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and later in point of composition, to which he might mentally refer them. But even supposing this to have been the case, still, and this is all, properly speaking, which we maintain, in his progress or his career as an author the same problem must necessarily have returned upon him under another form. For our two dialogues form the first, as the Philebus forms the second point of transition from the dialogues that have preceded, and were characterized by the indirect process to those that follow, which belong to the immediately constructive class. And, when Plato was upon the point of adopting another method, and wished yet once for all to connect together what he had surveyed by the one already used, and what, although without every where enunciating the results with equal precision, he had also in reality taught and established, when he wished to conclude the old matter as well as prepare the way for the new, what could be a more natural result than that he should describe the process of a philosopher as a purely mental process, as he had practised it according to his own inclination and judgment; for the description of his own mode of operation would now for the first time come in his way ? It must, indeed, always remain a remarkable circumstance, and one that might point to an earlier period for the composition of this dialogue, that that dramatic character, which in the dialogues immediately preceding had almost vanished, and in the Philebus again is likewise much suppressed, comes out in such strong relief in these two, as it were in its last and highest glory. But, in the first place, every reader must see that there is no other dialogue, and least of all is it the case with the earliest, as the Phaedrus and Protagoras, P P
in which the dramatic character is so completely part and parcel of the subject, or so intimately identified with it as in this dialogue, and it could therefore never display itself in its full splendour with more perfect right. And again, a variety of other circumstances may have given occasion to this display ; in the Symposium, first, which we know certainly upon other grounds not to belong to the earlier works of Plato, that apologetic tendency which cannot be denied to exist in it, and for which a living representation of the Socratic mode of life must have been of great advantage; in the Phaedon, probably, Plato's recollection of his own Sicilian affairs, and the wish to show how impossible it was that a cowardly fear of death should exist in the breast of a true disciple of Socrates. It is therefore by no means the close connection with the Symposium that alone determines this as the proper place for the Phaedon in the works of Plato. Rather should we say, that it is that combination of all that has preceded, which is so manifest, and to which we especially refer all who would be convinced upon this point; and then, whether that particular relation presents itself in a light more or less clear, can make but little difference as regards the principal question.
And first of all, it must be evident to every one, that it is only on the transition from the previous works to those that are to come, that the account would be in its proper place, which Plato in the person of Socrates here gives us of his own advances in speculation, and of the turns in his philosophical career; how, for instance, he begun with Anaxagoras; how, from the study of that philosopher, the idea of the good, and the supremacy of reason as the highest norma of all cosmical contemplation, first shot upon him; how by the dialectic method he convinced himself of the unsoundness of the Empedoclean doctrine of physics, and therefore, so long as his own ideas were not sufficiently clear and distinct to follow them out consistently and plenarily as principles, he could not proceed otherwise than critically and hypothetically ; and this applies particularly to his speculations upon the Eleatic and Heraclitic philosophy, and to the result of those speculations, which taught him that in the eternal forms alone is found the constant as connected with the changeable, and real unities as connected with pluralities, and that it is only upon them, and the relation of things to them, that knowledge or science of anything whatever can be constructed. And this principle is here for the first time established so totally without restraint, and with so much reference made to the construction of science, that every reader who is familiar with the Platonic turns, and the value of Platonic expressions, must very easily see that when Plato wrote this, the idea of the good had ceased to be too strange to him, or too obscure to prevent him any longer from constructing in connection with that principle the two sciences which are here alluded to. But every really attentive reader must feel in this place the most decided inclination to pass at once from the Phaedon to the Timaeus, until he reflects that in Plato's speculations the ethical generally precede the physical, and on the other hand, that the idea of the good itself was still susceptible of more accurate explanation, and indeed, more especially on account of disputed questions, at that time still unsettled, even required it; and we have, therefore, yet to pass through the Philebus and the Republic, of both of which the germs manifestly appear in this place in the Phaedon. And again, it can hardly escape any one of sound and unprejudiced mind, that the doctrine of the soul is in our dialogue still imperfect, though in its last stage of developement, no longer in a mythological chrysalis' sheath, as in the Phaedrus, but like the just emergent butterfly, whose wings only want to grow to maturity, a process which a few moments may complete. And this circumstance in the case of the Phaedrus, points very nearly to the Timaeus. For the manner in which the soul is here described as producing life generally, and as related to immutable essence, does indeed, approximate to strict definition, but still is not definition itself; and we observe here exactly the appearance of an author's only producing so much of one subject, to which a particular investigation is to be devoted, to bear upon another, as every reader must grant without more ado. As then all these allusions to what is still to come, assign the Phaedon its place before the last great works of Plato, though in such a manner as to bring it near to them, so also, all references to the dialogues already given determine its place after them. For, if we look to the dialogues forming the second part, in the order in which they are here published, we find that in that arrangement the connection which obtains between the Platonic doctrine of knowledge and that of immortality has not as yet been indicated by decisive strokes, but only in a vague and sketchy manner, inasmuch as, wherever perfect and immutable existence is spoken of, in opposition to that which is imperfect and mutable, mention is also made in some way or other of immortality. It is first brought nearer, by the way in which in the Menon the doctrine, that knowledge is recollection, is expounded and put into tangible form, and to this Plato himself appeals here in the Phaedon, perhaps more definitely and expressly than he anywhere else alludes to an earlier work. For a denial of this appeal would scarcely leave us anything remaining, but to suppose that the speech of the Socratic Cebes refers only to colloquial discussions, whether of Socrates or of Plato, and that the Menon was composed after this had been said by Cebes, though not indeed then by Plato, but by some one else, a supposition, however, which it would be difficult to make appear probable to any one who understood the practice of sound criticism. But the connection of which we speak could not be well represented quite clearly until the investigations contained in the Sophist had preceded; and the ease with which Socrates admits all principles relating to this point to be taken for granted as long since dispatched, would be, without such a reference, inexplicable. The exposition, therefore, of this theory follows in this place, being the first in which it is found; but here it is quite complete, and that part of the dialogue in which it appears is indisputably the kernel of the whole. And agreeably with this supposition, the Platonic Socrates himself clearly lays most weight upon the theory, that the ideas and the soul exist by a similar necessity even before we are born; and moreover, that there is a similar mode of the existence of ideas and of the soul, without the sphere of that imperfect existence in which it appears in life. To Socrates and his disciples this is the immediately certain principle to which they firmly adhere, simply,