Platonic Philosophy or the philosophy of Plato. The term is loosely and ambiguously applied. It is sometimes used to signify the collection of fragmentary views scattered through the writings of Plato: sometimes it is employed to denote the systematic coordination and development of those views by the later academicians; and, most frequently, it is extended to embrace the whole chain of opinion which may be deduced from, or which claims filiation with, the teachings of Plato. These diverse applications of the name are rarely discriminated in ordinary use, and its specific import is left vague and undetermined. This indistinctness cannot be wholly avoided, for it rises out of the disconnected utterances and unsystematic presentations of Plato himself, together with the concurrence of his successors in the arrangement and exposition of his doctrines. In attempting an outline of the Platonic philosophy, the effort will be made to adhere as closely as practicable to the authentic texts in the writings accredited to Plato, and to borrow as little as may be from the later luminaries of the school.
Numerous devices have been employed for the exhibition of the Platonic doctrine, and none of them are entirely satisfactory. It is necessary for a synoptical exposition that some thread should be discovered or invented for the support and connection of its several members, and that some definite commencement should be assumed to which the thread may be attached. The fixed point of departure has been variously chosen; and the tenets of Plato have been strung variously, and with various degrees of skill, on the thread adopted. The Germans, with ῆeir inner light and their divaricating assumptions, have been peculiarly ingenious, and often peculiarly unhappy, in the performance of their task. They abound in luminous views and in acute suggestions, but they generate such an intricate labyrinth of cross-lights that they dazzle, bewilder, and blind as much as they illuminate. They impose their own arbitrary opinions on Plato, as regards both the import and the coherence of his doctrines. They assert design where no design can be safely asserted. They imagine dependence where all is disconnected; and pretend system where system never existed. Other inquirers, feeling the difficulty and the hazard of the task, have been content, like the translators and many of the editors of Plato, to give an abstract or analysis of the several pieces, with an appreciation of their contents. This leaves the doctrines in their original segregation, and affords little aid in bringing them into one harmonious picture. This process has been, in the main, followed by Grote, whose extensive work appears rather as a collection of preparatory studies, pursued with great diligence and redundant learning, than as a clear and full delineation of Plato and other Companions of Socrates. The danger is equally great of presenting the views of Plato without obvious links of connection, and of organizing them into a compact scheme, which could not have been contemplated by Plato. In avoiding Scylla on the one hand, and Charybdis on the other, we are thrown back upon-the original record, with such assistance as may be derived from illustrative works, and especially from the historians of ancient philosophy. Among these expositors, the one who may still render the best service is Brucker. He is in many respects antiquated; he has morbid antipathies and scornful condescensions; he is very mechanical, and even wooden in his arrangements; but he is honest earnest, discreet, and free from preoccupations. The very methodism of his procedure is serviceable, when we seek a summary but connected view of the doctrines which Plato taught, or was supposed in ancient times to have taught.
The leading object of Plato's life and philosophical activity was to teach the Greeks the correct use of reason, and to induce them to apply it, with a constant observance of the requisite conditions, to the practical concerns of private and public life. The human mind, alike from its constitution and from the defects of its instrument of communication, is ever exposed to the hazard of plausible delusions, and to the peril of accepting fallacies for irrefragable truth. These pernicious consequences were the daily diet of the Athenian people. Hence arose errors in morals, disregard of virtue, indifference to wrong-doing, unreflecting license of individual passion or caprice, disintegration of society, corruption, and anarchy. How were welfare, virtue, and happiness to be attained in this mass of disorder? What were justice, right, truth? How were they to be detected, appreciated, and appropriated? On truth everything else reposed; but other Greeks besides the Cretans were habitual liars (Gacecia mendux). What is truth? The interrogation of Pilate was the fundamental question propounded by Plato to himself and to his age; and, in propounding it, he trod in the steps of Socrates. There is a truth of' knowing and a truth of being, and they must agree with each other. How are they to be reached and reconciled? If the instruments of knowledge are broken, warped, or otherwise disordered, there can be no true knowledge, and no valid apprehension of the character and relation of the facts with which we have to deal. The purpose of Plato was, in some respects, similar to the purpose of Bacon. Bacon proposed to rectify the processes of reasoning in the investigation of nature, for the attainment of scientific knowledge, and for the practical benefits thence to be derived. Plato sought to do the same thing in a more general manner, for the intellectual and moral improvement of men, of societies, and of states. Coleridge has enlarged upon the correspondences of Plato and Bacon, and has exaggerated them. It was a fine and just instinct which suggested the parallelism. With Plato, as with Bacon, the first step was the exposure and expulsion of confident ignorance and presumptuous error; the refutation of the vast brood of sophisms which swarmed around every principle of speculation and conduct; the determination of the character, extent, and validity of human knowledge, and the requirements for the legitimate use of reasoning, and for the avoidance of its abuse. Only after this had been done would it be possible to arrive at trustworthy knowledge or safe opinion in regard to the universe of which we are members, and in regard to the relations in which we stand to it and to its parts. The truth of being, as a subject of knowledge, thus demanded and presupposed the truth of knowledge, not in its rounded fullness, but in its formulary of procedure. In the ultimate and unattainable result, the truth of knowledge would accord and be superficially coextensive with the truth of being, as the reflection in a perfect mirror corresponds with the object reflected. Not until such a recognition of the truth of being was gained as the competency of the weak, fallible, finite mind of man might permit, could the conduct of men find safe and authoritative regulation, and the truth of action, or right in all moral contingencies, be discovered. To reason accurately in order to know the essential character of the facts on which action should depend, and by which it must be controlled, and to use right reason and correct knowledge of facts for the determination of right action, may be said to be an abstract statement of the Platonic scheme, which thus embraces the whole duty of man. The intricate casuistry of Plato, and the breathless flights of his daring and playful fancy, withdraw attention from his solemn, earnest, direct, everyday aim. The determination and discipline of the reason, the appreciation of the universe, sensible and intelligible, and the application of these acquisitions to the permanent needs of individual, social, and political existence, constitute the sum of Plato's teachings; but how wonderfully are they diversified and adorned and enriched by his endless variety and poetic imagination!
In strict accordance with this interpretation of Plato's latent meaning, his philosophy is distributed under three heads: I. Dialectical Philosophy; II. Theoretical, Contemplative, or Physical; III. Practical (Cicero, Acald. Quest. 1, 5, § 19). The second and third divisions are subdivided. This distribution is not distinctly proposed in Plato's works, but it is implied in them. It is accredited by Sextus Empiricus to Xenocrates, Plato's second successor in the Academy. The terms employed are earlier than Plato, as are the inquiries also. It must not be forgotten that though Plato was in the main Socratic, he was also a votary of other doctrines-Eclectic, if not Syncretistic, and, in his later writings, largely Pythagorean.
I. Diallecticul Philosophy. — The term "Dialectics" includes in Plato much more than it does in Aristotle (Sophist. p. 253; De Rep. 7, 532-535;
Aristotle, Topic. 1, I. Sophist. Elench. 32; Metaph. 2, 1; 3. 2, Rhet. 1, 2). It is not confined to the art of probable argumentation, but comprehends the whole theory of know-ledge, the characteristics of correct and incorrect reasoning, the conduct of the understanding, and so much of psychology as is concerned with the operations of the mind in the acquisition, estimation, and communication of knowledge. This wide range may be illustrated by lord Bacon's inclusion under Logic of the Artes Inveniendi, Judicandi, Retinendi, et Tradendi (De Augm. Sci. 5, 6).
There is a fundamental enigma which demands solution at the commencement of all inquiry, and which has been designated the problem of certitude. How can we know that we know what we think we know? How does knowledge arise? how is its credibility or validity ascertained? What degree of credibility belongs to it? These questions were never dogmatically answered by Plato, unless it were the last. A positive answer would have been a repudiation of the Socratic profession of ignorance and uncertainty (Aristot. Soph. French. 33). But he labored assiduously in all his treatises to exemplify the conditions of true knowledge, and he contributed efficiently to their determination. Knowledge, in ordinary, according to Plato, is acquired through the senses, but it is not determined by sense: it is determined by the knowing mind. This is an approximation at once to Kant's forms of the understanding, and to Leibnitz's acute reply to the maxim, "Nihil in intellectu quod non prius in sensu," by the addition of "nisi intellectus ipse." The mind is its own place. It is lord of itself, and of all the world beside. Sense is an affection of the mind through the intervention of the corporeal sensibilities. Permanent impressions made by the senses are retained by the faculty of memory. The collation of remembrances with sensible experiences constitutes opinion—true opinion when they agree, false opinion when they are discordant (Phileb. p. 34; Thecetet. p. 186). The knowledge of things in time is uncertain, and amounts only to opinion. The human mind may be conceived to be a tablet of wax, ready to receive and to retain any impression. This is, however, merely an illustration (λόγου ἕνεκα). Thought is the communing of the mind with itself. Speech is the sensible utterance of thought. Words are not knowledge, but only the means and vehicle of knowledge (Thecetet. p. 191, 202).
Intelligence, or real knowledge, is the action of the mind in the contemplation of the prime Intelligibles, or incorporeal types of being. It is twofold; the first is the perception of the soul, which beheld its appropriate
intelligibles, before descending into the body; the second. or natural knowledge, is that which the mind receives while enveloped in its carnal integument. The latter, or mundane knowledge, is the restored but broken recollection of what had been known in a pre-existent state, and must be distinguished from the acquisitions of memory, being concerned with things intelligible, as the other is with things sensible (Timaeus, p. 30; Phaedon, p. 74-76; comp. Wordsworth, Ode on Initiations of Immortality, etc.). This doctrine of reminiscence is a peculiarly Platonic fancy, and fascinated the later Platolists to such an extent that Synesius declined a bishopric in the Christian Church rather than renounce the dream. It is implicated, as cause or consequence, with the doctrine of the Platonic ideal, as both are with the dialectic process by which Socrates and Plato strove to dissipate error and to evolve truth from the minds of their hearers. The midwifery of the mind which Socrates professed, and which Plato represented him as professing, necessitated the assumption that truth was present potentially in the mind, and that it only required to be drawn from its latent state by adroit handling. It could not be latent, nor could it be brought forth unless it lay there like a chrysalis, and descended from an anterior condition of being. It was in a super terrestrial and antemundane existence that souls had acquired
"Etherium sensum, alque aura simplicis iglem;"
but before their demission, or return to earth, they had been steeped in oblivion,
"Scilicet immemores supera ut convexa revisant."
The acquisition of genuine knowledge was thus the restoration of the obliterated memories of supernal realities. Absurd and extravagant as this tenet appears in its Platonic form, it was a dreamy and ineffectual effort to give definite expression to the mysterious process of thought. The doctrine was modified and transformed by St. Augustine so as to deprive it of its wildness and irrationality. He conceived the human mind to be constituted in perfect harmony with the universe. The acquisition of knowledge was the evolution of this harmony, and it was accompanied with instinctive consciousness of the pre-adaptation. Many of the strangest reveries of Plato may be similarly reduced to prosaic probability.
The supernal realities which are the objects of the pure and of the purified intelligence are the first Intelligibles, presented to the contemplation of unembodied or disembodied spirits. These prime intelligibles are Ideas— eternal images, immaterial archetypes (sine corpore formas) — patterns or conceptions forever present to the Divine Mind, furnishing the models, and, indeed, the essence, of all the temporal creation. The term ideas was older than Plato; but its application to heavenly types, its metaphysical employment, and its substitution for the Pythagorean Numbers, were almost certainly Platonic inventions (Parmenid. p. 135; De Rep. 6, 509). It has justly been remarked by Ueberweg, as it had often been remarked before Ueberweg, that "the Platonic philosophy centers in the theory of ideas." In the Dialectics, Physics, Ethics, the rays all converge towards this point. But the ideas of Plato are not merely his central doctrine; they are usually conceived to be his distinctive doctrine. As such, they were assailed and refuted by Aristotle (Metmaph. 1, 6, 9), who, nevertheless, substituted a more rationalistic equivalent for them in Forms. As such, they were received and expanded by the New Platonists. As such, they have given life and name to all associated schemes of philosophy, included under the broad name of Idealism. As such, they furnished the battleground for the long, impassioned, and bitter controversy of the Realists and Nominalists. SEE KEALISAI and SEE NOMINALISM.
According to Plato following the Eleatic school and Heraclitus, all sensible or concrete existence is perishable, fleeting, and imperfect; but this imperfection involves the existence of the perfect, the changeless, and the immortal (Aristot. Metaph. 1, 6; Alex. Aphrod. Asclep. et Anon. Urbin. Schol. ad loc.). If some things are good, there must be an absolute goodness, in which all things good participate, and which they feebly reflect. If things. are beautiful, they are so by the incorporation of the beautiful. If actions are just, beneficent, or holy, there must be an eternal justice, beneficence, and holiness, whence they derive their character (Phoedrus, p. 246-256; Hipp. Moj. p. 294, 295; Conviv. p. 210-212; Phaedo, p. 100-102). The passing things of sense acquire their essential character from the indwelling of these immutable existences, however these may be warped and deformed by being reduced to temporal conditions. As it is with abstract qualities, so it is with individual things. A dog, a horse, a man, are what they are (τὸ τί ἐστι) from the possession of the essential nature of those animals-caninity, equinity, humanity. Each differs from other members of its class, or is individualized, by union with matter, and consequent deflection from the perfect conception of the breed. Each, therefore, is an inadequate and, consequently, untrue representation of the true and perfect being of its kind, and approaches such perfection just in proportion as it approximates to the true, perfect, and eternal image. These intelligible and uncreated perfections are the ideas, present from the beginning, or before all beginning, in the contemplation of the Divinity, after which all things are made that were made. They are not merely the models of created things, but their essence. In the progress towards truth, all phenomenal being, all concrete existence, all temporal presentation, all earthly images, all sensible apprehensions, must be left behind, and, by an ascending process, the purified intelligence must pierce the veil and phantasmal appearances of time, and look upon the absolute, everlasting, unchanging, and divine ideas of things. These alone are true and real: all that is actual, sensible, or derived from sense is phenomenal, evanescent, and delusive. The doctrine of ideas will reappear, for, as Bricker notes, neither the metaphysics and theology of Plato, nor his physical and ethical philosophy, can preserve any consistency without them. Ideas form the first order of intelligibles, and are apprehended by the pure reason with the aid of the scientific understanding (νοήσει μετὰ λόγου περιληπτὸν). The second order consists of species which are united with matter and cannot be separated from it-the inseparable species of the schoolmen. These are detected by the understanding with the concurrence of tie intuitive faculty. Things sensible are, in like manner, primary and secondary, and are apprehended only conjecturally through irrational perception (δόξῃ μετ᾿ αἰσθήσεως ἄλογου δοξαστόν). Intelligibles belong to the intelligible and eternal universe (τὸ νοητόν, τὸ ὄντως ὄν). Sensibles are the shadows of the intelligible, and appertain to the visible, phenomenal, and shifting world (τὸ ὁρατόν, τὸ αἰσθητόν, τὸ ὄντως οὐδέποτε ὄν, τὸ γιγνόμενον). Kinowledge attaches only to the former: from the latter nothing better than opinion can spring (Timaeus, p. 28; De Rep. 6, 20, p. 509).
In contemplation, the mind regards truth and falsehood: in matters concerned with action, it judges of right and wrong. The moral or practical judgment proceeds from an ingenital sense of beauty and goodness, and decides, in particular instances, by comparison with the indwelling types of excellence. Truth, beauty, and goodness are thus nearly identified, and are exhibited as different aspects of the same perfect ideas. Beauty is conformity to the idea, and the idea is perfectly good and true.
In dialectical procedure, the first thing to be determined is the essential nature of the object under consideration. The essence is established by definition, division, and resolution. The accidents are separated by induction and ratiocination, or deduction from first principles. In detecting the essence we reduce the many to the one; in inferring consequences, we trace the one in the many. The Platonic scheme is presented in the Republic (7). It is noticeable that hypotheses are admitted by Plato among the processes for discovering truth. The abstract theory thus sanctions the large use of imagination which presides over its whole development. It may be advantageous to compare the dialectics of Plato with the severe logic of Aristotle, and with the elaborate devices proposed in the second book of Bacon's Organon. Words are no criteria of the character of things. They are loosely imposed, in consonance with popular impressions, and do not agree with realities. Yet words and language are of grave importance, and require to be used with propriety and precision, to avoid indistinctness and ambiguity, and consequent delusion or deception. The art of effectual speech springs from a just knowledge of the intellectual powers and emotions, of the dispositions of men, and of the different forms of expression. The perfect orator is one who has these endowments, knows the arts of persuasion, and can apply them to his purposes (Phaedrus, p. 259). The value which Plato attached to the graces of composition is attested by the skill and beauty of his own compositions. He has also strongly declared it (ibid. p. 258). Hence when we find him ridiculing and denouncing rhetoric in the Gorgias, and comparing it to unwholesome cookery, we must accept the explanation of Quintilian that the Gorgias was eristic, and designed only for the refutation of the Sophists and sophistical teachers of rhetoric (Inst. Or. 2, 15). The dialectics of Plato thus embraced everything connected with the discovery, determination, and communication of truth, in its subjective aspect. But it will be remembered there was, in addition to the truth of' knowing, the truth of being also; and this forms the second part of the Platonic philosophy.
II. Theoretical, Contemplative, or Physical Philosophy. — This grand division of Platonic speculation is distributed into three branches: Theology, Physics Proper, and Mathematics, which is a sort of appendix to the other two. It will be observed that the term Physics is employed in a very wide and unrestricted sense, to include not merely nature, but everything extrinsic to the intellectual operations and the ethical conduct of man. It is contradistinguished from dialectics by embracing the real constitution of things, while the latter is confined to their mental apprehension and exposition. It is contrasted with ethics, as it is concerned with essential being, while the latter deals only with human action. The division is made in the Phaedo (41, p. 103; comp. De Rep. 2, 19, p. 381). It is further to be observed that the Platonic doctrines are rarely conveyed in explicit propositions, but must be gathered from fragmentary statements, from incidental expressions, front poetic fancies, and from the general tenor of discussion. In the Phaedo, Plato explains the utter abnegation of physical inquiries by Socrates. In the opening of the Timaeus, he announces the impossibility of giving anything more than a plausible account (εἰκότες λόγοι) of things becoming, and not permanent (rid. Ariston. ap. Stob. 80, § 7). Recognizing, then, the difficulties and the uncertainties due to the character of the procedure and the presumed complexion of the subject, we continue to note the peculiarities of the Platonic philosophy.
1. Theology. — "In the beginning the world was without form." The universal chaos was reduced to order by the Supreme and Intelligent Cause, who framed the creation in accordance with the perfect and eternal patterns ever present to the divine mind. It is the best of all generated existences, the best of all possible worlds, because it was fashioned by the Highest Goodness and Wisdom working after the absolutely perfect models, or ideas (Timaeus, p. 28). It was not made, however, out of nothing, but out of eternally existing matter. Being formed out of matter, it is not free from grave blemishes and defects, which are due to the inherent stubbornness and ineradicable perversity of matter. God and formless matter are thus the two concurring but antagonistic causes of the universe. By matter is understood something very different from the palpable substance or body which is habitually contemplated under that name- something totally different also from anything that we can conceive. It is that remnant or substratum of body which subsists after every cognizable property of body has been removed (Timaeus, p. 51; comp. Porph. Sentent. 20; Plotin. Ennead. 2, 4; Berkeley, Siris, § 317). By ascribing to God the creation of the Cosmos out of unformed matter, Plato avoids the heresy of pantheism. Still he indulges in fantasies which readily lead to it. From the nature of matter as co-eternal with the Divine Intelligence, and from its reluctation in yielding to the creative energy, originate the necessary existence and the inevitable presence of evil in all created things (Theaetet. p. 176). The antagonism of matter suggested the presence of subtle aptitudes and occult qualities. We are thus brought within the range of hypotheses similar to those which underlie the recent theories of Darwin, Spencer, and Huxley.
Matter was the relatively passive ingredient in the process of creation. The active power was the Supreme Intelligence, or Highest Good, whom it is almost impossible to apprehend, and impossible to declare (Timaeus, p. 29). He is the efficient cause of all things the fountain of all pure, spiritual, perfect, and self-supporting existences; the founder and ultimate fabricator of everything. He is incorporeal reason, self-existent, eternally the same, without beginning, without end, having no affinity with things of sense, and apprehensible only by the pure intellect. He is all wise, all-seeing, all- foreseeing, all-mighty, except so far as restricted by the intractability of matter. He has absolute freedom of will, is supremely good, and, being good, is void of envy and malevolence. Hence everything made by him is good, so far as the repugnance of matter will permit. He framed the world in all possible excellence after the eternal image in his own mind. This uncreated and unbeginning idea of the universe (λόγος or λογισμὸς τοῦ θεοῦ) has been regarded as a third coeternal principle. This exemplar included the patterns or ideas of all created things; everything in the sensible universe being fashioned according to its corresponding type in the intelligible universe, or world of ideas. The doctrine seems to have been deduced from Pythagoras, but was applied by Plato in his own manner; and never more beautifully nor more characteristically than in his celebrated fancy of a cave where all that men saw or heard consisted of shadows and echoes (De Rep. 7 p. 514-519). The imperfect things of earth were thus the obscure, fleeting images of the perfect forms of the divine contemplation. It is uncertain whether Plato attributed to these ideas a substantive existence of their own, separate from and independent of the divine mind, or supposed them to be simply the immanent, changeless thoughts of the Godhead. Yet, though God is distinctly and habitually acknowledged as the father and creator of all things, all things were not directly framed and regulated by the Supreme Divinity. For the government of the sensible universe he created a subordinate deity, and placed it in the material creation (Timaeus, p. 34). This guiding spirit, or Demiurgus, was a mixture of the ideal and of the material, of the one and of the many, that, being intermediate, it might communicate with both. This was the Animan Mundi, which assumed such prominence in the theological and physical speculations of the Stoics. It maintained the regular operations of the laws of temporal change, and by its plastic energy molded into appropriate forms all the multitudinous manifestations of transitory being (τὸ γιγνόμενον) (Cratylus, p. 53).
The soul of the universe was not the sole created divinity. Divine spirits were apportioned to the earth, sun, moon, and stars, to govern their developments and to preside over their motions (De Legg. p. 899). Hosts of still inferior deities were assigned to other appropriate functions. Thus, with a fine and half-suppressed irony, provision was made for the national gods, and for the 30,000 unnamed divinities attested by Hesiod. To these deities, each in his due place in the vast hierarchy, was ascribed the duty of forming men, animals of lower order, plants, etc., and of watching over them. In the subordinate ranks of the celestial army were a countless multitude of sprites, who were cousin-German to the sylphs, gnomes, fairies, and other tribes of "little people," and to whom immortality was denied.
2. Physics Proper . — The second branch of contemplative philosophy is occupied with the consideration of the order of nature as the product of the acts of creation. Nothing exists or arises without cause. Hence proceeded the Aristotelian maxim vere scire est scire per causas; for the cause affords the ratio essendi, or explanation of the existence of the object investigated. As the universe, or orderly Cosmos, had a producing cause, it was created in time. It was generated or brought into being, and was therefore subject to sensible perception. It was consequently corporeal, visible, and tangible. It could not be visible except through the presence of fire, nor tangible without the presence of earth. An intermediate bond is needed to link two things together, and the fairest of bonds is a mean proportion. Thus, as fire is to air, so is air to water; and as air is to water, so is water to earth. Here are the four elements, corresponding to the mystical tetrad of the Pythagoreans. They were held together in their several combinations by the attraction of love. The whole theory is largely Pythagorean, and blends itself with the Pythagorean imaginations about the secret virtues of numbers. The universe is an animated whole, composed of perfect parts, and exempt from the infirmities of age and of disease (Timaeus, p. 35). A spherical figure and orbicular motion are given to it and its chief components because a circle is the most perfect of figures, is least liable to injury and obstruction, returns upon itself, and thus promises the greatest duration to the vast living organism in which all things temporal are contained. As the universe had a spherical form and a circular motion conferred upon it, each of the elements had its own appropriate figure. Earth was cubical, fire pyramidal, air octahedral, and water eicosihedral, or twenty-sided. These were combined in apt proportions, and all things were ordered "by measure, by number, and by weight." The details of the cosmogony must be omitted. It may be added that the earth and the seven moving lights of heaven were arranged in concentric spheres, at harmonic intervals, around a mighty spindle resting on the knees of Necessity; and that their revolutions propagated along the great axis "the music of the spheres" to the earth, which was the fixed and middle orb (De Rep. 10 p. 617). The earth was occupied by animals and other things created by the subordinate demiurgic, to whom was also entrusted the creation of man. But man, as the noblest of animals, was not left wholly to their handiwork. Immortal souls, numerous as the stars, were supplied by the Supreme Intelligence, to be provided with terrestrial bodies. These souls were neither emanations nor spirations, but true creations. They were to guide and govern the material vessels in which they should be confined, as the superior spirits guided and governed the worlds which they controlled. The matter with which they were united exposed them to contamination, to failure, and to sin. From the struggle '"within the union" results moral evil, or disobedience to the laws of ideal perfection, which are in conformity with the purposes of God. In their earthly condition, human souls were subjected to the general laws of the universe, but were endowed with an undefined freedom of will through their heavenly constitution. Happiness resulted from obedience to the impulses of the better nature, and to the order and economy of the intelligible world.
It would take too much space, and prove too tedious, to enter into the physiology propounded by Plato; and nothing could be gained from the presentation of his views but the exhibition of Platonic fantasy. We pass to the third part, or appendix, which was intended to serve at once as a discipline and as an instrument.
3. Mathematics. — The importance attached by Plato to mathematical science is familiar to every student, and is illustrated by the inscription supposed to have been placed over the entrance to the Academy:
The commendations bestowed by him on this branch of learning (De Rep. 7 p. 522) may be compared with the similar eulogies of Roger Bacon (Opus Mtljas, pt. 4) in an age of somewhat analogous speculative development, and of Francis Bacon (De Aug. Sci. 3, 6; Essays, 1). They may also be contrasted with the views presented in the diatribe of Sir William Hamilton.
Under the head of mathematics were included, in accordance with the Pythagorean practice, and with the general conception of antiquity, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music.
III. Practical Philosophy. — Plato's practical philosophy was in many respects consentaneous with his physics or theory of nature. It would not be correct to say that it was founded upon it, for this would be inconsistent with the position that there was no orderly, consecutive, or concatenated development of the Platonic doctrine in the mind of its author. There is close correspondence in parts between Plato's physical and practical philosophy, but in others much separation and independence. The agreement must therefore be ascribed to the consonance of the developments of the same mind in different directions, rather than to intentional coherence between successive applications of doctrine. The practical philosophy of Plato falls under two heads, Ethics and Politics.
1. Ethics. — Moral questions occupy the largest part of the Platonic writings; but they are treated in the Socratic manner, by question and answer, and are thus proposed in diffuse and disconnected fragments. Plato's aims, his leading tenets, and his modes of explication are derived from Socrates; but his discussions, so far as may be conjectured, are conducted in a much broader spirit and loftier strain. He includes also within the domain of ethics much that would now be referred to theology.
As in the physics everything is traced back to the First Intelligence, the Divine Creator, so in the ethics everything is referred ultimately to the perfect and beneficent character of God. The good is the summit of all conceivable things. God is absolute goodness. The supreme good of man (summum bontum) is the knowledge and imitation of God, and approximation thereby to the divine nature. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father is perfect." Everything is good and beautiful so far as it proceeds from God, retains the impress of its divine original, and possesses the characteristics of the pure archetypal ideas of moral perfection. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, in whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." Ordinary blessings or advantages in popular estimation, such as health, strength, high birth, riches, renown, honors, are good only in conjunction with virtue; otherwise they are evil (Protag. p. 351-353). The honorable (the right) alone is good (Alcibiad. 1, 116). This is continually and strenuously asserted in opposition to the general practice and current sentiment among the contemporaneous Greeks. Virtue is lovely in itself, and to be loved irrespective of its rewards. Being of heavenly origin, the best reproduction of the divine ideas, and approximating to the divine nature, it is itself divine. Being divine, it is not an art that can be taught, but must be divinely communicated (Euthydem. p. 282). Goodness can be acquired only by the influx and in working of the Good.
The object of all knowledge, and it should be the object of all effort, is assimilation to the highest good that is, to God. This assimilation consists in the habit and practice of wisdom, fortitude, temperance, justice, and holiness (Thecetet. p. 176; De Legg. 4 716). The first stage of this approximation is εὐδαιμονία, usually translated happiness, but which implies good dispositions, and a conscience tranquil, innocent, and void of offence towards God and towards man (Gorg. p. 470; Symnos. p. 188). The Critias breaks off unfinished just at the opening of a full discussion of the conditions of a happy life. The word is also used for the future beatitude which it anticipates. The requirements for such bliss correspond, as nearly as a pagan dream can agree with revelation, to the Scripture rule "to love justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God." As has been observed, the body was regarded as a prison, because composed of malignant matter. Hence humanity was miserable by congenital constitution. The progress towards virtue and holiness was to be achieved by the subjugation of' material antagonisms, by the renunciation of worldly aims and temptations, and by the purgation of mind and heart from sensual appetites and corporeal satisfactions (De Rep. 7 p. 515). There is here a pronounced tendency in the direction of Oriental asceticism. There is much also that inclines towards the pessimism of Schopenhauer, but it is wrought out to a very different issue. These tendencies readily explain the growth of the Neo-Platonic reveries which may always be detected in the egg in the writings of Plato himself. How far such results may be due to the difficulty of framing abstract conceptions at the commencement of ethical inquiry, and to the attendant difficulty of clothing such conceptions in precise terms before a philosophical language had been invented, it would be hazardous to say. Plato may have simply designed, in a blind, heathen, tentative way, to prescribe "the purification of the flesh," and "the overcoming of the world," and "the righteousness which is of God." The morality of Plato was much higher in aim and sentiment than it was possible to be in its expression, yet in many single precepts it uses nearly the language of revealed truth. It habitually insists upon the charms of virtue and "the beauty of holiness;" and in the delineation of the several virtues, which he represents as indissolubly connected (Charmides, p. 161), and at times as united in one, he maintains an uncompromising elevation of view. His illustrations, indeed, are often tainted with the prevalent vices of his age and country. Thus, in treating of the passions, he is led by his rich and mythical fancy into hypothetical explanations, which have been very easily abused, and which are repulsive in their original proposition. We refer to his comments on friendship and love. Friendship, or attraction, is ascribed even to the particles of matter; and the like proclivities are bestowed upon primordial souls. Like is attracted to like, and hence arises friendship. Souls of similar nature are drawn towards each other by the instinct of resemblance resulting from preadaptation. The attraction proceeding from conformity in their pure state exercises its due influence only between spirits retaining in some measure their primordial purity. Hence true friendship can exist only between the good (Lysis. p. 214).
Love is a species of friendship, or friendship in its highest intensity. It is of three orders: sensual, animal, or bestial; honorable, having regard to psychical virtues; and mixed, which unites the characteristics of both (Sympos. p. 201). Love, in its two forms of heavenly and earthly, "half beast, half deity," appears in Plato in many ambiguous and Protean shapes, rising from the coarsest pagan sensualism to the purest aspirations for the beautiful and the good. But the dialogue in which its nature is chiefly discussed is so tantalizing, shifting, and bewildering-it is woven with threads of such changing and returning hues-that it furnishes treacherous foundation for any dogmatic conclusions.
2. Political Philosophy. — The two most extensive and elaborate of Plato's treatises are devoted to political questions. Of these, the Republic is the most complete and characteristic triumph of his genius. The Laws is in a rough and unfinished state, and has often been excluded from his works. In narrating the life of Plato, his predilections for political life, his early and unsuccessful intervention in Athenian affairs, his political expeditions to Sicily, and his consultation in matters of state by princes and states, were duly commemorated. The contemplative habits of his mind, his eager fancy, his tone, his temperament, his associations, his hereditary tastes, his party proclivities, all unfitted him for success in actual politics;
and from every effort to engage in them he retired discomfited and disappointed. The more congenial domain of speculation was still open to him. He might organize a state, regulate its citizens, and determine their duties, in the vast realm of fancy, with none to make him afraid of either failure or obstruction. lie might look forward to the ultimate adoption of his projects or his principles in some happier time, when philosophers had become rulers, or when rulers had become philosophers, and when later generations, instructed by his lessons, might give reality to his dreams (De Leg. 5. 739). In strange modes, and in unrecognized forms, his visions have been partially accomplished.
The Republic and the Laws differ greatly in tone and dogma, as well as in execution, but they are intimately connected. They are diverse and consecutive presentations of the same general design. The Republic is the ideal state, the Laws the concrete state. The Republic is the dream of a Utopian constitution, the Laws the proposition of a frame of government adapted to the weaknesses and recalcitration of an Hellenic people. Everything in the one is suited to an impossible condition of things; everything in the other is reduced to the proportions and capacities of actual human society. In the one the state is conformed to the abstract idea of justice, as it was conceived by Plato; in the other, justice is put into action, weighted down with human prejudices and passions, and conformed to the nature of the Greeks. These distinctions must be regarded in order to prevent exaggeration of Plato's offences against morality and good-sense. We sympathize with the strong censure of the Republic expressed by Mitchell in his Aristophanes, but we see that what is most repugnant may be only an ingenious imagination to symbolize pure abstract doctrine. It is not surprising that much perplexity should exist in regard to the Republic. Its double title produces confusion. Its inscription, or superscription, is, Of Politics, or concerning the Just. The second epigraph may have been formally the addition of Thrasyllus, but it is sanctioned by the text itself (De Rep. 2. p. 368; comp. 4:p. 434). Many critics of great name, and especially the ancients, have held it to be a theoretical constitution of the state. Others, of not inferior reputation, among the moderns, have considered it as simply an investigation into the nature of justice, illustrated by the state, because the state exhibits the characteristics of justice in a completer form and on a larger scale than the individual could do. Stallbaum, in his Prolegomena, arrays the arguments adduced in favor of either opinion, and concludes that Plato's design was to portray the image of a perfect and happy life, by prescribing the offices of man in his public and private relations (p. 18, 19).
We are not disposed to deny this conclusion, which substantially reconciles the previous contradictions; but we think there is something more than this. The ideal, the absolute, the perfect, was always present to the mind of Plato: the whole tenor of his philosophy precluded him from resting in the actual. But his personal and philosophical career urged him also to regard with most earnestness the amelioration of the moral and political condition of his countrymen, and the improvement of their political through the rectification of their moral state. To a Greek the state was everything, the individual being merely a fragment or constituent atom of the state. The life of the citizen was absorbed in the state; the life of the state was reflected in the life of the citizen-was, indeed, imposed on him. According to Greek ideas, the just man could not develop his virtues except in a just state; and the just state could not subsist except through just citizens-just either by native constitution or by compulsion, or by both. Education and discipline would be demanded to produce just rulers and just subjects. The investigation of the nature of justice would accordingly require the determination of the form and conditions of a justly organized community (Jowett, Plato, 4, 5); the delineation of the just state would be blended with that of the just man—and the conclusions resulting from the whole inquiry would furnish an earthly image of the Greek City of God (γῆς γε οὐδαμοῦ οιμαι αὐτὴν ειναι, De Rep. 9:p. 592). Indistinct and fragmentary as is Plato's doctrine, it would have been left much more formless and unsatisfactory without the fancies and dreams and political precepts contained in the Statesman, Republic, and Laws. They furnish the unjointed outlines of the complete design for whose construction all the rest was intended.
According to Plato's notion, justice or righteousness is the object and essence of healthy political organization, and he consequently inquires in the Republic into its nature, and the best mode of its realization in the state. Of course he cannot free himself from Hellenic preoccupations. Of course his reactionary tendencies and his oligarchical proclivities produced a constant recoil from the democratic license of his Athenian contemporaries towards the spirit of antique usage and the imitation of Spartan institutions. Even in his wildest vagaries there appears a disposition to employ supposed traditionary practices. He insists upon the strict subordination of ranks; he even petrifies his classes of citizens into castes. He does not rigorously conjoin every one to his class, but accords advancement to those of eminent ability— la currtiere olverte aux talens. He restricts the government to the few (καλοκαγαθοί); the masses he converts almost into serfs— "hewers of wood and drawers of water," etc. There are two great classes of freemen, the guardians of the state and the craftsmen (De Rep. 3, p. 414, 415). The guardians are themselves divided into two orders, the rulers and the auxiliaries. The rulers are selected, by successive examinations till their thirtieth year, from the body of guardians who are diligently trained and educated from their birth. The training and the selection have some agreement with the Chinese practices, with English competitive examinations, and still more with the regulation of the Ottoman Janizaries. There is also a considerable degree of correspondence between the Platonic organization and Comte's constitution of the Positive Society.
The body of the guardians or auxiliaries is employed as the military force to repress internal disorders and to repel external danger. The rulers are the supervisors of the community, and are to govern it with a view to the greatest happiness of all (De Rep. 4 p. 240). The auxiliaries are to live and to conduct themselves so as to cherish and protect the whole commonwealth. "None of them should have any property beyond what is absolutely necessary; neither should they have a private house, with bars and bolts, closed against any one who has a mind to enter; their provisions should be only such as are required by trained warriors, who are men of temperance and courage; their agreement is to receive from the citizens a fixed rate of pay, enough to meet the expenses of the year and no more, and they will have common meals and live together, like soldiers in a camp.... They alone of all the citizens may not touch or handle silver or gold, or be under the same roof with them, or wear them, or drink from them. And this will be their salvation and the salvation of the state" (Rep. Jowett's translation, 2, 242). There is here the union of Spartan institutions and Pythagorean organization with the theoretical devices of Plato. There is also an anticipation of the standing armies of modern states.
With the details of the education of the superior class, and with the appreciation of different branches of instruction, we cannot occupy ourselves further than to mention that it is in this connection he censures the poets, and excludes Homer and the Tragedians from the ideal state as blasphemers against the gods. We pass over the criticism of the various forms of government, important as this criticism is for political philosophy in general, and for the estimation of Plato's doctrine and its relation to Hellenic systems. We cannot, however, omit all notice of the measures by which he endeavors to maintain the unselfish devotion of the dominant order. He leaves the laboring masses almost entirely out of sight. They are to be protected in their persons, rights, and industry; and they are to be guided in the proper course. Further than this there is little concern for them. They work in their way for the state, as their superiors live and work also for the state, which is everything to the legislator. There was reason in the interruption of Adimantus that "the citizens were made miserable," if the temporal comfort of the citizen, and not the theoretical elevation of that hypothetical unit, the state, is taken into consideration.
To guard against jealousies, rivalries, discords, which might endanger or ruin the public welfare and the political constitution, the equality of the sexes, the community of women and the community of property are prescribed, and this community is still insisted on in the Laws. Plato seems to have held with the Persian impostor, Mezdah, in the reign of Khosru Kobad, that feuds, quarrels, and animosities arise mainly from the possession of wealth and women in several. The delusions of modern socialism and radicalism are anticipated. The shadowy character of Plato's proposed arrangements is some palliation for their entertainment. They are evidently devised as modes of discipline and preparation, or as means for the prevention of disorder. They are acknowledged to be unsuited to men as men now are, and may be taken as the prefiguration of what men might be under other conditions, in a blessed state in which there should be neither gold nor silver, nor marrying nor giving in marriage.
For the close correspondence in aim between the dreams of Plato and the revelations of Scripture, and between the devices of Plato and the projects of modern Communists and Socialists, we have no satisfactory explanation. The cultivated intelligence, the active imagination, the varied experience, the general immorality, and the painful disquietude of the Greeks in the 4th century before Christ may account for much, but it will not interpret all. We leave the enigma as one of the mysterious problems presented by the career of humanity. There is surely no more marvelous approximation to revealed truth than in the exposition of the Supreme Good, and of its child or offspring, which is described (De Rep. 6, p. 506) in terms that recall the delineation of wisdom in the Book of Wisdom.
"Vapor est enimn virtutis Dei, et emanatio quaedam est claritatis Dei sincera; et ideo nihil inquinatumn in earn incurrit.
"Candor est enim Incis meternse, et speculum sine macula Dei majestatis et imago bonitatis illius.
"Est enim hec speciosior sole et super omnem dispositionem stellarum, luci comparata invenitur prior." Do not such sublime anticipations consort well with the conclusion of the Republic, which increases our wonder but at the same time justifies our reverential comparisons!
"And thus, Glaucon, the tale has been saved and has not perished, sand may be our salvation if we are obedient to the word spoken; and we shall pass safely over the water of Forgetfulness, and our soul will not be defiled. Wherefore my counsel is that we hold fast to the heavenly way, land follow after justice and virtue always, considering that the soul is immortal, and able to endure every sort of good and every sort of evil. Thus shall we live dear to one another and to the gods, both while remaining here and when, like conquerors in the games who go round to gather gifts, we receive our reward. And it shall be well with us both in this life and in the pilgrimage of a thousand years which we have been reciting." We have now at some length, yet all too briefly, reviewed the philosophy attributed to Plato and deducible from his writings. We have omitted nearly everything in the way of detail, and have attempted the survey from an elevated vantage-ground, where only the broad lines are apparent, and where the asperities and discords of the landscape disappear. It may now be manifest, we think, how and why Plato has always exercised such fascination on pure natures, and has so largely and so enduringly stimulated the speculation and ennobled the thought of the world.
Literature. — See the observations made and the works specified under the article PLATO. Comp. also Tulloch, Rat. Theol. in England, vols. 1 and 2 (Lond. 1872, 8vo); Lecky, Hist. of Rationetlism, and his European Morals; Nourisson, Pensees Humaines, p. 45 sq.; Stephen, Hist. of Engl. Thought in the 18th Century (Lond. 1876, 2 vols. 8vo); Ackerman, The Christian Element in Plato and the Platonic Philos. (transl. in Clark's Edinburgh Philosophical Library): Stein, Sieben Bücher zur Geschichte d. Platonismus (Leips. 1867); Beapt. Quar. April, 1874, art. 5, "Plato's Relation to Christianity;" also North Brit. Rev. Nov. 1861, art. 3; Presbyt. Rev. April, 1864, art. 1; Brit. mandor. Ev. Rev. Oct. 1862, art. 8:on "Platonism of the Fathers. (G. F. H.)