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Descartes had already accomplished a great simplification of the speculative problem by summing up all existence under the two heads of extension and thought. It remained to account for these, and to reduce them to a single idea. As we have seen, they were derived from Greek philosophy, and the bond which was to unite them must be sought for in the same direction. It will be remembered that the systems of Plato and Aristotle were bounded at either extremity by a determinate and by an indeterminate principle. With the one, existence ranged between the Idea of Good at the upper end of the scale and empty space at the lower; with the other, between absolute Thought and First Matter. It was by combining the two definite terms, space and thought, that Descartes had constructed his system; and after subtracting these the two indefinite terms remained. In one respect they were even more opposed to each other than were the terms with which they had been respectively associated. The Idea403 of Good represented unity, identity, and constancy, as against plurality, difference, and change; while Aristotle’s Matter was, by its very definition, multiform, fluctuating, and indeterminate. Nevertheless, there were equally important analogies traceable between them. No very clear account could be given of either, and both were customarily described by negatives. If Matter fell short of complete existence, the Good transcended all existence. If the one was a universal capacity for assuming Forms, the other was the source whence all Forms proceeded. When the distinctive characteristics of an individual were thought away, the question might well be mooted into which principle it would return. The ambiguous use of the word Power contributed still further to their identification, for it was not less applicable to the receptive than to the productive faculty. Now we have just seen into what importance the idea of Power suddenly sprang at the Renaissance: with Bruno it was the only abiding reality of Nature; with Hobbes it was the only object of human desire. pc蛋蛋倍率 But the ageless order he seesAgain, the spiritualism taught by Plato and Aristotle alike—by the disciple, indeed, with even more distinctness than by the master—was so entirely inconsistent with the common belief of antiquity as to remain a dead letter for nearly six centuries—that is, until the time of Plotinus. The difference between body and mind was recognised by every school, but only as the difference between solid and gaseous matter is recognised by us; while the antithesis between conscious and unconscious existence, with all its momentous consequences, was recognised by none. The old hypothesis had to be thoroughly thought out before its insufficiency could be completely and irrevocably confessed.In point of style, Plotinus is much the most difficult of the ancient philosophers, and, in this respect, is only surpassed by a very few of the moderns. Even Longinus, who was one of the most intelligent critics then living, and who, besides,283 had been educated in the same school with our philosopher, could not make head or tail of his books when copies of them were sent to him by Porphyry, and supposed, after the manner of philologists, that the text must be corrupt, much to the disgust of Porphyry, who assures us that its accuracy was unimpeachable.426 Probably politeness prevented Longinus from saying, what he must have seen at a glance, that Plotinus was a total stranger to the art of literary composition. We are told that he wrote as fast as if he were copying from a book; but he had never mastered even the elements of the Greek language; and the weakness of his eyesight prevented him from reading over what he had written. The mistakes in spelling and grammar Porphyry corrected, but it is evident that he has made no alterations in the general style of the Enneads; and this is nearly as bad as bad can be—disjointed, elliptical, redundant, and awkward. Chapter follows chapter and paragraph succeeds to paragraph without any fixed principle of arrangement; the connexion of the sentences is by no means clear; some sentences are almost unintelligible from their extreme brevity, others from their inordinate length and complexity. The unpractised hand of a foreigner constantly reveals itself in the choice and collocation of words and grammatical inflections. Predicates and subjects are huddled together without any regard to the harmonies of number and gender, so that even if false concords do not occur, we are continually annoyed by the suggestion of their presence.427 In some respects, Aristotle began not only as a disciple but as a champion of Platonism. On the popular side, that doctrine was distinguished by its essentially religious character, and by its opposition to the rhetorical training then in vogue. Now, Aristotle’s dialogues, of which only a few fragments have been preserved, contained elegant arguments in favour of a creative First Cause, and of human immortality; although in the writings which embody his maturer views, the first of these theories is considerably modified, and the second is absolutely rejected. Further, we are informed that Aristotle expressed himself in terms of rather violent contempt for Isocrates, the greatest living professor of declamation; and284 opened an opposition school of his own. This step has, curiously enough, been adduced as a further proof of disagreement with Plato, who, it is said, objected to all rhetorical teaching whatever. It seems to us that what he condemned was rather the method and aim of the then fashionable rhetoric; and a considerable portion of his Phaedrus is devoted to proving how much more effectually persuasion might be produced by the combined application of dialectics and psychology to oratory. Now, this is precisely what Aristotle afterwards attempted to work out in the treatise on Rhetoric still preserved among his writings; and we may safely assume that his earlier lectures at Athens were composed on the same principle.Still Plotinus gives no clear answer to the question whence comes this last and lowest Matter. He will not say that it is an emanation from the Soul, nor yet will he say that it is a formless residue of the element out of which she was shaped by a return to the Nous. In truth, he could not make up his mind as to whether the Matter of sensible objects was created at all. He oscillates between unwillingness to admit that absolute evil can come from good, and unwillingness to admit that the two are co-ordinate principles of existence. And, as usual, where ideas fail him, he helps himself out of the difficulty with metaphors. The Soul must advance, and in order to advance she must make a place for herself, and that there may be a place there must be body. Or, again, while remaining fixed in herself, she sends out a great light, and by the light she sees that there is darkness beyond its extreme verge, and moulds its formless substance into shape.489Nor was this all. Before philosophising, the Greeks did not think only in the order of time; they learned at a very early period to think also in the order of space, their favourite idea of a limit being made especially prominent here. Homer’s geographical notions, however erroneous, are, for his age, singularly well defined. Aeschylus has a wide knowledge of the earth’s surface, and exhibits it with perhaps unnecessary readiness. Pindar delights to follow his mythological heroes about on their travels. The same tendency found still freer scope when prose literature began. Hecataeus, one of the earliest prose-writers, was great both as a genealogist and as a geographer; and in this respect also Herodotus carried out on a great scale the enquiries most habitually pursued by his countrymen. Now, it will be remembered that we have had occasion to characterise early Ionian speculation as being, to a great extent, cosmography. The element from which it deduced all things was, in fact, that which was supposed to lie outside and embrace the rest. The geographical limit was conceived as a genealogical ancestor. Thus, the studies which men like Hecataeus carried on separately, were combined, or rather confused, in a single bold generalisation by Anaximenes and Heracleitus.187But when Neo-Platonism, as a literature and a system, had given way to the original authorities from which it was derived, its influence did not, on that account, cease to be felt. In particular, Plotinus gave currency to a certain interpretation of Plato’s teaching which has been universally352 accepted until a comparatively recent period, perhaps one may say until the time of Schleiermacher. We have seen how many elements of Platonism he left out of sight; and, thanks to his example, followed as it naturally was by Catholic theologians, the world was content to leave them out of sight as well. The charming disciple of Socrates whom we all know and love—the literary and dramatic artist, the brilliant parodist, the sceptical railleur from the shafts of whose irony even his own theories are not safe, the penetrating observer of human life, the far-seeing critic and reformer of social institutions—is a discovery of modern scholarship. Not as such did the master of idealism appear to Marsilio Ficino and Michael Angelo, to Lady Jane Grey and Cudworth and Henry More, to Berkeley and Hume and Thomas Taylor, to all the great English poets from Spenser to Shelley; not as such does he now appear to popular imagination; but as a mystical enthusiast, a dreamer of dreams which, whether they be realised or not in some far-off sphere, are, at any rate, out of relation to the world of sensuous experience and everyday life. So absolute, indeed, is the reaction from this view that we are in danger of rushing to the contrary extreme, of forgetting what elements of truth the Plotinian interpretation contained, and substituting for it an interpretation still more one-sided, still more inadequate to express the scope and splendour of Plato’s thoughts. Plato believed in truth and right and purity, believed in them still more profoundly than Plotinus; and his was a more effectual faith precisely because he did not share the sterile optimism of his Alexandrian disciple, but worked and watched for the realisation of what, as yet, had never been realised.523 37Such were the à priori elements which a historical synthesis had prepared to satisfy the want of a metaphysical Absolute. Let us now see what result would follow when the newly-recovered idea of space was subjected to a metaphysical analysis. Extension is both one and infinite. No particular area can be conceived apart from the whole which both contains and explains it. Again, extension is absolutely homogeneous; to whatever distance we may travel in imagination there will still be the same repetition of similar parts. But space, with the Cartesians, meant more than a simple juxtaposition of parts; having been made the essence of matter, it was invested with mechanical as well as with geometrical properties. The bodies into which it resolved itself were conceived as moving, and as communicating their movement to one another through an unbroken chain of causation in which each constituted a single link, determining and determined by the rest; so that, here also, each part was explained by reference to an infinite whole, reproducing its essence, while exempt from the condition of circumscribed existence. We can understand, then, that when the necessity of accounting for extension itself once became felt, the natural solution would be to conceive it as holding the same relation to some greater whole which its own subdivisions held to their sum total; in other words it should be at once a part, an emanation, and an image of the ultimate reality. This is, in fact, very nearly the relation which Matter holds to the One in the Neo-Platonic system. And we know that with Plotinus Matter is almost the same as infinite Extension.The celebrated Cartesian paradox, that animals are unconscious automata, is another consequence of the same principle. In Aristotle’s philosophy, the doctrine of potentiality developing itself into act through a series of ascending manifestations, supplied a link connecting the highest rational392 with the lowest vegetal life. The identification of Form with pure thought put an end to the conception of any such intermediate gradations. Brutes must either have a mind like ours or none at all. The former alternative was not even taken into consideration; probably, among other reasons, because it was not easily reconcilable with Christianity; so that nothing remained but to deny sensibility where thought was believed not to exist. pc蛋蛋倍率 84We have seen how the idea of Nature, first evolved by physical philosophy, was taken by some, at least, among the Sophists as a basis for their ethical teaching; then how an interpretation utterly opposed to theirs was put on it by practical men, and how this second interpretation was so generalised by the younger rhetoricians as to involve the denial of all morality whatever. Meanwhile, another equally important conception, destined to come into speedy and prolonged antagonism with the idea of Nature, and like it to exercise a powerful influence on ethical reflection, had almost contemporaneously been elaborated out of the materials which earlier speculation supplied. From Parmenides and Heracleitus down, every philosopher who had propounded a theory of the world, had also more or less peremptorily insisted on the fact that his theory differed widely from common belief. Those who held that change is86 impossible, and those who taught that everything is incessantly changing; those who asserted the indestructibility of matter, and those who denied its continuity; those who took away objective reality from every quality except extension and resistance, and those who affirmed that the smallest molecules partook more or less of every attribute that is revealed to sense—all these, however much they might disagree among themselves, agreed in declaring that the received opinions of mankind were an utter delusion. Thus, a sharp distinction came to be drawn between the misleading sense-impressions and the objective reality to which thought alone could penetrate. It was by combining these two elements, sensation and thought, that the idea of mind was originally constituted. And mind when so understood could not well be accounted for by any of the materialistic hypotheses at first proposed. The senses must differ profoundly from that of which they give such an unfaithful report; while reason, which Anaxagoras had so carefully differentiated from every other form of existence, carried back its distinction to the subjective sphere, and became clothed with a new spirituality when reintegrated in the consciousness of man.It appears, then, that the popular identification of an Epicurean with a sensualist has something to say in its favour. Nevertheless, we have no reason to think that Epicurus was anything but perfectly sincere when he repudiated the charge of being a mere sensualist.132 But the impulse which lifted him above sensualism was not derived from his own original philosophy. It was due to the inspiration of Plato; and nothing testifies more to Plato’s moral greatness than that the64 doctrine most opposed to his own idealism should have been raised from the dust by the example of its flight. We proceed to show how the peculiar form assumed by Epicureanism was determined by the pressure brought to bear on its original germ two generations before.Marcus Aurelius, a constant student of Lucretius, seems to have had occasional misgivings with respect to the certainty of his own creed; but they never extended to his practical beliefs. He was determined that, whatever might be the origin of this world, his relation to it should be still the same. ‘Though things be purposeless, act not thou without a purpose.’ ‘If the universe is an ungoverned chaos, be content that in that wild torrent thou hast a governing reason within thyself.’104 112Aerumnarum homines aliqua ratione valerentThe theological interest and the scholastic interest, though not necessarily associated, have, as already observed, a point of contact in their common exaltation of authority. Thus, for our present purpose they may be classified under the more general notion of traditionalism. By this term I understand a disposition to accept as true opinions received either by the mass of mankind or by the best accredited teachers, and to throw these opinions into a form adapted for easy transmission to others. In this sense, traditionalism is Janus-faced, looking on one side to the past and on the other to the future. Now philosophy could only gain general acceptance by becoming a tradition. For a long time the Greek thinkers busied themselves almost exclusively with the discovery of truth, remaining comparatively indifferent to its diffusion. As Plato says, they went their own way without caring whether they took us along with them or not.3 And it was at this period that the most valuable speculative ideas were first originated. At last a strong desire arose among the higher classes to profit by the results of the new learning, and a class of men came into existence whose profession was to gratify this desire. But the Sophists, as they were called,xiii soon found that lessons in the art of life were more highly appreciated and more liberally rewarded than lessons in the constitution of Nature. Accordingly, with the facile ingenuity of Greeks, they set to work proving, first that Nature could not be known, and finally that there was no such thing as Nature at all. The real philosophers were driven to secure their position by a change of front. They became teachers themselves, disguising their lessons, however, under the form of a search after truth undertaken conjointly with their friends, who, of course, were not expected to pay for the privilege of giving their assistance, and giving it for so admirable a purpose. In this co-operative system, the person who led the conversation was particularly careful to show that his conclusions followed directly from the admissions of his interlocutors, being, so to speak, latent in their minds, and only needing a little obstetric assistance on his part to bring them into the light of day. And the better to rivet their attention, he chose for the subject of discussion questions of human interest, or else, when the conversation turned to physical phenomena, he led the way towards a teleological or aesthetical interpretation of their meaning.Moving about in worlds not realised; CHAPTER IV. PLATO: HIS TEACHERS AND HIS TIMES.It was from the initiative of Socrates that logic received this direction. By insisting on the supreme importance of definition, he drew away attention from the propositions which add to our knowledge, and concentrated it on those which only fix with precision the meaning of words. Yet, in so doing he was influenced quite as much by the spirit of the older physical philosophy, which he denounced, as by the necessities of the new humanistic culture, which he helped to introduce. His definitions were, in truth, the reproduction, on a very minute scale, of those attempts to formulate the whole universe which busied the earliest Ionian speculation. Following the natural tendency of Greek thought, and the powerful attraction of cosmic philosophy, an effort was speedily made to generalise and connect these partial defini378tions until they grew into a system of universal classification. It was when, under the influence of a new analysis, this system threatened to fall to pieces, that a rudimentary doctrine of judgment first made its appearance. The structure of a grammatical sentence was used to explain how objective ideas could, in a manner, overlap and adhere to one another. Hence propositions, which, as the expression of general truths, were destined to become the beginning and end of thought, remained at first strictly subordinated to the individual concepts that they linked and reconciled. From her our measures, weights, and numbers come,Whether Plotinus was or was not the disciple of Ammonius, it is beyond all doubt that he considered himself the disciple of Plato. There are more than a hundred references to that philosopher in the Enneads, against less than thirty references to all the other ancient thinkers put together;428 and, what is more remarkable, in only about half of them is he mentioned by name. The reader is expected to know that ‘he’ always means Plato. And it is an article of faith with Plotinus that his master cannot be mistaken; when the words of oracular wisdom seem to contradict one another, there must be some way of harmonising them. When they contradict what he teaches himself, the difficulty must be removed by skilful interpretation; or, better still, it must be discreetly ignored.429 On the other hand, when a principle is palpably borrowed from Aristotle, not only is its derivation unacknowledged, but we are given to understand by implication that it belongs to the system which Aristotle was at most pains to controvert.430CHAPTER V. THE SPIRITUALISM OF PLOTINUS.V. pc蛋蛋倍率 Besides the revival of Platonism, three causes had conspired to overthrow the supremacy of Aristotle. The literary Renaissance with its adoration for beauty of form was alienated by the barbarous dialect of Scholasticism; the mystical theology of Luther saw in it an ally both of ecclesiastical authority and of human reason; and the new spirit of passionate revolt against all tradition attacked the accepted philosophy in common with every other branch of the official university curriculum. Before long, however, a reaction set in. The innovators discredited themselves by an extravagance, an ignorance, a credulity, and an intolerance worse than anything in the teaching which they decried. No sooner was the Reformation organised as a positive doctrine than it fell back for support on the only model of systematic thinking at that time to be found. The Humanists were conciliated by having the original text of Aristotle placed before them; and they readily believed, what was not true, that it contained a wisdom which had eluded mediaeval research. But the great scientific movement of the sixteenth century contributed, more than any other impulse, to bring about an Aristotelian reaction. After winning immortal triumphs in every branch of art and literature, the Italian intellect threw itself with equal vigour into the investigation of physical phenomena. Here Plato could give little help, whereas Aristotle supplied a methodised description of the whole field to be explored, and contributions of extraordinary value towards the under372standing of some, at least, among its infinite details. And we may measure the renewed popularity of his system not only by the fact that Cesalpino, the greatest naturalist of the age, professed himself its adherent, but also by the bitterness of the criticisms directed against it, and the involuntary homage offered by rival systems which were little more than meagre excerpts from the Peripatetic ontology and logic.Returning to Socrates, we must further note that his identification of virtue with science, though it does not ex135press the whole truth, expresses a considerable part of it, especially as to him conduct was a much more complex problem than it is to some modern teachers. Only those who believe in the existence of intuitive and infallible moral perceptions can consistently maintain that nothing is easier than to know our duty, and nothing harder than to do it. Even then, the intuitions must extend beyond general principles, and also inform us how and where to apply them. That no such inward illumination exists is sufficiently shown by experience; so much so that the mischief done by foolish people with good intentions has become proverbial. Modern casuists have, indeed, drawn a distinction between the intention and the act, making us responsible for the purity of the former, not for the consequences of the latter. Though based on the Socratic division between mind and body, this distinction would not have commended itself to Socrates. His object was not to save souls from sin, but to save individuals, families, and states from the ruin which ignorance of fact entails.Let it be remembered that the gods of whom Plato is speaking are the sun, moon, and stars; that the atheists whom he denounces only taught what we have long known to be true, which is that those luminaries are no more divine, no more animated, no more capable of accepting our sacrifices or responding to our cries than is the earth on which we tread; and that he attempts to prove the contrary by arguments which, even if they were not inconsistent with all that we know about mechanics, would still be utterly inadequate to the purpose for which they are employed.318 We must mention as an additional point of contrast between the Stoics and the subsequent schools which they most resembled, that while these look on the soul as inseparable from the body, and sharing its fortunes from first to last, although perfectly distinct from it in idea, they emphasised the antithesis between the two just as strongly as Plato, giving the soul an absolutely infinite power of self-assertion during our mortal life, and allowing it a continued, though not an immortal, existence after death.31Eternal Law all-ruling.There seem to be three principal points aimed at in the very ingenious theory which we have endeavoured to summarise as adequately as space would permit. Zeller apparently wishes to bring Socrates into line with the great tradition of early Greek thought, to distinguish him markedly from the Sophists, and to trace back to his initiative the intellectual method of Plato and Aristotle. We cannot admit that the threefold attempt has succeeded. It seems to us that a picture into which so much Platonic colouring has been thrown would for that reason alone, and without any further objection, be open to very grave suspicion. But even accepting the historical accuracy of everything that Plato has119 said, or of as much as may be required, our critic’s inferences are not justified by his authorities. Neither the Xenophontic nor the Platonic Socrates seeks knowledge for its own sake, nor does either of them offer a satisfactory definition of knowledge, or, indeed, any definition at all. Aristotle was the first to explain what science meant, and he did so, not by developing the Socratic notion, but by incorporating it with the other methods independently struck out by physical philosophy. What would science be without the study of causation? and was not this ostentatiously neglected by the founder of conceptualism? Again, Plato, in the Theaetêtus, makes his Socrates criticise various theories of knowledge, but does not even hint that the critic had himself a better theory than any of them in reserve. The author of the Phaedo and the Republic was less interested in reforming the methods of scientific investigation than in directing research towards that which he believed to be alone worth knowing, the eternal ideas which underlie phenomena. The historical Socrates had no suspicion of transcendental realities; but he thought that a knowledge of physics was unattainable, and would be worthless if attained. By knowledge he meant art rather than science, and his method of defining was intended not for the latter but for the former. Those, he said, who can clearly express what they want to do are best secured against failure, and best able to communicate their skill to others. He made out that the various virtues were different kinds of knowledge, not from any extraordinary opinion of its preciousness, but because he thought that knowledge was the variable element in volition and that everything else was constant. Zeller dwells strongly on the Socratic identification of cognition with conduct; but how could anyone who fell at the first step into such a confusion of ideas be fitted either to explain what science meant or to come forward as the reformer of its methods? Nor is it correct to say that Socrates approached an object from every point of view, and took note of all its characteristic qualities. On the contrary, one would120 be inclined to charge him with the opposite tendency, with fixing his gaze too exclusively on some one quality, that to him, as a teacher, was the most interesting. His identification of virtue with knowledge is an excellent instance of this habit. So also is his identification of beauty with serviceableness, and his general disposition to judge of everything by a rather narrow standard of utility. On the other hand, Greek physical speculation would have gained nothing by a minute attention to definitions, and most probably would have been mischievously hampered by it. Aristotle, at any rate, prefers the method of Democritus to the method of Plato; and Aristotle himself is much nearer the truth when he follows on the Ionian or Sicilian track than when he attempts to define what in the then existing state of knowledge could not be satisfactorily defined. To talk about the various elements—earth, air, fire, and water—as things with which everybody was already familiar, may have been a crude unscientific procedure; to analyse them into different combinations of the hot and the cold, the light and the heavy, the dry and the moist, was not only erroneous but fatally misleading; it was arresting enquiry, and doing precisely what the Sophists had been accused of doing, that is, substituting the conceit for the reality of wisdom. It was, no doubt, necessary that mathematical terms should be defined; but where are we told that geometricians had to learn this truth from Socrates? The sciences of quantity, which could hardly have advanced a step without the help of exact conceptions, were successfully cultivated before he was born, and his influence was used to discourage rather than to promote their accurate study. With regard to the comprehensive all-sided examination of objects on which Zeller lays so much stress, and which he seems to regard as something peculiar to the conceptual method, it had unquestionably been neglected by Parmenides and Heracleitus; but had not the deficiency been already made good by their immediate successors? What else is the121 philosophy of Empedocles, the Atomists, and Anaxagoras, but an attempt—we must add, a by no means unsuccessful attempt—to recombine the opposing aspects of Nature which had been too exclusively insisted on at Ephesus and Elea? Again, to say that the Sophists had destroyed physical speculation by setting these partial aspects of truth against one another is, in our opinion, equally erroneous. First of all, Zeller here falls into the old mistake, long ago corrected by Grote, of treating the class in question as if they all held similar views. We have shown in the preceding chapter, if indeed it required to be shown, that the Sophists were divided into two principal schools, of which one was devoted to the cultivation of physics. Protagoras and Gorgias were the only sceptics; and it was not by setting one theory against another, but by working out a single theory to its last consequences, that their scepticism was reached; with no more effect, be it observed, than was exercised by Pyrrho on the science of his day. For the two great thinkers, with the aid of whose conclusions it was attempted to discredit objective reality, were already left far behind at the close of the fifth century; and neither their reasonings nor reasonings based on theirs, could exercise much influence on a generation which had Anaxagoras on Nature and the encyclopaedia of Democritus in its hands. There was, however, one critic who really did what the Sophists are charged with doing; who derided and denounced physical science on the ground that its professors were hopelessly at issue with one another; and this critic was no other than Socrates himself. He maintained, on purely popular and superficial grounds, the same sceptical attitude to which Protagoras gave at least the semblance of a psychological justification. And he wished that attention should be concentrated on the very subjects which Protagoras undertook to teach—namely, ethics, politics, and dialectics. Once more, to say that Socrates was conscious of not coming up to his own122 standard of true knowledge is inconsistent with Xenophon’s account, where he is represented as quite ready to answer every question put to him, and to offer a definition of everything that he considered worth defining. His scepticism, if it ever existed, was as artificial and short-lived as the scepticism of Descartes.Moving about in worlds not realised;