Sivut kuvina

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.

[ocr errors]

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 appearance of being earlier than it is here, because it is there put only hypothetically, while here it is regularly deduced and established. Moreover, the Sophist appeals to the notion of the semblance of the just as to a thing known, and sets up a connection between rhetoric and sophistry, such that they both coincide in the idea of mere appearance. And as the Euthydemus generally is presupposed in the Sophist, and every thing in which Plato could appeal to that dialogue is briefly dispatched, as, for example, that non-existence cannot be ever made the predicate of a proposition, and that it is self-evident, that when a man asserts falsely about a thing, he does not speak of the thing at all; so also, any one may easily see that much that was too shortly touched upon in the Euthydemus, is here demonstrated more at length. If we compare further what the Cratylus and Sophist have in common, we can scarcely doubt that the illustrations about types and imitations preceded the application here made of the same thought ; especially if we notice the easy way in which the stranger is satisfied with the explanation, that a type is a second reality made to resemble a first, while in the Cratylus we find extensive explanations as to how the type can only be externally and in part the same with the archetype; and even in the manner in which in the Sophist the idea of a type is first introduced, we may easily observe the reference to the Cratylus. In like manner, Plato could scarcely have expressed himself so briefly as to the relation between thought and language, if he had not himself already represented words to be immediate imitations of things and actions. From these points, certainly, every appearance of an inverted order in the arrangement of the dialogues will easily admit of being destroyed. And how should Plato, just at the beginning of this dialogue, have come to consider all knowledge, not as resulting from an act of production, but of appropriation ? and how, with his accuracy, should he thus have allowed himself to maintain this point without further discussion, if he could not reckon upon what the Menon was supposed to have made clear to his readers ? This short analysis will, it is hoped, suffice with reference now to much that has been already said on former occasions, fully also to justify the separation of the Sophist from the Theaetetus, notwithstanding the two are placed so closely in connection with one another. For while, with regard to some of the dialogues introduced between these two, the manner of their connexion with the Theaetetus has been made more clear, and how they develope themselves from it, and again with regard to others, how they are presupposed by the Sophist; these two circumstances taken in conjunction, become too evident in the case of every one of these dialogues to allow a doubt to arise as to their place with reference to these. But it is also immediately certain, that the Sophist rests upon the Theaetetus, and would be perfectly unintelligible without the distinction previously established between knowledge and conception, and the suggestions in the Theaetetus respecting the first, which constitute in fact a sufficient foundation for what is here said, and no other is essentially necessary. Let any one, however, conceive the Sophist to have followed immediately upon the Theaetetus, and consequently to have contained in itself all that he can now take for granted out of the Menon, and

« EdellinenJatka »