Page images
PDF
EPUB

CHAP.
VII.

stance,' that among the Socratic schools side by side with the morals of the Cynics and the criticism of the Megarians, a place was found too for the Cyrenaic doctrine of pleasure; and that the founders of these schools to all appearance were firmly persuaded that they reproduced the true spirit of the Socratic teaching. Had that teaching afforded them no foothold, this phenomenon would be hard to understand. In its essence the Socratic morality is anything but selfish. That fact does not, however, prevent its assuming the form of Eudæmonism in its theoretical explanation. We do not complain of it as wanting in moral content, but as wanting in philosophic precision.

To give a systematic account of moral actions was not a part of the intention of Socrates. His views

D. Particular moral relations.

1 To which Hermann, Plat. i. trine neither to be found in 257, rightly draws attention. the Memorabilia (iii. 8, 4-7; When, however, this writer 10, 12; iv. 6, 9; 2, 13), nor in finds in the principle of utility the Hippias Major of Plato (p. (Ibid. p. 254 Ges. Abh. 232) 288)—the latter by the way a or as he prefers to call it in very doubtful authority. It is the predominence of relative indeed stated in these passages, value not merely a weak point that the good and the beautiin the philosophy of Socrates, ful are only good and beautiful but at the same time an in- for certain purposes by virtue stance of Socratic modesty, one of their use, but not that every feels inclined to ask, wherein application of these attributes does this modesty consist ? to a subject has only a relative And when he connects here- validity. Under no circumwith the more general doctrine, stances would the

passage constituting in his view the authorise a distinction between main difference between the So- the Socratic and the So•cratic dialectic and the Sophis- phistic philosophy; one of the tic, and also the foundation of characteristics of the Sophists the Socratic teaching on the consisting in their allowing truth of universal conceptions, only a relative value to all he appears to advocate a doc- scientific and moral principles.

were from time to time expanded as occasion required. CHAP.

VII. Chance has, to a certain extent, decided which of his dialogues should come down to us. Still it may be assumed that Socrates kept those objects more especially in view, to which he is constantly reverting by preference according to Xenophon. Here in addition to the general demand for moral knowledge, and for knowledge of self, three points are particularly prominent--1. The independence of the individual as secured by the control of his wants and desires ; 2. The nobler side of social life, as seen in friendship; 3. The furtherance of the public weal by a regulated commonwealth. To these may be added the question, 4. Whether, and In how far, Socrates exceeded the range of the ordinary morality of the Greeks by requiring love for enemies ? Not only was Socrates himself a model of self- (1) Indivi

dual indedenial and abstemiousness, but he endeavoured to

pendence. foster the same virtues in his friends. What other subject was more often the topic of conversation than abstemiousness in the dialogues of Xenophon ? And did not Socrates distinctly call moderation the corner-stone of all virtue ? On this point the ground he occupied was nearly the same as that which afterwards gained such importance for the schools of 1 See the authorities p. 150, If Socrates had at all reflected,

he would have explained mode2 Mem. i. 5, 4: åpá ye xpi ration as a kind of knowledge. πάντα άνδρα, ήγησάμενον την The above quoted passage εγκράτειαν αρετής είναι κρηπίδα, might then be taken to mean, ταύτην πρώτην εν τη ψυχή κατα- that the conviction of the okeváo ao bai; This does not con- worthlessness of sensual enjoytradict the assertion that all ments must precede every other virtue consists in knowledge. moral knowledge.

4, 5.

M

CHAP.
VII.

the Cynics and Stoics; man can only become master of himself by being independent of wants, and by the exercise of his powers; while depending on the conditions and pleasures of the body, he resembles a slave. A philosopher who considers knowledge to be the highest good, will naturally insist upon the mind's devoting itself, uninterrupted by the desires and appetites of the senses, to the pursuit of truth in preference to every other thing; and the less value he attaches to external things as such and the more exclusively he conceives happiness to be bound up with the intellectual condition of man, the more will he feel the call to carry these principles into practice, by really making himself independent of the external world. Other motives, however, which served as a standard for moralists of a later epoch, were unknown to Socrates. He was not only an ascetic in relation to the pleasures of the senses, but displayed less strictness than might have been anticipated, neither shrinking from enjoyment, nor yet feeling it needful. To continue master of himself in the midst of enjoyment, by the lucid clearness of his thought—that was the aim which his moderation proposed to itself.

1 Χen. Mem. i. 5, 3; i. 6, 5; δε το μέγιστον αγαθόν ου δοκεί ii. 1, 11 ; i. 2, 29; iii. 13, 3; and, σοι απείργουσα των ανθρώπων και in particular, iv. 5, 2; Symp. 8, åkpaola eis toúvavríov autoùs èu23.

βάλλειν; for how can any one 2 This connection appears recognise and choose what is clearly Mem. iv. 5, 6. When good and useful, if he is Socrates had shown that want ruled by the desire of what is of moderation makes man a pleasant ? slave, whilst moderation makes 3 See pp. 141, 2; 151. him free, he continues : copiav 4 See p. 74.

Strongest appears this character of the Socratic CHAP.

VII. abstinence in the language he uses in reference to sensual impulses. However exemplary his own conduct in this respect may have been, yet, in theory, he does not object to the gratification of these impulses out of wedlock, only requiring that it be not carried so far as to exceed the requirements of the body, nor prove a hindrance to higher ends. The leading thought of his moral teaching is not so much strict purity as freedom of mind.

This in itself purely negative condition of mo- (2) rality receives its positive supplement when the Friend

ship. individual places himself in connection with others. The simplest form of this connection is friendship. Socrates, as we have already remarked, can only defend this relation on the ground of its advantages ; still there can be no mistaking the fact that it possessed both for himself and for his philosophy a deeper meaning. For this, if for no other reason, it was cultivated by preference, and discussed in all the Socratic schools. When knowledge and morality so fully coincide as they do from Socrates' point of view, an intellectual association of individuals is

1 Mem. i. 3, 14: outw on kaì the harm it does to property, αφροδισιάζειν τους μη ασφαλώς honour, and personal security. έχοντας προς αφροδίσια φετο Socrates considers it ridiculous χρήναι προς τοιαύτα, οξα μη πάνυ to incur danger and trouble μεν δεομένου του σώματος ουκ άν for the sake of an enjoyment, , προσδέξαιτοη ψυχή, δευμένου δε ουκ which could be procured in a αν πράγματα παρεχοι. The last so much simpler manner from remark applies partly to the any common girl. Mem. ii. 1, prejudicial workings of pas- 5; 2, 4. The use which the sion, which makes a slave of Cynics made of these principles man, and deters him from will be seen hereafter. what is good, and partly to

CHAP.
VII.

inconceivable without a more extended community of life. These personal relations become, too, all the more necessary in proportion as the thinker fails to be satisfied with his own thinking, and feels a need for investigation in common with others and for mutual interchange of ideas. Just as in the case of the Pythagorean league, from a common pursuit of morality and religion, a lively feeling of clanship, a fondness for friendship and brotherhood was developed, as in other cases, too, like causes produced like results, so, in the Socratic school the blending of moral and intellectual interests was the ground of a more intimate connection of the pupils with the teacher, and amongst themselves, than could have resulted from an association of a purely intellectual character. The question can hardly be asked, which came first with him, which afterwards; whether the need of friendship determined Socrates to a continuous dialogue, or the need of a common enquiry drew him towards all having a natural turn this way. His peculiarity rather consists in this—and this it is which makes him the philosophic lover drawn by Plato—that he could neither in his research dispense with association with others, nor in his intercourse with research.

Accordingly in Socrates are found impressive discussions as to the value and nature of friendship.! In these he always comes back to the point, that true friendship can only exist amongst virtuous men, being for them altogether natural and necessary;

1 Mem. ii. 4-6.

« PreviousContinue »