Meanwhile Atomism continued to exercise a powerful influence on the method even more than on the doctrines of science. The analytical mode of treatment, applied by Galileo to dynamics, was applied, with equal success, by other mathematicians, to the study of discrete and continuous quantity. It is to the division of numbers and figures into infinitesimal parts—a direct contravention of Aristotle’s teaching—that we owe logarithms, algebraic geometry, and the differential calculus. Thus was established a connexion between spiritualism and materialism, the philosophy of Plato and the philosophy of Democritus. Out of these elements, together with what still survived of Aristotelianism, was constructed the system of Descartes. 界就 With regard to those more refined aspects of temperance, in which it appears as a restraint exercised by reason over anger, pity, and grief, Epicurus and his followers refused to go all lengths with the Stoics in their effort to extirpate emotion altogether. But here they seem not to have proceeded on any fixed principle, except that of contradicting the opposite school. That the sage will feel pity, and sometimes shed tears,136 is a sentiment from which few are now likely to dissent; yet the absolute impassivity at which Stoicism aimed seems still more consistent with a philosophy whose ideal was complete exemption from pain; while in practice it would be rather easier to attain than the power of feeling quite happy on the rack, which the accomplished Epicurean was expected to possess.137
An interesting example of the process on which I have just touched is offered by the reappearance and further elaboration of some most important Greek ideas in modern philosophy. In the concluding chapter of this work I have attempted to indicate the chief lines along which such a transmission may be traced. The subject is one which has hitherto been unduly neglected. No critic would be justified in describing the speculative movement of the nineteenth century without constant reference to the metaphysicians andxviii moralists of the two preceding centuries. Yet the dependence of those thinkers on the schools of antiquity is hardly less intimate than our dependence on Spinoza and Hume. Nevertheless, in no work that I am acquainted with has this circumstance been used to elucidate the course pursued by modern thought; indeed, I may say that the persistence of Hellenic ideas down to the most recent times has not been fully recognised by any scholar except Prof. Teichmüller, who has particularly devoted his attention to the history of conceptions as distinguished from the history of systems. 传说 It is remarkable that while Spinoza was giving a new application to the Platonic method, another Cartesian,414 Malebranche, was working it out more strictly on the old lines of speculative research. The Recherche de la Vérité of this unjustly neglected thinker is a methodical account of the various subjective obstacles which impede our apprehension of things as they really exist, and of the means by which it may be facilitated. Here also, attention is concentrated on the subjective side of philosophy; and if the mental processes selected for study are of theoretical rather than practical interest, we may probably attribute this to the circumstance that every ethical question was already decided for Malebranche by the Church whose orders he had assumed. Meanwhile the recognised methods for looking into futurity continued to enjoy their old popularity, and that which relied on indications afforded by the entrails of sacrifices was practised with unabated confidence down to the time of Julian.342 Even faith in natural law, where it existed, accommodated itself to the prevalent superstition by taking the form of astrology; and it is well known what reliance the emperor Tiberius, for his time a singularly enlightened224 man, placed on predictions derived from observation of the starry heavens.
perpetual; as beseemeth 没有 The history of Neo-Platonism, subsequently to the death of Plotinus, decomposes itself into several distinct tendencies, pursuing more or less divergent lines of direction. First of all, it was drawn into the supernaturalist movement against which it had originally been, in part at least, a reaction and a protest. One sees from the life of its founder how far his two favourite disciples, Amelius and Porphyry, were from sharing356 his superiority to the superstitions of the age. Both had been educated under Pythagorean influences, which were fostered rather than repressed by the new philosophy. With Porphyry, theoretical interests are, to a great extent, superseded by practical interests; and, in practice, the religious and ascetic predominates over the purely ethical element. Still, however great may have been his aberrations, they never went beyond the limits of Hellenic tradition. Although of Syrian extraction, his attitude towards Oriental superstition was one of uncompromising hostility; and in writing against Christianity, his criticism of the Old Testament seems to have closely resembled that of modern rationalism. But with Porphyry’s disciple, Iamblichus, every restraint is thrown aside, the wildest Oriental fancies are accepted as articles of belief, and the most senseless devotional practices are inculcated as means towards the attainment of a truly spiritual life. It is well known that Spinoza draws a sharp line of demarcation between the two attributes of Extension and Thought, which, with him, correspond to what are usually called body and mind. Neither attribute can act on the other. Mind receives no impressions from body, nor does body receive any impulses from mind. This proposition follows by rigorous logical necessity from the Platonic principle that mind is independent of body, combined with the Stoic principle that nothing but body can act on body, generalised into the wider principle that interaction implies homogeneity of nature. According to some critics, Spinoza’s teaching on this point constitutes a fatal flaw in his philosophy. How, it is asked, can we know that there is any such thing as body (or extension) if body cannot be perceived,—for perceived it certainly cannot be without acting on our minds? The idea of infinite substance suggests a way out of the408 difficulty. ‘I find in myself,’ Spinoza might say, ‘the idea of extension. In fact, my mind is nothing but the idea of extension, or the idea of that idea, and so on through as many self-reflections as you please. At the same time, mind, or thought, is not itself extended. Descartes and the Platonists before him have proved thus much. Consequently I can conceive extension as existing independently of myself, and, more generally, of all thought. But how can I be sure that it actually does so exist? In this wise. An examination of thought leads me to the notion of something in which it resides—a substance whose attribute it is. But having once conceived such a substance, I cannot limit it to a single attribute, nor to two, nor to any finite number. Limitation implies a boundary, and there can be no boundary assigned to existence, for existence by its very definition includes everything that is. Accordingly, whatever can be conceived, in other words whatever can be thought without involving a contradiction,—an important reservation which I beg you to observe,—must necessarily exist. Now extension involves no contradiction, therefore it exists,—exists, that is to say, as an attribute of the infinite substance. And, by parity of reasoning, there must be an idea of extension; for this also can exist without involving a contradiction, as the simplest introspection suffices to show. You ask me why then I do not believe in gorgons and chimaeras. I answer that since, in point of fact, they do not exist, I presume that their notion involves a contradiction, although my knowledge of natural law is not sufficiently extended to show me where the contradiction lies. But perhaps science will some day be able to point out in every instance of a non-existing thing, where the contradiction lies, no less surely than it can now be pointed out in the case of impossible geometrical figures.’ In short, while other people travel straight from their sensations to an external world, Spinoza travels round to it by the idea of an infinite substance.564
异常 It cannot be too often repeated that the One in no way conflicts with the world of real existence, but, on the contrary, creates and completes it. Now, within that world, with which alone reason is properly concerned, Plotinus never betrays any want of confidence in its power to discover truth; nor, contrary to what Zeller assumes, does he seem to have been in the least affected by the efforts of the later Sceptics to invalidate its pretensions in this respect.508 Their criticism was, in fact, chiefly directed against Stoicism, and did not touch the spiritualistic position at all. That there can be no certain knowledge afforded by sensation, or, speaking more generally, by the action of an outward object on an inward subject, Plotinus himself fully admits or rather contends.509 But while distrusting the ability of external perception, taken alone, to establish the existence of an external object by which it is caused, he expressly claims such a power for reason or understanding.510 For him, as for Aristotle, and probably for Plato also, the mind is one with its real object; in every act of cognition the idea becomes conscious of itself. We do not say that Scepticism is powerless against such a theory as this, but, in point of fact, it was a theory which the ancient Sceptics had not attacked, and their arguments no more led Plotinus to despair of reason, than the similar arguments of Protagoras and Gorgias had led Plato and Aristotle to despair of it six centuries before. If Sextus and his school contributed anything to the great philosophical revolution of the succeeding age, it was by so344 weakening the materialistic systems as to render them less capable of opposing the spiritualistic revival when it came. In the world of thought no less than in the world of action, the boundless license which characterised the last days of Roman republicanism was followed by a period of tranquillity and restraint. Augustus endeavoured to associate his system of imperialism with a revival of religious authority. By his orders a great number of ruinous temples were restored, and the old ceremonies were celebrated once more with all their former pomp. His efforts in this direction were ably seconded by the greatest poet and the greatest historian of the age. Both Virgil and Livy were animated by a warm religious feeling, associated, at least in the case of the latter, with a credulity which knew no bounds. With both, religion took an antiquarian form. They were convinced that Rome had grown great through faith in the gods, that she had a divine mandate to conquer the world, and that this supernatural mission might be most clearly perceived in the circumstances of her first origin.307 It is also characteristic that both should have been provincials, educated in the traditions of a201 reverent conservatism, and sympathising chiefly with those elements in the constitution of Rome which brought her nearest to primitive Italian habits and ideas. Now it was not merely the policy, it was the inevitable consequence of imperialism to favour the provinces308 at the expense of the capital, by depriving the urban population and the senatorial aristocracy of the political preponderance which they had formerly enjoyed. Here, as in most other instances, what we call a reaction did not mean a change in the opinions or sentiments of any particular persons or classes, but the advent of a new class whose ways of thinking now determined the general tone of the public mind. The first result of this separation between man and the world was a complete breach with the old physical philosophy, shown, on the one hand, by an abandonment of speculative studies, on the other, by a substitution of convention for Nature as the recognised standard of right. Both consequences were drawn by Protagoras, the most eminent of the Sophists. We have now to consider more particularly what was his part in the great drama of which we are attempting to give an intelligible account.”