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of thinking, whose philosophy does not extend beyond immediate sensuous experience, the reasoning principle in men is only viewed as a recompence for their deficient corporeal conformation, and the idea of right with the feeling of shame as requisites for a sensuous existence, and as something not introduced into the minds of men until a later period. Hence also the proof contained in this myth, because Plato could not give any other colouring to such a view, is very oratorically stated, as he does not so much spare investigations upon principles as make the want of them perceptible, since even what he has properly to explain is not connected with the course of the narrative, but is only adduced as a command of Zeus. It appears also strange on that account in respect of the style, and probably imitated after Protagoras. And, as to Socrates' opinion of the poem of Simonides, of which nothing but this fragment is preserved to us, namely, that it must be a censure upon the apophthegm of Pittacus, this is not to be taken merely as a jest. At least we are in possession of another poem generally ascribed to Simonides, in which the resemblance in manner and style to this is not to be mistaken, which stands in a similar polemical relation to the epigram of Cleobulus quoted in the Phaedrus, who was also himself one of the seven wise men.
AMoNG the smaller dialogues immediately dependent
upon the Protagoras, the Laches will stand the first,
because it so nearly resembles the former that it can
only be looked upon as an appendix to, or enlargement N
of, the last part of it. For Courage, of which it is the immediate problem of the Laches to discover the correct idea, formed the subject of an argument in the Protagoras with reference to the disputed point of the unity of all the virtues, or the distinction of them. Protagoras, in maintaining the latter proposition, being reduced to a dilemma by dint of several examples, had however brought himself, influenced by an appearance seemingly favourable to his views, to uphold courage as an exception to that similarity, because in its nature it is distinct from all other virtues; and, even in experience is often to be met with separate from them. In opposition to this, Socrates had shown, that, if we look to the fact how courage exhibits itself in its development as spirit and boldness, but that these qualities only obtain the appellation of that virtue in so far as skill and judgment are connected with them, we shall see that these last properly constitute the points of distinction between courage and foolhardiness and precipitation; and, consequently, that that virtue also ranges into ingenuity in calculation. Against that proof Protagoras had defended himself in a manner, as has been already remarked, actually worthless and foreign to the subject, which Socrates evidently only admits because further investigation upon this track would have led him too far from the point which he had in view. Consequently he there opens up the investigation on another side, inasmuch as he shows, that upon the supposition that the pleasant is generally the good, we need only oppose the unpleasant courageously as a means towards acquiring the pleasant, and that, consequently, courage can be nothing else but a correct comparison of distant pleasure with near pain; consequently a measuring art, consequently intelligence and ingenuity. This,
when applied to the main question of the Protagoras regarding the communicability of virtue, was the conclusion of the dialogue; but the question as to courage was clearly not exhausted with the conclusion here obtained, but on the contrary remained in a state so dislocated and unsolved that Plato could scarcely let it rest there. For he had given up the first mode of considering the question in an incomplete form, and the hypothesis in the second was not his own; in respect of which, moreover, readers of that day might as easily deceive themselves, as it has happened to those of more modern times to do. This therefore is the meaning of this little illustrative dialogue, in which, what is argued respecting courage connects itself immediately with those investigations, with the intention of pursuing them more accurately, and more from Plato's own point of view. Hence, first, it is argued that boldness does not in its operation exhaust the idea of courage, inasmuch as the province of the latter extends far beyond the fearful, properly so called, and resistance to every kind of pain, nay, even to pleasure, belongs no less to courage; that therefore perseverance would better express the distinguishing quality of this virtue. Corrected then in this manner, the first investigation in the Protagoras is repeated and brought to the conclusion, that, on the one side neither is all perseverance courage; nor, on the other, what is ingeniously calculated to attain a certain object or result; inasmuch as the moral judgment that an act is courageous, is proportioned neither to the degree of perseverance, as even too much of this is censurable, nor to the degree of ingenuity displayed in the calculation. Hence, generally, courage is not to be conceived as physical strength, because in that case it must be ascribed to brutes as well as men, a supposition which Nicias, who indisputably pronounces the opinion of Plato, rejects. The second question from the Protagoras is not taken up again, until, in order to make any delusion impossible, the hypothesis that the pleasant is equivalent to the good, is removed, and a distinction established between the two. Now with a view to this, there could be no point of comparison better or more intelligible than the Art of Prophecy: for, clearly, if all morals are only a geometry of pleasure, that knowledge which is to constitute virtue, can be nothing else but a prescience of results and their actual value as sources of pleasure. From this then the knowledge of the good is here completely distinguished, and it is then first demonstrated, that in so far as courage is to be considered as such a knowledge, it can be no particular virtue distinct from other virtues, because the only principle of division, according to which, looking to the ordinary meaning of the idea this could be done, namely, that derived from time, does not fall under consideration in moral matters; consequently, in this place also the conclusion, that virtue is indivisible, is confirmed, as well as that the same power which produces one must also produce all the others. While therefore the investigation into the idea of courage is continued, the higher ethical ideas, which were laid down in the Protagoras, are not only confirmed by a clearer refutation of what is opposed to them, but also actually projected further, although as is usual in these Platomic dialogues of this class, and agreeable to the principles of them, this is only done imperceptibly as it were, and with unconnected strokes, that he alone may find them who has been already put into the way of discovering them at all events of himself. For what Laches in his innocence says of the nature of moral wisdom, as being harmony of the mind, and coincidence of knowledge and of life, this is the right key to the Platonic Theory of Virtue, and to the meaning of his opinion that it is knowledge, or, a knowing. And this, we may observe in passing, is not the only remarkable instance which tends to limit greatly the general proposition, that Plato always announces his own opinion through Socrates; or, if not, through the person who distinguishes himself as the wisest, and who conducts the dialogue. For neither is all that this personage says exclusively the opinion of Plato, who, on the contrary makes even the leading characters say much according to the views of the others, in order to detect the contradictions hidden in those views; nor is that alone the truth which the leading character says, but much also said by others which Plato allows to pass without contradiction, and which the attentive reader easily distinguishes by the peculiar tone in which it is delivered. So much for the main subject of the dialogue, which indeed, as regards its external dress, is there somewhat differently arranged, though not to such a degree that any one can mistake the references to the Protagoras here pointed out. Much also here occurs to illustrate and exalt the dialogistic method, and we may remember to what a degree this was a main point in the Protagoras. Among other matter to that effect, is a very clear explanation, brought forward, probably, to justify Plato against misconceptions of the Lysis and Protagoras, and tending to show that the purpose of such a dialogue could never be only to expose to another his own