We are now in a position to understand the full force of Descartes’ Cogito ergo sum. It expresses the substantiality of self-conscious Form, the equal claim of thought with extension to be recognised as an element of the universe. This recognition of self-consciousness as the surest reality was, indeed, far from being new. The Greek Sceptics had never gone to the length of doubting their own personal existence. On the contrary, they professed a sort of subjective idealism. Refusing to go beyond their own consciousness, they found in its undisturbed self-possession the only absolute satisfaction that life could afford. But knowledge and reality had become so intimately associated with something independent of mind, and mind itself with a mere reflection of reality, that the denial of an external world393 seemed to the vulgar a denial of existence itself. And although Aristotle had found the highest, if not the sole absolute actuality in self-thinking thought, he projected it to such a distance from human personality that its bearing on the sceptical controversy had passed unperceived. Descartes began his demonstration at the point where all the ancient systems had converged, but failed to discover in what direction the conditions of the problem required that they should be prolonged. No mistake can be greater than to regard him as the precursor of German philosophy. The latter originated quite independently of his teaching, though not perhaps of his example, in the combination of a much profounder scepticism with a much wider knowledge of dogmatic metaphysics. His method is the very reverse of true idealism. The Cogito ergo sum is not a taking up of existence into thought, but rather a conversion of thought into one particular type of existence. Now, as we have seen, all other existence was conceived as extension, and however carefully thought might be distinguished from this as absolutely indivisible, it was speedily reduced to the same general pattern of inclusion, limitation, and expansion. Whereas Kant, Fichte, and Hegel afterwards dwelt on the form of thought, Descartes attended only to its content, or to that in which it was contained. In other words, he began by considering not how he thought but what he thought and whence it came—his ideas and their supposed derivation from a higher sphere. Take, for example, his two great methods for proving the existence of God. We have in our minds the idea of a perfect being—at least Descartes professed to have such an idea in his mind,—and we, as imperfect beings, could not have originated it for ourselves. It must, therefore, have been placed there by a perfect being acting on us from without. It is here taken for granted that the mechanical equivalence between material effects and their causes must obtain in a world where spatial relations, and therefore measurement, are presumably394 unknown. And, secondly, existence, as a perfection, is involved in the idea of a perfect being; therefore such a being can only be conceived as existing. Here there seems to be a confused notion that because the properties of a geometrical figure can be deduced from its definition, therefore the existence of something more than a simple idea can be deduced from the definition of that idea itself. But besides the mathematical influence, there was evidently a Platonic influence at work; and one is reminded of Plato’s argument that the soul cannot die because it participates in the idea of life. Such fallacies were impossible so long as Aristotle’s logic continued to be carefully studied, and they gradually disappeared with its revival. Meanwhile the cat was away, and the mice used their opportunity. 数次 If, however, we pass to the second point of view, and judge Neo-Platonism according to the requirements, not of truth or of usefulness, but of beauty, our first verdict of utter condemnation will be succeeded by a much more favourable opinion. Plotinus has used the materials inherited from his predecessors with unquestionable boldness and skill; and the constructive power exhibited in the general plan of his vast system is fully equalled by the close reasoning with which every detail is elaborated and fitted into its proper place. Nothing can be imagined more imposing than this wondrous procession of forms defiling from the unknown to the unknown—from the self-developing consciousness of Reason as it breaks and flames and multiplies into a whole universe of being and life and thought, ever returning, by the very law of their production, to the source whence they have sprung—onward and outward on the wings of the cosmic Soul, through this visible world, where they reappear as images of intellectual beauty in the eternal revolutions of the starry spheres above, in the everlasting reproduction of organic species below, in the loveliest thoughts and actions of the loveliest human souls—till339 the utmost limits of their propagation and dispersion have been reached, till the last faint rays of existence die out in the dark and void region that extends to infinity beyond. Nothing in the realm of abstractions can be more moving than this Odyssey of the human soul, wakened by visions of earthly loveliness to a consciousness of her true destiny, a remembrance of her lost and forgotten home; then abandoning these for the possession of a more spiritual beauty, ascending by the steps of dialectic to a contemplation of the archetypal Ideas that lie folded and mutually interpenetrated in the bosom of the eternal Reason where thought and being are but the double aspect of a single absolute reality; seeking farther and higher, beyond the limits of existence itself, for a still purer unity, and finding in the awful solitude of that supreme elevation that the central source of all things does not lie without but within, that only in returning to self-identity does she return to the One; or, again, descending to the last confines of light and life that she may prolong their radiation into the formless depths of matter, projecting on its darkness an image of the glory whose remembrance still attends her in her fall.
‘Happy is he who has learned 灵魂 Returning to our more immediate subject, we must observe that the Pythagoreans did not maintain, in anticipation of modern quantitative science, that all things are determined by number, but that all things are numbers, or are made out of numbers, two propositions not easily distinguished by unpractised thinkers. Numbers, in a word, were to them precisely what water had been to Thales, what air was to Anaximenes, the absolute principle of existence; only with them the idea of a limit, the leading inspiration of Greek thought, had reached a higher degree of abstraction. Number was, as it were, the exterior limit of the finite, and the interior limit of the infinite. Add to this that mathematical studies, cultivated in Egypt and Phoenicia for their practical utility alone, were being pursued in Hellas with ever-increasing ardour for the sake of their own delightfulness, for the intellectual discipline that they supplied—a discipline even12 more valuable then than now, and for the insight which they bestowed, or were believed to bestow, into the secret constitution of Nature; and that the more complicated arithmetical operations were habitually conducted with the aid of geometrical diagrams, thus suggesting the possibility of applying a similar treatment to every order of relations. Consider the lively emotions excited among an intelligent people at a time when multiplication and division, squaring and cubing, the rule of three, the construction and equivalence of figures, with all their manifold applications to industry, commerce, fine art, and tactics, were just as strange and wonderful as electrical phenomena are to us; consider also the magical influence still commonly attributed to particular numbers, and the intense eagerness to obtain exact numerical statements, even when they are of no practical value, exhibited by all who are thrown back on primitive ways of living, as, for example, in Alpine travelling, or on board an Atlantic steamer, and we shall cease to wonder that a mere form of thought, a lifeless abstraction, should once have been regarded as the solution of every problem, the cause of all existence; or that these speculations were more than once revived in after ages, and perished only with Greek philosophy itself. In addition to its system of intermediate duties, the Stoic ethics included a code of casuistry which, to judge by some recorded specimens, allowed a very startling latitude both to the ideal sage and to the ordinary citizen. Thus, if Sextus Empiricus is to be believed, the Stoics saw nothing objectionable about the trade of a courtesan.65 Chrysippus, like Socrates and Plato, denied that there was any harm in falsehoods if they were told with a good intention. Diogenes of Seleucia thought it permissible to pass bad money,66 and to30 sell defective articles without mentioning their faults;67 he was, however, contradicted on both points by another Stoic, Antipater. Still more discreditable were the opinions of Hecato, a disciple of Panaetius. He discussed the question whether a good man need or need not feed his slaves in a time of great scarcity, with an evident leaning towards the latter alternative; and also made it a matter of deliberation whether in case part of a ship’s cargo had to be thrown overboard, a valuable horse or a worthless slave should be the more readily sacrificed. His answer is not given; but that the point should ever have been mooted does not say much for the rigour of his principles or for the benevolence of his disposition.68 Most outrageous of all, from the Stoic point of view, is the declaration of Chrysippus that Heracleitus and Pherecydes would have done well to give up their wisdom, had they been able by so doing to get rid of their bodily infirmities at the same time.69 That overstrained theoretical severity should be accompanied by a corresponding laxity in practice is a phenomenon of frequent occurrence; but that this laxity should be exhibited so undisguisedly in the details of the theory itself, goes beyond anything quoted against the Jesuits by Pascal, and bears witness, after a fashion, to the extraordinary sincerity of Greek thought.70 Meanwhile, he had a logical machine ready to hand, which could be used with terrible effect against the Platonic Ideas. Any of these—and there were a great number—that could be brought under one of the last nine categories were at once deprived of all claim to independent existence. Take Equality, for instance. It cannot be discovered outside quantity, and quantity is always predicated of a substance. And the same is true of number, to the utter destruction of the Neo-Pythagorean theory which gave it a separate existence. Moreover, the categories served not only to generalise and combine, but also to specificate and divide. The idea of motion occurs in three of them; in quantity, where it means increase or diminution; in quality, where it means alteration, as from hot to cold, or vice versa; and in place, implying transport from one point to another. The Idea of Good, which stands at the very summit of Plato’s system, may be traced through all ten categories.242 Thus, the supposed unity and simplicity of such conceptions was shown to be an illusion. Platonism was, in truth, so inconsistent with the notions embodied in common language, that it could not but be condemned by a logic based on those notions.
Thus, where Zeller says that the Greek philosophers confounded the objective with the subjective because they were still imperfectly separated from Nature, we seem to have come on a less ambitious but more intelligible explanation of the facts, and one capable of being stated with as much generality as his. Not only among the Greeks but everywhere, culture is more or less antagonistic to originality, and the diffusion to the enlargement of knowledge. Thought is like water; when spread over a wider surface it is apt to become stagnant and shallow. When ideas could only live on the condition ofxiv being communicated to a large circle of listeners, they were necessarily adapted to the taste and lowered to the comprehension of relatively vulgar minds. And not only so, but the habit of taking their opinions and prejudices as the starting-point of every enquiry frequently led to the investment of those opinions and prejudices with the formal sanction of a philosophical demonstration. It was held that education consisted less in the acquisition of new truth than in the elevation to clearer consciousness of truths which had all along been dimly perceived. 出间 It will now be better understood whence arose the hostility of the Stoics to pleasure, and how they could speak of it in what seems such a paradoxical style. It was subjective feeling as opposed to objective law; it was relative, particular, and individual, as opposed to their formal standard of right; and it was continually drawing men away from their true nature by acting as a temptation to vice. Thus, probably for the last reason, Cleanthes could speak of pleasure as contrary to Nature; while less rigorous authorities regarded it as absolutely indifferent, being a consequence of natural actions, not an essential element in their performance. And when their opponents pointed to the universal desire for pleasure as a proof that it was the natural end of animated beings, the Stoics answered that what Nature had in view was not pleasure at all, but the preservation of life itself.48 Plotinus, as we have said, starts with the Aristotelian account of Matter; but by a process of dialectical manipulation, he gradually brings it into almost complete agreement with Plato’s conception; thus, as usual, mediating between and combining the views of his two great authorities. In the first place, he takes advantage of Aristotle’s distinction between intelligible and sensible Matter, to strip the latter of that positive and vital significance with which it had been clothed in the Peripatetic system. In the world of Ideas, there is an element common to all specific forms, a fundamental unity in which they meet and inhere, which may without impropriety be called their Matter. But this Matter is an eternal and divine substance, inseparably united with the fixed forms which it supports, and, therefore, something which, equally with them, receives light and life and thought from the central source of being. It is otherwise with sensible Matter, the common substance of the corporeal elements. This is, to use the energetic expression of our philosopher, a decorated corpse.481 It does not remain constantly combined with any form, but is for ever passing from one to another, without manifesting a particular preference for any. As such, it is the absolute negation of Form, and can only be conceived, if at all, by326 thinking away every sensible quality. Neither has it any quantity, for quantity means magnitude, and magnitude implies definite figure. Aristotle opposed to each particular form a corresponding privation, and placed Matter midway between them. Plotinus, on the other hand, identifies Matter with the general privation of all forms. It is at this point that he begins to work his way back to the Platonic notion of Matter as simple extension. There must, after all, be something about Matter which enables it to receive every kind of quality and figure,—it must have some sort of mass or bulk, not, indeed, in any definite sense, but with an equal capacity for expansion and for contraction. Now, says Plotinus, the very indeterminateness of Matter is precisely the capacity for extension in all directions that we require. ‘Having no principle of stability, but being borne towards every form, and easily led about in all directions, it acquires the nature of a mass.’482
But fruitless births the sterile earth did bear. 送会 We have this great advantage in dealing with Plato—that his philosophical writings have come down to us entire, while the thinkers who preceded him are known only through fragments and second-hand reports. Nor is the difference merely accidental. Plato was the creator of speculative literature, properly so called: he was the first and also the greatest artist that ever clothed abstract thought in language of appropriate majesty and splendour; and it is probably to their beauty of form that we owe the preservation of his writings. Rather unfortunately, however, along with the genuine works of the master, a certain number of pieces have been handed down to us under his name, of which some are almost universally admitted to be spurious, while the authenticity of others is a question on which the best scholars are still divided. In the absence of any very cogent external evidence, an immense amount of industry and learning has been expended on this subject, and the arguments employed on both sides sometimes make us doubt whether the reasoning powers of philologists are better developed than, according to Plato, were those of mathematicians in his time. The176 two extreme positions are occupied by Grote, who accepts the whole Alexandrian canon, and Krohn, who admits nothing but the Republic;115 while much more serious critics, such as Schaarschmidt, reject along with a mass of worthless compositions several Dialogues almost equal in interest and importance to those whose authenticity has never been doubted. The great historian of Greece seems to have been rather undiscriminating both in his scepticism and in his belief; and the exclusive importance which he attributed to contemporary testimony, or to what passed for such with him, may have unduly biassed his judgment in both directions. As it happens, the authority of the canon is much weaker than Grote imagined; but even granting his extreme contention, our view of Plato’s philosophy would not be seriously affected by it, for the pieces which are rejected by all other critics have no speculative importance whatever. The case would be far different were we to agree with those who impugn the genuineness of the Parmenides, the Sophist, the Statesman, the Philêbus, and the Laws; for these compositions mark a new departure in Platonism amounting to a complete transformation of its fundamental principles, which indeed is one of the reasons why their authenticity has been denied. Apart, however, from the numerous evidences of Platonic authorship furnished by the Dialogues themselves, as well as by the indirect references to them in Aristotle’s writings, it seems utterly incredible that a thinker scarcely, if at all, inferior to the master himself—as the supposed imitator must assuredly have been—should have consented to let his reasonings pass current under a false name, and that, too, the name of one whose teaching he in some respects controverted; while there is a further difficulty in assuming that his existence could pass unnoticed at a period marked by intense literary and philosophical activity. Readers who177 wish for fuller information on the subject will find in Zeller’s pages a careful and lucid digest of the whole controversy leading to a moderately conservative conclusion. Others will doubtless be content to accept Prof. Jowett’s verdict, that ‘on the whole not a sixteenth part of the writings which pass under the name of Plato, if we exclude the works rejected by the ancients themselves, can be fairly doubted by those who are willing to allow that a considerable change and growth may have taken place in his philosophy.’116 To which we may add that the Platonic dialogues, whether the work of one or more hands, and however widely differing among themselves, together represent a single phase of thought, and are appropriately studied as a connected series. ”
来你 At last tidings of the oracle made their way to Italy and Rome, where they created intense excitement, particularly among the leading men of the state. One of these, Rutilianus, a man of consular dignity and well known for his abject superstition, threw himself head-foremost into the fashionable delusion. He sent off messenger after messenger in hot haste to the shrine of Asclêpius; and the wily Paphlagonian easily contrived that the reports which they carried back should still further inflame the curiosity and wonder of his noble devotee. But, in truth, no great refinement of imposture was needed to complete the capture of such a willing dupe. One of his questions was, what teacher should he employ to direct the studies of his son? Pythagoras and Homer were recommended in the oracular response. A few days afterwards, the boy died, much to the discomfiture of Alexander, whose enemies took the opportunity of triumphing over what seemed an irretrievable mistake. But Rutilianus himself came to the rescue. The oracle, he said, clearly foreshadowed his son’s death, by naming teachers who could only be found in the world below. Finally, on being consulted with regard to the choice of a wife, the oracle promptly recommended the daughter of Alexander and the Moon; for the prophet professed to have enjoyed the favours of that goddess in the same circumstances as Endymion. Rutilianus, who was at this time sixty years old, at once complied with the divine227 injunction, and celebrated his marriage by sacrificing whole hecatombs to his celestial mother-in-law. ”