Sivut kuvina

larger part cannot be thrown entirely into the background, and as regards the present dialogue, it may seem as difficult to explain how the preceding speeches about love are to be connected with this panegyric of Alcibiades, as that panegyric with these speeches, if the former is regarded as the principal part. But our answer was intended to apply only to the first inquiry, a half which does not pretend to be more than the whole. On the contrary, the connection of the Symposium with the Phaedon, as well as the place which we assign to the former, depends no less upon the lovespeeches than upon the episode of Alcibiades, and our opinion only goes to uphold that, from the point of view here established, the whole may sooner appear as really one united whole, than from any other; so that we might maintain that whoever considers the Symposium only with reference to itself, and independently of this connection and purport, as is usually done, sees, as far at least as regards the composition, only as it were the external Silenus-form, beautiful indeed, and elegantly worked, but still extravagant and eccentric, and not the infinitely more costly image of the god enclosed within. In order, then, to open the former and bring the latter to light, we must connect the Symposium also with the problem started in the Sophist, which announces a complete trilogy. Now, in addition to the Sophist and the Statesman, the third object of Socrates' enquiry is not merely the idea of knowledge and wisdom, but a philosopher, a man also like them, who, although god-like when compared with the inferior life of the majority of men, moves notwithstanding a man among men, Consequently, it is not the abstract essence and nature of wisdom that is to be described, but its life and appearance in the mortal life of the visible man, in which wisdom herself, for this is manifestly Plato's principal point in all his explanations respecting philosophy, has put on mortality, and displays herself subject to the conditions of time, as a progressive and expanding power, so that even the life of a philosopher is far from a repose in wisdom, but an endeavour to retain it, and, attaching it to every projecting point, to create in the whole of time and the whole of space something upon which an immortality may arise in the mortal. And when the name of love is given to this endeavour, and the excitement and living formation, not only of true conceptions of the good and just, with which the statesman is engaged, and of which even the great mass is susceptible, but rather the formation of knowledge in the few who are capable of it, is regarded as a species of procreation, this is far from being merely a poetic comparison ; but it was absolutely necessary that Plato should look upon both as one and the same, and only view that spiritual procreation as a higher order of the similar and similarly named energy, since, according to his theory, even the natural birth was nothing but a reproduction of the same eternal form and idea, and, consequently, the immortality of the same in the mortal. Now that the recipient of every means of production generally is the beautiful, the same, that is, in whose particular life and existence the harmony of the universe is visibly recognised as peculiarly innate in it, this is a point which, to any one who is not a perfect stranger to the Hellenic nature, can require no elucidation. When, therefore, the love that creates in the beautiful is described, the business of the philosopher in general is described at the same time, and in order to designate his place in particular, it is only necessary to define the relation of his love and its object, to every other species and object of the same passion. Now, this easily appears to every reader to be the main subject of what Socrates here again repeats, as matter of former discussion between himself and Diotima. For it is scarcely possible that any one should be misled by the single fact, that this wise lady, when out of the more general idea of desire, she seeks for the proper idea of love in the more contracted sense, excludes the love of wisdom, with others like it, from this narrowed sphere. Or, if any one should take occasion from this circumstance to object to our explanation, let him only try whether it would have been possible to place the subject in that light which the purport of Diotima's speech required, without setting aside, by way of beginning, the endeavour after wisdom also, as coming under the general idea of desire, in order to obtain for love as its peculiar character, the desire to create. But starting from this, the whole discussion manifestly displays the uninterrupted gradation, not only from the pleasure arising from the contemplation of personal beauty, through that which every larger object, whether single or manifold, may occasion, to that immediate pleasure whose source is in the eternal beauty, which, without further contemplation of that which is particular and individual, displays itself to the mind's eye when practised and quickened by this order of training, but also, the gradation from the procreation of natural life through that of correct conception up to that participation, which ranges far beyond all master-skill in detail, in N N

that immediate knowledge which alone beatifies and comprehends within itself all other good; so that it is to be shown how it is in philosophy only, that the greatest good is the object of that general desire for an ever-enduring possession, and to make this highest object immortal in a mortal subject, belongs to it alone as to the highest species of love. We thus appear, accordingly, to have discovered the essential part of our whole work of art, in what Socrates says about love, and Alcibiades about Socrates, For the former exhibits to us the proper nature of the philosopher, it may be under a totally different external form, but when more closely considered almost according to the same method, by means of the establishment of a general idea, and by the separation of the other species, as in the Sophist and Statesman, the nature of these two characters is described, while the life and real actions of the philosopher, with respect to which, as regards the Sophist and the Statesman, only a few scattered traces appear in these dialogues, are exhibited before us in that last panegyric of Alcibiades, in a picture, which though only half worked out, is at least finished as far as the outlines are concerned. Yet may we not pretend so far to discover the whole in this last half, that the earlier love-speeches are to be looked upon only as embellishment, or as devoted entirely to other subordinate points; but, although it might be an unsound Eros to love any one of these speeches, or regard it, as of any importance in itself, as Eryximachus the physician describes that passion as his own, yet must they have been necessary when taken in connection with the rest, and consequently each in its place and its kind, beautiful—and, certainly, we may at all events assume, that the whole cannot be understood in its immediate connection with the rest of the works of Plato without them. First, then, to continue, these speeches serve in a variety of ways to denote the sphere of love throughout its whole range, and to show further, how mortality begets upon mortality only what is mortal and transitory ; and the desire to do this, is a morbid passion, and the left-hand love, with which we are already acquainted from other dialogues. Eryximachus, for instance, who enlarges the description given by Pausanias, mentions the cooking art, and consequently reminds us of the Gorgias, and the opposition in the constitution of man there treated of, so that we see how even that which is most opposed to philosophy in reference to its object, may still be united with it under the idea of love, as co-operative with it, and influential upon animated nature. Thus, they show also, how, if they who have not understood the real nature of the subject, but start only from the obscure feeling, collect and explain the particular phoenomena, these phoenomena all present a partial and one-sided appearance ; and the particular details in them are again taken up in the speech of Socrates, who represents them as only conditionally and partially true, correcting what is wrong, and supplying what was wanting. We learn also in them, to examine by comparison what the common language of that period comprehended as belonging to the appellation of love, and to separate that which, coming under the more modern motion, does not belong to it in this place. And in this respect, particularly the speech of Eryximachus is remarkable, whose physiological and medicinal notion of love is ludicrously

« EdellinenJatka »