principle of unity. Hence he says : " When you are required to give an explanation of the principle itself, you will go on to set up a higher principle—the best you can discover t, among those next in the ascending scale—and so on to one that is higher still, till you reach one that is sufficient for itself. And you will take special care not, like the Eristics, to confuse the discussion of the principle itself, with that of the consequences which follow from it: so only you can hope to attain distinct results about that which really is.,n
This, as I understand it, points to a hierarchical distribution of ideas in which the highest idea is conceived as the ultimate ground of all the others. Thus the dwrrdderos ¿pxt is that to which we w;ork back on the basis of what Aristotle calls the Idlat &pXal, the latter being regarded as hypothetical in the sense that they find their ultimate ground or principle of explanation in the former. This, however, is not worked out in the Phctedo, where Plato does not yet show that by his own method, he is able to reach the Idea of Good as the principle of all knowing and being. Here Plato confines himself to the lower ideas, on the point that we must proceed by setting up definitions of special universals, and working out the consequences of such definitions, to see how they cohere with each other. The truth, so far, is to be tested by the coherence or self-consistency of the view which our definition enables us to take of the special sphere, or, as we should rather say, the
special aspect of reality included under a universal. In the last resort, however, we must recognise that such universals are not ultimate, and that every subordinate principle must be referred back to somie higher principle, and that again to one that is stall higher, till we reach that which is adequate, or, as we should rather say, self-sufficient.
1 PTiaedo, 101 D tea f
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