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no other object for knowledge save human conduct, and no guarantee for conduct save in knowledge. How great the services were which he rendered to both morality and science by this effort, how wholesome was the influence which he exercised on the intellectual condition of his people and of mankind generally, history attests. If in the sequel, the difference between morality and intellect was recognised quite as fully as their unity, yet the tie by which he connected them has never been broken ; and if in the last centuries of the old world, philosophy took the place of the waning religion, giving a stay to morality, purifying and quickening the moral consciousness,
| To revert to the question other hand, Ribbing's (Socrat. mooted above, as to whether Studien, i. 46) view does not he primarily regarded know
to carry conviction, ledge as
to moral that, according to both Plato action, or moral action as a and Xenophon, Socrates took result of knowledge, so much in the first place a practical may be said : that his pecu- view of life, and that othe theliarity consisted herein that ory of knowledge was only for him this dilemma did developed by him for the sake not exist, that for him know- of a practical purpose.' We ledge as such was at once a have already seen that, accormoral need and a moral force, ding to Socrates, true knowand that therefore virtue, as we ledge coincides with right in. shall find, was neither a simple tention. But, for the reasons consequence of knowledge, nor set forth on p. 105, we cannot an end to be attained by means allow that knowledge with him of knowledge, but was directly has no independent value, and and in itself knowledge. If, is only pursued as a means to therefore, Labriola (Dottrina a practical purpose ; which must di Socrate, 40) describes the be the view of Ribbing, in as only inner motive of Socrates' far as he contradicts the one action as the moral need of given above. Nor do the pascertainty, and the conviction sages quoted by Ribbing (Plato, that this is only attainable by Apol. 22, D. ; 28, D.; 29, E.; a clear and indubitably certain 3Ī, A. ; 38, A.) suggest this knowledge,' his statement may view, be accepted as true. On the
E. The subjectire character of the theory of Socrates,
this great and beneficial result, in as far as it can be assigned to any one individual, was due to the teaching of Socrates.
The interest of philosophy being thus turned away from the outer world and directed towards man and his moral nature, and man only regarding things as true and binding of the truth of which he has convinced himself by intellectual research, there appears necessariiy in Socrates a deeper importance attached to the personality of the thinker. In this modern writers have thought to discern the peculiar character of his philosophy. Very different, however, is the personal importance of the thinker with Socrates from the caprice of the Sophists, different too from the extreme individualism of the post-Aristotelian schools. Socrates was aware, that each individual must seek the grounds of his own conviction for himself, that truth is not something given from without, but must be found by the exercise of individual thought. He required all opinions to be examined anew, no matter how old or how common they were, proofs only and not authorities claiming belief. Still, he was far from making man, as Protagoras did, the measure of all things. He did not even as the Stoics and Epicureans declare personal conviction and practical need to be the ultimate standard of truth, nor yet as the Sceptics, resolve all truth into probability ; but to him knowledge was an end in itself; so too he was persuaded
· Hegel, Gesch. d. Phil. ii. 40; Rötscher, Aristoph., pp. 245, 388.
that true knowledge could be obtained by a thoughtful consideration of things. Moreover he saw in man the proper object of philosophy, but instead of making of personal caprice a law, as the Sophists did, he subordinated caprice to the general law residing in the nature of things and of moral relations. Instead too of making, with later philosophers, the self-contentment of the wise man bis highest end, he confined himself to the point of view of old Greek morality, which could not conceive of the individual apart from the community, and which accordingly regarded activity for the state as the first duty of a citizen, and the law of the state as the natural rule of conduct.4 Hence the Stoic apathy and indifference to country were entirely alien from Socrates. If it can be truly said that in him commences an unbounded reference to the person, to the freedom of the inner life,'5 it must also be added that this statement by no means exhausts the theory of Socrates. Thus the disputes as to whether the Socratic doctrine rests on a purely personal or a really independent basis 6 will have to be settled, by allowing indeed that, compared with former systems, his teaching exhibits
| Proofs may be found Xen. with which the previous reMem. ii. 2; ii. 6, 1-7; iii. 8, marks respecting the peculiar 1-3; iv. 4, 20.
conduct of the sage may be * Compare the conversation compared. with Aristippus, Xen. Mem. ii. Hegel, 1. c. 1, 13 ; and Plato's Crito, 53, A. 6 Compare the views of Röt
3 It has been already seen scher, 1. C., and Brandis for the that Socrates placed his own opposite view. • Ueber die activity under this point of vorgebliche Subjektivität der view. See pp. 65, 68 ; Xen. Mem. Sokrat. Lehre,' Rhein. Mus. i. 6, 15; Plato, Apol. 30, A. ii. 1, 85.
+ Mem. iv. 4, 12, and 3, 15,
a deeper importance attaching to the personality of the thinker, without, however, by any means belonging to those which are purely relative. It aims at gaining a knowledge which shall do more than satisfy a personal want, and which shall be true and desirable for more than the thinker ; but the ground on which it is sought is the personal thought of the individual.
This theory is indeed not further expanded by Socrates. He has established the principle, that only the knowledge which has to do with conceptions is true knowledge. To the further inference that only the being of conceptions is true being, and that therefore only conceptions are true, and to a systematic exposition of conceptions true in themselves - SO far he never advanced. Knowledge is here something sought, a problem to be solved by the thinker; philo sophy is philosophic impulse, and philosophic method, a seeking for truth, not yet a possessing it; and this deficiency countenances the view that the platform
Hegel says nothing very but the universal element different, when in distinguish- which is found running through ing (Gesch. d. Phil. ii. 40, 166) all individuals. With this view Socrates from the Sophists he agree also Rötscher, l. c. p. 246, says : ‘in Socrates the creation 392, and Hermann, Gesch, und of thought is at once clad with Syst. des Plat. i. 239. an independent existence of its 2 The objections of Alberti, own,' and what is purely per- Sokr. 94, to the above vanish sonal is externalised and made if the word 'only' is properly universal by him as the good.' emphasised. He only asserts Socrates is said to have substi. what is already well known, tuted thinking man is the that Socrates did not develope measure of all things,” in place his theory of conceptions to the of the Sophistic doctrine .man theory of ideas, nor contrast is the measure of all things.' the universal thought in the In a word, his leading thought conception, as being the only is not the individual as he thing truly real with individual knows himself experimentally, things.
of Socrates was that of a narrow reference to the person. Still it should never be forgotten, that the aim of Socrates was always to discover and set forth that which is in itself true and good. Mankind is to be intellectually and morally educated, but the one and only means thereto is to attain a knowledge of truth.
The primary aim of Socrates being to train men to think, rather than to construct a system, the main point with him was a philosophic method to determine the way which would lead to truth. The substance of his teaching thus appears to have been partly confined to questions having an immediate bearing on human conduct; partly it does not go beyond the general and theoretical demand, that all action should be determined by a knowledge of conceptions. There is no systematic development of individual points of morality and no attempt to give a reason for them.