时间：<2020-06-04 15:50:37 作者：AV聊斋艳潭之幽媾uz4 浏览量：9777
Sir A. Grant is on stronger, or rather on more inaccessible ground, when he uses the distinction between the two reasons as involving a sort of idealistic theory, because here Aristotle’s meaning is much less clearly expressed. Yet, if our interpretation be the correct one, if the creative Nous simply means the forms of things acting through the imagination on the possibilities of subjective conception, Aristotle’s view will be exactly the reverse of that contended for by Sir Alexander; thought, instead of moulding, will itself be moulded by external reality. In no case have we a right to set an obscure and disputed passage against Aristotle’s distinct, emphatic, and reiterated declarations, that sensation and ideation are373 substantially analogous processes, taken together with his equally distinct declaration, that the objects of sensation are independent of our feelings. We think, indeed, that Sir A. Grant will find, on reconsideration, that he is proving too much. For, if the things which reason creates were external to the mind, then Aristotle would go at least as far as those ‘extreme German idealists’ from whom his expositor is anxious to separate him. Finally, we would observe that to set up Aristotle’s distinction between form and matter in opposition to the materialistic theories of the present day, shows a profound misconception of its meaning. Form and matter are nowhere distinguished from one another as subject and object. Form simply means the attributes of a thing, the entire aggregate of its differential characteristics. But that this does not of itself amount to conscious reason we are told by Aristotle himself.269 On the other hand, the ‘matter’ to which ‘some philosophers’ attribute ‘an independent existence,’ is not his ‘matter’ at all, but just the sum of things minus consciousness. The Stagirite did not, it is true, believe in the possibility of such a universe, but only (as we have shown) because he was not acquainted with the highest laws of motion. Yet, even taking ‘matter’ in his own technical sense, Aristotle would have agreed with Prof. Tyndall, that it contained the promise and the potency of all future life, reason alone excepted. He tells us very clearly that the sensitive soul is a somatic function, something which, although not body, belongs to body; and this we conceive is all that any materialist would now contend for.270 And having gone so far, there really was nothing to prevent him from going a step farther, had he only been acquainted with the dependence of all intelligence on nervous action. At any rate, the tendency is now to obliterate the distinction where he drew it, and to substitute for it another distinction which he neglected. While all functions of consciousness, from the most elementary374 sensation to the most complex reasoning, seem to pass into one another by imperceptible gradations, consciousness in general is still separated from objective existence by an impassable chasm; and if there is any hope of reconciling them it lies in the absolute idealism which he so summarily rejected. What we have had occasion repeatedly to point out in other departments of his system, is verified once more in his psychology. The progress of thought has resulted from a reunion of the principles between which he drew a rigid demarcation. We have found that perception can only be understood as a process essentially homogeneous with the highest thought, and neither more nor less immaterial than it is. On the objective side, both may be resolved into sensori-motor actions; on the subjective side, into groups of related feelings. And here, also, we have to note that when Aristotle anticipates modern thought, it is through his one great mediating, synthetic conception. He observes incidentally that our knowledge of size and shape is acquired, not through the special senses, but by motion—an aper?u much in advance of Locke.271II.
The principal object of Plato’s negative criticism had been to emphasise the distinction between reality and appearance in the world without, between sense, or imagination, and reason in the human soul. True to the mediatorial spirit of Greek thought, his object now was to bridge over the seemingly impassable gulf. We must not be understood to say that these two distinct, and to some extent contrasted, tendencies correspond to two definitely divided periods of his life. It is evident that the tasks of dissection and reconstruction were often carried on conjointly, and represented two aspects of an indivisible process. But on the whole there is good reason to believe that Plato, like other men, was more inclined to pull to pieces in his youth and to build up in his later days. We are, therefore, disposed to agree with those critics who assign both the Phaedrus and the Symposium to a comparatively advanced stage of Platonic speculation. It is less easy to decide which of the two was composed first, for there seems to be a greater maturity of thought in the one and of style in the other. For our purposes it will be most convenient to consider them together.
If the synthesis of affirmation and negation cannot profitably be used to explain the origin of things in themselves, it has a real and very important function when limited to the subjective sphere, to the philosophy of practice and of belief. It was so employed by Socrates, and, on a much greater scale, by Plato himself. To consider every proposition from opposite points of view, and to challenge the claim of every existing custom on our respect, was a proceeding first instituted by the master, and carried out by the disciple in a manner which has made his investigations a model for every future enquirer. Something of their spirit was inherited by Aristotle; but, except in his logical treatises, it was overborne by the demands of a pre-eminently dogmatic and systematising genius. In criticising the theories of his predecessors, he has abundantly illustrated the power of dialectic, and he has enumerated its resources with conscientious completeness; but he has not verified his own conclusions by subjecting them to this formidable testing apparatus.
enwrapt, the lightning wieldest;
In his very first essay, Plotinus had hinted at a principle higher and more primordial than the absolute Nous, something with which the soul is connected by the mediation of Nous, just as she herself mediates between Nous and the material world. The notion of such a supreme principle was derived from Plato. In the sixth and seventh books of the Republic, we are told that at the summit of the dialectic series stands an idea to grasp which is the ultimate object of308 all reasoning. Plato calls this the Idea of Good, and describes it as holding a place in the intellectual world analogous to that held by the sun in the physical world. For, just as the sun brings all visible things into being, and also gives the light by which they are seen, so also the Good is not only that by which the objects of knowledge are known, but also that whence their existence is derived, while at the same time itself transcending existence in dignity and power.45497
The idea of such a provisional code seems to have originated with Zeno;61 but the form under which we now know it is28 the result of at least two successive revisions. The first and most important is due to Panaetius, a Stoic philosopher of the second century B.C., on whose views the study of Plato and Aristotle exercised a considerable influence. A work of this teacher on the Duties of Man furnished Cicero with the materials for his celebrated De Officiis, under which form its lessons have passed into the educational literature of modern Europe. The Latin treatise is written in a somewhat frigid and uninteresting style, whether through the fault of Cicero or of his guide we cannot tell. The principles laid down are excellent, but there is no vital bond of union holding them together. We can hardly imagine that the author’s son, for whom the work was originally designed, or anyone else since his time, felt himself much benefited by its perusal. Taken, however, as a register of the height reached by ordinary educated sentiment under the influence of speculative ideas, and of the limits imposed by it in turn on their vagaries, after four centuries of continual interaction, the De Officiis presents us with very satisfactory results. The old quadripartite division of the virtues is reproduced; but each is treated in a large and liberal spirit, marking an immense advance on Aristotle’s definitions, wherever the two can be compared. Wisdom is identified with the investigation of truth; and there is a caution against believing on insufficient evidence, which advantageously contrasts with what were soon to be the lessons of theology on the same subject. The other great intellectual duty inculcated is to refrain from wasting our energies on difficult and useless enquiries.62 This injunction has been taken up and very impressively repeated by some philosophers in our own time; but in the mouth of Cicero it probably involved much greater restrictions on the study of science than they would be disposed to admit. And the limits now prescribed to speculation by Positivism will perhaps seem not less injudicious,29 when viewed in the light of future discoveries, than those fixed by the ancient moralists seem to us who know what would have been lost had they always been treated with respect.It may be urged that beauty, however difficult of attainment or severe in form, is, after all, essentially superficial; and that a morality elaborated on the same principles will be equally superficial—will, in fact, be little more than the art of keeping up appearances, of displaying fine sentiments, of avoiding those actions the consequences of which are immediately felt to be disagreeable, and, above all, of not needlessly wounding anyone’s sensibilities. Such an imitation of morality—which it would be a mistake to call hypocrisy—has no doubt been common enough among all civilised nations; but there is no reason to believe that it was in any way favoured by the circumstances of Greek life. There is even evidence of a contrary tendency, as, indeed, might be expected among a people whose most important states were saved from the corrupt60ing influences of a court. Where the sympathetic admiration of shallow and excitable spectators is the effect chiefly sought after, the showy virtues will be preferred to the solid, and the appearance to the reality of all virtue; while brilliant and popular qualities will be allowed to atone for the most atrocious crimes. But, among the Greeks of the best period, courage and generosity rank distinctly lower than temperance and justice; their poets and moralists alike inculcate the preference of substance to show; and in no single instance, so far as we can judge, did they, as modern nations often do, for the sake of great achievements condone great wrongs. It was said of a Greek and by a Greek that he did not wish to seem but to be just.46 We follow the judgment of the Greeks themselves in preferring Leonidas to Pausanias, Aristeides to Themistocles, and Socrates to Alcibiades. And we need only compare Epameinondas with David or Pericles with Solomon as national heroes, to perceive at once how much nearer the two Greeks come to our own standard of perfection, and how futile are the charges sometimes brought against those from whose traditions we have inherited their august and stainless fame.
The contrast is not only direct, but designed, for Euripides had the work of his predecessor before him, and no doubt imagined that he was improving on it.We have seen what was the guiding principle of Cicero’s philosophical method. By interrogating all the systems of his time, he hoped to elicit their points of agreement, and to utilise the result for the practical purposes of life. As actually applied, the effect of this method was not to reconcile the current theories with one another, nor yet to lay the foundation of a more comprehensive philosophy, but to throw back thought on an order of ideas which, from their great popularity, had been incorporated with every system in turn, and, for that very reason, seemed to embody the precise points on which all were agreed. These were the idea of Nature, the idea of mind or reason, and the idea of utility. We have frequently come across them in the course of the present work. Here it will suffice to recall the fact that they had been first raised to distinct consciousness when the177 results of early Greek thought were brought into contact with the experiences of Greek life, and more especially of Athenian life, in the age of Pericles. As originally understood, they gave rise to many complications and cross divisions, arising from what was considered to be their mutual incompatibility or equivalence. Thus Nature was openly rejected by the sceptical Sophists, ignored by Socrates, and, during a long period of his career, treated with very little respect by Plato; reason, in its more elaborate forms, was slighted by the Cynics, and employed for its own destruction by the Megarians, in both cases as an enemy to utility; while to Aristotle the pure exercise of reason was the highest utility of any, and Nature only a lower manifestation of the same idealising process. At a later period, we find Nature accepted as a watchword by Stoics, Epicureans, and Sceptics alike, although, of course, each attached a widely different meaning to the term; the supremacy of reason, without whose aid, indeed, their controversies could not have been carried on, is recognised with similar unanimity; and each sect lays exclusive stress on the connexion of its principles with human happiness, thus making utility the foremost consideration in philosophy. Consequently, to whatever system a Roman turned, he would recognise the three great regulative conceptions of Greek thought, although frequently enveloped in a network of fine-spun distinctions and inferences which to him must have seemed neither natural nor reasonable nor useful. On the other hand, apart from such subtleties, he could readily translate all three into terms which seemed to show that, so far from being divided by any essential incompatibility, they did but represent different aspects of a single harmonious ideal. Nature meant simplicity, orderliness, universality, and the spontaneous consentience of unsophisticated minds. Reason meant human dignity, especially as manifested in the conquest of fear and of desire. And whatever was natural and reasonable seemed to satisfy the requirements of178 utility as well. It might seem also that these very principles were embodied in the facts of old Roman life and of Rome’s imperial destiny. The only question was which school of Greek philosophy gave them their clearest and completest interpretation. Lucretius would have said that it was the system of Epicurus; but such a misconception was only rendered possible by the poet’s seclusion from imperial interests, and, apparently, by his unacquaintance with the more refined forms of Hellenic thought. Rome could not find in Epicureanism the comprehensiveness, the cohesion, and the power which marked her own character, and which she only required to have expressed under a speculative form. Then came Cicero, with his modernised rhetorical version of what he conceived to be the Socratic philosophy. His teaching was far better suited than that of his great contemporary to the tastes of his countrymen, and probably contributed in no small degree to the subsequent discredit of Epicureanism; yet, by a strange irony, it told, to the same extent, in favour of a philosophy from which Cicero himself was probably even more averse than from the morality of the Garden. In his hands, the Academic criticism had simply the effect of dissolving away those elements which distinguished Stoicism from Cynicism; while his eclecticism brought into view certain principles more characteristic of the Cynics than of any other sect. The Nature to whose guidance he constantly appeals was, properly speaking, not a Socratic but a Sophistic or Cynic idea; and when the Stoics appropriated it, they were only reclaiming an ancestral possession. The exclusion of theoretical studies and dialectical subtleties from philosophy was also Cynic; the Stoic theology when purified, as Cicero desired that it should be purified, from its superstitious ingredients, was no other than the naturalistic monotheism of Antisthenes; and the Stoic morality without its paradoxes was little more than an ennobled Cynicism. The curve described by thought was determined by forces of almost179 mechanical simplicity. The Greek Eclectics, seeking a middle term between the Academy and the Porch, had fallen back on Plato; Cicero, pursuing the same direction, receded to Socrates; but the continued attraction of Stoicism drew him to a point where the two were linked together by their historical intermediary, the Cynic school. And, by a singular coincidence, the primal forms of Roman life, half godlike and half brutal, were found, better than anything in Hellenic experience, to realise the ideal of a sect which had taken Heracles for its patron saint. Had Diogenes searched the Roman Forum, he would have met with a man at every step.
Possibly the world may move, and possibly it may be at rest. Possibly it may be round, or else it may be triangular, or have any other shape. Possibly the sun and the stars may be extinguished at setting, and be lighted afresh at their rising: it is, however, equally possible that they may only disappear under the earth and reappear again, or that their rising and setting is due to yet other causes. Possibly the waxing and waning of the moon may be caused by the moon’s revolving; or it may be due to the atmospheric change, or to an actual increase or decrease in the moon’s size, or to some other cause. Possibly the moon may shine with borrowed light, or it may shine with its own, experience supplying us with instances of bodies which give their own light, and of others which have their light borrowed. From these and such like statements it appears that questions of natural science in themselves have no value for Epicurus. Whilst granting that only one natural explanation of phenomena is generally possible, yet in any particular case it is perfectly indifferent which explanation is adopted.169Thus we have, in all, five gradations: the One, Nous, Soul, the sensible world, and, lastly, unformed Matter. Taken together, the first three constitute a triad of spiritual principles, and, as such, are associated in a single group by Plotinus.467 Sometimes they are spoken of as the Alexandrian Trinity. But the implied comparison with the Trinity of Catholicism is misleading. With Neo-Platonism, the supreme unity is, properly speaking, alone God and alone One. Nous is vastly inferior to the first principle, and Soul, again, to Nous. Possibly the second and third principles are personal; the first most certainly is not, since self-consciousness is expressly denied to it by Plotinus. Nor is it likely that the idea of a supernatural triad was suggested to Neo-Platonism by Christianity. Each of the three principles may be traced to its source in Greek philosophy. This has been already shown in the case of the One and of the Nous. The universal soul is to be found in Plato’s Timaeus; it is analogous, at least in its lower, divided part, to Aristotle’s Nature; and it is nearly identical with the informing spirit of Stoicism. As to the number three, it was held in high esteem long before the Christian era, and was likely to be independently employed for the construction of different systems at a time when belief in the magical virtue of particular numbers was more widely diffused than at any former period of civilised history.
But it was not merely in the writings of professed philosophers that the new aspect of Platonism found expression. All great art embodies in one form or another the leading conceptions of its age; and the latter half of the seventeenth century found such a manifestation in the comedies of Molière. If these works stand at the head of French literature, they owe their position not more to their author’s brilliant wit than to his profound philosophy of life; or rather, we should say that with him wit and philosophy are one. The comic power of Shakespeare was shown by resolving the outward appearances of this world into a series of dissolving illusions. Like Spinoza and Malebranche, Molière turns the illusion in, showing what perverted opinions men form of themselves and others, through misconceptions and passions either of spontaneous growth or sedulously fostered by designing hands. Society, with him, seems almost entirely made up of pretenders and their dupes, both characters being not unfrequently combined in the same person, who is made a victim through his desire to pass for what he is not and cannot be. And this is what essentially distinguishes the art of Molière from the New Comedy of Athens, which he, like other moderns, had at first felt inclined to imitate until the success of the Précieuses Ridicules showed him where his true opportunities lay. For the New Comedy was Aristotelian where it was not simply humanist; that is415 to say, it was an exhibition of types like those sketched by Aristotle’s disciple, Theophrastus, and already prefigured in the master’s own Ethics. These were the perennial forms in a world of infinite and perishing individual existences, not concealed behind phenomena, but incorporated in them and constituting their essential truth. The Old Comedy is something different again; it is pre-philosophic, and may be characterised as an attempt to describe great political interests and tendencies through the medium of myths and fables and familiar domesticities, just as the old theories of Nature, the old lessons of practical wisdom, and the first great national chronicles had been thrown into the same homely form.572It remains to be seen whether the system which we are examining is consistent with itself. It is not. The Prime Mover, being unextended, cannot be located outside the sidereal sphere; nor can he be brought into immediate contact with it more than with any other part of the cosmos. If the aether has a motion proper to itself, then no spiritual agency is required to keep it in perpetual rotation. If the crystalline spheres fit accurately together, as they must, to avoid leaving a vacuum anywhere, there can be no friction, no production of heat, and consequently no effect produced on the sublunary sphere. Finally, no rotatory or other movement can, taken alone, have any conceivable connexion with the realisation of a possibility, in the sense of progress from a lower to a higher state of being. It is merely the perpetual exchange of one indifferent position for another.
It was with the help of this theory that Epicurus explained and defended the current belief in the existence of gods. The divine inhabitants of the intermundia, or empty spaces separating world from world, are, like all other beings, composed of atoms, and are continually throwing off fine images, some of which make their way unaltered to our earth and reveal themselves to the senses, particularly during sleep, when we are most alive to the subtlest impressions on our perceptive organs. With the usual irrationality of a theologian, Epicurus remained blind to the fact that gods who were constantly throwing off even the very thinnest films could not possibly survive through all eternity. Neither did he explain how images larger than the pupil of the eye could pass through its aperture while preserving their original proportions unaltered.Of these views, the first is taken by Ritter, and adopted with some modifications by M. Vacherot in his Histoire de l’école d’Alexandrie. It is also unreservedly accepted by Donaldson in his continuation of Müller’s History of Greek Literature, and is probably held at this moment by most Englishmen who take any interest in the subject at all. The second view—according to which Neo-Platonism is, at least in342 its main features, a characteristic although degenerate product of Greek thought—is that maintained by Zeller. As against the Orientalising theory, it seems to us that Zeller has thoroughly proved his case.506 It may be doubted whether there is a single idea in Plotinus which can be shown to have its exact counterpart in any of the Hindoo or other Asiatic systems whence he is supposed to have drawn; and, as our own analysis has abundantly shown, he says nothing that cannot be derived, either directly or by a simple and easy process of evolution, from Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics. On the other hand, has not Zeller gone much too far in treating Neo-Platonism as a product of the great religious reaction which unquestionably preceded and accompanied its appearance? Has he not altogether underrated its importance as a purely speculative system, an effort towards the attainment of absolute truth by the simple exercise of human reason? It seems to us that he has, and we shall offer some grounds for venturing to differ from his opinion.