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be exercised in perfection under favourable conditions, or when the people turn to it for the visions and guidance they need. Such an atmosphere seems to have been most nearly created for the poets of the great age of Athens. It was due partly to social and political conditions, the relation of literature to other ideal influences, partly to the Greek appreciation of genius and the concentration of genius in a single people.
The conception of the poet as 'idle singer of an empty day 'was far off, as was the apparatus of modern civilization through which his sphere has been narrowed down and his place lost from amongst the statesmen and prophets. Plato would not have been concerned about the idle singer, but in the case of the Iliad and the Odyssey he was dealing with works which were, as is pointed out by Dr. Adam, a kind of Bible for the Greek of his own day and, in a less authoritative sense, a practical source of ideals. The con sideration which should, we think, be added or especially emphasized here is that his whole standpoint expresses the awakening of thought to the power for good which might be exercised by a religion that should present the highest conceivable moral ideal. It is not easy for us to realize the spiritual atmosphere of a highly cultured people to whom this ideal had not been given by religion. It is not so much that the mythology represented a moral condition out of which they had passed as that it had never been necessarily moral. And now that civilization was becoming more complex the problem for culture was suddenly revealed to thoughtful minds with more or less startling clearness.
It has already been noticed that this change in the spirit of the people seems to have been working up from what may be called the subconscious stratum to express itself in the Eleusinian mysteries and their reaction upon life: some gropings at least after a religion with moral power seem evident here. The problem would become most serious in the sphere of education, and seems to have been realized with full self-consciousness by Plato. For Greek education was entering upon the second main stage in the history of education, in which it does not merely concern itself with order, the maintenance of continuity in the customs governed by tradition, but with progress, the development of reason, and training of intelligence to meet new conditions. The young are no longer at this stage limited to receiving unquestioningly the rules and precepts of mos majorum : the appeal is also to their minds, and the ideas set before them begin to be tested for their intrinsic value. Education sweeps forward with social and political evolution, and even the Eumenides of Aeschylus could not restore to the Areopagus its awful character. Nor did the issue concern the young only. The Platonic conception of an education that continues through the whole of life had at least more actual basis for suggestion in the Athens of his time than it could have had, probably, in any other social state. Plato then, it may be argued, aroused doubtless by what he thought were definite proofs of the unworthy influence of the national saga, through the magnificent poetry of the Homeric epic, was still more stirred by some consciousness of the boundless power that might be exercised by a great moral religion, and from this proceeds the strength and sorrow of his criticism.
V. It was Plato's greatest intellectual efforts, as has been earlier said, which gave birth to his religious ideas. Keeping this aspect of his genius in view, and remembering the moment in history at which he lived, and the consciousness we seem to find in him of the human need of a moral religion, we are brought to a consideration of that which appears to be the chief contribution of Greek thought to the spiritual interests of man. The gist is one which this race seems, as it were (when we bear in mind its endowments and history), elected to make, and which was completed in the work of its greatest thinker, who combined in so extraordinary a degree intellectual power with religious idealism. This element in the highest Greek thought, and especially in that of Plato, is most simply to be described as the religious enthusiasm of the search for truth, through the VOL. LXVIII. --NO. CXXXVI,
intensity of which the religious character could be built up so far as was possible in the uncertainty as to the object of the search.
It was in this direction that a few high minds which could not be satisfied with the existing substitutes for religion, on account of their non-moral character, were able to turn. Professor Burnet observes that the Pythagorean conception of philosophy as a way of life enabled Greek philosophy to do for men what religion has done for them in other ages. The chief point is, however, that this way of life, whatever it may have been for the followers of Pythagoras, was really for the greatest thinkers a way of thought, and was nothing else for Plato than the search for truth conducted with what may be called a religious passion. Baur puts the point well in his essay on Das Christliche des Platonismus, oder Sokrates und Christus : ' It is almost the only philosophy which combines with an essentially scientific character and content an essentially religious conception of its nature and mission.' 1
The service of Socrates in the growth of this essence of Platonism can never be estimated, the dramatic genius of Plato having set the relation between his master and himself in a light that cannot be analyzed into its components. One of the latest dicta of Platonic criticism? suggests that we have an actual record of the discourses of Socrates in the Phaedo itself, bringing with it the whole doctrine of Ideas, the metaphysical proofs of immortality, the extreme of intellectual asceticism. What seems at least tolerably certain is that the essentially religious conception of the nature and mission of philosophy, of which Baur speaks, was that of Socrates. All that is involved in Socrates' conception of his duty, viz. that he was divinely commanded 'to follow after wisdom and examine myself and others,'
1 "Sie ist so beinahe die einzige Philosophie, welche bei so ächt wissenschaftlichem Charakter und Gehalt einen so ächten religiösen Begriff von ihrem Wesen und Beruf gehabt hat.'
Professor A. E. Taylor in Mind, March 1909. 3 Dr. Adam also makes a similar, though more cautious, suggestion in his chapter on Socrates,
is not often so well brought out as it is by Dr. Adam. In these words in the Apology we have the germ of Plato's religious and also an essential feature of his philosophic spirit, for almost every step reached by his method of reasoning in his greatest works is greeted by what may be called a spiritual rejoicing. The present writer does not accept the literal view of the 'voice', which guided Socrates, or regard it, with Dr. Adam, as ' a hallucination of the sense of hearing’; but the view taken makes no difference to the striking similarity between the spirit of Socrates' obedience to this voice, as described by Plato and Xenophon, and that of the Hebrew prophet to the Divine command.
This general spirit which pervades the whole philosophy of Plato, through all the change or evolution in the Dialogues which has so deeply troubled criticism, is not without a basis in the fundamental tendencies of Greek thought, which should shew the inadequacy of such easy contrasts as have been pointed by too many historians, as, for instance, that 'the Greek spirit is the Affirmation of the world (Weltbejahung). The Christian spirit is the Renunciation of the world (Weltversagung).'
As Professor Lewis Campbell has shewn in Religion in Greek Literature, the seriousness of Greek literature is more noticeable than its light-heartedness. One tendency of this seriousness throughout poetry and philosophy is towards its culmination in that consciousness, which is so marked in Plato, of the dangers to the higher life involved in the conditions of ordinary existence. This sense is at times so profound as to lead him to advocate renunciation of the world and to a spiritual struggle and ascetic temper comparable to that of the mediaeval saint. So far is the highest flower of Greek culture from that kind of Humanism which is expressed in the extravagant side of the Renaissance. The point with which we are especially concerned is that the danger for Plato was to the rational part of the soul, or the mind (Nous). The simple, untroubled identification of mind with the immortal or divine element is the characteristic of this phase of thought. There goes with it an ' φωνή.
· Paulsen, Ethics.
almost reverent respect for this power in man, and a missionary persuasion of the duty of dedicating it to the development of the highest kind of life and to the service of the community. This is the special form of the Greek ethics of reason. Aristotle might be included with Plato here, but his philosophy marks a turning-point as regards the relation of the individual to the universal, and that which seems to some doubtful in Plato is lost in Aristotle, the eternity of the individual mind, a loss with which the whole philosophy of mind and the soul suffers a momentous change.
All those aspects of Platonism which are of chief religious interest, the conception of the Good, the relation of the world-soul to the individual soul, the persuasion of immortality, seem to be directly connected with the view of the divine character of mind. Indirectly dependent on it is the central position of his philosophy—the theory of ideasfor the reality of the universal, the primary work of thought, must follow from the divine and eternal nature of that which thinks. It may nevertheless be granted that if Plato had been a philosopher of the nineteenth century we might have to accept the view maintained by Hegel and other historians of philosophy, and recently put in an extreme form by M. Bovet in his dissertation Le Dieu de Platon, to which Dr. Adam refers more than once, that his philosophical position cannot be completely harmonized with theological positions which, when speaking as a religious teacher, he seems to maintain, or which, if we were considering him only as a religious thinker, we should be inclined to attribute to him. The general position of Hegel is that the Platonic interest in the Phaedo, for instance, is in the metaphysical meaning, and of this the doctrine of the soul and of immortality is a veil or allegory.
M. Bovet argues, with much ingenuity, that as a philosopher Plato (except in his last dialogues) has no concern with religion, though this need not involve that he was other than religious in temperament. The greatest question which is thus raised is that of the place of Plato's
1 Cf. Eth. Nic. x. 7.