The Precursors Of Plato

true moral life can spring. So it was with Socrates. No action seemed to him virtuous which was not based upon a knowledge of the ethical end, and he even asserted the paradox that it was better to do ill with knowledge than to do well without it. Nor does he seem to have allowed that there was any middle term between knowledge and ignorance, between the deliberate pursuit of the highest good and a life guided by casual impulses and mechanically accepted customs which are entirely without any moral value.

Such a view, however little Socrates might intend it, was essentially individualistic and unsocial in its effect. It set each man to think out the problem of life for himself; and if it did not put him in opposition to society, at least it made him regard his relations to it as secondary, and not as the essential basis of his moral existence. And from the point of view of a religion like that of Greece, which was essentially national (and even municipal) in its spirit, consecrating the City-state as a kind of church or divine institution, this was a profoundly irreligious attitude. Thus, literally and absolutely, Socrates was guilty of the charges which were brought against him. Ho " corrupted the youth and brought new gods into Athens;" if it were corrupting the youth to teach them to set reason above authority, and if it were bringing new gods into

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