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to allow that it is science, while on the other Socrates has himself been at the pains to prove this, though his purpose went to dispute every supposition in favour of the possibility of teaching Virtue. From this short summary of the details it must be at once sufficiently clear, that even here the common methods of viewing the dialogue, inasmuch as they could not comprehend the whole, but went to satisfy themselves with a part, have as good as failed altogether. Some for instance, separating what is inseparable, as they will do even in the plastic arts, have directed their attention exclusively to what can be considered only as the colouring of the whole, the uninterrupted irony, which certainly has been admired by every reader yet of this dialogue. It cannot indeed be overlooked that Plato here allows this his peculiar talent to play in a vast range, and with great self conscious skill, whence they who put a high value upon his study of the Mimes, and his approximation to the comic, might easily take up the notion that this ironical treatment, or annihilation, as it might be called of the sophists, is to be understood as the chief object of the Protagoras. This is not indeed the place for deciding whether these acquired perfections, for such at least they are represented, were valued to the same degree and in the same sense by Plato himself as they are by some of his admirers; two things however are certain, and sufficient to justify the view taken in the present instance. For, on the one hand, what every eye however imattentive universally observes in the dialogue, is far from being the highest kind of irony, either of Plato generally, or of this work in particular, but only that subordinate imitative colouring which may be met with M

not unfrequently even among the moderns, otherwise so little given to irony, under a more modern name. Again it is to be remarked, that every imitation of the peculiarities and manners of particular persons proceeds only from an endeavour after truth in the representation of the speakers, and therefore supposes at once that something is to be said, and what it is to be, that consequently this ironical imitation may occur any where in Plato, and certainly does so occur, when any point is discussed with these opponents of Socratic wisdom and modes of thinking, not only as mere ornament, but as a means connected with the end, in order to make the truth of the whole palpable, and to authenticate it by a careful removal of every thing unnatural and exaggerated; but that for that very reason it should never be conceived as the first or proper object, because then in the first place the exaggeration would be unavoidable, and in the next the philosophical object, without which certainly no larger work of Plato is ever framed, must either have been subordinate, or have been completely wanting. Others on the contrary, too eager for the real treasure, and not even fortunate discoverers because they sought without knowing their ground, have only adhered to one of the questions started, as if that one were to be here decided, whether it were that of the communicability of virtue or its unity or plurality; for any one who thus takes up only some particular point, must necessarily waver. And how insufficient this proceeding is appears from the fact, that from such a point of view several parts of the dialogue do not admit of any explanation whatever; as for instance, the two sources mentioned of the sophistical art and of Philosophy, and the whole discussion respecting the poem of Simonides, moreover that even such matter as is more closely connected with those questions does not advance but is continually beginning again from the first in a manner almost far-fetched and certainly singular: nay, to express it in a word, how could the main point of the whole be involved in an investigation, of which it is said at the end of it, ironically indeed on the one hand, but very truly on the other, that as far as bringing it to a decision was concerned, it had been pursued poorly and confusedly enough. Now whoever attends not only to this or that point, in this dialogue, but to every thing, to the frequently interspersed and cursory hints which in Plato least of any writer admit of being overlooked, to the change of the form in the different sections, to what is continually recurring in and between these sections, notwithstanding all the multiplicity of subjects—whoever does this will recognize, in this very dispute respecting the form and method, the main purpose of the whole; the purpose, namely, to praise and ennoble the dialogistic form of Socrates, and to proclaim it as the proper form of all genuine philosophical communication, in opposition to all sophistical forms, all of which therefore make their appearance, not even the method of commentating upon passages of poets excepted. If we place ourselves in this true centre point of the work, we see first, in the most decided manner, how very closely this dialogue connects itself by manifold ramifications with the Phaedrus. For as there the inward spirit of the philosophizing process was exhibited, so the outward form is here discovered, and what results, as such, is criticised. Further, as in that dialogue the investigation respecting

the method was interwoven also with the exposition of the communicative impulse, and that not the common one whose object it is, from a feeling of vanity, to spread a falsely so-called and really empty knowledge, but an impulse which is to form the mind by means of ideas, so that every thing else is grounded upon the ethical as the base of the Socratic philosophy; so also here, the question regarding the possibility of satisfying that impulse is the subject on which the different forms are to display themselves, and submit to comparison, and that in such a manner that in this dialogue also the argument exclusively treats of the communication of the ethical, which is the very point that constitutes the meaning of the question as to the communicability of virtue. Nay, even in what concerns the outward conformation of the whole, a striking connection between the two manifests itself, inasmuch as in this dialogue also the form of a pitched contest arises agreeably to the then condition of things; only still more vividly set forth, as at that time the sophists were connected with the philosophers more nearly than the orators were, so that even the polemical turn of the Phaedrus appears to be here continued and advanced. Moreover from this point the arrangement of the whole and of every particular in its place intelligibly manifests itself, and that movement which from almost every other point seems only circular, now assumes, on the contrary, the appearance of a beautiful and regular progression. For while by the comparison of the forms the deficiency of the sophistical methods is made all the more evident the further this dialogue advances, and exposes itself still more in examples; of how easily epideictic discourse lends itself to seduce the hearers from the true point in question, and how much even that is beautiful in appearance several persons together may throw off without ever understanding one another, and how on the contrary, the dialogistic form brings the true meaning of every one to light, traces out the point of distinction, and, provided only that it is not met on one side by total absence of all meaning, discovers the original error; co-ordinately with all this, by means of the continually renewed expositions of the subject from all sides, the causes are always and continually developing themselves, which must prevent the sophists from attaining a better method, and which made them well content to frame a worse. And these causes are the absence of the genuine philosophical impulse and the base enterprises and purposes for sake of which they chiefly exercised their art. And this harmony which must work its effect, like all that is beautiful in art, even though it is not recognised upon its own grounds, is certainly for the most part the source of the extreme delight which most readers take in this perfect work. Thus the first speech of Protagoras at once discovers his self-conceit and avarice—thus in the very first piece of dialogue, where he is content to oppose the reverse of discretion to knowledge also, it becomes evident, when virtue is to be divided, and consequently the distinction between the theoretical and practical eminently obtains, that he is totally destitute of all perception of it. If however this was a piece of dulness wantonly attributed by Plato to this man, it would in that case be sufficiently devoid of art. But it refers undoubtedly to something which Plato and his contemporaries had before their eyes, it matters not whether relatively to Protagoras or some one else. For that philosopher is here less himself than the representative

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