The Platonic Idealism

ordinary moral judgments of men; and his method of achieving it had consisted simply in bringing such judgments together, comparing them, showing their agreements and differences, and using one of them as a negative instance to correct the hasty hypothesis suggested by another; for itx this way he hoped to find a principle which would explain thfem all, showing the amount of truth contained in each, and accounting for the error that was mingled with it. Thus, just as Newton from the many apparent motions of terrestrial and celestial bodies was enabled to elicit the principle of gravitation, s which ¿xplained all the appearances, and showed in each case what the real motions were ; so Socrates, according to this view, sought by a synthesis of the varying judgments of men in particular moral difficulties, to discover a fundamental principle of morality which should justify these very judgments so far as they were right, and correct them so far as they were wrong. In so doing, in short, he was simply following the path which inductive science always has to follow when it seeks to penetrate beyond phenomena to the real laws and nature of things.

Now, the Meno had suggested a new explanation of this process and its result It had suggested that the mind is possessed of a universal faculty, çr, in other words, that it is guided in its

100 THE BEGINNINGS OF

apprehension of particular phenomena by universal principles, of which, however, it is not at first conscious^ and which it can only imperfectly apply. Science, or knowledge in the stricter sense of the word, must, therefore, mean primarily the bringing of these principles to clear self-consciousness. Thus the true import of the doctrine that 'virtue is knowledge' must be, not that a calculative art*of life is to be substituted for the haphazard judgments of ignorance, but that the truth which underlies the judgments of the ordinary moral consciousness, even when these judgments are erroneous, should be discovered; that the reality, which is partly hid and partly revealed by the first appearances of things, should be brought to light by a comprehensive induction and a dialectical discussion of these very appearances. For the error of opinion, or, in other words, of the ordinary consciousness, lies in this, not that it altogether fails to apprehend truth or reality, but that it does not bring its different views of things into connexion, or correct one of thom by another; or, in other words, that it doe» not seek for the unity that underlies all the differences and contradictions of the appearances. Opinion is always,

so to speak, at some point of the circumference and never at the centre, and therefore it can never see things in their real value and relations. And truth is to be found only by concentration, by 'thinking

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