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By Terence H. Irwin

First released in 1995. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.

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And this he does best by that declaration of his views according to which he sets up rhetoric, notwithstanding its maintained dependency upon dialectics, and even by virtue of it, to be art in a higher sense. For true art, according to him, is nothing but that practice of which again a true science, or, as our own countrymen usually call it, a theory can be made: for it is thus that Plato distinguishes art and artless dispatch. Now such a science can arise only when the classified variety, dialectically exhibited as resulting from the central notion of the art, is connected in a systematic and perfectly exhaustive manner with what results from the whole range of the means and objects.

For in any dialogue which at once recommends itself by its language, and which manifestly treats of Platonic subjects, the more perfectly this form is stamped upon it, we may not only pronounce it genuine with so much the more certainty, but since all those arts point back to what has gone before and forward to what is to come, it will necessarily be so much the easier to determine to what main dialogue it belongs or between which it lies, and in what region of the development of the Platonic philosophy it can furnish an illuminating point.

For otherwise how can an attempt be made with any degree of certainty, or rather, in case of anything foreign being mixed up with the works of Plato, how can even what is genuine fail to appear quite in a false light, if violence be used to place what is 2? ungenuine in connection with it ? Or is it to be competent to take the problem given itself as a standard, and to declare, slashingly enough, that what will not adapt itself to that connection cannot belong to Plato ? Scarcely any one, I suppose, would be found to favour this process, or not to see that this would be an extremely partial decision of a question to be answered upon quite different grounds, and that it is impossible that a notion arising from a consideration of the works assumed as Platonic, should pronounce at the same time upon the correctness of the assumption itself.

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