Слике страница

ledge, and distinguished himself from his predecessors by endeavouring to examine, philosophically, like them, not only nature itself, but also the existence of the world and man. He made use of cyphers as a symbolical expression for the supernatural knowledge of man, and thus he founded the science of metaphysics. He imagined the world an harmonious unity, the substances of which have their centre in the sun, the source of warmth and life; the human soul as an offspring of the divine, central fire, consequently related to it, and capable of a progressive approach to the deity; to these hypotheses, he associated his opinions of virtue, justice, reward, and, perhaps, also of the transmigration of the soul. Our knowledge of him, rests upon very numerous, various, and often contradictory traditions and hints ; for he, probably, never composed many works of his own; the “Golden Sentences” are of a far later date.* Of the most ancient followers of Pythagoras, among whom, Alemæon is renowned as a philosopher, there remain no or very few true fragments. The Book of the Universe, ascribed to Ocellus of Lucania, (500) was, at least, written before Plato. Philolaus (probably) of Tarentum, (d. 400) subordinated morality to the knowledge of physical sciences.

The eleatic school pursued a peculiar course; it established the first rational and conclusive system, opposed reason to delusive experience, and pretended the most perfect unity of the universe. Its founder was Xenophanes of Colophon, (500?) who taught at Elea; he found the notion of creation incomprehensible, maintained the eternal existence of reality and the power of thinking, as the only real subjects, and founded the pantheism and ideal philosophy. Of his works, especially on nature, some poetical fragments exist. Parmenides of Elea, (460) maintained, obstinately, the opinion of his master, and endeavoured to shew, strictly, the difference between experience and reason. Flis pupil, Zeno of Elea, (444) defended this system with unshaken constancy, disputed the dependence of experience, founded the dialectic art, and led the way to scepticism. This system was still more strongly defended by Melissus of Samos, (444) and proved by new demonstrations derived from the sphere of infinity. Diagoras of Melos, (416) a sophist, is supposed to have advocated atheism.

To the eleatic school was opposed the new eleatic, or Atomic, or mechanic school, which taught materialism, and acquired no

* Fabr. B. G. vol. i. p. 750. H. Dodwell de ætate Phalaridis et Pythagoræ. Mem. de l'Acad. des Inscrip. vol. xiv.

little merit in philosophy. Leucippus of Abdera or Elea, (500 ?) who maintained that in the world of experience was found the only reality, laid the corner stone of the natural sciences, by undertaking to explain nature, not by hypothesis, but by nature itself. His ingenious scholar, Democritus of Abdera, (450, d. 404) endowed with rich knowledge and experience gathered in his travels, and whose many Ionic writings have been arranged by Thrasyllus, (15 A.C.) into four classes, endeavoured to settle the true criterion of comprehension, affirmed the art of judgment, enriched natural philosophy with the laws of gravity, and with a more precise calculation of the laws of motion. His pupils and followers, were Metrodorus of Chios, Nausiphanes, the teacher of Epicurus, Protagoras of Abdera, Anaxarchus, and others. Heraclitus the gloomy, a great and original mind, followed, in cosmology, the lonic system of natural philosophy, and considered fire as the primitive power of nature, but admitted no change or alteration in the original condition of the world, and believed that every thing in it followed the course which had been fixed by the eternal and unchangeable laws of nature; some fragments yet exist of his writings composed in the Ionic dialect. A similar genius was Empedocles of Agrigentum, (450) who also borrowed much from Pythagoras and Xenophanes. Anaxagoras of Clazomenæ, (b. 500, b. 425) pupil of Hermotimus, taught nearly thirty years at Athens, when he, persecuted as a supposed enemy of religion, fled to Lampsacus, effected a reconciliation between the principles of the Ionic, Italic and Eleatic schools, admitted a rational supreme being, and founded the philosophical theism and spiritualism. His general views were adopted by Diogenes of Apollonia, and the Milesian Archelaus.

In the time of Pericles, (444) Athens reached the highest pitch of political consideration; nourished and promoted every thing that related to art and science, and became the seat of philosophy. The sophists known to us by Plato and Aristotle, considered truth as something substantive; they dazzled by elegant expressions, by various knowledge and the assumption of paradoxes, opened schools which gave rich nourishment to their ambition and avarice, and introduced by means of an excitement of the imagination and corruption of manners, the consequence of prevailing luxury, an inclination to scepticism and capricious dogmatism ; but with these also, the desire to reflect on given questions, as well as the art to speak elegantly. It is true that

a moral, scientific sense was generally strange to them, and the sublime and sacred, of which noble philosophy never should lose sight, evaporated into external chat and mean, worldly purposes; yet the merits of these people, should, nevertheless, be fully acknowledged ; they stimulated the general desire for philosophical researches, and caused conclusive examinations into the principles of logic, morals, politics, language, rhetoric and poetry. Some of the most renowned sophists were, Gorgias, Protagoras, scholar of Heraclitus, Hippias of Elis, Prodicus of Cos, (420) renowned by his representation of the choice of Hercules, between virtue and vice, Palos of Agrigentum, Thrasymachus of Chalcedon, Diagoras of Melos, Critias of Athens, &c.

The delusive conceits and juggleries of the sophists were combated by the Athenian Socrates, (b. 469, d. 400) a strict, ethical and pious theist, embracing humanity with disinterested love, and believing its higher destination. His opposers he combated with naïve straightforwardness and irony, and his scholars - he attracted by exciting their mental faculties, and by a proceeding calculated to promote their free developement; his only care was the foundation of a more dignified and moral style of thinking, and his doctrines stood in the closest harmony with his practical life. The lawsuit against him as an irreligious states-criminal and corrupter of youth, remarkably characterizes the age. He reconducted philosophical researches from the spheres of physics and metaphysics to absolute humanity, to the divine origin of the human soul, and to justice and virtue, without which no happiness is possible. He appealed to the internal source of conviction, and although we cannot consider him as the founder of a system, yet practical philosophy is indebted to him for the basis upon which the immortal works of Plato and Aristotle were built. He left no writings. Of his scholars, Xenophon seems to have adopted most purely his principles, and so he represented them. As his true followers, are named, Æschines, Cimon, Crito, and others. We have Socratic discourses probably of contemporary authors. The allegoric picture of human life, ascribed to Cebes of Thebes, seems to be of a latter age.

As the Socratic philosophy had no chief principle in its system, nor limited, scientific boundaries, its adherents were soon divided into many sects, the greater part of whom still adhered to an ethic direction and the theory of the supreme

* Fabr. B. G. vol. ij.



Schweighaeuser, Epictet.

will. The cynic school, the mother of the stoic schools, established by Antisthenes, (404) the principles of which were applied with wonderful strictness to practical life by the singular Diogenes of Sinope, (b. 414, d. 324) laboured to become independent of nature and necessities.* The Cyrenaic school, preceding the Epicurean, wished to satisfy all desires, deduced will and truth from the internal sense, and reasoned, sophistically, on the enjoyment of life. Its founder was Aristippus of Cyrene (404); his grandson Aristippus developed its principles more perfectly; Anniceris somewhat softened them, and Hegesias, Theodorus and Euhemerus (who endeavoured to explain philosophico-historically the rise of all national deities) materially altered them. +

The Megarian or Eristic school, established by Euclides, (400) and perfected by his scholars, Eubulides and Stilpo, (340) adopted much from the eleatic principles, and put a peculiar value on the dialectic art; their method acquired great reputation. The Elic school, founded by Phædon of Elis, and Menedemus of Eretria, seems to have pursued a peculiar course in its speculations. Pyrrho of Elis, (340) and still more Timon, doubting the correctness of theoretical knowledge, passed from the Socratic system to scepticism.

From the academic school, which adhered to the elementary principles of Socrates, issued a highly important and scientific system of philosophy. Its chief and master was Plato, esios, (b. 427, d. 348) a pupil of Socrates, who, after the death of his master, cultivated his mind by travels and study of the more ancient systems, especially that of Pythagoras and the Dialecticians. Richness and vivacity of imagination, poetical animation, a most tender sense for the sublime and beautiful, extent of knowledge, pure truth of internal comprehension, penetration, and profoundness in observations, formed, in this extraordinary man, a combination which rarely appears in nature. Strictly and unchangeably adhering to a moral life, he mingled with philosophy, as a necessary and general science, the highest end of humanity, the beau-ideal of reason, morality. His system is no where explained in a complete course; because although the mind has a strong longing and sacred presumption for the principles of his system, the conception of the primitive being and the highest laws of nature, yet language has no expression. He em

* Fabr. B. G. v.




+ Ibid. 700.

# Ibid. v. iii. p. 57. Teonemann System of the Plat. Philos. VOL. VI.-NO 11.

braced all parts of philosophy, and showed their formal division into logic, metaphysics and ethics, without separating them distinctly; in bis synthesis, theory and practice are amalgamated. The subjects of his researches are seldom exhausted and at an end; many a matter he only touches orhints at; the peculiar desire of every individual for higher truth, he endeavours to excite and animate; he appeals to the mental faculties, and enriches the Hellenic philosophy by pointing out its noblest and best parts. The expression of Plato has a complete beauty, peculiar to the whole of his accomplishments, and at the same time shows the extent of every one in particular; his style has, therefore, sometimes poetical abundance and warmth, and sometimes dialectic keenness and sang froid, at other times exhibits simple and childish plainness, and again is involved in mysterious obscurity. His dramatic representations are masterly. of the dialogues* which have been preserved under his name, and which Thrasyllus has divided into nine tetralogies, only thirty-five have been considered as true; the identity of many other of his works, is greatly doubted.

The followers of Plato were, through many centuries, very numerous, and formed many different schools, especially upon the subject of the certainty of human comprehension. The older academy, in which Speusippus, the son of Plato's sister, inculcated a closer junction of Platonism with Pythagorism, and over which Xenocrates of Chalcedon, the Athenians Polemon and Crates, and Crantor of Soli presided, remained faithful to the general principles and views of their master, and was an instilution respected for its thinking heads and good citizens. The middle and modern academies, in which Arcesilaus of Pitane, (300) Lacidas, (250) and Carneades (155) distinguished themselves, as well as the fourth, founded by Philo of Larissa, (86) and the fifth, by his contemporary, Antiochus of Ascalon, approached more nearly to the Sceptics. The new Platonics (since 222 A. D.) believed in the marvellous revelation of the internal light. What effects the renovation of the Platonic philosophy, in combination with the extending study of the old classical literature, have produced, the history of the fifteenth century will teach; and the remarkable philosophical appearances, in our days, prove what treasures of wisdom are contained in the writings of Plato, in their ancient commentaries and applications.

The mathematical sciences were introduced, cultivated and extended by Ionic philosophers, and still more by the Pytha

* Jos. Sacher on Pl. writings.

« ПретходнаНастави »