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CHAPTER VI. GREEK PHILOSOPHY AND MODERN THOUGHT.It was from mathematical science that the light of certainty first broke. Socrates had not encouraged the study of mathematics, either pure or applied; nor, if we may judge from some disparaging allusions to Hippias and his lectures in the Protagoras, did Plato at first regard it with any particular favour. He may have acquired some notions of arithmetic and geometry at school; but the intimate acquaintance with, and deep interest in them, manifested throughout his later works, probably dates from his visits to Italy, Sicily, Cyrênê, and Egypt. In each of these places the exact sciences were cultivated with more assiduity than at Athens; in southern Italy they had been brought into close connexion with philosophy by a system of mystical interpretation. The glory of discovering their true speculative significance was reserved for Plato. Just as he had detected a profound analogy between the Socratic scepticism and the Heracleitean flux, so also, by another vivid intuition, he saw in the definitions and demonstrations of geometry a type of true reasoning, a particular application of the Socratic logic. Thus the two studies were brought into fruitful reaction, the one gaining a wider applicability, and the other an exacter method of proof. The mathematical spirit ultimately proved211 too strong for Plato, and petrified his philosophy into a lifeless formalism; but no extraneous influence helped so much to bring about the complete maturity of his constructive powers, in no direction has he more profoundly influenced the thought of later ages.
Even in his much-admired criticisms on the actually existing types of government our philosopher shows practical weakness and vacillation of character. There is a good word for them all—for monarchy, for aristocracy, for middle-class rule, and even for pure democracy.183 The fifth book, treating of297 political revolutions, is unquestionably the ablest and most interesting in the whole work; but when Aristotle quits the domain of natural history for that of practical suggestions, with a view to obviate the dangers pointed out, he can think of nothing better than the old advice—to be moderate, even where the constitutions which moderation is to preserve are by their very nature so excessive that their readjustment and equilibration would be equivalent to their destruction. And in fact, Aristotle’s proposals amount to this—that government by the middle class should be established wherever the ideal aristocracy of education is impracticable; or else a government in which the class interests of rich and poor should be so nicely balanced as to obviate the danger of oligarchic or democratic injustice. His error lay in not perceiving that the only possible means of securing such a happy mean was to break through the narrow circle of Greek city life; to continue the process which had united families into villages, and villages into towns; to confederate groups of cities into larger298 states; and so, by striking an average of different inequalities, to minimise the risk of those incessant revolutions which had hitherto secured the temporary triumph of alternate factions at the expense of their common interest. And, in fact, the spontaneous process of aggregation, which Aristotle did not foresee, has alone sufficed to remedy the evils which he saw, but could not devise any effectual means of curing, and at the same time has bred new evils of which his diagnosis naturally took no account. II.The division of matter into minute and indestructible particles served admirably to account for the gradual formation and disappearance of bodies without necessitating the help of a creator. But the infinities assumed as a condition of atomism were of even greater importance. Where time and space are unlimited, the quantity of matter must be equally unlimited, otherwise, being composed of loose particles, it would long since have been dissipated and lost in the83 surrounding void. Now, given infinite time and space, and infinite atoms capable of combining with one another in various ways, all possible combinations must already have been tried, not once or twice, but infinitely often. Of such combinations, that which best fulfils the conditions of mechanical stability will last the longest, and, without being designed, will present all the characters of design. And this, according to Epicurus, is how the actual frame of things comes to be what it is. Nor was it only the world as a whole that he explained by the theory of a single happy accident occurring after a multitude of fortuitous experiments. The same process repeats itself on a smaller scale in the production of particular compounds. All sorts of living bodies were originally throw up from the earth’s bosom, but many of them instantly perished, not being provided with the means of nutrition, propagation, or self-defence. In like manner we are enabled to recall a particular thought at pleasure, because innumerable images are continually passing through the mind, none of which comes into the foreground of consciousness until attention is fixed on it; though how we come to distinguish it from the rest is not explained. So also, only those societies survived and became civilised where contracts were faithfully observed. All kinds of wild beasts have at different times been employed in war, just as horses and elephants are now, but on trial were found unmanageable and given up.162
【网购彩票有哪些网站大全_最新APP下载】It seems to us that Hegel, in his anxiety to crush every historical process into the narrow symmetry of a favourite metaphysical formula, has confounded several entirely distinct conceptions under the common name of subjectivity. First, there is the right of private judgment, the claim of each individual to have a voice in the affairs of the State, and to have the free management of his own personal concerns. But this, so far from being modern, is one of the oldest customs of the Aryan race; and perhaps, could we look back to the oldest history of other races now despotically governed, we should find it prevailing among them also. It was no new nor unheard-of privilege that Rousseau vindicated for the peoples of his own time, but their ancient birthright, taken from them by the growth of a centralised military system, just as it had been formerly taken from the city communities of the Graeco-Roman world. In this respect, Plato goes against the whole248 spirit of his country, and no period of its development, not even the age of Homer, would have satisfied him.Besides transforming art and literature, the dialectic method helped to revolutionise social life, and the impulse communicated in this direction is still very far from being exhausted. We allude to its influence on female education. The intellectual blossoming of Athens was aided, in its first development, by a complete separation of the sexes. There were very few of his friends to whom an Athenian gentleman talked so little as to his wife.104 Colonel Mure aptly compares her position to that of an English housekeeper, with considerably less liberty than is enjoyed by the latter. Yet the union of tender admiration with the need for intelligent sympathy and the desire to awaken interest in noble pursuits existed at Athens in full force, and created a field for its exercise. Wilhelm von Humboldt has observed that at this time chivalrous love was kept alive by customs which, to us, are intensely repellent. That so valuable a sentiment should be preserved and diverted into a more legitimate channel was an object of the highest importance. The naturalistic method of ethics did much, but it could not do all, for more was required than a return to primitive simplicity. Here the method of mind stepped in and supplied the deficiency. Reciprocity was the soul of dialectic as practised by Socrates, and the dialectic of love demands a reciprocity of passion which can only exist between the sexes. But in a society where the free intercourse of modern Europe was not permitted, the modern sentiment could not be reached at a single bound; and those who sought for the conversation of intelligent women had to seek for it among a class of which Aspasia was the highest representative. Such women played a great part in later Athenian society; they attended philosophical lectures, furnished heroines to the New Comedy, and on the whole gave a healthier tone to literature. Their successors, the Delias and Cynthias of159 Roman elegiac poetry, called forth strains of exalted affection which need nothing but a worthier object to place them on a level with the noblest expressions of tenderness that have since been heard. Here at least, to understand is to forgive; and we shall be less scandalised than certain critics,105 we shall even refuse to admit that Socrates fell below the dignity of a moralist, when we hear that he once visited a celebrated beauty of this class, Theodotê by name;106 that he engaged her in a playful conversation; and that he taught her to put more mind into her profession; to attract by something deeper than personal charms; to show at least an appearance of interest in the welfare of her lovers; and to stimulate their ardour by a studied reserve, granting no favour that had not been repeatedly and passionately sought after.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.
Wherefore a holy law forbids that Being
【网购彩票有哪些网站大全_最新APP下载】It may safely be assumed that the prejudices once entertained against Epicureanism are now extinct. Whatever may have been the speculative opinions of its founder, he had as good a right to them as the Apostles had to theirs; nor did he stand further aloof from the popular religion of any age than Aristotle, who has generally been in high favour with theologians. His practical teaching was directed towards the constant inculcation of virtue; nor was it belied by the conduct either of himself or of his disciples, even judged by the standard of the schools to which they were most opposed. And some of his physical theories, once rejected as self-evidently absurd, are now proved to be in harmony with the sober conclusions of modern science. At any rate, it is not in this quarter, as our readers will doubtless have already perceived, that the old prejudices, if they still exist, are likely to find an echo. Just now, indeed, the danger is not that Epicurus should be depreciated, but that his merits should obtain far more than their proper meed of recognition. It seems to be forgotten that what was best in his physics he borrowed from others, and that what he added was of less than no value; that he was ignorant or careless of demonstrated truths; that his avowed principles of belief were inconsistent with any truth rising above the level of vulgar apprehension; and finally, that in his system scientific interests were utterly subordinated to practical interests.
262And leaves us with Plotinus and pure souls.Again, this preference for mythological imagery on the part of the more original and poetical thinker seems to be closely connected with a more vivid interest in the practical duties of life. With Plotinus, the primal beauty or supreme good is something that can be isolated from all other beauty and goodness, something to be perceived and enjoyed in absolute seclusion from one’s fellow-men. God is, indeed, described as the source and cause of all other good. But neither here nor elsewhere is there a hint that we should strive to resemble him by becoming, in our turn, the cause of good to others. Platonic love, on the contrary, first finds its reality and truth in unremitting efforts for the enlightenment and elevation of others, being related to the transmission of spiritual life just as the love inspired by visible beauty is related to the perpetuation and physical ennoblement of the race.
【网购彩票有哪些网站大全_最新APP下载】Euripides gives us an interesting example of the style in which this ethical application of physical science could be practised. We have seen how Eteoclês expresses his determination to do and dare all for the sake of sovereign power. His mother, Jocastê, gently rebukes him as follows:—And measure out to each his share of dust,