The Platonic Idealism 101

things together'; i.e. it is to be found only in some principle which explains all the diversities of experience in consistency with each other."

The Gorgias is the dialogue in which the reconsti-tution of ethics upon the new basis begins. In it Plato insists, not, as in the purely Socratic dialogues, upon the opposition of ignorance and knowledge, but upon the opposition, and at the same time the relation, of opinion and knowledge, or, in other words, of the apparent and the real in morals. Polus, one of the antagonists of Socrates, speaks of the tyrant in a despotic State and of the skilful rhetorician in a free State as the persons who alone have it in their power to attain the highest happiness; for, more than any other men, they can do what they please, can force all other men to bend to their will, and can exile or ruin all who oppose them. And Socrates is made to ahswer with the apparent paradox that such men can indeed do c what seems to them best/ but that they, least of all men, can do ' what they wilL'1 For what men really will is not the means but the end, not the particular acta they do or the particular objects they strive after, but the good which they seek to secure through these acts and objects. The immediate objects of human desire—health, wealth, honour, etc.

after all, only means to happiness, and not i ■ 1 Oorgiddf 466 e, y&p iroietv po&kovrai, ws £vos elretv' roteo» (Uvtqi 5 ri afooh Htfjfl flikrurrw etvcu.


happiness itself ; they are sought not for themselves but sub ratione boni, with a view to the supreme good of life. Thus what we really want is not to satisfy our desires but to satisfy ourselves, and we can satisfy ourselves only by the Summvm Bonum ; but in our shortsightedness the ultimate good we seek is apt to become identified with the objects of special desires, and we pursue such objects as if they offered a complète satisfaction. And although, when we attain them, we find that we are still unsatisfied, this experience does not prevent us on the next occasion from falling under the same illusion. Hence the mere power to do what we please cannot help us, so long as we do not know what we will, do not know where the real satisfaction of the soul is to be found.

What, then, is this real good which Plato contrasts with the satisfaction of particular desires ? One point is clear to begin with, that it cannot be defined by aid of the measuring art of the Protagoras. For, according to the view there expressed, the supreme good was simply the sum of particular goods or pleasures. In other words, the Socrates of that dialogue assumed the particular desires and the pleasures to which they point as his starting-point, and regarded the supreme good as simply the greatest possible aggregate of such pleasures. He sought to define the whole by means of the parts, taken severally and then summed up together. But Plato now maintains

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