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as hypothesis, and consider the Parmenides as belonging to the Phaedrus and Protagoras. For as the Phaedrus had only in general inspired and admiringly praised the philosophical impulse and its organ dialectics, while the Protagoras, artfully connecting the external and the internal, had exhibited by examples this philosophical passion and the sophistical pruriency, as well as the methods resulting from each of the two : so the Parmenides also shews itself to be a similar efflux from the Phaedrus, inasmuch as it completes in another point of view what the Protagoras had begun, as a supplement to it and counterpart of it. For, in the Protagoras, the philosophical passion is considered as communicative, while in this dialogue it is represented in reference to the independent process of investigation which must precede communication: how, I mean, it looks in its purity to truth alone, and rejecting every collateral point, and all alarm at any result whatever, starts only upon the necessary assumption, that scientific knowledge is possible, and searches for it in well arranged excursions. There is, therefore, no want of opposition taken between the true and the false, but it is shown partly in Zeno, who works onwards to a definite point, the refutation of others, not without a consciousness of the inadmissibility of his weapons—to whose books, at that time generally known, the reader is almost tacitly referred; partly also in Socrates who does not yet go far enough, and from youthful apprehension, still confines himself within too narrow limits. That Plato did not by this intend to imply a censure upon his friend and master, we see, partly from the circumstance that in the earlier dialogues he attributes to him a genuine zeal for dialectics; partly, because in those pieces as well as in this he represents him as only in an earlier and imperfect stage of his philosophical career. Two things, however, may probably be looked for in this indication—on the one side, I mean, a censure upon those Socraticians who only applied themselves to ethics, and who upon that very account considered themselves more genuine scholars of the philosopher ; on the other side hints for those who, overlooking, perhaps, in the Protagoras and the dialogues belonging to it the dialectic purpose and the speculative indications, would confound Plato with the class just mentioned. As then in this opposition, one side is only just indicated, so also is the other verbally set forth only in some particular expressions in the Parmenides, but shown in the main by the quiet manner in which the investigation, from which so many terrific results come out, is brought to a conclusion, and by the strictness of the method pursued in it. Now as regards the examples of philosophical investigations here chosen, the doctrine of correct division of ideas was attempted in the same way in the Protagoras; and it is there satisfactorily shewn why the philosophy of morals is chosen with that view, and every thing reduced to the question of the communicability of virtue. From the same grounds, then, and in the same spirit, in this dialogue in which investigation in the abstract is to be exhibited, the exercise is undertaken upon the doctrine of the mutual connection of ideas, as it is only by such connection, and not by separation, that knowledge can be really extended. And it is perfectly consistent with this, that in this dialogue the philosophy of nature predominates, and the highest question in it, that, namely, of the possibility of the knowledge of things, constitutes the centre-point, around which the whole moves in distant circles. Now it can hardly escape any one's notice that such coincidence in tendency and inward form points to the same unaltered state of mind and to a similar view in the author. And all that I would regularly maintain is this, that the Parmenides has its origin in the same aims and youthful method with the Protagoras; not that Plato constructed it as a counterpart to the Phaedrus and Protagoras, with a distinct consciousness of doing so, which is least of all to be ascribed to the youthful writer at that time, for now the youngest writers are often the oldest and most reflecting. We see also in the Parmenides decidedly more historical knowledge of science than in these two, and a more multifarious practice in philosophical art; but still there is a youthfulness in the manner in which these are brought into view, and put into the mouth of the great Parmenides himself. Now the question of the possibility of the knowledge of things rests on the one side immediately upon that of the tenability and constancy of ideas, and on their relation to the objects themselves, and consequently, it is this point which is chiefly discussed in the first part, which is indeed something more than an introduction. But, as we are accustomed to see in the majority of these dialogues hitherto translated, it is only treated of indirectly, by a statement of the manifold difficulties involving the consideration of ideas as something independent of the mutable, and as existing of themselves. This however is hardly the proper place for deciding the strange dispute about Plato's peculiar doctrine of ideas, as this dialogue, accurately taken, can be considered as the seat of that doctrine. Only thus much appears certain in reference to this dialogue, even if we only consider the words with which Parmenides concludes the statement of the difficulties which beset the assumption of ideas independently, that the substantiation of ideas, as it is called, is by no means the matter here in dispute, and which it is the purpose of Socrates to establish. And what is said elsewhere upon this subject can only be brought under consideration in its proper place. For if Plato has been generally viewed, I do not say improperly, as a precursor of the sacred writers, he resembles them especially in this, that it is necessary, in judging of the doctrines ascribed to him, whether they are his own or not, to consider every expression in its own proper place, and in the connection in which it is there found. There is however much that is remarkable in the examples under which Parmenides states his doubts, in so far as they involve a division of ideas, which if not systematically carried out, is at all events very striking. For he divides them, first, into those which, like the moral ideas, most easily subject themselves to the faculty of original conception; secondly, into the physical, the objects of which are the ever recurring creations of nature, and which therefore appear to be produced only by observation; thirdly, into those to the objects of which no independent and constant existence seems to belong, inasmuch as they signify only parts of universal nature, or transitory operations of natural powers; and, finally, into those which represent relations only, and under which, at last, the idea of knowledge itself is again brought. And to the reader who does not overlook this distinguishing character, the notion will scarcely suggest itself that Plato had in view to contradict any particular theory as to the conception of truth, or the existence of ideas, whether peculiar to Parmenides or Socrates; but it must be clear to him that Plato's object is generally to draw attention to the difficulties which the susceptibility of distinction does itself oppose to any one who attempts to give a general answer to the question as to what mode of existence or reality must be ascribed to ideas exclusively of the appearances which fall under our observation. But this was far from being the place in which these difficulties were to be solved, and the more so as with the preparations here made for that purpose, a whole series of successive dialogues from the Theaetetus upwards is occupied with the question. Even Plato indicates them exactly in the manner which he generally pursues with questions which he is yet unable to solve by means of what he has hitherto imparted or satisfactorily investigated himself, or which suppose more profound views and a higher degree of philosophical perfection than any to which he can yet hope to have brought his readers. Meanwhile, for those who have well considered all up to this point, it will not be difficult to conceive that highest philosophical problem which already at times was haunting Plato's mind as the only means of escaping from these difficulties—we speak of discovering somewhere an original identity of thought and existence, and deriving from it that immediate connexion of man with the intelligible world, expressed preliminarily in the Phaedrus by the doctrines there mythically set forth of original contemplation and recollection, connected with which and dependent upon it is a higher state of knowledge, by means of which an eminence is obtained above the subordinate matter of

ideas of relation.

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