时间：<2020-08-03 17:12:32 作者：EH沙漠枪战无敌版DdX 浏览量：9777
Another wide-spread superstition was the belief in prophetic or premonitory dreams. This was shared by some even among those who rejected supernatural religion,—a phenomenon not unparalleled at the present day. Thus the228 elder Pliny tells us how a soldier of the Praetorian Guard in Rome was cured of hydrophobia by a remedy revealed in a dream to his mother in Spain, and communicated by her to him. The letter describing it was written without any knowledge of his mishap, and arrived just in time to save his life.348 And Pliny was himself induced by a dream to undertake the history of the Roman campaigns in Germany.349 Religious believers naturally put at least equal confidence in what they imagined to be revelations of the divine will. Galen, the great physician, often allowed himself to be guided by dreams in the treatment of his patients, and had every reason to congratulate himself on the result. The younger Pliny, Suetonius, Dion Cassius, and the emperors Augustus and Marcus Aurelius, were all influenced in a similar manner; and among these Dion, who stands last in point of time, shows by his repeated allusions to the subject that superstition, so far from diminishing, was continually on the increase.350VIII.
We have now to consider how Aristotle treats psychology, not in connexion with biology, but as a distinct science—a separation not quite consistent with his own definition of soul, but forced on him by the traditions of Greek philosophy and by the nature of things. Here the fundamental antithesis assumes a three-fold form. First the theoretical activity of mind is distinguished from its practical activity; the one being exercised on things which cannot, the other on things which365 can, be changed. Again, a similar distinction prevails within the special province of each. Where truth is the object, knowledge stands opposed to sense; where good is sought, reason rises superior to passion. The one antithesis had been introduced into philosophy by the early physicists, the other by Socrates. They were confounded in the psychology of Plato, and Aristotle had the merit of separating them once more. Yet even he preserves a certain artificial parallelism between them by using the common name Nous, or reason, to denote the controlling member in each. To make his anthropology still more complex, there is a third antithesis to be taken into account, that between the individual and the community, which also sometimes slides into a partial coincidence with the other two.We find the same theory reproduced and enforced with weighty illustrations by the great historian of that age. It is not known whether Thucydides owed any part of his culture to Protagoras, but the introduction to his history breathes the same spirit as the observations which we have just transcribed. He, too, characterises antiquity as a scene of barbarism, isolation, and lawless violence, particularly remarking that piracy was not then counted a dishonourable profession. He points to the tribes outside Greece, together with the most backward among the Greeks themselves, as representing the low condition from which Athens and her sister states had only emerged within a comparatively recent period. And in the funeral oration which he puts into the mouth of Pericles, the legendary glories of Athens are passed over without the slightest allusion,69 while exclusive prominence is given to her proud position as the intellectual centre of Greece. Evidently a radical change had taken place in men’s conceptions since Herodotus wrote. They were learning to despise the mythical glories of their ancestors, to exalt the present at the expense of the past, to fix their attention exclusively on immediate human interests, and, possibly, to anticipate the coming of a loftier civilisation than had as yet been seen.
In some respects, Aristotle began not only as a disciple but as a champion of Platonism. On the popular side, that doctrine was distinguished by its essentially religious character, and by its opposition to the rhetorical training then in vogue. Now, Aristotle’s dialogues, of which only a few fragments have been preserved, contained elegant arguments in favour of a creative First Cause, and of human immortality; although in the writings which embody his maturer views, the first of these theories is considerably modified, and the second is absolutely rejected. Further, we are informed that Aristotle expressed himself in terms of rather violent contempt for Isocrates, the greatest living professor of declamation; and284 opened an opposition school of his own. This step has, curiously enough, been adduced as a further proof of disagreement with Plato, who, it is said, objected to all rhetorical teaching whatever. It seems to us that what he condemned was rather the method and aim of the then fashionable rhetoric; and a considerable portion of his Phaedrus is devoted to proving how much more effectually persuasion might be produced by the combined application of dialectics and psychology to oratory. Now, this is precisely what Aristotle afterwards attempted to work out in the treatise on Rhetoric still preserved among his writings; and we may safely assume that his earlier lectures at Athens were composed on the same principle.It was their habit of teaching rhetoric as an art which raised the fiercest storm of indignation against Protagoras and his colleagues. The endeavour to discover rules for addressing a tribunal or a popular assembly in the manner best cal94culated to win their assent had originated quite independently of any philosophical theory. On the re-establishment of order, that is to say of popular government, in Sicily, many lawsuits arose out of events which had happened years before; and, owing to the lapse of time, demonstrative evidence was not available. Accordingly, recourse was had on both sides to arguments possessing a greater or less degree of probability. The art of putting such probable inferences so as to produce persuasion demanded great technical skill; and two Sicilians, Corax and Tisias by name, composed treatises on the subject. It would appear that the new-born art was taken up by Protagoras and developed in the direction of increased dialectical subtlety. We are informed that he undertook to make the worse appear the better reason; and this very soon came to be popularly considered as an accomplishment taught by all philosophers, Socrates among the rest. But if Protagoras merely meant that he would teach the art of reasoning, one hardly sees how he could have expressed himself otherwise, consistently with the antithetical style of his age. We should say more simply that a case is strengthened by the ability to argue it properly. It has not been shown that the Protagorean dialectic offered exceptional facilities for maintaining unjust pretensions. Taken, however, in connexion with the humanistic teaching, it had an unsettling and sceptical tendency. All belief and all practice rested on law, and law was the result of a convention made among men and ultimately produced by individual conviction. What one man had done another could undo. Religious tradition and natural right, the sole external standards, had already disappeared. There remained the test of self-consistency, and against this all the subtlety of the new dialectic was turned. The triumph of Eristic was to show that a speaker had contradicted himself, no matter how his statements might be worded. Moreover, now that reference to an objective reality was disallowed, words were put in the place95 of things and treated like concrete realities. The next step was to tear them out of the grammatical construction, where alone they possessed any truth or meaning, each being simultaneously credited with all the uses which at any time it might be made to fulfil. For example, if a man knew one thing he knew all, for he had knowledge, and knowledge is of everything knowable. Much that seems to us tedious or superfluous in Aristotle’s expositions was intended as a safeguard against this endless cavilling. Finally, negation itself was eliminated along with the possibility of falsehood and contradiction. For it was argued that ‘nothing’ had no existence and could not be an object of thought.71
Answering to the first principles of demonstration in logic, if not absolutely identical with them, are what Aristotle calls causes in the nature of things. We have seen what an important part the middle term plays in Aristotle’s theory of the syllogism. It is the vital principle of demonstration, the connecting link by which the two extreme terms are attached to one another. In the theory of applied logic, whose object is to bring the order of thought into complete parallelism with the order of things, the middle term through which a fact is demonstrated answers to the cause through which it exists. According to our notions, only two terms, antecedent and consequent, are involved in the idea of causation; and causation only becomes a matter for reasoning when we perceive that the sequence is repeated in a uniform manner. But Aristotle was very far from having reached, or even suspected, this point of view. A cause is with him not a determining antecedent, but a secret nexus by which the co-existence of two phenomena is explained. Instead of preceding it intercedes; and this is why he finds its subjective counterpart in the middle term of the syllogism. Some of his own examples will make the matter clearer. Why is the moon eclipsed? Because the earth intervenes between her and the sun. Why is the bright side of the moon always turned towards the sun? Because she shines by his reflected light (here light is the middle term). Why is that person talking to the rich man? Because he wants to borrow money of him. Why are those two men friends? Because they have the same enemy.281The rules which Aristotle gives us for the conversion of propositions are no doubt highly instructive, and throw great light on their meaning; but one cannot help observing that such a process as conversion ought, on his own principles, to have been inadmissible. With Plato, the copulation of subject and predicate corresponded to an almost mechanical juxtaposition of two self-existent ideas. It was, therefore, a matter of indifference in what order they were placed. Aristotle, on the other hand, after insisting on the restoration of the concrete object, and reducing general notions to an analysis of its particular aspects, could not but make the predicate subordinate to, and dependent on, the subject—a relation which altogether excludes the logical possibility of making them interchangeable with one another.275
Ever since the age of Parmenides and Heracleitus, Greek thought had been haunted by a pervading dualism which each system had in turn attempted to reconcile, with no better result than its reproduction under altered names. And speculation had latterly become still further perplexed by the question whether the antithetical couples supposed to divide all Nature between them could or could not be reduced to so many aspects of a single opposition. In the last chapter but one we showed that there were four such competing pairs—Being and Not-Being, the One and the Many, the Same and the Other, Rest and Motion. Plato employed his very subtlest dialectic in tracing out their connexions, readjusting their relationships, and diminishing the total number of terms which they involved. In what was probably his last great speculative effort, the Timaeus, he seems to have selected Sameness and Difference as the couple best adapted to bear the heaviest strain of thought. There is some reason for believing that in his spoken lectures he followed the Pythagorean system more closely, giving the preference to the One and the Many; or he may have employed the two expressions indifferently. The former would sooner commend itself to a dialectician, the latter to a mathematician. Aristotle was both, but he was before all things a naturalist. As such, the antithesis of Being and Not-Being, to which Plato attached little or no value, suited him best. Accordingly, he proceeds to work it out with a clearness before unknown in Greek philosophy. The first and surest of all principles, he declares, is, that a thing cannot both be and not be, in the same sense of the words, and furthermore that it must either be or not be. Subsequent340 logicians prefixed to these axioms another, declaring that whatever is is. The three together are known as the laws of Identity, Contradiction, and Excluded Middle. By all, except Hegelians, they are recognised as the highest laws of thought; and even Hegel was indebted to them, through Fichte, for the ground-plan of his entire system.235According to Hegel,147 the Platonic polity, so far from being an impracticable dream, had already found its realisation in Greek life, and did but give a purer expression to the constitutive principle of every ancient commonwealth. There are, he tells us, three stages in the moral development of mankind. The first is purely objective. It represents a régime where rules of conduct are entirely imposed from without; they are, as it were, embodied in the framework of society; they rest, not on reason and conscience, but on authority and tradition; they will not suffer themselves to be questioned, for, being unproved, a doubt would be fatal to their very existence. Here the individual is completely sacrificed to the State; but in the second or subjective stage he breaks loose, asserting the right of his private judgment and will as against the established order of things. This revolution was, still according to Hegel, begun by the Sophists and Socrates. It proved altogether incompatible with the spirit of Greek civilisation, which it ended by shattering to pieces. The subjective principle found an247 appropriate expression in Christianity, which attributes an infinite importance to the individual soul; and it appears also in the political philosophy of Rousseau. We may observe that it corresponds very nearly to what Auguste Comte meant by the metaphysical period. The modern State reconciles both principles, allowing the individual his full development, and at the same time incorporating him with a larger whole, where, for the first time, he finds his own reason fully realised. Now, Hegel looks on the Platonic republic as a reaction against the subjective individualism, the right of private judgment, the self-seeking impulse, or whatever else it is to be called, which was fast eating into the heart of Greek civilisation. To counteract this fatal tendency, Plato goes back to the constitutive principle of Greek society—that is to say, the omnipotence, or, in Benthamite parlance, omnicompetence, of the State; exhibiting it, in ideal perfection, as the suppression of individual liberty under every form, more especially the fundamental forms of property, marriage, and domestic life.
Whether Spinoza ever read Plato is doubtful. One hardly sees why he should have neglected a writer whose works were easily accessible, and at that time very popular with thinking minds. But whether he was acquainted with the Dialogues at first hand or not, Plato will help us to understand Spinoza, for it was through the door of geometry that he entered philosophy, and under the guidance of one who was saturated with the Platonic spirit; so far as Christianity influenced him, it was through elements derived from Plato; and his metaphysical method was one which, more than any other, would have been welcomed with delight by the author of the Meno and the Republic, as an attempt to realise his own dialectical ideal. For Spinozism is, on the face of it, an application of geometrical reasoning to philosophy, and especially to ethics. It is also an attempt to prove transcendentally what geometricians only assume—the necessity of space. Now, Plato looked on geometrical demonstration as the great type of certainty, the scientific completion of what Socrates had begun by his interrogative method, the one means of carrying irrefragable conviction into every department of knowledge, and more particularly into the study of our highest good. On the other hand, he saw that geometricians assume what itself requires to be demonstrated; and he confidently expected that the deficiency would be supplied by his own projected method of transcendent dialectics. Such at least seems to be the drift of the following passage:
Of all existing constitutions that of Sparta approached nearest to the ideal of Plato, or, rather, he regarded it as the least degraded. He liked the conservatism of the Spartans, their rigid discipline, their haughty courage, the participation of their daughters in gymnastic exercises, the austerity of their manners, and their respect for old age; but he found much to censure both in their ancient customs and in the characteristics which the possession of empire had recently developed among them. He speaks with disapproval of their exclusively military organisation, of their contempt for philosophy, and of the open sanction which they gave to practices barely tolerated at Athens. And he also comments on their covetousness, their harshness to inferiors, and their haste to throw off the restraints of the law whenever detection could be evaded.124Among the scientific and literary men who were not pledged to any particular school, we find the elder Pliny rejecting the belief in immortality, not only as irrational but235 as the reverse of consolatory. It robs us, he declares, of Nature’s most especial boon, which is death, and doubles the pangs of dissolution by the prospect of continued existence elsewhere.361 Quintilian leaves the question undecided;362 Tacitus expresses himself doubtfully;363 and Galen, whose great physiological knowledge enabled him to see how fallacious were Plato’s arguments, while his philosophical training equally separated him from the materialists, also refuses to pronounce in favour of either side.364 What Juvenal thought is uncertain; but, from his general tone, we may conjecture that he leant to the negative side.365