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perceived. The necessity, therefore, for assigning the last place to the constructive dialogues, is in every point of view so great, that if well-grounded historical traces were to be found of an earlier composition of the Republic prior to any one of those preparatory dialogues, though none such has yet been found, and, what is more, will not be found, we could not avoid falling into the most serious contradiction with our judgement upon Plato, and we should be much embarrassed how to reconcile this instance of unreason with his vast intelligence. As then, these constructive dialogues are indisputably the last, some, on the other hand, of the remaining ones distinguish themselves as clearly as the first ; for instance, continuing to adhere only to those of the first rank, the Phaedrus, Protagoras, and Parmenides. For these are contrasted with the former, first by a character of youthfulness quite peculiar to them, which may indeed be most easily recognized in the first two, but even in the last will not escape the attentive eye. Moreover by the circumstance, that as by the former all the rest are presupposed, so, conversely, many references are to be found throughout to these latter as previously existing ; and even looking only to the particular thoughts, they appear in these dialogues still as it were in the first glitter and awkwardness of early youth. And further, these three dialogues are not indeed like those three last, worked up into one whole with a definite purpose and with much art, but notwithstanding, mutually connected in the closest manner by a similarity in the entire construction scarcely ever to be met with again to the same degree, by many like thoughts, and a number of particular allusions. But the most important thing yet in them is their internal matter, for in them are developed the first breathings of what is the basis of all that follows, of Logic as the instrument of Philosophy, of Ideas as its proper object, consequently of the possibility and the conditions of knowledge. These therefore, in conjunction with some dialogues attaching to them of the lesser kind, form the first, and, as it were, elementary part of the Platonic works. The others occupy the interval between these and the constructive, inasmuch as they treat progressively of the applicability of those principles, of the distinction between philosophical and common knowledge in their united application to two proposed and real sciences, that of Ethics, namely, and of Physics. In this respect also they stand in the middle between the constructive in which the practical and the theoretical are completely united, and the elementary, in which the two are kept separate more than any where else in Plato. These, then, form the second part, which is distinguished by an especial and almost difficult artificiality, as well in the construction of the particular dialogues as in their progressive connection, and which might be named for distinction's sake, the indirect method, since it commences almost universally with the juxta-position of antitheses. In these three divisions therefore, the works of Plato are here to be given to the reader; so that while each part is arranged according to its obvious characteristics, the dialogues also of the second rank occupy precisely the places which, after due consideration of every point, seems to belong to them. Only it must be allowed that with respect to this more nice arrangement, everything has not equal certainty, inasmuch as there are two things necessary to be attended to in making it, the natural progression of the development of ideas, and a variety of particular allusions and references. With respect to the works of the first rank, the first of these two is generally perfectly decisive, and is never contravened by a characteristic of the second kind. Thus, in the first part, the development of the dialogistic method is the predominant object, and hence, manifestly, the Phaedrus is the first and the Parmenides the last, partly as a most perfect exposition of it, partly as a transition to the second part, because it begins to philosophize upon the relation of ideas to actual things. In the second part, the explanation of knowledge and of the process of knowing in operation is the predominant subject, and at the head of that part stands the Theaetetus, beyond the possibility of a mistake, taking up as it does this question by its first root, the Sophistes with the annexed Politicus in the middle, while the Phaedo and Philebus close it as transitions to the third part; the first, from the anticipatory sketch of Natural Philosophy, the second, because in its discussion of the idea of the Good, it begins to approximate to a totally constructive exposition, and passes into the direct method. The arrangement of the collateral works of the second class, is not always quite so decisive, as several, in the first place, are only enlargements upon and appendages to the same principal work, as is the case in the first part with the Laches and Charmides in reference to the Protagoras, and in these therefore we can only follow certain particular, and not always very definite, indications; and, in the second place, several of them might be transitions between the same larger dialogues, as in the second part the Gorgias with the Menon and Euthydemus collectively are preludes
diverging from the Theaetetus, to the Politicus : so that we must rest satisfied with an accumulation of probabilities collected as accurately as may be from every source. The third part contains no other subordinate work except the Laws, to which, certainly, not only with reference to that important triple work, but also considered in itself, we must give that name, and say that, although copiously penetrated with philosophical matter, they still form only a collateral piece, although, from their extensive range and genuine Platonic origin, they are perfectly entitled to belong to the works of the first class. Lastly, as regards those dialogues, to which with reference to the point of view taken in the arrangement, we have assigned in common a third place, although they, in point of genuineness, have a very different value, they will be distributed into appendices under all three divisions, according as either historical or internal evidence, in so far as they are Platonic, assign them a probable place, or according as the critical examination of them is facilitated particularly by comparison with this or that dialogue. For they also shall have the privilege which belongs to them, of being provided with all that can be said in a short space towards elucidating them, and bringing their cause more near to a decision.
This dialogue usually bears as a second title, “Or of the Beautiful;” and has been sometimes named, “Of Love and of the Mind.” / Indisputably all such second titles, appearing as they do to several dialogues of Plato, have arisen, probably accidentally, from a later hand, and have produced almost universally the disadvantageous effect of leading the reader upon a wrong track, and thus favouring views in part far too limited, in part entirely false, with regard to the object of the philosopher and the meaning of the works This holds especially of the superadded titles of this dialogue, which have been understood almost universally as indicating the true subject of it, have been translated and used in quotations, though love and beauty appear only in one part of the work, and could not, therefore, to an unprejudiced person, obtain as the true and proper subject of it. The omission, however, of this deceptive title will be hardly sufficient to replace the reader in that original state of absence of all prejudice; and from this cause, therefore, as well as from a desire to lay the Platonic method as clearly as possible before the mind, on occasion of the first dialogue, this introduction muş- claim to extend to what may appear a somewhat disproportionate length.