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higher philosophy to which the whole scheme was intended to be subservient. The least we can say is, that Plato here lost himself, and produced something which was neither allegory nor reality, neither philosophy nor legislation.
It is on the subject of the domestic relations, which are supposed to be assailed in this fifth book, that there exists the greatest contrariety between the Republic and The Laws. Plato seems, even in his own day, to have been so reproached with this apparent blot in his philosophy, that he was led to take special pains to do it away in this work of his old age; and hence the great desire he shows in The Laws to set in their highest light the sanctity of the family, or parental and filial relations. We have adverted to this at some length in the first of the dissertations appended to the text. In other respects, the discrepancies between the Republic and The Laws have been greatly exaggerated. Differing, however, as they may in some of their minor details, no one can attentively study both without discovering evidences that they are productions of the same mind, and that, in the main elements of that higher philosophy on which all legislation and morals depend, they are substantially the same.
The Treatise on Laws is undoubtedly intended for a really practicable, if not a really existing State. In discussing, however, the primary principles of legislation, the author takes a very wide range, occupying far more time in what he styles the preambles, or recommendatory reasonings about the laws, than in the laws themselves. Hence there are but few points in the Platonic philosophy and ethics, as exhibited in the other dialogues, but what have some representative here. We find the same questions started respecting
the nature and origin of virtue-whether it is didakth, or capable of being taught as a science or not; whether it is one or many—that is, whether the virtues are all so essentially connected that one cannot exist without the others. We find the same views in regard to the end and origin of law—the importance in all things of looking to the idea, the êv év troddois, or one in many. There is the same reverence for antiquity and ancient myths, the same disposition to regard religion as the beginning and foundation of every system of civil polity, and the same method of representing the ideas of a God, of his goodness, his providence, of a present and future retribution, as lying at the foundation of all morals and all religion. Even in the departments of psychology and ontology we find many things in The Laws which remind us of the author of the Phædon, the Parmenides, and the Theatetus. The favourite doctrines and methods of reasoning contained in the Gorgias are exhibited everywhere; and perhaps there is no other part of Plato's works more the style and spirit of the Timæus than this very tenth book of The Laws, which we have selected as the ground of our comments in the present work.
It was on this account chosen as forming, in our judgment, one of the best central positions from whence to make excursions over a large part of the Platonic philosophy. We may perhaps be charged with having sometimes used the text as a mere thread on which to hang our own discussions; but even should it be admitted that there is some truth in this, still might it be maintained that those discussions are all closely connected with the Platonic philosophy and theology, and that from this field we never depart, unless, perhaps, to dwell on kindred subjects suggested by the
Holy Scriptures. Our object has not been merely to make a classical text-book, but to recommend Plato to the student or reader by every means through which attention could be drawn to our favourite author ; believing that in no other way could we render a better service to the cause of true philosophy and religion. Some may say that, in our great partiality, Plato is made to talk too much like a Christian. It may be that we have found senses higher and more Scriptural than are contained in the letter of the passages to which reference is made; yet even if this is, to some extent, the case, it only shows the suggestive nature of his philosophy; how it is capable of carrying the earnest reader to more spiritual views than the author himself, perhaps, ever entertained, and how he differs, in this respect, from all other profane writers of ancient or modern times. We think it will be found that the views in which we have indulged are thus naturally suggested ; that they are not hunted for, or brought from afar, but are such as, if not always contained in the precise letter of our text, do most easily present themselves in connexion with it, especially to one who reads Plato by the light of the Christian Revelation. On this subject, of what may be called the Platonic Spiritual Sense, or capability of accommodation to higher views, the reader is referred to Dissertation LX., where it is treated of at some length.
In pursuance of this favourite plan of recommending Plato and the Platonic philosophy, the method followed in the present work was adopted. The text and critical notes form by much the smallest part, and even these accompanying annotations frequently exhibit as much of a philosophical and theological as of a critical character. The longer dissertations an-,
nexed, and which, for the reader's convenience, we have divided into numbered sections, with general and running titles, are devoted almost entirely to the eluci. dation of some of the main points of the Platonic philosophy, in their connexion with other systems of antiquity, to a comparison, whenever there was occasion for it, with the sentiments of Aristotle, illustrations drawn from the Grecian poets, together with a continual reference to the Holy Scriptures, by way of resemblance, contrast, agreement, or condemnation. For these purposes, there have been introduced, from almost all the other Platonic dialogues, very frequent and extended quotations of the most striking passages; being such as, besides having a natural connexion with the subject discussed, would promote our main design, by producing in the reader a desire to have a deeper knowledge of Plato than is generally possessed by the greater part of our philosophical and theological writers. To these quotations, in almost every case, full translations have been given, sometimes literal, and sometimes paraphrastic. The exceptions to this course are, when the nature and substance of the quotation were sufficiently indicated by the manner of its introduction. The main references are to the Timæus, the Republic, the Phædon, Gorgias, Theætetus, Parmenides, Philebus, Protagoras, Symposion, Politicus, Cratylus, Sophista, and the other books of The Laws, with occasional citations from most of the minor dialogues having any claims to be regarded as genuine.
The work has been the result of a careful examination of the Platonic writings; in which we have sought to interpret Plato mainly by himself, and by the aid, on the one hand, of his jealous rival, Aristotle, and on the other, of his enthusiastic admirer,
Cicero. Of modern critical and philosophical helps, whether English or German, we make little display, because, in fact, we have made but little or no use of them. In regard to the text, we have followed that of Bekker and Ast, who hardly differ at all, either in words or punctuation. Wherever there has been a departure from them, the reasons are assigned, mainly in the shorter notes. The critical means within our power have been very limited, and we therefore, in this department, ask indulgence for any errors which may have been committed. For the philosophical opinions advanced no such plea is interposed. By their own merit, and their accordance with the true interpretation of the Platonic system, they stand or fall.
One design of the work is to serve as a text-book for senior classes in college, not so much by way of furnishing an exercise in the study of the Greek language, as for the higher object of exhibiting, in connexion with the Platonic, the other systems of Greek philosophy, and their bearing upon the Christian theology. On the same grounds, it is supposed that it may be found useful to students in our theological seminaries, and form no unprofitable addition to the libraries of clergymen, besides commending itself generally to the attention of our scholars and literary men.
We believe that in this age there is a peculiar call for a deeper knowledge of Plato. Some acquaintance with his doctrine of ideas seems needed as a corrective to the tendency, so widely prevalent, to resolve all knowledge into an experimental induction of facts, not only in physical, but also in ethical and political science. If the Good, to adopt our author's own style,* is something more than pleasure or happiness,
* See The Cratylus, 440, B.; also Dissertation XX., p. 163.