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CHAP.

V.

to Plato, Socrates appears as an expert thinker, at home in all branches of knowledge; whereas, in Xenophon he is represented far less as a philosopher than as a man innocent and excellent, full of piety and common sense. Hence Xenophon's account is specially appealed to in support of the conception of Socrates as a popular moral man, holding aloof from all speculative questions, and in fact as far less of a philosopher than a teacher of morality and instructor of youth. It certainly cannot be denied that Socrates was full of the most lively enthusiasm for morality, and made it the business of his life to exercise a moral influence upon others. Had he only discharged this function after the unscientific manner of a popular teacher, by imparting and inculcating the received notions of duty and virtue, the influence would be inexplicable which he exerted, not only over weaklings and hairbrains, but over the most talented and cultivated of his cotemporaries. It would be a mystery what induced Plato to connect the deepest philosophical enquiries with his person, or what led all later philosophers, down to Aristotle, nay even down to the Stoics and Neoplatonists, to

| How common this view 181, that Socrates regarded the was in past times, needs not to speculative philosophy which be proved by authorities which aimed at general knowledge, abound from Cicero down to as useless, vain, and foolish, Wiggers and Reinhold. That and that he took the field not it is not yet altogether ex- only against the Sophists as ploded may be gathered not only pretenders to knowledge, but from writers like Van Heusde, against all philosophy ; in Characterismi, p. 53, but even short, that he was no philoMarbach, a disciple of the sopher.' Hegelian philosophy, asserts in 2 Conf. Apol. 23, D. ; 30, E.; his Gesch. d. Philos. i. 174, 178, 38, A., and above, p. 49.

CHAP.

V.

regard him as the founder of a new epoch, and to trace their own peculiar systems to the movement set on foot by him.

Even in himself and his doings more than one feature is at variance with this conception. Whereas it would follow herefrom that knowledge is only of value in as far as it is instrumental for action, so far was Socrates from sharing this belief that he considered actions only then to have a value when they proceed from correct knowledge; that he referred moral action or virtue to knowledge, making its perfection depend on perfection of knowledge. Whereas, according to the ordinary assumption, he would in his intercourse with others have before ali things aimed at moral training, so far was it otherwise that it appears from his own words that love of knowledge was the original motive for his activity. Accordingly we observe him in his dialogues pursuing enquiries, which not only have no moral purpose, but which,

Plato, Apol. 21, where So- subordinate one; he was no crates deduces his whole acti- doubt really actuated by the vity from the fact that he pur- motive mentioned in the Aposued a real knowledge.

logy, a praiseworthy curiosity ? Examples are to be found to learn from intercourse with in the conversations (Mem. iii. all classes, whether they were 10), in which Socrates conducts clearly conscious of what their the painter Parrhasius, the arts were for. Xenophon himsculptor Clito, and Pistias, the self attests this, Mem. iv. 6, 1: forger of armour, to the con- σκοπών συν τοις συνουσι, τι έκαceptions of their respective στον είη των όντων ουδεπώποτ' ' arts. It is true Xenophon in- unyev. This pursuit of the troduces these conversations conceptions of things, aiming with the remark that Socrates not at the application of knowknew how to make himself ledge, but at knowledge itself, useful to artisans. But the is quite enough to prove that desire to make himself useful Socrates was not only a preacher can only have been a very of virtue, but a philosopher.

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in their practical application, could only serve immoral purposes. These traits are not met with exclusively in one or other of our authorities, but they are equally diffused through the accounts given by the three main sources. Socrates can therefore not possibly have been the unscientific moral teacher for which he was formerly taken. Knowledge must have had for him a very different value and importance from what it would have had on such a supposition. It may not even be assumed that the knowledge which he sought was ultimately only pursued for the sake of action, and only valued as a means to morality. He who pursues knowledge in this sense, only as a means to an end which lies beyond him, not from an independent impulse and love of knowing, will never study so carefully and so independently the problem and method of philosophic research as Socrates did; will never be a reformer of philosophy as he was.

Even Xenophon found some sation with her, in which he difficulty in bringing it into har endeavours to lead her to a mony with his practical view conception of her trade, and of things, as his words show: shows her how she will best be from which it may be seen that able to win lovers. Now, alSocrates made his friends more though such a step would not critical. But criticism is the give that offence to a Greek organ of knowledge.

which it would to us, still i Mem. iii. 11 contains a there is not the least trace of a paragraph adapted more than moral purpose in his conduct. any other to refute the idea Brandis' (Gesch. d. Entw. i. that Socrates was only a popu- 236) remarks are little to the lar teacher. Socrates hears one point. A purely critical interof his companions commending est leads Socrates to refer to the beauty of Theodota, and at its general conception every once goes with his company to action across which he comes, see her. He finds her acting regardless of its moral value.

a painter's model, and he 2 Ribbing, Socrat. Stud. i. 46. thereupon enters into a conver

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Nay more, he would have been incapable of exerting the deep reforming influence over Ethics which, according to the testimony of history, he did exert, had he thus confined himself to practical interests. His importance for Ethics is derived not so much from the fact that he insisted on a re-establishment of moral life—this Aristophanes and without doubt inany others did, - but from his recognising that a scientific basis for moral convictions must be an indispensable condition for any real reform of morals. Herewith it is presupposed that practical problems are determined and vindicated by knowledge; in other words, that knowledge not merely subserves action, but leads and governs it—a view never as yet held by any one who did not attribute to knowledge an independent value of its own. If, therefore, Socrates, as we shall note, confined himself in principle to enquiries having for man a practical value, it can only be inferred that he was not himself fully conscious of the range of his thought. In practice he went beyond these limits, treating ethical questions in such a manner as no one could do unless fired with an independent love of knowledge.

The area is thus determined within which the fundamental conception of the Socratic philosophy must be looked for. True knowledge is the treasure to discover which Socrates goes forth in the service of the Delphic God; to gain the knowledge of the essence of things, he, with his friends, unweariedly labours; to true knowledge he ultimately refers all moral demands. The force with which he asserted

V.

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this demand constitutes him the creator in Greece CHAP. of an independent system of morality. For him it is not enough that men should do what is right; they c. His must also know why they do it. He demands that knowledge

theory that they should not follow a dark impulse, an undefined consists enthusiasm or the aptitude of habit, but should act tions. from clear consciousness; and because it was deficient in this characteristic, he refuses to allow true wisdom to the art of his time, however high it otherwise stood." In a word, the idea of knowledge forms the central point of the Socratic philosophy. All philosophy aiming at knowledge, this point must be further circumscribed to give it precision, which was done in this wise, that, whereas the pursuit of true knowledge had been,

I In Plato, Apol. 22, B., with this, Gesch. d. Philosophie, Socrates observes : In his sift. ii. 50. Brandis only differs ing of men he had turned to in unessential points, Rhein. the poets, but had soon found Mus. von Niebuhr und Brandis, that they were usually not able i. 6, 130; Gr.-Röm. Phil. ii. a, to account for their own works. 33. To him the origin of the "Έγνων ούν

... ότι ου σοφία doctrine of Socrates appears to ποιοίες & ποιοίεν, αλλά φύσει τινι be a desire to vindicate against και ενθουσιάζοντες, ώσπερ οι θεο- the Sophists the absolute worth μάντεις και χρησμωδοί» και γάρ of moral determinations ; and autol Néyovol Mèv toard kal kand, then he adds : to secure this Yoaoi oùdèv av négovo iv. Be- purpose the first aim of Sosides, no one knows the limits crates was to gain a deeper of his knowledge, but thinks insight into his own consciousto understand all things. He ness, in order to be able to dishad also observed the same tinguish false and true knowin the χειροτέχναι, the re- ledge with certainty. Similarly presentatives of sculpture and Braniss, Gesch. d. Phils. Kant. art.

i. 155. The important feature 2 Schleiermacher, Werke, iii. in Socrates was this, that to 2, 300: "The awakening of the him morality appeared to be idea of knowledge, and its a certain kind of knowledge, first utterances, must have been proceeding from the thought the substance of the philosophy of the good inborn in the soul. of Socrates.'

Ritter agrees

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