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The dramatic power of the dialogues of Platoappears to diminish as the metaphysical interest of them increases(compare Introd. to the Philebus). There are no descriptions oftime, place or persons, in the Sophist and Statesman, but we areplunged at once into philosophical discussions; the poetical charmhas disappeared, and those who have no taste for abstrusemetaphysics will greatly prefer the earlier dialogues to the laterones. Plato is conscious of the change, and in the Statesmanexpressly accuses himself of a tediousness in the two dialogues,which he ascribes to his desire of developing the dialecticalmethod. On the other hand, the kindred spirit of Hegel seemed tofind in the Sophist the crown and summit of the Platonicphilosophy—here is the place at which Plato most nearly approachesto the Hegelian identity of Being and Not-being. Nor will the greatimportance of the two dialogues be doubted by any one who forms aconception of the state of mind and opinion which they are intendedto meet. The sophisms of the day were undermining philosophy; thedenial of the existence of Not-being, and of the connexion ofideas, was making truth and falsehood equally impossible. It hasbeen said that Plato would have written differently, if he had beenacquainted with the Organon of Aristotle. But could the Organon ofAristotle ever have been written unless the Sophist and Statesmanhad preceded? The swarm of fallacies which arose in the infancy ofmental science, and which was born and bred in the decay of thepre-Socratic philosophies, was not dispelled by Aristotle, but bySocrates and Plato. The summa genera of thought, the nature of theproposition, of definition, of generalization, of synthesis andanalysis, of division and cross-division, are clearly described,and the processes of induction and deduction are constantlyemployed in the dialogues of Plato. The 'slippery' nature ofcomparison, the danger of putting words in the place of things, thefallacy of arguing 'a dicto secundum,' and in a circle, arefrequently indicated by him. To all these processes of truth anderror, Aristotle, in the next generation, gave distinctness; hebrought them together in a separate science. But he is not to beregarded as the original inventor of any of the great logicalforms, with the exception of the syllogism.

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