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huntsman, must be no easy task. “ How canst thou contend with horses," is the feeling of every breathless commentator panting afoot through the thickets of the Dialectics. The intricacies of the dialogue are endless, “a mighty maze," though we cannot add," not without a plan.” His dialogues are not as those state hunts in which the ground is measured, the beaters in livery, the dogs as well trained as the domestics, and the deer dies by courtesy, when the monarch canters up, with the grand huntsman a horselength behind him, to give the coup de grace. Plato sets out on a bonâ fide hunt after truth; the race is to the swift; the Sophists are not courtiers that fall back to let Socrates come in to the death. Sometimes the game escapes from the one, to fall into the hands of the other-oftener still it escapes both alike. They run across each other; laugh at each other's falls; change sides and end the dialogue; often by affirming what each set out with denying. Their logic is about as consistent as that of Hudibras :
sense of the word-to the one all the world is a stage, to the other all the world an academy. The motto of the Globe theatre, “totus mundus agit histrionem," suited such an imperial fancy as Shakespeare's, which laid the whole world under contribution. The range of Plato's is no less extensive, It is even more wonderful in the philosopher than the poet ; for that discursiveness which enables us to alight on truth in poetry leads us off the scent in philosophy. We often wonder how Plato can ever recover himself, and pick up the loose links of thought which have been thrown away in the pursuit of some digressive fancy.
All this deserves to be stated in justice to any expositor of Plato. It is only a diligent student of the Platonic dialogues who can do any justice to the difficulty of such a task as Mr. Butler has not only attempted, but to a great extent succeeded in.
We cannot better introduce our readers to the study of Plato than in the following noble passage from Mr. Butler's lectures:
Besides t'was known he could dispute, Confute, change liands, and still confute.
There is only one thing in the world like a dialogue of Plato-and that is á play of Shakespeare. A comparison of the two will give the English reader some insight into a lecturer's difficulties with Plato as his text book. With our English poet as all the world is a stage-50 on the philosopher's stage is crowded all the world. Shakespeare knows no more of unities than nature-a drunken porter, and a Macbeth that murders sleep, shuffle each other off the same stage. The voice of man is as the sound of many waters—the wail of woe and the ring of laughter blend together in the hunı of great Babylon. With an ear for every sound, Shakespeare wrote of them as he heard them. With a mind as music itself, he knew a higher harmony than the laws of the drama could have taught him, and modulated discords as a master musician only can do. To understand Plato is to understand Shakspeare. None but these two could so nobly play the buffoon, or negligently act the noble. Shakespeare is no more a playwright than Plato a philosopher in the pedant
“We have traced the chief lineaments of those minor philosophies which engaged the Grecian world during the latter life, and immediately after the death of Socrates. In reviewing them, marked as they are by strong characteristic differences, we have been, as it were, modulating through a diversity of keys in the human soul; but all these are only the prelude to the more solemn and profound harmony to follow. It is not without emotion that I arrive at that stage of our progress which brings me to the philosophy of Pluto: a philosophy which, whether regarded in itself, or with reference to its influences upon the history of reflective man, rises before us in all the dignity of the mightiest and and most permanent monument ever erected by unassisted human thought exercised upon the human destinies. It is true, that in the opinion of the multitude, this majestic structure can now be considered as little more than the ruin of ancient glory; the interest that still belongs to it is, in their mind, the interest that attends the decay of everything which bears the impress of former greatness, and that makes all for ever venerable which once was venerated. Even in this view the speculations of Plato would amply recompense the inquiry of every mind which has learned to find its Present in the Past; and which, seeing little in the world around it to engage or gratify, would gladly compose its favourite scenery of thought from the ideal excellences of a world that cannot return. But the claims of the Platonic philosopiy far overpass this inferior ground. Its powerful influences in every age sufficiently demonstrate this. They prove that, what ever opinion we inay justly form regarding the details of its reasoning, and however we may be disposed to criticise their legitimacy, there is, in the body of the system itself, a something which finds its echo in the heart, and its reflexion in the reason, of universal man : and they suggest that even its errors, it they exist, are, from their peculiar complexion and character, likely to be better worth investigation than the truths of narrower theories. We may refuse assent to the express decisions of the Master, we may often lament his wavering indecision of style, and his conclusions in which nothing seems concluded, - we may regret also that Imagi. nation should flush with her rich and changeful hues those very regions which it is the declared purpose of the philosopher to present in the ethereal transparency of pure Reason ; and, lost in the bewildering labyrinth of beauty, we may sometimes sigh for the cold exactness of Plato's great pupil and rival;—but in defiance of all our exceptions, objections, and perplexities, there is a spell in the page, and no man, worthy to read Plato, can read him, and not own himself in the presence of a mighty Interpreter of the human Soul."
A critic of Plato must be forgiven if some of the desultoriness of his author creeps over him. The difficulty of reducing speculations SO wide and all-embracing within the limits of any system, has always met the student of Plato at the very threshold. “Shall we return to our subject,” asks Socrates, in the Theætetus ? “Not at all, Socrates," is the reply. You have justly said that we are not the slaves of our discussion, but our discussion of us.” The course of argument flows on with Plato, but it is after the sentiment of Wordsworth :The river glided at its own sweet will;
between the two is opinion. Dialectics, or the master-science, conducts us out of the world of phenomena and opinions, into one of substance and truth.
Absolute goodness, which contained the harmony of the Pythagorean within the limits of the Elean school, together with an ethical and cosmological element which Plato had the merit of adding to the colder ontological abstraction of earlier philosophies, stood in the place of the relative personal God of revelation to us. As theology is the master-science with us, so ontology was to Plato; and as our ethics or physics are sound or not, according as they stand related to a true, that is, a Christian theism, so with Plato these same were dependant branches of ontology. Taking Descartes's illustration of a tree, ontology was the root, ethics the trunk, and physics the branches. Dialectics, or the root-science, became thus first in importance, ethics the next, and physics the last and least.
It is curious, and worth remarking, that the order of treatment of the three groups of sciences, ontological, or its modern equivalent, theological, ethical, and physical, is exactly reversed in modern times.
In Socrates' time, theology was corrupted with physics; as in Bacon's time, physics was corrupted by theology. Socrates first classed the sciences in the order of importance ontology, or the science of essence, first; next, ethics ; last, physics. Considered by itself, this is the natural and true order of knowledge. God known first as the absolute, and man next, in twofold revelation of him. self• The starry heaven, and the soul of man.'
But though ontology, or pure theology, in importance is first, in practical life it is the last of the three. With reference to the study of physics, it is a “virgin barren, and dedicated to God." The science of final causes had thus intruded into the department of physics in the time of Bacon, as phy: sics in the time of Socrates had threatened to thrust out ontology. The deductive method was thus set on foot by Socrates as a check against Atheism ; and the inductive by Bacon as a check against superstition
and, once embarked on it, we must take it with all its windings if we follow its course at all.
The whole of Plato's dialogues have generally been classed under these three great divisions, Dialectics, Morals, Physics.
Dialectics is the investigation of the eternally and absolutely good, morals the imitation of it, physics the sensible result of it. According to Plato, science is of being ; nescience or ignorance of non-being,-midway
Each in his day and generation transcend the sources of our knowwas a reformer. In ontology Socrates ledge, and define being by one of its erected an altar to the unknown God, modes. and thus kept alive the religious The institutes of metaphysics by principle till the day when a wiser Professor Ferrier is one of the latest than Socrates stood on Mars' Hill to and boldest attempts of ontology. declare, “whom ye ignorantly wor That Mr. Ferrier's theory of knowing ship, him I declare unto you,"--while and being has failed, we do not Bacon, assuming the truth of theology pause here to state—it is enough to in the revelation of a personal God, remark that he "erry with Plato," set the mind free rom logical ques and is content to err in such good tions about final causes--the old on company. To us who think that ontology, whose use was past-to study tology had its place in ancient specunature as it is, and from the wisdom lation, answering to theology in moof eternal laws, and the yet greater dern, such an excuse seems invalid ; wisdom of their particular colloca for Plato, we verily believe, would tions, to build up a cumulative argu have abandoned ontology and the ment for design, to which even reveal philosophy of the absolute, had a ed theology is not ashamed to way been opened up to him to believe acknowledge its obligations.
in what he could not know. RationalThe beautiful harmony between ism had some excuse in days of polySocrates' work in the world, and Ba theism ; now it has none. The true con's, the founders of the deductive gnostic now is he who adores One and inductive methods respectively, who, as the absolute, he can never is becoming better understood every know, and believes in a Divine Perday. There are a few perverse doc- son who, as unconditioned, he cannot trinaires in both extremes--the posi understand. tive school on the side of Bacon, the It would have been interesting had intuitionalists on the side of Plato, the nature of Mr. Butler's argument who would repudiate the other ; but allowed him to trace every error of the good in the end has come out of the Platonic physics and ethics to this long controversy, and “our thoughts TPWToy yevdos of ontology. It led are widening with the circle of the him, for instance, to contradict himself sun," until good men have come to so far as to admit that, since science admit that deductive truth now be- and being are one, virtue as a part of longs to revelation, and inductive to being is also a science, and therefore science ; and that in the order of ab- may be taught--an admission which solute importance, the method of the Sophists he opposed had turned Plato must be followed, from theology to very good account. Professor Ferto ethics, and from ethics to physics; rier's theory of knowing and being but that in the order of practical life may thus be of use to the student of and daily use, the order of Bacon, Plato, as exhibiting in full-blow the from physics to ethics, and from one error to which may be traced as ethics to theology, the last and sacred in the bud every other aberration of retreat of thought must be preserved. Platonism.
Dialectics, according to Plato, being It has been well said that we can the master-science, and ethics and never survey a science from its own physics its two derived branches, it level-we must ascend above it to is easily seen that whatever faults take it in, in all its details. The field there are in Plato's ethical or physi- of Platonism is thus far too wide to cal representations take their rise in be surveyed by simple mensuration. an error in his dialectics. That error Measuring-chain in hand, Professor we believe to be the identification of Butler has patiently and exactly knowledge and being. The definition taken the area of several distinct of being by science is a definition of fields of thought. Thus his survey a whole by its part, or a substance by of the physics of Plato, as contained one of its attributes-and, this error in the Timæus, is perhaps the fullest once admitted, flows down through all and exactest account of the dialogue the branches of his philosophy. We we possess; but our space would not cannot too strongly protest against permit us to follow him through one this vain presumptuous attempt to of these measured fields of philoso
phy; and therefore we have chosen a height from whence to look down on the whole. Dialectics, ethics, physics, all spring out of the attempt to deduce truth logically from the theory of the identity of knowing and being. In so far as knowledge is co-extensive with being, Plato is always right; when being transcends knowledge, Plato, with all ontologists, is always wrong. The strength of Plato is when, Antus-like, he touches earth; his weakness is, when he attempts to soar above the conditioned; when
ye cannot see The stirring of his wings, and yet he soars.
does not take the bearings of his mas ter's philosophy from above, but from his side. Wanting this higher criticism, he has left us nothing to desire as an English interpreter of Plato. To the student his book indeed may be safely offered as a manual to Plato. The series on Aristotle was left untinished. Aristotle was too great an encyclopædist himself to admit of such fragmentary treatment. In a future edition, should the publishers find a demand for it, we would suggest the issue of the series of lectures on Plato, separate from the rest ; we could part without regret with the introductory series. Some of the first lectures on early Greek and Indian philosophy are not much better than those found in the ordinary historita of philosophy: and we expect some thing better than comparative excel lence from the author of the Letter on Development. Not so with the series beginning with Socrates, and carrying us through the Platonie philosophy; it deserves a high place in the literature of the subject; and will no doubt keep it, whether linked with an introductory ries which may be allowed to drop off, or, as we desire, separated from it as an original and distinct survey of the life and opinions of Plato.
We have only one complaint to make of Mr. Butler, that he has not taken his wings, and criticised Plato from the height as well as from the plain. We miss that decision of view which comprehends Plato as well as apprehends him, from the eminence of that higher logic of which Sir W. Hamilton is the great modern master. Mr. Butler's criticism of Plato is more genial than severe and discriminating. He follows him on his own level as a truth-seeker, rather than looks down as one that has found it in an established school of philo sophy. As the disciple is not above his master, Butler as a Platonist
THE FORTUNER OF GLENCO R E.
AN UPTONIAN DESPATCH.
“British Legation, Naples. mean to avail myself of the polite “My dear Harcourt,
ness. The Duke of San Giustino " It would seem that a letter of has also offered me his palace at Baia, mine to you must have miscarried, but I don't fancy leaving this just a not unfrequent occurrence when now, where there is a doctor, a certain entrusted to our Foreign Office for Tommasso Buffeloni, who really seems transmission. Should it ever reach to have hit off my case. He calls it you, you will perceive how unjustly arterial athriticis, a kind of inflamyou have charged me with neglecting matory action of one coat of the aryour wishes. I have ordered the terial system; his notion is highly Sicilian wine for your friend. I have ingenious, and wonderfully borne out obtained the Royal leave for you to by the symptoms. I wish you would shoot in Calabria ; and, I assure you, ask Brodie, or any of our best men, it is rather a rare incident in my whether they have met with this life to have forgotten nothing re affection ? what class it affects, and quired of me! Perhaps you, who what course it usually takes? My know me well, will do me this justice, Italian doctor implies, that it is the and be the more grateful for my pre- passing malady of men highly exsent promptitude.
citable, and largely endowed with “It was quite a mistake sending mental gifts. I think I can recognise me here ; for anything there is to be the accuracy of this hypothesis. It done, Spencer or Lonsdale would per is only nature makes the blunder of fectly suffice. I ought to have gone giving the sharpest swords the weakto Vienna ; and so they know at est scabbards—what a pity the weapon home-but it's the old game played cannot be worn naked! over again. Important questions ! “You ask me if I like this place. why, my dear friend, there is not a I do, perhaps, as well as I should like matter between this country and our anywhere. There is a wonderful own that rises above the capacity of sameness over the world just now, a colonel of dragoons. Meanwhile, preluding, I have very little doubt, really great events are preparing in some great outburst of nationality the East of Europe-not that I am for all the countries of Europe. Just going to inflict them upon you, noras periods of Puritanism succeed inask you to listen to speculations tervals of gross licentiousness. which even they in authority turn a “Society here is, therefore, as you deaf ear to.
see it in London or Paris; well-bred " It is very kind of you to think of people, like gold, are current every my health. I am still a sufferer, the where. There is really little peculiar old pains rather aggravated than re- to observe. I don't perceive that lieved by this climate. You are aware there is more levity than elsewhere. that, though warm, the weather here The difference is, perhaps, that there has some exciting property, some ex- is less shame about it since it is under cess or other of a peculiar gas in the the protection of the Church. atmosphere, prejudicial to certain “I go out very little : my notion temperaments. I feel it greatly, and is that the Diplomatist, like the though the season is midsummer, I ancient Augur, must not suffer himam obliged to dress entirely in a light self to be vulgarized by contact. He costume of buckskin, and take Mar- can only lose, not gain, by that mixed salla baths, which refresh me, at intercourse with the world. I have least, for the while. I have also taken a few who come when I want them, to smoke the leaves of the nux and go in like manner. They tell vomica steeped in arrack, and think me what is going on far better and it agrees with me. The king has more truthfully than paid employés, most kindly placed a little villa at and they cannot trace my intentions Ischia at my disposal ; but I do not through my enquiries, and hasten off VOL. XLVII.--NO. CCLXXXII.