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difference between one person and another, one time of life and another, one sex and another, affect the question. For in all cases it is one and the same thing, which makes the conduct virtuous,' and in all persons the same natural capacity for virtue must be assumed to exist. The main point then invariably is to cultivate this disposition by education. Some may bring with them more, others fewer gifts for any particular activity; yet all alike require exercise and training; the most talented require it most, would they not be lost in ruinous errors.3 There being no greater obstacle to true knowledge than imaginary knowledge, nothing can in a moral point of view be more urgently necessary than self-knowledge, to dispel the unfounded semblance of knowledge and to show to man his wants and needs. Right action according to Socratic principles invariably follows upon knowledge, just as wrong action follows from absence of

1 Plato, Meno, 71, D., and Aristotle, Pol. i. 13, probably, following the passage in Plato, 1216, a, 20, which he must in some way have harmonised with the Socratic teaching: ὥστε φανερὸν, ὅτι ἐστὶν ἠθικὴ ἀρετὴ τῶν εἰρημένων πάντων, καὶ οὐχ ἡ αὐτὴ σωφροσύνη γυναικὸς καὶ ἀνδρὸς, οὐδ ̓ ἀνδρία καὶ δικαιοσύνη, καθάπερ ᾤετο Σωκράτης . πολὺ γὰρ ἄμεινον λέγουσιν οἱ ἐξαριθμοῦντες τὰς ἀρετάς.

2 Xen. Sym. 2, 9: kal 8 Zwκράτης εἶπεν· ἐν πολλοῖς μὲν, ὦ ἄνδρες, καὶ ἄλλοις δῆλον, καὶ ἐν οἷς δ ̓ ἡ παῖς ποεῖ, ὅτι ἡ γυνακεία φύσις οὐδὲν χείρων τῆς τοῦ ἀνδρὸς οὖσα τυγχάνει, ῥώμης δὲ καὶ ἰσχύος

Seîtal. Conf. Plato, Rep. v.
452, E.

3 Mem. iii. 9, 1; iv. 1, 3;
iv. 2, 2. The question whether
virtue is a natural gift or a
result of instruction-the iden-
tical question to which Plato
devoted a thorough discussion
in the Meno and Protagoras-
appears to have become a fa-
vourite topic of discussion,
thanks to the appearance of
the Sophistic teachers of virtue.
Such at least it seems in Xeno-
phon, iii. 9, 1, and in the Meno.
Pindar had previously drawn
the contrast between natural
and acquired gifts. See above,
p. 23.





knowledge; he who knows himself will, without fail, do what is healthful, just as he who is ignorant of himself will, without fail, do what is harmful. Only the man of knowledge can do anything fitting; he alone is useful and esteemed.2 In short, knowledge is the root of all moral action; want of knowledge is the cause of every vice; and were it possible wittingly to do wrong, that were better than doing wrong unwittingly; for in the latter case the first condition of right action, the moral sentiment, is wanting, whilst in the former case it would be there, the doer being only faithless to it for the moment.3 What, however, the know

1 Mem. iv. 2, 24. For examples of conversations, in which Socrates endeavoured to bring his friends to a knowledge of themselves, see Mem. iii. 6;

iv. 2.

2 Mem. i. 2, 52: the accuser charged Socrates with inducing his followers to despise their friends and relations; for he had declared, those only deserve to be honoured who can make themselves useful by means of their knowledge. Xenophon allows that he showed how little useless and ignorant people were esteemed by their own friends and relatives; but he says that Socrates did not thereby intend to teach them to despise dependants, but only to show that understanding must be aimed at, ÖTɩ Tò ἄφρον ἄτιμόν ἐστι.

Mem. iv. 2, 19: Tŵv de o

τοὺς φίλους ἐξαπατώντων ἐπὶ βλάβῃ
πότερος ἀδικώτερος ἐστιν, ὁ ἑκών,

ǎкшv; The question is after-
wards thus settled: Tà dikala

πότερον δ ̓ ἑκὼν ψευδόμενος καὶ
ἐξαπατῶν οἶδεν, ἢ ὁ ἄκων ; Δῆλον
ὅτι ὁ ἑκών. Δικαιότερον δὲ [φῂς
εἶναι] τὸν ἐπιστάμενον τὰ δίκαια
τοῦ μὴ ἐπιστάμενον ; Φαίνομαι.
Conf. Plato, Rep. ii. 382; iii.
389, B.; iv. 459, C.; vii. 535,
It is
E.; Hipp. Min. 371, E.
only an imaginary case to sup-
pose that any one can know-
ingly and intentionally do
what is wrong; for according
to the principles of Socrates,
it is impossible to conceive
that the man who possesses
knowledge as such should, by
virtue of his knowledge, do
anything but what is right, or
that any one should spontane-
ously choose what is wrong.
If, therefore, an untruth is
told knowingly and intention-
ally, it can only be an apparent
and seeming untruth, which
Plato allows as a means to
higher ends (Rep. ii. 382; iii.
389, B.; iv. 459, C.), whereas
want of knowledge is the only
proper lie, a proper lie being

ledge is in which virtue consists, whether experimen-
tal or speculative, purely theoretical or practical-is a
question upon which Socrates has not entered. In
Xenophon at least he places learning and exercise
quite naturally together,' although Plato had distin-
guished them,2 and to prove that virtue consists in
knowledge, that it requires knowledge, and can be ac-
quired by instruction, he chooses by preference, even
in the pages of Plato, examples of practical acquire-
ments and of mechanical dexterity.3

Good and

As yet, however, all that has been laid down is in C. The the nature of a formal definition. All virtue is knowledge, but of what is it the knowledge? To this Socrates gives the general answer, knowledge of the good. He is virtuous, just, brave, and so forth, who knows what is good and right. Even this addition is ast wide and indefinite as those before. Knowledge which

(1) Virtue


ned theoretically.

always unintentional, Rep. ii. 382; v. 535, E. See Zeller's Phil. Stud. p. 152.

At the beginning of the Meno.

2 Mem. iii. 9, 1, Socrates answers the question whether bravery is a διδακτὸν or φυσικόν : the disposition thereto is quite as various as is bodily power. νομίζω μέντοι πᾶσαν φύσιν μαθήσει kai μeλéty πpòs åvòpíav aŭžeσ0ai, in proof of which it may be noted that no nation with weapons to which it is unaccustomed ventures to encounter those who are familiar with them. So, too, in everything else, it is the uéλeia, the μανθάνειν καὶ μελετᾶν, where

by natural gifts are really de-
veloped to mastery. In Mem.
iv. 1, 3, μάθησις and παίδεια are
generally required, but even
here no difference is made be-
tween theoretical and practical

3 So Protag. 349, E.; Mem.
iii. 9, 1 and 11: άoxovтes are
those ἐπιστάμενοι ἄρχειν, the
steersman in a ship, in agricul-
ture, sickness, and athletics,
those who have made it their
profession, women in spinning.
The question here raised is dis-
cussed at length by Strümpell,
Gesch. d. Prakt. Phil. d. Gr. vor
Arist. 146.

4 See p. 143.




makes virtue, is knowledge of the good; but what is
the good? The good is the conception of a thing
viewed as an end. Doing what is good, is acting up
to the conception of the corresponding action, in
short, knowledge in its practical application. The
essence of moral action is therefore not explained by
the general definition, that it is a knowledge of the
good, the right, and so forth. Beyond this general
definition, however, Socrates did not advance in
his philosophy. Just as his speculative philosophy
stopped short with the general requirement that
knowledge belonged to conceptions only, so his prac-
tical philosophy stopped short with the indefinite
postulate of conduct conformable to conceptions.
From such a theory it is impossible to deduce defin-
ite moral actions. If such are sought no other
alternative remains but to look for them in some
other way, either by adopting the necessary princi-
ples from the prevailing morality without further
testing them; or, in as far as principles according to
the theory of knowledge must be vindicated before
thought, by a reference to experience and to the
well-known consequences of actions.

As a matter of fact both courses were followed
On the one hand he explained the

conception of the right by that of the lawful.


(2) Prac-
tically the by Socrates.
either by

Good is de

custom or 1 Mem. iv. 6, 6: Δίκαια δὲ utility. οἶσθα, ἔφη, ὁποῖα καλεῖται;—A οἱ νόμοι κελεύουσιν, ἔφη.— Οἱ ἄρα ποιοῦντες ἃ οἱ νόμοι κελεύουσι δίκαιά τε ποιοῦσι καὶ ἃ δεῖ; Πῶς γὰρ οὔ; In Mem. iv. 4, 12, Socrates says: φημὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ τὸ

νόμιμον δίκαιον εἶναι, and when Hippias asks for further information as to what is meant by νόμιμον: νόμους δὲ πόλεως, ἔφη, γιγνώσκεις ;—Οὐκοῦν, ἔφη [Socrates], νόμιμος μὲν ἂν εἴη δ κατὰ ταῦτα [ἃ οἱ πολίται ἐγράψαντο] πο

best service of God, he says, is that which agrees with custom; and he will not withdraw himself even from an unjust sentence, lest he should violate the laws. On the other hand, as a necessary consequence of this view of things, he could not be content with existing moral sanctions, but was fain to seek an intellectual basis for morality. This he could only take from a consideration of consequences; and in so doing he frequently proceeds most superficially, deriving his ethical principles by a line of argument, which taken by itself differs in results more than in principles, from the moral philosophy of the Sophists.3 When asked whether there could. be a good, which is not good for a definite purpose, he distinctly stated that he neither knew, nor desired to know of such a one : 4 everything is good and beau

λιτευόμενος, ἄνομος δὲ ὁ ταῦτα παραβαίνων ; Πὰν μὲν οὖν, ἔφη.— Οὐκοῦν καὶ δίκαια μὲν ἂν πράττοι ὁ τούτοις πειθόμενος, ἄδικα δ ̓ ὁ τούτοις ἀπειθῶν ;-Πάνυ μὲν οὖν.

1 Mem. iv. 3, 16: Euthydemus doubts whether anyone can worthily honour the gods. Socrates tries to convince him. ὁρᾷς γὰρ, ὅτι ὁ ἐν Δελφοῖς θεὸς ὅταν τις αὐτὸν ἐπερωτᾷ πῶς ἂν τοῖς θεοῖς χαρίζοιτο ἀποκρίνεται vóμg Tóλews. The same principle is attributed to Socrates, i. 3, 1.

2 See p. 77, 1.

3 As Dissen has already shown, in the treatise referred to p. 100, 2. Compare Wiggers, Socrates, p. 187; Hurndall, De Philosophia Mor. Socr. Grote (Hist. of Greece, viii. 605) this statement,

agrees with

only refusing to allow us to
speak of Sophistic morals as if
they were uniform.

4 Mem. iii. 8, 1-7, where it is
said, amongst other things:
εἴ γ' ἐρωτᾷς με, εἴ τι ἀγαθὸν οἶδα,
ὃ μηδενὸς ἀγαθόν ἐστιν, οὔτ ̓ οἶδα,
ěpn, oute déoμai Λέγεις σὺ,
ἔφη [’Αρίστιππος] καλά τε καὶ
αἰσχρὰ τὰ αὐτὰ εἶναι; καὶ νὴ Δί'
ἔγωγ ̓, ἔφη [Σωκράτης] ἀγαθά τε
καὶ κακά . . . meaning, as the
sequel shows (not as Ribbing,
1. c. p. 105, translates it: good
and evil are the same), but
the same thing is good and
evil, in as far as for one pur-
pose it is useful, that is good,
and for another harmful; πávτа
yàp ảyalà μèv kal kaλá ẻOTI,
πρὸς ἃ ἂν εὖ ἔχῃ, κακὰ δὲ καὶ
αἰσχρὰ, πρὸς ἃ ἂν κακῶς.


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