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类型:奇幻地区:莫桑比克剧发布:2021-02-26 14:25:27

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We are told that when his end began to approach, the dying philosopher was pressed to choose a successor in the headship of the School. The manner in which he did this is289 characteristic of his singular gentleness and unwillingness to give offence. It was understood that the choice must lie between his two most distinguished pupils, Theophrastus of Lesbos, and Eud锚mus of Rhodes. Aristotle asked for specimens of the wine grown in those islands. He first essayed the Rhodian vintage, and praised it highly, but remarked after tasting the other, 鈥楾he Lesbian is sweeter,鈥 thus revealing his preference for Theophrastus, who accordingly reigned over the Lyceum in his stead.179Again, this preference for mythological imagery on the part of the more original and poetical thinker seems to be closely connected with a more vivid interest in the practical duties of life. With Plotinus, the primal beauty or supreme good is something that can be isolated from all other beauty and goodness, something to be perceived and enjoyed in absolute seclusion from one鈥檚 fellow-men. God is, indeed, described as the source and cause of all other good. But neither here nor elsewhere is there a hint that we should strive to resemble him by becoming, in our turn, the cause of good to others. Platonic love, on the contrary, first finds its reality and truth in unremitting efforts for the enlightenment and elevation of others, being related to the transmission of spiritual life just as the love inspired by visible beauty is related to the perpetuation and physical ennoblement of the race.

It might have been expected that, on reaching physiology, the Stagirite would stand on firmer ground than any of his contemporaries. Such, however, is not the case. As already observed, his achievements belong entirely to the dominion of anatomy and descriptive zoology. The whole internal economy of the animal body is, according to him, designed for the purpose of creating and moderating the vital heat;315 and in apportioning their functions to the different organs he is entirely dominated by this fundamental error. It was a common notion among the Greeks, suggested by sufficiently obvious considerations, that the brain is the seat of the psychic activities. These, however, Aristotle transports to the heart, which, in his system, not only propels the blood through the body, but is also the source of heat, the common centre where the different special sensations meet to be compared, and the organ of imagination and of passion. The sole function of the brain is to cool down the blood鈥攁 purpose which the lungs also subserve. Some persons believe that air is a kind of food, and is inhaled in order to feed the internal fire; but their theory would involve the absurd consequence that all animals breathe, for all have some heat. Anaxagoras and Diogenes did, indeed, make that assertion, and the latter even went so far as to say that fish breathe with their gills, absorbing the air held in solution by the water passed through them鈥攁 misapprehension, says Aristotle, which arose from not having studied the final cause of respiration.201 His physiological theory of generation is equally unfortunate. In accordance with his metaphysical system, hereafter to be explained, he distinguishes two elements in the reproductive process, of which one, that contributed by the male, is exclusively formative; and the other, that contributed by the female, exclusively material. The prevalent opinion was evidently, what we know now to be true, that each parent has both a formative and a material share in the composition of the embryo. Again, Aristotle, strangely enough, regards the generative element in both sexes as an unappropriated portion of the animal鈥檚 nutriment, the last and most refined product of digestion, and therefore not a portion of the parental system at all; while other biologists, anticipating Mr. Darwin鈥檚 theory of pangenesis in a very wonderful manner, taught that the semen is a con316flux of molecules derived from every part of the body, and thus strove to account for the hereditary transmission of individual peculiarities to offspring.202Through all his criticisms on the popular sources of information鈥攕ense, language and public opinion鈥擯lato refers to an ideal of perfect knowledge which he assumes without being able to define it. It must satisfy the negative condition of being free from self-contradiction, but further than this we cannot go. Yet, in the hands of a metaphysician, no more than this was required to reconstruct the world. The demand for consistency explains the practical philosophy of Socrates. It also explains, under another form, the philosophy, both practical and speculative, of his disciple. Identity and the correlative of identity, difference, gradually came to cover with their manifold combinations all knowledge, all life, and all existence.

The physics of Stoicism was, in truth, the scaffolding rather than the foundation of its ethical superstructure. The real foundation was the necessity of social existence, formulated under the influence of a logical exclusiveness first introduced by Parmenides, and inherited from his teaching by every system of philosophy in turn. Yet there is no doubt that Stoic morality was considerably strengthened and steadied by the support it found in conceptions derived from a different order of speculations; so much so that at last it grew to conscious independence of that support.The same, in self-same place, and by itself

It appears, then, that the popular identification of an Epicurean with a sensualist has something to say in its favour. Nevertheless, we have no reason to think that Epicurus was anything but perfectly sincere when he repudiated the charge of being a mere sensualist.132 But the impulse which lifted him above sensualism was not derived from his own original philosophy. It was due to the inspiration of Plato; and nothing testifies more to Plato鈥檚 moral greatness than that the64 doctrine most opposed to his own idealism should have been raised from the dust by the example of its flight. We proceed to show how the peculiar form assumed by Epicureanism was determined by the pressure brought to bear on its original germ two generations before.II.VI.

To get rid of superstitious beliefs was, no doubt, a highly meritorious achievement, but it had been far more effectually57 performed by the great pre-Socratic thinkers, Heracleitus, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, and Democritus. These men or their followers had, besides, got hold of a most important principle鈥攖he vital principle of all science鈥攚hich was the reign of law, the universality and indefeasibility of physical causation. Now, Epicurus expressly refused to accept such a doctrine, declaring that it was even worse than believing in the gods, since they could be propitiated, whereas fate could not.119 Again, Greek physical philosophy, under the guidance of Plato, had been tending more and more to seek for its foundation in mathematics. Mathematical reasoning was seen to be the type of all demonstration; and the best hopes of progress were staked on the extension of mathematical methods to every field of enquiry in turn. How much might be done by following up this clue was quickly seen not only in the triumphs of geometry, but in the brilliant astronomical discoveries by which the shape of the earth, the phases of the moon, and the cause of eclipses were finally cleared up and placed altogether outside the sphere of conjecture. Nor was a knowledge of these truths confined to specialists: they were familiar alike to the older Academy, to the Peripatetic, and to the Stoic schools; so that, with the exception of those who doubted every proposition, we may assume them to have been then, as now, the common property of all educated men. Epicurus, on the other hand, seems to have known nothing of mathematics, or only enough to dispute their validity, for we are told that his disciple Polyaenus, who had previously been eminent in that department, was persuaded, on joining the school, to reject the whole of geometry as untrue;120 while, in astronomy, he pronounced the heavenly bodies to be no larger than they appear to our senses, denied the existence of Antipodes, and put the crudest guesses of early philosophy on the same footing with the best-authenticated results of later observation. It is no wonder, then, that during the whole58 continuance of his school no man of science ever accepted its teaching, with the single exception of Asclepiades, who was perhaps a Democritean rather than a disciple of the Garden, and who, at any rate, as a physiologist, would not be brought into contact with its more flagrant absurdities.

The other alternative was to combine the dialectical idealism of Plato with the cosmology of early Greek thought, interpreting the two worlds of spirit and Nature as gradations of a single series and manifestations of a single principle. This was what Aristotle had attempted to do, but had not done so thoroughly as to satisfy the moral wants of his own age, or the religious wants of the age when a revived Platonism was seeking to organise itself into a system which should be the reconciliation of reason and faith. Yet the better sort of Platonists felt that this work could not be accomplished without the assistance of Aristotle, whose essential agreement with their master, as against Stoicism, they fully recognised. Their273 mistake was to assume that this agreement extended to every point of his teaching. Taken in this sense, their attempted harmonies were speedily demolished by scholars whose professional familiarity with the original sources showed them how strongly Aristotle himself had insisted on the differences which separated him from the Academy and its founder.407 To identify the two great spiritualist philosophers being impossible, it remained to show how they could be combined. The solution of such a problem demanded more genius than was likely to be developed in the schools of Athens. An intenser intellectual life prevailed in Alexandria, where the materials of erudition were more abundantly supplied, and where contact with the Oriental religions gave Hellenism a fuller consciousness of its distinction from and superiority to every other form of speculative activity. And here, accordingly, the fundamental idea of Neo-Platonism was conceived.

Defined and ordered by Equality;II.

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If there be a class of persons who although not perfectly virtuous are on the road to virtue, it follows that there are moral actions which they are capable of performing. These the Stoics called intermediate or imperfect duties; and, in accordance with their intellectual view of conduct, they defined them as actions for which a probable reason might be given; apparently in contradistinction to those which were deduced from a single principle with the extreme rigour of scientific demonstration. Such intermediate duties would have for their appropriate object the ends which, without being absolutely good, were still relatively worth seeking, or the avoidance of what, without being an absolute evil, was allowed to be relatively objectionable. They stood midway between virtue and vice, just as the progressive characters stood between the wise and the foolish, and preferable objects between what was really good and what was really evil.The evolution of Greek tragic poetry bears witness to the same transformation of taste. On comparing Sophocles with Aeschylus, we are struck by a change of tone analogous to that which distinguishes Thucydides from Herodotus. It has been shown in our first chapter how the elder dramatist delights in tracing events and institutions back to their first origin, and in following derivations through the steps of a genealogical sequence. Sophocles, on the other hand, limits himself to a close analysis of the action immediately represented, the motives by which his characters are in91fluenced, and the arguments by which their conduct is justified or condemned. We have already touched on the very different attitude assumed towards religion by these two great poets. Here we have only to add that while Aeschylus fills his dramas with supernatural beings, and frequently restricts his mortal actors to the interpretation or execution of a divine mandate, Sophocles, representing the spirit of Greek Humanism, only once brings a god on the stage, and dwells exclusively on the emotions of pride, ambition, revenge, terror, pity, and affection, by which men and women of a lofty type are actuated. Again (and this is one of his poetic superiorities), Aeschylus has an open sense for the external world; his imagination ranges far and wide from land to land; his pages are filled with the fire and light, the music and movement of Nature in a Southern country. He leads before us in splendid procession the starry-kirtled night; the bright rulers that bring round winter and summer; the dazzling sunshine; the forked flashes of lightning; the roaring thunder; the white-winged snow-flakes; the rain descending on thirsty flowers; the sea now rippling with infinite laughter, now moaning on the shingle, growing hoary under rough blasts, with its eastern waves dashing against the new-risen sun, or, again, lulled to waveless, windless, noonday sleep; the volcano with its volleys of fire-breathing spray and fierce jaws of devouring lava; the eddying whorls of dust; the resistless mountain-torrent; the meadow-dews; the flowers of spring and fruits of summer; the evergreen olive, and trees that give leafy shelter from dogstar heat. For all this world of wonder and beauty Sophocles offers only a few meagre allusions to the phenomena presented by sunshine and storm. No poet has ever so entirely concentrated his attention on human deeds and human passions. Only the grove of Col?nus, interwoven with his own earliest recollections, had power to draw from him, in extreme old age, a song such as the nightingale might have warbled amid those92 inviolable recesses where the ivy and laurel, the vine and olive gave a never-failing shelter against sun and wind alike. Yet even this leafy covert is but an image of the poet鈥檚 own imagination, undisturbed by outward influences, self-involved, self-protected, and self-sustained. Of course, we are only restating in different language what has long been known, that the epic element of poetry, before so prominent, was with Sophocles entirely displaced by the dramatic; but if Sophocles became the greatest dramatist of antiquity, it was precisely because no other writer could, like him, work out a catastrophe solely through the action of mind on mind, without any intervention of physical force; and if he possessed this faculty, it was because Greek thought as a whole had been turned inward; because he shared in the devotion to psychological studies equally exemplified by his younger contemporaries, Protagoras, Thucydides, and Socrates, all of whom might have taken for their motto the noble lines鈥擳he triumph of Stoicism was, however, retarded by the combined influence of the Academic and Peripatetic schools. Both claimed the theory of a morality founded on natural law as a doctrine of their own, borrowed from them without acknowledgment by the Porch, and restated under an offensively paradoxical form. To a Roman, the Academy would offer the further attraction of complete immunity from the bondage of a speculative system, freedom of enquiry limited only by the exigencies of practical life, and a conveniently elastic interpretation of the extent to which popular faiths might be accepted as true. If absolute suspense of judgment jarred on his moral convictions, it was ready with accommodations and concessions. We have seen how the scepticism of Carneades was first modified by Philo, and then openly renounced by Philo鈥檚 successor, Antiochus. Roman170 influence may have been at work with both; for Philo spent some time in the capital of the empire, whither he was driven by the events of the first Mithridatic War; while Antiochus was the friend of Lucullus and the teacher of Cicero.268

After its temporary adoption by the Academy, Pythagoreanism had ceased to exist as an independent system, but continued to lead a sort of underground life in connexion with the Orphic and Dionysiac mysteries. When or where it reappeared under a philosophical form cannot be certainly determined. Zeller fixes on the beginning of the first century B.C. as the most probable date, and on Alexandria as the most probable scene of its renewed speculative activity.385 Some fifty years later, we find Pythagorean teachers in Rome, and traces of their influence are plainly discernible in the Augustan literature. Under its earliest form, the new system was an attempt to combine mathematical mysticism with principles borrowed from the Stoic and other philosophies; or perhaps it was simply a return to the poetical syncretism of Empedocles. Although composed of fire and air, the soul is declared to be immortal; and lessons of holiness are accompanied by an elaborate code of rules for ceremonial purification. The elder Sextius, from whom Seneca derived much of his ethical enthusiasm, probably belonged to this school. He taught a morality apparently identical with that of Stoicism in every point except the inculcation of abstinence from animal food.386 To this might be added the practice of nightly self-confession鈥攁n examination from the moral point of view of how one鈥檚 whole day has been spent,鈥攚ere we certain that the Stoics did not originate it for themselves.387

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