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CHAP. fined themselves to the same field ; Plato, founding II.

his system in conceptions, completing it in morals, forms a marked contrast to the natural philosophers, who went before him. Ет in Aristotle ho treats of physics in detail and with an evident preference for the subject, they are only a single branch of a system, and in point of value subordinate to metaphysics.

Such an increase of territory showed that the whole platform of philosophy had changed. Why else should thought have embraced other and more extended materials, had it not been changed in itself, and therefore no longer contented itself with what had been before ? For the same reason the philosophic method was a different one.

In previous philosophy thought had dealt directly with its obB. Charac ject, as such. In the Socratic and post-Socratic this period systems it deals in the first place with conceptions is its doctrine of

and only with objects indirectly, through the medium

of conceptions. The older systems asked, without tions.

further ado, what predicates belonged to things; for instance, whether what is real admits of motion or not-how and out of what the world is made. The Socratic philosophy ever asks, in the first place, what things are in themselves according to their conception, thinking not otherwise to obtain information respecting their properties and conditions than by the help of the conception of things thoroughly mastered. No conception of a thing can, however,


| Compare, not to mention ment in the Phædo, 99, D : After other passages, the clear state. having vainly busied himself


be obtained, except by grouping together its various CHAP. aspects and qualities, by smoothing down apparent contradictions, by separating what is lasting from what is changing, in a word, by that critical method, (!) Defini

tion of a which Socrates introduced, and which Plato and Aris

conceptotle elaborated and developed. Former philosophers tion. having gone forth from particular prominent features to arrive at the essence of things, and having failed because of their one-sidedness; it was now required that all the properties of an object should be taken into account and weighed from every side, before a judgment could be formed thereupon. Thus the philosophy of conceptions steps into the place of dogmatism. In this way reflection which by means of sophistry had destroyed the older philosophy was taken into the service of the new philosophy; the various aspects under which things may be regarded, were brought together and referred to each other; but not content with the negative conclusion that our notions cannot be true because they contain opposite determinations, the new philosophy aimed at uniting these opposites in one, and showing that true science is not affected by contradiction, inasmuch as it only refers to that which unites opposites in itself, and excludes contradiction. This pursuit of knowledge

with the enquiries of the na- των αισθήσεων επιχειρών άπτεσθαι tural philosophers declares αυτών.) έδοξε δή μοι χρήναι εις τους himself convinced, that he has λόγους καταφυγόντα εν εκείνοις only got into deeper darkness σκοπεϊν των όντων την αλήθειαν by directing his enquiries into (the true essence of things), things in themselves. (τα όντα i.e. instead of πράγματα, λόγοι, σκοπών

βλέπων προς τα instead of όντα, αλήθεια των πράγματα τοις όμμασι και εκάστη όντων.



through conceptions is the common peculiarity of the Socratic, the Platonic, and the Aristotelian philosophy. That the lesser Socratic schools follow the same bent will be seen hereafter.

If only conceptions can give true knowledge, it follows that true being can only belong to that which is known by means of conceptions; that is, to the essence of things, as this presents itself in thought. This essential being cannot, however, be sought for in matter. Anaxagoras had early realised that matter could only become a world by means of spirit; since then the old materialistic physics had been discredited by sophistry; nothing remained but to regard the form and purpose of things, the immaterial part in them as most essential for determining the conceptions, nay, even to assign to it a true reality underlying the appearance. In this way the Socratic

philosophy led logically to Idealism. (2) Theory

The beginnings of this Idealism are unniistakof concep- able even in Socrates. His indifference to physical panded by enquiries and his preference for ethical ones prove Plato, and conclusively that he attributed to the inner world a Aristotle. much higher value than to the outer world. Resolve

his theory of final causes applied to nature into the metaphysical elements out of which it is composed; the conclusion is inevitable that not the material of which a thing is made, but the conception which gives it shape, makes a thing what it is, and that this accordingly represents its true nature. This Idealism is more pronounced in the school of Megara; and in Plato it runs through all parts of his philo

tions ex


sophy side by side with a current of pre-Socratic CHAP. doctrines. Even Aristotle is not faithless to this view. Whilst denying the independent existence of the Platonic ideas, he nevertheless asserts that reality consists not in matter but in form, and that the highest reality belongs to spirit free from matter. On this ground he states even in his physics, agreeing herein with his predecessors, that final causes are higher than material causes. Compared therefore with the natural philosophers of the pre-Socratic period, even Aristotle may fairly be called an Idealist.

Starting from a consideration of nature, the preSocratic philosophy made it its chief business to enquire into the essence and causes of external things, for this purpose going back to their material properties. An entirely different character is displayed in the philosophy founded by Socrates. This begins with the study of self rather than the study of nature—with ethics rather than physics. It aims at explaining phenomena, first of all by means of conceptions, and only in the second place naturally. It substitutes an attitude of enquiry for dogmatic state ment, idealism in the place of materialism. Mind is now regarded as the higher element compared with matter. The philosophy of nature has developed into a philosophy of conceptions. Not that as yet the claim was advanced on be- C. Dis

tinction of half of the human mind to be the measure of truth

Socratic and the end of science. Far from reaching the sub- from postjective idealism of Fichte-an idealism in fact only lian philpossible in modern times—the philosophy of this sophy.


CHAP. period is not nearly so subjective as the post-Aristo

telian schools. In them the interests of speculation are subordinated to those of morals; knowledge is regarded only as a means to virtue and liappiness; whereas the independent value of science is fully admitted by the great philosophers of the present period. To them knowledge is an end in itself; speculation is the highest and noblest thing ; action is made to depend upon knowledge, not knowledge to depend upon the aims of active life. Only a few one-sided followers of Socrates, who, however, prove nothing as to the general tendency, are an exception

to this rule. (1) It still

A simple belief in the possibility of knowledge believes the attain- is here displayed which was wanting in the postment of knowledge

Aristotelian philosophy. The doubts of the Sophists

are refuted, but in the mind of the philosopher possible.

there is no need of overcoming doubt. The problem proposed is, How can true knowledge be obtained, in what kind of mental representations must it be sought, how must the conception of it be determined ? No doubt is felt but that knowledge is really possible. The search for a test-the fundamental question of the later schools—is altogether unknown to the thinkers of this time. Equally unknown to them are the answers to that problem.

to be

| Take for instance the The- as to the possibility of knowætetus; the question raised ledge involved in the enquiry there as to the conception of for a standard. knowledge (επιστήμη και, τί ποτε 2 Compare Zeller, 1. c.; IntroTuyó xvel öv; Theätet. 145, E.) duction to Part III. and I. 137. is quite different from the doubt

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