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The Phædrus - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XI - Essays on Philosophy and the Classics 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XI - Essays on Philosophy and the Classics, ed. John M. Robson, Introduction by F.E. Sparshott (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978).
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[Monthly Repository, VIII (June, and Sept., 1834), 404-20, and 633-46. Not republished; signed “A.” Identified in JSM’s bibliography (after the general heading cited on 38 above) as “No II. The Phædrus: part 1 in the M.R. for June 1834 / : part 2 in the M.R. for Septb. 1834” (MacMinn, 37). In the copy in the Somerville College Library the Greek phrase οὐσία ὄντος οὐ̑σα is indicated in pencil for insertion as a note at 74.8.
For comments on this and the other translations, see the Introduction and Textual Introduction, xvii-xxviii and lxxx-lxxxiii above.]
this is the most miscellaneous of all the longer dialogues of Plato. The subjects on which it touches are very numerous, and are held together by a very slight thread of connexion. It is not a controversial dialogue, part of it being in long discourses, while even in the part which consists of conversations, Socrates does not combat the opinion of Phædrus, but states his own. None of the works of Plato tends more strongly to confirm the opinion, that the design of his speculations was rather to recommend a particular mode of inquiry, than to inculcate particular conclusions. Whatever in this dialogue has reference to methods of philosophizing, (which is the case with a great and the most instructive portion of it,) appears perfectly serious and in earnest, while in the remainder there is an appearance of sportiveness, and sometimes almost of mockery.
The dramatic merits of the Phædrus are very great. It may be pronounced a model of lively and familiar conversation between two intimate acquaintances, Athenian gentlemen in the best sense of the term, accomplished up to the highest standard of their age.
The dialogue derives an additional interest, from its containing, in the form of an allegory, those doctrines, or rather ideas, on the subject of love, which, by giving rise to the vulgar expression “Platonic love,” have made the name of Plato familiar to the ear of thousands, who otherwise might probably never have heard of his existence.
Socrates meets his friend Phædrus, coming from a visit to Lysias, the celebrated orator, and going out to walk. He asks Phædrus, what was the subject of discourse between him and Lysias; and Phædrus promises to give him an account of it if he will accompany him in his walk.
Socrates having complied, Phædrus tells him that Lysias had read to the company a written discourse on the subject of love, πειρώμενόν τινα τω̑ν καλω̑ν, οὐχ ὑπὸ ἐραστου̑ δέ, i. e. a letter, or speech, (whichever we choose to call it,) containing a proposal, of a nature which would commonly be called an amatory one, but without professing to be in love. This last circumstance, continues Phædrus, is the cream of the matter; for he maintains, that one who is not in love ought to be preferred, as to the matter in question, to one who is. “He is a fine fellow,” said Socrates: “I wish he would maintain that a poor man should be preferred to a rich man, an old man to a young, and so on, going through all the qualities which I and most others possess: his discourse would then be of great public utility.” He then presses Phædrus very earnestly to relate the discourse: Phædrus pretends want of memory, and coquets a little, whereupon Socrates rallies him, and says, that he knows he is dying to relate it, and sooner than lose the opportunity would end by compelling him to listen. Phædrus was preparing accordingly to give an account of the discourse, when Socrates asks him to let him see what he has got under his cloak; which turns out to be the very discourse itself. When the mirth and pleasantry excited by this discovery have subsided, they agree to read the manuscript together, as soon as they can find a convenient place for sitting down.
As they are walking along the banks of the Ilissus in quest of such a spot, Phædrus asks Socrates whether this is the place from which Boreas is said to have carried off Oreithya. “No,” replied Socrates, “it is a little lower down.”—“Do you believe this story,” asked Phædrus, “to be true?”—“It would be nothing extraordinary,” said Socrates, “if, like the wise men, I disbelieved it. I might then say, that the north wind blew this girl over the adjoining rocks while she was diverting herself in the meadows, and that for this reason she was said to have been carried off by Boreas. According to my notion, however, all these things are very entertaining, but they would make life exceedingly laborious and troublesome: for one would next have to explain the Centaurs, and then the Chimæra, and a whole crowd of Gorgons and Pegasuses; which if one were to disbelieve, and attempt to bring back to probability, it would be the business of a life. I have not leisure for these things, and I will tell you the reason: I am not yet able, according to the Delphic injunction, to know myself; and it appears to me very ridiculous, while ignorant of myself, to inquire into what I am not concerned in. I therefore leave these things alone, and believe with the vulgar; not searching into such matters, but into myself, and inquiring whether I am a beast, of a more complicated structure and more savage than Typhon, or a tamer and simpler animal, whose nature partakes of divinity.”
Saying these things, they arrive at the spot which Phædrus had selected for sitting down to read the manuscript. Socrates begins to look about him with wonder, and praises the beauty of the place. Phædrus laughs at him, and tells him that he is more like a stranger than a native, and never goes out of the town at all. Socrates begs to be pardoned for the omission; “for,” says he, “I like to learn: the fields and trees cannot teach me any thing, the men in the town can. But you have found a cure for this fault of mine: for, as they lead hungry cattle by carrying a branch of a tree before them, so, by holding a book in your hand, you might make me follow you all over Attica.”
After these preliminaries Phædrus reads the discourse; which is in the form of a love-letter, if that can be called a love-letter which disclaims love. The following is the substance, and almost an exact translation:
“You know how it is with me, and that I think this affair would be advantageous to us: but I claim, not to be rejected because I do not love you. A lover, when his desire ceases, repents of all that he has done for you: the other has no cause for repentance, for the good he does you was not done from irresistible impulse, but from choice, and deliberation. A lover, too, reckons up the benefits he has conferred upon you, the trouble and anxiety he has undergone for your sake, the damage which he has suffered in his private affairs by reason of his love, and thinks that by all this he has long ago made a sufficient return to you for your favours; but he who does not love, can neither pretend to have neglected his own concerns on account of his love, nor to have undergone labour or anxiety, nor to have quarrelled with his relations, so that nothing is left but to be eager and assiduous in doing whatever will give you pleasure. Again, if it is a reason for valuing a lover, that he is more attached to the person whom he loves than to any person else, and is ready both by word and deed to incur the enmity of others, in order to gratify the object of his love, it clearly follows that if he should afterwards love another, he will do as much for that other, and will be willing, for the gratification of the other, to quarrel with his first love. And how can it be reasonable to grant such a favour to one who is under a calamity, which they who know what it is will not even attempt to cure? for the men themselves confess that they are in an unsound state of mind, and know their own folly, but cannot conquer it. How then can they, when they come to their senses, judge that to be well done which they determined upon when in such a state? Further, if you select from among your lovers even the very best, your choice must be made from a small number; but if you choose from among all persons whatever, except lovers, the one who is most suitable to yourself, there is a much greater chance of your finding a person deserving of your attachment.
“If, moreover, you stand in awe of common opinion, and fear lest if it be known it should be a reproach to you; a lover, expecting to be thought as happy by others as he thinks himself, cannot restrain himself from boasting, and making a display to the world that he has not laboured in vain: but he who is not in love has command of himself, and can choose what is really best, in preference to the mere opinion of men. Many persons must unavoidably see and hear of the lovers who run after you, and if you are even seen talking with them, it is supposed that there either is, or shortly will be, an intrigue between you: but from your associating with a person who is not in love, no such inference will be drawn, because people are aware that you must associate with somebody, either from friendship or for some other pleasure. Further, if you are alarmed by a consideration of the instability of all attachments, and by the reflection that under any other circumstances a quarrel would be an equal misfortune to both, but after you have given away what you most value, it is a most severe calamity to you; then you have reason to be more especially fearful of lovers: for they are most easily offended, and consider the slightest thing an injury to them. For which reason they wish to divert the object of their attachment from all other society; fearing those who have wealth, lest they should outbid them in money; those who have instruction, lest they should outshine them in intellect; and, in short, fearing all who have any desirable possession or quality whatever. Wishing, therefore, to alienate you from all such persons, they leave you without friends; and if you endeavour to make friends, and so provide better for your own interest, you will provoke them. But those who are not in love, but have obtained their wishes on account of their good qualities, are not jealous of those who seek your society, but, on the contrary, dislike those who care not for it, thinking that you are scorned by the latter, but benefited by the former; so that you are more likely to make friends than enemies through their means.
“Lovers, moreover, frequently desire your person before they are acquainted with your manners and character, so that it is uncertain whether they will continue attached to you when their desires are at an end: but those who are not in love, but have obtained your favours in consequence of previous friendship, are not likely to be less your friends in consequence of the favours they have received, but rather to consider those favours as a pledge of future friendship. And, moreover, it is more for your mental improvement to comply with my wishes, than with those of a lover; for lovers praise all you say or do, however unreasonable, partly from fear of your displeasure, and partly because their own judgment is warped by their desire. For such is the effect of love: if unfortunate, it makes that a source of pain which gives no pain to other persons; if fortunate, it makes the lover applaud, in the person he loves, what is really no cause for satisfaction: so that lovers deserve our pity far more than our envy. But if you yield yourself to me, I shall not serve you for present pleasure, but for future good; not over-mastered by love, but retaining command over myself; not vehemently provoked by slight causes, but tardily excited to moderate resentment even by great provocations; pardoning all involuntary offence, and endeavouring to dissuade you from that which is voluntary: these are the signs of what will be a lasting friendship. But if you suppose that there cannot be a strong attachment, save from love, consider that if that were true, we should not love our children, nor our parents, nor possess faithful friends, who have become so from other causes than sexual desire. It may be said that you should confer favours upon those most who need them most. But, if this were true, it would follow that you should select for the objects of your benefits, not the best, but the most destitute; and that in your entertainments you should invite, not your friends, but beggars and the hungry: for they will come the most eagerly, and will be most delighted and most grateful, and will invoke innumerable blessings upon your head.
“But the persons fittest to receive favours are not they who most need them, but they who can make the best return: not lovers only, but all who are worthy; not they who will merely enjoy you during the season of your beauty, but they who when you grow old will continue their benefits; not they who will ostentatiously display their successes to others, but they who will preserve a modest silence; not they who will pay court to you for a short time, but they who will remain your friends during your whole life; not they who when their desires have ceased, will look out for an excuse to quarrel with you, but they whose excellence will then be most perceived, when their pleasures are over. Remember, then, all these things; and consider that lovers are continually remonstrated with by their friends, as giving in to an evil practice, but he who loves not, was never for that reason censured by any friend, as consulting ill for his own affairs. You may perhaps ask me, whether I advise you to gratify all who do not love you? But neither do I think that a lover would bid you comply with the desires of all your lovers, for it would diminish the value of the favour to him who receives it, and would increase the difficulty of concealment. Now, harm ought not to arise to either party from the connexion, but advantage to both.”
Having read this discourse, Phædrus asks Socrates whether he does not admire it exceedingly, both in other respects, and for the excellence of the language? Socrates replies, “Wonderfully so: for I was looking at you all the while, and you seemed so delighted, that I, thinking you know more about these things than I do, was delighted along with you.” Phædrus begged that there might be a truce with jesting, and that Socrates would tell him seriously, whether he thought there was any other man in Greece who could say so much, and all of it so excellent, on the same subject? “What!” said Socrates: “must we praise the discourse for the value of the thoughts, as well as for the language? For my part, I only attended to it as a specimen of composition, for I did not suppose that Lysias himself would imagine that he was equal to the proper treatment of the subject. And, moreover, he seemed to me to repeat the same thing two or three times over, as if he had not a very great deal to say: perhaps he did not mind this, but only desired to show that he could say the very same thing in several ways, and always excellently.”
Phædrus did not like this mode of treating the discourse, and persisted that nothing which was fit to be said had been left out, and that nobody could say any thing more or better on the same subject, after what Lysias had said. This Socrates declared he could not concede; or many old writers, both men and women, would rise up and bear witness against him. “Who?” asked Phædrus.—“I cannot say,” rejoined Socrates, “but I must have read something in Sappho, or Anacreon, or some other writer, for I find myself quite full of matter which I could repeat to you on the subject, nowise inferior to what you have just now read. Knowing my own ignorance, I am certain that I could not have thought of all this by myself, I must therefore have learnt it from somebody else, but from my silliness I have even forgotten from whom.” Phædrus insisted that he should prove his assertion, by speaking as much on the same subject as was in the manuscript, and better in quality. “Do not suppose,” said Socrates, “that I affirm Lysias to have missed the mark altogether, or pretend that it is possible to treat the subject omitting every thing which he has said. How, do you suppose, would it be possible to argue that one who is not in love should be favoured in preference to a lover, abstaining altogether from praising reasonableness and sanity of mind, and from blaming the want of it. This, any one who treats the subject cannot avoid saying, and nothing could be said to the purpose without it. But this kind of things must be taken for granted, and of such we must not praise the invention, but the arrangement; while of those things which, instead of being impossible to miss, are difficult to find, we may praise the invention and the arrangement too.”—Phædrus assents, and says he will allow him to make use of that one principle of Lysias, that a lover is in a less sane state of mind than one who is not in love: but insists that he shall compose a discourse, all the rest of which shall be longer and better than the rest of the discourse of Lysias. Socrates now pretends to have been in jest, and after playfully refusing for some time, which gives rise to some very amusing conversation, he in a mock heroic manner invokes the Muses, and begins to relate the following as a discourse actually held on an occasion of the kind supposed:
“There is but one mode of beginning for those who would deliberate well; viz. to know what the thing, about which they are to deliberate, really is. The vulgar are not aware that they are ignorant of the essence of every thing: conceiving themselves, therefore, to know the inmost nature of the thing which they are about to discuss, they do not come to a mutual explanation respecting it at the commencement of their inquiry, but pass it over, and proceed to employ merely probable arguments. That we may not fall into the error which we condemn in others, let us—who have to inquire whether a lover, or one who is not a lover, should be preferably indulged—begin by ascertaining what love is, and what is its operation; that we may keep this in view, when we subsequently examine whether it produces good or hurt.
“That love is a kind of desire, is clear to all; on the other hand, that persons who are not in love may have physical desire, we know. How then do we distinguish the lover from him who is not in love? We must consider that in each of us there are two principles* which lead and govern us; the one, a natural desire for pleasure; the other, an acquired judgment, which seeks that which is best. These two principles sometimes are in harmony with each other, sometimes in opposition; and in the latter case sometimes one is the stronger, sometimes the other. Now, Judgment, which guides us, by means of reason, to the best, when it is the superior in strength, receives the name of Prudence:† Desire, which drags us irrationally to pleasure, when it governs us, is called Incontinence.‡ Incontinence, again, has many names, for there are many species of it; and whichsoever of these predominates, gives its own name, and that an opprobrious one, to the person whom it rules. If the desire of the pleasures of the palate predominates over reason, and over the other desires, it is called gluttony, and the person who is affected by it is termed a glutton: if the desire of intoxication similarly preponderates, we know what name it receives. We now see what that desire is, respecting which we are inquiring. The desire which (being independent of reason, and being victorious over right judgment) tends towards the pleasure of beauty, is called love.”
Here Socrates interrupts himself, and jocularly pretends to be inspired by the deities of the spot; “what I am now speaking,” says he, “is not far removed from dithyrambics.”
“We have now,” continues he, “settled what the thing is, about which we are speaking; and keeping this in view, we can inquire what benefit or hurt arises respectively from a lover, and from one who is not a lover, to the person who complies with their desires. Now, he who is governed by desire, and the slave of pleasure, must of necessity attempt to make the object of his love a source of as much pleasure to him as possible. But, to a person who is in an unsound state, that is pleasant which opposes to him no resistance; that which is his equal or his superior, is disagreeable to him. A lover, therefore, cannot endure that the object of his passion should be either superior or equal to him: he will strive all he can to make it inferior and feebler. Now, the ignorant are feebler than the wise; the cowardly, than the brave; he who is unable to speak, than an orator; a slow person, than a ready one. A lover, therefore, must of necessity rejoice that the object of his love should labour under these disadvantages, and must do all he can to superinduce them if they do not already exist, or else he will be deprived of what gives him immediate pleasure. He must of necessity be jealous; and the object of his love will suffer great evil from him, by being withheld from much useful intercourse; and above all, from that which produces the greatest wisdom—philosophy. From this, a lover must above all things withhold the person whom he loves, lest, in consequence of it, he himself should be despised; and must endeavour all he can to make that person be ignorant of every thing, and by depending for every thing upon the lover, be a source of the greatest amount of pleasure to him, and of evil to the beloved object itself.
“If a man who is in love, is so ill a superintendent and associate in the affairs of the mind, he is not less so in what concerns the body. He who prefers the pleasant to the good, will prefer a habit of body soft and relaxed, bred up, not in the clear sunshine, but in the shade, unused to labour and hardy exercise, accustomed only to delicate and effeminate living; such a state of body, in short, as in all great exigencies would give confidence to an enemy, fear and anxiety to a friend, and to the lover himself.
“Every one, but a lover especially, must see, that he would wish the person he loves to be destitute of all which is most dear, most affectionate, and most divine: to be deprived of father, mother, relations, and friends, lest they should censure and obstruct the intercourse with him; to be destitute of property, those who possess it being neither so easily obtained, nor, when obtained, so easily managed: to be unmarried, childless, and to remain for as long a period as possible undomesticated and without a home, in order to remain as long as possible subservient to his pleasures. Again; there are many other things which are in themselves bad; but in most of them there is an admixture of immediate pleasure: A flatterer is a most dangerous and mischievous animal, but nature has mixed up in him, a pleasure not entirely illiberal; a courtezan, and many other of the most pernicious things, are in daily intercourse the most pleasant; but a lover is not only pernicious, but the most unpleasant of all things in daily intercourse. For it is an old saying, that persons of the same age like one another: equality of age, producing similarity of tastes, causes friendship, by reason of resemblance: but even of their intimacy, there is such a thing as satiety; and moreover, in every thing, and to all persons, what they cannot get rid of, becomes a burthen. Now, both these are inconveniences which are suffered above all from a lover; who is likely to be much superior in age to the object of his love, and, hurried by an irresistible impulse, is so assiduous in running after and engrossing the person whom he loves, that he can in no way be got rid of.
“And not only is he thus disagreeable and detrimental while he loves, but unfaithful when he has ceased to love. He was only endured in the first instance, on account of his many promises and vows of future benefits. When, however, these are to be fulfilled, he is changed, and has recovered his reason. The person whom he loves, not knowing this, reminds him of his past words and deeds: he is ashamed to say that he has changed, and knows not how, when in his senses, to perform the promises which he made and swore to when in a state of temporary madness, lest, acting as he did before, he should again be what he then was. He therefore flies off from his promises, and from the society of the person whom he formerly loved; who has then the ungrateful task of pursuing, and resenting; having been unfortunately ignorant that the attachment of a lover is not a feeling of good will, but an appetite which seeks merely its own gratification, and that the love of a lover is like that of the wolf to the lamb.”
Here Socrates breaks off his discourse: and Phædrus tells him, that as yet he has only done half what he had undertaken; he has only censured the lover, and not pointed out the good which arises from an intimacy with one who is not a lover; why therefore does he stop? Socrates jocularly answers, “Did you not perceive that I had already got beyond dithyrambics, and into heroics, and that too, when vituperating,” (for which purpose the poets generally employed the dithyrambic measure). “What do you suppose would happen if I were to commence a panegyric? I should be in a state of absolute enthusiasm; completely inspired by the nymphs of the place, to whose influence you have premeditatedly exposed me. I will be satisfied with saying in one word, that by reversing all that we have said against the lover, you will find all the good qualities which distinguish the other.”
Having discoursed to the above effect, Socrates pretended to be going away, lest Phædrus, whom he rallies upon his extreme fondness for an argument, should compel him to make another discourse; but presently he affects to perceive what he calls the divine and customary sign, which, he says, is continually stopping him when he is about to undertake any thing; and to hear a voice, which will not allow him to depart, until he has expiated an offence which he has committed against the divinity. “I am a prophet,” he continues; “not a very good one, but (like a man who writes a bad hand-writing) good enough for my own use. The soul is in some sort a prophet; and mine pricked me while I was speaking, and made me even then afraid that I was offending the gods for the sake of honour among men; and I now perceive what my offence is. You have yourself brought, and have made me utter, two most horrible and impious discourses. Is not Love the son of Venus, and one of the gods?”—“So it is said,” replied Phædrus.—“Not by Lysias, however,” rejoins Socrates, “nor by your speech, which you by your incantations contrived to utter through my lips. If Love is, as he is, a god, or something divine, he cannot be anything evil. Both our speeches, however, represented him as such. I therefore must purify myself; and, as Stesichorus, who had been struck blind like Homer for calumniating Helen, recovered his sight by making a recantation, I will make my Palinodia, more wisely, before I have yet suffered anything from the anger of the god whom I have maligned. Do you not think, indeed, that any person of a generous and a civilized disposition, who either loves or has loved, if he were to hear us saying that lovers contract strong enmities from slight causes, and behave jealously and injuriously towards the object of their love, would suppose that we had been bred up at sea, and had never seen any liberal and generous attachment; and would be far indeed from admitting the justice of the censures which we have cast upon Love?”—“Perhaps,” said Phædrus, “he would.”—“For this reason,” said Socrates, “and for fear of the god himself, I will endeavour to efface my reproaches by a panegyric; and I would advise Lysias to make haste and do the same.
“It is a fallacy to maintain that one who loves not, should be favoured in preference to a lover, because the one is in his senses, and the other not. If madness were always and of necessity an evil, this would be very just; but it happens that the very greatest of blessings come to us through madness; madness given, it is true, by the divinity. The prophetesses at Delphi and Dodona, and elsewhere, have rendered to Greece, both individually and publicly, when frantic, the greatest services, but none that I know of when in their sober senses. There would be no end to the enumeration of those who have foretold future events correctly, prophesying by a frenzy inspired from heaven. Those ancients who invented our language, certainly thought madness no disgrace, or they would not have given to the noblest of arts, that of predicting the future, the name of μανική (madness,) which we have ignorantly corrupted into μαντική, (prophesy). In like manner, the inquiry into the future, when conducted by those who are in their senses, by observation of the flight of birds, and other signs, received from the ancients (to indicate that it operated by means of thought and intellect) the name οἰονοϊστικη,* which the moderns have corrupted into οἰωνιστική, (the science of omens). In so much then as the prophetic art excels that of augury and omens, in so much do the ancients testify that the madness which comes from God, excels the wisdom which comes from men. Many again, on whom, by the anger of the gods, great calamities and diseases have fallen, have been cured by the supervention of madness, which operating upon them in a manner similar to divination, indicated to them the proper prayers and adorations of the gods, by which they were purified, and became free from their previous evils. A third kind of madness is that, which, coming from the Muses, awakens the mind, and stirs it up to pour itself forth in odes and other kinds of poetry; and by adorning the deeds of the ancients, instructs their posterity. For he who, without madness inspired by the Muses, knocks at the door of poetry, thinking that he can become an adequate poet by mere art, fails of his purpose, and his poetry is thrown into the shade by that of the inspired madmen.
“Such, and yet more, are the good works which proceed from madness inspired by the gods. Let us not, therefore, be disturbed by any argument which inculcates the preference of a sane above an insane mind. Let us first require proof, that love is not sent by the gods, for the benefit both of the lover and of the person loved. We ourselves will show that, on the contrary, this kind of madness is given by the gods for the greatest possible felicity of mankind. The proof will be very unsatisfactory to merely clever people, but convincing to the really wise.† We must, with this view, first institute an inquiry concerning the soul, both of men and of gods; what are its affections, and what its acts.
“All souls are immortal; for that which is always in motion must be immortal. (That which is set in motion by something else, may cease to be moved, and may therefore cease to live. But that which is self-moving, as it never quits itself, never ceases moving, but is the source and beginning of motion to all other things which are moved. But that which is a beginning, is not itself generated: a thing which is generated may be traced up to a beginning, but that beginning would not be the beginning if it could be traced to anything prior. Not being generated, it is not susceptible of destruction; for, if the beginning were destroyed, every thing which is generated from it would be destroyed with it; if that which is self-moving were destroyed, since it is the cause of all other motion, there would be no motion whatever.) Since, therefore, that which is self-moving is immortal, immortality is the essence of life; for, all bodies which require to be moved from without, are termed lifeless; those which are moved from within are said to have life. Life, therefore, is the principle of self-motion, and is consequently ungenerated, and immortal. Life is immortal; or in other words, the soul is immortal.*
“Respecting the immortality of the soul, this is sufficient. About its form, we shall speak as follows. What it is, would be the matter of a long inquiry, and would require divine aid; but to show what it resembles, is in human power, and requires not so long an exposition. We may compare it to a chariot, with a pair of winged horses and a driver. In the souls of the gods, the horses and the driver are entirely good: in other souls, only partially so, one of the horses excellent, the other vicious. The business, therefore, of the driver, is extremely difficult and troublesome.
“Let us now attempt to show how some living beings came to be spoken of as mortal, and others as immortal. All souls are employed in taking care of the things which are inanimate; and travel about the whole of heaven, in various forms. Now, when the soul is perfect, and has wings, it is carried aloft, and helps to administer the entire universe; but the soul which loses its wings, drops down until it catches hold of something solid, in which it takes up its residence; and having a dwelling of clay, which seems to be self-moving on account of the soul which is in it, the two together are called an animal, and mortal. The phrase, immortal animal, arises not from any correct understanding, but from a fiction: never having seen, nor being able to comprehend a deity, men conceived an immortal being, having a body as well as a soul, united together for all eternity. Let these things, then, be as it pleases God; but let us next state from what cause a soul becomes unfledged.
“It is the nature of wings to lift up heavy bodies towards the habitation of the gods; and of all things which belong to the body, wings are that which most partakes of the divine. The divine includes the beautiful, the wise, the good, and every thing of that nature. By these, the wings of the soul are nourished and increased; by the contraries of these, they are destroyed.
“Jupiter, and the other gods, divided into certain bands, travel about in their winged chariots, ordering and attending to all things, each according to his appointed function; and all who will, and who can, follow them. When they go to take their repasts, they journey up hill, towards the summit of the vault of heaven. The chariots of the gods, being in exact equilibrium, and therefore easily guided, perform this journey easily, but all others with difficulty; for one of the two horses, being of inferior nature, when he has not been exceedingly well trained by the driver, weighs down the vehicle, and impels it towards the earth.
“The souls which are called immortal, (viz. the gods,) when they reach the summit, go through, and standing upon the convex outside of heaven, are carried round and round by its revolution, and see the things which lie beyond the heavens. No poet has ever celebrated these super-celestial things, nor ever will celebrate them as they deserve. This region is the seat of Existence itself:* Real Existence, colourless, figureless, and intangible Existence, which is visible only to Mind, the charioteer of the soul, and which forms the subject of Real Knowledge. The minds of the gods, which are fed by pure knowledge, and all other thoroughly well-ordered minds, contemplate for a time this universe of ‘Being’ per se, and are delighted and nourished by the contemplation, until the revolution of the heavens bring them back to the same point. In this circumvolution, they contemplate Justice itself, Temperance itself, and Knowledge, not that knowledge which has a generation or a beginning, not that which exists in a subject which is any of what we term beings, but that Knowledge which exists in Being in general; in that which really Is. After thus contemplating all real existences, and being nourished thereby, these souls again sink into the interior of the heavens, and repose.
“Such is the life of the gods. Of other souls, those which best follow the gods, and most resemble them, barely succeed in lifting the head of the charioteer into the parts beyond the heavens, and being carried round by the circumvolution, are enabled with difficulty to contemplate this universe of Self-Existences. Others, being encumbered by the horses, sometimes rising and sometimes sinking, are enabled to see some Existences only. The remainder only struggle to elevate themselves, and by the unskilfulness of their drivers, coming continually into collision, are lamed, or break their wings, and after much labour go away without accomplishing their purpose, and return to feed upon mere Opinion.
“The motive of this great anxiety to view the super-celestial plain of Truth, is, that the proper food of the soul is derived from thence, and in particular, the wings, by which the soul is made light and carried aloft, are nourished upon it. Now it is an inviolable law that any soul, which, placing itself in the train of the gods, and journeying along with them, obtains a sight of any of these self-existent Realities, remains exempt from all harm until the next circumvolution; and if it can contrive to effect this every time, it is for ever safe and uninjured. But if, being unable to elevate itself to the necessary height, it altogether fails of seeing these Realities, and, being weighed down by vice and oblivion, loses its wings and falls to the earth, it enters into and animates some Body. It never enters, at the first generation, into the body of a brute animal; but that which has seen most, enters into the body of a person who will become a lover of wisdom, or a lover of beauty, or a person addicted to music, or to love: the next in rank, into that of a monarch who reigns according to law, or a warrior, or a man of talents for command: the third, into a person qualified to administer the state, and manage his family affairs, or carry on a gainful occupation: the fourth, into a person fond of hard labour and bodily exercises, or skilled in the prevention and curing of bodily diseases: the fifth, into a prophet, or a teacher of religious ceremonies: the sixth, into a poet, or a person addicted to any other of the imitative arts: the seventh, into a husbandman or an artificer: the eighth, into a sophist, or a courtier of the people: the ninth, into a despot and usurper. And in all these different fortunes they who conduct themselves justly will obtain next time a more eligible lot; they who conduct themselves unjustly, a worse.
“The soul never returns to its pristine state in less than 10,000 years, for its wings do not grow in a shorter time; except only the soul of one who philosophizes with sincerity, or who loves with philosophy. Such souls, after three periods of 1000 years, if they choose thrice in succession this kind of life, recover their wings in the three thousandth year, and depart. The other souls, at the termination of their first life, are judged, and having received their sentence, are either sent for punishment into the places of execution under the earth, or are elevated to a place in heaven, in which they are rewarded according to the life which they led while here. In either case they are called back on the thousandth year, to choose or draw lots for a new life. Then a human soul often passes into the body of a beast, and that of a beast, if it has ever been human, passes again into the body of a man. For a soul which has never seen the Truth at all, cannot enter into the human form, it being necessary that man should be able to apprehend things according to kinds,* which kinds are composed of many perceptions combined by reason into one. Now this mode of apprehending is neither more nor less than the recollecting of those things which the soul formerly saw when it journeyed along with the gods, and, disregarding what we now call beings, applied itself to the apprehension of Real Being. It is for this reason that the soul of the philosopher is re-fledged in a shorter period than others: for it constantly, to the best of its power, occupies itself in trying to recollect those things which the gods contemplated, and by the contemplation of which they are gods; by which means, being lifted out of, and above, human cares and interests, he is, by the vulgar, considered as mad, while in reality he is inspired.
“It will now appear, on consideration, that the fourth kind of madness of which we were before speaking, the madness of one who is a lover of beauty, is the best and most beneficial of all the enthusiasms which are inspired from heaven. For, as we have already said, every human soul has actually seen the Real Existences, or it would not have come into a human shape. But it is not easy for all of them to call to mind what they then saw: those especially, which saw that region for a short time only, and those which, having fallen to the earth, were so unfortunate as to be turned to injustice, and consequent oblivion of the sacred things which were seen by them in their prior state. Few, therefore, remain who are adequate to the recollection of those things. These few, when they see here any image or resemblance of the things which are there, receive a shock like a thunderbolt, and are in a manner taken out of themselves; but from deficiency of comprehension, they know not what it is which so affects them. Now, the likenesses which exist here of Justice and Temperance, and the other things which the soul honours, do not possess any splendour; and a few persons only, with great difficulty, by the aid of dull, blunt, material organs, perceive the terrestrial likenesses of those qualities, and recognise them. But Beauty was not only most splendid when it was seen by us forming part of the heavenly procession or quire, but here also the likeness of it comes to us through the most acute and clear of our senses, that of sight, and with a splendour which no other of the terrestrial images of super-celestial existences possess. They, then, who are not fresh from heaven, or who have been corrupted, are not vehemently impelled towards that Beauty which is aloft, when they see that upon earth which is called by its name; they do not, therefore, venerate and worship it, but give themselves up to physical pleasure, after the manner of a quadruped. But they who are fresh from those divine objects of contemplation, and who have formerly contemplated them much, when they see a godlike countenance or form, in which celestial beauty is imaged and well imitated, are first struck with a holy awe, and then, approaching, venerate this beautiful object as a god, and, if they were not afraid of the reputation of too raving a madness, would erect altars, and perform sacrifices to it. And the warmth and genial influence derived from the atmosphere which beauty generates around itself, entering through the eyes, softens and liquefies the inveterate induration, which coats and covers up the parts in the vicinity of the wings, and prevents them from growing: this being melted, the wings begin to germinate and increase, and this, like the growing of the teeth, produces an itching and irritation which disturbs the whole frame of the soul. When, therefore, by the contemplation of the beautiful object, the induration is softened, and the wings begin to shoot, the soul is relieved from its pain and rejoices; but when that object is absent, the liquefied substance hardens again, and closes up the young shoots of the wings, which consequently boil up and throb, and throw the soul into a state of turbulence and rage, and will neither allow it to sleep nor remain at rest, until it can again see the beautiful object, and be relieved. For this reason it never willingly leaves that object, but for its sake deserts parents and brothers and friends, and neglects its patrimony, and despises all established usages and decorums on which it valued itself before. And this affection is Love.
“Now, those who in their former state followed in the train of Jupiter, can, when seized by love, more patiently bear the burthens occasioned by it; but those who served and followed Mars, when they fall in love, and think themselves wronged by the person whom they love, are ready to resort to violence, and immolate both the loved person and themselves. And every other soul, both in its loves and in all its other pursuits, follows to the best of its power the example and model of the god on whom it formerly attended. But those who attended on Jupiter seek to have for the object of their love one who resembles Jupiter in soul—one who is a philosopher, and fitted by nature to lead; and strive all they can that the object of their love, if not so already, shall become so. And if they themselves have not before applied to study, they do so, and endeavouring to image to their recollection the god to whom they were attached, model their habits and dispositions, as far as is in human power, from him. And ascribing this change in themselves to the object of their love, they become still fonder of that object, and communicate to it a share of what they themselves draw from Jupiter, and make the beloved person resemble as much as possible the god whom they imitate. In like manner, those who had been attendants upon Juno look out for a person of a regal disposition; those of Apollo, and all the other gods, similarly look out for an object of love who is as like their god as possible, and if not so already they endeavour that it shall become so.
“We formerly distinguished the soul into three parts, two of them resembling horses, the third a charioteer. One of these horses we said was good, the other vicious. The better of the two is an upright noble animal, a lover of honour, sensible to shame, and obeying the word of the driver without the lash. The other is crooked, headlong, fiery, insolent, deaf, and with difficulty yielding even to whip and spur.* Now, when the driver is inflamed by love and desire for some beautiful human being, the tractable horse holds himself back, and restrains himself all he can from attempting any sensual enjoyment of the beloved object; but the other, setting whip and rein at defiance, struggles on, and compels his companion and the driver to rush towards the desired object, and consent to unchaste intercourse. When they come into its presence, and the charioteer, beholding it, is reminded of the ideal beauty which he has formerly seen, and sees it with his mind’s eye joined with Continence and Purity in the super-celestial region, he is struck dumb, and falling backward in adoration, draws back the reins so violently, that both horses are forced back upon their haunches, the one willingly and unresisting, the other with a great struggle. After many vain attempts, in which the vicious beast suffers great torture, he is at length subdued and humbled, and when he comes into the presence of the beloved object, is so overcome with fear as to be easily governed.
“The mind of the lover being brought into this state, his constant attendance upon, and as it were worship of, the beloved object, in time inspires the latter with a corresponding affection: and the same stream of beauty and desire which has entered into the soul of the lover through his eyes, rebounds as from a wall when he is full, and enters into the person from whom it at first proceeded, in whom it in like manner melts the induration about the roots of the wings, and enables them to sprout. Thus both partake of love; and if, by orderly habits of life, and by philosophy, the better part of their nature retains the ascendency, they lead a happy and united life, retaining command over themselves, being in strict subjection so far as regards the vicious part of their souls, and in full freedom in respect of the virtuous part. And after their death, being light and winged, and having achieved one of the three great victories, they have accomplished the greatest good which either human wisdom or divine madness can confer upon a human creature. But if their mode of life is more rude, and they are attached to the pursuit of honour rather than of wisdom, perhaps in a moment of forgetfulness the incontinent horse of each of them, finding their souls unguarded, may bring them together, and cause them to accomplish what common persons celebrate as the summit of happiness. And this having been done, they subsequently persevere in the same intercourse, but sparingly, as doing what is not approved by the whole of their minds. These persons, too, are dear to one another, although less so than those of whom we formerly spoke: and both while their love continues and when it has ceased, they consider themselves as having given and received the greatest of pledges, which it would be impious to violate by becoming alienated. When these persons die, they quit the body, without wings indeed, but having them in an incipient state, and they have therefore no trifling reward for their love; for those who have once commenced the journey towards heaven cannot again descend into the subterranean darkness, but live happily together in the clear light, and when they recover their wings, recover them together.
“Such is the attachment of a lover. But that of a person who is not a lover, being a mere compound of mortal prudence, is sparing and no more than mortal in what it dispenses: it produces in the soul of the person who is the object of attachment, nothing but illiberality,* which the vulgar praise as virtue. A soul so affected will be tossed about for 9000 years, on the earth and under it.”
Here Socrates terminates his long discourse, winding it up by a prayer to Love, to whom he offers the discourse as a Palinodia; and whose pardon he implores for having blasphemed against him, and lays the whole blame upon Lysias, whose mind he beseeches the god to turn to philosophy.
Phædrus warmly applauded this discourse, which he allowed to be greatly superior to that of Lysias. “I am afraid,” said he, “that Lysias would appear but poor, even if he attempted to write another speech against it. And, by the way, one of our politicians the other day inveighing against him, reproached him through the whole of his invective with being a λογογράϕος, or speech-writer. Perhaps, therefore, he may, from care of his own estimation, give up the practice.” Socrates laughed, and told Phædrus that he mistook his friend if he thought him so fearful of censure. “So you think,” he added, “that the man who thus reproached him meant what he said?”—“It seemed so,” answered Phædrus, “and you are yourself aware that the men of importance and gravity in a state are ashamed to write speeches, and leave written memorials of themselves behind them, being afraid lest they should hereafter be reputed sophists.”† Socrates replied jocularly, that on the contrary none were fonder of leaving written memorials behind them, and of being thought good writers, than politicians: “for when they write any thing, they are so fond of those who applaud it, as always to name them at the very beginning of the writing. Do not their writings always begin, Resolved by the senate, or by the people, or by both, on the proposition of such a one, meaning very gravely the writer himself; and does he not then go on showing off his own wisdom to his applauders, to the end of sometimes a very long paper? And if this be blotted out from the tablet on which it is inscribed, do not the composer and all his friends go away dissatisfied; and if it be thought worthy of being written and permanently recorded, is he not pleased? and if any of these men, either by his ascendency as an orator, or by authority as a king, obtains the power of Lycurgus, or Solon, or Darius, which enables him to become a writer for immortality, does he not appear both to himself, and to posterity who read his writings, almost a god? It is evident, therefore, that such a man, if he reproaches Lysias, does not reproach him for being a writer. To write, therefore, is not disgraceful. To write ill, is so. What then is the manner of writing well or ill? Shall we ask this of Lysias, or any other writer who ever wrote either in poetry or prose?”—“Shall we?” says Phædrus—“what else do we live for, but for such pleasures as these? Not certainly for those pleasures, to the enjoyment of which a previous state of pain is necessary; which is the case with almost all the bodily pleasures; for which reason they are justly called servile.”—“We have leisure,” answered Socrates, “and the cicadæ who are chirping and conversing with one another, in the trees over our heads, would despise us if we, like the vulgar, instead of conversing, were to sleep out the hot part of the day, being lulled by their note through vacancy of mind. They would suppose that we were like cattle, who come down at mid-day to drink at the stream, and fall asleep. But if they see us conversing, and passing them by, like the Syrens, unfascinated, they will be pleased with us, and will, perhaps, confer on us the gift which they have from the gods to bestow upon men.”—“Have they such a gift?” asked Phædrus, “for I never heard of it.”—“A lover of the Muses,” replied Socrates, “ought not to be ignorant of this. It is said that the cicadæ were men, before the Muses existed; but when the Muses were born, and song commenced, some of the men of that time were so engrossed by delight, that they passed their time in singing, and neglected to take food until they died. From them the race of the cidadæ are sprung; and possess the gift from the Muses, not to need food or drink, but to sing continually until they die, and afterwards going to the abodes of the Muses, report to them who among mortals gives them honour.”
Socrates and Phædrus agreed accordingly to continue their conversation, and that the subject should be, what constituted good speaking and writing.[*]
We left Socrates and Phædrus on the point of commencing a new inquiry, viz., “What constitutes Good Speaking and Writing.”
“Is it not necessary,” asked Socrates, “in order to speak well, that the speaker should in his own mind know the truth, in respect to the subject concerning which he is to speak?”
“I have heard it said,” answered Phædrus, “that an orator need not know what is really just, but only what will appear so to the multitude who are to decide; and that he need not know what is really good, or beautiful, but what will appear so: for persuasion is produced by means of the apparent, not the true.”
“We must not,” said Socrates, “reject without examination what wise men affirm; we must inquire whether there is anything in it.
“Suppose that I wanted to persuade you to buy a horse in order to go forth and meet the enemy; and that we were both of us entirely ignorant of a horse, but I happened to know of you, that you believed a horse to be the most long-eared of all domestic animals.”—“It would be ridiculous,” answered Phædrus.—“Not yet,” replied Socrates; “but what if I were seriously to set about persuading you, by composing a speech on the ass, calling it a horse, and celebrating it as the finest of animals for domestic use, for military service, for carrying goods, and a hundred other things?”—“It would be highly ridiculous.”—“Is it not better to be ridiculous, than a dangerous and pernicious friend?”—“Certainly.”—“But when an orator, being himself ignorant of good and evil, and finding a people equally so, sets about persuading them, not by a panegyric upon the ass under the name of the horse, but upon Evil under the name of Good; and having studied the opinions of the multitude, succeeds in persuading them to do what is bad instead of what is good, what sort of a harvest do you think that an oratory of this sort will reap?”—“But an indifferent one.”
“Perhaps, however,” resumed Socrates, “we are too severe upon oratory. She may, perhaps, turn upon us, and say, You are trifling, my good friends—I do not compel any one to learn to speak, who is ignorant of the truth—I bid him learn the truth first, and resort to me afterwards—The ground of my pretensions is, that without me, though a man were to know all possible truths, he would be no nearer to possessing the art of persuading.”—“And in saying this, does she not speak truth?”—“Yes, if the arguments which are coming should testify that she is an Art; but I in a manner hear the rustle of several arguments approaching, which assert that she is an impostor, and no Art, but an unartificial Routine.”—“Call these arguments forth, then, and let us interrogate them.”—“Come forth, I beg you, and persuade Phædrus that unless he philosophize sufficiently, he will never be capable of speaking on any subject. Question Phædrus, and he will answer. Is not the art of oratory, taken in a general sense, the influencing of the mind by discourse, not merely in courts of justice and public assemblies, but also in private life, whether on great subjects or on small?”—“Not entirely so. It is generally on the occasion of trials in courts of justice that men speak and write by art; and in deliberative assemblies they speak by art: but otherwise not.”—“Have you then heard tell only of the arts of oratory which were composed by Nestor and Ulysses at Troy, but not those of Palamedes?”—“No, nor of Nestor either, unless you call Gorgias Nestor, and Thrasymachus or Theodorus Ulysses.”—“Tell me, then, what do adversaries in a court of justice do? Do they not debate?”—“Yes.”—“About the just and unjust?”—“Yes.”—“He who does this by art, can make the same thing appear to the same persons, either just or unjust?”—“Yes.”—“And in deliberative assemblies, he can make the same thing appear as he pleases, either good for the state, or the contrary?”—“He can.”—“And do we not know that Palamedes of Elea could speak by art, in such a manner that his hearers should think the same things either like or unlike, one or many, stationary or moved?”—“Yes.”—“The art of debate therefore, is not confined to courts of justice and public assemblies; but if it be an art, there is but one single art which, whatever be the subject of discourse, can make all things appear similar, which are capable of so appearing, and which, if another person does the same thing deceptively, can expose the deception.
“Is deception more likely to happen in those things which differ much, or in those which differ little?”—“In those which differ little.”—“You will more easily get round from a thing to its contrary, by insensible steps than all at once?”—“No doubt.”—“He, then, whose business it is to deceive another, and not to be deceived himself, must know accurately the resemblances and differences of things?”—“He must.”—“Can he, not knowing the real nature of a thing itself, distinguish the degree of resemblance which other things bear to that thing?”—“It is impossible.”—“Since then, those who are deceived, and take up a false opinion, must have been led to it by some sort of resemblance, (verisimilitude or likeness to the truth,) it is clear, that a man cannot bring round another by little and little, through a chain of resemblances, from the truth to its contrary, or avoid being himself dealt with in the same manner, unless he knows the real natures of things; and the man who does not know the truth, but hunts after mere opinion, has got a ridiculous and very unart-like art of speaking.” Phædrus could not deny this; and Socrates proposed that they should look again at the discourse of Lysias, and see whether it contained evidence of art or no. Phædrus assented, saying, that as yet they were somewhat bare, not having a sufficiency of examples. “It is perhaps lucky,” rejoined Socrates, “that these discourses have been spoken, since they afford an example, how he who knows the truth may, in mere sport, mislead his audience by a speech.”
Phædrus now, according to agreement, begins to read the discourse of Lysias from the commencement. Before he has completed the second sentence, Socrates stops him, in order to point out already a proof of want of art.
“Is it not clear that about some things we are all of one mind, about others we differ?”—“I think I understand you, but nevertheless explain yourself more clearly.”—“When we use the words silver, or iron, we all of us mean the same thing by them. But when we speak of what is just, or of what is good, we all go off in different directions, and are at variance both with each other and in ourselves.” Phædrus assented. “In which of these two kinds of things are we most easily deceived, and in which is the power of oratory the greatest?”—“In those in which we wander without fixed principles.”—“He, then, who seeks to acquire an art of oratory, should first be able properly to distinguish and characterize these two kinds of things, those in which the multitude must of necessity wander, and those in which they need not.”—“This would be an admirable discovery.”—“And next, he must be able to distinguish and clearly perceive, without mistake, whether that of which he is about to speak, belongs to the one class or to the other.”—“Granted.”
“Now, should love be considered to be one of these disputable things?”—“Undoubtedly: how else could you have made, as you did, two long speeches, one to show that love is injurious both to the lover and the loved, the other, that it is the greatest of blessings?”—“You say truth; but now tell me (for I, on account of the state of inspiration in which I was, do not recollect,) whether I began by defining love?”—“You did, most accurately.”—“How much more skilled, then, in the oratorical art, must be the Nymphs and Pan, by whom I was inspired, than your friend Lysias! for he obliged us to begin by supposing, and not inquiring, what love is, and then grounded his entire discourse on a mere supposition.
“Does not, too, the discourse appear to you to be thrown together quite at random? Can it be said that what is placed second, for example, or in any other position, is placed there from any peculiar necessity? To me, who know nothing, he seemed to say, most undauntedly, whatever came into his head: but can you point out any oratorical necessity which compelled him to arrange his thoughts into that particular order?”—“You are very good, to suppose that I am capable of so accurately judging what such a man as Lysias composes.”—“But this I think you will allow, that a discourse should be like an organized creature, having a body of its own, neither headless nor footless, but having a middle, and extremities, fitted to one another, and to the whole.”—“Without doubt.”—“But does anything of this kind appear in your friend’s discourse?—look, and you will find it very like the inscription which they ascribe to Midas the Phrygian, which might be read either backwards or forwards without altering the sense.”—“You are now only laughing at the discourse.”—“Let us then, in order not to offend you, let alone this oration, although it seems to me to contain a variety of examples, by the consideration of which one might be improved. Let us pass to the other discourses: for in them too there were some things worth observing to those who are considering Discourse. There were two discourses; the one in disparagement, the other in eulogy of love.”—“There were.”—“We affirmed that love was a sort of madness; did we not?”—“We did.”—“And said that there are two sorts of madness; one coming from human disease, the other from a divine influence. This last we divided into four kinds: viz., prophetic inspiration” [here, for the first time, the very word inspiration, or afflatus (ἐπιπνοία) is used,]—“the origin of which we ascribed to Apollo; mystico-religious, (τελεστική), to Bacchus; poetic, to the Muses; and finally, that of which we are speaking, the inspiration or enthusiasm of Love.”—“We did.”—“Let us now try whether we can catch the manner in which our discourse changed from blame to praise.”—“What do you mean?”—“To me it appears, that all the rest of what was said, was in reality no more than sport; but that if one could obtain by art, the power or capacity of these two kinds of operations, which in this instance we have performed by mere chance, it would be not unpleasant.”—“What things?”—“To collect together a multitude of scattered particulars, and viewing them collectively, bring them all under one single idea,* and thereby be enabled to define, and so make it clear what the thing is which is the subject of our inquiry. As, for instance (in our own case,) what we said (whether it was well said or ill) with a view of defining love: for this was what enabled the subsequent discourse to be clear, and consistent with itself.”—“You have described one of the two operations which you spoke of; what is the other?”—“To be able again to subdivide this idea into species, according to nature, and so as not to break any part of it in the cutting, like a bad cook. Thus, for example, our two discourses agreed in taking for their subject, insanity of mind: but in the same manner as the body has two parts, which are called by the same name in all other respects, but one called the left side and the other the right, so our two discourses, taking insanity as one single idea† existing in us, one of them cut down on the left side, and continued subdividing until it came to something sinister which bore the name of Love, and inveighed against it very deservedly; the other taking us to the right side, found another Love, a namesake of the first, but of a divine origin and nature, which it held forth and praised as the cause of our greatest blessings.
“I, then,” continued Socrates, “being a lover of these compositions and decompositions, in order that I may be able to speak and to think; if I find any one whom I think capable of apprehending things as one and many, I run after him and follow his footsteps as I would those of a god. Those who can do this, whether I call them rightly or not God knows, but at present I call them dialecticians: but what are we to call those who learn from you and Lysias? Is this, of which we have been talking, the same with that Art of Speaking by the aid of which Thrasymachus and the rest have become wise in speaking, and have made others so, who pay tribute to them as to kings?”—“They are kingly people,” said Phædrus, “but they are not acquainted with that of which you spoke. I think that you are right in calling this method dialectics; but it does not seem to me that we have yet found out what oratory is.”—“Indeed!” replied Socrates: “it must be something curious, if, being different from what we have been speaking of, it is nevertheless an art. Let us then see what else oratory consists of.”—“Of a great many things, which we find in the books of rhetoric.”—“I thank you for putting me in mind. You mean such things as these; that the exordium should come first, then the narration and the testimony, then the positive circumstantial proofs, then the probable ones: and next, I believe the Byzantine Theodorus talks of confirmation and super-confirmation, refutation and super-refutation, and how all these things should be managed, both in accusation and in defence. And why should we leave out that excellent person, Euœnus of Paros, who first invented ὑποδήλωσις and παρεπαίνοι.” (The first untranslatable, the second we suppose means incidental praise.) “Some say he also has παραψόγοι,” (incidental vituperation,) “which he has put into verse for the aid of memory; for he is a wise man. Can we omit, moreover; Tisias and Gorgias, who saw that the plausible was to be honoured above the true, and who, by force of speaking, can make great things appear small, and small things great, new things old, and old things new, and who have found out the way to speak either briefly or to an interminable length on all subjects? Prodicus once, when I related this to him, laughed, and said he was the first person who had found out how to speak according to art: for the speech should be neither short nor long, but moderate.”—“Very wise indeed.”—“Neither must we leave out Hippias of Elis, who I should think would be of the same opinion: and Polus, too, who invented διπλασιολογία, and γνωμολογία, and εἰκονολογία, and so forth.”—“And did not Protagoras do something of the same kind?”—“He was skilled in ὀρθοέπεια, and many other fine things. He excelled every body in speeches of the lugubrious kind, about old age and poverty: he was a terrible man for enraging people, and then cooling them, and the first of all men in inveighing and in replying to invective. About the concluding part of a speech they all seem to agree; some of them call it recapitulation, and others give it some other name.”—“You mean, summarily reminding the audience of what you have said.”—“That is what I mean. Have you anything else to relate which forms part of the art of oratory?”—“There is very little else.”—“Let us then leave that very little alone, and examine these things a little more closely, that we may see what power the art has.”—“Very great power indeed in a popular assembly.”—“Let us see.
“If any one were to come to your friend Eryximachus, or to his father, Acumenus, and say, I know how to produce any effect I please upon the body, I can cool it or heat it, give it an emetic or a purge, and I therefore think myself a physician, and capable of making others so, what would they say?”—“They would ask him whether he likewise knows upon whom to produce these different effects, and when, and to what degree.”—“And what if he were to answer—By no means; I insist that he who has learned from me what I before mentioned, will have that other sort of knowledge as a matter of course.”—“They would reply, The man is mad, and because he has accidentally discovered or read of some drug or other, fancies himself a physician, knowing nothing at all of the art.”—“And what if a man should go to Sophocles or Euripides, and say, I know how to make a long speech on a small matter, and a short one about a great matter, and I can make a pathetic speech, or a menacing one, or a fearful one, and being able to teach all this I can enable any man to write a tragedy?”—“They too would laugh at the absurdity of supposing that tragedy consists in any thing but the putting together of these things so as to be suitable to one another and to the whole.”—“And if a musician met with a man who thought himself a harmonist because he could draw from the strings the most acute and the gravest sounds possible, he would not say to him fiercely, You stupid fellow! you are out of your wits; but, as being a musician, and therefore of a softer and less inflammable temperament, he would answer, My good friend, it is necessary for a harmonist to know these things, but a man may know all that you know and be not the least of a harmonist notwithstanding. You possess those acquirements which are preliminary to harmony, but not harmony itself.”—“Very right.”—“Sophocles would say, in like manner, You know the preliminaries to tragedy, but not tragedy itself: and Acumenus would say, You know the preliminaries to medicine, but medicine itself you know not.”—“Most true.”
“What then do you think that the sweet-voiced Adrastus or Pericles would say, if they heard recited these splendid inventions which we were just now talking of, βραχυλογίαι and εἰκονολογίαι and the like? Would they, like us, say something sharp and coarse to those who write and teach these things under the name of oratory? or would they, as being wiser than we, reprove us for our violence, and say, O Phædrus and Socrates, we ought not to be angry, but should excuse, if there be persons who, being unversed in dialectics, are unable to define what oratory is, and therefore, being possessed only of those acquirements which it is necessary should precede the art, fancy that they have found an art of oratory, and, teaching these things to others, think that they have taught them oratory itself; but think nothing of the power of doing each of these things persuasively, and of putting them together into a whole, and hold it unnecessary for their scholars to learn this from their tuition.”
“I am afraid,” observed Phædrus, “that this art of oratory, as they call it, is indeed no better than you represent it. But from whence might one derive the art of the real orator—the power of persuasion?”
“The power,” replied Socrates, “if possessed to the degree which constitutes a perfect orator, is probably, or perhaps necessarily, governed by the same laws as any other power. If you have natural capabilities you may become an eminent orator, by the aid of knowledge and study; if you are wanting in any of these respects, you will be so far imperfect. But so much of it as is Art, appears to me to be acquired by a method not similar to that which Lysias and Thrasymachus use.”—“How then?”—“Pericles is perhaps the most complete orator ever known.”—“What then?”—“All the greater arts require the study of the abstruser parts of nature: from which alone loftiness and potency of intellect are derived: the qualities which, together with great natural aptness, Pericles possessed. He acquired them, as I imagine, by his intercourse with Anaxagoras, by whom he was introduced into the higher parts of knowledge, and penetrated to the nature of the thinking and the unthinking faculties of man, the subject which Anaxagoras chiefly treated of; and from this Pericles drew, for the art of speaking, as much as was applicable to it.”—“How so?”—“The art of oratory resembles that of medicine. In both, it is necessary to distinguish and subdivide the nature of body on the one hand, of mind on the other; if you intend to follow art, and not a mere empirical routine, in giving health and strength to the former by medicine and sustenance, and producing in the latter, by speech and precept, virtue and any persuasion which you desire.”—“This seems reasonable.”—“But is it possible to comprehend well the nature of Mind, except by comprehending the nature of the universe?”—“If Hippocrates is to be believed, even the body can be understood only by that method.”—“He speaks well: but besides Hippocrates, it is proper to interrogate likewise the argument, and discover whether it also will assent. Let us see then. Is not this the proper mode of examining into the nature of any thing—first to consider whether it is simple or manifold: then, if it is simple, to examine into its powers, that is, what affections it is capable of causing in other things, and other things in it: if, on the contrary, it consists of a variety of sorts, to enumerate them, and make the same inquiry with respect to each of the sorts; viz. in what manner it acts upon, and is acted upon by, other things?”—“Undoubtedly.”—“Any other method would be like a blind man’s walk. But it is clear, that he who would teach another the art of speaking, must teach him accurately the nature of that which his speaking is intended to act upon; and this is, the mind.”—“Agreed.”—“It is obvious, therefore, that Thrasymachus, and any other who seriously attempts to teach oratory, must first examine and explain very carefully, whether the mind is one thing, perfectly resembling itself, or like the body, of many different kinds: since this is what we found to be the meaning of what we call unfolding its nature. Next, he must teach in what manner the mind, by its nature, affects, and is affected by, other things: and, thirdly, classing the different kinds of mind, the different modes of speaking, and the various properties of both, he must adapt the one to the other, and show, what sort of mind, is or is not persuaded, by what sort of speech, and why.”—“Most true; and in no other way is it possible either to speak or write according to art.”
“Since, in short, the end of speech is to influence the mind, he who understands oratory as an art, must know what are the different kinds of mind; what are the different modes of speaking; and, that a mind of such and such a sort, is likely to be persuaded by such and such a mode of speaking, but not likely to be persuaded by such and such another mode, and this for such and such a reason. And when he has mastered all this, unless he be also a ready observer of what actually goes on in the world, he will still know nothing but precisely what he has learned. But if he knows what sort of man is persuaded by what sort of speaking, and is able besides to distinguish in real life whether the man whom he is to persuade is that sort of man or not, then he will know what is the proper time for using your figures of rhetoric, your βραχυλογία and ἐλεεινολογία, and δείνωσις, and the rest; and then and not till then will he be a master of the art. Can you think of any other mode?”—“No.”—“Let us strive all we can to find whether there by any shorter and smoother road to the oratorical art, that we may not take a roundabout way when there is a shorter cut. Can you recollect any thing of that sort which you have heard from Lysias?”—“I do not.”—“Shall I tell you then what I have sometimes heard people say? for it is said that even the wolf ought to have a fair hearing?”—“By all means.”
“They say, then, that there is no need to make oratory so various a matter, or go so far back in order to arrive at it. The orator has nothing to do with what is just or good, either in things or men: it is not the true which any one cares for in a court of justice, but the plausible: and probability is all which he who speaks according to art, needs attend to. It is not proper even to assert what actually happened, if the story be not a probable one: and in short the probable, and not the true, should be our aim in accusation or defence, and the art of attaining it is the only art of oratory required.”
“This,” replied Phædrus, “is what those say who profess to understand the art of speaking.”—“You have read Tisias: does not Tisias understand by the probable, that which accords with the opinion of the multitude?”—“He does.”—“This, then, is his wise invention; that if a feeble but brave man is brought to trial for knocking down and robbing a robust coward, neither of them should speak the truth, but the coward should say, that more than one man attacked him; the other denying this and proving that they were alone, should ask, How could so weak a person as I, think of attacking so strong a man? whereupon the first should not plead his own cowardice, but should invent some other falsehood to confute that of his adversary.”—“A clever and recondite art truly.”—“But did we not before agree that this Probable, which Tisias aims at, is probable (that is, is believed by the multitude) only on account of its similitude to the truth? and that he who knows the truth, is the best judge of degrees of resemblance to it? We shall therefore continue to believe, as we before said, that without understanding the nature of the different sorts of hearers, and being able to distinguish things into their kinds, and again to aggregate a number of particulars into one whole, it is impossible to attain the highest excellence which man is capable of, in the art of speaking. All this, however, cannot be learned without great study; which study a wise man ought to perform, not for the mere sake of speaking and transacting among men, but in order to be able to speak and act agreeably to the gods. Men wiser than we, have said that we ought not to make it our object to please our fellow-servants, except as a work of supererogation: but to please good masters. It is no wonder, therefore, if the course is long and roundabout: for there is a great purpose to be served by making this circuit—a far greater purpose than that which Tisias aims at; though even that is to be attained most effectually by the same means.
“So much then on the subject of the art of speaking. It remains to consider in what consists propriety or impropriety of writing.
“Do you know what mode of dealing with discourse is most agreeable to a divinity?”—“No: do you?”—“I can relate what has been heard from the sages of old. Whether it is true, the gods themselves alone know. But if we could find this, should we, after that, care for the opinions of men?”—“It would be ridiculous: but pray tell us what you say you have heard.”—“I have heard that at Naucratis in Egypt, there resided one of the ancient gods of that country, named Theuth, who first invented numbers, and calculation, and geometry, and astronomy, and dice-playing, and, among other things, writing. Now, Thamos being king in Egypt, who is likewise a god, and whom the Greeks call Ammon, Theuth went to him and expounded to him these arts, and spoke of the great advantage of communicating them to the other Egyptians. The other asked him the use of each art, and praised or blamed it according to the answer he received. Now when the art of writing came under consideration, Theuth said, ‘This art will make the Egyptians wiser, and will aid their memory: for it is a help to memory and to wisdom.’ The other answered, ‘Most sage Theuth, it is one thing to be able to invent an art, and another to judge of its beneficial or hurtful effects: and now you, who are the inventor of writing, have ascribed to it, from partiality, an effect the exact opposite of its real one: this art will produce forgetfulness in those who learn it, by causing them to trust to written memoranda, and neglect their memory. What you have discovered, therefore, is an aid not to memory, but to recollection; and you will give to your scholars the opinion of wisdom, not the reality: for hearing much from you, without really learning it, they will appear men of great acquirements, though really for the most part ignorant and incapable.’ ”
Phædrus here observed, “You very easily invent Egyptian tales, or tales of any country you please.”—“They say,” replied Socrates, “that the first prophecies, those at Dodona, were delivered by an oak. The men of those days, not being so wise as we moderns, were so silly as to be content to listen to an oak or a stone, provided it did but speak the truth: but to you perhaps it is of importance who the speaker is, and from whence he comes: for you do not consider merely whether the fact is or is not so.”—“Your reproof is just.”—“He then who thinks that he can leave behind him an art in a book, and he who learns it out of a book, and thinks he has got something clear and solid, are extremely simple, and do not know the saying of Ammon, or they would not suppose that a written book could do any thing more than remind one who knows already.
“Writing is something like painting: the creatures of the latter art look very like living beings; but, if you ask them a question, they preserve a solemn silence. Written discourses do the same: you would fancy, by what they say, that they had some sense in them; but, if you wish to learn, and therefore interrogate them, they have only their first answer to return to all questions. And when the discourse is once written, it passes from hand to hand, among all sorts of persons,—those who can understand it, and those who cannot. It is not able to tell its story to those only to whom it is suitable; and when it is unjustly criticised, it always needs its author to assist it, for it cannot defend itself.
“There is another sort of discourse, which is far better and more potent than this.”—“What is it?”—“That which is written scientifically in the learner’s mind. This is capable of defending itself; and it can speak itself, or be silent, as it sees fit.”—“You mean the real and living discourse of the person who understands the subject; of which discourse the written one may be called the picture?”—“Precisely. Now, think you that a sensible husbandman would take seed which he valued, and wished to produce a harvest, and would seriously, after the summer had begun, scatter it in the gardens of Adonis,* for the pleasure of seeing it spring up and look green in a week? or, do you not rather think that he might indeed do this for sport and amusement, but, when his purpose was serious, would employ the art of agriculture, and, sowing the seed at the proper time, be content to gather in his harvest in the eighth month?”—“The last, undoubtedly.”—“And do you think that he who possesses the knowledge of what is just, and noble, and good, will deal less prudently with his seeds than the husbandman with his?”—“Certainly not.”—“He will not, then, seriously set about sowing them with a pen and a black liquid; or, (to drop the metaphor,) scattering these truths by means of discourses which cannot defend themselves against attack, and which are incapable of adequately expounding the truth. No doubt, he will, for the sake of sport, occasionally scatter some of the seeds in this manner, and will thus treasure up memoranda for himself, in case he should fall into the forgetfulness of old age, and for all others who follow in the same track; and he will be pleased when he sees the blade growing up green. When others play and amuse themselves in other ways, soaking themselves with wine, and so forth, he will choose this as his amusement.”—“And a far better one than the other.”—“Assuredly; but it is a far better employment still, when any one, employing the dialectical art, and finding a mind which affords a suitable soil, sows and plants therein, with knowledge, discourses which can defend themselves and him who sows them, and which are not barren, but in their turn bear seed, from whence other discourses being reared up in other minds, can make their truths immortal, and can give to those who possess them, as much happiness as man is capable of.
“We have now, then, found what we were seeking for; viz., to be enabled to judge whether it is justly a reproach to Lysias to be a writer of discourses; and what was the difference between discourses according to art, and those which are without art.
“On the subject of art, we have come to the conclusion, that unless a man knows the truth on the subject on which he speaks or writes, and can define the subject itself, and divide it into kinds until he reaches the indivisible; and, unless he understands the nature of Mind, and having found out what kind of discourse is suitable to each kind of mind, adapts his discourse accordingly (giving to minds of complex and diversified structure, discourses of the same kind, and to simple minds, simple discourses)—unless he does all this, he does not possess, in the greatest perfection, the art of discourse, whether his end in discoursing be to instruct, or only to persuade.
“And we can now answer the other question, whether to be a writer of discourses is a reproach. If either Lysias, or any other man, composes a written discourse on political affairs, and fancies that there is much of clearness and solidity in it, this is a reproach to the writer, no doubt; for, not to know what is valuable and what is otherwise, in respect to justice and injustice, good and evil, is a reproach, even though the crowd should be unanimous in their applause of it. But a person who thinks that what is said upon any subject in a written treatise can be no better than sport, and that nothing worthy of very serious attention was ever written or delivered in a speech, and that the best of them are nothing more than memoranda to remind those who already know, and that there is nothing satisfactory or complete, or worthy to be seriously considered, but in the discourses which are really taught and learnt and written in the mind; and that such discourses are the legitimate offspring of ourselves, first the one which is in our own minds, (if we have found one, and planted it there,) and next those brothers or children of it, which have sprung up at the same time in other minds of other persons; this is such a person as you, Phædrus, and I, should wish to be.” Phædrus assented.
“Do you, then, tell Lysias, that we two came down here, to the fountain of the nymphs, and that the nymphs bid us tell him and all other speech writers, Homer and all other poets, Solon and all others who write what they call laws, that if they composed these writings knowing what the truth is, and being able to maintain a discussion on the matters of which they wrote, and to make, by what they speak, what they have written appear insignificant, they ought not to be named from this lighter pursuit, but from their more serious occupation.”—“What name would you give them?”—“Wise appears to me too assuming a name, and fit only for a God; but Seeker of Wisdom” (ϕιλόσοϕος, whence the modern word “philosopher”) “would be a more suitable and decorous appellation.”—“Agreed.”—“He, on the other hand, who has not in himself anything of a higher and more perfect kind than what he puts down in writing, he may be justly called a poet, or a speech-writer, or a law-writer.”—“Allowed.”—“Then tell this to your friend.”
They here end their discourse; but before they quit the spot, Socrates suggests the propriety of addressing a prayer to the deities of the place. His prayer is as follows: “O Pan, and whatever other gods preside over this spot, grant to me to be beautiful inwardly; and let my outside, whatever it is, be suitable to what I have within. The rich man, in my estimation, is the man who is wise; but of gold, let me have so much as can be sufficient to no one save the prudent and temperate.
“Is there anything else which we are in want of, Phædrus? My wants have been tolerably well cared for in this prayer.”—“Offer up the same prayer for me: friends have all their affairs in common.”—“Let us depart.”
It will have been remarked that Socrates himself treats the whole of this conversation as of no serious moment, (sport, as he terms it,) except the concluding discussion; the object of which is one that is incessantly aimed at in the writings of Plato. This is, in the first place, to enforce the absolute necessity, as the foundation for all safe practice, of a just and unambiguous definition of the subject-matter; and, secondly, to show that this definition can only be arrived at by an operation which we should call a philosophical analysis, and which he describes as a process of composition and decomposition, or rather decomposition and recomposition; first distinguishing a whole into its kinds or parts, and then looking at those kinds or parts attentively, in such a manner as to extract from them the idea of the whole. This two-fold process of analysis and synthesis is the grand instrument of Plato’s method of philosophising. In the comprehension of the general ideas thus obtained, (or, as he expresses it in this dialogue, the apprehension of the same thing as One and as Many,) philosophy, according to him, consisted. And this principle is the corner-stone, not only of his logic, but of his metaphysics.
All who possess the faculty of recognising identity of thought notwithstanding diversity of language, (which, with the converse power of detecting difference of meaning under identity of expression, is the first characteristic of an intellect fit for philosophy,) will perceive that this principle of Plato’s is one on which all systems of logic are substantially in accordance. Bacon, Locke, Condillac, Stewart, and Kant, (we need not prolong the enumeration,) have concurred, both in using and in recommending the method of philosophising which Plato inculcates; though they are distinguished from one another by the different degree of clearness which the Platonic principle had assumed in their own minds, and the diversity of the substructure of metaphysical doctrines (for systems of metaphysics, like some birds’ nests, are built downwards, not upwards) which they have constructed underneath it.
When, for instance, Bacon, in defining the scope of all inquiries into the phenomena of nature, directs the inquirer to collect and compare all the accessible instances in which any phenomenon (say heat or cold, hardness or softness) manifests itself, and thence to deduce the nature, or as he calls it, the form, of Heat in general, Cold in general, Hardness and Softness in general, (forma calidi aut frigidi, &c.)[*] wherein does this view of philosophic method differ from Plato’s? Where, again, a disciple of Locke or Condillac describes philosophy as consisting in abstraction and generalization, in the distribution of the objects of nature into convenient classes, and (by comparison of the different objects composing each class) framing general propositions expressive of the distinguishing properties of the class; this too is identical with Plato’s process of arriving at the knowledge of a thing by apprehending it as Many and as One. To apprehend it as Many, is to survey the various objects comprised in the class, and note their resemblances and differences. To apprehend it as One, is to evolve from this comparison a general definition of the class, omitting none of the properties by which as a class it is characterized.
When, however, these various philosophers, not content with cultivating the field of Logic, (or the science of the investigation of truth,) have dug down into that region of metaphysics which lies under logic, as it does under all the other sciences, and which must be examined before we can be sure that any of them are securely placed; the different explorers have brought up very different reports of what they have found there. While all agree in representing it as at least one of the principal aims of philosophy, to determine with precision the ideas as they are termed by Plato, the essences as others have called them, of those great genera and species under which we necessarily or habitually arrange all the objects of our knowledge; philosophers have differed, even to contrariety, in their notions of the real nature of those genera and species. Some have ascribed to them an objective reality, as things existing in themselves; others, more philosophically, have considered them as merely subjective, the creatures of our own minds. To state the same thing more clearly—some, including the greater number of the philosophers of the last two centuries, consider classification to be conventional, subject to no laws but those which convenience prescribes; while others, including most of the ancients, and the prevailing sect among the Aristotelian schoolmen of the middle ages, thought that genera and species exist by nature; that every individual thing naturally belongs to a certain species, and cannot be subjected to any other classification; and that as there are individual substances, so there are also universal substances, corresponding to our general or class names, and with which the individual substances which we rank under those classes are in a sort of mysterious communion. Thus, there are not only individual men, and individual stars, but there is also Man in general, and Star in general; which do not consist of individual men or stars considered in the aggregate, but are entities existing per se. John, Peter, or Paul are only constituted men by participating, in some strange way, in this universal essence of humanity.
We have stated this doctrine in its most systematic form and in its extreme extent, as it was conceived by that portion of the schoolmen called the Realists, who, however, had little warrant for it from the oracle in which they implicitly confided, their master Aristotle. To the same school, though in a somewhat qualified sense, the speculations of Plato decidedly assimilate him. His tendencies (for opinions, let us once more repeat, are not on such subjects to be ascribed to him) led him to attribute self-existence to genera and species. In the present dialogue he adverts only to those genera which form the basis of our great moral and emotional (or as the Germans say, æsthetic) classifications. The Just, the Brave, the Holy, the Beautiful (in English we more readily personify these abstractions by the words Justice, Courage, Holiness, Beauty) existed according to him as essences or Ideas, of which all sublunary things which we decorate by these names were but resemblances or copies: a doctrine shadowed forth in the mythos which occupies so conspicuous a place in the present dialogue. But the Ideas or essences of all other things had equally, in his view, an independent existence; and to these pre-existent ideas as his types or exemplars, the Creator fashioned all that he called into existence by his will. This is the doctrine more or less vaguely alluded to by those who speak of the Platonic or as it is sometimes called the Divine Idea.
Views not indeed the same but analogous to these, are professed at this day by most German philosophers, and by their followers in France and England. It is natural that persons holding such opinions, should deem these Ideas (for they have endeavoured to bring back the Platonic word to its Platonic sense) to be the objects of the highest knowledge; the knowledge to which the term Philosophy ought to be confined; and that to apprehend an idea “as One and as Many,” to detect and distinguish it when “immersed in matter” and clothed in innumerable circumstances, should be in their estimation, the triumph and the test of philosophic inquiry.
The more rational metaphysics which prevail among most English and French philosophers, lead to logical results not so different from these as the difference of the premises might lead one to suppose. Though classification be conventional, all science consists in generalization, and our attainments in science may be measured by the number of general truths which we are acquainted with, that is, by the amount of what we are able to predicate of classes. And, as we are at liberty to take any of the properties of an object for principles of classification, we can only know the essences of all possible classes by knowing all that is to be known concerning objects. In this sense, all science may be said, even by a follower of Locke or Condillac, to consist in knowing the essences of classes.
To apprehend with accuracy and distinctness all that is included in the conception of the classes which we have formed for ourselves, or which have been formed for us by our predecessors, does not according to this theory as according to Plato’s, constitute philosophy; but whoever takes this as his object, will scarcely fail of attaining all the other results which philosophy proposes to itself; at least in the field of morals and psychology; where the desideratum is not so much new facts, as a more comprehensive survey of known facts in their various bearings, all which are sure to be successively forced upon the attention by a well-conducted and unbiassed inquiry into the meaning of established terms, or, what is the same thing, into the essences of established classes. And this is the substance of Plato’s analytic method.
[* ]δύο τινέ ἐστον ἰδέα.
[† ]This seems to be here the most appropriate translation of the word σωϕροσύνη. See the observations on this word, in the “Notes on the Protagoras.” (Monthly Repository for March.) [See above, p. 53.]
[‡ ]This word, if used in its widest sense, appears to correspond with what is here meant by ὔβρις (protervitas).
[* ]From οἴομαι (to think,) and νου̑ς (intellect).
[† ]Ἡ δὲ δὴ ἀπόδειξις ἐσται δεινοι̑ς μὲν ἄπιστος, σοϕοι̑ς δὲ πιστή.
[* ]The same word, ψυχὴ, signifies life and the soul. This is no ambiguity. What is the soul but the principle of life? not organic life, which trees have as well as human beings, but sentient life, consciousness.
[* ]οὐσία ὄντως οὐ̑σα.
[* ]This may be rendered in the dialect of modern philosophy, to abstract and to generalize; which is here represented as the faculty which distinguishes man, the rational being, from the mere beasts.
[* ]The charioteer and the two horses in this allegory, are manifestly types of the three principles which, in the Republic, our author represents as the constituent elements of the mind—Reason, Honour, and Appetite.
[† ]We think it not useless to note as it occurs, for the confusion of the Tory perverters of Grecian history, the evidence which perpetually presents itself of the disrepute in which the sophists were held by the Greeks, especially by the very class whom they are alleged to have corrupted; those, namely, who considered themselves as what in modern phrase would be styled “men of the world.”
[[*] ]The first instalment in the Monthly Repository ends here.
[* ]ἰδέα. This word signified originally, Form. The use of the word idea in modern metaphysics, is derived from this application of it by Plato. He means by it, the notion of what is common to an entire class, or what Locke called an abstract idea. But Plato fell into the all-but-universal mistake, of supposing that these abstract ideas had an independent existence; that they were real objective entities, and even that the Ideas of things were the exemplars after which the Divine Being made the things themselves. This notion, of the independent existence of abstract ideas, is frequently combated by Aristotle, but was revived by his followers under the altered name of substantial forms, and the same error under a variety of denominations has been continued down to the present day.
[† ]The word here is εἰ̑δος, form or species: substantially the same word as ἰδέα.
[* ]To what this alludes we are ignorant, and have not at present the means of investigating. The gardens of Adonis were possibly some forcing ground.
[[*] ]See De Augmentis Scientiarum, Works, Vol. I, p. 566; cf. Novum Organum, ibid., pp. 228 ff.