This broad division of the contemplative from the practical life is one of the points in which Aristotle separates himself decisively from Plato, though only by giving further play to tendencies which are . already visible in the Platonic writings. For Plato's philosophy, like that of his master Socrates, was, in the first instance, practical, and it was only by gradual and almost unwilling steps that he came to make theory an end in itself apart from practice. And, even when he did so, he was never content to make theory his sole end, but to the last sought to bring the highest ideas of his speculation to bear upon the reformation of Greek political life. The Republic, however, shows the parting of the ways. It shows us how Plato, in the very effort to render his practical proposals complete and to base them upon the highest philosophical principles, was gradually led to invert the relations of theory and practice, and to treat the latter as a secondary result of the former.
Thus in the first part of the Republic Plato starts from the actual life of a Greek State, and seems s tacitly to assume, what Aristotle declared in so many words, that such a State is the irepag rrjg avrapieeiap—
the precise form of social organisation in which the moral nature of man can find its best education and realisation. And if he seeks to improve upon the actual models of political life set before him in Athens or Sparta, it is not by introducing another i
Was this article helpful?