Jacques Maritain Center : A History of Western Philosophy Vol. I / by Ralph McInerny

Part II: The Classical Period

Chapter I


A. His Life

Socrates was born about 470 B.C. and lived for seventy years until his execution in 399. His life thus covers the time when Athens rose to political prominence and glory and then moved tragically towards the fatal Peloponnesian war. In his lifetime Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Herodotus were active; Thucydides was about Socrates' age and Aristophanes, somewhat younger than Socrates, was to give Socrates one of the forms of immortality he enjoys in the Clouds. As we have seen, it is not unlikely that Socrates met Parmenides and Zeno when they visited Athens and he lived at the time when some of the more important Sophists were flourishing. Protagoras was older than Socrates but nonetheless alive; Gorgias, Hippias and Prodicus were active. Socrates was an Athenian in an almost exaggerated sense of the term; tradition has it that he left the city only infrequently, mainly on military service. Plato presents him as uninterested in the countryside and longing for the city streets and the possibility of dialogue with the citizens, on the rare occasion when he was in the country. Nature had nothing to teach him, he felt, but with men and through conversation, knowledge became a possibility. But if Socrates' attachment to Athens was partly a native gregariousness, there was also a deep sense of patriotism. It was this concern for his city that can be seen to underlie the Socratic reaction to a time when the political horizon was changing rapidly, when empire was the goal and Athens its champion; this is the time when the Sophists, too, offered training for life in the city, for the future statesman. It may be said that Socrates' efforts as well as the Sophists were directed mainly at those who would one day assume political responsibility; indeed, we find that Socrates was often called a Sophist in antiquity, and we may wonder how he differs from them. The difference will be clearer to us if we recall that the sophistic position can be summarized in the denial that there is any truth apart from the convictions of men, that this is quite obvious in the matter of moral principles and that, consequently, the search for the truth is the search for a chimera and can hardly be the object of intellectual effort. The point we are making is that Socrates stands at a critical juncture of Western thought, when the previous efforts of Philosophers are made an object of ridicule by paid teachers who call the very validity of knowledge into question. Socrates emerges not as one who furthered the destructive purpose of the Sophists but rather as one who set philosophy on a route which led to its Golden Age in the fourth century B.C. This role of Socrates is indicated in the time-honored designation by historians of all his predecessors as presocratics; by the same token, Plato and Aristotle can be called Socratics. Such designations, as well as the few timid affirmations recorded above, would indicate that we have determinate knowledge about Socrates as a person and about the content of his teaching. That we do not constitutes what is called with simple eloquence the Socratic Problem.

Socrates wrote nothing. He was, however, written about a good deal. Seemingly then we are in a position with respect to Socrates similar to that we were in with respect to his predecessors. What we must do is glean from the writings about him what appear to be quotations or near paraphrases. That no such simple procedure is possible becomes clear when we consider our sources. On the face of it, they are four: the dialogues of Plato; various writings of Xenophon, particularly the Memorabilia; Aristophanes; and a few remarks by Aristotle. With respect to Aristotle, it must be pointed out that if our knowledge of Socrates were dependent on what Aristotle wrote, we would know extremely little about the man. The comedy of Aristophanes, although as a successful lampoon it must have borne some relation to the historical Socrates, could hardly be taken as the principal source of our knowledge. This leaves the more extensive accounts of Plato and Xenophon. Xenophon certainly knew Socrates, but there was a great difference in their ages and Xenophon was absent from Athens during the last three years of Socrates' life. Moreover, Xenophon is primarily concerned with defending Socrates against charges similar to those brought against him in the trial which led to his execution. And if Xenophon entitles one relevant work the Memorabilia, it soon becomes clear that he is not recording personal recollections of Socrates but borrowing those of others. Plato, who probably knew Socrates over a long period, was not an intimate of his and the style of the dialogues produces a Socrates who looks very much like a literary creation. It is unlikely, to say the least, that the extensive exchanges in the dialogues are verbatim reports of the philosophical activity of Socrates. Thus, if we think of Plato's method as artistic, as analogous to that of Aristophanes -- if, indeed, we suspect that the Socrates of the dialogues is simply a convenient vehicle for Plato's personal thought -- we end by calling into question the basic sources for any knowledge of Socrates and what he taught. The skeleton of our certitudes then becomes what a scholar has recently described.

We can only point with any real conviction to the facts that Socrates lived; that he was called Socrates; that the name of his father was Sophroniscus while that of his mother was Phaenarete; that he belonged to the deme Alopece; that he was an Athenian citizen: that he probably participated in some military campaigns; that he was connected with the trial of the generals in 406; that he was tried and condemned to death; and that he died in 399.{21}

To add that he had a wife named Xanthippe and was a father hardly puts flesh on the bones of this portrait. As will have been guessed, there are also those who deny that there ever was any historical personage underlying the various Socratic legends. What seems called for now is more of that specialized detective work we call history. If the historical Socrates is not conveyed by the sources but rather obliterated, the prospect of sifting truth from the testimony of witnesses all of whom must be treated as on a level with liars is indeed a melancholy one. Against what do we test our guesses? There was a time when the Socrates of Xenophon was taken as the model and the Socrates of Plato brought into corroborate and expand the emerging picture. The assumption was Xenophon was too unimaginative and prosaic to distort his portrait, an assumption which looks foolhardy when it is pointed out that Xenophon gives us a composite portrait. Others would take Plato as a guide and use Xenophon as a check. No matter what procedure is adopted, however, the historical Socrates remains an elusive object and the only end in sight seems scholarly despair.

If it was necessary to introduce the Socratic Problem it is equally necessary to exorcise it. From the point of view of the history of philosophy it is really not an important issue at all. This can be seen by reflecting on the fact that if, per impossible, some intrepid scholar succeeded in unearthing the historical Socrates, that Socrates would be a distinctly modern entity; the fact of the matter is that the Socrates who has been influential in the history of philosophy is precisely the one conveyed by our sources, preeminently the personage in the Platonic dialogues. Now as we shall see when we turn to Plato, this sweeping away of the Socratic Problem can be productive of only temporary elation, for we are then faced with unearthing from the dialogues those which can be called Socratic and those which are more properly Platonic. This is not a new problem, of course; it has always been involved in attempts to discover the chronology of the dialogues. At any rate, we are now permitted to postpone the problem and to apply to Plato for a picture of the doctrine of Socrates. We shall also make appeal to the other sources to depict what may be for the Historian the socratic legend, but what nevertheless constitutes, from the point of view of influence within the history of philosophy, the factual Socrates.

B. The Character of Socrates

As important as any doctrine or method which can be traced back to Socrates is the influence on later thinkers of his character. That character is inevitably seen against the background of the trial and death of Socrates and it is there that we must begin. In 399 B.C. Socrates was accused of speaking against the official religion, of introducing new gods and of leading youths astray. Here is Socrates reaction in the Euthyphro of Plato.

What is the charge! Well, a very serious charge, which shows a good deal of character in the young man, and for which he is certainly not to be despised. He says he knows how the youth are corrupted and who are their corruptors. I fancy that he must be a wise man, and seeing that I am the reverse of a wise man, he has found me out, and is going to accuse me of corrupting his young friends. And of this our mother the state is to be the judge. Of all our political men he is the only one who seems to me to begin in the right way, with the cultivation of virtue in youth; like a good husbandman, he makes the young shoots his first care, and clears away us who are the destroyers of them. This is only the first step; he will afterwards attend to the elder branches; and if he goes on as he has begun, he will be a very great public benefactor. (2-3)

Socrates is here speaking of Meletus, his chief accuser; Meletus was joined by Anytus, a champion of Athenian democracy and Lyco. In the Apology, Plato gives us Socrates at the trial, replying to his accusers.

The Apology is, of course, a literary piece, but one in which the character of Socrates is revealed by the claim that he will not defend himself by means of a carefully written speech prepared by a professional rhetorician -- the usual courtroom procedure.

For I am more than seventy years of age and appearing now for the first time in a court of law, I am quite a stranger to the language of this place; and therefore I would have you regard me as if I were really a stranger, whom you would excuse if he spoke in his native tongue . . . (Apology 17)

Socrates first divides the charges he must answer into old ones that will have affected the present accusers in their youth and the actual charges. The old charges are that Socrates speculates about the heaven and earth, makes the worse appear the better cause, and teaches such things to others. Aristophanes is one who makes it appear that Socrates is concerned with natural philosophy and Socrates is intent to show that he knows nothing of physics, though he respects those who do. This same disavowal is found in the Phaedo, a dialogue whose setting is the death cell of Socrates. "When I was young, Gebes, I had a prodigious desire to know that department of philosophy which is called the investigation of nature; to know the causes of things, and why a thing is and is created or destroyed appeared to me to be a lofty profession. . ." (Phaedo, 96) Socrates goes on to review the natural questions which agitated him and adds that mathematics too aroused his interest and wonder. Anaxagoras particularly interested Socrates because he had said that Mind is cause and director of all things, and yet Socrates was disappointed to find that Anaxagoras never seemed to invoke this cause when he dealt with particular things. Plato goes on to make Socrates a proponent of his own doctrine of Forms or Ideas, but what we are especially interested in is the turning away from natural philosophy.

The second old charge Socrates is anxious to meet is that he is a Sophist who dispenses wisdom for a fee; he denies having wisdom at all in the usual sense. Why then is he accused?

Men of Athens, this reputation of mine has come of a certain sort of wisdom which I possess. If you ask me what kind of wisdom, I reply, wisdom such as may perhaps be attained by man, for to that extent I am inclined to believe that I am wise; whereas the persons of whom I was speaking have a superhuman wisdom, which I may fail to describe, because I have it not myself; and he who says that I have it, speaks falsely, and is taking away my character. And here, O men of Athens, I must beg you not to interrupt me, even if I seem to say something extravagant. For the word which I will speak is not mine. I will refer you to a witness who is worthy of credit; that witness shall be the god of Delphi -- he will tell you about my wisdom, if I have any, and of what sort it is. You must have known Chaerephon; he was early a friend of mine, and also a friend of yours, for he shared in the recent exile of the people, and returned with you. Well, Chaerephon, as you know, was very impetuous in all his doings, and he went to Delphi and boldly asked the oracle to tell him whether -- as I was saying, I must beg you not to interrupt -- he asked the oracle to tell him whether any one was wiser than I was, and the Pythian prophetess answered, that there was no man wiser. (Apology, 20-21)

When Socrates heard of this reply, he did not know what to make of it; he knew that he did not possess wisdom and he knew that the god would not lie. He hit upon the plan of seeking for some one wiser than himself so that he could take this refutation to the god. Socrates sought among the politicians and what he found were men who, though not wise, were thought by themselves and others to be wise; when Socrates pointed this out, he earned enemies. Moreover, he began to see that he himelf had a slight advantage, namely, that in not being wise he knew himself not to be wise. In this he was better off than philosophers and poets as well as politicians. "This inquisition has led to my having many enemies of the worst and most dangerous kind, and has given occasion also to many calumnies. And I am called wise, for my hearers always imagine that I myself possess the wisdom which I find wanting in others: but the truth is, O men of Athens, that God only is wise; and by his answer he intends to show that the wisdom of men is worth little or nothing; he is not speaking of Socrates, he is only using my name by way of illustration, as if he said, He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth nothing." (Apology 23) This is the socratic ignorance which is its own kind of wisdom, not to know but to know that one does not know. Unwisdom is the not knowing which fancies itself to be knowledge.

The note of piety struck by Socrates in this reference to the oracle is sounded ever more strongly in the sequel. Socrates makes short work of Miletus, who at once accuses him of atheism and the introduction of new gods. More important is the belief expressed that his activity of philosophizing, of seeking for wisdom, is a service to the gods, one which nothing, not even the threat of death, could induce him to stop.

. . . if you say to me, Socrates, this time we will not mind Anytus, and you shall be let off, but upon one condition, that you are not to enquire and speculate in this way any more, and that if you are caught doing so again you shall die; -- if this was the condition on which you will let me go, I should reply: Men of Athens, I honor and love you; but I shall obey God rather than you, and while I have life and strength I shall never cease from the practise and teaching of philosophy, exhorting any one whom I meet and saying to him after my manner: You, my friend, -- a citizen of the great and mighty and wise city of Athens, -- are you not ashamed of heaping up the greatest amount of money and honor and reputation, and caring so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul, which you never regard or heed at all? (Apology, 29)

Socrates describes himself as a sort of gadfly, given to the city by God to stir it to life. The sense of a divine mission is given a quite unique basis.

Some one may wonder why I go about in private giving advice and busying myself with the concerns of others, but do not venture to come forward in public and advise the state. I will tell you why. You have heard me speak at sundry times and in divers places of an oracle or sign which comes to me, and is the divinity which Meletus ridicules in the indictment. This sign, which is a kind of voice, first began to come to me when I was a child; it always forbids but never commands me to do anything which I am going to do. This is what deters me from being a politician (Apology, 31)

This same daimonion induces him to accept the death verdict when it is passed.

Hitherto the divine faculty of which the internal oracle is the source has constantly been in the habit of opposing me even about trifles, if I was going to make a slip or error in any matter; and now as you see there has come upon me that which may be thought, and is generally believed to be, the last and worst evil. But the oracle made no sign of opposition, either when I was leaving my house this morning, or when I was on my way to the court, or while I was speaking, at anything which I was going to say; and yet I have often been stopped in the middle of a speech, but now in nothing I either said or did touching the matter in hand has the oracle opposed me. What do I take to be the explanation of this silence? I will tell you. it is an intimation that what has happened to me is a good, and that those of us who think that death is an evil are in error. For the customary sign would surely have opposed me had I been going to evil and not to good. (Apology, 40)

As will have been guessed, the nature of Socrates' inner voice has been the subject of a great deal of discussion, and it has been variously explained as the voice of conscience and as a type of abnormal psychic experience which, it is said, is well understood today. We shall take it, together with the reply of the Delphic oracle, as indicating Socrates' sense of mission, that he was doing the work of God. That mission has been stated by Plato in words which have become unforgettable. "I say again that daily to discourse about virtue, and of those other things about which you hear me examining myself and others, is the greatest good of man, and that the unexamined life is not worth living." (Apology, 38)

The person who emerges from the trial is one who is so totally convinced of the rightness of the manner in which he has spent his life, of his philosophizing, that he prefers death to ceasing to act as he always has. Not to live in the way he has is no life at all. The death of Socrates thus becomes a seal, what would be called nowadays the existential proof of the sincerety of his convictions. When we turn to Plato, we shall be assessing the arguments for the immortality of the soul therein offered by Socrates to the small band which gathers around him as he awaits the hour when he must consume the hemlock and carry out the death sentence. It has been wisely pointed out that the true proof of immortality in that dialogue is not the arguments which are formulated, but the conduct of Socrates in the face of death. He is, as it were, living proof of the conviction that death is not the end, that we have here no lasting home, that we go through death to a better life. The Apology ends with these words "The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways -- I to die, and you to live. Which is better God only knows." But, in the Phaedo, where several Pythagoreans, Simmias, Gebes and Phaidondas, are listed among the close friends of Socrates, philosophy is described as the study of death, as a species of purgation whereby the soul is freed from the chains of the body and fitted for a better life elsewhere.

And what is purification but the separation of the soul from the body, as I was saying before; the habit of the soul gathering and collecting herself into herself from all sides out of the body; the dwelling in her own place alone, as in another life, so also in this, as far as she can; -- the release of the soul from the chains of the body? And the true philosophers, Simmias, are always occupied in the practise of dying, wherefore also to them least of all men is death terrible. (Phaedo, 67)

This sympathy with Pythagorean and Orphic attitudes is an undeniable trait of the Socrates Plato presents. Philosophy is a way of life which prepares for death beyond which the soul can enjoy a truer and better existence. The body is an impediment, a drag on the flight of the soul; the natural state, then, is a kind of sickness, and philosophy provides a remedy; through it the soul will gain health.

If there is a mystical side to this portrait, we cannot think of Socrates as an ascetic who eschewed all pleasures. The charge of pederasty is, after all, not entirely without basis, though it is difficult to concede that it is proved. We hear of Socrates as able to drink his companions under the table and begin early the next morning his interrogation of his fellow citizens as if nothing had happened. There is, however, the description of trances into which Socrates fell some of which lasted a full day.

One morning he was thinking about something which he could not resolve; he would not give it up, but continued thinking from early dawn until noon -- there he stood fixed in thought; and at noon attention was drawn to him, and the rumor ran through the wondering crowd that Socrates had been standing and thinking about something ever since the break of day. At last, in the evening after supper, some Ionians out of curiosity (I should explain that this was not in winter but in summer), brought out their mats and slept in the open air that they might watch him and see whether he would stand all night. There he stood until the following morning; and with the return of light he offered up a prayer to the sun and went his way. (Symposium, 220)

We can end this discussion of the character of Socrates most fittingly by quoting the description of the death of Socrates in the Phaedo.

Crito made a sign to the servant, who was standing by; and he went out, and having been absent for some time, returned with the jailer carrying the cup of poison. Socrates said: You, my good friend, who are experienced in these matters, shall give me directions how I am to proceed. The man answered: You have only to walk about until your legs are heavy, and then to lie down, and the poison will act. At the same time he handed the cup to Socrates, who in the easiest and gentlest manner, without the least fear or change of color or feature, looking at the man with all his eyes, Echecrates, as his manner was, took the cup and said: What do you say about making a libation out of this cup to any god? May I, or not? The man answered: We only prepare, Socrates, just so much as we deem enough. I understand, he said: but I may and must ask the gods to prosper my journey from this to the other world -- even so -- and so be it according to my prayer. Then raising the cup to his lips, quite readily and cheerfully he drank off the poison. And hitherto most of us had been able to control our sorrow; but now when we saw him drinking, and saw too that he had finished the draught, we could no longer forbear, and in spite of myself my own tears were flowing fast; so that I covered my face and wept, not for him, but at the thought of my own calamity in having to part from such a friend. Nor was I the first; for Crito, when he found himself unable to restrain his tears, had got up, and I followed; and at that moment, Apollodorus, who had been weeping all the time, broke out in a loud and passionate cry which made cowards of us all. Socrates alone retained his calmness: What is this strange outcry? he said. I sent away the women mainly in order that they might not misbehave in this way, for I have been told that a man should die in peace. Be quiet, then, and have patience. When we heard his words we were shamed, and refrained our tears; and he walked about until, as he said, his legs began to fail, and then he lay on his back, according to the directions, and the man who gave him the poison now and then looked at his feet and legs; and after a while he pressed his foot hard, and asked him if he could feel; and he said, No; and then his leg, and so upwards and upwards, and showed us that he was cold and stiff. And he felt them himself, and said: When the poison reaches the heart, that will be the end. He was beginning to grow cold about the groin, when he uncovered his face, for he had covered himself up, and said -- they were his last words -- he said: Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius; will you remember to pay the debt? The debt shall be paid, said Crito; is there anything else? There was no answer to this question; but in a minute or two a movement was heard, and the attendants uncovered him; his eyes were set, and Crito closed his eyes and mouth. Such was the end, Echecrates, of our friend; concerning whom I may truly say, that of all the men of his time whom I have known, he was the wisest and justest and best. (Phaedo, 117-8)

C. The Doctrine of Socrates

When Aristotle considers Socrates, he pays him the same courtesy he extends to most of his predecessors and seeks a description of his teaching. We can set the stage for the subdivisions of this section by setting down a number of Aristotelian remarks on the philosophical activity of Socrates.

Socrates, however, was busying himself about ethical matters and neglecting the world of nature as a whole but seeking the universal in these ethical matters, and fixed thought for the first time on definitions; Plato accepted his teaching, but held that the problem applied not to sensible things but to entities of another kind -- for this reason, that the common definition could not be a definition of any sensible thing, as they were always changing. (Metaphysics, 6,987b1-5)

We will see in a moment why Aristotle describes the enquiries of Socrates as a search for definitions as well as why he thinks of this search as confined to ethical matter. That Aristotle is not simply repeating what we can read in Plato is indicated by his assertion that the theory of Forms or Ideas was not something maintained by Socrates, but an innovation of Plato; in the Phaedo, Plato presents Socrates as teaching the doctrine of Forms.

But when Socrates was occupying himself with the excellences of character, and in connexion with them became the first to raise the problem of universal definition (for of the physicists Democritus only touched on the subject to a small extent, and defined, after a fashion, the hot and the cold; while the Pythagoreans had before this treated of a few things, whose definitions -- e.g., those of opportunity, justice, or marriage -- they connected with numbers; but it was natural that Socrates should be seeking the essence, for he was seeking to syllogize, and 'what a thing is' is the starting point of syllogisms; for there was as yet none of the dialectical power which enables people even without knowledge of the essence to speculate about contraries and inquire whether the same science deals with contraries; for two things may be fairly ascribed to Socrates -- inductive arguments and universal definition, both of which are concerned with the starting-point of science) : -- but Socrates did not make the universals or definitions exist apart. They, however, gave them separate existences, and this was the kind of thing they called Ideas. (Metaphysics, XIII, 4, 1078b17ff.)

This reiterated information that Socrates stopped short of the theory of Forms and confined his attention to ethical matters, gives us something like a criterion for distinguishing Socratic from properly Platonic doctrines in the Platonic dialogues, even when Socrates is the spokesman for Plato's own views. A charteristically Socratic doctrine, according to Aristotle, (Eudemian Ethics, 1, 5, 1216b6-8) is that virtue is knowledge, so that it is the same thing to know the just and be just. A corollary of this is that no one errs knowingly. Now we may ask how a man who judges rightly can behave incontinently. That he should behave so when he has knowledge, some say is impossible; for it would be strange -- so Socrates thought -- if when knowledge was in a man something else could master it and drag it about like a slave. For Socrates was entirely opposed to the view in question, holding that there is no such thing as incontinence; no one, he said, when he judges, acts against what he judges best -- people act so only by reason of ignorance. (Nicomachean Ethics, VII, 2, 1145b21-27)

We can summarize the testimony of Aristotle by saying that Socrates has as his distinctive characteristic the search for definitions which are the principle of syllogism; that, in fact, he indulged in inductive argumentation, confining his attention to the ethical realm, and that he thought knowledge about the object of virtue was in fact the virtue in question. We must concern ourselves, these reports suggest, with Socrates' method of procedures and his ethical doctrine.

Socratic Method. In the Theaetetus, Plato has Socrates describe at some length his own method of interrogation, a method called maieutics or midwifery. The comparison becomes rather elaborate, with Socrates pointing out that the midwife is one who is herself past the age of bearing and one who knows better than others who is pregnant and who is not; moreover, the midwife is able to apply potions and the like to make easier a difficult birth; finally, the midwife is the best of matchmakers.

Well, my art of midwifery is in most respects like theirs; but differs, in that I attend men and not women, and I look after their souls when they are in labor, and not after their bodies: and the triumph of my art is in thoroughly examining whether the thought which the mind of the young man brings forth is a false idol or noble and true birth. And, like the midwives, I am barren, and the reproach which is often made against me, that I ask questions of others and have not the wit to answer them myself, is very just -- the reason is, that the god compels me to be a midwife, but does not allow me to bring forth. And therefore I am not myself at all wise, nor have I anything to show which is the invention or birth of my own soul, but those who converse with me profit . . . It is quite clear that they never learned anything from me; the many fine discoveries to which they cling are of their own making. But to me and the god they owe their delivery. (Theaetetus 150)

The method practised by Socrates, then, purports to be a method of releasing what is already in the mind of the one being questioned; Socrates has nothing positive to teach, there is no question of transferring something from his mind into that of the object of his questions. Socrates openly professes his own ignorance, and appeals to the other for the benefit of his wisdom. The irony of Socrates appears most forcibly when one who with some condescension has agreed to enlighten Socrates finds himself revealing that he does not possess the knowledge he so confidently admitted to possessing. A less painful instance of this evokes the following description of Socrates from Meno in Plato's dialogue of that name.

O Socrates, I used to be told, before I knew you, that you were always doubting yourself and making others doubt; and now you are casting your spells over me, and I am simply getting bewitched and enchanted, and am at my wits' end. And if I may venture to make a jest upon you, you seem to me both in your appearance and in your power over others to be very like the flat torpedo fish, who torpifies those who come near him and touch him, as you have now torpified me, I think. For my soul and my tongue are really torpid, and I do not know how to answer you; and though I have been delivered of an infinite variety of speeches about virtue before now, and to many persons -- and very good ones they were, as I thought -- at this moment I cannot even say what virtue is. (Meno, 80)

Socrates goes on to assure Meno that he really knows what virtue is. But we have here, it would seem, Plato making use of Socrates' maieutic art and finding its possibility in the theory of anamnesis which we shall be considering later. With Socrates, the search for definition usually ends without the discovery of the object of the quest, and the conclusion is not that the knowledge still lies unconcealed in the mind of the person being questioned; rather, the implication usually is that the one questioned would be better advised to confess his ignorance.

The Socratic method, then, consists of carefully marshalled questions directed at discovering what something is its essence, often a particular virtue, sometimes virtue itself with the inquiry usually ending without success. Thus, in the Charmides, Socrates is inquiring what is temperance. The Lysis asks, what is friendship; the Protagoras asks not only what is virtue but is there more than one and can virtue be learned. The Lysis asks what courage is but the question turns into an asking after virtue in general. And so on. Now before asking what Socrates had to say about virtue and its acquisition as such, let us by following the general development of the Charmides try to discern the method of Socrates.{22}

Socrates has asked what temperance is and the first reply is that it is doing things quietly and in an orderly way; temperance is quietness. Socrates allows that it is possible that many would identify the quiet with the temperate, but he wants to know if Charmides would say that temperance falls in the class of the noble and good. Charmides agrees and Socrates asks if it is better to write quickly or quietly. Charmides replies, quickly. So too with reading, playing the lyre, and wrestling -- quickness or sharpness is better than quietness. Socrates continues to mention such activities and in every case quickness is desirable. In summary, Socrates asks and gains an affimative answer to the question whether in all bodily actions agility and quickness is noblest and best and not quietness. But is not temperance a good? Since it is, temperance in bodily matters would seem to involve quickness and not, as Charmides had originally proposed, quietness. Socrates next moves to activities which are not bodily. Teaching, learning, remembering, understanding -- in each of these, facility and quickness of operation and not quietness is best. In this way, Socrates has done away with Charmides' first essay at a definition of temperance. Characteristically, he asks the young man to try again. This time Charmides suggests that temperance is the same as modesty. By now we suspect that Charmides is not going to do too well, but we can also sense the pull of Socrates' method; not satisfied with a simple assertion, he is going to draw out its implications and see if they leave the original remark as tenable as it sounds at first. Temperance, now, has been identified with modesty. Earlier Charmides had admitted that temperance is noble and he now agrees that the temperate are good. Socrates asks if that can be good which does not make men good. Charmides says that it cannot, and Socrates reminds him of Homer's remark that "Modesty is not good for a needy man." If modesty can be good only sometimes, it cannot be identified with temperance which is always good. Undaunted, Charmides suggests a third definition of temperance, namely, that temperance is doing one's own business. This sounds to Socrates like a definition Charmides has gotten from someone else and, as it happens, when Socrates begins to make fun of the definition, asking if it requires the temperate man to do his own laundry, Critias steps forward to take responsibility for the definition and offers to defend it. Critias introduces a distinction between making and doing, the upshot of which is a fourth definition of temperance; it is now said to be the doing of good actions. If the shoemaker makes shoes for someone else, this making is a doing, an action, which cannot be alienated from the artisan. As Taylor{23} has pointed out, Socrates could have seized here on Critias' assumption that we already know what is meant by good, something which would have brought him quickly to the point made at the end of the dialogue. Nevertheless, the dialogue takes another turn. In answer to Socrates' queries, Critias admits that a man may do good unknowingly and thus be temperate unknowingly if temperance is simply the doing of good actions. Critias backs away from the notion of someone's being temperate unwittingly and is willing to withdraw everything in favor of a fifth definition: temperance is self-knowledge. Now we might expect Socrates to welcome this definition, but in fact he is most wary of it. If temperance or wisdom (sophrosyne) is a science, of what is it a science? Critias replies that it is the science of itself, to which Socrates objects that of other things which are called sciences there is an effect or product; of medicine health, of architecture houses and so on. Critias then introduces a distinction between sciences which have a product and those which do not, a distinction to be made much of by Aristotle; computation and geometry do not have effects although architecture does. Socrates rejoins that at least these non-practical sciences have different subject matters; computation is concerned with odd and even numbers and such numbers are not themselves the art of computation. In other words, every science differs from the object of its concern. "Now, I want to know, what is that which is not it is just in this that wisdom differs from other sciences: wisdom is the science of other sciences and of itself. This soon appears to be the reduction of wisdom to the recognition of the presence or absence of knowledge without knowledge -- of what the knowledge which may be present is about. To this Socrates objects that wisdom should not be made to consist of such ignorance, since then it is useless. To live according to knowledge is desirable only when the knowledge in question is assigned some object; if there were such a universal knowledge, surely to possess it and live according to it would constitute happiness, but with what would such knowledge be concerned, as the art of shoemaking is concerned with shoes? Critias is gradually brought down from the notion of the knowledge of knowledge, to knowledges which have an object. He is asked successively if working with leather or brass, or the art of computation or of health can make one happy. Suddenly it dawns on him that the knowledge which can make one happy is that whereby he discerns good and evil, a remark which brings a joyful outburst from Socrates.

Monster! I said; you have been carrying me round in a circle, and all this time hiding from me the fact that the life according to knowledge is not that which makes men act rightly and be happy, not even if knowledge include all the sciences, but one science only, that of good and evil . . . But that science is not wisdom or temperance, but a science of human advantage; not a science of other sciences, or of ignorance, but of good and evil: and if this be of use, then wisdom or temperance will not be of use. (174)

By wisdom here, Socrates means any of the definitions which have been given, particularly the explanation of the fifth definition to the effect that wisdom is the science of science. Critias tries to reduce knowledge of good and evil to wisdom, but Socrates is able to prevent this by pointing out that medicine is concerned with good and evil and Critias has been rather insistent on the difference between medicine and wisdom. The upshot of the dialogue is that wisdom has eluded all attempts at definition and that they have been brought to the unfortunate conclusion that temperance or wisdom is useless.

It goes without saying that no paraphrase can convey the living movement of a Platonic dialogue; but perhaps this summary will give us something on which to pin a number of generalities concerning the Socratic method. In the first place, we can see quite clearly why Aristotle should say that Socrates was in quest of definitions. Once one is offered, Socrates sees what consequences follow from accepting the definition, a procedure which is often sufficient for rejecting the proposed formula. Consequences are shown to follow by a process of analogy; what is to be defined falls into class A, but so does something else which has such-and-such a characteristic. Does that which we are defining have this characteristic? This procedure involves assuming things not directly in question, but Socrates does not make assertions so much as he solicits assent to seemingly innocent remarks from which devastating consequences soon follow. And he is much gentler with the tentative suggestions of a young man than with the initially confident replies of one who thinks he knows. With the latter, a series of fairly vicious thrusts achieves a salutary deflation, which is then made somewhat less unpalatable by Socrates's suggestion that the trial balloon be thought of as a common effort and not the carrier of anyone's reputation. But whoever the one questioned, Socrates cannot resist the ironic touch; someone who is led by the nose to make a certain remark is pounced upon as a sly character who has all along been restraining himself from stating what he knows.

Aristotle has also characterized the method of Socrates as inductive reasoning. Instances of what he means are present in the sweep of the Charmides. For example, if the art of shoemaking produces shoes, and the art of building houses, what is the product of the art which is temperance? Several times this method calls for a division among things which fall into a common classification and, as Critias points out, Socrates is ever on the lookout for the notes had in common by things which the conversation has agreed are grouped together. His method always leads Socrates to demand that one who utters a generrality about a given matter show how it applies to instances; e.g., if art is such- and-such, can this be shown in the case of shoemaking? Finally, the Charmides is not untypical in failing to achieve its object; at the end of the dialogue, temperance remains undefined, but no participant is left unaware of the collective ignorance of what it is they have been talking about. This Socratic ignorance is qualitatively different from the scepticism of the Sophists. Kierkegaard, for example, conjectured that the reason the dialogues which seek after the definition of a virtue or of virtue itself do not reach a conclusion is that their indirect point is precisely that knowledge of the definition of virtue is a misplacement of the problem facing one who desires to be virtuous. Unfortunately, as we shall see in a moment, this suggestion is wide of the mark, although it tells us something important. The thing which separates Socrates sharply from any scepticism is the note of optimism that the failure to achieve a definition carries with it. The knowledge not presently possessed is nonetheless attainable, and nothing is more important than the continued search for it. Socrates will have nothing to do with the position that one opinion is as good as another, or as good as one's ability to sustain it in argumentation. He is not interested in triumphing over an opponent. When he is accused by Critias of desiring to refute him, he answers,

And what if I am? How can you think that I have any other motive in refuting you but what I should have in examining into myself? which motive would be just a fear of my unconsciously fancying that I knew something of which I was ignorant. And at this moment I pursue the argument chiefly for my own sake, and perhaps in some degree also for the sake of my other friends. For is not the discovery of things as they truly are a good common to all mankind? . . . attend only to the argument, and see what will come of the refutation. (166)

The assumption always is that there is a truth founded in reality and that it makes sense for man to pursue it.

Knowledge and Virtue. In several of the Platonic dialogues we find Socrates dealing ironically with a Sophist who purports to be able to teach men virtue. His opposition to them is not prompted by the impossibility of the task, but by the fact, soon revealed by the questions he puts to the Sophist, that the meaning of virtue, what virtue is, cannot be explained by the man who would teach it to others. We have seen earlier Aristotle's reports that, for Socrates, knowledge and virtue are one -- that virtue is knowledge. Thus, to know what is just and to be just are one and the same. On the face of it, this is an extraordinary position; we are all painfully aware that it is possible to know what one ought to do and yet not do it. Socrates' retort to this would be that, if we really know, then knowledge and virtue are one. Let us look first of all at a place in Plato where Socrates is shown defending his position; afterwards, we can indicate what Plato and Aristotle made of this position.

The passage in question is to be found in the Protagoras (351-358) and we propose to reproduce it in full. Socrates is speaking; his interlocutor is Protagoras, the Sophist.

I said: You would admit, Protagoras, that some men live well and others ill?

He assented.

And do you think that a man lives well who lives in pain and grief?

He does not.

But if he lives pleasantly to the end of his life, will he not in that case have lived well?

He will.

Then to live pleasantly is a good, and to live unpleasantly an evil?

Yes, be said, if the pleasure be good and honorable. And do you, Protagoras, like the rest of the world, call some pleasant things evil and some painful things good? -- for I am rather disposed to say that things are good in as far as they are pleasant, if they have no consequences of another sort, and in as far as they are painful they are bad.

I do not know, Socrates, he said, whether I can venture to assert in that unqualified manner that the pleasant is the good and the painful the evil. Having regard not only to my present answer, but also to the whole of my life, I shall be safer, if I am not mistaken, in saying that there are some pleasant things which are not good, and that there are some painful things which are good, and some which are not good, and that there are some which are neither good nor evil.

And you would call pleasant, I said, the things which participate in pleasure or create pleasure?

Certainly, he said.

Then my meaning is, that in as far as they are pleasant they are good; and my question would imply that pleasure is a good in itself.

According to your favorite mode of speech, Socrates, let us reflect about this, he said; and if the reflection is to the point, and the result proves that pleasure and good are really the same, then we will agree; but if not, then we will argue.

And would you wish to begin the enquiry? I said; or shall I begin?

You ought to take the lead, he said; for you are the author of the discussion.

May I employ an illustration? I said. Suppose someone who is enquiring into the health or some other bodily quality of another: -- he looks at his face and at the tips of his fingers, and then he says, Uncover your chest and back to me that I may have a better view; -- that is the sort of thing which I desire in this speculation. Having seen what your opinion is about good and pleasure, I am minded to say to you: Uncover your mind to me, Protagoras, and reveal your opinion about knowledge, that I may know whether you agree with the rest of the world. Now the rest of the world are of opinion that their notion is that a man may have knowledge, and yet that the knowledge which is in him may be overmastered by anger, or pleasure, or pain, or love, or perhaps by fear, -- just as if knowledge were a slave and might be dragged about anyhow. Now is that your view? or do you think that knowledge is a noble and commanding thing, which cannot be overcome, and will not allow a man, if he only knows the difference of good and evil, to do anything which is contrary to knowledge, but that wisdom will have strength to help him?

I agree with you, Socrates, said Protagoras; and not only so, but I, above all other men, am bound to say that wisdom and knowledge are the highest of human things.

Good, I said, and true. But are you aware that the majority of the world are of another mind; and that men are commonly supposed to know the things which are best, and not to do them when they might? And most persons whom I have asked the reason of this have said that when men act contrary to knowledge they are overcome by pain, or pleasure, or some of the affections which I was just now mentioning.

Yes, Socrates, he replied; and that is not the only point about which mankind are in error.

Suppose, then, that you and I endeavor to instruct and inform them what is the nature of this affection which they call 'being overcome by pleasure,' and which they affirm to be the reason why they do not always do what is best. When we say to them: Friends, you are mistaken, and are saying what is not true, they would probably reply: Socrates and Protagoras, if this affection of the soul is not to be called 'being overcome by pleasure,' pray, what is it, and by what name would you describe it?

But why, Socrates, should we trouble ourselves about the opinion of the many, who just say anything that happens to occur to them?

I believe, I said, that they may be of use in helping us to discover how courage is related to the other parts of virtue. If you are disposed to abide by our agreement, that I should show the way in which, as I think, our recent difficulty is most likely to be cleared up, do you follow; but if not, never mind.

You are quite right, he said; and I would have you proceed as you have begun.

Well, then, I said, let me suppose that they repeat their question,

What account do you give of that which, in our way of speaking, is termed being overcome by pleasure? I should answer thus: Listen, and Protagoras and I will endeavor to show you. When men are overcome by eating and drinking and other sensual desires which are pleasant, and they, knowing them to be evil, nevertheless indulge in them, would you not say that they were overcome by pleasure? They will not deny this. And suppose that you and I were to go on and ask them again: 'In what way do you say that they are evil, -- in that they are pleasant and give pleasure at the moment, or because they cause disease and poverty and other like evils in the future? Would they still be evil, if they had no attendant evil consequences, simply because they give the consciousness of pleasure of whatever nature? -- Would they not answer that they are not evil on account of the pleasure which is immediately given by them, but on account of the after consequences -- diseases and the like?

I believe, said Protagoras, that the world in general would answer as you do.

And in causing diseases do they not cause pain? and in causing poverty do they not cause pain; -- they would agree to that also, if I am not mistaken?

Protagoras assented.

Then I should say to them, in my name and yours: Do you think them evil for any other reason, except because they end in pain and rob us of other pleasures: -- there again they would agree?

We both of us thought that they would.

And then I should take the question from the opposite point of view, and say: 'Friends, when you speak of goods being painful, do you not mean remedial goods, such as gymnastic exercises, and military service, and the physician's use of burning, cutting, drugging and starving? Are these the things which are good but painful?' -- they would assent to me?

He agreed.

'And do you call them good because they occasion the greatest immediate suffering and pain; or because, afterwards, they bring health and improvement of the bodily condition and the salvation of states and power over others and wealth?' -- they would agree to the latter alternative, if I am not mistaken?

He assented.

'Are these things good for any other reason except that they end in pleasure, and get rid of and avert pain? Are you looking to any other standard hut pleasure and pain when you call them good?' -- they would acknowledge that they were not?

I think so, said Protagoras.

'And do you not pursue pleasure as a good, and avoid pain as an evil?'

He assented.

'Then you think that pain is an evil and pleasure is a good; and even pleasure you deem an evil, when it robs you of greater pleasure than it gives, or causes pains greater than the pleasure. If, however, you call pleasure an evil in relation to some other end or standard, you will be able to show us that standard. But you have none to show.'

I do not think that they have, said Protagoras.

'And have you not a similar way of speaking about pain? You call pain a good when it takes away greater pains than those which it has, or gives pleasures greater than the pains: then if you have some standard other that pleasure and pain to which you refer when you call actual pain a good, you can show what that is. But you cannot.

True, said Protagoras.

Suppose again, I said, that the world says to me: 'Why do you spend many words and speak in many ways on this subject?' Excuse me, friends, I should reply; but in the first place there is a difficulty in explaining the meaning of the expression 'overcome by pleasure', and the whole argument turns upon this. And even now, if you see any possible way in which evil can be explained as other than pain, or good as other than pleasure, you may still retract. Are you satisfied, then, at having a life of pleasure which is without pain? If you are, and if you are unable to show any good or evil which does not end in pleasure and pain, hear the consequences: -- If what you say is true, then the argument is absurd which affirms that a man often does evil knowingly, when he might abstain, because he is seduced and overpowered by pleasure; or again, when you say that a man knowingly refuses to do what is good because he is overcome at the moment by pleasure. And that this is ridiculous will be evident if only we give up the use of various names, such as pleasant and painful, and good and evil. As there are two things, let us call them by two names -- first, good and evil, and then pleasant and painful. Assuming this, let us go on to say that a man does evil knowing that he does evil. But some one will ask, Why? Because he is overcome is the first answer. And by what is he overcome? the enquirer will proceed to ask. And we shall not be able to reply 'By pleasure,' for the name of pleasure has been exchanged for that of good. In our answer, then, we shall only say that he is overcome. 'By what?' he will reiterate. By the good, we shall have to reply; indeed, we shall.

Nay, but our questioner will rejoin with a laugh, if he is one of the swaggering sort, 'That is too ridiculous, that a man should do what he knows to be evil when he ought not, because he is overcome by good. Is that, he will ask, because the good was worthy or not of conquering evil'? And in answer to that we shall clearly reply, Because it was not worthy; for if it had been worthy, then he who, as we say, was overcome by pleasure, would not have been wrong. 'But how,' he will reply, 'can the good be unworthy of the evil, or the evil of the good'? Is not the real explanation that they are out of proportion to one another, either as greater and smaller, or more and fewer? This we cannot deny. And when you speak of being overcome -- 'what do you mean,' he will say, 'but that you choose the greater evil in exchange for the lesser good'? Admitted. And now substitute the names of pleasure and pain for good and evil, and say, not as before, that a man does what is evil knowingly, and because he is overcome by pleasure, which is unworthy to overcome. What measure is there of the relations of pleasure and pain other than excess and defect, which means that they become greater and smaller and more and fewer, and differ in depree? For if anyone says: 'Yes, Socrates, but immediate pleasure differs widely from future pleasure and pain' -- To that I should reply: And do they differ in anything but in pleasure and pain? There can be no other measure of them. And do you, like a skilful weigher, put into the balance the pleasures and the pains, and their nearness and distance, and weigh them, and then say which outweighs the other. If you weigh pleasures against pleasures, you of course take the more and greater; or if you weigh pains against pains, you take the fewer and the less; or if pleasures against pains, then you choose that course of action in which the painful is exceeded by the pleasant, whether the distant by the near or the near by the distant; and you avoid that course of action in which the pleasant is exceeded by the painful. Would you not admit, my friends, that this is true? I am confident that they cannot deny this.

He agreed with me.

Well then, I shall say, if you agree so far, be so good as to answer me a question: Do not the same magnitudes appear larger to your sight when near, and smaller when at a distance? They will acknowledge that. And the same holds of thickness and number; also sounds, which are in themselves equal, are greater when near, and lesser when at a distance. They will grant that also. Now suppose happiness to consist in doing or choosing the greater, and in not doing or avoiding the less, what would be the saving principle of human life? Would not the art of measuring be the saving principle; or would the power of appearance? Is not the latter that deceiving art which makes us wander up and down and take the things at one time of which we repent at another, both in our actions and in our choice of things great and small? But the art of measurement would do away with the effect of appearances, and, showing the truth, would fain teach the soul at last to find rest in the truth, and would thus save our life. Would not mankind generally acknowledge that the art which accomplishes this result is the art of measurement?

Yes, he said, the art of measurement.

Suppose, again, the salvation of human life to depend on the choice of odd and even, and on the knowledge of when a man ought to choose the greater or less, either in reference to themselves or to each other, and whether near or at a distance; what would be the saving principle of our lives? Would not knowledge? -- a knowledge of measuring, when the question is one of excess and defect, and a knowledge of number, when the question is of odd and even? The world will assent, will they not?

Protagoras himself thought that they would.

Well then, my friends, I say to them; seeing that the salvation of human life has been found to consist in the right choice of pleasures and pains, -- in the choice of the more and the fewer, and the greater and the less, and the nearer and remoter, must not this measuring be a consideration of their excess and defect and equality in relation to each other?

This is undeniably true.

And this, as possessing measure, must undeniably also be an art and science?

They will agree, he said.

The nature of that art or science will be a matter of future consideration; but the existence of such a science furnishes a demonstrative answer to the question which you asked of me and Protagoras. At the time when you asked the question, if you remember, both of us were agreeing that there was nothing mightier than knowledge, and that knowledge, in whatever existing, must have the advantage over pleasure and all other things; and then you said that pleasure often got the advantage even over a man who has knowledge; and we refused to allow this, and you rejoined: O Protagoras and Socrates, what is the meaning of being overcome by pleasure if not this? -- tell us what you call such a state: -- if we had immediately and at the time answered 'Ignorance,' you would have laughed at us. But now, in laughing at us, you will be laughing at yourselves: for you also admitted that men err in the choice of pleasures and pains; that is, in their choice of good and evil, from defect of knowledge; and you admitted further, that they err, not only from defect of knowledge in general, but of that particular knowledge which is called measuring. And you are also aware that the erring act which is done without knowledge is done in ignorance. This therefore is the meaning of being overcome by pleasure; -- ignorance, and that the greatest . . . Then, I said, no man voluntarily pursues evil, or that which he thinks to be evil. To prefer evil to good is not in human nature; and when a man is compelled to choose one of two evils, no one will choose the greater when he may have the less.

This particular presentation of the identification of knowledge and virtue owes a good deal to the assumption of the strict equation of good and evil and pleasure and pain; we need not take it that Socrates himself accepted this identification, although it is difficult to see that his point could be made with anything like the facility of this passage without it. Once one insists on a distinction of goods or of pleasures, say between rational and bodily goods or pleasures, the troublesome phrase "overcome by pleasure" cannot be translated out of the way as Socrates has just done. Now of course it is just such a distinction that, as we shall see, Aristotle has in mind in his discussion of the incontinent man, who, while knowing that he should do, does not do it because of the pull of the senses; with this distinction comes also a distinction in the use of the terms "knowledge" and "ignorance." A man may know the demands of justice in general but, because of bad dispositions, not recognize them in a particular instance. The great question, then, is the meaning Socrates attaches to "knowledge" when he identifies it with virtue. If he means general knowledge, then the identification is absurd, provided one does not identify pleasure and good, pain and evil. If he meant what Aristotle means by practical wisdom, then of course knowledge is virtue and is involved in the possession of virtues which are not dispositions of a cognitive faculty. Aristotle, in the passage quoted earlier, takes Socrates to be identifying virtue with that universal knowledge expressed in the definition -- an understandable interpretation when we remember that, for Aristotle, Socrates' characteristic concern is with universals. Nevertheless, a case can be made for the view that Socrates does not intend this universal knowledge when he identifies knowledge and virtue. As we have just indicated, this would not make his position acceptable to Aristotle, but it is not quite so repellent as in the first interpretation. The examined life, which for Socrates is the only one worth living, must finally be our own, and the result of this examination would be that sell-knowledge which, while ideally including awareness of what we have in common with all men, is constituted precisely by the knowledge of what is peculiar to ourselves in the particular circumstances in which we find ourselves. Moreover, the Socratic view that philosophizing is precisely a purgation of the senses, a way of escaping from the chains of the body, suggests that he was alive to those factors which, for Aristotle, are essential to the acquisition of the moral virtues.

We can conclude this brief treatment of Socrates by once more contrasting his efforts with those of the Sophists. As has been mentioned earlier and as is evident from the dialogues of Plato, Socrates does not hold every Sophist in contempt; the Protagoras, for example, exhibits quite a different attitude towards the Sophist who gives his name to the dialogue than that exhibited in the Euthydemus where the Socratic irony hardly masks his contempt for Euthydemus and Dionysiodorus. Generally speaking, however, Socrates differs from the Sophist in his concern, everywhere evident, for the improvement of his interlocutor when this is a young man desirous of such improvement. Socrates is not interested in money; he is not interested in triumph; he is not interested in getting his ideas into someone's head or in providing others with models of dialectical exercise for copying. Nothing delights him more than the awakening of independent thought on the part of his interlocutor; moreover, he is dismayed when a young man begins to imitate the Sophists (e.g., Ctesippus in the Euthydemus). From this point of view, Kierkegaard is not perhaps far wrong. Socrates wishes to inculcate moral virtue, and the habit of self-examination, but he cannot teach this as a doctrine he possesses and which needs only to be grasped intellectually by the other. His maieutic art gives birth to an impulse towards self-knowledge and that is the only way in which he can teach virtue. This gives us a somewhat Kierkegaardian Socrates, of course; but such a Socrates is surely there in the dialogues and the man who considered himself to be another Socrates was not the first to find him.

D. The Socratic Schools

We have already indicated that, if all Socrates' predecessors can meaningfully be called presocratics, Plato and Aristotle can fittingly be considered to be socratics. Before turning to these men who, with their genius, dwarf their esteemed predecessor, we must say a few words about other men and other schools spoken of in terms of the imperfect socratic or minor socratic movements. Some of the men involved were not without influence on the Stoic Philosophy and thereby deserve mention; moreover, we find efforts made to connect Socrates more or less directly with presocratic doctrines.

The School of Socrates. Under this heading we may mention Xenophon and Aeschines, two students of Socrates not associated with any of the later socratic schools. To those who receive a classical education, Xenophon is often the first author encountered, enjoying a place analogous to that of Caesar among Latin authors. And the work is, of course, the Anabasis, the account of the retreat of the 10,000 to the sea, under the leadership of Xenophon. The march took place about 401 or 400 B.C.; Xenophon himself was probably born around 439. Xenophon's claim to mention here rests on his authorship of the already cited Memorabilia, and on his Apology, Oeconomicus, Symposium and Cyropaideia. With respect to Socrates, Xenophon is primarily interested in defending his old teacher; the main attack is thought to be an Accusation of Socrates by Polycrates. While his style is often praised, Xenophon is never awarded high marks for philosophical penetration. His writings have retained philosophical interest largely because of the belief that they convey valuable information on the historical Socrates.

Aesehines is credited with seven dialogues and is also highly praised for their style. Diogenes Laertius (II, 62) says that Aeschines was in Sicily at the court of Dionysius at the same time as Plato and Aristippus; the former kept aloof from him while the latter befriended him. When the three were back in Athens, Aeschines did not venture to lecture in competition with the other two. The names of many other pupils of Socrates can be found in the dialogues of Plato, but very few others need arrest our attention even this fleetingly.

The Megarian School. The founder of this socratic school was Eucides of Megara who is known chiefly for the attempt to bring together Parmenidean and socratic teaching. This is thought to be examplified in the following passage.

He held the supreme good to be really one, though called by many names, sometimes wisdom, sometimes God, and again Mind, and so forth. But all that is contradictory of the good he used to reject, declaring that it had no existence. (Diogenes Laertius, II, 106)

Eubulides of Miletus, a member of the school, is famous for the formulation of several dialectical arguments and paradoxes; he seems to have set the school in a direction which had its impact on the later Stoic logic. The paradox of the liar, to be discussed later when we turn to the Stoics, is attributed to Eubulides. Both Eubulides and Diodorus Cronus are said to have made attacks on Aristotelian doctrines. The following is found in Sextus Empiricus. (Adversus Physicos, II 85-6)

And another weighty argument for the non-existence of motion is adduced by Diodorus Cronos, by means of which he establishes that not a single thing is in motion, but has been in motion. And the fact that nothing is in motion follows from his assumption of indivisibles. For the indivisible body must be contained in an indivisible place and therefore must not move either in it (for it fills it up, but a thing which is to move must have a larger place) or in the place in which it is not; for as yet it is not in this place so as to be moved therein; consequently it is not in motion. But, according to reason, it has been in motion; for that which was formerly observed in this place is now observed in another place, whch would not have occurred if it had not been moved.

Aristotle tells us that members of this school denied the reality of possibility.

There are some who say, as the Megaric school does, that a thing 'can' act only when it is acting, and when it is not acting it 'cannot' act, e.g., that he who is not building cannot build, but only he who is building, when he is building; and so in all other cases. It is not hard to see the absurdities that attend this view. (Metaphysics, IX,3,1046b29ff.)

Another member of the Megarian school is Stilpo who taught at Athens around 320 B.C. and was the teacher of Zeno, the founder of Stoicism. He is known for his denial of predication, feeling that this implies that things which are other are not other. In ethics he taught a theory of self-dependence or autarchy which foreshadows the ethical theories of the Stoics and Epicureans.

No special remarks need be devoted to the schools of Elis and Eretria other than pointing out that Menedemus accepts Stilpo's argument against the possibility of predication. Diogenes Laertius (II, 135) also credits him with formulating the proper answer to such questions as "Have you stopped beating your wife?" According to this account when asked "if he had left off beating his father, his answer was, 'Why, I was not beating him and have not left off.'"

The Cynics. This socratic school is of importance because, when fused with the Megarian school, it exerted great influence on Stoicism. Antisthenes, pupil of Gorgias and then Sophist in his own right before coming under the influence of Socrates, is said to be the founder of the Cynics. A great many writings were attributed to Antisthenes. What seems to have struck Antisthenes in Socrates was not the seeds of a doctrine so much as a rule of conduct, and the Cynic is set aside from his fellows primarily by his mode of life. Indeed, the term "cynic" itself may derive from the Greek word for dog and thereby indicate the nature of that mode of life. Independence from and indifference to his surroundings followed from the Cynic's conviction that only virtue is good, only sin evil and all else indifferent. Virtue is wisdom and it can be taught by means of training. Other members of this school worthy of mention are Diogenes of Sinope and Crates of Thebes.

It is customary as well to mention a Cyrenaic socratic school founded by Aristippus of Cyrene; as with the Cynics, this school was primarily concerned with moral virtue. We must now turn to the great successors of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.

{21} A. H. Chroust, Socrates, Man and Myth (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1957), p. xii.

{22} See T. C. Tuckey, Plato's Charmides (Cambridge, England: University Press, 1951).

{23} see A. E. Taylor, Plato, The Man and His World (New York: Meridian Books, 1956).

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