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It was in the Golden Age of Attic philosophy, and especially in the efforts of Plato and ARISTOTLE, that Gentile thought put forth its proudest efforts by wisdom to find out God. The views of these two thinkers deserve, therefore, special study.


PLATO: GENERAL PRINCIPLES. Plato gives to Greek ethics a broad basis and scientific form. The world is an objective expression of divine ideas—a thing of beauty. Whatever corresponds to the divine idea, whatever is Godlike, is good. Man's final cause is, by virtne of his rational spirituality, consciously and freely to realize the good. The essence of virtue is delight in the good as being truly beautiful; that is, it is love. Virtue, as being in itself harmony of soul, is also the condition of true happiness. It is not, however, the mere sensation of pleasure, but rational knowledge that is the criterion of the good. Virtue, therefore, is neither indifferent to pleasure, nor consists in it, but produces it. Nevertheless all virtue, because of the imperfection essentially clinging to actual existence, remains ever incomplete in the earthly life; the corporeal state itself of mian is a hinderance to the truly good.

Virtue is essentially an indivisible whole, but because of its relation to manifold spiritual faculties and activities it presents itself under the four forms of wisdom, manliness, temperance, and justice; of which the first is fundamental and controls the others.

Morality, however, is not an isolated quality of the individual; it is fully realized only in the moral community, the State ; and the State, instead of being based on the family and on moral association, is rather itself the all-inclusive form of moral sociality. It produces out of itself and dominates with unlimited authority both the family and all other social bonds. The absolutism of the State swallows up into itself every right of the individual and of the family, and it is not as man, or as à member of the family, but only as citizen, that the individual is capable of true morality. But it is only a small minority who are capable of citizenship; and this gifted few are, by the very fact of their capability, called to the unlimited guidance of the majority. The moral calling is, therefore, not for man in general, nor is it for all the same, nor is it in its full scope possible for all.

BASIS AND NATURE OF VIRTUE. Plato far surpassed Socrates in spiritual insight. His creative genius developed the thoughts which his master had seen but in the distance into profound theories widely differing from the popular moralizing of Socrates. His unsystematized ethical thoughts lie profusely strewn through his works, Protagoras, Laches, Charmides, Euthyphron, Gorgias, Menon, Philebus, Politicus, and especially in the work wherein he shows the practical application of his ethical views, The State.

In taking a deeper hold than had yet been done on the thought of the rational spirit, Plato gains a much firmer basis for the ethical than any previous philosopher. The world, though not created, is yet molded by God, the absolute rational spirit, and is the truest possible expression of his thoughts, a copy of the divine eternal ideas. The realization of an idea is the beautiful; the cosmos is therefore a thing of beauty. The rational undying spirit of man is called to realize the beautiful, the ideal ; and the highest goal of human life is ideality, that is, it is to become like God. This Godlikeness, consisting in justness and intelligent piety, is the good, and the highest good is God himself. But Plato does not further develop this thought of Godlikeness, and, indeed, he could not, as the idea itself of God, from his heather stand-point, was too indefinite. The idea of good is not derived from the idea of God, but contrarily the idea of God from the idea of the good, as being fundamental and per se certain. The Platonic and the Christian idea of Godlikeness are widely different. In the place of the notion of a divine command we have that of the idea of the good, innate in the reason itself. This is the only conceivable revelation of the divine will. The good, which is conceived rather indefinitely as the inner harmony and order, or beauty, of the soul, that is, as the completed domination of the reason over the lower appetites-a formal rather than a material definition--is per se divine and real, and as such is to be sought after. Virtue of itself renders truly happy, that is, produces inner soul-harmony; and there is no happiness

' without virtue, for virtue itself is harmony, or beauty, of soul. To do wrong is the greatest of all evils, greater than to suffer wrong. But happiness is not identical with every transitory feeling of pleasure. Such a feeling, being dependent on outward circumstances and mental moods, cannot, like the idea of the good, be unconditionally known, hence it cannot be a eriterion of the good, nor can the good be sought after merely because of its pleasure.

The knowledge of the idea of the good being, like the consciousness of any other idea, not a product of reflective thought but an immediate possession of the reason, and the highest form of knowledge, is the basis and condition of virtue. Virtue is not a natural quality of man, but must be learned, and by learning be appropriated. The knowledge of the good leads necessarily to the cultivation of what is recognized as good. Evil springs essentially from error, and is never consciously and designedly committed. In this, Plato is perfectly in harmony with Socrates. The will has no independence in the face of knowledge, but is merely its necessary expression. The sensual desires, it is true, can oppose reason, but the spiritnal will cannot. But that the heart, the spiritual essence itself of man, can have a natural propension to evil, Plato has no conception. And yet we find in him an obscure consciousness of the disorder of the actual world in the fact that he regards the present imprisonment of the soul in a body not as its original and natural condition but as a penal state. In fact, according to Plato, the soul existed as a rational personality in a previous bodiless state, and was imprisoned in a trammeling body only because of a moral transgression, so that now it is, as it were, fettered in a dark cell or cave. Also for another reason, thongh the good is the highest goal, yet is it never fully attainable in the earthly life. For as the actual world is not exclusively the work of the absolute Divine will, but is a product of two factors, of which the one is the primitive, unreal, (un ov,) formless matter, and the other the ideal Divine will, and as this undivine matter does not perfectly yield to the will of God in stamping his ideas upon it, even as wax does not perfectly reproduce all the fine feat

ures of a seal, so is the world not absolutely perfect, but only the best possible one. It is not the pure expression of the rational spirit, but there clings to it a never-to-be-overcome substratum of irrationality: an evil lying in the essence itself of the world, which, while not originating in the transgression of moral beings, is yet the ground-spring of all moral evil-an original sin. So, also, there is in man himself an original and never, in this life, entirely-overcomable disagreement between reason and the lower animal appetites, which should, in fact, be controlled by reason. Hence, with Plato, the moral consciousness lacks that hopeful confidence which characterizes it in the Christian system.

“ Evil can never be overcome, for there must ever be something opposed to the good; it cannot have hold among the gods, but dwells in mortal nature; hence, man must strive as speedily as possible to flee hence.” “True philosophers desire to strive after nothing else than to die and be departed; for so long as we have the body, and our soul is joined to this evil, we cannot attain that whereafter we long." And they refrain from laying upon themselves suicidal hands only because God has placed them in this life as upon a watch which should not be rashly abandoned.

Morality consists, therefore, principally in man's turning himself to the ideal or spiritual, and from the merely sensuous. But this is only the ideal side of morality; the other is the real. As God, impressing his ideas upon matter, shaped the world into an object of beauty, so must also man actively work on nature, transforming it into beauty. Virtuousness is, consequently, active pleasure in the beautiful, which itself is harmony, not merely physical but also spiritual. The essence of virtue, or this pleasure in the beautiful, is love, eros, a thought fondly dwelt upon by Plato. But this love is widely different from Christian love, whereby man in communion with God feels himself in spiritual union with his fellow; but it is a love for the appearance, for the beautiful. Not the divine per se is loved, but only its concrete and essentially sensuous manifestation. It is not a love of soul for sonl, but one that clings to the sensuous form. Hence, in Plato's State, it has no significance for the family. It is true, eros rises from the sensuous to the spiritual, to soul-beauty; but the sensuous remains the basis, and does not derive its worth from the spiritual. The beautiful


under all its forms is per se a relation of the Divine ; is, in fact, the only phase of the Divine which we know. This is the characteristically Greek stand-point : beauty and grace cover every sin; even the frivolous is recognized as good, provided only it is beautiful. The approval of love under every form, even that of unnatural lust, is so familiar to the Greek that, to the shame of Greek morality, even Plato seeks philosophically to justify it. The predominant trait of love here is not self-denial, as with the Christian, but rather pleasure. I love another not for his sake but for mine. Love knows no sacrificing suffering, but only a rejoicing; at most a suffering of longing or jealousy. It is true, a merely sensual, fleshly love is censured; but wherever there is a higher love, not simply for the body but also for the soul, and where the Divine is recognized in the beautiful, there sensual love, even under the form of a detilement of its own sex, finds its justification and becomes a virtue, nay, a religious enthusiasm. “Esthetically done it is beautiful, but otherwise shameful.” The simple circumstance that Plato speaks so often, so lengthily, and with such manifest fondness of this absolutely vicious love, (Rom. i, 27,) while he hardly mentions mere sexnal love, and in his extended discourses on eros, says not one word of conjugal love, and yet attempts by the strangest sophistry and enthusiastic poetizing to drive away a lingering suspicion that this unnatural vice is, after all, infamous, is an astonishing evidence of the moral darkness of the Greek mind.


Plato's development of the idea of the ethical is as follows: Virtue is of one-told nature, and appears primarily under the form of wisdom, copía, that is, a knowledge of the true and good. But in that wisdom discovers to the consciousness what in the moral life is really to be feared, and what not, it assumes a special form, and gives rise to the virtue of manliness or courage, ανδρεία. In that it teaches wherein the inner harmony of the. soul consists, and how to hold the passions in subjection to reason, it assumes the form of temperance, owoposúvn. In that it properly orders the inner soul-harmony in its active relations to others, claiming its own rights and conceding the rights of others, it appears asjustness. Thus the three virtues, manliness,

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