'Except the two minor personages of the Laws, a Spartan and a Cretan, who have really nothing to do except to say "Yes," "No," in the appropriate places.
dialogues, appear only in the mouth of Timaeus, a 5th century i Pythagorean older than Socrates, and the most important of them all, the theory of "Forms" is actually made the object of what looks like a refutation in the Parmenides.
The problem is to find an explanation of this puzzling fact. Are we, with Dr. and others to distinguish two philosophies, both originated by Plato after the death of Socrates, an earlier and a later? Or are we to suppose that in the main the object of the first group of Plato's dialogues is to preserve the memory of i Socrates and that the philosophy expounded is in the main what it professes to be, the thought of Socrates, coloured, no doubt, un consciously but not consciously distorted, in its passage through the mind of Plato ? On the second view we should have to say that, strictly speaking, Plato had no distinctive Platonic phil osophy until a late period in his life, much as we can say that, though Kant was all through his life a prolific writer on philosophy, there was no distinctive Kantian philosophy before the Critique of Pure Reason. Most Platonic scholars are still unwilling to accept this interpretation of the facts, though there are weighty consid erations which plead strongly for it.
It is notable, toe, that Aristotle apparently knew nothing of an earlier and a later version of Platonism. He attributes a definite doctrine to Plato which is quite unlike anything to be found in the first great group of dialogues, and seems to be known to him from oral communications in the Academy, though something like it can, by looking hard, be read between the lines in the Philebus. It was also the view of Neo-Platonic scholars like Proclus that the "ideal theory" expounded in the great earlier dialogues really originated with Socrates and that something of the same kind was also held by contemporary Pythagoreans in Italy (Proclus in Parmenidem ed. Stallbaum 562, 61o), and the fact that Proclus does not find it necessary to argue the point seems to show that this had been the standing tradition of the Academy. Similarly Galen, in the early 3rd century of our era, has preserved the definite statement of the learned Stoic Poseidonius that the doc trine of the "tripartite soul," often said in modern times to be another invention of Plato's, is as old as Pythagoras (Galen de placit. Hipp. et Plat. 478).
Moreover, as Burnet has argued, it is very hard to believe that any writer would introduce a far-reaching novel speculation of his own to the world in the curious fashion which Plato is sup posed to have adopted in the Phaedo, where Socrates is made to describe the "ideal theory" as something quite familiar which he has for years constantly canvassed with his intimates (nearly all, if not all, of whom, were certainly living when the Phaedo was cir culated). It is not necessary here to determine the historical question. We may be content to turn to the Platonic dialogues, carefully distinguishing the successors of the Theaetetus from its predecessors, and attempt a summary of their contents. The gen eral doctrine of the first period will be described without any more or less arbitrary attempt to say how much of it may be actually "Socratic." We may then consider how far this doctrine is modi of Philology X.—XII.