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[2] For I think it is manifest to all that foreknowledge of future events is not vouchsafed to our human nature, but that we are so far removed from this prescience1 that Homer, who has been conceded the highest reputation for wisdom, has pictured even the gods as at times debating among themselves about the future2—not that he knew their minds but that he desired to show us that for mankind this power lies in the realms of the impossible.

1 There is, according to Isocrates, no “science” which can teach us to do under all circumstances the things which will insure our happiness and success. Life is too complicated for that, and no man can foresee exactly the consequences of his acts—“the future is a thing unseen.” All that education can do is to develop a sound judgement (as opposed to knowledge) which will meet the contingencies of life with resourcefulness and, in most cases, with success. This is a fundamental doctrine of his “philosophy” which he emphasizes and echoes again and again in opposition to the professors of a “science of virtue and happiness.” See General Introd. pp. xxvii ff.

2 See Hom. Il. 16.431 ff. and Hom. Il. 16.652 ff.; Hom. Il. 22.168 ff.

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