测古 Such a system was likely to result, and before long actually did result, in the realisation of the Logos on earth, in the creation of an inspired and infallible Church, mediating between God and man; while it gave increased authority and expansive power to another superstition which already existed in Philo’s time, and of which his Logos doctrine was perhaps only the metaphysical sublimation,—the superstition that the divine Word has been given to mankind under the form of an infallible book. From another point of view, we may discern a certain connexion between the idea that God would be defiled by any immediate contact with the material world, and the Sabbatarianism which was so rife among Gentiles as well as among Jews at that period. For such a theory of the divine character readily associates itself with the notion that holiness excludes not only material industry but any interest the scope of which is limited to our present life. In criticising the Stoic system as a whole, the New Academy and the later Sceptics had incidentally dwelt on sundry absurdities which followed from the materialistic interpretation of knowledge; and Plotinus evidently derived some of his most forcible objections from their writings; but no previous philosopher that we know of had set forth the whole case for spiritualism and against materialism with such telling effect. And what is, perhaps, more important than any originality in detail, is the profound insight shown in choosing this whole question of spiritualism versus materialism for the ground whereon the combined forces of Plato and Aristotle were to fight their first battle against the naturalistic system which had triumphed over them five centuries before. It was on dialectical and ethical grounds that the controversy between Porch and Academy, on ethical and religious grounds that the controversy between Epicureanism and all other schools of philosophy, had hitherto been conducted. Cicero and Plutarch never allude to their opponents as materialists. Only once, in his polemic against Col?tes, does Plutarch observe that neither a soul nor anything else could be made out of atoms, but this is because they are discrete, not because they are extended.446 For the rest, his method is to trip up his opponents by pointing out their inconsistencies, rather than to cut the ground from under their feet by proving that their theory of the universe is wrong.
The result of recent enquiries into the state of civilisation under the Roman Empire during the first two centuries of its existence, has been to suggest conclusions in many respects at variance with those formerly entertained. Instead of the intellectual stagnation, the moral turpitude, and the religious indifference which were once supposed to have been the most marked characteristics of that period, modern scholars discern symptoms of active and fruitful thought, of purity and disinterestedness both in public and private life, but above all of a religious feeling which erred far more on the side of excess than on the side of defect. This change of view may be traced to various causes. A new class of investigators have made ancient history an object of special study. Fresh evidence has been brought to light, and a more discriminating as well as a more extended use has been made of the sources already available. And, perhaps, even greater importance is attributable to the principle now so generally accepted, that historical phenomena, like all other phenomena, are essentially continuous in their movement. The old theories assumed that the substitution of Christian for what is called Pagan196 civilisation was accompanied by a sudden break in men’s habits and ideas. But the whole spirit of modern philosophy has prepared us to believe that such a break is not likely to have ever occurred. And a new survey of the period in question is leading us to the conviction that, as a matter of fact, it did not occur. 佛者 Scepticism, as a philosophical principle, is alien from early Greek thought; but it is pervaded by a negative tendency exhibited in four different directions, all converging towards the later attitude of suspensive doubt. There are sharp criticisms on the popular mythology; there are protests against the ascription of reality to sensible appearances; there are contemptuous references on the part of some philosophers to the opinions held by others; and there are occasional lamentations over the difficulty of getting at any truth at all. The importance, however, of these last utterances has been considerably exaggerated both in ancient and modern times. For, in some instances, they are attributable solely to the distrust of sense-perception, and in others they seem to express nothing more than a passing mood against which we must set the dogmatic conclusions elsewhere enunciated with perfect confidence by the same thinkers.219 At the same time, we have to note, as an illustration of the standing connexion between theological belief and that kind of scepticism which is shown by distrust in man’s power of discovering the truth for himself, that the strongest expressions of such a distrust are to be found in the two most religious of the pre-Socratic thinkers, Xenophanes and Empedocles.
笑道 With so powerful a protector, Alexander might safely bid his enemies defiance. The governor of Bithynia had to entreat Lucian, whose life had been threatened by the impostor, to keep out of harm’s way. ‘Should anything happen to you,’ he said, ‘I could not afford to offend Rutilianus by bringing his father-in-law to justice.’ Even the best and wisest man then living yielded to the prevalent delusion. Marcus Aurelius, who was at that time fighting with the Marcomanni, was induced to act on an oracle from Abonuteichus, promising that if two lions were thrown into the Danube a great victory would be the result. The animals made their way safely to the opposite bank; but were beaten to death with clubs by the barbarians, who mistook them for some outlandish kind of wolf or dog; and the imperial army was shortly afterwards defeated with a loss of 20,000 men.346 Alexander helped himself out of the difficulty with the stale excuse that he had only foretold a victory, without saying which side should win. He was not more successful in determining the duration of his own life, which came to an end before he had completed seventy years, instead of lasting, as he had prophesied, for a hundred and fifty. This miscalculation, however, seems not to have impaired his reputation, for even after his death it was believed that a statue of him in the market-place of Parium in Mysia had the power of giving oracles.347 It will be remembered that in an earlier section of this chapter we accompanied Plato to a period when he had provisionally adopted a theory in which the Protagorean contention that virtue can be taught was confirmed and explained by the Socratic contention that virtue is knowledge; while this knowledge again was interpreted in the sense of a hedonistic calculus, a prevision and comparison of the pleasures and pains consequent on our actions. We have now to trace the lines of thought by which he was guided to a different conception of ethical science.
The social studies through which we have accompanied Plato seem to have reacted on his more abstract speculations, and to have largely modified the extreme opposition in which these had formerly stood to current notions, whether of a popular or a philosophical character. The change first becomes perceptible in his theory of Ideas. This is a subject on which, for the sake of greater clearness, we have hitherto refrained from entering; and that we should have succeeded in avoiding it so long would seem to prove that the doctrine in question forms a much less important part of his philosophy than is commonly imagined. Perhaps, as some think, it was not an original invention of his own, but was borrowed from the Megarian school; and the mythical connexion in which it frequently figures makes us doubtful how far he ever thoroughly accepted it. The theory is, that to every abstract name or conception of the mind there corresponds an objective entity possessing a separate existence quite distinct from that of the scattered particulars by which it is exemplified to our senses or to our imagination. Just as the Heracleitean flux represented the confusion of which Socrates convicted his interlocutors, so also did these Ideas represent the definitions by which he sought to bring method and certainty into their opinions. It may be that, as Grote suggests, Plato adopted this hypothesis in order to escape from the difficulty of defining common notions in a satisfactory manner. It is certain that his earliest Dialogues seem to place true definitions beyond the reach of human knowledge. And at the beginning of Plato’s constructive period we find the recognition of abstract conceptions, whether mathematical or moral, traced to the remembrance of an ante-natal state, where the soul held direct converse with the transcendent realities to which those conceptions correspond. Justice, temperance, beauty, and goodness, are especially mentioned as examples263 of Ideas revealed in this manner. Subsequent investigations must, however, have led Plato to believe that the highest truths are to be found by analysing not the loose contents but the fixed forms of consciousness; and that, if each virtue expressed a particular relation between the various parts of the soul, no external experience was needed to make her acquainted with its meaning; still less could conceptions arising out of her connexion with the material world be explained by reference to a sphere of purely spiritual existence. At the same time, innate ideas would no longer be required to prove her incorporeality, when the authority of reason over sense furnished so much more satisfactory a ground for believing the two to be of different origin. To all who have studied the evolution of modern thought, the substitution of Kantian forms for Cartesian ideas will at once elucidate and confirm our hypothesis of a similar reformation in Plato’s metaphysics. 下并 A splendid tribute has been paid to the fame of Empedocles by Lucretius, the greatest didactic poet of all time, and by a great didactic poet of our own time, Mr. Matthew Arnold. But the still more rapturous panegyric pronounced by the Roman enthusiast on Epicurus makes his testimony a little suspicious, and the lofty chant of our own contemporary must be taken rather as an expression of his own youthful opinions respecting man’s place in Nature, than as a faithful exposition of the Sicilian thinker’s creed. Many another name from the history of philosophy might with better reason have been prefixed to that confession of resigned and scornful scepticism entitled Empedocles on Etna. The real doctrines of an essentially religious teacher would hardly have been so cordially endorsed by Mr. Swinburne. But perhaps no other character could have excited the deep sympathy felt by one poetic genius for another, when with both of them thought is habitually steeped in emotion. Empedocles was the last Greek of any note who threw his philosophy into a metrical form. Neither Xenophanes nor Parmenides had done this with so much success. No less a critic than Aristotle extols the Homeric splendour of his verses, and Lucretius, in this respect an authority, speaks of them as almost divine. But, judging from the fragments still extant, their speculative content exhibits a distinct decline from the height reached by his immediate predecessors. Empedocles betrays a distrust in man’s power of discovering truth, almost, although not quite, unknown to them. Too much certainty would be28 impious. He calls on the ‘much-wooed white-armed virgin muse’ to— Neo-Platonism may itself furnish us with no inapt image of the age in which it arose. Like the unformed Matter about which we have been hearing so much, the consciousness of that period was in itself dark, indeterminate and unsteady, uncreative, unspontaneous, unoriginating, but with a receptive capacity which enabled it to seize, reflect, and transmit the power of living Reason, the splendour of eternal thought. ”
The cause which first arrested and finally destroyed the free movement of Greek thought was not any intrinsic limitation or corruption of the Greek genius, but the ever-increasing preponderance of two interests, both tending, although in different ways and different degrees, to strengthen the principle of authority and to enfeeble the principle of reason. One was the theological interest, the other was the scholastic interest. The former was the more conspicuous and the more mischievous of the two. From the persecution of Anaxagoras to the prohibition of philosophical teaching by Justinian, we may trace the rise and spread of a reaction towards superstition, sometimes advancing and sometimes receding, but, on the whole, gaining ground from age to age, until from the noontide splendour of Pericles we pass to that long night which stretches in almost impenetrable darkness down to the red and stormy daybreak of the Crusades. And it was a reaction which extended through all classes, including the philosophers themselves. It seems to me that where the Athenian school, from Socrates on, fall short of their predecessors, as in some points they unquestionably do, their inferiority is largely due to this cause. Its influence is very perceptible in weakening the speculative energies of thosexii who stand at the greatest distance from the popular beliefs. It was because dislike for theology occupied so large a place in the thoughts of Epicurus and his disciples, that they valued science only as a refutation of its teaching, instead of regarding it simply as an obstacle to be removed from the path of enquiry. More than this; they became infected with the spirit of that against which they fought, and their absolute indifference to truth was the shadow which it cast on their minds. 在拖 VII. 341”