Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/148

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136
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

The difficulty, of course, is not peculiar to Jowett. I mention it to illustrate the difficulty of the intelligent youth who in those days tried to adopt Jowett as a guide. Such a one felt, if I may adapt one of Johnson's phrases, as though his master had pushed him over a cliff, and advised him to fall softly, or perhaps assured him that he was not falling at all. Before this time Jowett had been flirting with Hegelianism, and, without becoming a thorough-going disciple, was apparently attracted by the opportunities afforded by that system of saying and unsaying a thing at the same time. He puts aside all logical difficulties on the ground that somehow or other contradictory assertions may both be true. ' The notion that no idea can be composed out of two contradictory conceptions seems to arise out of the analogy of the sensible world.' A thing cannot be both white and black (rather white and not white) at the same time. But there is, it appears, no absurdity in supposing that the 'mental analysis even of a matter of fact should involve us in contradictions.' He imagines the 'old puzzles of the Eleatics' to be still insoluble, and infers apparently that we may assume without further trouble both that the will is free and that it