We have next the disposition of individuals, no longer to interfere in making the law, but to override it, or to bend it into an instrument for their own purposes. Doubtless there existed such a tendency in Plato’s time, and his polity was very largely designed to hold it in check. But such unprincipled ambition was nothing new in Greece, however the mode of its manifestations might vary. What had formerly been seized by armed violence was now sought after with the more subtle weapons of rhetorical skill; just as at the present moment, among these same Greeks, it is the prize of parliamentary intrigue. The Cretan and Spartan institutions may very possibly have been designed with a view to checking this spirit of selfish lawlessness, by reducing private interests to a minimum; and Plato most certainly had them in his mind when he pushed the same method still further; but those institutions were not types of Hellenism as a whole, they only represented one, and that a very abnormal, side of it. Plato borrowed some elements from this quarter, but, as we shall presently show, he incorporated them with others of a widely different character. Sparta was, indeed, on any high theory of government, not a State at all, but a robber-clan established among a plundered population whom they never tried or cared to conciliate. How little weight her rulers attributed to the interests of the State as such, was well exhibited during the Peloponnesian War, when political advantages of the utmost importance were surrendered in deference to the noble families whose kinsmen had been captured at Sphactêria, and whose sole object was to rescue them from the fate with which they were threatened by the Athenians as a means of extorting concessions;—conduct with which the refusal of Rome to ransom the soldiers who had surrendered at Cannae may be instructively contrasted.CHAPTER V. PLATO AS A REFORMER. 呆着 That the absolute disjunction of thought from matter involved the impossibility of their interaction, was a consequence not drawn by Descartes himself, but by his immediate followers. Here also, Greek philosophy played its part in hastening the development of modern ideas. The fall of Aristotle had incidentally the effect of reviving not only the systems which preceded, but also those which followed his. Chief among these were Stoicism and Epicureanism. Differing widely in most other respects, they agreed in teaching that body is acted on by body alone. The Cartesians accepted this principle to the fullest extent so far as human perceptions and volitions were concerned; and to a great extent in dealing with the problems of physical science. But instead of arguing from the laws of mechanical causation to the materiality of mind, they argued from its immateriality to the total absence of communication between consciousness and motion. There was, however, one thinker of that age who went all lengths with the later Greek materialists. This was Thomas Hobbes, the founder of modern ethics, the first Englishman to grasp and develope still further Galileo’s method of mathematical deduction and mechanical analysis. The other great ethical method of the eighteenth century, its hedonism, was closely connected with the sceptical movement in speculative philosophy, and, like that, received an entirely new significance by becoming associated with the idea of law. Those who isolate man from the universe are necessarily led to seek in his interests as such the sole regulator of his actions, and their sole sanction in the opinion of his fellows. Protagoras went already so far, notwithstanding his unwillingness to recognise pleasure as the supreme end; and in the system of his true successor, Aristippus, the most extreme hedonism goes hand in hand with the most extreme idealism; while with Epicurus, again, both are tempered by the influence of naturalism, imposing on him its conceptions of objective law alike in science and in practice. Still his system leaned heavily to the side of self-gratification pure and simple; and it was reserved for modern thought to establish a complete equilibrium between the two competing tendencies of Greek ethics. This has been effected in Utilitarianism; and those critics are entirely mistaken who, like M. Guyau, regard that system as a mere reproduction of Epicureanism. It might with full as much reason be called a modern version of Stoicism. The idea of humanity is essentially Stoic; to work for the good of humanity was a424 Stoic precept; and to sacrifice one’s own pleasure for that higher good is a virtue which would have satisfied the most rigorous demands of a Cleanthes, an Epictêtus, or an Aurelius. IV.
件事 Among the scientific and literary men who were not pledged to any particular school, we find the elder Pliny rejecting the belief in immortality, not only as irrational but235 as the reverse of consolatory. It robs us, he declares, of Nature’s most especial boon, which is death, and doubles the pangs of dissolution by the prospect of continued existence elsewhere.361 Quintilian leaves the question undecided;362 Tacitus expresses himself doubtfully;363 and Galen, whose great physiological knowledge enabled him to see how fallacious were Plato’s arguments, while his philosophical training equally separated him from the materialists, also refuses to pronounce in favour of either side.364 What Juvenal thought is uncertain; but, from his general tone, we may conjecture that he leant to the negative side.365 Now it was by this side of Platonism that Aristotle also had been most deeply fascinated. While constantly criticising the ideal theory, he had, in truth, accepted it under a modified form. His universal classification is derived from the dialectic method. His psychology and theology are constructed on287 the spiritualistic basis of the Academy, and out of materials which the founder of the Academy had supplied. It was therefore natural that Plotinus should avail himself largely of the Stagirite’s help in endeavouring to reproduce what a tradition of six centuries had obscured or confused. To reconcile the two Attic masters was, as we know, a common school exercise. Learned commentators had, indeed, placed their disagreement beyond all dispute. But there remained the simpler course of bringing their common standpoint into greater prominence, and combining their theories where this seemed possible without too openly renouncing the respect due to what almost all considered the superior authority of Plato. To which of the two masters Neo-Platonism really owed most is a question that must be postponed until we have made ourselves acquainted with the outlines of the system as they appear in the works of Plotinus.
Aristotle next takes the Idea of Substance and subjects it to a fresh analysis.243 Of all things none seem to possess so evident an existence as the bodies about us—plants and animals, the four elements, and the stars. But each of these344 has already been shown to consist of Form and Matter. A statue, for instance, is a lump of bronze shaped into the figure of a man. Of these two constituents, Matter seems at first sight to possess the greater reality. The same line of thought which led Aristotle to place substance before the other categories now threatens to drive him back into materialism. This he dreaded, not on sentimental or religious grounds, but because he conceived it to be the negation of knowledge. He first shows that Matter cannot be the real substance to which individuals owe their determinate existence, since it is merely the unknown residuum left behind when every predicate, common to them with others, has been stripped off. Substance, then, must be either Form alone or Form combined with Matter. Form, in its completest sense, is equivalent to the essential definition of a thing—the collection of attributes together constituting its essence or conception. To know the definition is to know the thing defined. The way to define is to begin with the most general notion, and proceed by adding one specific difference after another, until we reach the most particular and concrete expression. The union of this last with a certain portion of Matter gives us the individual Socrates or Callias. There are no real entities (as the Platonists pretend) corresponding to the successive stages of generalisation, biped, animal, and so forth, any more than there are self-existing quantities, qualities, and relations. Thus the problem has been driven into narrower and narrower limits, until at last we are left with the infim? species and the individuals contained under them. It remains to discover in what relation these stand to one another. The answer is unsatisfactory. We are told that there is no definition of individuals, and also that the definition is identical with the individual.244 Such, indeed, is the conclusion necessarily resulting from Aristotle’s repeated declarations that all knowledge is of345 definitions, that all knowledge is of something really existing, and that nothing really exists but individual things. Nevertheless, against these we have to set equally strong declarations to the effect that knowledge is of something general, not of the perishing individuals which may pass out of existence at any moment. The truth is, that we are here, as Zeller has shown,245 in presence of an insoluble contradiction, and we must try to explain, not how Aristotle reconciled it with itself, for that was impossible, but how he reconciled himself to it. 强大 These are difficulties which will continue to perplex us until every shred of the old metaphysics has been thrown off. To that task Aristotle was not equal. He was profoundly influenced by the very theory against which he contended; and, at the risk of being paradoxical, we may even say that it assumed a greater importance in his system than had ever been attributed to it by Plato himself. To prove this, we must resume the thread of our exposition, and follow the339 Stagirite still further in his analysis of the fundamental reality with which the highest philosophy is concerned. III. Plotinus himself, we are told, reached the climax of complete unification several times in his life, Porphyry only once, in the sixty-eighth year of his age. Probably the condition so denominated was a species of hypnotic trance. Its importance in the Neo-Platonic system has been considerably exaggerated, and on the strength of this single point some critics have summarily disposed of Plotinus and his whole school as unreasoning mystics. Mysticism is a vague word capable of very various applications. In the present instance, we presume that it is used to express a belief in the existence of some method for the discovery of truth apart from tradition; observation, and reasoning. And, taken in this sense, the Neo-Platonic method of arriving at a full apprehension of the One would be considered an extreme instance of mysticism. We must bear in mind, however, that Plotinus arrives at an intellectual conception of absolute unity by the most strictly logical process. It makes no difference that his reasoning is unsound, for the same criticism applies to other philosophers who have never been accused of mysticism. It may be said that after leading us up to a certain point, reason is replaced by intuition. Rather, what the ultimate intuition does is not to take the place of logic, but to substitute a living realisation for an abstract and negative conception. Moreover, the intuition is won not by forsaking logic, but by straining its resources to the very utmost. Again, one great characteristic of mysticism, as ordinarily understood, is to deny the truth of common observation and reasoning. Now Plotinus never goes this length. As we have already remarked, he does not even share Plato’s distrust of sensible impressions, but rather follows the example of Aristotle in recognising their validity within a certain sphere. Nor does he mention having received any revelations of divine truth during his intercourse with the absolute One. This alone marks an immense difference between his ecstasies—if such they can be called—and313 those of the Christian mystics with whom he is associated by M. Barthélemy Saint-Hilaire.464
差不 If happiness consists in the appropriate exercise of our vital functions, then the highest happiness must result from the highest activity, whether we choose to call that reason or anything else which is the ruling and guiding principle within us, and through which we form our conceptions of what is noble and divine; and whether this be intrinsically divine, or only the divinest thing in us, its appropriate activity must be perfect happiness. Now this, which we call the theoretic activity, must be the mightiest; for reason is supreme in our souls and supreme over the objects which it cognises; and it is also the most continuous, for of all activities theorising is that which can be most uninterruptedly carried on. Again, we think that some pleasure ought to be mingled with happiness; if so, of all our proper activities philosophy is confessedly the most pleasurable, the enjoyments afforded by it being wonderfully pure and steady; for the existence of those who are in possession of knowledge is naturally more delightful than the existence of those who merely seek it. Of all virtues this is the most self-sufficing; for while in common with every other virtue it presupposes the indispensable conditions of life, wisdom does not, like justice and temperance and courage, need human objects for its exercise; theorising may go on in perfect solitude; for the co-operation of other men, though helpful, is not absolutely necessary to its activity. All other pursuits are exercised for some end lying outside themselves; war entirely for the sake of310 peace, and statesmanship in great part for the sake of honour and power; but theorising yields no extraneous profit great or small, and is loved for itself alone. If, then, the energising of pure reason rises above such noble careers as war and statesmanship by its independence, by its inherent delightfulness, and, so far as human frailty will permit, by its untiring vigour, this must constitute perfect human happiness; or rather such a life is more than human, and man can only partake of it through the divine principle within him; wherefore let us not listen to those who tell us that we should have no interests except what are human and mortal like ourselves; but so far as may be put on immortality, and bend all our efforts towards living up to that element of our nature which, though small in compass, is in power and preciousness supreme.192 After eliminating all the sources of misery due to folly and vice, Epicurus had still to deal with what, in his opinion, were the most formidable obstacles to human happiness, dread of the divine anger and dread of death, either in itself, or as the entrance on another life. To meet these, he compiled, for we can hardly say constructed, an elaborate system of physical philosophy, having for its object to show that Nature is entirely governed by mechanical causes, and that the soul perishes with the body. We have already mentioned that for science as such and apart from its ethical applications he neither cared nor pretended to care in the least. It seems, therefore, rather surprising that he could not manage, like the Sceptics before him, to get rid of supernaturalism by a somewhat more expeditious method. The explanation seems to be that to give some account of natural phenomena had become, in his time, a necessity for every one aspiring to found a philosophical system. A brilliant example had been set by Plato and Aristotle, of whom the former, too, had apparently yielded to the popular demand rather than followed the bent of his own genius, in turning aside from ethics to physics; and Zeno had similarly included the whole of knowledge in his teaching. The old Greek curiosity respecting the causes of things was still alive; and a similar curiosity was doubtless awakening among those populations to whom Greek civilisation had been carried by colonisation, commerce, and conquest. Now, those scientific speculations are always the76 most popular which can be shown to have some bearing on religious belief, either in the way of confirmation or of opposition, according as faith or doubt happens to be most in the ascendent. Fifty years ago, among ourselves, no work on natural philosophy could hope for a large circulation unless it was filled with teleological applications. At present, liberal opinions are gaining ground; and those treatises are most eagerly studied which tend to prove that everything in Nature can be best explained through the agency of mechanical causation. At neither period is it the facts themselves which have excited most attention, but their possible bearing on our own interests. Among the contemporaries of Epicurus, the two currents of thought that in more recent times have enjoyed an alternate triumph, seem to have co-existed as forces of about equal strength. The old superstitions were rejected by all thinking men; and the only question was by what new faith they should be replaced. Poets and philosophers had alike laboured to bring about a religious reformation by exhibiting the popular mythology in its grotesque deformity, and by constructing systems in which pure monotheism was more or less distinctly proclaimed. But it suited the purpose, perhaps it gratified the vanity of Epicurus to talk as if the work of deliverance still remained to be done, as if men were still groaning under the incubus of superstitions which he alone could teach them to shake off. He seems, indeed, to have confounded the old and the new faiths under a common opprobrium, and to have assumed that the popular religion was mainly supported by Stoic arguments, or that the Stoic optimism was not less productive of superstitious terrors than the gloomy polytheism which it was designed to supersede.152”
To illustrate the relation in which Plato stood towards his own times, we have already had occasion to draw largely on the productions of his maturer manhood. We have now to take up the broken thread of our systematic exposition, and to trace the development of his philosophy through that wonderful series of compositions which entitle him to rank among the greatest writers, the most comprehensive thinkers, and the purest religious teachers of all ages. In the presence of such glory a mere divergence of opinion must not be permitted to influence our judgment. High above all particular truths stands the principle that truth itself exists, and it was for this that Plato fought. If there were others more completely emancipated from superstition, none so persistently appealed to the logic before which superstition must ultimately vanish. If his schemes for the reconstruction of society ignore many obvious facts, they assert with unrivalled force the necessary supremacy of public welfare over private pleasure; and their avowed utilitarianism offers a common ground to the rival reformers who will have nothing to do with the mysticism of their metaphysical foundation. Those, again, who hold, like the youthful Plato himself, that the203 ultimate interpretation of existence belongs to a science transcending human reason, will here find the doctrines of their religion anticipated as in a dream. And even those who, standing aloof both from theology and philosophy, live, as they imagine, for beauty alone, will observe with interest how the spirit of Greek art survived in the denunciation of its idolatry, and ‘the light that never was on sea or land,’ after fading away from the lower levels of Athenian fancy, came once more to suffuse the frozen steeps of dialectic with its latest and divinest rays. 机会 Of all existing constitutions that of Sparta approached nearest to the ideal of Plato, or, rather, he regarded it as the least degraded. He liked the conservatism of the Spartans, their rigid discipline, their haughty courage, the participation of their daughters in gymnastic exercises, the austerity of their manners, and their respect for old age; but he found much to censure both in their ancient customs and in the characteristics which the possession of empire had recently developed among them. He speaks with disapproval of their exclusively military organisation, of their contempt for philosophy, and of the open sanction which they gave to practices barely tolerated at Athens. And he also comments on their covetousness, their harshness to inferiors, and their haste to throw off the restraints of the law whenever detection could be evaded.124 The dishonour was for the townsmen who, in an outbreak of insane fanaticism, drove the blameless truthseeker from his adopted home. Anaxagoras was the intimate companion of Pericles, and Pericles had made many enemies by his domestic as well as by his foreign policy. A coalition of harassed interests and offended prejudices was formed against him. A cry arose that religion and the constitution were in danger. The Athenians had too much good sense to dismiss their great democratic Minister, but they permitted the illustrious statesman’s political opponents to strike at him through his friends.29 Aspasia was saved only by the tears of her lover. Pheidias, the grandest, most spiritual-minded artist of all time, was arrested on a charge of impiety, and died in a prison of the city whose temples were adorned with the imperishable monuments of his religious inspiration. A decree against ‘astronomers and atheists’ was so evidently aimed at Anaxagoras that the philosopher retired to Lampsacus, where he died at the age of seventy-two, universally admired and revered. Altars dedicated to Reason and Truth were erected in his honour, and for centuries his memory continued to be celebrated by an annual feast.30 His whole existence had been devoted to science. When asked what made life worth living, he answered, ‘The contemplation of the heavens and of the universal cosmic order.’ The reply was like a title-page to his works. We can see that specialisation was38 beginning, that the positive sciences were separating themselves from general theories about Nature, and could be cultivated independently of them. A single individual might, indeed, combine philosophy of the most comprehensive kind with a detailed enquiry into some particular order of phenomena, but he could do this without bringing the two studies into any immediate connexion with each other. Such seems to have been the case with Anaxagoras. He was a professional astronomer and also the author of a modified atomic hypothesis. This, from its greater complexity, seems more likely to have been suggested by the purely quantitative conception of Leucippus than to have preceded it in the order of evolution. Democritus, and probably his teacher also, drew a very sharp distinction between what were afterwards called the primary and secondary qualities of matter. Extension and resistance alone had a real existence in Nature, while the attributes corresponding to our special sensations, such as temperature, taste, and colour, were only subjectively, or, as he expressed it, conventionally true. Anaxagoras affirmed no less strongly than his younger contemporaries that the sum of being can neither be increased nor diminished, that all things arise and perish by combination and division, and that bodies are formed out of indestructible elements; like the Atomists, again, he regarded these elementary substances as infinite in number and inconceivably minute; only he considered them as qualitatively distinct, and as resembling on an infinitesimal scale the highest compounds that they build up. Not only were gold, iron, and the other metals formed of homogeneous particles, but such substances as flesh, bone, and blood were, according to him, equally simple, equally decomposable, into molecules of like nature with themselves. Thus, as Aristotle well observes, he reversed the method of Empedocles, and taught that earth, air, fire, and water were really the most complex of all bodies, since they supplied39 nourishment to the living tissues, and therefore must contain within themselves the multitudinous variety of units by whose aggregation individualised organic substance is made up.31 Furthermore, our philosopher held that originally this intermixture had been still more thoroughgoing, all possible qualities being simultaneously present in the smallest particles of matter. The resulting state of chaotic confusion lasted until Nous, or Reason, came and segregated the heterogeneous elements by a process of continuous differentiation leading up to the present arrangement of things. Both Plato and Aristotle have commended Anaxagoras for introducing into speculation the conception of Reason as a cosmic world-ordering power; both have censured him for making so little use of his own great thought, for attributing almost everything to secondary, material, mechanical causes; for not everywhere applying the teleological method; in fact, for not anticipating the Bridgewater Treatises and proving that the world is constructed on a plan of perfect wisdom and goodness. Less fortunate than the Athenians, we cannot purchase the work of Anaxagoras on Nature at an orchestral book-stall for the moderate price of a drachma; but we know enough about its contents to correct the somewhat petulant and superficial criticism of a school perhaps less in sympathy than we are with its author’s method of research. Evidently the Clazomenian philosopher did not mean by Reason an ethical force, a power which makes for human happiness or virtue, nor yet a reflecting intelligence, a designer adapting means to ends. To all appearances the Nous was not a spirit in the sense which we attach, or which Aristotle attached to the term. It was, according to Anaxagoras, the subtlest and purest of all things, totally unmixed with other substances, and therefore able to control and bring them into order. This is not how men speak of an immaterial inextended consciousness. The truth is that no40 amount of physical science could create, although it might lead towards a spiritualistic philosophy. Spiritualism first arose from the sophistic negation of an external world, from the exclusive study of man, from the Socratic search after general definitions. Yet, if Nous originally meant intelligence, how could it lose this primary signification and become identified with a mere mode of matter? The answer is, that Anaxagoras, whose whole life was spent in tracing out the order of Nature, would instinctively think of his own intelligence as a discriminating, identifying faculty; would, consequently, conceive its objective counterpart under the form of a differentiating and integrating power. All preceding thinkers had represented their supreme being under material conditions, either as one element singly or as a sum total where elemental differences were merged. Anaxagoras differed from them chiefly by the very sharp distinction drawn between his informing principle and the rest of Nature. The absolute intermixture of qualities which he presupposes bears a very strong resemblance both to the Sphairos of Empedocles and to the fiery consummation of Heracleitus, it may even have been suggested by them. Only, what with them was the highest form of existence becomes with him the lowest; thought is asserting itself more and more, and interpreting the law of evolution in accordance with its own imperious demands. ”