Object of
sense implies a sentient Subject. Thus Objects of intelligence, and
Objects of sense, exist alike relatively to a Subject--not
absolutely or independently.

[Side-note: The argument of Plato goes to an entire denial of the
Absolute, and a full establishment of the Relative.]

This argument, then, of Plato against the Idealists is an argument
against the Absolute--showing that there can be no Object of
intelligence or conception without its obverse side, the
intelligent or concipient Subject. The Idealists held, that by
soaring above the sensible world into the intelligible world, they
got out of the region of the Relative into that of the Absolute.
But Plato reminds them that this is not the fact. Their
intelligible world is relative, not less than the sensible; that
is, it exists only in communion with a mind or Subject, but with a
Cogitant or intelligent Subject, not a percipient Subject.

[Side-note: Coincidence of his argument with the doctrine of
Protagoras in the Theætêtus.]

The argument here urged by Plato coincides in its drift and result
with the dictum of Protagoras--Man is the measure of all things.
In my remarks on the Theætêtus,[107] I endeavoured to make it
appear that the Protagorean dictum was really a negation of the
Absolute, of the Thing in itself, of the Object without a
Subject:--and an affirmation of the Relative, of the Thing in
communion with a percipient or concipient mind, of Object
implicated with Subject--as two aspects or sides of one and the
same conception or cognition. Though Plato in the Theætêtus argued
at length against Protagoras, yet his reasoning here in the
Sophistês establishes by implication the conclusion of Protagoras.
Here Plato impugns the doctrine of those who (like Sokrates in his
own Theætêtus) held that the sensible world alone was relative,
but that the intelligible world or Forms were absolute. He shows
that the latter were no less relative to a mind than the former;
and that mind, either percipient or cogitant, could never be
eliminated from "communion" with them.

[Footnote 107: See my notice of the Theætêtus, in the chapter
immediately preceding, where I have adverted to Plato's reasoning
in the Sophistês.]

[Side-note: The Idealists maintained that Ideas or Forms were
entirely unchangeable and eternal. Plato here denies this, and
maintains that ideas were partly changeable, partly unchangeable.]

These same Idealist philosophers also maintained--That Forms, or
the intelligible world, were eternally the same and unchangeable.
Plato here affirms that this ideas or opinion is not true: he
contends that the intelligible world includes both change and
unchangeableness, motion and rest, difference and sameness, life,
mind, intelligence, &c. He argues that the intelligible world,
whether assumed as consisting of one Form or of many Forms, could
not be regarded either as wholly changeable or wholly
unchangeable: it must comprise both constituents alike. If all
were changeable, or if all were unchangeable, there could be no
Object of knowledge; and, by consequence, no knowledge.[108] But
the fact that there _is_ knowledge (cognition, conception), is the
fundamental fact from which we must reason; and any conclusion
which contradicts this must be untrue. Therefore the intelligible
world is not all homogeneous, but contains different and even
opposite Forms--change and unchangeableness--motion and
rest--different and same.[109]

[Footnote 108: Plato, Sophist. p. 249 B. [Greek: xumbai/nei d'
ou)=n a)kinê/tôn te o)/ntôn nou=n mêdeni\ peri\ mêdeno\s ei)=nai

[Footnote 109: Plato, Sophist. p. 249 C.]

[Side-note: Plato's reasoning against the Materialists.]

Let us now look at Plato's argument, and his definition of
existence, as they bear upon the doctrine of the opposing
Materialist philosophers, whom he states to have held that bodies
alone existed, and that the Incorporeal did not exist:--in other
words that all real existence was concrete and particular: that
the abstract (universals, forms, attributes) had no real
existence, certainly no separate existence. As I before remarked,
it is not quite clear what or how much these philosophers denied.
But as far as we can gather from Plato's language, what they
denied was, the existence of attributes _apart from_ a substance.
They did not deny the existence of just and wise men, but the
existence of justice and wisdom, apart from men real or

[Side-note: Difference between Concrete and Abstract, not then made
conspicuous. Large meaning here given by Plato to
Ens--comprehending not only objects of Perception, but objects of
Conception besides.]

In the time of Plato, distinction between the two classes of
words, Concrete and Abstract, had not become so clearly matter of
reflection as to be noted by two appropriate terms: in fact,
logical terminology was yet in its first rudiments. It is
therefore the less matter of wonder that Plato should not here
advert to the relation between the two, or to the different sense
in which existence might properly be predicable of both. He agrees
with the materialists or friends of the Concrete, in affirming
that sensible objects, Man, Horse, Tree, exist (which the
Idealists or friends of the Abstract denied): but he differs from
them by saying that other Objects, super-sensible and merely
intelligible, exist also--namely, Justice, Virtue, Whiteness,
Hardness, and other Forms or Attributes. He admits that these
last-mentioned objects do not make themselves manifest to the
senses; but they do make themselves manifest to the intelligence
or the conception: and that is sufficient, in his opinion, to
authenticate them as existent. The word _existent_, according to
his definition (as given in this dialogue), includes not only all
that is or may be perceived, but also all that is or may be known
by the mind; _i.e._, understood, conceived, imagined, talked or
reasoned about. Existent, or Ens, is thus made purely relative:
having its root in a Subject, but ramifying by its branches in
every direction. It bears the widest possible sense, co-extensive
with _Object_ universally, either of perception or conception. It
includes all fictions, as well as all (commonly called) realities.
The conceivable and the existent become equivalent.

[Side-note: Narrower meaning given by Materialists to Ens--they
included only Objects of Perception. Their reasoning as opposed to

Now the friends of the Concrete, against whom Plato reasons, used
the word _existent_ in a narrower sense, as comprising only the
concretes of the sensible world. They probably admitted the
existence of the abstract, along with and particularised in the
concrete: but they certainly denied the _separate_ existence of
the Abstract--_i.e._, of Forms, Attributes, or classes, apart from
particulars. They would not deny that many things were
conceivable, more or less dissimilar from the realities of the
sensible world: but they did not admit that all those conceivable
things ought to be termed existent or realities, and put upon the
same footing as the sensible world. They used the word _existent_
to distinguish between Men, Horses, Trees, on the one hand--and
Cyclopes, Centaurs, [Greek: Trage/laphoi], &c., on the other. A
Centaur is just as intelligible and conceivable as either a man or
a horse; and according to this definition of Plato, would be as
much entitled to be called really existent. The attributes of
_man_ and _horse_ are real, because the objects themselves are
real and perceivable: the class _man_ and the class _horse_ is
real, for the same reason: but the attributes of a Centaur, and
the class Centaurs, are not real, because no individuals
possessing the attributes, or belonging to the class, have ever
been perceived, or authenticated by induction. Plato's Materialist
opponents would here have urged, that if he used the word
_existent_ or Ens in so wide a sense, comprehending all that is
conceivable or nameable, fiction as well as reality--they would
require some other words to distinguish fiction from
reality--Centaur from Man: which is what most men mean when they speak
of one thing as non-existent, another thing as existent. At any rate,
here is an equivocal sense of the word Ens--a wider and a narrower
sense--which, we shall find frequently perplexing us in the
ancient metaphysics; and which, when sifted, will often prove,
that what appears to be a difference of doctrine, is in reality
little more than a difference of phraseology.[110]

[Footnote 110: Plato here aspires to deliver one definition of
Ens, applying to all cases. The contrast between him and Aristotle
is shown in the more cautious procedure of the latter, who
entirely renounces the possibility of giving any one definition
fitting all cases. Aristotle declares Ens to be an equivocal word
([Greek: o(mô/numon]), and discriminates several different
significations which it bears: all these significations having
nevertheless an analogical affinity, more or less remote, with
each other. See Aristot. Metaphys. [Greek: D]. 1017, a. 7, seq.;
vi. 1028, a. 10.

It is declared by Aristotle to be the question first and most
disputed in Philosophia Prima, Quid est Ens? [Greek: kai\ dê\ kai\
to\ pa/lai te kai\ nu=n kai\ a)ei\ zêtou/menon kai\ a)ei\
a)porou/menon, tou=to e)sti, ti/s ê( ou)si/a] (p. 1028, b. 2).
Compare, B. 1001, a. 6, 31.

This subject is well treated by Brentano, in his Dissertation
Ueber die Bedeutung des Seienden im Aristoteles. See pp. 49-50
seq., of that work.

Aristotle observes truly, that these most general terms are the
most convenient hiding-places for equivocal meaning (Anal. Post.
ii. 97, b. 29).

The analogical varieties of Ens or Essence are graduated,
according to Aristotle: Complete, Proper, typical, [Greek:
ou)si/a], stands at the head: there are then other varieties more
or less approaching to this proper type: some of them which
[Greek: mikro\n ê)\ ou)the\n e)/chei tou= o)/ntos.] (Metaphys. vi.
1029, b. 9.)]

[Side-note: Different definitions of Ens--by Plato--the
Materialists, the Idealists.]

This enquiry respecting Ens is left by Plato professedly
unsettled; according to his very frequent practice. He pretends
only to have brought it to this point: that Ens or the Existent is
shown to present as many difficulties and perplexities as Non-Ens
or the non-existent.[111] I do not think that he has shown thus
much; for, according to his definition, Non-Ens is an
impossibility: the term is absolutely unmeaning: it is equivalent
to the Unknowable or Inconceivable--as Parmenides affirmed it to
be. But he has undoubtedly shown that Ens is in itself perplexing:
which, instead of lightening the difficulties about Non-Ens,
aggravates them: for all the difficulties about Ens must be
solved, before you can pretend to understand Non-Ens. Plato has
shown that Ens is used in three different meanings:--

1. According to the Materialists, it means only the concrete and
particular, including all the attributes thereof, essential and

2. According to the Idealists or friends of Forms, it means only
Universals, Forms, and Attributes.

3. According to Plato's own definition here given, it means both
the one and the other: whatever the mind can either perceive or
conceive: whatever can act upon the mind in any way, or for any
time however short. It is therefore wholly relative to the mind:
yet not exclusively to the _perceiving_ mind (as the Materialists
said), nor exclusively to the _conceiving_ mind (as the friends of
Forms said): but to both alike.

[Footnote 111: Plato, Sophist. p. 250 E.]

[Side-note: Plato's views about Non-Ens examined.]

Here is much confusion, partly real but principally verbal, about
Ens. Plato proceeds to affirm, that the difficulty about Non-Ens
is no greater, and that it admits of being elucidated. The higher
Genera or Forms (he says) are such that some of them will combine
or enter into communion with each other, wholly or partially,
others will not, but are reciprocally exclusive. Motion and Rest
will not enter into communion, but mutually exclude each other:
neither of them can be predicated of the other. But each or both
of them will enter into communion with Existence, which latter may
be predicated of both. Here are three Genera or Forms: motion,
rest, and existence. Each of them is the _same_ with itself, and
_different_ from the other two. Thus we have two new distinct
Forms or Genera--_Same_ and _Different_--which enter into
communion with the preceding three, but are in themselves distinct
from them.[112] Accordingly you may say, motion _partakes_ of (or
enters into communion with) Diversum, because motion differs from
rest: also you may say, motion _partakes_ of Idem, as being
identical with itself: but you cannot say, motion _is_ different,
motion _is_ the same; because the subject and the predicate are
essentially distinct and not identical.[113]

[Footnote 112: In the Timæus (pp. 35-36-37), Plato declares these
three elements--[Greek: Tau)to/n, Tha/teron, Ou)si/a]--to be the
three constituent elements of the cosmical soul, and of the human
rational soul.]

[Footnote 113: Plato, Sophist. p. 255 B.

[Greek: Mete/cheton mê\n a)/mphô (ki/nêsis kai\ sta/sis) tau)tou=
kai\ thate/rou. . . .]

[Greek: Mê\ toi/nun le/gômen ki/nêsin g' _ei)=nai_ tau)to\n ê)\
tha/teron, mêd' au)= sta/sin.] He had before said--[Greek: A)ll'
ou)/ ti mê\n ki/nêsi/s ge kai\ sta/sis ou)th' e(/teron ou)/te
tau)to/n _e)stin_] (p. 255 A).

Plato here says, It is true that [Greek: ki/nêsis _mete/chei_
tau)tou=], but it is not true that [Greek: ki/nêsi/s e)sti
tau)to/n]. Again, p. 259 A. [Greek: to\ me\n e(/teron metascho\n
tou= o)/ntos _e)/sti_ me\n dia\ tau/tên tê\n me/thexin, ou) mê\n
e)kei=no/ ge ou)= mete/schen a)ll' e(/teron.] He understands,
therefore, that [Greek: e)sti], when used as copula, implies
identity between the predicate and the subject.

This is the same point of view from which Antisthenes looked, when
he denied the propriety of saying [Greek: A)/nthrôpo/s _e)stin_
a)gatho/s--A)/nthrôpo/s _e)sti_ kako/s]: and when he admitted only
identical propositions, such as [Greek: A)/nthrôpo/s _e)stin_
a)/nthrôpos--A)/gatho/s _e)stin_ a)gatho/s.] He assumed that
[Greek: e)sti], when intervening between the subject and the
predicate, implies identity between them; and the same assumption
is made by Plato in the passage now before us. Whether Antisthenes
would have allowed the proposition--[Greek: A)/nthrôpos
_mete/chei_ kaki/as], or other propositions in which [Greek:
e)sti] does not appear as copula, we do not know enough of his
opinions to say.

Compare Aristotel. Physic. i. 2, 185, b. 27, with the Scholia of
Simplikius, p. 330, a. 331, b. 18-28, ed. Brandis.]

Some things are always named or spoken of _per se_, others with
reference to something else. Thus, Diversum is always different
from something else: it is relative, implying a correlate.[114] In
this, as well as in other points, Diversum (or Different) is a
distinct Form, Genus, or Idea, which runs through all other things
whatever. Each thing is different from every other thing: but it
differs from them, not through any thing in its own nature, but
because it partakes of the Form or Idea of Diversum or the
Different.[115] So, in like manner, the Form or Idea of Idem (or
Same) runs through all other things: since each thing is both
different from all others, and is also the same with itself.

[Footnote 114: Plato, Sophist. p. 255 C-D. [Greek: tô=n o)/ntôn
ta\ me\n au)ta\ kath' au(ta/, ta/ de\ pro\s a)/llêla a)ei\
_le/gesthai_ . . . To\ d' e(/teron a)ei\ pro\s e(/teron . . . Nu=n
de\ a)technô=s ê(mi=n o(/, ti per a)\n e(/teron ê)=|, sumbe/bêken
e)x a)na/gkês _e(te/rou tou=to o(/per e)sti\n ei)=nai_.] These
last words partly anticipate Aristotle's explanation of [Greek:
ta\ pro/s ti] (Categor. p. 6, a. 38).

Here we have, for the first time so far as I know (certainly
anterior to Aristotle), names _relative_ and _non-relative_,
distinguished as classes, and contrasted with each other. It is to
be observed that Plato here uses [Greek: le/gesthai] and [Greek:
ei)=nai] as equivalent; which is not very consistent with the
sense which he assigns to [Greek: e)stin] in predication: see the
note immediately preceding.]

[Footnote 115: Plato, Sophist. p. 255 E. [Greek: pe/mpton dê\ tê\n
thate/rou phu/sin lekte/on e)n toi=s ei)/desin ou)=san, e)n oi(=s
proairou/metha . . . kai\ dia\ pa/ntôn ge au)tê\n au)tô=n
phê/somen ei)=nai dielêluthui=an; e(\n e(/kaston ga\r e(/teron
ei)=nai tô=n a)/llôn ou) dia\ tê\n au(tou= phu/sin, a)lla\ dia\
to\ _mete/chein tê=s i)de/as tê=s thate/rou_.]]

[Side-note: His review of the select Five Forms.]

Now motion is altogether different from rest Motion therefore _is
not_ rest. Yet still motion _is_, because it partakes of existence
or Ens. Accordingly, motion both _is_ and _is not_.

Again, motion is different from Idem or the Same. It is therefore
_not the same_. Yet still motion _is the same_; because every
thing partakes of identity, or is the same with itself. Motion
therefore both _is_ the same and _is not_ the same. We must not
scruple to advance both these propositions. Each of them stands on
its own separate ground.[116] So also motion is different from
Diversum or The Different; in other words, it _is not_ different,
yet still it _is_ different. And, lastly, motion is different from
Ens, in other words, _it is not Ens_, or is non-Ens: yet still _it
is Ens_, because it partakes of existence. Hence motion is both
Ens, and Non-Ens.

[Footnote 116: Plato, Sophist. pp. 255-256.]

Here we arrive at Plato's explanation of Non-Ens, [Greek: to\ mê\
o)\n]: the main problem which he is now setting to himself.
Non-Ens is equivalent to, _different from Ens_. It is the Form or Idea
of Diversum, considered in reference to Ens. Every thing is Ens,
or partakes of entity, or existence. Every thing also is different
from Ens, or partakes of difference in relation to Ens: it is thus
Non-Ens. Every thing therefore is at the same time both Ens, and
Non-Ens. Nay, Ens itself, inasmuch as it is different from all
other things, is Non-Ens in reference to them. It is Ens only as
one, in reference to itself: but it is Non-Ens an infinite number
of times, in reference to all other things.[117]

[Footnote 117: Plato, Sophist. pp. 256-257.]

[Side-note: Plato's doctrine--That Non-Ens is nothing more than
different from Ens.]

When we say Non-Ens, therefore (continues Plato), we do not mean
any thing _contrary_ to Ens, but merely something _different from_
Ens. When we say _Not-great_, we nothing do not mean any thing
contrary to Great, but only something different from great. The
negative generally, when annexed to any name, does not designate
any thing contrary to what is meant by that name, but something
different from it. The general nature or Form of difference is
disseminated into a multitude of different parts or varieties
according to the number of different things with which it is
brought into communion: _Not-great_, _Not-just_, &c., are specific
varieties of this general nature, and are just as much realities
as _great_, _just_. And thus Non-Ens is just as much a reality as
Ens being not contrary, but only that variety of the general
nature of difference which corresponds to Ens. _Non-Ens_,
_Not-great_, _Not-just_, &c., are each of them permanent Forms,
among the many other Forms or Entia, having each a true and
distinct nature of its own.[118]

[Footnote 118: Plato, Sophist. p. 258 C. [Greek: o(/ti to\ mê\
o)\n bebai/ôs e)sti\ tê\n au)tou= phu/sin e)/chon . . . ou(/tô de\
kai\ to\ mê\ o)\n kata\ tau)to\n ê)=n te kai\ e)/stin mê\ o)/n,
e)na/rithmon tô=n pollô=n o)/ntôn ei)=dos e(/n.]]

I say nothing about contrariety (concludes Plato), or about any
thing contrary to Ens; nor will I determine whether Non-Ens in
this sense be rationally possible or not. What I mean by Non-Ens
is a particular case under the general doctrine of the communion
or combination of Forms: the combination of Ens with Diversum,
composing that which is different from Ens, and which is therefore
Non-Ens. Thus Ens itself, being different from all other Forms, is
Non-Ens in reference to them all, or an indefinite number of
times[119] (_i.e._ an indefinite number of negative predications
may be made concerning it).

[Footnote 119: Plato, Sophist. pp. 258 E-259 A. [Greek: ê(mei=s
ga\r peri\ me\n e)nanti/ou tino\s au)tô=| (tô=| o)/nti) chai/rein
pa/lai le/gomen, ei)/t' e)/stin ei)/te mê\ lo/gon e)/chon ê)\ kai\
panta/pasin a)/logon; o(\ de\ nu=n ei)rê/kamen ei)=nai to\ mê\
o)/n], &c.]

Non-Ens being thus shown to be one among the many other Forms,
disseminated among all the others, and entering into communion
with Ens among the rest--we have next to enquire whether it enters
into communion with the Form of Opinion and Discourse. It is the
communion of the two which constitutes false opinion and false
proposition: if therefore such communion be possible, false
opinion and false proposition are possible, which is the point
that Plato is trying to prove.[120]

[Footnote 120: Plato, Sophist. p. 260 B.]

[Side-note: Communion of Non-Ens with proposition--possible and

Now it has been already stated (continues Plato) that some Forms
or Genera admit of communion with each other, others do not. In
like manner some words admit of communion with each other--not
others. Those alone admit of communion, which, when put together,
make up a proposition significant or giving information respecting
Essence or Existence. The smallest proposition must have a noun
and a verb put together: the noun indicating the agent, the verb
indicating the act. Every proposition must be a proposition
concerning something, or must have a logical subject: every
proposition must also be of a certain quality. Let us take (he
proceeds) two simple propositions: _Theætêtus is sitting
down_--_Theætêtus is flying._[121] Of both these two, the subject is
the same: but the first is true, the second is false. The first gives
things existing as they are, respecting the subject: the second
gives respecting the subject, things different from those
existing, or in other words things non-existent, as if they did
exist.[122] A false proposition is that which gives things
different as if they were the same, and things non-existent as if
they were existent, respecting the subject.[123]

[Footnote 121: Plato, Sophist. p. 263 A. [Greek: Theai/têtos
ka/thêtai . . . Theai/têtos pe/tetai.]]

[Footnote 122: Plato, Sophist. p. 263 B. [Greek: le/gei de\
au)tô=n] ([Greek: tô=n lo/gôn] of the two propositions) [Greek: o(
me\n a)lêthê\s ta\ o)/nta, ô(s e)sti peri\ sou= . . . O( de\ dê\
pseudê\s e(/tera tô=n o)/ntôn . . . Ta\ mê\ o)/nt' a)/ra ô(s
o)/nta le/gei . . . O)/ntôn de/ ge o)/nta e(/tera peri\ sou=.
Polla\ me\n ga\r e)/phamen o)/nta peri\ e(/kaston ei)=nai/ pou,
polla\ de\ ou)k o)/nta.]]

[Footnote 123: Plato, Sophist. p. 263 D. [Greek: Peri\ dê\ sou=
lego/mena me/ntoi tha/tera ô(s ta\ au)ta/, kai\ mê\ o)/nta ô(s
o)/nta, panta/pasin, ô(s e)/oiken, ê( toiau/tê su/nthesis e)/k te
r(êma/tôn gignome/nê kai\ o)noma/tôn o)/ntôs te kai\ a)lêthô=s
gi/gnesthai lo/gos pseudê/s.]

It is plain that this explanation takes no account of negative
propositions: it applies only to affirmative propositions.]

[Side-note: Imperfect analysis of a proposition--Plato does not
recognise the predicate.]

The foregoing is Plato's explanation of Non-Ens. Before we remark
upon it, let us examine his mode of analysing a proposition. He
conceives the proposition as consisting of a noun and a verb. The
noun marks the logical _subject_, but he has no technical word
equivalent to _subject_: his phrase is, that a proposition must be
_of something_ or _concerning something_. Then again, he not only
has no word to designate the predicate, but he does not even seem
to conceive the predicate as distinct and separable: it stands
along with the copula embodied in the verb. The two essentials of
a proposition, as he states them, are--That it should have a
certain subject--That it should be of a certain quality, true or
false.[124] This conception is just, as far as it goes: but it
does not state all which ought to be known about proposition, and
it marks an undeveloped logical analysis. It indicates moreover
that Plato, not yet conceiving the predicate as a distinct
constituent, had not yet conceived the copula as such: and
therefore that the substantive verb [Greek: e)/stin] had not yet
been understood by him in its function of pure and simple copula.
The idea that the substantive verb when used in a proposition must
mark _existence_ or _essence_, is sufficiently apparent in several
of his reasonings.

[Footnote 124: Since the time of Aristotle, the _quality_ of a
proposition has been understood to designate its being either
affirmative or negative: that being _formal_, or belonging to its
form only. Whether affirmative or negative, it may be true or
false: and this is doubtless a _quality_, but belonging to its
matter, not to its form. Plato seems to have taken no account of
the formal distinction, _negative_ or _affirmative_.]

I shall now say a few words on Plato's explanation of Non-Ens. It
is given at considerable length, and was, in the judgment of
Schleiermacher, eminently satisfactory to Plato himself. Some of
Plato's expressions[125] lead me to suspect that his satisfaction
was not thus unqualified: but whether he was himself satisfied or
not, I cannot think that the explanation ought to satisfy others.

[Footnote 125: Plato, Sophistês, p. 259 A-B. Schleiermacher,
Einleitung zum Sophistes, vol. iv. p. 134, of his translation of

[Side-note: Plato's explanation of Non-Ens is not
satisfactory--Objections to it.]

Plato here lays down the position--That the word _Not_ signifies
nothing more than difference, with respect to that other word to
which it is attached. It does not signify (he says) what is
contrary; but simply what is different. _Not-great_,
_Not-beautiful_--mean what is different from great or beautiful:
Non-Ens means, not what is contrary to Ens, but simply what is
different from Ens.

First, then, even if we admit that Non-Ens has this latter meaning
and nothing beyond--yet when we turn to Plato's own definition of
Ens, we shall find it so all-comprehensive, that there can be
absolutely nothing different from Ens:--these last words can have
no place and no meaning. Plato defines Ens so as to include all
that is knowable, conceivable, thinkable.[126] One portion of this
total differs from another: but there can be nothing which differs
from it all. The Form or nature of Diversum (to use Plato's
phrase) as it is among the knowable or conceivable, is already
included in the total of Ens, and comes into communion (according
to the Platonic phraseology) with one portion of that total as
against another portion. But with Ens as a whole, it cannot come
into communion, for there is nothing apart from Ens. Whenever we
try to think of any thing apart from Ens, we do by the act of
thought include it in Ens, as defined by Plato. _Different from
great_--_different from white_ (_i.e._ not great, not white, sensu
Platonico) is very intelligible: but _Different from Ens_, is not
intelligible: there is nothing except the inconceivable and
incomprehensible: the words professing to describe it, are mere
unmeaning sound. Now this is just[127] what Parmenides said about
Non-Ens. Plato's definition of Ens appears to me to make out the
case of Parmenides about Non-Ens; and to render the Platonic
explanation--_different from Ens_--open to quite as many
difficulties, as those which attach to Non-Ens in the ordinary

[Footnote 126: Plato, Sophist. pp. 247-248.]

[Footnote 127: Compare Kratylus, 430 A.]

Secondly, there is an objection still graver against Plato's
explanation. When he resolves negation into an affirmation of
something different from what is denied, he effaces or puts out of
sight one of the capital distinctions of logic. What he says is
indeed perfectly true: _Not-great_, _Not-beautiful_, _Non-Ens_,
are respectively different from _great_, _beautiful_, _Ens_. But
this, though true, is only a part of the truth; leaving unsaid
another portion of the truth which, while equally essential, is at
the same time special and characteristic. The negative not only
differs from the affirmative, but has such peculiar meaning of its
own, as to exclude the affirmative: both cannot be true together.
_Not-great_ is certainly different from _great_: so also, _white_,
_hard_, _rough_, _just_, _valiant_, &c, are all different from
_great_. But there is nothing in these latter epithets to exclude
the co-existence of great. _Theætêtus is great_--_Theætêtus is
white_; in the second of these two propositions I affirm something
respecting Theætêtus quite different from what I affirm in the
first, yet nevertheless noway excluding what is affirmed in the
first.[128] The two propositions may both be true. But when I
say--_Theætêtus is dead_--_Theætêtus is not dead_: here are two
propositions which cannot both be true, from the very form of the
words. To explain _not-great_, as Plato does, by saying that it
means _only_ something different from great,[129] is to suppress
this peculiar meaning and virtue of the negative, whereby it
simply excludes the affirmative, without affirming any thing in
its place. Plato is right in saying that _not-great_ does not
affirm the _contrary_ of great, by which he means _little_.[130]
The negative does not affirm any thing: it simply denies. Plato
seems to consider the negative as a species of affirmative:[131]
only affirming something different from what is affirmed by the
term which it accompanies. Not-Great, Not-Beautiful, Not-Just--he
declares to be Forms just as real and distinct as Great,
Beautiful, Just: only different from these latter. This, in my
opinion, is a conception logically erroneous. Negative stands
opposed to affirmative, as one of the modes of distributing both
terms and propositions. A purely negative term cannot stand alone
in the subject of a proposition: _Non-Entis nulla sunt
prædicata_--was the scholastic maxim. The apparent exceptions to
this rule arise only from the fact, that many terms negative in
their form have taken on an affirmative signification.

[Footnote 128: Proklus, in his Commentary on the Parmenidês (p.
281, p. 785, Stallbaum), says, with reference to the doctrine laid
down by Plato in the Sophistês, [Greek: o(/lôs ga\r ai(
a)potha/seis e)ggonoi/ ei)si tê=s e(tero/têtos tê=s noera=s; dia\
tou=to ga\r _ou)ch i(/ppos_, o(/ti e(/teron--kai\ dia\ tou=to
_ou)k a)/nthrôpos_, o(/ti a)/llo.]

Proklus here adopts and repeats Plato's erroneous idea of the
negative proposition and its function. When I deny that Caius is
just, wise, &c., my denial does not intimate simply that I know
him to be something _different_ from just, wise; for he may have
fifty _different_ attributes, co-existent and consistent with
justice and wisdom.

To employ the language of Aristotle (see a pertinent example,
Physic. i. 8, 191, b. 15, where he distinguishes [Greek: to\ mê\
o)\n kath' au(to\] from [Greek: to\ mê\ o)\n kata\ sumbebêko/s]),
we may say that it is not of the essence of the Different to deny
or exclude that from which it is different: the Different may deny
or exclude, but that is only by _accident_--[Greek: kata\
sumbebêko/s]. Plato includes, in the essence of the Different,
that which belongs to it only by accident.

Aristotle in more than one place distinguishes [Greek: diaphora\]
from [Greek: e)nanti/ôsis]--not always in the same language. In
Metaphysic. I. p. 1055 a. 33, he considers that the root of all
[Greek: e)nanti/ôsis] is [Greek: e(/xis] and [Greek: ste/rêsis],
understood in the widest sense, _i.e._ affirmative and negative.
See Bonitz, not. ad loc., and Waitz, ad Categor. p. 12, a. 26. The
last portion of the treatise [Greek: Peri\ E(rmênei/as] was
interpreted by Syrianus with a view to uphold Plato's opinion here
given in the Sophistes (Schol. ad Aristot. p. 136, a. 15

[Footnote 129: Plato, Sophist. p. 258 B. [Greek: ou)k e)nanti/on
e)kei/nô| sêmai/nousa, a)lla\ _tosou=ton mo/non_, e(/teron

If we look to the Euthydêmus we shall see that this confusion
between what is different from A, and what is incompatible with or
exclusive of A, is one of the fallacies which Plato puts into the
mouth of the two Sophists Euthydêmus and Dionysodôrus, whom he
exhibits and exposes in that dialogue. [Greek: A)/llo ti ou)=n
e(/teros, ê)= d' o(/s] (Dionysodorus), [Greek: ô)\n li/thou, ou)
li/thos ei)=? kai\ e(/teros ô)\n chrusou=, ou) chruso\s ei)=?
E)/sti tau=ta. Ou)kou=n kai\ o( Chaire/dêmos, e)/phê, e(/teros
ô)\n patro/s, ou)k a)\n patê\r ei)/ê?] (Plat. Euthydem. p. 298

[Footnote 130: Plato, Sophist. p. 257 B.]

[Footnote 131: Plato, Sophist. pp. 257 E, 258 A.

[Greek: O)/ntos dê\ pro\s o)\n a)nti/thesis, ô(s e)/oik', ei)=nai
xumbai/nei to\ _mê\ kalo/n_. . . .

O(moi/ôs a)/ra to\ mê\ me/ga, kai\ to\ me/ga au)to\ _ei)=nai_

Plato distinctly recognises here Forms or Ideas [Greek: tô=n
a)popha/seôn], which the Platonists professed not to do, according
to Aristotle, Metaphys. A. 990, b. 13--see the instructive Scholia
of Alexander, p. 565, a. Brandis.]

[Side-note: Plato's view of the negative is erroneous. Logical
maxim of contradiction.]

The view which Plato here takes of the negative deserves the
greater notice, because, if it were adopted, what is called the
maxim of contradiction would be divested of its universality.
Given a significant proposition with the same subject and the same
predicate, each taken in one and the same signification--its
affirmative and its negative cannot both be true. But if by the
negative, you mean to make a new affirmation, different from that
contained in the affirmative--the maxim just stated cannot be
broadly maintained as of universal application: it may or may not
be valid, as the case happens to stand. The second affirmation may
be, as a matter of fact, incompatible with the first: but this is
not to be presumed, from the mere fact that it is different from
the first: proof must be given of such incompatibility.

[Side-note: Examination of the illustrative propositions chosen by
Plato--How do we know that one is true, the other false?]

We may illustrate this remark by looking at the two propositions
which Plato gives as examples of true and false. _Theætêtus is
sitting down_--_Theætêtus is flying_. Both the examples are of
affirmative propositions: and it seems clear that Plato, in all
this reasoning, took no account of negative propositions: those
which simply deny, affirming nothing. The second of these
propositions (says Plato) affirms _what is not_, as if it were,
respecting the subject But how do we know this to be so? In the
form of the second proposition there is nothing to show it: there
is no negation of any thing, but simply affirmation of a different
positive attribute. Although it happens, in this particular case,
that the two attributes are incompatible, and that the affirmation
of the one includes the negation of the other--yet there is
nothing in the form of either proposition to deny the other:--no
formal incompatibility between them. Both are alike affirmative,
with the same subject, but different predicates. These two
propositions therefore do not serve to illustrate the real nature
of the negative, which consists precisely in this formal
incompatibility. The proper negative belonging to the
proposition--_Theætêtus is sitting down_--would be, _Theætêtus
is not sitting down_. Plato ought to maintain, if he followed out
his previous argument, that Not-Sitting down is as good a Form as
Sitting-down, and that it meant merely--Different from Sitting down.
But instead of doing this Plato gives us a new affirmative proposition,
which, besides what it affirms, conceals an implied negation of the
first proposition. This does not serve to illustrate the purpose
of his reasoning--which was to set up the formal negative as a new
substantive attribute, different from its corresponding
affirmative. As between the two, the maxim of contradiction
applies: both cannot be true. But as between the two propositions
given in Plato, that maxim has no application: they are two
propositions with the same subject, but different predicates;
which happen in this case to be, the one true, the other false--but
which are not formally incompatible. The second is not false
because it differs from the first; it has no essential connection
with the first, and would be equally false, even if the first were
false also.

The function of the negative is to deny. Now denial is not a
species of affirmation, but the reversal or antithesis of
affirmation: it nullifies a belief previously entertained, or
excludes one which might otherwise be entertained,--but it affirms
nothing. In particular cases, indeed, the denial of one thing may
be tantamount to the affirmation of another: for a man may know
that there are only two suppositions possible, and that to shut
out the one is to admit the other. But this is an inference drawn
in virtue of previous knowledge possessed and contributed by
himself: another man without such knowledge would not draw the
same inference, nor could he learn it from the negative
proposition _per se_. Such then is the genuine meaning of the
negative; from which Plato departs, when he tells us that the
negative is a kind of affirmation, only affirming something
different--and when he illustrates it by producing two affirmative
propositions respecting the same subject, affirming different
attributes, the one as matter of fact incompatible with the other.

[Side-note: Necessity of accepting the evidence of sense.]

But how do we know that the first proposition--_Theætêtus is
sitting down_--affirms what is:--and that the second
proposition--_Theætêtus is flying_--affirms what is not? If present,
our senses testify to us the truth of the first, and the falsehood
of the second: if absent, we have the testimony of a witness, combined
with our own past experience attesting the frequency of facts
analogous to the one, and the non-occurrence of facts analogous to
the other. When we make the distinction, then,--we assume that
what is attested by sense or by comparisons and inductions from
the facts of sense, is real, or _is_: and that what is merely
conceived or imagined, without the attestation of sense (either
directly or by way of induction), is not real, or _is not_. Upon
this assumption Plato himself must proceed, when he takes it for
granted, as a matter of course, that the first proposition is
true, and the second false. But he forgets that this assumption
contradicts the definition which, in this same dialogue,[132] he
had himself given of Ens--of the real or _the thing that is_. His
definition was so comprehensive, as to include not only all that
could be seen or felt, but also all that had capacity to be known
or conceived by the mind: and he speaks very harshly of those who
admit the reality of things perceived, but refuse to admit equal
reality to things only conceived. Proceeding then upon this
definition, we can allow no distinction as to truth or falsehood
between the two propositions--_Theætêtus is sitting
down_--_Theætêtus is flying_: the predicate of the second affirms
what is, just as much as the predicate of the first: for it affirms
something which, though neither perceived nor perceivable by
sense, is distinctly conceivable and conceived by the mind. When
Plato takes for granted the distinction between the two, that the
first affirms _what is_, and the second _what is not_--he
unconsciously slides into that very recognition of the testimony
of sense (in other words, of fact and experience), as the
certificate of reality, which he had so severely denounced in the
opposing materialist philosophers: and upon the ground of which he
thought himself entitled, not merely to correct them as mistaken,
but to reprove them as wicked and impudent.[133]

[Footnote 132: Plato, Sophist. pp. 247 D-E, 248 D-E.]

[Footnote 133: Plato, Sophist. p. 246 D.]

[Side-note: Errors of Antisthenes--depended partly on the imperfect
formal logic of that day.]

I have thus reviewed a long discussion--terminating in a
conclusion which appears to me unsatisfactory--of the meaning and
function of the negative. I hardly think that Plato would have
given such an explanation of it, if he had had the opportunity of
studying the Organon of Aristotle. Prior to Aristotle, the
principles and distinctions of formal logic were hardly at
all developed; nor can we wonder that others at that time fell
into various errors which Plato scornfully derides, but very
imperfectly rectifies. For example, Antisthenes did not admit the
propriety of any predication, except identical, or at most
essential, predication: the word [Greek: e)/stin] appeared to him
incompatible with any other. But we perceive in this dialogue,
that Plato also did not conceive the substantive verb as
performing the simple function of copula in predication: on the
contrary he distinguishes [Greek: e)/stin], as marking identity
between subject and predicate--from [Greek: mete/chei], as marking
accidental communion between the two. Again, there were men in
Plato's day who maintained that Non-Ens ([Greek: to\ mê\ o)\n])
was inconceivable and impossible. Plato, in refuting these
philosophers, gives a definition of Ens ([Greek: to\ o)\n]), which
puts them in the right--fails in stating what the true negative
is--and substitutes, in place of simple denial, a second
affirmation to overlay and supplant the first.

[Side-note: Doctrine of the Sophistês--contradicts that of other
Platonic dialogues.]

To complete the examination of this doctrine of the Sophistês,
respecting Non-Ens, we must compare it with the doctrine on the
same subject laid down in other Platonic dialogues. It will be
found to contradict, very distinctly, the opinion assigned by
Plato to Sokrates both in the Theætêtus and in the fifth Book of
the Republic:[134] where Sokrates deals with Non-Ens in its usual
sense as the negation of Ens: laying down the position that
Non-Ens can be neither the object of the cognizing Mind, nor the
object of the opining ([Greek: doxa/zôn]) or cogitant Mind: that
it is uncognizable and incogitable, correlating only with
Non-Cognition or Ignorance. Now we find that this doctrine (of
Sokrates, in Theætêtus and Republic) is the very same as that
which is affirmed, in the Sophistês, to be taken up by the
delusive Sophist: the same as that which the Eleate spends much
ingenuity in trying to refute, by proving that Non-Ens is not the
negation of Ens, but only that which differs from Ens, being
itself a particular variety of Ens. It is also the same doctrine
as is declared, both by the Eleate in the Sophistês and by
Sokrates in the Theætêtus, to imply as an undeniable consequence,
that the falsehood of any proposition is impossible. "A false
proposition is that which speaks the thing that is not ([Greek:
to\ mê\ o)/n]). But this is an impossibility. You can neither
know, nor think, nor speak, the thing that is not. You cannot know
without knowing something: you cannot speak without speaking
something (_i. e._ something that is)." Of this consequence--which
is expressly announced as included in the doctrine, both by the
Eleate in the Sophistês and by the Platonic Sokrates in the
Theætêtus--no notice is taken in the Republic.[135]

[Footnote 134: Plato, Republic, v. pp. 477-478. Theætêt. pp.
188-189. Parmenidês, pp. 160 C, 163 C. Euthydêmus, p. 284 B-C.

Aristotle (De Interpretat. p. 21, a. 22) briefly expresses his
dissent from an opinion, the same as what is given in the Platonic
Sophistês--that [Greek: to\ mê\ o)/n] is [Greek: o)/n ti]. He
makes no mention of Plato, but Ammonius in the Scholia alludes to
Plato (p. 129, b. 20, Schol. Bekk.).

We must note that the Eleate in the Sophistês states both opinions
respecting [Greek: to\ mê\ o)/n]: first that which he
refutes--next that which he advances. The Scholiast may, therefore,
refer to both opinions, as _stated_ in the Sophistês, though one of
them is stated only for the purpose of being refuted.

We may contrast with these views of Plato (in the Sophistês)
respecting [Greek: to\ mê\ o)/n], as not being a negation [Greek:
tou= o)/ntos], but simply a something [Greek: e(/teron tou=
o)/ntos], the different views of Aristotle about [Greek: to\ mê\
o)/n], set forth in the instructive Commentary of M. Ravaisson,
Essai sur la Métaphysique d'Aristote, p. 360.

"Le non-être s'oppose à l'être, comme sa négation: ce n'est donc
pas, non plus que l'être, une chose simple; et autant il y a de
genres de l'être, autant il faut que le non-être ait de genres.
Cependant l'opposition de l'être et du non-être, différente, en
realité, dans chacune des catégories, est la même dans toutes par
sa forme. Dans cette forme, le second terme n'exprime pas autre
chose que l'absence du premier. Le rapport de l'être et du
non-être consiste donc dans une pure contradiction: dernière forme
à laquelle toute opposition doit se ramener."

Aristotle seems to allude to the Sophistês, though not mentioning
it by its title, in three passages of the Metaphysica--E. 1026, b.
14; K. 1064, b. 29; N. 1089, a. 5 (see the note of Bonitz on the
latter passage)--perhaps also elsewhere (see Ueberweg, pp.
153-154). Plato replied in one way, Leukippus and Demokritus in
another, to the doctrine of Parmenides, who banished Non-Ens as
incogitable. Leukippus maintained that Non-Ens equivalent to
[Greek: to\ keno/n], and that the two elements of things were
[Greek: to\ plê=res] and [Greek: to\ keno/n], for which he used
the expressions [Greek: de\n] and [Greek: ou)de/n]. Plato replied
as we read in the Sophistês: thus both he and Leukippus tried in
different ways to demonstrate a positive nature and existence for
Non-Ens. See Aristot. Metaph. A. 985, b. 4, with the Scholia, p.
538, Brandis. The Scholiast cites Plato [Greek: e)n tê=|
Politei/a|], which seems a mistake for [Greek: e)n tô=|

[Footnote 135: Socher (Ueber Platon's Schriften, pp. 264-265) is
upon this point more satisfactory than the other Platonic
commentators. He points out--not only without disguise, but even
with emphasis--the discrepancies and contradictions between the
doctrines ascribed to the Eleate in the Sophistês, and those
ascribed to Sokrates in the Republic, Phædon, and other Platonic
dialogues. These are the main premisses upon which Socher rests
his inference, that the Sophistês is not the composition of Plato.
I do not admit his inference: but the premisses, as matters of
fact, appear to me undeniable. Stallbaum, in his Proleg. to the
Sophistês, p. 40 seq., attempts to explain away these
discrepancies--in my opinion his remarks are obscure and
unsatisfactory. Various other commentators, also holding the
Sophistês to be a genuine work of Plato, overlook or extenuate
these premisses, which they consider unfavourable to that
conclusion. Thus Alkinous, in his [Greek: Ei)sagôgê/], sets down
the explanation of [Greek: to\ mê\ o)\n] which is given in the
Sophistês, as if it were the true and Platonic explanation, not
adverting to what is said in the Republic and elsewhere (Alkin. c.
35, p. 189 in the Appendix Platonica annexed to the edition of
Plato by K. F. Hermann). The like appears in the [Greek:
Prolego/mena tê=s Pla/tônos philosophi/as]: c. 21, p. 215 of the
same edition. Proklus, in his Commentary on the Parmenidês, speaks
in much the same manner about [Greek: to\ mê\ o)\n]--considering
the doctrine advanced and defended by the Eleate in the Sophistês,
to represent the opinion of Plato (p. 785 ed. Stallbaum; see also
the Commentary of Proklus on the Timæus, b. iii. p. 188 E, 448 ed.
Schneid.). So likewise Simplikius and the commentators on
Aristotle, appear to consider it--see Schol. ad Aristotel.
Physica, p. 332, a. 8, p. 333, b., 334, a., 343, a. 5. It is plain
from these Scholia that the commentators were much embarrassed in
explaining [Greek: to\ mê\ o)/n]. They take the Sophistês as if it
delivered Plato's decisive opinion upon that point (Porphyry
compares what Plato says in the Timæus, but not what he says in
the Republic or in Theætêtus, p. 333, b. 25); and I think that
they accommodate Plato to Aristotle, in such manner as to obscure
the real antithesis which Plato insists upon in the Sophistês--I
mean the antithesis according to which Plato excludes what is
[Greek: e)nanti/on tou= o)/ntos] and admits only what is [Greek:
e(/teron tou= o)/ntos].

Ritter gives an account (Gesch. der Philos. part ii. pp. 288-289)
of Plato's doctrine in the Sophistês respecting Non-Ens; but by no
means an adequate account. K. F. Hermann also omits (Geschichte
und System der Platonischen Philos. pp. 504-505-507) to notice the
discrepancy between the doctrine of the Sophistês, and the
doctrine of the Republic, and Theætêtus, respecting [Greek: to\
mê\ o)/n]--though he pronounces elsewhere that the Republic is
among the most indisputably positive of all Plato's compositions
(p. 536).]

Again, the doctrine maintained by the Eleate in the Sophistês
respecting Ens, as well as respecting Ideas or Forms, is in other
ways inconsistent with what is laid down in other Platonic
dialogues. The Eleate in the Sophistês undertakes to refute two
different classes of opponents; first, the Materialists, of whom
he speaks with derision and antipathy--secondly, others of very
opposite doctrines, whom he denominates the Friends of Ideas or
Forms, speaking of them in terms of great respect. Now by these
Friends of Forms or Ideas, Schleiermacher conjectures that Plato
intends to denote the Megaric philosophers. M. Cousin, and most
other critics (except Ritter), have taken up this opinion. But to
me it seems that Socher is right in declaring the doctrine,
ascribed to these Friends of Ideas, to be the very same as that
which is laid down by Plato himself in other important
dialogues--Republic, Timæus, Phædon, Phædrus, Kratylus, &c.--and
which is generally understood as that of the Platonic Ideas.[136]
In all these dialogues, the capital contrast and antithesis is that
between Ens or Entia on one side, and Fientia (the transient, ever
generated and ever perishing), on the other: between the eternal,
unchangeable, archetypal Forms or Ideas--and the ever-changing
flux of particulars, wherein approximative likeness of these
archetypes is imperfectly manifested. Now it is exactly this
antithesis which the Friends of Forms in the Sophistês are
represented as upholding, and which the Eleate undertakes to
refute.[137] We shall find Aristotle, over and over again,
impugning the total separation or demarcation between Ens and
Fientia ([Greek: ei)/dê--ge/nesis--chôrista/]), both as the
characteristic dogma, and the untenable dogma, of the Platonic
philosophy: it is exactly the same issue which the Eleate in the
Sophistês takes with the Friends of Forms. He proves that Ens is
just as full of perplexity, and just as difficult to understand,
as Non-Ens:[138] whereas, in the other Platonic dialogues, Ens is
constantly spoken of as if it were plain and intelligible. In
fact, he breaks down the barrier between Ens and Fientia, by
including motion, change, the moving or variable, among the world
of Entia.[139] Motion or Change belongs to Fieri; and if it be
held to belong to Esse also (by recognising a Form or Idea of
Motion or Change, as in the Sophistês), the antithesis between the
two, which is so distinctly declared in other Platonic dialogues,

[Footnote 136: Socher, p. 266; Schleiermacher, Einleitung zum
Sophistes, p. 134; Cousin, Oeuvres de Platon, vol. xi. 517,

Schleiermacher gives this as little more than a conjecture; and
distinctly admits that any man may easily suppose the doctrine
ascribed to these Friends of Forms to be Plato's own
doctrine--"Nicht zu verwundern wäre es, wenn Mancher auf den Gedanken
käme, Platon meinte hier sich selbst und seine eigene Lehre," &c.

But most of the subsequent critics have taken up Schleiermacher's
conjecture (that the Megarici are intended), as if it were
something proved and indubitable.

It is curious that while Schleiermacher thinks that the opinions
of the Megaric philosophers are impugned and refuted in the
Sophistês, Socher fancies that the dialogue was composed by a
Megaric philosopher, not by Plato. Ueberweg (Aechtheit der Platon.
Schr. pp. 275-277) points out as explicitly as Socher, the
discrepancy between the Sophistês and several other Platonic
dialogues, in respect to what is said about Forms or Ideas. But he
draws a different inference: he infers from it a great change in
Plato's own opinion, and he considers that the Sophistês is later
in its date of composition than those other dialogues which it
contradicts. I think this opinion about the late composition of
the Sophistês, is not improbable; but the premisses are not
sufficient to prove it.

My view of the Platonic Sophistês differs from the elaborate
criticism on it given by Steinhart (Einleitung zum Soph. p. 417
seq.) Moreover, there is one assertion in that Einleitung which I
read with great surprise. Steinhart not only holds it for certain
that the Sophistes was composed after the Parmenidês, but also
affirms that it solves the difficulties propounded in the
Parmenidês--discusses the points of difficulty "in the best
possible way" ("in der wünschenwerthesten Weise" (pp. 470-471).

I confess I cannot find that the difficulties started in the
Parmenidês are even noticed, much less solved, in the Sophistês.
And Steinhart himself tells that the Parmenidês places us in a
circle both of persons and doctrines entirely different from those
of the Sophistês (p. 472). It is plain also that the other
Platonic commentators do not agree with Steinhart in finding the
Sophistês a key to the Parmenidês: for most of them (Ast, Hermann,
Zeller, Stallbaum, Brandis, &c.) consider the Parmenidês to have
been composed at a later date than the Sophistês (as Steinhart
himself intimates; compare his Einleitung zum Parmenides, p. 312
seq.). Ueberweg, the most recent enquirer (posterior to
Steinhart), regards the Parmenidês as the latest of all Plato's
compositions--if indeed it be genuine, of which he rather doubts.
(Aechtheit der Platon. Schrift. pp. 182-183.)

M. Mallet (Histoire de l'École de Megare, Introd. pp. xl.-lviii.,
Paris, 1845) differs from all the three opinions of
Schleiermacher, Ritter, and Socher. He thinks that the
philosophers, designated as Friends of Forms, are intended for the
Pythagoreans. His reasons do not satisfy me.]

[Footnote 137: Plato, Sophist. pp. 246 B, 248 B. The same opinion
is advanced by Sokrates in the Republic, v. p. 479 B-C. Phædon,
pp. 78-79. Compare Sophist, p. 248 C with Symposion, p. 211 B. In
the former passage, [Greek: to\ pa/schein] is affirmed of the
Ideas: in the latter passage, [Greek: to\ pa/schein mêde/n].]

[Footnote 138: Plato, Sophist p. 245 E. Yet he afterwards talks of
[Greek: to\ lampro\n tou= o)/ntos a)ei\] as contrasted with
[Greek: to\ skoteino\n tou= mê\ o)/ntos], p. 254 A, which seems
not consistent.]

[Footnote 139: Plato, Sophist. p. 249 B. "Ipsæ ideæ per se
simplices sunt et immutabiles: sunt æternæ, ac semper fuerunt ab
omni liberæ mutatione," says Stallbaum ad Platon. Republ. v. p.
476; see also his Prolegg. to the Parmenidês, pp. 39-40. This is
the way in which the Platonic Ideas are presented in the Timæus,
Republic, Phædon, &c., and the way in which they are conceived by
the [Greek: ei)dô=n phi/loi] in the Sophistês, whom the Eleate
seeks to confute.

Zeller's chapter on Plato seems to me to represent not so much
what we read in the separate dialogues, as the attempt of an able
and ingenious man to bring out something like a consistent and
intelligible doctrine which will do credit to Plato, and to soften
down all the inconsistencies (see Philos. der Griech. vol. ii. pp.
394-415-429 ed. 2nd).]

[Footnote 140: See a striking passage about the unchangeableness
of Forms or Ideas in the Kratylus, p. 439 D-E; also Philêbus, p.

In the Parmenidês (p. 132 D) the supposition [Greek: ta\ ei)/dê
e)sta/nai e)n tê=| phu/sei] is one of those set up by Sokrates and
impugned by Parmenides. Nevertheless in an earlier passage of that
dialogue Sokrates is made to include [Greek: ki/nêsis] and [Greek:
sta/sis] among the [Greek: ei)/dê] (p. 129 E). It will be found,
however, that when Parmenides comes to question Sokrates, What
[Greek: ei)/dê] do you recognise? attributes and subjects only
(the latter with hesitation) are included: no such thing as
actions, processes, events--[Greek: to\ poiei=n kai\ pa/schein]
(p. 130). In Republic vii. 529 D, we find mention made of [Greek:
to\ o)\n ta/chos] and [Greek: ê( ou)=sa bradu/tês], which implies
[Greek: ki/nêsis] as among the [Greek: ei)/dê]. In Theætêt. pp.
152 D, 156 A, [Greek: ki/nêsis] is noted as the constituent and
characteristic of Fieri--[Greek: to\ gigno/menon]--which belongs
to the domain of sensible perception, as distinguished from
permanent and unchangeable Ens.]

[Side-note: The persons whom Plato here attacks as Friends of Forms
are those who held the same doctrine as Plato himself espouses in
Phædon, Republic, &c.]

If we examine the reasoning of the Eleate, in the Sophistês,
against the persons whom he calls the Friends of Forms, we shall
see that these latter are not Parmenideans only, but also Plato
himself in the Phædon, Republic, and elsewhere. We shall also see
that the ground, taken up by the Eleate, is much the same as that
which was afterwards taken up by Aristotle against the Platonic
Ideas. Plato, in most of his dialogues, declares Ideas, Forms,
Entia, to be eternal substances distinct and apart from the flux
and movement of particulars: yet he also declares, nevertheless,
that particulars have a certain communion or participation with
the Ideas, and are discriminated and denominated according to such
participation. Aristotle controverts both these doctrines: first,
the essential separation of the two, which he declares to be
untrue: next, the participation or coming together of the two
separate elements--which he declares to be an unmeaning fiction or
poetical metaphor, introduced in order to elude the consequences
of the original fallacy.[141] He maintains that the two (Entia and
Fientia--Universals and Particulars) have no reality except in
conjunction and implication together; though they are separable by
reason ([Greek: lo/gô| chôrista\--tô=| ei)nai, chôrista/]) or
abstraction, and though we may reason about them apart, and must
often reason about them apart.[142] Now it is this implication and
conjunction of the Universal with its particulars, which is the
doctrine of the Sophistês, and which distinguishes it from other
Platonic dialogues, wherein the Universal is
transcendentalized--lodged in a separate world from particulars. No
science or intelligence is possible (says the Eleate in the Sophistês)
either upon the theory of those who pronounce all Ens to be constant
and unchangeable, or upon that of those who declare all Ens to be
fluent and variable. We must recognise both together, the constant
and the variable, as equally real and as making up the totality of
Ens.[143] This result, though not stated in the language which
Aristotle would have employed, coincides very nearly with the
Aristotelian doctrine, in one of the main points on which
Aristotle distinguishes his own teaching from that of his master.

[Footnote 141: Aristot. Metaphys. A. 991-992.]

[Footnote 142: Aristot. Metaph. vi. 1038, a-b. The Scholion of
Alexander here (p. 763, b. 36, Brandis) is clearer than Aristotle
himself. [Greek: To\ prokei/meno/n e)sti dei=xai ô(s ou)de\n tô=n
katho/lou ou)si/a e)/stin; ou)/te ga\r o( katho/lou a)/nthrôpos
ê)\ o( katho/lou i(/ppos, ou)/te a)/llo ou)de/n; a)ll' e(/kaston
au)tôn _dianoi/as a)po/maxi/s_ e)stin _a)po\ tô=n kath' e(/kasta_
kai\ prô/tôs kai\ ma/lista legome/nôn ou)siô=n kai\ o(moi/ôma.]]

[Footnote 143: Plato, Sophist. p. 249 C-D. [Greek: Tô=| dê\
philoso/phô| kai\ tau=ta ma/lista timô=nti pa=sa a)na/gkê dia\
tau=ta mê/te tô=n e(\n ê)\ kai\ ta\ polla\ ei)/dê lego/ntôn to\
pa=n e(stêko\s a)pode/chesthai, tô=n te au)= pantachê=| to\ o)\n
kinou=ntôn mêde\ to\ para/pan a)kou/ein; a)lla\ kata\ tê\n tô=n
pai/dôn eu)chê/n, o(/sa a)ki/nêta/ te kai\ kekinême/na, to\ o)/n
te kai\ to\ pa=n, xunampho/tera le/gein.]

Ritter states the result of this portion of the Sophistês
correctly. "Es bleibt uns als Ergebniss aller dieser
Untersuchungen über das Seyn, dass die Wahrheit sowohl des
Werdens, als auch des beharrlichen Seyns, anerkannt werden müsse"
(Geschichte der Philos. ii. p. 281).]

[Side-note: The Sophistês recedes from the Platonic point of view,
and approaches the Aristotelian.]

That the Eleate in the Sophistes recedes from the Platonic point
of view and approaches towards the Aristotelian, will be seen also
if we look at the lesson of logic which he gives to Theætêtus. In
his analysis of a proposition--and in discriminating such
conjunctions of words as are significant, from such as are
insignificant--he places himself on the same ground as that which
is travelled over by Aristotle in the Categories and the treatise
De Interpretatione. That the handling of the topic by Aristotle is
much superior, is what we might naturally expect from the fact
that he is posterior in time. But there is another difference
between the two which is important to notice. Aristotle deals with
this topic, as he does with every other, in the way of methodical
and systematic exposition. To expound it as a whole, to distribute
it into convenient portions each illustrating the others, to
furnish suitable examples for the general principles laid down--are
announced as his distinct purposes. Now Plato's manner is quite
different. Systematic exposition is not his primary purpose: he
employs it up to a certain point, but as means towards another and
an independent purpose--towards the solution of a particular
difficulty, which has presented itself in the course of the
dialogue.--"_Nosti morem dialogorum._" Aristotle is demonstrative:
Plato is dialectical. In our present dialogue (the Sophistês), the
Eleate has been giving a long explanation of Non-Ens; an
explanation intended to prove that Non-Ens was a particular sort
of Ens, and that there was therefore no absurdity (though
Parmenides had said that this was absurdity) in assuming it as a
passable object of Cognition, Opination, Affirmation. He now goes
a step further, and seeks to show that it is, actually and in
fact, an object of Opination and Affirmation.[144] It is for this
purpose, and for this purpose only, that he analyses a
proposition, specifies the constituent elements requisite to form
it, and distinguishes one proposition from another.

[Footnote 144: Plato, Sophist. p. 261 D.]

Accordingly, the Eleate,--after pointing out that neither a string
of nouns repeated one after the other, nor a string of verbs so
repeated, would form a significant proposition,--declares that the
conjunction of a noun with a verb is required to form one; and
that opination is nothing but that internal mental process which
the words of the proposition express. The smallest proposition
must combine a noun with a verb:--the former signifying the agent,
the latter, the action or thing done.[145] Moreover, the
proposition must be a proposition _of something_; and it must be
of a certain quality. By a proposition _of something_, Plato
means, that what is called technically the subject of the
proposition (in his time there were no technical terms of logic)
must be something positive, and cannot be negative: by the quality
of the proposition, he means that it must be either true or

[Footnote 145: Plato, Sophist. p. 262 C.]

[Footnote 146: Plato, Sophist. p. 262 E. [Greek: Lo/gon
a)nagkai=on, o(/tan per ê)=|, tino\s ei)=nai lo/gon, _mê\ de/
tinos_, a)du/naton . . . Ou)kou=n kai\ poio/n tina au)to\n ei)=nai
dei=?] Compare p. 237 E.

In the words here cited Plato unconsciously slides back into the
ordinary acceptation of [Greek: mê/ ti]: that is, to [Greek: mê\]
in the sense of negation. If we adopt that peculiar sense of
[Greek: mê/], which the Eleate has taken so much pains to prove
just before in the case of [Greek: to\ mê\ o)\n] (that is, if we
take [Greek: mê\] as signifying not negation but simply
difference), the above argument will not hold. If [Greek: ti/s]
signifies one subject (A), and [Greek: mê/ tis] signifies simply
another subject (B) different from A ([Greek: e(/teron]), the
predicate [Greek: a)du/naton] cannot be affirmed. But if we take
[Greek: mê/ tis] in its proper sense of negation, the [Greek:
a)du/naton] will be so far true that [Greek: ou)k a)/nthrôpos, ou)
Theai/têtos], cannot be the subject of a proposition. Aristotle
says the same in the beginning of the Treatise De Interpretatione
(p. 16, a. 30).]

[Side-note: Aristotle assumes without proof, that there are some
propositions true, others false.]

This early example of rudimentary grammatical or logical analysis,
recognising only the two main and principal parts of speech, is
interesting as occurring prior to Aristotle; by whom it is
repeated in a manner more enlarged, systematic,[147] and
instructive. But Aristotle assumes, without proof and without
supposing that any one will dispute the assumption--that there are
some propositions true, other propositions false: that a name or
noun, taken separately, is neither true nor false:[148] that
propositions (enunciations) only can be true or false.

[Footnote 147: Aristotel. De Interpr. init. with Scholia of
Ammonius, p. 98, Bekk.]

[Footnote 148: In the Kratylus of Plato Sokrates maintains that
names may be true or false as well as propositions, pp. 385 D, 431

[Side-note: Plato in the Sophistês has undertaken an impossible
task--He could not have proved, against his supposed adversary,
that there _are_ false propositions.]

The proceeding of Plato in the Sophistês is different. He supposes
a Sophist who maintains that no proposition either is false or can
be false, and undertakes to prove against him that there are false
propositions: he farther supposes this antagonist to reject the
evidence of sense and visible analogies, and to acknowledge no
proof except what is furnished by reason and philosophical
deduction.[149] Attempting, under these restrictions, to prove his
point, Plato's Eleatic disputant rests entirely upon the peculiar
meaning which he professes to have shown to attach to Non-Ens. He
applies this to prove that Non-Ens may be predicated as well as
Ens: assuming that such predication of Non-Ens constitutes a false
proposition. But the proof fails. It serves only to show that the
peculiar meaning ascribed by the Eleate to Non-Ens is
inadmissible. The Eleate compares two distinct
propositions--_Theætêtus is sitting down_--_Theætêtus is flying_. The
first is true: the second is false. Why? Because (says the Eleate)
the first predicates Ens, the second predicates Non-Ens, or (to
substitute his definition of Non-Ens) another Ens different from
the Ens predicated in the first.[150] But here the reason
assigned, why the second proposition is false, is not the real
reason. Many propositions may be assigned, which predicate
attributes different from the first, but which are nevertheless
quite as much true as the first. I have already observed, that the
reason why the second proposition is false is, because it
contradicts the direct testimony of sense, if the persons debating
are spectators: if they are not spectators, then because it
contradicts the sum total of their previous sensible experience,
remembered, compared, and generalised, which has established in
them the conviction that no man does or can fly. If you discard
the testimony of sense as unworthy of credit (which Plato assumes
the Sophist to do), you cannot prove that the second proposition
is false--nor indeed that the first proposition is true. Plato has
therefore failed in giving that dialectic proof which he promised.
The Eleate is forced to rely (without formally confessing it), on
the testimony of sense, which he had forbidden Theætêtus to
invoke, twenty pages before.[151] The long intervening piece of
dialectic about Ens and Non-Ens is inconclusive for his purpose,
and might have been omitted. The proposition--_Theætêtus is
flying_--does undoubtedly predicate attributes _which are not_ as
if they were,[152] and is thus false. But then we must consult and
trust the evidence of our perception: we must farther accept _are
not_ in the ordinary sense of the words, and not in the sense
given to them by the Eleate in the Platonic Sophistês. His attempt
to banish the specific meaning of the negative particle, and to
treat it as signifying nothing more than difference, appears to me

[Footnote 149: Plato, Sophist. p. 240 A. It deserves note that
here Plato presents to us the Sophist as rejecting the evidence of
sense: in the Theætêtus he presents to us the Sophist as holding
the doctrine [Greek: e)pistê/mê = ai)/sthêsis]. How these
propositions can both be true respecting the Sophists as a class I
do not understand. The first may be true respecting some of them;
the second may be true respecting others; respecting a third class
of them, neither may be true. About the Sophists in a body there
is hardly a single proposition which can be safely affirmed.]

[Footnote 150: Plato, Sophist. p. 263 C.]

[Footnote 151: Theætêtus makes this attempt and is checked by the
Eleate, pp. 239-240. It is in p. 261 A that the Eleate begins his
proof in refutation of the supposed Sophist--that [Greek: do/xa]
and [Greek: lo/gos] may be false. The long interval between the
two is occupied with the reasoning about Ens and Non-Ens.]

[Footnote 152: Plato, Sophist. p. 263 E. [Greek: ta\ mê\ o)/nta
ô(s o)/nta lego/mena], &c.

The distinction between these two propositions, the first as true,
the second as false (Theætêtus is sitting down, Theætêtus is
flying), is in noway connected with the distinction which Plato
had so much insisted upon before respecting the intercommunion of
Forms, Ideas, General Notions, &c., that some Forms will come into
communion with each other, while others will not (pp. 252-253).

There is here no question of repugnancy or intercommunion of
Forms: the question turns upon the evidence of vision, which
informs us that Theætêtus is sitting down and not standing up or
flying. If any predicate be affirmed of a subject, contrary to
what is included in the definition of that subject, then indeed
repugnancy of Forms might be urged.]

[Footnote 153: Plato, Sophist. p. 257 B.]

[Side-note: What must be assumed in all dialectic discussion.]

In all reasoning, nay in all communication by speech, you must
assume that your hearer understands the meaning of what is spoken:
that he has the feelings of belief and disbelief, and is familiar
with those forms of the language whereby such feelings are
expressed: that there are certain propositions which he believes--in
other words, which he regards as true: that there are certain
other propositions which he disbelieves, or regards as false: that
he has had experience of the transition from belief to disbelief,
and _vice versâ_--in other words, of having fallen into error and
afterwards come to perceive that it was error. These are the
mental facts realised in each man and assumed by him to be also
realised in his neighbours, when communication takes place by
speech. If a man could be supposed to believe nothing, and to
disbelieve nothing;--if he had no forms of speech to express his
belief, disbelief, affirmation, and denial--no information could
be given, no discussion would be possible. Every child has to
learn this lesson in infancy; and a tedious lesson it undoubtedly
is.[154] Antisthenes (who composed several dialogues) and the
other disputants of whom we are now speaking, must have learnt the
lesson as other men have: but they find or make some general
theory which forbids them to trust the lesson when learnt. It was
in obedience to some such theory that Antisthenes discarded all
predication except essential predication, and discarded also the
form suited for expressing disbelief--the negative proposition:
maintaining, That to contradict was impossible. I know no mode of
refuting him, except by showing that his fundamental theory is

[Footnote 154: Aristotel. Metaphys. vii. 1043, b. 25. [Greek:
ô(/ste ê( a)pori/a ê(\n oi( A)ntisthe/neioi kai\ oi( ou(/tôs
_a)pai/deutoi_ ê)po/roun, e)/chei tina\ kairo/n], &c.

Compare respecting this paradox or [Greek: the/sis] of
Antisthenes, the scholia of Alexander on the passage of
Aristotle's Topica above cited, p. 259, b. 15, in Schol. Bekk.

If Antisthenes admitted only identical predications, of course
[Greek: to\ a)ntilo/gein] became impossible. I have endeavoured to
show, in a previous note on this dialogue, that a misconception
(occasionally shared even by Plato) of the function of the copula,
lay at the bottom of the Antisthenean theory respecting identical
predication. Compare Aristotel. Physic. i. p. 185, b. 28, together
with the Scholia of Simplikius, pp. 329-330, ed. Bekk., and
Plato, Sophistês, p. 245.]

[Side-note: Discussion and theorising presuppose belief and
disbelief, expressed in set forms of words. They imply
predication, which Antisthenes discarded.]

Discussion and theorising can only begin when these processes,
partly intellectual, partly emotional, have become established and
reproducible portions of the train of mental association. As
processes, they are common to all men. But though two persons
agree in having expressed the feeling of belief, and in expressing
that feeling by one form of proposition--also in having the
feeling of disbelief, and in expressing it by another form of
proposition--yet it does not follow that the propositions which
these two believe or disbelieve are the same. How far such is the
case must be ascertained by comparison--by appeal to sense,
memory, inference from analogy, induction, feeling, consciousness,
&c. The ground is now prepared for fruitful debate: for analysing
the meaning, often confused and complicated, of propositions: for
discriminating the causes, intellectual and emotional, of belief
and disbelief, and for determining how far they harmonise in one
mind and another: for setting out general rules as to sequence, or
inconsistency, or independence, of one belief as compared with
another. To a certain extent, the grounds of belief and disbelief
in all men, and the grounds of consistency or inconsistency
between some beliefs and others, will be found to harmonise: they
can be embodied in methodical forms of language, and general rules
can be laid down preventing in many cases inadvertence or
erroneous combination. It is at this point that Aristotle takes up
rational grammar and logic, with most profitable effect. But he is
obliged to postulate (what Antisthenes professed to discard)
predication, not merely identical, but also accidental as well as
essential--together with names and propositions both negative and
affirmative.[155] He cannot avoid postulating thus much: though he
likewise postulates a great deal more, which ought not to be

[Footnote 155: See the remarks in Aristotel. Metaphys. [Greek: G].
1005, b. 2, 1006, a. 6. He calls it [Greek: a)paideusi/a--a)paideusi/a
tô=n a)nalutikô=n]--not to be able to distinguish
those matters which can be proved and require to be proved, from
those matters which are true, but require no proof and are
incapable of being proved. But this distinction has been one of
the grand subjects of controversy from his day down to the
present day; and between different schools of philosophers, none
of whom would allow themselves to deserve the epithet of [Greek:

Aristotle calls Antisthenes and his followers [Greek:
a)pai/deutoi], in the passage cited in the preceding note.]

[Side-note: Precepts and examples of logical partition, illustrated
in the Sophistês.]

The long and varied predicamental series, given in the Sophistês,
illustrates the process of logical partition, as Plato conceived
it, and the definition of a class-name founded thereupon. You take
a logical whole, and you subtract from it part after part until
you find the _quæsitum_ isolated from every thing else.[156] But
you must always divide into two parts (he says) wherever it can be
done: dichotomy or bipartition is the true logical partition:
should this be impracticable, trichotomy, or division into the
smallest attainable number of parts, must be sought for.[157]
Moreover, the bipartition must be made according to Forms (Ideas,
Kinds): the parts which you recognise must be not merely parts,
but Forms: every form is a part, but every part is not a
form.[158] Next, you must draw the line of division as nearly as
you can through the middle of the _dividendum_, so that the parts
on both sides may be nearly equal: it is in this way that your
partition is most likely to coincide with forms on both sides of
the line.[159] This is the longest way of proceeding, but the
safest. It is a logical mistake to divide into two parts very
unequal: you may find a form on one side of the line, but you
obtain none on the other side. Thus, it is bad classification to
distribute the human race into Hellênes + Barbari: the _Barbari_
are of infinite number and diversity, having no one common form to
which the name can apply. It is also improper to distribute Number
into the myriad on side, and all other numbers on the other--for a
similar reason. You ought to distribute the human race into the
two forms, Male--Female: and number into the two, Odd--Even.[160]
So also, you must not divide gregarious creatures into human
beings on one side, and animals on the other; because this last
term would comprise numerous particulars utterly disparate. Such a
classification is suggested only by the personal feeling of man,
who prides himself upon his intelligence. But if the
classification were framed by any other intelligent species, such
as Cranes,[161] they would distinguish Cranes on the one side from
animals on the other, including Man as one among many disparate
particulars under _animal_.

[Footnote 156: Plato, Politikus, p. 268 D. [Greek: me/ros a)ei\
me/rous a)phairoume/nous e)p' a)/kron e)phiknei=sthai to\

Ueberweg thinks that Aristotle, when he talks of [Greek: ai(
gegramme/nai diaire/seis] alludes to these logical distributions
in the Sophistês and Politikus (Aechtheit der Platon. Schr. pp.

[Footnote 157: Politik. p. 287 C.]

[Footnote 158: Politik. p. 263 C.]

[Footnote 159: Politik. pp. 262 B, 265 A. [Greek: dei= mesotomei=n
ô(s ma/lista], &c.]

[Footnote 160: Politikus, p. 262 D-E.]

[Footnote 161: Politikus, p. 262 D. [Greek: semnu=non au(to\
e(auto/], &c.]

[Side-note: Recommendation of logical bipartition.]

The above-mentioned principle--dichotomy or bipartition into two
equal or nearly equal halves, each resting upon a characteristic
form--is to be applied as far as it will go. Many different
schemes of partition upon this principle may be found, each
including forms subordinated one to the other, descending from the
more comprehensive to the less comprehensive. It is only when you
can find no more parts which are forms, that you must be content
to divide into parts which are not forms. Thus after all the
characteristic forms, for dividing the human race, have been gone
through, they may at last be partitioned into Hellênes and
Barbari, Lydians and non-Lydians, Phrygians and non-Phrygians: in
which divisions there is no guiding form at all, but only a
capricious distribution into fractions with separate
names[162]--meaning by _capricious_, a distribution founded on some
feeling or circumstance peculiar to the distributor, or shared by him
only with a few others; such as the fact, that he is himself a Lydian
or a Phrygian, &c.

[Footnote 162: Politikus, p. 262 E. [Greek: Ludou\s de\ ê)\
Phru/gas ê)/ tinas e(te/rous pro\s a(/pantas ta/ttôn a)po/schizoi
to/te, ê(ni/ka a)poroi= ge/nos a)/ma kai\ me/ros eu(ri/skein
e(ka/teron tô=n schisthe/ntôn.]]

[Side-note: Precepts illustrated by the Philêbus.]

These precepts in the Sophistês and Politikus, respecting the
process of classification, are illustrated by an important passage
of the Philêbus:[163] wherein Plato tells us that the constitution
of things includes the Determinate and the Indeterminate
implicated with each other, and requiring study to disengage them.
Between the highest One, Form, or Genus--and the lowest array of
indefinite particulars--there exist a certain number of
intermediate Ones or Forms, each including more or fewer of these
particulars. The process of study or acquired cognition is brought
to bear upon these intermediate Forms: to learn how many there
are, and to discriminate them in themselves as well as in their
position relative to each other. But many persons do not recognise
this: they apprehend only the Highest One, and the Infinite Many,
not looking for any thing between: they take up hastily with some
extreme and vague generality, below which they know nothing but
particulars. With knowledge thus imperfect, you do not get beyond
contentious debate. Real, instructive, dialectic requires an
understanding of all the intermediate forms. But in descending
from the Highest Form downwards, you must proceed as much as
possible in the way of bipartition, or if not, then of
tripartition, &c.: looking for the smallest number of forms which
can be found to cover the whole field. When no more forms can be
found, then and not till then, you must be content with nothing
better than the countless indeterminate particulars.

[Footnote 163: Plato, Philêbus, pp. 16-17.

The notes of Dr. Badham upon this passage in his edition of the
Philêbus, p. 11, should be consulted as a just correction of
Stallbaum in regard to [Greek: pe/ras] and [Greek: tô=n e(\n

This instructive passage of the Philêbus--while it brings to view
a widespread tendency of the human mind, to pass from the largest
and vaguest generalities at once into the region of particulars,
and to omit the distinctive sub-classes which lie
between--illustrates usefully the drift of the Sophistês and Politikus.
In these two last dialogues it is the method itself of good logical
distribution which Plato wishes to impress upon his readers: the
formal part of the process.[164] With this view, he not only makes
the process intentionally circuitous and diversified, but also
selects by preference matters of common sensible experience,
though in themselves indifferent, such as the art of weaving,[165]

[Footnote 164: He states this expressly, Politik. p. 286 D.]

[Footnote 165: Plato, Politik. p. 285 D.]

[Side-note: Importance of founding logical Partition on
resemblances perceived by sense.]

The reasons given for this preference deserve attention. In these
common matters (he tells us) the resemblances upon which Forms are
founded are perceived by sense, and can be exhibited to every one,
so that the form is readily understood and easily discriminated.
The general terms can there be explained by reference to sense.
But in regard to incorporeal matters, the higher and grander
topics of discussion, there is no corresponding sensible
illustration to consult. These objects can be apprehended only by
reason, and described only by general terms. By means of these
general terms, we must learn to give and receive rational
explanations, and to follow by process of reasoning from one form
to another. But this is more difficult, and requires a higher
order of mind, where there are no resemblances or illustrations
exposed to sense. Accordingly, we select the common sensible
objects as an easier preparatory mode of a process substantially
the same in both.[166]

[Footnote 166: Plato, Politik. pp. 285 E--286 A. [Greek: tou\s
plei/stous le/lêthen o(/ti toi=s me\n tô=n o)/ntôn r(a|di/ôs
katamathei=n ai)sthêtai/ tines o(moio/têtes pephu/kasin, a(\s
ou)de\n chalepo\n dêlou=n, o(/tan au)tô=n tis boulê/thê| tô=|
lo/gon ai)tou=nti peri\ tou, mê\ meta\ pragma/tôn a)lla\ chôri\s
lo/gou r(a|di/ôs e)ndei/xasthai; toi=s d' au)= megi/stois ou)=si
kai\ timiôta/tois ou)k e)/stin ei)/dôlon ou)de\n pro\s tou\s
a)nthrô/pous ei)rgasme/non e)nargô=s, ou(= deichthe/ntos], &c.

About the [Greek: ei)/dôlon ei)rgasme/non e)nargô=s], which is
affirmed in one of these two cases and denied in the other,
compare a striking analogy in the Phædrus, p. 250 A-E.]

[Side-note: Province of sensible perception--is not so much
narrowed by Plato here as it is in the Theætêtus.]

This explanation given by Plato, in itself just, deserves to be
compared with his view of sensible objects as knowable, and of
sense as a source of knowledge. I noticed in a preceding chapter
the position which Sokrates is made to lay down in the
Theætêtus,[167]--That ([Greek: ai)/sthêsis]) sensible perception
reaches only to the separate impressions of sense, and does not
apprehend the likeness and other relations between them. I have
also noticed the contrast which he establishes elsewhere between
Esse and Fieri: _i.e._, between Ens which alone (according to him)
is knowable, and the perpetual flux of Fientia which is not
knowable at all, but is only matter of opinion or guess-work. Now
in the dialogue before us, the Politikus, there is no such marked
antithesis between opinion and knowledge. Nor is the province of
[Greek: ai)/sthêsis] so strictly confined: on the contrary, Plato
here considers sensible perception as dealing with Entia, and as
appreciating resemblances and other relations between them. It is
by an attentive study and comparison of these facts of sense that
Forms are detected. "When a man (he says) has first perceived by
sense the points of communion between the Many, he must not desist
from attentive observation until he has discerned in that
communion all the differences which reside in Forms: and when he
has looked at the multifarious differences which are visible among
these Many, he must not rest contented until he has confined all
such as are really cognate within one resemblance, tied together
by the essence of one common Form."[168]

[Footnote 167: Plato, Theæt. pp. 185-186. See above p. 161.]

[Footnote 168: Plato, Politikus, p. 285 B. [Greek: de/on, o(/tan
me\n tê\n tô=n pollô=n tis pro/teron ai)/sthêtai koinôni/an, mê\
proaphi/stasthai pri\n a)\n e)n au)tê=| ta\s diaphora\s i)/dê|
pa/sas o(po/sai per e)n ei)/desi kei=ntai; ta\s de\ au)=
pantodapa\s a)nomoio/têtas, o(/tan e)n plê/thesin o)phthô=si, mê\
dunato\n ei)=nai dusôpou/menon pau/esthai, pri\n a)\n xu/mpanta
ta\ oi)kei=a e)nto\s mia=s o(moio/têtos e(/rxas ge/nous tino\s
ou)si/a| periba/lêtai.]]

[Side-note: Comparison of the Sophistês with the Phædrus.]

These passages may be compared with others of similar import in
the Phædrus.[169] Plato here considers the Form, not as an Entity
_per se_ separate from and independent of the particulars, but as
implicated in and with the particulars: as a result reached by the
mind through the attentive observation and comparison of
particulars: as corresponding to what is termed in modern language
abstraction and generalisation. The self-existent Platonic Ideas
do not appear in the Politikus:[170] which approximates rather to
the Aristotelian doctrine:--that is, the doctrine of the
universal, logically distinguishable from its particulars, but
having no reality apart from them ([Greek: chôrista\ lo/gô|
mo/non]). But in other dialogues of Plato, the separation between
the two is made as complete as possible, especially in the
striking passages of the Republic: wherein we read that the facts
of sense are a delusive juggle--that we must turn our back upon
them and cease to study them--and that we must face about, away
from the sensible world, to contemplate Ideas, the separate and
unchangeable furniture of the intelligible world--and that the
whole process of acquiring true Cognition, consists in passing
from the higher to the lower Forms or Ideas, without any
misleading illustrations of sense.[171] Here, in the Sophistês and
Politikus, instead of having the Universal behind our backs when
the particulars are before our faces, we see it _in and amidst_
particulars: the illustrations of sense, instead of deluding us,
being declared to conduce, wherever they can be had, to the
clearness and facility of the process.[172] Here, as well as in
the Phædrus, we find the process of Dialectic emphatically
recommended, but described as consisting mainly in logical
classification of particulars, ascending and descending divisions
and conjunctions, as Plato calls them[173]--analysis and
synthesis. We are enjoined to divide and analyse the larger genera
into their component species until we come to the lowest species
which can no longer be divided: also, conversely, to conjoin
synthetically the subordinate species until the highest genus is
attained, but taking care not to omit any of the intermediate
species, in their successive gradations.[174] Throughout all this
process, as described both in the Phædrus and in the Politikus,
the eye is kept fixed upon the constituent individuals. The Form
is studied in and among the particulars which it comprehends: the
particulars are looked at in groups put together suitably to each
comprehending Form. And in both dialogues, marked stress is laid
upon the necessity of making the division dichotomous; as well as
according to Forms, and not according to fractions which are not
legitimate Forms.[175] Any other method, we are told, would be
like the wandering of a blind man.

[Footnote 169: Plato, Phædrus, pp. 249 C, 265 D-E.]

[Footnote 170: This remark is made by Stallbaum in his Prolegg. ad
Politicum, p. 81; and it is just, though I do not at all concur in
his general view of the Politikus, wherein he represents the
dialogue as intended to deride the Megaric philosophers.]

[Footnote 171: See the Republic, v. pp. 476-479, vi. pp.
508-510-511, and especially the memorable simile about the cave
and the shadows within it, in Book vii. pp. 518-519, together with
the [Greek: periagôgê\] which he there prescribes--[Greek: a)po\ tou=
gignome/nou ei)s to\ o)/n]--and the remarks respecting
observations in astronomy and acoustics, p. 529.]

[Footnote 172: Compare the passage of the Phædrus (p. 263 A-C)
where Plato distinguishes the sensible particulars on which men
mostly agree, from the abstractions (Just and Unjust, &c.,
corresponding with the [Greek: a)sô/mata, ka/llista, me/gista,
timiô/tata], Politikus, p. 286 A) on which they are perpetually

[Footnote 173: Plato, Phædrus, p. 266 B. [Greek: tou/tôn dê\
e)/gôge au)to/s te e)rastê\s tô=n diaire/seôn kai\ sunagôgô=n
. . . tou\s duname/nous au)to\ dra=|n . . . kalô= dialektikou/s.]
The reason which Sokrates gives in the Phædrus for his attachment
to dialectics, that he may become competent in discourse and in
wisdom ([Greek: i(/n' oi(=o/s te ô)= le/gein kai\ phronei=n]), is
the same as that which the Eleate assigns in recommendation of the
logical exercises in the Politikus.]

[Footnote 174: Plato, Phædrus, pp. 271 D, 277 B. [Greek:
o(risa/meno/s te pa/lin kat' ei)/dê me/chri tou= a)tmê/tou
te/mnein e)pistê/thê|.]]

[Footnote 175: Plato, Phædrus, pp. 265 E, 270 E. [Greek: e)oi/koi
a)\n ô(/sper tuphlou= porei/a|.]]

What distinguishes the Sophistês and Politikus from most other
dialogues of Plato, is, that the method of logical classification
is illustrated by setting the classifier to work upon one or a few
given subjects, some in themselves trivial, some important. Though
the principles of the method are enunciated in general terms, yet
their application to the special example is kept constantly before
us; so that we are never permitted, much less required, to divorce
the Universal from its Particulars.

[Side-note: Comparison of the Politikus with the Parmenidês.]

As a dialogue illustrative of this method, the Politikus (as I
have already pointed out) may be compared to the Phædrus: in
another point of view, we shall find instruction in comparing it
to the Parmenidês. This last too is a dialogue illustrative of
method, but of a different variety of method.

[Side-note: Variety of method in dialectic research--Diversity of

What the Sophistês and Politikus are for the enforcement of
logical classification, the Parmenidês is for another part of the
philosophising process--laborious evolution of all the
consequences deducible from the affirmative as well as from the
negative of every hypothesis bearing upon the problem. And we note
the fact, that both in the Politikus and Parmenidês, Plato
manifests the consciousness that readers will complain of him as
prolix, tiresome, and wasting ingenuity upon unprofitable
matters.[176] In the Parmenidês, he even goes the length of saying
that the method ought only to be applied before a small and select
audience; to most people it would be repulsive, since they cannot
be made to comprehend the necessity for such circuitous
preparation in order to reach truth.[177]

[Footnote 176: Plato, Politikus, p. 283 B. [Greek: pro\s dê\ to\
no/sêma to\ toiou=ton], and the long series of questions and
answers which follows to show that the prolixity is unavoidable,
pp. 285 C, 286 B-E.]

[Footnote 177: Plato, Parmenid. p. 136 D-E.]



[Side-note: The Politikus by itself, apart from the Sophistês.]

I have examined in the preceding sections both that which the
Sophistês and Politikus present in common--(_viz._ a lesson, as
well as a partial theory, of the logical processes called
Definition and Division)--and that which Sophistês presents apart
from the Politikus. I now advert to two matters which we find in
the Politikus, but not in the Sophistês. Both of them will be
found to illustrate the Platonic mode of philosophising.

[Side-note: Views of Plato on mensuration. Objects measured against
each other. Objects compared with a common standard. In each Art,
the purpose to be attained is the standard.]

I. Plato assumes, that there will be critics who blame the two
dialogues as too long and circuitous; excessive in respect of
prolixity. In replying to those objectors,[1] he enquires, What is
meant by long or short--excessive or deficient--great or little?
Such expressions denote mensuration or comparison. But there are
two varieties of mensuration. We may measure two objects one
against the other: the first will be called great or greater, in
relation to the second--the second will be called little or less
in relation to the first. But we may also proceed in a different
way. We may assume some third object as a standard, and then
measure both the two against it: declaring the first to be great,
greater, excessive, &c., because it exceeds the standard--and the
second to be little, less, deficient, &c., because it falls short
of the standard. Here then are two judgments or estimations
altogether different from each other, and yet both denoted by the
same words _great_ and _little_: two distinct _essences_ (in
Platonic phrase) of great and little, or of greatness and
littleness.[2] The art of mensuration has thus two varieties. One
includes arithmetic and geometry, where we simply compare numbers
and magnitudes with each other, determining the proportions
between them: the other assumes some independent standard; above
which is excess, and below which is deficiency. This standard
passes by different names according to circumstances: the
Moderate, Becoming, Seasonable, Proper, Obligatory, &c.[3] Such a
standard is assumed in every art--in every artistic or scientific
course of procedure. Every art has an end to be attained, a result
to be produced; which serves as the standard whereby each
preparatory step of the artist is measured, and pronounced to be
either excessive or deficient, as the case may be.[4] Unless such
a standard be assumed, you cannot have regular art or science of
any kind; neither in grave matters, nor in vulgar matters--neither
in the government of society, nor in the weaving of cloth.[5]

[Footnote 1: The treatment of this subject begins, Politik. p. 283
C, where Plato intimates that the coming remarks are of wide

[Footnote 2: Plato, Politik. p. 283 E. [Greek: _di/ttas_ a)/ra
_tau/tas ou)si/as_ kai\ kri/seis tou= mega/lou kai\ tou= smikrou=

[Footnote 3: Plato, Politik. p. 284 E. [Greek: to\ me/trion, to\
pre/pon, to\n kairo/n, to\ de/on], &c.

The reader will find these two varieties of mensuration, here
distinguished by Plato, illustrated in the "two distinct modes of
appreciating weight" (the Absolute and the Relative), described
and explained by Professor Alexander Bain in his work on The
Senses and The Intellect, 3rd edition, p. 93. This explanation
forms an item in the copious enumeration given by Mr. Bain of the
fundamental sensations of our nature.]

[Footnote 4: Plato, Politik. p. 283 D. [Greek: kata\ tê\n tê=s
gene/seôs a)nagkai/an ou)si/an].--284 A-C. [Greek: pro\s tê\n tou=
metri/ou ge/nesin].]

[Footnote 5: Plato, Politik. p. 284 C.]

[Side-note: Purpose in the Sophistês and Politikus is--To attain
dialectic aptitude. This is the standard of comparison whereby to
judge whether the means employed are suitable.]

Now what is the end to be attained, by this our enquiry into the
definition of a Statesman? It is not so much to solve the
particular question started, as to create in ourselves dialectic
talent and aptitude, applicable to every thing. This is the
standard with reference to which our enquiry must be criticised--not
by regard to the easy solution of the particular problem, or
to the immediate pleasure of the hearer. And if an objector
complains, that our exposition is too long or our subject-matters
too vulgar--we shall require him to show that the proposed end
might have been attained with fewer words and with more solemn
illustrations. If he cannot show this, we shall disregard his
censure as inapplicable.[6]

[Footnote 6: Plato, Politik. pp. 286 D, 287 A. Compare Plato,
Philêbus, p. 36 D.]

[Side-note: Plato's defence of the Politikus against critics.
Necessity that the critic shall declare explicitly what his
standard of comparison is.]

The above-mentioned distinction between the two varieties of
mensuration or comparison, is here given by Plato, simply to serve
as a defence against critics who censured the peculiarities of the
Politikus. It is not pursued into farther applications. But it
deserves notice, not merely as being in itself just and useful,
but as illustrating one of the many phases of Plato's philosophy.
It is an exhibition of the relative side of Plato's character, as
contra-distinguished from the absolute or dogmatical: for both the
two, opposed as they are to each other, co-exist in him and
manifest themselves alternately. It conveys a valuable lesson as
to the apportionment of praise and blame. "When you blame me" (he
says to his critics), "you must have in your mind some standard of
comparison upon which the blame turns. Declare what that standard
is:--what you mean by the Proper, Becoming, Moderate, &c. There is
such a standard, and a different one, in every different Art. What
is it here? You must choose this standard, explain what it is, and
adhere to it when you undertake to praise or blame." Such an
enunciation (thoroughly Sokratic[7]) of the principle of
relativity, brings before critics the fact--which is very apt to
be forgotten--that there must exist in the mind of each some
standard of comparison, varying or unvarying, well or ill
understood: while at the same time it enforces upon them the
necessity of determining clearly for themselves, and announcing
explicitly to others, what that standard is. Otherwise the
propositions, affirming comparison, can have no uniform meaning
with any two debaters, nor even with the same man at different

[Footnote 7: Xenophon, Memorab. iii. 8, 7, iii. 10, 12.]

[Side-note: Comparison of Politikus with Protagoras, Phædon,
Philêbus, &c.]

To this relative side of Plato's mind belong his frequent
commendations of measurement, numbering, computation, comparison,
&c. In the Protagoras,[8] he describes the art of measurement as
the main guide and protector of human life: it is there treated as
applicable to the correct estimation of pleasures and pains. In
the Phædon,[9] it is again extolled: though the elements to be
calculated are there specified differently. In the Philêbus, the
antithesis of [Greek: Pe/ras] and [Greek: A)/peiron] (the
Determinant or Limit, and the Indeterminate or Infinite) is one of
the leading points of the dialogue. We read in it moreover a
bipartite division of Mensuration or Arithmetic,[10] which is
quite different from the bipartite division just cited out of the
Politikus. Plato divides it there (in the Philêbus) into
arithmetic for theorists, and arithmetic for practical life:
besides which, he distinguishes the various practical arts as
being more or less accurate, according as they have more or less
of measurement and sensible comparison in them. Thus the art of
the carpenter, who employs measuring instruments such as the line
and rule--is more accurate than that of the physician, general,
pilot, husbandman, &c., who have no similar means of measuring.
This is a classification quite different from what we find in the
Politikus; yet tending in like manner to illustrate the relative
point of view, and its frequent manifestation in Plato. In the
Politikus, he seeks to refer praise and blame to a standard of
measurement, instead of suffering them to be mere outbursts of
sentiment unsystematic and unanalysed.

[Footnote 8: Plato, Protagor. p. 357 B.]

[Footnote 9: Plato, Phædon, p. 69 B.]

[Footnote 10: Plato, Philêbus, pp. 25 C, 27 D, 57. [Greek: du/o
a)rithmêtikai\ kai\ du/o metrêtikai/ . . . tê\n didumo/têta
e)/chousai tau/tên, o)no/matos de\ e(no\s kekoinôme/nai.]

This same bipartition, however, is noticed in another passage of
the Politikus, p. 258 D-E.]

[Side-note: Definition of the statesman, or Governor. Scientific
competence. Sokratic point of departure. Procedure of Plato in

II. The second peculiarity to which I call attention in the
Politikus, is the definition or description there furnished of the
character so-called: that is, the Statesman, the King, Governor,
Director, or Manager, of human society. At the outset of the
dialogue, this person is declared to belong to the Genus--Men of
Science or of Art (the two words are faintly distinguished in
Plato). It is possession of the proper amount of scientific
competence which constitutes a man a Governor: and which entitles
him to be so named, whether he actually governs any society or
not.[11] (This point of departure is purely Sokratic: for in the
Memorabilia of Xenophon,[12] Sokrates makes the same express
declaration.) The King knows, but does not act: yet he is not a
simple critic or spectator--he gives orders: and those orders are
not suggested to him by any one else (as in the case of the
Herald, the Keleustês, and others),[13] but spring from his own
bosom and his own knowledge. From thence Plato carries us through
a series of descending logical subdivisions, until we come to
define the King as the shepherd and feeder of the flock of human
beings.[14] But many other persons, besides the King, are
concerned in feeding the human flock, and will therefore be
included in this definition: which is thus proved to be too
large, and to require farther qualification and restriction.[15]
Moreover the feeding of the human flock belongs to others rather
than to the King. He tends and takes care of the flock, but does
not feed it: hence the definition is, in this way also,

[Footnote 11: Plato, Politikus, pp. 258 B, 259 B.]

[Footnote 12: Xenophon, Memorab. iii. 9, 10.]

[Footnote 13: Plato, Politik. p. 260 C-E. [Greek: to\ me\n tô=n
basile/ôn ge/nos ei)s tê\n au)tepitaktikê\n the/ntes], &c.]

[Footnote 14: Plato, Politik. pp. 267 B, 268 C.]

[Footnote 15: Plato, Politik. p. 268.]

[Footnote 16: Plato, Politik. p. 275 D-E.]

[Side-note: King during the Saturnian period, was of a breed
superior to the people--not so any longer.]

Our mistake (says Plato) was of this kind. In describing the King
or Governor, we have unconsciously fallen upon the description of
the King, such as he was in the Saturnian period or under the
presidency of Kronus; and not such as he is in the present period.
Under the presidency of Kronus, each human flock was tended and
governed by a divine King or God, who managed every thing for it,
keeping it happy and comfortable by his own unassisted agency: the
entire Kosmos too, with its revolutions, was at that time under
the immediate guidance of a divine mover. But in the present
period this divine superintendance is withdrawn: both the entire
Kosmos, and each separate portion of it, is left to its own
movement, full of imperfection and irregularity. Each human flock
is now tended not by a divine King, as it was then; but by a human
King, much less perfect, less effective, less exalted above the
constituent members. Now the definition which we fell upon (says
Plato) suited the King of the Saturnian period; but does not suit
the King of the present or human period.[17] At the first
commencement of the present period, the human flock, left to
themselves without superintendance from the Gods, suffered great
misery: but various presents from some Gods (fire from Prometheus,
arts from Hephæstus and Athênê, plants and seeds from Dêmêtêr)
rendered their condition more endurable, though still full of
difficulty and hardship.[18]

[Footnote 17: Plato, Politik. pp. 274-275 B.]

[Footnote 18: Plato, Politik. p. 274 C.

Plato embodies these last-mentioned comparisons in an elaborate
and remarkable mythe--theological, cosmical, zoological,
social--which occupies six pages of the Politikus (268 D--274 E).
Meiners and Socher (Ueber Platon's Schriften, pp. 273-275) point out
that the theology of Plato in this fable differs much from what we
read in the Phædon, Republic, &c.: and Socher insists upon such
discrepancy as one of his arguments against the genuineness of the
Politikus. I have already observed that I do not concur in his
inference. I do not expect uniformity of doctrine in the various
Platonic dialogues: more especially on a subject so much beyond
experience, and so completely open to the conjectures of a rich
imagination, as theology and cosmogony. In the Sophistês, pp.
242-243, Plato had talked in a sort of contemptuous tone about those
who dealt with philosophical doctrine in the way of mythe, as a
proceeding fit only for boys: (not unlike the manner of Aristotle,
when he speaks of [Greek: oi( muthikô=s sophizo/menoi--ta\ u(pe\r
ê(ma=s], Metaphys. B. 1000, a. 15-18, [Greek: L]. 1071, b. 27): while
here, in the Politikus, he dilates upon what he admits to be a
boyish mythe, partly because a certain portion of it may be made
available in illustration of his philosophical purpose, partly
because he wishes to enliven the monotony of a long-continued
classification. Again, in the Phædrus (**p. 229 C), the Platonic
Sokrates is made to censure as futile any attempt to find rational
explanations for the popular legends ([Greek: sophi/zesthai]): but
here, in the Politikus, the Eleate expressly adapts his theory
about the backward and forward rotation of the Kosmos to the
explanation of the popular legends--about earthborn men, and about
Helios turning back his chariot, in order to escape the shocking
spectacle of the Thyestean banquet: which legends, when so
explained, Plato declares that people would be wrong to disbelieve
([Greek: oi( nu=n u(po\ pollô=n ou)k o)rthô=s a)pistou=ntai], pp.
271 B, 268 A, B, C).

The differences of doctrine and handling, between the various
Platonic dialogues, are facts not less worthy to be noted than the
similarities. Here, in the mythe of the Politikus, we find a
peculiar theological view, and a very remarkable cosmical
doctrine--the rotation and counter-rotation of the Kosmos. The
Kosmos is here declared (as in the Timæus) to be a living and
intelligent Subject; having received these mental gifts from its
Demiurgus. But the Kosmos is also Body as well as Mind; so that it
is incapable of that constant sameness or uniformity which belongs
to the Divine: Body having in itself an incurable principle of
disorder (p. 269 D). The Kosmos is perpetually in movement; but
its movement is only rotatory or circular in the same place: which
is the nearest approximation to uniformity of movement. It does
not always revolve by itself; nor is it always made to revolve by
the Divine Steersman ([Greek: kubernê/tês], p. 272 E), but
alternately the one and the other. This Divine Steersman presides
over its rotation for a certain time, and along with him many
subordinate Deities or Dæmons; until an epoch fixed by some
unassigned destiny has been reached (p. 272 E). Then the Steersman
withdraws from the process to his own watch-tower ([Greek: ei)s
tê\n au)tou= periôpê\n]), and the other Deities along with him.
The Kosmos, being left to itself, ceases to revolve in the same
direction, and begins its counter rotation; revolving by itself
backwards, or in the contrary direction. By such violent revulsion
many of the living inhabitants of the Kosmos are destroyed. The
past phenomena are successively reproduced, but in an inverse
direction--the old men go back to maturity, boyhood, infancy,
death: the dead are born again, and pass through their lives
backwards from age to infancy. Yet the counter-rotation brings
about not simply an inverted reproduction of past phenomena, but
new phenomena also: for we are told that the Kosmos, when left to
itself, did tolerably well as long as it remembered the
Steersman's direction, but after a certain interval became
forgetful and went wrong, generating mischief and evil: so that
the Steersman was at last forced to put his hand again to the
work, and to impart to it a fresh rotation in his own direction
(p. 273 B-D). The Kosmos never goes satisfactorily, except when
the hand of the Steersman is upon it. But we are informed that
there are varieties of this divine administration: one named the
period of Kronus or Saturn; another that of Zeus, &c. The
_present_ is the period of Zeus (p. 272 B). The period of Kronus
was one of spontaneous and universal abundance, under the
immediate superintendence of the Deity. This Divine Ruler was
infinitely superior to the subjects whom he ruled, and left
nothing to be desired. But _now_, in the present period of Zeus,
men are under human rule, and not divine: there is no such marked
superiority of the Ruler to his subjects. The human race has been
on the point of becoming extinct; and has only been saved by
beneficent presents from various Gods--fire from Prometheus,
handicraft from Hephæstus and Athênê (pp. 272 C, 274 C).

All this prodigious bulk of mythical invention ([Greek:
thaumasto\s o)/gkos], p. 277 B) seems to be introduced here for
the purpose of illustrating the comparative ratio between the
Ruler and his subjects; and the material difference in this
respect between King and Shepherd--between the government of
mankind by kings, and that of flocks and herds by the herdsman. In
attempting to define the True and Genuine Ruler (he lays it down),
we can expect nothing better than a man among other men; but
distinguished above his fellows, so far as wisdom, dialectic, and
artistic accomplishment, can confer superiority.

There is much in this copious mythe which I cannot clearly
understand or put together: nor do I derive much profit from the
long exposition of it given by Stallbaum (Proleg. ad Polit. pp.
100-128). We cannot fairly demand either harmonious consistency or
profound meaning in the different features of an ingenious
fiction. The hypothesis of a counter-rotation of the Kosmos
(spinning like a top, [Greek: e)pi\ smikrota/tou bai=non podo\s
i)e/nai], p. 270 A), with an inverted reproduction of past
phenomena, appears to me one of the most singular fancies in the
Greek mythology. I cannot tell how far it may have been suggested
by any such statement as that of the Egyptian priests (Herodot.
ii. 142). I can only repeat the observation made by Phædrus to the
Platonic Sokrates, in the dialogue Phædrus (p. 275 A): "You,
Sokrates, construct easily enough Egyptian tales, or any other
tales that you please".]

[Side-note: Distinction of causes Principal and Causes Auxiliary.
The King is the only Principal Cause, but his auxiliaries pretend
to be principal also.]

The human King, whom we shall now attempt to define, tends the
human flock; but there are other persons also who assist in doing
so, and without whose concurrent agency he could not attain his
purpose. We may illustrate this by comparing with him the weaver
of woollen garments: who requires many subsidiary and preparatory
processes, performed by agents different from himself (such as the
carder of wool, the spinner, and the manufacturer of the
instruments for working the loom) to enable him to finish his
work. In all matters, important as well as vulgar, two separate
processes or arts, or contributory persons, are to be
distinguished: Causes and Co-Causes, _i.e._, Principal Causes, and
Concurrent, Auxiliary, Co-efficient, Subordinate, Causes.[19] The
King, like the Weaver, is distinguishable, from other agents
helping towards the same end, as a Principal Cause from Auxiliary
Causes.[20] The Causes auxiliary to the King, in so far as they
are inanimate, may be distributed roughly under seven heads
(bipartition being here impracticable)--Implements, Vessels,
Vehicles, Protections surrounding the Body, Recreative Objects,
Raw Material of every variety, Nutritive Substances, &c.[21] Other
auxiliary Causes are, the domestic cattle, bought slaves, and all
descriptions of serving persons; being often freemen who
undertake, for hire, servile occupations and low trades. There are
moreover ministerial officers of a higher grade: heralds, scribes,
interpreters, prophets, priests, Sophists, rhetors; and a great
diversity of other functionaries, military, judicial, forensic,
dramatic, &c., who manage different departments of public affairs,
often changing from one post to another.[22] But these higher
ministerial functionaries differ from the lower in this--That they
pretend to be themselves the directors and managers of the
government, not recognising the genuine King: whereas the truth
is, that they are only ministerial and subordinate to him:--they
are Concurrent Causes, while he is the only real or principal

[Footnote 19: Plato, Politik. p. 281 D-E.]

[Footnote 20: Plato, Politik. p. 287 D.]

[Footnote 21: Plato, Politik. pp. 288-289.]

[Footnote 22: Plato, Politik. pp. 290-291 B. Plato describes these
men by comparing them to lions, centaurs, satyrs, wild beasts,
feeble and crafty. This is not very intelligible, but I presume
that it alludes to the variety of functions, and the frequent
alternation of functions. I cannot think that such an obscure jest
deserves Stallbaum's compliment:--"Ceterum lepidissima hæc est
istorum hominum irrisio, qui cum leonibus, Centauris, Satyris,
aliisque monstris comparantur". Plato repeats it p. 303 C.]

[Footnote 23: Plato, Politik. p. 291 C.]

[Side-note: Plato does not admit the received classification of
government. It does not touch the point upon which all true
distinction ought to be founded--Scientific or Unscientific.]

Our main object now (says the Eleate) is to distinguish this Real
Cause from the subordinate Causes which are mistaken for its
partners and equals:--the genuine and intelligent Governor, from
those who pretend falsely to be governors, and are supposed often
to be such.[24] We cannot admit the lines of distinction, which
are commonly drawn between different governments, as truly
logical: at least they are only subordinate to ours. Most men
distinguish the government of one, or a few, or the many:
government of the poor or of the rich: government according to
law, or without law:--by consent, or by force. The different names
current, monarchy or despotism, aristocracy, or oligarchy, &c.,
correspond to these definitions. But we hold that these
definitions do not touch the true characteristic: which is to be
found in Science, Knowledge, Intelligence, Art or scientific
procedure, &c., and in nothing else. The true government of
mankind is, the scientific or artistic: whether it be carried on
by one, or a few, or many--whether by poor or rich, by force or
consent--whether according to law, or without law.[25] This is the
right and essential characteristic of genuine government:--it is
government conducted according to science or art. All governments
not conforming to this type are only spurious counterfeits and
approaches to it, more or less defective or objectionable.[26]

[Footnote 24: Plato, Politik. p. 292 D.]

[Footnote 25: Plato, Politik. pp. 292 C, 293 B.]

[Footnote 26: Plato, Politik. p. 293 E. [Greek: tau/tên to/te kai\
kata\ tou\s toiou/tous o(/rous ê(mi=n mo/nên o)rthê\n politei/an
ei)=nai r(ête/on, o(/sas de\ a)/llas le/gomen, ou) gnêsi/as ou)d'
o)/ntôs ou)/sas lekte/on.]]

[Side-note: Unscientific governments are counterfeits. Government
by any numerous body must be counterfeit. Government by the one
scientific man is the true government.]

Looking to the characteristic here suggested, the Eleate
pronounces that all numerous and popular governments must be
counterfeits. There can be no genuine government except by One
man, or by a very small number at most. True science or art is not
attainable by many persons, whether rich or poor: scarcely even by
a few, and probably by One alone; since the science or art of
governing men is more difficult than any other science or art.[27]
But the government of this One is the only true and right
government, whether he proclaims laws or governs without law,
whether he employs severity or mildness--provided only he adheres
to his art, and achieves its purpose, the good and improvement of
the governed.[28] He is like the true physician, who cuts and
burns patients, when his art commands, for the purpose of curing
them. He will not be disposed to fetter himself by fixed general
laws: for the variety of situations and the fluctuation of
circumstances, is so perpetual, that no law can possibly fit all
cases. He will recognise no other law but his art.[29] If he lays
down any general formula or law, it will only be from necessity,
because he cannot be always at hand to watch and direct each
individual case: but he will not hesitate to depart from his own
formula whenever Art enjoins it.[30] That alone is base, evil,
unjust, which he with his political Science or Art declares to be
so. If in any particular case he departs from his own declaration,
and orders such a thing to be done--the public have no right to
complain that he does injustice. No patient can complain of his
physician, if the latter, acting upon the counsels of his art,
disregards a therapeutic formula.[31] All the acts of the true
Governor are right, whether according or contrary to law, so long
as he conducts himself with Art and Intelligence--aiming
exclusively to preserve the people, and to render them better
instead of worse.[32]

[Footnote 27: Plato, Politik. pp. 292 D-E, 297 B, 300 E.]

[Footnote 28: Plato, Politik. p. 293 B-E.]

[Footnote 29: Plato, Politik. p. 297 A. [Greek: ou) gra/mmata
tithei\s a)lla\ tê\n te/chnên no/mon parecho/menos.]]

[Footnote 30: Plato, Politik. pp. 300 C, 295 B-C.]

[Footnote 31: Plato, Politik. p. 296 C-D.]

[Footnote 32: Plato, Politik. p. 297 A.]

[Side-note: Fixed laws, limiting the scientific Governor, are
mischievous, as they would be for the physician and the steersman.
Absurdity of determining medical practice by laws, and presuming
every one to know it.]

How mischievous would it be (continues the Eleate) if we
prescribed by fixed laws how the physician or the steersman should
practise their respective arts: if we held them bound to
peremptory rules, punishing them whenever they departed from those
rules, and making them accountable before the Dikastery, when any
one accused them of doing so: if we consecrated these rules and
dogmas, forbidding all criticism or censure upon them, and putting
to death the free enquirer as a dreaming, prosy, Sophist,
corrupting the youth and inciting lawless discontent![33] How
absurd, if we pretended that every citizen did know, or might or
ought to know, these two arts; because the matters concerning them
were enrolled in the laws, and because no one ought to be wiser
than the laws?[34] Who would think of imposing any such fetters on
other arts, such as those of the general, the painter, the
husbandman, the carpenter, the prophet, the cattle-dealer? To
impose them would be to render life, hard as it is even now,
altogether intolerable. Yet these are the trammels under which in
actual cities the political Art is exercised.[35]

[Footnote 33: Plato, Politik. pp. 298-299. 299 B: [Greek: Kai\
toi/nun e)/ti deê/sei the/sthai no/mon e)pi\ pa=si tou/tois, a)/n
tis kubernêtikê\n kai\ to\ nautiko\n ê)\ to\ u(gieino\n kai\
i)atrikê=s a)lêthei/an . . . zêtô=n phai/nêtai para\ ta\ gra/mmata
kai\ sophizo/menos o(tiou=n peri\ ta\ toiau=ta, prô=ton me\n mê/te
i)atriko\n au)to\n mê/te kubernêtiko\n o)noma/zein, a)lla\
meteôro/logon a)dole/schên tina\ sophistê\n ei)=th' ô(s
diaphthei/ronta a)/llous neôte/rous kai\ a)napei/thonta
e)piti/thesthai kubernêtikê=|], &c.]

[Footnote 34: Plato, Polit. p. 299 C. [Greek: a)\n de\ para\ tou\s
no/mous kai\ ta\ gegramme/na do/xê| pei/thein ei)/te ne/ous ei)/te
presbu/tas, kola/zein toi=s e)scha/tois. Ou)de\n ga\r dei=n tô=n
no/môn, ei)=nai sophô/teron; ou)de/na ga\r a)gnoei=n to/ te
i)atriko\n kai\ to\ u(gieino\n ou)de\ to\ kubernêtiko\n kai\
nautiko/n; e)xei=nai ga\r tô=| boulome/nô| mantha/nein gegramme/na
kai\ pa/tria e)/thê kei/mena.]]

[Footnote 35: Plato, Polit. p. 299 D-E. [Greek: ô(/ste o( bi/os,
ô(n kai\ nu=n chalepo/s, ei)s to\n chro/non e)kei=non a)bi/ôtos
gi/gnoit' a)\n to\ para/pan.]]

[Side-note: Government by fixed laws is better than lawless
government by unscientific men, but worse than lawless government
by scientific men. It is a second-best.]

Such are the mischiefs inseparable, in greater or less degree,
from fixed and peremptory laws. Yet grave as these mischiefs are,
there are others yet graver, which such laws tend to obviate. If
the magistrate appointed to guard and enforce the laws, ventures
to break or contravene them, simulating, but not really
possessing, the Art or Science of the genuine Ruler--he will make
matters far worse. The laws at any rate are such as the citizens
have been accustomed to, and such as give a certain measure of
satisfaction. But the arbitrary rule of this violent and
unscientific Governor is a tyranny:[36] which is greatly worse
than the laws. Fixed laws are thus a second-best:[37] assuming
that you cannot obtain a true scientific, artistic, Governor. If
such a man could be obtained, men would be delighted to live under
him. But they despair of ever seeing such a character, and they
therefore cling to fixed laws, in spite of the numerous
concomitant mischiefs.[38] These mischiefs are indeed so serious,
that when we look at actual cities, we are astonished how they get
on under such a system; and we cannot but feel how firm and deeply
rooted a city naturally is.[39]

[Footnote 36: Plato, Politik. p. 300 A-B, 301 B-C.]

[Footnote 37: Plato, Politik. p. 300 C. [Greek: deu/teros

[Footnote 38: Plato, Politik. p. 301 D.]

[Footnote 39: Plato, Polit. p. 302 A. [Greek: ê)\ e)kei=no ê(mi=n
thaumaste/on ma=llon, ô(s i)schuro/n ti po/lis e)sti\ phu/sei?]]

[Side-note: Comparison of unscientific governments. The one despot
is the worse. Democracy is the least bad, because it is least of a

We see therefore (the Eleate goes on) that there is no true
polity--nothing which deserves the name of a genuine political
society--except the government of one chief, scientific or
artistic. With him laws are superfluous and even inconvenient. All
other polities are counterfeits: factions and cabals, rather than
governments:[40] delusions carried on by tricksters and conjurers.
But among these other polities or sham polities, there is a
material difference as to greater or less badness: and the
difference turns upon the presence or absence of good laws. Thus,
the single-headed government, called monarchy (assuming the Prince
not to be a man of science or art) is the best of all the
sham-polities, if the Prince rules along with and in observance of
known good laws: but it is the worst of them all, if he rules
without such laws, as a despot or tyrant. Oligarchy, or the
government of a few--if under good laws, is less good than that of
the Prince under the same circumstances--if without such laws, is
less bad than that of the despot. Lastly, the government of the
many is less good under the one supposition--and less bad under
the other. It is less effective, either for good or for evil. It
is in fact less of a government: the administrative force being
lost by dissipation among many hands for short intervals; and more
free play being thus left to individuals. Accordingly, assuming
the absence of laws, democracy is the least bad or most tolerable
of the six varieties of sham-polity. Assuming the presence of
laws, it is the worst of them.[41]

[Footnote 40: Plato, Polit. pp. 302-303 B-C. [Greek: tou\s
koinônou\s tou/tôn tô=n politeiô=n pasô=n, plê\n tê=s
e)pistê/monos, a)phairete/on ô(s ou)k o)/ntas politikou\s a)lla\
stasiastikou/s, kai\ ei)dô/lôn megi/stôn prosta/tas o)/ntas kai\
au)tou\s ei)=nai toiou/tous, megi/stous de\ o)/ntas mimêta\s kai\
go/êtas megi/stous gi/gnesthai tô=n sophistô=n sophista/s.]]

[Footnote 41: Plato, Polit. p. 302 B. [Greek: ti/s dê\ tô=n ou)k
o)rthô=n politeiô=n tou/tôn ê(/kista chalepê\ suzê=n, pasô=n
chalepô=n ou)sô=n, kai\ ti/s baruta/tê?] Also p. 303 A-B.]

[Side-note: The true governor distinguished from the General, the
Rhetor, &c. They are all properly his subordinates and

We have thus severed the genuine scientific Governor from the
unworthy counterfeits by whom his agency is mimicked in actual
society. But we have still to sever him from other worthier
functionaries, analogous and cognate, with whom he co-operates;
and to show by what characteristic he is distinguished from
persons such as the General, the Judge, the Rhetor or Persuader to
good and just objects. The distinction is, that all these
functions, however honourable functions, are still nevertheless
essentially subordinate and ministerial, assuming a sovereign
guidance from some other quarter to direct them. Thus the General
may, by his strategic art, carry on war effectively; but he must
be directed when, and against whom, war is to be carried on. The
Judge may decide quarrels without fear, antipathy, or favour: but
the general rules for deciding them must be prescribed to him by a
higher authority. So too the Rhetor may apply his art well, to
persuade people, or to work upon their emotions, without teaching
them: but he must be told by some one else, when and on what
occasions persuasion is suitable, and when force must be employed
instead of it.[42] Each of these functionaries must learn, what
his own art will not teach him, the proper seasons, persons, and
limitations, among and under which his art is to be applied. To
furnish such guidance is the characteristic privilege and duty of
the scientific chief, for which he alone is competent. He does not
act himself, but he originates, directs, and controls, all the
real agents and agencies. Without him, none of them are available
or beneficial towards their special ends. He alone can judge of
their comparative value, and of the proper reasons for invoking or
restraining their interference.[43]

[Footnote 42: Plato, Polit. pp. 304-305.]

[Footnote 43: Plato, Polit. p. 305 D. [Greek: tê\n ga\r o)/ntôs
ou)=san basilikê\n ou)k au)tê\n dei= pra/ttein, a)ll' a)/rchein
tô=n duname/nôn pra/ttein, gignô/skousan tê\n a)rchê/n te kai\
o(rmê\n tô=n megi/stôn e)n tai=s po/lesin e)gkairi/as te pe/ri
kai\ a)kairi/as, ta\s d' a)/llas ta\ prostachthe/nta dra=|n.]]

[Side-note: What the scientific Governor will do. He will aim at
the formation of virtuous citizens. He will weave together the
energetic virtues with the gentle virtues. Natural dissidence
between them.]

The great scientific Governor being thus defined, and logically
distinguished from all others liable to be confounded with him,
Plato concludes by a brief statement what his principal functions
are. He will aim at ensuring among his citizens the most virtuous
characters and the best ethical combinations. Like the weaver (to
whom he has been already assimilated) he will put together the
great political web or tissue of improved citizenship,
intertwining the strong and energetic virtues (the warp) with the
yielding and gentler virtues (the woof).[44] Both these
dispositions are parts or branches of virtue; but there is a
natural variance or repulsion between them.[45] Each of them is
good, in proper measure and season: each of them is bad, out of
measure and season. The combination of both, in due proportion, is
indispensable to form the virtuous citizen: and that combination
it is the business of the scientific Governor to form and uphold.
It is with a view to this end that he must set at work all the
agents of teaching and education, and must even interfere to
arrange the intermarriages of the citizens; not allowing the
strong and courageous families to form alliance with each other,
lest the breed should in time become too violent--nor the gentle
and quiet families to do the like, lest the offspring should
degenerate into stupidity.[46]

[Footnote 44: Plato, Polit. pp. 306-307. [Greek: tê\n basilikê\n

[Footnote 45: Plato, Polit. pp. 306 A-B, 307 C, 308 B.]

[Footnote 46: Plato, Polit. pp. 308-309-310.]

[Side-note: If a man sins by excess of the energetic element, he is
to be killed or banished: if of the gentle, he is to be made a
slave. The Governor must keep up in the minds of the citizens an
unanimous standard of ethical orthodoxy.]

All persons, who, unable to take on this conjunction, sin by an
excess of the strong element, manifesting injustice or
irreligion--must be banished or put to death:[47] all who sin by
excess of the feebler element, exhibiting stupidity and meanness,
must be degraded into slavery. Above all things, the scientific
Governor must himself dictate, and must implant and maintain,
in the minds of all his citizens, an authoritative standard of
orthodox sentiment respecting what is just, honourable, good--and the
contrary.[48] If this be ensured, and if the virtues naturally
discordant be attempered with proper care, he will make sure of a
friendly and harmonious community, enjoying as much happiness as
human affairs admit.[49]

[Footnote 47: Plato, Polit. p. 309 A.]

[Footnote 48: Plato, Polit. pp. 309 C, 310 E.]

[Footnote 49: Plato, Polit. p. 311 B-C.]

*  *  *  *  *

[Side-note: Remarks--Sokratic Ideal--Title to govern mankind
derived exclusively from scientific superiority in an individual

I have thus given a brief abridgment of the main purpose of the
Politikus, and of the definition which Plato gives of the True
Governor and his function. I proceed to make a few remarks upon

Plato's theory of government is founded upon the supposition of
perfect knowledge--scientific or artistic intelligence--in the
person of the Governor: a partial approach, through teaching and
acquired knowledge, to that immense superiority of the Governor
over the Governed, which existed in the Saturnian period. It is
this, and this alone, which constitutes, in his estimation, the
title to govern mankind. The Governor does not himself act: he
directs the agency of others: and the directions are dictated by
his knowledge. I have already observed that Sokrates had himself
enunciated the doctrine--Superior scientific competence (the
special privilege of a professor or an artist) is the only
legitimate title to govern.

[Side-note: Different ways in which this ideal is worked out by
Plato and Xenophon. The man of speculation and the man of action.]

From Sokrates the idea passed both to Plato and to Xenophon: and
the contrast between the two is shown forcibly by the different
way in which they deal with it. Xenophon has worked it out on a
large scale, in the Cyropædia--on a small scale, in the
OEconomicus. Cyrus in the former, Ischomachus in the latter,
knows better than any one else what is to be done, and gives
orders accordingly. But both the one and the other are also
foremost in action, setting example as well as giving orders to
others. Now Plato, while developing the same idea, draws a marked
line of distinction between Science and Practice:--between
direction and execution.[50] His scientific Governor does not act
at all, but he gives orders to all the different men of action,
and he is the only person who knows on what occasions and within
what limits each agent should put forth his own special aptitude.
Herein we discern one of the distinctions between these two _viri
Socratici_: Xenophon, the soldier and man of action--Plato, the
speculative philosopher. Xenophon conceives the conditions of the
True Governor in a larger way than Plato, for he includes among
them the forward and energetic qualities requisite for acting on
the feelings of the subject Many, and for disposing them to follow
orders with cheerfulness and zeal:[51] whereas Plato makes
abstraction of this part of the conditions, and postulates
obedience on the part of the many as an item in his fundamental
hypothesis. Indeed he perpetually presents us with the comparison
of the physician, who cuts and burns for the purpose of ultimate
cure. Plato either neglects, or assumes as a matter of course, the
sentiments of the persons commanded, or the conditions of willing
obedience; while Xenophon dwells upon the maintenance of such
sentiments as one of the capital difficulties in the problem of
government. And we perceive a marked contrast between the
unskilful proceedings of Plato, when he visited Dionysius II. at
Syracuse, illustrating his (Plato's) inaptitude for dealing with a
real situation--and the judicious management of Xenophon, when
acting as one of the leaders of the Cyreian army under
circumstances alike unexpected and perilous.

[Footnote 50: Plato, Polit. pp. 259 C-D, 305 D.]

[Footnote 51: See the preface to Xenophon's Cyropædia; also
Cyropæd. i. 6, 20; and his Oecon. c. 21, and c. 13, 4, where we
see the difference between the Xenophontic idea, and the Platonic
idea, of [Greek: o( a)rchiko\s a)nthrô/pôn, oi( thei=oi kai\
a)gathoi\ kai\ e)pistê/mones a)/rchontes].]

[Side-note: The theory in the Politikus is the contradiction to
that theory which is assigned to Protagoras in the Protagoras.]

Plato here sets forth the business of governing as a special art,
analogous to the special art of the weaver, the steersman, the
physician. Now in each special art, the requisite knowledge and
competence is possessed only by the one or few artists who
practise them. The knowledge possessed by such one or few,
suffices for all the remaining community; who benefit by it, but
are altogether ignorant on the matter, and follow orders
blindfold. As this one Artist is the only competent person for the
task, so he is assumed _quâ_ Artist, to be infallible in the
performance of the task--never to go wrong, nor to abuse his
power, nor to aim at any collateral end.[52] Such is Plato's
theory of government in the Politikus. But if we turn to the
Protagoras, we shall find this very theory of government
explicitly denied, and a counter-theory affirmed, in the discourse
put into the mouth of Protagoras. That Sophist is made to
distinguish the political or social art, upon which the
possibility of constituting or keeping up human society depends,
from all other arts (manual, useful, linguistic), by this express
characteristic: All other arts were distributed among mankind in
such manner, that knowledge and skill were confined to an
exclusive few, whose knowledge, each in his own special
department, sufficed for the service of all the rest, not favoured
with the like knowledge--but the political or social art was
distributed (by order of Zeus to Hermes) on a principle quite
opposite. It was imparted to every member of society without
exception. If it had been granted only to a few, and not to all,
society could not have held together. Justice and the sense of
shame (Temperance or Moderation), which are the bonds of the city
and the fruits of the political art, must be instilled into every
man. Whoever cannot take on and appropriate them (Zeus proclaims
it as his law), must be slain as a nuisance or distemper of the

[Footnote 52: Compare Plato, Republic, i. pp. 340-341.]

[Footnote 53: Plato, Protag. pp. 322, 325 A.]

[Side-note: Points of the Protagorean theory--rests upon common

Such we have seen to be the theory enunciated by the Platonic
Protagoras (in the dialogue so-called) respecting the political or
social art. It pervades all the members of society, as a common
and universal attribute, though each man has his own specialty
besides. It was thus distributed at the outset by Zeus. It stands
embodied in the laws and in the unwritten customs, so that one man
may know it as well as another. Every man makes open profession of
knowing and possessing it:--which he cannot do with any special
art. Fathers enforce it on their children by rewards and
punishments, schoolmasters and musicians impart it by extracts
from the poets: the old teach it to the young: nay every man, far
from desiring to monopolise it for himself, is forward in teaching
it to others: for it is the interest of every one that his
neighbour should learn it. Since every one thus teaches it, there
are no professed or special teachers: yet there are still some few
who can teach it a little better than others--and among those few
I (says Protagoras) am one.[54]

[Footnote 54: Plato, Protag. pp. 327-328.]

[Side-note: Counter-Theory in the Politikus. The exigencies of the
Eleate in the Politikus go much farther than those of Protagoras.]

Whoever compares the doctrine of the Politikus[55] with the
portion of the Protagoras[56] to which I have just referred, will
see that they stand to each other as theory and counter-theory.
The theory in the Politikus sets aside (intentionally or not) that
in the Protagoras. The Platonic Protagoras, spokesman of King
Nomos, represents common sense, sentiment, sympathies and
antipathies, written laws, and traditional customs known to all as
well as reverenced by the majority: the Platonic Politikus
repudiates all these, as preposterous fetters to the single
Governor who monopolises all political science and art. Let us add
too, that the Platonic Protagoras (whom many commentators teach us
to regard as a person of exorbitant arrogance and pretensions) is
a very modest man compared to the Eleate in the Platonic
Politikus. For the former accepts all the written laws and
respected customs around him,--admits that most others know them,
in the main, as well as he,--and only professes to have acquired a
certain amount of superior skill in impressing them upon others:
whereas the latter sets them all aside, claims for himself an
uncontradicted monopoly of social science and art, and postulates
an extent of blind submission from society such as has never yet
been yielded in history.

[Footnote 55: Plato, Politik. p. 301 E.

The portion of this dialogue, from p. 296 to p. 302, enunciates
the doctrine of which I have given a brief abstract in the text.]

[Footnote 56: Plato, Protag. pp. 321-328.]

[Side-note: The Eleate complains that under the Protagorean theory
no adverse criticism is allowed. The dissenter is either condemned
to silence or punished.]

The Eleate here complains of it as a hardship, that amidst a
community actually established and existing, directed by written
laws, traditional customs and common sentiment (the Protagorean
model),--he, the political artist, is interdicted from adverse
criticism and outspoken censure of the legal and consecrated
doctrines. If he talks as one wiser than the laws, or impugns them
as he thinks that they deserve, or theorises in his own way
respecting the doctrines which they sanction--he is either laughed
to scorn as a visionary, prosing, Sophist--or hated, and perhaps
punished, as a corrupter of youth; as a person who brings the
institutions of society into contempt, and encourages violators of
the law.[57]

[Footnote 57: Plato, Politik. p. 299 B. [Greek: a)\n tis . . .
zêtô=n phai/nêtai para\ ta\ gra/mmata kai\ sophizo/menos o(tiou=n
peri\ ta\ toiau=ta.]

In the seventh book of Republic (p. 520 B), Plato describes the
position of the philosopher in an established society, springing
up by his own internal force, against the opposition of all the
social influences--[Greek: au)to/matoi ga\r e)mphu/ontai a)kou/sês
tê=s e)n e(ka/stê| (po/lei) politei/as], &c.]

[Side-note: Intolerance at Athens, not so great as elsewhere. Plato
complains of the assumption of infallibility in existing
societies, but exacts it severely in that which he himself

The reproach implied in these phrases of Plato is doubtless
intended as an allusion to the condemnation of Sokrates. It is a
reproach well-founded against that proceeding of the government of
Athens:--and would have been still better founded against other
contemporary governments. That the Athenians were intolerant, is
not to be denied: but they were less intolerant than any of their
contemporaries. Nowhere else except at Athens could Sokrates have
gone on until seventy years of age talking freely in the
market-place against the received political and religious orthodoxy.
There was more free speech ([Greek: par)r(êsi/a])[58] at Athens
than in any part of the contemporary world. Plato, Xenophon, and
the other companions of Sokrates, proclaimed by lectures and
writings that they thought themselves wiser than the laws of
Athens: yet though the Gorgias was intended as well as adapted to
bring into hatred and contempt both those laws and the persons who
administered them, the Athenian Rhetors never indicted Plato for
libel. Upon this point, we can only speak comparatively: for
perfect liberty of proclaiming opinions neither does now exist,
nor ever has existed, any where. Most men have no genuine respect
for the right of another to form and express an opinion
dissentient from theirs: if they happen to hate the opinion, they
account it a virtue to employ as much ill-usage or menace as will
frighten the holder thereof into silence. Plato here points out in
emphatic language,[59] the deplorable consequences of assuming
infallibility and perfection for the legal and customary orthodoxy
of the country, and prohibiting free censure by dissentient
individuals. But this is on the supposition that the laws and
customs are founded only on common sense and traditional
reverence:--and that the scientific Governor is among the
dissenters. Plato's judgment is radically different when he
supposes the case reversed:--when King Nomos is superseded by the
scientific Professor of whom Plato dreams, or by a lawgiver who
represents him. We shall observe this when we come to the Treatise
de Legibus, in which Plato constitutes an orthodoxy of his own,
prohibiting free dissent by restrictions and penalties stricter
than any which were known to antiquity. He cannot recognise an
infallible common sense: but he has no scruple in postulating an
infallible scientific dictator, and in enthroning himself as such.
Though well aware that reasoned truth presents itself to different
philosophers in different versions, he does not hesitate to
condemn those philosophers who differ from him, to silence or to
something worse.

[Footnote 58: See Euripides, Ion, 671.

 [Greek: e)k tô=n A)thênô=n m' ê( tekou=s' ei)/ê gunê/,
ô(/s moi ge/noito mêtro/then par)r(êsi/a.]

Also Euripid. Hippolyt. 424, and Plato, Gorgias, p. 461 E, where
Sokrates says to Polus--[Greek: deina\ me/nt' a)\n pa/thois, ei)
A)thê/naze a)phiko/menos, ou)= tê=s E(lla/dos, plei/stê e)sti\n
e)xousi/a tou= le/gein, e)/peita su\ e)ntau=tha tou/tou mo/nos
a)tuchê/sais], &c.]

[Footnote 59: Plato, Polit. p. 299 E.]

[Side-note: Theory of the Politikus--distinguished three gradations
of polity. Gigantic individual force the worst.]

It will appear then that the Platonic Politikus distinguishes
three varieties and gradations of social constitution.

1. _Science or Art. Systematic Construction from the beginning,
based upon Theory._--That which is directed by the constant
supervision of a scientific or artistic Ruler. This is the only
true or legitimate polity. Represented by Plato in Republic.
Illustrated by the systematic scheme of weights, measures,
apportionment of years, months, and days, in calendar--put
together on scientific principles by the French Convention in
1793--as contrasted with the various local, incoherent, growths,
which had obtained recognition through custom or arbitrary
preference of unscientific superiors.

2. _Common Sense. Unsystematic Aggregate of Customs, accepted in
an Actual Society._--That which is directed by written laws and
fixed traditional customs, known to every one, approved by the
common sense of the community, and communicated as well as upheld
by the spontaneous teaching of the majority. King Nomos.

This stands for the second best scheme: the least objectionable
form of degeneracy--yet still a degeneracy. It is the scheme set
forth by the Platonic Protagoras, in the dialogue so called.
Represented with improvements by Plato in Treatise De Legibus.

3. _Gigantic Individual Force._--That in which some violent
individual--not being really scientific or artistic, but perhaps
falsely pretending to be so--violates and tramples under foot the
established laws and customs, under the stimulus of his own
exorbitant ambition and unmeasured desires.

This is put forward as the worst scheme of all: as the greatest
depravation of society, and the greatest forfeiture of public as
well as private happiness. We have here the proposition which
Pôlus and Kalliklês are introduced as defending in the Gorgias,
and Thrasymachus in the Republic. In both dialogues, Sokrates
undertakes to expose it. The great benefit conferred by King
Nomos, is, that he protects society against the maximum of evil.

[Side-note: Comparison of the Politikus with the Republic. Points
of analogy and difference.]

Another interesting comparison may be made: that between the
Politikus and the Republic. We must remember that the Politikus is
announced by Plato as having two purposes. 1. To give a lesson in
the method of definition and division. 2. To define the
characteristic of the person bearing the name of Politikus,
distinguishing him from all others, analogous or disparate.--The
method is here more prominent than the doctrine.

But in the Republic, no lesson of method is attempted; the
doctrine stands alone and independent of it. We shall find however
that the doctrine is essentially the same. That which the
Politikus lays down in brief outline, is in the Republic amplified
and enlarged; presented with many variations and under different
points of view, yet, still at the bottom, the same doctrine, both
as to affirmation and negation. The Republic affirms (as the
Politikus does) the exclusive legitimacy of science, art,
intelligence, &c., as the initiatory and omnipotent authority over
all the constituent members of society: and farther, that such
intelligence can have no place except in one or a few privileged
persons. The Republic (like the Politikus) presents to us the
march of society with its Principal Cause--its concurrent or
Auxiliary Causes--and its inferior governable mass or matter, the
human flock, indispensable and co-essential as a part of the whole
scheme. In the Republic, the Cause is represented by the small
council of philosophical Elders: the concurrent causes, by the
Guardians or trained soldiers: the inferior matter, by the
remaining society, which is distributed among various trades,
providing for the subsistence and wants of all. The explanation of
Justice (which is the ostensible purpose of the Republic) is made
to consist in the fact--That each one of these several parts does
its own special work--nothing more--nothing less. Throughout all
the Republic, a constant parallelism is carried on (often indeed
overstrained) between the community and the individual man. In the
one as well as in the other, Plato recognises the three
constituent elements, all essential as co-operators, but each with
its own special function: in the individual, he recognises three
souls (encephalic, thoracic, and abdominal) as corresponding to
Elders, Guardians, and Producers, in the community. Here are the
same features as those given in outline in the Politikus: but the
two higher features of the three appear greatly expanded in the
Republic: the training and conditions proper for the philosophic
Artist or Governor, and for his auxiliaries the Guardians, being
described and vindicated at great length. Moreover, in the
Republic, Plato not only repeats the doctrine[60] that the right
of command belongs to every art in its own province and over its
own subject-matter (which is the cardinal point in the
Politikus)--but he farther proclaims that each individual neither can
exercise, nor ought to exercise, more than one art. He allows no
double men or triple men[61]--"Quam quisque novit artem, in eâ se
exerceat". He would not have respected the Xenophontic Cyrus or
Ischomachus. He carries the principle of specialization to its
extreme point. His Republic is an aggregate of special artists and
professional aptitudes: among whom the Governor is only one,
though the first and rarest. He sets aside the common basis of
social endowments essential to every man: upon which each man's
specialty is superinduced in the theory of the Platonic
Protagoras. The only common quality which Plato admits is,--That
each man, and each of the three souls composing each man, shall do
his own business and his own business only: this is his definition
of Justice, in the Republic.[62]

[Footnote 60: Plato, Republ. i. p. 342 C. [Greek: A)lla\ mê\n
a)/rchousi ge ai( te/chnai kai\ kratou=sin e)kei/nou ou)= per
ei)si\ te/chnai.]]

[Footnote 61: Plato, Republ. ii. pp. 370 B, 374 B--395-397 E.
[Greek: ou)k e)/sti diplou=s a)nê\r par' ê(mi=n ou)de\
pollaplou=s, e)peidê\ e(/kastos e(\n pra/ttei] (p. 397 E).]

[Footnote 62: Plato, Republ. iv. p. 433.]

[Side-note: Comparison of the Politikus with the Kratylus.
Dictatorial, constructive, science or art, common to both: applied
in the former to social administration--in the latter to the
formation and modification of names.]

Lastly, I will illustrate the Politikus by comparison with the
Kratylus, which will be treated in the next chapter. The
conception of dictatorial science or art, which I have stated as
the principal point in the Politikus, appears again in the
Kratylus applied to a different subject--naming, or the imposition
of names. Right and legitimate name-giving is declared to be an
affair of science or art, like right and legitimate polity: it can
only be performed by the competent scientific or artistic
name-giver, or by the lawgiver considered in that special capacity.
The second title of the dialogue Kratylus is [Greek: Peri\ O)noma/tôn
O)rtho/têtos]--On the Rectitude or legitimacy of names. What
constitutes right and legitimate Name-giving? In like manner, we
might provide a second title for the Politikus--[Greek: Peri\
Politei/as O)rtho/têtos]--On the rectitude or legitimacy of polity
or sociality. What constitutes right or legitimate sociality?[63]
Plato answers--It is the constant dictation and supervision of art
or science--or of the scientific, artistic, dictator, who alone
knows both the End and the means. This alone is right and true
sociality--or sociality as it ought to be. So, if we read the
Kratylus, we find Plato defining in the same way right
Name-giving--or name-giving as it ought to be. It is when each name
is given by an artistic name-constructor, who discerns the Form of
the name naturally suitable in each particular case, and can
embody it in appropriate letters and syllables.[64] A true or
right name signifies by likeness to the thing signified.[65] The
good lawgiver discerns this likeness: but all lawgivers are not
good: the bad lawgiver fancies that he discerns it, but is often
mistaken.[66] It would be the ideal perfection of language, if
every name could be made to signify by likeness to the thing
named. But this cannot be realised: sufficient likenesses cannot
be found to furnish an adequate stock of names. In the absence of
such best standard, we are driven to eke out language by appealing
to a _second-best_, an inferior and vulgar principle approximating
more or less, to rectitude--that is, custom and convention.[67]

[Footnote 63: The exact expression occurs in Politikus, pp. 293 E,
294 A. [Greek: nu=n de\ ê)/dê phanero\n o(/ti tou=to
boulêso/metha, to\ peri\ tê=s tô=n a)/neu no/môn a)rcho/ntôn
o)rtho/têtos dielthei=n ê(ma=s.]

The [Greek: o)rthê/, a)lêthinê/, gnêsi/a, politei/a] are phrases
employed several times--pp. 292 A-C, 293 B-E, 296 E, 297 B-D. 300
D-E: [Greek: o( a)lêthino/s, o( e)/ntechnos]. 300 E: [Greek: tê\n
a)lêthinê\n e)kei/nên, tê\n tou= e(no\s meta\ te/chnês a)/rchontos
politei/an]. 302 A-E.

Plato sometimes speaks as if a bad [Greek: politei/a] were no
[Greek: politei/a] at all--as if a bad [Greek: no/mos] were no
[Greek: no/mos] at all. See above, vol. ii. ch. xiv. pp. 88, where
I have touched on this point in reviewing the Minos. This is a
frequent and perplexing confusion, but purely verbal. Compare
Aristotel. Polit. iii. 2. p. 1276, a. 1, where he deals with the
like confusion--[Greek: a)=r' ei) mê\ dikai/ôs poli/tês, ou)

[Footnote 64: Plato, Kratylus, p. 388 E. [Greek: Ou)/k a)/ra
panto\s a)ndro\s o)/noma the/sthai e)/stin, a)lla/ tinos
o)nomatourgou/; ou(=tos d' e)/stin, ô(s e)/oiken, o( nomothe/tês,
o(\s dê\ tô=n dêmiourgô=n spaniô/tatos e)n a)nthrô/pois
gi/gnetai.] Compare Politik. p. 292 D.]

[Footnote 65: Plato, Kratyl. pp. 430, 431 D, 430 C.]

[Footnote 66: Plato, Kratyl. pp. 431 E, 436 B.]

[Footnote 67: Plato, Kratyl. p. 435 B-C.

So in the Protagoras (p. 328 A) we find the Platonic Protagoras
comparing the self-originated and self-sustaining traditional
ethics, to the traditional language--[Greek: ti/s dida/skalo/s
e)sti tou= E(llêni/zein?]]

We see thus that in the Kratylus also, as well as in the
Politikus, the systematic dictation of the Man of Science or Art
is pronounced to be the only basis of complete rectitude. Below
this, and far short of it, yet still indispensable as a supplement
in real life--is, the authority of unsystematic custom or
convention; not emanating from any systematic constructive Artist,
but actually established (often, no one knows how) among the
community, and resting upon their common sentiment, memory, and

[Side-note: Courage and Temperance are assumed in the Politikus. No
notice taken of the doubts and difficulties raised in Lachês and

This is the true Platonic point of view, considering human affairs
in every department, the highest as well as the lowest, as
subjects of Art and Science: specialization of attributes and
subdivision of function, so that the business of governing falls
to the lot of one or a few highly qualified Governors: while the
social edifice is assumed to have been constructed from the
beginning by one of these Governors, with a view to consistent,
systematic, predetermined ends--instead of that incoherent
aggregate[68] which is consecrated under the empire of law and
custom. Here in the Politikus, we read that the great purpose of
the philosophical Governor is to train all the citizens into
virtuous characters: by a proper combination of Courage and
Temperance, two endowments naturally discordant, yet each alike
essential in its proper season and measure. The interweaving of
these two forms the true Regal Web of social life.[69]

[Footnote 68:The want of coherence, or of reference to any common
and distinct End, among the bundle of established [Greek: No/mima]
is noted by Aristotle, Polit. vii. 2, 1324, b. 5: [Greek: dio\ kai\
tô=n plei/stôn nomi/môn chu/dên, ô(s ei)pei=n _keime/nôn_ para\
toi=s plei/stois, o(/môs, ei)/ pou/ ti pro\s e(\n oi( no/moi
ble/pousi, tou= kratei=n stocha/zontai Krê/tê| pro\s tou\s
pole/mous sunte/taktai schedo\n ê)\ te paidei/a kai\ to\ tô=n
no/môn plê=thos.]

Custom and education surround all prohibitions with the like
sanctity--both those most essential to the common security, and
those which emanate from capricious or local antipathy--in the
minds of docile citizens.

[Greek: I)=so/n toi kua/mous te phagei=n, kephala/s te tokê/ôn.]

Aristotle dissents from Plato on the point of always vesting the
governing functions in the same hands. He considers such a
provision dangerous and intolerable to the governed.

Aristot. Polit. ii. 5, 1264, b. 6.]

[Footnote 69: Plato, Polit. p. 306 A. [Greek: basilikê\
sumplokê/], &c.

Schleiermacher in his Introduction to the Politikus (pp. 254-256)
treats this [Greek: basilikê\ sumplokê\] as a poor and
insignificant function, for the political Artist determined and
installed by so elaborate a method and classification. But the
dialogue was already so long that Plato could not well lengthen it
by going into fuller details. Socher points out (Ueber Platon's
Schrift. p. 274) discrepancies between the Politikus on one side,
and Protagoras and Gorgias on the other--which I think are really
discoverable, though I do not admit the inference which he draws
from them.]

Such is the concluding declaration of the accomplished Eleatic
expositor, to Sokrates and the other auditors. But this suggests
to us another question, when we revert to some of the Platonic
dialogues handled in the preceding pages. What _are_ Virtue,
Courage, Temperance? In the Menon, the Platonic Sokrates had
proclaimed, that he did not himself know what virtue was: that he
had never seen any one else who did know: that it was impossible
to say how virtue could be communicated, until you knew what
virtue was--and impossible to determine any one of the parts of
virtue, until virtue had been determined as a whole. In the
Charmidês, Sokrates had affirmed that he did not know what
Temperance was; he then tested several explanations thereof,
propounded by Charmides and Kritias: but ending only in universal
puzzle and confessed ignorance. In the Lachês, he had done the
same with Courage: not without various expressions of regret for
his own ignorance, and of surprise at those who talked freely
about generalities which they had never probed to the bottom.
Perplexed by these doubts and difficulties--which perplexed yet
more all his previous hearers, the modest beauty of Charmides and
the mature dignity of Nikias and Laches--Sokrates now finds
himself in presence of the Eleate, who talks about Virtue,
Temperance, Courage, &c., as matters determinate and familiar.
Here then would have been the opportunity for Sokrates to
reproduce all his unsolved perplexities, and to get them cleared
up by the divine Stranger who is travelling on a mission of
philosophy. The third dialogue, to be called the Philosophus,
which Plato promises as sequel to the Sophistês and Politikus,
would have been well employed in such a work of elucidation.

[Side-note: Purpose of the difficulties in Plato's Dialogues of
Search--To stimulate the intellect of the hearer. His exposition
does not give solutions.]

This, I say, is what we might have expected, if Plato had
corresponded to the picture drawn by admiring commentators: if he
had merely tied knots in one dialogue, in order to untie them in
another. But we find nothing of the kind, nor is such a picture of
Plato correct. The dialogue Philosophus does not exist, and
probably was never written. Respecting the embarrassments of the
Menon, Lachês, Charmidês, Alkibiadês I., Protagoras,
Euthyphron--Sokrates says not a word--[Greek: ou)de\ gru/]--to urge
them upon the attention of the Eleate: who even alludes with
displeasure to contentious disputants as unfair enemies. For the
right understanding of these mysterious but familiar words--Virtue,
Courage, Temperance--we are thrown back upon the common passive,
unscientific, unreasoning, consciousness: or upon such measure and
variety of it as each of us may have chanced to imbibe from the
local atmosphere, unassisted by any special revelation from
philosophy. At any rate, the Eleate furnishes no interpretative
aid. He employs the words, as if the hearers understood them of
course, without the slightest intimation that any difficulty
attaches to them. Plato himself ignores all the difficulties, when
he is putting positive exposition into the mouth of the Eleate.
Puzzles and perplexities belong to the Dialogues of Search; in
which they serve their purpose, if they provoke the intellect of
the hearer to active meditation and effort, for the purpose of
obtaining a solution.



The dialogue entitled Kratylus presents numerous difficulties to
the commentators: who differ greatly in their manner of
explaining, First, What is its main or leading purpose? Next, How
much of it is intended as serious reasoning, how much as mere
caricature or parody, for the purpose of exposing and reducing to
absurdity the doctrines of opponents? Lastly, who, if any, are the
opponents thus intended to be ridiculed?

[Side-note: Persons and subjects of the dialogue Kratylus--Sokrates
has no formed opinion, but is only a Searcher with the others.]

The subject proposed for discussion is, the rectitude or inherent
propriety of names. How far is there any natural adaptation, or
special fitness, of each name to the thing named? Two disputants
are introduced who invoke Sokrates as umpire. Hermogenes asserts
the negative of the question; contending that each name is
destitute of natural significance, and acquires its meaning only
from the mutual agreement and habitual usage of society.[1]
Kratylus on the contrary maintains the doctrine that each name has
a natural rectitude or fitness for its own significant
function:--that there is an inherent bond of connection, a fundamental
analogy or resemblance between each name and the thing signified.
Sokrates carries on the first part of the dialogue with
Hermogenes, the last part with Kratylus.[2] He declares more than
once, that the subject is one on which he is ignorant, and has
formed no conclusion: he professes only to prosecute the search
for a good conclusion, conjointly with his two companions.[3]

[Footnote 1: In the arguments put into the mouth of Hermogenes, he
is made to maintain two opinions which are not identical, but
opposed. 1. That names are significant by habit and convention, and
not by nature. 2. That each man may and can give any name which he
pleases to any object (pp. 384-385).

The first of these two opinions is that which is really discussed
here: impugned in the first half of the dialogue, conceded in the
second. It is implied that names are to serve the purpose of
mutual communication and information among persons living in
society; which purpose they would not serve if each individual
gave a different name to the same object. The second opinion is
therefore not a consequence of the first, but an implied
contradiction of the first.

He who says that the names Horse and Dog are significant by
convention, will admit that at the outset they might have been
inverted in point of signification; but he will not say that any
individual may invert them at pleasure, now that they are
established. The purposes of naming would no longer be answered,
if this were done.]

[Footnote 2: The question between Hermogenes and Kratylus was much
debated among the philosophers and literary men throughout
antiquity (Aul. Gell. x. 4). Origen says (contra Celsum, i. c.
24)--[Greek: lo/gos bathu\s kai\ a)po/r)r(êtos o( peri\ phu/seôs
o)noma/tôn, po/teron, ô(s oi)/etai A)ristote/lês, the/sei ei)=nai
ta\ o)no/mata, ê)\, ô(s nomi/zousin oi( a)po\ tê=s Stoa=s,

Aristotle assumes the question in favour of [Greek: the/sei], in
his treatise De Interpretatione, without any reasoning, against
the Platonic Kratylus; but his commentators, Ammonius and
Boethius, note the controversy as one upon which eminent men in
antiquity were much divided.

Plato connects his opinion, that names have a natural rectitude of
signification, with his general doctrine of self-existent,
archetypal, Forms or Ideas. The Stoics, and others who defended
the same opinion afterwards, seem to have disconnected it from
this latter doctrine.]

[Footnote 3: Plato, Kratyl. pp. 384 C, 391 A.]

[Side-note: Argument of Sokrates against Hermogenes--all
proceedings of nature are conducted according to fixed
laws--speaking and naming among the rest.]

Sokrates, refuting Hermogenes, lays down the following
doctrines.[4] If propositions are either true or false, names,
which are parts of propositions, must be true or false also.[5]
Every thing has its own fixed and determinate essence, not
relative to us nor varying according to our fancy or pleasure, but
existing _per se_ as nature has arranged.[6] All agencies either
by one thing upon other things, or by other things upon it, are in
like manner determined by nature, independent of our will and
choice. If we intend to cut or burn any substance, we must go to
work, not according to our own pleasure, but in the manner that
nature prescribes: by attempting to do it contrary to nature, we
shall do it badly or fail altogether.[7] Now _speaking_ is one of
these agencies, and _naming_ is a branch of _speaking_: what is
true of other agencies is true of these also--we must name things,
not according to our own will and pleasure, but in the way that
nature prescribes that they shall be named.[8] Farther, each
agency must be performed by its appropriate instrument: cutting by
the axe, boring by the gimlet, weaving by the bodkin. The name is
the instrument of naming, whereby we communicate information and
distinguish things from each other. It is a didactic instrument:
to be employed well, it must be in the hands of a properly
qualified person for the purpose of teaching.[9] Not every man,
but only the professional craftsman, is competent to fabricate the
instruments of cutting and weaving. In like manner, not every man
is competent to make a name: no one is competent except the
lawgiver or the gifted name-maker, the rarest of all existing

[Footnote 4: Aristot. De Interpretat. ii. 1-2: [Greek: O)/noma
me\n ou)=n e)sti\ phônê\ sêmantikê\ kata\ sunthê/kên a)/neu
chro/nou . . . to\ de\ kata\ sunthê/kên, o(/ti phu/sei tô=n
o)noma/tôn ou)de/n e)stin], &c.

This is the same doctrine which Plato puts into the mouth of
Hermogenes (Kratylus, p. 384 E), and which Sokrates himself, in
the latter half of the dialogue, admits as true to a large extent:
that is, he admits that names are significant [Greek: kata\
sunthê/kên], though he does not deny that they are or may be
significant [Greek: phu/sei].

[Greek: To\ a)po\ tau)toma/tou] (p. 397 A) is another phrase for
expressing the opinion opposed to [Greek: o)noma/tôn o)rtho/tês].]

[Footnote 5: Plato, Kratyl. p. 385.

Here too, Aristotle affirms the contrary: he says (with far more
exactness than Plato) that propositions alone are true or false;
and that a name taken by itself is neither. (De Interpret. i. 2.)

The mistake of Plato in affirming Names to be true or false, is
analogous to that which we read in the Philêbus, where Pleasures
are distinguished as true and false.]

[Footnote 6: Plato, Kratyl. p. 386 D. [Greek: dê=lon dê\ o(/ti
au)ta\ au(tô=n ou)si/an e)/chonta/ tina be/baio/n e)sti ta\
pra/gmata, ou) pro\s ê(ma=s ou)de\ u(ph' ê(mô=n, e)lko/mena a)/nô
kai\ ka/tô tô=| ê(mete/rô| phanta/smati, a)lla\ kath' au(ta\ pro\s
tê\n au(tôn ou)si/an e)/chonta ê(=|per pe/phuken.]]

[Footnote 7: Plato, Kratyl. p. 387 A.]

[Footnote 8: Plato, Kratyl. p. 387 C. [Greek: Ou)kou=n kai\ to\
o)noma/zein pra=xis ti/s e)stin, ei)/per kai\ to\ le/gein pra=xis
tis ê)=n peri\ ta\ pra/gmata? . . . Ai( de\ pra/xeis e)pha/nêsan
ê(mi=n ou) pro\s ê(ma=s ou)=sai, a)ll' au(tô=n tina i)di/an
phu/sin e)/chousai? . . . Ou)kou=n kai\ o)nomaste/on ê(=| pe/phuke
ta\ pra/gmata o)noma/zein te kai\ o)noma/zesthai, kai\ ô(=|, a)ll'
ou)ch ê(=| a)\n ê(mei=s boulêthô=men, ei)/per ti toi=s
e)/mprosthen me/llei o(mologou/menon ei)=nai? kai\ ou(/tô me\n
a)\n ple/on ti poioi=men kai\ o)noma/zoimen, a)/llôs de\ ou)/?]

Speaking and naming are regarded by Plato as acts whereby the
thing (spoken of or) named is acted upon or suffers. So in the
Sophistês (p. 248) he considers Knowing as an act performed,
whereby the thing known suffers. Deuschle (Die Platonische
Sprach-philosophie, p. 59, Marpurg. 1859) treats this comparison
made by Plato between naming and material agencies, as if it were
mere banter--and even indifferent banter. Schleiermacher in his note
thinks it seriously meant and Platonic; and I fully agree with him
(Schl. p. 456).]

[Footnote 9: Plato, Kratyl. p. 388 C. [Greek: O)/noma a)/ra
didaskaliko/n ti/ e)stin o)/rganon, kai\ diakritiko\n tê=s
ou)si/as, ô(/sper kerki\s u(pha/smatos.] See Boethius ap. Schol.
ad Aristot. Interp. p. 108, a. 40. Aristotle (De Interpr. iv. 3)
says: [Greek: e)/sti de\ lo/gos a(/pas me\n sêmantiko/s, ou)ch ô(s
o)/rganon de/, a)lla\ kata\ sunthê/kên.] Several even of the
Platonic critics consider Plato's choice of the metaphor [Greek:
o)/rganon] as inappropriate: but modern writers on logic and
psychology often speak of names as "_instruments_ of thought".]

[Footnote 10: Plato, Kratyl. p. 389 A. [Greek: o( nomothe/tês,
o(\s dê\ tô=n dêmiourgô=n spaniô/tatos e)n a)nthrô=pois

[Side-note: The name is a didactic instrument; fabricated by the
law-giver upon the type of the Name-Form, and employed as well as
appreciated, by the philosopher.]

To what does the lawgiver look when he frames a name? Compare the
analogy of other instruments. The artisan who constructs a bodkin
or shuttle for weaving, has present to his mind as a model, the
Idea or Form of the bodkin--the self-existent bodkin of Nature
herself. If a broken shuttle is to be replaced, it is this Idea or
type, not the actual broken instrument, which he seeks to copy.
Whatever may be the variety of web for which the shuttle is
destined, he modifies the new instrument accordingly: but all of
them must embody the Form or Idea of the shuttle. He cannot choose
another type according to his own pleasure: he must embody the
type, prescribed by nature, in the iron, wood, or other material
of which the instrument is made.[11]

[Footnote 11: Plato, Kratyl. p. 389 B-C. [Greek: au)to\ o( e)/sti
kerki/s . . . pa/sas me\n dei= to\ tê=s kerki/dos e)/chein ei)=dos
. . . ou)ch oi(=on a)\n au)to\s boulê/thê, a)ll' oi(=on

So about names: the lawgiver, in distributing names, must look to
the Idea, Form, or type--the self-existent name of Nature--and
must embody this type, as it stands for each different thing, in
appropriate syllables. The syllables indeed may admit of great
variety, just as the material of which the shuttle is made may be
diversified: but each aggregate of syllables, whether Hellenic or
barbaric, must embody the essential Name-Idea or Type.[12] The
lawgiver[13] ought to know, enumerate, and classify all the sorts
of things on the one hand, and all the varieties of letters or
elements of language on the other; distinguishing the special
significative power belonging to each letter. He ought then to
construct his words, and adapt each to signify that with which it
is naturally connected. Who is to judge whether this process has
been well or ill performed? Upon that point, the judge is, the
professional man who uses the instrument. It is for the working
weaver to decide whether the shuttle given to him is well or ill
made. To have a good ship and rudder, it must be made by a
professional builder, and appreciated by a professional pilot or
steersman. In like manner, the names constructed by the lawgiver
must be appreciated by the man who is qualified by training or
study to use names skilfully: that is, by the dialectician or
philosopher, competent to ask and answer questions.[14]

[Footnote 12: Plato, Kratyl. pp. 389 D, 390 A. [Greek: to\
e(ka/stô| phu/sei pephuko\s o)/noma to\n nomothe/tên e)kei=non
ei)s tou\s phtho/ggous kai\ ta\s sullaba\s dei= e)pi/stasthai
tithe/nai, kai\ ble/ponta _pro\s au)to\ e)kei=no o(\ e)/stin
o)/noma_, pa/nta ta\ o)no/mata poiei=n te kai\ ti/thesthai, _ei)
me/llei ku/rios ei)=nai o)noma/tôn the/tês_. . . .

Ou(/tôs a)xiô/seis kai\ to\n nomothe/tên to/n te e)ntha/de kai\
to\n e)n toi=s barba/rois, e(/ôs a)\n to\ _tou= o)no/matos
ei)=dos_ a)podidô=| _to\ prosê=kon e(ka/stô| e)n o(poiaisou=n
sullabai=s_, ou)de\n chei/rô nomothe/tên ei)=nai to\n e)ntha/de
ê)\ to\n o(pouou=n a)/llothi?]]

[Footnote 13: Plato, Kratyl. p. 424 D-E.]

[Footnote 14: Plato, Kratyl. p. 390 C.]

[Side-note: Names have an intrinsic aptitude for signifying one
thing and not another.]

It is the fact then, though many persons may think it ridiculous,
that names--or the elementary constituents and letters, of which
names are composed--have each an intrinsic and distinctive
aptitude, fitting them to signify particular things.[15] Names
have thus a standard with reference to which they are correct or
incorrect. If they are to be correct, they cannot be given either
by the freewill of an ordinary individual, or even by the
convention of all society. They can be affixed only by the skilled
lawgiver, and appreciated only by the skilled dialectician.

[Footnote 15: Plato, Kratyl. pp. 425-426.]

[Side-note: Forms of Names, as well as Forms of things
nameable--essence of the Nomen, to signify the Essence of its

Such is the theory here laid down by Sokrates respecting Names. It
is curious as illustrating the Platonic vein of speculation. It
enlarges to an extreme point Plato's region of the absolute and
objective. Not merely each thing named, but each name also, is in
his view an Ens absolutum; not dependent upon human choice--not
even relative (so he alleges) to human apprehension. Each name has
its own self-existent Idea, Form, or Type, the reproduction or
copy of which is imperative. The Platonic intelligible world
included Ideas of things, and of names correlative to them: just
as it included Ideas of master and slave correlative to each
other. It contained Noumena of names, as well as Noumena of
things.[16] The essence of the name was, to be significant of the
essence of the thing named: though such significance admitted of
diversity, multiplication, or curtailment, in the letters or
syllables wherein it was embodied.[17] The name became
significant, by imitation or resemblance: that name was right, the
essence of which imitated the essence of the thing named.[18] The
vocal mimic imitates sounds, the painter imitates the colours: the
name-giver imitates in letters or syllables, the essence of
colours, sounds, and every thing else which is nameable.

[Footnote 16: Plato, Parmenid. p. 133 E.]

[Footnote 17: Plato, Kratyl. pp. 393 D, 432.]

[Footnote 18: Plato, Kratyl. p. 422 D. [Greek: tô=n o)noma/tôn ê(
o)rtho/tês toiau/tê tis e)bou/leto ei)=nai, oi(=a dêlou=n oi(=on
e(/kasto/n e)sti tô=n o)/ntôn.]--423 D: [Greek: ou) kai\ _ou)si/a
dokei=_ soi ei)=nai e(ka/stô|, ô(/sper kai\ chrô=ma kai\ a(\ nu=n
dê\ e)le/gomen? prô=ton au)tô=| tô=| chrô/mati kai\ tê=| phônê=|
ou)k e)/stin ou)si/a tis e(kate/rô| au)tô=n kai\ toi=s a)/llois
pa=sin, _o(/sa êxi/ôtai tau/tês tê=s prosrê/seôs tou= ei)=nai?_
. . . Ti/ ou)=n?** ei)/ tis au)to\ tou=to mimei=sthai du/naito,
e(ka/stou** tê\n ou)si/an, gra/mmasi/ te kai\ sullabai=s, a)=r' ou)k
a)\n dêloi= e(/kaston o(\ e)/stin?] Compare p. 433.

The story given by Herodotus (ii. 2) about the experiment made by
the Egyptian king Psammetichus, is curious. He wished to find out
whether the Egyptians or the Phrygians were the oldest or first of
mankind: he accordingly caused two children to be brought up
without having a word spoken to them, with a view to ascertain
what language they would come to by nature. At the age of two
years they uttered the Phrygian word signifying _bread_.
Psammetichus was then satisfied that the Phrygians were the first
of mankind.

This story undoubtedly proceeds upon the assumption that there is
one name which naturally suggests itself for each object. But when
M. Renan says that the assumption is the same "as Plato has
developed with so much subtlety in the Kratylus," I do not agree
with him. The Absolute Name-Form or Essence, discernible only by
the technical Lawgiver, is something very different. See M. Renan,
De l'Origine du Langage, ch. vi. p. 146, 2nd ed.]

Another point here is peculiar to Plato. The Name-Giver must
provide names such as can be used with effect by the dialectician
or philosopher: who is the sole competent judge whether the names
have genuine rectitude or not.[19] We see from hence that the
aspirations of Plato went towards a philosophical language fit for
those who conversed with forms or essences: something like (to use
modern illustrations) a technical nomenclature systematically
constructed for the expositions of men of science: such as that of
Chemistry, Botany, Mineralogy, &c. Assuredly no language actually
spoken among men, has ever been found suitable for this purpose
without much artificial help.[20]

[Footnote 19: Plato, Kratyl. p. 390 D. Respecting the person
called [Greek: o( dialektiko/s], whom Plato describes as grasping
Ideas, or Forms, Essences, and employing nothing else in his
reasoning--[Greek: lo/gon didou\s kai\ lamba/nôn tê=s
ou)si/as]--see Republic, vi. p. 511 B, vii. pp. 533-534-537 C.]

[Footnote 20: Plato, Kratyl. p. 426 A. [Greek: o( peri\ o)noma/tôn
techniko/s], &c.]

[Side-note: Exclusive competence of a privileged lawgiver, to
discern these essences, and to apportion names rightly.]

As this theory of naming is a deduction from Plato's main doctrine
of absolute or self-existing Ideas, so it also illustrates (to
repeat what was said in the last chapter) his recognition of
professional skill and of competence vested exclusively in a
gifted One or Few: which he ranks as the sole producing cause of
Good or the Best, setting it in contrast with those two causes
which he considers as productive of Evil, or at any rate of the
Inferior or Second-Best: 1. The One or Few, who are ungifted and
unphilosophical: perhaps ambitious pretenders. 2. The spontaneous,
unbespoken inspirations, conventions, customs, or habits, which
grow up without formal mandate among the community. To find the
right name of each thing, is no light matter, nor within the
competence of any one or many ordinary men. It can only be done by
one of the few privileged lawgivers. Plato even glances at the
necessity of a superhuman name-giver: though he deprecates the
supposition generally, as a mere evasion or subterfuge, introduced
to escape the confession of real ignorance.[21]

[Footnote 21: Plato, Kratyl. pp. 397, 425, 438.]

[Side-note: Counter-Theory, which Sokrates here sets forth and
impugns--the Protagorean doctrine--Homo Mensura.]

In laying down the basis of his theory respecting names, Plato
states another doctrine as opposed to it: _viz._, the Protagorean
doctrine--Man is the Measure of all things. I have already said
something about this doctrine, in reviewing the Theætêtus, where
Plato impugns it: but as he here impugns it again, by arguments in
part different--a few words more will not be misplaced.

The doctrine of Protagoras maintains that all things are relative
to the percipient, cogitant, concipient, mind: that all Object is
implicated with a Subject: that as things appear to me, so they
are to me--as they appear to you, so they are to you. Plato denies
this, and says: "All things have a fixed essence of their own,
absolutely and in themselves, not relative to any percipient or
cogitant--nor dependent upon any one's appreciative understanding,
or emotional susceptibility, or will. Things are so and so,
without reference to us as sentient or cogitant beings: and not
only the things are thus independent and absolute, but all their
agencies are so likewise--agencies either by them or upon them.
Cutting, burning, speaking, naming, &c., must be performed in a
certain determinate way, whether we prefer it or not. A certain
Name belongs, by Nature or absolutely, to a certain thing, whether
we choose it or not: it is not relative to any adoption by us,
either individually or collectively."

This Protagorean theory is here set forth by the Platonic Sokrates
as the antithesis or counter-theory, to that which he is himself
advancing, _viz._--That Names are significant by nature and not by
agreement of men:--That each Nomen is tied to its Nominatum by a
natural and indissoluble bond. His remarks imply, that those who
do not accept this last-mentioned theory must agree with
Protagoras. But such an antithesis is noway necessary: since (not
to speak of Hermogenes himself in this very dialogue) we find also
that Aristotle--who maintains that Names are significant by
convention and not by nature--dissents also from the theory of
Protagoras: and would have rested his dissent from it on very
different grounds.

[Side-note: Objection by Sokrates--That Protagoras puts all men on
a level as to wisdom and folly, knowledge and ignorance.]

This will show us--what I have already remarked in commenting on
the Theætêtus--that Plato has not been very careful in
appreciating the real bearing of the Protagorean doctrine. He
impugns it here by the same argument which we also read in the
Theætêtus. "Everyone admits" (he says) "that there are some men
wise and good--others foolish and wicked. Now if you admit this,
you disallow the Protagorean doctrine. If I contend that as things
appear to me, so they truly are to me--as things appear to you or
to him, so they truly are to you or to him--I cannot consistently
allow that any one man is wiser than any other. Upon such a
theory, all men are put upon the same level of knowledge or

But the premisses of Plato here do not sustain his inference.

[Side-note: Objection unfounded--What the Protagorean theory really
affirms--Belief always relative to the believer's mind.]

The Protagorean doctrine is, when stated in its most general
terms,--That every man is and must be his own measure of truth or
falsehood--That what appears to him true, _is true to him_,
however it may appear to others--That he cannot by any effort step
out of or beyond his own individual belief conviction,
knowledge--That all his Cognita, Credita, Percepta, Cogitata, &c.,
imply himself as Cognoscens, Credens, Percipiens, Cogitans, inseparably
and indivisibly--That in affirming an object, he himself is
necessarily present as affirming subject, and that Object and
Subject are only two sides of the same indivisible fact[22]--That
though there are some matters which all men agree in believing,
there is no criterion at once infallible and universally
recognised, in matters where they dissent: moreover, the matters
believed are just as much relative where all agree, as where some

[Footnote 22: M. Destutt Tracy observes, Logique, ch. ix. p. 347,
ed. 1825:

"En effet, on ne saurait trop le redire, chacun de nous, et même
tout être animé quelconque, est pour lui-même le centre de tout.
Il ne perçoit par un sentiment direct et une conscience intime,
que ce qui affecte et émeut sa sensibilité. Il ne conçoit et ne
connaît son existence que par ce qu'il sent, et celle des autres
êtres que parce qu'ils lui font sentir. Il n'y a de réel pour lui
que ses perceptions, ses affections, ses idées: et tout ce qu'il
peut jamais savoir, n'est toujours que des consequences et des
combinaisons de ces premières perceptions ou idees."

The doctrine of the Sceptical philosophers, is explicitly
announced by Sextus Empiricus as his personal belief: that which
appears true to him, as far as his enquiry had reached. The
passage deserves to be cited.

Sextus Empir. Pyrrh. Hypotyp. i. Sect. 197-199.

[Greek: O(/tan ou)=n ei)/pê| o( skeptiko\s "_ou)de\n o(ri/zô_"
. . . tou=to/ phêsi le/gôn to\ _e(autô=| phaino/menon peri\
tô=n prokeime/nôn_, ou)k a)paggeltikô=s, meta\ pepoithê/seôs
a)pophaino/menos, a)ll' o(\ pa/schei, diêgou/menos. . . . Kai\
ô(/sper o(le/gôn "_peripatô=_," ou(/tôs o( le/gôn "_pa/nta
e)sti\n a)o/rista_" sussêmai/nei kath' ê(ma=s to\ ô(s _pro\s e)me
ê)\ ô(s e)moi\ phai/netai_; ô(s ei)=nai to\ lego/menon toiou=ton
"o(/sa e)pêlthon tô=n dogmatikô=s zêtoume/nôn, toiau=ta/ moi
phai/netai_, ô(s mêde\n au)tô=n tou= machome/nou prou)/chein moi\
dokei=n kata\ pi/stin ê)\ a)pisti/an".]]

[Side-note: Each man believes others to be wiser on various points
than himself--Belief on authority--not inconsistent with the
affirmation of Protagoras.]

This doctrine is not refuted by the fact, that every man believes
others to be wiser than himself on various points. A man is just
as much a measure to himself when he acts upon the advice of
others, or believes a fact upon the affirmation of others, as when
he judges upon his own unassisted sense or reasoning. He is a
measure to himself when he agrees with others, as much as when he
disagrees with them. Opinions of others, or facts attested by
others, may count as materials determining his judgment; but the
judgment is and must be his own. The larger portion of every man's
knowledge rests upon the testimony of others; nevertheless the
facts thus reported become portions of _his_ knowledge, generating
conclusions _in him_ and relatively _to him_. I believe the
narrative of travellers, respecting parts of the globe which I
have never seen: I adopt the opinion of A a lawyer, and of B a
physician, on matters which I have not studied: I understand facts
which I did not witness, from the description of those who did
witness them. In all these cases the act of adoption is my own,
and the grounds of belief are relative to my state of mind.
Another man may mistrust completely the authorities which I
follow: just as I mistrust the authority of Mahomet or Confucius,
or various others, regarded as infallible by a large portion of
mankind. The grounds of belief are to a certain extent similar, to
a certain extent dissimilar, in different men's minds. Authority
is doubtless a frequent ground of belief; but it is essentially
variable and essentially relative to the believer. Plato himself,
in many passages, insists emphatically upon the dissensions in
mankind respecting the question--"_Who are_ the good and wise
men?" He tells us that the true philosopher is accounted by the
bulk of mankind foolish and worthless.

[Side-note: Analogy of physical processes (cutting and burning)
appealed to by Sokrates--does not sustain his inference against

In the Kratylus, Sokrates says (and I agree with him) that there
are laws of nature respecting the processes of cutting and
burning: and that any one who attempts to cut or burn in a way
unconformable to those laws, will fail in his purpose. This is
true, but it proves nothing against Protagoras. It is an appeal to
a generalization from physical facts, resting upon experience and
induction--upon sensation and inference which we and others,
Protagoras as well as Plato, have had, and which we believe to be
common to all. We know this fact, or have a full and certain
conviction of it; but we are not brought at all nearer to the
Absolute (_i.e._, to the Object without Subject) which Plato's
argument requires. The analogy rather carries us away from the
Absolute: for cutting and burning, with their antecedent
conditions, are facts of sense: and Plato himself admits, to a
great extent, that the facts of sense are relative. All experience
and induction, and all belief founded thereupon, are essentially
relative. The experience may be one common to all mankind, and
upon which all are unanimous:[23] but it is not the less relative
to each individual of the multitude. What is relative to all,
continues to be relative to each: the fact that all sentient
individuals are in this respect alike, does not make it cease to
be relative, and become absolute. What I see and hear in the
theatre is relative to me, though it may at the same time be
relative to ten thousand other spectators, who are experiencing
like sensations. Where all men think or believe alike, it may not
be necessary for common purposes to distinguish the multiplicity
of individual thinking subjects: yet the subjects are nevertheless
multiple, and the belief, knowledge, or fact, is relative to each
of them, whether all agree, or whether beliefs are many and
divergent. We cannot suppress ourselves as sentient or cogitant
subjects, nor find any _locus standi_ for Object pure and simple,
apart from the ground of relativity. And the Protagorean dictum
brings to view these subjective conditions, as being essential, no
less than the objective, to belief and disbelief.

[Footnote 23: Proklus, in his Scholia on the Kratylus, p. 32, ed.
Boisson, cites the argument used by Aristotle against Plato on
this very subject of names--[Greek: _ta\ me\n phu/sei, para\ pa=si
ta\ au)ta/_; ta\ de\ o)no/mata ou) para\ pa=si ta\ au)ta/; ô/ste
ta\ phu/sei o)/nta ou)/k e)stin o)no/mata, kai\ ta\ o)no/mata ou)k
ei)si phu/sei.] Ammonius ad Aristot. De Interpretat. p. 100, a.
28, Schol. Bekk. Sextus Empiricus adv. Mathemat. i. 145-147, p.
247, Fab.

Plato had assimilated naming to cutting and burning. Aristotle
denies the analogy: he says that cutting and burning are the same
to all, or _are by nature_: naming is not the same to all, and is
therefore not by nature.

We find here the test pointed out to distinguish what _is by
nature_ (that which Plato calls the [Greek: ou)si/an be/baion tô=n
pragma/tôn]--p. 386 E),--_viz._ That it is the same to all or
among all. What it is to one individual, it is to another also.
There are a multitude of different judging subjects, but no
dissentient subjects: myself, and in my belief all other subjects,
are affected alike. This is the true and real Objective: a
particular fact of sense, where Subject is not eliminated
altogether, but becomes a constant quantity, and therefore escapes
separate notice. An Objective _absolute_ (_i.e._, without Subject
altogether) is an impossibility.

In the Aristotelian sense of [Greek: phu/sei], it would be correct
to say that Language, or Naming _in genere_, is natural to man. No
human society has yet been found without some language--some
names--some speech employed and understood by each individual
member. But many different varieties of speech will serve the
purpose, not indeed with equal perfection, yet tolerably: enough
to enable a society to get on. The uniformity ([Greek: to\
phu/sei]) here ceases. To a certain extent, the objects and
agencies which are named, are the same in all societies: to a
certain extent different. If we were acquainted with all the past
facts respecting the different languages which have existed or do
exist on the globe, we should be able to assign the reason which
brought each particular _Nomen_ into association with its
_Nominatum_. But this past history is lost.]

[Side-note: Reply of Protagoras to the Platonic objections.]

Protagoras would have agreed with Plato as to combustion--that
there were certain antecedent conditions under which he fully
expected it, and certain other conditions under which he expected
with confidence that it would not occur. Only he would have
declared this (assuming him to speak conformably to his own
theory) to be his own full belief and conviction, derived from
certain facts and comparisons of sense, which he also _knew_ to be
shared by most other persons. He would have pronounced farther,
that those who held opposite opinions were in his judgment wrong:
but he would have recognised that their opinion was true to
themselves, and that their belief must be relative to causes
operating upon _their_ minds. Farthermore, he would have pointed
out, that combustion itself, with its antecedents, were facts of
sense, relative to individual sentients and observers, remembering
and comparing what they had observed. This would have been the
testimony of Protagoras (always assuming him to speak in
conformity with his own theory), but it would not have satisfied
Plato: who would have required a peremptory, absolute affirmation,
discarding all relation to observers or observed facts, and
leaving no scope for error or fallibility.

[Side-note: Sentiments of Belief and Disbelief, common to all
men--Grounds of belief and disbelief, different with different men
and different ages.]

Those who agree with Plato on this question, impugn the doctrine
of Protagoras as effacing all real, intrinsic, distinction between
truth and falsehood. Such objectors make it a charge against
Protagoras, that he does not erect his own mind into a peremptory
and infallible measure for all other minds.[24] He expressly
recognises the distinction, so far as his own mind is concerned:
he admits that other men recognise it also, each for himself.
Nevertheless, to say that all men recognise one and the same
objective distinction between truth and falsehood, would be to
contradict palpable facts. Each man has a standard, an ideal of
truth in his own mind: but different men have different standards.
The grounds of belief, though in part similar with all men, are to
a great extent dissimilar also: they are dissimilar even with the
same man, at different periods of his life and circumstances. What
all men have in common is the feeling of belief and the feeling of
disbelief: the matters believed or disbelieved, as well as the
ideal standard to which any new matter presented for belief or
disbelief is referred, differ considerably. By rational
discussion--by facts and reasonings set forth on both sides, as in
the Platonic dialogues--opinions may be overthrown or modified:
dissentients may be brought into agreement, or at least each may
be rendered more fully master of the case on both sides. But this
dialectic, the Platonic question and answer, is itself an appeal
to the free action of the individual mind. The questioner starts
from premisses conceded by the respondent. He depends upon the
acquiescence of the respondent for every step taken in advance.
Such a proceeding is relative, not absolute: coinciding with the
Protagorean formula rather than with the Platonic negation of
it.[25] No man ever claimed the right of individual judgment more
emphatically than Sokrates: no man was ever more special in
adapting his persuasions to the individual persons with whom he

[Footnote 24: To illustrate the impossibility of obtaining any
standard absolute and purely objective, without reference to any
judging Subject, I had transcribed a passage from Steinthal's work
on the Classification of Human languages; but I find it too long
for a note.

Steinthal, Charakteristik der Hauptsächlichen Typen des
Sprachbaues, 2nd ed. Berlin, 1860, pp. 313-314-315.]

[Footnote 25: See the striking passages in the Gorgias, pp. 472 B,
474 B, 482 B; Theætêtus, p. 171 D.

Also in proclaiming the necessity of specialty of adaptation to
individual minds--Plat. Phædr. pp. 271-272, 277 B.]

[Side-note: Protagoras did not affirm, that Belief depended upon
the will or inclination of each individual but that it was
relative to the circumstances of each individual mind.]

The grounds of belief, according to Protagoras, relative to the
individual, are not the same with all men at all times. But it
does not follow (nor does Protagoras appear to have asserted) that
they vary according to the _will_ or _inclination_ of the
individual. Plato, in impugning this doctrine, reasons as if these
two things were one and the same--as if, according to Protagoras,
a man believed whatever he chose.[26] This, however, is not an
exact representation of the doctrine "Homo Mensura": which does
not assert the voluntary or the arbitrary, but simply the relative
as against the absolute. What a man believes does not depend upon
his own will or choice: it depends upon an aggregate of
circumstances, partly peculiar to himself, partly common to him
with other persons more or fewer in number:[27] upon his age,
organisation, and temperament--his experience, education,
historical and social position--his intellectual powers and
acquirements--his passions and sentiments of every kind, &c. These
and other ingredients--analogous, yet neither the same nor
combined in the same manner, even in different individuals of the
same time and country, much less in those of different times and
countries--compose the aggregate determining grounds of belief or
disbelief in every one. Each man has in his mind an ideal standard
of truth and falsehood: but that ideal standard, never exactly the
same in any two men, nor in the same man at all times, often
varies in different men to a prodigious extent. Now it is to this
standard in the man's own mind that those reasoners refer who
maintain that belief is relative. They do not maintain, that it is
relative simply to his wishes, or that he believes and disbelieves
what he chooses.

[Footnote 26: Plato, Kratyl. pp. 387-389, where [Greek: pro\s
ê(ma=s] is considered as equivalent to [Greek: ô(s a)\n ê(mei=s
boulô/metha--ê(=| a)\n ê(mei=s boulê/thômen]--both of them being
opposed to [Greek: oi(=on e)pephu/kei--to\ kata\ phu/sin--i)di/an
au)tô=n phu/sin e)/chousai.]

The error here noted is enumerated by by Mr. John Stuart Mill,
among the specimens of Fallacies of Confusion, in his System of
Logic, Book v. ch. vii. § 1: "The following is an argument of
Descartes to prove, in his _à priori_ manner, the being of a God.
The conception, says he, of an infinite Being proves the real
existence of such a Being. For if there is not really any such
Being, _I_ must have made the conception: but if I could make it,
I can also unmake it--which evidently is not true: therefore there
must be, externally to myself, an archetype from which the
conception was derived. In this argument (which, it may be
observed, would equally prove the real existence of ghosts and of
witches) the ambiguity is in the pronoun _I_; by which, in one
place, is to be understood _my will_--in another, the _laws of my
nature_. If the conception, existing as it does in my mind, had no
original without, the conclusion would unquestionably follow that
_I_ made it--that is, the laws of my nature must have somehow
evolved it: but that _my will_ made it, would not follow. Now when
Descartes afterwards adds that I cannot unmake the conception, he
means that I cannot get rid of it by an act of my will--which is
true, but is not the proposition required. I can as much unmake
this conception as I can any other: no conception which I have
once had, can I ever dismiss by mere volition: but what some of
the laws of my nature have produced, other laws, or those same
laws in other circumstances, may, and often do, subsequently

[Footnote 27: To show how constantly this Protagorean dictum is
misconceived, as if Protagoras had said that things were to each
individual what he was pleased or chose to represent them as
being, I transcribe the following passage from Lassalle's
elaborate work on Herakleitus (vol. ii. p. 381):--"Des Protagoras
Prinzip ist es, dass überhaupt Nichts Objektives ist; dass
vielmehr alles Beliebige was Einem scheint, auch für ihn sei. Dies
Selbstsetzen des Subjekts ist die einzige Wahrheit der Dinge,
welche an sich selbst Nichts Objektives haben, sondern zur
gleichgültigen Fläche geworden sind, auf die das Subjekt
willkührlich und beliebig seine Charaktere schreibt."

Protagoras does not (as is here asserted) deny the Objective: he
only insists on looking at it in conjunction with, or measured by,
some Subject; and that Subject, not simply as desiring or
preferring, but clothed in all its attributes.]

[Side-note: Facts of sense--some are the same to all sentient
subjects, others are different to different subjects. Grounds of

When Plato says that combustibility and secability of objects are
properties fixed and determinate,[28] this is perfectly true, as
meaning that a certain proportion of the facts of sense affect in
the same way the sentient and appreciative powers of each
individual, determining the like belief in every man who has ever
experienced them. Measuring and weighing are sensible facts of
this character: seen alike by all, and conclusive proofs to all.
But this implies, to a certain point, fundamental uniformity in
the individual sentients and judges. Where such condition is
wanting--where there is a fundamental difference in the sensible
apprehension manifested by different individuals--the unanimity is
wanting also. Such is the case in regard to colours and other
sensations: witness the peculiar vision of Dalton and many others.
The unanimity in the first case, the discrepancy in the second, is
alike an aggregate of judgments, each individual, distinct, and
relative. You pronounce an opponent to be in error: but if you
cannot support your opinion by evidence or authority which
satisfies _his_ senses or _his_ reason, he remains unconvinced.
Your individual opinion stands good _to you_; his opinion stands
good _to him_. You think that he ought to believe as you do, and
in certain cases you feel persuaded that he will be brought to
that result by future experience, which of course must be relative
to him and to his appreciative powers. He entertains the like
persuasion in regard to you.

[Footnote 28: When Plato asserts not only that Objects are
absolute and not relative to any Subject--but that the agencies or
properties of Objects are also absolute--he carries the doctrine
farther than modern defenders of the absolute. M. Cousin, in the
eighth and ninth Lectures of his Cours d'Hist. de la Philosophie
Morale au 18me Siècle, lays down the contrary, maintaining that
objects and essences alone are absolute, though unknowable; but
that their agencies are relative and knowable.

"Nous savons qu'il exists quelque chose hors de nous, parceque
nous ne pouvons expliquer nos perceptions sans les rattacher à des
causes distinctes de nous mêmes: nous savons de plus que ces
causes, dont nous ne connaissons pas d'ailleurs l'essence,
_produisent les effets les plus variables, les plus divers, et
même les plus contraires, selon qu'elles rencontrent telle nature
ou telle disposition du sujet._ Mais savons-nous quelque chose de
plus? et même, vu le caractère indéterminé des causes que nous
concevons dans les corps, y-a-t-il quelque chose de plus à savoir?
Y-a-t-il lieu de nous enquérir si nous percevons _les choses
telles qu'elles sont? Non, évidemment. . . Je ne dis pas que le
problème est insoluble: je dis qu'il est absurde, et renferme une
contradiction._ Nous ne savons pas ce que ces causes sont en
elles-mêmes, et la raison nous défend de chercher à les connaître:
mais il est bien évident _à priori_ qu'elles ne sont pas en
elles-mêmes ce qu'elles sont par rapport à nous, _puisque la présence
du sujet modifie nécessairement leur action_. Supprimez tout sujet
sentant, il est certain que ces causes agiraient encore,
puisqu'elles continueraient d'exister: mais elles agiraient
autrement; elles seraient encore des qualités et des propriétés,
mais qui ne ressembleraient à rien de ce que nous connaissons. Le
feu ne manifesterait plus aucune des propriétés que nous lui
connaissons: que serait-il? C'est ce que nous ne saurons jamais.
C'est d'ailleurs peut-être un problème qui ne répugne pas
seulement à la nature de notre esprit mais à l'essence même des
choses. Quand même en effet on supprimerait par la pensée tous les
sujets sentants, il faudrait encore admettre que nul corps ne
manifesterait ses propriétés autrement qu'en relation avec un
sujet quelconque, et dans ce cas _ses propriétés ne seraient
encore que relatives_: en sorte qu'il me paraît fort raisonnable
d'admettre que les propriétés déterminées des corps _n'existent
pas indépendamment d'un sujet quelconque_." (2de Partie, 8me
Leçon, pp. 216-218, ed. Danton et Vacherot, Bruxelles, 1841.)]

*  *  *  *  *

[Side-note: Sokrates exemplifies his theory of the Absolute Name or
the Name-Form. He attempts to show the inherent rectitude of many
existing names. His etymological transitions.]

It is thus that Sokrates, in the first half of the Kratylus, lays
down his general theory that names have a natural and inherent
propriety: and that naming is a process which cannot be performed
except in one way. He at the same time announces that his theory
rests upon a principle opposed to the "Homo Mensura" of
Protagoras. He then proceeds to illustrate his doctrine by
exemplification of many particular names, which are alleged to
manifest a propriety of signification in reference to the persons
or matters to which they are applied. Many of these are proper
names, but some are common names or appellatives. Plato regards
the proper names as illustrating, even better than the common, the
doctrine of inherent rectitude in naming: especially the names of
the Gods, with respect to the use of which Plato was himself
timidly scrupulous--and the names reported by Homer as employed by
the Gods themselves. We must remember that nearly all Grecian
proper names had some meaning: being compounds or derivatives from
appellative nouns.

The proper names are mostly names of Gods or Heroes: then follow
the names of the celestial bodies (conceived as Gods), of the
elements, of virtues and vices, &c. All of them, however, both the
proper and the common names, are declared to be compound, or
derivative; presupposing other simple and primitive names from
which they are formed.[29] Sokrates declares the fundamental
theory on which the primitive roots rest; and indicates the
transforming processes, whereby many of the names are deduced or
combined from their roots. But these processes, though sometimes
reasonable enough, are in a far greater number of instances
forced, arbitrary, and fanciful. The transitions of meaning
imagined, and the structural transformations of words, are alike
strange and violent.[30]

[Footnote 29: See the Introduction to Pape's Wörterbuch der
Griechischen Eigennamen.

Thus Proklus observes:--"The recklessness about proper names, is
shown in the case of the man who gave to his son the name of
Athanasius" (Proklus, Schol. ad Kratyl. p. 5, ed. Boiss.) Proklus
adopts the distinction between divine and human names, citing the
authority of Plato in Kratylus. The words of Proklus are
remarkable, ad Timæum, ii. p. 197. Schneid. [Greek: Oi)kei=a ga/r
e)stin o)no/mata pa/sê| ta/xei tô=n pragma/tôn, thei=a me\n toi=s
thei/ois, dianoêta\ de\ toi=s dianoêtoi=s, doxasta\ de\ toi=s
doxastoi=s.] See Timæus, p. 29 B. Compare also Kratylus, p. 400 E,
and Philêbus, p. 12 C.

When Plato (Kratylus, pp. 391-392; compare Phædrus, p. 252 A)
cites the lines of Homer mentioning appellations bestowed by the
Gods, I do not understand him, as Gräfenhahn and others do, to
speak in mockery, but _bonâ fide_. The affirmation of Clemens
Alexandrinus (Stromat. i. 104) gives a probable account of Plato's
belief:--[Greek: O( Pla/tôn kai\ toi=s theoi=s dialekto\n
a)pone/mei tina/, ma/lista me\n a)po\ tô=n o)neira/tôn
tekmairo/menos kai\ tô=n chrêsmô=n.] See Gräfenhahn, Gesch. der
Klassischen Philologie, vol. i. p. 176.

When we read the views of some learned modern philologists, such
as Godfrey Hermann, we cannot be surprised that many Greeks in the
Platonic age should believe in an [Greek: o)rtho/tês o)noma/tôn]
applicable to their Gods and Heroes:--"Unde intelligitur, ex
nominibus naturam et munia esse cognoscenda Deorum: Nec Deorum
tantum, sed etiam heroum, omninoque rerum omnium, nominibus quæ
propria vocantur appellatarum" (De Mythologia Græcorum
Antiquissimâ--in Opuscula, vol. ii. p. 167).

"Bei euch, Ihr Herrn, kann man das Wesen
Gewöhnlich aus dem Namen lesen," &c.
_Goethe_, Faust.

See a remarkable passage in Plutarch, adv. Kolôten, c. 22, p. 1119
E, respecting the essential rectitude and indispensable employment
of the surnames and appellations of the Gods.

The supposition of a mysterious inherent relation, between Names
and the things named, has found acceptance among expositors of
many different countries.

M. Jacob Salvador (Histoire des Institutions de Moïse, Liv. x.,
ch. ii.; vol. iii. p. 136) says respecting the Jewish
Cabbala:--"Que dirai-je de leur _Cabale_? mot signifiant aussi
_tradition_. Elle se composait originairement de tous les principes
abstraits qui ne se répandent pas chez le vulgaire: elle tomba bientôt
dans la folie. Cacher quelques idées metaphysiques sous les figures
les plus bizarres, et prendre ensuite une peine infinie pour retrouver
ces idées premières: s'imaginer qu'il existe entre les noms et les
choses une corrélation inévitable, et que la contexture littérale
des livres sacrés par exemple, doit éclairer sur l'essence même et
sur tous les secrets du Dieu qui les a dictés: tourmenter dès-lors
chaque phrase, chaque mot, chaque lettre, avec la même ardeur
qu'on en met de nos jours à décomposer et à recomposer tous les
corps de la nature: enfin, après avoir établi la corrélation entre
les mots et les choses, croire qu'en changeant, disposant,
combinant, ces mots, on traverse de prétendus _canaux_ d'influence
qui les unissent à ces choses, et qu'on agit sur elles: voilà, ce
me semble, les principales prétentions de cette espèce de science
occulte, échappée de l'Égypte, qui a dévoré beaucoup de bons
esprits, et qui, d'une part, donne la main à la théologie, d'autre
part, à l'astrologie et aux combinaisons magiques."]

[Footnote 30: I cite various specimens of the etymologies given by

1. [Greek: A)game/mnôn--o( a)gasto\s kata\ tê\n e)pimonê/n]--in
consequence of his patience in remaining ([Greek: monê\]) with his
army before Troy (p. 395 A).

2. [Greek: A)treu\s--kata\ to\ a)teire/s, kai\ kata\ to\
a)/treston, kai\ kata\ to\ a)têro/n] (p. 395 C).

3. [Greek: Pe/lops--o( to\ e)ggu\s (pe/las) mo/non o(rô=n kai\ to\
parachrê=ma] (p. 395 D).

4. [Greek: Ta/ntalos--tala/ntatos] (p. 395 E).

5. [Greek: Zeu\s--Di/a--Zê=na--di' o(\n _zê=n_ a)ei\ pa=si toi=s
zô=sin u(pa/rchei]--ut proprie unum debuerit esse vocabulum
[Greek: Diazê=na]. Stallbaum, ad. p. 396 A. Proklus admired these
etymologies (ad Timæum, ii. p. 226, ed. Schneid.).

6. [Greek: Oi( theoi\]--Sun, Moon, Earth, Stars, Uranus--[Greek:
a(/te au)ta\ o(rôntes pa/nta a)ei\ i)o/nta dro/mô| kai\ the/onta,
a)po\ tau/tês tê=s phu/seôs tê=s tou= thei=n _theou\s_ au)tou\s
e)ponoma/sai] (p. 397 D).

7. [Greek: Dai/mones--o(/ti phro/nimoi kai\ daê/mones ê)=san,
dai/monas au)tou\s ôno/masen] (Hesiod) (p. 398 B).

8. [Greek: Ê)/rôs]--either from [Greek: e)/rôs], as one sprung
from the union of Gods with human females: or from [Greek:
e)rôta=|n] or [Greek: ei)/rein],--from oral or rhetorical
attributes, as being [Greek: r(ê/tores kai\ e)rôtêtikoi/] (p. 398

9. [Greek: Di/philos--Dii+\ phi/los] (p. 399 B).

10. [Greek: A)/nthrôpos--o( a)nathrô=n a(\ o)/pôpen] (p. 399 C).

11. [Greek: Psuchê\]--a double derivation is proposed: first,
[Greek: to\ a)na/psuchon], next, a second, _i.e._ [Greek: psuchê\
= phuse/chê, ê)\ phu/sin o)chei= kai\ e)/chei], which second is
declared to be [Greek: technikô/teron], and the former to be
ridiculous (pp. 399 E, 400 A-B).

12. [Greek: Sô=ma = to\ sê=ma tê=s phuchê=s], because the soul is
buried in the body. Or [Greek: sô=ma], that is, preserved or
guarded, by the body as by an exterior wall, in order that it may
expiate wrongs of a preceding life (p. 400 C).

13. The first imposer of names was a philosopher who followed the
theory of Herakleitus--perpetual flux of everything. Pursuant to
this theory he gave to various Gods the names Kronos, Rhea,
Tethys, &c., all signifying flux (p. 402 A-D).

14. Various derivations of the names Poseidon, Hades or Pluto,
Persephonê or Pherrephatta, &c., are given (pp. 404-405); also of
Apollo, so as to fit on to the four functions of the last-named
God, [Greek: mousikê/, mantikê/, i)atrikê/, toxikê/] (p. 405).

15. [Greek: Mou=sa--mousikê\], from [Greek: mô=sthai] (recognised
in Liddell and Scott from [Greek: ma/ô] p. 406 A). [Greek:
A)phrodi/tê] from [Greek: a)phrou= ge/nesin], the Hesiodic
derivation (p. 406 B-D).

16. [Greek: A)ê\r--o(/ti ai)/rei ta\ a)po\ tê=s gê=s--ê)\ o(/ti
a)ei\ r(ei=--ê)\ o(/ti pneu=ma e)x au)tou= gi/gnetai
r(e/ontos]--quasi [Greek: a)êto/r)r(oun. Ai)thê\r--o(/ti a)ei\
thei= peri\ to\n a)e/ra r(e/ôn] (p. 410 B).

17. [Greek: Phro/nêsis--phora=s kai\ r(ou= no/êsis u(polabei=n
phora=s]. This and the following are put as derivatives from the
Herakleitean theory (p. 411 D-E). [Greek: No/êsis = tou= ne/ou
e)/sis. Sôphrosu/nê--sôtêri/a phronê/seôs]. This is recognised by
Aristotle in the Nikom. Ethica, vi. 5.

18. [Greek: E)pistê/mê = e)pistême/nê--ô(s pherome/nois toi=s
pra/gmasin e(pome/nês tê=s psuchê=s] (p. 412 A).

19. [Greek: Dikaiosu/nê--e)pi\ tê=| tou= dikai/ou sune/sei] (p.
412 C).

20. [Greek: Kaki/a = to\ kakô=s i)o/n. Deili/a--tê=s psuchê=s
desmo\s i)schuro/s--o(\ dei= li/an. A)retê\ = a)eirei/tê]--that
which has an easy and constant flux, or perhaps [Greek: ai(retê/]
(p. 415 B-D). [Greek: Ai)schro\n = to\ a)eischorou=n--to\ a)ei\
i)/schon to\n r(ou=n] (p. 416 B). [Greek: Su/mphero\n = tê\ a(/ma
phora\n tê=s psuchê=s meta\ tô=n pragma/tôn] (p. 417 A). [Greek:
Lusite/loun = to\ tê=s phora=s lu/on to\ te/los] (p. 417 C-E).
[Greek: Blabero\n = to\ bla/pton to\n r(ou=n].

The names of favourable import are such as designate facility of
the universal flux, according to the Herakleitean theory. The
names of unfavourable import designate obstruction of the flux.

21. [Greek: Zugo\n = duogo/n] (p. 418 D).

22. [Greek: Eu)phrosu/nê--a)po\ tou= eu)= pra/gmasi tê\n psuchê\n
xumphe/resthai = eu)pherosu/nê] (p. 419 D).

23. [Greek: Thumo\s--a)po\ tê=s thu/seôs kai\ ze/seôs tê=s
psuchê=s. E)pithumi/a--ê( e)pi\ to\n thumo\n i)ou=sa du/namis] (p.
419 E).

24. [Greek: To\ o)/n = to\ ou)= tugcha/nei zê/têma, to\ o)/noma.
O)nomasto\n = o)/n, ou)= ma/sma e)sti/n. (Ma/sma = zê/têma:
mai/esthai = zêtei=n)] (p. 421 A).

25. [Greek: A)lêthei/a--thei/a a)/lê], or [Greek: ê( thei/a tou=
o)/ntos phora/. Pseu=dos] from [Greek: eu(/dein], with [Greek:
psi=] prefixed, as being the opposite of movement and flux (p. 421

26. Several derivations of names are given by Sokrates, as founded
upon the theory opposed to Herakleitus--_i.e._, the theory that
things were not in perpetual flux, but stationary:--

[Greek: E)pistê/mê--o(/ti i(/stêsin ê(mô=n e)pi\ toi=s pra/gmasi
tê\n psuchê/n.

I(stori/a--o(/ti i(/stêsi to\n r(ou=n.

Pisto\n--i(sta=|n panta/pasi sêmai/nei.

Mnê/mê--monê\ e)n tê=| psuchê=|] (437 A-C).

27. We found before that some names of _good_ attributes were
founded on the Herakleitean theory. But there are also names of
_bad_ attributes founded on it.

[Greek: A)mathi/a = ê( tou= a(/ma theô=| i)o/ntos porei/a.

A)kolasi/a = ê( a)kolouthi/a toi=s pra/gmasin] (p. 437 C).

Sokrates contrasts the two theories of [Greek: sta/sis] and
[Greek: ki/nêsis], and says that he believes the first Name-Givers
to have apportioned names in conformity to the theory of [Greek:
ki/nêsis], but that he thinks they were mistaken in adopting that
theory (p. 439 C).]

[Side-note: These transitions appear violent to a modern reader.
They did not appear so to readers of Plato until this century.
Modern discovery, that they are intended as caricatures to deride
the Sophists.]

Such is the light in which these Platonic etymologies appear to a
modern critic. But such was not the light in which they appeared
either to the ancient Platonists, or to critics earlier than the
last century. The Platonists even thought them full of mysterious
and recondite wisdom. Dionysius of Halikarnassus highly commends
Plato for his speculations on etymology, especially in the
Kratylus.[31] Plutarch cites some of the most singular etymologies
in the Kratylus as serious and instructive. The modesty of the
Protagorean formula becomes here especially applicable: for so
complete has been the revolution of opinion, that the Platonic
etymologies are _now_ treated by _most_ critics as too absurd to
have been seriously intended by Plato, even as conjectures. It is
called "a valuable discovery of modern times" (so
Schleiermacher[32] terms it) that Plato meant all or most of them
as mere parody and caricature. We are now told that it was not
Plato who misconceived the analogies, conditions, and limits, of
etymological transition, but others; whom Plato has here set
himself to expose and ridicule, by mock etymologies intended to
parody those which they had proposed as serious. If we ask who the
persons thus ridiculed were, we learn that they were the Sophists,
Protagoras, or Prodikus, with others; according to Schleiermacher,
Antisthenes among them.[33]

[Footnote 31: Dionys. Hal. De Comp. Verb. a. 16, p. 196, Schaefer.
[Greek: ta\ kra/tista de\ ne/mô, ô(s prô/tô| to\n u(pe\r
e)tumologi/as ei)sa/gonti lo/gon, Pla/tôni tô=| Sôkratikô=|,
pollachê=| me\n kai\ a)/llothi, ma/lista de\ e)n tô=| Kratu/lô|.]

About Plato's etymologies, as seriously intended, see Plutarch, De
Iside et Osiride, p. 375 C-D-E, with the note of Wyttenbach.
Harris, in his Hermes (pp. 369-370-407), alludes to the
etymologies of Plato in the Kratylus as being ingenious, though
disputable, but not at all as being derisory caricatures. Indeed
the etymology of _Scientia_, which he cites from Scaliger, p. 370,
is quite as singular as any in the Kratylus. Sydenham (Notes to
the translation of Plato's Philêbus, p. 35) calls the Kratylus "a
dialogue, in which is taught the nature of things, as well the
permanent as the transient, from a supposed etymology of names and

I find, in the very instructive comments of Bishop Colenso on the
Pentateuch (Part iv. ch. 24, p. 250), a citation from St.
Augustine, illustrating the view which I believe Plato to have
taken of these etymologies: "Quo loco prorsus non arbitror
prætereundum, quod pater Valerius animadvertit admirans, in
quorundam rusticanorum (_i.e._, Africans, near Carthage)
collocutione. Cum enim alter alteri dixisset _Salus_--quæsivit ab
eo, qui et Latiné nosset et Punicé, quid esset _Salus_: responsum
est, _Tria_. Tum ille agnoscens cum gaudio, salutem nostram esse
Trinitatem, convenientiam linguarum non fortuitu sic sonuisse
arbitratus est, sed occultissimâ dispensatione divinæ
providentiæ--ut cum Latiné nominatur _Salus_, à Punicis intelligantur
_Tria_--et cum Punici linguâ suâ _Tria_ nominant, Latiné intelligatur
_Salus_ . . . Sed _hæc verborum consonantia_, sive provenerit sive
provisa sit, _non pugnaciter agendum est ut ei quisque consentiat,
sed quantum interpretantis elegantiam hilaritas audientis

So in the etymologies of the Kratylus: Plato follows out threads
of analogy, which, with indulgent hearers, he reckons will be
sufficient for proof: and which, even when not accepted as proof,
will be pleasing to the fancy of unbelieving hearers, as they are
to his own. There is no intention to caricature: no obvious
absurdities piled up with a view to caricature.]

[Footnote 32: Schleiermacher, Introduction to Kratylus, vol. iv.
p. 6: "Dagegen ist viel gewonnen durch die Entdeckung neuerer
Zeiten," &c. To the same purpose, Zeller, Phil. d. Griech., part
ii. p. 402, edit. 2nd, and Brandis, Gesch. Gr. Röm. Phil., part
ii. sect. cvii. p. 285.

Stallbaum, Prolegg. ad Platon. Cratylum, p. 4, says: "Quod mirum
est non esse ab iis animadversum, qui Platonem putaverunt de
linguæ et vocabulorum origine hoc libro suam sententiam explicare
voluisse. Isti enim adeo nihil senserunt irrisionis, ut omnia
atque singula pro philosophi decretis venditarint, ideoque ei
absurdissima quæque commenta affinxerint. Ita Menagius. . . . Nec
Tiedemannus Argum, Dial. Plat. multo rectius judicat. Irrisionem
primi senserunt Garnierius et Tennemann." &c. Stallbaum, moreover,
is perpetually complaining in his notes, that the Etymological
Lexicons adopt Plato's derivations as genuine. Ménage (ad Diogen.
Laert. iii. 25) declares most of the etymologies of Plato in the
Kratylus to be [Greek: pseude/tuma], but never hints at the
supposition that they are intended as caricatures. During the
centuries between Plato and Ménage, men had become more critical
on the subject of etymology: in the century after Ménage, they had
become more critical still, as we may see by the remarks of Turgot
on the etymologies of Ménage himself.

The following are the remarks of Turgot, in the article
'Etymologie' (Encycl. Franc. in Turgot's collected works, vol.
iii. p. 33): "Ménage est un exemple frappant des absurdités dans
lesquelles on tombe, en adoptant sans choix ce que suggère la
malheureuse facilité de supposer tout ce qui est possible: car il
est très vrai qu'il ne fait aucune supposition dont la possibilité
ne soit justifiée par des exemples. Mais nous avons prouvé qu'en
multipliant à volonté les altérations intermédiaires, soit dans le
son, soit dans la signification, il est aisé de dériver un mot
quelconque de tout autre mot donné: c'est le moyen _d'expliquer
tout, et dès-lors de ne rien expliquer_; c'est le moyen aussi de
justifier tous les mépris de l'ignorance."

Steinhart (Einleitung zum Kratylus, pp. 551-552) agrees with
Stallbaum to a certain extent, that Plato in the Kratylus intended
to mock and caricature the bad etymologists of his own day; yet
also that parts of the Kratylus are seriously intended. And he
declares it almost impossible to draw a line between the serious
matter and the caricature.

It appears to me that the Platonic critics here exculpate Plato
from the charge of being a bad etymologist, only by fastening upon
him another intellectual defect quite as serious.

Dittrich, in his Dissertation De Cratylo Platonis, Leipsic, 1841,
adopts the opinion of Schleiermacher and the other critics, that
the etymological examples given in this dialogue, though Sokrates
announces them as proving and illustrating his own theory
seriously laid down, are really bitter jests and mockery, intended
to destroy it--"hanc sententiam facetissimis et irrisione plenis
exemplis, dum comprobare videtur, reverâ infringit" (p. 12).
Dittrich admits that Kratylus, who holds the theory derided,
understands nothing of this _acerbissima irrisio_ (p. 18). He
thinks that Protagoras, not Prodikus nor Antisthenes, is the
person principally caricatured (pp. 32-34-38).]

[Footnote 33: Schleiermacher, Introd. to Kratyl. pp. 8-16;
Stallbaum, Proleg. ad Krat. p. 17. Winckelmann suspects that
Hermogenes in the Kratylus is intended to represent Antisthenes
(Antisth. Fragment. p. 49).

Lobeck (Aglaophamus, p. 866) says that the Pythagoreans were among
the earliest etymologising philosophers, proposing such
etymologies as now appear very absurd.]

[Side-note: Dissent from this theory--No proof that the Sophists
ever proposed etymologies.]

To me this modern discovery or hypothesis appears inadmissible. It
rests upon assumptions at best gratuitous, and in part incorrect:
it introduces difficulties greater than those which it removes. We
find no proof that the Sophists ever proposed such etymologies as
those which are here supposed to be ridiculed--or that they
devoted themselves to etymology at all. If they etymologised, they
would doubtless do so in the manner (to our judgment loose and
fantastic) of their own time and of times long after them. But
what ground have we for presuming that Plato's views on the
subject were more correct? and that etymologies which to them
appeared admissible, would be regarded by him as absurd and

Now if the persons concerned were other than the Sophists,
scarcely any critic would have thought himself entitled to fasten
upon them a discreditable imputation without some evidence. Of
Prodikus we know (and that too chiefly from some sarcasms of
Plato) that he took pains to distinguish words apparently, but not
really, equivalent: and that such accurate distinction was what he
meant by "rectitude of names" (Plato, Euthydêm. 277 E.) Of
Protagoras we know that he taught, by precept or example, correct
speaking or writing: but we have no information that either of
them pursued etymological researches, successfully or
unsuccessfully.[34] Moreover this very dialogue (Kratylus)
contains strong presumptive evidence that the Platonic etymologies
could never have been intended to ridicule Protagoras. For these
etymologies are announced by Sokrates as exemplifying and
illustrating a theory of his own respecting names: which theory
(Sokrates himself expressly tells us) is founded upon the direct
negation of the cardinal doctrine of Protagoras.[35] That Sophist,
therefore, could not have been ridiculed by any applications,
however extravagant, of a theory directly opposed to him.[36]

[Footnote 34: See a good passage of Winckelmann, Prolegg. ad
Platon. Euthydemum, p. xlvii., respecting Protagoras and Prodikus,
as writers and critics on language.

Stallbaum says, Proleg. ad Krat. p. 11:--"Quibus verbis _haud
dubié_ notantur Sophistæ; qui, neglectis linguæ elementis,
derivatorum et compositorum verborum originationem temeré ad suum
arbitrium tractabant". Ibid. p. 4:--"In Cratylo ineptæ etymologiæ
specimina exhibentur, ita quidem ut _haudquaquam dubitari liceat_,
quin ista omnia ad mentem sophistarum maximeque Protagoreorum
_joculari imitatione_ explicata sint".

In spite of these confident assertions,--first, that the Sophists
are the persons _intended_ to be ridiculed, next, that they
_deserved_ to be so ridiculed--Stallbaum has another passage, p.
15, wherein he says, "Jam vero quinam fuerint philosophi isti
atque etymologi, qui in Cratylo ridentur et exploduntur, _vulgo
parum exploratum habetur_". He goes on to say that neither
Prodikus nor Antisthenes is meant, but Protagoras and the
Protagoreans. To prove this he infers, from a passage in this
dialogue (c. 11, p. 391 C), that Protagoras had written a book
[Greek: peri\ o)rtho/têtos tô=n o)noma/tôn] (Heindorf and
Schleiermacher, with better reason, infer from the passage nothing
more than the circumstance that Protagoras taught [Greek:
o)rthoepei/an] or correct speaking and writing). The passage does
not prove this; but if it did, what did Protagoras teach in the
book? Stallbaum tells us (p. 16):--"Jam si quæras, quid tandem
Protagoras ipse de nominum ortu censuerit, _fateor unâ conjecturâ
nitendum esse, ut de hâc re aliquid eruatur_". He then proceeds to
_conjecture_, from the little which we know respecting Protagoras,
what that Sophist must have laid down upon the origin of names;
and he finishes by assuming the very point which he ought to have
proved (p. 17):--"_ex ipso Cratylo intelligimus et cognoscimus_,
mox inter Protagoræ amicos exstitisse qui inepté hæc studia
persequentes, non e verbis et nominibus mentis humanæ notiones
elicere et illustrare, sed in verba et nomina sua ipsi decreta
transferre et sic ea probare et confirmare niterentur. Quid quidem
homines à Platone hoc libro _facetissimâ irrisione_ exagitantur,"
&c. I repeat, that in spite of Stallbaum's confident assertions,
he fails in giving the smallest proof that Protagoras or the
Sophists proposed etymologies such as to make them a suitable butt
for Plato on this occasion. Ast also talks with equal confidence
and equal absence of proof about the silly and arbitrary
etymological proceedings of the Sophists, which (he says) this
dialogue is intended throughout to ridicule (Ast, Platon's Leben
und Schriften, pp. 253-254-264, &c.).]

[Footnote 35: Plato, Kratylus, c. 4-5, pp. 386-387.]

[Footnote 36: Lassalle (Herakleitos, vol. ii. pp. 379-384) asserts
and shows very truly that Protagoras cannot be the person intended
to be represented by Plato under the name of Kratylus, or as
holding the opinion of Kratylus about names. Lassalle affirms that
Plato intends Kratylus in the dialogue to represent Herakleitus
himself (p. 385); moreover he greatly extols the sagacity of
Herakleitos for having laid down the principle, that "Names are
the essence of things," in which principle Lassalle (so far as I
understand him) himself concurs.

Assuming this to be the case, we should naturally suppose that if
Plato intends to ridicule any one, by presenting caricatured
etymologies as flowing from this principle, the person intended as
butt must be Herakleitus himself. Not so Lassalle. He asserts as
broadly as Stallbaum that it was Protagoras and the other Sophists
who grossly abused the doctrine of Herakleitus, for the purpose of
confusing and perverting truth by arbitrary etymologies. His
language is even more monstrous and extravagant than that of
Stallbaum; yet he does not produce (any more than Stallbaum) the
least fragment of proof that the Sophists or Protagoras did what
he imputes to them (pp. 400-401-403-422).

M. Lenormant, in his recent edition of the Kratylus (Comm. p.
7-9), maintains also that neither the Sophists nor the Rhetors
pretended to etymologise, nor are here ridiculed. But he ascribes
to Plato in the Kratylus a mystical and theological purpose which
I find it difficult to follow.]

[Side-note: Plato did not intend to propose mock-etymologies, or to
deride any one. Protagoras could not be ridiculed here. Neither
Hermogenes nor Kratylus understand the etymologies as caricature.]

Suppose it then ascertained that Plato intended to ridicule and
humiliate some rash etymologists, there would still be no
propriety in singling out the Sophists as his victims--except that
they are obnoxious names, against whom every unattested accusation
is readily believed. But it is neither ascertained, nor (in my
judgment) probable, that Plato here intended to ridicule or
humiliate any one. The ridicule, if any was intended, would tell
against himself more than against others. For he first begins by
laying down a general theory respecting names: a theory
unquestionably propounded as serious, and understood to be so by
the critics:[37] moreover, involving some of his favourite and
peculiar doctrines. It is this theory that his particular
etymologies are announced as intended to carry out, in the way of
illustration or exemplification. Moreover, he undertakes to prove
this theory against Hermogenes, who declares himself strongly
opposed to it: and he proves it by a string of arguments which
(whether valid or not) are obviously given with a serious and
sincere purpose of establishing the conclusion. Immediately after
having established that there was a real rectitude of names, and
after announcing that he would proceed to enquire wherein such
rectitude consisted,[38] what sense or consistency would there be
in his inventing a string of intentional caricatures announced as
real etymologies? By doing this, he would be only discrediting and
degrading the very theory which he had taken so much pains to
inculcate upon Hermogenes. Instead of ridiculing Protagoras, he
would ridicule himself and his own theory for the benefit of
opponents generally, one among them being Protagoras: who (if we
imagine his life prolonged) would have had the satisfaction of
seeing a theory, framed in direct opposition to his doctrine,
discredited and parodied by his own advocate. Hermogenes, too
(himself an opponent of the theory, though not concurring with
Protagoras), if these etymologies were intended as caricatures,
ought to be made to receive them as such, and to join in the joke
at the expense of the persons derided. But Hermogenes is not made
to manifest any sense of their being so intended: he accepts them
all as serious, though some as novel and surprising, in the same
passive way which is usual with the interlocutors of Sokrates in
other dialogues. Farther, there are some among these etymologies
plain and plausible enough, accepted as serious by all the
critics.[39] Yet these are presented in the series, without being
parted off by any definite line, along with those which we are
called upon to regard as deliberate specimens of mock-etymology.
Again, there are also some, which, looking at their etymological
character, are as strange and surprising as any in the whole
dialogue: but which yet, from the place which they occupy in the
argument, and from the plain language in which they are presented,
almost exclude the supposition that they can be intended as jest
or caricature.[40] Lastly, Kratylus, whose theory all these
etymologies are supposed to be intended to caricature, is so far
from being aware of this, that he cordially approves every thing
which Sokrates had said.[41]

[Footnote 37: Schleiermacher, Introd. to Krat. pp. 7-10; Lassalle,
Herakleit. ii. p. 387.]

[Footnote 38: Plato, Kratylus, p. 391 B.]

[Footnote 39: See, as an example, his derivation of [Greek:
_Di/philos_] from [Greek: Dii+/ phi/los], p. 399: [Greek:
_Mou=sa_], p. 406: [Greek: dai/môn] from [Greek: daê/môn], p. 398:
for [Greek: _A)phrodi/tê_] he takes the Hesiodic etymology, p.
406. [Greek: _A)/rês_] and [Greek: _a)/r)r(ên_] (p. 407). His
derivation of [Greek: _ai)thê/r_--a)po\ tou= a)ei\ the/ein] (p.
410) is given twice by Aristotle (De Coelo, i. 3, p. 270, b. 22;
Meteorol. i. 3, p. 339, b. 25) as well as in the Pseudo-Aristotle,
De Mundo, p. 392, a. 8. None of the Platonic etymologies is more
strange than that of [Greek: psuchê/], quasi [Greek: phuse/chê,
a)po\ tou= tê\n phu/sin o)chei=n kai\ e)/chein] (Kratyl. p. 400).
Yet Proklus cites this as serious, Scholia in Kratylum, p. 4, ed.
Boissonnade. Plato, in the Treatise De Legibus, derives [Greek:
cho/ros] from [Greek: chara/] and [Greek: no/mos] from [Greek:
nou=s] or [Greek: no/os] (ii. 1, p. 654 A, xii. 8, p. 957 D).]

[Footnote 40: See Plato, Kratyl. p. 437 A-B.

This occurs in the latter portion of the dialogue carried on by
Sokrates with Kratylus, and is admitted by Lassalle to be
seriously meant by Plato: though Lassalle maintains that the
etymologies in the first part of the dialogue (between Sokrates
and Hermogenes) are mere mockery and parody. (Lassalle,
Herakleitos der Dunkle, vol. ii., pp. 402-403).

I venture to say that none of those Platonic etymologies, which
Lassalle regards as caricatures, are more absurd than those which
he here accepts as serious. Liddell and Scott in their Lexicon say
about [Greek: thumo/s], "probably rightly derived from [Greek:
thu/ô] by Plat. Crat. 419 E, [Greek: a)po\ tê=s thu/seôs kai\
ze/seôs tê=s psuchê=s.]" The manner in which Schleiermacher and
Steinhart also (Einleit. zum Kratylos, pp. 552-554), analysing
this dialogue, represent Plato as passing backwards and forwards
from mockery to earnest and from earnest to mockery, appears to me
very singular: as well as the principle which Schleiermacher lays
down (Introduct. p. 10), that Plato intended the general doctrines
to be seriously understood, and the particular etymological
applications to be mere mockery and extravagance (um wer weiss
welche Komödie aufzuführen). What other philosopher has ever
propounded serious doctrines, and then followed them up by
illustrations knowingly and intentionally caricatured so as to
disparage the doctrines instead of recommending them?

It** is surely less difficult to believe that Plato conceived as
plausible and admissible those etymologies which appear to us

As a specimen of the view entertained by able men of the
seventeenth century respecting the Platonic and Aristotelian
etymologies, see the Institutiones Logicæ of Burgersdicius, Lib.
i. c. 25, not. 1. Lehrsch (Die Sprachphilosophie der Alten, Part
i. p. 34-35) agrees with the other commentators, that the Platonic
etymologies in the Kratylus are caricatured to deride the boastful
and arbitrary etymologies of the Sophists about language. But he
too produces no evidence of such etymologies on the part of the
Sophists; nay, what is remarkable, he supposes that _both_
Protagoras and Prodikus agreed in the Platonic doctrine that names
were [Greek: phu/sei] (see pp. 17-19).]

[Footnote 41: Plato, Kratylus, p. 429 C. Steinhart (Einleit. zum
Krat. pp. 549-550) observes that both Kratylus and Hermogenes are
represented as understanding seriously these etymologies which are
now affirmed to be meant as caricatures.

As specimens of Plato's view respecting admissible etymologies, we
find him in Timæus, p. 43 C, deriving [Greek: ai)/sthêsis] from
[Greek: a)i+/ssô]: again in the same dialogue, p. 62 A, [Greek:
thermo\s] from [Greek: kermati/zein]. In Legg. iv. 714, we have
[Greek: tê\n tou= nou= dianomê\n e)ponoma/zontas no/mon]. In
Phædrus, p. 238 C, we find [Greek: e)/rôs] derived from [Greek:
e)r)r(ôme/nôs r(ôsthei=sa].

Aristotle derives [Greek: o)/sphus] from [Greek: i)sophue/s],
Histor. Animal. i. 13, p. 493, a. 22: also [Greek: di/kaion] from
[Greek: di/cha], Ethic. Nikom. v. 7, 1132, a. 31; [Greek:
methu/ein--meta\ to\ thu/ein], Athenæus, ii. 40. The
Pseudo-Aristotelian treatise [Greek: Peri\ Ko/smou] (p. 401, a. 15)
adopts the Platonic etymology of [Greek: Di/a-Zê=na] as [Greek:
di' o(\n zô=men]

Plutarch, De Primo Frigido, c. 9, p. 948, derives [Greek: kne/phas]
from [Greek: keno\n pha/ous].

The Emperor Marcus Antoninus derives [Greek: a)kti/s], the ray of
the Sun, [Greek: a)po\ tou= e)ktei/nesthai], Meditat. viii. 57.

The Stoics, who were fond of etymologising, borrowed many
etymologies from the Platonic Kratylus (Villoison, de Theologiâ
Physicâ Stoicorum, in Osann's edition of Cornutus De Naturâ
Deorum, p. 512). Specimens of the Stoic etymologies are given by
the Stoic Balbus in Cicero, De Nat. Deorum, ii. 25-29 (64-73).

Dähne (in his Darstellung der Judisch-Alexandrinischen
Religions-Philosophie, i. p. 73 seq.) remarks on the numerous
etymologies not merely propounded, but assumed as grounds of
reasoning by Philo Judæus in commenting upon the Pentateuch,
etymologies totally inadmissible and often ridiculous.]

[Side-note: Plato intended his theory as serious, but his
exemplifications as admissible guesses. He does not cite
particular cases as proofs of a theory, but only as illustrating
what he means.]

I cannot therefore accept as well-founded this "discovery of
modern times," which represents the Platonic etymologies in the
Kratylus as intentionally extravagant and knowingly caricatured,
for the purpose of ridiculing the Sophists or others. In my
judgment, Plato did not put them forward as extravagant, nor for
the purpose of ridiculing any one, but as genuine illustrations of
a theory of his own respecting names. It cannot be said indeed
that he advanced them as proof of his theory: for Plato seldom
appeals to particulars, except when he has a theory to attack.
When he has a theory to lay down, he does not generally recognise
the necessity of either proving or verifying it by application to
particular cases. His proof is usually deductive or derived from
some more general principle asserted _à priori_--some internal
sentiment enunciated as a self-justifying maxim. Particular
examples serve to illustrate what the principle is, but are not
required to establish its validity.[42] But I believe that he
intended his particular etymologies as _bonâ fide_ guesses, more
or less probable (like the developments in the Timæus, which
he[43] repeatedly designates as [Greek: ei)ko/ta], and nothing
beyond): some certain, some doubtful, some merely novel and
ingenious: such as would naturally spring from the originating
_afflatus_ of diviners (like Euthyphron, to whom he alludes more
than once[44]) who stepped beyond the ordinary regions of human
affirmation. Occasionally he proposes alternative and distinct
etymologies: feeling assured that there was some way of making out
the conclusion--but not feeling equally certain about his own way
of making it out. The sentiment of belief attaches itself in
Plato's mind to general views and theorems: when he gives
particular consequences as flowing from them, his belief graduates
down through all the stages between full certainty and the lowest
probability, until in some cases it becomes little more than a
fanciful illustration--like the mythes which he so often invents
to expand and enliven these same general views.[45]

[Footnote 42: See some passages in this very dialogue, Krat. pp.
436 E, 437 C, 438 C.

Lassalle remarks that neither Herakleitus nor Plato were disposed
to rest the proof of a general principle upon an induction of
particulars (Herakleitos, p. 406).]

[Footnote 43: Spengel justly remarks (Art. Scr. p. 52) respecting
the hypotheses of the Platonic commentators:--"Platonem quidem
liberare gestiunt, falsâ, ironiâ, non ex animi sententiâ omnia in
Cratylo prolata esse dicentes. Sed præter alia multa et hoc
neglexerunt viri docti, easdem verborum originationes, quas in
Cratylo, in cæteris quoque dialogis, ubi nullus est facetiis
locus, et seria omnia aguntur, recurrere."

This passage is cited by K. F. Hermann, Gesch. und Syst. d.
Platon. Phil. Not. 474, p. 656. Hermann's own remarks on the
dialogue (pp. 494-497) are very indistinct, but he seems to agree
with Schleiermacher in singling out Antisthenes as the object of

The third portion of Lehrsch's work, _Ueber die Sprachphilosophie
der Alten_, cites numerous examples of the etymologies attempted
by the ancients, from Homer downwards, many of them collected from
the Etymologicon Magnum. When we read the etymologies propounded
seriously by Greek and Latin philosophers (especially the Stoic
Chrysippus), literary men, jurists, and poets, we shall not be
astonished at those found in the Platonic Kratylus. The etymology
of [Greek: Theo\s a)po\ tou= thei=n], given in the Kratylus (p.
397 D), as well as in the Pythagorean Philolaus (see Boeckh,
Philolaus, pp. 168-175), and repeated by Clemens Alexandrinus, is
not more absurd than that of [Greek: theo\s a)po\ tou= thei=nai],
given by Herodot. ii. 52, and also repeated by Clemens, see
Wesseling's note. None of the etymologies of the Kratylus is more
strange than that of [Greek: Zeu\s-Di/a-Zê=na] (p. 396 B). Yet
this is reproduced in the Pseudo-Aristotelian Treatise, [Greek:
Peri\ Ko/smou] (p. 401, a. 15), as well as by the Stoic Zeno
(Diogen. Laert. vii. 147). The treatise of Cornutus, De Nat. Deor.
with Osann's Commentary, is instructive in enabling us to
appreciate the taste of ancient times as to what was probable or
admissible in etymology. There are few of the etymologies in the
Kratylus more singular than that of [Greek: a)/nthrôpos] from
[Greek: a)nathrô=n a)\ o(/pôpen]. Yet this is cited by Ammonius as
a perfectly good derivation, ad Aristot. De Interpret. p. 103, b.
8, Schol. Bekk., and also in the Etymologicon Magnum.]

[Footnote 44: Compare Plato, Euthyphron, p. 6 D. Origination and
invention often pass in Plato as the workings of an ordinary mind
(sometimes even a feeble mind) worked upon from without by divine
inspiration, quite distinct from the internal force, reasoning,
judging, testing, which belongs to a powerful mind. See Phædrus,
pp. 235 C, 238 D, 244 A; Timæus, p. 72 A; Menon, p. 81 A.]

[Footnote 45: I have made some remarks to this effect upon the
Platonic mythes in my notice of the Phædon, see ch. xxv. p. 415,
ad Phædon, p. 114.]

[Side-note: Sokrates announces himself as Searcher. Other
etymologists of ancient times admitted etymologies as rash as
those of Plato.]

We must remember that Sokrates in the Kratylus explicitly
announces himself as having no formed opinion on the subject, and
as competent only to the prosecution of the enquiry, jointly with
the others. What he says must therefore be received as conjectures
proposed for discussion. I see no ground for believing that he
regarded any of them, even those which appear to us the strangest,
as being absurd or extravagant--or that he proposed any of them in
mockery and caricature, for the purpose of deriding other
Etymologists. Because these etymologies, or many of them at least,
appear to us obviously absurd, we are not warranted in believing
that they must have appeared so to Plato. They did not appear so
(as I have already observed) to Dionysius of Halikarnassus--nor to
Diogenes, nor to the Platonists of antiquity nor to any critics
earlier than the seventeenth century.[46] By many of these critics
they were deemed not merely serious, but valuable. Nor are they
more absurd than many of the etymologies proposed by Aristotle, by
the Stoics, by the Alexandrine critics, by Varro, and by the
_grammatici_ or literary men of antiquity generally; moreover,
even by Plato himself in other dialogues occasionally.[47] In
determining what etymologies would appear to Plato reasonable or
admissible, Dionysius, Plutarch, Proklus, and Alkinous, are more
likely to judge rightly than we: partly because they had a larger
knowledge of the etymologies proposed by Greek philosophers and
_grammatici_ than we possess--partly because they had no
acquaintance with the enlarged views of modern
etymologists--which, on the point here in question, are misleading
rather than otherwise. Plato held the general theory that names,
in so far as they were framed with perfect rectitude, held embodied
in words and syllables a likeness or imitation of the essence of things.
And if he tried to follow out such a theory into detail, without
any knowledge of grammatical systems, without any large and
well-chosen collection of analogies within his own language, or any
comparison of different languages with each other--he could
scarcely fail to lose himself in wonderful and violent
transmutations of letters and syllables.[48]

[Footnote 46: Dionys. Hal. De Comp. Verbor. c. 16, p. 96, Reiske;
Plutarch, De Isid. et Osir. c. 60, p. 375.

Proklus advises that those who wish to become dialecticians should
begin with the study of the Kratylus (Schol. ad Kratyl. p. 3, ed.

We read in the Phædrus of Plato (p. 244 B) in the second speech
ascribed to Sokrates, two etymologies:--1. [Greek: mantikê\]
derived from [Greek: manikê\] by the insertion of [Greek: t],
which Sokrates declares to be done in bad taste, [Greek: oi( de\
nu=n a)peiroka/lôs to\ _tau=_ e)pemba/llontes mantikê\n
e)ka/lasan.] 2. [Greek: oi)ônistikê\], quasi [Greek:
oi)onoi+stikê\], from [Greek: oi)/êsis, nou=s, i(stori/a]. Compare
the etymology of [Greek: E)/rôs], p. 238 C. That these are real
word-changes, which Plato believes to have taken place, is the
natural and reasonable interpretation of the passage. Cicero
(Divinat. i. 1) alludes to the first of the two as Plato's real
opinion; and Heindorf as well as Schleiermacher accept it in the
same sense, while expressing their surprise at the want of
etymological perspicacity in Plato. Ast and Stallbaum, on the
contrary, declare that these two etymologies are mere irony and
mockery, spoken by Plato, _ex mente Sophistarum_, and intended as
a sneer at the perverse and silly Sophists. No reason is produced
by Ast and Stallbaum to justify this hypothesis, except that you
cannot imagine "_Platonem tam cæcum fuisse_," &c. To me this
reason is utterly insufficient; and I contend, moreover, that
sneers at the Sophists would be quite out of place in a speech,
such as the palinode of Sokrates about Eros.]

[Footnote 47: See what Aristotle says about [Greek: Pa/ntê] in the
first chapter of the treatise De Coelo; also about [Greek:
au)to/maton] from [Greek: au)to\ ma/tên], Physic. ii. 5, p. 197,
b. 30.

Stallbaum, after having complimented Plato for his talent in
caricaturing the etymologies of others, expresses his surprise to
find Aristotle reproducing some of these very caricatures as
serious, see Stallbaum's note on Kratyl. p. 411 E.

Respecting the etymologies proposed by learned and able Romans in
and before the Ciceronian and Augustan age, Ælius Stilo, Varro,
Labeo, Nigidius, &c., see Aulus Gellius, xiii. 10; Quintilian,
Inst. Or. i. 5; Varro, de Linguâ Latinâ.

Even to Quintilian, the etymologies of Varro appeared
preposterous; and he observes, in reference to those proposed by
Ælius Stilo and by others afterwards, "Cui non post Varronem sit
venia?" (i. 6, 37). This critical remark, alike good tempered and
reasonable, might be applied with still greater pertinence to the
Kratylus of Plato. In regard to etymology, more might have been
expected from Varro than from Plato; for in the days of Plato,
etymological guesses were almost a novelty; while during the three
centuries which elapsed between him and Varro, many such
conjectures had been hazarded by various scholars, and more or
less of improvement might be hoped from the conflict of opposite
opinions and thinkers.

M. Gaston Boissier (in his interesting Étude sur la vie et les
Ouvrages de M. Terentius Varron, p. 152, Paris, 1861) observes
respecting Varro, what is still more applicable to
Plato:--"Gardons nous bien d'ailleurs de demander à Varron ce qu'exige
la science moderne: pour n'être pas trop sévères, remettons-le dans
son époque et jugeons-le avec l'esprit de son temps.** Il ne semble
pas qu'alors on réclamât, de ceux qui recherchaient les
étymologies, beaucoup d'exactitude et de sévérité. _On se piquait
moins d'arriver à l'origine réelle du mot, que de le décomposer
d'une manière ingénieuse et qui en gravât le sens dans la
mémoire._ Les jurisconsultes eux-mêmes, malgré la gravité de leur
profession et l'importance pratique de leurs recherches, ne
suivaient pas une autre méthode. Trebatius trouvait dans
_sacellum_ les deux mots _sacra cella_: et Labéon faisait venir
_soror_ de _seorsum_, parce que la jeune fille se sépare de le
maison paternelle pours suivre son époux: tout comme Nigidius
trouvoit dans _frater ferè alter_--c'est à dire, un autre
soi-même," &c.

Lobeck has similar remarks in his Aglaophamus (pp. 867-869):--"Sané
ita J. Capellus veteres juris consultos excusat, _mutuum_
interpretantes _quod ex meo tuum fiat, testamentum_ autem
_testationem mentis_, non quod eam verborum originem esse
putarent, sed ut significationem eorum altius in legentium animis
defigerent. Similiterque ecclesiastici quidam auctores, quum nomen
Pascha a græco verbo [Greek: pa/schein] repetunt, non per
ignorantiam lapsi, sed allusionis quandam gratiam aucupati

[Footnote 48: Gräfenhahn (Gesch. d. classichen Philologie, vol. i.
sect. 36, pp. 151-164) points out how common was the hypothesis of
fanciful derivation of names or supposed etymologies among the
Greek poets, and how it passed from them to the prose writers. He
declares that the etymologies in Plato not only in the Kratylus
but in other dialogues are "etymologische monstra," but he
professes inability to distinguish which of them are serious (pp.

Lobeck remarks that the playing and quibbling with words, widely
diffused among the ancient literati generally, was especially
likely to belong to those who held the Platonic theory about
language:--"Is intelligat necesse est, hoc universum genus ab
antiquitatis** ingenio non alienum, ei vero, qui imagines rerum in
vocabulis sic ut in cerâ expressas putaret, convenientissimum
fuisse" (Aglaophamus, p. 870).]

[Side-note: Continuance of the dialogue--Sokrates endeavours to
explain how it is that the Names originally right have become so
disguised and spoiled.]

Having expressed my opinion that the etymologies propounded by
Sokrates in the Kratylus are not intended as caricatures, but as
_bonâ fide_ specimens of admissible etymological conjecture, or,
at the least, of discoverable analogy--I resume the thread of the

These etymologies are the hypothetical links whereby Sokrates
reconciles his first theory of the essential rectitude of Names
(that is, of Naming, as a process which can only be performed in
one way, and by an Artist who discerns and uses the Name-Form),
with the names actually received and current. The contrast between
the sameness and perfection postulated in the theory, and the
confusion of actual practice, is not less manifest than the
contrast between the benevolent purposes ascribed to the Demiurgus
(in the Timæus) and the realities of man and society:--requiring
intermediate assumptions, more or less ingenious, to explain or
attenuate the glaring inconsistencies. Respecting the Name-Form,
Sokrates intimates that it may often be so disguised by difference
of letters and syllables, as not to be discernible by an ordinary
man, or by any one except an artist or philosopher. Two names, if
compound, may have the same Name-Form, though few or none of the
letters in them be the same. A physician may so disguise his
complex mixtures, by apparent differences of colour or smell, that
they shall be supposed by others to be different, though
essentially the same. _Beta_ is the name of the letter B: you may
substitute, in place of the three last letters, any others which
you prefer, and the name will still be appropriate to designate
the letter B.[49]

[Footnote 49: Plato, Kratyl. pp. 393-394.]

[Side-note: Letters, as well as things, must be distinguished with
their essential properties, each must be adapted to each.]

To explain the foundations of the onomastic (name-giving or
speaking) art,[50] we must analyse words into their primordial
constituent letters. The name-giving Artists have begun from this
point, and we must follow in their synthetical track. We must
distinguish letters with their essential forms--we must also
distinguish things with their essential forms--we must then assign
to each essence of things that essence of letters which has a
natural aptitude to signify it, either one letter singly or
several conjoined. The rectitude of the compound names will depend
upon that of the simple and primordial.[51] This is the only way
in which we can track out the rectitude of names: for it is no
account of the matter to say that the Gods bestowed them, and that
therefore they are right: such recourse to a _Deus ex machinâ_ is
only one among the pretexts for evading the necessity of

[Footnote 50: Plato, Kratyl. p. 425 A. [Greek: tê=| o)nomastikê=|,
ê)\ r(êtorikê=|, ê)\ ê(/tis e)sti\n ê( te/chnê.]]

[Footnote 51: Plato, Kratyl. pp. 424 B-E, 426 A, 434 A.]

[Footnote 52: Plato, Kratyl. p. 425 E.]

This extreme postulate of analysis and adaptation may be compared
with that which Sokrates lays down, in the Phædrus, in regard to
the art of Rhetoric. You must first distinguish all the different
forms of mind--then all the different forms of speech; you must
assign the sort of speech which is apt for persuading each
particular sort of mind. Phædrus, pp. 271-272.]

[Side-note: Essential significant aptitude consists in

Essential aptitude for signification consists in resemblance
between the essence of the letter and that of the thing signified.
Thus the letter _Rho_, according to Sokrates, is naturally apt for
the signification of rush or vehement motion, because in
pronouncing it the tongue is briskly agitated and rolled about.
Several words are cited, illustrating this position.[53] _Iota_
naturally designates thin and subtle things, which insinuate
themselves everywhere. _Phi_, _Chi_, _Psi_, _Sigma_, the
sibilants, imitate blowing. _Delta_ and _Tau_, from the
compression of the tongue, imitate stoppage of motion, or
stationary condition. _Lambda_ imitates smooth and slippery
things. _Nu_ serves, as confining the voice in the mouth, to form
the words signifying in-doors and interior. _Alpha_ and _Eta_ are
both of them large letters: the first is assigned to signify size,
the last to signify length. _Omicron_ is suited to what is round
or circular.[54]

[Footnote 53: Plato, Kratyl. p. 426 D-E. [Greek: krou/ein,
thrau/ein, e(rei/kein], &c. Leibnitz (Nouveaux Essais sur
l'Entendement Humain, Book iii. ch. 2, p. 300 Erdm.); and Jacob
Grimm (in his Dissertation Ueber den Ursprung der Sprache,
Berlin, 1858, ed. 4) give views very similar to those of Plato,
respecting the primordial growth of language, and the original
significant or symbolising power supposed to be inherent in each
letter (Kein Buchstabe, "ursprünglich steht bedeutungslos oder
ueberflüssig," pp. 39-40). Leibnitz and Grimm say (as Plato here
also affirms) that Rho designates the Rough--Lambda, the Smooth:
see also what he says about Alpha, Iota, Hypsilon. Compare,
besides, M. Renan, Orig. du Langage, vi. p. 137.

The comparison of the Platonic speculations on the primordial
powers of letters, with those of a modern linguistic scholar so
illustrious as Grimm (the earliest speculations with the latest)
are exceedingly curious--and honourable to Plato. They serve as
farther reasons for believing that this dialogue was not intended
to caricature Protagoras.]

[Footnote 54: Plato, Kratyl. pp. 426-427.]

It is from these fundamental aptitudes, and some others analogous,
that the name-giving Artist, or Lawgiver, first put together
letters to compound and construct his names. Herein consists their
rectitude, according to Sokrates. Though in laying down the
position Sokrates gives it only as the best which _he_ could
discover, and intimates that some persons may turn it into
derision--yet he evidently means to be understood seriously.[55]

[Footnote 55: Plato, Kratyl. pp. 426 B, 427 D.]

[Side-note: Sokrates assumes that the Name-giving Lawgiver was a
believer in the Herakleitean theory.]

In applying this theory--about the fundamental significant
aptitudes of the letters of the alphabet--to show the rectitude of
the existing words compounded from them--Sokrates assumes that the
name-giving Artists were believers in the Herakleitean theory:
that is, in the perpetual process of flux, movement, and
transition into contraries. He cites a large variety of names,
showing by their composition that they were adapted to denote this
all-pervading fact, as constituting the essence of things.[56] The
names given by these theorists to that which is good, virtuous,
agreeable, &c., were compounded in such a manner as to denote what
facilitates, or falls in with, the law of universal movement: the
names of things bad or hurtful, denote what obstructs or retards

[Footnote 56: Plato, Kratyl. pp. 401 C--402 B. 436 E: [Greek: ô(s
tou= panto\s i)o/ntos te kai\ pherome/non kai\ r(e/ontos phame\n
sêmai/nein ê(mi=n tê\n ou)si/an ta\ o)no/mata.] Also p. 439 B.]

[Footnote 57: Plato, Kratyl. pp. 415-416-417, &c.]

[Side-note: But the Name-Giver may be mistaken or incompetent--the
rectitude of the name depends upon his knowledge.]

Many names (pursues Sokrates), having been given by artistic
lawgivers who believed in the Herakleitean theory, will possess
intrinsic rectitude, if we assume that theory to be true. But how
if the theory be not true? and if the name-givers were mistaken on
this fundamental point? The names will then not be right. Now we
must not assume the theory to be true, although the Name-givers
believed it to be so. Perhaps they themselves (Sokrates intimates)
having become giddy by often turning round to survey the nature of
things, mistook this _vertige_ of their own for a perpetual
revolution and movement of the things which they saw, and gave
names accordingly.[58] A Name-Giver who is real and artistic is
rare and hard to find: there are more among them incompetent than
competent: and the name originally bestowed represents only the
opinion or conviction of him by whom it is bestowed.[59] Yet the
names bestowed will be consistent with themselves, founded on the
same theory.

[Footnote 58: Plato, Kratyl. pp. 409**-411 C. [Greek:
Ai)tiô=ntai dê\ ou) to\ e)/ndon to\ para\ sphi/si pa/thos ai)/tion
ei)=nai tau/tês tê=s do/xês, a)ll' au)ta\ ta\ pra/gmata ou(/tô
pephuke/nai], &c.

"He that is giddy thinks the world turns round," &c.]

[Footnote 59: Plato, Kratyl. p. 418 C. [Greek: Oi)=stha ou)=n o(/ti
mo/non tou=to dêloi= to\ a)rchai=on o)/noma tê\n dia/noian tou=
theme/nou?] Also p. 419 A.]

[Side-note: Changes and transpositions introduced in the name--hard
to follow.]

Again, the names originally bestowed differ much from those in use
now. Many of them have undergone serious changes: there have been
numerous omissions, additions, interpolations, and transpositions
of letters, from regard to euphony or other fancies: insomuch that
the primitive root becomes hardly traceable, except by great
penetration and sagacity.[60] Then there are some names which have
never been issued at all from the mint of the name-giver, but have
either been borrowed from foreigners, or perhaps have been
suggested by super-human powers.[61]

[Footnote 60: Plato, Kratyl. pp. 394 B, 399 B, 414 C, 418 A.]

[Footnote 61: Plato, Kratyl. pp. 397 B, 409 B.]

*  *  *  *  *

[Side-note: Sokrates qualifies and attenuates his original thesis.]

To this point Sokrates brings the question during his conversation
with Hermogenes: against whom he maintains--That there is a
natural intrinsic rectitude in Names, or a true Name-Form--that
naming is a process which must be performed in the natural way,
and by an Artist who knows that way. But when, after laying down
this general theory, he has gone a certain length in applying it
to actual names, he proceeds to introduce qualifications which
attenuate and explain it away. Existing names were bestowed by
artistic law-givers, but under a belief in the Herakleitean
theory--which theory is at best doubtful: moreover the original
names have, in course of time, undergone such multiplied changes,
that the original point of significant resemblance can hardly be
now recognised except by very penetrating intellects.

[Side-note: Conversation of Sokrates with Kratylus: who upholds
that original thesis without any qualification.]

It is here that Sokrates comes into conversation with Kratylus:
who appears as the unreserved advocate of the same general theory
which Sokrates had enforced upon Hermogenes. He admits all the
consequences of the theory, taking no account of qualifications.
Moreover he announces himself as having already bestowed
reflection on the subject, and as espousing the doctrine of

[Footnote 62: Plato, Kratyl. pp. 428 B, 440 E.

It appears that on this point the opinion of Herakleitus coincided
with that of the Pythagoreans, who held that names were [Greek:
phu/sei kai\ ou) the/sei] and maintained as a corollary that there
could be only one name for each thing and only one thing signified
by each name (Simplikius ad Aristot. Categ. p. 43, b. 32, Schol.

In general Herakleitus differed from Pythagoras, and is described
as speaking of him with bitter antipathy.]

If names are significant by natural rectitude, or by partaking of
the Name-Form, it follows that all names must be right or true,
one as well as another. If a name be not right, it cannot be
significant: that is, it is no name at all: it is a mere unmeaning
sound. A name, in order to be significant, must imitate the
essence of the thing named. If you add any thing to a number, or
subtract any thing from it, it becomes thereby a new number: it is
not the same number badly rendered. So with a letter: so too with
a name. There is no such thing as a bad name. Every name must be
either significant, and therefore, right--or else it is not a
name. So also there is no such thing as a false proposition: you
cannot say the thing that is not: your words in that case have no
meaning; they are only an empty sound. The hypothesis that the
law-giver may have distributed names erroneously is therefore not
admissible.[63] Moreover, you see that he must have known well,
for otherwise he would not have given names so consistent with
each other, and with the general Herakleitean theory.[64] And
since the name is by necessity a representation or copy of the
thing, whoever knows the name, must also know the thing named.
There is in fact no other way of knowing or seeking or finding out
things, except through their names.[65]

[Footnote 63: Plato, Kratyl. p. 429 B-C.

_Sokr._ [Greek: Pa/nta a)/ra ta\ o)no/mata o)rthôs kei=tai?]

_Krat._ [Greek: O(/sa ge o)no/mata e)/sti.]

_Sokr._ [Greek: Ti/ ou)=n? E(rmoge/nei tô=|de po/teron mêde\
o)/noma tou=to kei=sthai phô=men, ei) mê/ ti au)tô=| E(rmou=
gene/seôs prosê/kei, ê)\ kei=sthai me/n, ou) me/ntoi o)rthô=s ge?]

_Krat._ [Greek: Ou)de\ kei=sthai e)/moige dokei=, _a)lla\ dokei=n
kei=sthai_. ei)=nai de\ e(te/rou tou=to tou)/noma, ou(=per kai\ ê(
phu/sis ê( to\ o)/noma dêlou=sa.]

The critics say that these last words ought to be read [Greek:
ê)\n to\ o)/noma dêloi=], as Ficinus has translated, and
Schleiermacher after him. They are probably in the right; at the
same time, reasoning upon the theory of Kratylus, we say without
impropriety, that "the thing indicates the name".

That which is erroneously called a bad name is no name at all (so
Kratylus argues), but only seems to be a name to ignorant persons.
Thus also in the Platonic Minos (c. 9, p. 317): a bad law is no
law in reality, but only seems to be a law to ignorant men, see
above, ch. xiv. p. 88.**

Compare the like argument about [Greek: no/mos] in Xenoph.
Memorab. i. 2, 42-47, and Lassalle, Herakleitos, vol. ii. p. 392.]

[Footnote 64: Plato, Krat. p. 436 C. [Greek: A)lla\ mê ou)ch
ou(/tôs e)/chê|, a)ll' a)nagkai=on ê)=|, ei)do/ta ti/thesthai to\n
tithe/menon ta\ o)no/mata; ei) de\ mê/, o(/per pa/lai e)gô\
e)/legon, ou)d' a)\n o)no/mata ei)/ê. Me/giston de/ soi e)/stô
tekmê/rion o(/ti ou)k e)/sphaltai tê=s a)lêthei/as o( tithe/menos;
ou) ga\r a)\n pote ou(/tô xu/mphôna ê)=n au)tô=| a(/panta. ê)\
_ou)k e)neno/eis au)to\s le/gôn ô(s pa/nta kat' au)to\ kai\ e)pi\
tau)to\n e)gi/gneto ta\ o)no/mata?_]

These last words allude to the various particular etymologies
which had been enumerated by Sokrates as illustrations of the
Herakleitean theory. They confirm the opinion above expressed,
that Plato intended his etymologies seriously, not as mockery or
caricature. That Plato should have intended them as caricatures of
Protagoras and Prodikus, and yet that he should introduce Kratylus
as welcoming them in support of _his_ argument, is a much greater
absurdity than the supposition that Plato mistook them for
admissible guesses.]

[Footnote 65: Plato, Krat. c. 111, pp. 435-436.]

[Side-note: Sokrates goes still farther towards retracting it,]

These consequences are fairly deduced by Kratylus from the
hypothesis, of the natural rectitude of names, as laid down in the
beginning of the dialogue, by Sokrates: who had expressly affirmed
(in his anti-Protagorean opening of the dialogue) that unless the
process of naming was performed according to the peremptory
dictates of nature and by one of the few privileged name-givers,
it would be a failure and would accomplish nothing;[66] in other
words, that a non-natural name would be no name at all.
Accordingly, in replying to Kratylus, Sokrates goes yet farther in
retracting his own previous reasoning at the beginning of the
dialogue--though still without openly professing to do so. He
proposes a compromise.[67] He withdraws the pretensions of his
theory, as peremptory or exclusive; he acknowledges the theory of
Hermogenes as true, and valid in conjunction with it. He admits
that non-natural names also, significant only by convention, are
available as a make-shift--and that such names are in frequent
use. Still however he contends, that natural names, significant by
likeness, are the best, so far as they can be obtained: but
inasmuch as that principle will not afford sufficiently extensive
holding-ground, recourse must be had by way of supplement to the
less perfect rectitude (of names) presented by customary or
conventional significance.[68]

[Footnote 66: Plato, Kratyl. p. 387 C. [Greek: e)a\n de\ mê/,
e)xamartê/setai/ te kai\ ou)de\n poiê/sei.] Compare p. 389 A.]

[Footnote 67: Plato, Kratyl. p. 430 A. [Greek: phe/re dê/, e)a/n
pê| diallachthô=men, ô= Kra/tule], &c.]

[Footnote 68: Plato, Krat. p. 435 C. [Greek: e)moi\ me\n ou)=n
kai\ au)tô=| a)re/skei me\n kata\ to\ dunato\n o(/moia ei)=nai ta\
o)no/mata toi=s pra/gmasin; a)lla\ mê\ ô(s a)lêthô=s glischra\
ê)=| ê( o)lkê\ au)tê\ tê=s o(moio/têtos, a)nagkai=on de\ ê)=| kai\
tô=| phortikô=| tou/tô| proschrê=sthai, tê=| xunthê/kê|, ei)s
o)noma/tôn o)rtho/têta; e)pei\ i)/sôs kata/ ge to\ dunato\n
ka/llist' a)\n le/goito, o(/tan ê)\ pa=sin ê)\ ô(s plei/stois
o(moi/ois le/gêtai, tou=to d' e)sti\ prosêkousin, ai)/schista de\

[Side-note: There are names better--more like, or less like to the
things named: Natural Names are the best, but they cannot always
be had. Names may be significant by habit, though in an inferior

You say (reasons Sokrates with Kratylus) that names must be
significant by way of likeness. But there are degrees of
likeness. A portrait is more or less like its original, but it is
never exactly like: it is never a duplicate, nor does it need to
be so. Or a portrait, which really belongs to and resembles one
person, may be erroneously assigned to another. The same thing
happens with names. There are names more or less like the thing
named--good or bad: there are names good with reference to their
own object, but erroneously fitted on to objects not their own.
The name does not cease to be a name, so long as the type or form
of the thing named is preserved in it: but it is worse or better,
according as the accompanying features are more or less in harmony
with the form.[69] If names are like things, the letters which are
put together to form names, must have a natural resemblance to
things--as we remarked above respecting the letters Rho, Lambda,
&c. But the natural, inherent, powers of resemblance and
significance, which we pronounced to belong to these letters, are
not found to pervade all the actual names, in which they are
employed. There are words containing the letters _Rho_ and
_Lambda_, in a sense opposite to that which is natural to them--yet
nevertheless at the same time significant; as is evident from
the fact, that you and I and others understand them alike. Here
then are words significant, without resembling: significant
altogether through habit and convention. We must admit the
principle of convention as an inferior ground and manner of
significance. Resemblance, though the best ground as far as it can
be had, is not the only one.[70]

[Footnote 69: Plato, Kratyl. pp. 432-434.]

[Footnote 70: Plato, Kratyl. pp. 434-435.]

[Side-note: All names are not consistent with the theory of
Herakleitus: some are opposed to it.]

All names are not like the things named: some names are bad,
others good: the law-giver sometimes gave names under an erroneous
belief. Hence you are not warranted in saying that things must be
known and investigated through names, and that whoever knows the
name, knows also the thing named. You say that the names given are
all coherent and grounded upon the Herakleitean theory of
perpetual flux. You take this as a proof that that theory is true
in itself, and that the law-giver adopted and proceeded upon it as
true. I agree with you that the law-giver or name-giver believed
in the Herakleitean theory, and adapted many of his names to it:
but you cannot infer from hence that the theory is true--for he
may have been mistaken.[71] Moreover, though many of the existing
names consist with, and are based upon, that theory, the same
cannot be said of all names. Many names can be enumerated which
are based on the opposite principle of permanence and stand-still.
It is unsafe to strike a balance of mere numbers between the two:
besides which, even among the various names founded on the
Herakleitean theory, you will find jumbled together the names of
virtues and vices, benefits and misfortunes. That theory lends
itself to good and evil alike; it cannot therefore be received as
true--whether the name-giver believed in it or not.[72]

[Footnote 71: Plato, Kratyl. p. 439 B-C. [Greek: E)/ti toi/nun
to/de skepsômetha, o(/pôs mê\ ê(ma=s ta\ polla\ tau=ta o)no/mata
e)s tauto\n tei/nonta e)xapata=|, kai\ tô=| o)/nti me\n oi(
the/menoi au(ta\ _dianoêthe/ntes te e)/thento_ ô(s i)o/ntôn
a)pa/ntôn a)ei\ kai\ r(eo/ntôn--_phai/nontai ga\r e)/moige kai\
au)toi\ ou)/tô dianoêthê=nai_--to\ d', ei) e)/tuchen, ou)ch
ou)/tôs e)/chei], &c.

These words appear to me to imply that Sokrates is perfectly
serious, and not ironical, in delivering his opinion, that the
original imposers of names were believers in the Herakleitean

[Footnote 72: Plato, Krat. pp. 437-438 C.

Sokrates here enumerates the particular names illustrating his
judgment. However strange the verbal transitions and
approximations may appear to us, I think it clear that he intends
to be understood seriously.]

[Side-note: It is not true to say, That Things can only be known
through their names.]

Lastly, even if we granted that things may be known and studied
through their names, it is certain that there must be some other
way of knowing them; since the first name-givers (as you yourself
affirm) knew things, at a time when no names existed.[73] Things
may be known and ought to be studied, not through names, but by
themselves and through their own affinities.[74]

[Footnote 73: Plato, Krat. p. 438 A-B. Kratylus here suggests that
the first names may perhaps have been imposed by a super-human
power. But Sokrates replies, that upon that supposition all the
names must have been imposed upon the same theory: there could not
have been any contradiction between one name and another.]

[Footnote 74: Plato, Krat. pp. 438-439. 438 E:--[Greek: di'
a)llê/lôn ge, ei)/ pê| xuggenê= e)sti/, kai\ au)ta\ di' au(tô=n.]]

[Side-note: Unchangeable Platonic Forms--opposed to the
Herakleitean flux, which is true only respecting sensible

Sokrates then concludes the dialogue by opposing the Platonic
ideas to the Herakleitean theory. I often dream or imagine the
Beautiful _per se_, the Good _per se_, and such like existences or
Entia.[75] Are not such existences real? Are they not eternal,
unchangeable and stationary? Particular beautiful
things--particular good things--are in perpetual change or flux: but
The Beautiful, The Good--The Ideas or Forms of these and such
like--remain always what they are, always the same.

[Footnote 75: Plato, Krat. p. 439 C-D. [Greek: ske/psai o( e)/gôge
polla/kis o)neirô/ttô, po/teron phô=me/n ti ei)=nai au)to\ kalo\n
kai\ a)gatho\n kai\ e(\n e(/kaston tô=n o)/ntôn ou(/tôs, ê)\ mê/?
. . .

mê\ ei) pro/sôpo/n ti/ e)sti kalo\n ê)/ ti tô=n toiou=tôn, kai\
dokei= tau=ta pa/nta r(ei=n; a)ll' au)to\ to\ kalo\n ou) toiou=ton
a)ei/ e)stin oi(=o/n e)stin?]]

The Herakleitean theory of constant and universal flux is true
respecting particular things, but not true respecting these Ideas
or Forms. It is the latter alone which know or are known: it is
they alone which admit of being rightly named. For that which is
in perpetual flux and change can neither know, nor be known, nor
be rightly named.[76] Being an ever-changing subject, it is never
in any determinate condition: and nothing can be known which is
not in a determinate condition. The Form of the knowing subject,
as well as the Form of the known object, must both remain fixed
and eternal, otherwise there can be no knowledge at all.

[Footnote 76: Plato, Kratyl. p. 439 D--440 A. [Greek: A)=r' ou)=n
oi(=o/n te _proseipei=n au)to\ o)rthôs_, ei) a)ei\ u(pexe/rchetai,
prô=ton me\n o(/ti, e)keino/ e)stin, e)/peita o(/ti toiou=tôn? ê)\
a)na/gkê a)/ma ê(mô=n lego/ntôn a)/llo au)to\ eu)thu\s gi/gnesthai
kai\ u(pexie/nai, kai\ mêke/ti ou(/tôs e)/chein? . . .

A)lla\ mê\n ou)d' a)\n gnôsthei/ê ge u(p' ou)deno/s. . . .

A)ll' ou)de\ gnôsin ei)=nai pha/nai ei)ko/s, ei) metapi/ptei
pa/nta chrê/mata kai\ mêde\n me/nei.]]

[Side-note: Herakleitean theory must not be assumed as certain. We
must not put implicit faith in names.]

To admit these permanent and unchangeable Forms is to deny the
Herakleitean theory, which proclaims constant and universal flux.
This is a debate still open and not easy to decide. But while it
is yet undecided, no wise man ought to put such implicit faith in
names and in the bestowers of names, as to feel himself warranted
in asserting confidently the certainty of the Herakleitean
theory.[77] Perhaps that theory is true, perhaps not. Consider the
point strenuously, Kratylus. Be not too easy in acquiescence--for
you are still young, and have time enough before you. If you find
it out, give to me also the benefit of your solution.[78]

[Footnote 77: Plato, Kratyl. p. 440 C. [Greek: Tau=t' ou)=n
po/tero/n pote ou(/tôs e)/chei, ê)\ e)kei/nôs ô(s oi( peri\
Ê(ra/kleito/n te le/gousi kai\ a)/lloi polloi/, mê\ ou) r(a=|dion
ê)=| e)piske/psasthai, ou)de\ pa/nu nou=n e)/chontos _a)nthrô/pou
e)pitre/psanta o)no/masin au(to\n kai\ tê\ au(tou= psuchê\n
therapeu/ein_, pepisteuko/ta e)kei/nois kai\ toi=s theme/nois
_au)ta/_, dii+schuri/zesthai ô(s ti ei)do/ta, kai\ au)tou= te kai\
tô=n o)/ntôn katagignô/skein, ô(s ou)de\n u(gie\s ou)deno/s,
a(lla\ pa/nta ô/sper kera/mia r(ei=], &c.]

[Footnote 78: Plato, Kratyl. p. 440 D.]

Kratylus replies that he will follow the advice given, but that he
has already meditated on the matter, and still adheres to
Herakleitus. Such is the close of the dialogue.

*  *  *  *  *

[Side-note: Remarks upon the dialogue. Dissent from the opinion of
Stallbaum and others, that it is intended to deride Protagoras and
other Sophists.]

One of the most learned among the modern Platonic commentators
informs us that the purpose of Plato in this dialogue was, "to rub
over Protagoras and other Sophists with the bitterest salt of
sarcasm".[79] I have already expressed my dissent from this
theory, which is opposed to all the ancient views of the dialogue,
and which has arisen, in my judgment, only from the anxiety of the
moderns to exonerate Plato from the reproach of having suggested
as admissible, etymologies which now appear to us fantastic. I see
no derision of the Sophists, except one or two sneers against
Protagoras and Prodikus, upon the ever-recurring theme that they
took money for their lectures.[80] The argument against Protagoras
at the opening of the dialogue--whether conclusive or not--is
serious and not derisory. The discourse of Sokrates is neither
that of an anti-sophistical caricaturist, on the one hand--nor
that of a confirmed dogmatist who has studied the subject and made
up his mind on the other (this is the part which he ascribes to
Kratylus)[81]--but the tentative march of an enquirer groping
after truth, who follows the suggestive promptings of his own
invention, without knowing whither it will conduct him: who,
having in his mind different and even opposite points of view,
unfolds first arguments on behalf of one, and next those on behalf
of the other, without pledging himself either to the one or to the
other, or to any definite scheme of compromise between them.[82]
Those who take no interest in such circuitous gropings and guesses
of an inquisitive and yet unsatisfied mind--those who ask for
nothing but a conclusion clearly enunciated along with one or two
affirmative reasons--may find the dialogue tiresome. However this
may be--it is a manner found in many Platonic dialogues.

[Footnote 79: Stallbaum, Proleg. ad Kratyl. p. 18--"quos Plato
hoc libro acerbissimo sale perfricandos statuit." Schleiermacher
also tells us (Einleitung, pp. 17-21) that "Plato had much delight
in heaping a full measure of ridicule upon his enemy Antisthenes;
and that he at last became tired with the exuberance of his own
philological jests". Lassalle shows, with much force, that the
persons ridiculed (even if we grant the derisory purpose to be
established) cannot be Protagoras and the Protagoreans
(Herakleitos, vol. ii. pp. 376-384).]

[Footnote 80: Plato, Kratyl. pp. 384 B, 391 B.]

[Footnote 81: Plato, Kratyl. pp. 428 A, 440 D.]

[Footnote 82: Plato, Kratyl. pp. 384 C. 391 A. [Greek: suzêtei=n
e(/toimo/s ei)mi kai\ soi\ kai\ Kratu/lô| koinê=| . . . o(/ti ou)k
ei)dei/ên a)lla\ skepsoi/mên meta\ sou=.]]

[Side-note: Theory laid down by Sokrates _à priori_, in the first
part--Great difficulty, and ingenuity necessary, to bring it into
harmony with facts.]

Sokrates opens his case by declaring the thesis of the Absolute
(Object _sine_ Subject), against the Protagorean thesis of the
Relative (Object _cum_ Subject). Things have an absolute essence:
names have an absolute essence:[83] each name belongs to its own
thing, and to no other: this is its rectitude: none but that rare
person, the artistic name-giver, can detect the essence of each
thing, and the essence of each name, so as to apply the name
rightly. Here we have a theory truly Platonic: impressed upon
Plato's mind by a sentiment _à priori_, and not from any survey or
comparison of particulars. Accordingly when Sokrates is called
upon to apply his theory to existing current words, and to make
out how any such rectitude can be shown to belong to them--he
finds the greatest divergence and incongruity between the two. His
ingenuity is hardly tasked to reconcile them: and he is obliged to
have recourse to bold and multiplied hypotheses. That the first
Name-Givers were artists proceeding upon system, but incompetent
artists proceeding on a bad system--they were Herakleiteans who
believed in the universality of movement, and gave names having
reference to movement:[84] That the various letters of the
alphabet, or rather the different actions of the vocal organism by
which they are pronounced, have each an inherent, essential,
adaptation, or analogy to the phenomena of movement or arrest of
movement:[85] That the names originally bestowed have become
disguised by a variety of metamorphoses, but may be brought back
to their original by probable suppositions, and shown to possess
the rectitude sought. All these hypotheses are only violent
efforts to reconcile the Platonic _à priori_ theory, in some way
or other, with existing facts of language. To regard them as
intentional caricatures, would be to suppose that Plato is seeking
intentionally to discredit and deride his own theory of the
Absolute: for the discredit could fall nowhere else. We see that
Plato considered many of his own guesses as strange and novel,
some even as laying him open to ridicule.[86] But they were
indispensable to bring his theory into something like coherence,
however inadequate, with real language.

[Footnote 83: One cannot but notice how Plato, shortly after
having declared war against the Relativity affirmed by Protagoras,
falls himself into that very track of Relativity when he comes to
speak about actual language, telling us that names are imposed on
grounds dependant on or relative to the knowledge or belief of the
Name-givers. Kratylus, pp. 397 B, 399 A, 401 A-B, 411 B, 436 B.

The like doctrine is affirmed in the Republic, vi. p. 515 B.
[Greek: dê=lon o(/ti o( the/menos prô=tos ta\ o)no/mata, oi(=a
ê(gei=to ei)=nai ta\ pra/gmata, toiau=ta e)ti/theto kai\ ta\

Leibnitz conceived an idea of a "Lingua Characterica Universalis,
quæ simul sit ars inveniendi et judicandi" (see Leibnitz Opp.
Erdmann, pp. 162-163), and he alludes to a conception of Jacob
Böhme, that there once existed a Lingua Adamica or Natur-Sprache,
through which the essences of things might be contemplated and
understood. "Lingua Adamica vel certé vis ejus, quam quidam se
nosse, et in nominibus ab Adamo impositis essentias rerum intueri
posse contendunt--nobis certé ignota est" (Opp. p. 93). Leibnitz
seems to have thought that it was possible to construct a
philosophical language, based upon an Alphabetum Cogitationum
Humanarum, through which problems on all subjects might be
resolved, by a _calculus_ like that which is employed for the
solution of arithmetical or geometrical problems (Opp. p. 83;
compare also p. 356).

This is very analogous to the affirmations of Sokrates, in the
first part of the Kratylus, about the essentiality of Names
discovered and declared by the [Greek: nomothe/tês techniko/s]]

[Footnote 84: Plato, Kratyl. p. 436 D.]

[Footnote 85: Plato, Krat. pp. 424-425. Schleiermacher declares
this to be among the greatest and most profound truths which have
ever been enunciated about language (Introduction to Kratylus, p.
11). Stallbaum, on the contrary, regards it as not even seriously
meant, but mere derision of others (Prolegg. ad Krat. p. 12).
Another commentator on Plato calls it "eine Lehre der
Sophistischen Sprachforscher" (August Arnold, Einleitung in die
Philosophie--durch die Lehre Platons vermittelt--p. 178, Berlin,

Proklus, in his Commentary, says that the scope of this dialogue
is to exhibit the imitative or generative faculty which
essentially belongs to the mind, and whereby the mind (aided by
the vocal or pronunciative imagination--[Greek: lektikê\
phantasi/a]) constructs names which are natural transcripts of the
essences of things (Proklus, Schol. ad Kratyl. pp. 1-21 ed.
Boissonnade; Alkinous, Introd. ad Platon. c. 6).

Ficinus, too, in his argument to the Kratylus (p. 768), speaks
much about the mystic sanctity of names, recognised not merely by
Pythagoras and Plato, but also by the Jews and Orientals. He
treats the etymologies in the Kratylus as seriously intended. He
says not a word about any intention on the part of Plato to deride
the Sophists or any other Etymologists.

So also Sydenham, in his translation of Plato's Philêbus (p. 33),
designates the Kratylus as "a dialogue in which is taught the
nature of things, as well the permanent as the transient, by a
supposed etymology of Names and Words".]

[Footnote 86: Plato, Kratyl. pp. 425 D, 426 B. Because Sokrates
says that these etymologies may appear ridiculous, we are not to
infer that he proposed them as caricatures; see what Plato says in
the Republic, v. p. 452, about his own propositions respecting the
training of women, which others (he says) will think ludicrous,
but which he proposes with the most thorough and serious

[Side-note: Opposite tendencies of Sokrates in the last half of the
dialogue--he disconnects his theory of Naming from the
Herakleitean doctrine.]

In the second part of the dialogue, where Kratylus is introduced
as uncompromising champion of this same theory, Sokrates changes
his line of argument, and impugns the peremptory or exclusive
pretensions of the theory: first denying some legitimate
corollaries from it--next establishing by the side of it the
counter-theory of Hermogenes, as being an inferior though
indispensable auxiliary--yet still continuing to uphold it as an
ideal of what is Best. He concludes by disconnecting the theory
pointedly from the doctrine of Herakleitus, with which Kratylus
connected it, and by maintaining that there can be no right
naming, and no sound knowledge, if that doctrine be admitted.[87]
The Platonic Ideas, eternal and unchangeable, are finally opposed
to Kratylus as the only objects truly knowable and nameable--and
therefore as the only conditions under which right naming can be
realised. The Name-givers of actual society have failed in their
task by proceeding on a wrong doctrine: neither they nor the names
which they have given can be trusted.[88] The doctrine of
perpetual change or movement is true respecting the sensible world
and particulars, but it is false respecting the intelligible world
or universals--Ideas and Forms. These latter are the only things
knowable: but we cannot know them through names: we must study
them by themselves and by their own affinities.

[Footnote 87: Plato, Kratyl. p. 439 D. [Greek: A)=r' ou)=n oi(=on
te proseipei=n au)to\ o)rthôs, ei) a)ei\ u(pexe/chetai?]]

[Footnote 88: Plato, Kratyl. p. 440 C. Compare pp. 436 D, 439 B.

Lassalle contends that Herakleitus and his followers considered
the knowledge of names to be not only indispensable to the
knowledge of things, but equivalent to and essentially embodying
that knowledge. (Herakleitos, vol. ii. pp. 363-368-387.) See also
a passage of Proklus, in his Commentary on the Platonic
Parmenidês, p. 476, ed. Stallbaum.

The remarkable passage in the first book of Aristotle's
Metaphysica, wherein he speaks of Plato and Plato's early
familiarity with Kratylus and the Herakleitean opinions, coincides
very much with the course of the Platonic dialogue Kratylus, from
its beginning to its end (Aristot. Metaphys. A. p. 987 a-b).]

How this is to be done, Sokrates professes himself unable to say.
We may presume him to mean, that a true Artistic Name-giver must
set the example, knowing these Forms or essences beforehand, and
providing for each its appropriate Name, or Name-Form, significant
by essential analogy.

[Side-note: Ideal of the best system of naming--the Name-Giver
ought to be familiar with the Platonic Ideas or Essences, and
apportion his names according to resemblances among them.]

Herein, so far as I can understand, consists the amount of
positive inference which Plato enables us to draw from the
Kratylus. Sokrates began by saying that names having natural
rectitude were the only materials out of which a language could be
formed: he ends by affirming merely that this is the best and most
perfect mode of formation: he admits that names may become
significant, though loosely and imperfectly, by convention
alone--yet the best scheme would be, that in which they are
significant by inherent resemblance to the thing named. But this
cannot be done until the Name-giver, instead of proceeding upon
the false theory of Herakleitus, starts from the true theory
recognising the reality of eternal, unchangeable, Ideas or Forms.
He will distinguish, and embody in appropriate syllables, those
Forms of Names which truly resemble, and have natural connection
with, the Forms of Things.

Such is the ideal of perfect or philosophical Naming, as Plato
conceives it--disengaged from those divinations of the origin and
metamorphoses of existing names, which occupy so much of the
dialogue.[89] He does not indeed attempt to construct a body of
true names _à priori_, but he sets forth the real nameable
permanent essences, to which these names might be assimilated: the
principles upon which the construction ought to be founded, by the
philosophic lawgiver following out a good theory:[90] and he
contrasts this process with two rival processes, each defective in
its own way. This same contrast, pervading Plato's views on other
subjects, deserves a few words of illustration.

[Footnote 89: Deuschle (Die Platonische Sprachphilosophie, p. 57)
tells us that in this dialogue "Plato _intentionally_ presented
many of his thoughts in a covert or contradictory and
unintelligible manner". (Vieles absichtlich verhüllt oder
widersprechend und missverständlich dargestellt wird.)

I see no probability in such an hypothesis.