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when applied to the main question of the Protagoras regarding the communicability of virtue, was the conclusion of the dialogue; but the question as to courage was clearly not exhausted with the conclusion here obtained, but on the contrary remained in a state so dislocated and unsolved that Plato could scarcely let it rest there. For he had given up the first mode of considering the question in an incomplete form, and the hypothesis in the second was not his own; in respect of which, moreover, readers of that day might as easily deceive themselves, as it has happened to those of more modern times to do. This therefore is the meaning of this little illustrative dialogue, in which, what is argued respecting courage connects itself immediately with those investigations, with the intention of pursuing them more accurately, and more from Plato's own point of view. Hence, first, it is argued that boldness does not in its operation exhaust the idea of courage, inasmuch as the province of the latter extends far beyond the fearful, properly so called, and resistance to every kind of pain, nay, even to pleasure, belongs no less to courage; that therefore perseverance would better express the distinguishing quality of this virtue. Corrected then in this manner, the first investigation in the Protagoras is repeated and brought to the conclusion, that, on the one side neither is all perseverance courage; nor, on the other, what is ingeniously calculated to attain a certain object or result; inasmuch as the moral judgment that an act is courageous, is proportioned neither to the degree of perseverance, as even too much of this is censurable, nor to the degree of ingenuity displayed in the calculation. Hence, generally, courage is not to be conceived as physical strength, because in that case it must be ascribed to brutes as well as men, a supposition which Nicias, who indisputably pronounces the opinion of Plato, rejects. The second question from the Protagoras is not taken up again, until, in order to make any delusion impossible, the hypothesis that the pleasant is equivalent to the good, is removed, and a distinction established between the two. Now with a view to this, there could be no point of comparison better or more intelligible than the Art of Prophecy: for, clearly, if all morals are only a geometry of pleasure, that knowledge which is to constitute virtue, can be nothing else but a prescience of results and their actual value as sources of pleasure. From this then the knowledge of the good is here completely distinguished, and it is then first demonstrated, that in so far as courage is to be considered as such a knowledge, it can be no particular virtue distinct from other virtues, because the only principle of division, according to which, looking to the ordinary meaning of the idea this could be done, namely, that derived from time, does not fall under consideration in moral matters; consequently, in this place also the conclusion, that virtue is indivisible, is confirmed, as well as that the same power which produces one must also produce all the others. While therefore the investigation into the idea of courage is continued, the higher ethical ideas, which were laid down in the Protagoras, are not only confirmed by a clearer refutation of what is opposed to them, but also actually projected further, although as is usual in these Platomic dialogues of this class, and agreeable to the principles of them, this is only done imperceptibly as it were, and with unconnected strokes, that he alone may find them who has been already put into the way of discovering them at all events of himself. For what Laches in his innocence says of the nature of moral wisdom, as being harmony of the mind, and coincidence of knowledge and of life, this is the right key to the Platonic Theory of Virtue, and to the meaning of his opinion that it is knowledge, or, a knowing. And this, we may observe in passing, is not the only remarkable instance which tends to limit greatly the general proposition, that Plato always announces his own opinion through Socrates; or, if not, through the person who distinguishes himself as the wisest, and who conducts the dialogue. For neither is all that this personage says exclusively the opinion of Plato, who, on the contrary makes even the leading characters say much according to the views of the others, in order to detect the contradictions hidden in those views; nor is that alone the truth which the leading character says, but much also said by others which Plato allows to pass without contradiction, and which the attentive reader easily distinguishes by the peculiar tone in which it is delivered. So much for the main subject of the dialogue, which indeed, as regards its external dress, is there somewhat differently arranged, though not to such a degree that any one can mistake the references to the Protagoras here pointed out. Much also here occurs to illustrate and exalt the dialogistic method, and we may remember to what a degree this was a main point in the Protagoras. Among other matter to that effect, is a very clear explanation, brought forward, probably, to justify Plato against misconceptions of the Lysis and Protagoras, and tending to show that the purpose of such a dialogue could never be only to expose to another his own ignorance, while the expositor knows nothing himself; for this is unquestionably the meaning of the passage in which Nicias censures this very point as something contemptible in Laches. So also the assertion that it must be a matter of indifference whether the teacher is young and unknown or not, is certainly a defence of Plato himself in regard of his treatment of Lysias as well as Protagoras; and the other, in opposition to those who are of opinion that age is of itself to bring understanding, has a similar object in view. It cannot be superfluous to draw the attention of the reader of Plato to such particulars, partly because they bring to light still more the connection of these dialogues, partly that he may learn in time to estimate properly the constant presence of a purpose in the author's mind. This pervading connection then with the Protagoras indisputably secures to the Laches its place in the series of the dialogues of Plato, notwithstanding that Aristotle, when he speaks of courage in his ethical works, never distinctly mentions it. Nor is this circumstance to be wondered at, and it can excite no suspicion; for it would have been superfluous for one who disputes the Platonic views of the good in general as well as of virtue, to delay in particular over Plato's treatment of the detailed and popular parts of virtue, and his own objections to it. Moreover, all that is external is here so perfectly Platonic, and even in part to be explained likewise from the connection of the dialogue with the Protagoras, that not a doubt can remain upon any side in any one's mind. The richness of the by-work, the change of the speakers, the presence of mute persons, are altogether as it were a continuation of the Protagoras. And as regards the choice of persons, Lysimachus the son of Aristeides, and Melesias the son of that Thucydides who maintained for a long time the balance of power against Pericles with great ability, verify with much accuracy the remark first offered in the Protagoras, that the greatest statesmen were still incapable of instructing others in their art. Moreover they are clearly here for the additional purpose of defending youth, by an almost comically kept-up representation of well-meaning but incompetent and insipid old age; and in order to show how perfectly worthless objections grounded upon youth are, as extreme old age, most of all when it has nothing else to be proud of, is accustomed to treat even men of the ripest years depreciatingly as boys, as Lysimachus here treats Socrates. In the choice of the other persons it seems to have been a general object to repel the charge, that the Socrates of Plato only understood how to parade consequentially before boys and Sophists. Therefore there are indeed boys here, but mute; and the regular interlocutors are noble personages from among the first of their class, with whom Socrates argues upon that which they might fairly be supposed to understand; of courage, that is, with captains. And Laches may have been selected above the rest of them with the intention of ennobling Socrates as his comrade in campaign, and an eyewitness of his courage. And Nicias, of whom Plutarch says that he was by nature averse to precipitation and ambitious hopes, and only concealed his innate cowardice by chance successes in war, very appropriately defends the unusual theory of courage, which makes it more a matter of insight and ingenuity.

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