The Project Gutenberg EBook of Plato and the Other Companions of Sokrates, 3rd ed. Volume I (of 4), by George Grote This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: Plato and the Other Companions of Sokrates, 3rd ed. Volume I (of 4) Author: George Grote Release Date: August 7, 2012 [EBook #40435] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK PLATO, COMPANIONS OF SOKRATES, VOL I *** Produced by Ed Brandon as part of the on-line Grote Project
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In the present Edition, with a view to the distribution into four volumes, there is a slight transposition of the author’s arrangement. His concluding chapters (XXXVIII., XXXIX.), entitled “Other Companions of Sokrates,” and “Xenophon,” are placed in the First Volume, as chapters III. and IV. By this means each volume is made up of nearly related subjects, so as to possess a certain amount of unity.
Volume First contains the following subjects:—Speculative Philosophy in Greece before Sokrates; Growth of Dialectic; Other Companions of Sokrates; Xenophon; Life of Plato; Platonic Canon; Platonic Compositions generally; Apology of Sokrates; Kriton; Euthyphron.
Volume Second comprises:—Alkibiades I. and II.; Hippias Major — Hippias Minor; Hipparchus — Minos; Theages; Erastæ or Anterastæ — Rivales; Ion; Laches; Charmides; Lysis; Euthydemus; Menon; Protagoras; Gorgias; Phædon.
Volume Third:—Phædrus — Symposion; Parmenides; Theætetus; Sophistes; Politikus; Kratylus; Philebus; Menexenus; Kleitophon.
Volume Fourth:—Republic; Timæus and Kritias; Leges and Epinomis; General Index.
The Volumes may be obtained separately.
The present work is intended as a sequel and supplement to my History of Greece. It describes a portion of Hellenic philosophy: it dwells upon eminent individuals, enquiring, theorising, reasoning, confuting, &c., as contrasted with those collective political and social manifestations which form the matter of history, and which the modern writer gathers from Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon.
Both Sokrates and Plato, indeed, are interesting characters in history as well as in philosophy. Under the former aspect, they were described by me in my former work as copiously as its general purpose would allow. But it is impossible to do justice to either of them — above all, to Plato, with his extreme variety and abundance — except in a book of which philosophy is the principal subject, and history only the accessory.
The names of Plato and Aristotle tower above all others in Grecian philosophy. Many compositions from both have been preserved, though only a small proportion of the total number left by Aristotle. Such preservation must be accounted highly fortunate, when we read in Diogenes Laertius and others, the long list of works on various topics of philosophy, now irrecoverably lost, and known by little except their titles. Respecting a few of them, indeed, we obtain some partial indications from fragmentary extracts and comments of later critics. But none of these once celebrated philosophers, except Plato and Aristotle, can be fairly appreciated upon evidence furnished by themselves. The Platonic dialogues, besides the extraordinary genius which vithey display as compositions, bear thus an increased price (like the Sibylline books) as the scanty remnants of a lost philosophical literature, once immense and diversified.
Under these two points of view, I trust that the copious analysis and commentary bestowed upon them in the present work will not be considered as unnecessarily lengthened. I maintain, full and undiminished, the catalogue of Plato’s works as it was inherited from antiquity and recognised by all critics before the commencement of the present century. Yet since several subsequent critics have contested the canon, and set aside as spurious many of the dialogues contained in it, — I have devoted a chapter to this question, and to the vindication of the views on which I have proceeded.
The title of these volumes will sufficiently indicate that I intend to describe, as far as evidence permits, the condition of Hellenic philosophy at Athens during the half century immediately following the death of Sokrates in 399 B.C. My first two chapters do indeed furnish a brief sketch of Pre-Sokratic philosophy: but I profess to take my departure from Sokrates himself, and these chapters are inserted mainly in order that the theories by which he found himself surrounded may not be altogether unknown. Both here, and in the sixty-ninth chapter of my History, I have done my best to throw light on the impressive and eccentric personality of Sokrates: a character original and unique, to whose peculiar mode of working on other minds I scarcely know a parallel in history. He was the generator, indirectly and through others, of a new and abundant crop of compositions — the “Sokratic dialogues”: composed by many different authors, among whom Plato stands out as unquestionable coryphæus, yet amidst other names well deserving respectful mention as seconds, companions, or opponents.
It is these Sokratic dialogues, and the various companions of Sokrates from whom they proceeded, that the present work is intended to exhibit. They form the dramatic manifestation vii of Hellenic philosophy — as contrasted with the formal and systematising, afterwards prominent in Aristotle.
But the dialogue is a process containing commonly a large intermixture, often a preponderance, of the negative vein: which was more abundant and powerful in Sokrates than in any one. In discussing the Platonic dialogues, I have brought this negative vein into the foreground. It reposes upon a view of the function and value of philosophy which is less dwelt upon than it ought to be, and for which I here briefly prepare the reader.
Philosophy is, or aims at becoming, reasoned truth: an aggregate of matters believed or disbelieved after conscious process of examination gone through by the mind, and capable of being explained to others: the beliefs being either primary, knowingly assumed as self-evident — or conclusions resting upon them, after comparison of all relevant reasons favourable and unfavourable. “Philosophia” (in the words of Cicero), “ex rationum collatione consistit.” This is not the form in which beliefs or disbeliefs exist with ordinary minds: there has been no conscious examination — there is no capacity of explaining to others — there is no distinct setting out of primary truths assumed — nor have any pains been taken to look out for the relevant reasons on both sides, and weigh them impartially. Yet the beliefs nevertheless exist as established facts generated by traditional or other authority. They are sincere and often earnest, governing men’s declarations and conduct. They represent a cause in which sentence has been pronounced, or a rule made absolute, without having previously heard the pleadings.1
1 Napoléon, qui de temps en temps, au milieu de sa fortune et de sa puissance, songeait à Robespierre et à sa triste fin — interrogeait un jour son archi-chancelier Cambacérès sur le neuf Thermidor. “C’est un procès jugé et non plaidé,” répondait Cambacérès, avec la finesse d’un jurisconsulte courtisan. — (Hippolyte Carnot — Notice sur Barère, p. 109; Paris, 1842.)
Now it is the purpose of the philosopher, first to bring this omission of the pleadings into conscious notice — next to discover, evolve, and bring under hearing the matters omitted, viii as far as they suggest themselves to his individual reason. He claims for himself, and he ought to claim for all others alike, the right of calling for proof where others believe without proof — of rejecting the received doctrines, if upon examination the proof given appears to his mind unsound or insufficient — and of enforcing instead of them any others which impress themselves upon his mind as true. But the truth which he tenders for acceptance must of necessity be reasoned truth; supported by proofs, defended by adequate replies against preconsidered objections from others. Only hereby does it properly belong to the history of philosophy: hardly even hereby has any such novelty a chance of being fairly weighed and appreciated.
When we thus advert to the vocation of philosophy, we see that (to use the phrase of an acute modern author2) it is by necessity polemical: the assertion of independent reason by individual reasoners, who dissent from the unreasoning belief which reigns authoritative in the social atmosphere around them, and who recognise no correction or ix refutation except from the counter-reason of others. We see besides, that these dissenters from the public will also be, probably, more or less dissenters from each other. The process of philosophy may be differently performed by two enquirers equally free and sincere, even of the same age and country: and it is sure to be differently performed, if they belong to ages and countries widely apart. It is essentially relative to the individual reasoning mind, and to the medium by which the reasoner is surrounded. Philosophy herself has every thing to gain by such dissent; for it is only thereby that the weak and defective points of each point of view are likely to be exposed. If unanimity is not attained, at least each of the dissentients will better understand what he rejects as well as what he adopts.
2 Professor Ferrier, in his instructive volume, ‘The Institutes of Metaphysic,’ has some valuable remarks on the scope and purpose of Philosophy. I transcribe some of them, in abridgment.
(Sections 1-8) “A system of philosophy is bound by two main requisitions: it ought to be true — and it ought to be reasoned. Philosophy, in its ideal perfection, is a body of reasoned truth. Of these obligations, the latter is the more stringent. It is more proper that philosophy should be reasoned, than that it should be true: because, while truth may perhaps be unattainable by man, to reason is certainly his province and within his power.… A system is of the highest value only when it embraces both these requisitions — that is, when it is both true, and reasoned. But a system which is reasoned without being true, is always of higher value than a system which is true without being reasoned. The latter kind of system is of no value: because philosophy is the attainment of truth by the way of reason. That is its definition. A system, therefore, which reaches the truth but not by the way of reason, is not philosophy at all, and has therefore no scientific worth. Again, an unreasoned philosophy, even though true, carries no guarantee of its truth. It may be true, but it cannot be certain. On the other hand, a system, which is reasoned without being true, has always some value. It creates reason by exercising it. It is employing the proper means to reach truth, though it may fail to reach it.” (Sections 38-41) — “The student will find that the system here submitted to his attention is of a very polemical character. Why! Because philosophy exists only to correct the inadvertencies of man’s ordinary thinking. She has no other mission to fulfil. If man naturally thinks aright, he need not be taught to think aright. If he is already in possession of the truth, he does not require to be put in possession of it. The occupation of philosophy is gone: her office is superfluous. Therefore philosophy assumes and must assume that man does not naturally think aright, but must be taught to do so: that truth does not come to him spontaneously, but must be brought to him by his own exertions. If man does not naturally think aright, he must think, we shall not say wrongly (for that implies malice prepense) but inadvertently: the native occupant of his mind must be, we shall not say falsehood (for that too implies malice prepense) but error. The original dowry then of universal man is inadvertency and error. This assumption is the ground and only justification of the existence of philosophy. The circumstance that philosophy exists only to put right the oversights of common thinking — renders her polemical not by choice, but by necessity. She is controversial as the very tenure and condition of her existence: for how can she correct the slips of common opinion, the oversights of natural thinking, except by controverting them?” Professor Ferrier deserves high commendation for the care taken in this volume to set out clearly Proposition and Counter-Proposition: the thesis which he impugns, as well as that which he sustains.
The number of individual intellects, independent, inquisitive, and acute, is always rare everywhere; but was comparatively less rare in these ages of Greece. The first topic, on which such intellects broke loose from the common consciousness of the world around them, and struck out new points of view for themselves, was in reference to the Kosmos or the Universe. The received belief, of a multitude of unseen divine persons bringing about by volitions all the different phenomena of nature, became unsatisfactory to men like Thales, Anaximander, Parmenides, Pythagoras, Anaxagoras. Each of these volunteers, following his own independent inspirations, struck out a new hypothesis, and endeavoured x to commend it to others with more or less of sustaining reason. There appears to have been little of negation or refutation in their procedure. None of them tried to disprove the received point of view, or to throw its supporters upon their defence. Each of them unfolded his own hypothesis, or his own version of affirmative reasoned truth, for the adoption of those with whom it might find favour.
The dialectic age had not yet arrived. When it did arrive, with Sokrates as its principal champion, the topics of philosophy were altered, and its process revolutionised. We have often heard repeated the Ciceronian dictum — that Sokrates brought philosophy down from the heavens to the earth: from the distant, abstruse, and complicated phenomena of the Kosmos — in respect to which he adhered to the vulgar point of view, and even disapproved any enquiries tending to rationalise it — to the familiar business of man, and the common generalities of ethics and politics. But what has been less observed about Sokrates, though not less true, is, that along with this change of topics he introduced a complete revolution in method. He placed the negative in the front of his procedure; giving to it a point, an emphasis, a substantive value, which no one had done before. His peculiar gift was that of cross-examination, or the application of his Elenchus to discriminate pretended from real knowledge. He found men full of confident beliefs on these ethical and political topics — affirming with words which they had never troubled themselves to define — and persuaded that they required no farther teaching: yet at the same time unable to give clear or consistent answers to his questions, and shown by this convincing test to be destitute of real knowledge. Declaring this false persuasion of knowledge, or confident unreasoned belief, to be universal, he undertook, as the mission of his life, to expose it: and he proclaimed that until the mind was disabused thereof and made painxifully conscious of ignorance, no affirmative reasoned truth could be presented with any chance of success.
Such are the peculiar features of the Sokratic dialogue, exemplified in the compositions here reviewed. I do not mean that Sokrates always talked so; but that such was the marked peculiarity which distinguished his talking from that of others. It is philosophy, or reasoned truth, approached in the most polemical manner; operative at first only to discredit the natural, unreasoned intellectual growths of the ordinary mind, and to generate a painful consciousness of ignorance. I say this here, and I shall often say it again throughout these volumes. It is absolutely indispensable to the understanding of the Platonic dialogues; one half of which must appear unmeaning, unless construed with reference to this separate function and value of negative dialectic. Whether readers may themselves agree in such estimation of negative dialectic, is another question: but they must keep it in mind as the governing sentiment of Plato during much of his life, and of Sokrates throughout the whole of life: as being moreover one main cause of that antipathy which Sokrates inspired to many respectable orthodox contemporaries. I have thought it right to take constant account of this orthodox sentiment among the ordinary public, as the perpetual drag-chain, even when its force is not absolutely repressive, upon free speculation.
Proceeding upon this general view, I have interpreted the numerous negative dialogues in Plato as being really negative and nothing beyond. I have not presumed, still less tried to divine, an ulterior Affirmative beyond what the text reveals — neither arcana cœlestia, like Proklus and Ficinus,3 nor any other arcanum of terrestrial character. While giving such an analysis of each dialogue as my space permitted and xii as will enable the reader to comprehend its general scope and peculiarities — I have studied each as it stands written, and have rarely ascribed to Plato any purpose exceeding what he himself intimates. Where I find difficulties forcibly dwelt upon without any solution, I imagine, not that he had a good solution kept back in his closet, but that he had failed in finding one: that he thought it useful, as a portion of the total process necessary for finding and authenticating reasoned truth, both to work out these unsolved difficulties for himself, and to force them impressively upon the attention of others.4
3 F. A. Wolf, Vorrede, Plato, Sympos. p. vi.
“Ficinus suchte, wie er sich in der Zueignungsschrift seiner Vision ausdrückt, im Platon allenthalben arcana cœlestia: und da er sie in seinem Kopfe mitbrachte, so konnte es ihm nicht sauer werden, etwas zu finden, was freilich jedem andern verborgen bleiben muss.”
4 A striking passage from Bentham illustrates very well both the Sokratic and the Platonic point of view. (Principles of Morals and Legislation, vol. ii. ch. xvi. p. 57, ed. 1823.)
“Gross ignorance descries no difficulties. Imperfect knowledge finds them out and struggles with them. It must be perfect knowledge that overcomes them.”
Of the three different mental conditions here described, the first is that against which Sokrates made war, i.e. real ignorance, and false persuasion of knowledge, which therefore descries no difficulties.
The second, or imperfect knowledge struggling with difficulties, is represented by the Platonic negative dialogues.
The third — or perfect knowledge victorious over difficulties — will be found in the following pages marked by the character τὸ δύνασθαι λόγον διδόναι καὶ δέχεσθαι. You do not possess “perfect knowledge,” until you are able to answer, with unfaltering promptitude and consistency, all the questions of a Sokratic cross-examiner — and to administer effectively the like cross-examination yourself, for the purpose of testing others. Ὃλως δὲ σημεῖον τοῦ εἰδότος τὸ δύνασθαι διδάσκειν ἔστιν. (Aristotel. Metaphys. A. 981, b. 8.)
Perfect knowledge, corresponding to this definition, will not be found manifested in Plato. Instead of it, we note in his latter years the lawgiver’s assumed infallibility.
Moreover, I deal with each dialogue as a separate composition. Each represents the intellectual scope and impulse of a peculiar moment, which may or may not be in harmony with the rest. Plato would have protested not less earnestly than Cicero,5 against those who sought to foreclose debate, in the grave and arduous struggles for searching out reasoned truth — and to bind down the free inspirations of his intellect in one dialogue, by appealing to sentence already pronounced xiii in another preceding. Of two inconsistent trains of reasoning, both cannot indeed be true — but both are often useful to be known and studied: and the philosopher, who professes to master the theory of his subject, ought not to be a stranger to either. All minds athirst for reasoned truth will be greatly aided in forming their opinions by the number of points which Plato suggests, though they find little which he himself settles for them finally.
5 Cicero, Tusc. Disp. v. 11, 38.
The collocutor remarks that what Cicero says is inconsistent with what he (Cicero) had written in the fourth book De Finibus. To which Cicero replies:—
“Tu quidem tabellis obsignatis agis mecum, et testificaris, quid dixerim aliquando aut scripserim. Cum aliis isto modo, qui legibus impositis disputant. Nos in diem vivimus: quodcunque nostros animos probabilitate percussit, id dicimus: itaque soli sumus liberi.”
There have been various critics, who, on perceiving inconsistencies in Plato, either force them into harmony by a subtle exegêsis, or discard one of them as spurious.6 I have not followed either course. I recognise such inconsistencies, when found, as facts — and even as very interesting facts — in his philosophical character. To the marked contradiction in the spirit of the Leges, as compared with the earlier Platonic compositions, I have called special attention. Plato has been called by Plutarch a mixture of Sokrates with Lykurgus. The two elements are in reality opposite, predominant at different times: Plato begins his career with the confessed ignorance and philosophical negative of Sokrates: he closes it with the peremptory, dictatorial, affirmative of Lykurgus.
6 Since the publication of the first edition of this work, there have appeared valuable commentaries on the philosophy of the late Sir William Hamilton, by Mr. John Stuart Mill, and Mr. Stirling and others. They have exposed inconsistencies, both grave and numerous, in some parts of Sir William Hamilton’s writings as compared with others. But no one has dreamt of drawing an inference from this fact, that one or other of the inconsistent trains of reasoning must be spurious, falsely ascribed to Sir William Hamilton.
Now in the case of Plato, this same fact of inconsistency is accepted by nearly all his commentators as a sound basis for the inference that both the inconsistent treatises cannot be genuine: though the dramatic character of Plato’s writings makes inconsistencies much more easily supposable than in dogmatic treatises such as those of Hamilton.
To Xenophon, who belongs only in part to my present work, and whose character presents an interesting contrast with Plato, I have devoted a separate chapter. To the other less celebrated Sokratic Companions also, I have endeavoured to do justice, as far as the scanty means of knowledge permit: xiv to them, especially, because they have generally been misconceived and unduly depreciated.
The present volumes, however, contain only one half of the speculative activity of Hellas during the fourth century B.C. The second half, in which Aristotle is the hero, remains still wanting. If my health and energies continue, I hope one day to be able to supply this want: and thus to complete from my own point of view, the history, speculative as well as active, of the Hellenic race, down to the date which I prescribed to myself in the Preface of my History near twenty years ago.
The philosophy of the fourth century B.C. is peculiarly valuable and interesting, not merely from its intrinsic speculative worth — from the originality and grandeur of its two principal heroes — from its coincidence with the full display of dramatic, rhetorical, artistic genius — but also from a fourth reason not unimportant — because it is purely Hellenic; preceding the development of Alexandria, and the amalgamation of Oriental veins of thought with the inspirations of the Academy or the Lyceum. The Orontes7 and the Jordan had not yet begun to flow westward, and to impart their own colour to the waters of Attica and Latium. Not merely the real world, but also the ideal world, present to the minds of Plato and Aristotle, were purely Hellenic. Even during the century immediately following, this had ceased to be fully true in respect to the philosophers of Athens: and it became less and less true with each succeeding century. New foreign centres of rhetoric and literature — Asiatic and Alexandrian Hellenism — were fostered into importance by regal encouragement. Plato and Aristotle are thus the special representatives of genuine Hellenic philosophy. The remarkable intellectual ascendancy acquired by them in their own day, and maintained over succeeding centuries, was xv one main reason why the Hellenic vein was enabled so long to maintain itself, though in impoverished condition, against adverse influences from the East, ever increasing in force. Plato and Aristotle outlasted all their Pagan successors — successors at once less purely Hellenic and less highly gifted. And when Saint Jerome, near 750 years after the decease of Plato, commemorated with triumph the victory of unlettered Christians over the accomplishments and genius of Paganism — he illustrated the magnitude of the victory, by singling out Plato and Aristotle as the representatives of vanquished philosophy.8
7 Juvenal iii. 62:—
“Jampridem Syrus in Tiberim defluxit Orontes,” &c.
8 The passage is a remarkable one, as marking both the effect produced on a Latin scholar by Hebrew studies, and the neglect into which even the greatest writers of classical antiquity had then fallen (about 400 A.D.).
Hieronymus — Comment. in Epist. ad Galatas, iii. 5, p. 486-487, ed. Venet. 1769:—
“Sed omnem sermonis elegantiam, et Latini sermonis venustatem, stridor lectionis Hebraicæ sordidavit. Nostis enim et ipsæ” (i.e. Paula and Eustochium, to whom his letter is addressed) “quod plus quam quindecim anni sunt, ex quo in manus meas nunquam Tullius, nunquam Maro, nunquam Gentilium literarum quilibet Auctor ascendit: et si quid forte inde, dum loquimur, obrepit, quasi antiqua per nebulam somnii recordamur. Quod autem profecerim ex linguæ illius infatigabili studio, aliorum judicio derelinquo: ego quid in meâ amiserim, scio … Si quis eloquentiam quærit vel declamationibus delectatur, habet in utrâque linguâ Demosthenem et Tullium, Polemonem et Quintilianum. Ecclesia Christi non de Academiâ et Lyceo, sed de vili plebeculâ congregata est.… Quotusquisque nunc Aristotelem legit? Quanti Platonis vel libros novêre vel nomen? Vix in angulis otiosi eos senes recolunt. Rusticanos vero et piscatores nostros totus orbis loquitur, universus mundus sonat.”
|Speculative Philosophy in Greece, before and in the time of Sokrates.|
|Change in the political condition of Greece during the life of Plato||1|
|Early Greek mind, satisfied with the belief in polytheistic personal agents, as the real producing causes of phenomena||2|
|Belief in such agency continued among the general public, even after the various sects of philosophy had arisen||3|
|Thales, the first Greek who propounded the hypothesis of physical agency in place of personal. Water, the primordial substance, or ἀρχή||4|
|Anaximander — laid down as ἀρχή the Infinite or Indeterminate — generation of the elements out of it, by evolution of latent, fundamental contraries — astronomical and geological doctrines||ib.|
|Anaximenes — adopted Air as ἀρχή — rise of substances out of it, by condensation and rarefaction||7|
|Pythagoras — his life and career — Pythagorean brotherhood — great political influence which it acquired among the Greco-Italian cities — incurred great enmity, and was violently put down||8|
|The Pythagoreans continue as a recluse sect, without political power||9|
|Doctrine of the Pythagoreans — Number the Essence of Things||ib.|
|The Monas — ἀρχή, or principle of Number — geometrical conception of number — symbolical attributes of the first ten numbers, especially of the Dekad||11|
|Pythagorean Kosmos and Astronomy — geometrical and harmonic laws guiding the movements of the cosmical bodies||12|
|Music of the Spheres||14|
|Pythagorean list of fundamental Contraries — Ten opposing pairs||ib.|
|Eleatic philosophy — Xenophanes||16|
|His censures upon the received Theogony and religious rites||ib.|
|His doctrine of Pankosmism; or Pantheism — the whole Kosmos is Ens Unum or God — Ἓν καὶ Πᾶν. Non-Ens inadmissible||17|
|Scepticism of Xenophanes — complaint of philosophy as unsatisfactory||18|
|His conjectures on physics and astronomy||ib.|
|Parmenides continues the doctrine of Xenophanes — Ens Parmenideum, self-existent, eternal, unchangeable, extended — Non-Ens, an unmeaning phrase||19|
|He recognises a region of opinion, phenomenal and relative, apart from Ens||20|
|Parmenidean ontology — stands completely apart from phenomenology||21|
|Parmenidean phenomenology — relative and variable||23|
|Parmenides recognises no truth, but more or less of probability, in phenomenal explanations. — His physical and astronomical conjectures||24|
|Herakleitus — his obscure style, impressive metaphors, confident and contemptuous dogmatism||26|
|Doctrine of Herakleitus — perpetual process of generation and destruction — everything flows, nothing stands — transition of the elements into each other backwards and forwards||27|
|Variety of metaphors employed by Herakleitus, signifying the same general doctrine||28|
|Nothing permanent except the law of process and implication of contraries — the transmutative force. Fixity of particulars is an illusion for the most part: so far as it exists, it is a sin against the order of Nature||29|
|Illustrations by which Herakleitus symbolized his perpetual force, destroying and generating||30|
|Water — Intermediate between Fire (Air) and Earth||31|
|Sun and Stars — not solid bodies, but meteoric aggregations dissipated and renewed — Eclipses — ἐκπύρωσις, or destruction of the Kosmos by fire||32|
|His doctrines respecting the human soul and human knowledge. All wisdom resided in the Universal Reason — individual Reason is worthless||34|
|By Universal Reason, he did not mean the Reason of most men as it is, but as it ought to be||35|
|Herakleitus at the opposite pole from Parmenides||37|
|Empedokles — his doctrine of the four elements and two moving or restraining forces||ib.|
|Construction of the Kosmos from these elements and forces — action and counteraction of love and enmity. The Kosmos alternately made and unmade||38|
|Empedoklean predestined cycle of things — complete empire of Love Sphærus — Empire of Enmity — disengagement or separation of the elements — astronomy and meteorology||39|
|Formation of the Earth, of Gods, men, animals, and plants||41|
|Physiology of Empedokles — Procreation — Respiration — movement of the blood||43|
|Doctrine of effluvia and pores — explanation of perceptions — intercommunication of the elements with the sentient subject — like acting upon like||44|
|Sense of vision||45|
|Senses of hearing, smell, taste||46|
|Empedokles declared that justice absolutely forbade the killing of anything that had life. His belief in the metempsychosis. Sufferings of life, are an expiation for wrong done during an antecedent life. Pretensions to magical power||46|
|Complaint of Empedokles on the impossibility of finding out truth||47|
|Theory of Anaxagoras denied — generation and destruction — recognised only mixture and severance of pre-existing kinds of matter||48|
|Homœomeries — small particles of diverse kinds of matter, all mixed together||ib.|
|First condition of things all — the primordial varieties of matter were huddled together in confusion. Νοῦς or reason, distinct from all of them, supervened and acted upon this confused mass, setting the constituent particles in movement||49|
|Movement of rotation in the mass, originated by Νοῦς on a small scale, but gradually extending itself. Like particles congregate together — distinguishable aggregates are formed||50|
|Nothing (except Νοῦς) can be entirely pure or unmixed; but other things may be comparatively pure. Flesh, Bone, &c., are purer than Air or Earth||51|
|Theory of Anaxagoras, compared with that of Empedokles||52|
|Suggested partly by the phenomena of of animal nutrition||53|
|Chaos common to both Empedokles and Anaxagoras: moving agency, different in one from the other theory||54|
|Νοῦς, or mind, postulated by Anaxagoras — how understood by later writers — how intended by Anaxagoras himself||ib.|
|Plato and Aristotle blame Anaxagoras for deserting his own theory||56|
|Astronomy and physics of Anaxagoras||57|
|His geology, meteorology, physiology||58|
|The doctrines of Anaxagoras were regarded as offensive and impious||59|
|Diogenes of Apollonia recognises one primordial element||60|
|Air was the primordial, universal element||61|
|Air possessed numerous and diverse properties; was eminently modifiable||ib.|
|Physiology of Diogenes — his description of the veins in the human body||62|
|Kosmology and Meteorology||64|
|Leukippus and Demokritus — Atomic theory||65|
|Long life, varied travels, and numerous compositions, of Demokritus||ib.|
|Relation between the theory of Demokritus and that of Parmenides||66|
|Demokritean theory — Atoms Plena and Vacua — Ens and Non-Ens||67|
|Primordial atoms differed only in magnitude, figure, position, and arrangement — they had no qualities, but their movements and combinations generated qualities||69|
|Combination of atoms — generating different qualities in the compound||70|
|All atoms essentially separate from each other||71|
|All properties of objects, except weight and hardness, were phenomenal and relative to the observer. Sensation could give no knowledge of the real and absolute||ib.|
|Reason alone gave true and real knowledge, but very little of it was attainable||72|
|No separate force required to set the atoms in motion — they moved by an inherent force of their own. Like atoms naturally tend towards like. Rotatory motion, the capital fact of the Kosmos||72|
|Researches of Demokritus on zoology and animal generation||75|
|His account of mind — he identified it with heat or fire, diffused throughout animals, plants, and nature generally. Mental particles intermingled throughout all frame with corporeal particles||ib.|
|Different mental aptitudes attached to different parts of the body||76|
|Explanation of different sensations and perceptions. Colours||77|
|Vision caused by the outflow of effluvia or images from objects. Hearing||78|
|Difference of tastes — how explained||ib.|
|Thought or intelligence — was produced by influx of atoms from without||79|
|Sensation, obscure knowledge relative to the sentient: Thought, genuine knowledge — absolute, or object per se||80|
|Idola or images were thrown off from objects, which determined the tone of thoughts, feelings, dreams, divinations, &c.||81|
|Universality of Demokritus — his ethical views||82|
|General Remarks on the Earlier Philosophers — Growth of Dialectic — Zeno and Gorgias.|
|Variety of sects and theories — multiplicity of individual authorities is the characteristic of Greek philosophy||84|
|These early theorists are not known from their own writings, which have been lost. Importance of the information of Aristotle about them||85|
|Abundance of speculative genius and invention — a memorable fact in the Hellenic mind||86|
|Difficulties which a Grecian philosopher had to overcome — prevalent view of Nature, established, impressive, and misleading||ib.|
|Views of the Ionic philosophers — compared with the more recent abstractions of Plato and Aristotle||87|
|Parmenides and Pythagoras — more nearly akin to Plato and Aristotle||89|
|Advantage derived from this variety of constructive imagination among the Greeks||90|
|All these theories were found in circulation by Sokrates, Zeno, Plato, and the dialecticians. Importance of the scrutiny of negative Dialectic||91|
|The early theorists were studied, along with Plato and Aristotle, in the third and second centuries B.C.||92|
|Negative attribute common to all the early theorists — little or no dialectic||93|
|Zeno of Elea — Melissus||ib.|
|Zeno’s Dialectic — he refuted the opponents of Parmenides, by showing that their assumptions led to contradictions and absurdities||93|
|Consequences of their assumption of Entia Plura Discontinua. Reductiones ad absurdum||94|
|Each thing must exist in its own place — Grain of millet not sonorous||95|
|Zenonian arguments in regard to motion||97|
|General purpose and result of the Zenonian Dialectic. Nothing is knowable except the relative||98|
|Mistake of supposing Zeno’s reductiones ad absurdum of an opponent’s doctrine, to be contradictions of data generalized from experience||99|
|Zenonian Dialectic — Platonic Parmenides||100|
|Views of historians of philosophy, respecting Zeno||101|
|Absolute and relative — the first, unknowable||ib.|
|Zeno did not deny motion, as a fact, phenomenal and relative||102|
|Gorgias the Leontine — did not admit the Absolute, even as conceived by Parmenides||103|
|His reasonings against the Absolute, either as Ens or Entia||ib.|
|Ens, incogitable and unknowable||104|
|Ens, even if granted to be knowable, is still incommunicable to others||ib.|
|Zeno and Gorgias — contrasted with the earlier Grecian philosophers||105|
|New character of Grecian philosophy — antithesis of affirmative and negative — proof and disproof||ib.|
|Other Companions of Sokrates.|
|Influence exercised by Sokrates over his companions||110|
|Names of those companions||111|
|Æschines — Oration of Lysias against him||112|
|Written Sokratic Dialogues — their general character||114|
|Relations between the companions of Sokrates — Their proceedings after the death of Sokrates||116|
|No Sokratic school — each of the companions took a line of his own||117|
|Eukleides of Megara — he blended Parmenides with Sokrates||118|
|Doctrine of Eukleides about Bonum||119|
|The doctrine compared to that of Plato — changes in Plato||ib.|
|Last doctrine of Plato nearly the same as Eukleides||120|
|Megaric succession of philosophers. Eleian or Eretrian succession||121|
|Doctrines of Antisthenes and Aristippus — Ethical, not transcendental||122|
|Preponderance of the negative vein in the Platonic age||123|
|Harsh manner in which historians of philosophy censure the negative vein||ib.|
|Negative method in philosophy essential to the controul of the affirmative||ib.|
|Sokrates — the most persevering and acute Eristic of his age||124|
|Platonic Parmenides — its extreme negative character||125|
|The Megarics shared the negative impulse with Sokrates and Plato||126|
|Eubulides — his logical problems or puzzles — difficulty of solving them — many solutions attempted||128|
|Real character of the Megaric sophisms, not calculated to deceive, but to guard against deception||129|
|If the process of theorising be admissible, it must include negative as well as affirmative||130|
|Logical position of the Megaric philosophers erroneously described by historians of philosophy. Necessity of a complete collection of difficulties||131|
|Sophisms propounded by Eubulides. 1. Mentiens. 2. The Veiled Man. 3. Sorites. 4. Cornutus||133|
|Causes of error constant — The Megarics were sentinels against them||135|
|Controversy of the Megarics with Aristotle about Power. Arguments of Aristotle||ib.|
|These arguments not valid against the Megarici||136|
|His argument cited and criticised||137|
|Potential as distinguished from the Actual — What it is||139|
|Diodôrus Kronus — his doctrine about τὸ δυνατόν||140|
|Sophism of Diodôrus — Ὁ Κυριεύων||141|
|Question between Aristotle and Diodôrus, depends upon whether universal regularity of sequence be admitted or denied||ib.|
|Conclusion of Diodôrus defended by Hobbes — Explanation given by Hobbes||143|
|Reasonings of Diodôrus — respecting Hypothetical Propositions — respecting Motion. His difficulties about the Nowof time||145|
|Motion is always present, past, and future||146|
|Stilpon of Megara — His great celebrity||147|
|Menedêmus and the Eretriacs||148|
|Open speech and licence of censure assumed by Menedêmus||149|
|Antisthenes took up Ethics principally, but with negative Logic intermingled||ib.|
|He copied the manner of life of Sokrates, in plainness and rigour||150|
|Doctrines of Antisthenes exclusively ethical and ascetic. He despised music, literature, and physics||151|
|Constant friendship of Antisthenes with Sokrates — Xenophontic Symposion||152|
|Diogenes, successor of Antisthenes — His Cynical perfection — striking effect which he produced||ib.|
|Doctrines and smart sayings of Diogenes — Contempt of pleasure — training and labour required — indifference to literature and geometry||154|
|Admiration of Epiktêtus for Diogenes, especially for his consistency in acting out his own ethical creed||157|
|Admiration excited by the asceticism of the Cynics — Asceticism extreme in the East. Comparison of the Indian Gymnosophists with Diogenes||ib.|
|The precepts and principles laid down by Sokrates were carried into fullest execution by the Cynics||160|
|Antithesis between Nature and Law or Convention insisted on by the Indian Gymnosophists||162|
|The Greek Cynics — an order of ascetic or mendicant friars||163|
|Logical views of Antisthenes and Diogenes — they opposed the Platonic Ideas||ib.|
|First protest of Nominalism against Realism||164|
|Doctrine of Antisthenes about predication — He admits no other predication but identical||165|
|The same doctrine asserted by Stilpon, after the time of Aristotle||166|
|Nominalism of Stilpon. His reasons against accidental predication||167|
|Difficulty of understanding how the same predicate could belong to more than one subject||169|
|Analogous difficulties in the Platonic Parmenides||ib.|
|Menedêmus disallowed all negative predications||170|
|Distinction ascribed to Antisthenes between simple and complex objects. Simple objects undefinable||171|
|Remarks of Plato on this doctrine||172|
|Remarks of Aristotle upon the same||ib.|
|Later Grecian Cynics — Monimus — Krates — Hipparchia||173|
|Zeno of Kitium in Cyprus||174|
|Aristippus — life, character, and doctrine||175|
|Discourse of Sokrates with Aristippus||ib.|
|Choice of Hêraklês||177|
|Illustration afforded of the views of Sokrates respecting Good and Evil||ib.|
|Comparison of the Xenophontic Sokrates with the Platonic Sokrates||178|
|Xenophontic Sokrates talking to Aristippus — Kalliklês in Platonic Gorgias||179|
|Language held by Aristippus — his scheme of life||181|
|Diversified conversations of Sokrates, according to the character of the hearer||182|
|Conversation between Sokrates and Aristippus about the Good and Beautiful||184|
|Remarks on the conversation — Theory of Good||185|
|Good is relative to human beings and wants in the view of Sokrates||ib.|
|Aristippus adhered to the doctrine of Sokrates||186|
|Life and dicta of Aristippus — His type of character||ib.|
|Aristippus acted conformably to the advice of Sokrates||187|
|Self mastery and independence — the great aspiration of Aristippus||188|
|Aristippus compared with Antisthenes and Diogenes — Points of agreement and disagreement between them||190|
|Attachment of Aristippus to ethics and philosophy — contempt for other studies||192|
|Aristippus taught as a Sophist. His reputation thus acquired procured for him the attentions of Dionysius and others||193|
|Ethical theory of Aristippus and the Kyrenaic philosophers||195|
|Prudence — good, by reason of the pleasure which it ensured, and of the pains which it was necessary to avoid. Just and honourable, by law or custom — not by nature||197|
|Their logical theory — nothing knowable except the phenomenal, our own sensations and feelings — no knowledge of the absolute||197|
|Doctrines of Antisthenes and Aristippus passed to the Stoics and Epikureans||198|
|Ethical theory of Aristippus is identical with that of the Platonic Sokrates in the Protagoras||199|
|Difference in the manner of stating the theory by the two||200|
|Distinction to be made between a general theory — and the particular application of it made by the theorist to his own tastes and circumstances||201|
|Kyrenaic theorists after Aristippus||202|
|Theodôrus — Annikeris — Hegesias||ib.|
|Hegesias — Low estimation of life — renunciation of pleasure — coincidence with the Cynics||203|
|Doctrine of Relativity affirmed by the Kyrenaics, as well as by Protagoras||204|
|Xenophon — his character — essentially a man of action and not a theorist — the Sokratic element is in him an accessory||206|
|Date of Xenophon — probable year of his birth||207|
|His personal history — He consults Sokrates — takes the opinion of the Delphian oracle||208|
|His service and command with the Ten Thousand Greeks, afterwards under Agesilaus and the Spartans. — He is banished from Athens||209|
|His residence at Skillus near Olympia||210|
|Family of Xenophon — his son Gryllus killed at Mantineia||ib.|
|Death of Xenophon at Corinth — Story of the Eleian Exegetæ||211|
|Xenophon different from Plato and the other Sokratic brethren||212|
|His various works — Memorabilia, Œkonomikus, &c.||213|
|Ischomachus, hero of the Œkonomikus — ideal of an active citizen, cultivator, husband, house-master, &c.||214|
|Text upon which Xenophon insists — capital difference between command over subordinates willing and subordinates unwilling||215|
|Probable circumstances generating these reflections in Xenophon’s mind||215|
|This text affords subjects for the Hieron and Cyropædia — Name of Sokrates not suitable||216|
|Hieron — Persons of the dialogue — Simonides and Hieron||ib.|
|Questions put to Hieron, view taken by Simonides. Answer of Hieron||217|
|Misery of governing unwilling subjects declared by Hieron||218|
|Advice to Hieron by Simonides — that he should govern well, and thus make himself beloved by his subjects||219|
|Probable experience had by Xenophon of the feelings at Olympia against Dionysius||220|
|Xenophon could not have chosen a Grecian despot to illustrate his theory of the happiness of governing willing subjects||222|
|Cyropædia — blending of Spartan and Persian customs — Xenophon’s experience of Cyrus the Younger||ib.|
|Portrait of Cyrus the Great — his education — Preface to the Cyropædia||223|
|Xenophon does not solve his own problem — The governing aptitude and popularity of Cyrus come from nature, not from education||225|
|Views of Xenophon about public and official training of all citizens||226|
|Details of (so called) Persian education — Severe discipline — Distribution of four ages||227|
|Evidence of the good effect of this discipline — Hard and dry condition of the body||228|
|Exemplary obedience of Cyrus to the public discipline — He had learnt justice well — His award about the two coats — Lesson inculcated upon him by the Justice-Master||229|
|Xenophon’s conception of the Sokratic problems — He does not recognise the Sokratic order of solution of those problems||230|
|Definition given by Sokrates of Justice — Insufficient to satisfy the exigencies of the Sokratic Elenchus||231|
|Biography of Cyrus — constant military success earned by suitable qualities — Variety of characters and situations||232|
|Generous and amiable qualities of Cyrus. Abradates and Pantheia||233|
|Scheme of government devised by Cyrus when his conquests are completed — Oriental despotism, wisely arranged||234|
|Persian present reality — is described by Xenophon as thoroughly depraved, in striking contrast to the establishment of Cyrus||236|
|Xenophon has good experience of military and equestrian proceedings — No experience of finance and commerce||236|
|Discourse of Xenophon on Athenian finance and the condition of Athens. His admiration of active commerce and variety of pursuits||ib.|
|Recognised poverty among the citizens. Plan for improvement||238|
|Advantage of a large number of Metics. How these may be encouraged||ib.|
|Proposal to raise by voluntary contributions a large sum to be employed as capital by the city. Distribution of three oboli per head per day to all the citizens||ib.|
|Purpose and principle of this distribution||240|
|Visionary anticipations of Xenophon, financial and commercial||241|
|Xenophon exhorts his countrymen to maintain peace||243|
|Difference of the latest compositions of Xenophon and Plato, from their point of view in the earlier||244|
|Life of Plato.|
|Scanty information about Plato’s life||246|
|His birth, parentage, and early education||247|
|Early relations of Plato with Sokrates||248|
|Plato’s youth — service as a citizen and soldier||249|
|Period of political ambition||251|
|He becomes disgusted with politics||252|
|He retires from Athens after the death of Sokrates — his travels||253|
|His permanent establishment at Athens — 386 B.C.||ib.|
|He commences his teaching at the Academy||254|
|Plato as a teacher — pupils numerous and wealthy, from different cities||255|
|Visit of Plato to the younger Dionysius at Syracuse, 367 B.C.Second visit to the same — mortifying failure||258|
|Expedition of Dion against Dionysius — sympathies of Plato and the Academy||259|
|Success, misconduct, and death of Dion||ib.|
|Death of Plato, aged 80, 347 B.C.||260|
|Scholars of Plato — Aristotle||ib.|
|Little known about Plato’s personal history||262|
|Platonic Canon, as Recognised by Thrasyllus.|
|Platonic Canon — Ancient and modern discussions||264|
|Canon established by Thrasyllus. Presumption in its favour||265|
|Fixed residence and school at Athens — founded by Plato and transmitted to successors||ib.|
|Importance of this foundation. Preservation of Plato’s manuscripts. School library||266|
|Security provided by the school for distinguishing what were Plato’s genuine writings||267|
|Unfinished fragments and preparatory sketches, preserved and published after Plato’s death||268|
|Peripatetic school at the Lykeum — its composition and arrangement||269|
|Peripatetic school library, its removal from Athens to Skêpsis — its ultimate restitution in a damaged state to Athens, then to Rome||270|
|Inconvenience to the Peripatetic school from the loss of its library||ib.|
|Advantage to the Platonic school from having preserved its MSS.||272|
|Conditions favourable, for preserving the genuine works of Plato||ib.|
|Historical facts as to their preservation||ib.|
|Arrangement of them into Trilogies, by Aristophanes||273|
|Aristophanes, librarian at the Alexandrine library||ib.|
|Plato’s works in the Alexandrine library, before the time of Aristophanes||274|
|Kallimachus — predecessor of Aristophanes — his published Tables of authors whose works were in the library||275|
|Large and rapid accumulation of the Alexandrine Library||ib.|
|Plato’s works — in the library at the time of Kallimachus||276|
|First formation of the library — intended as a copy of the Platonic and Aristotelian Μουσεῖα at Athens||277|
|Favour of Ptolemy Soter towards the philosophers at Athens||279|
|Demetrius Phalereus — his history and character||ib.|
|He was chief agent in the first establishment of the Alexandrine Library||280|
|Proceedings of Demetrius in beginning to collect the library||282|
|Certainty that the works of Plato and Aristotle were among the earliest acquisitions made by him for the library||283|
|Large expenses incurred by the Ptolemies for procuring good MSS.||285|
|Catalogue of Platonic works, prepared by Aristophanes, is trustworthy||ib.|
|No canonical or exclusive order of the Platonic dialogues, when arranged by Aristophanes||286|
|Other libraries and literary centres, besides Alexandria, in which spurious Platonic works might get footing||ib.|
|Other critics, besides Aristophanes, proposed different arrangements of the Platonic dialogues||287|
|Panætius, the Stoic — considered the Phædon to be spurious — earliest known example of a Platonic dialogue disallowed upon internal grounds||288|
|Classification of Platonic works by the rhetor Thrasyllus — dramatic — philosophical||289|
|Dramatic principle — Tetralogies||ib.|
|Philosophical principle — Dialogues of Search — Dialogues of Exposition||291|
|Incongruity and repugnance of the two classifications||294|
|Dramatic principle of classification — was inherited by Thrasyllus from Aristophanes||295|
|Authority of the Alexandrine library — editions of Plato published, with the Alexandrine critical marks||ib.|
|Thrasyllus followed the Alexandrine library and Aristophanes, as to genuine Platonic works||296|
|Ten spurious dialogues, rejected by all other critics as well as by Thrasyllus — evidence that these critics followed the common authority of the Alexandrine library||297|
|Thrasyllus did not follow an internal sentiment of his own in rejecting dialogues as spurious||298|
|Results as to the trustworthiness of the Thrasyllean Canon||299|
|Platonic Canon, as Appreciated and Modified by Modern Critics.|
|The Canon of Thrasyllus continued to be generally acknowledged, by the Neo-Platonists, as well as by Ficinus and the succeeding critics after the revival of learning||301|
|Serranus — his six Syzygies — left the aggregate Canon unchanged, Tennemann — importance assigned to the Phædrus||302|
|Schleiermacher — new theory about the purposes of Plato. One philosophical scheme, conceived by Plato from the beginning — essential order and interdependence of the dialogues, as contributing to the full execution of this scheme. Some dialogues not constituent items in the series, but lying alongside of it. Order of arrangement||303|
|Theory of Ast — he denies the reality of any preconceived scheme — considers the dialogues as distinct philosophical dramas||304|
|His order of arrangement. He admits only fourteen dialogues as genuine, rejecting all the rest||305|
|Socher agrees with Ast in denying preconceived scheme — his arrangement of the dialogues, differing from both Ast and Schleiermacher — he rejects as spurious Parmenidês, Sophistês, Politikus, Kritias, with many others||306|
|Schleiermacher and Ast both consider Phædrus and Protagoras as early compositions — Socher puts Protagoras into the second period, Phædrus into the third||307|
|K. F. Hermann — Stallbaum — both of them consider the Phædrus as a late dialogue — both of them deny preconceived order and system — their arrangements of the dialogues — they admit new and varying philosophical points of view||ib.|
|They reject several dialogues||309|
|Steinhart — agrees in rejecting Schleiermacher’s fundamental postulate — his arrangement of the dialogues — considers the Phædrus as late in order — rejects several||ib.|
|Susemihl — coincides to a great degree with K. F. Hermann — his order of arrangement||310|
|Edward Munk — adopts a different principle of arrangement, founded upon the different period which each dialogue exhibits of the life, philosophical growth, and old age, of Sokrates — his arrangement, founded on this principle. He distinguishes the chronological order of composition from the place allotted to each dialogue in the systematic plan||311|
|Views of Ueberweg — attempt to reconcile Schleiermacher and Hermann — admits the preconceived purpose for the later dialogues, composed after the foundation of the school, but not for the earlier||313|
|His opinions as to authenticity and chronology of the dialogues, He rejects Hippias Major, Erastæ, Theagês, Kleitophon, Parmenidês: he is inclined to reject Euthyphron and Menexenus||314|
|Other Platonic critics — great dissensions about scheme and order of the dialogues||316|
|Contrast of different points of view instructive — but no solution has been obtained||ib.|
|The problem incapable of solution. Extent and novelty of the theory propounded by Schleiermacher — slenderness of his proofs||317|
|Schleiermacher’s hypothesis includes a preconceived scheme, and a peremptory order of interdependence among the dialogues||318|
|Assumptions of Schleiermacher respecting the Phædrus inadmissible||319|
|Neither Schleiermacher, nor any other critic, has as yet produced any tolerable proof for an internal theory of the Platonic dialogues||ib.|
|Munk’s theory is the most ambitious, and the most gratuitous, next to Schleiermacher’s||320|
|The age assigned to Sokrates in any dialogue is a circumstance of little moment||ib.|
|No intentional sequence or interdependence of the dialogues can be made out||322|
|Principle of arrangement adopted by Hermann is reasonable — successive changes in Plato’s point of view: but we cannot explain either the order or the causes of these changes||ib.|
|Hermann’s view more tenable than Schleiermacher’s||323|
|Small number of certainties, or even reasonable presumptions, as to date or order of the dialogues||324|
|Trilogies indicated by Plato himself||325|
|Positive dates of all the dialogues — unknown||326|
|When did Plato begin to compose? Not till after the death of Sokrates||ib.|
|Reasons for this opinion. Labour of the composition — does not consist with youth of the author||327|
|Reasons founded on the personality of Sokrates, and his relations with Plato||328|
|Reasons, founded on the early life, character, and position of Plato||330|
|Plato’s early life — active by necessity, and to some extent ambitious||331|
|Plato did not retire from political life until after the restoration of the democracy, nor devote himself to philosophy until after the death of Sokrates||333|
|All Plato’s dialogues were composed during the fifty-one years after the death of Sokrates||334|
|The Thrasyllean Canon is more worthy of trust than the modern critical theories by which it has been condemned||335|
|Unsafe grounds upon which those theories proceed||336|
|Opinions of Schleiermacher, tending to show this||337|
|Any true theory of Plato must recognise all his varieties, and must be based upon all the works in the Canon, not upon some to the exclusion of the rest||339|
|Platonic Compositions Generally.|
|Variety and abundance visible in Plato’s writings||342|
|Plato both sceptical and dogmatical||ib.|
|Poetical vein predominant in some compositions, but not in all||343|
|Form of dialogue — universal to this extent, that Plato never speaks in his own name||344|
|No one common characteristic pervading all Plato’s works||ib.|
|The real Plato was not merely a writer of dialogues, but also lecturer and president of a school. In this last important function he is scarcely at all known to us. Notes of his lectures taken by Aristotle||346|
|Plato’s lectures De Bono obscure and transcendental. Effect which they produced on the auditors||347|
|They were delivered to miscellaneous auditors. They coincide mainly with what Aristotle states about the Platonic Ideas||348|
|The lectures De Bono may perhaps have been more transcendental than Plato’s other lectures||349|
|Plato’s Epistles — in them only he speaks in his own person||ib.|
|Intentional obscurity of his Epistles in reference to philosophical doctrine||350|
|Letters of Plato to Dionysius II. about philosophy. His anxiety to confine philosophy to discussion among select and prepared minds||351|
|He refuses to furnish any written, authoritative exposition of his own philosophical doctrine||352|
|He illustrates his doctrine by the successive stages of geometrical teaching. Difficulty to avoid the creeping in of error at each of these stages||353|
|No written exposition can keep clear of these chances of error||355|
|Relations of Plato with Dionysius II. and the friends of the deceased Dion. Pretensions of Dionysius to understand and expound Plato’s doctrines||ib.|
|Impossibility of teaching by written exposition assumed by Plato; the assumption intelligible in his day||357|
|Standard by which Plato tested the efficacy of the expository process — Power of sustaining a Sokratic cross-examination||358|
|Plato never published any of the lectures which he delivered at the Academy||ib.|
|Plato would never publish his philosophical opinions in his own name; but he may have published them in the dialogues under the name of others||360|
|Groups into which the dialogues admit of being thrown||361|
|Distribution made by Thrasyllus defective, but still useful — Dialogues of Search, Dialogues of Exposition||ib.|
|Dialogues of Exposition — present affirmative result. Dialogues of Search are wanting in that attribute||362|
|The distribution coincides mainly with that of Aristotle — Dialectic, Demonstrative||363|
|Classification of Thrasyllus in its details. He applies his own principles erroneously||364|
|The classification, as it would stand, if his principles were applied correctly||365|
|Preponderance of the searching and testing dialogues over the expository and dogmatical||366|
|Dialogues of Search — sub-classes among them recognised by Thrasyllus — Gymnastic and Agonistic, &c.||ib.|
|Philosophy, as now understood, includes authoritative teaching, positive results, direct proofs||ib.|
|The Platonic Dialogues of Search disclaim authority and teaching — assume truth to be unknown to all alike — follow a process devious as well as fruitless||367|
|The questioner has no predetermined course, but follows the lead given by the respondent in his answers||ib.|
|Relation of teacher and learner. Appeal to authority is suppressed||368|
|In the modern world the search for truth is put out of sight. Every writer or talker professes to have already found it, and to proclaim it to others||369|
|The search for truth by various interlocutors was a recognised process in the Sokratic age. Acute negative Dialectic of Sokrates||370|
|Negative procedure supposed to be represented by the Sophists and the Megarici; discouraged and censured by historians of philosophy||371|
|Vocation of Sokrates and Plato for the negative procedure: absolute necessity of it as a condition of reasoned truth. Parmenidês of Plato||372|
|Sokrates considered the negative procedure to be valuable by itself, and separately. His theory of the natural state of the human mind; not ignorance, but false persuasion of knowledge||373|
|Declaration of Sokrates in the Apology; his constant mission to make war against the false persuasion of knowledge||374|
|Opposition of feeling between Sokrates and the Dikasts||375|
|The Dialogues of Search present an end in themselves. Mistake of supposing that Plato had in his mind an ulterior affirmative end, not declared||ib.|
|False persuasion of knowledge — had reference to topics social, political, ethical||376|
|To those topics, on which each community possesses established dogmas, laws, customs, sentiments, consecrated and traditional, peculiar to itself. The local creed, which is never formally proclaimed or taught, but is enforced unconsciously by every one upon every one else. Omnipotence of King Nomos||377|
|Small minority of exceptional individual minds, who do not yield to the established orthodoxy, but insist on exercising their own judgment||382|
|Early appearance of a few free-judging individuals, or free-thinkers in Greece||384|
|Rise of Dialectic — Effect of the Drama and the Dikastery||386|
|Application of Negative scrutiny to ethical and social topics by Sokrates||ib.|
|Emphatic assertion by Sokrates of the right of satisfaction for his own individual reason||386|
|Aversion of the Athenian public to the negative procedure of Sokrates. Mistake of supposing that that negative procedure belongs peculiarly to the Sophists and the Megarici||387|
|The same charges which the historians of philosophy bring against the Sophists were brought by contemporary Athenians against Sokrates. They represent the standing dislike of free inquiry, usual with an orthodox public||388|
|Aversion towards Sokrates aggravated by his extreme publicity of speech. His declaration, that false persuasion of knowledge is universal; must be understood as a basis in appreciating Plato’s Dialogues of Search||393|
|Result called Knowledge, which Plato aspires to. Power of going through a Sokratic cross-examination; not attainable except through the Platonic process and method||396|
|Platonic process adapted to Platonic topics — man and society||397|
|Plato does not provide solutions for the difficulties which he has raised. The affirmative and negative veins are in him completely distinct. His dogmas are enunciations à priori of some impressive sentiment||399|
|Hypothesis — that Plato had solved all his own difficulties for himself; but that he communicated the solution only to a few select auditors in oral lectures — Untenable||401|
|Characteristic of the oral lectures — that they were delivered in Plato’s own name. In what other respects they departed from the dialogues, we cannot say||402|
|Apart from any result, Plato has an interest in the process of search and debate per se. Protracted enquiry is a valuable privilege, not a tiresome obligation||403|
|Plato has done more than any one else to make the process of enquiry interesting to others, as it was to himself||405|
|Process of generalisation always kept in view and illustrated throughout the Platonic Dialogues of Search — general terms and propositions made subjects of conscious analysis||406|
|The Dialogues must be reviewed as distinct compositions by the same author, illustrating each other, but without assignable inter-dependence||407|
|Order of the Dialogues, chosen for bringing them under separate review. Apology will come first; Timæus, Kritias, Leges, Epinomis last||ib.|
|Kriton and Euthyphron come immediately after Apology. The intermediate dialogues present no convincing grounds for any determinate order||408|
|Apology of Sokrates.|
|The Apology is the real defence delivered by Sokrates before the Dikasts, reported by Plato, without intentional transformation||410|
|Even if it be Plato’s own composition, it comes naturally first in the review of his dialogues||411|
|General character of the Apology — Sentiments entertained towards Sokrates at Athens||412|
|Declaration from the Delphian oracle respecting the wisdom of Sokrates, interpreted by him as a mission to cross-examine the citizens generally — The oracle is proved to be true||413|
|False persuasion of wisdom is universal — the God alone is wise||414|
|Emphatic assertion by Sokrates of the cross-examining mission imposed upon him by the God||ib.|
|He had devoted his life to the execution of this mission, and he intended to persevere in spite of obloquy or danger||416|
|He disclaims the function of a teacher — he cannot teach, for he is not wiser than others. He differs from others by being conscious of his own ignorance||ib.|
|He does not know where competent teachers can be found. He is perpetually seeking for them, but in vain||417|
|Impression made by the Platonic Apology on Zeno the Stoic||418|
|Extent of efficacious influence claimed by Sokrates for himself — exemplified by Plato throughout the Dialogues of Search — Xenophon and Plato enlarge it||ib.|
|Assumption by modern critics, that Sokrates is a positive teacher, employing indirect methods for the inculcation of theories of his own||419|
|Incorrectness of such assumption — the Sokratic Elenchus does not furnish a solution, but works upon the mind of the respondent, stimulating him to seek for a solution of his own||420|
|Value and importance of this process — stimulating active individual minds to theorise each for itself||421|
|View taken by Sokrates about death. Other men profess to know what it is, and think it a great misfortune: he does not know||422|
|Reliance of Sokrates on his own individual reason, whether agreeing or disagreeing with others||423|
|Formidable efficacy of established public beliefs, generated without any ostensible author||424|
|General purpose of the Kriton||425|
|Subject of the dialogue — interlocutors||ib.|
|Answer of Sokrates to the appeal made by Kriton||426|
|He declares that the judgment of the general public is not worthy of trust: he appeals to the judgment of the one Expert, who is wise on the matter in debate||ib.|
|Principles laid down by Sokrates for determining the question with Kriton. Is the proceeding recommended just or unjust? Never in any case to act unjustly||427|
|Sokrates admits that few will agree with him, and that most persons hold the opposite opinion: but he affirms that the point is cardinal||ib.|
|Pleading supposed to be addressed by the Laws of Athens to Sokrates, demanding from him implicit obedience||428|
|Purpose of Plato in this pleading — to present the dispositions of Sokrates in a light different from that which the Apology had presented — unqualified submission instead of defiance||ib.|
|Harangue of Sokrates delivered in the name of the Laws, would have been applauded by all the democratical patriots of Athens||430|
|The harangue insists upon topics common to Sokrates with other citizens, overlooking the specialties of his character||431|
|Still Sokrates is represented as adopting the resolution to obey, from his own conviction; by a reason which weighs with him, but which would not weigh with others||ib.|
|The harangue is not a corollary from this Sokratic reason, but represents feelings common among Athenian citizens||432|
|Emphatic declaration of the authority of individual reason and conscience, for the individual himself||ib.|
|The Kriton is rhetorical, not dialectical. Difference between Rhetoric and Dialectic||433|
|The Kriton makes powerful appeal to the emotions, but overlooks the ratiocinative difficulties, or supposes them to be solved||ib.|
|Incompetence of the general public or ἰδιῶται — appeal to the professional Expert||435|
|Procedure of Sokrates after this comparison has been declared — he does not name who the trustworthy Expert is||ib.|
|Sokrates acts as the Expert himself: he finds authority in his own reason and conscience||436|
|Situation supposed in the dialogue — interlocutors||437|
|Indictment by Melêtus against Sokrates — Antipathy of the Athenians towards those who spread heretical opinions||437|
|Euthyphron recounts that he is prosecuting an indictment for murder against his own father — Displeasure of his friends at the proceeding||438|
|Euthyphron expresses full confidence that this step of his is both required and warranted by piety or holiness. Sokrates asks him — What is Holiness?||439|
|Euthyphron alludes to the punishment of Uranus by his son Kronus and of Kronus by his son Zeus||440|
|Sokrates intimates his own hesitation in believing these stories of discord among the Gods. Euthyphron declares his full belief in them, as well as in many similar narratives, not in so much circulation||ib.|
|Bearing of this dialogue on the relative position of Sokrates and the Athenian public||441|
|Dramatic moral set forth by Aristophanes against Sokrates and the freethinkers, is here retorted by Plato against the orthodox champion||442|
|Sequel of the dialogue — Euthyphron gives a particular example as the reply to a general question||444|
|Such mistake frequent in dialectic discussion||ib.|
|First general answer given by Euthyphron — that which is pleasing to the Gods is holy. Comments of Sokrates thereon||445|
|To be loved by the Gods is not the essence of the Holy — they love it because it is holy. In what then does its essence consist? Perplexity of Euthyphron||446|
|Sokrates suggests a new answer. The Holy is one branch or variety of the Just. It is that branch which concerns ministration by men to the Gods||447|
|Ministration to the Gods? How? To what purpose?||ib.|
|Holiness — rectitude in sacrifice and prayer — right traffic between men and the Gods||448|
|This will not stand — the Gods gain nothing — they receive from men marks of honour and gratitude — they are pleased therewith — the Holy, therefore, must be that which is pleasing to the Gods||448|
|This is the same explanation which was before declared insufficient. A fresh explanation is required from Euthyphron. He breaks off the dialogue||ib.|
|Sokratic spirit of the dialogue — confessed ignorance applying the Elenchus to false persuasion of knowledge||449|
|The questions always difficult, often impossible to answer. Sokrates is unable to answer them, though he exposes the bad answers of others||ib.|
|Objections of Theopompus to the Platonic procedure||450|
|Objective view of Ethics, distinguished by Sokrates from the subjective||451|
|Subjective unanimity coincident with objective dissent||ib.|
|Cross-examination brought to bear upon this mental condition by Sokrates — position of Sokrates and Plato in regard to it||452|
|The Holy — it has an essential characteristic — what is this? — not the fact that it is loved by the Gods — this is true, but is not its constituent essence||454|
|Views of the Xenophontic Sokrates respecting the Holy — different from those of the Platonic Sokrates — he disallows any common absolute general type of the Holy — he recognises an indefinite variety of types, discordant and relative||ib.|
|The Holy a branch of the Just — not tenable as a definition, but useful as bringing to view the subordination of logical terms||455|
|The Euthyphron represents Plato’s way of replying to the charge of impiety, preferred by Melêtus against Sokrates — comparison with Xenophon’s way of replying||ib.|
Change in the political condition of Greece during the life of Plato.
The life of Plato extends from 427-347 B.C. He was born in the fourth year of the Peloponnesian war, and he died at the age of 80, about the time when Olynthus was taken by the Macedonian Philip. The last years of his life thus witnessed a melancholy breach in the integrity of the Hellenic world, and even exhibited data from which a far-sighted Hellenic politician might have anticipated something like the coming subjugation, realised afterwards by the victory of Philip at Chæroneia. But during the first half of Plato’s life, no such anticipations seemed even within the limits of possibility. The forces of Hellas, though discordant among themselves, were superabundant as to defensive efficacy, and were disposed rather to aggression against foreign enemies, especially against a country then so little formidable as Macedonia. It was under this contemplation of Hellas self-acting and self-sufficing — an aggregate of cities, each a political unit, yet held together by strong ties of race, language, religion, and common feelings of various kinds — that the mind of Plato was both formed and matured.
In appreciating, as far as our scanty evidence allows, the circumstances which determined his intellectual and speculative 2 character, I shall be compelled to touch briefly upon the various philosophical theories which were propounded anterior to Sokrates — as well as to repeat some matters already brought to view in the sixteenth, sixty-seventh, and sixty-eighth chapters of my History of Greece.
Early Greek mind, satisfied with the belief in polytheistic personal agents as the real producing causes of phenomena.
To us, as to Herodotus, in his day, the philosophical speculation of the Greeks begins with the theology and cosmology of Homer and Hesiod. The series of divine persons and attributes, and generations presented by these poets, and especially the Theogony of Hesiod, supplied at one time full satisfaction to the curiosity of the Greeks respecting the past history and present agencies of the world around them. In the emphatic censure bestowed by Herakleitus on the poets and philosophers who preceded him, as having much knowledge but no sense — he includes Hesiod, as well as Pythagoras, Xenophanes, and Hekatæus: upon Homer and Archilochus he is still more severe, declaring that they ought to be banished from the public festivals and scourged.1 The sentiment of curiosity as it then existed was only secondary and derivative, arising out of some of the strong primary or personal sentiments — fear or hope, antipathy or sympathy, — impression of present weakness, — unsatisfied appetites and longings, — wonder and awe under the presence of the terror-striking phenomena of nature, &c. Under this state of the mind, when problems suggested themselves for solution, the answers afforded by Polytheism gave more satisfaction than could have been afforded by any other hypothesis. Among the indefinite multitude of invisible, personal, quasi-human agents, with different attributes and dispositions, some one could be found to account for every perplexing phenomenon. The question asked was, not What are the antecedent conditions or causes of rain, thunder, or earthquakes, but Who rains and thunders? Who produces earthquakes?2 The Hesiodic Greek was satisfied when informed that it was Zeus or Poseidon. To be told of physical agencies would have appeared to him not merely 3 unsatisfactory, but absurd, ridiculous, and impious. It was the task of a poet like Hesiod to clothe this general polytheistic sentiment in suitable details: to describe the various Gods, Goddesses, Demigods, and other quasi-human agents, with their characteristic attributes, with illustrative adventures, and with sufficient relations of sympathy and subordination among each other, to connect them in men’s imaginations as members of the same brotherhood. Okeanus, Gæa, Uranus, Helios, Selênê, — Zeus, Poseidon, Hades — Apollo and Artemis, Dionysus and Aphroditê — these and many other divine personal agents, were invoked as the producing and sustaining forces in nature, the past history of which was contained in their filiations or contests. Anterior to all of them, the primordial matter or person, was Chaos.
1 Diogen. Laert. ix. 1. Πολυμαθίη νόον οὐ διδάσκει· (οὐ φύει, ap. Proclum in Platon. Timæ. p. 31 F., p. 72, ed. Schneider), Ἡσίοδον γὰρ ἂν ἐδίδαξε καὶ Πυθαγόρην, αὐτίς τε Ξενοφάνεά τε καὶ Ἑκαταῖον· τόν θ’ Ὅμηρον ἔφασκεν ἄξιον εἶναι ἐκ τῶν ἀγώνων ἐκβάλλεσθαι καὶ ῥαπίζεσθαι, καὶ Ἀρχίλοχον ὁμοίως.
2 Aristophanes, Nubes, 368, Ἀλλὰ τίς ὕει; Herodot. vii. 129.
Belief in such agency continued among the general public, even after the various sects of philosophy had arisen.
Hesiod represents the point of view ancient and popular (to use Aristotle’s expression3) among the Greeks, from whence all their philosophical speculation took its departure; and which continued throughout their history, to underlie all the philosophical speculations, as the faith of the ordinary public who neither frequented the schools nor conversed with philosophers. While Aristophanes, speaking in the name of this popular faith, denounces and derides Sokrates as a searcher, alike foolish and irreligious, after astronomical and physical causes — Sokrates himself not only denies the truth of the allegation, but adopts as his own the sentiment which dictated it; proclaiming Anaxagoras and others to be culpable for prying into mysteries which the Gods intentionally kept hidden.4 The repugnance felt by a numerous public, against scientific explanation — as eliminating the divine agents and substituting in their place irrational causes,5 — was a permanent fact of which philosophers were always obliged to take account, and 4 which modified the tone of their speculations without being powerful enough to repress them.
3 Aristotel. Metaphys. A. 8, p. 989, a. 10. Φησὶ δέ καὶ Ἡσίοδος τὴν γῆν πρώτην γενέσθαι τῶν σωμάτων· οὕτως ἀρχαίαν καὶ δημοτικὴν συμβέβηκεν εἶναι τὴν ὑπόληψιν.
Again in the beginning of the second book of the Meteorologica, Aristotle contrasts the ancient and primitive theology with the “human wisdom” which grew up subsequently: Οἱ ἀρχαῖοι καὶ διατρίβοντες περὶ τὰς θεολογίας — οἱ σοφώτεροι τὴν ἀνθρωπίνην σοφίαν (Meteor, ii. i. p. 353, a.)
4 Xenophon, Memor. iv. 7, 5; i. 1, 11-15. Plato, Apolog. p. 26 E.
5 Plutarch, Nikias, c. 23. Οὐ γὰρ ἠνειχοντο τοὺς φυσικοὺς καὶ μετεωρολέσχας τότε καλουμένους, ὡς εἰς αἰτίας ἀλόγους καὶ δυνάμεις ἀπρονοήτους καὶ κατηναγκασμένα πάθη διατρίβοντας τὸ θεῖον.
Thales, the first Greek who propounded the hypothesis of physical agency in place of personal. Water, the primordial substance, or ἀρχή.
Even in the sixth century B.C., when the habit of composing in prose was first introduced, Pherekydes and Akusilaus still continued in their prose the theogony, or the mythical cosmogony, of Hesiod and the other old Poets: while Epimenides and the Orphic poets put forth different theogonies, blended with mystical dogmas. It was, however, in the same century, and in the first half of it, that Thales of Miletus (620-560 B.C.), set the example of a new vein of thought. Instead of the Homeric Okeanus, father of all things, Thales assumed the material substance, Water, as the primordial matter and the universal substratum of everything in nature. By various transmutations, all other substances were generated from water; all of them, when destroyed, returned into water. Like the old poets, Thales conceived the surface of the earth to be flat and round; but he did not, like them, regard it as stretching down to the depths of Tartarus: he supposed it to be flat and shallow, floating on the immensity of the watery expanse or Ocean.6 This is the main feature of the Thaletian hypothesis, about which, however, its author seems to have left no writing. Aristotle says little about Thales, and that little in a tone of so much doubt,7 that we can hardly confide in the opinions and discoveries ascribed to him by others.8
6 Aristotel. Metaphys. A. 3, p. 983, b. 21. De Cœlo, ii. 13, p. 294, a. 29. Θαλῆς, ὁ τῆς τοιαύτης ἀρχηγὸς φιλοσοφίας, &c. Seneca, Natural. Quæst. vi. 6.
Pherekydes, Epimenides, &c., were contemporary with the earliest Ionic philosophers (Brandis, Handbuch der Gesch. der Gr.-Röm. Phil., s. 23).
According to Plutarch (Aquæ et Ignis Comparatio, p. 955, init.), most persons believed that Hesiod, by the word Chaos, meant Water. Zeno the Stoic adopted this interpretation (Schol. Apollon. Rhod. i. 498). On the other hand, Bacchylides the poet, and after him Zenodotus, called Air by the name Chaos (Schol. Hesiod. Theogon. p. 392, Gaisf.). Hermann considers that the Hesiodic Chaos means empty space (see note, Brandis, Handb. d. Gesch. d. Gr.-Röm. Phil., vol. i., p. 71).
7 See two passages in Aristotle De Animâ, i. 2, and i. 5.
8 Cicero says (De Naturâ Deorum, i. 10), “Thales — aquam dixit esse initium rerum, Deum autem eam mentem, quæ ex aquâ cuncta fingeret.” That the latter half of this Ciceronian statement, respecting the doctrines of Thales, is at least unfounded, and probably erroneous, is recognised by Preller, Brandis, and Zeller. Preller, Histor. Philos. Græc. ex Fontium Locis Contexta, sect. 15; Brandis, Handbuch der Gr.-R. Philos. sect. 31, p. 118; Zeller, Die Philos. der Griechen, vol. i., p. 151, ed. 2.
It is stated by Herodotus that Thales foretold the year of the memorable solar eclipse which happened during the battle between the Medes and the Lydians (Herod. i. 74). This eclipse seems to have occurred in B.C. 585, according to the best recent astronomical enquiries by Professor Airy.
Anaximander — laid down as ἀρχή the Infinite or indeterminate — generation of the elements out of it, by evolution of latent fundamental contraries — astronomical and geological doctrines.
The next of the Ionic philosophers, and the first who published 5his opinions in writing, was Anaximander, of Miletus, the countryman and younger contemporary of Thales (570-520 B.C.). He too searched for an Ἀρχή, a primordial Something or principle, self-existent and comprehending in its own nature a generative, motive, or transmutative force. Not thinking that water, or any other known and definite substance fulfilled these conditions, he adopted as the foundation of his hypothesis a substance which he called the Infinite or Indeterminate. Under this name he conceived Body simply, without any positive or determinate properties, yet including the fundamental contraries, Hot, Cold, Moist, Dry, &c., in a potential or latent state, including farther a self-changing and self-developing force,9 and being moreover immortal and indestructible.10 By this inherent force, and by the evolution of one or more of these dormant contrary qualities, were generated the various definite substances of nature — Air, Fire, Water, &c. But every determinate substance thus generated was, after a certain time, destroyed and resolved again into the Indeterminate mass. “From thence all substances proceed, and into this they relapse: each in its turn thus making atonement to the others, and suffering the penalty of injustice.”11 Anaximander conceived separate existence (determinate and particular existence, apart from the indeterminate and universal) as an unjust privilege, not to be tolerated 6 except for a time, and requiring atonement even for that. As this process of alternate generation and destruction was unceasing, so nothing less than an Infinite could supply material for it. Earth, Water, Air, Fire, having been generated, the two former, being cold and heavy, remained at the bottom, while the two latter ascended. Fire formed the exterior circle, encompassing the air like bark round a tree: this peripheral fire was broken up and aggregated into separate masses, composing the sun, moon, and stars. The sphere of the fixed stars was nearest to the earth: that of the moon next above it: that of the sun highest of all. The sun and moon were circular bodies twenty-eight times larger than the earth: but the visible part of them was only an opening in the centre, through which12 the fire or light behind was seen. All these spheres revolved round the earth, which was at first semi-fluid or mud, but became dry and solid through the heat of the sun. It was in shape like the section of a cylinder, with a depth equal to one-third of its breadth or horizontal surface, on which men and animals live. It was in the centre of the Kosmos; it remained stationary because of its equal distance from all parts of the outer revolving spheres; there was no cause determining it to move upward rather than downward or sideways, therefore it remained still.13 Its exhalations nourished the fire in the peripheral regions of the Kosmos. Animals were produced from the primitive muddy fluid of the earth: first, fishes and other lower animals — next, in process of time man, when circumstances permitted his development.14 We 7 learn farther respecting the doctrines of Anaximander, that he proposed physical explanations of thunder, lightning, and other meteorological phenomena:15 memorable as the earliest attempt of speculation in that department, at a time when such events inspired the strongest religious awe, and were regarded as the most especial manifestations of purposes of the Gods. He is said also to have been the first who tried to represent the surface and divisions of the earth on a brazen plate, the earliest rudiment of a map or chart.16
9 See Zeller, Philosophie der Griechen, vol. i. p. 157, seq., ed. 2nd.
Anaximander conceived τὸ ἀπειρον as infinite matter; the Pythagoreans and Plato conceived it as a distinct nature by itself — as a subject, not as a predicate (Aristotel. Physic. iii. 4, p. 203, a. 2).
About these fundamental contraries, Aristotle says (Physic. i. 4, init.): οἱ δ’ ἐκ του ἑνὸς ἐνούσας τὰς ἐναντιότητας ἐκκρίνεσθαι, ὥσπερ Ἀναξίμανδρός φησι. Which Simplikius explains, ἐναντιότητές εἰσι, θερμὸν, ψυχρὸν, ξηρὸν, ὑγρὸν, καὶ αἱ ἄλλαι, &c.
Compare also Schleiermacher, “Ueber Anaximandros,” in his Vermischte Schriften, vol. ii. p. 178, seq. Deutinger (Gesch. der Philos. vol. i. p. 165, Regensb. 1852) maintains that this ἔκρισις of contraries is at variance with the hypothesis of Anaximander, and has been erroneously ascribed to him. But the testimony is sufficiently good to outweigh this suspicion.
10 Anaximander spoke of his ἄπειρον as ἀθάνατον καὶ ἀνώλεθρον (Aristotel. Physic. iii. 4, 7, p. 203, b. 15).
11 Simplikius ad Aristotel. Physic. fol. 6 a. apud Preller, Histor. Philos. Græco-Rom. § 57, ἐξ ὧν δὲ ἡ γένεσίς ἐστι τοῖς οὖσι, καὶ τὴν φθορὰν εἰς ταὐτὰ γίνεσθαι κατὰ τὸ χρεών· διδόναι γὰρ αὐτὰ τίσιν καὶ δίκην ἀλλήλοις τῆς ἀδικίας κατὰ τὴν τοῦ χρόνου τάξιν. Simplikius remarks upon the poetical character of this phraseology, ποιητικωτέροις ὀνόμασιν αὐτὰ λέγων.
12 Origen. Philosophumen. p. 11, ed. Miller; Plutarch ap. Eusebium Præp. Evang. i. 8, xv. 23-46-47; Stobæus Eclog. i. p. 510. Anaximander supposed that eclipses of the sun and moon were caused by the occasional closing of these apertures (Euseb. xv. 50-61). The part of the sun visible to us was, in his opinion, not smaller than the earth, and of the purest fire (Diog. Laert. ii. 1).
Eudêmus, in his history of astronomy, mentioned Anaximander as the first who had discussed the magnitudes and distances of the celestial bodies (Simplikius ad Aristot. De Cœlo, ap. Schol. Brand, p. 497, a. 12).
13 Aristotel. Meteorol. ii. 2, p. 355, a. 21, which is referred by Alexander of Aphrodisias to Anaximander; also De Cœlo, ii. 13, p. 295, b. 12.
A doctrine somewhat like it is ascribed even to Thales. See Alexander’s Commentary on Aristotel. Metaphys. i. p. 983, b. 17.
The reason here assigned by Anaximander why the Earth remained still, is the earliest example in Greek philosophy of that fallacy called the principle of the Sufficient Reason, so well analysed and elucidated by Mr. John Stuart Mill, in his System of Logic, book v., ch. 3, sect. 5.
The remarks which Aristotle himself makes upon it are also very interesting, when he cites the opinion of Anaximander. Compare Plato, Phædon, p. 109, c. 132, with the citations in Wyttenbach’s note.
14 Plutarch, Placit. Philos. v. 19.
15 Plutarch, Placit. Philos. iii. 3; Seneca, Quæst. Nat. ii. 18-19.
16 Strabo, i. p. 7. Diogenes Laertius (ii. 1) states that Anaximander affirmed the figure of the earth to be spherical; and Dr. Whewell, in his History of the Inductive Sciences, follows his statement. But Schleiermacher (Ueber Anaximandros, vol. ii. p. 204 of his Sämmtliche Werke) and Gruppe (Die Kosmischen Systeme der Griechen, p. 38) contest this assertion, and prefer that of Plutarch (ap. Eusebium Præp. Evang. i. 8, Placit. Philos. iii. 10), which I have adopted in the text. It is to be remembered that Diogenes himself, in another place (ix. 3, 21), affirms Parmenides to have been the first who propounded the spherical figure of the earth. See the facts upon this subject collected and discussed in the instructive dissertation of L. Oettinger, Die Vorstellungen der Griechen und Römer ueber die Erde als Himmelskörper, p. 38; Freiburg, 1850.
Anaximenes — adopted Air as ἀρχή — rise of substances out of it, by condensation and rarefaction.
The third physical philosopher produced by Miletus, seemingly before the time of her terrible disasters suffered from the Persians after the Ionic revolt between 500-494 B.C., was Anaximenes, who struck out a third hypothesis. He assumed, as the primordial substance, and as the source of all generation or transmutation, Air, eternal in duration, infinite in extent. He thus returned to the principle of the Thaletian theory, selecting for his beginning a known substance, though not the same substance as Thales. To explain how generation of new products was possible (as Anaximander had tried to explain by his theory of evolution of latent contraries), Anaximenes adverted to the facts of condensation and rarefaction, which he connected respectively with cold and heat.17 The Infinite Air, possessing and exercising an inherent generative and developing power, perpetually in motion, passing from dense to rare or from rare to dense, became in its utmost rarefaction, Fire and Æther; when passing through successive stages of increased condensation it became first cloud, next water, then earth, and, lastly, in its 8 utmost density, stone.18 Surrounding, embracing, and pervading the Kosmos, it also embodied and carried with it a vital principle, which animals obtained from it by inspiration, and which they lost as soon as they ceased to breathe.19 Anaximenes included in his treatise (which was written in a clear Ionic dialect) many speculations on astronomy and meteorology, differing widely from those of Anaximander. He conceived the Earth as a broad, flat, round plate, resting on the air.20 Earth, Sun, and Moon were in his view condensed air, the Sun acquiring heat by the extreme and incessant velocity with which he moved. The Heaven was not an entire hollow sphere encompassing the Earth below as well as above, but a hemisphere covering the Earth above, and revolving laterally round it like a cap round the head.21
17 Origen. Philosophumen. c. 7; Simplikius in Aristot. Physic. f. 32; Brandis, Handb. d. Gesch. d. Gr.-R. Phil. p. 144.
Cicero, Academic. ii. 37, 118. “Anaximenes infinitum aera, sed ea, quæ ex eo orirentur, definita.”
The comic poet Philemon introduced in one of his dramas, of which a short fragment is preserved (Frag. 2, Meineke, p. 840) the omnipresent and omniscient Air, to deliver the prologue:
—— οὑτός εἰμ’ ἐγὼ
Ἀήρ, ὃν ἄν τις ὀνομάσειε καὶ Δία.
ἐγὼ δ’, ὃ θεοῦ’ στιν ἔργον, εἰμὶ πανταχοῦ —
πάντ’ ἐξ ἀνάγκης οἶδα, πανταχοῦ παρών.
18 Plutarch, De Primo Frigido, p. 917; Plutarch, ap. Euseb. P. E. i. 8.
19 Plutarch, Placit. Philosophor, i. 3, p. 878.
20 Aristotel. De Cœlo, ii. 13; Plutarch, Placit. Philosoph. iii. 10, p. 895.
21 Origen. Philosophum. p. 12, ed. Miller: ὡσπερεὶ περὶ τὴν ἡμετέραν κεφαλὴν στρέφεται τὸ πιλίον.
The general principle of cosmogony, involved in the hypothesis of these three Milesians — one primordial substance or Something endued with motive and transmutative force, so as to generate all the variety of products, each successive and transient, which our senses witness — was taken up with more or less modification by others, especially by Diogenes of Apollonia, of whom I shall speak presently. But there were three other men who struck out different veins of thought — Pythagoras, Xenophanes, and Herakleitus: the two former seemingly contemporary with Anaximenes (550-490 B.C.), the latter somewhat later.
Pythagoras — his life and career — Pythagorean brotherhood, great political influence which it acquired among the Greco-Italian cities — incurred great enmity and was violently put down.
Of Pythagoras I have spoken at some length in the thirty-seventh chapter of my History of Greece. Speculative originality was only one among many remarkable features in his character. He was an inquisitive traveller, a religious reformer or innovator, and the founder of a powerful and active brotherhood, partly ascetic, partly political, which stands without parallel in Grecian history. The immortality of the soul, with its transmigration (metempsychosis) after death into other bodies, either 9 of men or of other animals — the universal kindred thus recognised between men and other animals, and the prohibition which he founded thereupon against the use of animals for food or sacrifice — are among his most remarkable doctrines: said to have been borrowed (together with various ceremonial observances) from the Egyptians.22 After acquiring much celebrity in his native island of Samos and throughout Ionia, Pythagoras emigrated (seemingly about 530 B.C.) to Kroton and Metapontum in Lower Italy, where the Pythagorean brotherhood gradually acquired great political ascendancy: and from whence it even extended itself in like manner over the neighbouring Greco-Italian cities. At length it excited so much political antipathy among the body of the citizens,23 that its rule was violently put down, and its members dispersed about 509 B.C. Pythagoras died at Metapontum.
22 Herodot. ii. 81; Isokrates, Busirid. Encom. s. 28.
23 Polybius, ii. 39; Porphyry, Vit. Pythag. 54, seq.
The Pythagoreans continue as a recluse sect, without political power.
Though thus stripped of power, however, the Pythagoreans still maintained themselves for several generations as a social, religious, and philosophical brotherhood. They continued and extended the vein of speculation first opened by the founder himself. So little of proclaimed individuality was there among them, that Aristotle, in criticising their doctrine, alludes to them usually under the collective name Pythagoreans. Epicharmus, in his comedies at Syracuse (470 B.C.) gave occasional utterance to various doctrines of the sect; but the earliest of them who is known to have composed a book, was Philolaus,24 the contemporary of Sokrates. Most of the opinions ascribed to the Pythagoreans originated probably among the successors of Pythagoras; but the basis and principle upon which they proceed seems undoubtedly his.
24 Diogen. Laert. viii. 7-15-78-85.
Some passages of Aristotle, however, indicate divergences of doctrine among the Pythagoreans themselves (Metaphys. A. 5, p. 986, a. 22). He probably speaks of the Pythagoreans of his own time when dialectical discussion had modified the original orthodoxy of the order. Compare Gruppe, Ueber die Fragmente des Archytas, cap. 5, p. 61-63. About the gradual development of the Pythagorean doctrine, see Brandis, Handbuch der Gr.-R. Philos. s. 74, 75.
Doctrine of the Pythagoreans — Number the Essence of Things.
The problem of physical philosophy, as then conceived, was 10 to find some primordial and fundamental nature, by and out of which the sensible universe was built up and produced; something which co-existed always underlying it, supplying fresh matter and force for generation of successive products. The hypotheses of Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes, to solve this problem, have been already noticed: Pythagoras solved it by saying, That the essence of things consisted in Number. By this he did not mean simply that all things were numerable, or that number belonged to them as a predicate. Numbers were not merely predicates inseparable from subjects, but subjects in themselves: substances or magnitudes, endowed with active force, and establishing the fundamental essences or types according to which things were constituted. About water,25 air, or fire, Pythagoras said nothing.26 He conceived that sensible phenomena had greater resemblance to numbers than to any one of these substrata assigned by the Ionic philosophers. Number was (in his doctrine) the self-existent reality — the fundamental material and in-dwelling force pervading the universe. Numbers were not separate from things27 (like the Platonic Ideas), but fundamenta of things — their essences or determining principles: they were moreover conceived as having magnitude and active force.28 In the movements of the celestial bodies, in works of human art, in musical harmony — measure and number are the producing and directing agencies. According to the Pythagorean Philolaus, “the Dekad, the full and perfect number, was of supreme and universal efficacy as the guide and principle of life, both to the 11 Kosmos and to man. The nature of number was imperative and lawgiving, affording the only solution of all that was perplexing or unknown; without number all would be indeterminate and unknowable.”29
25 Aristotel. Metaphys. A. 5, p. 985, b. 27. Ἐν δὲ τοῖς ἀριθμοῖς, ἐνδόκουν θεωρεῖν ὁμοιώματα πολλὰ τοῖς οὖσι καὶ γιγνομένοις, μᾶλλον ἢ ἐν πυρὶ καὶ γῇ καὶ ὕδατι, &c. Cf. N. 3, p. 1090, a. 21.
26 Aristotel. Metaph. A. 9, p. 990, a. 16. Διὸ περὶ πυρὸς ἢ γῆς ἢ τῶν ἄλλων τῶν τοιούτων σωμάτων οὐδ’ ὁτιοῦν εἰρήκασιν, &c. (the Pythagoreans); also N. 3.
27 Physic. iii. 4, p. 203, a. 6. Οὐ γὰρ χωριστὸν ποιοῦσι (the Pythagoreans) τὸν ἀριθμόν, &c. Metaphys. M. 6, p. 1080, b. 19: τὰς μονάδας ὑπολαμβάνουσιν ἔχειν μέγεθος. M. 8, p. 1083, b. 17: ἐκεῖνοι (the Pythagoreans) τὸν ἀριθμὸν τὰ ὄντα λέγουσιν· τὰ γοῦν θεωρήματα προσάπτουσι τοῖς σώμασιν ὡς ἐξ ἐκείνων ὄντων τῶν ἀριθμῶν.
28 An analogous application of this principle (Number as the fundamental substance and universal primary agent) may be seen in an eminent physical philosopher of the nineteenth century, Oken’s Elements of Physio-Philosophy, translated by Tulk. Aphorism 57:—“While numbers in a mathematical sense are positions and negations of nothing, in the philosophical sense they are positions and negations of the Eternal. Every thing which is real, posited, finite, has become this, out of numbers; or more strictly speaking, every Real is absolutely nothing else than a number. This must be the sense entertained of numbers in the Pythagorean doctrine — namely, that every thing, or the whole universe, had arisen from numbers. This is not to be taken in a merely quantitative sense, as it has hitherto been erroneously; but in an intrinsic sense, as implying that all things are numbers themselves, or the acts of the Eternal. The essence in numbers is nought else than the Eternal. The Eternal only is or exists, and nothing else is when a number exists. There is therefore nothing real but the Eternal itself; for every Real, or every thing that is, is only a number and only exists by virtue of a number.”
Ibid., Aphorism 105-107:—“Arithmetic is the science of the second idea, or that of time or motion, or life. It is therefore the first science. Mathematics not only begin with it, but creation also, with the becoming of time and of life. Arithmetic is, accordingly, the truly absolute or divine science; and therefore every thing in it is also directly certain, because every thing in it resembles the Divine. Theology is arithmetic personified.” — “A natural thing is nothing but a self-moving number. An organic or living thing is a number moving itself out of itself or spontaneously: an inorganic thing, however, is a number moved by another thing: now as this other thing is also a real number, so then is every inorganic thing a number moved by another number, and so on ad infinitum. The movements in nature are only movements of numbers by numbers: even as arithmetical computation is none other than a movement of numbers by numbers; but with this difference — that in the latter, this operates in an ideal manner, in the former after a real.”
29 Philolaus, ed. Boeckh, p. 139. seqq.
Θεωρεῖν δεῖ τὰ ἔργα καὶ τὰν ἐσσίαν (οὐσίαν) τῶ ἀριθμῶ καττὰν δύναμιν, ἅτις ἐντὶ ἐν τᾷ δεκάδι· μεγάλα γὰρ καὶ παντελὴς καὶ παντοεργὸς καὶ θείω καὶ οὐρανίω βίω καὶ ἀνθρωπίνω ἀρχὰ καὶ ἁγεμὼν ... ἄνευ δὲ ταύτας πάντα ἄπειρα καὶ ἄδηλα καὶ ἀφανῆ· νομικὰ γὰρ ἁ φύσις τῶ ἀριθμῶ καὶ ἁγεμονικὰ καὶ διδασκαλικὰ τῶ ἀπορουμένω παντὸς καὶ ἀγνοουμένω παντί. Compare the Fr. p. 58, of the same work.
According to Plato, as well as the Pythagoreans, number extended to ten, and not higher: all above ten were multiples and increments of ten. (Aristot. Physic. iii. 6, p. 203, b. 30).
The Monas — ἀρχή, or principle of Number — geometrical conception of number — symbolical attributes of the first ten numbers, especially of the Dekad.
The first principle or beginning of Number, was the One or Monas — which the Pythagoreans conceived as including both the two fundamental contraries — the Determining and the Indeterminate.30 All particular numbers, and through them all things, were compounded from the harmonious junction and admixture of these two fundamental contraries.31 All numbers being either odd or even, the odd numbers were considered as analogous to the Determining, the even numbers to the Indeterminate. In One or the Monad, the Odd and Even were supposed to be both contained, not yet separated: Two was the first indeterminate even number; Three, the first odd and the first determinate number, because it included beginning, middle, and end. The sum of the first four numbers — One, 12 Two, Three, Four = Ten (1 + 2 + 3 + 4) was the most perfect number of all.32 To these numbers, one, two, three, four, were understood as corresponding the fundamental conceptions of Geometry — Point, Line, Plane, Solid. Five represented colour and visible appearance: Six, the phenomenon of Life: Seven, Health, Light, Intelligence, &c.: Eight, Love or Friendship.33 Man, Horse, Justice and Injustice, had their representative numbers: that corresponding to Justice was a square number, as giving equal for equal.34
30 See the instructive explanations of Boeckh, in his work on the Fragments of Philolaus, p. 54 seq.
31 Philolaus, Fr., p. 62, Boeckh. — Diogen. L. viii. 7, 85.
By ἁρμονία, Philolaus meant the musical octave: and his work included many explanations and comparisons respecting the intervals of the musical scale. (Boeckh, p. 65 seq.)
32 Aristotel. De Cœlo, i. 1, p. 268, a. 10. καθάπερ γάρ φασιν οἱ Πυθαγόρειοι, τὸ πᾶν καὶ τὰ πάντα τοῖς τρίσιν ὥρισται· τελευτὴ γὰρ καὶ μέσον καὶ ἀρχὴ τὸν ἀριθμὸν ἔχει τὸν τοῦ παντὸς, ταῦτα δὲ τὸν τῆς τριάδος. Διὸ παρὰ τῆς φύσεως εἰληφότες ὥσπερ νόμους ἐκείνης, καὶ πρὸς τὰς ἁγιστείας χρώμεθα τῶν θεῶν τῷ ἀριθμῷ τούτῳ (i. e. three). It is remarkable that Aristotle here adopts and sanctions, in regard to the number Three, the mystic and fanciful attributes ascribed by the Pythagoreans.
33 Strümpell, Geschichte der theoretischen Philosophie der Griechen, s. 78. Brandis, Handbuch der Gr.-Röm. Phil., sect. 80, p. 467 seq.
The number Five also signified marriage, because it was a junction of the first masculine number Three with the first feminine Two. Seven signified also καιρὸς or Right Season. See Aristotel. Metaphys. A. 5, p. 985, b. 26, and M. 4, p. 1078, b. 23, compared with the commentary of Alexander on the former passage.
34 Aristotel. Ethica Magna, i. 1.
Pythagorean Kosmos and Astronomy — geometrical and harmonic laws guiding the movements of the cosmical bodies.
The Pythagoreans conceived the Kosmos, or the universe, as one single system, generated out of numbers.35 Of this system the central point — the determining or limiting One — was first in order of time, and in order of philosophical conception. By the determining influence of this central constituted One, portions of the surrounding Infinite were successively attracted and brought into system: numbers, geometrical figures, solid substances, were generated. But as the Kosmos thus constituted was composed of numbers, there could be no continuum: each numerical unit was distinct and separated from the rest by a portion of vacant space, which was imbibed, by a sort of inhalation, from the infinite space or spirit without.36 13 The central point was fire, called by the Pythagoreans the Hearth of the Universe (like the public hearth or perpetual fire maintained in the prytaneum of a Grecian city), or the watch-tower of Zeus. Around it revolved, from West to East, ten divine bodies, with unequal velocities, but in symmetrical movement or regular dance.37 Outermost was the circle of the fixed stars, called by the Pythagoreans Olympus, and composed of fire like the centre. Within this came successively, — with orbits more and more approximating to the centre, — the five planets, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury: next, the Sun, the Moon, and the Earth. Lastly, between the Earth and the central fire, an hypothetical body, called the Antichthon or Counter-Earth, was imagined for the purpose of making up a total represented by the sacred number Ten, the symbol of perfection and totality. The Antichthon was analogous to a separated half of the Earth; simultaneous with the Earth in its revolutions, and corresponding with it on the opposite side of the central fire.
35 Aristot. Metaph. M. 6, p. 1080, b. 18. τὸν γὰρ ὅλον οὔρανον κατασκευάζουσιν ἐξ ἀριθμῶν. Compare p. 1075, b. 37, with the Scholia.
A poet calls the tetraktys (consecrated as the sum total of the first four numbers 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10) πηγὴν ἀενάου φύσεως ῥιζώματ’ ἔχουσαν. Sextus Empiric. adv. Mathemat. vii. 94.
36 Philolaus, ed. Boeckh, p. 91-95. τὸ πρᾶτον ἁρμοσθὲν, τὸ ἕν ἐν τῷ μέσῳ τῆς σφαίρας ἑστία καλεῖται — βωμόν τε καὶ συνοχὴν καὶ μέτρον φύσεως — πρῶτον εἶναι φύσει τὸ μέσον.
Aristot. Metaph. N. 3, p. 1091, a. 15. φανερῶς γὰρ λέγουσιν (the Pythagoreans) ὡς τοῦ ἑνὸς συσταθέντος — εὐθὺς τὸ ἔγγιστα τοῦ ἀπείρου ὅτι εἱλκετο καὶ ἐπεραίνετο ὑπὸ τοῦ πέρατος.
Aristot. Physic. iv. 6, p. 213, b. 21. Εἶναι δ’ ἔφασαν καὶ οἱ Πυθαγόρειοι κενόν, καὶ ἐπεισιέναι αὐτὸ τῷ οὐράνῳ ἐκ τοῦ ἀπείρου πνεύματος, ὡς ἀναπνέοντι· καὶ τὸ κενόν, ὃ διορίζει τὰς φύσεις, ὡς ὄντος τοῦ κενοῦ χωρισμοῦ τινος τῶν ἐφεξῆς καὶ τῆς διορίσεως, καὶ τοῦτ’ εἶναι πρῶτον ἐν τοῖς ἀριθμοῖς· τὸ γὰρ κενὸν διορίζειν τὴν φύσιν αὐτῶν. Stobæus (Eclog. Phys. i. 18, p. 381, Heer.) states the same, referring to the lost work of Aristotle on the Pythagorean philosophy. Compare Preller, Histor. Philos. Gr. ex Font. Loc. Context., sect. 114-115.
37 Philolaus, p. 94. Boeckh. περὶ δὲ τοῦτο δέκα σώματα θεῖα χορεύειν, &c. Aristot. De Cœlo, ii. 13. Metaphys. A. 5.
The inhabited portion of the Earth was supposed to be that which was turned away from the central fire and towards the Sun, from which it received light. But the Sun itself was not self-luminous: it was conceived as a glassy disk, receiving and concentrating light from the central fire, and reflecting it upon the Earth, so long as the two were on the same side of the central fire. The Earth revolved, in an orbit obliquely intersecting that of the Sun, and in twenty-four hours, round the central fire, always turning the same side towards that fire. The alternation of day and night was occasioned by the Earth being during a part of such revolution on the same side of the central fire with the Sun, and thus receiving light reflected from him: and during the remaining part of her revolution on the side opposite to him, so that she received no light at all from him. The Earth, with the Antichthon, made this revolution in one day: the Moon, in 14 one month:38 the Sun, with the planets, Mercury and Venus, in one year: the planets, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, in longer periods respectively, according to their distances from the centre: lastly, the outermost circle of the fixed stars (the Olympus, or the Aplanes), in some unknown period of very long duration.39
38 The Pythagoreans supposed that eclipses of the moon took place, sometimes by the interposition of the earth, sometimes by that of the Antichthon, to intercept from the moon the light of the sun (Stobæus, Eclog. Phys. i. 27, p. 560. Heeren). Stobæus here cites the history (ἱστορίαν) of the Pythagorean philosophy by Aristotle, and the statement of Philippus of Opus, the friend of Plato.
39 Aristot. de Cœlo, ii. 13. Respecting this Pythagorean cosmical system, the elucidations of Boeckh are clear and valuable. Untersuchungen über das Kosmische System des Platon, Berlin, 1852, p. 99-102; completing those which he had before given in his edition of the fragments of Philolaus.
Martin (in his Études sur le Timée de Platon, vol. ii. p. 107) and Gruppe (Die Kosmischen Systeme der Griechen, ch. iv.) maintain that the original system proposed by Pythagoras was a geocentric system, afterwards transformed by Philolaus and other Pythagoreans into that which stands in the text. But I agree with Boeckh (Ueber das Kosmische System des Platon, p. 89 seqq.), and with Zeller (Phil. d. Griech., vol. i. p. 308, ed. 2), that this point is not made out. That which Martin and Gruppe (on the authority of Alexander Polyhistor, Diog. viii. 25, and others) consider to be a description of the original Pythagorean system as it stood before Philolaus, is more probably a subsequent transformation of it; introduced after the time of Aristotle, in order to suit later astronomical views.
Music of the Spheres.
The revolutions of such grand bodies could not take place, in the opinion of the Pythagoreans, without producing a loud and powerful sound; and as their distances from the central fire were supposed to be arranged in musical ratios,40 so the result of all these separate sounds was full and perfect harmony. To the objection — Why were not these sounds heard by us? — they replied, that we had heard them constantly and without intermission from the hour of our birth; hence they had become imperceptible by habit.41
40 Playfair observes (in his dissertation on the Progress of Natural Philosophy, p. 87) respecting Kepler — “Kepler was perhaps the first person who conceived that there must be always a law capable of being expressed by arithmetic or geometry, which connects such phenomena as have a physical dependence on each other”. But this seems to be exactly the fundamental conception of the Pythagoreans: or rather a part of their fundamental conception, for they also considered their numbers as active forces bringing such law into reality. To illustrate the determination of the Pythagoreans to make up the number of Ten celestial bodies, I transcribe another passage from Playfair (p. 98). Huygens, having discovered one satellite of Saturn, “believed that there were no more, and that the number of the planets was now complete. The planets, primary and secondary, thus made up twelve — the double of six, the first of the perfect numbers.”
41 Aristot. De Cœlo, ii. 9; Pliny, H.N. ii. 20.
See the Pythagorean system fully set forth by Zeller, Die Philosophie der Griechen, vol. i. p. 302-310, ed. 2nd.
Pythagorean list of fundamental Contraries — Ten opposing pairs.
Ten was, in the opinion of the Pythagoreans, the perfection 15 and consummation of number. The numbers from One to Ten were all that they recognised as primary, original, generative. Numbers greater than ten were compounds and derivatives from the decad. They employed this perfect number not only as a basis on which to erect a bold astronomical hypothesis, but also as a sum total for their list of contraries. Many Hellenic philosophers42 recognised pairs of opposing attributes as pervading nature, and as the fundamental categories to which the actual varieties of the sensible world might be reduced. While others laid down Hot and Cold, Wet and Dry, as the fundamental contraries, the Pythagoreans adopted a list of ten pairs. 1. Limit and Unlimited; 2. Odd and Even; 3. One and Many; 4. Right and Left; 5. Male and Female; 6. Rest and Motion; 7. Straight and Curve; 8. Light and Darkness; 9. Good and Evil; 10. Square and Oblong.43 Of these ten pairs, five belong to arithmetic or to geometry, one to mechanics, one to physics, and three to anthropology or ethics. Good and Evil, Regularity and Irregularity, were recognised as alike primordial and indestructible.44
42 Aristot. Metaphys. Γ. 2, p. 1004, b. 30. τὰ δ’ ὄντα καὶ τὴν οὐσιαν ὁμολογοῦσιν ἐξ ἐναντίων σχεδὸν ἅπαντες συγκεῖσθαι.
43 Aristot. Metaphys. A. 5, p. 986, a. 22. He goes on to say that Alkmæon, a semi-Pythagorean and a younger contemporary of Pythagoras himself, while agreeing in the general principle that “human affairs were generally in pairs,” (εἶναι δύο τὰ πολλὰ τῶν ἀνθρωπίνων), laid down pairs of fundamental contraries at random (τὰς ἐναντιότητας τὰς τυχούσας) — black and white, sweet and bitter, good and evil, great and little. All that you can extract from these philosophers is (continues Aristotle) the general axiom, that “contraries are the principia of existing things” — ὅτι τἀνάντια ἀρχαὶ τῶν ὄντων.
This axiom is to be noted as occupying a great place in the minds of the Greek philosophers.
44 Theophrast. Metaphys. 9. Probably the recognition of one dominant antithesis — Τὸ Ἕν — ἡ ἀόριστος Δυὰς — is the form given by Plato to the Pythagorean doctrine. Eudorus (in Simplikius ad Aristot. Physic. fol. 39) seems to blend the two together.
The arithmetical and geometrical view of nature, to which such exclusive supremacy is here given by the Pythagoreans, is one of the most interesting features of Grecian philosophy. They were the earliest cultivators of mathematical science,45 and are to be recognised as having paved the way for Euclid and Archimedes, notwithstanding the symbolical and mystical fancies 16 with which they so largely perverted what are now regarded as the clearest and most rigorous processes of the human intellect. The important theorem which forms the forty-seventh Proposition of Euclid’s first book, is affirmed to have been discovered by Pythagoras himself: but how much progress was made by him and his followers in the legitimate province of arithmetic and geometry, as well as in the applications of these sciences to harmonics,46 which they seem to have diligently cultivated, we have not sufficient information to determine with certainty.
45 Aristot. Metaph. A. 5, p. 985, b. 23. οἱ Πυθαγορεῖοι τῶν μαθημάτων ἀψάμενοι πρῶτοι ταῦτα προήγαγον, καὶ ἐντραφέντες ἐν αὐτοῖς τὰς τούτων ἀρχὰς τῶν ὄντων ἀρχὰς ᾠήθησαν εἶναι πάντων.
46 Concerning the Pythagorean doctrines on Harmonics, see Boeckh’s Philolaus, p. 60-84, with his copious and learned comments.
Eleatic philosophy — Xenophanes.
Contemporary with Pythagoras, and like him an emigrant from Ionia to Italy, was Xenophanes of Kolophon. He settled at the Phokæan colony of Elea, on the Gulf of Poseidonia; his life was very long, but his period of eminence appears to belong (as far as we can make out amidst conflicting testimony) to the last thirty years of the sixth century B.C. (530-500 B.C.). He was thus contemporary with Anaximander and Anaximenes, as well as with Pythagoras, the last of whom he may have personally known.47 He composed, and recited in person, poems — epic, elegiac, and iambic — of which a very few fragments remain.
47 Karsten. Xenophanis Fragm., s. 4, p. 9, 10.
His censures upon the received Theogony and religious rites.
Xenophanes takes his point of departure, not from Thales or Anaximander, but from the same ancient theogonies which they had forsaken. But he follows a very different road. The most prominent feature in his poems (so far as they remain), is the directness and asperity with which he attacks the received opinions respecting the Gods — and the poets Hesiod and Homer, the popular exponents of those opinions. Xenophanes not only condemns these poets for having ascribed to the Gods discreditable exploits, but even calls in question the existence of the Gods, and ridicules the anthropomorphic conception which pervaded the Hellenic faith. “If horses or lions could paint, they would delineate their Gods in form like themselves. The Ethiopians conceive their Gods as black, the Thracians conceive theirs as fair and with reddish hair.”48 Dissatisfied with much of the 17customary worship and festivals, Xenophanes repudiated divination altogether, and condemned the extravagant respect shown to victors in Olympic contests,49 not less than the lugubrious ceremonies in honour of Leukothea. He discountenanced all Theogony, or assertion of the birth of Gods, as impious, and as inconsistent with the prominent attribute of immortality ascribed to them.50 He maintained that there was but one God, identical with, or a personification of, the whole Uranus. “The whole Kosmos, or the whole God, sees, hears, and thinks.” The divine nature (he said) did not admit of the conception of separate persons one governing the other, or of want and imperfection in any way.51
48 Xenophanis Fragm. 5-6-7, p. 39 seq. ed. Karsten; Clemens Alexandr. Strom. v. p. 601; vii. p. 711.
49 Xenophan. Fragm. 19, p. 60, ed. Karsten; Cicero, Divinat. i. 3, 5.
50 Xenophanis Fragment. 34-35, p. 85, ed. Karsten; Aristotel. Rhetoric. ii. 23; Metaphys. A. 5, p. 986, b. 19.
51 Xenoph. Frag. 1-2, p. 35.
Οὖλος ὁρᾷ, οὖλος δὲ νοεῖ, οὖλος δε τ’ ἀκούει.
Plutarch ap. Eusebium, Præp. Evang. i. 8; Diogen. Laert. ix. 19.
His doctrine of Pankosmism, or Pantheism — The whole Kosmos is Ens Unum or God — Ἓν καὶ Πᾶν. Non-Ens inadmissible.
Though Xenophanes thus appears (like Pythagoras) mainly as a religious dogmatist, yet theogony and cosmogony were so intimately connected in the sixth century B.C., that he at the same time struck out a new philosophical theory. His negation of theogony was tantamount to a negation of cosmogony. In substituting one God for many, he set aside all distinct agencies in the universe, to recognise only one agent, single, all-pervading, indivisible. He repudiated all genesis of a new reality, all actual existence of parts, succession, change, beginning, end, etc., in reference to the universe, as well as in reference to God. “Wherever I turned my mind (he exclaimed) everything resolved itself into One and the same: all things existing came back always and everywhere into one similar and permanent nature.”52 The fundamental tenet of Xenophanes was partly religious, partly philosophical, Pantheism, or Pankosmism: looking upon the universe as one real all-comprehensive Ens, which he would not call either finite or infinite, 18 either in motion or at rest.53 Non-Ens he pronounced to be an absurdity — an inadmissible and unmeaning phrase.
52 Timon, fragment of the Silli ap. Sext. Empiric. Hypot. Pyrrh. i. 33, sect. 224.
ὄππη γὰρ ἐμὸν νόον εἰρύσαιμι,
εἰς ἓν ταὐτό τε πᾶν ἀνελύετο, πᾶν δε ὂν αἰεὶ
πάντη ἀνελκόμενον μίαν εἰς φύσιν ἴσταθ’ ὁμοίαν.
Αἰεὶ here appears to be more conveniently construed with ἴσταθ’ not (as Karsten construes it, p. 118) with ὄν.
It is fair to presume that these lines are a reproduction of the sentiments of Xenophanes, if not a literal transcript of his words.
53 Theophrastus ap. Simplikium in Aristotel. Physic. f. 6, Karsten, p. 106; Arist. Met. A. 5, p. 986, b. 21: Ξενοφάνης δὲ πρῶτος τούτων ἑνίσας, ὁ γὰρ Παρμενίδης τούτον λέγεται μαθητής, — εις τὸν ὅλον οὔρανον ἀποβλέψας τὸ ἓν εἶναί φησι τὸν θεόν.
Scepticism of Xenophanes — complaint of philosophy as unsatisfactory.
It was thus from Xenophanes that the doctrine of Pankosmism obtained introduction into Greek philosophy, recognising nothing real except the universe as an indivisible and unchangeable whole. Such a creed was altogether at variance with common perception, which apprehends the universe as a plurality of substances, distinguishable, divisible, changeable, &c. And Xenophanes could not represent his One and All, which excluded all change, to be the substratum out of which phenomenal variety was generated — as Water, Air, the Infinite, had been represented by the Ionic philosophers. The sense of this contradiction, without knowing how to resolve it, appears to have occasioned the mournful complaints of irremediable doubt and uncertainty, preserved as fragments from his poems. “No man (he exclaims) knows clearly about the Gods or the universe: even if he speak what is perfectly true, he himself does not know it to be true: all is matter of opinion.”54
54 Xenophan. Fragm. 14, p. 51, ed. Karsten.
καὶ τὸ μὲν οὖν σαφὲς οὔτις ἀνὴρ γένετ’ οὔδε τις ἔσται
εἰδὼς, ἀμφὶ θεῶν τε καὶ ἄσσα λέγω περὶ πάντων·
εἰ γὰρ καὶ τὰ μάλιστα τύχοι τετελεσμένον εἰπὼν,
αὐτὸς ὁμῶς οὐκ οἶδε· δόκος δ’ ἐπὶ πᾶσι τέτυκται.
Compare the extract from the Silli of Timon in Sextus Empiricus — Pyrrhon. Hypot. i. 224; and the same author, adv. Mathemat. vii. 48-52.
Nevertheless while denying all real variety or division in the universe, Xenophanes did not deny the variety of human perceptions and beliefs. But he allowed them as facts belonging to man, not to the universe — as subjective or relative, not as objective or absolute. He even promulgated opinions of his own respecting many of the physical and cosmological subjects treated by the Ionic philosophers.
His conjectures on physics and astronomy.
Without attempting to define the figure of the Earth, he considered it to be of vast extent and of infinite depth;55 including, in its interior cavities, prodigious reservoirs both of fire and water. He thought that it had at one time been covered with water, in proof of which he 19 noticed the numerous shells found inland and on mountain tops, together with the prints of various fish which he had observed in the quarries of Syracuse, in the island of Paros, and elsewhere. From these facts he inferred that the earth had once been covered with water, and even that it would again be so covered at some future time, to the destruction of animal and human life.56 He supposed that the sun, moon, and stars were condensations of vapours exhaled from the Earth, collected into clouds, and alternately inflamed and extinguished.57
55 Aristot. De Cœlo, ii. 13.
56 Xenophan. Fragm. p. 178, ed. Karsten; Achilles Tatius, Εἰσαγωγὴ in Arat. Phænom. p. 128, τὰ κάτω δ’ ἐς ἄπειρον ἱκάνει.
This inference from the shells and prints of fishes is very remarkable for so early a period. Compare Herodotus (ii. 12) who notices the fact, and draws the same inference, as to Lower Egypt; also Plutarch, De Isid. et Osirid. c. 40, p. 367; and Strabo, i. p. 49-50, from whom we learn that the Lydian historian Xanthus had made the like observation, and also the like inference, for himself. Straton of Lampsakus, Eratosthenes, and Strabo himself, approved what Xanthus said.
57 Xenophanes Frag. p. 161 seq., ed. Karsten. Compare Lucretius, v. 458.
“per rara foramina, terræ
Partibus erumpens primus se sustulit æther
Ignifer et multos secum levis abstulit ignis ....
Sic igitur tum se levis ac diffusilis æther
Corpore concreto circumdatus undique flexit: ....
Hunc exordia sunt solis lunæque secuta.”
Parmenides continues the doctrine of Xenophanes — Ens Parmenideum, self-existent, eternal, unchangeable, extended, — Non-Ens, an unmeaning phrase.
Parmenides, of Elea, followed up and gave celebrity to the Xenophanean hypothesis in a poem, of which the striking exordium is yet preserved. The two veins of thought, which Xenophanes had recognised and lamented his inability to reconcile, were proclaimed by Parmenides as a sort of inherent contradiction in the human mind — Reason or Cogitation declaring one way, Sense (together with the remembrances and comparisons of sense) suggesting a faith altogether opposite. Dropping that controversy with the popular religion which had been raised by Xenophanes, Parmenides spoke of many different Gods or Goddesses, and insisted on the universe as one, without regarding it as one God. He distinguished Truth from matter of Opinion.58 Truth was knowable only by pure mental contemplation or cogitation, the object of which was Ens or Being, the Real or Absolute: here the Cogitans and the Cogitatum were identical, one and the same.59 Parmenides conceived Ens not simply as existent, but as 20 self-existent, without beginning or end,60 as extended, continuous, indivisible, and unchangeable. The Ens Parmenideum comprised the two notions of Extension and Duration:61 it was something Enduring and Extended; Extension including both space, and matter so far forth as filling space. Neither the contrary of Ens (Non-Ens), nor anything intermediate between Ens and Non-Ens, could be conceived, or named, or reasoned about. Ens comprehended all that was Real, without beginning or end, without parts or difference, without motion or change, perfect and uniform like a well-turned sphere.62
58 Parmenid. Fr. v. 29.
59 Parm. Frag. v. 40, 52-56.
τὸ γὰρ αὐτὸ νοεῖν ἐστίν τε καὶ εἶναι.
Ἀλλὰ σὺ τῆς δ’ ἀφ’ ὁδοῦ διζήσιος εἶργε νόημα,
μηδέ σ’ ἔθος πολύπειρον ὁδὸν κατὰ τήνδε βιάσθω,
νωμᾷν ἄσκοπον ὄμμα καὶ ἠχήεσσαν ἀκουὴν
καὶ γλῶσσαν· κρῖναι δὲ λόγῳ πολύδηνιν ἔλεγχον
ἐξ ἐμέθεν ῥηθέντα.
60 Parm. Frag. v. 81.
αὐτὰρ ἀκίνητον μεγάλων ἐν πείρασι δεσμῶν
ἐστὶν, ἄναρχον, ἄπαυστον, &c.
61 Zeller (Die Philosophie der Griech., i. p. 403, ed. 2) maintains, in my opinion justly, that the Ens Parmenideum is conceived by its author as extended. Strümpell (Geschichte der theor. Phil. der Griech., s. 44) represents it as unextended: but this view seems not reconcilable with the remaining fragments.
62 Parm. Frag. v. 102.
He recognises a region of opinion, phenomenal and relative, apart from Ens.
In this subject Ens, with its few predicates, chiefly negative, consisted all that Parmenides called Truth. Everything else belonged to the region of Opinion, which embraced all that was phenomenal, relative, and transient: all that involved a reference to man’s senses, apprehension, and appreciation, all the indefinite diversity of observed facts and inferences. Plurality, succession, change, motion, generation, destruction, division of parts, &c., belonged to this category. Parmenides did not deny that he and other men had perceptions and beliefs corresponding to these terms, but he denied their application to the Ens or the self-existent. We are conscious of succession, but the self-existent has no succession: we perceive change of colour and other sensible qualities, and change of place or motion, but Ens neither changes nor moves. We talk of things generated or destroyed — things coming into being or going out of being — but this phrase can have no application to the self-existent Ens, which is always and cannot properly be called either past or future.63 21 Nothing is really generated or destroyed, but only in appearance to us, or relatively to our apprehension.64 In like manner we perceive plurality of objects, and divide objects into parts. But Ens is essentially One, and cannot be divided.65 Though you may divide a piece of matter you cannot divide the extension of which that matter forms part: you cannot (to use the expression of Hobbes66) pull asunder the first mile from the second, or the first hour from the second. The milestone, or the striking of the clock, serve as marks to assist you in making a mental division, and in considering or describing one hour and one mile apart from the next. This, however, is your own act, relative to yourself: there is no real division of extension into miles, or of duration into hours. You may consider the same space or time as one or as many, according to your convenience: as one hour or as sixty minutes, as one mile or eight furlongs. But all this is a process of your own mind and thoughts; another man may divide the same total in a way different from you. Your division noway modifies the reality without you, whatever that may be — the Extended and Enduring Ens — which remains still a continuous one, undivided and unchanged.
63 Parm. Frag. v. 96.
—— ἐπεὶ τό γε μοῖρ’ ἐπέδησεν
Οἶον ἀκίνητον τελέθειν τῷ πάντ’ ὄνομ’ εἶναι,
Ὄσσα βροτοὶ κατέθεντο, πεποιθότες εἶναι ἀληθῆ,
γίγνεσθαί τε καὶ ὄλλυσθαι, εἶναί τε καὶ οὐκὶ,
καὶ τόπον ἀλλάσσειν, διά τε χρόα φανὸν ἀμείβειν·
εἴ γε γένοιτ’, οὐκ ἔστ’· οὐδ’ εἴ πότε μέλλει ἔσεσθαι·
τῶς γένεσις μὲν ἀπέσβεσται, καὶ ἄπιστος ὄλεθρος
64 Aristotel. De Cœlo, iii. 1. Οἱ μὲν γὰρ αὐτῶν ὅλως ἀνεῖλον γένεσιν καὶ φθοράν· οὐθὲν γὰρ οὔτε γίγνεσθαί φασιν οὔτε φθείρεσθαι τῶν ὄντων, ἀλλὰ μόνον δοκεῖν ἡμῖν· οἶον οἱ περὶ Μέλισσον καὶ Παρμενίδην, &c.
65 Parm. Frag. v. 77.
Οὐδὲ διαίρετόν ἐστιν, ἐπεὶ πᾶν ἐστὶν ὅμοιον,
οὐδέ τι τῇ μᾶλλον τό κεν εἴργοι μιν ξυνέχεσθαι,
οὐδέ τι χειρότερον· πᾶν δὲ πλέον ἐστὶν ἐόντος·
τῷ ξυνεχὲς πᾶν ἐστίν· ἐὸν γὰρ ἐόντι πελάζει.
Aristotel. Metaphys. A. 5, p. 986, b. 29, with the Scholia, and Physic. i. 2, 3. Simplikius Comm. in Physic. Aristot. (apud Tennemann Geschichte der Philos. b. i. s. 4, vol. i. p. 170) πάντα γάρ φησι (Παρμενίδης) τὰ ὄντα, καθὸ ὄντα, ἑν ἐστίν. This chapter, in which Tennemann gives an account of the Eleatic philosophy, appears to me one of the best and most instructive in his work.
66 “To make parts, — or to part or divide, Space or Time, — is nothing else but to consider one and another within the same: so that if any man divide space or time, the diverse conceptions he has are more, by one, than the parts which he makes. For his first conception is of that which is to be divided — then, of some part of it — and again of some other part of it: and so forwards, as long as he goes in dividing. But it is to be noted, that here, by division, I do not mean the severing or pulling asunder of one space or time from another (for does any man think that one hemisphere may be separated from the other hemisphere, or the first hour from the second?), but diversity of consideration: so that division is not made by the operation of the hands, but of the mind.” — Hobbes, First Grounds of Philosophy, chap. vii. 5, vol. i. p. 96, ed. Molesworth.
“Expansion and duration have this farther agreement, that though they are both considered by us as having parts, yet their parts are not separable one from another, not even in thought; though the parts of bodies from which we take our measure of the one — and the parts of motion, from which we may take the measure of the other — may be interrupted or separated.” — Locke, Essay on the Human Understanding, book ii. ch. 15. s. 11.
In the Platonic Parmenides, p. 156 D., we find the remarkable conception of what he calls τὸ ἐξαίφνης, ἄτοπός τις φύσις — a break in the continuity of duration, an extra-temporal moment.
Parmenidean ontology stands completely apart from phenomenology.
The Ens of Parmenides thus coincided mainly with that which (since Kant) has been called the Noumenon — the Thing in itself — the Absolute; or rather with that which, by a frequent illusion, passes for the absolute — no notice being taken of the cogitant and believing apart from mind, as if cogitation and belief, cogitata and credita, would be had without it. By Ens was understood 22 the remnant in his mind, after leaving out all that abstraction, as far as it had then been carried, could leave out. It was the minimum indispensable to the continuance of thought; you cannot think (Parmenides says) without thinking of Something, and that Something Extended and Enduring. Though he and others talk of this Something as an Absolute (i.e. apart from or independent of his own thinking mind), yet he also uses some juster language (τὸ γὰρ αὐτὸ νοεῖν ἔστιν τε καὶ εἶναι), showing that it is really relative: that if the Cogitans implies a Cogitatum, the Cogitatum also implies no less its correlative Cogitans: and that though we may divide the two in words, we cannot divide them in fact. It is to be remarked that Parmenides distinguishes the Enduring or Continuous from the Transient or Successive, Duration from Succession (both of which are included in the meaning of the word Time), and that he considers Duration alone as belonging to Ens or the Absolute — to the region of Truth — setting it in opposition or antithesis to Succession, which he treats as relative and phenomenal. We have thus (with the Eleates) the first appearance of Ontology, the science of Being or Ens, in Grecian philosophy. Ens is everything, and everything is Ens. In the view of Parmenides, Ontology is not merely narrow, but incapable of enlargement or application; we shall find Plato and others trying to expand it into numerous imposing generalities.67
67 Leibnitz says, Réponse à M. Foucher, p. 117, ed. Erdmann, “Comment seroit il possible qu’aucune chose existât, si l’être même, ipsum Esse, n’avoit l’existence? Mais bien au contraire ne pourrait on pas dire avec beaucoup plus de raison, qu’il n’y a que lui qui existe véritablement, les êtres particuliers n’ayant rien de permanent? Semper generantur, et nunquam sunt.”
Parmenidean phenomenology — relative and variable.
Apart from Ontology, Parmenides reckons all as belonging to human opinions. These were derived from the observations of sense (which he especially excludes from Ontology) with the comparisons, inferences, hypothesis, &c., founded thereupon: the phenomena of Nature generally.68 He does not attempt (as Plato and Aristotle do after him) to make Ontology serve as a principle or beginning for anything beyond itself,69 or as a premiss from which the knowledge of nature is to be deduced. He treats the two — Ontology and Phenomenology, to employ an Hegelian word — as radically disparate, and incapable of any legitimate union. Ens was essentially one and enduring: Nature was essentially multiform, successive, ever changing and moving relative to the observer, and different to observers at different times and places. Parmenides approached the study of Nature from its own start24ing point, the same as had been adopted by the Ionic philosophers — the data of sense, or certain agencies selected among them, and vaguely applied to explain the rest. Here he felt that he relinquished the full conviction, inseparable from his intellectual consciousness, with which he announced his few absolute truths respecting Ens and Non-Ens, and that he entered upon a process of mingled observation and conjecture, where there was great room for diversity of views between man and man.
68 Karsten observes that the Parmenidean region of opinion comprised not merely the data of sense, but also the comparisons, generalisations, and notions, derived from sense.
“Δοξαστὸν et νοητὸν vocantur duo genera inter se diversa, quorum alterum complectitur res externas et fluxas, notionesque quæ ex his ducuntur — alterum res æternas et à conspectu remotas,” &c. (Parm. Fragm. p. 148-149).
69 Marbach (Lehrbuch der Gesch. der Philos., s. 71, not. 3) after pointing out the rude philosophical expression of the Parmenidean verses, has some just remarks upon the double aspect of philosophy as there proclaimed, and upon the recognition by Parmenides of that which he calls the “illegitimate” vein of enquiry along with the “legitimate.”
“Learn from me (says Parmenides) the opinions of mortals, brought to your ears in the deceitful arrangement of my words. This is not philosophy (Marbach says): it is Physics. We recognise in modern times two perfectly distinct ways of contemplating Nature: the philosophical and the physical. Of these two, the second dwells in plurality, the first in unity: the first teaches everything as infallible truth, the second as multiplicity of different opinions. We ought not to ask why Parmenides, while recognising the fallibility of this second road of enquiry, nevertheless undertook to march in it, — any more than we can ask, Why does not modern philosophy render physics superfluous?”
The observation of Marbach is just and important, that the line of research which Parmenides treated as illegitimate and deceitful, but which he nevertheless entered upon, is the analogon of modern Physics. Parmenides (he says) indicated most truly the contrast and divergence between Ontology and Physics; but he ought to have gone farther, and shown how they could be reconciled and brought into harmony. This (Marbach affirms) was not even attempted, much less achieved, by Parmenides: but it was afterwards attempted by Plato, and achieved by Aristotle.
Marbach is right in saying that the reconciliation was attempted by Plato; but he is not right (I think) in saying that it was achieved by Aristotle — nor by any one since Aristotle. It is the merit of Parmenides to have brought out the two points of view as radically distinct, and to have seen that the phenomenal world, if explained at all, must be explained upon general principles of its own, raised out of its own data of facts — not by means of an illusory Absolute and Real. The subsequent philosophers, in so far as they hid and slurred over this distinction, appear to me to have receded rather than advanced.
Parmenides recognises no truth, but more or less probability, in phenomenal explanations. — His physical and astronomical conjectures.
Yet though thus passing from Truth to Opinions, from full certainty to comparative and irremediable uncertainty,70 Parmenides does not consider all opinions as equally true or equally untrue. He announces an opinion of his own — what he thinks most probable or least improbable — respecting the structure and constitution of the Kosmos, and he announces it without the least reference to his own doctrines about Ens. He promises information respecting Earth, Water, Air, and the heavenly bodies, and how they work, and how they came to be what they are.71 He recognises two elementary principles or beginnings, one contrary to the other, but both of them positive — Light, comprehending the Hot, the Light, and the Rare — Darkness, comprehending the Cold, the Heavy, and the Dense.72 These two elements, each endued with active and vital properties, were brought into junction and commixture by the 25 influence of a Dea Genitalis analogous to Aphroditê,73 with her first-born son Eros, a personage borrowed from the Hesiodic Theogony. From hence sprang the other active forces of nature, personified under various names, and the various concentric circles or spheres of the Kosmos. Of those spheres, the outer-most was a solid wall of fire — “flammantia mœnia mundi” — next under this the Æther, distributed into several circles of fire unequally bright and pure — then the circle called the Milky Way, which he regarded as composed of light or fire combined with denser materials — then the Sun and Moon, which were condensations of fire from the Milky Way — lastly, the Earth, which he placed in the centre of the Kosmos.74 He is said to have been the first who pronounced the earth to be spherical, and even distributed it into two or five zones.75 He regarded it as immovable, in consequence of its exact position in the centre. He considered the stars to be fed by exhalation from the Earth. Midway between the Earth and the outer flaming circle, he supposed that there dwelt a Goddess — Justice or Necessity — who regulated all the movements of the Kosmos, and maintained harmony between its different parts. He represented the human 26 race as having been brought into existence by the power of the sun,76 and he seems to have gone into some detail respecting animal procreation, especially in reference to the birth of male and female offspring. He supposed that the human mind, as well as the human body, was compounded of a mixture of the two elemental influences, diffused throughout all Nature: that like was perceived and known by like: that thought and sensation were alike dependent upon the body, and upon the proportions of its elemental composition: that a certain limited knowledge was possessed by every object in Nature, animate or inanimate.77
70 Parmen. Fr. v. 109.
ἐν τῷ σοὶ παύω πιστὸν λόγον ἠδὲ νόημα
ἀμφὶς ἀληθείης· δόξας δ’ ἀπὸ τοῦδε βροτείας
μάνθανε, κόσμον ἐμῶν ἐπέων ἀπατηλὸν ἀκούων.
71 Parm. Frag. v. 132-142.
72 Aristotle (Metaphys. A. 5, p. 987, a. 1) represents Parmenides as assimilating one of his phenomenal principles (Heat) to Ens. and the other (Cold) to Non-Ens. There is nothing in the fragments of Parmenides to justify this supposed analogy. Heat as well as Cold belongs to Non-Ens, not to Ens, in the Parmenidean doctrine. Moreover Cold or Dense is just as much a positive principle as Hot or Rare, in the view of Parmenides; it is the female to the male (Parm. Fragm. v. 129; comp. Karsten, p. 270). Aristotle conceives Ontology as a substratum for Phenomenology; and his criticisms on Parmenides imply (erroneously in my judgment) that Parmenides did the same. The remarks which Brucker makes both on Aristotle’s criticism and on the Eleatic doctrine are in the main just, though the language is not very suitable.
Brucker, Hist. Philosoph., part ii. lib. ii. ch. xi. tom. 1, p. 1152-3, about Xenophanes:—“Ex iis enim quæ apud Aristotelem ex ejus mente contra motum disputantur, patet Xenophanem motûs notionem aliam quam quæ in physicis obtinet, sibi concepisse; et ad verum motum progressum a nonente ad ens ejusque existentiam requisivisse. Quo sensu notionis hujus semel admisso, sequebatur (cum illud impossibile sit, ut ex nihilo fiat aliquid) universum esse immobile, adeoque et partes ejus non ita moveri, ut ex statu nihili procederent ad statum existentiæ. Quibus admissis, de rerum tamen mutationibus disserere poterat, quas non alterationes, generationes, et extinctiones, rerum naturalium, sed modificationes, esse putabat: hoc nomine indignas, eo quod rerum universi natura semper maneret immutabilis, soliusque materiæ æternum fluentis particulæ varie inter se modificarentur. Hâc ratione si Eleaticos priores explicemus de motu disserentes, rationem facile dabimus, quî de rebus physicis disserere et phenomena naturalia explicare, salvâ istâ hypothesi, potuerint. Quod tamen de iis negat Aristoteles, conceptum motûs metaphysicum ad physicum transferens: ut, more suo, Eleatico systemate corrupto, eò vehementius illud premeret.”
73 Parmenides, ap. Simplik. ad Aristot. Physic. fol. 9 a.
ἐν δὲ μέσῳ τούτων Δαιμων, ἣ πάντα κυβερνᾷ, &c.
Plutarch, Amator, 13.
74 See especially the remarkable passage from Stobæus, Eclog. Phys. i. 23, p. 482, cited in Karsten, Frag. Parm. p. 241, and Cicero, De Natur. Deor, i. 11, s. 28, with the Commentary of Krische, Forschungen auf dem Gebiete der alten Philosophie, viii. p. 98, seqq.
It is impossible to make out with any clearness the Kosmos and its generation as conceived by Parmenides. We cannot attain more than a general approximation to it.
75 Diogen. Laert. ix. 21, viii. 48; Strabo, ii. p. 93 (on the authority of Poseidonius). Plutarch (Placit. Philos. iii. 11) and others ascribe to Parmenides the recognition not of five zones, but only of two. If it be true that Parmenides held this opinion about the figure of the earth, the fact is honourable to his acuteness; for Leukippus, Anaxagoras, Archelaus, Diogenes the Apolloniate, and Demokritus, all thought the earth to be a flat, round surface, like a dish or a drum: Plato speaks about it in so confused a manner that his opinion cannot be made out: and Aristotle was the first who both affirmed and proved it to be spherical. The opinion had been propounded by some philosophers earlier than Anaxagoras, who controverted it. See the dissertation of L. Oettinger. Die Vorstellungen der Griechen über die Erde als Himmelskörper, Freiburg, 1850, p. 42-46.
76 Diogen. Laert. ix. 22.
77 Parmen. Frag. v. 145; Theophrastus, De Sensu, Karsten. pp. 268, 270.
Parmenides (according to Theophrastus) thought that the dead body, having lost its fiery element, had no perception of light, or heat, or sound; but that it had perception of darkness, cold, and silence — καὶ ὅλως δὲ πᾶν τὸ ὂν ἔχειν τινα γνῶσιν.
Before we pass from Parmenides to his pupil and successor Zeno, who developed the negative and dialectic side of the Eleatic doctrine, it will be convenient to notice various other theories of the same century: first among them that of Herakleitus, who forms as it were the contrast and antithesis to Xenophanes and Parmenides.
Herakleitus — his obscure style, impressive metaphors, confident and contemptuous dogmatism.
Herakleitus of Ephesus, known throughout antiquity by the denomination of the Obscure, comes certainly after Pythagoras and Xenophanes and apparently before Parmenides. Of the two first he made special mention, in one of the sentences, alike brief and contemptuous which have been preserved from his lost treatise:—“Much learning does not teach reason: otherwise it would have taught Hesiod and Pythagoras, Xenophanes and Hekatæus.” In another passage Herakleitus spoke of the “extensive knowledge, cleverness, and wicked arts” of Pythagoras. He declared that Homer as well as Archilochus deserved to be scourged and expelled from the public festivals.78 His thoughts were all embodied in one single treatise, which he is said to have deposited in the temple of the Ephesian Artemis. It was composed in a style most perplexing and difficult to understand, full of metaphor, symbolical illustration, and antithesis:27 but this very circumstance imparted to it an air of poetical impressiveness and oracular profundity.79 It exercised a powerful influence on the speculative minds of Greece, both in the Platonic age, and subsequently: the Stoics especially both commented on it largely (though with many dissentient opinions among the commentators), and borrowed with partial modifications much of its doctrine.80
78 Diogen. L. ix. 1. Πολυμαθίη νόον οὐ διδάσκει· Ἡσίοδον γὰρ ἂν ἐδίδαξε καὶ Πυθαγόρην, αὖτις τε Ξενοφάνεα καὶ Ἑκαταῖον, &c. Ib. viii. 1, 6. Πυθαγόρης Μνησάρχου ἱστορίην ἤσκησεν ἀνθρώπων μάλιστα πάντων, καὶ ἐκλεξάμενος ταύτας τὰς συγγραφὰς ἐποίησεν ἑωϋτοῦ σοφίην, πολυμαθίην, κακοτεχνίην.
79 Diogen. Laert. ix. 1-6. Theophrastus conceived that Herakleitus had left the work unfinished, from eccentricity of temperament (ὑπὸ μελαγχολίας). Of him, as of various others, it was imagined by some that his obscurity was intentional (Cicero, Nat. Deor. i. 26, 74, De Finib. 2, 5). The words of Lucretius about Herakleitus are remarkable (i. 641):—
Clarus ob obscuram linguam magis inter inanes
Quamde graves inter Græcos qui vera requirunt:
Omnia enim stolidi magis admirantur amantque
Inversis quæ sub verbis latitantia cernunt.
Even Aristotle complains of the difficulty of understanding Herakleitus, and even of determining the proper punctuation (Rhetoric. iii. 5).
80 Cicero, Nat. Deor., iii. 14, 35.
Doctrine of Herakleitus — perpetual process of generation and destruction — everything flows, nothing stands — transition of the elements into each other, backwards and forwards.
The expositors followed by Lucretius and Cicero conceived Herakleitus as having proclaimed Fire to be the universal and all-pervading element of nature;81 as Thales had recognised water, and Anaximenes air. This interpretation was countenanced by some striking passages of Herakleitus: but when we put together all that remains from him, it appears that his main doctrine was not physical, but metaphysical or ontological: that the want of adequate general terms induced him to clothe it in a multitude of symbolical illustrations, among which fire was only one, though the most prominent and most significant.82 Xenophanes and the Eleates had recognised, as the only objective reality, One extended Substance or absolute Ens, perpetual, infinite, indeterminate, incapable of change or modification. They denied the objective reality of motion, change, generation, and destruction — considering all these to be purely relative and phenomenal. Herakleitus on the contrary denied 28 everything in the nature of a permanent and perpetual substratum: he laid down nothing as permanent and perpetual except the process of change — the alternate sequence of generation and destruction, without beginning or end — generation and destruction being in fact coincident or identical, two sides of the same process, since the generation of one particular state was the destruction of its antecedent contrary. All reality consisted in the succession and transition, the coming and going, of these finite and particular states: what he conceived as the infinite and universal, was the continuous process of transition from one finite state to the next — the perpetual work of destruction and generation combined, which terminated one finite state in order to make room for a new and contrary state.
81 To some it appeared that Herakleitus hardly distinguished Fire from Air. Aristotel. De Animâ, i. 2; Sext. Empiric. adv. Mathemat. vii. 127-129, ix. 360.
82 Zeller’s account of the philosophy of Herakleitus in the second edition of his Philosophie der Griechen, vol. i. p. 450-496, is instructive. Marbach also is useful (Gesch. der Phil. s. 46-49); and his (Hegelian) exposition of Herakleitus is further developed by Ferdinand Lassalle (Die Philosophie Herakleitos des Dunklen, published 1858). This last work is very copious and elaborate, throwing great light upon a subject essentially obscure and difficult.
Variety of metaphors employed by Herakleitus, signifying the same general doctrine.
This endless process of transition, or ever-repeated act of generation and destruction in one, was represented by Herakleitus under a variety of metaphors and symbols — fire consuming its own fuel — a stream of water always flowing — opposite currents meeting and combating each other — the way from above downwards, and the way from below upwards, one and the same — war, contest, penal destiny or retributive justice, the law or decree of Zeus realising each finite condition of things and then destroying its own reality to make place for its contrary and successor. Particulars are successively generated and destroyed, none of them ever arriving at permanent existence:83 the universal process of generation and destruction alone continues. There is no Esse, but a perpetual Fieri: a transition from Esse to Non-Esse, from Non-Esse to Esse, with an intermediate temporary halt between them: a ceaseless meeting and confluence of the stream of generation with the opposite stream of destruction: a rapid and instant succession, or rather coincidence and coalescence,29 of contraries. Living and dead, waking and sleeping, light and dark, come into one or come round into each other: everything twists round into its contrary: everything both is and is not.84
83 Plato, Kratylus, p. 402, and Theætet. p. 152, 153.
Plutarch, De Εἰ apud Delphos, c. 18, p. 392. Ποταμῷ γὰρ οὔκ ἐστιν ἐμβῆναι δὶς τῷ αὐτῷ καθ’ Ἡράκλειτον, οὐδὲ θνητῆς οὐσίας δὶς ἅψασθαι κατὰ ἕξιν· ἀλλ’ ὀξύτητι καὶ ταχει μεταβολης σκιδνησι καὶ πάλιν συνάγει, μᾶλλον δὲ οὐδὲ πάλιν οὐδὲ ὕστερον, ἀλλ’ ἅμα συνίσταται καὶ ἀπολείπει, πρόσεισι καὶ ἄπεισι. Ὅθεν οὐδ’ εἰς τὸ εἶναι περαίνει τὸ γιγνόμενον αὐτῆς, τῷ μηδέποτε λήγειν μηδ’ ἵστασθαι τὴν γένεσιν, ἀλλ’ ἀπὸ σπέρματος ἀεὶ μεταβάλλουσαν — τὰς πρώτας φθείρουσαν γενέσεις καὶ ἡλικίας ταῖς ἐπιγιγνομέναις.
Clemens Alex. Strom. v. 14, p. 711. Κόσμον τὸν αὐτὸν ἁπάντων οὔτε τις θεῶν οὔτ’ ἀνθρώπων ἐποίησεν· ἀλλ’ ἦν ἀεὶ καὶ ἔσται πῦρ ἀείζωον, ἁπτόμενον μέτρα καὶ ἀποσβεννύμενον μέτρα. Compare also Eusebius, Præpar. Evang. xiv. 3, 8; Diogen. L. ix. 8.
84 Plato, Sophist. p. 242 E. Διαφερόμενον γὰρ ἀεὶ ξυμφέρεται.
Plutarch, Consolat. ad Apollonium c. 10, p. 106. Πότε γὰρ ἐν ἡμῖν αὐτοῖς οὐκ ἔστιν ὁ θάνατος; καὶ ᾗ φησιν Ἡράκλειτος, ταὐτό τ’ ἔνι ζῶν καὶ τεθνηκός, καὶ τὸ ἐγρηγορὸς καὶ τὸ καθεῦδον, καὶ νέον καὶ γηραιόν· τάδε γὰρ μεταπεσόντα ἐκεῖνα ἐστι, κἀκεῖνα πάλιν μεταπεσόντα ταῦτα.
Pseudo-Origenes, Refut. Hær. ix. 10, Ὁ θεὸς ἡμέρη, εὐφρόνη — χείμων, θέρος — πόλεμος, εἰρήνη — κόρος, λίμος, &c.
Nothing permanent except the law of process and implication of contraries — the transmutative force. Fixity of particulars is an illusion for most part, so far as it exists, it is a sin against the order of Nature.
The universal law, destiny, or divine working (according to Herakleitus), consists in this incessant process of generation and destruction, this alternation of contraries. To carry out such law fully, each of the particular manifestations ought to appear and pass away instantaneously — to have no duration of its own, but to be supplanted by its contrary at once. And this happens to a great degree, even in cases where it does not appear to happen: the river appears unchanged, though the water which we touched a short time ago has flowed away:85 we and all around us are in rapid movement, though we appear stationary: the apparent sameness and fixity is thus a delusion. But Herakleitus does not seem to have thought that his absolute universal force was omnipotent, or accurately carried out in respect to all particulars. Some positive and particular manifestations, when once brought to pass, had a certain measure of fixity, maintaining themselves for more or less time before they were destroyed. There was a difference between one particular and another, in this respect of comparative durability: one was more durable, another less.86 But according to the universal law or destiny, each particular ought simply to make its appearance, then to be supplanted and re-absorbed; so that the time during which it continued on the scene was, as it were, an unjust usurpation, obtained by encroaching 30on the equal right of the next comer, and by suspending the negative agency of the universal. Hence arises an antithesis or hostility between the universal law or process on one side, and the persistence of particular states on the other. The universal law or process is generative and destructive, positive and negative, both in one: but the particular realities in which it manifests itself are all positive, each succeeding to its antecedent, and each striving to maintain itself against the negativity or destructive interference of the universal process. Each particular reality represented rest and fixity: each held ground as long as it could against the pressure of the cosmical force, essentially moving, destroying, and renovating. Herakleitus condemns such pretensions of particular states to separate stability, inasmuch as it keeps back the legitimate action of the universal force, in the work of destruction and renovation.
85 Aristot. De Cœlo, iii. 1, p. 298, b. 30; Physic. viii. 3, p. 253, b. 9. Φασί τινες κινεῖσθαι τῶν ὄντων οὐ τὰ μὲν τὰ δ’ οὔ, ἀλλὰ πάντα καὶ ἀεὶ, ἀλλὰ λανθάνειν τοῦτο τὴν ἡμετέραν αἴσθησιν — which words doubtless refer to Herakleitus. See Preller, Hist. Phil. Græc. Rom. s. 47.
86 Lassalle, Philosophie des Herakleitos, vol. i. pp. 54, 55. “Andrerseits bieten die sinnlichen Existenzen graduelle oder Mass-Unterschiede dar, je nachdem in ihnen das Moment des festen Seins über die Unruhe des Werdens vorwiegt oder nicht; und diese Graduation wird also zugleich den Leitfaden zur Classification der verschiedenen Existenz-formen bilden.”
Illustrations by which Herakleitus symbolized his perpetual force, destroying and generating.
The theory of Herakleitus thus recognised no permanent substratum, or Ens, either material or immaterial — no category either of substance or quality — but only a ceaseless principle of movement or change, generation and destruction, position and negation, immediately succeeding, or coinciding with each other.87 It is this principle or everlasting force which he denotes under so many illustrative phrases — “the common (τὸ ξυνον), 31 the universal, the all-comprehensive (τὸ περιέχον), the governing, the divine, the name or reason of Zeus, fire, the current of opposites, strife or war, destiny, justice, equitable measure, Time or the Succeeding,” &c. The most emphatic way in which this theory could be presented was, as embodied, in the coincidence or co-affirmation of contraries. Many of the dicta cited and preserved out of Herakleitus are of this paradoxical tenor.88 Other dicta simply affirm perpetual flow, change, or transition, without express allusion to contraries: which latter, however, though not expressed, must be understood, since change was conceived as a change from one contrary to the other.89 In the Herakleitean idea, contrary forces come simultaneously into action: destruction and generation always take effect together: there is no negative without a positive, nor positive without a negative.90
87 Aristot. De Cœlo, iii. 1, p. 298, b. 30. Οἱ δὲ τὰ μὲν ἄλλα πάντα γίνεσθαί τέ φασι καὶ ῥεῖν, εἶναι δὲ παγίως οὐδέν, ἓν δέ τι μόνον ὑπομένειν, ἐξ οὗ ταῦτα πάντα μετασχηματίζεσθαι πέφυκεν· ὅπερ ἐοίκασιν βούλεσθαι λέγειν ἄλλοι τε πολλοὶ καὶ Ἡράκλειτος ὁ Ἐφέσιος. See the explanation given of this passage by Lassalle, vol. ii. p. 21, 39, 40, founded on the comment of Simplikius. He explains it as an universal law or ideal force — die reine Idee des Werdens selbst (p. 24), and “eine unsinnliche Potenz” (p. 25). Yet, in i. p. 55 of his elaborate exposition, he does indeed say, about the theory of Herakleitus, “Hier sind zum erstenmale die sinnlichen Bestimmtheiten zu bloss verschiedenen und absolut in einander übergehenden Formen eines identischen, ihnen zu Grunde liegenden, Substrats herabgesetzt”. But this last expression appears to me to contradict the whole tenor and peculiarity of Lassalle’s own explanation of the Herakleitean theory. He insists almost in every page (compare ii. p. 156) that “das Allgemeine” of Herakleitus is “reines Werden; reiner, steter, erzeugender, Prozess”. This process cannot with any propriety be called a substratum, and Herakleitus admitted no other. In thus rejecting any substratum he stood alone. Lassalle has been careful in showing that Fire was not understood by Herakleitus as a substratum (as water by Thales), but as a symbol for the universal force or law. In the theory of Herakleitus no substratum was recognised — no τόδε τι or οὐσία — in the same way as Aristotle observes about τὸ ἄπειρον (Physic. iii. 6, a. 22-31) ὥστε τὸ ἄπειρον οὐ δεῖ λαμβάνειν ὡς τόδε τι, οἷον ἄνθρωπον ἢ οἰκίαν, ἀλλ’ ὡς ἡ ἡμέρα λέγεται καὶ ὁ ἀγων, οἷς τὸ εἶναι οὐχ’ ὡς οὐσία τις γέγονεν, ἀλλ’ ἀεὶ ἐν γενέσει ἣ φθορᾷ, εἰ καὶ πεπερασμένον, ἀλλ’ ἀεί γε ἕτερον καὶ ἕτερον.
88 Aristotle or Pseudo-Aristotle, De Mundo, c. 5, p. 396, b. 20. Ταὐτὸ δὲ τοῦτο ἦν καὶ τὸ παρὰ τῷ σκοτεινῷ λεγόμενον Ἡρακλειτῷ: “συνάψειας οὖλα καὶ οὐχὶ οὖλα, συμφερόμενον καὶ διαφερόμενον, συνᾷδον καὶ διᾷδον, καὶ ἐκ πάντων ἑ καὶ ἐξ ἑνὸς πάντα.” Heraclid. Allegor. ap. Schleiermacher (Herakleitos, p. 529), ποταμοῖς τοῖς αὐτοῖς ἐμβαίνομέν τε καὶ οὐκ ἐμβαίνομεν, εἰμέν τε καὶ οὐκ εἰμέν: Plato, Sophist, p. 242, E., διαφερόμενον ἀεὶ ξυμφέρεται: Aristotle, Metaphys. iii. 7, p. 1012, b. 24, ἔοικε δ’ ὁ με Ἡρακλείτου λόγος, λέγων πάντα εἶναι καὶ μὴ εἶναι, ἅπαντα ἀληθῆ ποεῖν: Aristot. Topic. viii. 5, p. 155, b., οἷον ἀγαθὸν καὶ κακὸν εἶναι ταὐτὸν, καθάπερ Ἡράκλειτός φησιν: also Aristot. Physic. i. 2, p. 185, b. Compare the various Herakleitean phrases cited in Pseudo-Origen. Refut. Hæres. Fragm. ix. 10; also Krische, Forschungen auf dem Gebiete der alten Philosophie, vol. i. p. 370-468.
Bernays and Lassalle (vol. i. p. 81) contend, on reasonable grounds (though in opposition to Zeller, p. 495), that the following verses in the Fragments of Parmenides refer to Herakleitus:
οἷς τὸ πέλειν τε καὶ οὐκ εἶναι ταὐτὸν νενόμισται
κοὐ ταὐτὸν, πάντων δὲ παλίντροπός ἐστι κέλευθος.
The commentary of Alexander Aphrodis. on the Metaphysica says, “Heraclitus ergo cum diceret omnem rem esse et non esse et opposita simul consistere, contradictionem veram simul esse statuebat, et omnia dicebat esse vera” (Lassalle, p. 83).
One of the metaphors by which Herakleitus illustrated his theory of opposite and co-existent forces, was the pulling and pushing of two sawyers with the same saw. See Bernays, Heraclitea, part i. p. 16; Bonn, 1848.
89 Aristot. Physic. viii. 3, p. 253, b. 30, εἰς τοὐναντίον γὰρ ἡ ἀλλοίωσις: also iii. 5, p. 205, a. 6, πάντα γὰρ μεταβάλλει ἐξ ἐναντίου εἰς ἐναντίον, οἷον ἐκ θερμοῦ εἰς ψυχρόν.
90 Lassalle, Herakleitos, vol. i. p. 323.
Water — intermediate between Fire (Air) and Earth.
Such was the metaphysical or logical foundation of the philosophy of Herakleitus: the idea of an eternal process of change, manifesting itself in the perpetual destruction and renovation of particular realities, but having itself no reality apart from these particulars, and existing only in them as an immanent principle or condition. This principle, from the want of appropriate abstract terms, he expressed in a variety of symbolical and metaphorical 32 phrases, among which Fire stood prominent.91 But though Fire was thus often used to denote the principle or ideal process itself, the same word was also employed to denote that one of the elements which formed the most immediate manifestation of the principle. In this latter sense, Fire was the first stage of incipient reality: the second stage was water, the third earth. This progression, fire, water, earth, was in Herakleitean language “the road downwards,” which was the same as “the road upwards,” from earth to water and again to fire. The death of fire was its transition into water: that of water was its transition partly into earth, partly into flame. As fire was the type of extreme mobility, perpetual generation and destruction — so earth was the type of fixed and stationary existence, resisting movement or change as much as possible.92 Water was intermediate between the two.
91 See a striking passage cited from Gregory of Nyssa by Lassalle (vol. i. p. 287), illustrating this characteristic of fire; the flame of a lamp appears to continue the same, but it is only a succession of flaming particles, each of which takes fire and is extinguished in the same instant: ὥσπερ τὸ ἐπὶ τῆς θρυαλλίδος πῦρ τῷ μὲν δοκεῖν ἀεὶ τὸ αὐτὸ φαίνεται — τὸ γὰρ συνεχὲς ἀεὶ τῆς κινήσεως ἀδιάσπαστον αὐτὸ καὶ ἡνωμένον πρὸς ἑαυτὸ δείκνυσι — τῇ δὲ ἀληθείᾳ πάντοτε αὐτὸ ἑαυτὸ διαδεχόμενον, οὐδέποτε τὸ αὐτὸ μένει — ἡ γὰρ ἐξελκυσθεῖσα διὰ τῆς θερμότητος ἰκμὰς ὁμοῦ τε ἐξεφλογώθη καὶ εἰς λιγνὺν ἐκκαυθεῖσα μεταποιήθη, &c.
92 Diogen. Laert. ix. 9; Clemens Alexand. Strom. v. 14, p. 599, vi. 2, p. 624. Πυρὸς τροπαὶ πρῶτον θάλασσα, θαλάττης δὲ τὸ μὲν ἥμισυ γῆ, τὸ δ’ ἥμισυ πρηστήρ. A full explanation of the curious expression πρηστήρ is given by Lassalle (Herakl. vol. ii. p. 87-90). See Brandis (Handbuch der Gr. Philos. sect, xliii. p. 164), and Plutarch (De Primo Frigido, c. 17, p. 952, F.).
The distinction made by Herakleitus, but not clearly marked out or preserved, between the ideal fire or universal process, and the elementary fire or first stage towards realisation, is brought out by Lassalle (Herakleitos, vol. ii. p. 25-29).
Sun and stars — not solid bodies but meteoric aggregations dissipated and renewed — Eclipses — ἐκπύρωσις, or destructions of the Kosmos by fire.
Herakleitus conceived the sun and stars, not as solid bodies, but as meteoric aggregations perpetually dissipated and perpetually renewed or fed, by exhalation upward from the water and earth. The sun became extinguished and rekindled in suitable measure and proportion, under the watch of the Erinnyes, the satellites of Justice. These celestial lights were contained in troughs, the open side of which was turned towards our vision. In case of eclipses the trough was for the time reversed, so that the dark side was turned towards us; and the different phases of the moon were occasioned by the gradual turning round of the trough in which 33 her light was contained. Of the phenomena of thunder and lightning also, Herakleitus offered some explanation, referring them to aggregations and conflagrations of the clouds, and violent currents of winds.93 Another hypothesis was often ascribed to Herakleitus, and was really embraced by several of the Stoics in later times — that there would come a time when all existing things would be destroyed by fire (ἐκπύρωσις), and afterwards again brought into reality in a fresh series of changes. But this hypothesis appears to have been conceived by him metaphysically rather than physically. Fire was not intended to designate the physical process of combustion, but was a symbolical phrase for the universal process; the perpetual agency of conjoint destruction and renovation, manifesting itself in the putting forth and re-absorption of particulars, and having no other reality except as immanent in these particulars.94 The determinate Kosmos of the present moment is perpetually destroyed, passing into fire or the indeterminate: it is perpetually renovated or passes out of fire into water, earth — out of the indeterminate, into the various determinate modifications. At the same time, though Herakleitus seems to have mainly employed these symbols for the purpose of signifying or typifying a metaphysical conception, yet there was no clear apprehension, even in his own mind, of this generality, apart from all symbols: so that the illustration came to count as a physical fact by itself, and has been so understood by many.95 The line between what he meant as the ideal or metaphysical process, and the elementary or physical process, is not easy to draw, in the fragments which now remain.
93 Aristot. Meteorol. ii. e. p. 355, a. Plato, Republ. vi. p. 498, c. 11; Plutarch, De Exilio, c. 11, p. 604 A.; Plutarch. De Isid. et Osirid. c. 48, p. 370, E.; Diogen. L. ix. 10; Plutarch, Placit. Philos. ii. 17-22-24-28, p. 889-891; Stobæus, Eclog. Phys. i. p. 594.
About the doctrine of the Stoics, built in part upon this of Herakleitus, see Cicero, Natur. Deor. ii. 46; Seneca, Quæst. Natur. ii. 5, vi. 16.
94 Aristot. or Pseudo-Aristot., De Mundo, ἐκ πάντων ἓν καὶ ἐξ ἑνὸς πάντα.
95 See Lassalle, Herakleitos, vol. ii. s. 26-27, p. 182-258.
Compare about the obscure and debated meaning of the Herakleitean ἐκπύρωσις, Schleiermacher, Herakleitos, p. 103; Zeller, Philos. der Griech. vol. i. p. 477-479.
The word διακόσμησις stands as the antithesis (in the language of Herakleitus) to ἐκπύρωσις. A passage from Philo Judæus is cited by Lassalle illustrating the Herakleitean movement from ideal unity into totality of sensible particulars, forwards and backwards — ὁ δὲ γονορῥυὴς (λόγος) ἐκ κόσμου πάντα καὶ εἰς κόσμον ἀνάγων, ὑπὸ θεοῦ δὲ μηδὲν οἰόμενος, Ἡρακλειτείου δόξης ἑταῖρος, κόρον καὶ χρησμοσύνην, καὶ ἓν τὸ πᾶν καὶ πάντα ἀμοιβῇ εἰσάγων — where κόρος and χρησμοσύνη are used to illustrate the same ideal antithesis as διακόσμησις and ἐκπύρωσις (Lassalle, vol. i. p. 232).
His doctrines respecting the human soul and human knowledge. All wisdom resided in the Universal Wisdom — individual Reason is worthless.
The like blending of metaphysics and physics — of the abstract and the concrete and sensible — is to be found in the statements remaining from Herakleitus respecting the human soul and human knowledge. The human soul, according to him, was an effluence or outlying portion of the Universal96 — the fire — the perpetual movement or life of things. As such, its nature was to be ever in movement: but it was imprisoned and obstructed by the body, which represented the stationary, the fixed, the particular — that which resisted the universal force of change. So long as a man lived, his soul or mind, though thus confined, participated more or less in the universal movement: but when he died, his body ceased to participate in it, and became therefore vile, “fit only to be cast out like dung”. Every man, individually considered, was irrational;97 reason belonged only to the universal or the whole, with which the mind of each living man was in conjunction, renewing itself by perpetual absorption, inspiration or inhalation, vaporous transition, impressions through the senses and the pores, &c. During sleep, since all the media of communication, except only those through respiration, were suspended, the mind became stupefied and destitute of memory. Like coals when the fire is withdrawn, it lost its heat and tended towards extinction.98 On waking, it recovered its full communication with the great source of intelligence without — the universal all-comprehensive process of life and movement. Still, though this was 35 the one and only source of intelligence open to all waking men, the greater number of men could neither discern it for themselves, nor understand it without difficulty even when pointed out to them. Though awake, they were not less unconscious or forgetful of the process going on around them, than if they had been asleep.99 The eyes and ears of men with barbarous or stupid souls, gave them false information.100 They went wrong by following their own individual impression or judgment: they lived as if reason or intelligence belonged to each man individually. But the only way to attain truth was, to abjure all separate reason, and to follow the common or universal reason. Each man’s mind must become identified and familiar with that common process which directed and transformed the whole: in so far as he did this, he attained truth: whenever he followed any private or separate judgment of his own, he fell into error.101 The highest pitch of this severance of the individual judgment was seen during sleep, at which time each man left the common world to retire into a world of his own.102
96 Sext. Empiric. adv. Mathem. vii. 130. ἡ ἐπιξενωθεῖσα τοῖς ἡμετέροις σώμασιν ἀπὸ τοῦ περιέχοντος μοῖρα.
Plutarch, Sympos., p. 644. νεκύες κοπρίων ἐκβλητότεροι.
Plutarch, Placit. Philos. i. 23, p. 884. Ἡράκλειτος ἠρεμίαν καὶ στάσιν ἐκ τῶν ὅλων ἀνῄρει· ἐστὶ γὰρ τοῦτο τῶν νεκρῶν.
97 See Schleiermacher, Herakleitos, p. 522; Sext. Empir. adv. Mathem. viii. 286.
98 The passage of Sextus Empiricus (adv. Mathem. vii. 127-134) is curious and instructive about Herakleitus.
Ἀρέσκει γὰρ τῷ φυσικῷ (Herakleitus) το περιέχον ἡμᾶς λογικόν τε ὂν καὶ φρενῆρες — τοῦτον δὴ τὸν θεῖον λόγον, καθ’ Ἡράκλειτον, δι’ ἀναπνοῆς σπάσαντες νοεροὶ γινόμεθα, καὶ ἐν μὲν ὕπνοις ληθαῖοι, κατὰ δὲ ἔγερσιν πάλιν ἔμφρονες. ἐν γὰρ τοῖς ὕπνοις μυσάντων τῶν αἰσθητικῶν πόρων χωρίζεται τῆς πρὸς τὸ περιέχον συμφυΐας ὁ ἐν ἡμῖν νοῦς, μονῆς τῆς κατὰ ἀναπνοὴν προσφύσεως σωζομένης οἱονεί τινος ῥίζης, χωρισθείς τε ἀποβάλλει ἢν πρότερον εἶχε μνημονικὴν δύναμιν. ἐν δὲ ἐγρηγορόσι πάλιν διὰ τῶν αἰσθητικῶν πόρων ὥσπερ διὰ τινῶν θυρίδων προκύψας καὶ τῷ περιέχοντι συμβάλλων λογικὴν ἐνδύεται δύναμιν. Then follows the simile about coals brought near to, or removed away from, the fire.
The Stoic version of this Herakleitean doctrine, is to be seen in Marcus Antoninus, viii. 54. Μηκέτι μόνον συμπνεῖν τῷ περιέχοντι ἀέρι, ἀλλ’ ἤδη καὶ συμφρονεῖν τῷ περιέχοντι πάντα νοερῷ. Οὐ γὰρ ἧττον ἡ νοερὰ δύναμις πάντη κέχυται καὶ διαπεφοίτηκε τῷ σπᾶσαι βουλομένῳ, ἥπερ ἡ ἀερώδης τῷ ἀναπνεῦσαι δυναμένῳ.
The Stoics, who took up the doctrine of Herakleitus with farther abstraction and analysis, distinguished and named separately matters which he conceived in one and named together — the physical inhalation of air — the metaphysical supposed influx of intelligence — inspiration in its literal and metaphorical senses. The word τὸ περιέχον, as he conceives it, seems to denote, not any distinct or fixed local region, but the rotatory movement or circulation of the elements, fire, water, earth, reverting back into each other. Lassalle, vol. ii. p. 119-120; which transition also is denoted by the word ἀναθυμίασις in the Herakleitean sense — cited from Herakleitus by Aristotle. De Animâ, i. 2, 16.
99 Sextus Empiricus (adv. Math. vii. 132) here cites the first words of the treatise of Herakleitus (compare also Aristotle, Rhet. iii. 5). λόγου τοῦδε ἐόντος ἀξύνετοι γίγνονται ἄνθρωποι καὶ πρόσθεν ἢ ἀκοῦσαι καὶ ἀκούσαντες τὸ πρῶτον· — τοὺς δὲ ἄλλους ἀνθρώπους λανθάνει ὁκόσα ἐγερθέντες ποιοῦσιν ὅκωσπερ ὁκόσα εὕδοντες ἐπιλανθάνονται.
100 Sext. Empiric. ib. vii. 126, a citation from Herakleitus.
101 Sext. Emp. ib. vii. 133 (the words of Herakleitus) διὸ δεῖ ἕπεσθαι τῷ ξυνῷ· — τοῦ λόγου δὲ ἐόντος ξυνοῦ, ζώουσιν οἱ πολλοὶ ὡς ἰδίαν ἔχοντες φρόνησιν· ἡ δ’ ἔστιν οὐκ ἄλλο τι ἀλλ’ ἐξήγησις τοῦ τρόπου τῆς τοῦ πάντος διοικήσεως· διὸ καθ’ ὅ τι ἂν αὐτοῦ τῆς μνήμης κοινωνήσωμεν, ἀληθεύομεν, ἃ δὲ ἂν ἰδιάσωμεν, ψευδόμεθα.
102 Plutarch, De Superstit. c. 3, p. 166, C. See also the passage in Clemens Alexandr. Strom. iv. 22, about the comparison of sleep to death by Herakleitus.
By Universal Reason he did not mean the Reason of most men as it is, but as it ought to be.
By this denunciation of the mischief of private judgment, Herakleitus did not mean to say that a man ought to think like his neighbours or like the public. In his view the public were wrong, collectively as well as 36 individually. The universal reason to which he made appeal, was not the reason of most men as it actually is but that which, in his theory, ought to be their reason:103 that which formed the perpetual and governing process throughout all nature, though most men neither recognised nor attended to it, but turned away from it in different directions equally wrong. No man was truly possessed of reason, unless his individual mind understood the general scheme of the universe, and moved in full sympathy with its perpetual movement and alternation or unity of contraries.104 The universal process contained in itself a sum-total of particular contraries which were successively produced and destroyed: to know the universal was to know these contraries in one, and to recognise them as transient, but correlative and inseparable, manifestations, each implying the other — not as having each a separate reality and each excluding its contrary.105 In so far as a man’s mind maintained its kindred nature and perpetual conjoint movement with the universal, he acquired true knowledge; but the individualising influences arising from the body usually overpowered this kindred with the universal, and obstructed the continuity of this movement, so that most persons became plunged in error and illusion.
103 Sextus Empiricus misinterprets the Herakleitean theory when he represents it (vii. 134) as laying down — τὰ κοινῇ φαινόμενα, πιστὰ, ὡς ἂν τῷ κοινῷ κρινόμενα λόγῳ, τὰ δὲ κατ’ ἰδίαν ἑκάστῳ, ψευδῆ. Herakleitus denounces mankind generally as in error. Origen. Philosophum. i. 4; Diog. Laert. ix. 1.
104 The analogy and sympathy between the individual mind and the Kosmical process — between the knowing and the known — was reproduced in many forms among the ancient philosophers. It appears in the Platonic Timæus, c. 20, p. 47 C.
Τὸ κινούμενον τῷ κινουμένῳ γιγνώσκεσθαι was the doctrine of several philosophers. Aristot. De Animâ, i. 2. Plato, Kratylus, p. 412 A: καὶ μὴν ἤ γε ἐπιστήμη μηνύει ὡς φερομένοις τοῖς πράγμασιν ἐπομένης τῆς ψυχῆς τῆς ἀξίας λόγου, καὶ οὔτε ἀπολειπομένης οὔτε προθεούσης. A remarkable passage from the comment of Philoponus (on the treatise of Aristotle De Animâ) is cited by Lassalle, ii. p. 339, describing the Herakleitean doctrine, διὰ τοῦτο ἐκ τῆς ἀναθυμιάσεως αὐτὴν ἔλεγεν (Herakleitus)· τῶν γὰρ πραγμάτων ἐν κινήσει ὄντων δεῖν καὶ τὸ γίνωσκον τὰ πράγματα ἐν κινήσει εἶναι, ἵνα συμπαράθεον αὐτοῖς ἐφάπτηται καὶ ἐφαρμόζῃ αὐτοῖς. Also Simplikius ap. Lassalle, p. 341: ἐν μεταβολῇ γὰρ συνεχεῖ τὰ ὄντα ὑποτιθέμενος ὁ Ἡράκλειτος, καὶ τὸ γνωσόμενον αὐτὰ τῇ ἐπαφῇ γίνωσκον, συνέπεσθαι ἐβούλετο ὡς ἀεὶ εἶναι κατὰ τὸ γνωστικὸν ἐν κινήσει.
105 Stobæus, Eclog. Phys. p. 58; and the passage of Philo Judæus, cited by Schleiermacher, p. 437; as well as more fully by Lassalle, vol. ii. p. 265-267 (Quis rerum divinar. hæres, p. 503, Mangey): ἓν γὰρ τὸ ἐξ ἀμφοῖν τῶν ἐναντίων, οὗ τμηθέντος γνώριμα τὰ ἐναντία. Οὐ τοῦτ’ ἐστὶν ὅ φασιν Ἕλληνες τὸν μέγαν καὶ ἀοίδιμον παρ’ αὐτοῖς Ἡράκλειτον, κεφαλαῖον τῆς αὐτοῦ προστησάμενον φιλοσοφίας, αὐχεῖν ὡς εὑρέσει καινῇ; παλαιὸν γὰρ εὕρημα Μωύσεώς ἐστιν.
Herakleitus at the opposite pole from Parmenides.
The absolute of Herakleitus stands thus at the opposite pole as compared with that of Parmenides: it is absolute movement, change, generation and destruction — negation of all substance and stability,106 temporary and unbecoming resistance of each successive particular to the destroying and renewing current of the universal. The Real, on this theory, was a generalisation, not of substances, but of facts, events, changes, revolutions, destructions, generations, &c., determined by a law of justice or necessity which endured, and which alone endured, for ever. Herakleitus had many followers, who adopted his doctrine wholly or partially, and who gave to it developments which he had not adverted to, perhaps might not have acknowledged.107 It was found an apt theme by those who, taking a religious or poetical view of the universe, dwelt upon the transitory and contemptible value of particular existences, and extolled the grandeur or power of the universal. It suggested many doubts and debates respecting the foundations of logical evidence, and the distinction of truth from falsehood; which debates will come to be noticed hereafter, when we deal with the dialectical age of Plato and Aristotle.
106 The great principle of Herakleitus, which Aristotle states in order to reject (Physic. viii. 3, p. 253, b. 10, φασί τινες κινεῖσθαι τῶν ὄντων οὐ τὰ μὲν τὰ δ’ οὐ, ἀλλὰ πάντα καὶ ἀεὶ· ἀλλὰ λανθάνειν τοῦτο τὴν ἡμετέραν αἴσθησιν) now stands averred in modern physical philosophy. Mr. Grove observes, in his instructive Treatise on the Correlation of Physical Forces, p. 22:
“Of absolute rest, Nature gives us no evidence. All matter, as far as we can discern, is ever in movement: not merely in masses, as in the planetary spheres, but also molecularly, or throughout its intimate structure. Thus every alteration of temperature produces a molecular change throughout the whole substance heated or cooled: slow chemical or electrical forces, actions of light or invisible radiant forces, are always at play; so that, as a fact, we cannot predicate of any portion of matter, that it is absolutely at rest.”
107 Many references to Herakleitus are found in the recently published books of the Refutatio Hæresium by Pseudo-Origen or Hippolytus — especially Book ix. p. 279-283, ed. Miller. To judge by various specimens there given, it would appear that his juxta-positions of contradictory predicates, with the same subject, would be recognised as paradoxes merely in appearance, and not in reality, if we had his own explanation. Thus he says (p. 282) “the pure and the corrupt, the drinkable and the undrinkable, are one and the same.” Which is explained as follows: “The sea is most pure and most corrupt: to fish, it is drinkable and nutritive; to men, it is undrinkable and destructive.” This explanation appears to have been given by Herakleitus himself, θάλασσα, φησὶν, &c.
These are only paradoxes in appearance — the relative predicate being affirmed without mention of its correlate. When you supply the correlate to each predicate, there remains no contradiction at all.
Empedokles — his doctrine of the four elements, and two moving or restraining forces.
After Herakleitus, and seemingly at the same time with 38Parmenides, we arrive at Empedokles (about 500-430 B. C.) and his memorable doctrine of the Four Elements. This philosopher, a Sicilian of Agrigentum, and a distinguished as well as popular-minded citizen, expounded his views in poems, of which Lucretius108 speaks with high admiration, but of which few fragments are preserved. He agreed with Parmenides, and dissented from Herakleitus and the Ionic philosophers, in rejecting all real generation and destruction.109 That which existed had not been generated and could not be destroyed. Empedokles explained what that was, which men mistook for generation and destruction. There existed four distinct elements — Earth, Water, Air, and Fire — eternal, inexhaustible, simple, homogeneous, equal, and co-ordinate with each other. Besides these four substances, there also existed two moving forces, one contrary to the other — Love or Friendship, which brought the elements into conjunction — Enmity or Contest, which separated them. Here were alternate and conflicting agencies, either bringing together different portions of the elements to form a new product, or breaking up the product thus formed and separating the constituent elements. Sometimes the Many were combined into One; sometimes the One was decomposed into Many. Generation was simply this combination of elements already existing separately — not the calling into existence of anything new: destruction was in like manner the dissolution of some compound, not the termination of any existent simple substance. The four simple substances or elements (which Empedokles sometimes calls by names of the popular Deities — Zeus, Hêrê, Aidoneus, &c.), were the roots or foundations of everything.110
108 Lucretius, i. 731.
Carmina quin etiam divini pectoris ejus
Vociferantur, et exponunt præclara reperta:
Ut vix humanâ videatur stirpe creatus.
109 Empedokles, Frag. v. 77-83, ed. Karsten, p. 96:
φύσις οὐδενός ἐστιν ἁπάντων
θνητῶν, οὐδέ τις οὐλομένου θανατοῖο τελευτὴ,
ἀλλὰ μόνον μίξις τε διάλλαξίς τε μιγέντων
ἐστι, φύσις δ’ ἐπὶ τοῖς ὀνομάζεται ἀνθρώποισιν....
Φύσις here is remarkable, in its primary sense, as derivative from φύομαι, equivalent to γένεσις. Compare Plutarch adv. Koloten, p. 1111, 1112.
110 Emp. Fr. v. 55. Τέσσαρα τῶν πάντων ῥιζώματα.
Construction of the Kosmos from these elements and forces — action and counter action of love and enmity. The Kosmos alternately made and unmade.
From the four elements — acted upon by these two forces, 39abstractions or mythical personifications — Empedokles showed how the Kosmos was constructed. He supposed both forces to be perpetually operative, but not always with equal efficacy: sometimes the one was predominant, sometimes the other, sometimes there was equilibrium between them. Things accordingly pass through a perpetual and ever-renewed cycle. The complete preponderance of Love brings alternately all the elements into close and compact unity, Enmity being for the time eliminated. Presently the action of the latter recommences, and a period ensues in which Love and Enmity are simultaneously operative; until at length Enmity becomes the temporary master, and all union is for the time dissolved. But this condition of things does not last. Love again becomes active, so that partial and increasing combination of the elements is produced, and another period commences — the simultaneous action of the two forces, which ends in renewed empire of Love, compact union of the elements, and temporary exclusion of Enmity.111
111 Zeller, Philos. der Griech., vol. i. p. 525-528, ed. 2nd.
Empedoklean predestined cycle of things — complete empire of Love — Sphærus — Empire of Enmity — disengagement or separation of the elements — astronomy and meteorology.
This is the Empedoklean cycle of things,112 divine or predestined, without beginning or end: perpetual substitution of new for old compounds — constancy only in the general principle of combination and dissolution. The Kosmos which Empedokles undertakes to explain, takes its commencement from the period of complete empire of Love, or compact and undisturbed union of all the elements. This he conceives and divinises under the name of Sphærus — as One sphere, harmonious, uniform, and universal, having no motion, admitting no parts or separate existences within it, exhibiting 40no one of the four elements distinctly, “instabilis tellus, innabilis unda” — a sort of chaos.113 At the time prescribed by Fate or Necessity, the action of Enmity recommenced, penetrating gradually through the interior of Sphærus, “agitating the members of the God one after another,”114 disjoining the parts from each other, and distending the compact ball into a vast porous mass. This mass, under the simultaneous and conflicting influences of Love and Enmity, became distributed partly into homogeneous portions, where each of the four elements was accumulated by itself — partly into compounds or individual substances, where two or more elements were found in conjunction. Like had an appetite for Like — Air for Air, Fire for Fire, and so forth: and a farther extension of this appetite brought about the mixture of different elements in harmonious compounds. First, the Air disengaged itself, and occupied a position surrounding the central mass of Earth and Water: next, the Fire also broke forth, and placed itself externally to the Air, immediately in contact with the outermost crystalline sphere, formed of condensed and frozen air, which formed the wall encompassing the Kosmos. A remnant of Fire and Air still remained embodied in the Earth, but the great mass of both so distributed themselves, that the former occupied most part of one hemisphere, the latter most part of the other.115 The rapid and uniform rotation of the Kosmos, caused by the exterior41 Fire, compressed the interior elements, squeezed the water out of the earth like perspiration from the living body, and thus formed the sea. The same rotation caused the earth to remain unmoved, by counterbalancing and resisting its downward pressure or gravity.116 In the course of the rotation, the light hemisphere of Fire, and the comparatively dark hemisphere of Air, alternately came above the horizon: hence the interchange of day and night. Empedokles (like the Pythagoreans) supposed the sun to be not self-luminous, but to be a glassy or crystalline body which collected and reflected the light from the hemisphere of Fire. He regarded the fixed stars as fastened to the exterior crystalline sphere, and revolving along with it, but the planets as moving free and detached from any sphere.117 He supposed the alternations of winter and summer to arise from a change in the proportions of Air and Fire in the atmospheric regions: winter was caused by an increase of the Air, both in volume and density, so as to drive back the exterior Fire to a greater distance from the Earth, and thus to produce a diminution of heat and light: summer was restored when the Fire, in its turn increasing, extruded a portion of the Air, approached nearer to the Earth, and imparted to the latter more heat and light.118 Empedokles farther supposed (and his contemporaries, Anaxagoras and Diogenes, held the same opinion) that the Earth was round and flat at top and bottom, like a drum or tambourine: that its surface had been originally horizontal, in reference to the rotation of the Kosmos around it, but that it had afterwards tilted down to the south and upward towards the north, so as to lie aslant instead of horizontal. Hence he explained the fact that the north pole of the heavens now appeared obliquely elevated above the horizon.119
112 Emp. Frag. v. 96, Karst., p. 98:
Οὕτως ᾖ μὲν ἓν ἐκ πλεόνων μεμάθηκε φύεσθαι,
ἠδὲ πάλιν διαφυντὸς ἑνὸς πλέον ἐκτελέθουσι,
τῇ μὲν γίγνονταί τε καὶ οὔ σφισιν ἔμπεδος αἰών·
ᾗ δὲ τάδ’ ἀλλάσσοντα διαμπερὲς οὐδαμὰ λήγει,
ταύτῃ δ’ αἰὲν ἔασιν ἀκίνητα κατὰ κύκλον.
καὶ γὰρ καὶ παρὸς ἧν τε καὶ ἔσσεται οὐδέ ποτ’, οἴω,
τούτων ἀμφοτέρων (Love and Discord) κεινώσεται ἄσπετος αἰών.
These are new Empedoklean verses, derived from the recently published fragments of Hippolytus (Hær. Refut.) printed by Stein, v. 110, in his collection of the Fragments of Empedokles, p. 43. Compare another passage in the same treatise of Hippolytus, p. 251.
113 Emped. Fr. v. 59, Karsten:
Οὕτως ἁρμονίης πυκινῷ κρυφῷ ἐστήρικται
σφαίρος κυκλοτέρης, μονιῇ περιηγέϊ γαίων.
Plutarch, De Facie in Orbe Lunæ, c. 12.
About the divinity ascribed by Empedokles to Sphærus, see Aristot. Metaphys. B. 4, p. 1000, a. 29. ἅπαντα γὰρ ἐκ τούτου (νείκους) τἄλλά ἐστι πλὴν ὁ θεός (i.e. Sphærus). — Εἰ γὰρ μὴ ἦν τὸ νεῖκος ἐν τοῖς πράγμασι, ἓν ἂν ἦν ἅπαντα, ὡς φησίν (Empedokles). See Preller, Hist. Philos. ex Font. Loc. Contexta, sect. 171, 172, ed. 3.
The condition of things which Empedokles calls Sphærus may be illustrated (translating his Love and Enmity into the modern phraseology of attraction and repulsion) from an eminent modern work on Physics:— “Were there only atoms and attraction, as now explained, the whole material of creation would rush into close contact, and the universe would be one huge solid mass of stillness and death. There is heat or caloric, however, which directly counteracts attraction and singularly modifies the results. It has been described by some as a most subtile fluid pervading things, as water does a sponge: others have accounted it merely a vibration among the atoms. The truth is, that we know little more of heat as a cause of repulsion, than of gravity as a cause of attraction: but we can study and classify the phenomena of both most accurately.” (Dr. Arnott, Elements of Physics, vol. i. p. 26.)
114 Emp. Fr. v. 66-70, Karsten:
πάντα γὰρ ἐξείης πελεμίζετο γυῖα θεοῖο.
115 Plutarch ap. Euseb. Præp. Evang. i. 8, 10; Plutarch, Placit. Philos. ii. 6, p. 887; Aristot. Ethic. Nic. viii. 2.
116 Emped. Fr. 185, Karsten. αἰθὴρ σφίγγων περὶ κύκλον ἅπαντα. Aristot. De Cœlo, ii. 13, 14; iii. 2, 2. τὴν γῆν ὑπὸ τῆς δίνης ἠρεμεῖν, &c. Empedokles called the sea ἵδρωτα τῆς γῆς. Emp. Fr. 451, Karsten; Aristot. Meteor. ii. 3.
117 Plutarch, Placit. Phil. ii. 20, p. 890.
118 Zeller, Phil. d. Griech., i. p. 532-535, 2nd ed.: Karsten — De Emped. Philos. p. 424-431.
The very imperfect notices which remain, of the astronomical and meteorological doctrines of Empedokles, are collected and explained by these two authors.
119 Plutarch, Placit. Philos. ii. 8; Schaubach, Anaxag. Fragm. p. 175. Compare the remarks of Gruppe (Ueber die Kosmischen Systeme der Griechen, p. 98) upon the obscure Welt-Gebäude of Empedokles.
Formation of the Earth, of Gods, men, animals, and plants.
From astronomy and meteorology Empedokles120 proceeded to 42describe the Earth, its tenants, and its furniture; how men were first produced, and how put together. All were produced by the Earth: being thrown up under the stimulus of Fire still remaining within it. In its earliest manifestations, and before the influence of Discord had been sufficiently neutralized, the Earth gave birth to plants only, being as yet incompetent to produce animals.121 After a certain time she gradually acquired power to produce animals, first imperfectly and piecemeal, trunks without limbs and limbs without trunks; next, discordant and monstrous combinations, which did not last, such as creatures half man half ox; lastly, combinations with parts suited to each other, organizations perfect and durable, men, horses, &c., which continued and propagated.122 Among these productions were not only plants, birds, fishes, and men, but also the “long-lived Gods”.123 All compounds were formed by intermixture of the four elements, in different proportions, more or less harmonious.124 These elements remained unchanged: no one of them was transformed into another. But the small particles of each flowed into the pores of the others, and the combination was more or less intimate, according as the structure of these pores was more or less adapted to receive them. So intimate did the mixture of these fine particles become, when the effluvia of one and the pores of another were in symmetry, that the constituent ingredients, like colours compounded together by the painter,125 could not be discerned 43or handled separately. Empedokles rarely assigned any specific ratio in which he supposed the four elements to enter into each distinct compound, except in the case of flesh and blood, which were formed of all the four in equal portions; and of bones, which he affirmed to be composed of one-fourth earth, one-fourth water, and the other half fire. He insisted merely on the general fact of such combinations, as explaining what passed for generation of new substances without pointing out any reason to determine one ratio of combination rather than another, and without ascribing to each compound a distinct ratio of its own. This omission in his system is much animadverted on by Aristotle.
120 Hippokrates — Περὶ ἀρχαίης ἰητρικῆς — c. 20, p. 620, vol. i. ed. Littré. καθάπερ Ἐμπεδοκλῆς ἢ ἄλλοι οἳ περὶ φύσιος γεγράφασιν ἐξ ἀρχῆς ὅ τί ἐστιν ἄνθρωπος, καὶ ὅπως ἐγενετο πρώτον, καὶ ὅπως ξυνεπάγη.
This is one of the most ancient allusions to Empedokles, recently printed by M. Littré, out of one of the MSS. in the Parisian library.
121 Emp. Fr. v. 253, Kar. τοὺς μὲν πῦρ ἀνεπεμπ’ ἔθελον πρὸς ὅμοιον ἱκέσθαι, &c.
Aristot., or Pseudo-Aristot. De Plantis, i. 2. εἶπε πάλιν ὁ Ἐμπεδοκλῆς, ὅτι τὰ φυτὰ ἔχουσι γένεσιν ἐν κόσμῳ ἠλαττωμένῳ, καὶ οὐ τελείῳ κατὰ τὴν συμπλήρωσιν αὐτοῦ· ταύτης δὲ συμπληρουμένης (while it is in course of being completed), οὐ γεννᾶται ζῶον.
122 Emp. Frag. v. 132, 150, 233, 240, ed. Karst. Ver. 238:—
πολλὰ μὲν ἀμφιπρόσωπα καὶ ἀμφίστερν’ ἐφύοντο,
βουγενῆ ἀνδρόπρωρα, &c.
Οὐλοφυεῖς μὲν πρῶτα τύποι χθονὸς ἑξανέτελλον, &c.
Lucretius, v. 834; Aristotel. Gen. Animal. i. 18, p. 722, b. 20; Physic. ii. 8, 2, p. 198, b. 32; De Cœlo, iii. 2, 5, p. 300, b. 29; with the commentary of Simplikius ap. Schol. Brand. b. 512.
123 Emp. Frag. v. 135, Kar.
124 Plato, Menon. p. 76 A.; Aristot. Gen. et Corr. i. 8, p. 324, b. 30 seq.
125 Ἐμπεδοκλῆς ἐξ ἀμεταβλήτων τῶν τεττάρων στοιχείων ἡγεῖτο γίγνεσθαι τὴν τῶν συνθέτων σωμάτων φύσιν, οὕτως ἀναμεμιγμένων ἀλλήλοις τῶν πρώτων, ὡς εἴ τις λειώσας ἀκριβῶς καὶ χνοώδη ποιήσας ἰὸν καὶ χαλκῖτιν καὶ καδμείαν καὶ μίσυ μίξειεν, ὡς μηδὲν ἐξ αὐτοῦ μεταχειρίσασθαι χωρὶς ἑτέρου.
Galen, Comm. in Hippokrat. De Homin. Nat. t. iii. p. 101. See Karsten, De Emped. Phil. p. 407, and Emp. Fr. v. 155.
Galen says, however (after Aristot. Gen. et Corr. ii. 7, p. 334, a. 30), that this mixture, set forth by Empedokles, is not mixture properly speaking, but merely close proximity. Hippokrates (he says) was the first who propounded the doctrine of real mixture. But Empedokles seems to have intended a real mixture, in all cases where the structure of the pores was in symmetry with the inflowing particles. Oil and water (he said) would not mix together, because there was no such symmetry between them — ὅλως γὰρ ποιεῖ (Empedokles) τὴν μίξιν τῇ συμμετρίᾳ τῶν πόρων· διόπερ ἔλαιον μὲν καὶ ὕδωρ οὐ μίγνυσθαι, τὰ δὲ ἄλλα ὑγρὰ καὶ περὶ ὅσων δὴ καταριθμεῖται τὰς ἰδίας κράσεις (Theophrastus, De Sensu et Sensili, s. 12, vol. i. p. 651, ed. Schneider).
Physiology of Empedokles — Procreation — Respiration — movement of the blood.
Empedokles farther laid down many doctrines respecting physiology. He dwelt on the procreation of men and animals, entered upon many details respecting gestation and the fœtus, and even tried to explain what it was that determined the birth of male or female offspring. About respiration, alimentation, and sensation, he also proposed theories: his explanation of respiration remains in one of the fragments. He supposed that man breathed, partly through the nose, mouth, and lungs, but partly also through the whole surface of the body, by the pores wherewith it was pierced, and by the internal vessels connected with those pores. Those internal vessels were connected with the blood vessels, and the portion of them near the surface was alternately filled with blood or emptied of blood, by the flow outwards from the centre or the ebb inwards towards the centre. Such was the movement which Empedokles considered as constantly belonging to the blood: alternately a projection outwards from the centre and a recession backwards towards the centre. When the blood thus receded, the extremities of the vessels were 44left empty, and the air from without entered: when the outward tide of blood returned, the air which had thus entered was expelled.126 Empedokles conceived this outward tide of blood to be occasioned by the effort of the internal fire to escape and join its analogous element without.127
126 Emp. Fr. v. 275, seqq. Karst.
The comments of Aristotle on this theory of Empedokles are hardly pertinent: they refer to respiration by the nostrils, which was not what Empedokles had in view (Aristot. De Respirat. c. 3).
127 Karsten, De Emp. Philosoph. p. 480.
Emp. Fr. v. 307 — τό τ’ ἐν μήνιγξιν ἐεργμένον ὠγύγιον πῦρ — πῦρ δ’ ἔξω διαθρῶσκον, &c.
Empedokles illustrates this influx and efflux of air in respiration by the klepsydra, a vessel with one high and narrow neck, but with a broad bottom pierced with many small holes. When the neck was kept closed by the finger or otherwise, the vessel might be plunged into water, but no water would ascend into it through the holes in the bottom, because of the resistance of the air within. As soon as the neck was freed from pressure, and the air within allowed to escape, the water would immediately rush up through the holes in the bottom.
This illustration is interesting. It shows that Empedokles was distinctly aware of the pressure of the air as countervailing the ascending movement of the water, and the removal of that pressure as allowing such movement. Vers. 286:—
οὐδέ τ’ ἐς ἄγγος δ’ ὄμβρος ἐσέρχεται, ἀλλά μιν εἴργει
ἀέρος ὄγκος ἔσωθε πεσὼν ἐπὶ τρήματα πυκνά, &c.
This dealing with the klepsydra seems to have been a favourite amusement with children.
Doctrine of effluvia and pores — explanation of perceptions — Intercommunication of the elements with the sentient subject — like acting upon like.
The doctrine of pores and effluvia, which formed so conspicuous an item in the physics of Empedokles, was applied by him to explain sensation. He maintained the general doctrine (which Parmenides had advanced before him, and which Plato retained after him), that sensation was produced by like acting upon like: Herakleitus before him, and Anaxagoras after him, held that it was produced by unlike acting upon unlike. Empedokles tried (what Parmenides had not tried) to apply his doctrine to the various senses separately.128 Man was composed of the same four elements as the universe around him: and since like always tended towards like, so by each of the four elements within himself, he perceived and knew the like element without. Effluvia from all bodies entered his pores, wherever they found a suitable channel: hence he perceived and knew earth by earth, water by water, and so forth.129 Empedokles, assuming perception and knowledge to be produced by such intercommunication of the four elements, believed that not man 45and animals only, but plants and other substances besides, perceived and knew in the same way. Everything possessed a certain measure of knowledge, though less in degree, than man, who was a more compound structure.130 Perception and knowledge was more developed in different animals in proportion as their elementary composition was more mixed and varied. The blood, as the most compound portion of the whole body, was the principal seat of intelligence.131
128 Theophrastus, De Sensu, s. 2, p. 647, Schneid.
129 Emp. Frag. Karst. v. 267, seq.
γνῶθ’, ὅτι πάντων εἰσὶν ἀποῤῥοαὶ ὅσσ’ ἐγένοντο, &c.
ib. v. 321:
γαίῃ μὲν γὰρ γαῖαν ὀπώπαμεν, ὕδατι δ’ ὕδωρ,
αἰθέρι δ’ αἰθέρα δῖον, ἀτὰρ πυρὶ πῦρ ἀῒδηλον,
στοργῇ δὲ στοργήν, νεῖκος δέ τε νείκεϊ λυγρῷ.
Theophrastus, De Sensu, c. 10, p. 650, Schneid.
Aristotle says that Empedokles regarded each of these six as a ψυχὴ (soul, vital principle) by itself. Sextus Empiricus treats Empedokles as considering each of the six to be a κριτήριον ἀληθείας (Aristot. De Animâ, i. 2; Sext. Emp. adv. Mathem. vii. 116).
130 Emp. Fr. v. 313, Karst. ap. Sext. Empir. adv. Mathem. viii. 286; also apud Diogen. L. viii. 77.
πάντα γὰρ ἴσθ’ φρόνησιν ἔχειν καὶ νώματος αἶσαν.
Stein gives (Emp. Fr. v. 222-231) several lines immediately preceding this from the treatise of Hippolytus; but they are sadly corrupt.
Parmenides had held the same opinion before — καὶ ὅλως πᾶν τὸ ὂν ἔχειν τινὰ γνῶσιν — ap. Theophrast. De Sensu, s. 4.
Theophrastus, in commenting upon the doctrine of Empedokles, takes as one of his grounds of objection — That Empedokles, in maintaining sensation and knowledge to be produced by influx of the elements into pores, made no difference between animated and inanimate substances (Theophr. De Sens. s. 12-23). Theophrastus puts this as if it were an inconsistency or oversight of Empedokles: but it cannot be so considered, for Empedokles (as well as Parmenides) appears to have accepted the consequence, and to have denied all such difference, except one of degree, as to perception and knowledge.
131 Emp. Frag. 316, Karst. αἷμα γὰρ ἀνθρώποις περικάρδιόν ἐστι νόημα. Comp. Theophrast. De Sensu, s. 11.
Sense of vision.
In regard to vision, Empedokles supposed that it was operated mainly by the fire or light within the eye, though aided by the light without. The interior of the eye was of fire and water, the exterior coat was a thin layer of earth and air. Colours were brought to the eye as effluvia from objects, and became apprehended as sensations by passing into the alternate pores or ducts of fire and water: white colour was fitted to (or in symmetry with) the pores of fire, black colour with those of water.132 Some animals had the proportions of fire and water in their eyes better adjusted, or more conveniently located, than others: in some, the fire was in excess, or too much on the outside, so as to obstruct the pores or ducts of water: in others, water was in excess, and fire in defect. The latter were the46 animals which saw better by day than by night, a great force of external light being required to help out the deficiency of light within: the former class of animals saw better by night, because, when there was little light without, the watery ducts were less completely obstructed — or left more free to receive the influx of black colour suited to them.133
132 Emp. Frag. v. 301-310, Karst. τό τ’ ἐν μήνιγξιν ἐεργμένον ὠγύγιον πῦρ, &c. Theophr. De Sensu, s. 7, 8; Aristot. De Sensu, c. 3; Aristot. De Gen. et Corrupt. i. 8.
133 Theophrastus, De Sensu, s. 7, 8.
Senses of hearing, smell, taste.
In regard to hearing, Empedokles said that the ear was like a bell or trumpet set in motion by the air without; through which motion the solid parts were brought into shock against the air flowing in, and caused the sensation of sound within.134 Smell was, in his view, an adjunct of the respiratory process: persons of acute smell were those who had the strongest breathing: olfactory effluvia came from many bodies, and especially from such as were light and thin. Respecting taste and touch, he gave no further explanation than his general doctrine of effluvia and pores: he seems to have thought that such interpenetration was intelligible by itself, since here was immediate and actual contact. Generally, in respect to all the senses, he laid it down that pleasure ensued when the matter which flows in was not merely fitted in point of structure to penetrate the interior pores or ducts (which was the condition of all sensation), but also harmonious with them in respect to elementary mixture.135
134 Theophrast. De Sensu, s. 9-21.
Empedokles described the ear under the metaphor of σάρκινον ὄζον, “the fleshy branch.”
135 Theophrast. De Sensu, s. 9, 10. The criticisms of Theophrastus upon this theory of Empedokles are extremely interesting, as illustrating the change in the Grecian physiological point of view during a century and a half, but I reserve them until I come to the Aristotelian age. I may remark, however, that Theophrastus, disputing the doctrine of sensory effluvia generally, disputes the existence of the olfactory effluvia not less than the rest (s. 20).
Empedokles declared that justice absolutely forbade the killing of anything that had life. His belief in the metempsychosis. Sufferings of life are an expiation for wrong done during an antecedent life. Pretensions to magic power.
Empedokles held various opinions in common with the Pythagoreans and the brotherhood of the Orphic mysteries — especially that of the metempsychosis. He represented himself as having passed through prior states of existence, as a boy, a girl, a shrub, a bird, and a fish. He proclaims it as an obligation of justice, absolute and universal, not to kill anything that had life: he denounces as an abomination the sacrificing of or eating of an animal, in whom perhaps might dwell 47the soul of a deceased friend or brother.136 His religious faith, however, and his opinions about Gods, Dæmons, and the human soul, stood apart (mostly in a different poem) from his doctrines on kosmology and physiology. In common with many Pythagoreans, he laid great stress on the existence of Dæmons (of intermediate order and power between Gods and men), some of whom had been expelled from the Gods in consequence of their crimes, and were condemned to pass a long period of exile, as souls embodied in various men or animals. He laments the misery of the human soul, in himself as well as in others, condemned to this long period of expiatory degradation, before they could regain the society of the Gods.137 In one of his remaining fragments, he announces himself almost as a God upon earth, and professes his willingness as well as ability to impart to a favoured pupil the most wonderful gifts — powers to excite or abate the winds, to bring about rain or dry weather, to raise men from the dead.138 He was in fact a man of universal pretensions; not merely an expositor of nature, but a rhetorician, poet, physician, prophet, and conjurer. Gorgias the rhetor had been personally present at his magical ceremonies.139
136 Emp. Frag. v. 380-410, Karsten; Plutarch, De Esu Carnium, p. 997-8.
Aristot. Rhetoric. i. 13, 2: ἐστὶ γὰρ, ὃ μαντεύονταί τι πάντες, φύσει κοινὸν δίκαιον καὶ ἄδικον, κἂν μηδεμία κοινωνία πρὸς ἀλλήλους ᾖ, μηδὲ συνθήκη — ὡς Ἐμπεδοκλῆς λέγει περὶ τοῦ μὴ κτείνειν τὸ ἔμψυχον· τοῦτο γὰρ οὐ τισὶ μὲν δίκαιον, τισὶ δ’ οὐ δίκαιον,
Ἀλλὰ τὸ μὲν πάντων νόμιμον διά τ’ εὐρυμέδοντος
Αἰθέρος ἠνεκέως τέταται διά τ’ ἀπλέτου αὐγῆς.
Sext. Empiric. adv. Mathem. ix. 127.
137 Emp. Frag. v. 5-18, Karst.; compare Herod. ii. 123; Plato, Phædrus, 55, p. 246 C.; Plutarch, De Isid. et Osirid. c. 26. Plutarch observes in another place on the large proportion of religious mysticism blended with the philosophy of Empedokles — Σωκράτης, φασμάτων καὶ δεισιδαιμονίας ἀναπλέω φιλοσοφίαν ἀπὸ Πυθαγόρου καὶ Ἐμπεδοκλέους δεξάμενος, εὖ μάλα βεβακχευμένην, &c. (Plutarch, De Genio Socratis, p. 580, C.)
See Fr. Aug. Ukert, Ueber Daemonen, Heroen, und Genien, p. 151.
138 Emp. Fr. v. 390-425, Karst.
139 Diog. Laert. viii. 59.
Complaint of Empedokles on the impossibility of finding out truth.
None of the remaining fragments of Empedokles are more remarkable than a few in which he deplores the impossibility of finding out any great or comprehensive truth, amidst the distraction and the sufferings of our short life. Every man took a different road, confiding only in his own accidental experience or48 particular impressions; but no man could obtain or communicate satisfaction about the whole.140
140 Emp. Fr. v. 34, ed. Karst., p. 88.
παῦρον δὲ ζώης ἀβίου μέρος ἀθλήσαντες
ὠκύμοροι, κάπνοιο δίκην ἀρθέντες, ἀπέπταν,
αὐτὸ μόνον πεισθέντες ὅτῳ προσέκυρσεν ἕκαστος,
πάντοσ’ ἐλαυνόμενοι· τὸ δὲ οὖλον ἐπεύχεται εὑρεῖν
αὔτως. οὔτ’ ἐπιδερκτὰ τάδ’ ἀνδράσιν οὔτ’ ἐπακουστὰ
οὔτε νόῳ περιληπτά.
Theory of Anaxagoras — denied generation and destruction — recognises only mixture and severance of pre-existing kinds of matter.
Anaxagoras of Klazomenæ, a friend of the Athenian Perikles, and contemporary of Empedokles, was a man of far simpler and less ambitious character: devoted to physical contemplation and geometry, without any of those mystical pretentions common among the Pythagoreans. His doctrines were set forth in prose, and in the Ionic dialect.141 His theory, like all those of his age, was all-comprehensive in its purpose, starting from a supposed beginning, and shewing how heaven, earth, and the inhabitants of earth, had come into those appearances which were exhibited to sense. He agreed with Empedokles in departing from the point of view of Thales and other Ionic theorists, who had supposed one primordial matter, out of which, by various transformations, other sensible things were generated — and into which, when destroyed, they were again resolved. Like Empedokles, and like Parmenides previously, he declared that generation, understood in this sense, was a false and impossible notion: that no existing thing could have been generated, or could be destroyed, or could undergo real transformation into any other thing different from what it was.142 Existing things were what they were, possessing their several inherent properties: there could be no generation except the putting together of these things in various compounds, nor any destruction except the breaking up of such compounds, nor any transformation except the substitution of one compound for another.
141 Aristotel. Ethic. Eudem. i. 4, 5; Diogen. Laert. ii. 10.
142 Anaxagor. Fr. 22, p. 135, ed. Schaubach. τὸ δὲ γίνεσθαι καὶ ἀπόλλυσθαι οὐκ ὀρθῶς νομίζουσιν οἱ Ἕλληνες. Οὐδὲν γὰρ χρῆμα γίνεται, οὐδὲ ἀπόλλυται, ἀλλ’ ἀπ’ ἐόντων χρημάτων συμμίσγεταί τε καὶ διακρίνεται· καὶ οὕτως ἂν ὀρθῶς καλοῖεν τό τε γίνεσθαι συμμίσγεσθαι καὶ τὸ ἀπόλλυσθαι διακρίνεσθαι.
Homœomeries — small particles of diverse kinds of matter, all mixed together.
But Anaxagoras did not accept the Empedoklean four elements as the sum total of first substances. He reckoned all the different sorts of matter as original and primæval 49existences: he supposed them all to lie ready made, in portions of all sizes, whereof there was no greatest and no least.143 Particles of the same sort he called Homœomeries: the aggregates of which formed bodies of like parts; wherein the parts were like each other and like the whole. Flesh, bone, blood, fire,144 earth, water, gold, &c., were aggregations of particles mostly similar, in which each particle was not less flesh, bone, and blood, than the whole mass.
143 Anaxag. Fr. 5, ed. Schaub, p. 94.
Τὰ ὁμοιομερῆ are the primordial particles themselves: ὁμοιομέρεια is the abstract word formed from this concrete — existence in the form or condition of ὁμοιομερῆ. Each distinct substance has its own ὁμοιομερῆ, little particles like each other, and each possessing the characteristics of the substance. But the state called ὁμοιομέρεια pervades all substances (Marbach, Lehrbuch der Geschichte der Philosophie, s. 53, note 3.)
144 Lucretius, i. 830:
Nunc et Anaxagoræ scrutemur Homœomerian,
Quam Grai memorant, nec nostrâ dicere linguâ
Concedit nobis patrii sermonis egestas.
Lucretius calls this theory Homœomeria, and it appears to me that this name must have been bestowed upon it by its author. Zeller and several others, after Schleiermacher, conceive the name to date first from Aristotle and his physiological classification. But what other name was so natural or likely for Anaxagoras himself to choose?
But while Anaxagoras held that each of these Homœomeries145 was a special sort of matter with its own properties, and each of them unlike every other: he held farther the peculiar doctrine, that no one of them could have an existence apart from the rest. Everything was mixed with everything: each included in itself all the others: not one of them could be obtained pure and unmixed. This was true of any portion however small. The visible and tangible bodies around us affected our senses, and received their denominations according to that one peculiar matter of which they possessed a decided preponderance and prominence. But each of them included in itself all the other matters, real and inseparable, although latent.146
145 Anaxag. Fr. 8; Schaub. p. 101; compare p. 113. ἕτερον δὲ οὐδέν ἐστιν ὅμοιον οὐδενὶ ἄλλῳ. Ἀλλ’ ὅτεῳ πλεῖστα ἔνι, ταῦτα ἐνδηλότατα ἓν ἕκαστόν ἐστι καὶ ἦν.
146 Lucretius, i. 876:
Id quod Anaxagoras sibi sumit, ut omnibus omnes
Res putet inmixtas rebus latitare, sed illud
Apparere unum cujus sint plurima mixta,
Et magis in promptu primâque in fronte locata.
Aristotel. Physic. i. 4, 3. Διό φασι πᾶν ἐν παντὶ μεμῖχθαι, διότι πᾶν ἐκ παντὸς ἑώρων γιγνόμενον· φαίνεσθαι δὲ διαφέροντα καί προσαγορεύεσθαι ἕτερα ἀλλήλων, ἐκ τοῦ μάλιστα ὑπερέχοντος, διὰ τὸ πλῆθος ἐν τῇ μίξει τῶν ἀπείρων· εἰλικρινῶς μὲν γὰρ ὅλον λευκὸν ἢ μέλαν ἢ σάρκα ἢ ὀστοῦν, οὐκ εἶναι· ὅτου δὲ πλεῖστον ἕκαστον ἔχει, τοῦτο δοκεῖν εἶναι τὴν φύσιν τοῦ πράγματος. Also Aristot. De Cœlo, iii. 3; Gen. et Corr. i. 1.
First condition of things — all the primordial varieties of matter were huddled together in confusion. Nous, or Reason, distinct from all of them, supervened and acted upon this confused mass, setting the constituent particles in movement.
In the beginning (said Anaxagoras) all things (all sorts 50of matter) were together, in one mass or mixture. Infinitely numerous and infinite in diversity of magnitude, they were so packed and confounded together that no one could be distinguished from the rest: no definite figure, or colour, or other property, could manifest itself. Nothing was distinguishable except the infinite mass of Air and Æther (Fire), which surrounded the mixed mass and kept it together.147 Thus all things continued for an infinite time in a state of rest and nullity. The fundamental contraries — wet, dry, hot, cold, light, dark, dense, rare, — in their intimate contact neutralised each other.148 Upon this inert mass supervened the agency of Nous or Mind. The characteristic virtue of mind was, that it alone was completely distinct, peculiar, pure in itself, unmixed with anything else: thus marked out from all other things which were indissolubly mingled with each other. Having no communion of nature with other things, it was noway acted upon by them, but was its own master or autocratic, and was of very great force. It was moreover the thinnest and purest of all things; possessing complete knowledge respecting all other things. It was like to itself throughout — the greater manifestations of mind similar to the less.149
147 Anaxag. Frag. 1; Schaub. p. 65; Ὁμοῦ πάντα χρήματα ἦν, ἄπειρα καὶ πλῆθος καὶ σμικρότητα. Καὶ γὰρ τὸ σμικρὸν ἄπειρον ἦν. Καὶ πάντων ὁμοῦ ἐόντων οὐδὲν εὔδηλον ἦν ὑπὸ σμικρότητος. Πάντα γὰρ ἀήρ τε καὶ αἰθὴρ κατεῖχεν, ἀμφότερα ἄπειρα ἐόντα. Ταῦτα γὰρ μέγιστα ἔνεστιν ἐν τοῖς συμπᾶσι καὶ πλήθει καὶ μεγέθει.
The first three words — ὁμοῦ πάντα χρήματα — were the commencement of the Anaxagorean treatise, and were more recollected and cited than any other words in it. See Fragm. 16, 17, Schaubach, and p. 66-68. Aristotle calls this primeval chaos τὸ μίγμα.
148 Anax. Frag. 6, Schaub. p. 97; Aristotel. Physic. i. 4, p. 187, a, with the commentary of Simplikius ap. Scholia, p. 335; Brandis also, iii. 203, a. 25; and De Cœlo, iii. 301, a. 12, ἐξ ἀκινήτων γὰρ ἄρχεται (Anaxagoras) κοσμοποιεῖν.
149 Anaxag. Fr. 8, p. 100, Schaub. Τὰ μὲν ἄλλα παντὸς μοῖραν ἔχει, νοῦς δέ ἐστιν ἄπειρον καὶ αὐτοκρατὲς καὶ μέμικται οὐδενὶ χρήματι, ἀλλὰ μόνος αὐτὸς ἐφ’ ἑωϋτοῦ ἐστιν. Εἰ μὴ γὰρ ἐφ’ ἑωϋτοῦ ἦν, ἀλλά τεῳ ἐμέμικτο ἄλλῳ, μετεῖχεν ἂν ἁπάντων χρημάτων εἴ ἐμέμικτο τεῳ.… Καὶ ἀνεκώλυεν αὐτὸν τὰ συμμεμιγμένα, ὥστε μηδενὸς χρήματος κρατεῖν ὁμοίως, ὡς καὶ μόνον ἐόντα ἐφ’ ἑωϋτοῦ. Ἐστὶ γὰρ λεπτότατόν τε πάντων χρημάτων καὶ καθαρώτατον, καὶ γνώμην γε περὶ παντὸς πᾶσαν ἴσχει, καὶ ἰσχύει μέγιστον.
Compare Plato, Kratylus, c. 65, p. 413, c. νοῦν αὐτοκράτορα καὶ οὐδενὶ μεμιγμένον (ὃ λέγει Ἀναξαγόρας).
Movement of rotation in the mass initiated by Nous on a small scale, but gradually extending itself. Like particles congregate together — distinguishable aggregates are formed.
But though other things could not act upon mind, mind could act upon them. It first originated movement in the 51quiescent mass. The movement impressed was that of rotation, which first began on a small scale, then gradually extended itself around, becoming more efficacious as it extended, and still continuing to extend itself around more and more. Through the prodigious velocity of this rotation, a separation was effected of those things which had been hitherto undistinguishably huddled together.150 Dense was detached from rare, cold from hot, dark from light, dry from wet.151 The Homœomeric particles congregated together, each to its like; so that bodies were formed — definite and distinguishable aggregates, possessing such a preponderance of some one ingredient as to bring it into clear manifestation.152 But while the decomposition of the multifarious mass was thus carried far enough to produce distinct bodies, each of them specialised, knowable, and regular — still the separation can never be complete, nor can any one thing be “cut away as with a hatchet” from the rest. Each thing, great or small, must always contain in itself a proportion or trace, latent if not manifest, of everything else.153 Nothing except mind can be thoroughly pure and unmixed.
150 Anaxag. Fr. 8, p. 100, Sch. καὶ τῆς περιχωρήσιος τῆς συμπάσης νοῦς ἐκράτησεν, ὥστε περιχωρῆσαι τὴν ἀρχήν. Καὶ πρῶτον ἀπὸ τοῦ σμικροῦ ἤρξατο περιχωρῆσαι, ἔπειτεν πλεῖον περιχωρέει, καὶ περιχωρήσει ἐπὶ πλέον. Καὶ τὰ συμμισγόμενά τε καὶ ἀποκρινόμενα καὶ διακρινόμενα, πάντα ἔγνω νοῦς. Also Fr. 18, p. 129; Fr. 21, p. 134, Schau.
151 Anaxag. Fr. 8-19, Schaubach.
152 Anaxag. Fr. 8, p. 101, Schaub. ὅτεῳ πλεῖστα ἔνι, ταῦτα ἐνδηλότατα ἕν ἕκαστόν ἐστι καὶ ἦν. Pseudo-Origen. Philosophumen. 8. κινήσεως δε μετέχειν τὰ πάντα ὑπὸ τοῦ νοῦ κινούμενα, συνελθεῖν τε τὰ ὅμοια, &c. Simplikius ad Aristot. Physic. i. p. 188, a. 13 (p. 337, Schol. Brandis).
153 Aristotel. Physic. iii. 4, 5, p. 203, a. 23, ὁτιοῦν τῶν μορίων εἶναι μῖγμα ὁμοίως τῷ πάντι, &c. Anaxag. Fr. 16, p. 126, Schaub.
Anaxag. Fr. 11, p. 119, Schaub. οὐ κεχώρισται τὰ ἑν ἑνὶ κόσμῳ, οὐδὲ ἀποκέκοπται πελέκει, &c. Frag. 12, p. 122. ἐν παντὶ πάντα, οὐδὲ χωρὶς ἔστιν εἶναι. — Frag. 15, p. 125.
Nothing (except Νοῦς) can be entirely pure or unmixed, but other things may be comparatively pure. Flesh, Bone, &c. are purer than Air or Earth.
Nevertheless other things approximate in different degrees to purity, according as they possess a more or less decided preponderance of some few ingredients over the remaining multitude. Thus flesh, bone, and other similar portions of the animal organism, were (according to Anaxagoras) more nearly pure (with one constituent more thoroughly preponderant and all other coexistent natures more thoroughly subordinate and 52latent) than the four Empedoklean elements, Air, Fire, Earth, &c.; which were compounds wherein many of the numerous ingredients present were equally effective, so that the manifestations were more confused and complicated. In this way the four Empedoklean elements formed a vast seed-magazine, out of which many distinct developments might take place, of ingredients all pre-existing within it. Air and Fire appeared to generate many new products, while flesh and bone did not.154 Amidst all these changes, however, the infinite total mass remained the same, neither increased nor diminished.155
154 Aristotle, in two places (De Cœlo, iii. 3, p. 302, a. 28, and Gen. et Corr. i. 1, p. 314, a. 18) appears to state that Anaxagoras regarded flesh and bone as simple and elementary: air, fire, and earth, as compounds from these and other Homœomeries. So Zeller (Philos. d. Griech., v. i. p. 670, ed. 2), with Ritter, and others, understand him. Schaubach (Anax. Fr. p. 81, 82) dissents from this opinion, but does not give a clear explanation. Another passage of Aristotle (Metaphys. A. 3, p. 984, a. 11) appears to contradict the above two passages, and to put fire and water, in the Anaxagorean theory, in the same general category as flesh and bone: the explanatory note of Bonitz, who tries to show that the passage in the Metaphysica is in harmony with the other two above named passages, seems to me not satisfactory.
Lucretius (i. 835, referred to in a previous note) numbers flesh, bone, fire, and water, all among the Anaxagorean Homœomeries; and I cannot but think that Aristotle, in contrasting Anaxagoras with Empedokles, has ascribed to the former language which could only have been used by the latter. Ἐναντίως δὲ φαίνονται λέγοντες οἱ περὶ Ἀναξαγόραν τοῖς περὶ Ἐμπεδοκλέα. Ὁ μὲν γάρ (Emp.) φησι πῦρ καὶ ὕδωρ καὶ ἀέρα καὶ γῆν στοιχεῖα τέσσαρα καὶ ἁπλᾶ εἶναι, μᾶλλον ἢ σάρκα καὶ ὀστοῦν καὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα τῶν ὁμοιομερῶν. Οἱ δὲ (Anaxag.) ταῦτα μὲν ἁπλᾶ καὶ στοιχεῖα, γῆν δὲ καὶ πῦρ καὶ ἀέρα σύνθετα· πανσπερμίαν γὰρ εἶναι τούτων. (Gen. et Corr. i. 1.) The last words (πανσπερμίαν) are fully illustrated by a portion of the other passage, De Cœlo, iii. 3, ἀέρα δὲ καὶ πῦρ μῖγμα τούτων (the Homœomeries, such as flesh and blood) καὶ τῶν ἄλλων σπερμάτων πάντων· εἶναι γὰρ ἑκάτερον αὐτῶν ἐξ ἀοράτων ὁμοιομερῶν πάντων ἠθροισμένων· διὸ καὶ γίγνεσθαι πάντα ἐκ τούτων.
Now it can hardly be said that Anaxagoras recognised one set of bodies as simple and elementary, and that Empedokles recognised another set of bodies as such. Anaxagoras expressly denied all simple bodies. In his theory, all bodies were compound: Nous alone formed an exception. Everything existed in everything. But they were compounds in which particles of one sort, or of a definite number of sorts, had come together into such positive and marked action, as practically to nullify the remainder. The generation of the Homœomeric aggregate was by disengaging these like particles from the confused mixture in which their agency had before lain buried (γένεσις, ἔκφανσις μόνον καὶ ἔκκρισις τοῦ πρὶν κρυπτομένου. Simplikius ap. Schaub. Anax. Fr. p. 115). The Homœomeric aggregates or bodies were infinite in number: for ingredients might be disengaged and recombined in countless ways, so that the result should always be some positive and definite manifestations. Considered in reference to the Homœomeric body, the constituent particles might in a certain sense be called elements.
155 Anaxag. Fr. 14, p. 125, Schaub.
Theory of Anaxagoras compared with that of Empedokles.
In comparing the theory of Anaxagoras with that of Empedokles, we perceive that both of them denied not only the generation of new matter out of nothing (in 53which denial all the ancient physical philosophers concurred), but also the transformation of one form of matter into others, which had been affirmed by Thales and others. Both of them laid down as a basis the existence of matter in a variety of primordial forms. They maintained that what others called generation or transformation, was only a combination or separation of these pre-existing materials, in great diversity of ratios. Of such primordial forms of matter Empedokles recognised only four, the so-called Elements; each simple and radically distinct from the others, and capable of existing apart from them, though capable also of being combined with them. Anaxagoras recognised primordial forms of matter in indefinite number, with an infinite or indefinite stock of particles of each; but no one form of matter (except Nous) capable of being entirely severed from the remainder. In the constitution of every individual body in nature, particles of all the different forms were combined; but some one or a few forms were preponderant and manifest, all the others overlaid and latent. Herein consisted the difference between one body and another. The Homœomeric body was one in which a confluence of like particles had taken place so numerous and powerful, as to submerge all the coexistent particles of other sorts. The majority thus passed for the whole, the various minorities not being allowed to manifest themselves, yet not for that reason ceasing to exist: a type of human society as usually constituted, wherein some one vein of sentiment, ethical, æsthetical, religious, political, &c., acquires such omnipotence as to impose silence on dissentients, who are supposed not to exist because they cannot proclaim themselves without ruin.
Suggested partly by the phenomena of animal nutrition.
The hypothesis of multifarious forms of matter, latent yet still real and recoverable, appears to have been suggested to Anaxagoras mainly by the phenomena of animal nutrition.156 The bread and meat on which we feed nourishes all the different parts of our body — blood, flesh, bones, ligaments, veins, trachea, hair, &c. The nutriment must contain in itself different matters homogeneous with all these tissues and organs; though we cannot see such matters, our 54reason tells us that they must be there. This physiological divination is interesting from its general approximation towards the results of modern analysis.
156 See a remarkable passage in Plutarch, Placit. Philosoph. i. 3.
Chaos common to both Empedokles and Anaxagoras: moving agency, different in one from the other theory.
Both Empedokles and Anaxagoras begin their constructive process from a state of stagnation and confusion both tantamount to Chaos; which is not so much active discord (as Ovid paints it), as rest and nullity arising from the equilibrium of opposite forces. The chaos is in fact almost a reproduction of the Infinite of Anaximander.157 But Anaxagoras as well as Empedokles enlarged his hypothesis by introducing (what had not occurred or did not seem necessary to Anaximander) a special and separate agency for eliciting positive movement and development out of the negative and stationary Chaos. The Nous or Mind is the Agency selected for this purpose by Anaxagoras: Love and Enmity by Empedokles. Both the one and the other initiate the rotatory cosmical motion; upon which follows as well the partial disgregation of the chaotic mass, as the congregation of like particles of it towards each other.
157 This is a just comparison of Theophrastus. See the passage from his φυσικὴ ἱστορία, referred to by Simplikius ad Aristot. Physic. i. p. 187, a. 21 (p. 335, Schol. Brand.).
Nous, or mind, postulated by Anaxagoras — how understood by later writers — how intended by Anaxagoras himself.
The Nous of Anaxagoras was understood by later writers as a God;158 but there is nothing in the fragments now remaining to justify the belief that the author himself conceived it in that manner — or that he proposed it (according to Aristotle’s expression159) as the cause of all that was good in the world, assigning other agencies as the causes of all evil. It is not characterised by him as a person — not so much as the Love and Enmity of Empedokles. It is not one but multitudinous, and all its separate manifestations are alike, differing only as greater or less. It is in fact identical with the soul, the vital principle, or vitality, belonging not only to all men and to all plants also.160 It is one substance, or form of 55matter among the rest, but thinner than all of them (thinner than even fire or air), and distinguished by the peculiar characteristic of being absolutely unmixed. It has moving power and knowledge, like the air of Diogenes the Apolloniate: it initiates movement; and it knows about all the things which either pass into or pass out of combination. It disposes or puts in order all things that were, are, or will be; but it effects this only by acting as a fermenting principle, to break up the huddled mass, and to initiate rotatory motion, at first only on a small scale, then gradually increasing. Rotation having once begun, and the mass having been as it were unpacked and liberated the component Homœomeries are represented as coming together by their own inherent attraction.161 The Anaxagorean Nous introduces order and symmetry into Nature, simply by stirring up rotatory motion in the inert mass, so as to release the Homœomeries from prison. It originates and maintains the great cosmical fact of rotatory motion; which variety of motion, from its perfect regularity and sameness, is declared by Plato also to be the one most consonant to Reason and Intelligence.162 Such rotation being once set on foot, the other phenomena of the universe are supposed to be determined by its influence, and by their own tendencies and properties besides: but there is no farther agency of Nous, which only knows these phenomena as and when they occur. Anaxagoras tried to explain them as well as he could; not by reference to final causes, nor by assuming good purposes of Nous which each combination was intended to answer — but by physical analogies, well or ill chosen, and especially by the working of the grand cosmical rotation.163
158 Cicero, Academ. iv. 37; Sext. Empiric. adv. Mathematicos, ix. 6, τὸν μὲν νοῦν, ὅς ἐστι κατ’ αὐτὸν θεὸς, &c.
Compare Schaubach, Anax. Frag. p. 153.
159 Aristot. Metaphys. A. p. 984, b. 17. He praises Anaxagoras for this, οἷον νήφων παρ’ εἰκῆ λέγοντας τοὺς πρότερον, &c.
160 Aristoteles (or Pseudo-Aristot.) De Plantis, i. 1.
Aristot. De Animâ, i. 2, 65-6-13.
Aristotle says that the language of Anaxagoras about νοῦς and ψυχὴ was not perfectly clear or consistent. But it seems also from Plato De Legg. xii. p. 967, B, that Anaxagoras made no distinction between νοῦς and ψυχή. Compare Plato, Kratylus, p. 400 A.
161 Anaxag. Fr. 8, and Schaubach’s Comm. p. 112-116.
“Mens erat id, quod movebat molem homœomeriarum: hâc ratione, per hunc motum à mente excitatum, secretio facta est.… Materiæ autem propriæ insunt vires: proprio suo pondere hæc, quæ mentis vi mota et secreta sunt, feruntur in eum locum, quo nunc sunt.”
Compare Alexand. Aphrod. ap. Scholia ad Aristot. Physic. ii. p. 194, a. (Schol. p. 348 a. Brandis); Marbach, Lehrbuch der Gesch. Philos. s. 54, note 2, p. 82; Preller, Hist. Phil. ex Font. Loc. Contexta, s. 53, with his comment.
162 Plato, Phædo, c. 107, 108, p. 98; Plato, De Legg. xii. p. 967 B; Aristot. Metaphys. A. 4, p. 985, b. 18; Plato, Timæus, 34 A. 88 E.
163 Aristoph. Nub. 380, 828. αἰθέριος Δῖνος — Δῖνος βασιλεύει, τὸν Δί’ ἐξεληλακώς — the sting of which applies to Anaxagoras and his doctrines.
Anaxagoras δίνους τινὰς ἀνοήτους ἀναζωγραφῶν, σὺν τῇ τοῦ νοῦ ἀπραξίᾳ καὶ ἀνοίᾳ (Clemens. Alexandrin. Stromat. ii. p. 365).
To move (in the active sense, i.e. to cause movement in) and to know, are the two attributes of the Anaxagorean Νοῦς (Aristotel. De Animâ, i. 2, p. 405, a. 18).
Plato and Aristotle blame Anaxagoras for deserting his own theory.
This we learn from Plato and Aristotle, who blame Anaxagoras for inconsistency in deserting his own hypothesis, and in invoking explanations from physical agencies, to the neglect of Nous and its supposed optimising purposes. But Anaxagoras, as far as we can judge by his remaining fragments, seems not to have committed any such inconsistency. He did not proclaim his Nous to be a powerful extra-cosmical Architect, like the Demiurgus of Plato — nor an intra-cosmical, immanent, undeliberating instinct (such as Aristotle calls Nature), tending towards the production and renewal of regular forms and conjunctions, yet operating along with other agencies which produced concomitants irregular, unpredictable, often even obstructive and monstrous. Anaxagoras appears to conceive his Nous as one among numerous other real agents in Nature, material like the rest, yet differing from the rest as being powerful, simple, and pure from all mixture,164 as being endued with universal cognizance, as being the earliest to act in point of time, and as furnishing the primary condition to the activity of the rest by setting on foot the cosmical rotation. The Homœomeries are coeternal with, if not anterior to, Nous. They have laws and properties of their own, which they follow, when once liberated, without waiting for the dictation of Nous. What they do is known by, but not ordered by, Nous.165 It is therefore no inconsistency in Anaxagoras that he assigns to mind one distinct and peculiar agency, but nothing more; and that when trying to 57explain the variety of phenomena he makes reference to other physical agencies, as the case seems to require.166
164 Anaxagoras, Fr. 8, p. 100, Schaub.
ἐστὶ γὰρ λεπτότατόν τε πάντων χρημάτων, &c.
This means, not that νοῦς was unextended or immaterial, but that it was thinner or more subtle than either fire or air. Herakleitus regarded τὸ περιέχον as λογικὸν καὶ φρενῆρες. Diogenes of Apollonia considered air as endued with cognition, and as imparting cognition by being inhaled. Compare Plutarch, De Placit. Philos. iv. 3.
I cannot think, with Brücker (Hist. Philosop. part ii. b. ii. De Sectâ Ionicâ, p. 504, ed. 2nd), and with Tennemann, Ges. Ph. i. 8, p. 312, that Anaxagoras was “primus qui Dei ideam inter Græcos à materialitate quasi purificavit,” &c. I agree rather with Zeller (Philos. der Griech. i. p. 680-683, ed. 2nd), that the Anaxagorean Nous is not conceived as having either immateriality or personality.
165 Simplikius, in Physic. Aristot. p. 73. καὶ Ἀναξαγόρας δὲ τὸν νοῦν ἐάσας, ὥς φησιν Εὔδημος, καὶ αὐτοματίζων τὰ πολλὰ συνίστησιν.
166 Diogen. Laert. ii. 8. Νοῦν … ἀρχὴν κινήσεως.
Brücker, Hist. Philos. ut supra. “Scilicet, semel inducto in materiam à mente motu, sufficere putavit Anaxagoras, juxta leges naturæ motûsque, rerum ortum describere.”
Astronomy and physics of Anaxagoras.
In describing the formation of the Kosmos, Anaxagoras supposed that, as a consequence of the rotation initiated by mind, the primitive chaos broke up. “The Dense, Wet, Cold, Dark, Heavy, came together into the place where now Earth is: Hot, Dry, Bare, Light, Bright, departed to the exterior region of the revolving Æther.”167 In such separation each followed its spontaneous and inherent tendency. Water was disengaged from air and clouds, earth from water: earth was still farther consolidated into stones by cold.168 Earth remained stationary in the centre, while fire and air were borne round it by the force and violence of the rotatory movement. The celestial bodies — Sun, Moon, and Stars — were solid bodies analogous to the earth, either caught originally in the whirl of the rotatory movement, or torn from the substance of the earth and carried away into the outer region of rotation.169 They were rendered hot and luminous by the fiery fluid in the rapid whirl of which they were hurried along. The Sun was a stone thus made red-hot, larger than Peloponnesus: the Moon was of earthy matter, nearer to the Earth, deriving its light from the Sun, and including not merely plains and mountains, but also cities and inhabitants.170 Of the planetary movements, apart from the diurnal rotation of the celestial sphere, Anaxagoras took no notice.171 He explained the periodical changes in the apparent course of the sun and moon by resistances which they encountered, the former from accumulated and condensed air, the latter from the cold.172 Like Anaximenes and Demokritus, Anaxagoras conceived the Earth as flat, round in the surface, and not deep, resting on and supported by the air beneath it. Originally (he thought) the earth was horizontal, with the axis of celestial rotation perpendicular, and the north pole at the zenith, so that 58this rotation was then lateral, like that of a dome or roof; it was moreover equable and unchanging with reference to every part of the plane of the earth’s upper surface, and distributed light and heat equally to every part. But after a certain time the Earth tilted over of its own accord to the south, thus lowering its southern half, raising the northern half, and causing the celestial rotation to appear oblique.173
167 Anaxag. Fr. 19, p. 131, Schaub.; compare Fr. 6, p. 97; Diogen. Laert. ii. 8.
168 Anaxag. Fr. 20, p. 133, Schau.
169 See the curious passage in Plutarch, Lysander 12, and Plato, Legg. xii. p. 967 B; Diogen. Laert. ii. 12; Plutarch, Placit. Philos. ii. 13.
170 Plato, Kratylus, p. 409 A; Plato, Apol. Sok. c. 14; Xenophon, Memorab. iv. 7.
171 Schaubach, ad Anax. Fr. p. 165.
172 Plutarch, Placit. Philosoph. ii. 23.
173 Diogenes Laert. ii. 9. τὰ δ’ ἄστρα κατ’ ἀρχὰς θολοειδῶς ἐνεχθῆναι, ὥστε κατὰ κορυφὴν τῆς γῆς τὸν ἀεὶ φαινόμενον εἶναι πόλον, ὕστερον δὲ τὴν (γῆν) ἔγκλισιν λαβεῖν. Plutarch, Placit. Phil. ii. 8.
His geology, meteorology, physiology.
Besides these doctrines respecting the great cosmical bodies, Anaxagoras gave explanations of many among the striking phenomena in geology and meteorology — the sea, rivers, earthquakes, hurricanes, hail, snow, &c.174 He treated also of animals and plants — their primary origin, and the manner of their propagation.175 He thought that animals were originally produced by the hot and moist earth; but that being once produced, the breeds were continued by propagation. The seeds of plants he supposed to have been originally contained in the air, from whence they fell down to the warm and moist earth, where they took root and sprung up.176 He believed that all plants, as well as all animals, had a certain measure of intelligence and sentiment, differing not in kind but only in degree from the intelligence and sentiment of men; whose superiority of intelligence was determined, to a great extent, by their possession of hands.177 He explained sensation by the action of unlike upon unlike (contrary to Empedokles, who referred it to the action of like upon like),178 applying this doctrine to the explanation of the five senses separately. But he pronounced the 59senses to be sadly obscure and insufficient as means of knowledge. Apparently, however, he did not discard their testimony, nor assume any other means of knowledge independent of it, but supposed a concomitant and controlling effect of intelligence as indispensable to compare and judge between the facts of sense when they appeared contradictory.179 On this point, however, it is difficult to make out his opinions.
174 See Schaubach, ad Anax. Fr. p. 174-181.
Among the points to which Anaxagoras addressed himself was the annual inundation of the Nile, which he ascribed to the melting of the snows in Æthiopia, in the higher regions of the river’s course. — Diodor. i. 38. Herodotus notices this opinion (ii. 22), calling it plausible, but false, yet without naming any one as its author. Compare Euripides, Helen. 3.
175 Aristotel. De Generat. Animal. iii. 6, iv. 1.
176 Theophrastus, Hist. Plant. iii. 2; Diogen. Laert. ii. 9; Aristot. De Plantis, i. 2.
177 Aristot. De Plantis, i. 1; Aristot. Part. Animal. iv. 10.
178 Theophrastus, De Sensu, sect. 1 — sect. 27-30.
This difference followed naturally from the opinions of the two philosophers on the nature of the soul or mind. Anaxagoras supposed it peculiar in itself, and dissimilar to the Homœomeries without. Empedokles conceived it as a compound of the four elements, analogous to all that was without: hence man knew each exterior element by its like within himself — earth by earth, water by water, &c.
179 Anaxag. Fr. 19, Schaub.; Sextus Empiric. adv. Mathem. vii. 91-140; Cicero, Academ. i. 12.
Anaxagoras remarked that the contrast between black and white might be made imperceptible to sense by a succession of numerous intermediate colours very finely graduated. He is said to have affirmed that snow was really black, notwithstanding that it appeared white to our senses: since water was black, and snow was only frozen water (Cicero, Academ. iv. 31; Sext. Empir. Pyrrhon. Hypotyp. i. 33). “Anaxagoras non modo id ita esse (sc. albam nivem esse) negabat, sed sibi, quia sciret aquam nigram esse, unde illa concreta esset, albam ipsam esse ne videri quidem.” Whether Anaxagoras ever affirmed that snow did not appear to him white, may reasonably be doubted: his real affirmation probably was, that snow, though it appeared white, was not really white. And this affirmation depended upon the line which he drew between the fact of sense, the phenomenal, the relative, on one side — and the substratum, the real, the absolute, on the other. Most philosophers recognise a distinction between the two; but the line between the two has been drawn in very different directions. Anaxagoras assumed as his substratum, real, or absolute, the Homœomeries — numerous primordial varieties of matter, each with its inherent qualities. Among these varieties he reckoned water, but he did not reckon snow. He also considered that water was really and absolutely black or dark (the Homeric μέλαν ὕδωρ) — that blackness was among its primary qualities. Water, when consolidated into snow, was so disguised as to produce upon the spectator the appearance of whiteness; but it did not really lose, nor could it lose, its inherent colour. A negro covered with white paint, and therefore looking white, is still really black: a wheel painted with the seven prismatic colours, and made to revolve rapidly, will look white, but it is still really septi-coloured: i.e. the state of rapid revolution would be considered as an exceptional state, not natural to it. Compare Plato, Lysis, c. 32, p. 217 D.
The doctrines of Anaxagoras were regarded as offensive and impious.
Anaxagoras, residing at Athens and intimately connected with Perikles, incurred not only unpopularity, but even legal prosecution, by the tenor of his philosophical opinions, especially those on astronomy. To Greeks who believed in Helios and Selênê as not merely living beings but Deities, his declaration that the Sun was a luminous and fiery stone, and the Moon an earthy mass, appeared alike absurd and impious. Such was the judgment of Sokrates, Plato, and Xenophon, as well as of Aristophanes and the general Athenian public.180 Anaxagoras was threatened with indictment for blasphemy, so that Perikles was compelled to send him away from Athens.
180 Plato, Apol. So. c. 14; Xenoph. Memor. iv. 7.
That physical enquiries into the nature of things, and attempts 60to substitute scientific theories in place of the personal agency of the Gods, were repugnant to the religious feelings of the Greeks, has been already remarked.181 Yet most of the other contemporary philosophers must have been open to this reproach, not less than Anaxagoras; and we learn that the Apolloniate Diogenes left Athens from the same cause. If others escaped the like prosecution which fell upon Anaxagoras, we may probably ascribe this fact to the state of political party at Athens, and to the intimacy of the latter with Perikles. The numerous political enemies of that great man might fairly hope to discredit him in the public mind — at the very least to vex and embarrass him — by procuring the trial and condemnation of Anaxagoras. Against other philosophers, even when propounding doctrines not less obnoxious respecting the celestial bodies, there was not the same collateral motive to stimulate the aggressive hostility of individuals.
181 Plutarch, Nikias, 23.
Diogenes of Apollonia recognises one primordial element.
Contemporary with Anaxagoras — yet somewhat younger, as far as we can judge, upon doubtful evidence — lived the philosopher Diogenes, a native of Apollonia in Krete. Of his life we know nothing except that he taught during some time at Athens, which city he was forced to quit on the same ground as Anaxagoras. Accusations of impiety were either brought or threatened against him:182 physical philosophy being offensive generally to the received religious sentiment, which was specially awakened and appealed to by the political opponents of Perikles.
182 Diogen. Laert. ix. 52. The danger incurred by Diogenes the Apolloniate at Athens is well authenticated, on the evidence of Demetrius the Phalerean, who had good means of knowing. And the fact may probably be referred to some time after the year B.C. 440, when Athens was at the height of her power and of her attraction for foreign visitors — when the visits of philosophers to the city had been multiplied by the countenance of Perikles — and when the political rivals of that great man had set the fashion of assailing them in order to injure him. This seems to me one probable reason for determining the chronology of the Apolloniate Diogenes: another is, that his description of the veins in the human body is so minute and detailed as to betoken an advanced period of philosophy between B.C. 440-410. See the point discussed in Panzerbieter, Fragment. Diogen. Apoll. c. 12-18 (Leipsic, 1830).
Simplikius (ad Aristot. Phys. fol. 6 A) describes Diogenes as having been σχεδὸν νεώτατος in the series of physical theorists.
Diogenes the Apolloniate, the latest in the series of Ionic philosophers or physiologists, adopted, with modifications and enlargements, the fundamental tenet of Anaximenes. There 61was but one primordial element — and that element was air. He laid it down as indisputable that all the different objects in this Kosmos must be at the bottom one and the same thing: unless this were the fact, they would not act upon each other, nor mix together, nor do good and harm to each other, as we see that they do. Plants would not grow out of the earth, nor would animals live and grow by nutrition, unless there existed as a basis this universal sameness of nature. No one thing therefore has a peculiar nature of its own: there is in all the same nature, but very changeable and diversified.183
183 Diogen. Ap. Fragm. ii. c. 29 Panzerb.; Theophrastus, De Sensu, s. 39.
εἰ γὰρ τὰ ἐν τῷδε τῷ κόσμῳ ἐόντα νῦν γῆ καὶ ὕδωρ καὶ τἄλλα, ὅσα φαινεται ἐν τῷδε τῷ κόσμῳ ἐόντα, εἰ τουτέων τι ἦν τὸ ἕτερον τοῦ ἑτέρου ἕτερον ἐὸν τῇ ἰδίῃ φύσει, καὶ μὴ τὸ αὐτὸ ἐὸν μετέπιπτε πολλαχῶς καὶ ἡτεροιοῦτο· οὐδαμῆ οὔτε μίσγεσθαι ἀλλήλοις ἠδύνατο οὔτε ὠφέλησις τῷ ἑτέρῳ οὔτε βλάβη, &c.
Aristotle approves this fundamental tenet of Diogenes, the conclusion that there must be one common Something out of which all things came — ἐξ ἑνὸς ἅπαντα (Gen. et Corrupt. i. 6-7, p. 322, a. 14), inferred from the fact that they acted upon each other.
Air was the primordial, universal element.
Now the fundamental substance, common to all, was air. Air was infinite, eternal, powerful; it was, besides, full of intelligence and knowledge. This latter property Diogenes proved by the succession of climatic and atmospheric phenomena of winter and summer, night and day, rain, wind, and fine weather. All these successions were disposed in the best possible manner by the air: which could not have laid out things in such regular order and measure, unless it had been endowed with intelligence. Moreover, air was the source of life, soul, and intelligence, to men and animals: who inhaled all these by respiration, and lost all of them as soon as they ceased to respire.184
184 Diog. Apoll. Fr. iv.-vi. c. 36-42, Panz. — Οὐ γὰρ ἂν οὕτω δέδασθαι οἷόν τε ἦν ἄνευ νοήσιος, ὥστε πάντων μέτρα ἔχειν, χειμῶνός τε καὶ θέρεος και νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρης καὶ ὑετῶν καὶ ἀνέμων καὶ εὐδιῶν. καὶ τὰ ἄλλα εἴ τις βούλεται ἐννοέεσθαι, εὕρισκοι ἂν οὕτω διακείμενα, ὡς ἀνυστὸν κάλλιστα. Ἔτι δε πρὸς τούτοις καὶ τάδε μεγάλα σημεῖα· ἄνθρωπος γὰρ καὶ τὰ ἄλλα ζῶα ἀναπνέοντα ζώει τῷ ἀέρι. Καὶ τοῦτο αὐτοῖς καὶ ψυχή ἐστι καὶ νόησις ——
— Καὶ μοὶ δοκέει τὸ τὴν νόησιν ἔχον εἶναι ὁ ἀὴρ καλεόμενος ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, &c.
Schleiermacher has an instructive commentary upon these fragments of the Apolloniate Diogenes (Vermischte Schriften, vol. ii. p. 157-162; Ueber Diogenes von Apollonia).
Air possessed numerous and diverse properties; was eminently modifiable.
Air, life-giving and intelligent, existed everywhere, formed the essence of everything, comprehended and governed everything. Nothing in nature could be without it: yet at the same time all things in nature partook of it 62in a different manner.185 For it was distinguished by great diversity of properties and by many gradations of intelligence. It was hotter or colder — moister or drier — denser or rarer — more or less active and movable — exhibiting differences of colour and taste. All these diversities were found in objects, though all at the bottom were air. Reason and intelligence resided in the warm air. So also to all animals as well as to men, the common source of vitality, whereby they lived, saw, heard, and understood, was air; hotter than the atmosphere generally, though much colder than that near the sun.186 Nevertheless, in spite of this common characteristic, the air was in other respects so indefinitely modifiable, that animals were of all degrees of diversity, in form, habits, and intelligence. Men were doubtless more alike among themselves: yet no two of them could be found exactly alike, furnished with the same dose of aerial heat or vitality. All other things, animate and inanimate, were generated and perished, beginning from air and ending in air: which alone continued immortal and indestructible.187
185 Diog. Ap. Fr. vi. καὶ ἐστι μηδὲ ἓν ὅ, τι μὴ μετέχει τούτου (air). Μετέχει δὲ οὐδὲ ἓν ὁμοίως τὸ ἕτερον τῷ ἑτέρῳ· ἀλλὰ πολλοὶ τρόποὶ καὶ αὐτοὺ τοῦ ἀέρος καὶ τῆς νοήσιός εἰσιν.
Aristotel. De Animâ, i. 2, p. 405, a. 21. Διογένης δ’, ὥσπερ καὶ ἑτεροί τινες, ἀέρα [ὑπέλαβε τὴν ψυχήν], &c.
186 Diog. Ap. Fr. vi. καὶ πάντων ζώων δὴ ἡ ψυχὴ τὸ αὐτό ἐστιν, ἀὴρ θερμότερος μὲν τοῦ ἔξω ἐν ᾧ ἐσμέν, τοῦ μέντοι παρὰ τῷ ἡελίῳ πολλὸν ψυχρότερος.
187 Diogen. Apoll. Fr. v. ch. 38, Panz.
Physiology of Diogenes — his description of the veins in the human body.
The intelligence of men and animals, very unequal in character and degree, was imbibed by respiration, the inspired air passing by means of the veins and along the blood into all parts of the body. Of the veins Diogenes gave a description remarkable for its minuteness of detail, in an age when philosophers dwelt almost exclusively in loose general analogies.188 He conceived the principal seat of intelligence in man to be in the thoracic cavity, or in the ventricle of the heart, where a quantity of air was accumulated ready for distribution.189 The 63warm and dry air concentrated round the brain, and reached by veins from the organs of sense, was the centre of sensation. Taste was explained by the soft and porous nature of the tongue, and by the number of veins communicating with it. The juices of sapid bodies were sucked up by it as by a sponge: the odorous stream of air penetrated from without through the nostrils: both were thus brought into conjunction with the sympathising cerebral air. To this air also the image impressed upon the eye was transmitted, thereby causing vision:190 while pulsations and vibrations of the air without, entering through the ears and impinging upon the same centre, generated the sensation of sound. If the veins connecting the eye with the brain were inflamed, no visual sensation could take place;191 moreover if our minds or attention were absorbed in other things, we were often altogether insensible to sensations either of sight or of sound: which proved that the central air within us was the real seat of sensation.192 Thought and intelligence, as well as sensation, was an attribute of the same central air within us, depending especially upon its purity, dryness, and heat, and impeded or deadened by moisture or cold. Both children and animals had less intelligence than men: because they had more moisture in their bodies, so that the veins were choked up, and the air could not get along them freely to all parts. Plants had no intelligence; having no apertures or ducts whereby the air could pervade their internal structure. Our sensations were pleasurable when there was much air mingled with the blood, so as to lighten the flow of it, and to carry it easily to 64all parts: they were painful when there was little air, and when the blood was torpid and thick.193
188 Diogen. Apoll. Fr. vii. ch. 48, Panz. The description of the veins given by Diogenes is preserved in Aristotel. Hist. Animal, iii. 2: yet seemingly only in a defective abstract, for Theophrastus alludes to various opinions of Diogenes on the veins, which are not contained in Aristotle. See Philippson, Ὕλη ἀνθρωπίνη, p. 203.
189 Plutarch, Placit. Philos. iv. 5. Ἐν τῇ ἀρτηριακῇ κοιλίᾳ τῆς καρδίας, ἥτις ἐστὶ καὶ πνευματική. See Panzerbieter’s commentary upon these words, which are not very clear (c. 50), nor easy to reconcile with the description given by Diogenes himself of the veins.
190 Plutarch, Placit. Philosoph. iv. 18. Theophrast. De Sensu, s. 39-41-43. Κριτικώτατον δὲ ἡδονῆς τὴν γλῶτταν· ἁπαλώτατον γὰρ εἶναι καὶ μανὸν καὶ τὰς φλέβας ἁπάσας ἀνήκειν εἰς αὐτήν.
191 Plutarch, Placit. Philosoph. iv. 16; Theophrastus, De Sensu, s. 40.
192 Theophrast. De Sensu, s. 42. Ὅτι δὲ ὁ ἐντὸς ἀὴρ αἰσθάνεται, μικρὸν ὢν μόριον τοῦ θεοῦ, σημεῖον εἶναι, ὅτι πολλάκις πρὸς ἄλλα τὸν νοῦν ἔχοντες οὔθ’ ὁρῶμεν οὔτ’ ἀκούομεν. The same opinion — that sensation, like thought, is a mental process, depending on physical conditions — is ascribed to Strato (the disciple and successor of Theophrastus) by Porphyry, De Abstinentiâ, iii. 21. Στράτωνος τοῦ φυσικοῦ λόγος ἐστὶν ἀποδεικνύων, ὡς οὐδὲ αἰσθάνεσθαι το παράπαν ἄνευ τοῦ νοεῖν ὑπάρχει. καὶ γὰρ γράμματα πολλάκις ἐπιπορευομένους τῇ ὄψει καὶ λόγοι προσπίπτοντες τῇ ἀκοῇ διαλανθάνουσιν ἡμᾶς καὶ διαφεύγουσι πρὸς ἑτέρους τὸν νοῦν ἔχοντας — ᾗ καὶ λέλεκται, νοῦς ὁρῆ καὶ νοῦς ἀκούει, τἄλλα κωφὰ καὶ τυφλά.
The expression ascribed to Diogenes by Theophrastus — ὁ ἐντὸς ἀὴρ, μικρὸν ὢν μόριον τοῦ θεοῦ — is so printed by Philippson; but the word θεοῦ seems not well avouched as to the text, and Schneider prints θυμοῦ. It is not impossible that Diogenes may have called the air God, without departing from his physical theory; but this requires proof.
193 Theophrastus, De Sensu, s. 43-46; Plutarch, Placit. Philos. v. 20. That moisture is the cause of dulness, and that the dry soul is the best and most intelligent — is cited among the doctrines of Herakleitus, with whom Diogenes of Apollonia is often in harmony. Αὔη ψυχὴ σοφωτάτη καὶ ἀρίστη. See Schleiermach. Herakleitos, sect. 59-64.
Kosmology and meteorology.
The structure of the Kosmos Diogenes supposed to have been effected by portions of the infinite air, taking upon them new qualities and undergoing various transformations. Some air, becoming cold, dense, and heavy, sunk down to the centre, and there remained stationary as earth and water: while the hotter, rarer, and lighter air ascended and formed the heavens, assuming through the intelligence included in it a rapid rotatory movement round the earth, and shaping itself into sun, moon, and stars, which were light and porous bodies like pumice stone. The heat of this celestial matter acted continually upon the earth and water beneath, so that the earth became comparatively drier, and the water was more and more drawn up as vapour, to serve for nourishment to the heavenly bodies. The stars also acted as breathing-holes to the Kosmos, supplying the heated celestial mass with fresh air from the infinite mass without.194 Like Anaxagoras, Diogenes conceived the figure of the earth as flat and round, like a drum; and the rotation of the heavens as lateral, with the axis perpendicular to the surface of the earth, and the north pole always at the zenith. This he supposed to have been the original arrangement; but after a certain time, the earth tilted over spontaneously towards the south — the northern half was elevated and the southern half depressed — so that the north pole was no longer at the zenith, and the axis of rotation of the65 heavens became apparently oblique.195 He thought, moreover, that the existing Kosmos was only of temporary duration; that it would perish and be succeeded by future analogous systems, generated from the same common substance of the infinite and indestructible air.196 Respecting animal generation — and to some extent respecting meteorological phenomena197 — Diogenes also propounded several opinions, which are imperfectly known, but which appear to have resembled those of Anaxagoras.
194 Plutarch ap. Eusebium Præp. Evang. i. 8; Aristotel. De Animâ, i. 2; Diogen. Laert. ix. 53. Διογένης κισσηροειδῆ τὰ ἄστρα, διαπνοίας δὲ αὐτὰ νομίζει τοῦ κόσμου, εἶναι δὲ διάπυρα· συμπεριφέρεσθαι δὲ τοῖς φανεροῖς ἄστροις ἀφανεῖς λίθους καὶ παρ’ αὐτὸ τοῦτ’ ἀνωνύμους· πίπτοντα δὲ πολλάκις ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς σβέννυσθαι· καθάπερ τὸν ἐν Αἰγὸς ποταμοῖς πυρωδῶς κατενεχθέντα ἀστέρα πέτρινον. This remarkable anticipation of modern astronomy — the recognition of aerolithes as a class of non-luminous earthy bodies revolving round the sun, but occasionally coming within the sphere of the earth’s attraction, becoming luminous in our atmosphere, falling on the earth, and there being extinguished — is noticed by Alex. von Humboldt in his Kosmos, vol. i. p. 98-104, Eng. trans. He says — “The opinion of Diogenes of Apollonia entirely accords with that of the present day,” p. 110. The charm and value of that interesting book is greatly enhanced by his frequent reference to the ancient points of view on astronomical subjects.
195 Plutarch, Placit. Philos. ii. 8; Panzerbieter ad Diog. Ap. c. 76-78; Schaubach ad Anaxagor. Fr. p. 175.
196 Plut. Ap. Euseb. Præp. Evang. i. 8.
197 Preller, Hist. Philosoph. Græc.-Rom. ex Font. Loc. Contexta, sect. 68. Preller thinks that Diogenes employed his chief attention “in animantium naturâ ex aeris principio repetendâ”; and that he was less full “in cognitione τῶν μετεώρων”. But the fragments scarcely justify this.
Leukippus and Demokritus — Atomic theory.
Nearly contemporary with Anaxagoras and Empedokles, two other enquirers propounded a new physical theory very different from those already noticed — usually known under the name of the atomic theory. This Atomic theory, though originating with the Eleate Leukippus, obtained celebrity chiefly from his pupil Demokritus of Abdera, its expositor and improver. Demokritus (born seemingly in B.C. 460, and reported to have reached extreme old age) was nine years younger than Sokrates, thirty-three years older than Plato, and forty years younger than Anaxagoras.198 The age of Leukippus is not known, but he can hardly have been much younger than Anaxagoras.
198 Diogen. Laert. ix. 41. See the chronology of Demokritus discussed in Mullach, Frag. Dem. p. 12-25; and in Zeller, Phil. der Griech., vol. i. p. 576-681, 2nd edit. The statement of Apollodorus as to the date of his birth, appears more trustworthy than the earlier date assigned by Thrasyllus (B.C. 470). Demokritus declared himself to be forty years younger than Anaxagoras.
Long life, varied travels, and numerous compositions of Demokritus.
Of Leukippus we know nothing: of Demokritus, very little — yet enough to exhibit a life, like that of Anaxagoras, consecrated to philosophical investigation, and neglectful not merely of politics, but even of inherited patrimony.199 His attention was chiefly turned towards the study of Nature, with conceptions less vague, and a more enlarged observation of facts, than any of his contemporaries had ever bestowed. He was enabled to boast that no one had surpassed him in extent of travelling over foreign lands, in intelligent research and converse with enlightened natives, or in following out the geometrical relations 66of lines.200 He spent several years in visiting Egypt, Asia Minor, and Persia. His writings were numerous, and on many different subjects, including ethics, as well as physics, astronomy, and anthropology. None of them have been preserved. But we read, even from critics like Dionysius of Halikarnassus and Cicero, that they were composed in an impressive and semi-poetical style, not unworthy to be mentioned in analogy with Plato; while in range and diversity of subjects they are hardly inferior to Aristotle.201
199 Dionys. ix. 36-39.
200 Demokrit. Fragm. 6, p. 238, ed. Mullach. Compare ib. p. 41; Diogen. Laert. ix. 35; Strabo, xv. p. 703.
Pliny, Hist. Natur. “Democritus — vitam inter experimenta consumpsit,” &c.
201 Cicero, Orat. c. 20; Dionys. De Comp. Verbor. c. 24; Sextus Empir. adv. Mathem. vii. 265. Δημόκριτος, ὁ τῇ Διὸς φώνῃ παρεικαζόμενος, &c.
Diogenes (ix. 46-48) enumerates the titles of the treatises of Demokritus, as edited in the days of Tiberius by the rhetor Thrasyllus: who distributed them into tetralogies, as he also distributed the dialogues of Plato. It was probably the charm of style, common to Demokritus with Plato, which induced the rhetor thus to edit them both. In regard to scope and spirit of philosophy, the difference between the two was so marked, that Plato is said to have had a positive antipathy to the works of Demokritus, and a desire to burn them (Aristoxenus ap. Diog. Laert. ix. 40). It could hardly be from congeniality of doctrine that the same editor attached himself to both. It has been remarked that Plato never once names Demokritus, while Aristotle cites him very frequently, sometimes with marked praise.
Relation between the theory of Demokritus and that of Parmenides.
The theory of Leukippus and Demokritus (we have no means of distinguishing the two) appears to have grown out the Eleatic theory.202 Parmenides the Eleate (as I have already stated) in distinguishing Ens, the self-existent, real, or absolute, on one side — from the phenomenal and relative on the other — conceived the former in such a way that its connection with the latter was dissolved. The real and absolute, according to him, was One, extended, enduring, continuous, unchangeable, immovable: the conception of Ens included these affirmations, and at the same time excluded peremptorily Non-Ens, or the contrary of Ens. Now the plural, unextended, transient, discontinuous, changeable, and moving, implied a mixture of Ens and Non-Ens, or a partial transition from one to the other. Hence (since Non-Ens was inadmissible) such plurality, &c., could not belong to the real or absolute (ultra-phenomenal), and could only be affirmed as phenomenal or relative. In the latter sense, Parmenides 67did affirm it, and even tried to explain it: he explained the phenomenal facts from phenomenal assumptions, apart from and independent of the absolute. While thus breaking down the bridge between the phenomenal on one side and the absolute on the other, he nevertheless recognised each in a sphere of its own.
202 Simplikius, in Aristotel. Physic. fol. 7 A. Λεύκιππος … κοινωνήσας Παρμενίδῃ τῆς φιλοσοφίας, οὐ τὴν αὐτὴν ἐβάδισε Παρμενίδῃ καὶ Ξενοφάνει περὶ τῶν ὄντων δόξαν, ἀλλ’, ὡς δοκεῖ, τὴν ἐναντίαν. Aristotel. De Gener. et Corr. i. 8, p. 251, a. 31. Diogen. Laert. ix. 30.
Demokritean theory — Atoms — Plena and Vacua — Ens and Non-Ens.
This bridge the atomists undertook to re-establish. They admitted that Ens could not really change — that there could be no real generation, or destruction — no transformation of qualities — no transition of many into one, or of one into many. But they denied the unity and continuity and immobility of Ens: they affirmed that it was essentially discontinuous, plural, and moving. They distinguished the extended, which Parmenides had treated as an Unum continuum, into extension with body, and extension without body: into plenum and vacuum, matter and space. They conceived themselves to have thus found positive meanings both for Ens and Non-Ens. That which Parmenides called Non-Ens or nothing, was in their judgment the vacuum; not less self-existent than that which he called Something. They established their point by showing that Ens, thus interpreted, would become reconcilable to the phenomena of sense: which latter they assumed as their basis to start from. Assuming motion as a phenomenal fact, obvious and incontestable, they asserted that it could not even appear to be a fact, without supposing vacuum as well as body to be real: and the proof that both of them were real was, that only in this manner could sense and reason be reconciled. Farther, they proved the existence of a vacuum by appeal to direct physical observation, which showed that bodies were porous, compressible, and capable of receiving into themselves new matter in the way of nutrition. Instead of the Parmenidean Ens, one and continuous, we have a Demokritean Ens, essentially many and discontinuous: plena and vacua, spaces full and spaces empty, being infinitely intermingled.203 There existed atoms innumerable, each one in itself 68essentially a plenum, admitting no vacant space within it, and therefore indivisible as well as indestructible: but each severed from the rest by surrounding vacant space. The atom could undergo no change: but by means of the empty space around, it could freely move. Each atom was too small to be visible: yet all atoms were not equally small; there were fundamental differences between them in figure and magnitude: and they had no other qualities except figure and magnitude. As no atom could be divided into two, so no two atoms could merge into one. Yet though two or more atoms could not so merge together as to lose their real separate individuality, they might nevertheless come into such close approximation as to appear one, and to act on our senses as a phenomenal combination manifesting itself by new sensible properties.204
203 It is chiefly in the eighth chapter of the treatise De Gener. et Corr. (i. 8) that Aristotle traces the doctrine of Leukippus as having grown out of that of the Eleates. Λεύκιππος δ’ ἔχειν ᾠήθη λόγους, οἵτινες πρὸς τὴν αἴσθησιν ὁμολογούμενα λέγοντες οὐκ ἀναιρήσουσιν οὔτε γένεσιν οὔτε φθορὰν οὔτε κίνησιν καὶ τὸ πλῆθος τῶν ὄντων, &c.
Compare also Aristotel. De Cœlo, iii. 4, p. 303, a. 6; Metaphys. A. 4, p. 985, b. 5; Physic. iv. 6: λέγουσι δὲ (Demokritus, &c., in proving a vacuum) ἓν μὲν ὅτι ἡ κίνησις ἡ κατὰ τόπον οὐκ ἂν εἴη, οὐ γὰρ ἂν δοκεῖν εἶναι κίνησιν εἰ μὴ εἴη κενόν· τὸ γὰρ πλῆρες ἀδύνατον εἶναι δέξασθαί τι, &c.
Plutarch adv. Kolot. p. 1108. Οἷς οὐδ’ ὄναρ ἐντυχὼν ὁ Κολώτης, ἐσφάλη περὶ λέξιν τοῦ ἀνδρὸς (Demokritus) ἐν ᾖ διορίζεται, μὴ μᾶλλον τὸ δὲν, ἢ τὸ μηδὲν εἶναι· δὲν μὲν ὀνομάζων τὸ σῶμα μηδὲν δὲ τὸ κενόν, ὡς καὶ τούτου φύσιν τινὰ καὶ ὑπόστασιν ἰδίαν ἔχοντος.
The affirmation of Demokritus — That Nothing existed, just as much as Something — appears a paradox which we must probably understand as implying that he here adopted, for the sake of argument, the language of the Eleates, his opponents. They called the vacuum Nothing, but Demokritus did not so call it. If (said Demokritus) you call vacuum Nothing, then I say that Nothing exists as well as Something.
The direct observations by which Demokritus showed the existence of a vacuum were — 1. A vessel with ashes in it will hold as much water as if it were empty: hence we know that there are pores in the ashes, into which the water is received. 2. Wine can be compressed in skins. 3. The growth of organised bodies proves that they have pores, through which new matter in the form of nourishment is admitted. (Aristot. Physic. iv. 6, p. 213, b.)
Besides this, Demokritus set forth motion as an indisputable fact, ascertained by the evidence of sense: and affirmed that motion was impossible, except on the assumption that vacuum existed. Melissus, the disciple of Parmenides, inverted the reasoning, in arguing against the reality of motion. If it be real (he said), then there must exist a vacuum: but no vacuum does or can exist: therefore there is no real motion. (Aristot. Physic. iv. 6.)
Since Demokritus started from these facts of sense, as the base of his hypothesis of atoms and vacua, so Aristotle (Gen. et Corr. i. 2; De Animâ, i. 2) might reasonably say that he took sensible appearances as truth. But we find Demokritus also describing reason as an improvement and enlightenment of sense, and complaining how little of truth was discoverable by man. See Mullach, Demokritus (pp. 414, 415). Compare Philippson — Ὗλη ἀνθρωπίνη — Berlin, 1831.
204 Aristotel. Gen. et Corr. i. 8, p. 325, a. 25, τὰ πρῶτα μεγέθη τὰ ἀδιαίρετα στερεά. Diogen. Laert. ix. 44; Plutarch, adv. Koloten, p. 1110 seq.
Zeller, Philos. der Griech., vol. i. p. 583-588, ed. 2nd; Aristotel. Metaphys. Z. 13, p. 1039, a. 10, ἀδύνατον εἶναί φησι Δημόκριτος ἐκ δύο ἓν ᾒ ἐξ ἑνὸς δύο γενέσθαι· τὰ γὰρ μεγέθη τὰ ἄτομα τὰς οὐσίας ποιεῖ.
Primordial atoms differed only in magnitude, figure, position, and arrangement — they had no qualities, but their movements and combinations generated qualities.
The bridge, broken down by Parmenides, between the real and the phenomenal world, was thus in theory re-established. 69For the real world, as described by Demokritus, differed entirely from the sameness and barrenness of the Parmenidean Ens, and presented sufficient movement and variety to supply a basis of explanatory hypothesis, accommodated to more or less of the varieties in the phenomenal world. In respect of quality, indeed, all the atoms were alike, not less than all the vacua: such likeness was (according to Demokritus) the condition of their being able to act upon each other, or to combine as phenomenal aggregates.205 But in respect to quantity or magnitude as well as in respect to figure, they differed very greatly: moreover, besides all these diversities, the ordination and position of each atom with regard to the rest were variable in every way. As all objects of sense were atomic compounds, so, from such fundamental differences — partly in the constituent atoms themselves, partly in the manner of their arrangement when thrown into combination — arose all the diverse qualities and manifestations of the compounds. When atoms passed into new combination, then there was generation of a new substance: when they passed out of an old combination there was destruction: when the atoms remained the same, but were merely arranged anew in order and relative position, then the phenomenon was simply change. Hence all qualities and manifestations of such compounds were not original, but derivative: they had no “nature of their own,” or law peculiar to them, but followed from the atomic composition of the body to which they belonged. They were not real and absolute, like the magnitude and figure of the constituent atoms, but phenomenal and relative — i.e. they were powers of acting upon correlative organs of sentient beings, and nullities in the absence of such organs.206 Such were the colour, sonorousness, 70taste, smell, heat, cold, &c., of the bodies around us: they were relative, implying correlative percipients. Moreover they were not merely relative, but perpetually fluctuating; since the compounds were frequently changing either in arrangement or in diversity of atoms, and every such atomic change, even to a small extent, caused it to work differently upon our organs.207
205 Aristotel. Gener. et Corr. i. 7, p. 323, b. 12. It was the opinion of Demokritus, that there could be no action except where agent and patient were alike. Φησὶ γὰρ τὸ αὐτὸ καὶ ὅμοιον εἶναι τό τε ποιοῦν καὶ τὸ πάσχον· οὐ γὰρ ἐγχωρεῖν τὰ ἕτερα καὶ διαφέροντα πάσχειν ὑπ’ ἀλλήλων· ἀλλὰ κἂν ἕτερα ὄντα ποιῇ τι εἰς ἄλληλα, οὐχ ᾗ ἕτερα, ἀλλ’ ᾗ ταὐτόν τι ὑπάρχει, ταύτῃ τοῦτο συμβαίνειν αὐτοῖς. Many contemporary philosophers affirmed distinctly the opposite. Τὸ ὅμοιον ὑπὸ τοῦ ὁμοίου πᾶν ἀπαθές, &c. Diogenes the Apolloniate agreed on this point generally with Demokritus; see above, p. 61, note 1. The facility with which these philosophers laid down general maxims is constantly observable.
206 Aristot. Gen. et Corr. i. 2, p. 316, a. 1; Theophrast. De Sensu, s. 63, 64. Περὶ μὲν οὖν βαρέος καὶ κούφου καὶ σκληροῦ καὶ μαλακοῦ ἐν τούτοις ἀφορίζει· τῶν δὲ ἄλλων αἰσθητῶν οὐδενὸς εἶναι φύσιν, ἀλλὰ πάντα πάθη τῆς αἰσθήσεως ἀλλοιουμένης, ἐξ ἧς γίνεσθαι τὴν φαντασίαν, &c.
Stobæus, Eclog. Physic. i. c. 16. Φύσιν μὲν μηδὲν εἶναι χρῶμα, τὰ μὲν γὰρ στοιχεῖα ἄποια, τά τε μεστὰ καὶ τὸ κενόν· τὰ δ’ ἐξ αὐτῶν συγκρίματα κέχρῶσθαι διαταγῇ τε καὶ ῥυθμῷ καὶ προτροπῇ, &c.
Demokritus restricted the term Φύσις — Nature — to the primordial atoms and vacua (Simplikius ad Aristot. Physic. p. 310 A.).
207 Aristotel. Gener. et Corr. i. 2, p. 315, b. 10. Ὥστε ταῖς μεταβολαῖς τοῦ συγκειμένου τὸ αὐτὸ ἐναντίον δοκεῖν ἄλλῳ καὶ ἄλλῳ, καὶ μετακινεῖσθαι μικροῦ ἐμμιγνυμένου, καὶ ὅλως ἕτερον φαίνεσθαι ἑνὸς μετακινηθέντος.
Combinations of atoms — generating different qualities in the compounds.
Among the various properties of bodies, however, there were two which Demokritus recognised as not merely relative to the observer, but also as absolute and belonging to the body in itself. These were weight and hardness — primary qualities (to use the phraseology of Locke and Reid), as contrasted with the secondary qualities of colour, taste, and the like. Weight, or tendency downward, belonged (according to Demokritus) to each individual atom separately, in proportion to its magnitude: the specific gravity of all atoms was supposed to be equal. In compound bodies one body was heavier than another, in proportion as its bulk was more filled with atoms and less with vacant space.208 The hardness and softness of bodies Demokritus explained by the peculiar size and peculiar junction of their component atoms. Thus, comparing lead with iron, the former is heavier and softer, the latter is lighter and harder. Bulk for bulk, the lead contained a larger proportion of solid, and a smaller proportion of interstices, than the iron: hence it was heavier. But its structure was equable throughout; it had a greater multitude of minute atoms diffused through its bulk, equally close to and coherent with each other on every side, but not more close and coherent on one side than on another. The structure of the iron, on the contrary, was unequal and irregular, including larger 71spaces of vacuum in one part, and closer approach of its atoms in other parts: moreover these atoms were in themselves larger, hence there was a greater force of cohesion between them on one particular side, rendering the whole mass harder and more unyielding than the lead.209
208 Theophrastus, De Sensu, s. 61. Βαρὺ μὲν οὖν καὶ κοῦφον τῷ μεγέθει διαιρεῖ Δημόκριτος, &c.
Aristotel. De Cœlo, iv. 2, 7, p. 309, a. 10; Gen. et Corr. i. 8, p. 326, a. 9. Καίτοι βαρύτερον γε κατὰ τὴν ὑπεροχήν φησιν εἶναι Δημόκριτος ἕκαστον τῶν ἀδιαιρέτων, &c.
209 Theophrastus, De Sensu, s. 62.
All atoms essentially separate from each other.
We thus see that Demokritus, though he supposed single atoms to be all of the same specific gravity, yet recognised a different specific gravity in the various compounds of atoms or material masses. It is to be remembered that, when we speak of contact or combination of atoms, this is not to be understood literally and absolutely, but only in a phenomenal and relative sense; as an approximation, more or less close, but always sufficiently close to form an atomic combination which our senses apprehended as one object. Still every atom was essentially separate from every other, and surrounded by a margin of vacant space: no two atoms could merge into one, any more than one atom could be divided into two.
All properties of objects, except weight and hardness, were phenomenal and relative to the observer. Sensation could give no knowledge of the real and absolute.
Pursuant to this theory, Demokritus proclaimed that all the properties of objects, except weight, hardness, and softness, were not inherent in the objects themselves, but simply phenomenal and relative to the observer — “modifications of our sensibility”. Colour, taste, smell, sweet and bitter, hot and cold, &c., were of this description. In respect to all of them, man differed from other animals, one man from another, and even the same man from himself at different times and ages. There was no sameness of impression, no unanimity or constancy of judgment, because there was no real or objective “nature” corresponding to the impression. From none of these senses could we at all learn what the external thing was in itself. “Sweet and bitter, hot and cold (he said) are by law or convention (i.e. these names designate the impressions of most men on most occasions, taking no account of dissentients): what really exists is, atoms and vacuum. The sensible objects which we suppose and believe to exist do not exist in truth; there exist only atoms and vacuum. 72We know nothing really and truly about an object, either what it is or what it is not: our opinions depend upon influences from without, upon the position of our body, upon the contact and resistances of external objects. There are two phases of knowledge, the obscure and the genuine. To the obscure belong all our senses — sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch. The genuine is distinct from these. When the obscure phase fails, when we can no longer see, nor hear, nor smell, nor taste, nor touch — from minuteness and subtlety of particles — then the genuine phase, or reason and intelligence, comes into operation.”210
210 Demokritus, Fr. p. 205, Mullach; Sextus Empiric. adv. Mathemat. vii. p. 135; Diogen. Laert. ix. 72.
Reason alone gave true and real knowledge, but very little of it was attainable.
True knowledge (in the opinion of Demokritus) was hardly at all attainable; but in so far as it could be attained, we must seek it, not merely through the obscure and insufficient avenues of sense, but by reason or intelligence penetrating to the ultimatum of corpuscular structure, farther than sense could go. His atoms were not pure Abstracta (like Plato’s Ideas and geometrical plane figures, and Aristotle’s materia prima), but concrete bodies, each with its own211 magnitude, figure, and movement; too small to be seen or felt by us, yet not too small to be seen or felt by beings endowed with finer sensitive power. They were abstractions mainly in so far as all other qualities were supposed absent. Demokritus professed to show how the movements, approximations, and collisions of these atoms, brought them into such combinations as to form the existing Kosmos; and not that system alone, but also many other cosmical systems, independent of and different from each other, which he supposed to exist.
211 Aristotel. Gen. et Corr. i. 8, p. 325, a. 29. Ἄπειρα τὸ πλῆθος καὶ ἀόρατα διὰ σμικρότητα τῶν ὄγκων, &c.
Marbach observes justly that the Demokritean atoms, though not really objects of sense in consequence of their smallness (of their disproportion to our visual power), are yet spoken of as objects of sense: they are as it were microscopic objects, and the γνησίη γνώμη, or intelligence, is conceived as supplying something of a microscopic power. (Marbach, Lehrbuch der Geschichte der Philosophie, sect. 58, vol. i. p. 94.)
No separate force required to set the atoms in motion — they moved by an inherent force of their own. Like atoms naturally tend towards like. Rotatory motion, the capital fact of the Kosmos.
How this was done we cannot clearly make out, not having before us the original treatise of Demokritus, called the Great Diakosmos. It is certain, however, that he did not invoke any separate agency to set the atoms 73in motion — such as the Love and Discord of Empedokles — the Nous or Intelligence of Anaxagoras. Demokritus supposed that the atoms moved by an inherent force of their own: that this motion was as much without beginning as the atoms themselves:212 that eternal motion was no less natural, no more required any special cause to account for it, than eternal rest. “Such is the course of nature — such is and always has been the fact,” was his ultimatum.213 He farther maintained that all the motions of the atoms were necessary — that is, that they followed each other in a determinate order, each depending upon some one or more antecedents, according to fixed laws, which he could not explain.214 Fixed 74laws, known or unknown, he recognised always. Fortune or chance was only a fiction imagined by men to cover their own want of knowledge and foresight.215 Demokritus seems to have supposed that like atoms had a spontaneous tendency towards like; that all, when uncombined, tended naturally downwards, yet with unequal force, owing to their different size, and weight proportional to size; that this unequal force brought them into impact and collision one with another, out of which was generated a rotatory motion, gradually extending itself, and comprehending a larger and larger number of them, up to a certain point, when an exterior membrane or shell was formed around them.216 This rotatory motion was the capital fact which both constituted the Kosmos, and maintained the severance of its central and peripheral masses — Earth and Water in the centre — Air, Fire, and the celestial bodies, near the circumference. Demokritus, Anaxagoras, and Empedokles, imagined different preliminary hypotheses to get at the fact of rotation; but all employed the fact, when arrived at, as a basis from which to deduce the formation of the various cosmical bodies and their known manifestations.217 In respect to these bodies — Sun, Moon, Stars, Earth, &c. — Demokritus seems to have held several opinions like those of Anaxagoras. Both of them conceived the Sun as a redhot mass, and the Earth as a flat surface above and below, round horizontally like a drum, stationary in the centre of the revolving celestial bodies, and supported by the resistance of air beneath.218
212 Aristotel. De Cœlo, iii. 2, 3, p. 300, b. 9. Λευκίππῳ καὶ Δήμοκριτῳ, τοῖς λέγουσιν ἀεὶ κινεῖσθαι, τὰ πρῶτα σώματα, &c. (Physic. viii. 3, 3, p. 253, b. 12, viii. 9, p. 265, b. 23; Cicero, De Finib. i. 6, 17.)
213 Aristot. Generat. Animal. ii. 6, p. 742, b. 20; Physic. viii. 1, p. 252, b. 32.
Aristotle blames Demokritus for thus acquiescing in the general course of nature as an ultimatum, and for omitting all reference to final causes. M. Lafaist, in a good dissertation, Sur la Philosophie Atomistique (Paris, 1833, p. 78), shows that this is exactly the ultimatum of natural philosophers at the present day. “Un phénomène se passait-il, si on lui en demandait la raison, il (Demokritus) répondait, ‘La chose se passe ainsi, parcequ’elle s’est toujours passée ainsi.’ C’est, en d’autres termes, la seule réponse que font encore aujourd’hui les naturalistes. Suivant eux, une pierre, quand elle n’est pas soutenue, tombe en vertu de la loi de la pesanteur. Qu’est-ce que la loi de la pesanteur? La généralisation de ce fait plusieurs fois observé, qu’une pierre tombe quand elle n’est pas soutenue. Le phénomène dans un cas particulier arrive ainsi, parceque toujours il est arrivé ainsi. Le principe qu’implique l’explication des naturalistes modernes est celle de Démokrite, c’est que la nature demeure constante à elle-même. La proposition de Démokrite — ‘Tel phénomène a lieu de cette façon, parceque toujours il a eu lieu de cette même façon’ — est la première forme qu’ ait revêtue le principe de la stabilité des lois naturelles.”
214 Aristotle (Physic. ii. 4, p. 196, a. 25) says that Demokritus (he seems to mean Demokritus) described the motion of the atoms to form the cosmical system, as having taken place ἀπὸ τοῦ αὐτομάτου. Upon which Mullach (Dem. Frag. p. 382) justly remarks — “Casu (ἀπὸ ταὐτομάτου) videntur fieri, quæ naturali quâdam necessitate cujus leges ignoramus evenire dicuntur. Sed quamvis Aristoteles naturalem Abderitani philosophi necessitatem, vitato ἀνάγκης vocabulo, quod alii aliter usurpabant, casum et fortunam vocaret — ipse tamen Democritus, abhorrens ab iis omnibus quæ destinatam causarum seriem tollerent rerumque naturam perturbarent, nihil juris fortunæ et casui in singulis rebus concessit.”
Zeller has a like remark upon the phrase of Aristotle, which is calculated to mislead as to the doctrine of Demokritus (Phil. d. Griech., i. p. 600, 2nd. ed.).
Dugald Stewart, in one of the Dissertations prefixed to the Encyclopædia Britannica, has the like comment respecting the fundamental principle of the Epicurean (identical quoad hoc with the Demokritean) philosophy.
“I cannot conclude this note without recurring to an observation ascribed by Laplace to Leibnitz — ‘that the blind chance of the Epicureans involves the supposition of an effect taking place without a cause’. This is a very incorrect statement of the philosophy taught by Lucretius, which nowhere gives countenance to such a supposition. The distinguishing tenet of this sect was, that the order of the universe does not imply the existence of intelligent causes, but may be accounted for by the active powers belonging to the atoms of matter: which active powers, being exerted through an indefinitely long period of time, might have produced, nay must have produced, exactly such a combination of things as that with which we are surrounded. This does not call in question the necessity of a cause to produce every effect, but, on the contrary, virtually assumes the truth of that axiom. It only excludes from these causes the attribute of intelligence. In the same way, when I apply the words blind chance to the throw of a die, I do not mean to deny that I am ultimately the cause of the particular event that is to take place: but only to intimate that I do not here act as a designing cause, in consequence of my ignorance of the various accidents to which the die is subjected while shaken in the box. If I am not mistaken, this Epicurean theory approaches very nearly to the scheme which it is the main object of the Essay on Probabilities (by Laplace) to inculcate.” (Stewart — First Dissertation, part ii. p. 139, note.)
215 Demokrit. Frag. p. 167, ed. Mullach; Eusebius, Præp. Evang. xiv. 27. ἄνθρωποι τύχης εἴδωλον ἐπλάσαντο πρόφασιν ἰδίης ἀβουλίης.
216 Zeller, Phil. d. Griech., i. p. 604 seq.; Demokrit. Fragm. p. 207, Mull.; Sext. Empiricus adv. Mathem. vii. 117.
217 Demokrit. Fragm. p. 208, Mullach. Δημόκριτος ἐν οἷς φησι δίνη ἀπὸ παντὸς ἀποκρίνεσθαι παντοίων εἰδέων, &c.
Diog. Laert. ix. 31-44.
218 Zeller, Phil. d. Griech., i. p. 612, ed. 2nd.
Researches of Demokritus on zoology and animal generation.
Among the researches of Demokritus there were some relating to animal generation, and zoology; but we cannot find that his opinions on these subjects were in peculiar connection with his atomic theory.219 Nor do we know how far he carried out that theory into detail by tracing the various phenomenal manifestations to their basis in atomic reality, and by showing what particular magnitude, figure, and arrangement of atoms belonged to each. It was only in some special cases that he thus connected determinate atoms with compounds of determinate quality; for example, in regard to the four Empedoklean elements. The atoms constituting heat or fire he affirmed to be small and globular, the most mobile, rapid, and penetrating of all; those constituting air, water, and earth, were an assemblage of all varieties of figures, but differed from each other in magnitude — the atoms of air being apparently smallest, those of earth largest.220
219 Mullach, Demokr. Fragm. p. 395 seqq.
220 Aristotle, Gen. et Corr. i. 8, p. 326, a. 5; De Cœlo, iii. 8, p. 306, b. 35; Theophrastus, De Sensu, s. 64.
His account of mind — he identified it with heat or fire diffused throughout animals, plants, and nature generally. Mental particles intermingled throughout all the frame with corporeal particles.
In regard to mind or soul generally, he identified it with heat or fire, conceiving it to consist in the same very small, globular, rapidly movable atoms, penetrating everywhere: which he illustrated by comparison with the fine dust seen in sunbeams when shining through a doorway. That these were the constituent atoms of mind, he proved by the fact, that its first and most essential property was to move the body, and to be itself moved.221 Mind, soul, the vital principle, fire, heat, &c., were, in the opinion of Demokritus, substantially identical — not confined to man or even to animals, but diffused, in unequal proportions, throughout plants, the air, and nature generally. Sensation, thought, knowledge, were all motions of mind or of these restless mental particles, which Demokritus supposed to be distributed over every part of the living body, mingling and alternating with the corporeal particles.222 It was the essential condition of life, that the mental particles should be maintained 76in proper number and distribution throughout the body; but by their subtle nature they were constantly tending to escape, being squeezed or thrust out at all apertures by the pressure of air on all the external parts. Such tendency was counteracted by the process of respiration, whereby mental or vital particles, being abundantly distributed throughout the air, were inhaled along with air, and formed an inward current which either prevented the escape, or compensated the loss, of those which were tending outwards. When breathing ceased, such inward current being no longer kept up, the vital particles in the interior were speedily forced out, and death ensued.223
221 Aristotel. De Animâ, i. 2, 2-3, p. 403, b. 28; i. 3, p. 406, b. 20; Cicero, Tuscul. Disput. i. 11; Diogen. Laert. ix. 44.
222 Aristotel. De Respirat. (c. 4, p. 472, a. 5), λέγει (Demokritus) ὡς ἡ ψυχὴ καὶ τὸ θερμὸν ταὐτὸν, τὰ πρῶτα σχήματα τῶν σφαιροειδῶν.
Lucretius, iii. 370.
Illud in his rebus nequaquam sumere possis,
Democriti quod sancta viri sententia ponit;
Corporis atque animi primordia singula privis
Adposita alternis variare ac nectere membra.
223 Aristotel. De Respiratione, c. 4, p. 472, a. 10; De Animâ, i. 2, p. 404, a. 12.
Different mental aptitudes attached to different parts of the body.
Though Demokritus conceived those mental particles as distributed all over the body, yet he recognised different mental aptitudes attached to different parts of the body. Besides the special organs of sense, he considered intelligence as attached to the brain, passion to the heart, and appetite to the liver:224 the same tripartite division afterwards adopted by Plato. He gave an explanation of perception or sensation in its different varieties, as well as of intelligence or thought. Sensation and thought were, in his opinion, alike material, and alike mental. Both were affections of the same peculiar particles, vital or mental, within us: both were changes operated in these particles by effluvia or images from without; nevertheless the one change was different from the other.225
224 Zeller, Phil. d. Griech., i. p. 618, ed. 2nd.
Plutarch (Placit. Philos. iv. 4), ascribes a bipartite division of the soul to Demokritus: τὸ λογικὸν, in the thorax: τὸ ἄλογον, distributed over all the body. But in the next section (iv. 6), he departs from this statement, affirming that both Demokritus and Plato supposed τὸ ἡγεμονικὸν of the soul to be in the head.
225 Plutarch, Placit. Philos. iv. 8. Demokritus and Leukippus affirm τὴν αἴσθησιν καὶ τὴν νόησιν γίνεσθαι, εἰδώλων ἔξωθεν προσιόντων· μηδενὶ γὰρ ἐπιβάλλειν μηδετέραν χωρὶς τοῦ προσπίπτοντος εἰδώλου.
Cicero, De Finibus, i. 6, 21, “imagines, quæ idola nominant, quorum incursione non solum videamus, sed etiam cogitemus,” &c.
In regard to sensations, Demokritus said little about those of 77touch, smell, and hearing; but he entered at some length into those of sight and taste.226
226 Theophrastus, De Sensu, s. 64.
Explanation of different sensations and perceptions. Colours.
Proceeding upon his hypothesis of atoms and vacua as the only objective existences, he tried to show what particular modifications of atoms, in figure, size, and position, produced upon the sentient the impressions of different colours. He recognised four fundamental or simple colours — white, black, red, and green — of which all other colours were mixtures and combinations.227 White colour (he said) was caused by smooth surfaces, which presented straight pores and a transparent structure, such as the interior surface of shells: where these smooth substances were brittle or friable, this arose from the constituent atoms being at once spherical and loosely connected together, whereby they presented the clearest passage through their pores, the least amount of shadow, and the purest white colour. From substances thus constituted, the effluvia flowed out easily, and passed through the intermediate air without becoming entangled or confused with it. Black colour was caused by rough, irregular, unequal substances, which had their pores crooked and obstructed, casting much shadow, and sending forth slowly their effluvia, which became hampered and entangled with the intervening medium of air. Red colour arose from the effluvia of spherical atoms, like those of fire, though of larger size: the connection between red colour and fire was proved by the fact that heated substances, man as well as the metals, became red. Green was produced by atoms of large size and wide vacua, not restricted to any determinate shape, but arranged in peculiar order and position. These four were given by Demokritus as the simple colours. But he recognised an infinite diversity of compound colours, arising from mixture of them in different proportions, several of which he explained — gold-colour, purple, blue, violet, leek-green, nut-brown, &c.228
227 Theophrastus, De Sensu, s. 73 seq.; Aristotel. De Sensu, c. iv. p. 442, b. 10. The opinions of Demokritus on colour are illustrated at length by Prantl in his Uebersicht der Farbenlehre der Alten (p. 49 seq.), appended to his edition of the Aristotelian or Pseudo-Aristotelian treatise, Περὶ Χρωμάτων (Munich, 1849).
Demokritus seems also to have attempted to show, that the sensation of cold and shivering was produced by the irruption of jagged and acute atoms. See Plutarch, De Primo Frigido, p. 947, 948, c. 8.
228 Theophrastus, De Sensu, s. 76-78. ἄπειρα τὰ χρώματα καὶ τοὺς χυλοὺς κατὰ τὰς μίξεις — οὐδὲν γὰρ ὅμοιον ἔσεσθαι θἄτερον θἀτέρου.
Vision caused by the outflow of effluvia or images from objects. Hearing.
Besides thus setting forth those varieties of atoms and atomic motions which produced corresponding varieties of colour, Demokritus also brought to view the intermediate stages whereby they realised the act of vision. All objects, compounds of the atoms, gave out effluvia or images resembling themselves. These effluvia stamped their impression, first upon the intervening air, next upon the eye beyond: which, being covered by a fine membrane, and consisting partly of water, partly of vacuum, was well calculated to admit the image. Such an image, the like of which any one might plainly see by looking into another person’s eye, was the immediate cause of vision.229 The air, however, was no way necessary as an intervening medium, but rather obstructive: the image proceeding from the object would be more clearly impressed upon the eye through a vacuum: if the air did not exist, vision would be so distinct, even at the farthest distance, that an object not larger than an ant might be seen in the heavens.230 Demokritus believed that the visual image, after having been impressed upon the eye, was distributed or multiplied over the remaining body.231 In like manner, he believed that, in hearing, the condensed air carrying the sound entered with some violence through the ears, passed through the veins to the brain, and was from thence dispersed over the body.232 Both sight and hearing were thus not simply acts of the organ of sense, but concurrent operations of the entire frame: over all which (as has been already stated) the mental or vital particles were assumed to be disseminated.
229 Theophrast. De Sensu, s. 50. τὸν ἀέρα τὸν μεταξὺ τῆς ὄψεως καὶ τοῦ ὁρωμένου τυποῦσθαι, &c. Aristotel. De Sensu, c. 2, p. 438, a. 6.
Theophrastus notices this intermediate ἀποτύπωσις ἐν τῷ ἀέρι as a doctrine peculiar (ἰδίως) to Demokritus: he himself proceeds to combat it (51, 52).
230 Aristotel. De Animâ, ii. 7-9, p. 419, a. 16.
231 Theophrastus, De Sensu, s. 54.
232 Theophrastus, De Sensu, 55, 56. τὴν γὰρ φωνὴν εἶναι πυκνουμένου τοῦ ἀέρος καὶ μετὰ βίας εἰσιόντος, &c.
Demokritus thought that air entered into the system not only through the ears, but also through pores in other parts of the body, though so gently as to be imperceptible to our consciousness: the ears afforded a large aperture, and admitted a considerable mass.
Differences of taste — how explained.
Farther, Demokritus conceived that the diversities of taste were generated by corresponding diversities of atoms, or compounds of atoms, of particular figure, magnitude and position. Acid taste was caused by atoms rough, angular, twisted, small, and subtle, which 79forced their way through all the body, produced large interior vacant spaces, and thereby generated great heat: for heat was always proportional to the amount of vacuum within.233 Sweet taste was produced by spherical atoms of considerable bulk, which slid gently along and diffused themselves equably over the body, modifying and softening the atoms of an opposite character. Astringent taste was caused by large atoms with many angles, which got into the vessels, obstructing the movement of fluids both in the veins and intestines. Salt taste was produced by large atoms, much entangled with each other, and irregular. In like manner Demokritus assigned to other tastes particular varieties of generating atoms: adding, however, that in every actual substance, atoms of different figures were intermingled, so that the effect of each on the whole was only realised in the ratio of the preponderating figure.234 Lastly, the working of all atoms, in the way of taste, was greatly modified by the particular system upon which they were brought to act: effects totally opposite being sometimes produced by like atoms upon different individuals.235
233 Theophrast. De Sensu, 65-68.
234 Theophrast. De Sensu, 67. ἁπάντων δὲ τῶν σχημάτων οὐδὲν ἀκέραιον εἶναι καὶ ἀμιγὲς τοῖς ἄλλοις, ἀλλ’ ἐν ἑκάστῳ πολλὰ εἶναι … οὖ δ’ ἂν ἐνῇ πλεῖστον, τοῦτο μάλιστα ἐνισχύειν πρός τε τὴν αἴσθησιν καὶ τὴν δύναμιν.
This essential intermixture, in each distinct substance, of atoms of all different shapes, is very analogous to the essential intermixture of all sorts of Homœomeries in the theory of Anaxagoras.
235 Theophrast. De Sensu, 67. εἰς ὁποίαν ἕξιν ἂν εἰσέλθῃ, διαφέρειν οὐκ ὀλίγον· καὶ διὰ τοῦτο τὸ αὐτὸ τἀναντία, καὶ τἀναντία τὸ αὐτὸ πάθος ποιεῖν ἐνίοτε.
Thought or Intelligence — was produced by influx of atoms from without.
As sensation, so also thought or intelligence, was produced by the working of atoms from without. But in what manner the different figures and magnitudes of atoms were understood to act, in producing diverse modifications of thought, we do not find explained. It was, however, requisite that there should be a symmetry, or correspondence of condition between the thinking mind within and the inflowing atoms from without, in order that these latter might work upon a man properly: if he were too hot, or too cold, his mind went astray.236 Though Demokritus identified the mental or vital particles with the 80spherical atoms constituting heat or fire, he nevertheless seems to have held that these particles might be in excess as well as in deficiency, and that they required, as a condition of sound mind, to be diluted or attempered with others. The soundest mind, however, did not work by itself or spontaneously, but was put in action by atoms or effluvia from without: this was true of the intellectual mind, not less than of the sensational mind. There was an objective something without, corresponding to and generating every different thought — just as there was an objective something corresponding to every different sensation. But first, the object of sensation was an atomic compound having some appreciable bulk, while that of thought might be separate atoms or vacua so minute as to be invisible and intangible. Next, the object of sensation did not reveal itself as it was in its own nature, but merely produced changes in the percipient, and different changes in different percipients (except as to heavy and light, hard and soft, which were not simply modifications of our sensibility, but were also primary qualities inherent in the objects themselves237): while the object of thought, though it worked a change in the thinking subject, yet also revealed itself as it was, and worked alike upon all.
236 Theophrast. De Sensu, 58. Περὶ δὲ τοῦ φρονεῖν ἐπὶ τοσοῦτον εἴρηκεν, ὅτι γίνεται συμμέτρως ἐχούσης τῆς ψυχῆς μετὰ τὴν κίνησιν· ἐὰν δὲ περίθερμός τις ἢ περίψυχρος γένηται, μεταλλάττειν φησί.
237 Theophrastus, De Sensu, 71. νῦν δὲ σκληροῦ μὲν καὶ μαλακοῦ καὶ βαρέος καὶ κούφου ποιεῖ τὴν οὐσίαν, ὅπερ (ἅπερ) οὐχ’ ἧττον ἔδοξε λέγεσθαι πρὸς ἡμᾶς, θερμοῦ δὲ καὶ ψυχροῦ καὶ τῶν ἄλλων οὐδενός.
This is a remarkable point to be noted in the criticisms of Theophrastus on the doctrine of Demokritus. Demokritus maintains that hot and cold are relative to us: hard and soft, heavy and light, are not only relative to us, but also absolute, objective, things in their own nature, — though causing in us sensations which are like them. Theophrastus denies this distinction altogether: and denies it with the best reason. Not many of his criticisms on Demokritus are so just and pertinent as this one.
Sensation, obscure knowledge relative to the sentient; Thought, genuine knowledge — absolute, or object per se.
Hence Demokritus termed sensation, obscure knowledge — thought, genuine knowledge.238 It was only by thought (reason, intelligence) that the fundamental realities of nature, atoms and vacua, could be apprehended: even by thought, however, only imperfectly, since there was always more or less of subjective movements and conditions, which partially clouded the pure objective apprehension — and since the atoms themselves were in perpetual movement, as well as inseparably mingled one with another. Under such obstructions, 81Demokritus proclaimed that no clear or certain knowledge was attainable: that the sensible objects, which men believed to be absolute realities, were only phenomenal and relative to us, — while the atoms and vacua, the true existences or things in themselves, could scarce ever be known as they were:239 that truth was hidden in an abyss, and out of our reach.
238 Demokritus Fragm. Mullach, p. 205, 206; ap. Sext. Empir. adv. Mathemat. vii. 135-139, γνώμης δύο εἰσὶν ἰδέαι· ἡ μὲν γνησίη, ἡ δὲ σκοτίη, &c.
239 Democr. Frag., Mull., p. 204-5. Ἅπερ νομίζεται μὲν εἶναι καὶ δοξάζεται τὰ αἰσθητά, οὐκ ἔστι δὲ κατὰ ἀλήθειαν ταῦτα· ἀλλὰ τὰ ἄτομα μόνον καὶ κενόν. ἡμέες δὲ τῷ μὲν ἐόντι οὐδὲν ἀτρεκὲς ξυνίεμεν, μετάπιπτον δὲ κατά τε σώματος διαθιγήν, καὶ τῶν ἐπεισιόντων, καὶ τῶν ἀντιστηριζόντων … ἐτεῇ μέν νυν, ὅτι οἵον ἕκαστόν ἐστιν ἢ οὔκ ἐστιν, οὐ ξυνίεμεν, πολλαχῆ δεδήλωται, &c.
Compare Cicero, Acad. Quæst. i. 13, ii. 10; Diog. Laert. ix. 72; Aristotel. Metaphys. iii. 5, p. 1009, b. 10.
Idola or images were thrown off from objects, which determined the tone of thoughts, feelings, dreams, divinations, &c.
As Demokritus supposed both sensations and thoughts to be determined by effluvia from without, so he assumed a similar cause to account for beliefs, comfortable or uncomfortable dispositions, fancies, dreams, presentiments, &c. He supposed that the air contained many effluences, spectres, images, cast off from persons and substances in nature — sometimes even from outlying very distant objects which lay beyond the bounds of the Kosmos. Of these images, impregnated with the properties, bodily and mental, of the objects from whence they came, some were beneficent, others mischievous: they penetrated into the human body through the pores and spread their influence all through the system.240 Those thrown off by jealous and vindictive men were especially hurtful,241 as they inflicted suffering corresponding to the tempers of those with whom they originated. Trains of thought and feeling were thus excited in men’s minds; in sleep,242 dreams, divinations, prophetic warnings, and threats, were communicated: sometimes, pestilence and other misfortunes were thus begun. Demokritus believed that men’s happiness depended much upon the nature and character of the images which might approach them, expressing an anxious wish that he might himself meet with such as were propitious.243 It was from grand and terrific images of this nature, that he supposed the idea and belief of the Gods to have arisen: a sup82position countenanced by the numerous tales, respecting appearances of the Gods both to dreaming and to waking men, current among the poets and in the familiar talk of Greece.
240 Demokriti Frag. p. 207, Mullach; Sext. Empiric, adv. Mathemat. ix. 19; Plutarch, Symposiac. viii. 10, p. 735 A.
241 Plutarch, Symposiac. v. 7, p. 683 A.
242 Aristotel. De Divinat. per Somnum, p. 464, a. 5; Plutarch, Symposiac. viii. 9, p. 733 E. ὅτι καὶ κόσμων ἐκτὸς φθαρέντων καὶ σωμάτων ἀλλοφύλων ἐκ τῆς ἀποῤῥοίας ἐπιῤῥεόντων, ἐνταῦθα πολλάκις ἀρχαὶ παρεμπίπτουσι λοιμῶν καὶ παθῶν οὐ συνήθων.
243 Plutarch, De Oraculor. Defectu, p. 419. αὐτὸς εὔχεται εὐλόγχων εἰδωλων τυγχάνειν.
Universality of Demokritus — his ethical views.
Among the lost treasures of Hellenic intellect, there are few which are more to be regretted than the works of Demokritus. Little is known of them except the titles: but these are instructive as well as multifarious. The number of different subjects which they embrace is astonishing. Besides his atomic theory, and its application to cosmogony and physics, whereby he is chiefly known, and from whence his title of physicus was derived — we find mention of works on geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, optics, geography or geology, zoology, botany, medicine, music, and poetry, grammar, history, ethics, &c.244 In such universality he is the predecessor, perhaps the model, of Aristotle. It is not likely that this wide range of subjects should have been handled in a spirit of empty generality, without facts or particulars: for we know that his life was long, his curiosity insatiable, and his personal travel and observation greater than that of any contemporary. We know too that he entered more or less upon the field of dialectics, discussing those questions of evidence which became so rife in the Platonic age. He criticised, and is said to have combated, the doctrine laid down by Protagoras, “Man is the measure of all things”. It would have been interesting to know from what point of view he approached it: but we learn only the fact that he criticised it adversely.245 The numerous treatises of Demokritus, together with the proportion of them which relate to ethical and social subjects, rank him with the philosophers of the Platonic and Aristotelian age. His 83Summum Bonum, as far as we can make out, appears to have been the maintenance of mental serenity and contentment: in which view he recommended a life of tranquil contemplation, apart from money-making, or ambition, or the exciting pleasures of life.246
244 See the list of the works of Demokritus in Diogen. Laert. ix. 46, and in Mullach’s edition of the Fragments, p. 105-107. Mullach mentions here (note 18) that Demokritus is cited seventy-eight times in the extant works of Aristotle, and sometimes with honourable mention. He is never mentioned by Plato. In the fragment of Philodemus de Musica, Demokritus is called ἀνὴρ οὐ φυσιολογώτατος μόνον τῶν ἀρχαίων, ἀλλὰ καὶ περὶ τὰ ἱστορούμενα οὐδενὸς ἦττον πολυπράγμων (Mullach, p. 237). Seneca calls him “Democritus, subtilissimus antiquorum omnium”. — Quæstion. Natural. vii. 2. And Dionysius of Hal. (De Comp. Verb. p. 187, R.) characterises Demokritus, Plato, and Aristotle (he arranges them in that order) as first among all the philosophers, in respect of σύνθεσις τῶν ὀνομάτων.
245 Plutarch, adv. Kolôten, p. 1108.
Among the Demokritean treatises, was one entitled Pythagoras, which contained probably a comment on the life and doctrines of that eminent man, written in an admiring spirit. (Diog. Laert. ix. 38.)
246 Seneca, De Tranquill. Animæ, cap. 2. “Hanc stabilem animi sedem Græci Εὐθυμίαν vocant, de quo Democriti volumen egregium est.” Compare Cicero De Finib. v. 29; Diogen. Laert. ix. 45. For εὐθυμία Demokritus used as synonyms εὐεστώ, ἀθαμβίη, ἀταραξίη, &c. See Mullach, p. 416.
Variety of sects and theories — multiplicity of individual authorities is the characteristic of Greek philosophy.
The first feeling of any reader accustomed to the astronomy and physics of the present century, on considering the various theories noticed in the preceding chapter, is a sort of astonishment that such theories should have been ever propounded or accepted as true. Yet there can be no doubt that they represent the best thoughts of sincere, contemplative, and ingenious men, furnished with as much knowledge of fact, and as good a method, as was then attainable. The record of what such men have received as scientific truth or probability, in different ages, is instructive in many ways, but in none more than in showing how essentially relative and variable are the conditions of human belief; how unfounded is the assumption of those modern philosophers who proclaim certain first truths or first principles as universal, intuitive, self-evident; how little any theorist can appreciate à priori the causes of belief in an age materially different from his own, or can lay down maxims as to what must be universally believed or universally disbelieved by all mankind. We shall have farther illustration of this truth as we proceed: here I only note variety of belief, even on the most fundamental points, as being the essential feature of Grecian philosophy even from its outset, long before the age of those who are usually denounced as the active sowers of discord, the Sophists and the professed disputants. Each philosopher followed his own individual reason, departing from traditional or established creeds, and incurring from the believing public more 85or less of obloquy; but no one among the philosophers acquired marked supremacy over the rest. There is no established philosophical orthodoxy, but a collection of Dissenters — ἄλλη δ’ ἄλλων γλῶσσα μεμιγμένη — small sects, each with its own following, each springing from a special individual as authority, each knowing itself to be only one among many.
These early theorists are not known from their own writings, which have been lost. Importance of the information of Aristotle about them.
It is a misfortune that we do not possess a complete work, or even considerable fragments, from any one of these philosophers, so as to know what their views were when stated by themselves, and upon what reasons they insisted. All that we know is derived from a few detached notices, in very many cases preserved by Aristotle; who, not content (like Plato) with simply following out his own vein of ideas, exhibits in his own writings much of that polymathy which he transmitted to the Peripatetics generally, and adverts often to the works of predecessors. Being a critic as well as a witness, he sometimes blends together inconveniently the two functions, and is accused (probably with reason to a certain extent) of making unfair reports; but if it were not for him, we should really know nothing of the Hellenic philosophers before Plato. It is curious to read the manner in which Aristotle speaks of these philosophical predecessors as “the ancients” (οἱ ἀρχαῖοι), and takes credit to his own philosophy for having attained a higher and more commanding point of view.1
1 Bacon ascribes the extinction of these early Greek philosophers to Aristotle, who thought that he could not assure his own philosophical empire, except by putting to death all his brothers, like the Turkish Sultan. This remark occurs more than once in Bacon (Nov. Org. Aph. 67; Redargutio Philosoph. vol. xi. p. 450, ed. Montagu). In so far as it is a reproach, I think it is not deserved. Aristotle’s works, indeed, have been preserved, and those of his predecessors have not: but Aristotle, far from seeking to destroy their works, has been the chief medium for preserving to us the little which we know about them. His attention to the works of his predecessors is something very unusual among the theorists of the ancient world. His friends Eudêmus and Theophrastus followed his example, in embodying the history of the earlier theories in distinct works of their own, now unfortunately lost.
It is much to be regretted that no scholar has yet employed himself in collecting and editing the fragments of the lost scientific histories of Eudêmus (the Rhodian) and Theophrastus. A new edition of the Commentaries of Simplikius is also greatly wanted: those which exist are both rare and unreadable.
Zeller remarks that several of the statements contained in Proklus’s commentary on Euclid, respecting the earliest Grecian mathematicians, are borrowed from the γεωμετρικαὶ ἱστορίαι of the Rhodian Eudêmus (Zeller — De Hermodoro Ephesio et Hermodoro Platonico, p. 12).
Abundance of speculative genius and invention — a memorable fact in the Hellenic mind.
During the century and a half between Thales and the beginning of the Peloponnesian war, we have passed in review twelve distinct schemes of philosophy — Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Xenophanes, Pythagoras, Parmenides, Herakleitus, Empedokles, Anaxagoras, the Apolloniate Diogenes, Leukippus, and Demokritus. Of most of these philosophers it may fairly be said that each speculated upon nature in an original vein of his own. Anaximenes and Diogenes, Xenophanes and Parmenides, Leukippus and Demokritus, may indeed be coupled together as kindred pairs yet by no means in such manner that the second of the two is a mere disciple and copyist of the first. Such abundance and variety of speculative genius and invention is one of the most memorable facts in the history of the Hellenic mind. The prompting of intelligent curiosity, the thirst for some plausible hypothesis to explain the Kosmos and its generation, the belief that a basis or point of departure might be found in the Kosmos itself, apart from those mythical personifications which dwelt both in the popular mind and in the poetical Theogonies, the mental effort required to select some known agency and to connect it by a chain of reasoning with the result — all this is a new phenomenon in the history of the human mind.
Difficulties which a Grecian philosopher had to overcome — prevalent view of Nature, established, impressive, and misleading.
An early Greek philosopher found nothing around him to stimulate or assist the effort, and much to obstruct it. He found Nature disguised under a diversified and omnipresent Polytheistic agency, eminently captivating and impressive to the emotions — at once mysterious and familiar — embodied in the ancient Theogonies, and penetrating deeply all the abundant epic and lyric poetry, the only literature of the time. It is perfectly true (as Aristotle remarks2) that Hesiod and the other theological poets, who referred everything to the generation and agency of the Gods, thought only of what was plausible to themselves, without enquiring whether it would 87appear equally plausible to their successors; a reproach which bears upon many subsequent philosophers also. The contemporary public, to whom they addressed themselves, knew no other way of conceiving Nature than under this religious and poetical view, as an aggregate of manifestations by divine personal agents, upon whose volition — sometimes signified beforehand by obscure warnings intelligible to the privileged interpreters, but often inscrutable — the turn of events depended. Thales and the other Ionic philosophers were the first who became dissatisfied with this point of view, and sought for some “causes and beginnings” more regular, knowable, and predictable. They fixed upon the common, familiar, widely-extended, material substances, water, air, fire, &c.; and they could hardly fix upon any others. Their attempt to find a scientific basis was unsuccessful; but the memorable fact consisted in their looking for one.
2 Aristot. Metaphys. B. 4, p. 1000, a. 10.
Οἱ μὲν οὖν περὶ Ἡσίοδον, καὶ πάντες ὅσοι θεόλογοι, μόνον ἐφρόντισαν τοῦ πιθανοῦ τοῦ πρὸς αὐτούς, ἡμῶν δ’ ὠλιγώρησαν· Θεοὺς γὰρ ποιοῦντες τὰς ἀρχὰς καὶ ἐκ θεῶν γεγονέναι, &c. Aristotle mentions them a few lines afterwards as not worth serious notice, περὶ τῶν μυθικῶς σοφιζομένων οὐκ ἄξιον μετὰ σπουδῆς σκοπεῖν.
Views of the Ionic philosophers — compared with the more recent abstractions of Plato and Aristotle.
In the theories of these Ionic philosophers, the physical ideas of generation, transmutation, local motion, are found in the foreground: generation in the Kosmos to replace generation by the God. Pythagoras and Empedokles blend with their speculations a good deal both of ethics and theology, which we shall find yet more preponderant when we come to the cosmical theories of Plato. He brings us back to the mythical Prometheus, armed with the geometrical and arithmetical combinations of the Pythagoreans: he assumes a chaotic substratum, modified by the intentional and deliberate construction of the Demiurgus and his divine sons, who are described as building up and mixing like a human artisan or chemist. In the theory of Aristotle we find Nature half personified, and assumed to be perpetually at work under the influence of an appetite for good or regularity, which determines her to aim instinctively and without deliberation (like bees or spiders) at constant ends, though these regular tendencies are always accompanied, and often thwarted, by accessories, irregular, undefinable, unpredictable. Both Plato and Aristotle, in their dialectical age, carried abstraction farther than it had been carried by the Ionic philosophers.3 Aristotle imputes to the 88Ionic philosophers that they neglected three out of his four causes (the efficient, formal, and final), and that they attended only to the material. This was a height of abstraction first attained by Plato and himself; in a way sometimes useful, sometimes misleading. The earlier philosophers had not learnt to divide substance from its powers or properties; nor to conceive substance without power as one thing, and power without substance as another. Their primordial substance, with its powers and properties, implicated together as one concrete and without any abstraction, was at once an efficient, a formal, and a material cause: a final cause they did not suppose themselves to want, inasmuch as they always conceived a fixed terminus towards which the agency was directed, though they did not conceive such fixed tendency under the symbol of an appetite and its end. Water, Air, Fire, were in their view not simply inert and receptive patients, impotent until they were stimulated by the active force residing in the ever revolving celestial spheres — but positive agents themselves, productive of important effects. So also a geologist of the present day, when he speculates upon the early condition4 of the Kosmos, reasons upon gaseous, fluid, solid, 89varieties of matter, as manifesting those same laws and properties which experience attests, but manifesting them under different combinations and circumstances. The defect of the Ionic philosophers, unavoidable at the time, was, that possessing nothing beyond a superficial experience, they either ascribed to these physical agents powers and properties not real, or exaggerated prodigiously such as were real; so that the primordial substance chosen, though bearing a familiar name, became little better than a fiction. The Pythagoreans did the same in regard to numbers, ascribing to them properties altogether fanciful and imaginary.
3 Plato (Sophistes, 242-243) observes respecting these early theorists — what Aristotle says about Hesiod and the Theogonies — that they followed out their own subjective veins of thought without asking whether we, the many listeners, were able to follow them or were left behind in the dark. I dare say that this was true (as indeed it is true respecting most writers on speculative matters), but I am sure that all of them would have made the same complaint if they had heard Plato read his Timæus.
4 Bacon has some striking remarks on the contrast in this respect between the earlier philosophers and Aristotle.
Bacon, after commending the early Greek philosophers for having adopted as their first principle some known and positive matter, not a mere abstraction, goes on to say:—
“Videntur antiqui illi, in inquisitione principiorum, rationem non admodum acutam instituisse, sed hoc solummodo egisse, ut ex corporibus apparentibus et manifestis, quod maximé excelleret, quærerent, et quod tale videbatur, principium rerum ponerent: tanquam per excellentiam, non veré aut realiter.… Quod si principium illud suum teneant non per excellentiam, sed simpliciter, videntur utique in duriorem tropum incidere: cum res plané deducatur ad æquivocum, neque de igne naturali, aut naturali ære, aut aquâ, quod asserunt, prædicari videatur, sed de igne aliquo phantastico et notionali (et sic de cæteris) qui nomen ignis retineat, definitionem abneget.… Principium statuerunt secundum sensum, aliquod ens verum: modum autem ejus dispensandi (liberius se gerentes) phantasticum.” (Bacon, Parmenidis, Telesii, et Democriti Philosophia, vol. xi., p. 115-116, ed. Montagu.)
“Materia illa spoliata et passiva prorsus humanæ mentis commentum quoddam videtur. Materia prima ponenda est conjuncta cum principio motûs primo, ut invenitur. Hæc tria (materia, forma, motus) nullo modo discerpenda, sed tantummodo distinguenda, atque asserenda materia (qualiscunque ea sit), ita ornata et apparata et formata, ut omnis virtus, essentia, actio, atque motus naturalis, ejus consecutio et emanatio esse possit. Omnes ferè antiqui, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Anaximenes. Heraclitus, Democritus, de materiâ primâ in cæteris dissidentes, in hoc convenerunt, quod materiam activam formâ nonnullâ, et formam suam dispensantem, atque intra se principium motûs habentem, posuerunt.” (Bacon, De Parmenidis, Telesii, et Campanellæ, Philosoph., p. 653-654, t. v.)
Compare Aphorism I. 50 of the Novum Organum.
Bacon, Parmenidis, Telesii, et Democriti Philosophia, vol. xi. ed. Montagu, p. 106-107. “Sed omnes ferè antiqui (anterior to Plato), Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Anaximenes, Heraclitus, Democritus, de materiâ primâ in cæteris dissidentes, in hoc convenerunt, quod materiam activam, formâ nonnullâ, et formam suam dispensantem, atque intra se principium motûs habentem, posuerunt. Neque aliter cuiquam opinari licebit, qui non experientiæ plané desertor esse velit. Itaque hi omnes mentem rebus submiserunt. At Plato mundum cogitationibus, Aristoteles verò etiam cogitationes verbis, adjudicarunt.” … “Omnino materia prima ponenda est conjuncta cum formâ primâ, ac etiam cum principio motûs primo, ut invenitur. Nam et motûs quoque abstractio infinitas phantasias peperit, de animis, vitis, et similibus — ac si iis per materiam et formam non satisfieret, sed ex suis propriis penderent illa principiis. Sed hæc tria nullo modo discerpenda, sed tantummodo distinguenda: atque asserenda materia (qualiscunque ea sit) ita ornata et apparata et formata, ut omnis virtus, essentia, actio, atque motus naturalis, ejus consecutio et emanatio esse possit. Neque propterea metuendum, ne res torpeant, aut varietas ista, quam cernimus, explicari non possit — ut postea docebimus.”
Playfair also observes, in his Dissertation on the Progress of Natural Philosophy, prefixed to the Encyclopædia Britannica, p. 31:—
“Science was not merely stationary, but often retrograde; and the reasonings of Democritus and Anaxagoras were in many respects more solid than those of Plato and Aristotle.”
See a good summary of Aristotle’s cosmical views, in Ideler, Comm. in Aristotel. Meteorologica, i. 2, p. 328-329.
Parmenides and Pythagoras — more nearly akin to Plato and Aristotle.
Parmenides and Pythagoras, taking views of the Kosmos metaphysical and geometrical rather than physical, supplied the basis upon which Plato’s speculations were built. Aristotle recognises Empedokles and Anaxagoras as having approached to his own doctrine — force abstracted or considered apart from substance, yet not absolutely detached from it. This is true about Empedokles to a certain extent, since his theory admits Love and Enmity as agents, the four elements as patients: but it is hardly true about Anaxagoras, in whose theory Noûs imparts nothing more than a momentary shock, exercising what modern chemists 90call a catalytic agency in originating movement among a stationary and stagnant mass of Homœomeries, which, as soon as they are liberated from imprisonment, follow inherent tendencies of their own, not receiving any farther impulse or direction from Noûs.
Advantage derived from this variety of constructive imagination among the Greeks.
In the number of cosmical theories proposed, from Thales to Demokritus, as well as in the diversity and even discordance of the principles on which they were founded — we note not merely the growth and development of scientific curiosity, but also the spontaneity and exuberance of constructive imagination.5 This last is a prominent attribute of the Hellenic mind, displayed to the greatest advantage in their poetical, oratorical, historical, artistic, productions, and transferred from thence to minister to their scientific curiosity. None of their known contemporaries showed the like aptitudes, not even the Babylonians and Egyptians, who were diligent in the observation of the heavens. Now the constructive imagination is not less indispensable to the formation of scientific theories than to the compositions of art, although in the two departments it is subject to different conditions, and appeals to different canons and tests in the human mind. Each of these early Hellenic theories, though all were hypotheses and “anticipations of nature,” yet as connecting together various facts upon intelligible principles, was a step in advance; while the very number and discordance of them (urged by Sokrates6 as an argument for discrediting the purpose common to all), was on the whole advantageous. It lessened the mischief arising from the imperfections of each, increased the chance of exposing such imperfections, and prevented the consecration of any one among them (with that inveterate and peremptory orthodoxy which Plato so much admires7 in the Egyptians) as an infallible dogma and an exclusive mode of 91looking at facts. All the theorists laboured under the common defect of a scanty and inaccurate experience: all of them were prompted by a vague but powerful emotion of curiosity to connect together the past and present of Nature by some threads intelligible and satisfactory to their own minds; each of them followed out some analogy of his own, such as seemed to carry with it a self-justifying plausibility; and each could find some phenomena which countenanced his own peculiar view. As far as we can judge, Leukippus and Demokritus greatly surpassed the others, partly in the pains which they took to elaborate their theory, partly in the number of facts which they brought into consistency with it. The loss of the voluminous writings of Demokritus is deeply to be regretted.8
5 Karsten observes, in his account of the philosophy of Parmenides (sect, 23, p. 241):—
“Primum mundi descriptionem consideremus. Argumentum illustre et magnificum, cujus quanto major erat veterum in contemplando admiratio, tanto minor ferè in observando diligentia fuit. Quippe universi ornatum et pulcritudinem admirati, ejus naturam partiumque ordinem non sensu assequi studuerunt, sed mente informarunt ad eam pulcri perfectique speciem quæ in ipsorum animis insideret: sic ut Aristoteles ait, non sua cogitata suasque notiones ad mundi naturam, sed hanc illa accommodantes. Hujusmodi quoque fuit Parmenidea ratio.”
6 Xenophon, Memor. i. 1, 13-14.
7 Plato, Legg. ii. 656-657.
8 About the style of Demokritus, see Cicero De Orat. i. 11. Orator. c. 20.
All these theories were found in circulation by Sokrates, Zeno, Plato, and the dialecticians. Importance of the scrutiny of negative Dialectic.
In studying the writings of Plato and Aristotle, we must recollect that they found all these theories pre-existent or contemporaneous. We are not to imagine that they were the first who turned an enquiring eye on Nature. So far is this from being the case that Aristotle is, as it were, oppressed both by the multitude and by the discordance of his predecessors, whom he cites, with a sort of indulgent consciousness of superiority, as “the ancients” (οἱ ἀρχαῖοι).9 The dialectic activity, inaugurated by Sokrates and Zeno, lowered the estimation of these cosmical theories in more ways than one: first, by the new topics of man and society, which Sokrates put in the foreground for discussion, and treated as the only topics worthy of discussion: next, by the great acuteness which each of them displayed in the employment of the negative weapons, and in bringing to view the weak part of an opponent’s case. When we look at the number of these early theories, and the great need which all of them had to be sifted and scrutinised, we shall recognise the value of negative procedure under such circumstances, whether the negationist had or had not any better affirmative theory of his own. Sokrates, 92moreover, not only turned the subject-matter of discussion from physics to ethics, but also brought into conscious review the method of philosophising: which was afterwards still farther considered and illustrated by Plato. General and abstract terms and their meaning, stood out as the capital problems of philosophical research, and as the governing agents of the human mind during the process: in Plato and Aristotle, and the Dialectics of their age, we find the meaning or concept corresponding to these terms invested with an objective character, and represented as a cause or beginning; by which, or out of which, real concrete things were produced. Logical, metaphysical, ethical, entities, whose existence consists in being named and reasoned about, are presented to us (by Plato) as the real antecedents and producers of the sensible Kosmos and its contents, or (by Aristotle) as coeternal with the Kosmos, but as its underlying constituents — the ἀρχαὶ, primordia or ultimata — into which it was the purpose and duty of the philosopher to resolve sensible things. The men of words and debate, the dialecticians or metaphysical speculators of the period since Zeno and Sokrates, who took little notice of the facts of Nature, stand contrasted in the language of Aristotle with the antecedent physical philosophers who meddled less with debate and more with facts. The contrast is taken in his mind between Plato and Demokritus.10
9 Aristot. Gen. et Corr. i. 314, a. 6; 325, a. 2; Metaphys. Λ. 1069, a. 25. See the sense of ἀρχαϊκῶς, Met. N. 1089, a. 2, with the note of Bonitz.
Adam Smith, in his very instructive examination of the ancient systems of Physics and Metaphysics, is too much inclined to criticise Plato and Aristotle as if they were the earliest theorizers, and as if they had no predecessors.
10 Aristotel. Gen. et Corr. i. 316, a. 6. — διὸ ὅσοι ἐνῳκήκασι μᾶλλον ἐν τοῖς φυσικοῖς, μᾶλλον δύνανται ὑποτίθεσθαι τοιαύτας ἀρχὰς, αἳ ἐπὶ πολὺ δύνανται συνείρειν· οἱ δ’ ἐκ τῶν πολλῶν λόγων ἀθεώρητοι τῶν ὑπαρχόντων ὄντες, πρὸς ὀλίγα βλέψαντες, ἀποφαίνονται ῥᾷον· ἴδοι δ’ ἄν τις καὶ ἐκ τούτων ὅσον διαφέρουσιν οἱ φυσικῶς καὶ λογικῶς σκοποῦντες, &c. This remark is thoroughly Baconian.
Οἱ ἐν τοῖς λόγοις is the phrase by which Aristotle characterises the Platonici. — Metaphys. Θ. 1050, b. 35.
The early theorists were studied along with Plato and Aristotle, in the third and second centuries B.C.
Both by Stoics and by Epikureans, during the third and second centuries B.C., Demokritus, Empedokles, Anaxagoras, and Herakleitus were studied along with Plato and Aristotle — by some, even more. Lucretius mentions and criticises all the four, though he never names Plato or Aristotle. Cicero greatly admires the style of Demokritus, whose works were arranged in tetralogies by Thrasyllus, as those of Plato were.11h
11 Epikurus is said to have especially admired Anaxagoras (Diog. L. x. 12).
Negative attribute common to all the early theorists — little or no dialectic.
In considering the early theorists above enumerated, there is great difficulty in finding any positive characteristic applicable to all of them. But a negative characteristic may be found, and has already been indicated by Aristotle. “The earlier philosophers (says he) had no part in dialectics: Dialectical force did not yet exist.”12 And the period upon which we are now entering is distinguished mainly by the introduction and increasing preponderance of this new element — Dialectic — first made conspicuously manifest in the Eleatic Zeno and Sokrates; two memorable persons, very different from each other, but having this property in common.
12 Aristotel. Metaphys. A. 987, b. 32. Οἱ γὰρ πρότεροι διαλεκτικῆς οὐ μετεῖχον. — M. 1078, b. 25; διαλεκτικὴ γὰρ ἰσχὺς οὔπω τότ’ ἦν, ὥστε δύνασθαι, &c.
Zeno of Elea — Melissus.
It is Zeno who stands announced, on the authority of Aristotle, as the inventor of dialectic: that is, as the first person of whose skill in the art of cross-examination and refutation conspicuous illustrative specimens were preserved. He was among the first who composed written dialogues on controversial matters of philosophy.13 Both he, and his contemporary the Samian Melissus, took up the defence of the Parmenidean doctrine. It is remarkable that both one and the other were eminent as political men in their native cities. Zeno is even said to have perished miserably, in generous but fruitless attempts to preserve Elea from being enslaved by the despot Nearchus.
13 Diogen. Laert. ix. 25-28.
The epithets applied to Zeno by Timon are remarkable.
Ἀμφοτερογλώσσου τε μέγα σθένος οὐκ ἀλαπαδνὸν
Ζήνωνος πάντων ἐπιλήπτορος, &c.
Zeno’s Dialectic — he refuted the opponents of Parmenides, by showing that their assumptions led to contradictions and absurdities.
We know the reasonings of Zeno and Melissus only through scanty fragments, and those fragments transmitted by opponents. But it is plain that both of them, especially Zeno, pressed their adversaries with grave difficulties, which it was more easy to deride than to elucidate. Both took their departure from the ground occupied by Parmenides. They agreed with him in recognising the phenomenal, apparent, or relative world, the world of sense and experience, as a subject of knowledge, though of uncertain and imperfect knowledge. 94Each of them gave, as Parmenides had done, certain affirmative opinions, or at least probable conjectures, for the purpose of explaining it.14 But beyond this world of appearances, there lay the real, absolute, ontological, ultra-phenomenal, or Noumenal world, which Parmenides represented as Ens unum continuum, and which his opponents contended to be plural and discontinuous. These opponents deduced absurd and ridiculous consequences from the theory of the One. Herein both Zeno and Melissus defended Parmenides. Zeno, the better dialectician of the two, retorted upon the advocates of absolute plurality and discontinuousness, showing that their doctrine led to consequences not less absurd and contradictory than the Ens unum of Parmenides. He advanced many distinct arguments; some of them antinomies, deducing from the same premisses both the affirmative and the negative of the same conclusion.15
14 Diog. Laert. ix. 24-29.
Zeller (Phil. d. Griech. i. p. 424, note 2) doubts the assertion that Zeno delivered probable opinions and hypotheses, as Parmenides had done before him, respecting phenomenal nature. But I see no adequate ground for such doubt.
15 Simplikius, in Aristotel. Physic. f. 30. ἐν μέντοι τῷ συγγράμματι αὐτοῦ, πολλὰ ἔχοντι ἐπιχειρήματα, καθ’ ἕκαστον δείκνυσιν, ὅτι τῷ πολλὰ εἶναι λέγοντι συμβαίνει τὰ ἐναντία λέγειν, &c.
Consequences of their assumption of Entia Plura Discontinua. Reductiones ad absurdum.
If things in themselves were many (he said) they must be both infinitely small and infinitely great. Infinitely small, because the many things must consist in a number of units, each essentially indivisible: but that which is indivisible has no magnitude, or is infinitely small if indeed it can be said to have any existence whatever:16 Infinitely great, because each of the many things, if assumed to exist, must have 95magnitude. Having magnitude, each thing has parts which also have magnitude: these parts are, by the hypothesis, essentially discontinuous, but this implies that they are kept apart from each other by other intervening parts — and these intervening parts must be again kept apart by others. Each body will thus contain in itself an infinite number of parts, each having magnitude. In other words, it will be infinitely great.17
16 Aristotel. Metaphys. B. 4, p. 1001, b. 7. ἔτι εἰ ἀδιαίρετον αὐτὸ τὸ ἕν, κατὰ μὲν τὸ Ζήνωνος ἀξίωμα, οὐθὲν ἂν εἴη.
ὃ γὰρ μήτε προστιθέμενον μητὲ ἀφαιρούμενον ποιεῖ τι μεῖζον μηδὲ ἕλαττον, οὔ φησιν εἶναι τοῦτο τῶν ὄντων, ὡς δῆλον ὅτι ὄντος μεγέθους τοῦ ὄντος.
Seneca (Epistol. 88) and Alexander of Aphrodisias (see the passages of Themistius and Simplikius cited by Brandis, Handbuch Philos. i. p. 412-416) conceive Zeno as having dissented from Parmenides, and as having denied the existence, not only of τὰ πολλὰ, but also of τὸ ἕν. But Zeno seems to have adhered to Parmenides; and to have denied the existence of τὸ ἕν, only upon the hypothesis opposed to Parmenides — namely, that τὰ πολλὰ existed. Zeno argued thus:—Assuming that the Real or Absolute is essentially divisible and discontinuous, divisibility must be pushed to infinity, so that you never arrive at any ultimatum, or any real unit (ἀκριβῶς ἕν). If you admit τὰ πολλὰ, you renounce τὸ ἕν. The reasoning of Zeno, as far as we know it, is nearly all directed against the hypothesis of Entia plura discontinua. Tennemann (Gesch. Philos. i. 4, p. 205) thinks that the reasoning of Zeno is directed against the world of sense: in which I cannot agree with him.
17 Scholia ad Aristotel. Physic. p. 334, a. ed. Brandis.
Again — If things in themselves were many, they would be both finite and infinite in number. Finite, because they are as many as they are, neither more nor less: and every number is a finite number. Infinite, because being essentially separate, discontinuous, units, each must be kept apart from the rest by an intervening unit; and this again by something else intervening. Suppose a multitude A, B, C, D, &c. A and B would be continuous unless they were kept apart by some intervening unit Z. But A and Z would then be continuous unless they were kept apart by something else — Y: and so on ad infinitum: otherwise the essential discontinuousness could not be maintained.18
18 See the argument cited by Simplikius in the words of the Zenonian treatise, in Preller, Hist. Philos. Græc. ex font. context. p. 101, sect. 156.
By these two arguments,19 drawn from the hypothesis which affirmed perpetual divisibility and denied any Continuum, Zeno showed that such Entia multa discontinua would have contradictory attributes: they would be both infinitely great and infinitely small — they would be both finite and infinite in number. This he advanced as a reductio ad absurdum against the hypothesis.
19 Simplikius ad Aristot. Physic. f. 30. καὶ οὔτω μὲν τὸ κατὰ τὸ πλῆθος ἄπειρον ἐκ τῆς διχοτομίας ἔδειξε, τὸ δὲ κατὰ τὸ μέγεθος πρότερον κατὰ τὴν αὐτὴν ἐπιχείρησιν. Compare Zeller, Phil. d. Griech. i. p. 427.
Each thing must exist in its own place — Grain of millet not sonorous.
Again — If existing things be many and discontinuous, each of these must exist in a place of its own. Nothing can exist except in some place. But the place is itself an existing something: each place must therefore have a place of its own to exist in: the second place must have a third place to exist in and so forth ad infinitum.20 We have here a farther reductio ad impossibile of the 96original hypothesis: for that hypothesis denies the continuity of space, and represents space as a multitude of discontinuous portions or places.
20 Aristotel. Physic. iv. 1, p. 209, a. 22; iv. 3, p. 210, b. 23.
Aristotle here observes that the Zenonian argument respecting place is easy to be refuted; and he proceeds to give the refutation. But his refutation is altogether unsatisfactory. Those who despise these Zenonian arguments as sophisms, ought to look at the way in which they were answered, at or near the time.
Eudêmus ap. Simplik. ad Aristot. Physic. f. 131. ἄξιον γὰρ πᾶν τῶν ὄντων ποῦ εἶναι· εἰ δὲ ὁ τόπος τῶν ὄντων, ποῦ ἂν εἴη;
Another argument of Zeno is to the following effect:—“Does a grain of millet, when dropped upon the floor, make sound? No. — Does a bushel of millet make sound under the same circumstances? Yes. — Is there not a determinate proportion between the bushel and the grain? There is. — There must therefore be the same proportion between the sonorousness of the two. If one grain be not sonorous, neither can ten thousand grains be so.”21
21 Aristotel. Physic. vii. 5, p. 250, a. 20, with the Scholia of Simplikius on the passage, p. 423, ed. Brandis.
To appreciate the contradiction brought out by Zeno, we must recollect that he is not here reasoning about facts of sense, phenomenal and relative — but about things in themselves, absolute and ultra-phenomenal realities. He did not deny the fact of sense: to appeal to that fact in reply, would have been to concede his point. The adversaries against whom he reasoned (Protagoras is mentioned, but he can hardly have been among them, if we have regard to his memorable dogma, of which more will be said presently) were those who maintained the plurality of absolute substances, each for itself, with absolute attributes, apart from the fact of sense, and independent of any sentient subject. One grain of millet (Zeno argues) has no absolute sonorousness, neither can ten thousand such grains taken together have any. Upon the hypothesis of absolute reality as a discontinuous multitude, you are here driven to a contradiction which Zeno intends as an argument against the hypothesis. There is no absolute sonorousness in the ten thousand grains: the sound which they make is a phenomenal fact, relative to us as sentients of sound, and having no reality except in correlation with a hearer.22
22 It will be seen that Aristotle in explaining this ἀπορία, takes into consideration the difference of force in the vibrations of air, and the different impressibility of the ear. The explanation is pertinent and just, if applied to the fact of sense: but it is no reply to Zeno, who did not call in question the fact of sense. Zeno is impugning the doctrine of absolute substances and absolute divisibility. To say that ten thousand grains are sonorous, but that no one of them separately taken is so, appears to him a contradiction, similar to what is involved in saying that a real magnitude is made up of mathematical points. Aristotle does not meet this difficulty.
Zenonian arguments in regard to motion.
Other memorable arguments of Zeno against the same hypothesis were those by which he proved that if it were admitted, motion would be impossible. Upon the theory of absolute plurality and discontinuousness, every line or portion of distance was divisible into an infinite number of parts: before a moving body could get from the beginning to the end of this line, it must pass in succession over every one of these parts: but to do this in a finite time was impossible: therefore motion was impossible.23
23 Aristot. Physic. vi. 9, p. 239 b., with the Scholia, p. 412 seq. ed. Brandis; Aristotel. De Lineis Insecabilibus, p. 968, a. 19.
These four arguments against absolute motion caused embarrassment to Aristotle and his contemporaries. τέτταρες δ’ εἰσὶ λόγοι Ζήνωνος οἱ παρέχοντες τὰς δυσκολίας τοῖς λύουσιν, &c.
A second argument of the same tendency was advanced in the form of comparison between Achilles and the tortoise — the swiftest and slowest movers. The two run a race, a certain start being given to the tortoise. Zeno contends that Achilles can never overtake the tortoise. It is plain indeed, according to the preceding argument, that motion both for the one and for the other is an impossibility. Neither one nor the other can advance from the beginning to the end of any line, except by passing successively through all the parts of that line: but those parts are infinite in number, and cannot therefore be passed through in any finite time. But suppose such impossibility to be got over: still Achilles will not overtake the tortoise. For while Achilles advances one hundred yards, the tortoise has advanced ten: while Achilles passes over these additional ten yards, the tortoise will have passed over one more yard: while Achilles is passing over this remaining one yard, the tortoise will have got over one-tenth of another yard: and so on ad infinitum: the tortoise will always be in advance of him by a certain distance, which, though ever diminishing, will never vanish into nothing.
The third Zenonian argument derived its name from the flight of an arrow shot from a bow. The arrow while thus carried forward (says Zeno) is nevertheless at rest.24 For the time from 98the beginning to the end of its course consists of a multitude of successive instants. During each of these instants the arrow is in a given place of equal dimension with itself. But that which is during any instant in a given place, is at rest. Accordingly during each successive instant of its flight, the arrow is at rest. Throughout its whole flight it is both in motion and at rest. This argument is a deduction from the doctrine of discontinuous time, as the preceding is a deduction from that of discontinuous space.
24 Aristotel. Physic. vi. 9, p. 239, b. 30. τρίτος ὁ νῦν ῥηθείς, ὅτι ἡ ὀϊστὸς φερομένη ἕστηκεν.
A fourth argument25 was derived from the case of two equal bodies moved with equal velocity in opposite directions, and passing each other. If the body A B were at rest, the other body C D would move along the whole length of C D in two minutes. But if C D be itself moving with equal velocity in the opposite direction, A B will pass along the whole length of C D in half that time, or one minute. Hence Zeno infers that the motion of A B is nothing absolute, or belonging to the thing in itself — for if that were so, it would not be varied according to the movement of C D. It is no more than a phenomenal fact, relative to us and our comparison.
25 See the illustration of this argument at some length by Simplikius, especially the citation from Eudêmus at the close of it — ap. Scholia ad Aristotel. p. 414, ed. Brandis.
This argument, so far as I can understand its bearing, is not deduced (as those preceding are) from the premisses of opponents: but rests upon premisses of its own, and is intended to prove that motion is only relative.
General result and purpose of the Zenonian Dialectic. Nothing is knowable except the relative.
These Zenonian reasonings are memorable as the earliest known manifestations of Grecian dialectic, and are probably equal in acuteness and ingenuity to anything which it ever produced. Their bearing is not always accurately conceived. Most of them are argumenta ad hominem: consequences contradictory and inadmissible, but shown to follow legitimately from a given hypothesis, and therefore serving to disprove the hypothesis itself.26 The hypothesis was one relating 99to the real, absolute, or ultra-phenomenal, which Parmenides maintained to be Ens Unum Continuum, while his opponents affirmed it to be essentially multiple and discontinuous. Upon the hypothesis of Parmenides, the Real and Absolute, being a continuous One, was obviously inconsistent with the movement and variety of the phenomenal world: Parmenides himself recognised the contradiction of the two, and his opponents made it a ground for deriding his doctrine.27 The counter-hypothesis, of the discontinuous many, appeared at first sight not to be open to the same objection: it seemed to be more in harmony with the facts of the phenomenal and relative world, and to afford an absolute basis for them to rest upon. Against this delusive appearance the dialectic of Zeno was directed. He retorted upon the opponents, and showed that if the hypothesis of the Unum Continuum led to absurd consequences, that of the discontinuous many was pregnant with deductions yet more absurd and contradictory. He exhibits in detail several of these contradictory deductions, with a view to refute the hypothesis from whence they flow; and to prove that, far from performing what it promises, it is worse than useless, as entangling us in contradictory conclusions. The result of his reasoning, implied rather than announced, is — That neither of the two hypotheses are of any avail to supply a real and absolute basis for the phenomenal and relative world: That the latter must rest upon its own evidence, and must be interpreted, in so far as it can be interpreted at all, by its own analogies.
26 The scope of the Zenonian dialectic, as I have here described it, is set forth clearly by Plato, in his Parmenides, c. 3-6, p. 127, 128. Πῶς ὦ Ζήνων, τοῦτο λέγεις; εἰ πολλά ἐστι τὰ ὄντα, ὡς ἄρα δεῖ αὐτὰ ὅμοιά τε εἶναι καὶ ἀνόμοια, τοῦτο δὲ δὴ ἀδύνατον. — Οὐκοῦν εἰ ἀδύνατον τά τε ἀνόμοια ὅμοια εἶναι καὶ τὰ ὅμοια ἀνόμοια, ἀδύνατον δὴ καὶ πολλὰ εἶναι; εἰ γὰρ πολλὰ εἴη, πάσχοι ἂν τὰ ἀδύνατα. Ἆρα τοῦτό ἐστιν ὃ βούλονταί σου οἱ λόγοι; οὐκ ἀλλο τι ἢ διαμάχεσθαι παρὰ πάντα τὰ λεγόμενα, ὡς οὐ πολλά ἐστιν; Again, p. 128 D. Ἀντιλέγει οὖν τοῦτο τὸ γράμμα πρὸς τοὺς τα πολλὰ λέγοντας, καὶ ἀνταποδίδωσι ταῦτα καὶ πλείω, τοῦτο βουλόμενον δηλοῦν, ὡς ἔτι γελοιότερα πάσχοι ἂν αὐτῶν ἡ ὑπόθεσις, ἡ εἰ πολλά ἐστιν — ἢ ἡ τοῦ ἓν εἶναι — εἴ τις ἱκανῶς ἐπεξίοι.
Here Plato evidently represents Zeno as merely proving that contradictory conclusions followed, if you assumed a given hypothesis; which hypothesis was thereby shown to be inadmissible. But Plato alludes to Zeno in another place (Phædrus, c. 97, p. 261) under the name of the Eleatic Palamedes, as “showing his art in speaking, by making the same things appear to the hearers like and unlike, one and many, at rest and in motion”. In this last passage, the impression produced by Zeno’s argumentation is brought to view, apart from the scope and purpose with which he employed it: which scope and purpose are indicated in the passage above cited from the Parmenides.
So also Isokrates (Encom. Helen. init.) Ζήνωνα, τὸν ταὐτὰ δυνατὰ καὶ πάλιν ἀδύνατα πειρώμενον ἀποφαίνειν.
27 Plato, Parmenides, p. 128 D.
Mistake of supposing Zeno’s reductiones ad absurdum of an opponents doctrines to be generalisations of data gathered from experience.
But the purport of Zeno’s reasoning is mistaken, when he is 100conceived as one who wishes to delude his hearers by proving both sides of a contradictory proposition. Zeno’s contradictory conclusions are elicited with the express purpose of disproving the premisses from which they are derived. For these premisses Zeno himself is not to be held responsible, since he borrows them from his opponents: a circumstance which Aristotle forgets, when he censures the Zenonian arguments as paralogisms, because they assume the Continua, Space, and Time, to be discontinuous or divided into many distinct parts.28 Now this absolute discontinuousness of matter, space, and time, was not advanced by Zeno as a doctrine of his own, but is the very doctrine of his opponents, taken up by him for the purpose of showing that it led to contradictory consequences, and thus of indirectly refuting it. The sentence of Aristotle is thus really in Zeno’s favour, though apparently adverse to him. In respect to motion, a similar result followed from the Zenonian reasonings; namely, to show That motion, as an attribute of the Real and Absolute, was no less inconsistent with the hypothesis of those who opposed Parmenides, than with the hypothesis of Parmenides himself:—That absolute motion could no more be reconciled with the doctrine of the discontinuous Many, than with that of the Continuous One:—That motion therefore was only a phenomenal fact, relative to our sensations, conceptions, and comparisons; and having no application to the absolute. In this phenomenal point of view, neither Zeno nor Parmenides nor Melissus disputed the fact of motion. They recognised it as a portion of the world of sensation and experience; which world they tried to explain, well or ill, by analogies and conjectures derived from itself.
28 Aristotel. Physic. vi. 9, p. 239 b. Ζήνων δὲ παραλογίζεται· οὐ γὰρ σύγκεται ὁ χρόνος ἐκ τῶν νῦν ὄντων τῶν ἀδιαιρέτων, ὥσπερ οὐδ’ ἄλλο μέγεθος οὐδέν &c.
Aristotle, in the second and third chapters of his Physica, canvasses and refutes the doctrine of Parmenides and Zeno respecting Ens and Unum. He maintains that Ens and Unum are equivocal — πολλαχῶς λεγόμενα. He farther maintained that no one before him had succeeded in refuting Zeno. See the Scholia of Alexander ad Sophistic. Elench. p. 320 b. 6, ed. Brandis.
Zenonian Dialectic — Platonic Parmenides.
Though we have not the advantage of seeing the Zenonian dialectics as they were put forth by their author, yet if we compare the substance of them as handed down to us, with those dialectics which form the latter half of the Platonic dialogue called Parmenides, 101we shall find them not inferior in ingenuity, and certainly more intelligible in their purpose. Zeno furnishes no positive support to the Parmenidean doctrine, but he makes out a good negative case against the counter-doctrine.
Views of historians of philosophy respecting Zeno.
Zeller and other able modern critics, while admitting the reasoning of Zeno to be good against this counter-doctrine, complain that he takes it up too exclusively; that One and Many did not exclude each other, and that the doctrines of Parmenides and his opponents were both true together, but neither of them true to the exclusion of the other. But when we reflect that the subject of predication on both sides was the Real (Ens per se) it was not likely that either Parmenides or his opponents would affirm it to be both absolutely One and Continuous, and absolutely Many and Discontinuous.29 If the opponents of Parmenides had taken this ground, Zeno need not have imagined deductions for the purpose of showing that their hypothesis led to contradictory conclusions; for the contradictions would have stood avowedly registered in the hypothesis itself. If a man affirms both at once, he divests the predication of its absolute character, as belonging unconditionally to Ens per se; and he restricts it to the phenomenal, the relative, the conditioned — dependent upon our sensations and our fluctuating point of view. This was not intended either by Parmenides or by his opponents.
29 That both of them could not be true respecting Ens per se, seems to have been considered indisputable. See the argument of Sokrates in the Parmenides of Plato, p. 129 B-E.
Absolute and relative — the first unknowable.
If, indeed, we judge the question, not from their standing-point, but from our own, we shall solve the difficulty by adopting the last-mentioned answer. We shall admit that One and Many are predicates which do not necessarily exclude each other; but we shall refrain from affirming or denying either of them respecting the Real, the Absolute, the Unconditioned. Of an object absolutely one and continuous — or of objects absolutely many and discontinuous, apart from the facts of our own sense and consciousness,102 and independent of any sentient subject — we neither know nor can affirm anything. Both these predicates (One — Many) are relative and phenomenal, grounded on the facts and comparisons of our own senses and consciousness, and serving only to describe, to record, and to classify, those facts. Discrete quantity or number, or succession of distinct unities — continuous quantity, or motion and extension — are two conceptions derived from comparison, abstracted and generalised from separate particular phenomena of our consciousness; the continuous, from our movements and the consciousness of persistent energy involved therein — the discontinuous, from our movements, intermitted and renewed, as well as from our impressions of sense. We compare one discrete quantity with another, or one continual quantity with another, and we thus ascertain many important truths: but we select our unit, or our standard of motion and extension, as we please, or according to convenience, subject only to the necessity of adapting our ulterior calculations consistently to this unit, when once selected. The same object may thus be considered sometimes as one, sometimes as many; both being relative, and depending upon our point of view. Motion, Space, Time, may be considered either as continuous or as discontinuous: we may reason upon them either as one or the other, but we must not confound the two points of view with each other. When, however, we are called upon to travel out of the Relative, and to decide between Parmenides and his opponents — whether the Absolute be One or Multitudinous — we have only to abstain from affirming either, or (in other words) to confess our ignorance. We know nothing of an absolute, continuous, self-existent One, or of an absolute, discontinuous Many.
Zeno did not deny motion as a fact, phenomenal and relative.
Some critics understand Zeno to have denied motion as a fact — opposing sophistical reasoning to certain and familiar experience. Upon this view is founded the well-known anecdote, that Diogenes the Cynic refuted the argument by getting up and walking. But I do not so construe the scope of his argument. He did not deny motion as a fact. It rested with him on the evidence of sense, acknowledged by every one. It was therefore only a phenomenal fact relative to our consciousness, sensation, 103movements, and comparisons. As such, but as such only, did Zeno acknowledge it. What he denied was, motion as a fact belonging to the Absolute, or as deducible from the Absolute. He did not deny the Absolute or Thing in itself, as an existing object, but he struck out variety, divisibility, and motion, from the list of its predicates. He admitted only the Parmenidean Ens, one, continuous, unchanged, and immovable, with none but negative predicates, and severed from the relative world of experience and sensation.
Gorgias the Leontine — did not admit the Absolute, even as conceived by Parmenides.
Other reasoners, contemporary with Zeno, did not agree with him, in admitting the Absolute, even as an object with no predicates, except unity and continuity. They denied it altogether, both as substratum and as predicate. To establish this negation is the purpose of a short treatise ascribed to the rhetor or Sophist Gorgias, a contemporary of Zeno; but we are informed that all the reasonings, which Gorgias employed, were advanced, or had already been advanced, by others before him.30 Those reasonings are so imperfectly preserved, that we can make out little more than the general scope.
30 See the last words of the Aristotelian or Pseudo-Aristotelian treatise, De Melisso, Xenophane et Gorgiâ, p. 980.
Ἅπασαι δὲ αὖται καὶ ἑτέρων ἀρχαιοτέρων εἰσὶν ἀπόριαι, ὥστε ἐν τῇ περὶ ἐκείνων σκέψει καὶ ταύτας ἐξεταστέον.
Ἅπασαι is the reading of Mullach in his edition of this treatise (p. 79), in place of ἅπαντες or ἅπαντα.
His reasonings against the Absolute, either as Ens or Entia.
Ens, or Entity per se (he contended), did not really exist. Even granting that it existed, it was unknowable by any one. And even granting that it both existed, and was known by any one, still such person could not communicate his knowledge of it to others.31
31 See the treatise of Aristotle or Pseudo-Aristotle, De Melisso, Xenophane, et Gorgiâ, in Aristot. p. 979-980, Bekker, also in Mullach’s edition, p. 62-78. The argument of Gorgias is also abridged by Sextus Empiric. adv. Mathemat. vii. p. 384, sect. 65-86.
See also a copious commentary on the Aristotelian treatise in Foss, De Gorgiâ Leontino, p. 115 seq.
The text of the Aristotelian treatise is so corrupt as to be often unintelligible.
As to the first point, Ens was no more real or existent than Non-Ens: the word Non-Ens must have an objective meaning, as well as the word Ens: it was Non-Ens, therefore it was, or existed. Both of them existed alike, or rather neither of them existed. Moreover, if Ens existed, it must exist either as One or as Many — either as eternal or as generated — either in itself, or 104in some other place. But Melissus, Zeno, and other previous philosophers, had shown sufficient cause against each of these alternatives separately taken. Each of the alternative essential predicates had been separately disproved; therefore the subject, Ens, could not exist under either of them, or could not exist at all.
Ens, incogitable and unknowable.
As to the second point, let us grant that Ens or Entia exist; they would nevertheless (argued Gorgias) be incogitable and unknowable. To be cogitated is no more an attribute of Ens than of Non-Ens. The fact of cogitation does not require Ens as a condition, or attest Ens as an absolute or thing in itself. If our cogitation required or attained Ens as an indispensable object, then there could be no fictitious cogitata nor any false propositions. We think of a man flying in the air, or of a chariot race on the surface of the sea. If our cogitata were realities, these must be so as well as the rest: if realities alone were the object of cogitation, then these could not be thought of. As Non-Ens was thus undeniably the object of cogitation, so Ens could not be its object: for what was true respecting one of these contraries, could not be true respecting the other.
Ens, even if granted to be knowable, is still incommunicable to others.
As to the third point: Assuming Ens both to exist and to be known by you, you cannot (said Gorgias) declare or explain it to any one else. You profess to have learnt what Ens is in itself, by your sight or other perceptions but you declare to others by means of words, and these words are neither themselves the absolute Ens, nor do they bring Ens before the hearer. Even though you yourself know Ens, you cannot, by your words, enable him to know it. If he is to know Ens, he must know it in the same way as you. Moreover, neither your words, nor Ens itself, will convey to the hearer the same knowledge as to you; for the same cannot be at once in two distinct subjects; and even if it were, yet since you and the hearer are not completely alike, so the effect of the same object on both of you will not appear to be like.32
32 In this third branch of the argument, showing that Ens, even if known, cannot be communicable to others, Gorgias travels beyond the Absolute, and directs his reasoning against the communicability of the Relative or Phenomenal also. Both of his arguments against such communicability have some foundation, and serve to prove that the communicability cannot be exact or entire, even in the case of sensible facts. The sensations thoughts, emotions, &c., of one person are not exactly like those of another.
Such is the reasoning, as far as we can make it out, whereby Gorgias sought to prove that the absolute Ens was neither existent, nor knowable, nor communicable by words from one person to another.
Zeno and Gorgias — contrasted with the earlier Grecian philosophers.
The arguments both of Zeno and of Gorgias (the latter presenting the thoughts of others earlier than himself), dating from a time coinciding with the younger half of the life of Sokrates, evince a new spirit and purpose in Grecian philosophy, as compared with the Ionians, the two first Eleates, and the Pythagoreans. Zeno and Gorgias exhibit conspicuously the new element of dialectic: the force of the negative arm in Grecian philosophy, brought out into the arena, against those who dogmatized or propounded positive theories: the fertility of Grecian imagination in suggesting doubts and difficulties, for which the dogmatists, if they aspired to success and reputation, had to provide answers. Zeno directed his attack against one scheme of philosophy — the doctrine of the Absolute Many: leaving by implication the rival doctrine — the Absolute One of Parmenides in exclusive possession of the field, yet not reinforcing it with any new defences against objectors. Gorgias impugned the philosophy of the Absolute in either or both of its forms — as One or as Many: not with a view of leaving any third form as the only survivor, or of providing any substitute from his own invention, but of showing that Ens, the object of philosophical research, could neither be found nor known. The negative purpose, disallowing altogether the philosophy of Nature (as then conceived, not as now conceived), was declared without reserve by Gorgias, as we shall presently find that it was by Sokrates also.
New character of Grecian philosophy — antithesis of affirmative and negative — proof and disproof.
It is the opening of the negative vein which imparts from this time forward a new character to Grecian philosophy. The positive and negative forces, emanating from different aptitudes in the human mind, are now both of them actively developed, and in strenuous antithesis 106to each other. Philosophy is no longer exclusively confined to dogmatists, each searching in his imagination for the Absolute Ens of Nature, and each propounding what seems to him the only solution of the problem. Such thinkers still continue their vocation, but under new conditions of success, and subject to the scrutiny of numerous dissentient critics. It is no longer sufficient to propound a theory,33 either in obscure, oracular metaphors and half-intelligible aphorisms, like Herakleitus — or in verse more or less impressive, like Parmenides or Empedokles. The theory must be sustained by proofs, guarded against objections, defended against imputations of inconsistency: moreover, it must be put in comparison with other rival theories, the defects of which must accordingly be shown up along with it. Here are new exigencies, to which dogmatic philosophers had not before been obnoxious. They were now required to be masters of the art of dialectic attack and defence, not fearing the combat of question and answer — a combat in which, assuming tolerable equality between the duellists, the questioner had the advantage of the sun, or the preferable position,34 and the farther advantage of choosing where to aim his blows. To expose fallacy or inconsistency, was found to be both an easier process, and a more appreciable display of ingenuity, than the discovery and establishment of truth in such manner as to command assent. The weapon of negation, refutation, cross-examination, was wielded for its own results, and was found hard to parry by the affirmative philosophers of the day.
33 The repugnance of the Herakleitean philosophers to the scrutiny of dialectical interrogation is described by Plato in strong language, it is indeed even caricatured. (Theætêtus, 179-180.)
34 Theokritus, Idyll, xxii. 83; the description of the pugilistic contest between Pollux and Amykus:—
ἔνθα πολύς σφισι μόχθος ἐπειγομένοισιν ἐτύχθη,
ὁππότερος κατὰ νῶτα λάβῃ φάος ἠελίοιο·
ἀλλ’ ἰδρίῃ μέγαν ἄνδρα παρήλυθες ὦ Πολύδευκες·
βάλλετο δ’ ἀκτίνεσσιν ἅπαν Ἀμύκοιο πρόσωπον.
To toss up for the sun, was a practice not yet introduced between pugilists.
To illustrate by comparison the form of Grecian philosophy, before Dialectic was brought to bear upon it, I transcribe from two eminent French scholars (M. Barthélemy St. Hilaire and Professor Robert Mohl) some account of the mode in which the Indian philosophy has always been kept on record and communicated.
M. Barthélemy St. Hilaire (in his Premier Mémoire sur le Sânkhya, pp. 5-11) gives the following observations upon the Sânkhya or philosophy of Kapila, one of the principal systems of Sanskrit philosophy: date (as supposed) about 700 B.C.
There are two sources from whence the Sânkhya philosophy is known:—
“1. Les Soûtras ou aphorismes de Kapila.
“2. Le traité déjà connu et traduit sous le nom de Sânkhya Kârikâ, c’est à dire Vers Mémoriaux du Sânkhya.
“Les Soûtras de Kapila sont en tout au nombre de 499, divisés en six lectures, et répartis inégalement entre chacune d’elles. Les Soûtras sont accompagnés d’un commentaire qui les explique, et qui est d’un brahmane nommé le Mendiant. Le commentateur explique avec des developpements plus ou moins longs les Soûtras de Kapila, qu’il cite un à un.
“Les Soûtras sont en général tres concis: parfois ils ne se composent que de deux ou trois mots, et jamais ils ne comprennent plus d’une phrase. Cette forme aphoristique, sous laquelle se présente à nous la philosophie Indienne — est celle qu’a prise la science Indienne dans toutes ses branches, depuis la grammaire jusqu’à la philosophie. Les Soûtras de Panini, qui a réduit toutes les régles de la grammaire sanscrite en 3996 aphorismes, ne sont pas moins concis que ceux de Kapila. Ce mode étrange d’exposition tient dans l’Inde à la manière même dont la science s’est transmise d’âge en âge. Un maître n’a généralement qu’un disciple: il lui suffit, pour la doctrine qu’il communique, d’avoir des points de repère, et le commentaire oral qu’il ajoute108 à ces sentences pour leur expliquer, met le disciple en état de les bien comprendre. Le disciple lui-même, une fois qu’il en a pénétré le sens veritable, n’a pas besoin d’un symbole plus développé, et la concision même des aphorismes l’aide a les mieux retenir. C’est une initiation qu’il a reçue: et les sentences, dans lesquelles cette initiation se résume, restent toujours assez claires pour lui.
“Mais il n’en est pas de même pour les lecteurs étrangers, et il serait difficile de trouver rien de plus obscur que ces Soûtras. Les commentaires mêmes ne suffisent pas toujours à les rendre parfaitement intelligibles.
“Le seul exemple d’une forme analogue dans l’histoire de l’esprit humain et de la science en Occident, nous est fourni par les Aphorismes d’Hippocrate: eux aussi s’adressaient à des adeptes, et ils réclamaient, comme les Soûtras Indiens, l’explication des maîtres pour être bien compris par les disciples. Mais cet exemple unique n’a point tiré à conséquence dans le monde occidental, tandis que dans le monde Indien l’aphorisme est resté pendant de longs siècles la forme spéciale de la science: et les développements de pensée qui nous sont habituels, et qui nous semblent indispensables, ont été reservés aux commentaires.
“La Sânkhya Kârikâ est en vers: En Grèce, la poésie a été pendant quelque temps la langue de la philosophie; Empédocle, Parménide, ont écrit leurs systèmes en vers. Ce n’est pas Kapila qui l’a écrite. Entre Kapila, et l’auteur de la Kârikâ, Isvara Krishna, on doit compter quelques centaines d’années tout au moins: et le second n’a fait que rediger en vers, pour aider la mémoire des élèves, la doctrine que le maître avait laissée sous la forme axiomatique.
“On conçoit, du reste, sans peine, que l’usage des vers mémoriaux se soit introduit dans l’Inde pour l’enseignement et la transmission de la science: c’était une conséquence nécessaire de l’usage des aphorismes. Les sciences les plus abstraites (mathematics, astronomy, algebra), emploient aussi ce procédé, quoiqu’il semble peu fait pour leur austérité et leur precision. Ainsi, le rhythme est, avec les aphorismes, et par le même motif, la forme à peu pres générale de la science dans l’Inde.”
(Kapila as a personage is almost legendary; nothing exact is known about him. His doctrine passes among the Indians “comme une sorte de révélation divine”. — Pp. 252, 253.)
M. Mohl observes as follows:—
“Ceci m’amène aux Pouranas. Nous n’avons plus rien du Pourana primitif, qui paraît avoir été une cosmogonie, suivie d’une histoire des Dieux et des families héroïques. Les sectes ont fini par s’approprier 109ce cadre, après des transformations dont nous ne savons ni le nombre ni les époques: et s’en sont servies, pour exalter chacune son dieu, et y fondre, avec des débris de l’ancienne tradition, leur mythologie plus moderne. Ce que les Pouranas sont pour le peuple, les six systèmes de philosophie le sont pour les savants. Nous trouvons ces systèmes dans la forme abstruse que les Hindous aiment à donner à leur science: chaque école a ses aphorismes, qui, sous forme de vers mnémoniques, contiennent dans le moins grand nombre de mots possible tous les résultats d’une école. Mais nous n’avons aucun renseignement sur les commencements de l’école, sur les discussions que l’élaboration du système a dû provoquer, sur les hommes qui y ont pris part, sur la marche et le développement des idées: nous avons le système dans sa dernière forme, et rien ne nous permet de remplir l’espace qui le sépare des théories plus vagues que l’on trouve dans les derniers écrits de l’époque védique, à laquelle pourtant tout prétend se rattacher. À partir de ces aphorismes, nous avons des commentaires et des traités d’exposition et d’interprétation: mais les idées premières, les termes techniques, et le systeme en tier, sont fixés antérieurement. Tous ces systèmes reposent sur une analyse psychologique très raffinée; et chacun a sa terminologie précise, et à laquelle la nôtre ne répond que fort imparfaitement: il faut donc, sous peine de se tromper et de tromper ses lecteurs, que les traducteurs créent une foule de termes techniques, ce qui n’est pas la moindre difficulté de ce travail.” R. Mohl, ‘Rapport Annuel Fait à la Société Asïatique,’ 1863, pp. 103-105; collected edition, ‘Vingt-sept ans d’histoire des Études Orientales,’ vol. ii. pp. 496, 498-9.
When the purpose simply is to imprint affirmations on the memory, and to associate them with strong emotions of reverential belief — mnemonic verses and aphorisms are suitable enough; Empedokles employed verse, Herakleitus and the Pythagoreans expressed themselves in aphorisms — brief, half-intelligible, impressive symbols. But if philosophy is ever to be brought out of such twilight into the condition of “reasoned truth,” this cannot be done without submitting all the affirmations to cross-examining opponents — to the scrutiny of a negative Dialectic. It is the theory and application of this Dialectic which we are about to follow in Sokrates and Plato.
* As stated in the prefatory note to this edition, the present and the following chapter have been, for convenience, transferred from the place given to them by the author, to their present position.
Having dwelt at some length on the life and compositions of Plato, I now proceed to place in comparison with him some other members of the Sokratic philosophical family: less eminent, indeed, than the illustrious author of the Republic, yet still men of marked character, ability, and influence.1 Respecting one of the brethren, Xenophon, who stands next to Plato in celebrity, I shall say a few words separately in my next and concluding chapter.
1 Dionysius of Halikarnassus contrasts Plato with τὸ Σωκράτους διδασκαλεῖον πᾶν (De Adm. Vi Dic. Demosthen. p. 956.) Compare also Epistol. ad Cn. Pomp. p. 762, where he contrasts the style and phraseology of Plato with that of the Σωκρατικοὶ διάλογοι generally.
Influence exercised by Sokrates over his companions.
The ascendancy of Sokrates over his contemporaries was powerfully exercised in more than one way. He brought into vogue new subjects both of indefinite amplitude, and familiar as well as interesting to every one. On these subjects, moreover, he introduced, or at least popularised, a new method of communication, whereby the relation of teacher and learner, implying a direct transfer of ready-made knowledge from the one to the other, was put aside. He substituted an interrogatory process, at once destructive and suggestive, in which the teacher began by unteaching and the learner by unlearning what was supposed to be already known, for the purpose of provoking in the learner’s mind a self-operative energy of thought, and an internal generation of new notions. Lastly, Sokrates worked forcibly upon the minds of several 111friends, who were in the habit of attending him when he talked in the market-place or the palæstra. Some tried to copy his wonderful knack of colloquial cross-examination: how far they did so with success or reputation we do not know: but Xenophon says that several of them would only discourse with those who paid them a fee, and that they thus sold for considerable sums what were only small fragments obtained gratuitously from the rich table of their master.2 There were moreover several who copied the general style of his colloquies by composing written dialogues. And thus it happened that the great master, — he who passed his life in the oral application of his Elenchus, without writing anything, — though he left no worthy representative in his own special career, became the father of numerous written dialogues and of a rich philosophical literature.3
2 Xenophon, Memor. i. 2, 60. ὧν τινὲς μικρὰ μέρη παρ’ ἐκείνου προῖκα λαβόντες πολλοῦ τοῖς ἄλλοις ἐπώλουν, καὶ οὐκ ἦσαν ὥσπερ ἐκεῖνος δημοτικοί· τοῖς γὰρ μὴ ἔχουσι χρήματα διδόναι οὐκ ἤθελον διαλέγεσθαι.
3 We find a remarkable proof how long the name and conception of Sokrates lasted in the memory of the Athenian public, as having been the great progenitor of the philosophy and philosophers of the fourth century B.C. in Athens. It was about 306 B.C., almost a century after the death of Sokrates, that Democharês (the nephew of the orator Demosthenes) delivered an oration before the Athenian judicature for the purpose of upholding the law proposed by Sophokles, forbidding philosophers or Sophists to lecture without a license obtained from the government; which law, passed a year before, had determined the secession of all the philosophers from Athens until the law was repealed. In this oration Democharês expatiated on the demerits of many philosophers, their servility, profligate ambition, rapacity, want of patriotism, &c., from which Athenæus makes several extracts. Τοιοῦτοι εἰσιν οἱ ἀπὸ φιλοσοφίας στρατηγοί· περὶ ὧν Δημοχάρης ἔλεγεν, — Ὥσπερ ἐκ θύμβρας οὐδεὶς ἂν δύναιτο κατασκευάσαι λόγχην, οὔδ’ ἐκ Σωκράτους στρατιώτην ἄμεμπτον.
Demetrius Phalereus also, in or near that same time, composed a Σωκράτους ἀπολογίαν (Diog. La. ix. 37-57). This shows how long the interest in the personal fate and character of Sokrates endured at Athens.
Names of those companions.
Besides Plato and Xenophon, whose works are known to us, we hear of Alexamenus, Antisthenes, Æschines, Aristippus, Bryson, Eukleides, Phædon, Kriton, Simmias, Kebês, &c., as having composed dialogues of this sort. All of them were companions of Sokrates; several among them either set down what they could partially recollect of his conversations, or employed his name as a dramatic speaker of their own thoughts. Seven of these dialogues were ascribed to Æschines, twenty-five to Aristippus, seventeen to Kriton, twenty-three to Simmias, three to Kebês, six to Eukleides, four to Phædon. The compositions of Antisthenes were far more numerous: ten 112volumes of them, under a variety of distinct titles (some of them probably not in the form of dialogues) being recorded by Diogenes.4 Aristippus was the first of the line of philosophers called Kyrenaic or Hedonic, afterwards (with various modifications) Epikurean: Antisthenes, of the Cynics and Stoics: Eukleides, of the Megaric school. It seems that Aristippus, Antisthenes, Eukleides, and Bryson, all enjoyed considerable reputation, as contemporaries and rival authors of Plato: Æschines, Antisthenes (who was very poor), and Aristippus, are said to have received money for their lectures; Aristippus being named as the first who thus departed from the Sokratic canon.5
4 Diogenes Laert. 1. 47-61-83, vi. 15; Athenæ. xi. p. 505 C.
Bryson is mentioned by Theopompus ap. Athenæum, xi. p. 508 D. Theopompus, the contemporary of Aristotle and pupil of Isokrates, had composed an express treatise or discourse against Plato’s dialogues, in which discourse he affirmed that most of them were not Plato’s own, but borrowed in large proportion from the dialogues of Antisthenes, Aristippus, and Bryson. Ephippus also, the comic writer (of the fourth century B.C., contemporary with Theopompus, perhaps even earlier), spoke of Bryson as contemporary with Plato (Athenæ. xi. 509 C). This is good proof to authenticate Bryson as a composer of “Sokratic dialogues” belonging to the Platonic age, along with Antisthenes and Aristippus: whether Theopompus is correct when he asserts that Plato borrowed much, from the three, is very doubtful.
Many dialogues were published by various writers, and ascribed falsely to one or other of the viri Sokratici: Diogenes (ii. 64) reports the judgment delivered by Panætius, which among them were genuine and which not so. Panætius considered that the dialogues ascribed to Plato, Xenophon, Antisthenes, and Æschines, were genuine; that those assigned to Phædon and Eukleides were doubtful; and that the rest were all spurious. He thus regarded as spurious those of Alexamenus, Kriton, Simmias, Kebês, Simon, Bryson, &c., or he did not know them all. It is possible that Panætius may not have known the dialogues of Bryson; if he did know them and believed them to be spurious, I should not accept his assertion, because I think that it is outweighed by the contrary testimony of Theopompus. Moreover, though Panætius was a very able man, confidence in his critical estimate is much shaken when we learn that he declared the Platonic Phædon to be spurious.
5 Diogen. Laert. i. 62-65; Athenæus, xi. p. 507 C.
Dion Chrysostom (Orat. lv. De Homero et Socrate, vol. ii. p. 289, Reiske) must have had in his view some of these other Sokratic dialogues, not those composed by Plato or Xenophon, when he alludes to conversations of Sokrates with Lysikles, Glykon, and Anytus; what he says about Anytus can hardly refer to the Platonic Menon.
Æschines- — oration of Lysias against him.
Æschines the companion of Sokrates did not become (like Eukleides, Antisthenes, Aristippus) the founder of a succession or sect of philosophers. The few fragments remaining of his dialogues do not enable us to appreciate their merit. He seems to have employed the name of Aspasia largely as a conversing personage, and to have esteemed her highly. He also spoke with great admiration of 113Themistokles. But in regard to present or recent characters, he stands charged with much bitterness and ill-nature: especially we learn that he denounced the Sophists Prodikus and Anaxaras, the first on the ground of having taught Theramenes, the second as the teacher of two worthless persons — Ariphrades and Arignôtus. This accusation deserves greater notice, because it illustrates the odium raised by Melêtus against Sokrates as having instructed Kritias and Alkibiades.6 Moreover, we have Æschines presented to us in another character, very unexpected in a vir Socraticus. An action for recovery of money alleged to be owing was brought in the Athenian Dikastery against Æschines, by a plaintiff, who set forth his case in a speech composed by the rhetor Lysias. In this speech it is alleged that Æschines, having engaged in trade as a preparer and seller of unguents, borrowed a sum of money at interest from the plaintiff; who affirms that he counted with assurance upon honest dealing from a disciple of Sokrates, continually engaged in talking about justice and virtue.7 But so far was this expectation from being realized, that Æschines had behaved most dishonestly. He repaid neither principal nor interest; though a judgment of the Dikastery had been obtained against him, and a branded slave belonging to him had been seized under it. Moreover, Æschines had been guilty of dishonesty equally scandalous in his dealings with many other creditors also. Furthermore, he had made love to a rich woman seventy years old, and had got possession of her property; cheating and impoverishing her family. His character as a profligate and cheat was well known and could be proved by many 114witnesses. Such are the allegations against Æschines, contained in the fragment of a lost speech of Lysias, and made in open court by a real plaintiff. How much of them could be fairly proved, we cannot say: but it seems plain at least that Æschines must have been a trader as well as a philosopher. All these writers on philosophy must have had their root and dealings in real life, of which we know scarce anything.
6 Plutarch, Perikles, c. 24-32; Cicero, De Invent. i. 31; Athenæus, v. 220. Some other citations will be found in Fischer’s collection of the few fragments of Æschines Sokraticus (Leipsic, 1788, p. 68 seq.), though some of the allusions which he produces seem rather to belong to the orator Æschines. The statements of Athenæus, from the dialogue of Æschines called Telaugês, are the most curious. The dialogue contained, among other things, τὴν Προδίκου καὶ Ἀναξαγόρους τῶν σοφιστῶν διαμώκησιν, where we see Anaxagoras denominated a Sophist (see also Diodor. xii. 39) as well as Prodikus. Fischer considers the three Pseudo-Platonic dialogues — Περὶ Ἀρετῆς, Περὶ Πλούτου, Περὶ Θανάτου — as the works of Æschines. But this is noway established.
7 Athenæus, xiii. pp. 611-612. Πεισθεὶς δ’ ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ τοιαῦτα λέγοντος, καὶ ἅμα οἰόμενος τοῦτον Αἰσχίνην Σωκράτους γεγονέναι μαθητήν, καὶ περὶ δικαιοσύνης καὶ ἀρετῆς πολλοὺς καὶ σεμνοὺς λέγοντα λόγους, οὐκ ἄν ποτε ἐπιχειρῆσαι οὐδὲ τολμῆσαι ἅπερ οἱ πονηρότατοι καὶ ἀδικώτατοι ἄνθρωποι ἐπιχειροῦσι πράττειν.
We read also about another oration of Lysias against Æschines — περὶ συκοφαντίας (Diogen. Laert. ii. 63), unless indeed it be the same oration differently described.
Written Sokratic Dialogues — their general character.
The dialogues known by the title of Sokratic dialogues,8 were composed by all the principal companions of Sokrates, and by many who were not companions. Yet though thus composed by many different authors, they formed a recognised class of literature, noticed by the rhetorical critics as distinguished for plain, colloquial, unstudied, dramatic execution, suiting the parts to the various speakers: from which general character Plato alone departed — and he too not in all of his dialogues. By the Sokratic authors 115 generally Sokrates appears to have been presented under the same main features: his proclaimed confession of ignorance was seldom wanting: and the humiliation which his cross-questioning inflicted even upon insolent men like Alkibiades, was as keenly set forth by Æschines as by Plato: moreover the Sokratic disciples generally were fond of extolling the Dæmon or divining prophecy of their master.9 Some dialogues circulating under the name of some one among the companions of Sokrates, were spurious, and the authorship was a point not easy to determine. Simon, a currier at Athens, in whose shop Sokrates often conversed, is said to have kept memoranda of the conversations which he heard, and to have afterwards published them: Æschines also, and some other of the Sokratic companions, were suspected of having preserved or procured reports of the conversations of the master himself, and of having made much money after his death by delivering them before select audiences.10 Aristotle speaks of the followers of Antisthenes as unschooled, vulgar men: but Cicero appears to have read with satisfaction the dialogues of Antisthenes, whom he designates as acute though not well-instructed.11 Other accounts describe his dialogues as composed in a rhetorical style, which is ascribed to the fact of his having received lessons from Gorgias:12 and Theopompus must have held in considerable estimation the dialogues of that 116same author, as well as those of Aristippus and Bryson, when he accused Plato of having borrowed from them largely.13
8 Aristotel. ap. Athenæum, xi. p. 505 C; Rhetoric. iii. 16.
Dionys. Halikarnass. ad Cn. Pomp. de Platone, p. 762, Reiske. Τραφεὶς (Plato) ἐν τοῖς Σωκρατικοῖς διαλόγοις ἰσχνοτάτοις οὖσι καὶ ἀκριβεστάτοις, οὐ μείνας δ’ ἐν αὐτοῖς, ἀλλὰ τῆς Γοργίου καὶ Θουκυδίδου κατασκευῆς ἐρασθείς: also, De Admir. Vi Dicend. in Demosthene, p. 968. Again in the same treatise De Adm. V. D. Demosth. p. 956. ἡ δὲ ἑτέρα λέξις, ἡ λιτὴ καὶ ἀφελὴς καὶ δοκοῦσα κατασκευήν τε καὶ ἰσχὺν τὴν πρὸς ἰδιώτην ἔχειν λόγον καὶ ὁμοιότητα, πολλοὺς μὲν ἔσχε καὶ ἀγαθοὺς ἄνδρας προστάτας — καὶ οἱ τῶν ἠθικῶν διαλόγων ποιηταί, ὧν ἦν τὸ Σωκρατικὸν διδασκαλεῖον πᾶν, ἔξω Πλάτωνος, &c.
Dionysius calls this style ὁ Σωκρατικὸς χαρακτὴρ p. 1025. I presume it is the same to which the satirist Timon applies the words:—
Ἀσθενική τε λόγων δυας ἢ τριὰς ἢ ἔτι πόρσω,
Οἶος Ξεινοφόων, ἤτ’ Αἰσχίνου οὐκ ἐπιπειθὴς
Lucian, Hermogenes, Phrynichus, Longinus, and some later rhetorical critics of Greece judged more favourably than Timon about the style of Æschines as well as of Xenophon. See Zeller, Phil. d. Griech. ii. p. 171, sec. ed. And Demetrius Phalereus (or the author of the treatise which bears his name), as well as the rhetor Aristeides, considered Æschines and Plato as the best representatives of the Σωκρατικὸς χαρακτήρ, Demetr. Phaler. De Interpretat. 310; Aristeides, Orat. Platon. i. p. 35; Photius, Cods. 61 and 158; Longinus, ap. Walz. ix. p. 559, c. 2. Lucian says (De Parasito, 33) that Æschines passed some time with the elder Dionysius at Syracuse, to whom he read aloud his dialogue, entitled Miltiades, with great success.
An inedited discourse of Michæl Psellus, printed by Mr. Cox in his very careful and valuable catalogue of the MSS. in the Bodleian Library, recites the same high estimate as having been formed of Æschines by the chief ancient rhetorical critics: they reckoned him among and alongside of the foremost Hellenic classical writers, as having his own peculiar merits of style — παρὰ μὲν Πλάτωνι, τὴν διαλογικὴν φράσιν, παρὰ δὲ τοῦ Σωκρατικοῦ Αἰσχίνου, τὴν ἐμμελῆ συνθήκην τῶν λέξεων, παρὰ δὲ Θουκυδίδου, &c. See Mr. Cox’s Catalogue, pp. 743-745. Cicero speaks of the Sokratic philosophers generally, as writing with an elegant playfulness of style (De Officiis, i. 29, 104): which is in harmony with Lucian’s phrase — Αἰσχίνης ὁ τοὺς διαλόγους μακροὺς καὶ ἀστείους γράψας, &c.
9 Cicero, Brutus, 85, s. 292; De Divinatione, i. 54-122; Aristeides, Orat. xlv. περὶ Ῥητορικῆς Orat. xlvi. Ὑπὲρ τῶν Τεττάρων, vol. ii. pp. 295-369, ed. Dindorf. It appears by this that some of the dialogues composed by Æschines were mistaken by various persons for actual conversations held by Sokrates. It was argued, that because Æschines was inferior to Plato in ability, he was more likely to have repeated accurately what he had heard Sokrates say.
10 Diog. L. ii. 122. He mentions a collection of thirty-three dialogues in one volume, purporting to be reports of real colloquies of Sokrates, published by Simon. But they can hardly be regarded as genuine.
The charge here mentioned is advanced by Xenophon (see a preceding note, Memorab. i. 2, 60), against some persons (τινὲς), but without specifying names. About Æschines, see Athenæus, xiii. p. 611 C; Diogen. Laert. ii. 62.
11 Cicero, Epist. ad Atticum, xii. 38:—“viri acuti magis quam eruditi,” is the judgment of Cicero upon Antisthenes. I presume that these words indicate the same defect as that which is intended by Aristotle when he says — οἱ Ἀνθισθένειοι καὶ οἱ οὕτως ἀπαίδευτοι, Metaphysic. Η. 3, p. 1043, b. 24. It is plain, too, that Lucian considered the compositions of Antisthenes as not unworthy companions to those of Plato (Lucian, adv. Indoctum, c. 27).
12 Diogen. Laert. vi. 1. If it be true that Antisthenes received lessons from Gorgias, this proves that Gorgias must sometimes have given lessons gratis; for the poverty of Antisthenes is well known. See the Symposion of Xenophon.
13 Theopomp. ap. Athenæ. xi. p. 508. See K. F. Hermann, Ueber Plato’s Schriftsteller. Motive, p. 300. An extract of some length, of a dialogue composed by Æschines between Sokrates and Alkibiades, is given by Aristeides, Or. xlvi. Ὑπὲρ τῶν Τεττάρων, vol. ii. pp. 292-294, ed. Dindorf.
Relations between the companions of Sokrates — Their proceedings after the death of Sokrates.
Eukleides, Antisthenes, and Aristippus, were all companions and admirers of Sokrates, as was Plato. But none of them were his disciples, in the strict sense of the word: none of them continued or enforced his doctrines, though each used his name as a spokesman. During his lifetime the common attachment to his person formed a bond of union, which ceased at his death. There is indeed some ground for believing that Plato then put himself forward in the character of leader, with a view to keep the body united.14 We must recollect that Plato though then no more than twenty-eight years of age, was the only one among them who combined the advantages of a noble Athenian descent, opulent circumstances, an excellent education, and great native genius. Eukleides and Aristippus were neither of them Athenians: Antisthenes was very poor: Xenophon was absent on service in the Cyreian army. Plato’s proposition, however, found no favour with the others and was even indignantly repudiated by Apollodorus: a man ardently attached to Sokrates, but violent and overboiling in all his feelings.15 The companions of Sokrates, finding themselves unfavourably looked upon at Athens after his death, left the city for a season and followed Eukleides to Megara. How long they stayed there we do not know. Plato is said, though I think on no sufficient authority, to have remained absent from Athens for several years continuously. It seems certain (from an anecdote recounted by Aristotle)16 that he talked with something like 117arrogance among the companions of Sokrates: and that Aristippus gently rebuked him by reminding him how very different had been the language of Sokrates himself. Complaints too were made by contemporaries, about Plato’s jealous, censorious, spiteful, temper. The critical and disparaging tone of his dialogues, notwithstanding the admiration which they inspire, accounts for the existence of these complaints: and anecdotes are recounted, though not verified by any sufficient evidence, of ill-natured dealing on his part towards other philosophers who were poorer than himself.17 Dissension or controversy on philosophical topics is rarely carried on without some invidious or hostile feeling. Athens, and the viri Sokratici, Plato included, form no exception to this ordinary malady of human nature.
14 Athenæus, xi. p. 507 A-B. from the ὑπομνήματα of the Delphian Hegesander. Who Hegesander was, I do not know: but there is nothing improbable in the anecdote which he recounts.
15 Plato, Phædon. pp. 59 A. 117 D. Eukleides, however, though his school was probably at Megara, seems to have possessed property in Attica: for there existed, among the orations of Isæus, a pleading composed by that rhetor for some client — Πρὸς Εὐκλείδην τὸν Σωκρατικὸν ἀμφισβήτησις ὑπὲρ τῆς τοῦ χωρίου λύσεως (Dion. Hal., Isæ., c. 14, p. 612 Reiske) Harpokr. — Ὅτι τὰ ἐπικηρυττόμενα: also under some other words by Harpokration and by Pollux, viii. 48.
16 Aristot. Rhet. ii. 23, p. 1398, b. 30. ἢ ὡς Ἀρίστιππος, πρὸς Πλάτωνα ἐπαγγελτικώτερόν τι εἰπόντα, ὡς ᾥετο — ἀλλὰ μὴν ὁ γ’ ἑταῖρος ἡμῶν, ἔφη, οὐθὲν τοιοῦτον — λέγων τὸν Σωκράτην.
This anecdote, mentioned by Aristotle, who had good means of knowing, appears quite worthy of belief. The jealousy and love of supremacy inherent in Plato’s temper (τὸ φιλότιμον), were noticed by Dionysius Hal. (Epist. ad Cn. Pompeium, p. 756).
17 Athenæus, xi. pp. 505-508. Diog. Laert. ii. 60-65, iii. 36.
The statement made by Plato in the Phædon — That Aristippus and Kleombrotus were not present at the death of Sokrates, but were said to be in Ægina — is cited as an example of Plato’s ill-will and censorious temper (Demetr. Phaler. s. 306). But this is unfair. The statement ought not to be so considered, if it were true: and if not true, it deserves a more severe epithet. We read in Athenæus various other criticisms, citing or alluding to passages of Plato, which are alleged to indicate ill-nature; but many of the passages cited do not deserve the remark.
No Sokratic school — each of the companions took a line of his own.
It is common for historians of philosophy to speak of a Sokratic school: but this phrase, if admissible at all, is only admissible in the largest and vaguest sense. The effect produced by Sokrates upon his companions was, not to teach doctrine, but to stimulate self-working enquiry, upon ethical and social subjects. Eukleides, Antisthenes, Aristippus, each took a line of his own, not less decidedly than Plato. But unfortunately we have no compositions remaining from either of the three. We possess only brief reports respecting some leading points of their doctrine, emanating altogether from those who disagreed with it: we have besides aphorisms, dicta, repartees, bons-mots, &c., which they are said to have uttered. Of these many are evident inventions; some proceeding from opponents and probably coloured or exaggerated, others hardly authenticated at all. But if they were ever so well authenticated, they would form very insufficient evidence on which to judge a philosopher — much less 118to condemn him with asperity.18 Philosophy (as I have already observed) aspires to deliver not merely truth, but reasoned truth. We ought to know not only what doctrines a philosopher maintained, but how he maintained them:—what objections others made against him, and how he replied:—what objections he made against dissentient doctrines, and what replies were made to him. Respecting Plato and Aristotle, we possess such information to a considerable extent:—respecting Eukleides, Antisthenes, and Aristippus, we are without it. All their compositions (very numerous, in the case of Antisthenes) have perished.
18 Respecting these ancient philosophers, whose works are lost, I transcribe a striking passage from Descartes, who complains, in his own case, of the injustice of being judged from the statements of others, and not from his own writings:—“Quod adeo in hâc materiâ verum est, ut quamvis sæpe aliquas ex meis opinionibus explicaverim viris acutissimis, et qui me loquente videbantur eas valdé distincté intelligere: attamen cum eas retulerunt, observavi ipsos fere semper illas ita mutavisse, ut pro meis agnoscere amplius non possem. Quâ occasione posteros hic oratos volo, ut nunquam credant, quidquam à me esse profectum, quod ipse in lucem non edidero. Et nullo modo miror absurda illa dogmata, quæ veteribus illis philosophis tribuuntur, quorum scripta non habemus: nec propterea judico ipsorum cogitationes valdé à ratione fuisse alienas, cum habuerint præstantissima suorum sæculorum ingenia; sed tantum nobis perperam esse relatas.” (Descartes, Diss. De Methodo, p. 43.)
Eukleides of Megara — he blended Parmenides with Sokrates.
Eukleides was a Parmenidean, who blended the ethical point of view of Sokrates with the ontology of Parmenides, and followed out that negative Dialectic which was common to Sokrates with Zeno. Parmenides (I have with already said)19 and Zeno after him, recognised no absolute reality except Ens Unum, continuous, indivisible: they denied all real plurality: they said that the plural was Non-Ens or Nothing, i.e. nothing real or absolute, but only apparent, perpetually transient and changing, relative, different as appreciated by one man and by another. Now Sokrates laid it down that wisdom or knowledge of Good, was the sum total of ethical perfection, including within it all the different virtues: he spoke also about the divine wisdom inherent in, or pervad119ing the entire Kosmos or universe.20 Eukleides blended together the Ens of Parmenides with the Good of Sokrates, saying that the two names designated one and the same thing: sometimes called Good, Wisdom, Intelligence, God, &c., and by other names also, but always one and the same object named and meant. He farther maintained that the opposite of Ens, and the opposite of Bonum (Non-Ens, Non-Bonum, or Malum) were things non-existent, unmeaning names, Nothing,21 &c.: i.e. that they were nothing really, absolutely, permanently, but ever varying and dependent upon our ever varying conceptions. The One — the All — the Good — was absolute, immoveable, invariable, indivisible. But the opposite thereof was a non-entity or nothing: there was no one constant meaning corresponding to Non-Ens — but a variable meaning, different with every man who used it.
20 Xenophon. Memor. i. 4, 17. τὴν ἐν τῷ παντὶ φρόνησιν. Compare Plato, Philêbus, pp. 29-30; Cicero, Nat. Deor. ii. 6, 6, iii. 11.
21 Diog. L. ii. 106. Οὖτος ἒν τὸ ἀγαθὸν ἀπεφῄνατο πολλοῖς ὀνόμασι καλούμενον· ὅτε μὲν γὰρ φρόνησιν, ὅτε δὲ θεόν, καὶ ἄλλοτε νοῦν καὶ τὰ λοιπά. Τὰ δὲ ἀντικείμενα τῷ ἀγαθῷ ἀνῄρει, μὴ εἶναι φάσκων. Compare also vii. 2, 161, where the Megarici are represented as recognising only μίαν ἀρετὴν πολλοῖς ὀνόμασι καλουμένην. Cicero, Academ. ii. 42.
Doctrine of Eukleides about Bonum.
It was in this manner that Eukleides solved the problem which Sokrates had brought into vogue — What is the Bonum — or (as afterwards phrased) the Summum Bonum? Eukleides pronounced the Bonum to be coincident with the Ens Unum of Parmenides. The Parmenidean thesis, originally belonging to Transcendental Physics or Ontology, became thus implicated with Transcendental Ethics.22
22 However, in the verse of Xenophanes, the predecessor of Parmenides — Οὗλος ὁρᾷ, οὗλος δὲ νοεῖ, οὗλος δέ τ’ ἀκούει — the Universe is described as a thinking, seeing, hearing God — Ἓν καὶ Πᾶν. Sextus Empir. adv. Mathemat. ix. 144; Xenophan. Fragm. p. 36, ed. Karsten.
The doctrine compared to that of Plato — changes in Plato.
Plato departs from Sokrates on the same point. He agrees with Eukleides in recognising a Transcendental Bonum. But it appears that his doctrines on this head underwent some change. He held for some time what is called the doctrine of Ideas: transcendental Forms, Entia, Essences: he considered the Transcendental to be essentially multiple, or to be an aggregate — whereas Eukleides had regarded it as essentially One. This is 120the doctrine which we find in some of the Platonic dialogues. In the Republic, the Idea of Good appears as one of these, though it is declared to be the foremost in rank and the most ascendant in efficacy.23 But in the later part of his life, and in his lectures (as we learn from Aristotle), Plato came to adopt a different view. He resolved the Ideas into numbers. He regarded them as made up by the combination of two distinct factors:—1. The One — the Essentially One. 2. The Essentially Plural: The Indeterminate Dyad: the Great and Little. — Of these two elements he considered the Ideas to be compounded. And he identified the Idea of Good with the essentially One — τὸ ἀγαθὸν with τὸ ἕν: the principle of Good with the principle of Unity: also the principle of Evil with the Indeterminate. But though Unity and Good were thus identical, he considered Unity as logically antecedent, or the subject — Good as logically consequent, or the predicate.24
23 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 508 E, vii. p. 517 A.
24 The account given by Aristotle of Plato’s doctrine of Ideas, as held by Plato in his later years, appears in various passages of the Metaphysica, and in the curious account repeated by Aristoxenus (who had often heard it from Aristotle — Ἀριστοτέλης ἀεὶ διηγεῖτο) of the ἀκρόασις or lecture delivered by Plato, De Bono. See Aristoxen. Harmon. ii. p. 30, Meibom. Compare the eighth chapter in this work, — Platonic Compositions Generally. Metaphys. N. 1091, b. 13.τῶν δὲ τὰς ἀκινήτους οὐσίας εἶναι λεγόντων (sc. Platonici) οἱ μέν φασιν αὐτὸ τὸ ἓν τὸ ἀγαθὸν αὐτὸ εἶναι· οὐσίαν μέντοι τὸ ἓν αὐτοῦ ᾤοντο εἶναι μάλιστα, which words are very clearly explained by Bonitz in the note to his Commentary, p. 586: also Metaphys. 987, b. 20, and Scholia, p. 551, b. 20, p. 567, b. 34, where the work of Aristotle, Περὶ Τὰγαθοῦ, is referred to: probably the memoranda taken down by Aristotle from Plato’s lecture on that subject, accompanied by notes of his own.
In Schol. p. 573, a. 18, it is stated that the astronomer Eudoxus was a hearer both of Plato and of Eukleides.
The account given by Zeller (Phil. der Griech. ii. p. 453, 2nd ed.) of this latter phase of the Platonic doctrine of Ideas, applies exactly to that which we hear about the main doctrine of Eukleides. Zeller describes the Platonic doctrine as being “Eine Vermischung des ethischen Begriffes vom höchsten Gut, mit dem Metaphysischen des Absoluten: Der Begriff des Guten ist zunächst aus dem menschlichen Leben abstrahirt; er bezeichnet das, was dem Menschen zuträglich ist. So noch bei Sokrates. Plato verallgemeinert ihn nun zum Begriff des Absoluten; dabei spielt aber seine ursprüngliche Bedeutung noch fortwährend herein, und so entsteht die Unklarheit, dass weder der ethische noch der metaphysische Begriff des Guten rein gefasst wird.”
This remark is not less applicable to Eukleides than to Plato, both of them agreeing in the doctrine here criticised. Zeller says truly, that the attempt to identify Unum and Bonum produces perpetual confusion. The two notions are thoroughly distinct and independent. It ought not to be called (as he phrases it) “a generalization of Bonum”. There is no common property on which to found a generalization. It is a forced conjunction between two disparates.
Last doctrine of Plato nearly the same as that of Eukleides.
This last doctrine of Plato in his later years (which does not appear in the dialogues, but seems, as far as we can make out, to have been delivered substantially in his oral lectures, and is ascribed to him by Aristotle) was nearly coincident with that of Eukleides. Both held the identity of τὸ ἕν with τὸ ἀγαθόν. This one doctrine is all that we know about Eukleides: what 121consequences he derived from it, or whether any, we do not know. But Plato combined, with this transcendental Unum = Bonum, a transcendental indeterminate plurality: from which combination he considered his Ideas or Ideal Numbers to be derivatives.
Megaric succession of philosophers. Eleian or Eritrean succession.
Eukleides is said to have composed six dialogues, the titles of which alone remain. The scanty information which we possess respecting him relates altogether to his negative logical procedure. Whether he deduced any consequences from his positive doctrine of the Transcendental Ens, Unum, Bonum, we do not know: but he, as Zeno had been before him,25 was acute in exposing contradictions and difficulties in the positive doctrines of opponents. He was a citizen of Megara, where he is said to have harboured Plato and the other companions of Sokrates, when they retired for a time from Athens after the death of Sokrates. Living there as a teacher or debater on philosophy, he founded a school or succession of philosophers who were denominated Megarici. The title is as old as Aristotle, who both names them and criticises their doctrines.26 None of their compositions are preserved. The earliest who becomes known to us is Eubulides, the contemporary and opponent of Aristotle; next Ichthyas, Apollonius, Diodôrus Kronus, Stilpon, Alexinus, between 340-260 B.C.
25 Plato, Parmenides, p. 128 C, where Zeno represents himself as taking for his premisses the conclusions of opponents, to show that they led to absurd consequences. This seems what is meant, when Diogenes says about Eukleides — ταῖς ἀποδείξεσιν ἐνίστατο οὐ κατὰ λήμματα, ἀλλὰ κατ’ ἐπιφοράν (ii. 107); Deycks, De Megaricorum Doctrinâ, p. 34.
26 Aristot. Metaph. iv. p. 1046, b. 29.
The sarcasm ascribed to Diogenes the Cynic implies that Eukleides was really known as the founder of a school — καὶ τὴν μὲν Εὐκλείδου σχολὴν ἔλεγε χολήν (Diog. L. vi. 24) — the earliest mention (I apprehend) of the word σχολὴ in that sense.
With the Megaric philosophers there soon become confounded another succession, called Eleian or Eretrian, who trace their origin to another Sokratic man — Phædon. The chief Eretrians 122made known to us are Pleistanus, Menedêmus, Asklepiades. The second of the three acquired some reputation.
Doctrines of Antisthenes and Aristippus — Ethical, not transcendental.
The Megarics and Eretrians, as far as we know them, turned their speculative activity altogether in the logical or intellectual direction, paying little attention to the ethical and emotional field. Both Antisthenes and Aristippus, on the contrary, pursued the ethical path. To the Sokratic question, What is the Bonum? Eukleides had answered by a transcendental definition: Antisthenes and Aristippus each gave to it an ethical answer, having reference to human wants and emotions, and to the different views which they respectively took thereof. Antisthenes declared it to consist in virtue, by which he meant an independent and self-sufficing character, confining all wants within the narrowest limits: Aristippus placed it in the moderate and easy pleasures, in avoiding ambitious struggles, and in making the best of every different situation, yet always under the guidance of a wise calculation and self-command. Both of them kept clear of the transcendental: they neither accepted it as Unum et Omne (the view of Eukleides), nor as Plura (the Eternal Ideas or Forms, the Platonic view). Their speculations had reference altogether to human life and feelings, though the one took a measure of this wide subject very different from the other: and in thus confining the range of their speculations, they followed Sokrates more closely than either Eukleides or Plato followed him. They not only abstained from transcendental speculation, but put themselves in declared opposition to it. And since the intellectual or logical philosophy, as treated by Plato, became intimately blended with transcendental hypothesis — Antisthenes and Aristippus are both found on the negative side against its pretensions. Aristippus declared the mathematical sciences to be useless, as conducing in no way to happiness, and taking no account of what was better or what was worse.27 He declared 123that we could know nothing except in so far as we were affected by it, and as it was or might be in correlation with ourselves: that as to causes not relative to ourselves, or to our own capacities and affections, we could know nothing about them.28
27 Aristotel. Metaph. B. 906, a. 32. ὥστε διὰ ταῦτα τῶν σοφιστῶν τινες οἷον Ἀρίστιππος προεπηλάκιζον αὐτὰς (τὰς μαθηματικὰς τέχνας)· — ἐν μὲν γὰρ ταῖς ἄλλαις τέχναις, καὶ ταῖς βαναύσοις, οἷον ἐν τεκτονικῇ καὶ σκυτικῇ, διότι βέλτιον ἢ χεῖρον λέγεσθαι πάντα, τὰς δὲ μαθηματικὰς οὐθένα ποιεῖσθαι λόγον περὶ ἀγαθῶν καὶ κακῶν.
Aristotle here ranks Aristippus among the σοφισταί.
Aristippus, in discountenancing φυσιολογίαν, cited the favourite saying of Sokrates that the proper study of mankind was ὅττι τοι ἐν μεγάροισι κακόν τ’ ἀγαθόν τε τέτυκται.
Plutarch, ap. Euseb. Præp. Evang. i. 8.
28 Sext. Emp. adv. Math. vii. 191; Diog. L. ii. 92.
Preponderance of the negative vein in the Platonic age.
Such were the leading writers and talkers contemporary with Plato, in the dialectical age immediately following on the death of Sokrates. The negative vein greatly preponderates in them, as it does on the whole even in Plato — and as it was pretty sure to do, so long as the form of dialogue was employed. Affirmative exposition and proof is indeed found in some of the later Platonic works, carried on by colloquy between two speakers. But the colloquial form manifests itself evidently as unsuitable for the purpose: and we must remember that Plato was a lecturer as well as a writer, so that his doctrines made their way, at least in part, through continuous exposition. But it is Aristotle with whom the form of affirmative continuous exposition first becomes predominant, in matters of philosophy. Though he composed dialogues (which are now lost), and though he appreciates dialectic as a valuable exercise, yet he considers it only as a discursive preparation; antecedent, though essential, to the more close and concentrated demonstrations of philosophy.
Harsh manner in which historians of philosophy censure the negative vein.
Most historians deal hardly with this negative vein. They depreciate the Sophists, the Megarics and Eretrians, the Academics and Sceptics of the subsequent ages — under the title of Eristics, or lovers of contention for itself — as captious and perverse enemies of truth.
Negative method in philosophy essential to the controul of the affirmative.
I have already said that my view of the importance and value of the negative vein of philosophy is altogether different. It appears to me quite as essential as the affirmative. It is required as an antecedent, a test, and a corrective. Aristotle deserves all honour for his attempts to construct and defend various affirmative theories: but the value of these theories depends upon their being defensible against all objectors. Affirmative philosophy, 124as a body not only of truth but of reasoned truth, holds the champion’s belt, subject to the challenge not only of competing affirmants, but of all deniers and doubters. And this is the more indispensable, because of the vast problems which these affirmative philosophers undertake to solve: problems especially vast during the age of Plato and Aristotle. The question has to be determined, not only which of two proposed solutions is the best, but whether either of them is tenable, and even whether any solution at all is attainable by the human faculties: whether there exist positive evidence adequate to sustain any conclusion, accompanied with adequate replies to the objections against it. The burthen of proof lies upon the affirmant: and the proof produced must be open to the scrutiny of every dissentient.
Sokrates — the most persevering and acute Eristic of his age.
Among these dissentients or negative dialecticians, Sokrates himself, during his life, stood prominent. In his footsteps followed Eukleides and the Megarics: who, though they acquired the unenviable surname of Eristics or Controversialists, cannot possibly have surpassed Sokrates, and probably did not equal him, in the refutative Elenchus. Of no one among the Megarics, probably, did critics ever affirm, what the admiring Xenophon says about Sokrates — “that he dealt with every one in colloquial debate just as he chose,” i.e., that he baffled and puzzled his opponents whenever he chose. No one of these Megarics probably ever enunciated so sweeping a negative programme, or declared so emphatically his own inability to communicate positive instruction, as Sokrates in the Platonic Apology. A person more thoroughly Eristic than Sokrates never lived. And we see perfectly, from the Memorabilia of Xenophon (who nevertheless strives to bring out the opposite side of his character), that he was so esteemed among his contemporaries. Plato, as well as Eukleides, took up this vein in the Sokratic character, and worked it with unrivalled power in many of his dialogues. The Platonic Sokrates is compared, and compares himself, to Antæus, who compelled every new-comer, willing or unwilling, to wrestle with him.29
29 Plato, Theætet. p. 169 A. Theodorus. Οὐ ῥᾴδιον, ὦ Σώκρατες, σοὶ παρακαθήμενον μὴ διδόναι λόγον, ἀλλ’ ἐγὼ ἄρτι παρελήρησα φάσκων σε ἐπιτρέψειν μοι μὴ ἀποδύεσθαι, καὶ οὐχὶ ἀναγκάσειν καθάπερ Λακεδαιμόνιοι· σὺ δέ μοι δοκεῖς πρὸς τὸν Σκίῤῥωνα μᾶλλον τείνειν. Λακεδαιμόνιοι μὲν γὰρ ἀπιέναι ἣ ἀποδύεσθαι κελεύουσι, σὺ δὲ κατ’ Ἀνταῖόν τί μοι μᾶλλον δοκεῖς τὸ δρᾶμα δρᾷν· τὸν γὰρ προσελθόντα οὐκ ἀνίης πρὶν ἀναγκάσῃς ἀποδύσας ἐν τοῖς λόγοις προσπαλαῖσαι.
Sokrates. Ἆριστα γε, ὦ Θεόδωρε, τὴν νόσον μου ἀπείκασας· ἰσχυρικώτερος μέντοι ἐγὼ ἐκείνων· μυρίοι γὰρ ἤδη μοι Ἡρακλέες τε καὶ Θησέες ἐντυχόντες καρτεροὶ πρὸς τὸ λέγειν μάλ’ εὖ ξυγκεκόφασιν, ἀλλ’ ἐγὼ οὐδέν τι μᾶλλον ἀφίσταμαι. οὕτω τις ἐρὼς δεινὸς ἐνδέδυκε τῆς περὶ ταῦτα γυμνασίας· μὴ οὖν μηδὲ σὺ φθονήσῃς προσανατριψάμενος σαυτόν τε ἅμα καὶ ἐμὲ ὀνῆσαι.
How could the eristic appetite be manifested in stronger language either by Eukleides, or Eubulides, or Diodôrus Kronus, or any of those Sophists upon whom the Platonic commentators heap so many harsh epithets?
Among the compositions ascribed to Protagoras by Diogenes Laertius (ix. 55), one is entitled Τέχνη Ἐριστικῶν. But if we look at the last chapter of the Treatise De Sophisticis Elenchis, we shall find Aristotle asserting explicitly that there existed no Τέχνη Ἐριστικῶν anterior to his own work the Topica.
Platonic Parmenides — its extreme negative character.
Of the six dialogues composed by Eukleides, we cannot speak positively, because they are not preserved. But they cannot have been more refutative, and less affirmative, than most of the Platonic dialogues; and we can hardly be wrong in asserting that they were very inferior both in energy and attraction. The Theætêtus and the Parmenides, two of the most negative among the Platonic dialogues, seem to connect themselves, by the personnel of the drama, with the Megaric philosophers: the former dialogue is ushered in by Eukleides, and is, as it were, dedicated to him: the latter dialogue exhibits, as its protagonistes, the veteran Parmenides himself, who forms the one factor of the Megaric philosophy, while Sokrates forms the other. Parmenides (in the Platonic dialogue so called) is made to enforce the negative method in general terms, as a philosophical duty co-ordinate with the affirmative; and to illustrate it by a most elaborate argumentation, directed partly against the Platonic Ideas (here advocated by the youthful Sokrates), partly against his own (the Parmenidean) dogma of Ens Unum. Parmenides adduces unanswerable objections against the dogma of Transcendental Forms or Ideas; yet says at the same time that there can be no philosophy unless you admit it. He reproves the youthful Sokrates for precipitancy in affirming the dogma, and contends that you are not justified in affirming any dogma until you have gone through a bilateral scrutiny of it — that is, first assuming the doctrine to be true, next assuming it to be false, and following out the deductions arising from the one assumption as well as from the other.30 Parmenides then gives a string of successive 126deductions (at great length, occupying the last half of the dialogue) — four pairs of counter-demonstrations or Antinomies — in which contradictory conclusions appear each to be alike proved. He enunciates the final result as follows:—“Whether Unum exists, or does not exist, Unum itself and Cætera, both exist and do not exist, both appear and do not appear, all things and in all ways — both in relation to themselves and in relation to each other”.31
30 Plato, Parmen. p. 136.
31 Plato, Parmen. p. 166. ἓν εἴτ’ ἔστιν, εἴτε μὴ ἔστιν, αὐτό τε καὶ τἄλλα καὶ πρὸς αὐτὰ καὶ πρὸς ἄλληλα πάντα πάντως ἐστί τε καὶ οὐκ ἔστι, καὶ φαίνεταί τε καὶ οὐ φαίνεται. — Ἀληθέστατα.
See below, vol. iii. chap. xxvii. Parmenides.
If this memorable dialogue, with its concluding string of elaborate antinomies, had come down to us under the name of Eukleides, historians would probably have denounced it as a perverse exhibition of ingenuity, worthy of “that litigious person, who first infused into the Megarians the fury of disputation”.32 But since it is of Platonic origin, we must recognise Plato not only as having divided with the Megaric philosophers the impulse of negative speculation which they had inherited from Sokrates, but as having carried that impulse to an extreme point of invention, combination, and dramatic handling, much beyond their powers. Undoubtedly, if we pass from the Parmenidês to other dialogues, we find Plato very different. He has various other intellectual impulses, an abundant flow of ideality and of constructive fancy, in many distinct channels. But negative philosophy is at least one of the indisputable and prominent items of the Platonic aggregate.
32 This is the phrase of the satirical sillographer Timon, who spoke with scorn of all the philosophers except Pyrrhon:—
Ἀλλ’ οὔ μοι τούτων φλεδόνων μέλει, οὐδὲ μὲν ἄλλου
Οὐδενός, οὐ Φαίδωνος, ὅτις γε μὲν — οὔδ’ ἐριδάντεω
Εὐκλείδου, Μεγαρεῦσιν ὃς ἔμβαλε λύσσαν ἐρισμοῦ.
The Megarics shared the negative impulse with Sokrates and Plato.
While then we admit that the Megaric succession of philosophers exhibited negative subtlety and vehement love of contentious debate, we must recollect that these qualities were inherited from Sokrates and shared with Plato. The philosophy of Sokrates, who taught nothing and cross-examined every one, was essentially more negative and controversial, both in him and his successors, than any which had preceded it. In an age when 127dialectic colloquy was considered as appropriate for philosophical subjects, and when long continuous exposition was left to the rhetor — Eukleides established a succession or school33 which was more distinguished for impugning dogmas of others than for defending dogmas of its own. Schleiermacher and others suppose that Plato in his dialogue Euthydêmus intends to expose the sophistical fallacies of the Megaric school:34 and that in the dialogue Sophistês, he refutes the same philosophers (under the vague designation of “the friends of Forms”) in their speculations about Ens and Non-Ens. The first of these two opinions is probably true to some extent, though we cannot tell how far: the second of the two is supported by some able critics — yet it appears to me untenable.35
33 If we may trust a sarcastic bon-mot ascribed to Diogenes the Cynic, the contemporary of the viri Sokratici and the follower of Antisthenes, the term σχολὴ was applied to the visitors of Eukleides rather than to those of Plato — καὶ τὴν μὲν Εὐκλείδου σχολὴν ἔλεγε χολήν, τὴν δὲ Πλάτωνος διατριβήν, κατατριβήν. Diog. L. vi. 24.
34 Schleierm. Einleitung to Plat. Euthyd. p. 403 seq.
35 Schleierm. Introduction to the Sophistês, pp. 134-135.
See Deycks, Megaricorum Doctrina, p. 41 seq. Zeller, Phil. der Griech. vol. ii. p. 180 seq., with his instructive note. Prantl, Gesch. der Logik, vol. i. p. 37, and others cited by Zeller. — Ritter dissents from this view, and I concur in his dissent. To affirm that Eukleides admitted a plurality of Ideas or Forms, is to contradict the only one deposition, certain and unequivocal, which we have about his philosophy. His doctrine is that of the Transcendental Unum, Ens, Bonum; while the doctrine of the Transcendental Plura (Ideas or Forms) belongs to Plato and others. Both Deycks and Zeller (p. 185) recognise this as a difficulty. But to me it seems fatal to their hypothesis; which, after all, is only an hypothesis — first originated by Schleiermacher. If it be true that the Megarici are intended by Plato under the appellation οἱ τῶν εἰδῶν φίλοι, we must suppose that the school had been completely transformed before the time of Stilpon, who is presented as the great opponent of τὰ εἴδη.
Of Eukleides himself, though he is characterised as strongly controversial, no distinct points of controversy have been preserved: but his successor Eubulides is celebrated for various sophisms. He was the contemporary and rival of Aristotle: who, without however expressly naming him, probably intends to speak of him when alluding to the Megaric philosophers generally.36 Another of the same school, Alexinus (rather later than Eubulides) is also said to have written against Aristotle.
36 Aristokles, ap. Euseb. Præp. Ev. xv. 2. Eubulides is said not merely to have controverted the philosophical theories of Aristotle, but also to have attacked his personal character with bitterness and slander: a practice not less common in ancient controversy than in modern. About Alexinus, Diog. L. ii. 109.
Among those who took lessons in rhetoric and pronunciation from Eubulides, we read the name of the orator Demosthenes, who is said to have improved his pronunciation thereby. Diog. Laert. ii. p. 108. Plutarch, x. Orat. 21, p. 845 C.
Eubulides — his logical problems or puzzles — difficulty of solving them — many solutions attempted.
Six sophisms are ascribed to Eubulides. 1. — Ὁ ψευδόμενος — Mentiens. 2. — Ὁ διαλανθάνων, or ἐγκεκαλυμμένος — the person hidden under a veil. 3. — Ἠλέκτρα. 4. — Σωρείτης — Sorites. 5. — Κερατίνης — Cornutus. 6. — Φάλακρος — Calvus. Of these the second is substantially the same with the third; and the fourth the same with the sixth, only inverted.37
37 Diog. L. ii. pp. 108-109; vii. 82. Lucian vit. Auct. 22.
1. Cicero, Academ. ii. pp. 30-96. “Si dicis te mentiri verumque dicis, mentiris. Dicis autem te mentiri, verumque dicis: mentiris igitur.” 2, 3. Ὁ ἐγκεκαλυμμένος. You know your father: you are placed before a person covered and concealed by a thick veil: you do not know him. But this person is your father. Therefore you both know your father and do not know him. 5. Κερατίνης. That which you have not lost, you have: but you have not lost horns; therefore you have horns. 4, 6. Σωρείτης — Φάλακρος. What number of grains make a heap — or are many? what number are few? Are three grains few, and four many? — or, where will you draw the line between Few and Many? The like question about the hairs on a man’s head — How many must he lose before he can be said to have only a few, or to be bald?
These sophisms are ascribed to Eubulides, and belonged probably to the Megaric school both before and after him. But it is plain both from the Euthydêmus of Plato, and from the Topica of Aristotle, that there were many others of similar character; frequently employed in the abundant dialectic colloquies which prevailed at Athens during the fourth and third centuries B.C. Plato and Aristotle handle such questions and their authors contemptuously, under the name of Eristic: but it was more easy to put a bad name upon them, as well as upon the Eleate Zeno, than to elucidate the logical difficulties which they brought to view. Neither Aristotle nor Plato provided a sufficient answer to them: as is proved by the fact, that several subsequent philosophers wrote treatises expressly in reference to them — even philosophers of reputation, like Theophrastus and Chrysippus.38 How these two latter philosophers performed their task, we cannot say. But the fact that they attempted the task, exhibits a commendable anxiety to make their logical theory complete, and to fortify it against objections.
38 Diog. L. v. p. 49; vii. pp. 192-198. Seneca, Epistol. p. 45. Plutarch (De Stoicor. Repugnantiis, p. 1087) has some curious extracts and remarks from Chrysippus; who (he says) spoke in the harshest terms against the Μεγαρικὰ ἐρωτήματα, as having puzzled and unsettled men’s convictions without ground — while he (Chrysippus) had himself proposed puzzles and difficulties still more formidable, in his treatise κατὰ Συνηθείας.
Real character of the Megaric sophisms, not calculated to deceive but to guard against deception.
It is in this point of view — in reference to logical theory — that the Megaric philosophers have not been fairly appreciated. They, or persons reasoning in their manner, formed one essential encouragement and condition to the formation of any tolerable logical theory. They administered, to minds capable and constructive, that painful sense of contradiction, and shock of perplexity, which Sokrates relied upon as the stimulus to mental parturition — and which Plato extols as a lever for raising the student to general conceptions.39 Their sophisms were not intended to impose upon any one, but on the contrary, to guard against imposition.40 Whoever states a fallacy clearly and nakedly, applying it to a particular case in which it conducts to a conclusion known upon other evidence not to be true — contributes to divest it of its misleading effect. The persons most liable to be deceived by the fallacy are those who are not forewarned:—in cases where the premisses are stated not nakedly, but in an artful form of words — and where the conclusion, though false, is not known beforehand to be false by the hearer. To use Mr. John Stuart Mill’s phrase,41 the fallacy is a case of apparent evidence mistaken for real evidence: you expose it to be evidence only apparent and not real, by giving a type of the fallacy, in which the conclusion obtained is 130obviously false: and the more obviously false it is, the better suited for its tutelary purpose. Aristotle recognises, as indispensable in philosophical enquiry, the preliminary wrestling into which he conducts his reader, by means of a long string of unsolved difficulties or puzzles — (ἀπόριαι). He declares distinctly and forcibly, that whoever attempts to lay out a positive theory, without having before his mind a full list of the difficulties with which he is to grapple, is like one who searches without knowing what he is looking for; without being competent to decide whether what he hits upon as a solution be really a solution or not.42 Now that enumeration of puzzles which Aristotle here postulates (and in part undertakes, in reference to Philosophia Prima) is exactly what the Megarics, and various other dialecticians (called by Plato and Aristotle Sophists) contributed to furnish for the use of those who theorised on Logic.
39 Plato, Republic, vii. pp. 523 A, 524. τὰ μὲν ἐν ταῖς αἰσθήσεσιν οὐ παρακαλοῦντα τὴν νόησιν εἰς ἐπίσκεψιν, ὡς ἱκανῶς ὑπὸ τῆς αἰσθήσεως κρινόμενα — τὰ δὲ παντάπασι διακελευόμενα ἐκείνην ἐπισκέψασθαι, ὡς τῆς αἰσθήσεως οὐδὲν ὑγιὲς ποιούσης … Τὰ μὲν οὐ παρακαλοῦντα, ὅσα μὴ ἐκβαίνει εἰς ἐναντίαν αἴσθησιν ἅμα· τὰ δ’ ἐκβαίνοντα, ὡς παρακαλοῦντα τίθημι, ἐπειδὰν ἡ αἴσθησις μηδὲν μᾶλλον τοῦτο ἢ τὸ ἐναντίον δηλοῖ. Compare p. 524 E: the whole passage is very interesting.
40 The remarks of Ritter (Gesch. der Philos. ii. p. 189. 2nd ed.) upon these Megaric philosophers are more just and discerning than those made by most of the historians of philosophy “Doch darf man wohl annehmen, dass sie solche Trugschlüsse nicht zur Täuschung, sondern zur Belehrung für unvorsichtige, oder zur Warnung vor der Seichtigkeit gewöhnlicher Vorstellungsweisen, gebrauchen wollten. So viel ist gewiss, dass die Megariker sich viel mit den Formen des Denken beschäftigten, vielleicht mehr zu Aufsuchung einzelner Regeln, als zur Begründung eines wissenschaftlichen Zusammenhangs unter ihnen; obwohl auch besondere Theile der Logik unter ihren Schriften erwähnt werden.”
This is much more reasonable than the language of Prantl, who denounces “the shamelessness of doctrinarism” (die Unverschämtheit des Doctrinarismus) belonging to these Megarici “the petulance and vanity which prompted them to seek celebrity by intentional offences against sound common sense,” &c. (Gesch. der Logik, pp. 39-40. — Sir Wm. Hamilton has some good remarks on these sophisms, in his Lectures on Logic, Lect. xxiii. p. 452 seq.)
41 See the first chapter of his book v. on Fallacies, System of Logic, vol. ii.
42 Aristotel. Metaphys. B. 1, p. 995, a. 33.
διὸ δεῖ τὰς δυσχερείας τεθεωρηκέναι πάσας πρότερον, τούτων δὲ χάριν καὶ διὰ τὸ τοὺς ζητοῦντας ἄνευ τοῦ διαπορῆσαι πρῶτον ὁμοίους εἶναι τοῖς ποῖ δεῖ βαδίζειν ἀγνοοῦσι, καὶ πρὸς τούτοις οὐδ’ εἰ ποτε τὸ ζητούμενον εὕρηκεν ἢ μὴ γιγνώσκειν· τὸ γὰρ τέλος τούτῳ μὲν οὐ δῆλον, τῷ δὲ προηπορηκότι δῆλον.
Aristotle devotes the whole of this Book to an enumeration of ἀπόριαι.
If the process of theorising be admissible, it must include negative as well as affirmative.
You may dislike philosophy: you may undervalue, or altogether proscribe, the process of theorising. This is the standing-point usual with the bulk of mankind, ancient as well as modern: who generally dislike all accurate reasoning, or analysis and discrimination of familiar abstract words, as mean and tiresome hair-splitting.43 But if you admit the business of theorising to be legitimate, useful, and even honourable, you must reckon on free working of independent, individual, minds as the operative force — and on the necessity of dissentient, conflicting, manifestations of this common force, as essential conditions to any successful result. Upon no other conditions can you obtain any tolerable body of reasoned truth — or even reasoned quasi-truth.
43 See my account of the Platonic dialogue Hippias Major, vol. ii. chap. xiii. Aristot. Metaphys. A. minor, p. 995, a. 9. τοὺς δὲ λυπεῖ τὸ ἀκριβὲς, ἢ διὰ τὸ μὴ δύνασθαι συνείρειν, ἢ διὰ τὴν μικρολογίαν· ἔχει γάρ τι τὸ ἀκριβὲς τοιοῦτον, ὥστε καθάπερ ἐπὶ τῶν συμβολαίων, καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν λόγων ἀνελεύθερον εἶναι τισι δοκεῖ. Cicero (Paradoxa, c. 2) talks of the “minutæ interrogatiunculæ” of the Stoics as tedious and tiresome.
Logical position of the Megaric philosophers erroneously described by historians of philosophy. Necessity of a complete collection of difficulties.
Now the historians of philosophy seldom take this view of philosophy as a whole — as a field to which the free antithesis of affirmative and negative is indispensable. They consider true philosophy as represented by Sokrates, Plato, and Aristotle, one or other of them: while the contemporaries of these eminent men are discredited under the name of Sophists, Eristics, or sham-philosophers, sowing tares among the legitimate crop of wheat — or as devils whom the miraculous virtue of Sokrates and Plato is employed in expelling from the Athenian mind. Even the companions of Sokrates, and the Megarics among them, whom we know only upon the imperfect testimony of opponents, have fallen under this unmerited sentence:44 as if they were destructive agents breaking down an edifice of well-constituted philosophy — no such edifice in fact having ever existed in Greece, though there were several dissenting lecture rooms and conflicting veins of speculation promoted by eminent individuals.
44 The same charge is put by Cicero into the mouth of Lucullus against the Academics: “Similiter vos (Academici) quum perturbare, ut illi” (the Gracchi and others) “rempublicam, sic vos philosophiam, benè jam constitutam velitis.… Tum exortus est, ut in optimâ republicâ Tib. Gracchus, qui otium perturbaret, sic Arcesilas, qui constitutam philosophiam everteret” (Acad. Prior, ii. 5, 14-15).
Even in the liberal and comprehensive history of the Greek philosophy by Zeller (vol. ii. p. 187, ed. 2nd), respecting Eukleides’ and the Megarians; — “Dagegen bot der Streit gegen die geltenden Meinungen dem Scharfsinn, der Rechthaberei, und dem wissenschaftlichen Ehrgeiz, ein unerschöpfliches Feld dar, welches denn auch die Megarischen Philosophen rüstig ausbeuteten.”
If by “die geltenden Meinungen” Zeller means the common sense of the day that is, the opinions and beliefs current among the ἰδιῶται, the working, enjoying, non-theorising public — it is very true that the Megaric philosophers contended against them: but Sokrates and Plato contended against them quite as much: we see this in the Platonic Apology, Gorgias, Republic, Timæus, Parmenidês, &c.
If, on the other hand, by “die geltenden Meinungen” Zeller means any philosophical or logical theories generally or universally admitted by thinking men as valid, the answer is that there were none such in the fourth and third centuries B.C. Various eminent speculative individuals were labouring to construct such theories, each in his own way, and each with a certain congregation of partisans; but established theory there was none. Nor can any theory (whether accepted or not) be firm or trustworthy, unless it be exposed to the continued thrusts of the negative weapon, searching out its vulnerable points. We know of the Megarics only what they furnished towards that negative testing; without which, however, — as we may learn from Plato and Aristotle themselves, — the true value of the affirmative defences can never be measured.
Whoever undertakes, bonâ fide, to frame a complete and defensible logical theory, will desire to have before him a copious collection of such difficulties, and will consider those who propound 132them as useful auxiliaries.45 If he finds no one to propound them, he will have to imagine them for himself. “The philosophy of reasoning” (observes Mr. John Stuart Mill) “must comprise the philosophy of bad as well as of good reasoning.”46 The one cannot be complete without the other. To enumerate the different varieties of apparent evidence which is not real evidence (called Fallacies), and of apparent contradictions which are not real contradictions — referred as far as may be to classes, each illustrated by a suitable type — is among the duties of a logician. He will find this duty much facilitated, if there happen to exist around him an active habit of dialectic debate: ingenious men who really study the modes of puzzling and confuting a well-armed adversary, as well as of defending themselves against the like. Such a habit did exist at Athens: and unless it had existed, the Aristotelian theories on logic would probably never have been framed. Contemporary and antecedent dialecticians, the Megarici among them, supplied the stock of particular examples enumerated and criticised by Aristotle in the Topica:47 which treatise (especially the last book, De Sophisticis Elenchis) is intended both to explain the theory, and to give suggestions on the practice, of logical controversy. A man who takes lessons in fencing must learn not only how to thrust and parry, but also how to impose on his opponent by feints, and to meet the feints employed against himself: a general who learns the art of war must know how to take advantage of the enemy by effective cheating and treachery (to use the language of Xenophon), and how to avoid being cheated himself. The Aristotelian Topica, in 133like manner, teach the arts both of dialectic attack and of dialectic defence.48
45 Marbach (Gesch. der Philos. s. 91), though he treats the Megarics as jesters (which I do not think they were), yet adds very justly: “Nevertheless these puzzles (propounded by the Megarics) have their serious and scientific side. We are forced to inquire, how it happens that the contradictions shown up in them are not merely possible but even necessary.”
Both Tiedemann and Winckelmann also remark that the debaters called Eristics contributed greatly to the formation of the theory and precepts of Logic, afterwards laid out by Aristotle. Winckelmann, Prolegg. ad Platon. Euthydem. pp. xxiv.-xxxi. Even Stallbaum, though full of harshness towards those Sophists whom he describes as belonging to the school of Protagoras, treats the Megaric philosophers with much greater respect. Prolegom. ad Platon. Euthydem. p. 9.
46 System of Logic, Book v. 1, 1.
47 Prantl (Gesch. der Logik, vol. i. pp. 43-50) ascribes to the Megarics all or nearly all the sophisms which Aristotle notices in the Treatise De Sophisticis Elenchis. This is more than can be proved, and more than I think probable. Several of them are taken from the Platonic Euthydêmus.
48 See the remarkable passages in the discourses of Sokrates (Memorab. iii. 1, 6; iv. 2, 15), and in that of Kambyses to Cyrus, which repeats the same opinion — Cyropæd. i. 6, 27 — respecting the amount of deceit, treachery, the thievish and rapacious qualities required for conducting war against an enemy — (τὰ πρὸς τοὺς πολεμίους νόμιμα, i. 6, 34).
Aristotle treats of Dialectic, as he does of Rhetoric, as an art having its theory, and precepts founded upon that theory. I shall have occasion to observe in a future chapter (xxi.), that logical Fallacies are not generated or invented by persons called Sophists, but are inherent liabilities to error in the human intellect; and that the habit of debate affords the only means of bringing them into clear daylight, and guarding against being deceived by them. Aristotle gives precepts both how to thrust, and how to parry with the best effect: if he had taught only how to parry, he would have left out one-half of the art.
One of the most learned and candid of the Aristotelian commentators — M. Barthélemy St. Hilaire — observes as follows (Logique d’Aristote, p. 435, Paris, 1838) respecting De Sophist. Elenchis:—
“Aristote va donc s’occuper de la marche qu’il faut donner aux discussions sophistiques: et ici il serait difficile quelquefois de décider, à la manière dont les choses sont présentées par lui, si ce sont des conseils qu’il donne aux Sophistes, ou à ceux qui veulent éviter leurs ruses. Tout ce qui précède, prouve, au reste, que c’est en ce dernier sens qu’il faut entendre la pensée du philosophe. Ceci est d’ailleurs la seconde portion du traîté.”
It appears to me that Aristotle intended to teach or to suggest both the two things which are here placed in Antithesis — though I do not agree with M. St. Hilaire’s way of putting the alternative — as if there were one class of persons, professional Sophists, who fenced with poisoned weapons, while every one except them refrained from such weapons. Aristotle intends to teach the art of Dialectic as a whole; he neither intends nor wishes that any learners shall make a bad use of his teaching; but if they do use it badly, the fault does not lie with him. See the observations in the beginning of the Rhetorica, i. p. 1355, a. 26, and the observations put by Plato into the mouth of Gorgias (Gorg. p. 456 E).
Even in the Analytica Priora (ii. 19, a. 34) (independent of the Topica) Aristotle says:—χρὴ δ’ ὅπερ φυλάττεσθαι παραγγέλλομεν ἀποκρινομένους, αὐτοὺς ἐπιχειροῦντας πειρᾶσθται λανθάνειν. Investigations of the double or triple senses of words (he says) are useful — καὶ πρὸς τὸ μὴ παραλογισθῆναι, καὶ πρὸς τὸ παραλογίσασθαι, Topica, i. 18, p. 108, a. 26. See also other passages of the Topica where artifices are indicated for the purpose of concealing your own plan of proceeding and inducing your opponent to make answer in the sense which you wish, Topica, i. 2, p. 101, a. 25; vi. 10, p. 148, a. 37; viii. 1, p. 151, b. 23; viii. 1, p. 153, a. 6; viii. 2, p. 154, a. 5; viii. 11, p. 161, a. 24 seq. You must be provided with the means of meeting every sort and variety of objection — πρὸς γὰρ τὸν πάντως ἐνιστάμενον πάντως ἀντιτακτέον ἐστίν. Topic. v. 4, p. 134, a. 4.
I shall again have to touch on the Topica, in this point of view, as founded upon and illustrating the Megaric logical puzzles (ch. viii. of the present volume).
Sophisms propounded by Eubulides. 1. Mentiens. 2. The Veiled Man. 3. Sorites. 4. Cornutus.
The Sophisms ascribed to Eubulidês, looked at from the point of view of logical theory, deserve that attention which they seem to have received. The logician lays down as a rule that no affirmative proposition can be at the same time true and false. Now the first sophism (called Mentiens) exhibits the case of a proposition which is, or appears to be, at the same time 134true and false.49 It is for the logician to explain how this proposition can be brought under his rule — or else to admit it as an exception. Again, the second sophism in the list (the Veiled or Hidden Man) is so contrived as to involve the respondent in a contradiction: he is made to say both that he knows his father, and that he does not know his father. Both the one answer and the other follow naturally from the questions and circumstances supposed. The contradiction points to the loose and equivocal way in which the word to know is used in common speech. Such equivocal meaning of words is not only one of the frequent sources of error and fallacy in reasoning, but also one of the least heeded by persons untrained in dialectics; who are apt to presume that the same word bears always the same meaning. To guard against this cause of error, and to determine (or impel others to determine) the accurate meaning or various distinct meanings of each word, is among the duties of the logician: and I will add that the verb to know stands high in the list of words requiring such determination — as the Platonic Theætêtus50 alone would be sufficient to teach us. Farthermore, when we examine what is called the Soritês of Eubulides, we perceive that it brings to view an inherent indeterminateness of various terms: indeterminateness which cannot be avoided, but which must be pointed out in order that it may not mislead. You cannot say how many grains are much — or how many grains 135make a heap. When this want of precision, pervading many words in the language, was first brought to notice in a suitable special case, it would naturally appear a striking novelty. Lastly, the sophism called Κερατίνης or Cornutus, is one of great plausibility, which would probably impose upon most persons, if the question were asked for the first time without any forewarning. It serves to administer a lesson, nowise unprofitable or superfluous, that before you answer a question, you should fully weigh its import and its collateral bearings.
49 Theophrastus wrote a treatise in three books on the solution of the puzzle called Ὁ ψευδόμενος (see the list of his lost works in Diogenes L. v. 49). We find also other treatises entitled Μεγαρικὸς ά (which Diogenes cites, vi. 22), — Ἀγωνιστικὸν τῆς περὶ τοὺς ἐριστικοὺς λόγους θεωρίας — Σοφισμάτων ά, β — besides several more titles relating to dialectics, and bearing upon the solution of syllogistic problems. Chrysippus also, in the ensuing century, wrote a treatise in three books, Περὶ τῆς τοῦ ψευδομένον λύσεως (Diog. vii. 107). Such facts show the importance of these problems in their bearing upon logical theory, as conceived by the ancient world. Epikurus also wrote against the Μεγαρικοί (Diog. x. 27).
The discussion of sophisms, or logical difficulties (λύσεις ἀπορίων), was a favourite occupation at the banquets of philosophers at Athens, on or about 100 B.C. Ἀντίπατρος δ’ ὁ φιλόσοφος, συμπόσιόν ποτε συνάγων, συνέταξε τοῖς ἐρχομένοις ὡς περὶ σοφισμάτων ἑροῦσιν (Athenæus, v. 186 C). Plutarch, Non posse suaviter vivi secundum Epicurum, p. 1096 C; De Sanitate Præcepta, c. 20, p. 133 B.
50 Various portions of the Theætêtus illustrate this Megaric sophism (pp. 165-188). The situation assumed in the question of Eubulidês — having before your eyes a person veiled — might form a suitable addition to the various contingencies specified in Theætêt. pp. 192-193.
The manner in which the Platonic Sokrates proves (Theæt. 165) that you at the same time see, and do not see, an object before you, is quite as sophistical as the way in which Eubulidês proves that you both know, and do not know, your father.
Causes of error constant — the Megarics were sentinals against them.
The causes of error and fallacy are inherent in the complication of nature, the imperfection of language, the small range of facts which we know, the indefinite varieties of comparison possible among those facts, and the diverse or opposite predispositions, intellectual as well as emotional, of individual minds. They are not fabricated by those who first draw attention to them.51 The Megarics, far from being themselves deceivers, served as sentinels against deceit. They planted conspicuous beacons upon some of the sunken rocks whereon unwary reasoners were likely to be wrecked. When the general type of a fallacy is illustrated by a particular case in which the conclusion is manifestly untrue, the like fallacy is rendered less operative for the future.
51 Cicero, in his Academ. Prior, ii. 92-94, has very just remarks on the obscurities and difficulties in the reasoning process, which the Megarics and others brought to view — and were blamed for so doing, as unfair and captious reasoners — as if they had themselves created the difficulties — “(Dialectica) primo progressu festivé tradit elementa loquendi et ambiguorum intelligentiam concludendique rationem; tum paucis additis venit ad soritas, lubricum sané et periculosum locum, quod tu modo dicebas esse vitiosum interrogandi genus. Quid ergo? istius vitii num nostra culpa est? Rerum natura nullam nobis dedit cognitionem finium, ut ullâ in re statuere possimus quatenus. Nec hoc in acervo tritici solum, unde nomen est, sed nullâ omnino in re minutatim interroganti — dives, pauper — clarus, obscurus, sit — multa, pauca, magna, parva, longa, brevia, lata, angusta, quanto aut addito aut dempto certum respondeamus, non habemus. At vitiosi sunt soritæ. Frangite igitur eos, si potestis, ne molesti sint.… Sic me (inquit) sustineo, neque diutius captiosé interroganti respondes. Si habes quod liqueat neque respondes, superbis: si non habes, ne tu quidem percipis.”
The principle of the Sorites (ἡ σωριτικὴ ἀπορία — Sextus adv. Gramm. s. 68), though differently applied, is involved in the argument of Zeno the Eleate, addressed to Protagoras — see Simplikius ad Aristot. Physic. 250, p. 423, b. 42. Sch. Brand. Compare chap. ii. of this volume.
Controversy of the Megarics with Aristotle about Power. Arguments of Aristotle.
Of the positive doctrines of the Megarics we know little: but there is one upon which Aristotle enters into controversy with them, and upon which (as far as can be made out) I think they were in the right. In the question about Power, they held that the power to do a thing did not exist, except when the thing was 136actually done: that an architect, for example, had no power to build a house, except when he actually did build one. Aristotle controverts this opinion at some length; contending that there exists a sort of power or cause which is in itself irregular and indeterminate, sometimes turning to the affirmative, sometimes to the negative, to do or not to do;52 that the architect has the power to build constantly, though he exerts it only on occasion: and that many absurdities would follow if we did not admit, That a given power or energy — and the exercise of that power — are things distinct and separable.53
52 Aristot. De Interpret. p. 19, a. 6-20. ὅλως ἔστιν ἐν τοῖς μὴ ἀεὶ ἐνεργοῦσι τὸ δυνατὸν εἶναι καὶ μὴ ὁμοίως· ἐν οἷς ἀμφω ἐνδέχεται, καὶ τὸ εἶναι καὶ τὸ μὴ εἶναι, ὥστε καὶ τὸ γενέσθαι καὶ τὸ μὴ γενέσθαι.
53 Aristot. Metaph. Θ. 3, p. 1046, b. 29. Εἰσὶ δέ τινες, οἴ φασιν, οἷον οἱ Μεγαρικοί, ὅταν ἐνεργῇ, μόνον δύνασθαι, ὅταν δὲ μὴ ἐνεργῇ, μὴ δύνασθαι — οἷον τὸν μὴ οἰκοδομοῦντα οὐ δύνασθαι οἰκοδομεῖν, ἀλλὰ τὸν οἰκοδομοῦντα ὅταν οἰκοδομῇ· ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν ἄλλων.
Deycks (De Megaricorum Doctrinâ, pp. 70-71) considers this opinion of the Megarics to be derived from their general Eleatic theory of the Ens Unum et Immotum. But I see no logical connection between the two.
These arguments not valid against the Megarici.
Now these arguments of Aristotle are by no means valid against the Megarics, whose doctrine, though apparently paradoxical, will appear when explained to be no paradox at all, but perfectly true. When we say that the architect has power to build, we do not mean that he has power to do so under all supposable circumstances, but only under certain conditions: we wish to distinguish him from non-professional men, who under those same conditions have no power to build. The architect must be awake and sober: he must have the will or disposition to build:54 he must be provided with tools and materials, and be secure against destroying enemies. These and other conditions being generally understood, it is unnecessary to enunciate them in common speech. But when we engage in dialectic analysis, the accurate discussion (ἀκριβολογία) indispensable to philosophy requires us to bring under distinct notice, that which the elliptical character of common speech implies without enunciating. Unless these favourable conditions be supposed, the architect is no more able to build than an ordinary non-professional man. Now the 137Megarics did not deny the distinctive character of the architect, as compared with the non-architect: but they defined more accurately in what it consisted, by restoring the omitted conditions. They went a step farther: they pointed out that whenever the architect finds himself in concert with these accompanying conditions (his own volition being one of the conditions) he goes to work — and the building is produced. As the house is not built, unless he wills to build, and has tools and materials, &c. — so conversely, whenever he has the will to build and has tools and materials, &c., the house is actually built. The effect is not produced, except when the full assemblage of antecedent conditions come together: but as soon as they do come together, the effect is assuredly produced. The accomplishments of the architect, though an essential item, are yet only one item among several, of the conditions necessary to building the house. He has no power to build, except when those other conditions are assumed along with him: in other words, he has no such power except when he actually does build.
54 About this condition implied in the predicate δυνατός, see Plato, Hippias Minor, p. 366 D.
His arguments cited and criticised.
Aristotle urges against the Megarics various arguments, as follows:—1. Their doctrine implies that the architect is not an architect, and does not possess his professional skill,55 except at the moment when he is actually building. — But the Megarics would have denied that their doctrine did imply this. The architect possesses his art at all times: but his art does not constitute a power of building except under certain accompanying conditions.
55 Aristot. Metaph. Θ. 3, 1047, a. 3. ὅταν παύσηται (οἰκοδομῶν) οὐχ ἕξει τὴν τέχνην.
2. The Megaric doctrine is the same as that of Protagoras, implying that there exists no perceivable Object, and no Subject capable of perceiving, except at the moment when perception actually takes place.56 On this we may observe, that the Megarics coincide with Protagoras thus far, that they bring into open daylight the relative and conditional, which the received phraseology tends to hide. But neither they nor he affirm what is here put upon them. When we speak of a perceivable Object, we mean that which may and will be perceived, if there be a proper Subject to perceive it: when we affirm a Subject capable of perception, we mean, one which will perceive, under those 138circumstances which we call the presence of an Object suitably placed. The Subject and Object are correlates: but it is convenient to have a language in which one of them alone is introduced unconditionally, while the conditional sign is applied to the correlate: though the matter affirmed involves a condition common to both.
56 Aristot. Metaph. Θ. 3, 1047, a. 8-13.
3. According to the Megaric doctrine (Aristotle argues) every man when not actually seeing, is blind; every man when not actually speaking, is dumb. — Here the Megarics would have said that this is a misinterpretation of the terms dumb and blind; which denote a person who cannot speak or see, even though he wishes it. One who is now silent, though not dumb, may speak if he wills it: but his own volition is an essential condition.57
57 The question between Aristotle and the Megarics has not passed out of debate with modern philosophers.
Dr. Thomas Brown observes, in his inquiry into Cause and Effect — “From the mere silence of any one, we cannot infer that he is dumb in consequence of organic imperfection. He may be silent only because he has no desire of speaking, not because speech would not have followed his desire: and it is not with the mere existence of any one, but with his desire of speaking, that we suppose utterance to be connected. A man who has no desire of speaking, has in truth, and in strictness of language, no power of speaking, when in that state of mind: since he has not a circumstance which, as immediately prior, is essential to speech. But since he has that power, as soon as the new circumstance of desire arises — and as the presence or absence of the desire cannot be perceived but in its effects — there is no inconvenience in the common language, which ascribes the power, as if it were possessed at all times, and in all circumstances of mind, though unquestionably, nothing more is meant than that the desire existing will be followed by utterance.” (Brown, Essay on the Relation of Cause and Effect, p. 200.)
This is the real sense of what Aristotle calls τὸ δὲ (λέγεται) δυνατόν, οἷον δυνατὸν εἶναι βαδίζειν ὅτι βαδισειεν ἂν, i.e. he will walk if he desires to do so (De Interpret. p. 23, a. 9-15).
4. According to the Megaric doctrine (says Aristotle) when you are now lying down, you have no power to rise: when you are standing up, you have no power to lie down: so that the present condition of affairs must continue for ever unchanged: nothing can come into existence which is not now in being. — Here again, the Megarics would have denied his inference. The man who is now standing up, has power to lie down, if he wills to do so — or he may be thrown down by a superior force: that is, he will lie down, if some new fact of a certain character shall supervene. The Megarics do not deny that he has power, if — so and so: they deny that he has power, without the if — that is, without the farther accompaniments essential to energy.
Potential as distinguished from the Actual — What it is.
On the whole, it seems to me that Aristotle’s refutation of the Megarics is unsuccessful. A given assemblage of conditions is requisite for the production of any act: while there are other circumstances, which, if present at the same time, would defeat its production. We often find it convenient to describe a state of things in which some of the antecedent conditions are present without the rest: in which therefore the act is not produced, yet would be produced, if the remaining circumstances were present, and if the opposing circumstances were absent.58 The state of things thus described is the potential as distinguished from the actual: power, distinguished from act or energy: it represents an incomplete assemblage of the antecedent positive conditions — or perhaps a complete assemblage, but counteracted by some opposing circumstances. As soon as the assemblage becomes complete, and the opposing circumstances removed, the potential passes into the actual. The architect, when he is not building, possesses, not indeed the full or plenary power to build, but an important fraction of that power, which will become plenary when the other fractions supervene, but will then at the same time become operative, so as to produce the actual building.59
58 Hobbes, in his Computation or Logic (chaps. ix. and x. Of Cause and Effect. Of Power and Act) expounds this subject with his usual perspicuity.
“A Cause simply, or an Entire Cause, is the aggregate of all the accidents, both of the agents, how many soever they be, and of the patient, put together; which, when they are all supposed to be present, it cannot be understood but that the effect is produced at the same instant: and if any one of them be wanting, it cannot be understood but that the effect is not produced” (ix. 3).
“Correspondent to Cause and Effect are Power and Act: nay, those and these are the same things, though for divers considerations they have divers names. For whensoever any agent has all those accidents which are necessarily requisite for the production of some effect in the patient, then we say that agent has power to produce that effect if it be applied to a patient. In like manner, whensoever any patient has all those accidents which it is requisite it should have for the production of some effect in it, we say it is in the power of that patient to produce that effect if it be applied to a fitting agent. Power, active and passive, are parts only of plenary and entire power: nor, except they be joined, can any effect proceed from them. And therefore these powers are but conditional: namely, the agent has power if it be applied to a patient, and the patient has power if it be applied to an agent. Otherwise neither of them have power, nor can the accidents which are in them severally be properly called powers: nor any action be said to be possible for the power of the agent alone or the patient alone.”
59 Aristotle does in fact grant all that is here said, in the same book and in the page next subsequent to that which contains his arguments against the Megaric doctrine, Metaphys. Θ. 5, 1048, a. 1-24.
In this chapter Aristotle distinguishes powers belonging to things, from powers belonging to persons — powers irrational from powers rational — powers in which the agent acts without any will or choice, from those in which the will or choice of the agent is one item of the aggregate of conditions. He here expressly recognises that the power of the agent, separately considered, is only conditional; that is, conditional on the presence and suitable state of the patient, as well as upon the absence of counteracting circumstances. But he contends that such absence of counteracting circumstances is plainly implied, and need not be expressly mentioned in the definition.
ἐπεὶ δὲ τὸ δυνατὸν τὶ δυνατὸν καὶ ποτὲ καὶ πῶς καὶ ὅσα ἄλλα ἀνάγκη προσεῖναι ἐν τῷ διορισμῷ —
τὸ δυνατὸν κατὰ λόγον ἅπαν ἀνάγκη, ὅταν ὀρέγηται, οὖ τ’ ἔχει τὴν δύναμιν καὶ ὡς ἔχει, τοῦτο ποιεῖν· ἔχει δὲ παρόντος τοῦ παθητικοῦ καὶ ὡδὶ ἔχοντος ποιεῖν· εἰ δὲ μή, ποιεῖν οὐ δυνήσεται. τὸ γὰρ μηθενὸς τῶν ἕξω κωλύοντος προσδιορίζεσθαι, οὐθὲν ἔτι δεῖ· τὴν γὰρ δύναμιν ἔχει ὥς ἔστι δύναμις τοῦ ποιεῖν, ἔστι δ’ οὐ πάντως, ἀλλ’ ἐχόντων πῶς, ἐν οἷς ἀφορισθήσεται καὶ τὰ ἕξω κωλύοντα· ἀφαιρεῖται γὰρ ταῦτα τῶν ἐν τῷ διορισμῷ προσόντων ἔνια. The commentary of Alexander Aphr. upon this chapter is well worth consulting (pp. 546-548 of the edition of his commentary by Bonitz, 1847). Moreover Aristotle affirms in this chapter, that when τὸ ποιητικὸν and τὸ παθητικὸν come together under suitable circumstances, the power will certainly pass into act.
Here then, it seems to me, Aristotle concedes the doctrine which the Megarics affirmed; or, if there be any difference between them, it is rather verbal than real. In fact, Aristotle’s reasoning in the third chapter (wherein he impugns the doctrine of the Megarics), and the definition of δυνατὸν which he gives in that chapter (1047, a. 25), are hardly to be reconciled with his reasoning in the fifth chapter. Bonitz (Notes on the Metaphys. pp. 393-395) complains of the mira levitas of Aristotle in his reasoning against the Megarics, and of his omitting to distinguish between Vermögen and Möglichkeit. I will not use so uncourteous a phrase; but I think his refutation of the Megarics is both unsatisfactory and contradicted by himself. I agree with the following remark of Bonitz:—“Nec mirum, quod Megarici, aliis illi quidem in rebus arguti, in hâc autem satis acuti, existentiam τῷ δυνάμει ὄντι tribuere recusarint,” &c.
Diodôrus Kronus — his doctrine about τὸ δυνατόν.
The doctrine which I have just been canvassing is expressly cited by Aristotle as a Megaric doctrine, and was therefore probably held by his contemporary Eubulidês. From the pains which Aristotle takes (in the ‘De Interpretatione’ and elsewhere) to explain and vindicate his own doctrine about the Potential and the Actual, we may see that it was a theme much debated among the dialecticians of the day. And we read of another Megaric, Diodorus60 Kronus, perhaps contemporary (yet probably a little later than Aristotle), as advancing a position substantially the same as that of Eubulidês. That alone is possible (Diodorus affirmed) which either is happening now, or will happen at some future time. As in speaking about facts of an unrecorded past, we know well that a given fact either occurred or did not occur, yet without knowing which of the two is true — and therefore we affirm only that the fact may have occurred: so also about the future, either the assertion that a given fact will at some time 141occur, is positively true, or the assertion that it will never occur, is positively true: the assertion that it may or may not occur some time or other, represents only our ignorance, which of the two is true. That which will never at any time occur, is impossible.
60 The dialectic ingenuity of Diodorus is powerfully attested by the verse of Ariston, applied to describe Arkesilaus (Sextus Emp. Pyrrh. Hyp. i. p. 234):
Πρόσθε Πλάτων, ὄπιθεν Πύῤῥων, μέσσος Διόδωρος.
Sophism of Diodorus — Ὁ Κυριεύων.
The argument here recited must have been older than Diodorus, since Aristotle states and controverts it: but it seems to have been handled by him in a peculiar dialectic arrangement, which obtained the title of Ὁ Κυριεύων.61 The Stoics (especially Chrysippus), in times somewhat later, impugned the opinion of Diodorus, though seemingly upon grounds not quite the same as Aristotle. This problem was one upon which speculative minds occupied themselves for several centuries. Aristotle and Chrysippus maintained that affirmations respecting the past were necessary (one necessarily true and the other necessarily false) — affirmations respecting the future, contingent (one must be true and the other false, but either might be true). Diodorus held that both varieties of affirmations were equally necessary — Kleanthes the Stoic thought that both were equally contingent.62
61 Aristot. De Interpret. p. 18, a. pp. 27-38. Alexander ad Aristot. Analyt. Prior. 34, p. 163, b. 34, Schol. Brandis. See also Sir William Hamilton’s Lectures on Logic, Lect. xxiii. p. 464.
62 Arrian ad Epiktet. ii. p. 19. Upton, in his notes on this passage of Arrian (p. 151) has embodied a very valuable and elaborate commentary by Mr. James Harris (the great English Aristotelian scholar of the 18th century), explaining the nature of this controversy, and the argument called ὁ Κυριεύων.
Compare Cicero, De Fato, c. 7-9. Epistol. Fam. ix. 4.
It was thus that the Megaric dialecticians, with that fertility of mind which belonged to the Platonic and Aristotelian century, stirred up many real problems and difficulties connected with logical evidence, and supplied matters for discussion which not only occupied the speculative minds of the next four or five centuries, but have continued in debate down to the present day.
Question between Aristotle and Diodôrus depends upon whether universal regularity of sequence be admitted or denied.
The question about the Possible and Impossible, raised between Aristotle and Diodorus, depends upon the larger question, Whether there are universal laws of Nature or not? whether the sequences are, universally and throughout, composed of assemblages of conditions regularly antecedent, and assemblages of events 142regularly consequent; though from the number and complication of causes, partly co-operating and partly conflicting with each other, we with our limited intelligence are often unable to predict the course of events in each particular situation. Sokrates, Plato, and Aristotle, all maintained that regular sequence of antecedent and consequent was not universal, but partial only:63 that there were some agencies essentially regular, in which observation of the past afforded ground for predicting the future — other agencies (or the same agencies on different occasions) essentially irregular, in which the observation of the past afforded no such ground. Aristotle admitted a graduation of causes from perfect regularity to perfect irregularity:—1. The Celestial Spheres, with their included bodies or divine persons, which revolved and exercised a great and preponderant influence throughout the Kosmos, with perfect uniformity; having no power of contraries, i.e., having no power of doing anything else but what they actually did (having ἐνεργεία without δύναμις). 2. The four Elements, in which the natural agencies were to a great degree necessary and uniform, but also in a certain degree otherwise — either always or for the most part uniform (τὸ ὡς ἐπὶ τὸ πολύ) — tending by inherent appetency towards uniformity, but not always attaining it. 3. Besides these there were two other varieties of Causes accidental, or perfectly irregular — Chance and Spontaneity: powers of contraries, or with equal chance of contrary manifestations — essentially capricious, undeterminable, unpredictable.64 This Chance of Aristotle — with one of two contraries sure to turn up, though you could never tell beforehand which of the two — was a conception analogous to what logicians sometimes call an Indefinite Proposition, or to what some grammarians have reckoned as a special variety of genders called the doubtful gender. There were thus positive causes of regularity, and positive 143causes of irregularity, the co-operation or conflict of which gave the total manifestations of the actual universe. The principle of irregularity, or the Indeterminate, is sometimes described under the name of Matter,65 as distinguishable from, yet co-operating with, the three determinate Causes — Formal, Efficient, Final. The Potential — the Indeterminate — the May or May not be — is characterised by Aristotle as one of the inherent principles operative in the Kosmos.
63 Xenophon, Memor. i. 1; Plato, Timæus, p. 48 A. ἡ πλανωμένη αἰτία, &c.
64 Ἡ τύχη — τὸ ὁπότερ’ ἔτυχε — τὸ αὐτόματον are in the conception of Aristotle independent Ἀρχαί, attached to and blending with ἀνάγκη and τὸ ὡς ἐπὶ τὸ πολύ. See Physic. ii. 196, b. 11; Metaphys. E. 1026-1027.
Sometimes τὸ ὁπότερ’ ἔτυχε is spoken of as an Ἀρχή, but not as an αἴτιον, or belonging to ὕλη as the Ἀρχή. 1027, b. 11. δῆλον ἄρα ὅτι μέχρι τινὸς βαδίζει ἀρχῆς, αὔτη δ’ οὔκετι εἰς ἄλλο· ἔσται οὖν ἡ τοῦ ὁπότερ’ ἔτυχεν αὔτη, καὶ αἴτιοι τῆς γενέσεως αὐτῆς οὐθέν.
See, respecting the different notions of Cause held by ancient philosophers, my remarks on the Platonic Phædon infrà, vol. ii. ch. xxv.
65 Aristot. Metaph. E. 1027, a. 13; A. 1071, a. 10.
ὥστε ἡ ὕλη ἔσται αἰτία, ἡ ἐνδεχομέν ἠ παρὰ τὸ ὡς ἐπὶ το πολὺ ἄλλως τοῦ συμβεβηκότος.
Matter is represented as the principle of irregularity, of τὸ ὁπότερ’ ἔτυχε — as the δύναμις τῶν ἐναντίων.
In the explanation given by Alexander of Aphrodisias of the Peripatetic doctrine respecting chance — free-will, the principle of irregularity — τύχη is no longer assigned to the material cause, but is treated as an αἰτία κατὰ συμβεβηκός, distinguished from αἰτία προηγούμενα or καθ’ αὑτά. The exposition given of the doctrine by Alexander is valuable and interesting. See his treatise De Fato, addressed to the Emperor Severus, in the edition of Orelli, Zurich. 1824 (a very useful volume, containing treatises of Ammonius, Plotinus, Bardesanes, &c., on the same subject); also several sections of his Quæstiones Naturales et Morales, ed. Spengel, Munich, 1842, pp. 22-61-65-123, &c. He gives, however, a different explanation of τὸ δυνατὸν and τὸ ἀδύνατον in pp. 62-63, which would not be at variance with the doctrine of Diodorus. We may remark that Alexander puts the antithesis of the two doctrines differently from Aristotle, — in this way. 1. Either all events happen καθ’ εἱμαρμένην. 2. Or all events do not happen καθ’ εἱμαρμένην, but some events are ἐφ’ ἡμῖν. See De Fato, p. 14 seq. This way of putting the question is directed more against the Stoics, who were the great advocates of εἱμαρμένη, than against the Megaric Diodorus. The treatises of Chrysippus and the other Stoics alter both the wording and the putting of the thesis. We know that Chrysippus impugned the doctrine of Diodorus, but I do not see how.
The Stoic antithesis of τα καθ’ εἱμαρμένην — τὰ ἐφ’ ἡμῖν is different from the antithesis conceived by Aristotle and does not touch the question about the universality of regular sequence. Τὰ ἐφ’ ἡμῖν describes those sequences in which human volition forms one among the appreciable conditions determining or modifying the result; τὰ καθ’ εἱμαρμένην includes all the other sequences wherein human volition has no appreciable influence. But the sequence τῶν ἐφ’ ἡμῖν is just as regular as the sequence τῶν καθ’ εἱμαρμένην: both the one and the other are often imperfectly predictable, because our knowledge of facts and power of comparison is so imperfect.
Theophrastus discussed τὸ καθ’ εἱμαρμένην, and explained it to mean the same as τὸ κατὰ φύσιν. φανερώτατα δὲ Θεόφραστος δείκνυσι ταὐτὸν ὃν τὸ καθ’ εἱμαρμένην τῷ κατὰ φύσιν (Alexander Aphrodisias ad Aristot. De Animâ, ii.).
Conclusion of Diodôrus — defended by Hobbes — Explanation given by Hobbes.
In what manner Diodorus stated and defended his opinion upon this point, we have no information. We know only that he placed affirmations respecting the future on the same footing as affirmations respecting the past: maintaining that our potential affirmation — May or May not be — respecting some future event, meant no more than it means respecting some past event, viz.: no inherent indeterminateness in the future sequence, but our 144ignorance of the determining conditions, and our inability to calculate their combined working.66 In regard to scientific method generally, this problem is of the highest importance: for it is only so far as uniformity of sequence prevails, that facts become fit matter for scientific study.67 Consistently with the doctrine of all-pervading uniformity of sequence, the definition of Hobbes gives the only complete account of the Impossible and Possible: i.e. an account such as would appear to an omniscient calculator, where May or May not merge in Will or Will not. According as each person falls short of or approaches this ideal 145standard — according to his knowledge and mental resource, inductive and deductive — will be his appreciation of what may be or may not be — as of what may have been or may not have been during the past. But such appreciation, being relative to each individual mind, is liable to vary indefinitely, and does not admit of being embodied in one general definition.
66 The same doctrine as that of the Megaric Diodorus is declared by Hobbes in clear and explicit language (First Grounds of Philosophy, ii. 10, 4-5):—“That is an impossible act, for the production of which there is no power plenary. For seeing plenary power is that in which all things concur which are requisite for the production of an act, if the power shall never be plenary, there will always be wanting some of those things, without which the act cannot be produced. Wherefore that act shall never be produced: that is, that act is impossible. And every act, which is not impossible, is possible. Every act therefore which is possible, shall at some time or other be produced. For if it shall never be produced, then those things shall never concur which are requisite for the production of it; wherefore the act is impossible, by the definition; which is contrary to what was supposed.
“A necessary act is that, the production of which it is impossible to hinder: and therefore every act that shall be produced, shall necessarily be produced; for that it shall not be produced is impossible, because, as has already been demonstrated, every possible act shall at some time be produced. Nay, this proposition — What shall be shall be — is as necessary a proposition as this — A man is a man.
“But here, perhaps, some man will ask whether those future things which are commonly called contingents, are necessary. I say, then, that generally all contingents have their necessary causes, but are called contingents, in respect of other events on which they do not depend — as the rain which shall be to-morrow shall be necessary, that is, from necessary causes; but we think and say, it happens by chance, because we do not yet perceive the causes thereof, though they exist now. For men commonly call that casual or contingent, whereof they do not perceive the necessary cause: and in the same manner they use to speak of things past, when not knowing whether a thing be done or not, they say, It is possible it never was done.
“Wherefore all propositions concerning future things, contingent or not contingent, as this — It will rain to-morrow, or To-morrow the sun will rise — are either necessarily true or necessarily false: but we call them contingent, because we do not yet know whether they be true or false; whereas their verity depends not upon our knowledge, but upon the foregoing of their causes. But there are some, who, though they will confess this whole proposition — To-morrow it will either rain or not rain — to be true, yet they will not acknowledge the parts of it, as, To-morrow it will rain, or To-morrow it will not rain, to be either of them true by itself; because (they say) neither this nor that is true determinately. But what is this true determinately, but true upon our knowledge or evidently true? And therefore they say no more but that it is not yet known whether it be true or not; but they say it more obscurely, and darken the evidence of the truth with the same words by which they endeavour to hide their own ignorance.”
67 The reader will find this problem admirably handled in Mr. John Stuart Mill’s System of Logic, Book iii. ch. 21, and Book vi. chs. 2 and 8; also in the volume of Professor Bain on the Emotions and the Will, Chapter on Belief.
Besides the above doctrine respecting Possible and Impossible, there is also ascribed to Diodorus a doctrine respecting Hypothetical Propositions, which, as far as I comprehend it, appears to have been a correct one.68 He is also said to have reasoned against the reality of motion, renewing the arguments of Zeno the Eleate.
68 Sextus Emp. Pyrrhon. Hypotyp. ii. pp. 110-115. ἀληθὲς συνημμένον. Adv. Mathemat. viii. 112. Philo maintained that an hypothetical proposition was true, if both the antecedent and consequent were true — “If it be day, I am conversing”. Diodorus denied that this proposition, as an Hypothetical proposition, was true: since the consequent might be false, though the antecedent were true. An Hypothetical proposition was true only when, assuming the antecedent to be true, the consequent must be true also.
Reasonings of Diodôrus — respecting Hypothetical Propositions — respecting Motion. His difficulties about the Now of time.
But if he reproduced the arguments of Zeno, he also employed another, peculiar to himself. He admitted the reality of past motion: but he denied the reality of present motion. You may affirm truly (he said) that a thing has been moved: but you cannot truly affirm that any thing is being moved. Since it was here before, and is there now, you may be sure that it has been moved: but actual present motion you cannot perceive or prove. Affirmation in the perfect tense may be true, when affirmation in the present tense neither is nor ever was true: thus it is true to say — Helen had three husbands (Menelaus, Paris, Deiphobus): but it was never true to say — Helen has three husbands, since they became her husbands in succession.69 Diodorus supported this paradox by some ingenious arguments, and the opinion which he denied seems to have presented itself to him as involving the position of indivisible minima — atoms of body, points of space, instants of time. He admitted such minima of atoms, but not of space or time: and without such admission he could not make intelligible to himself the fact of present or actual motion. He could find no present Now or Minimum of Time; without which 146neither could any present motion be found. Plato in the Parmenidês70 professes to have found this inexplicable moment of transition, but he describes it in terms not likely to satisfy a dialectical mind: and Aristotle denying that the Now is any portion or constituent part of time, considers it only as a boundary of the past and future.71
69 Sextus Empir. adv. Mathemat. x. pp. 85-101.
70 Plato, Parmenidês, p. 156 D-E. Πότ’ οὖν, μεταβάλλει; οὔτε γὰρ ἑστὸς ἂν οὔτε κενούμενον μετάβαλλοι, οὔτε ἐν χρόνῳ ὄν. (Here Plato adverts to the difficulties attending the supposition of actual μεταβολή, as Diodorus to those of actual κίνησις. Next we have Plato’s hypothesis for getting over the difficulties.) Ἆρ’ οὖν ἐστί τὸ ἄτοπον τοῦτο, ἐν ᾦ τότ’ ἂν εἴη ὅτε μεταβάλλει; Τὸ ποῖον δή; Τὸ ἐξαίφνης· ἡ ἐξαίφνης αὔτη φύσις ἄτοπος τις ἐγκάθηται μεταξὺ τῆς κινήσεως τε καὶ στάσεως, ἐν χρόνῳ οὐδενὶ οὖσα, καὶ εἰς ταύτην δὴ καὶ ἐκ ταύτης τό τε κινούμενον μεταβάλλει ἐπὶ τὸ ἐστάναι καὶ τὸ ἐστὸς ἐπὶ τὸ κινεῖσθαι.
Diodorus could not make out this φύσις ἄτοπος which Plato calls τὸ ἐξαίφνης.
71 To illustrate this apparent paradox of Diodorus, affirming past motion, but denying present motion, we may compare what is said by Aristotle about the Now or Point of Present Time — that it is not a part, but a boundary between Past and Future.
Aristot. Physic. iv. p. 218, a. 4-10. τοῦ δὲ χρόνον τὰ μὲν γέγονε, τὰ δὲ μέλλει, ἐστι δ’ οὐδὲν, ὄντος μεριστοῦ· τὸ δὲ νῦν οὐ μέρος — τὸ δὲ νῦν πέρας ἔστι (a. 24) — p. 222, a. 10-20-223, a. 20. ὁ δὲ χρόνος καὶ ἡ κίνησις ἅμα κατά τε δύναμιν καὶ κατ’ ἐνεργείαν.
Which doctrine is thus rendered by Harris in his Hermes, ch. vii. pp. 101-103-105:—“Both Points and Nows being taken as Bounds, and not as Parts, it will follow that in the same manner as the same point may be the end of one line and the beginning of another — so the same Now may be the End of one time, and the beginning of another.… I say of these two times, that with respect to the Now, or Instant which they include, the first of them is necessarily Past time, as being previous to it: the other is necessarily Future, as being subsequent.… From the above speculations, there follow some conclusions, which may be called paradoxes, till they have been attentively considered. In the first place, there cannot (strictly speaking) be any such thing as Time Present. For if all Time be transient, as well as continuous, it cannot like a line be present altogether, but part will necessarily be gone and part be coming. If therefore any portion of its continuity were to be present at once, it would so far quit its transient nature, and be Time no longer. But if no portion of its continuity can be thus present, how can Time possibly be present, to which such continuity is essential?” — Compare Sir William Hamilton’s Discussions on Philosophy, p. 581.
Motion is always present, past, and future.
This opinion of Aristotle is in the main consonant with that of Diodorus; who, when he denied the reality of present motion, meant probably only to deny the reality of present motion apart from past and future motion. Herein also we find him agreeing with Hobbes, who denies the same in clearer language.72 Sextus Empiricus declares 147Diodorus to have been inconsistent in admitting past motion while he denied present motion.73 But this seems not more inconsistent than the doctrine of Aristotle respecting the Now of time. I know, when I compare a child or a young tree with what they respectively were a year ago, that they have grown: but whether they actually are growing, at every moment of the intervening time, is not ascertainable by sense, and is a matter of probable inference only.74 Diodorus could not understand present motion, except in conjunction with past and future motion, as being the common limit of the two: but he could understand past motion, without reference to present or future. He could not state to himself a satisfactory theory respecting the beginning of motion: as we may see by his reasonings distinguishing the motion of a body all at once in its integrity, from the motion of a body considered as proceeding from the separate motion of its constituent atoms — the moving atoms preponderating over the atoms at rest, and determining them to motion,75 until gradually the whole body came to move. The same argument re-appears in another example, when he argues — The wall does not fall while its component stones hold together, for then it is still standing: nor yet when they have come apart, for then it has fallen.76
72 Hobbes, First Grounds of Philosophy, ii. 8, 11. “That is said to be at rest which, during any time, is in one place; and that to be moved, or to have been moved, which whether it be now at rest or moved, was formerly in another place from that which it is now in. From which definition it may be inferred, first, that whatsoever is moved has been moved: for if it still be in the same place in which it was formerly, it is at rest: but if it be in another place, it has been moved, by the definition of moved. Secondly, that what is moved, will yet be moved: for that which is moved, leaveth the place where it is, and consequently will be moved still. Thirdly, that whatsoever is moved, is not in one place during any time, how little soever that may be: for by the definition of rest, that which is in one place during any time, is at rest. … From what is above demonstrated — namely, that whatsoever is moved, has also been moved, and will be moved: this also may be collected, That there can be no conception of motion without conceiving past and future time.”
73 Sext. Emp. adv. Mathem. x. pp. 91-97-112-116.
74 See this point touched by Plato in Philêbus, p. 43 B.
75 Sext. Emp. adv. Mathem. x. 113. κίνησις κατ’ εἰλικρίνειαν … κίνησις κατ’ ἐπικράτειαν. Compare Zeller, Die Philosophie der Griech. ii. p. 191, ed. 2nd.
76 Sext. Emp. adv. Mathem. x. pp. 346-348.
Stilpon of Megara — His great celebrity.
That Diodorus was a person seriously anxious to solve logical difficulties, as well as to propose them, would be incontestably proved if we could believe the story recounted of him — that he hanged himself because he could not solve a problem proposed by Stilpon in the presence of Ptolemy Soter.77 But this story probably grew out of the fact, that Stilpon succeeded Diodorus at Megara, and eclipsed him in reputation. The celebrity of Stilpon, both at Megara and 148at Athens (between 320-300 B.C., but his exact date can hardly be settled), was equal, if not superior, to that of any contemporary philosopher. He was visited by listeners from all parts of Greece, and he drew away pupils from the most renowned teachers of the day; from Theophrastus as well as the others.78 He was no less remarkable for fertility of invention than for neatness of expression. Two persons, who came for the purpose of refuting him, are said to have remained with him as admirers and scholars. All Greece seemed as it were looking towards him, and inclining towards the Megaric doctrines.79 He was much esteemed both by Ptolemy Soter and by Demetrius Poliorkêtes, though he refused the presents and invitations of both: and there is reason to believe that his reputation in his own day must have equalled that of either Plato or Aristotle in theirs. He was formidable in disputation; but the nine dialogues which he composed and published are characterised by Diogenes as cold.80
77 Diog. L. ii. 112.
78 This is asserted by Diogenes upon the authority of Φίλιππος ὁ Μεγρικός, whom he cites κατὰ λέξιν. We do not know anything about Philippus.
Menedêmus, who spoke with contempt of the other philosophers, even of Plato and Xenokrates, admired Stilpon (Diog. L. ii. 134).
79 The phrase of Diogenes is here singular, and must probably have been borrowed from a partisan — ὥστε μικροῦ δεῆσαι πᾶσαν τὴν Ἑλλάδα ἀφορῶσαν εἰς αὐτὸν μεγαρίσαι. Στιλπον εὑρεσιλογίᾳ καὶ σοφιστείᾳ προῆγε τοὺς ἄλλους — κομψότατος (Diog. L. ii. 113-115).
80 Diog. L. ii. 119-120. ψυχροί.
Menedêmus and the Eretriacs.
Contemporary with Stilpon (or perhaps somewhat later) was Menedêmus of Eretria, whose philosophic parentage is traced to Phædon. The name of Phædon has been immortalised, not by his own works, but by the splendid dialogue of which Plato has made him the reciter. He is said (though I doubt the fact) to have been a native of Elis. He was of good parentage, a youthful companion of Sokrates in the last years of his life.81 After the death of Sokrates, Phædon went to Elis, composed some dialogues, and established a succession 149or sect of philosophers — Pleistanus, Anchipylus, Moschus. Of this sect Menedêmus,82 contemporary and hearer of Stilpon, became the most eminent representative, and from him it was denominated Eretriac instead of Eleian. The Eretriacs, as well as the Megarics, took up the negative arm of philosophy, and were eminent as puzzlers and controversialists.
81 The story given by Diogenes L. (ii. 31 and 106; compare Aulus Gellius, ii. 18) about Phædon’s adventures antecedent to his friendship with Sokrates, is unintelligible to me. “Phædon was made captive along with his country (Elis), sold at Athens, and employed in a degrading capacity; until Sokrates induced Alkibiades or Kriton to pay his ransom.” Now, no such event as the capture of Elis, and the sale of its Eupatrids as slaves, happened at that time: the war between Sparta and Elis (described by Xenophon, Hell. iii. 2, 21 seq.) led to no such result, and was finished, moreover, after the death of Sokrates. Alkibiades had been long in exile. If, in the text of Diogenes, where we now read Φαίδων, Ἥλειος, τῶν εὐπατριδῶν — we were allowed to substitute Φαίδων, Μήλιος, τῶν εὐπατριδῶν — the narrative would be rendered consistent with known historical facts. The Athenians captured the island of Melos in 415 B.C., put to death the Melians of military age, and sold into slavery the younger males as well as the females (Thucyd. v. 116). If Phædon had been a Melian youth of good family, he would have been sold at Athens, and might have undergone the adventures narrated by Diogenes. We know that Alkibiades purchased a female Melian as slave (Pseudo-Andokides cont. Alkibiad.).
82 Diog. L. ii. 105, 126 seq. There was a statue of Menedêmus in the ancient stadium of Eretria: Diogenes speaks as if it existed in his time, and as if he himself had seen it (ii. 132).
Open speech and licence of censure assumed by Menedêmus.
But though this was the common character of the two, in a logical point of view, yet in Stilpon, as well as Menedêmus, other elements became blended with the logical. These persons combined, in part at least, the free censorial speech of Antisthenes with the subtlety of Eukleides. What we hear of Menedêmus is chiefly his bitter, stinging sarcasms, and clever repartees. He did not, like the Cynic Diogenes, live in contented poverty, but occupied a prominent place (seemingly under the patronage of Antigonus and Demetrius) in the government of his native city Eretria. Nevertheless he is hardly less celebrated than Diogenes for open speaking of his mind, and carelessness of giving offence to others.83
83 Diog. L. ii. 129-142.
Antisthenes took up Ethics principally, but with negative Logic intermingled.
Antisthenes, the originator of the Cynic succession of philosophers, was one of those who took up principally the ethical element of the Sokratic discoursing, which the Megarics left out or passed lightly over. He did not indeed altogether leave out the logical element: all his doctrines respecting it, as far as we hear of them, appear to have been on the negative side. But 150respecting ethics, he laid down affirmative propositions,84 and delivered peremptory precepts. His aversion to pleasure, by which he chiefly meant sexual pleasure, was declared in the most emphatic language. He had therefore, in the negative logic, a point of community with Eukleides and the Megarics: so that the coalescence of the two successions, in Stilpon and Menedêmus, is a fact not difficult to explain.
84 Clemens Alexandr. Stromat. ii. 20, p. 485, Potter. ἐγὼ δ’ ἀποδέχομαι τὸν Ἀφροδίτην λέγοντα κᾂν κατατοξεύσαιμι, εἰ λάβοιμι, &c.
Μανείην μᾶλλον ἢ ἠσθείην, Diog. L. vi. 3.
The life of Sokrates being passed in conversing with a great variety of persons and characters, his discourses were of course multifarious, and his ethical influence operated in different ways. His mode of life, too, exercised a certain influence of its own.
He copied the manner of life of Sokrates, in plainness and rigour.
Antisthenes, and his disciple Diogenes, were in many respects closer approximations to Sokrates than either Plato or any other of the Sokratic companions. The extraordinary colloquial and cross-examining force was indeed a peculiar gift, which Sokrates bequeathed to none of them: but Antisthenes took up the Sokratic purpose of inculcating practical ethics not merely by word of mouth, but also by manner of life. He was not inferior to his master in contentment under poverty, in strength of will and endurance,85 in acquired insensibility both to pain and pleasure, in disregard of opinion around him, and in fearless exercise of a self-imposed censorial mission. He learnt from Sokrates indifference to conventional restraints and social superiority, together with the duty of reducing wants to a minimum, and stifling all such as were above the lowest term of necessity. To this last point, Sokrates gave a religious colour, proclaiming that the Gods had no wants, and that those who had least came nearest to the Gods.86 By Antisthenes, these qualities were exhibited in eminent measure; and by his disciple Diogenes 151they were still farther exaggerated. Epiktetus, a warm admirer of both, considers them as following up the mission from Zeus which Sokrates (in the Platonic Apology) sets forth as his authority, to make men independent of the evils of life by purifying and disciplining the appreciation of good and evil in the mind of each individual.87
85 Cicero, de Orator. iii. 17, 62; Diog. L. vi. 2. παρ’ οὖ (Sokrates) καὶ τὸ καρτερικὸν λαβὼν καὶ τὸ ἀπαθὲς ζηλώσας κατῆρξε πρῶτος τοῦ κυνισμοῦ: also vi. 15. The appellation of Cynics is said to have arisen from the practice of Antisthenes to frequent the gymnasium called Κυνόσαργες (D. L. vi. 13), though other causes are also assigned for the denomination (Winckelmann, Antisth. Frag. pp. 8-10).
86 Sokrates had said, τὸ μηδενὸς δέεσθαι, θεῖον εἶναι· τὸ δ’ ὡς ἐλαχίστων, ἐγγυτάτω τοῦ θείου (Xenophon, Memor. i. 6, 10. Compare Apuleius, Apol. p. 25). Plato, Gorgias, p. 492 E. The same dictum is ascribed to Diogenes (Diog. L. vi. 105).
87 Epiktetus, Dissert. iii. 1, 19-22, iii. 21-19, iii. 24-40-60-69. The whole of the twenty-second Dissertation, Περὶ Κυνισμοῦ, is remarkable. He couples Sokrates with Diogenes more closely than with any one else.
Doctrines of Antisthenes exclusively ethical and ascetic. He despised music, literature, and physics.
Antisthenes declared virtue to be the End for men to aim at — and to be sufficient per se for conferring happiness; but he also declared that virtue must be manifested in acts and character, not by words. Neither much discourse nor much learning was required for virtue; nothing else need be postulated except bodily strength like that of Sokrates.88 He undervalued theory even in regard to Ethics: much more in regard to Nature (Physics) and to Logic: he also despised literary, geometrical, musical teaching, as distracting men’s attention from the regulation of their own appreciative sentiment, and the adaptation of their own conduct to it. He maintained strenuously (what several Platonic dialogues call in question) that virtue both could be taught and must be taught: when once learnt, it was permanent, and could not be eradicated. He prescribed the simplest mode of life, the reduction of wants to a minimum, with perfect indifference to enjoyment, wealth, or power. The reward was, exemption from fear, anxiety, disappointments, and wants: together with the pride of approximation to the Gods.89 Though Antisthenes thus despised both literature and theory, yet he had obtained a rhetorical education, and had even heard the rhetor Gorgias. He composed a large number of dialogues and other treatises, of which only the titles (very multifarious) are preserved to us.90 One dialogue, entitled Sathon, was a coarse attack on Plato: several treated of Homer and of other poets, whose verses he seems to have allegorised. Some of his dialogues are also declared by Athenæus to contain slanderous abuse of Alkibiades and other leading Athenians. 152On the other hand, the dialogues are much commended by competent judges; and Theopompus even affirmed that much in the Platonic dialogues had been borrowed from those of Antisthenes, Aristippus, and Bryson.91
88 Diog. L. vi. 11.
89 Diog. L. vi. 102-104.
90 Diog. L. vi. 1, 15-18. The two remaining fragments — Αἴας, Ὄδυσσεὺς (Winckelmann, Antisth. Fragm. pp. 38-42) — cannot well be genuine, though Winckelmann seems to think them so.
91 Athenæus, v. 220, xi. 508; Diog. L. iii. 24-35; Phrynichus ap. Photium, cod. 158; Epiktêtus, ii. 16-35. Antisthenes is placed in the same line with Kritias and Xenophon, as a Sokratic writer, by Dionysius of Halikarnassus, De Thucyd. Jud. p. 941. That there was standing reciprocal hostility between Antisthenes and Plato we can easily believe. Plato never names Antisthenes: and if the latter attacked Plato, it was under the name of Sathon. How far Plato in his dialogues intends to attack Antisthenes without naming him — is difficult to determine. Probably he does intend to designate Antisthenes as γέρων ὀψιμαθής, in Sophist. 251. Schleiermacher and other commentators think that he intends to attack Antisthenes in Philêbus, Theætêtus, Euthydêmus, &c. But this seems to me not certain. In Philêbus, p. 44, he can hardly include Antisthenes among the μάλα δεινοὶ περὶ φύσιν. Antisthenes neglected the study of φύσις.
Constant friendship of Antisthenes with Sokrates — Xenophontic Symposion.
Antisthenes was among the most constant friends and followers of Sokrates, both in his serious and in his playful colloquies.92 The Symposion of Xenophon describes both of them, in their hours of joviality. The picture drawn by an author, himself a friend and companion, exhibits Antisthenes (so far as we can interpret caricature and jocular inversion) as poor, self-denying, austere, repulsive, and disputatious — yet bold and free-spoken, careless of giving offence, and forcible in colloquial repartee.93
92 Xenophon, Memor. iii. 11, 17.
93 Xenophon, Memorab. iii. 11, 17; Symposion, ii. 10, iv. 2-3-44. Plutarch (Quæst. Symp. ii. 1, 6, p. 632) and Diogenes Laertius (vi. 1, 15) appear to understand the description of Xenophon as ascribing to Antisthenes a winning and conciliatory manner. To me it conveys the opposite impression. We must recollect that the pleasantry of the Xenophontic Symposion (not very successful as pleasantry) is founded on the assumption, by each person, of qualities and pretensions the direct reverse of that which he has in reality — and on his professing to be proud of that which is a notorious disadvantage. Thus Sokrates pretends to possess great personal beauty, and even puts himself in competition with the handsome youth Kritobulus; he also prides himself on the accomplishments of a good μαστροπός. Antisthenes, quite indigent, boasts of his wealth; the neglected Hermogenes boasts of being powerfully friended. The passage, iv. 57, 61, which talks of the winning manners of Antisthenes, and his power of imparting popular accomplishments, is to be understood in this ironical and inverted sense.
Diogenes, successor of Antisthenes — His Cynical perfection — striking effect which he produced.
In all these qualities, however, Antisthenes was surpassed by his pupil and successor Diogenes of Sinôpê; whose ostentatious austerity of life, eccentric and fearless character, indifference to what was considered as decency, great acuteness and still greater power of expression, freedom of speech towards all and against all — constituted him the perfect type of the Cynical sect. Being the son of a money-agent at Sinôpê,153 he was banished with his father for fraudulently counterfeiting the coin of the city. On coming to Athens as an exile, he was captivated with the character of Antisthenes, who was at first unwilling to admit him, and was only induced to do so by his invincible importunity. Diogenes welcomed his banishment, with all its poverty and destitution, as having been the means of bringing him to Antisthenes,94 and to a life of philosophy. It was Antisthenes (he said) who emancipated him from slavery, and made him a freeman. He was clothed in one coarse garment with double fold: he adopted the wallet (afterwards the symbol of cynicism) for his provisions, and is said to have been without any roof or lodging — dwelling sometimes in a tub near the Metroon, sometimes in one of the public porticoes or temples: he is also said to have satisfied all his wants in the open day. He here indulged unreservedly in that unbounded freedom of speech, which he looked upon as the greatest blessing of life. No man ever turned that blessing to greater account: the string of repartees, sarcasms, and stinging reproofs, which are attributed to him by Diogenes Laertius, is very long, but forms only a small proportion of those which that author had found recounted.95 Plato described Diogenes as Sokrates running mad:96 and when 154Diogenes, meeting some Sicilian guests at his house and treading upon his best carpet, exclaimed “I am treading on Plato’s empty vanity and conceit,” Plato rejoined “Yes, with a different vanity of your own”. The impression produced by Diogenes in conversation with others, was very powerfully felt both by young and old. Phokion, as well as Stilpon, were among his hearers.97 In crossing the sea to Ægina, Diogenes was captured by pirates, taken to Krete, and there put up to auction as a slave: the herald asked him what sort of work he was fit for: whereupon Diogenes replied — To command men. At his own instance, a rich Corinthian named Xeniades bought him and transported him to Corinth. Diogenes is said to have assumed towards Xeniades the air of a master: Xeniades placed him at the head of his household, and made him preceptor of his sons. In both capacities Diogenes discharged his duty well.98 As a slave well treated by his master, and allowed to enjoy great freedom of speech, he lived in greater comfort than he had ever enjoyed as a freeman: and we are not surprised that he declined the offers of friends to purchase his liberation. He died at Corinth in very old age: it is said, at ninety years old, and on the very same day on which Alexander the Great died at Babylon (B.C. 323). He was buried at the gate of Corinth leading to the Isthmus: a monument being erected to his honour, with a column of Parian marble crowned by the statue of a dog.99
94 Diog. L. vi. 2, 21-49; Plutarch Quæst. Sympos. ii. 1, 7; Epiktetus, iii. 22, 67, iv. 1, 114; Dion Chrysostom. Orat. viii.-ix.-x.
Plutarch quotes two lines from Diogenes respecting Antisthenes:—
Ὅς με ῥάκη τ’ ἤμπισχε κὰξηνάγκασε
Πτωχὸν γενέσθαι καὶ δόμων ἀνάστατον —
The interpretation given of the passage by Plutarch is curious, but quite in the probable meaning of the author. However, it is not easy to reconcile with the fact of this extreme poverty another fact mentioned about Diogenes, that he asked fees from listeners, in one case as much as a mina (Diog. L. vi. 2, 67).
95 Diog. L. v. 18, vi. 2, 69. ἐρωτηθεὶς τί κάλλιστον ἐν ἀνθρώποις ἔφη — παῤῥησία. Among the numerous lost works of Theophrastus (enumerated by Diogen. Laert. v. 43) one is Τῶν Διογένους Συναγωγὴ, ά, a remarkable evidence of the impression made by the sayings and proceedings of Diogenes upon his contemporaries. Compare Dion Chrysostom. Or. ix. (vol. i. 288 seq. Reiske) for the description of the conduct of Diogenes at the Isthmian festival, and the effect produced by it on spectators.
These smart sayings, of which so many are ascribed to Diogenes, and which he is said to have practised beforehand, and to have made occasions for — ὅτι χρείαν εἴη μεμελετηκώς (Diog. L. v. 18, vi. 91, vii. 26) — were called by the later rhetors Χρεῖαι. See Hermogenes and Theon, apud Walz, Rhetor. Græc. i. pp. 19-201; Quintilian, i. 9, 4.
Such collections of Ana were ascribed to all the philosophers in greater or less number. Photius, in giving the list of books from which the Sophist Sopater collected extracts, indicates one as Τὰ Διογένους τοῦ Κυνικοῦ Ἀποφθέγματα (Codex 161).
96 Diog. L. vi. 54: Σωκράτης μαινό μενος. vi. 26: Οἱ δὲ φασι τὸν Διογένην εἰπεῖν, Πατῶ τὸν Πλάτωνος τῦφον· τὸν δὲ φάναι, Ἑτέρῳ γε τύφῳ, Διόγενες. The term τῦφος (“vanity, self-conceit, assumption of knowing better than others, being puffed up by the praise of vulgar minds”) seems to have been mach interchanged among the ancient philosophers, each of them charging it upon his opponents; while the opponents of philosophy generally imputed it to all philosophers alike. Pyrrho the Sceptic took credit for being the only ἄτυφος: and he is complimented as such by his panegyrist Timon in the Silli. Aristokles affirmed that Pyrrho had just as much τῦφον as the rest. Eusebius, Præp. Evang. xiv. 18.
97 Diog. L. vi. 2, 75-76.
98 Diog. L. vi. 2, 74. Xeniades was mentioned by Democritus: he is said to have been a sceptic (Sext. Emp. adv. Mathem. vii. 48-53), at least he did not recognise any κριτήριον.
99 Diog. L. vi. 2, 77-78.
Diogenes seems to have been known by his contemporaries under the title of ὁ Κύων. Aristotle cites from him a witty comparison under that designation, Rhetoric. iii. 10, 1410, a. 24. καὶ ὁ Κύων (ἐκάλει) τὰ καπηλεῖα, τὰ Ἀττικὰ φιδίτια.
Doctrines and smart sayings of Diogenes — Contempt of pleasure — training and labour required — indifference to literature and geometry.
In politics, ethics, and rules for human conduct, Diogenes adopted views of his own, and spoke them out freely. He was a freethinker (like Antisthenes) as to the popular religion: and he disapproved of marriage laws, considering that the intercourse of the sexes 155ought to be left to individual taste and preference.100 Though he respected the city and conformed to its laws, yet he had no reverence for existing superstitions, or for the received usages as to person, sex, or family. He declared himself to be a citizen of the Kosmos and of Nature.101 His sole exigency was, independence of life, and freedom of speech: having these, he was satisfied, fully sufficient to himself for happiness, and proud of his own superiority to human weakness. The main benefit which he derived from philosophy (he said) was, that he was prepared for any fortune that might befall him. To be ready to accept death easily, was the sure guarantee of a free and independent life.102 He insisted emphatically upon the necessity of exercise or training (ἄσκησις) both as to the body and as to the mind. Without this, nothing could be done: by means of it everything might be achieved. But he required that the labours imposed should be directed to the acquisition of habits really useful; instead of being wasted, as they commonly were, upon objects frivolous and showy. The truly wise man ought to set before him as a model the laborious life of Hêraklês: and he would find, after proper practice and training, that the contempt of pleasures would afford him more enjoyment than the pleasures themselves.103
100 Diog. L. vi. 2, 72. Cicero, De Nat. Deor. i. 13.
101 Diog. L. vi. 2, 63-71. The like declaration is ascribed to Sokrates. Epiktêtus, i. 9, 1.
102 Diog. L. vi. 2, 63, 72. μηδὲν ἐλευθερίας προκρίνων. Epiktêtus, iv. 1, 30. Οὕτω καὶ Διογένης λέγει, μίαν εἶναι μηχανὴν πρὸς ἐλευθερίαν — τὸ εὐκόλως ἀποθνήσκειν. Compare iv. 7-28, i. 24, 6.
103 Diog. L. vi. 2, 70-71. καὶ γὰρ αὐτὴ τῆς ἡδονῆς ἡ καταφρόνησις ἡδυτάτη προμελετηθεῖσα, καὶ ὥσπερ οἱ συνεθισθέντες ἡδέως ζῇν, ἀηδῶς ἐπὶ τοὐναντίον μετίασιν, οὕτω οἱ τοὐναντίον ἀσκηθέντες ἥδιον αὐτῶν τῶν ἡδονῶν καταφρονοῦσι. See Lucian, Vitar. Auct. c. 9, about the hard life and the happiness of Diogenes. Compare s. 26 about the τῦφος of Diogenes treading down the different τῦφος of Plato, and Epiktêtus iii. 22, 57. Antisthenes, in his dialogue or discourse called Ἡρακλῆς, appears to have enforced the like appeal to that hero as an example to others. See Winckelmann, Fragm. Antisthen. pp. 15-18.
Admiration of Epiktêtus for Diogenes, especially for his consistency in acting out his own ethical creed.
Diogenes declared that education was sobriety to the young, consolation to the old, wealth to the poor, ornament to the rich. But he despised much of what was commonly imparted as education — music, geometry, astronomy, &c.: and he treated with equal scorn Plato and Eukleides.104 He is said however to have conducted the education of the sons of his master Xeniades105 without 156material departure from the received usage. He caused them to undergo moderate exercise (not with a view to athletic success) in the palæstra, and afterwards to practise riding, shooting with the bow, hurling the javelin, slinging and hunting: he cultivated their memories assiduously, by recitations from poets and prose authors, and even from his own compositions: he kept them on bread and water, without tunic or shoes, with clothing only such as was strictly necessary, with hair closely cut, habitually silent, and fixing their eyes on the ground when they walked abroad. These latter features approximate to the training at Sparta (as described by Xenophon) which Diogenes declared to contrast with Athens as the apartments of the men with those of the women. Diogenes is said to have composed several dialogues and even some tragedies.106 But his most impressive display (like that of Sokrates) was by way of colloquy — prompt and incisive interchange of remarks. He was one of the few philosophers who copied Sokrates in living constantly before the public — in talking with every one indiscriminately and fearlessly, in putting home questions like a physician to his patient.107 Epiktêtus, — speaking of Diogenes as equal, if not superior, to Sokrates — draws a distinction pertinent and accurate. “To Sokrates” (says he) “Zeus assigned the elenchtic or cross-examining function: to Diogenes, the magisterial and chastising function: to Zeno (the Stoic) the didactic and dogmatical.” While thus describing Diogenes justly enough, Epiktetus nevertheless insists upon his agreeable person and his extreme gentleness and good-nature:108 qualities for which 157probably Diogenes neither took credit himself, nor received credit from his contemporaries. Diogenes seems to have really possessed — that which his teacher Antisthenes postulated as indispensable — the Sokratic physical strength and vigour. His ethical creed, obtained from Antisthenes, was adopted by many successors, and (in the main) by Zeno and the Stoics in the ensuing century. But the remarkable feature in Diogenes which attracts to him the admiration of Epiktêtus, is — that he set the example of acting out his creed, consistently and resolutely, in his manner of life:109 an example followed by some of his immediate successors, but not by the Stoics, who confined themselves to writing and preaching. Contemporary both with Plato and Aristotle, Diogenes stands to both of them in much the same relation as Phokion to Demosthenes in politics and oratory: he exhibits strength of will, insensibility to applause as well as to reproach, and self-acting independence — in antithesis to their higher gifts and cultivation of intellect. He was undoubtedly, next to Sokrates, the most original and unparalleled manifestation of Hellenic philosophy.
104 Diog. L. vi. 2, 68-73-24-27.
105 Diog. L. vi. 2, 30-31.
106 Diog. L. vi. 2, 80. Diogenes Laertius himself cites a fact from one of the dialogues — Pordalus (vi. 2, 20): and Epiktêtus alludes to the treatise on Ethics by Diogenes — ἐν τῇ Ἠθικῇ — ii. 20, 14. It appears however that the works ascribed to Diogenes were not admitted by all authors as genuine (Diog. L. c.).
107 Dion Chrysost. Or. x.; De Servis, p. 295 E. Or. ix.; Isthmicus, p. 289 R. ὥσπερ ἰατροὶ ἀνακρίνουσι τοὺς ἀσθενοῦντας, οὕτως Διογένης ἀνέκρινε τὸν ἄνθρωπον, &c.
108 Epiktêtus, iii. 21, 19. ὡς Σωκράτει συνεβούλευε τὴν ἐλεγκτικὴν χώραν ἔχειν, ὡς Διογένει τὴν βασιλικὴν καὶ ἐπιπληκτικήν, ὡς Ζήνωνι τὴν διδασκαλικὴν καὶ δογματικήν.
About τὸ ἥμερον καὶ φιλάνθρωπον of Diogenes, see Epiktêtus, iii. 24, 64; who also tells us (iv. 11, 19), professing to follow the statements of contemporaries, that the bodies both of Sokrates and Diogenes were by nature so sweet and agreeable (ἐπίχαρι καὶ ἡδύ) as to dispense with the necessity of washing.
“Ego certé” (says Seneca, Epist. 108, 13-14, about the lectures of the eloquent Stoic Attalus) “cum Attalum audirem, in vitia, in errores, in mala vitæ perorantem, sæpé misertus sum generis humani, et illum sublimem altioremque humano fastigio credidi. Ipse regem se esse dicebat: sed plus quam regnare mihi videbatur, cui liceret censuram agere regnantium.” See also his treatises De Beneficiis, v. 4-6, and De Tranquillitate Animi (c. 8), where, after lofty encomium on Diogenes, he exclaims — “Si quis de felicitate Diogenis dubitat, potest idem dubitare et de Deorum immortalium statu, an parum beaté degant,” &c.
109 Cicero, in his Oration in defence of Murena (30-61-62) compliments Cato (the accuser) as one of the few persons who adopted the Stoic tenets with a view of acting them out, and who did really act them out — “Hæc homo ingeniosissimus M. Cato, autoribus eruditissimis inductus, arripuit: neque disputandi causa, ut magna pars, sed ita vivendi”. Tacitus (Histor. iv. 5) pays the like compliment to Helvidius Priscus.
M. Gaston Boissier (Étude sur la Vie et les Ouvrages de Varron, pp. 113-114, Paris, 1861) expresses an amount of surprise which I should not have expected, on the fact that persons adopted a philosophical creed for the purpose only of debating it and defending it, and not of acting it out. But he recognises the fact, in regard to Varro and his contemporaries, in terms not less applicable to the Athenian world: amidst such general practice, Antisthenes, Diogenes, Krates, &c., stood out as memorable exceptions. “Il ne faut pas non plus oublier de quelle manière, et dans quel esprit, les Romains lettrés étudiaient la philosophie Grecque. Ils venaient écouter les plus habiles maîtres, connaître les sectes les plus célèbres: mais ils les étudiaient plutôt en curieux, qu’ils ne s’y attachaient en adeptes. On ne les voit guères approfondir un système et s’y tenir, adopter un ensemble de croyances, et y conformer leur conduite. On étudiait le plus souvent la philosophie pour discuter. C’était seulement une matière à des conversations savantes, un exercice et un aliment pour les esprits curieux. Voilà pourquoi la secte Académique étoit alors mieux accueillie que les autres,” &c.
Admiration excited by the asceticism of the Cynics — Asceticism extreme in the East — Comparison of the Indian Gymnosophists with Diogenes.
Respecting Diogenes and the Cynic philosophers generally, we have to regard not merely their doctrines, but the effect produced by their severity of life. In this point Diogenes surpassed his master Antisthenes, whose life he criticised as not fully realising the lofty spirit of his doctrine. The spectacle of man not merely abstaining from enjoyment, but enduring with indifference hunger, thirst, heat, cold, poverty, privation, bodily torture, death, &c., exercises a powerful influence on the imagination of mankind. 158It calls forth strong feelings of reverence and admiration in the beholders: while in the sufferer himself also, self-reverence and self-admiration, the sense of power and exaltation above the measure of humanity, is largely developed. The extent to which self-inflicted hardships and pains have prevailed in various regions of the earth, the long-protracted and invincible resolution with which they have been endured, and the veneration which such practices have procured for the ascetics who submitted to them are among the most remarkable chapters in history.110 The East, especially India, has always been, and still is, the country in which these voluntary endurances have reached their extreme pitch of severity; even surpassing those of the Christian monks in Egypt and Syria, during the fourth and fifth centuries of the Christian era.111 When Alexander the Great first opened India to the observation of Greeks, one of the novelties which most surprised him and his followers was, the sight of the Gymnosophists or naked philosophers. These men were found lying on the ground, either totally uncovered or with nothing but a cloth round the loins; abstaining from all enjoyment, nourishing themselves upon a minimum of coarse vegetables or fruits, careless of the extreme heat of the plain, and the extreme cold of the mountain; and often superadding pain, fatigue, or prolonged and distressing uniformity of posture. They passed their time either in silent meditation or in discourse on religion and philosophy: they were venerated as well as consulted by every one, censuring even the most powerful persons in the land. Their fixed idea was to stand as examples to all, of endurance, insensibility, submission only to the indispensable necessities of nature, and freedom from all other fear or authority. They acted out the doctrine, which Plato so eloquently preaches 159under the name of Sokrates in the Phædon — That the whole life of the philosopher is a preparation for death: that life is worthless, and death an escape from it into a better state.112 It is an interesting fact to learn that when Onesikritus (one of Alexander’s officers, who had known and frequented the society of Diogenes in Greece), being despatched during the Macedonian march through India for the purpose of communicating with these Gymnosophists, saw their manner of life and conversed with them he immediately compared them with Diogenes, whom he had himself visited — as well as with