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One, when viewed with the apprehension of the scepticism of these doctrines as to the essentiality of knowledge, and that it abused the forms of language in order to exhibit everything as in a state of inextricable confusion and inconstant variation, which is precisely the theory which Plato exposes in its nothingness in the Euthydemus, and of which the sophistical philosophy, again reviving in the Megarian and Eretrian schools, has to bear the burden and the blame. Another, when it is remembered that these doctrines themselves could be dogmatic, and hence felt no compunction in attempting to prove, when they could, that even language, though it may appear to grasp and keep hold of its objects, does nevertheless, in this process of affixing appellations, itself recognise, by the method pursued, the ceaseless flux of all things. But at this point we seem to be almost deserted by history. For it does not appear that language was used in any particular manner as a means for the foundation of knowledge, or as a canon whereby to judge of it, until we meet with such an application in the exaggerated grammatical tendency of the Stoic school; and it will scarcely be thought necessary to pursue this solitary trace. But, that we may not lose ourselves deeper in details and in obscure hints, when it is once remembered how largely the natural philosophy of the Stoics borrowed from Heraclitus; how Antisthenes is to be regarded as the founder not only of the Cynics but also of the Stoics, only that these latter reverted more to Plato, from whom the former, seduced by personal differences, had separated himself more widely probably than their scientific views had rendered necessary ; and when it is considered further that Antisthenes is supposed to have expounded the work of Heraclitus, without however mentioning by name any particular work upon the subject, while, on the other hand, several works of Heraclitus occur which manifestly have language for their subject;-we can scarcely feel a doubt as to who is the real object of these polemics. And hence also it is very soon explained, why, notwithstanding that the immediate object of the dialogue could only be so imperfectly discussed, the Cratylus nevertheless became an exclusive whole, and took the precise form in which we now find it. For the relation of language to knowledge, which constitutes its principal subject, manifestly rests entirely upon the doctrine adduced in the Theaetetus, about the distinction between knowledge and right conception. For language, as it is actually given, stands here upon exactly the same ground with conception, or rather is in reality one and the same with it. Thus words are signs and types of things, and in them a closer or more indistinct, a more or less pure, a clearer or more obscure impress, is possible—thus in both error has its province traced out by confusion or exchange of relation, and both even coincide in this respect, that the attention is drawn to numbers as a particular object of consideration. Every one however who remembers the position which this distinction occupies in the Theaetetus, will allow that the essential matter of the Cratylus could by no means have been taken into that dialogue as a digression. And so much the less because Plato, in order to say what was of most importance, required the result of the Menon, which we find therefore here supposed, that knowledge does not, properly speaking, pass by transference from one to another, but that
discovery and learning are the same things in all men, namely, remembrance. In like manner the relation to be established between language and knowledge connects itself further and more particularly with polemics, against the strange and all-confusing denial of the possibility of error in the province of conception; polemics which we find begun in the Theaetetus, and continued in the Euthydemus. If, then, we remember moreover the temptation which presented itself to overwhelm the hostile Antisthenes with a whole body of ridicule, we see the Cratylus form itself as it were into an exclusive whole, out of the Theaetetus and Euthydemus, and by means of its character, as well as what is connected with the immediate subject, secure its place in this series of the Platonic works; for it is as little devoted to personal polemics as the Euthydemus. Moreover it contains not only supplementary matter and illustrations of this dialogue and the Theaetetus—as, for example, just at the beginning the decisively repeated declaration in opposition to Protagoras, from a point at which, in order to continue the dialogue, Plato had himself opened a loophole for the philosopher to escape through ; and immediately thereupon the manner in which he describes the peculiar nature of the sophistical philosophy exposed in the Euthydemus; and further on the distinction, which also in the Theaetetus is allowed to drop, between a whole and a collective mass, is explained from the opposition between quality and quantity; and there are many particulars of the same kind. Quite as little can it be said that our dialogue only states the unity of the theoretical and practical as we have already found it stated in the Theaetetus and Gorgias, and their relation to one another—although this too is H. H.
done partly by particular allusions in the etymological part, which remind us very strongly of the Gorgias, partly by the manner in which the reality of the Beautiful and Good is here also at last connected with that of knowledge.—But besides all this, the Cratylus also advances the scientific object of Plato in the same way as the character of this series carries it along with it. Two things especially are here to be taken into account. First of all, the doctrine of the relation of Types to the Archetypes; where in fact language and its relation to things is only to be considered as an example, but one by which Plato did really intend to throw out a first notice of the doctrine of ideas and their relation to the material world, which is immediately preparatory to the Sophist. Secondly, as in the Euthydemus the kingly art, the object of which can only be absolutely the good, is set up as that which exists for itself in the identity of use and production, while all other arts, the object of which, whether as producing or using, is only partial, are merely its instruments and subordinate agents; so, on the other hand, dialectics are here represented as the art whose object is absolutely the true in the identity of knowledge and external expression, while every thing else connected with it, and conception and language especially, is only its instrument. Now this parallel visibly draws the connection between those apparent opposites closer together; and by being placed a step higher we at once more clearly perceive the philosopher on the summit, uniting in himself the dialectician and the statesman. Nay, in this respect the Cratylus is in a peculiar manner placed in connection with the Gorgias by means of the strange and obscure analogy, and which is certain only intelligible upon the view we have taken of the whole—that analogy which is here set up between law and language, inasmuch as it is repeatedly said that language exists in virtue of a law, so that the law-giver and word-maker are viewed almost as identical. This is introduced by the circumstance, that as, according to the saying of Hermogenes, language is to be regarded only as the work of caprice and convention; though it must be remembered that convention, even though tacit, and law, merged into one another more among the Hellenes than among us; so likewise the sophists and the school of Aristippus explained even moral ideas to be the offspring of caprice, and only introduced from without by the ordinances of the law-giver, and even by means of language itself. Plato, on the contrary, discovers in the moral judgment the same inward necessity that he does in language, though this necessity cannot be outwardly expressed in either, purely and perfectly, except by one profoundly acquainted with the nature of each. And if we pursue this indication, a further application will reveal itself for what is said upon the subject of the capricious element which enters into the works of the legislator. Now as to the etymological part, which is for the most part ironical,—although in this likewise much that is seriously meant may be found dispersed, if not in the etymologies, at all events in the explanations of them,--we should still be best able to judge how merciful and just, or how unmerciful and exaggerated, the satirical imitation is, if the works of Antisthenes that are mentioned, especially those about the use of words,