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to earth'; (2) his own assertion that he practised in regard to the soul the art of midwifery (UCLEUTiKÝ) which his mother had practised in regard to the body, bringing to birth and consciousness truths before held unconsciously'; (3) Aristotle's statement that Socrates was the first to introduce inductive reasoning and general definitions. *But more important than any innovation in regard to method was the immense personal influence of Socrates. His force of will, his indifference to conventionalities, his intense earnestness, both moral and intellectual, contrasting so strongly with the dilettanteism of ordinary teachers, and yet combined with such universal interest and sympathy in all varieties of life and character, his warm and genial nature, his humour, his irony, his extraordinary conversational powers, these formed a whole unique in the history of the world; and we can well believe that they acted like an electric shock on the more susceptible minds of his time. For we must remember that Socrates did not, like earlier philosophers, content himself with imparting the results of solitary meditation to a few favoured disciples: nor did he, like the Sophists, lecture to a paying audience on a set subject; but obeying, as he believed, a divine call, he mixed with men of every class wherever they were to be found, crossquestioning them as to the grounds of their beliefs, and endeavouring to awaken in them a consciousness of their ignorance and a desire for real knowledge. His own account of his call is as follows: one of his disciples was told by the Oracle at Delphi that Socrates was the wisest of men.
1 Cic. Tusc. V. 10.
3 Δύο γάρ έστιν ά τις αν αποδοίη Σωκράτει δικαίως, τούς τ' επακτικούς λόγους και το ορίζεσθαι καθόλου. Αrist. Met. Μ. 4.
Socrates could not conceive how this should be, as he was conscious only of ignorance; but he determined to question some of those who had the highest repute for wisdom; accordingly he went to statesmen and poets and orators, and last of all to craftsmen, but everywhere met with the same response: none really knew what were the true ends of life, but each one fancied that he knew, and most were angry when Socrates attempted to disturb their illusion of knowledge. Thus he arrived at the conclusion that what the oracle meant was that the first step to knowledge was the consciousness of ignorance, and he believed, in consequence of other divine warnings, that it was his special mission to bring men to this consciousness.
The next step on the way to knowledge was to get clear general notions, by comparing a number of specific cases in which the same general term was ernployed; or, according to the phraseology of ancient philosophy, to see the One (the kind or genus, the general principle, the law, the idea,) in the Many (the subordinate species or individuals, the particulars, the phenomena, the facts) and conversely to rise from the Many to the One. The process of doing this he called Dialectic, i.e. discourse, since it was by question and answer that he believed the proposed definition could be best tested, and the universal idea which was latent in each individual could be brought to light. Truth and right were the same for all: it was only ignorance, mistake, confusion which made them seem different to different men. And similarly it is ignorance which leads men to commit vicious actions: no one willingly does wrong, since to do right is the only way to happiness, and every man desires happiness! Thus virtue is a knowledge of the way to happiness, and more generally, right action is reasonable action; in other words, virtue is wisdom, and each particular virtue wisdom in reference to particular circumstances or a particular class of objects. Thus he is brave who distinguishes between what is really dangerous and what is not so, and knows how to guard against danger, as the sailor in a storm at sea; he is just who knows what is right towards men; he is pious who knows what is right towards God; he is temperate who can always distinguish between real and apparent good. Training therefore and teaching are essential to virtue, and above all the training in self-knowledge, to know what are man's needs and capacities, and what are one's own weak points. No action can be really virtuous which is not based on this self-knowledge.
In regard to religion, Socrates, while often employing language suited to the popular polytheism, held that there was one supreme God who was to the universe what the soul of man was to his body, that all things were arranged and ordered by Him for good, and that man was the object of His special providence and might look for guidance from Him in oracles and otherwise. The soul was immortal, and had in it a divine element. Socrates believed that he was himself favoured beyond others in the warning sign (το δαιμόνιον) which checked
1 Compare Xen. Mem. IV. 8. § 6, “He lives the best life who is always studying to improve himself, and he the pleasantest, who feels that he is really improving,” (άριστα την τους άριστα επιμελομένους του ως βελτίστους γίγνεσθαι, ήδιστα δε τους μάλιστα αισθανομένους ότι βελτίoυς γίγνονται).
him whenever he was about to take an ill-judgedstep?.
The personal enmity provoked by the use of the Socratic elenchus, and the more general dislike to the Socratic method as unsettling the grounds of belief and undermining authority, a dislike which showed itself in the Clouds of Aristophanes as early as 423 B.C., combined with the democratic reaction, after the overthrow of the Thirty, to bring about the execution of Socrates in the year 399 B.C. The charges on which he was condemned were that he did not believe in the Gods of the established religion, that he introduced new Gods, and that he corrupted the young: the last charge probably referring to the fact that Socrates freely pointed out the faults of the Athenian constitution, and that many of his disciples took the anti-popular side.
Our authorities for the life of Socrates are the writings of his two disciples, Xenophon and Plato, which are
1 Much has been written on the exact nature of the daluóvcov. I take nearly the same view as Zeller (Socrates tr. p. 94), that it was a quick instinctive movement, analogous in its action to what we know as conscience and presentiment, but not identical with either, combining with a natural sensitiveness for whatever was right and fitting the practised tact acquired by large experience of life. To this sudden decisive mandate of the inward monitor, Socrates ascribed a supernatural origin, because he was unable to analyse the grounds on which it rested, attributing it, as he did all other good things, to the favour and goodness of God. We note here an element of mysticism, which showed itself also in the sort of brooding trance to which he was occasionally liable (cf. Plat. Symp. 220). It belonged to his wonderful personality to unite in himself, as perhaps none other but Luther has ever done, robust commonsense with deep religious mysticism, keen speculative interest with the widest human sympathies.
related to one another much as the Gospel of St Mark to that of St John. Xenophon (440—355 B.C.) was a soldier and country gentleman with a taste for literature, who endeavoured to clear his master's memory from the imputation of impiety and immorality by publishing the Memorabilia, a collection of his noteworthy sayings and discourses. Other discourses of Socrates are given in his Apologia, Convivium, and Economicus. What has been said above as to the method and the belief of Socrates may be illustrated by the following passages from the Memorabilia. In a conversation with Euthydemus? the question arises as to the nature of justice. To discover what injustice is, it is necessary to consider what kind of actions are unjust. “It is unjust,' says Euthydemus, to lie, deceive, rob, &c.' On Socrates reminding him that such actions are not thought unjust in the case of enemies, Euthydemus amended his definition by adding 'if practised on a friend.' 'But,' says Socrates, it is not unjust in a general to encourage his soldiers by a lie, or in a father to impose upon his child by giving medicine in his food, or in a friend to rob his friend of the weapon with which he is about to kill himself.' Euthydemus has no answer to make, so Socrates turns to another point, and asks which is the more unjust, to tell a lie intentionally or unintentionally. The answer naturally is that it is worse to lie with intention to deceive. Socrates, arguing on his principle that all virtue is knowledge, asks whether a man must not be taught to be just, as he is taught to read and write, and whether the man who misspells in
1 Mem. IV. 2.