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Laws eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 711 pages of information about Laws.

Cleinias:  Exactly so.

BOOK II.

Athenian:  And now we have to consider whether the insight into human nature is the only benefit derived from well-ordered potations, or whether there are not other advantages great and much to be desired.  The argument seems to imply that there are.  But how and in what way these are to be attained, will have to be considered attentively, or we may be entangled in error.

Cleinias:  Proceed.

Athenian:  Let me once more recall our doctrine of right education; which, if I am not mistaken, depends on the due regulation of convivial intercourse.

Cleinias:  You talk rather grandly.

Athenian:  Pleasure and pain I maintain to be the first perceptions of children, and I say that they are the forms under which virtue and vice are originally present to them.  As to wisdom and true and fixed opinions, happy is the man who acquires them, even when declining in years; and we may say that he who possesses them, and the blessings which are contained in them, is a perfect man.  Now I mean by education that training which is given by suitable habits to the first instincts of virtue in children;—­ when pleasure, and friendship, and pain, and hatred, are rightly implanted in souls not yet capable of understanding the nature of them, and who find them, after they have attained reason, to be in harmony with her.  This harmony of the soul, taken as a whole, is virtue; but the particular training in respect of pleasure and pain, which leads you always to hate what you ought to hate, and love what you ought to love from the beginning of life to the end, may be separated off; and, in my view, will be rightly called education.

Cleinias:  I think, Stranger, that you are quite right in all that you have said and are saying about education.

Athenian:  I am glad to hear that you agree with me; for, indeed, the discipline of pleasure and pain which, when rightly ordered, is a principle of education, has been often relaxed and corrupted in human life.  And the Gods, pitying the toils which our race is born to undergo, have appointed holy festivals, wherein men alternate rest with labour; and have given them the Muses and Apollo, the leader of the Muses, and Dionysus, to be companions in their revels, that they may improve their education by taking part in the festivals of the Gods, and with their help.  I should like to know whether a common saying is in our opinion true to nature or not.  For men say that the young of all creatures cannot be quiet in their bodies or in their voices; they are always wanting to move and cry out; some leaping and skipping, and overflowing with sportiveness and delight at something, others uttering all sorts of cries.  But, whereas the animals have no perception of order or disorder in their movements, that is, of rhythm or harmony,

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