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Ath. And I do not faint; I say, indeed, that we have a great many poets writing in hexameter, trimeter, and all sorts of measures some who are serious, others who aim only at raising a laugh — and all mankind declare that the youth who are rightly educated should be brought up and saturated with them; they should be constantly hearing them read at recitations, and some would have them learn by heart entire poets; while others select choice passages and long speeches, and make compendiums of them, saying that these shall be committed to memory, and that in this way only can a man be made good and wise by experience and learning. And you want me to say plainly in what they are right and in what they are wrong.
CLE. Yes, I do.
Ath. But how can I in one word rightly comprehend all of them? I am of opinion, and, if I am not mistaken, there is a general agreement, that every one of these poets has said many things well and many things the reverse of well; and if this be true, then I do affirm that much learning brings danger to youth.
Cle. Then how would you advise the guardian of the law to act ?
Ath. In what respect ?
CLE. I mean to what pattern should he look as his guide in permitting the young to learn some things and forbidding them to learn others? Do not shrink from answering
Ath. My good Cleinias, I rather think that I am fortunate.
CLE. In what?
Ath. I think that I am not wholly in want of a pattern, for when I consider the words which we have spoken from early dawn until now, and which, as I believe, have been
inspired by Heaven, they appear to me to be quite like a poem. When I reflected upon all these words of ours, 1 naturally felt pleasure, for of all the discourses which I have ever learnt or heard, either in poetry or prose, this seemed to me to be the justest, and most suitable for young men to hear; I cannot imagine any better pattern than this which the guardian of the law and the educator can have. They cannot do better than advise the teachers to teach the young these and the like words, and if they should happen to find writings, either in poetry or prose, or even unwritten discourses like these of ours, and of the same family, they should certainly preserve them, and commit them to writing. And, first of all, they shall constrain the teachers themselves to learn and approve them, and any of them who will not, shall not be employed by them, but those whom they find agreeing in their judgment, they shall make use of and shall commit to them the instruction and education of youth. And here and on this wise let my fanciful tale about letters and teachers of letters come to an end.
By common consent Aristotle ranks as one of the greatest thinkers of classical antiquity. His influence in the philosophic world, though far less at the present time than it was formerly, has been almost unbroken for more than two thousand years. He was born at Stagira, in Macedonia, 384 B. C., springing from a family in which the practice of medicine, such as it was in that day, was hereditary. His father was physiciar: to Amyntas, King of Macedonia, and grandfather of Alexander the Great. Aristotle himself was probably intended for the medical profession, and to this fact was due no doubt his interest in anatomy. But in early manhood he gave up medicine for philosophy. He became a disciple of Plato, and by his penetration of mind gained the distinction of being called “the intellect of the school.”
In 342 B. C., when his fame as a philosopher had become established, he was appointed teacher of Alexander the Great, then a lad of fourteen. The course of instruction he followed with his illustrious pupil is not known in its details, but was presumably that which prevailed at Athens. He enjoyed the highest confidence of both Philip and Alexander, and during his three or four years of service as tutor, he received many marks of favor at their hands. Among these may be mentioned the restoration of his native town Stagira, which had been destroyed by war, and the erection there of a gymnasium for his philosophical lectures. PAINTER PED. Ess.- 3
When Alexander entered upon his great expedition of conquest into Asia, Aristotle returned to Athens and established a school in the Lyceum. He lectured to a circle of disciples as he walked about the shady avenues; and this fact has given to his school of philosophy the name Peripatetic. His scholarship embraced the whole range of knowleüge. Unlike his great theorizing teacher, Aristotle was a careful and practical investigator; he invented the science of logic, and made valuable contributions to many other departments of learning.
Aristotle has treated of education more or less fully in several works. His “ Rhetoric ” and
Poetics” are profound treatises that may still be studied with great profit. His “ Nichomachean Ethics" touches repeatedly but briefly on education. It is in his “ Politics that he has treated the subject most fully; but his discussion is unfortunately incomplete, and it is greatly to be regretted that he never fulfilled his promise to return to it. The following extract is taken from the translation in Bohn's Classical Library. It includes part of Book VII. and the whole of Book VIII. of the “Politics."
SELECTION FROM THE “POLITICS ” OF ARISTOTLE.
13. It follows then from what has been said that some things the legislator must find ready to his hand in a state, others he must provide. And therefore we can only say: May our state be constituted in such a manner as to be blessed with the goods of which fortune disposes (for we acknowledge her power): whereas virtue and goodness in the state are not a matter of chance but the result of knowledge and purpose. A city can be virtuous only when the
citizens who have a share in the government are virtuous, and in our state all the citizens share in the government; let us then inquire how a man becomes virtuous. For even if we could suppose all the citizens to be virtuous, and not each of them, yet the latter would be better, for in the virtue of each the virtue of all is involved.
There are three things which make men good and virtuous: these are nature, habit, reason. In the first place, every one must be born a man and not some other animal ; in the second place, he must have certain character, both of body and soul. But some qualities there is no use in having at birth, for they are altered by habit, and there are some gifts of nature which may be turned by habit to good or bad. Most animals lead a life of nature, although in lesser particulars some are influenced by habit as well. Man has reason, in addition, and man only. Wherefore nature, habit, reason must be in harmony with one another (for they do not always agree); men do many things against habit and nature, if reason persuades them that they ought. We have already determined what natures are likely to be most easily molded by the hands of the legislator. All else is the work of education; we learn some things by habit and some by instruction.
14. Since every political society is composed of rulers and subjects, let us consider whether the relations of one to the other should interchange or be permanent. For the education of the citizens will necessarily vary with the answer given to this question. Now, if some men excelled others in the same degree in which gods and heroes are supposed to excel mankind in general, having in the first place a great advantage even in their bodies, and secondly in their minds, so that the superiority of the governors over their subjects was patent and undisputed, it would clearly be better that once for all the one class should rule