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    【奔驰e级=全球百科】We have entered at some length into Hegel’s theory of the Republic, because it seems to embody a misleading conception not only of Greek politics but also of the most important attempt at a social reformation ever made by one man in the history of philosophy. Thought would be much less worth studying if it only reproduced the abstract form of a very limited experience, instead of analysing and recombining the elements of which that experience is composed. And our253 faith in the power of conscious efforts towards improvement will very much depend on which side of the alternative we accept.46


    Plotinus follows up his essay on the Virtues by an essay on Dialectic.498 As a method for attaining perfection, he places dialectic above ethics; and, granting that the apprehension of abstract ideas ranks higher than the performance of social duties, he is quite consistent in so doing. Not much, however, can be made of his few remarks on the subject. They seem to be partly meant for a protest against the Stoic idea that logic is an instrument for acquiring truth rather than truth itself, and also against the Stoic use or abuse of the syllogistic method. In modern phraseology, Plotinus seems to view dialectic as the immanent and eternal process of life itself, rather than as a collection of rules for drawing correct inferences from true propositions, or from propositions assumed to be true. We have seen how he regarded existence in the334 highest sense as identical with the self-thinking of the absolute Nous, and how he attempted to evolve the whole series of archetypal Ideas contained therein from the simple fact of self-consciousness. Thus he would naturally identify dialectic with the subjective reproduction of this objective evolution; and here he would always have before his eyes the splendid programme sketched in Plato’s Republic.499 His preference of intuitive to discursive reasoning has been quoted by Ritter as a symptom of mysticism. But here, as in so many instances, he follows Aristotle, who also held that simple abstraction is a higher operation, and represents a higher order of real existence than complex ratiocination.500Passing from sensation to thought, it is admitted that abstract conceptions are incorporeal: how, then, can they be received and entertained by a corporeal substance? Or what possible connexion can there be between different arrangements of material particles and such notions as temperance and justice? This is already a sufficiently near approach to the language of modern philosophy. In another essay, which according to the original arrangement stands third, and must have been composed immediately after that whence the foregoing arguments are transcribed, there is more than an approach, there is complete coincidence.437 To deduce mind from atoms is, says Plotinus, if we may so speak, still more impossible than to deduce it from the elementary bodies. Granting that the atoms have a natural movement downwards, granting that they suffer a lateral deflection and so impinge on one another, still this could do no more than produce a disturbance in the bodies against which they strike. But to what atomic movement can one attribute psychic energies and affections? What sort of collision in the vertical line of descent, or in the oblique line of deflection, or in any direction you please, will account for the appearance of a particular kind of reasoning or mental impulse or thought, or how can it account for the existence of such processes at all? Here, of course, Plotinus is alluding to the Epicureans; but it is with the Stoic and other schools that he is principally concerned, and we return to his attack on their psychology.



    Again, he tells us that— Our critics are not content with bringing up Aristotle as an authority on the metaphysical controversies of the present day, and reading into him theories of which he never dreamed:279 they proceed to credit him with modern opinions which he would have emphatically repudiated, and modern methods which directly reverse his scientific teaching. Thus Sir A. Grant takes advantage of an ambiguity in the word Matter, as used respectively by Aristotle and by contemporary writers, to claim his support for the peculiar theories of Prof. Ferrier; although the Stagirite has recorded his belief in the reality and independence of material objects (if not of what he called matter) with a positiveness which one would have thought left no possibility of misunderstanding him.168 And Mr. Wallace says that Aristotle ‘recognises the genesis of things by evolution and development;’ a statement which, standing where it does, and with no more qualifications than are added to it, would make any reader not versed in the subject think of the Stagirite rather as a forerunner of Mr. Darwin and Mr. Herbert Spencer, than as the intellectual ancestor of their opponents; while, on a subsequent occasion, he quotes a passage about the variations of plants under domestication, from a work considered to be un-Aristotelian by the best critics, apparently with no other object than that of finding a piece of Darwinism in his author.169Blank misgivings of a creature

    【奔驰e级=全球百科】We perceive a precisely similar change of tone on comparing the two great historians who have respectively recorded the struggle of Greece against Persia, and the struggle of imperial Athens against Sparta and her allies. Though born within fifteen years of one another, Herodotus and Thucydides are virtually separated by an interval of two generations, for while the latter represents the most advanced thought of his time, the former lived among traditions inherited from the age preceding his own. Now, Herodotus is not more remarkable for the earnest piety than for the clear sense of justice which runs through his entire work. He draws no distinction between public and private morality. Whoever makes war on his neighbours without provocation, or rules without the consent of the governed, is, according to him, in the wrong, although he is well aware that such wrongs are constantly committed. Thucydides knows nothing74 of supernatural interference in human affairs. After relating the tragical end of Nicias, he observes, not without a sceptical tendency, that of all the Greeks then living, this unfortunate general least deserved such a fate, so far as piety and respectability of character went. If there are gods they hold their position by superior strength. That the strong should enslave the weak is a universal and necessary law of Nature. The Spartans, who among themselves are most scrupulous in observing traditional obligations, in their dealings with others most openly identify gain with honour, and expediency with right. Even if the historian himself did not share these opinions, it is evident that they were widely entertained by his contemporaries, and he expressly informs us that Greek political morality had deteriorated to a frightful extent in consequence of the civil discords fomented by the conflict between Athens and Sparta; while, in Athens at least, a similar corruption of private morality had begun with the great plague of 430, its chief symptom being a mad desire to extract the utmost possible enjoyment from life, for which purpose every means was considered legitimate. On this point Thucydides is confirmed and supplemented by the evidence of another contemporary authority. According to Aristophanes, the ancient discipline had in his time become very much relaxed. The rich were idle and extravagant; the poor mutinous; young men were growing more and more insolent to their elders; religion was derided; all classes were animated by a common desire to make money and to spend it on sensual enjoyment. Only, instead of tracing back this profound demoralisation to a change in the social environment, Aristophanes attributes it to demagogues, harassing informers, and popular poets, but above all to the new culture then coming into vogue. Physical science had brought in atheism; dialectic training had destroyed the sanctity of ethical restraints. When, however, the religious and virtuous Socrates is put forward as a type of both tend75encies, our confidence in the comic poet’s accuracy, if not in his good faith, becomes seriously shaken; and his whole tone so vividly recalls the analogous invectives now hurled from press and pulpit against every philosophic theory, every scientific discovery, every social reform at variance with traditional beliefs or threatening the sinister interests which have gathered round iniquitous institutions, that at first we feel tempted to follow Grote in rejecting his testimony altogether. So far, however, as the actual phenomena themselves are concerned, and apart from their generating antecedents, Aristophanes does but bring into more picturesque prominence what graver observers are content to indicate, and what Plato, writing a generation later, treats as an unquestionable reality. Nor is the fact of a lowered moral tone going along with accelerated mental activity either incredible or unparalleled. Modern history knows of at least two periods remarkable for such a conjunction, the Renaissance and the eighteenth century, the former stained with every imaginable crime, the latter impure throughout, and lapsing into blood-thirsty violence at its close. Moral progress, like every other mode of motion, has its appropriate rhythm—its epochs of severe restraint followed by epochs of rebellious license. And when, as an aggravation of the reaction from which they periodically suffer, ethical principles have become associated with a mythology whose decay, at first retarded, is finally hastened by their activity, it is still easier to understand how they may share in its discredit, and only regain their ascendency by allying themselves with a purified form of the old religion, until they can be disentangled from the compromising support of all unverified theories whatever. We have every reason to believe that Greek life and thought did pass through such a crisis during the second half of the fifth century B.C., and we have now to deal with the speculative aspects of that crisis, so far as they are represented by the Sophists.Under such unfavourable auspices did philosophy find a home in Athens. The great maritime capital had drawn to itself every other species of intellectual eminence, and this could not fail to follow with the rest. But philosophy, although hitherto identified with mathematical and physical science, held unexhausted possibilities of development in reserve. According to a well-known legend, Thales once fell into a tank while absorbed in gazing at the stars. An old woman advised him to look at the tank in future, for there he would see the water and the stars as well. Others after him had got into similar difficulties, and might seek to evade them by a similar artifice. While busied with the study of44 cosmic evolution, they had stumbled unawares on some perplexing mental problems. Why do the senses suggest beliefs so much at variance with those arrived at by abstract reasoning? Why should reason be more trustworthy than sense? Why are the foremost Hellenic thinkers so hopelessly disagreed? What is the criterion of truth? Of what use are conclusions which cannot command universal assent? Or, granting that truth is discoverable, how can it be communicated to others? Such were some of the questions now beginning urgently to press for a solution. ‘I sought for myself,’ said Heracleitus in his oracular style. His successors had to do even more—to seek not only for themselves but for others; to study the beliefs, habits, and aptitudes of their hearers with profound sagacity, in order to win admission for the lessons they were striving to impart. And when a systematic investigation of human nature had once begun, it could not stop short with a mere analysis of the intellectual faculties; what a man did was after all so very much more important than what he knew, was, in truth, that which alone gave his knowledge any practical value whatever. Moral distinctions, too, were beginning to grow uncertain. When every other traditional belief had been shaken to its foundations, when men were taught to doubt the evidence of their own senses, it was not to be expected that the conventional laws of conduct, at no time very exact or consistent, would continue to be accepted on the authority of ancient usage. Thus, every kind of determining influences, internal and external, conspired to divert philosophy from the path which it had hitherto pursued, and to change it from an objective, theoretical study into an introspective, dialectic, practical discipline.

    CHAPTER V. THE SPIRITUALISM OF PLOTINUS.So do the night’s blind eye and sun’s bright orb



    For the Platonic Idea of Good, Aristotle had substituted his own conception of self-thinking thought, as the absolute on which all Nature hangs: and we have seen how Plotinus follows him to the extent of admitting that this visible universe is under the immediate control of an incorporeal Reason, which also serves as a receptacle for the Platonic Ideas. But what satisfied Aristotle does not fully satisfy him. The first principle must be one, and Nous fails to answer the conditions of absolute unity, Even self-thinking thought involves the elementary dualism of object and subject. Again, as Plotinus somewhat inconsistently argues, Nous, being knowledge, must cognise something simpler than309 itself.458 Or, perhaps, what he means is that in Nous, which is its product, the first principle becomes self-conscious. Consciousness means a check on the outflow of energy due to the restraining action of the One, a return to and reflection on itself of the creative power.459II.

    【奔驰e级=全球百科】We have seen how the idea of Nature, first evolved by physical philosophy, was taken by some, at least, among the Sophists as a basis for their ethical teaching; then how an interpretation utterly opposed to theirs was put on it by practical men, and how this second interpretation was so generalised by the younger rhetoricians as to involve the denial of all morality whatever. Meanwhile, another equally important conception, destined to come into speedy and prolonged antagonism with the idea of Nature, and like it to exercise a powerful influence on ethical reflection, had almost contemporaneously been elaborated out of the materials which earlier speculation supplied. From Parmenides and Heracleitus down, every philosopher who had propounded a theory of the world, had also more or less peremptorily insisted on the fact that his theory differed widely from common belief. Those who held that change is86 impossible, and those who taught that everything is incessantly changing; those who asserted the indestructibility of matter, and those who denied its continuity; those who took away objective reality from every quality except extension and resistance, and those who affirmed that the smallest molecules partook more or less of every attribute that is revealed to sense—all these, however much they might disagree among themselves, agreed in declaring that the received opinions of mankind were an utter delusion. Thus, a sharp distinction came to be drawn between the misleading sense-impressions and the objective reality to which thought alone could penetrate. It was by combining these two elements, sensation and thought, that the idea of mind was originally constituted. And mind when so understood could not well be accounted for by any of the materialistic hypotheses at first proposed. The senses must differ profoundly from that of which they give such an unfaithful report; while reason, which Anaxagoras had so carefully differentiated from every other form of existence, carried back its distinction to the subjective sphere, and became clothed with a new spirituality when reintegrated in the consciousness of man.He has become keen and shrewd; he has learned how to flatter his master in word and indulge him in deed; but his soul is small and unrighteous. His slavish condition has deprived him of growth and uprightness and independence; dangers and fears which were too much for his truth and honesty came upon him in early years, when the tenderness of youth was unequal to them, and he has been driven into crooked ways; from the first he has practised deception and retaliation, and has become stunted and warped. And so he has passed out of youth into manhood, having no soundness in him, and is now, as he thinks, a master in wisdom.128