After its temporary adoption by the Academy, Pythagoreanism had ceased to exist as an independent system, but continued to lead a sort of underground life in connexion with the Orphic and Dionysiac mysteries. When or where it reappeared under a philosophical form cannot be certainly determined. Zeller fixes on the beginning of the first century B.C. as the most probable date, and on Alexandria as the most probable scene of its renewed speculative activity.385 Some fifty years later, we find Pythagorean teachers in Rome, and traces of their influence are plainly discernible in the Augustan literature. Under its earliest form, the new system was an attempt to combine mathematical mysticism with principles borrowed from the Stoic and other philosophies; or perhaps it was simply a return to the poetical syncretism of Empedocles. Although composed of fire and air, the soul is declared to be immortal; and lessons of holiness are accompanied by an elaborate code of rules for ceremonial purification. The elder Sextius, from whom Seneca derived much of his ethical enthusiasm, probably belonged to this school. He taught a morality apparently identical with that of Stoicism in every point except the inculcation of abstinence from animal food.386 To this might be added the practice of nightly self-confession—an examination from the moral point of view of how one’s whole day has been spent,—were we certain that the Stoics did not originate it for themselves.387Parmenides, of Elea, flourished towards the beginning of the fifth century B.C. We know very little about his personal history. According to Plato, he visited Athens late in life, and there made the acquaintance of Socrates, at that time a very young man. But an unsupported statement of Plato’s must always be received with extreme caution; and this particular story is probably not less fictitious than the dialogue which it serves to introduce. Parmenides embodied his theory of the world in a poem, the most important passages of which have been preserved. They show that, while continuing the physical studies of his predecessors, he proceeded on an entirely different method. Their object was to deduce every variety of natural phenomena from a fundamental unity of substance. He declared that all variety and change were a delusion, and that nothing existed but one indivisible, unalterable, absolute reality; just as Descartes’ antithesis of thought and extension disappeared in the infinite substance of Spinoza, or as the Kantian dualism of object and subject was eliminated in Hegel’s absolute idealism. Again, Parmenides does not dogmatise to the same extent as his predecessors; he attempts to demonstrate his theory by the inevitable necessities of being and thought. Existence, he tells us over and over again, is, and non-existence is not, cannot even be imagined or thought of as existing, for thought is the same as being. This is not an anticipation of Hegel’s identification of being with thought; it only amounts to the very innocent proposition that a thought is something and about something—enters, therefore, into the general undiscriminated mass of being. He next proceeds to prove that what is can neither come into being nor pass out of it again. It cannot come out of the non-existent, for that is inconceivable; nor out of the existent, for nothing exists but being itself; and the same argument proves that it cannot cease to exist. Here we find the indestructibility of matter, a truth which Anaximander18 had not yet grasped, virtually affirmed for the first time in history. We find also that our philosopher is carried away by the enthusiasm of a new discovery, and covers more ground than he can defend in maintaining the permanence of all existence whatever. The reason is that to him, as to every other thinker of the pre-Socratic period, all existence was material, or, rather, all reality was confounded under one vague conception, of which visible resisting extension supplied the most familiar type. To proceed: Being cannot be divided from being, nor is it capable of condensation or expansion (as the Ionians had taught); there is nothing by which it can be separated or held apart; nor is it ever more or less existent, but all is full of being. Parmenides goes on in his grand style:— 大能 And now, looking back at the whole course of early Greek thought, presenting as it does a gradual development and an45 organic unity which prove it to be truly a native growth, a spontaneous product of the Greek mind, let us take one step further and enquire whether before the birth of pure speculation, or parallel with but apart from its rudimentary efforts, there were not certain tendencies displayed in the other great departments of intellectual activity, fixed forms as it were in which the Hellenic genius was compelled to work, which reproduce themselves in philosophy and determine its distinguishing characteristics. Although the materials for a complete Greek ethology are no longer extant, it can be shown that such tendencies did actually exist. Yet Realism concealed a danger to orthodoxy which was not long in making itself felt. Just as the substantiality of individuals disappeared in that of their containing species, so also did every subordinate species tend to vanish in the summum genus of absolute Being. Now such a conclusion was nothing less than full-blown pantheism; and pantheism was, in fact, the system of the first great Schoolman, John Scotus Erigena; while other Realists were only prevented from reaching the same goal by the restraint either of Christian faith or of ecclesiastical authority. But if they failed to draw the logical consequences of their premises, it was drawn for them by others; and Abélard did not fail to twit his opponents with the formidable heresy implied in their realistic prin367ciples.534 As yet, however, the weight of authority inclined towards Plato’s side; and the persecution suffered by Abélard himself, as compared with the very mild treatment accorded to his contemporary, Gilbert de la Porrée, when each was arraigned on a charge of heresy, shows that while the Nominalism of the one was an aggravation, the Realism of the other was an extenuation of his offence.535 Stated briefly, Zeller’s theory of ancient thought is that the Greeks originally lived in harmony with Nature; that the bond was broken by philosophy and particularly by the philosophy of Socrates; that the discord imperfectly overcome by Plato and Aristotle revealed itself once more in the unreconciled, self-concentrated subjectivity of the later schools; that this hopeless estrangement, after reaching its climax in the mysticism of the Neo-Platonists, led to the complete collapse of independent speculation; and that the creation of a new consciousness by the advent of Christianity and of the Germanic races was necessary in order to the successful resumption of scientific enquiry. Zeller was formerly a Hegelian, and it seems to me that he still retains far too much of the Hegelian formalism in his historical constructions. The well-worked antithesis between object and subject, even after being revised in a positivist sense, is totally inadequate to the burden laid on it by this theory; and if we want really to understand the causes which first hampered, then arrested, and finally paralysed Greek philosophy, we must seek for them in a more concrete order of considerations. Zeller, with perfect justice, attributes the failure of Plato and Aristotle to their defective observation of Nature and their habit of regarding the logical combinations of ideas derived from the common use of words as an adequate representative of the relations obtaining among things in themselves. But it seems an extremely strained and artificial explanation to say that their shortcomings in this respect were due to a confusion of the objective and the subjective, consequent on the imperfect separation of the Greek mind from Nature—a confusion, it isx added, which only the advent of a new religion and a new race could overcome.1 It is unfair to make Hellenism as a whole responsible for fallacies which might easily be paralleled in the works of modern metaphysicians; and the unfairness will become still more evident when we remember that, after enjoying the benefit of Christianity and Germanism for a thousand years, the modern world had still to take its first lessons in patience of observation, in accuracy of reasoning, and in sobriety of expression from such men as Thucydides and Hippocrates, Polybius, Archimêdes and Hipparchus. Even had the Greeks as a nation been less keen to distinguish between illusion and reality than their successors up to the sixteenth century—a supposition notoriously the reverse of true—it would still have to be explained why Plato and Aristotle, with their prodigious intellects, went much further astray than their predecessors in the study of Nature. And this Zeller’s method does not explain at all.
But if even so little as this remains unproved, what are we to think of the astounding assertion, that ‘Aristotle’s theory of a creative reason, fragmentary as that theory is left, is the answer to all materialistic theories of the universe. To Aristotle, as to a subtle Scottish preacher,264 “the real pre-supposition of all knowledge, or the thought which is the prius of all things, is not the individual’s consciousness of himself as individual, but a thought or self-consciousness which is beyond all individual selves, which is the unity of all individual selves, and their objects, of all thinkers and all objects of thought.”’265 How can materialism or anything else be possibly refuted by a theory which is so obscurely set forth that no two interpreters are able to agree in their explanation of it? And even were it stated with perfect clearness and fulness, how can any hypothesis be refuted by a mere dogmatic declaration of Aristotle? Are we back in the Middle Ages that his ipse dixit is to decide questions now raised with far ampler means of discussion than he could possess? As to Principal Caird’s metaphysics, we have no wish to dispute their theoretic accuracy, and can only admire the liberality of a Church in which propositions so utterly destructive of traditional orthodoxy are allowed to be preached. But one thing we are certain of, and that is, that whether or not they are consistent with Christian theism, they are utterly inconsistent with Aristotelian principles. Which is the ‘thought or self-consciousness’ referred to, a possibility or an actuality? If the former, it is not a prius, nor is it the creative reason. If the latter, it cannot transcend all or any individual selves, for, with Aristotle, individuals are the sole reality, and the supreme being of his system is pre-eminently individual; neither can it unify them, for, according to Aristotle, two things which are two in actuality cannot be one in actuality.266 硬圣 IV. With regard to the Nicomachean Ethics, I think Teichmüller has proved this much, that it was written before Aristotle had read the Laws or knew of its existence. But this does not prove that he wrote it during Plato’s lifetime, since the Laws was not published until after Plato’s death, possibly not until several years after. And, published or not, Aristotle may very well have remained ignorant of its existence until his return to Athens, which, according to the tradition, took place about 336 B.C. Teichmüller does, indeed, suppose that Aristotle spent some time in Athens between his flight from Mitylênê and his engagement as tutor to Alexander (Literarische Fehden, p. 261). But this theory, besides its purely conjectural character, would still allow the possibility of Aristotle’s having remained unacquainted with the Laws up to the age of forty. And it is obvious that the passages which Teichmüller interprets as replies to Aristotle’s criticisms admit of more than one alternative explanation. They may have originated in doubts and difficulties which spontaneously suggested themselves to Plato in the course of his independent reflections; or, granting that there is a polemic reference, it may have been provoked by some other critic, or by the spoken criticisms of Aristotle himself. For the supposition that Aristotle wrote his Ethics at the early age of thirty-two or thirty-three seems to me so improbable that we should not accept it except under pressure of the strongest evidence. That a work of such matured thought and observation should have been produced by so young a man is, so far as I know, a phenomenon unparalleled in thexxii history of literature. And to this we must add the further circumstance that the Greek mind was not particularly remarkable for precocity in any field except war and statesmanship. We do, indeed, find instances of comparatively juvenile authorship, but none, I believe, of a Greek writer, whether poet, historian, or philosopher, who reached the full maturity of his powers before a considerably advanced period of middle age. That the Ethics is very imperfect I fully admit, and have expressly maintained against its numerous admirers in the course of this work. But, although imperfect, it is not crude. It contains as good a discussion of the subject undertaken as Aristotle was ever capable of giving, and its limitations are not those of an unripe intellect, but of an intellect at all times comparatively unsuited for the treatment of practical problems, and narrowed still further by the requirements of an elaborate speculative system. Now to work out this system must have demanded considerably more labour and independent thought than one can suppose even an Aristotle to have found time for before thirty-three; while the experience of life shown in the Ethics is such as study, so far from supplying, would, on the contrary, have delayed. Moreover, the Rhetoric, which was confessedly written before the Ethics, exhibits the same qualities in about an equal degree, and therefore, on Teichmüller’s theory, testifies to a still more extraordinary precocity. And there is the further circumstance that while Aristotle is known to have begun his public career as a teacher of rhetoric, his earliest productions seem to have been of a rather diffuse and declamatory character, quite opposed to the severe concision which marks the style both of the Rhetoric and of the Ethics. In addition to these general considerations, one may mention that in axxiii well-known passage of the Ethics, referring to a question of logical method (I., iv.), Plato is spoken of in the imperfect tense, which would seem to imply that he was no longer living when it was written. Speaking from memory, I should even be inclined to doubt whether the mention of a living writer by name at all is consistent with Aristotle’s standard of literary etiquette. 73
性碧 The mere fact that Aristotle himself had pronounced in favour of the geocentric system did not count for much. The misfortune was that he had constructed an entire physical philosophy in harmony with it; that he had linked this to his metaphysics; and that the sensible experience on whose authority he laid so much stress, seemed to testify in its behalf. The consequence was that those thinkers who, without being professed Aristotelian partisans, still remained profoundly affected by the Peripatetic spirit, could not see their way to accepting a theory with which all the hopes of intellectual progress were bound up. These considerations will enable us to understand the attitude of Bacon towards the new astronomy; while, conversely, his position in this respect will serve to confirm the view of his character set forth in382 the preceding pages. The theory, shared by him with Aristotle, that Nature is throughout composed of Form and Matter reached its climax in the supposition that the great elementary bodies are massed together in a series of concentric spheres disposed according to some principle of graduation, symmetry, or contrast; and this seemed incompatible with any but a geocentric arrangement. It is true that Bacon quarrelled with the particular system maintained by Aristotle, and, under the guidance of Telesio, fell back on a much cruder form of cosmography; but his mind still remained dominated by the fancied necessity of conceiving the universe under the form of a stratified sphere; and those who persist in looking on him as the apostle of experience will be surprised to find that he treated the subject entirely from an à priori point of view. The truth is that Bacon exemplified, in his own intellectual character, every one of the fundamental fallacies which he has so picturesquely described. The unwillingness to analyse sensible appearances into their ideal elements was his Idol of the Tribe; the thirst for material utilities was his Idol of the Den: the uncritical acceptance of Aristotle’s metaphysics, his Idol of the Theatre; and the undefined notions associated with induction, his Idol of the Market. The Epicurean philosophy was, in fact, the first to gain a footing in Rome; and it thereby acquired a position of comparative equality with the other schools, to which it was not really entitled, but which it has ever since succeeded in maintaining. The new doctrine fell like a spark on a mass of combustible material. The Romans were full of curiosity about Nature and her workings; full of contempt for the degrading Etruscan superstitions which hampered them at every turn, and the falsity of which was proving too much even for the official gravity of their state-appointed interpreters; full of impatience at the Greek mythology which was beginning to substitute itself for the severe abstractions of their own more spiritual faith;265 full of loathing for the Asiatic orgies which were being introduced into the highest society of their own city. Epicureanism offered them a complete and easily intelligible theory of the world, which at the same time came as a deliverance from supernatural terrors. The consequence was that its different parts were thrown out of perspective, and their relative importance almost reversed. Originally framed as an ethical system with certain physical and theological implications, it was interpreted by Lucretius, and apparently also by his Roman predecessors,266 as a scientific and anti-religious system, with certain references to conduct neither very prominently brought forward nor very distinctly conceived.168 And we know from the contents of the papyrus rolls discovered at Herculaneum, that those who studied the system in its original sources paid particular attention to the voluminous physical treatises of Epicurus, as well as to the theological works of his successors. Nor was this change of front limited to Epicureanism, if, as we may suspect, the rationalistic direction taken by Panaetius was due, at least in part, to a similar demand on the side of his Roman admirers. Notwithstanding the radical error of Aristotle’s philosophy—the false abstraction and isolation of the intellectual from the material sphere in Nature and in human life—it may furnish a useful corrective to the much falser philosophy insinuated, if not inculcated, by some moralists of our own age and country. Taken altogether, the teaching of these writers seems to be that the industry which addresses itself to the satisfaction of our material wants is much more meritorious than the artistic work which gives us direct aesthetic enjoyment, or the literary work which stimulates and gratifies our intellectual cravings; while within the artistic sphere fidelity of portraiture is preferred to the creation of ideal beauty; and within the intellectual sphere, mere observation of facts is set above the theorising power by which facts are unified and explained. Some of the school to whom we allude are great enemies of materialism; but teaching like theirs is materialism of the worst description. Consistently carried400 out, it would first reduce Europe to the level of China, and then reduce the whole human race to the level of bees or beavers. They forget that when we were all comfortably clothed, housed, and fed, our true lives would have only just begun. The choice would then remain between some new refinement of animal appetite and the theorising activity which, according to Aristotle, is the absolute end, every other activity being only a means for its attainment. There is not, indeed, such a fundamental distinction as he supposed, for activities of every order are connected by a continual reciprocity of services; but this only amounts to saying that the highest knowledge is a means to every other end no less than an end in itself. Aristotle is also fully justified in urging the necessity of leisure as a condition of intellectual progress. We may add that it is a leisure which is amply earned, for without it industrial production could not be maintained at its present height. Nor should the same standard of perfection be imposed on spiritual as on material labour. The latter could not be carried on at all unless success, and not failure, were the rule. It is otherwise in the ideal sphere. There the proportions are necessarily reversed. We must be content if out of a thousand guesses and trials one should contribute something to the immortal heritage of truth. Yet we may hope that this will not always be so, that the great discoveries and creations wrought out through the waste of innumerable lives are not only the expiation of all error and suffering in the past, but are also the pledge of a future when such sacrifices shall no longer be required.
The third great idea of Stoicism was its doctrine of humanity. Men are all children of one Father, and citizens37 of one State; the highest moral law is, Follow Nature, and Nature has made them to be social and to love one another; the private interest of each is, or should be, identified with the universal interest; we should live for others that we may live for ourselves; even to our enemies we should show love and not anger; the unnaturalness of passion is proved by nothing more clearly than by its anti-social and destructive tendencies. Here, also, the three great Stoics of the Roman empire—Seneca, Epictêtus, and Marcus Aurelius—rather than the founders of the school, must be our authorities;82 whether it be because their lessons correspond to a more developed state of thought, or simply because they have been more perfectly preserved. The former explanation is, perhaps, the more generally accepted. There seems, however, good reason for believing that the idea of universal love—the highest of all philosophical ideas next to that of the universe itself—dates further back than is commonly supposed. It can hardly be due to Seneca, who had evidently far more capacity for popularising and applying the thoughts of others than for original speculation, and who on this subject expresses himself with a rhetorical fluency not usually characterising the exposition of new discoveries. The same remark applies to his illustrious successors, who, while agreeing with him in tone, do not seem to have drawn on his writings for their philosophy. It is also clear that the idea in question springs from two essentially Stoic conceptions: the objective conception of a unified world, a cosmos to which all men belong;38 and the subjective conception of a rational nature common to them all. These, again, are rooted in early Greek thought, and were already emerging into distinctness at the time of Socrates. Accordingly we find that Plato, having to compose a characteristic speech for the Sophist Hippias, makes him say that like-minded men are by nature kinsmen and friends to one another.83 Nature, however, soon came to be viewed under a different aspect, and it was maintained, just as by some living philosophers, that her true law is the universal oppression of the weak by the strong. Then the idea of mind came in as a salutary corrective. It had supplied a basis for the ethics of Protagoras, and still more for the ethics of Socrates; it was now combined with its old rival by the Stoics, and from their union arose the conception of human nature as something allied with and illustrated by all other forms of animal life, yet capable, if fully developed, of rising infinitely above them. Nevertheless, the individual and the universal element were never quite reconciled in the Stoic ethics. The altruistic quality of justice was clearly perceived; but no attempt was made to show that all virtue is essentially social, and has come to be recognised as obligatory on the individual mainly because it conduces to the safety of the whole community. The learner was told to conquer his passions for his own sake rather than for the sake of others; and indulgence in violent anger, though more energetically denounced, was, in theory, placed on a par with immoderate delight or uncontrollable distress. So also, vices of impurity were classed with comparatively harmless forms of sensuality, and considered in reference, not to the social degradation of their victims, but to the spiritual defilement of their perpetrators. 单的 It was natural that the best methods of interpreting so useful a source of information should be greatly sought after, and that they should be systematised in treatises expressly devoted to the subject. One such work, the Oneirocritica of Artemid?rus, is still extant. It was composed towards the end of the second century, as its author tells us, at the direct and repeated command of Apollo. According to Artemid?rus, the general belief in prophecy and in the existence of providence must stand or fall with the belief in prophetic dreams. He looked on the compilation of his work as the fulfilment of a religious mission, and his whole life was devoted to collecting the materials for it. His good faith is, we are told, beyond question, his industry is enormous, and he even exercises considerable discrimination in selecting and elucidating the phenomena which are represented to us as229 manifestations of a supernatural interest in human affairs. Thus his beliefs may be taken as a fair gauge of the extent to which educated opinion had at that time become infected with vulgar superstition.351”