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together with the possibility of falsehood, the inclination for it and the life in it are to be represented as far removed from true knowledge and real existence. Nay, as the Sophist only appears fully by his place being definitely discovered, and not before it is so discovered, so, on the other hand, the discovery of his place is facilitated, and the dimness and obscurity of mere semblance and fallacious opinion made intelligible by starting from the well-known occupation which he pursues and can only pursue there. And thus, even here in the middle point of the second part of the Platonic works, we find a confirmation of what we said at the beginning of that part upon the peculiar form of the works belonging to it. The more closely, then, we consider this circumstance, the more we must be aware that there is here nothing to be rejected as mere shell, but that the whole dialogue is like a precious fruit of which a true connoisseur is glad to enjoy the outward peel at the same time with the fruit itself, because grown as the former is into the whole, it could not be separated without hurting the pure and proper relish of the latter. This being supposed, we cannot now overlook the remaining characteristics in which this external part of the dialogue is pre-eminently rich. For the reader, from whom too much does not lie concealed under the cover of insignificant things, the knowledge of which is here brought forward, will see Plato, in part defending combinations made in earlier works and which had perhaps been assailed, and showing how nearly the smallest thing may be related to the largest in a particular point of view ; and then again constructing words, almost extravagantly, in order to show how necessary this becomes as soon as a systematic process adopts subjects to which it has been hitherto strange, and at the same time to bring to notice a particular indifference as to the affixing of appellations; ennobling moreover the purifying Socratic process, and pointing out its proper pedagogic place; ridiculing moreover the arrogant method of the rhetoricians and politicians who used to confound things the most different, and, as if it profited nothing to distinguish such trifles, brought the true philosopher and the sophist under the same appellation. Which is just the reason why Plato introduces among the explanations characteristic of the sophist that most distinct one which describes the process of the philosopher, in which the stranger is continually left in doubt, whether he is to allow it to obtain as an explanation of what a sophist is, and on the other hand repeatedly sets up the close connection of the sophist with the demagogue. If we look only to the inward, and in itself more philosophical, part of the dialogue, its characteristics will appear strikingly similar to those of the whole. For it begins with the question as to whether there can be a false in speech and thought, simply resolved into that of the possibility of a non-existent, and of its possessing any attributes, or whether non-existence cannot be predicated of anything. The arguments usually at that time brought forward on the positive side of the question, and with which we are already acquainted from notices of them in the Theaetetus, Euthydemus and Cratylus, are here a second time advanced, strengthened and confirmed on all sides, and as soon as it is shown, from the necessity of assuming the possibility of a non-existent, that the existence of mere fallacious appearance and error must be admitted, and as what they are to be admitted, this part also is at an end, and the dialogue goes on into the investigation about the Sophist. Accordingly it would seem that with reference also to this part, what it begins and ends with, namely, the question relative to the non-existent and error, must obtain for the proper subject-matter; and on the other hand, that what is let in between the parts of this investigation and occupies the middle of it, must appear partly to be only a mean for reaching that end, partly a digression not unwillingly seized upon. But what reader, when he looks to the tenor of this digression, will not be compelled to apprehend in it immediately the most valuable and precious core of the dialogue, and that the more certainly, as here for the first time almost in the writings of Plato, the most inward sanctuary of philosophy is opened in a purely philosophical manner, and as, generally, existence is better and more noble than non-existence. For in the course of the investigation about the non-existent, exactly in the way in which this arose as a something higher in that about the Sophist, the question arises as to the community of ideas”, upon which all real thought and all life in knowledge depends; and the notion of the life of the existent, and of the necessary identity and reciprocality of existence and knowledge is most regularly disclosed. And there is not anything within the sphere of philosophy more important, or any method peculiar to the views and method of Plato, more suitably adapted to conduct pupils and readers to the point than that which is here pursued. Let the reader but notice first how this the most inward, and, in point of extent, far from important kernel of the whole, exactly according to nature's method, forms itself into two halves externally, quite separate from one another, but quite grown together, and organically connected in the closest manner. For first, starting with the statement of the impossibility, that these persons should have reached the sphere of abstract existence who begin with mere unity, or they who continue to remain within the sphere of opposites; the real life of the existent, in which all opposites reciprocally penetrate and unite, is pointed out, and at the same time it is shown that knowledge can subsist neither without rest nor without motion, neither without station nor without flux, neither without constancy nor without progression, but in each pair requires a union of both. And let no one be misled by the apparently sceptical surprise at this required amalgamation of opposites, inasmuch as this is the last point at which the indirect method of demonstration, at the highest summit of which we here find ourselves, must terminate. And thus again, as if some quite new matter was arising, and without even the connection being pointed out, a descent is made from this sphere of the highest existence into that of opposites, which are here represented by the great one of motion and rest”, and it is shown that, first, community with opposites is founded upon the self-identity and diversity + of the existent as common properties, and that in this sphere of diversity the existent exhibits itself necessarily, and in a variety of ways under the form of the non-existent, so that there can never be any opposite in respect of that highest existence itself considered as such, but he who has not penetrated to the light of true existence cannot, in general, advance further than to this non-existence of true knowledge, and the ignorance of true existence. That, therefore, the nature of all true philosophy is in fact here enunciated is a position requiring no further elucidation for him who is generally capable of apprehending it. Only let every reader notice the manner in which these conclusions are drawn, I mean, that Plato starts from the point at which every one necessarily finds himself, the sphere of conception, which is indeed at the same time that of contradictory opposites, showing that the establishment in this of any propositions respecting the existent carries with it exactly the same difficulties as the establishment of propositions respecting the non-existent, and that any one who thinks but to conceive or state anything, must first acquire a title of possession by virtue of which he can do so; and for this purpose the glance into that higher sphere of speculation is disclosed for all who can penetrate into it, as the only defence against the pretensions, not to be otherwise repulsed, of sophistical contentiousness. And because in our present dialogue the advance commences from this point, and presses forward up to that, the highest, immediately and without calling in the assistance of any mythical expedient, or otherwise deserting the course of the purest dialectics, we may fairly regard the Sophist as the inmost core of all indirect specula
* P. 251. B.
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