Page images
PDF
EPUB

(if absolute rest were ever to be discovered) the exception. Notwithstanding all this, the mind cannot divest itself of that idea (whether innate, or acquired, or suggested) which it hath of body, as distinguished from space; and whenever this idea is clearly called out, the soul doth affirm of necessity, and in spite of all the phenomena of experience to the contrary, that matter cannot move itself. The same necessity compels it, also, to declare that matter cannot continue motion by virtue of any inherent power, any more than it can commence it, and this, too, notwithstanding the opposing dogma so confidently laid down in all our books of natural philosophy. We have the constant observation of ten thousand motions, commenced and continued without the visible intervention of any spiritual agent, and apparently the result of innate properties, and yet, when the mind remains sound and true to itself, all this does not at all weaken the innate conviction, that every kívnois implies the existence of an originating will or spirit somewhere, however many the impulsive forces that may seem to have intervened between that will and its ultimate object. When the mind is in a healthy state, we say it is compelled to affirm, and does affirm this, with the same confidence as the proposition that the three angles of every triangle are equal to two right angles, or that two bodies cannot occupy the same space.

Even this, notwithstanding it lies at the foundation of mechanical and dynamical physics, is ultimately to be resolved into a logical necessity, that is, a necessary affirmation into which the mind is driven by those laws of its own, that form not only our bighest, but our only idea of truth. Hence, having the idea, or that notion under which it is forced to think of matter, the soul affirms that two bodies occupying the same space are one body, because the last differentia, or émepolótns, is destroyed.

XVII.

Soul Older than Body. PAGE 19, LINE 16. Σωμάτων έμπροσθεν πάντων γενομένη. Compare with this Timeus, 34, Β.: Την δε δη ψυχήν ούχ ως νύν υστέραν επιχειρούμεν λέγειν, ούτως έμηχανήσατο και ο θεός νεωτέραν. ου γαρ άν άρχεσθαι πρεσβύτερον υπό νεωτέρου συνέρξας είασεν. ο δε και γενέσει και αρετη προτέραν και πρεσβυτέραν ψυχήν σώματος, ώς δεσπότιν και άρξουσαν άρξομένου συνεστήσατο. « God did not create soul, as we now speak of it (in the order of our argument), posterior and junior; for he would not have suffered an elder thing to be ruled by a younger. Wherefore he constituted soul, both by virtue and by birth, to be prior to and older than body, as the mistress and ruler thereof." The term yuxū is used here in a less sense than in the tenth of the Laws, where it includes all that is immaterial, and is employed in a peculiar manner for God as distinguished from φύσις. Ιt, however, means much more, in this passage of the Timæus, than the soul of man. The philosopher is speaking of soul collectively, the animus mundi, or Soul of the Universe, as distinct from, inferior to, and dependent upon, the Deity who had constituted it (συνεστήσατο, εμηχανήσατο), and yet as the source and fountain from which all other souls emanate or are generated, whether of men or of the inferior Divinities, according to that verse of Pindar, Nem., Carm. vi., Σ., α., 1, 2:

"Εν ανδρών, εν θεών γένος εκ
μιάς δε πνέομεν

ματρός αμφότεροι. If soul is older than body or matter, then the properties or innate powers (ovyyevñ) of the former must be also before those of the latter. Wherefore, as he says below, δόξα δή και επιμέλεια και νούς και τέχνη και νόμος (τα συγγενή ψυχής), πρότερα αν είη σκληρών και μαλακών και βαρέων και κούφων (των προσηκόντων σώματι). «Thought, and providence, and reason, and art, and law, must have been before hard, and soft, and heavy, and light.” It is evident that the term owua here is not taken for organized substances, but is in all respects equivalent to our word matter; for he mentions only those elementary properties which belong to it, or were supposed to belong to it as matter, such as hardness or resistance, weight, &c. So that there is nothing in this word against the inference we have drawn respecting Plato's opinion on the eternity of the material world, whether regarded as organized or unorganized. It seems to us perfectly clear that in every sense of the word, as used by the modern philosophy, he held matter to be junior to soul.

The order of the argument, it should be observed here, is the direct opposite of what is commonly styled the a posteriori. In the latter, we proceed from evidences of fitness in matter to a soul or art, which, for all that this method can oppose to the contrary, may have been the offspring of an older púous, of whose adaptations its designs may be only an imperfect imitation, whether regarded as proceeding from the soul of man, or of some superhuman being. In the other, the older existence of spirit is first established, and then it is inferred, even before experimental induc. tion, that there must be such evidences of design, because art and law, which are properties of soul, must be older than the material structures in which they are exhibited. On the scheme of the atheist, or the naturalist (the worshipper of qúous), only some of the smaller and latest productions were the work of téxvn making its appearance in the latter cycles of the universe. In the other view, which the author here presents, τα μεγάλα και πρώτα έργα και πράξ. εις τέχνης αν γίγνοιτο, όντα εν πρώτοις, τα δε φύσει και φύσις ύστερα και αρχόμενα αν εκ τέχνης είη και νού, ,

N

“ The great and first works would be the works of art, while the things of nature, and even nature herself, would be posterior to, and ruled by art and mind."

There is likewise another view which is essential to the full interpretation of the passage, namely, that not only was it impossible that these phenomena of matter should exist objectively, without the previous existence of soul as an efficient cause of that substance of which they are phenomena, but also that they could not exist subjectively without a soul of which they constitute the sensations. In this sense, also, is it true that spirit must be older than hard, and soft, and visible, &c. Compare the passage in the Phædon, in which he refutes the doctrine that the soul is only a harmony, by showing that its pre-existence is essential to harmony itself, and that, where the former is not present, the latter is nothing more than dead strings, and chords, and tensions, and relaxations, and vibrations of the air, but has as harmony no real or true being.

It is clear that the same reasoning may be carried down through all the elementary properties of matter.

XVIII. Remarkable Comparison of the Dangerous Flood. PAGE 21, LINE 3. Σκοπείτε ούν, καθάπερ ει ποταμόν ημάς έδει τρείς όντας διαβαίνειν ρέοντα σφόδρα, κ. τ. λ. The common reading is εί καθάπερ. We have ventured to make the change from the exigency of the place, and on the authority of Stephanus. “Consider, then, as if we three had to cross a violently flowing river," &c. The Athenian here most graphically compares himself and his two companions, just entering upon this most profound and difficult argument respecting motion, to men who are about to plunge into a deep and rapid torrent, and who, therefore, need the utmost caution in the examination of every step, lest, if at any point they should lose a firm foothold, they might be overwhelmed in floods of darkness, and carried down the stream of doubt, without any chance of recovery. The comparison is admirably sustained, and even when it seems to be dropped, does nevertheless continue to affect the discourse, and tinge the style with a metaphorical hue for many sentences; as in the expressions, dóyos opodpótepos και άβατος-παραφερόμενος, page 22, and έχόμενοι ώς τιvos kopahoūs neiouatos, page 23. Cicero was very fond of imitating Plato, and we cannot help thinking that he had this passage in his eye, and meant to institute a similar comparison in respect to himself, when placed in like circumstances in reference to another great truth. Itaque dubitans, hesitans, circumspectans, multa adversa reverens, tamquam in rate in mari immenso, nostra vehitur oratio. Cicero, Tusc. Disp., i., 30.

So, also, in the Phædon, after exhausting the direct arguments for the immortality of the soul, Socrates “trusts himself to the best of human reasons (that is, to the old and unbroken tradition respecting the doctrine) as the safest vessel to which the soul could be committed, and on which alone, although in continual danger of shipwreck, it could be expected to outride the storms of doubt; unless, perhaps, it might hereafter find a surer vehicle in some Divine revelation, or hóyos Meios, which Heaven might yet condescend to make known to men. We do not know which to admire most, the sound philosophy, the unaffected humility, or the striking imagery, with which the whole passage abounds. Δεϊν γαρ περί αυτά έν γέ τι τούτων διαπράξασθαι, ή μαθεϊν όπη έχει, ή ευρείν, ή, εί ταύτα αδύνατον τον γούν βέλτιστον των ανθρωπίνων λόγων λαβόντα επί τούτου όχούμενον, ώσπερ επί σχεδίας, κινδυνεύοντα διαπλεύσαι τον βίον· ει μή τις δύναιτο ασφαλέστερον και ακινδυνότερον, επί βεβαιοτέρου οχήματος ή ΛΟΓΟΥ ΘΕΙΟΥ τινος,

« PreviousContinue »