The Nature Of Ideas

of decay" that doth so "grossly close it in," and hinder it from the vision of the intelligible world It is in such passages as these that we find the strongest support for the common conception of Plato's idealism as a kind of apotheosis of abstractions, an attempt to find the truth of things in the most general and therefore empty predicates which we attach to them. Further, this conception of Plato's meaning is favoured by the circumstance that he has usually been read under the influence of the unsympathetic criticism of Aristotle, or through the interpretations of the Neo-Platonists, who could appreciate only the negative aspect of his philosophy. We have, however, to observe, in the first place, that Plato, even in the passages where he goes farthest in the direction of mysticism, constantly upholds the a doctrine that opinion is not ignorance but imperfect knowledge, and that it is only through opinion, which is mediated by sense, that we can rise to a knowledge of the ideal reality of things. We know ideas at first only as predicates of particular objects, though really they are absolute types to which these objects are never adequate, which they recall, but of which they necessarily fall short Thus when we give the predicate of equality to two material objects, we are attributing to them something to which they may approximate but which. they never exactly attain. The pure mathematical relation can never be

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