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certainly necessary to do, traces are not wanting, that even without the province of regular dialectics, they adopted much out of the Eleatic system, and of this I should be inclined to account this passage also as an instance, unless some one can give a better founded explanation. As opponents of the materialistic empirics, of Democritus and Aristippus, for Plato has certainly in his mind the latter also of the two, these philosophers might be most especially noticed. Again, no less difficulty may seem to attend the explanation of what precedes, whom, for instance, Plato means by those who look upon the existent as involving multiplicity, and in particular as double or triple, since so many have equal pretensions to be considered, and then again when we come to examine accurately, nothing is perfectly satisfactory. At first the reader may probably be quite at a loss to know to what the argument is to be referred ; but as soon as he remembers that in the language of our dialogue Plato could not otherwise denote what Aristotle calls the setting up of these principles, references and allusions pour in in clouds. Least of all, however, will the appearance and tone of the whole passage allow us to surmise the existence of an allusion here to any thing abstruse, and advanced only by a few less-known individuals. And quite as little, certainly, to the Pythagoreans, although it might otherwise be said of them, most appropriately, that their existence is threefold, divided into the finite, the indefinite and the privative, but as no reference to this school occurs anywhere else in the whole dialogue, it is not probable that it was intended to be alluded to in this passage; but as Aristotle also at the beginning of his books on Physics says of all those who assume K. K.
the existence of a fundamental matter and two opposite functions, that they set up these principles, so also Plato has here especially in view the old Ionic philosophers. This seems also to receive confirmation from the circumstance of his separating those who assume a threefold from those who assume only a twofold existence, though he does this but very slightly and superficially. For it is precisely among the Ionians that so vague a description may be supposed to have existed, according as the fundamental matter was given, simple and independent of the functions, or conceived to be itself comprehended under the functions, as seems to have been the notion of Anaximander. It is only to the philosopher just named, that as far as we know the idea of the combat of the parts of the threefold existence with one another would apply. Should, however, this view appear still to be liable to much suspicion, as may perhaps be the case, we are on the other hand the more certain as to the later Ionic and Sicilian Muses”, that by them, Heraclitus and Empedocles are intended. Upon this point we have not only the express testimony of Simplicius, but the comparison of our passages, as well with what we know of the two men from other sources, as also with the way in which Plato expresses himself about them elsewhere is sufficient to establish the fact. Quite as undeniable, as Tennemann also has already observed, are the allusions to Antisthenes, where those philosophers are spoken of who do not admit the possibility of any community or connexion between ideas, but would take every thing independently and for itself, or who maintain the proposition that a false assertion enunciates
* P. 242. C.
nothing. These polemics cannot fail to force themselves upon the notice of those readers who have already accompanied us in the prosecution of them through several dialogues. A more intimate relation between the Sophist and the Parmenides on the one side, and the Timaeus on the other, is indicated not only externally by the more passive condition of Socrates in these three dialogues, but must also be of itself clear to every one, from the close connection in the subject-matter, even though it should be considered preliminarily, in a negative point of view alone. Hence it is natural to start the question, whether by a comparison of the three it may not be discovered from the dialogues themselves which of them was the latest and which the earliest. With respect then to the Timaeus no doubt can arise as to its being the latest of these three works; but between the Sophist and Parmenides critics have certainly hesitated, and, as we have already remarked in the Introduction to that dialogue, have considered the last named as the later of the two. Now, disinclined as I am to refer by anticipation to what is to come, I would ask any one who knows the Timaeus, whether the foundation of the Timaeus is not laid perfectly and dialectically by the way in which here, in the Sophist, the existent is brought down within the sphere of opposites, as well as by the discussion which occurs here upon the subjects of identity and diversity, and whether it is not clear that our dialogue generally comes much nearer to the Timaeus than the Parmemides does 2 This, however, is intended to be said preliminarily only, in order to show generally the point from which the question is to be viewed. But let the reader only compare the Sophist and Parmenides with one another, and observe whether anything whatever resembling an announcement of the dialogue named after the latter philosopher is to be found in the manner in which in the former Socrates appeals to his conversation with him; or whether, on the contrary, it is not manifest that the notice marking the age of the interlocutors * is there introduced with reference to and in justification of this dialogue, so that the whole passage has the appearance of being intended to bring the Parmenides to the recollection of the reader. If we compare further the particular corresponding passages, as for instance that about unity and totality, we shall unquestionably recognize in the Sophist a surer hand, and a more enlarged method. And we may even find the key to all that in the Parmenides appears to have a double sense, in the way in which essential existence, and existence in another sense, by participation that is, and so also the originally existent and existence in the sphere of contradictions are here kept separate: so that it would be strange to have already given the solution here, and then to have set the riddle afterwards in the Parmenides. Above all, however, let the reader but look to the first part of the Parmenides, and the problematical character of the expressions there as to the existence of ideas, and then consider whether this character could have found place, after the distinction had been so clearly referred to in the Theaetetus, between knowledge and conception, and that between mere conception and appearance had been further subjoined here in the Sophist.
But it may be useful here to throw a glance of comparison, not upon the Parmenides alone, but upon the remaining dialogues, with the view of availing ourselves of the opportunity of testing from this important point the arrangement we have hitherto pursued. First, then, the Sophist is manifestly the crown of all that is antisophistic in the Platonic dialogues, and no dialogue of which this is a principal component part can be conceived to have been written subsequently to the present, for it would have been as unseasonable in the author as putting the salt on after supper. So complete a process as we have here, by which the subject has its place assigned in the order of things, must from its nature be the last member in the investigation, and conclude the whole. For a work in which the dramatic character is so predominant as it is in the Protagoras, must precede a dialogue like the present, as far as mythical expositions elsewhere precede the productions of purely dialectic speculation. Moreover, the Protagoras supplies us with yet another, although subordinate point, of comparison. For what was said in that dialogue about baseness and vice is here manifestly intended to be illustrated, and protected from misconception, by the instancing of two species of it, so that we may say that, in this point of view, on the one hand, the Sophist brings the Protagoras into agreement with the Gorgias, and on the other, that it forms the transition to that ethical character which predominates in the books upon the Republic. In the Gorgias, which is indeed more anti-rhetorical than antisophistical, we find the application of the terms idea, type, and imitation, in order to explain from them the nature of what is false and bad, manifestly with the