时间：<2020-06-05 16:28:36 作者：YpzonghengVhB 浏览量：9777
Our philosopher had, however, abundant opportunity for showing on a more modest scale that he was not destitute of practical ability. So high did his character stand, that many persons of distinction, when they felt their end approaching, brought their children to him to be taken care of, and entrusted their property to his keeping. As a result of the confidence thus reposed in him, his house was always filled with young people of both sexes, to whose education and material interests he paid the most scrupulous attention, observing that as long as his wards did not make a profession of philosophy, their estates and incomes ought to be preserved unimpaired. It is also mentioned that, although frequently chosen to arbitrate in disputes, he never made a single enemy among the Roman citizens—a piece of good fortune which is more than one could safely promise to anyone similarly circumstanced in an Italian city at the present day.413Come fire, come sword, yoke horses to the car,
The first difficulty that strikes one in connexion with this extraordinary story arises out of the oracle on which it all hinges. Had such a declaration been really made by the Pythia, would not Xenophon have eagerly quoted it as a proof of the high favour in which his hero stood with the113 gods?82 And how could Socrates have acquired so great a reputation before entering on the cross-examining career which alone made him conscious of any superiority over other men, and had alone won the admiration of his fellow-citizens? Our doubts are still further strengthened when we find that the historical Socrates did not by any means profess the sweeping scepticism attributed to him by Plato. So far from believing that ignorance was the common and necessary lot of all mankind, himself included, he held that action should, so far as possible, be entirely guided by knowledge;83 that the man who did not always know what he was about resembled a slave; that the various virtues were only different forms of knowledge; that he himself possessed this knowledge, and was perfectly competent to share it with his friends. We do, indeed, find him very ready to convince ignorant and presumptuous persons of their deficiencies, but only that he may lead them, if well disposed, into the path of right understanding. He also thought that there were certain secrets which would remain for ever inaccessible to the human intellect, facts connected with the structure of the universe which the gods had reserved for their own exclusive cognisance. This, however, was, according to him, a kind of knowledge which, even if it could be obtained, would not be particularly worth having, and the search after which would leave us no leisure for more useful acquisitions. Nor does the Platonic Socrates seem to have been at the trouble of arguing against natural science. The subjects of his elenchus are the professors of such arts as politics, rhetoric, and poetry. Further, we have something stronger than a simple inference from the facts recorded by Xenophon; we have his express testimony to the fact that Socrates did not114 limit himself to confuting people who fancied they knew everything; here we must either have a direct reference to the Apologia, or to a theory identical with that which it embodies.I Some stress has been laid on a phrase quoted by Xenophon himself as having been used by Hippias, which at first sight seems to support Plato’s view. The Elian Sophist charges Socrates with practising a continual irony, refuting others and not submitting to be questioned himself;84 an accusation which, we may observe in passing, is not borne out by the discussion that subsequently takes place between them. Here, however, we must remember that Socrates used to convey instruction under the form of a series of leading questions, the answers to which showed that his interlocutor understood and assented to the doctrine propounded. Such a method might easily give rise to the misconception that he refused to disclose his own particular opinions, and contented himself with eliciting those held by others. Finally, it is to be noted that the idea of fulfilling a religious mission, or exposing human ignorance ad majorem Dei gloriam, on which Grote lays such stress, has no place in Xenophon’s conception of his master, although, had such an idea been really present, one can hardly imagine how it could have been passed over by a writer with whom piety amounted to superstition. It is, on the other hand, an idea which would naturally occur to a great religious reformer who proposed to base his reconstruction of society on faith in a supernatural order, and the desire to realise it here below.
To us the religion of the Stoics is interesting chiefly as a part of the machinery by which they attempted to make good the connexion between natural and moral law, assumed rather than proved by their Sophistic and Cynic precursors. But before proceeding to this branch of the subject we must glance at their mode of conceiving another side of the fundamental relationship between man and the universe. This is logic in its widest sense, so understood as to include the theory of the process by which we get our knowledge and of the ultimate evidence on which it rests, no less than the theory of formal ratiocination.In their theory of cognition the Stoics chiefly followed Aristotle; only with them the doctrine of empiricism is enunciated so distinctly as to be placed beyond the reach of misinterpretation. The mind is at first a tabula rasa, and all our ideas are derived exclusively from the senses.37 But while knowledge as a whole rests on sense, the validity of each particular sense-perception must be determined by an appeal to reason, in other words, to the totality of our acquired experience.38 So also the first principles of reasoning are not to be postulated, with Aristotle, as immediately and unconditionally certain; they are to be assumed as hypothetically true and gradually tested by the consequences deducible from them.39 Both principles well illustrate the synthetic method of the Stoics—their habit of bringing into close16 connexion whatever Aristotle had studiously held apart. And we must maintain, in opposition to the German critics, that their method marks a real advance on his. It ought at any rate to find more favour with the experiential school of modern science, with those who hold that the highest mathematical and physical laws are proved, not by the impossibility of conceiving their contradictories, but by their close agreement with all the facts accessible to our observation.
With regard to ethics, there is, of course, a great difference between the innovating, creative genius of the Greek and the receptive but timid intelligence of the Roman. Yet the uncertainty which, in the one case, was due to the absence of any fixed system, is equally present in the other, owing to the embarrassment of having so many systems among which to choose. Three ethical motives were constantly present to the thoughts of Socrates: the utility of virtue, from a material point of view, to the individual; its social necessity; and its connexion with the dual constitution of man as a being composed of two elements whereof the one is infinitely superior to the other; but he never was able, or never attempted to co-ordinate them under a single principle. His successors tried to discover such a principle in the idea of natural law, but could neither establish nor apply it in a satisfactory manner. Cicero reproduces the Socratic elements, sometimes in their original dispersion and confusion, sometimes with the additional complication and perplexity introduced by the idea through which it had been hoped to systematise and reconcile them. To him, indeed, that idea was even more important than to the Greek moralists; for he looked on Nature as the common ground where philosophy and untrained experience might meet for mutual confirmation and support.274 We have seen how he adopted the theory—as yet not very clearly formulated—of a moral sense, or general faculty of intuition, from Philo. To study and obey the dictates of this faculty, as distinguished from the depraving influence of custom, was his method of arriving at truth and right. But if, when properly consulted, it always gave the same response, a similar unanimity might be expected in the doctrines of the various philosophical schools; and the adhesion of Academicians, Peripatetics, and Stoics to the precept, Follow Nature, seemed to demonstrate that such an agreement actually existed. Hence Cicero over and over again labours to prove173 that their disputes were merely verbal, and that Stoicism in particular had borrowed its ethics wholesale from his own favourite sect. Yet from time to time their discrepancies would force themselves on his notice; and by none have the differences separating Stoicism from its rivals been stated with more clearness, concision, and point.275 These relate to the absolute self-sufficingness of virtue, its unity, and the incompatibility of emotion with its exercise. But Cicero seems to have regarded the theory of preference and rejection as a concession to common sense amounting to a surrender of whatever was parodoxical and exclusive in the Stoic standpoint.276 And with respect to the question round which controversy raged most fiercely, namely, whether virtue was the sole or merely the chief condition of happiness, Cicero, as a man of the world, considered that it was practically of no consequence which side prevailed.277 It would be unfair to blame him for not seeing, what the stricter school felt rather than saw, that the happiness associated with goodness was not of an individual but of a social character, and therefore could not properly be compared with objects of purely individual desire, such as health, wealth, friends, and worldly fame.And, in fact, it was by a close study of that writer’s voluminous treatises that he was able to cover the immense extent of ground which Scepticism thenceforward disputed with the dogmatic schools. Nor were his attacks directed against Stoicism only, but against all other positive systems past and present as well. What he says about the supposed foundation of knowledge is even now an unanswerable objection to the transcendental realism of Mr Herbert Spencer. States of consciousness speak for themselves alone, they do not include the consciousness of an external cause.234 But the grounds on which he rests his negation of all certainty are still superficial enough, being merely those sensible illusions which the modern science of observation has been able either to eliminate altogether or to restrict within narrow and definable limits. That phenomena, so far from being necessarily referred to a cause which is not phenomenal, cannot be thought of at all except in relation to one another, and that knowledge means nothing more than a consciousness of this relation, was hardly perceived before the time of Hume.
If the Roman conquest did not altogether put an end to these sentiments, it considerably mitigated their intensity. The imperial city was too strong to feel endangered by the introduction of alien deities within its precincts. The subject states were relieved from anxiety with regard to a political independence which they had irrecoverably lost. Moreover, since the conquests of Alexander, vast aggregations of human beings had come into existence, to which the ancient exclusiveness was unknown, because they never had been cities at all in the ancient sense of the word. Such were Alexandria and Antioch, and these speedily became centres of religious syncretism. Rome herself, in becoming the capital of an immense empire, acquired the same cosmopolitan character. Her population consisted for the most part of emancipated slaves, and of adventurers from all parts of the world, many of whom had brought their national faiths with them, while all were ready to embrace any new faith which had superior attractions to offer. Another important agent in the diffusion and propagation of new religions was the army. The legions constituted a sort of migratory city, recruited from all parts of the empire, and moving over its whole extent. The dangers of a military life combined with its authoritative ideas are highly favourable to devotion; and the soldiers could readily adopt new modes for the expression of this feeling both from each other and from the inhabitants of the countries where they were stationed, and would in turn204 become missionaries for their dissemination over the most distant regions. That such was actually the case is proved by numerous religious inscriptions found in the neighbourhood of Roman camps.313301
II.But Jove all-bounteous! who, in clouds
II.From another point of view, as we have already observed with Kirchner, the fundamental triad assumed by Plotinus is body, soul, and spirit. Under their objective aspect of the sensible universe, the world-soul, and the Nous, these three principles constitute the sum of all reality. Take away plurality from Nous and there remains the One. Take away soul from body and there remains unformed matter. These are the two transcendent principles between which the others extend, and by whose combination in various proportions they are explained. It is true that Plotinus himself does not allude to the possibility of such an analysis, but it exhibits, better than any other, the natural order of his dialectic.To a deed of dishonour been turned.’28
72To paint Socrates at his highest and his best, it was necessary to break through the narrow limits of his historic individuality, and to show how, had they been presented to him, he would have dealt with problems outside the experience of a home-staying Athenian citizen. The founder of idealism—that is to say, the realisation of reason, the systematic application of thought to life—had succeeded in his task because he had embodied the noblest elements of the Athenian Dêmos, orderliness, patriotism, self-control, and publicity of debate, together with a receptive intelligence for improvements effected in other states. But, just as the impulse which enabled those qualities to tell decisively on Greek history at a moment of inestimable importance came from the Athenian aristocracy, with its Dorian sympathies, its adventurous ambition, and its keen attention to foreign affairs, so also did Plato, carrying the same spirit into philosophy, bring the dialectic method into contact with older and broader currents of speculation, and employ it to recognise the whole spiritual activity of his race.Finally, while the attempt to attain extreme accuracy of definition was leading to the destruction of all thought and all reality within the Socratic school, the dialectic method had been taken up and parodied in a very coarse style by a class of persons called Eristics. These men had, to some extent, usurped the place of the elder Sophists as paid instructors of youth; but their only accomplishment was to upset every possible assertion by a series of verbal juggles. One of their favourite paradoxes was to deny the reality of falsehood on the Parmenidean principle that ‘nothing cannot exist.’ Plato satirises their method in the Euthydêmus, and makes a much more serious attempt to meet it in the Sophist; two Dialogues which seem to have been composed not far from one another.156 The Sophist effects a considerable simplification in the ideal theory by resolving negation into difference, and altogether omitting the notions of unity and plurality,—perhaps as a result of the investiga265tions contained in the Parmenides, another dialogue belonging to the same group, where the couple referred to are analysed with great minuteness, and are shown to be infected with numerous self-contradictions. The remaining five ideas of Existence, Sameness, Difference, Rest, and Motion, are allowed to stand; but the fact of their inseparable connexion is brought out with great force and clearness. The enquiry is one of considerable interest, including, as it does, the earliest known analysis of predication, and forming an indispensable link in the transition from Platonic to Aristotelian logic—that is to say, from the theory of definition and classification to the theory of syllogism.
Raising to all thy works a hymnI agree, however, with Teichmüller that the doctrines of reminiscence and metempsychosis have a purely mythical significance, and I should have expressed my views on the subject with more definiteness and decision had I known that his authority might be quoted in their support. I think that Plato was in a transition state from the Oriental to what afterwards became the Christian theory of retribution. In the one he found an allegorical illustration of his metaphysics, in the other a very serious sanction for his ethics. He felt their incompatibility, but was not prepared to undertake such a complete reconstruction of his system as would have been necessitated by altogether denying the pre-existence of the soul. Of such vacillation Plato’s later Dialogues offer, I think, sufficient evidence. For example, the Matter of the Timacus seems to be a revised version of the Other or principle of division and change, which has already figured as a pure idea, in which capacity it must necessarily be opposed to matter. At the same time, I must observe that, from my point of view, it is enough if Plato inculcated the doctrine of a future life asxxi an important element of his religious system. And that he did so inculcate it Teichmüller fully admits.4
It is, at any rate, certain that the successors of Aenesidêmus adhered to the standpoint of Pyrrho. One of them, Agrippa, both simplified and strengthened the arguments of the school by reducing the ten Tropes to five. The earlier objections to human certainty were summed up under two heads: the irreconcilable conflict of opinions on all subjects; and the essential relativity of consciousness, in which the percipient and the perceived are so intimately united that what things in themselves are cannot possibly be discovered. The other three Tropes relate to the baselessness of reasoning. They were evidently suggested by Aristotle’s remarks on the subject. The process of proof cannot be carried backwards ad infinitum, nor can it legitimately revolve in a circle. Thus much had already been admitted, or rather insisted on by the great founder of logic. But the Sceptics could not agree to Aristotle’s contention, that demonstration may be based on first principles of self-evident certainty. They here fell back on their main argument; that the absence of general agreement on every point is fatal to the existence of such pretended axioms. A still further simplification was effected by the reduction of the five Tropes to two—that all reasoning rests on intuition, and that men’s intuitions are irreconcilably at variance with one another.300 As against true science, the sceptical Tropes are powerless, for the validity of its principles has nothing to do189 with their general acceptance. They are laid before the learner for his instruction, and if he chooses to regard them as either false or doubtful, the misfortune will be his and not theirs. But as against all attempts to constrain belief by an appeal to authority, the Tropes still remain invincible. Whether the testimony invoked be that of ancient traditions or of a supposed inward witness, there is always the same fatal objection that other traditions and other inward witnesses tell quite a different story. The task of deciding between them must, after all, be handed over to an impersonal reason. In other words, each individual must judge for himself and at his own risk, just as he does in questions of physical science.Still more important was the antithesis between Nature and convention, which, so far as we know, originated exclusively with Hippias. We have already observed that universality and necessity were, with the Greeks, standing marks of naturalness. The customs of different countries were, on the other hand, distinguished by extreme variety, amounting sometimes to diametrical opposition. Herodotus was fond of calling attention to such contrasts; only, he drew from them the conclusion that law, to be so arbitrary, must needs possess supreme and sacred authority. According to the more plausible interpretation of Hippias, the variety, and at least in Greek democracies, the changeability of law proved that it was neither sacred nor binding. He also looked on artificial social institutions as the sole cause of division and discord among mankind. Here we already see the dawn of a cosmopolitanism afterwards preached by Cynic and82 Stoic philosophers. Furthermore, to discover the natural rule of right, he compared the laws of different nations, and selected those which were held by all in common as the basis of an ethical system.63 Now, this is precisely what was done by the Roman jurists long afterwards under the inspiration of Stoical teaching. We have it on the high authority of Sir Henry Maine that they identified the Jus Gentium, that is, the laws supposed to be observed by all nations alike, with the Jus Naturale, that is, the code by which men were governed in their primitive condition of innocence. It was by a gradual application of this ideal standard that the numerous inequalities between different classes of persons, enforced by ancient Roman law, were removed, and that contract was substituted for status. Above all, the abolition of slavery was, if not directly caused, at any rate powerfully aided, by the belief that it was against Nature. At the beginning of the fourteenth century we find Louis Hutin, King of France, assigning as a reason for the enfranchisement of his serfs, that, ‘according to natural law, everybody ought to be born free,’ and although Sir H. Maine holds this to have been a mistaken interpretation of the juridical axiom ‘omnes homines natura aequales sunt,’ which means not an ideal to be attained, but a primitive condition from which we have departed: nevertheless it very faithfully reproduces the theory of those Greek philosophers from whom the idea of a natural law was derived. That, in Aristotle’s time at least, a party existed who were opposed to slavery on theoretical grounds of right is perfectly evident from the language of the Politics. ‘Some persons,’ says Aristotle, ‘think that slave-holding is against nature, for that one man is a slave and another free by law, while by nature there is no difference between them, for which reason it is unjust as being the result of force.’64 And he proceeds to prove the contrary at length. The same doctrine of natural equality led to important political consequences, having, again according to Sir83 H. Maine, contributed both to the American Declaration of Independence and to the French Revolution.V.