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(4) Difficulty caused by Socratic Schools.
fruit of Greek philosophy at the perfection of its historical growth.
One phenomenon only will not fall into this historical chain, but threatens to break the continuity of Greek thought, viz. the imperfect attempts to expand the Socratic principle which are seen in the Megarian, the Cynic, and the Cyrenaic schools. In these schools a real and essential progress of the philosophic consciousness was not indeed to be found, inasmuch as philosophy, which had arrived at any rate in principle even in the time of Socrates at objective knowledge, such as could only be found in a system, was by them limited to subjective train ing of thought and character. Nor yet can they be said to be wholly unimportant. For not only were they, at a later period starting points for Stoicism, Epicureanism, and Scepticism, but they also promoted, independently of this, many scientific enquiries, by means of which they exercised an undeniable influence on Plato and Aristotle.
The same occurs elsewhere, and is met with, even in this epoch, in the older Academy, and in the Peripatetic schools, both of which had no independent influence on the growth of philosophy, but yet cannot be overlooked in its history. Of all these phenomena one and the same thing must be said. Their chief importance lies not in their having expanded a principle theoretically, but in their having been practically helpful in advancing it, by preserving the older forms of culture for cotemporaries to see, here and there improving and widening them, and by thus keeping the philo
sopher's mind in sight of a many-sidedness, without which later systems would never have included the products of the earlier ones.
This permanence of philosophic schools is not therefore met with until philosophy had attained a certain general extension, in Greece not until the time of Socrates and Plato. Whereas Plato, by summing up all the pre-Socratic schools, put an end to their existence; after his time no theory was put forward which did not propagate itself in a school until the time that Neoplatonism put the coping-stone on Greek philosophy, in and with which all previous systems were extinguished. In later times, however many intellectual varieties rise up side by side, only a few of them possess a distinct life of their own. The rest are a traditional revival of previous views, and cannot, in considering the peculiar philosophical character of an age, be taken further into account. They need therefore only to be mentioned by the historian in a passing way. This statement applies to the imperfect followers of Socrates. Their doctrines are not an advancement in principle, but only incomplete reproductions of Socratic views, and connected with Socrates in the same way that the elder Academy is with Plato, or the Peripatetic school with Aristotle.
THE LIFE OF SOCRATES.
THERE is no instance on record of a philosopher whose importance as a thinker is so closely bound up with his personal character as a man as it was in the case of Socrates.
Every system, it is true, as being the work of a definite person, may best be studied in the light of the peculiarities, culture, misfortunes and circumstances of its author; yet in the case of others it is easier to separate the fruits of their intellectual life from the stock on which they grew; doctrines can generally be received and handed down quite unchanged by men of very different characters. In the case of Socrates this is not nearly so easy. His teaching aimed far less at definite doctrines, which can be equally well embraced hy different men, than at a special tone of life and thought, at a philosophic character and the art of intellectual enquiry, in short, at a something not to be directly imparted and handed down unaltered,
but to be propagated freely, others being stirred up to an analogous development of their peculiarities. So much the more anxious should this make us for detailed information as to the training of a character which has had so powerful an influence on history. Here a very common difficulty meets us. What Socrates was, and how he acted in his riper years, is well known; but only the roughest outline is preserved of the circumstances of his life. Over the earlier part of it deep darkness rests. For the history of his intellectual and moral training, if we except a few scanty and for the most part untrustworthy statements of earlier writers, we are left entirely to conjecture.
The youth and early manhood of Socrates fall in the most brilliant period of Grecian history. Born during the last years of the Persian war,' he was
1 The best ascertained date been condemned in April or in the life of Socrates is the May 399 B.C., and have sufdate of his death. According fered death in May or June the to Demetrius Phalereus and same year. Since at the time Apollodorus (in Diog. ii. 44), of his death he had passed his it happened in Olympiad 95, seventieth year (Plato, Apol. 1 (Diod. xiv. 37), probably in 17, D.), but not long (Crito, the second half of the month 52, E. calls him in round numThargelion. For at this time bers seventy), his birth cannot must be placed the return of have fallen later than Ol. 77, 3, the Delian dewpls, which, ac- or 469 B.C. If his birthday is cording to Plato (Phædo, 59, rightly fixed for the 6th TharD.), arrived the day before the gelion (Apoll. in Diog. ii. 44, execution of Socrates. Comp. Plut. Qu. Conv. viii. 1, 1, K. F. Hermann, De theoria Ælian, V. H. ii. 25), and was Deliaca, Ind. Schol. Gotting. not past at the time of the 1846. About a month earlier judicial enquiry, we should (Xenophon, Mem. iv. 8, 2, says have to go back for it to 470 definitely thirty days), i.e. in
(Comp. the month Munychion, the ju- Böckh. Corp. Inscript. ii. 321 ; dicial enquiry took place. Hermann, 1. c. 7). Socrates must accordingly have The question then arises whe
nearly cotemporary with all those great men who adorned the age of Pericles. As a citizen of Athens he participated in all those elements of culture, which thanks to its unrivalled fertility of thought, congregated in that great metropolis. If poverty and low birth somewhat impeded his using them, still
ther these statements respect- guage of the Theætet. 183, F.,
i That his father Sophroniscrates, the MALEUTIKOS, was not cus (Xen. Hellen. i. 7, 15; placed on the 6th of Thargelion Plato, Lach. 180, D.; how to make it agree with that of Epiphanius, Exp. Fid. 1087, A., Artemis, as Plato's was made comes to call him Elbaglus, is to agree with Apollo's. If so, difficult to say) was a sculptor, he may have been born in may be gathered from Diog. ii. 469 B.C. (Olym. 77, 3). Any 18. The services of his mother how, Apollodorus, placing it in Phænarete as a midwife are 468 B.C. (Ol. 77, 4), (Diog. I. c.) known from Plato's Theatetus, is wrong. Nor can the state. 149, A. As regards circumment noticed by Diogenes that stances, it is stated by Demethe was only sixty years of age rius Phaler. in Plutarch's Life of weigh against the clear lan. Aristides, c. 1, that he not only guage of Plato, and probably possessed land, but had seventy rests upon a transcriber's mis- minæ-a considerable sum-at take. Hermann's observation interest; but this statement (Plat. Phil. 666, De Philos. Jon. is at variance with the testiætat. ii. A. 39) that Socrates mony of the best witnesses. could not have been born in the The reasons for it are without third or fourth year of an doubt quite as weak as those Olympiad, since he was twenty- for a similar statement respectfive (Synes. Calv. Enc. c. 17) ing Aristides, and arose seemat the time of his interview ingly from some Peripatetic's with Protagoras, which inter- wish to find authorities for his view happened (Plato, Parm.) view of the orth of riches. at the time of the Panathenæa, Plato (Apol. 23, B., 38, A.; and consequently in the third Rep. i. 337, D.) and Xenophon year of an Olympiad, will not (Ec. ii. 2 ; xi. 3 ; Mem. i. 2, 1) hold water. Supposing the represent him not only as very interview to be even a fact, poor, πάνυ μικρά κεκτημένος and which is very doubtful, the èv tevlą uupia, but they also remark of Synesius (Calv. Enc. give reasons for thinking so. c. 17) respecting the age of Plato makes him say, perhaps Socrates is a pure guess, and he could pay a fine of a mina, altogether refuted by the lan- and Xenophon depicts him as