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ungenuine in connection with it Or is it to be competent to take the problem given itself as a standard, and to declare, slashingly enough, that what will not adapt itself to that connection cannot belong to Plato P Scarcely any one, I suppose, would be found to favour this process, or not to see that this would be an extremely partial decision of a question to be answered upon quite different grounds, and that it is impossible that a notion arising from a consideration of the works assumed as Platonic, should pronounce at the same time upon the correctness of the assumption itself. Or more probably, the majority of readers will not expect to meet with the question about the Platonic writings perfectly entire, but regard it as one long since decided, with the exception of unimportant doubts touching only a few trifles, the adoption or rejection of which may be a matter of great indifference. Such, for instance, will be the opinion of all those who repose upon the long prescribed authority of editions. This authority does indeed coincide accurately enough with the list of Thrasyllus, in Diogenes, only that more modern criticism has withdrawn the Clitopho from our collection; and on the other hand, the explanations of words are wanting in that list; and these, therefore, would be the only dubious matters. Nay, we have still a better evidence in favour of this collection in that of the Grammarian Aristophanes, who has been already named, whose arranging catalogue Diogenes also had before him, and certainly would not have passed the matter over in silence if he had discovered anywhere a variation from it. But how, I would ask, can a searching criticism, even though it would pay no regard to the doubts which one's own feelings suggest, rest upon those authorties P For not only, with the

exception of a few poets, have spurious productions insinuated themselves into all considerable collections of works of particular authors preserved from antiquity, so that it would be matter of wonder if those of Plato were to make an exception, especially as philosophical literature has in a less degree employed the industry of critics; but in Plato's case, an additional circumstance comes in, the importance of which does not seeem in this respect to have been sufficiently considered, that those critics have already rejected a considerable number of small dialogues out of the collection which they found at hand, as not belonging to Plato. For it is clearly manifest from this fact that at the period when this was done, these dialogues must have already maintained their place among other works of Plato for a considerable time, since otherwise no particular operation of criticism would have been necessary again to deprive them of it. And this usurpation, on the other hand, could not have taken place if there had been evidence of the spuriousness of these dialogues documentarily descended from the time of the genuine academicians ; for, generally, as long as men were to be found, who preserved the genuine Platonic tradition with zeal for the cause, it is not conceivable that foreign work should have been commonly foisted upon Plato. Upon what ground, therefore, did these critics found their judgment when they adopted some dialogues and rejected others? If it should be said that they had, with regard to all not rejected, certain and sufficiently old evidence of their recognition by those who lived nearest after the time of their composition, we might rejoin that the silence of contemporaries, who do not take the case of a future confusion into consideration, and require an occasion for every quotation, is neither collectively nor in detail a ground for rejection, and they might, therefore, very easily have judged wrong. In like manner, also, various grounds of suspicion might be raised against the sufficiency of the proofs applied, as several examples both in former and even in modern times have shown at how early a period of antiquity supposititious writings have been adopted even by philologists and learned men into the list of genuine works. Now, if they judged chiefly upon internal grounds, no prescription is valid as regards these at all events; but they must remain fairly subject to renewed trial at every period, however late. Hence then arises, especially as in the mind of every attentive reader many doubts will suggest themselves against much that he meets with, a question whether these men did not in their criticism start from too limited a point of view; or whether they may not have failed to push principles, though correct, to their full extent, and consequently have preserved much that might have been quite as appropriately rejected. There are two circumstances that give particular encouragement to this doubt. First, that the dialogues at that time rejected are not all of them separated by a decisive line from all recognised at the same period, but whether we look to the subject-matter, or to the composition and mode of treatment, some of the first class approximate pretty near to the second. Again, that from the same period at which these authorities were commonly recognised, among the well known suspicious circumstances attaching to the Erastae and Hipparchus, a stock of doubts has lived, which perhaps only require to be planted in a better critical soil to spread perceptibly to a considerable extent, and strike out in many other places. But if our confidence in the authenticity of the collection is thus shaken, any one endowed with any, however little, talent for such investigations, will be fain to allow that, in strictness, each particular work must itself be its own voucher that it is Platonic. Now this, to continue, can be done in no other way except by coming back to evidences again; and, looking at what has been said above, it might be doubted whether for us, at the present time, there is any other valid evidence but Aristotle. Meanwhile even with him various grounds of suspicion come in, partly on account of the doubtfulness of many pieces which bear his name, as spurious works are mixed up even with this collection, partly by reason of the bad state of the text, which seems to be far more loaded with glosses than has been hitherto remarked; and in part, lastly, from his manner of quoting, as he often mentions the titles only of Platonic dialogues without the composer, or even the name of Socrates when we expect that of Plato. But the philological consciousness which should here confidently decide whether Aristotle had Plato in his mind or not, and whether or no he ascribed to him the dialogues named, must indeed have approved itself in possession of a high degree of practice, not only in general, but especially to avoid arguing in a circle in this case, and founding, it may be, the judgment passed upon the quotations of Aristotle on one previously formed upon the Platonic writings. Hence, any quotation in the works of Aristotle introduced only in a cursory manner, and, as is not seldom the case, almost superfluously and for mere ornament, need not necessarily be a proof of the genuineness of a Platonic dialogue. Now the only thing which rescues us from this state of uncertainty is a system of criticism upon Plato pervading the greatest part of the genuine writings of Aristotle, particular parts of which, any one with a little practice may learn easily to distinguish. When, therefore, we find this employed upon passages out of our Platonic writings, or even only on ideas distinctly contained in them, we may then conclude with certainty that Aristotle had these writings in view as Platonic, even though, as is sometimes the case, he should not give us the name of the dialogue, but only mention it, in general, as one of Plato or of Socrates. To explain this more accurately would carry us far beyond the limits of the present introduction, and is the less necessary as among those who are ignorant of both sets of works the doubts are not sufficiently strong to require such a proceeding, while those who know them will hardly make objections to the result, that by this method we can scarcely fail of sure proofs of the genuineness of the greatest of Plato's works, and of guides to the meaning of his philosophy in the most important of them. In these, then, lies that critical ground upon which every further investigation must build, and in fact no better is needed. For the Dialogues thus authenticated form a stock from which all the rest seem to be only offsets, so that a connection with them affords the best test whereby to judge of their origin. And for the next task likewise, that of arrangement, it follows from the nature of the case, that when we have that stock we are at once in possession of all the essential grounds of general connection. For it must have been natural for the first reviewer of the Platonic system to have especially taken a survey of all the most important developments of it without any exception, and thus we do actually find these in the instances of the works most accredited by Aristotle. As such, of a character which in both respects, as well

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