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(3) the general disorganization of the State through


individualism, which placed power in the hands of
ignorance and rapacity, instead of in those of wisdom
and worth. The Republic is a scheme for removing
these evils and averting the consequent dangers. It
is the Platonic sage's recipe for the healing of society,
and it is but fair to say that, of all the Utopian and
aesthetic schemes ever proposed for this end, it is
incomparably the best. It proposes nothing less than
the complete transformation of society, without offer-
ing any hint as to how a selfish and degraded people
is to be induced to submit thereto. In the transformed
society, the State is all in all; the family is abolished;
women are emancipated and share in the education and
duties of men; the State attends to the procreation
and education of children; private property is for-
bidden. The State is but the individual writ large,
and the* individual has three faculties, in the proper
development and coordination of which consists his
well-being: the same, therefore, must be true of the
State. These faculties are (1) intellect or reason,
(A.oyrnKov, Xoyos, vovs, etc.), (2) spirit or, courage (Ov^,
, (3) desire or appetite (tTn.9vn.ia., cTnOvfjirjTiKov,
The first resides in the head, the sec-
ond in the heart, the third in the abdomen. The first
is peculiar to man, the second he shares with the ani-
mals, and the third with both animals and plants.
The proper relation of these faculties exists when
reason, with clear insight, rules the whole man (Pru-
dence); when spirit takes its directions from reason
in its attitude toward pleasure and pain (Fortitude) ;
when spirit and appetite together come to an under-
standing with reason as to when the one, and when


the other, shall act (Temperance) ; and, finally, when
each of the three strictly confines itself to its proper
function (Justice). Thus we obtain the four " cardinal
virtues." As existing in the individual, they are rela-
tions between his own faculties. It is only in the
State that they are relations between the individual
and his fellows. Rather we ought to say, they are
relations between different classes of society; for
society is divided into three classes, marked by
the predominance of one or other of the three facul-
ties of the soul. First, there is the intelligent class,

the philosophers or sages ; second, the spirited class,

the military men or soldiers; third, the covetous
class, men devoted to industry, trade, and money-
making. The well-being of the State, as of the indi-
vidual, is secure only when the relations between
these classes are the four cardinal virtues ; when the
sages rule, and the soldiers and money-makers accept
this rule, and when each class strictly confines itself
to its own function, so, for example, that the sages do
not attempt to fight, the soldiers to make money, or
the money-makers to fight or rule. In the Platonic
ideal State, accordingly, the three classes dwell apart
and have distinct functions. All the power is in the
hands of the philosophers, who dwell in lofty isola-
tion, devoted to the contemplation of divine ideas,
and descending only through grace to mingle with
human affairs, as teachers and absolute rulers, ruling
without laws. Their will is enforced by the military
class, composed of both sexes, which lives outside the
city, devoting itself to physical exercises and the de-
fence of the State. These two classes together con-


stitute the guardians (<u'AaKs) of the State, and stand
to each other in the relation of head and hand. They
produce nothing, own nothing, live sparingly, and,
indeed, cherish a sovereign contempt for all producing
and owning, as well as for those who produce and own.
They find their satisfaction in the performance of their
functions, and the maintenance of virtue in the State.
What small amount of material good they require is
supplied to them by the industrial class, which they
protect in the enjoyment of the only good it strives
after or can appreciate, the good of the appetites.
This class, of course, has no power, either directive
or executive, being incapable of any. It is, never-
theless, entirely happy in its condition of tutelage,
and, as far as virtue can be predicated of sensuality,
virtuous, the excesses of sensuality being repressed by
the other two classes. Indeed, the great merit which
Plato claims for his scheme is, that it secures harmony,
and therefore happiness, for all, by placing every indi-
vidual citizen in the class to which by nature he be-
longs, that is, in which his nature can find the fullest
and freest expression compatible with the well-being
of the whole. Such is Plato's political scheme, marked
by the two notorious Greek characteristics, love of
harmony and contempt for labor. It is curious to
think that it foreshadowed three modern institutions
the ecclesiastical hierarchy, the standing army, and
the industrial community, in which, however, the
relations of power demanded by Plato are almost
reversed, with (it is only fair to say) the result
which he foresaw.

In trying to answer the question, By what means


shall these classes be sundered? Plato calmly assumes
that his scheme is already in full operation among
grown people, so that the only difficulty remaining is
with regard to the children. And this is completely
met by his scheme of education. The State or, let us
say at once, the philosophic class, having abolished
the family, and assumed its functions, determines
what number and kind of children it requires at any
given time, and provides for them as it would for
sheep or kine. It brings together at festivals the
vigorous males and females, and allows them to choose
their mates for the occasion. As soon as the children
are born, they are removed from their mothers and
taken charge of in State institutions, where the feeble
and deformed are at once destroyed. Any children
begotten without the authority of the State share the
same fate, either before or after birth. Those whose
birth is authorized, and who prove vigorous, are
reared by the State, none of them knowing, or being
known by, their parents. But they by no means suffer
any diminution of parentage on that account; for
every mature man regards himself as the father, and
every mature woman regards herself as the mother, of
all the children born within a certain time, so that
every child has thousands of fathers and mothers, all
interested in his welfare; and the mothers, being
relieved from nearly all the duties of maternity, share
equally with the men in all the functions of the State.
The system of education to which the children of
the State are subjected is, to a large extent, modelled
after that of Sparta, especially in respect to its rigor
and its absolutely political character. It contains,


however, a strong Ionic or Athenian element, nota-
bly on the intellectual and aesthetic side. It may
fairly claim to be intensely Hellenic. It accepts the
time-honored division of education into Music and
Gymnastics, making no distinct place for Letters, but
including them under Music. It demands that these
two branches shall be pursued as parts of a whole,
calculated to develop, as far as may be, the harmo-
nious human being, and fit him to become part of the
harmonious State. ^1 have said "as far as may be,"
because Plato believes that only a small number of
persons at any given time can be reduced to complete
harmony. These are the born philosophers, who, when
their nature is fully realized, no longer require the
State, but stand, as gods, above it. In truth, the State
is needed just because the mass of mankind cannot
attain inner harmony, but would perish, were it not
for the outer harmony imposed by the philosophers.
This is a sad fact, and would be altogether dishearten-
ing, were it not for the belief, which Plato seems to
have derived from Pythagoras and the Egyptians, that
those human beings who fail to attain harmony in one
life, will have opportunities to do so in other lives, so
long as they do not, by some awful and malignant
crime or crimes, show that they are utterly incapable
of harmony. Plato's scheme of political education,
therefore, requires, as its complement, the doctrines
of individual immortality, of probation continued
through as many lives as may be necessary, and of
the possibility of final and eternal blessedness or
misery. In fact, Plato has a fully-developed escha-
tology, with an " other world, " consisting of three well-


defined parts, Elysium, Acheron, and Tartarus,
corresponding to the Paradise, Purgatory, and Hell of
Catholic Christianity; with one important difference,
however, due to the doctrine of metempsychosis.
While the Christian purgatory is a place or state of
purgation for souls whose probation is over forever,
Acheron is merely a place where imperfect souls
remain till the end of a world-period, or aeon, of ten
thousand years, when they are again allowed to
return to life and renew their struggle for that com-
plete harmony which is the condition of admission to
the society of the gods.

It is from this eschatology that Plato derives the
moral sanctions which he employs in his State. It
is true that no one has insisted with greater force
than he upon the truth that virtue is, in and for itself,
the highest human good; he believed, however, that
this could be appreciated only by the philosopher,
who had experience of it, and that for the lower
orders of men a more powerful, though less noble,
sanction was necessary. Accordingly, he depicts the
joys of Elysium in images that could not but. appeal
to the Hellenic imagination, and paints Tartarus in
gruesome colors that would do honor to a St. Ignatius.

In order fully to understand the method of Plato's
political education, we must revert to Chapter III of
Book I. There we saw that, according to the Greeks,
a complete education demanded three things, (1) a
noble nature, (2) training through habit, (3) instruc-
tion. For the first Plato would do what can be done by
artificial selection of parents ; for the second, he would
depend upon music and' gymnastics; for the third,


upon philosophy. In these last two divisions we
have the root of the mediaeval trivium and quadrivium.
The Platonic pedagogical system seeks to separate
the ignoble from the noble natures, and to place the
former in the lowest class. It then trains the noble
natures in music and gymnastics, and, while this is
going on, it tries to distinguish those natures which
are capable of rising above mere training to reflective
or philosophic thought, from those which are not.
The latter it assigns to the military class, which al-
ways remains at the stage of training, while the
former are instructed in philosophy, and, if they
prove themselves adepts, are finally admitted to the
ruling class, as sages. Any member of either of the
higher classes who proves himself unworthy of that
class, may at any time be degraded into the next

As soon as the children are accepted by the State,
their education under State nurses begins. The chief
efforts of these for some time are directed to the bodies
of the children, to seeing that they are healthy and
strong. As soon as the young creatures can stand
and walk, they are taught to exert themselves in an
orderly way and to play little games ; and as soon as
they understand what is said to them, they are told
stories and sung to. Such is their first introduction
to gymnastics and music. What games are to be
taught, what stories told, and what airs sung to the
children, the State determines, and indeed, since the
character of human beings depends, in great measure,
upon the first impression made upon them, this is one
of its most sacred duties. Plato altogether disap-


proves of leaving children without guidance to seek
exercise and amusement in their own way, and
demands that their games shall be such as call forth,
in a gentle and harmonious way, all the latent powers
of body and mind, and develop the sense of order,
beauty, and fitness. He is still more earnest in
insisting that the stories told to children shall be
exemplifications of the loftiest morality, and the airs
sung to them such as settle, strengthen, and solemnize
the soul. He follows Heraclitus in demanding that
the Homeric poems, so long the storehouse for
children's stories, shall be entirely proscribed, on
account of the false ideals which they hold up both
of gods and heroes, and the intimidating descriptions
which they give of the other world. Virtue, he holds,
cannot be furthered by fear, which is characteristic
only of slaves. ,He thinks that all early intellectual
training should be a sort of play. The truth is, the
infant-school of Plato's Republic comes as near as can
well be imagined to the ideal of the modern kinder-

While this elementary education is going on, the
officers of the State have abundant opportunity for
observing the different characters of the children, and
distinguishing the noble from the ignoble. As soon
as a child shows plainly that it belongs by nature to
the lowest class, they consign it to that class, and its
education by the State practically ceases. Of course
these officers know from what class each child came,
and they make use of this knowledge in determining
its future destiny. At the same time, they are not
to be entirely guided by it, but to act impartially.


The education of the lowest class after childhood the
State leaves to take care of itself, persuaded that
appetite will always find means for its own satisfac-
tion. The nobler natures it continues to educate,
without any break, until they reach the age of twenty.
And this education is distinctly a military training.
As time goes on, the gymnastic exercises become more
violent, more complex, and more sustained, but al-
ways have for their subject the soul, rather than the
body, and never degenerate into mere athletic brutal-
ity. Special attention is directed to the musical and
literary exercises, as the means whereby the soul is
directly trained and harmonized. Plato holds that
no change can be made in the "music" of a State,
without a corresponding change in the whole organi-
zation; in other words, that the social and political
condition of a people is determined by the literature
and music which it produces and enjoys. He virtu-
ally says, Let me make the songs of a people, and
he who will may make their laws. Of the character
of the music which he recommends we have already
spoken. From literature he would exclude all that
we are in the habit of calling by that name, all that
is mimetic, poetic, or creative, and confine the term to
what is scientific, didactic, and edifying. He sends the
poets out of the State with mock-reverent politeness,
as creatures too divine for human use. He is par-
ticularly severe upon the dramatists, not sparing even
the sublime ^Eschylus. In fact, he would banish from
his State all art not directly edifying. The literature
which he recommends is plainly of the nature of
JSsop's Fables, the Pythagorean Golden Words, and


the Parmenidean or Heraclitean work On Nature. If
we wished to express his intent in strictly modern
language, we should have to say that he desired to
replace literary training by ethical and scientific, and
the poetical mode of presenting ideals by the prosaic.
The true music, he held, is in the human being. " If
we find," he says, "a man who perfectly combines
gymnastics with music, and in exact proportion
applies them to the soul, we shall be entirely justi-
fied in calling him the perfect musician and the
perfect trainer, far superior to the man who arranges
strings alongside each other."

There are many matters of detail in Plato's scheme
of military training that well deserve consideration,
but cannot be even touched upon here. Before we
leave it, however, we may give the dates at which the
different branches of education are to begin. Care
of the body begins at birth, story -telling with the
third year, gymnastics with the seventh, writing and
reading with the tenth, letters and music with the
fourteenth, mathematics with the sixteenth, military
drill, which for the time supplants all other training,
with the eighteenth. When the young people reach
the age of twenty, those who show no great capacity
for science, but are manly and courageous, are assigned
to the soldier class, and start on a course of higher
education in military training, while those who evince
great intellectual ability become novices in the ruling
class, and begin a curriculum in science, which lasts
till the close of their thirtieth year. This course
includes arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy, the
only sciences at that time cultivated, and aims at


impressing upon the youthful mind the unity and
harmony of the physical or phenomenal universe. At
the age of thirty, those students who do not show any
particular aptitude for higher studies are drafted off
into the lower public offices, while those who do,
pass five years in the study of dialectics, whereby
they rise to pure ideas. They are then, from their
thirty-fifth to their fiftieth year, made to fill the
higher public offices, in which they take their orders
directly from the sages. During this period they put
their acquirements to a practical test, and so come
really and fully into possession of them. At the end
of their fiftieth year, after half a century of contin-
uous education of body, mind, and will, they are
reckoned to have reached the vision of the supreme
good, and therefore to be fit to enter the contemplative
ruling class. They are now free men; they have
reached the goal of existence; their life is hidden
with God; they are free from the prison of the body,
and only remain in it voluntarily, and out of gratitude
to the State which has educated them, in order to
direct it, in accordance with absolute truth and right,
toward the Supreme Good.

Such, in its outlines, is Plato's theory of education,
as set forth in the Republic. It is easy to point out
its defects and its errors, which are neither small nor
few, but fundamental and all-pervasive. But it is
equally easy to see how it came to have these defects
and errors, since they are simply those of every
aesthetic social scheme which ignores the nature of
the material with which it presumes to deal, and
takes no account of the actual history of social insti-


tutions or of the forces by which, they are evolved.
It is emphatically the product of a youthful intellect,
carried away by an artistic ideal. It was, however,
the intellect of a Plato, who, when he became more
mature, saw, without " irreverence for the dreams of
youth, " the feebleness of ideas for the conflict with
human frailties, and strove to correct his exaggerated
estimate of their power.

This he did in the Laws, whose very title suggests,
in a way almost obtrusive, the change of attitude and
allegiance. While in the Republic the State is gov-
erned by sages, almost entirely without laws, in the
later work, the sages almost disappear and the laws
assume an all-important place. In writing the Laws,
moreover, he exchanges allegiance to Socrates and
ideas for allegiance to Pythagoras and the gods. In
saying this, I have marked the fundamental differ-
ence between the Republic and the Laws. While in
the former Plato finds the moral sanctions, in the last
resort, in the ideas of the pure intellect, trained in
mathematics, astronomy, and dialectics, in the latter
he derives them from the content of the popular
consciousness, with its gods, its ethical notions, its
traditions. In these, as embodied in institutions, he
finds the most serviceable, if not the most exalted,
revelation of divine truth. Trusting to this, he no
longer seeks to abolish the family and private prop-
erty, but merely to have them regulated ; he no longer
banishes strangers and poets from his State, but
merely subjects them to State supervision; he no
longer demands a philosophical training for the rulers,
but only practical insight; he no longer divides his


citizens into sages, soldiers, and wealth-producers,
but into freemen (corresponding to his previous mili-
tary class) and slaves. His government is no longer
an aristocracy of intellect, but a compound of aristoc-
racy, oligarchy, and democracy, representing, respec-
tively, worth, wealth, and will. His plan of education
is modified to suit these altered conditions. The
children, as in Sparta, do not begin the State course of
education until about their seventh year, after which
their training is very much the same as that demanded
in the Republic, with the omission, of course, of dia-
lectics. Though women are no longer to be relieved
of their home duties, they are sfill to share in the
education and occupations of men, an arrangement
which is facilitated by the law ordauiing that both
men and women shall eat at public tables. In mak-
ing these changes, Plato believed that he was falling
from a lofty, but unrealizable, ideal, and making con-
cessions to human weakness ; in reality, he was
approaching truth and right.

ARISTOTLE (B.C. 384-322)


Aristotle, in my opinion, stands almost alone in philosophy.

Aristotle, Nature's private secretary, dipping his pen in intellect.

"Wherever the divine wisdom of Aristotle has opened its mouth,
the wisdom of others, it seems to me, is to be disregarded. DANTE.

I could soon get over Aristotle's prestige, if I could only get over
his reasons. LESSING.

If, now in my quiet days, I had youthful faculties at my com-
mand, I should devote myself to Greek, in spite of all the difficulties
I know. Nature and Aristotle should he my sole study. It is be-
yond all conception what that man espied, saw, beheld, remarked,
observed. To be sure he was sometimes hasty in his explanations ;
but are we not so, even to the present day ? GOETHE (at 78) .

If the proper earnestness prevailed in philosophy, nothing would
be more worthy of establishing than a foundation for a special lect-
ureship on Aristotle ; for he is, of all the ancients, the most worthy
of study. HEGEL.

Aristotle was one of the richest and most comprehensive geniuses
that ever appeared a man beside whom no age has an equal to
place. Id.

Physical philosophy occupies itself with the general qualities of
matter. It is an abstraction from the dynamic manifestations of
the different kinds of matter ; and even where its foundations were
first laid, in the eight books of Aristotle's Physical Lectures, all the
phenomena of nature are represented as the motive vital activity of
a universal world-force. ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT.



It was characteristic of this extraordinary genius to work at both
ends of the scientific process. He was alike a devotee to facts and
a master of the highest abstractions. ALEXANDER BAIX.

Aristotle is the Father of the Inductive Method, and he is so for
two reasons: First, he theoretically recognized its essential prin-
ciples with a clearness, and exhibited them with a conviction, which
strike the modern man with amazement ; and then he made the
first comprehensive attempt to apply them to all the science of

Aristotle, for whose political philosophy our admiration rises,
the more we consider the work of his successors, is less guided by
imagination than Plato, examines reality more carefully, and recog-
nizes more acutely, the needs of man. BLUXTSCHLI.

It appears to me that there can be no question, that Aristotle
stands forth, not only as the greatest figure in antiquity, but as the
greatest intellect that has ever appeared upon the face of this earth.

Aristotle, with all the wisdom of Plato before him, which he was
well able to appropriate, could find no better definition of the true
good of man than the full exercise or realization of the soul's facul-
ties in accordance with its proper excellence, which was excellence
of thought, speculative and practical. THOMAS HILL GREEX.

IT is pretty definitely settled, among men competent
to form a judgment, that Aristotle was the best edu-
cated man that ever walked on the surface of this
earth. He is still, as he was in Dante's time, the
" master of those that know." It is, therefore, not
without reason that we look to him, not only as the

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Online LibraryThomas DavidsonAristotle and ancient educational ideals → online text (page 10 of 17)