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experience. This chance element in his principles he, however, endeavours to eliminate by collecting opposite instances, so as to correct and supplement varying experiences by one another. The question, for instance, before him being the conception of injustice: He is unjust, says Euthydemus, who lies, deceives, robs, and such like. Yet, rejoins Socrates, it is right to lie, to deceive, and to rob an enemy. Accordingly the conception must be more accurately defined thus: He is unjust who does such things to his friends. Even such action is, however, permitted under circumstances. A general is not unjust when he encourages his army by a lie, nor a father who gives his son medicine by deception, nor a friend who robs his friend of the weapon with which he Iwould have committed suicide. We must, therefore, introduce a further limitation. Unjust is he who deceives or robs his friends in order to do them harm. Or the conception of a ruler has to be discovered. General opinion regards a ruler as one who has the power to give orders. But this power, Socrates shows, is conceded only to the steersman on board ship, only to the physician in case of sickness, and in every other case only to those conversant with the special subject. Only he, therefore, is a ruler who possesses the knowledge necessary for ruling.3 Or it must be determined what belongs to a good suit of armour. The smith says, it must be
1 As for example in the comparison of the politician with the physician, pilot, &c.
2 Mem. iv. 2, 11.
of a proper size. But suppose the man intending to wear it is deformed. Why then, the answer is, it must be of the proper size for his deformity. It therefore has the proper size when it fits. But now, supposing a man wishes to move, must the armour fit exactly? Not so, or he would be hampered in his movements. We must, therefore, understand by fitting what is comfortable for use. In a similar way we see Socrates analysing thoroughly the common notions of his friends. He reminds them of the various sides to every question; he brings out the opposition which every notion contains either within itself or in relation to some other: and he aims at correcting, by additional observations, assumptions resting on a one-sided experience, at completing them, and giving to them a more careful definition. By this process you arrive at what belongs to the essence of every object, and what does not; thus conceptions are formed from notions.
For the purpose of proof, too, the class-qualities of conceptions are also the most important things. In order to investigate the correctness of a quality or the necessity of a course of action, Socrates falls back on the conception of the thing to which it refers; and therefrom deduces what applies to the given case. As in seeking conceptions he always
1 Mem. iii. 10, 9. 2 1. c. iv. 6, B.
then shows that his conduct falls under this conception; in 3 For instance, in order to order to put his duties before reprove Lamprocles for his con- a commander of cavalry, he duct to Xanthippe, he first begins (Mem. iii. 3, 2) by (Mem. ii. 1) lets him give a stating what is his employment, definition of ingratitude, and and enumerating its different
progresses from what is known and universally admitted,' so, too, he does here. Hence his method of proof takes the most varied turns, according as it starts from one or another point of departure. He allows a general principle to be taken for granted, and includes under it the particular case; 3 he refutes foreign assertions by bringing home to them contradictions with themselves or with other undoubted assumptions or facts; he builds up the premisses from which he deduces his conclusions by means of induction, or concludes straight off by an apparent analogy. A theory of this method of proof he has not given, nor distinguished the various kinds of proof. The essential point about it is only this, that everything is measured and decided by conceptions. To find the turns by which this end is reached is a matter of personal critical dexterity. Aristotle, therefore, in making the chief merit of Socrates from this side consist in the formation of conceptions and in induction, must on the whole be allowed to be right.
Asking further as to the objects on which Socrates practised his method, we encounter in the Memorabilia of Xenophon a motley array of materials—in
parts; in order to prove the
1 See above, pp. 131; 121, 1. 2 Conf. Schwegler, Gesch. d. Griech. Phil., 2 Aufl., p. 121. 3 As in the cases quoted on p. 131, 3.
4 For instance, Mem. i. 2, 34 and 36; iv. 2, 31; 4, 7.
5 Mem. iv. 2, 22; iv. 4, 14; i. 2, 32.
• See p. 110, 2.
vestigations into the essence of virtue, the duties of man, the existence of Gods, disputes with Sophists, advice of the most varied kind given to friends and acquaintances, conversations with generals as to the responsibilities of their office, with artificers and tradesmen as to their arts, even with loose women as to their mode of life. Nothing is too small to arouse the curiosity of the philosophy and to call for a thorough and methodical examination. As Plato at a later time found in all things without exception essential conceptions, so, too, Socrates, purely in the interest of knowledge, even where no educational or other good was apparent, referred everything to its conception.1 He looked upon the life and pursuits of man as the real object of his enquiries, and other things only in as far as they affected the conditions and problems of human life. Hence his philosophy, which in point of scientific form was a criticism of what is (diaλektikń), became in its actual application a science of human actions (ỷ◊ɩý).
1 See p 109
A. Fundamental restriction of the subject-matter to Ethics.
THE SUBSTANCE OF THE TEACHING OF SOCRATES: ETHICS.
SOCRATES, says Xenophon,' did not discourse concerning the nature of the All, like most other philosophers before him; he did not enquire into the essence of the world and the laws of natural phenomena; on the contrary, he declared it folly to search into such subjects; for it is unreasonable to quiz things divine before fully understanding things human; besides, the conflicting opinions of natural philosophers prove that the object of their research transcends the capacity of human knowledge. After all, these enquiries are of no practical use. Quite in keeping with this view, the Socrates of Xenophon tests even geometry and astronomy 2 by the standard of immediate utility, as being the knowledge respectively requisite for surveying and navigation. To carry them further than this he considers to be a useless waste of time, or even impious; for man can never come upon the track of the mighty works of the Gods, nor do the Gods desire that he should attempt such knowledge.
1 Mem. i. 1, 11. Conf. p. 124, 1.
2 Ibid. iv. 7.