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Platos Gorgias
dialogue on the Procrustean bed of a single idea. (Com-
pare Introduction to the Phaedrus.)
Two tendencies seem to have beset the interpreters of
Plato in this matter. First, they have endeavoured to hang
the dialogues upon one another by the slightest threads;
and have thus been led to opposite and contradictory as-
sertions respecting their order and sequence. The mantle
of Schleiermacher has descended upon his successors, who
have applied his method with the most various results. The
value and use of the method has been hardly, if at all, ex-
amined either by him or them. Secondly, they have ex-
tended almost indefinitely the scope of each separate dia-
logue; in this way they think that they have escaped all diffi-
culties, not seeing that what they have gained in generality
they have lost in truth and distinctness. Metaphysical con-
ceptions easily pass into one another; and the simpler no-
tions of antiquity, which we can only realize by an effort,
imperceptibly blend with the more familiar theories of
modern philosophers. An eye for proportion is needed (his
own art of measuring) in the study of Plato, as well as of
other great artists. We may hardly admit that the moral
by Plato
Translated by Benjamin Jowett
IN SEVERAL OF THE DIALOGUES of Plato, doubts have arisen
among his interpreters as to which of the various subjects
discussed in them is the main thesis. The speakers have the
freedom of conversation; no severe rules of art restrict them,
and sometimes we are inclined to think, with one of the
dramatis personae in the Theaetetus, that the digressions
have the greater interest. Yet in the most irregular of the
dialogues there is also a certain natural growth or unity; the
beginning is not forgotten at the end, and numerous allu-
sions and references are interspersed, which form the loose
connecting links of the whole. We must not neglect this
unity, but neither must we attempt to confine the Platonic