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because it is immediately one and the same with that of the reality of knowledge, and they who understand Plato otherwise, or at least foist upon him any other conception of immortality, as if it were that of which he is immediately certain, and the result of his demonstration, might learn to be cautious from this passage, not to associate themselves without intending it with those who dream, erroneously enough, that, according to Plato, the ideas had a kind of sensible existence, or, somehow and somewhere, a special and external being, or I know not what, out of nature and out of the mind. For, with the exception of what is necessarily connected with that higher and truly immortal existence of the soul, and is here also followed out as a regular theory, that, namely, the repeated appearances of the soul in the body always proceed out of the abundance of that immortality, and are real repetitions, and not new creations; with the exception of this, Plato arranges all other conceptions and minor points subordinate to that doctrine, as something not homogeneous with it, nor of an equal degree of certainty, considering them partly in the light of amusing conversation, and exorcisement of the baby within us which foolishly fears death, while they have in part quite a different bearing. Thus, for instance, the repeated and always perfected appearances of the soul in the life of the body are quite homogeneous with, and correspondent to its different places upon the earth, in one of which it may see more clearly, and be less exposed to disturbing influences than in another; but what it sees must still be only material things, and it is not in a more distinct conception of clearer impressions of ideas that every glimpse of higher and really immortal existence is vouchsafed to it, but only in knowledge itself. Hence, both do indeed serve more to specify the whole province of the soul in the kingdom of imperfect being and of corporeal life, than to exhibit or define more closely immortality itself. Nay, who can say that the whole of Cebes' objection, that the fact of souls lingering among many bodies does not nevertheless prove their immortality, an objection which is somewhat harshly and unexpectedly directed against Simmias the disciple of Philolaus, is not covertly meant against the Pythagoreans, who thought that they had in the doctrine of Metempsychosis demonstrated the immortality of souls, and therefore, produced no more accurate information upon this point; a deficiency upon which some regret is expressed in an earlier part of the dialogue. Only, let no reader be misled by this, and by the mention of the harmony, to suppose that Simmias probably brings forward his argument, that the soul may be after all but a disposition of what is given in the body, in the name of the Pythagoreans. On the contrary, these philosophers were perfectly agreed with Plato, that only virtue and vice could be regarded as arising from a disposition of the soul itself; and the argument may be rather considered as exclusively in the spirit of the strictly atomical system, to which indeed Empedocles, in this point of view, in no small degree approximates; so that it might scarcely be possible to decide, from whom in particular the dress into which the thought is put is either borrowed or adapted. And if there are any to whom the answer appears, partially at least, obscure and unsatisfactory, let them not overlook that it refers to the distinction already started in several places between the ideas subjected to the conditions of more and less, and those which, as expressing independent existence, have also their own measure in themselves; for from this it may be discovered, although it is not quite after our manner of viewing the subject, how far the theory of the disposition may be placed among the former, and the soul only among the latter.
Now without taking into consideration this general reference to the previous dialogues up to this point, by means of the connection between the doctrine of knowledge and that of immortality, further allusions to other earlier matter more or less connected with that pervading and principal point, are not wanting. Thus, for example, besides the quotation already alluded to, we are also further put in mind of a passage in the Menon, by what is here said of public and civil virtue; and it would seem as if Plato here wished to show that this inferior kind of virtue, properly speaking only a shadow of the true, may even exist without being based upon any independent or true principle; and that view in the Statesman, of the natural qualifications which lead some to this and others to that species of virtue, forms as it were, the transition between the two. So also, when the true virtue is spoken of, and it is described to be rationality, the way in which the Protagoras is referred to, and every possible misunderstanding of the dialectics there employed is once for all now removed, necessarily supposes the existence of all the intervening dialogues between that and the Phaedon. For we are now first enabled to learn, what nevertheless necessarily belongs to the subject of that /dialogue, that the comparative estimation of different degrees of pleasure against one another, cannot constitute any kind of knowledge. Moreover, the derivation from the dead, of those who are in the natal state, which is here taken generally from a natural law affecting every created being, has been already given in the Statesman in a mythical description, which every one will easily recognize as the earlier of the two. So also, in the very same place, the first foundation is laid of the most sublime expansion of, and most general speculation upon, the idea of the soul, as it is said that even heaven and earth are participative of the nature of the body, which must thus necessarily possess a soul, so that, viewed on this side also, the Phaedon comes between that work and the Timaeus, as preparing the way for the latter by more minute explanations and accurate definitions. In like manner, when we consider closely what is here said of pleasure, we can scarcely suppose that it is of an earlier date than the discussion in the Gorgias, so much more dispassionately is it introduced, and drawn from views so much more profound: while we must at once recognize it as earlier than the Philebus, which first contains the full discussion of the pleasant in this point of view, nay, it seems almost as if Plato here wished to prepare the way for a still necessary discussion of this subject, which was to be more mature, more tranquil, and with more regard for nature. But for all who from the Phaedon as their point of view, take a survey of the works hitherto communicated, the comparison of this dialogue with the Phaedrus will have most attraction from the manifold points of contact between the two. And, it will probably be the case with most, that if they put aside the Phaedon for a short time, and then fix their attention upon the Phaedrus, they will find in it particular points which appear Q Q
to them too similar to allow of a great interval between the two ; and even many in which they discover a foretaste of the Timaeus, and they might on that account consider the Phaedrus as later than the Phaedon; whence I explaim to myself the fact, that this opinion also has not been without its followers. Whoever, on the other hand, places both works at an equal distance from the Timaeus, and is consequently in a condition to survey the whole system uniformly from the two, can hardly, I think, fail to feel surprise when he sees how much more perfect the Phaedon appears; wiser, and worthy of more mature age; so that it stands to the Phaedrus precisely in the relation of the dying Socrates to him who still hopes to learn much from the people in the market-place. For even the mythical part, to go no further, how much more sober and judicious is it ! In this dialogue we hear no more of a supercelestial region, and of a dazzling gaze at ideas, and no necessity arises to assist the dry uncertainty of them by an indistinct image; but it is sufficient, in order to demonstrate the revolution of the soul, to give a theory of the earth, which, though constructed indeed upon lore of poets and wise men, is taken from later sources, and such as contain more of a presentiment of science. Nay, though a special meaning is not to be looked for in every particular, we should, nevertheless, scarcely be disposed to disagree with any one who might suppose that what is said of Socrates' treatment of the AEsopic fables, is a justifieation of the fact, that in the majority of the Platonic myths so little original invention is contained. And how much more finished is the philosophic talent in the Phaedon, how much more definite the connection