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    Introduction and Analysis

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    Chapter 1
    The dramatic power of the dialogues of Plato appears to diminish as the
    metaphysical interest of them increases (compare Introd. to the Philebus).
    There are no descriptions of time, place or persons, in the Sophist and
    Statesman, but we are plunged at once into philosophical discussions; the
    poetical charm has disappeared, and those who have no taste for abstruse
    metaphysics will greatly prefer the earlier dialogues to the later ones.
    Plato is conscious of the change, and in the Statesman expressly accuses
    himself of a tediousness in the two dialogues, which he ascribes to his
    desire of developing the dialectical method. On the other hand, the
    kindred spirit of Hegel seemed to find in the Sophist the crown and summit
    of the Platonic philosophy--here is the place at which Plato most nearly
    approaches to the Hegelian identity of Being and Not-being. Nor will the
    great importance of the two dialogues be doubted by any one who forms a
    conception of the state of mind and opinion which they are intended to
    meet. The sophisms of the day were undermining philosophy; the denial of
    the existence of Not-being, and of the connexion of ideas, was making truth
    and falsehood equally impossible. It has been said that Plato would have
    written differently, if he had been acquainted with the Organon of
    Aristotle. But could the Organon of Aristotle ever have been written
    unless the Sophist and Statesman had preceded? The swarm of fallacies
    which arose in the infancy of mental science, and which was born and bred
    in the decay of the pre-Socratic philosophies, was not dispelled by
    Aristotle, but by Socrates and Plato. The summa genera of thought, the
    nature of the proposition, of definition, of generalization, of synthesis
    and analysis, of division and cross-division, are clearly described, and
    the processes of induction and deduction are constantly employed in the
    dialogues of Plato. The 'slippery' nature of comparison, the danger of
    putting words in the place of things, the fallacy of arguing 'a dicto
    secundum,' and in a circle, are frequently indicated by him. To all these
    processes of truth and error, Aristotle, in the next generation, gave
    distinctness; he brought them together in a separate science. But he is
    not to be regarded as the original inventor of any of the great logical
    forms, with the exception of the syllogism.

    There is little worthy of remark in the characters of the Sophist. The
    most noticeable point is the final retirement of Socrates from the field of
    argument, and the substitution for him of an Eleatic stranger, who is
    described as a pupil of Parmenides and Zeno, and is supposed to have
    descended from a higher world in order to convict the Socratic circle of
    error. As in the Timaeus, Plato seems to intimate by the withdrawal of
    Socrates that he is passing beyond the limits of his teaching; and in the
    Sophist and Statesman, as well as in the Parmenides, he probably means to
    imply that he is making a closer approach to the schools of Elea and
    Megara. He had much in common with them, but he must first submit their
    ideas to criticism and revision. He had once thought as he says, speaking
    by the mouth of the Eleatic, that he understood their doctrine of Not-
    being; but now he does not even comprehend the nature of Being. The
    friends of ideas (Soph.) are alluded to by him as distant acquaintances,
    whom he criticizes ab extra; we do not recognize at first sight that he is
    criticizing himself. The character of the Eleatic stranger is colourless;
    he is to a certain extent the reflection of his father and master,
    Parmenides, who is the protagonist in the dialogue which is called by his
    name. Theaetetus himself is not distinguished by the remarkable traits
    which are attributed to him in the preceding dialogue. He is no longer
    under the spell of Socrates, or subject to the operation of his midwifery,
    though the fiction of question and answer is still maintained, and the
    necessity of taking Theaetetus along with him is several times insisted
    upon by his partner in the discussion. There is a reminiscence of the old
    Theaetetus in his remark that he will not tire of the argument, and in his
    conviction, which the Eleatic thinks likely to be permanent, that the
    course of events is governed by the will of God. Throughout the two
    dialogues Socrates continues a silent auditor, in the Statesman just
    reminding us of his presence, at the commencement, by a characteristic jest
    about the statesman and the philosopher, and by an allusion to his
    namesake, with whom on that ground he claims relationship, as he had
    already claimed an affinity with Theaetetus, grounded on the likeness of
    his ugly face. But in neither dialogue, any more than in the Timaeus, does
    he offer any criticism on the views which are propounded by another.

    The style, though wanting in dramatic power,--in this respect resembling
    the Philebus and the Laws,--is very clear and accurate, and has several
    touches of humour and satire. The language is less fanciful and
    imaginative than that of the earlier dialogues; and there is more of
    bitterness, as in the Laws, though traces of a similar temper may also be
    observed in the description of the 'great brute' in the Republic, and in
    the contrast of the lawyer and philosopher in the Theaetetus. The
    following are characteristic passages: 'The ancient philosophers, of whom
    we may say, without offence, that they went on their way rather regardless
    of whether we understood them or not;' the picture of the materialists, or
    earth-born giants, 'who grasped oaks and rocks in their hands,' and who
    must be improved before they can be reasoned with; and the equally
    humourous delineation of the friends of ideas, who defend themselves from a
    fastness in the invisible world; or the comparison of the Sophist to a
    painter or maker (compare Republic), and the hunt after him in the rich
    meadow-lands of youth and wealth; or, again, the light and graceful touch
    with which the older philosophies are painted ('Ionian and Sicilian
    muses'), the comparison of them to mythological tales, and the fear of the
    Eleatic that he will be counted a parricide if he ventures to lay hands on
    his father Parmenides; or, once more, the likening of the Eleatic stranger
    to a god from heaven.--All these passages, notwithstanding the decline of
    the style, retain the impress of the great master of language. But the
    equably diffused grace is gone; instead of the endless variety of the early
    dialogues, traces of the rhythmical monotonous cadence of the Laws begin to
    appear; and already an approach is made to the technical language of
    Aristotle, in the frequent use of the words 'essence,' 'power,'
    'generation,' 'motion,' 'rest,' 'action,' 'passion,' and the like.

    The Sophist, like the Phaedrus, has a double character, and unites two
    enquirers, which are only in a somewhat forced manner connected with each
    other. The first is the search after the Sophist, the second is the
    enquiry into the nature of Not-being, which occupies the middle part of the
    work. For 'Not-being' is the hole or division of the dialectical net in
    which the Sophist has hidden himself. He is the imaginary impersonation of
    false opinion. Yet he denies the possibility of false opinion; for
    falsehood is that which is not, and therefore has no existence. At length
    the difficulty is solved; the answer, in the language of the Republic,
    appears 'tumbling out at our feet.' Acknowledging that there is a
    communion of kinds with kinds, and not merely one Being or Good having
    different names, or several isolated ideas or classes incapable of
    communion, we discover 'Not-being' to be the other of 'Being.'
    Transferring this to language and thought, we have no difficulty in
    apprehending that a proposition may be false as well as true. The Sophist,
    drawn out of the shelter which Cynic and Megarian paradoxes have
    temporarily afforded him, is proved to be a dissembler and juggler with

    The chief points of interest in the dialogue are: (I) the character
    attributed to the Sophist: (II) the dialectical method: (III) the nature
    of the puzzle about 'Not-being:' (IV) the battle of the philosophers: (V)
    the relation of the Sophist to other dialogues.

    I. The Sophist in Plato is the master of the art of illusion; the
    charlatan, the foreigner, the prince of esprits-faux, the hireling who is
    not a teacher, and who, from whatever point of view he is regarded, is the
    opposite of the true teacher. He is the 'evil one,' the ideal
    representative of all that Plato most disliked in the moral and
    intellectual tendencies of his own age; the adversary of the almost equally
    ideal Socrates. He seems to be always growing in the fancy of Plato, now
    boastful, now eristic, now clothing himself in rags of philosophy, now more
    akin to the rhetorician or lawyer, now haranguing, now questioning, until
    the final appearance in the Politicus of his departing shadow in the
    disguise of a statesman. We are not to suppose that Plato intended by such
    a description to depict Protagoras or Gorgias, or even Thrasymachus, who
    all turn out to be 'very good sort of people when we know them,' and all of
    them part on good terms with Socrates. But he is speaking of a being as
    imaginary as the wise man of the Stoics, and whose character varies in
    different dialogues. Like mythology, Greek philosophy has a tendency to
    personify ideas. And the Sophist is not merely a teacher of rhetoric for a
    fee of one or fifty drachmae (Crat.), but an ideal of Plato's in which the
    falsehood of all mankind is reflected.

    A milder tone is adopted towards the Sophists in a well-known passage of
    the Republic, where they are described as the followers rather than the
    leaders of the rest of mankind. Plato ridicules the notion that any
    individuals can corrupt youth to a degree worth speaking of in comparison
    with the greater influence of public opinion. But there is no real
    inconsistency between this and other descriptions of the Sophist which
    occur in the Platonic writings. For Plato is not justifying the Sophists
    in the passage just quoted, but only representing their power to be
    contemptible; they are to be despised rather than feared, and are no worse
    than the rest of mankind. But a teacher or statesman may be justly
    condemned, who is on a level with mankind when he ought to be above them.
    There is another point of view in which this passage should also be
    considered. The great enemy of Plato is the world, not exactly in the
    theological sense, yet in one not wholly different--the world as the hater
    of truth and lover of appearance, occupied in the pursuit of gain and
    pleasure rather than of knowledge, banded together against the few good and
    wise men, and devoid of true education. This creature has many heads:
    rhetoricians, lawyers, statesmen, poets, sophists. But the Sophist is the
    Proteus who takes the likeness of all of them; all other deceivers have a
    piece of him in them. And sometimes he is represented as the corrupter of
    the world; and sometimes the world as the corrupter of him and of itself.

    Of late years the Sophists have found an enthusiastic defender in the
    distinguished historian of Greece. He appears to maintain (1) that the
    term 'Sophist' is not the name of a particular class, and would have been
    applied indifferently to Socrates and Plato, as well as to Gorgias and
    Protagoras; (2) that the bad sense was imprinted on the word by the genius
    of Plato; (3) that the principal Sophists were not the corrupters of youth
    (for the Athenian youth were no more corrupted in the age of Demosthenes
    than in the age of Pericles), but honourable and estimable persons, who
    supplied a training in literature which was generally wanted at the time.
    We will briefly consider how far these statements appear to be justified by
    facts: and, 1, about the meaning of the word there arises an interesting

    Many words are used both in a general and a specific sense, and the two
    senses are not always clearly distinguished. Sometimes the generic meaning
    has been narrowed to the specific, while in other cases the specific
    meaning has been enlarged or altered. Examples of the former class are
    furnished by some ecclesiastical terms: apostles, prophets, bishops,
    elders, catholics. Examples of the latter class may also be found in a
    similar field: jesuits, puritans, methodists, and the like. Sometimes the
    meaning is both narrowed and enlarged; and a good or bad sense will subsist
    side by side with a neutral one. A curious effect is produced on the
    meaning of a word when the very term which is stigmatized by the world
    (e.g. Methodists) is adopted by the obnoxious or derided class; this tends
    to define the meaning. Or, again, the opposite result is produced, when
    the world refuses to allow some sect or body of men the possession of an
    honourable name which they have assumed, or applies it to them only in
    mockery or irony.

    The term 'Sophist' is one of those words of which the meaning has been both
    contracted and enlarged. Passages may be quoted from Herodotus and the
    tragedians, in which the word is used in a neutral sense for a contriver or
    deviser or inventor, without including any ethical idea of goodness or
    badness. Poets as well as philosophers were called Sophists in the fifth
    century before Christ. In Plato himself the term is applied in the sense
    of a 'master in art,' without any bad meaning attaching to it (Symp.;
    Meno). In the later Greek, again, 'sophist' and 'philosopher' became
    almost indistinguishable. There was no reproach conveyed by the word; the
    additional association, if any, was only that of rhetorician or teacher.
    Philosophy had become eclecticism and imitation: in the decline of Greek
    thought there was no original voice lifted up 'which reached to a thousand
    years because of the god.' Hence the two words, like the characters
    represented by them, tended to pass into one another. Yet even here some
    differences appeared; for the term 'Sophist' would hardly have been applied
    to the greater names, such as Plotinus, and would have been more often used
    of a professor of philosophy in general than of a maintainer of particular

    But the real question is, not whether the word 'Sophist' has all these
    senses, but whether there is not also a specific bad sense in which the
    term is applied to certain contemporaries of Socrates. Would an Athenian,
    as Mr. Grote supposes, in the fifth century before Christ, have included
    Socrates and Plato, as well as Gorgias and Protagoras, under the specific
    class of Sophists? To this question we must answer, No: if ever the term
    is applied to Socrates and Plato, either the application is made by an
    enemy out of mere spite, or the sense in which it is used is neutral.
    Plato, Xenophon, Isocrates, Aristotle, all give a bad import to the word;
    and the Sophists are regarded as a separate class in all of them. And in
    later Greek literature, the distinction is quite marked between the
    succession of philosophers from Thales to Aristotle, and the Sophists of
    the age of Socrates, who appeared like meteors for a short time in
    different parts of Greece. For the purposes of comedy, Socrates may have
    been identified with the Sophists, and he seems to complain of this in the
    Apology. But there is no reason to suppose that Socrates, differing by so
    many outward marks, would really have been confounded in the mind of
    Anytus, or Callicles, or of any intelligent Athenian, with the splendid
    foreigners who from time to time visited Athens, or appeared at the Olympic
    games. The man of genius, the great original thinker, the disinterested
    seeker after truth, the master of repartee whom no one ever defeated in an
    argument, was separated, even in the mind of the vulgar Athenian, by an
    'interval which no geometry can express,' from the balancer of sentences,
    the interpreter and reciter of the poets, the divider of the meanings of
    words, the teacher of rhetoric, the professor of morals and manners.

    2. The use of the term 'Sophist' in the dialogues of Plato also shows that
    the bad sense was not affixed by his genius, but already current. When
    Protagoras says, 'I confess that I am a Sophist,' he implies that the art
    which he professes has already a bad name; and the words of the young
    Hippocrates, when with a blush upon his face which is just seen by the
    light of dawn he admits that he is going to be made 'a Sophist,' would lose
    their point, unless the term had been discredited. There is nothing
    surprising in the Sophists having an evil name; that, whether deserved or
    not, was a natural consequence of their vocation. That they were
    foreigners, that they made fortunes, that they taught novelties, that they
    excited the minds of youth, are quite sufficient reasons to account for the
    opprobrium which attached to them. The genius of Plato could not have
    stamped the word anew, or have imparted the associations which occur in
    contemporary writers, such as Xenophon and Isocrates. Changes in the
    meaning of words can only be made with great difficulty, and not unless
    they are supported by a strong current of popular feeling. There is
    nothing improbable in supposing that Plato may have extended and envenomed
    the meaning, or that he may have done the Sophists the same kind of
    disservice with posterity which Pascal did to the Jesuits. But the bad
    sense of the word was not and could not have been invented by him, and is
    found in his earlier dialogues, e.g. the Protagoras, as well as in the

    3. There is no ground for disbelieving that the principal Sophists,
    Gorgias, Protagoras, Prodicus, Hippias, were good and honourable men. The
    notion that they were corrupters of the Athenian youth has no real
    foundation, and partly arises out of the use of the term 'Sophist' in
    modern times. The truth is, that we know little about them; and the
    witness of Plato in their favour is probably not much more historical than
    his witness against them. Of that national decline of genius, unity,
    political force, which has been sometimes described as the corruption of
    youth, the Sophists were one among many signs;--in these respects Athens
    may have degenerated; but, as Mr. Grote remarks, there is no reason to
    suspect any greater moral corruption in the age of Demosthenes than in the
    age of Pericles. The Athenian youth were not corrupted in this sense, and
    therefore the Sophists could not have corrupted them. It is remarkable,
    and may be fairly set down to their credit, that Plato nowhere attributes
    to them that peculiar Greek sympathy with youth, which he ascribes to
    Parmenides, and which was evidently common in the Socratic circle. Plato
    delights to exhibit them in a ludicrous point of view, and to show them
    always rather at a disadvantage in the company of Socrates. But he has no
    quarrel with their characters, and does not deny that they are respectable

    The Sophist, in the dialogue which is called after him, is exhibited in
    many different lights, and appears and reappears in a variety of forms.
    There is some want of the higher Platonic art in the Eleatic Stranger
    eliciting his true character by a labourious process of enquiry, when he
    had already admitted that he knew quite well the difference between the
    Sophist and the Philosopher, and had often heard the question discussed;--
    such an anticipation would hardly have occurred in the earlier dialogues.
    But Plato could not altogether give up his Socratic method, of which
    another trace may be thought to be discerned in his adoption of a common
    instance before he proceeds to the greater matter in hand. Yet the example
    is also chosen in order to damage the 'hooker of men' as much as possible;
    each step in the pedigree of the angler suggests some injurious reflection
    about the Sophist. They are both hunters after a living prey, nearly
    related to tyrants and thieves, and the Sophist is the cousin of the
    parasite and flatterer. The effect of this is heightened by the accidental
    manner in which the discovery is made, as the result of a scientific
    division. His descent in another branch affords the opportunity of more
    'unsavoury comparisons.' For he is a retail trader, and his wares are
    either imported or home-made, like those of other retail traders; his art
    is thus deprived of the character of a liberal profession. But the most
    distinguishing characteristic of him is, that he is a disputant, and
    higgles over an argument. A feature of the Eristic here seems to blend
    with Plato's usual description of the Sophists, who in the early dialogues,
    and in the Republic, are frequently depicted as endeavouring to save
    themselves from disputing with Socrates by making long orations. In this
    character he parts company from the vain and impertinent talker in private
    life, who is a loser of money, while he is a maker of it.

    But there is another general division under which his art may be also
    supposed to fall, and that is purification; and from purification is
    descended education, and the new principle of education is to interrogate
    men after the manner of Socrates, and make them teach themselves. Here
    again we catch a glimpse rather of a Socratic or Eristic than of a Sophist
    in the ordinary sense of the term. And Plato does not on this ground
    reject the claim of the Sophist to be the true philosopher. One more
    feature of the Eristic rather than of the Sophist is the tendency of the
    troublesome animal to run away into the darkness of Not-being. Upon the
    whole, we detect in him a sort of hybrid or double nature, of which, except
    perhaps in the Euthydemus of Plato, we find no other trace in Greek
    philosophy; he combines the teacher of virtue with the Eristic; while in
    his omniscience, in his ignorance of himself, in his arts of deception, and
    in his lawyer-like habit of writing and speaking about all things, he is
    still the antithesis of Socrates and of the true teacher.

    II. The question has been asked, whether the method of 'abscissio
    infinti,' by which the Sophist is taken, is a real and valuable logical
    process. Modern science feels that this, like other processes of formal
    logic, presents a very inadequate conception of the actual complex
    procedure of the mind by which scientific truth is detected and verified.
    Plato himself seems to be aware that mere division is an unsafe and
    uncertain weapon, first, in the Statesman, when he says that we should
    divide in the middle, for in that way we are more likely to attain species;
    secondly, in the parallel precept of the Philebus, that we should not pass
    from the most general notions to infinity, but include all the intervening
    middle principles, until, as he also says in the Statesman, we arrive at
    the infima species; thirdly, in the Phaedrus, when he says that the
    dialectician will carve the limbs of truth without mangling them; and once
    more in the Statesman, if we cannot bisect species, we must carve them as
    well as we can. No better image of nature or truth, as an organic whole,
    can be conceived than this. So far is Plato from supposing that mere
    division and subdivision of general notions will guide men into all truth.

    Plato does not really mean to say that the Sophist or the Statesman can be
    caught in this way. But these divisions and subdivisions were favourite
    logical exercises of the age in which he lived; and while indulging his
    dialectical fancy, and making a contribution to logical method, he delights
    also to transfix the Eristic Sophist with weapons borrowed from his own
    armoury. As we have already seen, the division gives him the opportunity
    of making the most damaging reflections on the Sophist and all his kith and
    kin, and to exhibit him in the most discreditable light.

    Nor need we seriously consider whether Plato was right in assuming that an
    animal so various could not be confined within the limits of a single
    definition. In the infancy of logic, men sought only to obtain a
    definition of an unknown or uncertain term; the after reflection scarcely
    occurred to them that the word might have several senses, which shaded off
    into one another, and were not capable of being comprehended in a single
    notion. There is no trace of this reflection in Plato. But neither is
    there any reason to think, even if the reflection had occurred to him, that
    he would have been deterred from carrying on the war with weapons fair or
    unfair against the outlaw Sophist.

    III. The puzzle about 'Not-being' appears to us to be one of the most
    unreal difficulties of ancient philosophy. We cannot understand the
    attitude of mind which could imagine that falsehood had no existence, if
    reality was denied to Not-being: How could such a question arise at all,
    much less become of serious importance? The answer to this, and to nearly
    all other difficulties of early Greek philosophy, is to be sought for in
    the history of ideas, and the answer is only unsatisfactory because our
    knowledge is defective. In the passage from the world of sense and
    imagination and common language to that of opinion and reflection the human
    mind was exposed to many dangers, and often

    'Found no end in wandering mazes lost.'

    On the other hand, the discovery of abstractions was the great source of
    all mental improvement in after ages. It was the pushing aside of the old,
    the revelation of the new. But each one of the company of abstractions, if
    we may speak in the metaphorical language of Plato, became in turn the
    tyrant of the mind, the dominant idea, which would allow no other to have a
    share in the throne. This is especially true of the Eleatic philosophy:
    while the absoluteness of Being was asserted in every form of language, the
    sensible world and all the phenomena of experience were comprehended under
    Not-being. Nor was any difficulty or perplexity thus created, so long as
    the mind, lost in the contemplation of Being, asked no more questions, and
    never thought of applying the categories of Being or Not-being to mind or
    opinion or practical life.

    But the negative as well as the positive idea had sunk deep into the
    intellect of man. The effect of the paradoxes of Zeno extended far beyond
    the Eleatic circle. And now an unforeseen consequence began to arise. If
    the Many were not, if all things were names of the One, and nothing could
    be predicated of any other thing, how could truth be distinguished from
    falsehood? The Eleatic philosopher would have replied that Being is alone
    true. But mankind had got beyond his barren abstractions: they were
    beginning to analyze, to classify, to define, to ask what is the nature of
    knowledge, opinion, sensation. Still less could they be content with the
    description which Achilles gives in Homer of the man whom his soul hates--

    os chi eteron men keuthe eni phresin, allo de eipe.

    For their difficulty was not a practical but a metaphysical one; and their
    conception of falsehood was really impaired and weakened by a metaphysical

    The strength of the illusion seems to lie in the alternative: If we once
    admit the existence of Being and Not-being, as two spheres which exclude
    each other, no Being or reality can be ascribed to Not-being, and therefore
    not to falsehood, which is the image or expression of Not-being. Falsehood
    is wholly false; and to speak of true falsehood, as Theaetetus does
    (Theaet.), is a contradiction in terms. The fallacy to us is ridiculous
    and transparent,--no better than those which Plato satirizes in the
    Euthydemus. It is a confusion of falsehood and negation, from which Plato
    himself is not entirely free. Instead of saying, 'This is not in
    accordance with facts,' 'This is proved by experience to be false,' and
    from such examples forming a general notion of falsehood, the mind of the
    Greek thinker was lost in the mazes of the Eleatic philosophy. And the
    greater importance which Plato attributes to this fallacy, compared with
    others, is due to the influence which the Eleatic philosophy exerted over
    him. He sees clearly to a certain extent; but he has not yet attained a
    complete mastery over the ideas of his predecessors--they are still ends to
    him, and not mere instruments of thought. They are too rough-hewn to be
    harmonized in a single structure, and may be compared to rocks which
    project or overhang in some ancient city's walls. There are many such
    imperfect syncretisms or eclecticisms in the history of philosophy. A
    modern philosopher, though emancipated from scholastic notions of essence
    or substance, might still be seriously affected by the abstract idea of
    necessity; or though accustomed, like Bacon, to criticize abstract notions,
    might not extend his criticism to the syllogism.

    The saying or thinking the thing that is not, would be the popular
    definition of falsehood or error. If we were met by the Sophist's
    objection, the reply would probably be an appeal to experience. Ten
    thousands, as Homer would say (mala murioi), tell falsehoods and fall into
    errors. And this is Plato's reply, both in the Cratylus and Sophist.
    'Theaetetus is flying,' is a sentence in form quite as grammatical as
    'Theaetetus is sitting'; the difference between the two sentences is, that
    the one is true and the other false. But, before making this appeal to
    common sense, Plato propounds for our consideration a theory of the nature
    of the negative.

    The theory is, that Not-being is relation. Not-being is the other of
    Being, and has as many kinds as there are differences in Being. This
    doctrine is the simple converse of the famous proposition of Spinoza,--not
    'Omnis determinatio est negatio,' but 'Omnis negatio est determinatio';--
    not, All distinction is negation, but, All negation is distinction. Not-
    being is the unfolding or determining of Being, and is a necessary element
    in all other things that are. We should be careful to observe, first, that
    Plato does not identify Being with Not-being; he has no idea of progression
    by antagonism, or of the Hegelian vibration of moments: he would not have
    said with Heracleitus, 'All things are and are not, and become and become
    not.' Secondly, he has lost sight altogether of the other sense of Not-
    being, as the negative of Being; although he again and again recognizes the
    validity of the law of contradiction. Thirdly, he seems to confuse
    falsehood with negation. Nor is he quite consistent in regarding Not-being
    as one class of Being, and yet as coextensive with Being in general.
    Before analyzing further the topics thus suggested, we will endeavour to
    trace the manner in which Plato arrived at his conception of Not-being.

    In all the later dialogues of Plato, the idea of mind or intelligence
    becomes more and more prominent. That idea which Anaxagoras employed
    inconsistently in the construction of the world, Plato, in the Philebus,
    the Sophist, and the Laws, extends to all things, attributing to Providence
    a care, infinitesimal as well as infinite, of all creation. The divine
    mind is the leading religious thought of the later works of Plato. The
    human mind is a sort of reflection of this, having ideas of Being,
    Sameness, and the like. At times they seem to be parted by a great gulf
    (Parmenides); at other times they have a common nature, and the light of a
    common intelligence.

    But this ever-growing idea of mind is really irreconcilable with the
    abstract Pantheism of the Eleatics. To the passionate language of
    Parmenides, Plato replies in a strain equally passionate:--What! has not
    Being mind? and is not Being capable of being known? and, if this is
    admitted, then capable of being affected or acted upon?--in motion, then,
    and yet not wholly incapable of rest. Already we have been compelled to
    attribute opposite determinations to Being. And the answer to the
    difficulty about Being may be equally the answer to the difficulty about

    The answer is, that in these and all other determinations of any notion we
    are attributing to it 'Not-being.' We went in search of Not-being and
    seemed to lose Being, and now in the hunt after Being we recover both.
    Not-being is a kind of Being, and in a sense co-extensive with Being. And
    there are as many divisions of Not-being as of Being. To every positive
    idea--'just,' 'beautiful,' and the like, there is a corresponding negative
    idea--'not-just,' 'not-beautiful,' and the like.

    A doubt may be raised whether this account of the negative is really the
    true one. The common logicians would say that the 'not-just,' 'not-
    beautiful,' are not really classes at all, but are merged in one great
    class of the infinite or negative. The conception of Plato, in the days
    before logic, seems to be more correct than this. For the word 'not' does
    not altogether annihilate the positive meaning of the word 'just': at
    least, it does not prevent our looking for the 'not-just' in or about the
    same class in which we might expect to find the 'just.' 'Not-just is not-
    honourable' is neither a false nor an unmeaning proposition. The reason is
    that the negative proposition has really passed into an undefined positive.
    To say that 'not-just' has no more meaning than 'not-honourable'--that is
    to say, that the two cannot in any degree be distinguished, is clearly
    repugnant to the common use of language.

    The ordinary logic is also jealous of the explanation of negation as
    relation, because seeming to take away the principle of contradiction.
    Plato, as far as we know, is the first philosopher who distinctly
    enunciated this principle; and though we need not suppose him to have been
    always consistent with himself, there is no real inconsistency between his
    explanation of the negative and the principle of contradiction. Neither
    the Platonic notion of the negative as the principle of difference, nor the
    Hegelian identity of Being and Not-being, at all touch the principle of
    contradiction. For what is asserted about Being and Not-Being only relates
    to our most abstract notions, and in no way interferes with the principle
    of contradiction employed in the concrete. Because Not-being is identified
    with Other, or Being with Not-being, this does not make the proposition
    'Some have not eaten' any the less a contradiction of 'All have eaten.'

    The explanation of the negative given by Plato in the Sophist is a true but
    partial one; for the word 'not,' besides the meaning of 'other,' may also
    imply 'opposition.' And difference or opposition may be either total or
    partial: the not-beautiful may be other than the beautiful, or in no
    relation to the beautiful, or a specific class in various degrees opposed
    to the beautiful. And the negative may be a negation of fact or of thought
    (ou and me). Lastly, there are certain ideas, such as 'beginning,'
    'becoming,' 'the finite,' 'the abstract,' in which the negative cannot be
    separated from the positive, and 'Being' and 'Not-being' are inextricably

    Plato restricts the conception of Not-being to difference. Man is a
    rational animal, and is not--as many other things as are not included under
    this definition. He is and is not, and is because he is not. Besides the
    positive class to which he belongs, there are endless negative classes to
    which he may be referred. This is certainly intelligible, but useless. To
    refer a subject to a negative class is unmeaning, unless the 'not' is a
    mere modification of the positive, as in the example of 'not honourable'
    and 'dishonourable'; or unless the class is characterized by the absence
    rather than the presence of a particular quality.

    Nor is it easy to see how Not-being any more than Sameness or Otherness is
    one of the classes of Being. They are aspects rather than classes of
    Being. Not-being can only be included in Being, as the denial of some
    particular class of Being. If we attempt to pursue such airy phantoms at
    all, the Hegelian identity of Being and Not-being is a more apt and
    intelligible expression of the same mental phenomenon. For Plato has not
    distinguished between the Being which is prior to Not-being, and the Being
    which is the negation of Not-being (compare Parm.).

    But he is not thinking of this when he says that Being comprehends Not-
    being. Again, we should probably go back for the true explanation to the
    influence which the Eleatic philosophy exercised over him. Under 'Not-
    being' the Eleatic had included all the realities of the sensible world.
    Led by this association and by the common use of language, which has been
    already noticed, we cannot be much surprised that Plato should have made
    classes of Not-being. It is observable that he does not absolutely deny
    that there is an opposite of Being. He is inclined to leave the question,
    merely remarking that the opposition, if admissible at all, is not
    expressed by the term 'Not-being.'

    On the whole, we must allow that the great service rendered by Plato to
    metaphysics in the Sophist, is not his explanation of 'Not-being' as
    difference. With this he certainly laid the ghost of 'Not-being'; and we
    may attribute to him in a measure the credit of anticipating Spinoza and
    Hegel. But his conception is not clear or consistent; he does not
    recognize the different senses of the negative, and he confuses the
    different classes of Not-being with the abstract notion. As the Pre-
    Socratic philosopher failed to distinguish between the universal and the
    true, while he placed the particulars of sense under the false and
    apparent, so Plato appears to identify negation with falsehood, or is
    unable to distinguish them. The greatest service rendered by him to mental
    science is the recognition of the communion of classes, which, although
    based by him on his account of 'Not-being,' is independent of it. He
    clearly saw that the isolation of ideas or classes is the annihilation of
    reasoning. Thus, after wandering in many diverging paths, we return to
    common sense. And for this reason we may be inclined to do less than
    justice to Plato,--because the truth which he attains by a real effort of
    thought is to us a familiar and unconscious truism, which no one would any
    longer think either of doubting or examining.

    IV. The later dialogues of Plato contain many references to contemporary
    philosophy. Both in the Theaetetus and in the Sophist he recognizes that
    he is in the midst of a fray; a huge irregular battle everywhere surrounds
    him (Theaet.). First, there are the two great philosophies going back into
    cosmogony and poetry: the philosophy of Heracleitus, supposed to have a
    poetical origin in Homer, and that of the Eleatics, which in a similar
    spirit he conceives to be even older than Xenophanes (compare Protag.).
    Still older were theories of two and three principles, hot and cold, moist
    and dry, which were ever marrying and being given in marriage: in speaking
    of these, he is probably referring to Pherecydes and the early Ionians. In
    the philosophy of motion there were different accounts of the relation of
    plurality and unity, which were supposed to be joined and severed by love
    and hate, some maintaining that this process was perpetually going on (e.g.
    Heracleitus); others (e.g. Empedocles) that there was an alternation of
    them. Of the Pythagoreans or of Anaxagoras he makes no distinct mention.
    His chief opponents are, first, Eristics or Megarians; secondly, the

    The picture which he gives of both these latter schools is indistinct; and
    he appears reluctant to mention the names of their teachers. Nor can we
    easily determine how much is to be assigned to the Cynics, how much to the
    Megarians, or whether the 'repellent Materialists' (Theaet.) are Cynics or
    Atomists, or represent some unknown phase of opinion at Athens. To the
    Cynics and Antisthenes is commonly attributed, on the authority of
    Aristotle, the denial of predication, while the Megarians are said to have
    been Nominalists, asserting the One Good under many names to be the true
    Being of Zeno and the Eleatics, and, like Zeno, employing their negative
    dialectic in the refutation of opponents. But the later Megarians also
    denied predication; and this tenet, which is attributed to all of them by
    Simplicius, is certainly in accordance with their over-refining philosophy.
    The 'tyros young and old,' of whom Plato speaks, probably include both. At
    any rate, we shall be safer in accepting the general description of them
    which he has given, and in not attempting to draw a precise line between

    Of these Eristics, whether Cynics or Megarians, several characteristics are
    found in Plato:--

    1. They pursue verbal oppositions; 2. they make reasoning impossible by
    their over-accuracy in the use of language; 3. they deny predication; 4.
    they go from unity to plurality, without passing through the intermediate
    stages; 5. they refuse to attribute motion or power to Being; 6. they are
    the enemies of sense;--whether they are the 'friends of ideas,' who carry
    on the polemic against sense, is uncertain; probably under this remarkable
    expression Plato designates those who more nearly approached himself, and
    may be criticizing an earlier form of his own doctrines. We may observe
    (1) that he professes only to give us a few opinions out of many which were
    at that time current in Greece; (2) that he nowhere alludes to the ethical
    teaching of the Cynics--unless the argument in the Protagoras, that the
    virtues are one and not many, may be supposed to contain a reference to
    their views, as well as to those of Socrates; and unless they are the
    school alluded to in the Philebus, which is described as 'being very
    skilful in physics, and as maintaining pleasure to be the absence of pain.'
    That Antisthenes wrote a book called 'Physicus,' is hardly a sufficient
    reason for describing them as skilful in physics, which appear to have been
    very alien to the tendency of the Cynics.

    The Idealism of the fourth century before Christ in Greece, as in other
    ages and countries, seems to have provoked a reaction towards Materialism.
    The maintainers of this doctrine are described in the Theaetetus as
    obstinate persons who will believe in nothing which they cannot hold in
    their hands, and in the Sophist as incapable of argument. They are
    probably the same who are said in the Tenth Book of the Laws to attribute
    the course of events to nature, art, and chance. Who they were, we have no
    means of determining except from Plato's description of them. His silence
    respecting the Atomists might lead us to suppose that here we have a trace
    of them. But the Atomists were not Materialists in the grosser sense of
    the term, nor were they incapable of reasoning; and Plato would hardly have
    described a great genius like Democritus in the disdainful terms which he
    uses of the Materialists. Upon the whole, we must infer that the persons
    here spoken of are unknown to us, like the many other writers and talkers
    at Athens and elsewhere, of whose endless activity of mind Aristotle in his
    Metaphysics has preserved an anonymous memorial.

    V. The Sophist is the sequel of the Theaetetus, and is connected with the
    Parmenides by a direct allusion (compare Introductions to Theaetetus and
    Parmenides). In the Theaetetus we sought to discover the nature of
    knowledge and false opinion. But the nature of false opinion seemed
    impenetrable; for we were unable to understand how there could be any
    reality in Not-being. In the Sophist the question is taken up again; the
    nature of Not-being is detected, and there is no longer any metaphysical
    impediment in the way of admitting the possibility of falsehood. To the
    Parmenides, the Sophist stands in a less defined and more remote relation.
    There human thought is in process of disorganization; no absurdity or
    inconsistency is too great to be elicited from the analysis of the simple
    ideas of Unity or Being. In the Sophist the same contradictions are
    pursued to a certain extent, but only with a view to their resolution. The
    aim of the dialogue is to show how the few elemental conceptions of the
    human mind admit of a natural connexion in thought and speech, which
    Megarian or other sophistry vainly attempts to deny.


    True to the appointment of the previous day, Theodorus and Theaetetus meet
    Socrates at the same spot, bringing with them an Eleatic Stranger, whom
    Theodorus introduces as a true philosopher. Socrates, half in jest, half
    in earnest, declares that he must be a god in disguise, who, as Homer would
    say, has come to earth that he may visit the good and evil among men, and
    detect the foolishness of Athenian wisdom. At any rate he is a divine
    person, one of a class who are hardly recognized on earth; who appear in
    divers forms--now as statesmen, now as sophists, and are often deemed
    madmen. 'Philosopher, statesman, sophist,' says Socrates, repeating the
    words--'I should like to ask our Eleatic friend what his countrymen think
    of them; do they regard them as one, or three?'

    The Stranger has been already asked the same question by Theodorus and
    Theaetetus; and he at once replies that they are thought to be three; but
    to explain the difference fully would take time. He is pressed to give
    this fuller explanation, either in the form of a speech or of question and
    answer. He prefers the latter, and chooses as his respondent Theaetetus,
    whom he already knows, and who is recommended to him by Socrates.

    We are agreed, he says, about the name Sophist, but we may not be equally
    agreed about his nature. Great subjects should be approached through
    familiar examples, and, considering that he is a creature not easily
    caught, I think that, before approaching him, we should try our hand upon
    some more obvious animal, who may be made the subject of logical
    experiment; shall we say an angler? 'Very good.'

    In the first place, the angler is an artist; and there are two kinds of
    art,--productive art, which includes husbandry, manufactures, imitations;
    and acquisitive art, which includes learning, trading, fighting, hunting.
    The angler's is an acquisitive art, and acquisition may be effected either
    by exchange or by conquest; in the latter case, either by force or craft.
    Conquest by craft is called hunting, and of hunting there is one kind which
    pursues inanimate, and another which pursues animate objects; and animate
    objects may be either land animals or water animals, and water animals
    either fly over the water or live in the water. The hunting of the last is
    called fishing; and of fishing, one kind uses enclosures, catching the fish
    in nets and baskets, and another kind strikes them either with spears by
    night or with barbed spears or barbed hooks by day; the barbed spears are
    impelled from above, the barbed hooks are jerked into the head and lips of
    the fish, which are then drawn from below upwards. Thus, by a series of
    divisions, we have arrived at the definition of the angler's art.

    And now by the help of this example we may proceed to bring to light the
    nature of the Sophist. Like the angler, he is an artist, and the
    resemblance does not end here. For they are both hunters, and hunters of
    animals; the one of water, and the other of land animals. But at this
    point they diverge, the one going to the sea and the rivers, and the other
    to the rivers of wealth and rich meadow-lands, in which generous youth
    abide. On land you may hunt tame animals, or you may hunt wild animals.
    And man is a tame animal, and he may be hunted either by force or
    persuasion;--either by the pirate, man-stealer, soldier, or by the lawyer,
    orator, talker. The latter use persuasion, and persuasion is either
    private or public. Of the private practitioners of the art, some bring
    gifts to those whom they hunt: these are lovers. And others take hire;
    and some of these flatter, and in return are fed; others profess to teach
    virtue and receive a round sum. And who are these last? Tell me who?
    Have we not unearthed the Sophist?

    But he is a many-sided creature, and may still be traced in another line of
    descent. The acquisitive art had a branch of exchange as well as of
    hunting, and exchange is either giving or selling; and the seller is either
    a manufacturer or a merchant; and the merchant either retails or exports;
    and the exporter may export either food for the body or food for the mind.
    And of this trading in food for the mind, one kind may be termed the art of
    display, and another the art of selling learning; and learning may be a
    learning of the arts or of virtue. The seller of the arts may be called an
    art-seller; the seller of virtue, a Sophist.

    Again, there is a third line, in which a Sophist may be traced. For is he
    less a Sophist when, instead of exporting his wares to another country, he
    stays at home, and retails goods, which he not only buys of others, but
    manufactures himself?

    Or he may be descended from the acquisitive art in the combative line,
    through the pugnacious, the controversial, the disputatious arts; and he
    will be found at last in the eristic section of the latter, and in that
    division of it which disputes in private for gain about the general
    principles of right and wrong.

    And still there is a track of him which has not yet been followed out by
    us. Do not our household servants talk of sifting, straining, winnowing?
    And they also speak of carding, spinning, and the like. All these are
    processes of division; and of division there are two kinds,--one in which
    like is divided from like, and another in which the good is separated from
    the bad. The latter of the two is termed purification; and again, of
    purification, there are two sorts,--of animate bodies (which may be
    internal or external), and of inanimate. Medicine and gymnastic are the
    internal purifications of the animate, and bathing the external; and of the
    inanimate, fulling and cleaning and other humble processes, some of which
    have ludicrous names. Not that dialectic is a respecter of names or
    persons, or a despiser of humble occupations; nor does she think much of
    the greater or less benefits conferred by them. For her aim is knowledge;
    she wants to know how the arts are related to one another, and would quite
    as soon learn the nature of hunting from the vermin-destroyer as from the
    general. And she only desires to have a general name, which shall
    distinguish purifications of the soul from purifications of the body.

    Now purification is the taking away of evil; and there are two kinds of
    evil in the soul,--the one answering to disease in the body, and the other
    to deformity. Disease is the discord or war of opposite principles in the
    soul; and deformity is the want of symmetry, or failure in the attainment
    of a mark or measure. The latter arises from ignorance, and no one is
    voluntarily ignorant; ignorance is only the aberration of the soul moving
    towards knowledge. And as medicine cures the diseases and gymnastic the
    deformity of the body, so correction cures the injustice, and education
    (which differs among the Hellenes from mere instruction in the arts) cures
    the ignorance of the soul. Again, ignorance is twofold, simple ignorance,
    and ignorance having the conceit of knowledge. And education is also
    twofold: there is the old-fashioned moral training of our forefathers,
    which was very troublesome and not very successful; and another, of a more
    subtle nature, which proceeds upon a notion that all ignorance is
    involuntary. The latter convicts a man out of his own mouth, by pointing
    out to him his inconsistencies and contradictions; and the consequence is
    that he quarrels with himself, instead of quarrelling with his neighbours,
    and is cured of prejudices and obstructions by a mode of treatment which is
    equally entertaining and effectual. The physician of the soul is aware
    that his patient will receive no nourishment unless he has been cleaned
    out; and the soul of the Great King himself, if he has not undergone this
    purification, is unclean and impure.

    And who are the ministers of the purification? Sophists I may not call
    them. Yet they bear about the same likeness to Sophists as the dog, who is
    the gentlest of animals, does to the wolf, who is the fiercest.
    Comparisons are slippery things; but for the present let us assume the
    resemblance of the two, which may probably be disallowed hereafter. And
    so, from division comes purification; and from this, mental purification;
    and from mental purification, instruction; and from instruction, education;
    and from education, the nobly-descended art of Sophistry, which is engaged
    in the detection of conceit. I do not however think that we have yet found
    the Sophist, or that his will ultimately prove to be the desired art of
    education; but neither do I think that he can long escape me, for every way
    is blocked. Before we make the final assault, let us take breath, and
    reckon up the many forms which he has assumed: (1) he was the paid hunter
    of wealth and birth; (2) he was the trader in the goods of the soul; (3) he
    was the retailer of them; (4) he was the manufacturer of his own learned
    wares; (5) he was the disputant; and (6) he was the purger away of
    prejudices--although this latter point is admitted to be doubtful.

    Now, there must surely be something wrong in the professor of any art
    having so many names and kinds of knowledge. Does not the very number of
    them imply that the nature of his art is not understood? And that we may
    not be involved in the misunderstanding, let us observe which of his
    characteristics is the most prominent. Above all things he is a disputant.
    He will dispute and teach others to dispute about things visible and
    invisible--about man, about the gods, about politics, about law, about
    wrestling, about all things. But can he know all things? 'He cannot.'
    How then can he dispute satisfactorily with any one who knows?
    'Impossible.' Then what is the trick of his art, and why does he receive
    money from his admirers? 'Because he is believed by them to know all
    things.' You mean to say that he seems to have a knowledge of them?

    Suppose a person were to say, not that he would dispute about all things,
    but that he would make all things, you and me, and all other creatures, the
    earth and the heavens and the gods, and would sell them all for a few
    pence--this would be a great jest; but not greater than if he said that he
    knew all things, and could teach them in a short time, and at a small cost.
    For all imitation is a jest, and the most graceful form of jest. Now the
    painter is a man who professes to make all things, and children, who see
    his pictures at a distance, sometimes take them for realities: and the
    Sophist pretends to know all things, and he, too, can deceive young men,
    who are still at a distance from the truth, not through their eyes, but
    through their ears, by the mummery of words, and induce them to believe
    him. But as they grow older, and come into contact with realities, they
    learn by experience the futility of his pretensions. The Sophist, then,
    has not real knowledge; he is only an imitator, or image-maker.

    And now, having got him in a corner of the dialectical net, let us divide
    and subdivide until we catch him. Of image-making there are two kinds,--
    the art of making likenesses, and the art of making appearances. The
    latter may be illustrated by sculpture and painting, which often use
    illusions, and alter the proportions of figures, in order to adapt their
    works to the eye. And the Sophist also uses illusions, and his imitations
    are apparent and not real. But how can anything be an appearance only?
    Here arises a difficulty which has always beset the subject of appearances.
    For the argument is asserting the existence of not-being. And this is what
    the great Parmenides was all his life denying in prose and also in verse.
    'You will never find,' he says, 'that not-being is.' And the words prove
    themselves! Not-being cannot be attributed to any being; for how can any
    being be wholly abstracted from being? Again, in every predication there
    is an attribution of singular or plural. But number is the most real of
    all things, and cannot be attributed to not-being. Therefore not-being
    cannot be predicated or expressed; for how can we say 'is,' 'are not,'
    without number?

    And now arises the greatest difficulty of all. If not-being is
    inconceivable, how can not-being be refuted? And am I not contradicting
    myself at this moment, in speaking either in the singular or the plural of
    that to which I deny both plurality and unity? You, Theaetetus, have the
    might of youth, and I conjure you to exert yourself, and, if you can, to
    find an expression for not-being which does not imply being and number.
    'But I cannot.' Then the Sophist must be left in his hole. We may call
    him an image-maker if we please, but he will only say, 'And pray, what is
    an image?' And we shall reply, 'A reflection in the water, or in a
    mirror'; and he will say, 'Let us shut our eyes and open our minds; what is
    the common notion of all images?' 'I should answer, Such another, made in
    the likeness of the true.' Real or not real? 'Not real; at least, not in
    a true sense.' And the real 'is,' and the not-real 'is not'? 'Yes.' Then
    a likeness is really unreal, and essentially not. Here is a pretty
    complication of being and not-being, in which the many-headed Sophist has
    entangled us. He will at once point out that he is compelling us to
    contradict ourselves, by affirming being of not-being. I think that we
    must cease to look for him in the class of imitators.

    But ought we to give him up? 'I should say, certainly not.' Then I fear
    that I must lay hands on my father Parmenides; but do not call me a
    parricide; for there is no way out of the difficulty except to show that in
    some sense not-being is; and if this is not admitted, no one can speak of
    falsehood, or false opinion, or imitation, without falling into a
    contradiction. You observe how unwilling I am to undertake the task; for I
    know that I am exposing myself to the charge of inconsistency in asserting
    the being of not-being. But if I am to make the attempt, I think that I
    had better begin at the beginning.

    Lightly in the days of our youth, Parmenides and others told us tales about
    the origin of the universe: one spoke of three principles warring and at
    peace again, marrying and begetting children; another of two principles,
    hot and cold, dry and moist, which also formed relationships. There were
    the Eleatics in our part of the world, saying that all things are one;
    whose doctrine begins with Xenophanes, and is even older. Ionian, and,
    more recently, Sicilian muses speak of a one and many which are held
    together by enmity and friendship, ever parting, ever meeting. Some of
    them do not insist on the perpetual strife, but adopt a gentler strain, and
    speak of alternation only. Whether they are right or not, who can say?
    But one thing we can say--that they went on their way without much caring
    whether we understood them or not. For tell me, Theaetetus, do you
    understand what they mean by their assertion of unity, or by their
    combinations and separations of two or more principles? I used to think,
    when I was young, that I knew all about not-being, and now I am in great
    difficulties even about being.

    Let us proceed first to the examination of being. Turning to the dualist
    philosophers, we say to them: Is being a third element besides hot and
    cold? or do you identify one or both of the two elements with being? At
    any rate, you can hardly avoid resolving them into one. Let us next
    interrogate the patrons of the one. To them we say: Are being and one two
    different names for the same thing? But how can there be two names when
    there is nothing but one? Or you may identify them; but then the name will
    be either the name of nothing or of itself, i.e. of a name. Again, the
    notion of being is conceived of as a whole--in the words of Parmenides,
    'like every way unto a rounded sphere.' And a whole has parts; but that
    which has parts is not one, for unity has no parts. Is being, then, one,
    because the parts of being are one, or shall we say that being is not a
    whole? In the former case, one is made up of parts; and in the latter
    there is still plurality, viz. being, and a whole which is apart from
    being. And being, if not all things, lacks something of the nature of
    being, and becomes not-being. Nor can being ever have come into existence,
    for nothing comes into existence except as a whole; nor can being have
    number, for that which has number is a whole or sum of number. These are a
    few of the difficulties which are accumulating one upon another in the
    consideration of being.

    We may proceed now to the less exact sort of philosophers. Some of them
    drag down everything to earth, and carry on a war like that of the giants,
    grasping rocks and oaks in their hands. Their adversaries defend
    themselves warily from an invisible world, and reduce the substances of
    their opponents to the minutest fractions, until they are lost in
    generation and flux. The latter sort are civil people enough; but the
    materialists are rude and ignorant of dialectics; they must be taught how
    to argue before they can answer. Yet, for the sake of the argument, we may
    assume them to be better than they are, and able to give an account of
    themselves. They admit the existence of a mortal living creature, which is
    a body containing a soul, and to this they would not refuse to attribute
    qualities--wisdom, folly, justice and injustice. The soul, as they say,
    has a kind of body, but they do not like to assert of these qualities of
    the soul, either that they are corporeal, or that they have no existence;
    at this point they begin to make distinctions. 'Sons of earth,' we say to
    them, 'if both visible and invisible qualities exist, what is the common
    nature which is attributed to them by the term "being" or "existence"?'
    And, as they are incapable of answering this question, we may as well reply
    for them, that being is the power of doing or suffering. Then we turn to
    the friends of ideas: to them we say, 'You distinguish becoming from
    being?' 'Yes,' they will reply. 'And in becoming you participate through
    the bodily senses, and in being, by thought and the mind?' 'Yes.' And you
    mean by the word 'participation' a power of doing or suffering? To this
    they answer--I am acquainted with them, Theaetetus, and know their ways
    better than you do--that being can neither do nor suffer, though becoming
    may. And we rejoin: Does not the soul know? And is not 'being' known?
    And are not 'knowing' and 'being known' active and passive? That which is
    known is affected by knowledge, and therefore is in motion. And, indeed,
    how can we imagine that perfect being is a mere everlasting form, devoid of
    motion and soul? for there can be no thought without soul, nor can soul be
    devoid of motion. But neither can thought or mind be devoid of some
    principle of rest or stability. And as children say entreatingly, 'Give us
    both,' so the philosopher must include both the moveable and immoveable in
    his idea of being. And yet, alas! he and we are in the same difficulty
    with which we reproached the dualists; for motion and rest are
    contradictions--how then can they both exist? Does he who affirms this
    mean to say that motion is rest, or rest motion? 'No; he means to assert
    the existence of some third thing, different from them both, which neither
    rests nor moves.' But how can there be anything which neither rests nor
    moves? Here is a second difficulty about being, quite as great as that
    about not-being. And we may hope that any light which is thrown upon the
    one may extend to the other.

    Leaving them for the present, let us enquire what we mean by giving many
    names to the same thing, e.g. white, good, tall, to man; out of which tyros
    old and young derive such a feast of amusement. Their meagre minds refuse
    to predicate anything of anything; they say that good is good, and man is
    man; and that to affirm one of the other would be making the many one and
    the one many. Let us place them in a class with our previous opponents,
    and interrogate both of them at once. Shall we assume (1) that being and
    rest and motion, and all other things, are incommunicable with one another?
    or (2) that they all have indiscriminate communion? or (3) that there is
    communion of some and not of others? And we will consider the first
    hypothesis first of all.

    (1) If we suppose the universal separation of kinds, all theories alike are
    swept away; the patrons of a single principle of rest or of motion, or of a
    plurality of immutable ideas--all alike have the ground cut from under
    them; and all creators of the universe by theories of composition and
    division, whether out of or into a finite or infinite number of elemental
    forms, in alternation or continuance, share the same fate. Most ridiculous
    is the discomfiture which attends the opponents of predication, who, like
    the ventriloquist Eurycles, have the voice that answers them in their own
    breast. For they cannot help using the words 'is,' 'apart,' 'from others,'
    and the like; and their adversaries are thus saved the trouble of refuting
    them. But (2) if all things have communion with all things, motion will
    rest, and rest will move; here is a reductio ad absurdum. Two out of the
    three hypotheses are thus seen to be false. The third (3) remains, which
    affirms that only certain things communicate with certain other things. In
    the alphabet and the scale there are some letters and notes which combine
    with others, and some which do not; and the laws according to which they
    combine or are separated are known to the grammarian and musician. And
    there is a science which teaches not only what notes and letters, but what
    classes admit of combination with one another, and what not. This is a
    noble science, on which we have stumbled unawares; in seeking after the
    Sophist we have found the philosopher. He is the master who discerns one
    whole or form pervading a scattered multitude, and many such wholes
    combined under a higher one, and many entirely apart--he is the true
    dialectician. Like the Sophist, he is hard to recognize, though for the
    opposite reasons; the Sophist runs away into the obscurity of not-being,
    the philosopher is dark from excess of light. And now, leaving him, we
    will return to our pursuit of the Sophist.

    Agreeing in the truth of the third hypothesis, that some things have
    communion and others not, and that some may have communion with all, let us
    examine the most important kinds which are capable of admixture; and in
    this way we may perhaps find out a sense in which not-being may be affirmed
    to have being. Now the highest kinds are being, rest, motion; and of
    these, rest and motion exclude each other, but both of them are included in
    being; and again, they are the same with themselves and the other of each
    other. What is the meaning of these words, 'same' and 'other'? Are there
    two more kinds to be added to the three others? For sameness cannot be
    either rest or motion, because predicated both of rest and motion; nor yet
    being; because if being were attributed to both of them we should attribute
    sameness to both of them. Nor can other be identified with being; for then
    other, which is relative, would have the absoluteness of being. Therefore
    we must assume a fifth principle, which is universal, and runs through all
    things, for each thing is other than all other things. Thus there are five
    principles: (1) being, (2) motion, which is not (3) rest, and because
    participating both in the same and other, is and is not (4) the same with
    itself, and is and is not (5) other than the other. And motion is not
    being, but partakes of being, and therefore is and is not in the most
    absolute sense. Thus we have discovered that not-being is the principle of
    the other which runs through all things, being not excepted. And 'being'
    is one thing, and 'not-being' includes and is all other things. And not-
    being is not the opposite of being, but only the other. Knowledge has many
    branches, and the other or difference has as many, each of which is
    described by prefixing the word 'not' to some kind of knowledge. The not-
    beautiful is as real as the beautiful, the not-just as the just. And the
    essence of the not-beautiful is to be separated from and opposed to a
    certain kind of existence which is termed beautiful. And this opposition
    and negation is the not-being of which we are in search, and is one kind of
    being. Thus, in spite of Parmenides, we have not only discovered the
    existence, but also the nature of not-being--that nature we have found to
    be relation. In the communion of different kinds, being and other mutually
    interpenetrate; other is, but is other than being, and other than each and
    all of the remaining kinds, and therefore in an infinity of ways 'is not.'
    And the argument has shown that the pursuit of contradictions is childish
    and useless, and the very opposite of that higher spirit which criticizes
    the words of another according to the natural meaning of them. Nothing can
    be more unphilosophical than the denial of all communion of kinds. And we
    are fortunate in having established such a communion for another reason,
    because in continuing the hunt after the Sophist we have to examine the
    nature of discourse, and there could be no discourse if there were no
    communion. For the Sophist, although he can no longer deny the existence
    of not-being, may still affirm that not-being cannot enter into discourse,
    and as he was arguing before that there could be no such thing as
    falsehood, because there was no such thing as not-being, he may continue to
    argue that there is no such thing as the art of image-making and
    phantastic, because not-being has no place in language. Hence arises the
    necessity of examining speech, opinion, and imagination.

    And first concerning speech; let us ask the same question about words which
    we have already answered about the kinds of being and the letters of the
    alphabet: To what extent do they admit of combination? Some words have a
    meaning when combined, and others have no meaning. One class of words
    describes action, another class agents: 'walks,' 'runs,' 'sleeps' are
    examples of the first; 'stag,' 'horse,' 'lion' of the second. But no
    combination of words can be formed without a verb and a noun, e.g. 'A man
    learns'; the simplest sentence is composed of two words, and one of these
    must be a subject. For example, in the sentence, 'Theaetetus sits,' which
    is not very long, 'Theaetetus' is the subject, and in the sentence
    'Theaetetus flies,' 'Theaetetus' is again the subject. But the two
    sentences differ in quality, for the first says of you that which is true,
    and the second says of you that which is not true, or, in other words,
    attributes to you things which are not as though they were. Here is false
    discourse in the shortest form. And thus not only speech, but thought and
    opinion and imagination are proved to be both true and false. For thought
    is only the process of silent speech, and opinion is only the silent assent
    or denial which follows this, and imagination is only the expression of
    this in some form of sense. All of them are akin to speech, and therefore,
    like speech, admit of true and false. And we have discovered false
    opinion, which is an encouraging sign of our probable success in the rest
    of the enquiry.

    Then now let us return to our old division of likeness-making and
    phantastic. When we were going to place the Sophist in one of them, a
    doubt arose whether there could be such a thing as an appearance, because
    there was no such thing as falsehood. At length falsehood has been
    discovered by us to exist, and we have acknowledged that the Sophist is to
    be found in the class of imitators. All art was divided originally by us
    into two branches--productive and acquisitive. And now we may divide both
    on a different principle into the creations or imitations which are of
    human, and those which are of divine, origin. For we must admit that the
    world and ourselves and the animals did not come into existence by chance,
    or the spontaneous working of nature, but by divine reason and knowledge.
    And there are not only divine creations but divine imitations, such as
    apparitions and shadows and reflections, which are equally the work of a
    divine mind. And there are human creations and human imitations too,--
    there is the actual house and the drawing of it. Nor must we forget that
    image-making may be an imitation of realities or an imitation of
    appearances, which last has been called by us phantastic. And this
    phantastic may be again divided into imitation by the help of instruments
    and impersonations. And the latter may be either dissembling or
    unconscious, either with or without knowledge. A man cannot imitate you,
    Theaetetus, without knowing you, but he can imitate the form of justice or
    virtue if he have a sentiment or opinion about them. Not being well
    provided with names, the former I will venture to call the imitation of
    science, and the latter the imitation of opinion.

    The latter is our present concern, for the Sophist has no claims to science
    or knowledge. Now the imitator, who has only opinion, may be either the
    simple imitator, who thinks that he knows, or the dissembler, who is
    conscious that he does not know, but disguises his ignorance. And the last
    may be either a maker of long speeches, or of shorter speeches which compel
    the person conversing to contradict himself. The maker of longer speeches
    is the popular orator; the maker of the shorter is the Sophist, whose art
    may be traced as being the
    without knowledge
    human and not divine
    juggling with words
    phantastic or unreal
    art of image-making.


    In commenting on the dialogue in which Plato most nearly approaches the
    great modern master of metaphysics there are several points which it will
    be useful to consider, such as the unity of opposites, the conception of
    the ideas as causes, and the relation of the Platonic and Hegelian

    The unity of opposites was the crux of ancient thinkers in the age of
    Plato: How could one thing be or become another? That substances have
    attributes was implied in common language; that heat and cold, day and
    night, pass into one another was a matter of experience 'on a level with
    the cobbler's understanding' (Theat.). But how could philosophy explain
    the connexion of ideas, how justify the passing of them into one another?
    The abstractions of one, other, being, not-being, rest, motion, individual,
    universal, which successive generations of philosophers had recently
    discovered, seemed to be beyond the reach of human thought, like stars
    shining in a distant heaven. They were the symbols of different schools of
    philosophy: but in what relation did they stand to one another and to the
    world of sense? It was hardly conceivable that one could be other, or the
    same different. Yet without some reconciliation of these elementary ideas
    thought was impossible. There was no distinction between truth and
    falsehood, between the Sophist and the philosopher. Everything could be
    predicated of everything, or nothing of anything. To these difficulties
    Plato finds what to us appears to be the answer of common sense--that Not-
    being is the relative or other of Being, the defining and distinguishing
    principle, and that some ideas combine with others, but not all with all.
    It is remarkable however that he offers this obvious reply only as the
    result of a long and tedious enquiry; by a great effort he is able to look
    down as 'from a height' on the 'friends of the ideas' as well as on the
    pre-Socratic philosophies. Yet he is merely asserting principles which no
    one who could be made to understand them would deny.

    The Platonic unity of differences or opposites is the beginning of the
    modern view that all knowledge is of relations; it also anticipates the
    doctrine of Spinoza that all determination is negation. Plato takes or
    gives so much of either of these theories as was necessary or possible in
    the age in which he lived. In the Sophist, as in the Cratylus, he is
    opposed to the Heracleitean flux and equally to the Megarian and Cynic
    denial of predication, because he regards both of them as making knowledge
    impossible. He does not assert that everything is and is not, or that the
    same thing can be affected in the same and in opposite ways at the same
    time and in respect of the same part of itself. The law of contradiction
    is as clearly laid down by him in the Republic, as by Aristotle in his
    Organon. Yet he is aware that in the negative there is also a positive
    element, and that oppositions may be only differences. And in the
    Parmenides he deduces the many from the one and Not-being from Being, and
    yet shows that the many are included in the one, and that Not-being returns
    to Being.

    In several of the later dialogues Plato is occupied with the connexion of
    the sciences, which in the Philebus he divides into two classes of pure and
    applied, adding to them there as elsewhere (Phaedr., Crat., Republic,
    States.) a superintending science of dialectic. This is the origin of
    Aristotle's Architectonic, which seems, however, to have passed into an
    imaginary science of essence, and no longer to retain any relation to other
    branches of knowledge. Of such a science, whether described as
    'philosophia prima,' the science of ousia, logic or metaphysics,
    philosophers have often dreamed. But even now the time has not arrived
    when the anticipation of Plato can be realized. Though many a thinker has
    framed a 'hierarchy of the sciences,' no one has as yet found the higher
    science which arrays them in harmonious order, giving to the organic and
    inorganic, to the physical and moral, their respective limits, and showing
    how they all work together in the world and in man.

    Plato arranges in order the stages of knowledge and of existence. They are
    the steps or grades by which he rises from sense and the shadows of sense
    to the idea of beauty and good. Mind is in motion as well as at rest
    (Soph.); and may be described as a dialectical progress which passes from
    one limit or determination of thought to another and back again to the
    first. This is the account of dialectic given by Plato in the Sixth Book
    of the Republic, which regarded under another aspect is the mysticism of
    the Symposium. He does not deny the existence of objects of sense, but
    according to him they only receive their true meaning when they are
    incorporated in a principle which is above them (Republic). In modern
    language they might be said to come first in the order of experience, last
    in the order of nature and reason. They are assumed, as he is fond of
    repeating, upon the condition that they shall give an account of themselves
    and that the truth of their existence shall be hereafter proved. For
    philosophy must begin somewhere and may begin anywhere,--with outward
    objects, with statements of opinion, with abstract principles. But objects
    of sense must lead us onward to the ideas or universals which are contained
    in them; the statements of opinion must be verified; the abstract
    principles must be filled up and connected with one another. In Plato we
    find, as we might expect, the germs of many thoughts which have been
    further developed by the genius of Spinoza and Hegel. But there is a
    difficulty in separating the germ from the flower, or in drawing the line
    which divides ancient from modern philosophy. Many coincidences which
    occur in them are unconscious, seeming to show a natural tendency in the
    human mind towards certain ideas and forms of thought. And there are many
    speculations of Plato which would have passed away unheeded, and their
    meaning, like that of some hieroglyphic, would have remained undeciphered,
    unless two thousand years and more afterwards an interpreter had arisen of
    a kindred spirit and of the same intellectual family. For example, in the
    Sophist Plato begins with the abstract and goes on to the concrete, not in
    the lower sense of returning to outward objects, but to the Hegelian
    concrete or unity of abstractions. In the intervening period hardly any
    importance would have been attached to the question which is so full of
    meaning to Plato and Hegel.

    They differ however in their manner of regarding the question. For Plato
    is answering a difficulty; he is seeking to justify the use of common
    language and of ordinary thought into which philosophy had introduced a
    principle of doubt and dissolution. Whereas Hegel tries to go beyond
    common thought, and to combine abstractions in a higher unity: the
    ordinary mechanism of language and logic is carried by him into another
    region in which all oppositions are absorbed and all contradictions
    affirmed, only that they may be done away with. But Plato, unlike Hegel,
    nowhere bases his system on the unity of opposites, although in the
    Parmenides he shows an Hegelian subtlety in the analysis of one and Being.

    It is difficult within the compass of a few pages to give even a faint
    outline of the Hegelian dialectic. No philosophy which is worth
    understanding can be understood in a moment; common sense will not teach us
    metaphysics any more than mathematics. If all sciences demand of us
    protracted study and attention, the highest of all can hardly be matter of
    immediate intuition. Neither can we appreciate a great system without
    yielding a half assent to it--like flies we are caught in the spider's web;
    and we can only judge of it truly when we place ourselves at a distance
    from it. Of all philosophies Hegelianism is the most obscure: and the
    difficulty inherent in the subject is increased by the use of a technical
    language. The saying of Socrates respecting the writings of Heracleitus--
    'Noble is that which I understand, and that which I do not understand may
    be as noble; but the strength of a Delian diver is needed to swim through
    it'--expresses the feeling with which the reader rises from the perusal of
    Hegel. We may truly apply to him the words in which Plato describes the
    Pre-Socratic philosophers: 'He went on his way rather regardless of
    whether we understood him or not'; or, as he is reported himself to have
    said of his own pupils: 'There is only one of you who understands me, and
    he does NOT understand me.'

    Nevertheless the consideration of a few general aspects of the Hegelian
    philosophy may help to dispel some errors and to awaken an interest about
    it. (i) It is an ideal philosophy which, in popular phraseology, maintains
    not matter but mind to be the truth of things, and this not by a mere crude
    substitution of one word for another, but by showing either of them to be
    the complement of the other. Both are creations of thought, and the
    difference in kind which seems to divide them may also be regarded as a
    difference of degree. One is to the other as the real to the ideal, and
    both may be conceived together under the higher form of the notion. (ii)
    Under another aspect it views all the forms of sense and knowledge as
    stages of thought which have always existed implicitly and unconsciously,
    and to which the mind of the world, gradually disengaged from sense, has
    become awakened. The present has been the past. The succession in time of
    human ideas is also the eternal 'now'; it is historical and also a divine
    ideal. The history of philosophy stripped of personality and of the other
    accidents of time and place is gathered up into philosophy, and again
    philosophy clothed in circumstance expands into history. (iii) Whether
    regarded as present or past, under the form of time or of eternity, the
    spirit of dialectic is always moving onwards from one determination of
    thought to another, receiving each successive system of philosophy and
    subordinating it to that which follows--impelled by an irresistible
    necessity from one idea to another until the cycle of human thought and
    existence is complete. It follows from this that all previous philosophies
    which are worthy of the name are not mere opinions or speculations, but
    stages or moments of thought which have a necessary place in the world of
    mind. They are no longer the last word of philosophy, for another and
    another has succeeded them, but they still live and are mighty; in the
    language of the Greek poet, 'There is a great God in them, and he grows not
    old.' (iv) This vast ideal system is supposed to be based upon experience.
    At each step it professes to carry with it the 'witness of eyes and ears'
    and of common sense, as well as the internal evidence of its own
    consistency; it has a place for every science, and affirms that no
    philosophy of a narrower type is capable of comprehending all true facts.

    The Hegelian dialectic may be also described as a movement from the simple
    to the complex. Beginning with the generalizations of sense, (1) passing
    through ideas of quality, quantity, measure, number, and the like, (2)
    ascending from presentations, that is pictorial forms of sense, to
    representations in which the picture vanishes and the essence is detached
    in thought from the outward form, (3) combining the I and the not-I, or the
    subject and object, the natural order of thought is at last found to
    include the leading ideas of the sciences and to arrange them in relation
    to one another. Abstractions grow together and again become concrete in a
    new and higher sense. They also admit of development from within their own
    spheres. Everywhere there is a movement of attraction and repulsion going
    on--an attraction or repulsion of ideas of which the physical phenomenon
    described under a similar name is a figure. Freedom and necessity, mind
    and matter, the continuous and the discrete, cause and effect, are
    perpetually being severed from one another in thought, only to be
    perpetually reunited. The finite and infinite, the absolute and relative
    are not really opposed; the finite and the negation of the finite are alike
    lost in a higher or positive infinity, and the absolute is the sum or
    correlation of all relatives. When this reconciliation of opposites is
    finally completed in all its stages, the mind may come back again and
    review the things of sense, the opinions of philosophers, the strife of
    theology and politics, without being disturbed by them. Whatever is, if
    not the very best--and what is the best, who can tell?--is, at any rate,
    historical and rational, suitable to its own age, unsuitable to any other.
    Nor can any efforts of speculative thinkers or of soldiers and statesmen
    materially quicken the 'process of the suns.'

    Hegel was quite sensible how great would be the difficulty of presenting
    philosophy to mankind under the form of opposites. Most of us live in the
    one-sided truth which the understanding offers to us, and if occasionally
    we come across difficulties like the time-honoured controversy of necessity
    and free-will, or the Eleatic puzzle of Achilles and the tortoise, we
    relegate some of them to the sphere of mystery, others to the book of
    riddles, and go on our way rejoicing. Most men (like Aristotle) have been
    accustomed to regard a contradiction in terms as the end of strife; to be
    told that contradiction is the life and mainspring of the intellectual
    world is indeed a paradox to them. Every abstraction is at first the enemy
    of every other, yet they are linked together, each with all, in the chain
    of Being. The struggle for existence is not confined to the animals, but
    appears in the kingdom of thought. The divisions which arise in thought
    between the physical and moral and between the moral and intellectual, and
    the like, are deepened and widened by the formal logic which elevates the
    defects of the human faculties into Laws of Thought; they become a part of
    the mind which makes them and is also made up of them. Such distinctions
    become so familiar to us that we regard the thing signified by them as
    absolutely fixed and defined. These are some of the illusions from which
    Hegel delivers us by placing us above ourselves, by teaching us to analyze
    the growth of 'what we are pleased to call our minds,' by reverting to a
    time when our present distinctions of thought and language had no

    Of the great dislike and childish impatience of his system which would be
    aroused among his opponents, he was fully aware, and would often anticipate
    the jests which the rest of the world, 'in the superfluity of their wits,'
    were likely to make upon him. Men are annoyed at what puzzles them; they
    think what they cannot easily understand to be full of danger. Many a
    sceptic has stood, as he supposed, firmly rooted in the categories of the
    understanding which Hegel resolves into their original nothingness. For,
    like Plato, he 'leaves no stone unturned' in the intellectual world. Nor
    can we deny that he is unnecessarily difficult, or that his own mind, like
    that of all metaphysicians, was too much under the dominion of his system
    and unable to see beyond: or that the study of philosophy, if made a
    serious business (compare Republic), involves grave results to the mind and
    life of the student. For it may encumber him without enlightening his
    path; and it may weaken his natural faculties of thought and expression
    without increasing his philosophical power. The mind easily becomes
    entangled among abstractions, and loses hold of facts. The glass which is
    adapted to distant objects takes away the vision of what is near and
    present to us.

    To Hegel, as to the ancient Greek thinkers, philosophy was a religion, a
    principle of life as well as of knowledge, like the idea of good in the
    Sixth Book of the Republic, a cause as well as an effect, the source of
    growth as well as of light. In forms of thought which by most of us are
    regarded as mere categories, he saw or thought that he saw a gradual
    revelation of the Divine Being. He would have been said by his opponents
    to have confused God with the history of philosophy, and to have been
    incapable of distinguishing ideas from facts. And certainly we can
    scarcely understand how a deep thinker like Hegel could have hoped to
    revive or supplant the old traditional faith by an unintelligible
    abstraction: or how he could have imagined that philosophy consisted only
    or chiefly in the categories of logic. For abstractions, though combined
    by him in the notion, seem to be never really concrete; they are a
    metaphysical anatomy, not a living and thinking substance. Though we are
    reminded by him again and again that we are gathering up the world in
    ideas, we feel after all that we have not really spanned the gulf which
    separates phainomena from onta.

    Having in view some of these difficulties, he seeks--and we may follow his
    example--to make the understanding of his system easier (a) by
    illustrations, and (b) by pointing out the coincidence of the speculative
    idea and the historical order of thought.

    (a) If we ask how opposites can coexist, we are told that many different
    qualities inhere in a flower or a tree or in any other concrete object, and
    that any conception of space or matter or time involves the two
    contradictory attributes of divisibility and continuousness. We may ponder
    over the thought of number, reminding ourselves that every unit both
    implies and denies the existence of every other, and that the one is many--
    a sum of fractions, and the many one--a sum of units. We may be reminded
    that in nature there is a centripetal as well as a centrifugal force, a
    regulator as well as a spring, a law of attraction as well as of repulsion.
    The way to the West is the way also to the East; the north pole of the
    magnet cannot be divided from the south pole; two minus signs make a plus
    in Arithmetic and Algebra. Again, we may liken the successive layers of
    thought to the deposits of geological strata which were once fluid and are
    now solid, which were at one time uppermost in the series and are now
    hidden in the earth; or to the successive rinds or barks of trees which
    year by year pass inward; or to the ripple of water which appears and
    reappears in an ever-widening circle. Or our attention may be drawn to
    ideas which the moment we analyze them involve a contradiction, such as
    'beginning' or 'becoming,' or to the opposite poles, as they are sometimes
    termed, of necessity and freedom, of idea and fact. We may be told to
    observe that every negative is a positive, that differences of kind are
    resolvable into differences of degree, and that differences of degree may
    be heightened into differences of kind. We may remember the common remark
    that there is much to be said on both sides of a question. We may be
    recommended to look within and to explain how opposite ideas can coexist in
    our own minds; and we may be told to imagine the minds of all mankind as
    one mind in which the true ideas of all ages and countries inhere. In our
    conception of God in his relation to man or of any union of the divine and
    human nature, a contradiction appears to be unavoidable. Is not the
    reconciliation of mind and body a necessity, not only of speculation but of
    practical life? Reflections such as these will furnish the best
    preparation and give the right attitude of mind for understanding the
    Hegelian philosophy.

    (b) Hegel's treatment of the early Greek thinkers affords the readiest
    illustration of his meaning in conceiving all philosophy under the form of
    opposites. The first abstraction is to him the beginning of thought.
    Hitherto there had only existed a tumultuous chaos of mythological fancy,
    but when Thales said 'All is water' a new era began to dawn upon the world.
    Man was seeking to grasp the universe under a single form which was at
    first simply a material element, the most equable and colourless and
    universal which could be found. But soon the human mind became
    dissatisfied with the emblem, and after ringing the changes on one element
    after another, demanded a more abstract and perfect conception, such as one
    or Being, which was absolutely at rest. But the positive had its negative,
    the conception of Being involved Not-being, the conception of one, many,
    the conception of a whole, parts. Then the pendulum swung to the other
    side, from rest to motion, from Xenophanes to Heracleitus. The opposition
    of Being and Not-being projected into space became the atoms and void of
    Leucippus and Democritus. Until the Atomists, the abstraction of the
    individual did not exist; in the philosophy of Anaxagoras the idea of mind,
    whether human or divine, was beginning to be realized. The pendulum gave
    another swing, from the individual to the universal, from the object to the
    subject. The Sophist first uttered the word 'Man is the measure of all
    things,' which Socrates presented in a new form as the study of ethics.
    Once more we return from mind to the object of mind, which is knowledge,
    and out of knowledge the various degrees or kinds of knowledge more or less
    abstract were gradually developed. The threefold division of logic,
    physic, and ethics, foreshadowed in Plato, was finally established by
    Aristotle and the Stoics. Thus, according to Hegel, in the course of about
    two centuries by a process of antagonism and negation the leading thoughts
    of philosophy were evolved.

    There is nothing like this progress of opposites in Plato, who in the
    Symposium denies the possibility of reconciliation until the opposition has
    passed away. In his own words, there is an absurdity in supposing that
    'harmony is discord; for in reality harmony consists of notes of a higher
    and lower pitch which disagreed once, but are now reconciled by the art of
    music' (Symp.). He does indeed describe objects of sense as regarded by us
    sometimes from one point of view and sometimes from another. As he says at
    the end of the Fifth Book of the Republic, 'There is nothing light which is
    not heavy, or great which is not small.' And he extends this relativity to
    the conceptions of just and good, as well as to great and small. In like
    manner he acknowledges that the same number may be more or less in relation
    to other numbers without any increase or diminution (Theat.). But the
    perplexity only arises out of the confusion of the human faculties; the art
    of measuring shows us what is truly great and truly small. Though the just
    and good in particular instances may vary, the IDEA of good is eternal and
    unchangeable. And the IDEA of good is the source of knowledge and also of
    Being, in which all the stages of sense and knowledge are gathered up and
    from being hypotheses become realities.

    Leaving the comparison with Plato we may now consider the value of this
    invention of Hegel. There can be no question of the importance of showing
    that two contraries or contradictories may in certain cases be both true.
    The silliness of the so-called laws of thought ('All A = A,' or, in the
    negative form, 'Nothing can at the same time be both A, and not A') has
    been well exposed by Hegel himself (Wallace's Hegel), who remarks that 'the
    form of the maxim is virtually self-contradictory, for a proposition
    implies a distinction between subject and predicate, whereas the maxim of
    identity, as it is called, A = A, does not fulfil what its form requires.
    Nor does any mind ever think or form conceptions in accordance with this
    law, nor does any existence conform to it.' Wisdom of this sort is well
    parodied in Shakespeare (Twelfth Night, 'Clown: For as the old hermit of
    Prague, that never saw pen and ink, very wittily said to a niece of King
    Gorboduc, "That that is is"...for what is "that" but "that," and "is" but
    "is"?'). Unless we are willing to admit that two contradictories may be
    true, many questions which lie at the threshold of mathematics and of
    morals will be insoluble puzzles to us.

    The influence of opposites is felt in practical life. The understanding
    sees one side of a question only--the common sense of mankind joins one of
    two parties in politics, in religion, in philosophy. Yet, as everybody
    knows, truth is not wholly the possession of either. But the characters of
    men are one-sided and accept this or that aspect of the truth. The
    understanding is strong in a single abstract principle and with this lever
    moves mankind. Few attain to a balance of principles or recognize truly
    how in all human things there is a thesis and antithesis, a law of action
    and of reaction. In politics we require order as well as liberty, and have
    to consider the proportions in which under given circumstances they may be
    safely combined. In religion there is a tendency to lose sight of
    morality, to separate goodness from the love of truth, to worship God
    without attempting to know him. In philosophy again there are two opposite
    principles, of immediate experience and of those general or a priori truths
    which are supposed to transcend experience. But the common sense or common
    opinion of mankind is incapable of apprehending these opposite sides or
    views--men are determined by their natural bent to one or other of them;
    they go straight on for a time in a single line, and may be many things by
    turns but not at once.

    Hence the importance of familiarizing the mind with forms which will assist
    us in conceiving or expressing the complex or contrary aspects of life and
    nature. The danger is that they may be too much for us, and obscure our
    appreciation of facts. As the complexity of mechanics cannot be understood
    without mathematics, so neither can the many-sidedness of the mental and
    moral world be truly apprehended without the assistance of new forms of
    thought. One of these forms is the unity of opposites. Abstractions have
    a great power over us, but they are apt to be partial and one-sided, and
    only when modified by other abstractions do they make an approach to the
    truth. Many a man has become a fatalist because he has fallen under the
    dominion of a single idea. He says to himself, for example, that he must
    be either free or necessary--he cannot be both. Thus in the ancient world
    whole schools of philosophy passed away in the vain attempt to solve the
    problem of the continuity or divisibility of matter. And in comparatively
    modern times, though in the spirit of an ancient philosopher, Bishop
    Berkeley, feeling a similar perplexity, is inclined to deny the truth of
    infinitesimals in mathematics. Many difficulties arise in practical
    religion from the impossibility of conceiving body and mind at once and in
    adjusting their movements to one another. There is a border ground between
    them which seems to belong to both; and there is as much difficulty in
    conceiving the body without the soul as the soul without the body. To the
    'either' and 'or' philosophy ('Everything is either A or not A') should at
    least be added the clause 'or neither,' 'or both.' The double form makes
    reflection easier and more conformable to experience, and also more
    comprehensive. But in order to avoid paradox and the danger of giving
    offence to the unmetaphysical part of mankind, we may speak of it as due to
    the imperfection of language or the limitation of human faculties. It is
    nevertheless a discovery which, in Platonic language, may be termed a 'most
    gracious aid to thought.'

    The doctrine of opposite moments of thought or of progression by
    antagonism, further assists us in framing a scheme or system of the
    sciences. The negation of one gives birth to another of them. The double
    notions are the joints which hold them together. The simple is developed
    into the complex, the complex returns again into the simple. Beginning
    with the highest notion of mind or thought, we may descend by a series of
    negations to the first generalizations of sense. Or again we may begin
    with the simplest elements of sense and proceed upwards to the highest
    being or thought. Metaphysic is the negation or absorption of physiology--
    physiology of chemistry--chemistry of mechanical philosophy. Similarly in
    mechanics, when we can no further go we arrive at chemistry--when chemistry
    becomes organic we arrive at physiology: when we pass from the outward and
    animal to the inward nature of man we arrive at moral and metaphysical
    philosophy. These sciences have each of them their own methods and are
    pursued independently of one another. But to the mind of the thinker they
    are all one--latent in one another--developed out of one another.

    This method of opposites has supplied new instruments of thought for the
    solution of metaphysical problems, and has thrown down many of the walls
    within which the human mind was confined. Formerly when philosophers
    arrived at the infinite and absolute, they seemed to be lost in a region
    beyond human comprehension. But Hegel has shown that the absolute and
    infinite are no more true than the relative and finite, and that they must
    alike be negatived before we arrive at a true absolute or a true infinite.
    The conceptions of the infinite and absolute as ordinarily understood are
    tiresome because they are unmeaning, but there is no peculiar sanctity or
    mystery in them. We might as well make an infinitesimal series of
    fractions or a perpetually recurring decimal the object of our worship.
    They are the widest and also the thinnest of human ideas, or, in the
    language of logicians, they have the greatest extension and the least
    comprehension. Of all words they may be truly said to be the most inflated
    with a false meaning. They have been handed down from one philosopher to
    another until they have acquired a religious character. They seem also to
    derive a sacredness from their association with the Divine Being. Yet they
    are the poorest of the predicates under which we describe him--signifying
    no more than this, that he is not finite, that he is not relative, and
    tending to obscure his higher attributes of wisdom, goodness, truth.

    The system of Hegel frees the mind from the dominion of abstract ideas. We
    acknowledge his originality, and some of us delight to wander in the mazes
    of thought which he has opened to us. For Hegel has found admirers in
    England and Scotland when his popularity in Germany has departed, and he,
    like the philosophers whom he criticizes, is of the past. No other thinker
    has ever dissected the human mind with equal patience and minuteness. He
    has lightened the burden of thought because he has shown us that the chains
    which we wear are of our own forging. To be able to place ourselves not
    only above the opinions of men but above their modes of thinking, is a
    great height of philosophy. This dearly obtained freedom, however, we are
    not disposed to part with, or to allow him to build up in a new form the
    'beggarly elements' of scholastic logic which he has thrown down. So far
    as they are aids to reflection and expression, forms of thought are useful,
    but no further:--we may easily have too many of them.

    And when we are asked to believe the Hegelian to be the sole or universal
    logic, we naturally reply that there are other ways in which our ideas may
    be connected. The triplets of Hegel, the division into being, essence, and
    notion, are not the only or necessary modes in which the world of thought
    can be conceived. There may be an evolution by degrees as well as by
    opposites. The word 'continuity' suggests the possibility of resolving all
    differences into differences of quantity. Again, the opposites themselves
    may vary from the least degree of diversity up to contradictory opposition.
    They are not like numbers and figures, always and everywhere of the same
    value. And therefore the edifice which is constructed out of them has
    merely an imaginary symmetry, and is really irregular and out of
    proportion. The spirit of Hegelian criticism should be applied to his own
    system, and the terms Being, Not-being, existence, essence, notion, and the
    like challenged and defined. For if Hegel introduces a great many
    distinctions, he obliterates a great many others by the help of the
    universal solvent 'is not,' which appears to be the simplest of negations,
    and yet admits of several meanings. Neither are we able to follow him in
    the play of metaphysical fancy which conducts him from one determination of
    thought to another. But we begin to suspect that this vast system is not
    God within us, or God immanent in the world, and may be only the invention
    of an individual brain. The 'beyond' is always coming back upon us however
    often we expel it. We do not easily believe that we have within the
    compass of the mind the form of universal knowledge. We rather incline to
    think that the method of knowledge is inseparable from actual knowledge,
    and wait to see what new forms may be developed out of our increasing
    experience and observation of man and nature. We are conscious of a Being
    who is without us as well as within us. Even if inclined to Pantheism we
    are unwilling to imagine that the meagre categories of the understanding,
    however ingeniously arranged or displayed, are the image of God;--that what
    all religions were seeking after from the beginning was the Hegelian
    philosophy which has been revealed in the latter days. The great
    metaphysician, like a prophet of old, was naturally inclined to believe
    that his own thoughts were divine realities. We may almost say that
    whatever came into his head seemed to him to be a necessary truth. He
    never appears to have criticized himself, or to have subjected his own
    ideas to the process of analysis which he applies to every other

    Hegel would have insisted that his philosophy should be accepted as a whole
    or not at all. He would have urged that the parts derived their meaning
    from one another and from the whole. He thought that he had supplied an
    outline large enough to contain all future knowledge, and a method to which
    all future philosophies must conform. His metaphysical genius is
    especially shown in the construction of the categories--a work which was
    only begun by Kant, and elaborated to the utmost by himself. But is it
    really true that the part has no meaning when separated from the whole, or
    that knowledge to be knowledge at all must be universal? Do all
    abstractions shine only by the reflected light of other abstractions? May
    they not also find a nearer explanation in their relation to phenomena? If
    many of them are correlatives they are not all so, and the relations which
    subsist between them vary from a mere association up to a necessary
    connexion. Nor is it easy to determine how far the unknown element affects
    the known, whether, for example, new discoveries may not one day supersede
    our most elementary notions about nature. To a certain extent all our
    knowledge is conditional upon what may be known in future ages of the
    world. We must admit this hypothetical element, which we cannot get rid of
    by an assumption that we have already discovered the method to which all
    philosophy must conform. Hegel is right in preferring the concrete to the
    abstract, in setting actuality before possibility, in excluding from the
    philosopher's vocabulary the word 'inconceivable.' But he is too well
    satisfied with his own system ever to consider the effect of what is
    unknown on the element which is known. To the Hegelian all things are
    plain and clear, while he who is outside the charmed circle is in the mire
    of ignorance and 'logical impurity': he who is within is omniscient, or at
    least has all the elements of knowledge under his hand.

    Hegelianism may be said to be a transcendental defence of the world as it
    is. There is no room for aspiration and no need of any: 'What is actual
    is rational, what is rational is actual.' But a good man will not readily
    acquiesce in this aphorism. He knows of course that all things proceed
    according to law whether for good or evil. But when he sees the misery and
    ignorance of mankind he is convinced that without any interruption of the
    uniformity of nature the condition of the world may be indefinitely
    improved by human effort. There is also an adaptation of persons to times
    and countries, but this is very far from being the fulfilment of their
    higher natures. The man of the seventeenth century is unfitted for the
    eighteenth, and the man of the eighteenth for the nineteenth, and most of
    us would be out of place in the world of a hundred years hence. But all
    higher minds are much more akin than they are different: genius is of all
    ages, and there is perhaps more uniformity in excellence than in
    mediocrity. The sublimer intelligences of mankind--Plato, Dante, Sir
    Thomas More--meet in a higher sphere above the ordinary ways of men; they
    understand one another from afar, notwithstanding the interval which
    separates them. They are 'the spectators of all time and of all
    existence;' their works live for ever; and there is nothing to prevent the
    force of their individuality breaking through the uniformity which
    surrounds them. But such disturbers of the order of thought Hegel is
    reluctant to acknowledge.

    The doctrine of Hegel will to many seem the expression of an indolent
    conservatism, and will at any rate be made an excuse for it. The mind of
    the patriot rebels when he is told that the worst tyranny and oppression
    has a natural fitness: he cannot be persuaded, for example, that the
    conquest of Prussia by Napoleon I. was either natural or necessary, or that
    any similar calamity befalling a nation should be a matter of indifference
    to the poet or philosopher. We may need such a philosophy or religion to
    console us under evils which are irremediable, but we see that it is fatal
    to the higher life of man. It seems to say to us, 'The world is a vast
    system or machine which can be conceived under the forms of logic, but in
    which no single man can do any great good or any great harm. Even if it
    were a thousand times worse than it is, it could be arranged in categories
    and explained by philosophers. And what more do we want?'

    The philosophy of Hegel appeals to an historical criterion: the ideas of
    men have a succession in time as well as an order of thought. But the
    assumption that there is a correspondence between the succession of ideas
    in history and the natural order of philosophy is hardly true even of the
    beginnings of thought. And in later systems forms of thought are too
    numerous and complex to admit of our tracing in them a regular succession.
    They seem also to be in part reflections of the past, and it is difficult
    to separate in them what is original and what is borrowed. Doubtless they
    have a relation to one another--the transition from Descartes to Spinoza or
    from Locke to Berkeley is not a matter of chance, but it can hardly be
    described as an alternation of opposites or figured to the mind by the
    vibrations of a pendulum. Even in Aristotle and Plato, rightly understood,
    we cannot trace this law of action and reaction. They are both idealists,
    although to the one the idea is actual and immanent,--to the other only
    potential and transcendent, as Hegel himself has pointed out (Wallace's
    Hegel). The true meaning of Aristotle has been disguised from us by his
    own appeal to fact and the opinions of mankind in his more popular works,
    and by the use made of his writings in the Middle Ages. No book, except
    the Scriptures, has been so much read, and so little understood. The Pre-
    Socratic philosophies are simpler, and we may observe a progress in them;
    but is there any regular succession? The ideas of Being, change, number,
    seem to have sprung up contemporaneously in different parts of Greece and
    we have no difficulty in constructing them out of one another--we can see
    that the union of Being and Not-being gave birth to the idea of change or
    Becoming and that one might be another aspect of Being. Again, the
    Eleatics may be regarded as developing in one direction into the Megarian
    school, in the other into the Atomists, but there is no necessary connexion
    between them. Nor is there any indication that the deficiency which was
    felt in one school was supplemented or compensated by another. They were
    all efforts to supply the want which the Greeks began to feel at the
    beginning of the sixth century before Christ,--the want of abstract ideas.
    Nor must we forget the uncertainty of chronology;--if, as Aristotle says,
    there were Atomists before Leucippus, Eleatics before Xenophanes, and
    perhaps 'patrons of the flux' before Heracleitus, Hegel's order of thought
    in the history of philosophy would be as much disarranged as his order of
    religious thought by recent discoveries in the history of religion.

    Hegel is fond of repeating that all philosophies still live and that the
    earlier are preserved in the later; they are refuted, and they are not
    refuted, by those who succeed them. Once they reigned supreme, now they
    are subordinated to a power or idea greater or more comprehensive than
    their own. The thoughts of Socrates and Plato and Aristotle have certainly
    sunk deep into the mind of the world, and have exercised an influence which
    will never pass away; but can we say that they have the same meaning in
    modern and ancient philosophy? Some of them, as for example the words
    'Being,' 'essence,' 'matter,' 'form,' either have become obsolete, or are
    used in new senses, whereas 'individual,' 'cause,' 'motive,' have acquired
    an exaggerated importance. Is the manner in which the logical
    determinations of thought, or 'categories' as they may be termed, have been
    handed down to us, really different from that in which other words have
    come down to us? Have they not been equally subject to accident, and are
    they not often used by Hegel himself in senses which would have been quite
    unintelligible to their original inventors--as for example, when he speaks
    of the 'ground' of Leibnitz ('Everything has a sufficient ground') as
    identical with his own doctrine of the 'notion' (Wallace's Hegel), or the
    'Being and Not-being' of Heracleitus as the same with his own 'Becoming'?

    As the historical order of thought has been adapted to the logical, so we
    have reason for suspecting that the Hegelian logic has been in some degree
    adapted to the order of thought in history. There is unfortunately no
    criterion to which either of them can be subjected, and not much forcing
    was required to bring either into near relations with the other. We may
    fairly doubt whether the division of the first and second parts of logic in
    the Hegelian system has not really arisen from a desire to make them accord
    with the first and second stages of the early Greek philosophy. Is there
    any reason why the conception of measure in the first part, which is formed
    by the union of quality and quantity, should not have been equally placed
    in the second division of mediate or reflected ideas? The more we analyze
    them the less exact does the coincidence of philosophy and the history of
    philosophy appear. Many terms which were used absolutely in the beginning
    of philosophy, such as 'Being,' 'matter,' 'cause,' and the like, became
    relative in the subsequent history of thought. But Hegel employs some of
    them absolutely, some relatively, seemingly without any principle and
    without any regard to their original significance.

    The divisions of the Hegelian logic bear a superficial resemblance to the
    divisions of the scholastic logic. The first part answers to the term, the
    second to the proposition, the third to the syllogism. These are the
    grades of thought under which we conceive the world, first, in the general
    terms of quality, quantity, measure; secondly, under the relative forms of
    'ground' and existence, substance and accidents, and the like; thirdly in
    syllogistic forms of the individual mediated with the universal by the help
    of the particular. Of syllogisms there are various kinds,--qualitative,
    quantitative, inductive, mechanical, teleological,--which are developed out
    of one another. But is there any meaning in reintroducing the forms of the
    old logic? Who ever thinks of the world as a syllogism? What connexion is
    there between the proposition and our ideas of reciprocity, cause and
    effect, and similar relations? It is difficult enough to conceive all the
    powers of nature and mind gathered up in one. The difficulty is greatly
    increased when the new is confused with the old, and the common logic is
    the Procrustes' bed into which they are forced.

    The Hegelian philosophy claims, as we have seen, to be based upon
    experience: it abrogates the distinction of a priori and a posteriori
    truth. It also acknowledges that many differences of kind are resolvable
    into differences of degree. It is familiar with the terms 'evolution,'
    'development,' and the like. Yet it can hardly be said to have considered
    the forms of thought which are best adapted for the expression of facts.
    It has never applied the categories to experience; it has not defined the
    differences in our ideas of opposition, or development, or cause and
    effect, in the different sciences which make use of these terms. It rests
    on a knowledge which is not the result of exact or serious enquiry, but is
    floating in the air; the mind has been imperceptibly informed of some of
    the methods required in the sciences. Hegel boasts that the movement of
    dialectic is at once necessary and spontaneous: in reality it goes beyond
    experience and is unverified by it. Further, the Hegelian philosophy,
    while giving us the power of thinking a great deal more than we are able to
    fill up, seems to be wanting in some determinations of thought which we
    require. We cannot say that physical science, which at present occupies so
    large a share of popular attention, has been made easier or more
    intelligible by the distinctions of Hegel. Nor can we deny that he has
    sometimes interpreted physics by metaphysics, and confused his own
    philosophical fancies with the laws of nature. The very freedom of the
    movement is not without suspicion, seeming to imply a state of the human
    mind which has entirely lost sight of facts. Nor can the necessity which
    is attributed to it be very stringent, seeing that the successive
    categories or determinations of thought in different parts of his writings
    are arranged by the philosopher in different ways. What is termed
    necessary evolution seems to be only the order in which a succession of
    ideas presented themselves to the mind of Hegel at a particular time.

    The nomenclature of Hegel has been made by himself out of the language of
    common life. He uses a few words only which are borrowed from his
    predecessors, or from the Greek philosophy, and these generally in a sense
    peculiar to himself. The first stage of his philosophy answers to the word
    'is,' the second to the word 'has been,' the third to the words 'has been'
    and 'is' combined. In other words, the first sphere is immediate, the
    second mediated by reflection, the third or highest returns into the first,
    and is both mediate and immediate. As Luther's Bible was written in the
    language of the common people, so Hegel seems to have thought that he gave
    his philosophy a truly German character by the use of idiomatic German
    words. But it may be doubted whether the attempt has been successful.
    First because such words as 'in sich seyn,' 'an sich seyn,' 'an und fur
    sich seyn,' though the simplest combinations of nouns and verbs, require a
    difficult and elaborate explanation. The simplicity of the words contrasts
    with the hardness of their meaning. Secondly, the use of technical
    phraseology necessarily separates philosophy from general literature; the
    student has to learn a new language of uncertain meaning which he with
    difficulty remembers. No former philosopher had ever carried the use of
    technical terms to the same extent as Hegel. The language of Plato or even
    of Aristotle is but slightly removed from that of common life, and was
    introduced naturally by a series of thinkers: the language of the
    scholastic logic has become technical to us, but in the Middle Ages was the
    vernacular Latin of priests and students. The higher spirit of philosophy,
    the spirit of Plato and Socrates, rebels against the Hegelian use of
    language as mechanical and technical.

    Hegel is fond of etymologies and often seems to trifle with words. He
    gives etymologies which are bad, and never considers that the meaning of a
    word may have nothing to do with its derivation. He lived before the days
    of Comparative Philology or of Comparative Mythology and Religion, which
    would have opened a new world to him. He makes no allowance for the
    element of chance either in language or thought; and perhaps there is no
    greater defect in his system than the want of a sound theory of language.
    He speaks as if thought, instead of being identical with language, was
    wholly independent of it. It is not the actual growth of the mind, but the
    imaginary growth of the Hegelian system, which is attractive to him.

    Neither are we able to say why of the common forms of thought some are
    rejected by him, while others have an undue prominence given to them. Some
    of them, such as 'ground' and 'existence,' have hardly any basis either in
    language or philosophy, while others, such as 'cause' and 'effect,' are but
    slightly considered. All abstractions are supposed by Hegel to derive
    their meaning from one another. This is true of some, but not of all, and
    in different degrees. There is an explanation of abstractions by the
    phenomena which they represent, as well as by their relation to other
    abstractions. If the knowledge of all were necessary to the knowledge of
    any one of them, the mind would sink under the load of thought. Again, in
    every process of reflection we seem to require a standing ground, and in
    the attempt to obtain a complete analysis we lose all fixedness. If, for
    example, the mind is viewed as the complex of ideas, or the difference
    between things and persons denied, such an analysis may be justified from
    the point of view of Hegel: but we shall find that in the attempt to
    criticize thought we have lost the power of thinking, and, like the
    Heracliteans of old, have no words in which our meaning can be expressed.
    Such an analysis may be of value as a corrective of popular language or
    thought, but should still allow us to retain the fundamental distinctions
    of philosophy.

    In the Hegelian system ideas supersede persons. The world of thought,
    though sometimes described as Spirit or 'Geist,' is really impersonal. The
    minds of men are to be regarded as one mind, or more correctly as a
    succession of ideas. Any comprehensive view of the world must necessarily
    be general, and there may be a use with a view to comprehensiveness in
    dropping individuals and their lives and actions. In all things, if we
    leave out details, a certain degree of order begins to appear; at any rate
    we can make an order which, with a little exaggeration or disproportion in
    some of the parts, will cover the whole field of philosophy. But are we
    therefore justified in saying that ideas are the causes of the great
    movement of the world rather than the personalities which conceived them?
    The great man is the expression of his time, and there may be peculiar
    difficulties in his age which he cannot overcome. He may be out of harmony
    with his circumstances, too early or too late, and then all his thoughts
    perish; his genius passes away unknown. But not therefore is he to be
    regarded as a mere waif or stray in human history, any more than he is the
    mere creature or expression of the age in which he lives. His ideas are
    inseparable from himself, and would have been nothing without him. Through
    a thousand personal influences they have been brought home to the minds of
    others. He starts from antecedents, but he is great in proportion as he
    disengages himself from them or absorbs himself in them. Moreover the
    types of greatness differ; while one man is the expression of the
    influences of his age, another is in antagonism to them. One man is borne
    on the surface of the water; another is carried forward by the current
    which flows beneath. The character of an individual, whether he be
    independent of circumstances or not, inspires others quite as much as his
    words. What is the teaching of Socrates apart from his personal history,
    or the doctrines of Christ apart from the Divine life in which they are
    embodied? Has not Hegel himself delineated the greatness of the life of
    Christ as consisting in his 'Schicksalslosigkeit' or independence of the
    destiny of his race? Do not persons become ideas, and is there any
    distinction between them? Take away the five greatest legislators, the
    five greatest warriors, the five greatest poets, the five greatest founders
    or teachers of a religion, the five greatest philosophers, the five
    greatest inventors,--where would have been all that we most value in
    knowledge or in life? And can that be a true theory of the history of
    philosophy which, in Hegel's own language, 'does not allow the individual
    to have his right'?

    Once more, while we readily admit that the world is relative to the mind,
    and the mind to the world, and that we must suppose a common or correlative
    growth in them, we shrink from saying that this complex nature can contain,
    even in outline, all the endless forms of Being and knowledge. Are we not
    'seeking the living among the dead' and dignifying a mere logical skeleton
    with the name of philosophy and almost of God? When we look far away into
    the primeval sources of thought and belief, do we suppose that the mere
    accident of our being the heirs of the Greek philosophers can give us a
    right to set ourselves up as having the true and only standard of reason in
    the world? Or when we contemplate the infinite worlds in the expanse of
    heaven can we imagine that a few meagre categories derived from language
    and invented by the genius of one or two great thinkers contain the secret
    of the universe? Or, having regard to the ages during which the human race
    may yet endure, do we suppose that we can anticipate the proportions human
    knowledge may attain even within the short space of one or two thousand

    Again, we have a difficulty in understanding how ideas can be causes, which
    to us seems to be as much a figure of speech as the old notion of a creator
    artist, 'who makes the world by the help of the demigods' (Plato, Tim.), or
    with 'a golden pair of compasses' measures out the circumference of the
    universe (Milton, P.L.). We can understand how the idea in the mind of an
    inventor is the cause of the work which is produced by it; and we can dimly
    imagine how this universal frame may be animated by a divine intelligence.
    But we cannot conceive how all the thoughts of men that ever were, which
    are themselves subject to so many external conditions of climate, country,
    and the like, even if regarded as the single thought of a Divine Being, can
    be supposed to have made the world. We appear to be only wrapping up
    ourselves in our own conceits--to be confusing cause and effect--to be
    losing the distinction between reflection and action, between the human and

    These are some of the doubts and suspicions which arise in the mind of a
    student of Hegel, when, after living for a time within the charmed circle,
    he removes to a little distance and looks back upon what he has learnt,
    from the vantage-ground of history and experience. The enthusiasm of his
    youth has passed away, the authority of the master no longer retains a hold
    upon him. But he does not regret the time spent in the study of him. He
    finds that he has received from him a real enlargement of mind, and much of
    the true spirit of philosophy, even when he has ceased to believe in him.
    He returns again and again to his writings as to the recollections of a
    first love, not undeserving of his admiration still. Perhaps if he were
    asked how he can admire without believing, or what value he can attribute
    to what he knows to be erroneous, he might answer in some such manner as
    the following:--

    1. That in Hegel he finds glimpses of the genius of the poet and of the
    common sense of the man of the world. His system is not cast in a poetic
    form, but neither has all this load of logic extinguished in him the
    feeling of poetry. He is the true countryman of his contemporaries Goethe
    and Schiller. Many fine expressions are scattered up and down in his
    writings, as when he tells us that 'the Crusaders went to the Sepulchre but
    found it empty.' He delights to find vestiges of his own philosophy in the
    older German mystics. And though he can be scarcely said to have mixed
    much in the affairs of men, for, as his biographer tells us, 'he lived for
    thirty years in a single room,' yet he is far from being ignorant of the
    world. No one can read his writings without acquiring an insight into
    life. He loves to touch with the spear of logic the follies and self-
    deceptions of mankind, and make them appear in their natural form, stripped
    of the disguises of language and custom. He will not allow men to defend
    themselves by an appeal to one-sided or abstract principles. In this age
    of reason any one can too easily find a reason for doing what he likes
    (Wallace). He is suspicious of a distinction which is often made between a
    person's character and his conduct. His spirit is the opposite of that of
    Jesuitism or casuistry (Wallace). He affords an example of a remark which
    has been often made, that in order to know the world it is not necessary to
    have had a great experience of it.

    2. Hegel, if not the greatest philosopher, is certainly the greatest
    critic of philosophy who ever lived. No one else has equally mastered the
    opinions of his predecessors or traced the connexion of them in the same
    manner. No one has equally raised the human mind above the trivialities of
    the common logic and the unmeaningness of 'mere' abstractions, and above
    imaginary possibilities, which, as he truly says, have no place in
    philosophy. No one has won so much for the kingdom of ideas. Whatever may
    be thought of his own system it will hardly be denied that he has
    overthrown Locke, Kant, Hume, and the so-called philosophy of common sense.
    He shows us that only by the study of metaphysics can we get rid of
    metaphysics, and that those who are in theory most opposed to them are in
    fact most entirely and hopelessly enslaved by them: 'Die reinen Physiker
    sind nur die Thiere.' The disciple of Hegel will hardly become the slave
    of any other system-maker. What Bacon seems to promise him he will find
    realized in the great German thinker, an emancipation nearly complete from
    the influences of the scholastic logic.

    3. Many of those who are least disposed to become the votaries of
    Hegelianism nevertheless recognize in his system a new logic supplying a
    variety of instruments and methods hitherto unemployed. We may not be able
    to agree with him in assimilating the natural order of human thought with
    the history of philosophy, and still less in identifying both with the
    divine idea or nature. But we may acknowledge that the great thinker has
    thrown a light on many parts of human knowledge, and has solved many
    difficulties. We cannot receive his doctrine of opposites as the last word
    of philosophy, but still we may regard it as a very important contribution
    to logic. We cannot affirm that words have no meaning when taken out of
    their connexion in the history of thought. But we recognize that their
    meaning is to a great extent due to association, and to their correlation
    with one another. We see the advantage of viewing in the concrete what
    mankind regard only in the abstract. There is much to be said for his
    faith or conviction, that God is immanent in the world,--within the sphere
    of the human mind, and not beyond it. It was natural that he himself, like
    a prophet of old, should regard the philosophy which he had invented as the
    voice of God in man. But this by no means implies that he conceived
    himself as creating God in thought. He was the servant of his own ideas
    and not the master of them. The philosophy of history and the history of
    philosophy may be almost said to have been discovered by him. He has done
    more to explain Greek thought than all other writers put together. Many
    ideas of development, evolution, reciprocity, which have become the symbols
    of another school of thinkers may be traced to his speculations. In the
    theology and philosophy of England as well as of Germany, and also in the
    lighter literature of both countries, there are always appearing 'fragments
    of the great banquet' of Hegel.
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