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that man's nature really is attracted to it, and from this, partially derives his argument in favour of the immortality of the soul. Ase suming that certain ideas were born with us, which, for aught we know, existed from all eternity, the soul itself, he argues, may continue throughout endless generations ; and this he endeavours to corroborate by stating that the ideas in man's soul are inherently good, and that the Divine stamp upon them is still unmarred and unbroken. An error like this would necessarily vitiate the force of his conclusion; and proceeding from the belief that no one is willingly evil, and that each man has the power of modelling his own character to virtue, his ethical system issues in a series of fallacious deductions, alike injurious and contradictory.
In some way, however, to account for the undeniable fact, that when we would do good evil is present with us, he alleges ignorance as the element of mischief, which, as a disease in the body, disarranges the soul and impedes its flight after approximation to the Divine image, which it, nevertheless, desires to join. The innate idea of perfection he regards in the saine light as a sound constitution of body,
which, under proper remedial treatment, would enable the philosopher, as a physician, to eradicate disorder and baffle spiritual disease. But how could one short life suffice to effect this restoration? It could only be done by a long course of moral discipline in a still longer series of existences; and, in this respect, he approaches the truth of revelation by holding man responsible for commencing this sanative exercise upon earth; for, as ignorance of real good was the cause of moral perversion, so the chief aim of philosophy must be to correct the fallacies of impressions, and elevate the spirit to an apprehension of the true and perfect Deity.
Such views, though grand, inculcated human pride. The mind became selfish in its own dependence; it relied on the purifying effects of its voluntary self-discipline; and thus Plato's ethics speedily issued in the apathetic austerity of Stoicism. A great portion of his works, for this reason, refer to education, both individual and social, as the instrument of producing moral improvement; hence, we have much more of an ideal than of a practical philosophy; and Aristotle blames him for overlooking all impossibilities in the theory propounded in his
politics, of realizing a perfect reformation of society. Hence, also, are the wildest vagaries set forth in his political treatise ; every consideration is merged in the delineation of a perfect good, as attainable in the social state : a community of wives and children, and the subjection of women to the discipline of a gymnasium; other propositions, equally untenable, find their place in a mind which regains its dignified position only when resting on the fundamental notion that the Divine pattern is the standard of all right government. Here, indeed, Plato's doctrine contrasts well with the general opinion of his age, that law depended upon might, and that the will of the most powerful was necessarily just.
As to religion, he admitted at once the validity of revelation, some truths being evidently beyond experience, therefore derivable only from God himself; and to prove such revelation authentic, we must have recourse to the usual law of evidence, so as to judge whether as a fact it has really occurred. Such knowledge not being within the scope of mere mental investigation, he depends, for authority in religious matters, upon whether they have been handed down “ from long years from
primitive hearing, or the history of ancient days ;" while, as to these great truths themselves, he combines the sure knowledge of a spiritual revelation with the dark deception of oral tradition. Through the dim mysticism of the latter, however, we find him penetrating to a very close resemblance to the accounts given of the creation of the world in Holy Scripture. There are even very striking verbal parallels ; -—the universe is the one work of the one supreme Being-he makes the Father of all, at the creation, address the gods, who themselves were generated, respect ing the formation of man and animals, in terms closely approaching the very words of Scripture: “ And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” He also mentions the Divinity's approval of his own work : “ When the Father who generated it perceived both living and moving, the generated glory of the everlasting divinities, he was filled with admiration, and, being delighted, further contemplated the working it still more to a resemblance of the pattern." The order of creation likewise is Scriptural; the heavens and the earth being first produced, then the
* De Leg. xi. 316.
living creatures, amongst whom man is prcsented as the "most religious” animal.
Notwithstanding this, however, Plato was less inclined to physical than to ethical ques. tions, and, in the former, embraced the Atomic theory of the Pythagoreans, but in science, trod close on modern discovery. For instance, he accounted for the action of magnetism and electricity by movements incident to substances under peculiar circumstances, and attributed the nourishment of the body to the tendency of certain particles mutually to assimilate. Above man he placed created gods, or beings, not subject to dissolution, though they had not actually received immortality, whose bodies were posed of fire, and after whose creation three kinds of creatures were formed to live in the earth, the water, and the air. These subordinate divinities, however, directly influenced the soul of man, which, at first almost irrational, regained its composure when the flux of the body, at its first creation, had subsided. In a scheme of future rewards and punishments, he adapts its subsequent condition to the characteristic frailty of each soul upon earth ; thus the effeminate will be changed into women,
the frivolous into birds, the indolent into beasts,