Sivut kuvina

done partly by particular allusions in the etymological part, which remind us very strongly of the Gorgias, partly by the manner in which the reality of the Beautiful and Good is here also at last connected with that of knowledge.—But besides all this, the Cratylus also advances the scientific object of Plato in the same way as the character of this series carries it along with it. Two things especially are here to be taken into account. First of all, the doctrine of the relation of Types to the Archetypes; where in fact language and its relation to things is only to be considered as an example, but one by which Plato did really intend to throw out a first notice of the doctrine of ideas and their relation to the material world, which is immediately preparatory to the Sophist. Secondly, as in the Euthydemus the kingly art, the object of which can only be absolutely the good, is set up as that which exists for itself in the identity of use and production, while all other arts, the object of which, whether as producing or using, is only partial, are merely its instruments and subordinate agents; so, on the other hand, dialectics are here represented as the art whose object is absolutely the true in the identity of knowledge and external expression, while every thing else connected with it, and conception and language especially, is only its instrument. Now this parallel visibly draws the connection between those apparent opposites closer together; and by being placed a step higher we at once more clearly perceive the philosopher on the summit, uniting in himself the dialectician and the statesman. Nay, in this respect the Cratylus is in a peculiar manner placed in connection with the Gorgias by means of the strange and obscure analogy, and which is certain only intelligible upon the view we have taken of the whole—that analogy which is here set up between law and language, inasmuch as it is repeatedly said that language exists in virtue of a law, so that the law-giver and word-maker are viewed almost as identical. This is introduced by the circumstance, that as, according to the saying of Hermogenes, language is to be regarded only as the work of caprice and convention; though it must be remembered that convention, even though tacit, and law, merged into one another more among the Hellenes than among us; so likewise the sophists and the school of Aristippus explained even moral ideas to be the offspring of caprice, and only introduced from without by the ordinances of the law-giver, and even by means of language itself. Plato, on the contrary, discovers in the moral judgment the same inward necessity that he does in language, though this necessity cannot be outwardly expressed in either, purely and perfectly, except by one profoundly acquainted with the nature of each. And if we pursue this indication, a further application will reveal itself for what is said upon the subject of the capricious element which enters into the works of the legislator. Now as to the etymological part, which is for the most part ironical,—although in this likewise much that is seriously meant may be found dispersed, if not in the etymologies, at all events in the explanations of them,--we should still be best able to judge how merciful and just, or how unmerciful and exaggerated, the satirical imitation is, if the works of Antisthenes that are mentioned, especially those about the use of words,

had been preserved to us, where we should also prow

bably meet with Euthyphro again, and obtain some information about him. For if he is not a person taken out of some satirized dialogue, it is impossible to conceive how he comes here. And, what is most important, we should then be better able to see what other allusions may be here further concealed. For it is certain that what we find in the dialogue is not all directed at the one person who is the object of the satire, but, as we have seen also in the Euthydemus, a large share is intended to be devoted to self-defence. This is here the more evident, as the playful manner in which Plato sometimes used language may have found censurers enough, especially among those who were in the habit of availing themselves of much not very different from this play in proof of their opinions. And in this point of view too we should naturally expect to see this play here pushed to extremities, and to find our dialogue indulging in the very last degree of epideixis as it were in this kind; as strange explanations brought in from elsewhere are outdone in it by still stranger of its own. And this etymological part has been the crual of the translator, and it was matter of long and perplexing deliberation with him how to extricate himself from the difficulty. The introduction generally of the Greek words appeared an intolerable expedient, and it seemed better to let the Socrates who was speaking German once for all derive German from German. On the other hand, it was not possible to do this with the proper names—in these it was necessary to preserve the original tongue; and since both methods now stand in company with one another, the reader will at all events

have occasion to congratulate himself that no one exclusively pervades the whole. But as that which elsewhere occurs only in detached particulars comes out here in a mass, so on the other hand it cannot be denied that the art of dialogic composition goes somewhat back; and when we compare the Cratylus with the Euthydemus, with which it stands most nearly connected in so many respects, we shall find that in the latter the ironical and the serious parts are interwoven far more beautifully with one another. Here, on the contrary, Plato appears almost overcome by the superabundance of philological jest, so harsh and abrupt are the transitions in the latter part of the dialogue; sometimes, after short digressions, he turns back to what has gone before, as if it were something new rather than what had been already said—sometimes he does bring forward matter actually new, but for which no preparation whatever has been made and which is harshly subjoined to what immediately precedes, in a manner that might almost lead us to doubt, if we were to consider such passages as these exclusively, whether it is Platonic. This is particularly noticeable at the point from which the signification of the letters is explained. But the whole will admit no manner of doubt of its genuineness, and the most that can be said is, that Plato after that point returned to his subject with no great inclination to do so, and sketched as slightly as possible what still remained to be said. Of the persons of the dialogue, there is I fear but little to be said: Hermogenes is also known from Xenophon as a not rich brother of the rich Callias; Cratylus is mentioned not only as a pupil of Heraclitus, but also as a teacher of Plato in his youth—a piece of information which does indeed rest upon the authority of the Metaphysics of Aristotle, but has fortunately too little influence upon our dialogue to render it necessary for us to test it more accurately in this place.


IN the Sophist we distinguish at once and at the first glance two perfectly separate masses, one of which, distributed into the two extremities, starts with the idea of art, and endeavours, by continuous division and exclusion, to find the nature and true explanation of a Sophist; while the other, which forces itself into the middle of this, after the introduction of the problem of the possibility of co-existence and community in ideas, speaks of the existent and non-existent. If therefore we regard solely the construction and connection of the whole, we must look for its essential object and chief matter in that external mass, and take the internal only for a well-chosen or indispensable mean for attaining that object. For it is entirely in the natural course of the investigation concerning the Sophist, that a necessity arises of assuming the possibility of a non-existent, and of establishing something as to its admissibility; and as soon as this has been done so far that the original investigation can be continued, this investigation again comes in, and so completely fills up the dialogue that they conclude simultaneously. If, on the other hand, we look to the importance and scientific bearing of the two parts, the external falls entirely into the back

« EdellinenJatka »