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for true knowledge. The consciousness of our own Not-knowing continuing, and the philosopher having an idea of knowledge without finding it realised in himself, the search for knowledge naturally assumes the form of an application to others, with a view of ascertaining whether the knowledge wanting at home is to be found with them.' Hence the necessity of enquiry in common by means of the dialogue.2 For Socrates, this mode of intercourse has not merely an educational value, procuring easier access and a more fruitful effect for his ideas, but it is to his mind. an indispensable condition of the development of thought, and one from which the Socrates of history never departs. Speaking more accurately, its nature consists in a sifting of men such as it is described in the Apology, or in a bringing to the birth, as it is called in the Theætetus; 5 in other words, the philosopher by his questions obliges others to unfold their inner self before him: 6 he asks after their real
· The connection is very apparent in the Apol. 21, B., if only the inner thought of the philosophy of Socrates is put in the place of the oracular
2 Compare p. 123, 2.
Compare, besides the Memorabilia, Plato, Apol. 24, C.; Protag. 335, B., 336, B. Theæt.
4 Similarly Xen. Mem. iv. 7, 1: πάντων μὲν γὰρ ὧν ἐγὼ οἶδα μάλιστα ἔμελεν αὐτῷ εἰδέναι, ὅτου τις ἐπιστήμων εἴη τῶν συνόντων αὐτῷ. Xenophon only took it to prove ὅτι αὐτάρκεις ἐν ταῖς
προσηκούσαις πράξεσιν αὐτοὺς εἶναι
5 See p. 149; 122, 2.
• Plato, Lach. 187, E; he who enters into conversation with Socrates un raveσla ind τούτου περιαγόμενον τῷ λόγῳ. πρὶν ἂν ἐμπέσῃ εἰς τὸ διδόναι περὶ αὑτοῦ λόγον, ὅντινα τρόπον νῦν τε ζῇ, nor is there any escape from the most thorough βασανίζεσθαι.
opinions, after the reasons of their beliefs and actions, and in this way attempts by an interrogatory analysis of their notions to bring out the thought latent therein, of which they are themselves unconscious.' In as far as this process presupposes that the knowledge which the questioner lacks may be found in others, it resembles an impulse to supplement one's own defects by their help. This intercourse with others is, for a philosopher with whom knowing coincides with purposing, not only an intellectual but also a moral and personal need. To enquire in common is at once to live in common. Love of knowledge is at once impulse to friendship, and in the blending together of these two sides consists the peculiarity of the Socratic Eros.2
In as far as others do not possess the knowledge sought for, and the questions of Socrates only serve to expose their ignorance, the process bears also the character of irony. Irony, however, must not be understood to be merely a conversational trick ;3 still
It is assumed as a matter of course, that every one can give an account of what he knows and is, Plato, 1. c. 190, C.; Charm. 158, E.
2 See above, p. 75. Besides Brandis ii. a, 64, reminds us with justice that treatises on pws are mentioned not only by Plato and Xenophon, but also by Euclid, Crito, Simmias, and Antisthenes, which shows the importance of it for the Socratic schools. The chief passage is in Xenophon, Symp. c. 8, where the advantages of a
spiritual and the disadvantages of a sensual love are unfolded, apparently (as a careful survey of the Platonic Symposion will show) by Xenophon, speaking for himself, but undoubtedly following in the train of Socrates. Even Eschines and Cebes had treated of ěpws in the Socratic sense. See Plut. Puer. Ed. c. 15, p. 11, and the fragment of Æschines in Aristid. Or. xlv. p. 34.
3 Hegel, Gesch. d. Phil. ii. 53, 57; Conf. Arist. Eth. iv. 13; 1127, b, 22.
less is it that derisive condescension or affected simplicity, which as it were lures others on to the ice in order to laugh at their falls; or that absolute reference to the person and destruction of all general truth, which for a time bore this name in the romantic school. Its proper nature consists rather herein, that without any positive knowledge, and prompted only by a desire for knowledge, Socrates addresses himself to others, in the hope of learning from them what they know, but that in the attempt to discover it, upon a critical analysis of their notions, even 'their supposed knowledge vanishes. This
Plato at least gives this deeper meaning to the irony of Socrates. See Rep. i. 337, A.: αὕτη ἐκείνη ἡ εἰωθυῖα εἰρωνεία Σωκράτους, καὶ ταῦτ' ἐγὼ ᾔδη τε καὶ τούτοις προὔλεγον, ὅτι σὺ ἀποκρίνασθαι μὲν οὐκ ἐθελήσοις, εἰρωνεύσοιο δὲ καὶ πάντα μᾶλλον ποιήσεις ἢ ἀποκρίνοιο εἴ τίς τί σε ἐρωτᾷ. And again, 337, E.: ἵνα Σωκράτης τὸ εἰωθὸς διαπράξηται, αὐτὸς μὲν μὴ ἀποκρίνηται, ἄλλον δὲ ἀποκρινομένον λαμβάνῃ λόγον καὶ ἐλέγχῃ ̇ to which Socrates replies: πῶς γὰρ ἂν τις ἀποκρίναιτο πρῶτον μὲν μὴ εἰδὼς μηδὲ φάσκων εἰδέναι, &c. Symp. 216, Ε.: εἰρωνευόμενος δὲ καὶ παίζων πάντα τὸν βίον πρὸς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους διατελεῖ, which, as the context shows, refers partly to the fact that Socrates pretended to be in love, without being so in the Greek sense of the term, and partly to the words ἀγνοεῖ πάντα καὶ οὐδὲν οἶδεν. The same, omitting the word εἰρωνεία, is said in the passage of the Theatetus al
ready mentioned, and in the
irony is, therefore, speaking generally, the dialectical or the critical factor in the Socratic method, assuming the peculiar form it here does owing to the presupposed ignorance of him who uses it for his instrument. Doubtless, however conscious Socrates might be of
C. The formation
tions and the method
of concep- possessing no real knowledge, he must at least have believed that he possessed the notion and the method of proof by of true knowledge. Without this conviction he
would neither have been able to confess his own ignorance, nor to expose that of others, both being only rendered possible by comparing the knowledge he found with the idea of knowledge residing within himself. The fact that this idea was no where to be found realised was in itself a challenge to him to set about realising it; and hence resulted as the third point in his philosophic course the attempt to create real knowledge. For real knowledge he could only allow that to pass which emanated from the conception of a thing, hence the first step here is the formation of conceptions or induction. For even if Socrates does not always make for formal definitions, he at least always seeks some universal quality applicable to the conception and to the essence of the object, in order to settle the question under notice by referring the particular case to this universal quality. The class
figure of speech. Conf. Plat.
the word also Leop. Schmidt in Ind. Lection, Marburg, 1873.
1 Compare the remarks of Aristotle already mentioned, p. 110, 2.
2 ἐπὶ τὴν ὑπόθεσιν ἐπανῆγε Távтa Tòv λóyov, See p. 110, 2.
quality is therefore to him of the greatest import
The starting point for this induction is supplied by the commonest notions. He begins with examples taken from daily life, with well-known and generally admitted truths. On every disputed point he goes back to such instances, and hopes in this way to attain a universal agreement. All previous science being doubtful, nothing remains but to begin anew with the simplest experiences. On the other hand, induction has not as yet so far advanced as to mean the deriving conceptions from an exhaustive and critically tested series of observations. This is a later requirement due partly to Aristotle, and partly to more modern philosophy. The wider basis of a comprehensive knowledge of facts being as yet wanting, nay, even being despised, and Socrates being in the habit of expanding his thoughts in personal conversation with distinct reference to the case before him and to the capacity and needs of his fellow-speakers, he is confined to the assumptions which the circumstances and his own limited experience supply; he must take isolated notions and admissions as his point of departure, and can only go as far as others can follow. Hence in most cases he relies more on particular instances than on an exhaustive analysis of
1 Compare what has been quoted, pp. 80, 2; 121, 1, and the whole of the Memorabilia. Plato, too, gives instances of this procedure. See Xen. Ec. 19, 15 : ἡ ἐρώτησις διδασκαλία ἐστὶν . . . ἄγων γάρ με δι ̓ ὧν ἐγὼ
ἐπίσταμαι, ὅμοια τούτοις ἐπιδεικνὺς