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"Certainly, sister. Tell her that Bart of Uncle Henry is here." Again I was switched off, but the communication was this time restored after a few moments, and then I heard a joyful and surprised exclamation:
Lawrence threw up his pen with a cry of delight "You've made a more wonderful discovery than you know," he said. "What a splendid scheme, and how foolish of me not to think of it before. My dear child, you have found the hiding place of Leona Lalage!"The nature of dialectic is still further elucidated in the Phaedrus, where it is also contrasted with the method, or rather the no-method, of popular rhetoric. Here, again, discussions about love are chosen as an illustration. A discourse on the subject by no less a writer than Lysias is quoted and shown to be deficient in the most elementary requisites of logical exposition. The different arguments are strung together without any principle of arrangement, and ambiguous terms are used without being defined. In insisting on the necessity of definition, Plato followed Socrates; but he defines according to a totally different method. Socrates had arrived at his general notions partly by a comparison of particular instances with a view to eliciting the points where they agreed, partly by amending the conceptions already in circulation. We have seen that the earliest Dialogues attributed to Plato are one long exposure of the difficulties attending such a procedure; and his subsequent investigations all went to prove that nothing solid could be built on such shifting foundations as sense and opinion. Meanwhile increasing familiarity with the great ontological systems had taught him to begin with the most general notions, and to work down from them to the most particular. The consequence was that dialectic came to mean nothing but classification or logical division. Definition was absorbed into this process, and reasoning by syllogism was not yet differentiated from it. To tell what a thing was, meant to fix its place in the universal order of existence, and its individual existence was sufficiently accounted for by the same determination. If we imagine first a series of concentric circles, then a series of contrasts symmetrically disposed on either side of a central dividing line, and finally a series of transitions descending from the most absolute unity to the most irregular diversitywe shall, by combining the three schemes, arrive at some understanding of the Platonic dialectic. To assign anything its place in these various sequences was at once to define it and to demonstrate the necessity of222 its existence. The arrangement is also equivalent to a theory of final causes; for everything has a function to perform, marked out by its position, and bringing it into relation with the universal order. Such a system would inevitably lead to the denial of evil, were not evil itself interpreted as the necessary correlative of good, or as a necessary link in the descending manifestations of reality. Moreover, by virtue of his identifying principle, Plato saw in the lowest forms a shadow or reflection of the highest. Hence the many surprises, concessions, and returns to abandoned positions which we find in his later writings. The three moments of Greek thought, circumscription, antithesis, and mediation, work in such close union, or with such bewildering rapidity of alternation, through all his dialectic, that we are never sure whither he is leading us, and not always sure that he knows it himself.
"August 22nd, 1914.Dreams, like oracles, were occasionally employed for the conversion of infidels. An incident of the kind is related by Aelian, a writer who flourished early in the third century, and who is remarkable, even in that age, for his bigoted orthodoxy. A certain man named Euphronius, he tells us, whose delight was to study the blasphemous nonsense of Epicurus, fell very ill of consumption, and sought in vain for help from the skill of the physicians. He was already at deaths door, when, as a last resource, his friends placed him in the temple of Asclpius. There he dreamed that a priest came to him and said, This mans only chance of salvation is to burn the impious books of Epicurus, knead the ashes up with wax, and use the mixture as a poultice for his chest and stomach. On awakening, he followed the divine prescription, was restored to health, and became a model of piety for the rest of his life. The same author gives us a striking instance of prayer answered, also redounding to the credit of Asclpius, the object of whose favour is, however, on this occasion not a human being but a fighting-cock. The scene is laid at Tanagra, where the bird in question, having had his foot hurt, and evidently acting under the influence of divine inspiration, joins a choir who are singing the praises of Asclpius, contributing his share to the sacred concert, and, to the best of his ability, keeping time with the other performers. This he did, standing on one leg and stretching out the other, as if to show its pitiable condition. So he sang to his saviour as far as the strength of his voice would permit, and prayed that he might recover the use of his limb. The petition is granted,230 whereupon our hero claps his wings and struts about with outstretched neck and nodding crest like a proud warrior, thus proclaiming the power of providence over irrational animals.352
CHAPTER XX. "UNEASY LIES THE HEAD."From this grand synthesis, however, a single element was omitted; and, like the uninvited guest of fairy tradition, it proved strong enough singly to destroy what had been constructed by the united efforts of all the rest. This was the sceptical principle, the critical analysis of ideas, first exercised by Protagoras, made a new starting-point by Socrates, carried to perfection by Plato, supplementing experience with Aristotle, and finally proclaimed in its purity as the sole function of philosophy by an entire school of Greek thought.
The time arrived when this last liberty was to be taken away. In the year 529, Justinian issued his famous decree prohibiting the public teaching of philosophy in Athens, and confiscating the endowments devoted to the maintenance of its professors. It is probable that this measure formed part of a comprehensive scheme for completing the extirpation of paganism throughout the empire. For some two centuries past, the triumph of Christianity had been secured by an unsparing exercise of the imperial authority, as the triumph of Catholicism over heresy was next to be secured with the aid of the Frankish sword. A few years afterwards, the principal representatives of the Neo-Platonic school, including the Damascius of whom we have already spoken, and Simplicius,361 the famous Aristotelian commentator, repaired to the court of Khosru Nuschirvan, the King of Persia, with the intention of settling in his country for the rest of their lives. They were soon heartily sick of their adopted home. Khosru was unquestionably an enlightened monarch, greatly interested in Hellenic culture, and sincerely desirous of diffusing it among his people. It is also certain that Agathias, our only authority on this subject, was violently prejudiced against him. But it may very well be, as stated by that historian530 that Khosru by no means came up to the exaggerated expectations formed of him by the exiled professors. He had been described to them as the ideal of a Platonic ruler, and, like inexperienced bookmen, they accepted the report in good faith. They found that he cared a great deal more for scientific questions about the cause of the tides and the modifications superinduced on plants and animals by transference to a new environment, than about the metaphysics of the One.531 Moreover, the immorality of Oriental society and the corruption of Oriental government were something for which they were totally unprepared. Better, they thought, to die at once, so that it were but on Roman soil, than to live on any conditions in such a country as Persia. Khosru was most unwilling to lose his guests, but on finding that they were determined to leave him, he permitted them to depart, and even made it a matter of express stipulation with the imperial government that they should be allowed to live in their old homes without suffering any molestation on account of their religious opinions.532VI.
The Stoics held, as Mr. Herbert Spencer, who resembles them in so many respects, now holds, that all knowledge is ultimately produced by the action of the object on the subject. Being convinced, however, that each single perception, as such, is fallible, they sought for the criterion of certainty in the repetition and combination of individual impressions; and, again like Mr. Spencer, but also in complete accordance with their dynamic theory of Nature, they estimated the validity of a belief by the degree of tenacity with which it is held. The various stages of assurance were carefully distinguished and arranged in an ascending series. First came simple perception, then simple assent, thirdly, comprehension, and finally demonstrative science. These mental acts were respectively typified by extending the forefinger, by bending it as in the gesture of beckoning, by clenching the fist, and by placing it, thus clenched, in the grasp of the other hand. From another point of view, they defined a true conviction as that which can only be produced by the action of a corresponding real object on the mind.147 This theory was complicated still further by the Stoic interpretation of judgment as a voluntary act; by the ethical significance which it consequently received; and by the concentration of all wisdom in the person of an ideal sage. The unreserved bestowal of belief is a practical postulate dictated by the necessities of life; but only he who knows what those necessities are, in other words only the wise man, knows when the postulate is to be enforced. In short, the criterion of your being right is your conviction that you are right, and this conviction, if you really possess it, is a sufficient witness to its own veracity. Or again, it is the nature of man to act rightly, and he cannot do so unless he has right beliefs, confirmed and clinched by the consciousness that they are right.