: The famous theses of Gorgias were quoted in a former chapter as an illustration of the tactics pursued by Greek Humanism in its controversy with physical science. They must be noticed again in the present connexion, on account of their bearing on the development of scepticism, and as having inaugurated a method of reasoning often employed in subsequent attacks, directed, not against the whole of knowledge, but against particular parts of it. The scepticism of Protagoras rested on the assumption that there is an external reality from the reaction of which with mind all our perceptions proceed. Neither of these two factors can be known apart from the other, and as both are in a constant flux, our knowledge of the resulting compound at one time does not show what it has been or will be at another time. But Gorgias altogether denied the existence of any objective reality; and he attempted to disprove it by an analytical instead of a synthetic argument, laying down a series of disjunctive propositions, and upsetting the different alternatives in succession. Existence must be either something or nothing, or both together; and if something, it must be either finite or infinite, or both, and either one or many, or both. His argument against an infinite existence is altogether futile; but it serves to illustrate the undeveloped state of reflection at that period. The eternity of the world is confounded with its unlimited extension in space: and this hypothesis, again, is met by the transparent quibble that the world, not being in any one place, must be nowhere or not at all. And the alternative that the world has not always existed is refuted by the unproved assumption, which, apparently, no Greek philosopher ever thought of disputing, that nothing can begin without being caused by something else. Still, however contemptible such reasonings may seem,131 it is obvious that in them we have the first crude form of the famous antinomies by which Kant long afterwards sought to prove the impossibility of a world existing in space and time apart from a percipient subject, and which have since been used to establish in a more general way the unknowability of existence as such. It will also be observed that the sceptical arguments respectively derived from the relativity of thought and from the contradictions inherent in its ultimate products are run together by modern agnostics. But no reason that we can remember has ever been given to show that an idea is necessarily subjective because it is self-contradictory.。VI. Let us now see how he carries this passionate enthusiasm for knowledge into the humblest researches of zoology: 顺丰快递能不能放丰巢快递柜 会议议程审查
We have seen how, for the antithesis between Form and Matter, was substituted the wider antithesis between Actuality and Possibility. Even in this latter the opposition is more apparent than real. A permanent possibility is only intelligible through the idea of its realisation, and sooner or later is certain to be realised. Aristotle still further bridges over the interval between them by a new conception—that of motion. Motion, he tells us, is the process of realisation, the transformation of power into act. Nearly the whole of his Physics is occupied with an enquiry into its nature and origin. As first conceived, it is equivalent to what we call change rather than348 to mechanical movement. The table of categories supplies an exhaustive enumeration of its varieties. These are, as we have already mentioned, alteration of quality or transformation, increase or decrease of quantity, equivalent to growth and decay, and transport from place to place. Sometimes a fourth variety is added, derived from the first category, substance. He calls it generation and destruction, the coming into existence or passing out of it again. A careful analysis shows that motion in space is the primordial change on which all others depend for their accomplishment. To account for it is the most vitally important problem in philosophy.
Similarly, in political science, the analytical method of assuming civil government to result from a concurrence of individual wills, which with Hobbes had served only to destroy ecclesiastical authority, while leaving intact and even strengthening the authority of secular rulers, was reinterpreted by Locke as a negation of all absolutism whatever.
The old age of Plato seems to have been marked by restless activity in more directions than one. He began various works which were never finished, and projected others which were never begun. He became possessed by a devouring zeal for social reform. It seemed to him that nothing was wanting but an enlightened despot to make his ideal State a reality. According to one story, he fancied that such an instrument might be found in the younger Dionysius. If so, his expectations were speedily disappointed. As Hegel acutely observes, only a man of half measures will allow himself to be guided by another; and such a man would lack the energy needed to carry out Plato’s scheme.158 However this may be, the philosopher does not seem to have given up his idea that absolute monarchy was, after all, the government from which most good might be expected. A process of substitution which runs through his whole intellectual evolution was here exemplified for the last time. Just as in his ethical system knowledge, after having been regarded solely as the means for procuring an ulterior end, pleasure, subsequently became an end in itself; just as the interest in knowledge was superseded by a more absorbing interest in the dialectical machinery which was to facilitate its acquisition, and this again by the social re-organisation which was to make education a department of the State; so also the beneficent despotism originally invoked for the purpose of establishing an aristocracy on the new model, came at last to be regarded by Plato as itself the best form of government. Such, at least, seems to be the drift of a remarkable Dialogue called the Statesman, which we agree with Prof. Jowett in placing immediately before the Laws. Some have denied its authenticity, and others have placed it very early in the entire series of Platonic compositions. But it contains passages of269 such blended wit and eloquence that no other man could have written them; and passages so destitute of life that they could only have been written when his system had stiffened into mathematical pedantry and scholastic routine. Moreover, it seems distinctly to anticipate the scheme of detailed legislation which Plato spent his last years in elaborating. After covering with ridicule the notion that a truly competent ruler should ever be hampered by written enactments, the principal spokesman acknowledges that, in the absence of such a ruler, a definite and unalterable code offers the best guarantees for political stability.
Another method by which Aristotle strove to overcome the antithesis between life as a mechanical arrangement and life as a metaphysical conception, was the newly created study of comparative anatomy. The variations in structure and function which accompany variations in the environment, though statically and not dynamically conceived, bring us very near to the truth that biological phenomena are subject to the same general laws of causation as all other phenomena; and it is this truth which, in the science of life, corresponds to the identification of terrestrial with celestial physics in the science of general mechanics. Vitality is not an individualised principle stationed in the heart and serving only to balance opposite forces against one another; but it is diffused through all the tissues, and bestows on them that extraordinary plasticity which responds to the actions of the environment by spontaneous variations capable of being summed up in any direction, and so creating entirely new organic forms without the intervention of any supernatural agency.According to Bacon, the object of science is to analyse the complex of Forms making up an individual aggregate into its separate constituents; the object of art, to superinduce one or more such Forms on a given material. Hence his manner of regarding them differs in one important respect from Aristotle’s. The Greek naturalist was, before all things, a biologist. His interest lay with the distinguishing characteristics of animal species. These are easily discovered by the unassisted eye; but while they are comparatively superficial, they are also comparatively unalterable. The English experimenter, being primarily concerned with inorganic bodies, whose properties he desired to utilise for industrial purposes, was led to consider the attributes of an object as at once penetrating its inmost texture, and yet capable of being separated from it, like heat and colour for instance. But, like every other thinker of the age, if he escapes from the control of Aristotle it is only to fall under the dominion of another Greek master—in this instance, Democritus. Bacon had a great admiration for the Atomists, and although his inveterate Peripatetic proclivities prevented him from embracing their theory as a whole, he went along with it so far as to admit the dependence of the secondary on the primary qualities of matter; and on the strength of this he concluded that the way to alter the properties of an object was to alter the arrangement of its component particles.
It is remarkable that Aristotle, after repeatedly speaking of induction as an ascent from particulars to generals, when he comes to trace the process by which we arrive at the most general notions of any, does not admit the possibility of such a movement in one direction only. The universal and the individual are, according to him, combined in our most elementary sense-impressions, and the business of scientific393 experience is to separate them. Starting from a middle point, we work up to indivisible predicates on the one hand and down to indivisible subjects on the other, the final apprehension of both extremes being the office, not of science, but of Nous. This theory is equally true and acute. The perception of individual facts is just as difficult and just as slowly acquired as the conception of ultimate abstractions. Moreover, the two processes are carried on pari passu, each being only made possible by and through the other. No true notion can be framed without a firm grasp of the particulars from which it is abstracted; no individual object can be studied without analysing it into a group of common predicates, the idiosyncrasy of which—that is, their special combination—differentiates it from every other object. What, however, we wish to remark is the illustration incidentally afforded by this striking aper?u of Aristotle’s analytical method, which is also the essentially Greek method of thought. We saw that, for our philosopher, syllogism was not the subsumption of a particular case under a general law, but the interpolation of a mean between two extremes; we now see that his induction is not the finding of a law for the particular phenomenon, but its analysis into two elements—one universal and the other individual—a solution of the mean into the extremes. And the distinctive originality of his whole system was to fix two such extremes for the universe—a self-thinking thought in absolute self-identity at one end of the scale, and an absolutely indeterminate matter at the other; by combining which in various proportions he then re-constructed the whole intermediate phenomenal reality. In studying each particular class of facts, he follows the same method. The genus is marked by some characteristic attribute which one species—the prerogative species, so to speak—exhibits in its greatest purity, while the others form a graduated scale by variously combining this attribute with its opposite or privation. Hence his theory, since revived by Goethe, that394 the colours are so many different mixtures of light and darkness.VI.
In order to understand how so vigorous an intellect could go so wildly astray, we must glance at his personal history, and at the manner in which his system seems to have been gradually built up.We have seen how Prodicus and Hippias professed to97 teach all science, all literature, and all virtuous accomplishments. We have seen how Protagoras rejected every kind of knowledge unconnected with social culture. We now find Gorgias going a step further. In his later years, at least, he professes to teach nothing but rhetoric or the art of persuasion. We say in his later years, for at one time he seems to have taught ethics and psychology as well.73 But the Gorgias of Plato’s famous dialogue limits himself to the power of producing persuasion by words on all possible subjects, even those of whose details he is ignorant. Wherever the rhetorician comes into competition with the professional he will beat him on his own ground, and will be preferred to him for every public office. The type is by no means extinct, and flourishes like a green bay-tree among ourselves. Like Pendennis, a writer of this kind will review any book from the height of superior knowledge acquired by two hours’ reading in the British Museum; or, if he is adroit enough, will dispense with even that slender amount of preparation. He need not even trouble himself to read the book which he criticises. A superficial acquaintance with magazine articles will qualify him to pass judgment on all life, all religion, and all philosophy. But it is in politics that the finest career lies before him. He rises to power by attacking the measures of real statesmen, and remains there by adopting them. He becomes Chancellor of the Exchequer by gross economical blundering, and Prime Minister by a happy mixture of epigram and adulation.
So also with Aristotle. As a naturalist, he is, indeed, purely objective; but when he offers a general explanation of the world, the subjective element introduced by Protagoras and Socrates at once reappears. Simple absolute self-consciousness is for him the highest good, the animating principle of Nature, the most complete reality, and the only one that would remain, were the element of nonentity to disappear from this world. The utter misconception of dynamic phenomena which marks his physics and astronomy can only be accounted for by his desire to give life the priority over mechanical motion, and reason the priority over life. Thus his metaphysical method is essentially identical with the introspective method recommended by Plotinus, and, if fully worked out, might have led to the same results.
It is worthy of remark that in the Platonic Er?s we have the germ—or something more than the germ—of Aristotle’s whole metaphysical system.135 According to the usual law of speculative evolution, what was subjective in the one becomes objective in the other. With Plato the passion for knowledge had been merely the guiding principle of a few chosen spirits. With Aristotle it is the living soul of Nature, the secret spring of movement, from the revolution of the outermost starry sphere to the decomposition and recomposition of our mutable terrestrial elements; and from these again through the whole scale of organic life, up to the moral culture of man and the search for an ideally-constituted state. What enables all these myriad movements to continue through eternity, returning ever in an unbroken circle on themselves, is the yearning of unformed matter—that is to say, of unrealised power—towards the absolute unchanging actuality, the self-thinking thought, unmoved, but moving every other form of existence by the desire to participate in its ineffable perfection. Born of the Hellenic enthusiasm for beauty, this wonderful conception subsequently became incorporated with the official teaching of Catholic theology. What had once been a theme219 for ribald merriment or for rhetorical ostentation among the golden youth of Athens, furnished the motive for his most transcendent meditations to the Angel of the Schools; but the fire which lurked under the dusty abstractions of Aquinas needed the touch of a poet and a lover before it could be rekindled into flame. The eyes of Beatrice completed what the dialectic of Plato had begun; and the hundred cantos of her adorer found their fitting close in the love that moves the sun and the other stars.。
The rules for distinguishing between truth and falsehood98 are given in the famous Epicurean Canon. On receiving an image into the mind, we associate it with similar images formerly impressed on us by some real object. If the association or anticipation (πρ?ληψι?) is confirmed or not contradicted by subsequent experience, it is true; false, if contradicted or not confirmed.187 The stress laid on absence of contradictory evidence illustrates the great part played by such notions as possibility, negation, and freedom in the Epicurean system. In ethics this class of conceptions is represented by painlessness, conceived first as the condition, and finally as the essence of happiness; in physics by the infinite void, the inane profundum of which Lucretius speaks with almost religious unction; and in logic by the absence of contradiction considered as a proof of reality. Here, perhaps, we may detect the Parmenidean absolute under a new form; only, by a curious reversal, what Parmenides himself strove altogether to expel from thought has become its supreme object and content.188。
Yet Realism concealed a danger to orthodoxy which was not long in making itself felt. Just as the substantiality of individuals disappeared in that of their containing species, so also did every subordinate species tend to vanish in the summum genus of absolute Being. Now such a conclusion was nothing less than full-blown pantheism; and pantheism was, in fact, the system of the first great Schoolman, John Scotus Erigena; while other Realists were only prevented from reaching the same goal by the restraint either of Christian faith or of ecclesiastical authority. But if they failed to draw the logical consequences of their premises, it was drawn for them by others; and Abélard did not fail to twit his opponents with the formidable heresy implied in their realistic prin367ciples.534 As yet, however, the weight of authority inclined towards Plato’s side; and the persecution suffered by Abélard himself, as compared with the very mild treatment accorded to his contemporary, Gilbert de la Porrée, when each was arraigned on a charge of heresy, shows that while the Nominalism of the one was an aggravation, the Realism of the other was an extenuation of his offence.535。