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from the true. For though he must be accurately acquainted with the whole nature of a body who is to separate the particular vessels or bones in it for the purpose of comparison with corresponding parts of another similarly dissected, which would be the fullest use to which that philosophical process could be put ; still the mere passive spectator of the exhibition and comparison of these parts will not attain, by those means alone, to a knowledge of the proper natures of the whole. So also will those spectators of the analysis fail altogether to attain to a knowledge of the Philosophy of Plato, for in that, if in any thing, form and subject are inseparable, and no proposition is to be rightly understood, except in its own place, and with the combinations and limitations which Plato has asssigned to it. And still less will they comprehend the Philosopher himself; and least of all, will his purpose have succeeded in their case, tending as it did not only to exhibit vividly his own thought to others, but by that very means vividly to excite and awaken theirs. Hence, therefore, to that analytical exposition which we have now been in possession of for a short time, in a perfection far exceeding former attempts, it is a necessary supplementary process to restore to their natural connection those limbs, which without dissection, usually appear so very deplorably involved one with another, I mean, not the particular opinions but the particular works—to restore them to the connection in which, as expositions continuously more complete as they advance, they gradually developed the ideas of the writer, so that while every dialogue is taken not only as a whole in itself, but also in its connection with the rest, he may himself be at last understood as a Philosopher and a perfect Artist./

Now whether there is any such connection, and such an undertaking is not, perhaps, unsuitable to the subject and far too great ever to succeed, will best appear from the first conception which Plato himself suggests to us with regard to his writings and their objects, and which we shall shortly hear him propound in the Phaedrus. Treating the subject in a somewhat trifling manner, he complains of the uncertainty which always attaches to written communication of thoughts, as to whether the mind also of the reader has spontaneously conformed to such communication, and in reality appropriated it to itself, or whether, with the mere ocular apprehension of the words and letters a vain conceit is excited in the mind that it understands what it does not understand. Hence, that it is folly to build too much upon this, and that true reliance can be placed only upon oral and living instruction. But, he continues to argue, writing must be hazarded at a venture, and more for what it is as regards the writer and those who already share in his knowledge, than for what it can do for those who as yet know nothing. Whoever then will consider what that so exalted preference for oral instruction means and upon what it rests, will find no other ground but this, that in this case the teacher, standing as he does in the presence of the learner, and in living communication with him, can tell every moment what he understands and what not, and thus assist the activity of his understanding when it fails; but the actual attainment of this advantage rests, as any one must see, upon the form of the dialogue, which, accordingly, truly living instruction must necessarily have. To this also is to be referred what Plato says, that a sentence orally delivered may always be supported by its Father and receive his protection, and that not only against the objections of one who thinks otherwise, but also against the intellectual stubbornness of one as yet ignorant, while the written sentence has no answer to make to any further inquiries. Whence it is at once clear, in passing, to what a degree that man has forfeited all right to utter even a single word about Plato who could take up with a notion that that Philosopher, in his esoteric and oral instruction could have availed himself of the Sophistical method of long and continuous discourses, when, even by his own declaration, such a method appears to Plato farthest removed from that preeminence which he gives to its opposite. But in every way, not accidentally only, or from practice and tradition, but necessarily and naturally Plato's was a Socratic method, and indeed, as regards the uninterrupted and progressive reciprocation, and the deeper impression made upon the mind of the hearer, to be certainly as much preferred to that of his master, as the scholar excelled him as well in constructive Dialectics, as in richness and compass of subjective intuition. As then, notwithstanding this complaint, Plato wrote so much from the period of his early manhood to that of his most advanced age, it is clear that he must have endeavoured to make written instruction as like as possible to that better kind, and he must also have succeeded in that attempt. For even if we look only to the immediate purpose, that writing, as regarded himself and his followers was only to be a remembrance of thoughts already current among them ; Plato considers all thought so much as spontaneous activity, that, with him, a remembrance of this kind of what has been already acquired, must necessarily be so of the first and original mode of acquisition. Hence on that account alone the dialogistic form, necessary as an imitation of that original and reciprocal communication, would be as indispensable and natural to his writings as to his oral instruction. Meanwhile this form does by no means exhaust the whole of his method, as it has been often applied both contemporaneously and at a later period to philosophical objects, without a trace of the spirit of Plato, or of his great adroitness in the management of it. But even in his oral instruction, and still more in the written imitation of it, when we consider further, that Plato's object was to bring the still ignorant reader nearer to a state of knowledge, or that he at least felt the necessity of being cautious with regard to him not to give rise to an empty and conceited notion of his own knowledge in his mind, on both accounts it must have been the Philosopher's chief object to conduct every investigation in such a manner from the beginning onwards, as that he might reckon upon the reader's either being driven to an inward and self-originated creation of the thought in view, or submitting to surrender himself most decisively to the feeling of not having discovered or understood anything. To this end, then, it is requisite that the final object of the investigation be not directly enunciated and laid down in words, a process which might very easily serve to entangle many persons who are glad to rest content, provided only they are in possession of the final result, but that the mind be reduced to the necessity of seeking, and put into the way by which it may find it. The first is done by the mind's being brought to so distinct a consciousness of its own state of ignorance, that it is impossible it should willingly continue therein. The other is effected either by an enigma C

being woven out of contradictions, to which the only possible solution is to be found in the thought in view, and often several hints thrown out in a way apparently utterly foreign and accidental which can only be found and understood by one who does really investigate with an activity of his own. Or the real investigation is overdrawn with another, not like a veil, but, as it were, an adhesive skin, which conceals from the inattentive reader, and from him alone, the matter which is to be properly considered or discovered, while it only sharpens and clears the mind of an attentive one to perceive the inward connection. Or when the exposition of a whole is the object in view, this is only sketched by a few unconnected strokes, which, however, he who has the figure already before him in his own mind, can easily fill up and combine. These are something like the arts by which Plato succeeds with almost every one in either attaining to what he wishes, or, at least, avoiding what he fears. And thus this would be the only signification in which one could here speak of an esoteric and exoteric, I mean, as indicating only a state of the reader's mind, according as he elevates himself or not to the condition of one truly sensible of the inward spirit; or if it is still to be referred to Plato himself, it can only be said that immediate instruction was his only esoteric process, while writing was only his exoteric. For in that certainly, after he was first sufficiently assured that his hearers had followed him as he desired, he could express his thoughts purely and perfectly, and perhaps even regularly work out in common with those hearers, and according to outlines framed in common with them, the particular philosophical sciences, after having first grasped in his mind their higher ground and connection. Meanwhile, since in the writings of Plato

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