Page images

that unalloyed happiness is a dream. Hence the end of life is not and cannot be realized. Life, therefore, has no value. As a consequence, death is preferable to life ; for death at least procures for us the only happiness possible to human beings, a negative happiness consisting in the absolute suppression of pain. This is the way in which Hegesias reasons, and all must reason who regard pleasure, joy, or happiness as the only end of life (TéLos). Life has real value only for such as recognize a higher aim, namely, moral goodness, the performance of duty, virtue for virtue’s sake; in other words, life has value only for him who considers it as a means and not as an end in itself, that is, in short, for the idealist. For him, virtue is the highest good. Now virtue can be realized only by living beings. Hence life itself, being the means and indispensable condition of virtue or of the highest good, is a relative good, and not the summum bonum. Hence moral idealism necessarily excludes pessimism.

The hedonistic school, which again becomes optimistic in Anniceris of Cyrene,is continued by the school of Epicurus," who supplements the ethics of Aristippus with the physics of Democritus.

2. ANTISTHENES.4 - The idealistic teachings of Socrates are reproduced and exaggerated by Antisthenes of Athens, the founder of the Cynic school. The school was named after the gymnasium of Kynosarges, where Antisthenes delivered his lectures. Its motto is : Virtue for virtue's sake; Virtue is the final and only goal of all our actions;

i Cicero, Tusc., I., 34: A malis mors abducit.
2 About 300 B. C. See Diog. L., II., 93 ff.
: $ 19.

* Diog. L., VI. ; [for A. and his school, see also, Mullach, II., Pp. 201 ff. ; Ritter and Preller, pp. 216 ff.; Duemmler, Antisthenica, Halle, 1882. – Tr.]

Virtue is the highest good. The Cynics, his successors, go so far in their enthusiasm as to proclaim the doctrine that pleasure is an evil; that man cannot be virtuous unless he renounces all material and even intellectual pleasures; they even reject mental culture and philosophy itself as evils. Despising, as they did, the pleasures of social life, they came to violate the simplest rules of politeness, and, in principle at least, rebelled against the laws themselves. For a life of refinement and civilization these “ Rousseaus of antiquity” substitute the state of nature; cosmopolitanism takes the place of patriotism. The principle of individual autonomy, which had been proclaimed by the Sophists and by Socrates, passes from theory into practice. Not all the Cynics, however, are radicals. We must make allowances in the well-known history of Diogenes of Sinope, the disciple of Antisthenes, for popular malice, which naturally goes to extremes, and is apt to culminate in caricature. The moral idealism of Antisthenes, which was disfigured by the exaggerations of some of the Cynic philosophers, reappeared in a new and purer form in the doctrines of Zeno and the Stoics.

3. EUCLIDES,2 the founder of the school of Megara, made the first attempt to give the ethical system of the master a metaphysical support, which he finds in the philosophy of the Eleaties. He accepts the teaching of Parmenides that being is one, and the Socratic notion concerning the reality of the voûs and of moral principles. From these premises he boldly draws the conclusion, which was again advanced by Fichte in modern times, that mind or goodness is being, the only absolutely-existing being. All

1 [Goettling, Diogenes der Kyniker oder die Philosophie des grieschischen Proletariats (Geschichtl. Abhandlgn., vol. I.), Halle, 1851. — Tr.)

? Diog. L., II. (Ritter and Preller, pp. 223 ff.; Mallet, Histoire de l'école de Mégare, etc., Paris, 1845. - TR.)

we know of Euclides is summed up in this sentence. But this alone assures him a distinguished place among the Attic philosophers; his system forms the connecting link between Socrates and Plato. The school of Megara, which Stilpo 1 made famous, and that of Elis, which was founded by Phædo, the favorite pupil of Socrates, devoted themselves to the development of eristic dialectics, but soon found themselves eclipsed by the schools of Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, and Zeno.

During the first period, philosophical interest was centered upon nature and the problem of becoming. Speculative Socraticism inaugurates the era of the philosophy of mind, which predominates in the second period, and in turn becomes (A) idealism, (B) materialism and eudæmonism, and (C) concrete spiritualism, according as it regards as the essence and highest aim of our being, thought (Plato and Aristotle), sensation (Epicurus), or voluntary action (Stoicism).


§ 16. Plato PLATO of Athens was born of a noble family, about 427. He received his first instruction from Cratylus, the disciple of Heraclitus, then became a pupil of Socrates, and later of Euclides of Megara, who introduced him to the study of Parmenides. The mathematical speculations of the Pythagoreans also exerted a decided influence upon the development of his thought.' From 385 to the close of his life (347), he taught philosophy in the Academy, a place which was presented to him by generous friends and for centuries remained in possession of the Platonic school.

1 Diog. L., II. ; Seneca, Ep. IX.

Diog. L., loc. cit.

It is not a matter of indifference, says a great writer," by which door we enter life. Socrates, the child of a family of artisans and himself an artisan during his younger days, took pleasure in mingling with the crowd whose follies he despised, and endeavored to instruct, elevate, and ennoble them. Plato, the descendant of Codrus and of Solon, was by birth predestined to become the author of the aristocratic Republic, the idealistic philosopher, for whom form is everything and matter a contamination, an obstacle, and a check; the poet-prophet who will have nothing to do with vulgar reality, and whose home is in the realms of the eternal, the absolute, and the ideal; the favorite teacher of the Fathers of the Church, the theosophists, and the mystics. Socrates exercises a somewhat prosy cautiousness in his thought. He is not willing to take any risks, he avoids hypothesis and the unknown. The philosophy of Plato is conspicuous for its bold imprudence, its love of adventure and mystery. His speculation is not like the Philistine whose life is spent in the market-place or in the workshop, and whose world is measured by the narrow boundaries of his native town; it is the lord of the manor, who retires to his mansion, after having seen the world, and turns his gaze towards the distant horizon; disdaining the noise of the cross-roads, he mingles only in the best society, where is heard the most elegant, the noblest, and the loftiest language that has ever been spoken in the home of the Muses.

Plato is the oldest Greek philosopher whose writings have been preserved, and the only one of whom we possess the complete works. Of the treatises attributed to him by

1 Goethe.

· The principal modern editions of Plato's Complete Works: The Bipontine edition, Zweibrücken, 1781-87; Tauchnitz, Leipsic, 1813 ff.; Bekker, Berlin, 1816-23, London, 1826 ; F. Ast, Leipsic, 1819-32; Stallbaum, Leipsie, 1821 ff.; Baiter, Orelli, and Winckelmann, Zurich,

tradition some are surely spurious; others, like the Par menides, the Sophist, the Cratylus, and the Philebus, are of doubtful origin. Criticism has also, but without just grounds, questioned the authorship of the Apology and the Crito. The writings whose genuineness is beyond doubt are nine in number, namely: (1) The Phædrus, which opposes the selfish rhetoric of the Sophists with the true eloquence of the philosopher, whose chief object is the knowledge of the invisible world; (2) the Protagoras, or the Socratic doctrine of virtue ; (3) the Symposium, or con cerning the different manifestations of the eros, from sensual love to the philosophical love of beauty, truth, and goodness, as this was personified in Socrates; (4) the Gorgias, the true sage as opposed to the Sophist; (5) the Republic, or concerning the State which realizes the idea of justice (6) the T'imæus, or concerning the nature and origin of the

[ocr errors]

1839-12; Ch. Schneider (Greek and Latin), Paris, 1846-56 ff.; K. F. Hermann, Leipsic, 1851-53; (Schanz, Leipsic, 1875 ff. Ritter and Preller, pp. 233 ff.].

[The Dialogues of Plato. Translated into English, with Analyses and Introductions, by B. Jowett, 4 vols., Oxford, 1871; 3d ed. revised and corrected, 5 vols., New York and London, 1892; Platons Werke, German transl. by Schleiermacher, 3d ed., Berlin, 1855-62; also by H. Müller, 8 vols., Leipsic, 1850-66. — Tr.]; Plato's Works, French transl. by V. Cousin, 8 vols., Paris, 1825-10.

For Plato and his writings, consult: [Ast, Platons Leben und Schriften, Leipsic, 1816; K. F. llermann, Geschichte und System der platonischen Philosophie, Heidelberg, 18:39]; Grote, Plato and the other Companions of Socrates, 3 vols., London, 1865 (new ed. 1885), also the same author's History of Greece ; Schaarschmidt, Die Sammlung der platonischen Schriften, Bonn, 1866 ; Fouillée, La philosophie de Platon. Exposition, histoire, et critique de la théorie des idées, 2d ed., Paris, 1888–89; [Chaignet, La vie et les ecrits de Platon, Paris, 1871; Bénard, Platon. Sa philosophie, précédée d'un aperçu de sa vie et de ses écrits, Paris, 1892; Huit, La rie et l'æuvre de Platon, 2 vols., Paris, 1893 ; Pater, Plato and Platonism, New York and London, 1893; Van Oordt, Plato and his Times, Oxford and the Hague, 1895; B. Bosanquet, A Companion :0 Plato's Republic, New York, 1895).

« PreviousContinue »