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"Community of ...
Plato, like Socrates, makes religious instruction the basis of education. But where the master had been content to set old beliefs on a new basis of demonstration, the disciple aimed at nothing less than their complete purification from irrational and immoral ingredients. He lays down two great principles, that God is good, and that He is true.142 Every story which is inconsistent with such a character must be rejected; so also must everything in the poets which redounds to the discredit of the national heroes, together with everything tending in the remotest degree to make vice attractive or virtue repellent. It is evident that Plato, like Xenophanes, repudiated not only the scandalous details of popular mythology, but also the anthropomorphic conceptions which lay at its foundation; although he did not think it advisable to state his unbelief with equal frankness. His own theology was a sort of star-worship, and he proved the divinity of the heavenly bodies by an appeal to the uniformity of their movements.143 He further taught that the world was created by an absolutely good Being; but we cannot be sure that this was more than a popular version of the theory which placed the abstract idea of Good at the summit of the dialectic series. The truth is that there are two distinct types of religion, the one chiefly235 interested in the existence and attributes of God, the other chiefly interested in the destiny of the human soul. The former is best represented by Judaism, the latter by Buddhism. Plato belongs to the psychic rather than to the theistic type. The doctrine of immortality appears again and again in his Dialogues, and one of the most beautiful among them is entirely devoted to proving it. He seems throughout to be conscious that he is arguing in favour of a paradox. Here, at least, there are no appeals to popular prejudice such as figure so largely in similar discussions among ourselves. The belief in immortality had long been stirring; but it had not taken deep root among the Ionian Greeks. We cannot even be sure that it was embraced as a consoling hope by any but the highest minds anywhere in Hellas, or by them for more than a brief period. It would be easy to maintain that this arose from some natural incongeniality to the Greek imagination in thoughts which drew it away from the world of sense and the delights of earthly life. But the explanation breaks down immediately when we attempt to verify it by a wider experience. No modern nation enjoys life so keenly as the French. Yet, quite apart from traditional dogmas, there is no nation that counts so many earnest supporters of the belief in a spiritual existence beyond the grave. And, to take an individual example, it is just the keen relish which Mr. Brownings Cleon has for every sort of enjoyment which makes him shrink back with horror from the thought of annihilation, and grasp at any promise of a happiness to be prolonged through eternity. A closer examination is needed to show us by what causes the current of Greek thought was swayed.
Harry huffed absurdly. "You go mind yours," he retorted, and then more generously added, "we'll be with you in a minute." The surgeon went, and the aide-de-camp, as we began to pace the hall, fairly took my breath by remarking without a hint of self-censure, "Damn a frivolous man!" Then irrelatively he added, "Those two out at that gate--this is a matter of life and death with them;" and when I would have qualified the declaration, he broke in upon me--"Right, Dick, you're right, it is worse; it's a choice between true life and death-in-life; whether they'll make life's long march in sunshine together or in darkness apart."
The truths here touched on seem to have been dimly present to the mind of Plato. He never doubts that all knowledge must, in some way or other, be derived from experience; and, accordingly, he assumes that what cannot have been learned in this world was learned in another. But he does not (in the Meno at least) suppose that the process ever had a beginning. It would seem that he is trying to express in figurative language the distinction, lost almost as soon as found, between intelligence and the facts on which intelligence is exercised, An examination of the steps by which Menos slave is brought to perceive, without being directly told, the truth of the Pythagorean theorem, will show that his share in the demonstration is limited to the intuition of certain numerical equalities and inequalities. Now, to Plato, the perception of sameness and difference meant everything. He would have denied that the sensible world presented examples of these relations in their ideal absoluteness and purity. In tracing back their apprehension to the self-reflection of the soul, the consciousness of personal identity, he would not have transgressed the limits of a legitimate enquiry. But self-consciousness involved a possible abstraction from disturbing influences, which he interpreted as a real separation between mind and matter; and, to make it more complete, an inde213pendent pre-existence of the former. Nor was this all. Since knowledge is of likeness in difference, then the central truth of things, the reality underlying all appearance, must be an abiding identity recognised by the soul through her previous communion with it in a purer world. The inevitable tendency of two identities, one subjective and the other objective, was to coalesce in an absolute unity where all distinctions of time and space would have disappeared, carrying the whole mythical machinery along with them; and Platos logic is always hovering on the verge of such a consummation without being able fully to accept it. Still, the mystical tendency, which it was reserved for Plotinus to carry out in its entirety, is always present, though restrained by other motives, working for the ascertainment of uniformity in theory and for the enforcement of uniformity in practice.Allingham watched the ball disappear, for the fourth time since the Clockwork man started his innings, somewhere in the direction of a big brewery that stood mid-way between the ground and the distant town. It was an incredible hit. No one had ever achieved such colossal drives in all the history of Great Wymering cricket. There was a certain absurdity about the thing. Already the club had been obliged to supply three extra balls, for it would have been useless to try and find those that had been lifted so far beyond the ground.
"I have never had that on my conscience," he whispered. "And if we do----""But will those people be punished eventually?"
A snarling curse came from Balmayne's lips.