(φιλοσοφία). I. Greek Philosophy.The beginnings of philosophy in Greece came from the Ionians of Asia; and it is in agreement with the character of that people, naturally inclined to the physical or sensualist view, that what the Ionian philosophers sought was the material principle (ἀρχή) of things, and the mode of their origin and disappearance. Thales of Miletus (about B.C. 640) is reputed the father of Greek philosophy. He declared water to be the basis of all things. Next came Anaximander of Miletus (about B.C. 611-547), the first writer on philosophy. He assumed as the first principle an undefined substance (τὸ ἄπειρον) without qualities, out of which the primary antitheses, hot and cold, moist and dry, became differentiated. His countryman and younger contemporary, Anaximenes, took for his principle air, conceiving it as modified, by thickening and thinning, into fire, wind, clouds, water, and earth. Heraclitus of Ephesus (about B.C. 535-475) assumed as the principle of substance aetherial fire. From fire all things originate, and return to it again by a never-resting process of development. All things, therefore, are in a perpetual flux (πάντα ῥεῖ).
Philosophy was first brought into connection with practical life by Pythagoras of Samos (about 582-504), from whom it received its name (the love of wisdom). Regarding the world as a perfect harmony, dependent on number, he aimed at inducing mankind likewise to lead a harmonious life. His doctrine was adopted and extended by a large following, especially in Lower Italy.
That country was also the home of the Eleatic doctrine of the One, called after the town of Elea, the headquarters of the school. It was founded by Xenophanes of Colophon (born about 570), the father of pantheism, who declared God to be the eternal unity, permeating the universe, and governing it by his thought. His great disciple, Parmenides of Elea (born about 511), affirmed the one unchanging existence to be alone true and capable of being conceived, and multitude and change to be an appearance without reality. This doctrine was maintained dialectically by his younger countryman Zeno in a polemic against the vulgar opinion, which sees in things multitude, becoming, and change. Empedocles of Agrigentum (born 492) appears to have been partly in agreement with the Eleatic School, partly in opposition to it: on the one hand, maintaining the unchangeable nature of substance; while, on the other, he supposes a plurality of such substancesi. e. the four elements, earth, water, air, and fire. Of these the world is built up, by the agency of two ideal principles as motive forcesviz., love as the cause of union, hate as the cause of separation.
Anaxagoras of Clazomenae (born about B.C. 500) also maintained the existence of an ordering principle as well as a material substance, and while regarding the latter as an infinite multitude of imperishable primary elements, qualitatively distinguished, conceived divine reason as ordering them. He referred all generation and disappearance to mixture and resolution respectively. To him belongs the credit of first establishing philosophy at Athens, in which city it reached its highest development, and continued to have its home for one thousand years without intermission. The first explicitly materialistic system was formed by Democritus of Abdera (born about B.C. 460). This was the doctrine of atomssmall primary bodies infinite in number, indivisible and imperishable, qualitatively similar, but distinguished by their shapes. Falling eternally through the infinite void, they collide and unite, thus generating existence, and forming objects which differ in accordance with the varieties, in number, size, shape, and arrangement, of the atoms which compose them. [p. 1239]
The efforts of all these earlier philosophers had been directed somewhat exclusively to the investigation of the ultimate basis and essential nature of the external world. Hence their conceptions of human knowledge, arising out of their theories as to the constitution of things, had been no less various. The Eleatics, for example, had been compelled to deny the existence of any objective truth, since to the world of sense, with its multitude and change, they allowed only a phenomenal existence. This inconsistency led to the position taken up by the class of persons known as Sophists (see Sophistae), that all thought rests solely on the apprehensions of the senses and on subjective impression, and that therefore we have no other standard of action than utility for the individual.
A new period of philosophy opens with the Athenian Socrates (469-399). Like the Sophists, he rejected entirely the physical speculations in which his predecessors had indulged, and made the subjective thoughts and opinions of men his starting-point; but whereas it was the thoughts and opinions of the individual that the Sophists took for the standard, Socrates endeavoured to extract from the common intelligence of mankind an objective rule of practical life. For this purpose he employed the two forms of philosophical inquiry of which he is the inventor, induction and definition. Such a standard he saw in knowledge, by which term he understood the cognition in thought of the true concept of an object, and identified it with virtue; that is to say, such action as proceeds from clear cognition of the concept appropriate to the circumstances. Thus, although Socrates did not himself succeed in establishing a genuine ethical principle, he is nevertheless the founder of ethics, as he is also of dialectic, the method of the highest speculative thought. Of Socrates' numerous disciples many either added nothing to his doctrine, or developed it in a one-sided manner, by confining themselves exclusively either to dialectic or to ethics. Thus while the Athenian Xenophon contented himself, in a series of writings, with exhibiting the portrait of his master to the best of his comprehension, and added nothing original, the Megarian School, founded by Euclides of Megara, devoted themselves almost entirely to dialectic investigation; whereas ethics preponderated both with the Cynics and Cyrenaics, although the position taken up by these two schools was in direct antithesis. For Antisthenes of Athens, the founder of the Cynics, conceived the highest good to be the virtue which spurns every enjoyment; while Aristippus of Cyren, the founder of the Cyrenaics, considered pleasure to be the solo end in life, and regarded virtue as a good only in so far as it contributed to pleasure. See Cyrenaci.
Both aspects of the genius of Socrates were first united in Plato of Athens (428-348), who also combined with them all the principles established by earlier philosophers, in so far as they had been legitimate, and developed the whole of this material into the unity of a comprehensive system. The groundwork of Plato's scheme, though nowhere expressly stated by him, is the threefold division of philosophy into dialectic, ethics, and physics; its central point is the theory of ideas. This theory is a combination of the Eleatic doctrine of the One with Heraclitus's theory of a perpetual flux and with the Socratic method of concepts. The multitude of objects of sense, being involved in perpetual change, are thereby deprived of all genuine existence. The only true being in them is founded upon the ideas, the eternal, unchangeable (independent of all that is accidental, and therefore perfect) types, of which the particular objects of sense are imperfect copies. The number of the ideas is defined by the number of universal concepts which can be derived from the particular objects of sense. The highest idea is that of the Good, which is the ultimate basis of the rest, and the first cause of being and knowledge. Apprehensions derived from the impressions of sense can never give us the knowledge of true beingi. e. of the ideas. It can only be obtained by the soul's activity within itself, apart from the troubles and disturbances of sense; that is to say, by the exercise of reason. Dialectic, as the instrument in this process, leading us to knowledge of the ideas, and finally of the highest idea of the Good, is the first of sciences (scientia scientiarum). In physics, Plato adhered (though not without original modifications) to the views of the Pythagoreans, making Nature a harmonic unity in multiplicity. His ethics are founded throughout on the Socratic; with him, too, virtue is knowledge, the cognition of the supreme idea of the Good. And since in this cognition the three parts of the soul, cognitive, spirited, and appetitive, all have their share, we get the three virtues, Wisdom, Courage, and Temperance or Continence. The bond which unites the other virtues is the virtue of Justice, by which each several part of the soul is confined to the performance of its proper function. The school founded by Plato, called the Academy, from the name of the grove of the Attic hero Academus, where he used to deliver his lectures, continued for long after. (See Academia.) In regard to the main tendencies of its members, it was divided into the three periods of the Old, Middle, and New Academy. The chief personages in the first of these were Speusippus (son of Plato's sister), who succeeded him as the head of the school (till 339), and Xenocrates of Chalcedon (till 314). Both of them sought to fuse Pythagorean speculations on number with Plato's theory of ideas. The two other Academies were still further removed from the specific doctrines of Plato. See Plato.
The most important among Plato's disciples is Aristotle of Stagira (384-322), who shares with his master the title of the greatest philosopher of antiquity. But whereas Plato had sought to elucidate and explain things from the suprasensual standpoint of the ideas, his pupil preferred to start from the facts given us by experience. Philosophy to him meant science, and its aim was the recognition of the wherefore in all things. Hence he endeavours to attain to the ultimate grounds of things by inductionthat is to say, by a posteriori conclusions from a number of facts to a universal. In the series of works collected under the name of Organon, Aristotle sets forth, almost in a final form, the laws by which the human understanding effects conclusions from the particular to the knowledge of the universal. Like Plato, he recognizes the true being of things in their concepts, but denies any separate existence of the concept apart from the particular objects of sense. They are inseparable as matter [p. 1240]
and form. In this antithesis, matter and form, Aristotle sees the fundamental principles of being. Matter is the basis of all that exists; it comprises the potentiality of everything, but of itself is not actually anything. A determinate thing only comes into being when the potentiality in matter is converted into actuality. This is effected by form, the idea existent not as one outside the many, but as one in the many, the completion of the potentiality latent in the matter. Although it has no existence apart from the particulars, yet, in rank and estimation, form stands first; it is of its own nature the most knowable, the only true object of knowledge. For matter without any form cannot exist, but the essential definitions of a common form, in which are included the particular objects, may be separated from matter. Form and matter are relative terms, and the lower form constitutes the matter of a higher (e. g. body, soul, reason). This series culminates in pure, immaterial form, the Deity, the origin of all motion, and therefore of the generation of actual form out of potential matter. All motion takes place in space and time; for space is the potentiality, time the measure of the motion. Living beings are those which have in them a moving principle, or soul. In plants the function of soul is nutrition (including reproduction); in animals, nutrition and sensation; in men, nutrition, sensation, and intellectual activity. The perfect form of the human soul is reason separated from all connection with the body, hence fulfilling its activity without the help of any corporeal organ, and so imperishable. By reason the apprehensions, which are formed in the soul by external sense-impressions, and may be true or false, are converted into knowledge. For reason alone can attain to truth either in cognition or action. Impulse towards the good is a part of human nature, and on this is founded virtue; for Aristotle does not, with Plato, regard virtue as knowledge pure and simple, but as founded on nature, habit, and reason. Of the particular virtnes (of which there are as many as there are contingencies in life), each is the apprehension, by means of reason, of the proper mean between two extremes which are not virtuese. g. courage is the mean between cowardice and foolhardiness. The end of human activity, or the highest good, is happiness, or perfect and reasonable activity in a perfect life. To this, however, external goods are more or less necessary conditions. See Aristoteles.
The followers of Aristotle, known as Peripatetics (Theophrastus of Lesbos, Eudemus of Rhodes, Strato of Lampsacus, etc.), to a great extent abandoned metaphysical speculation, some in favour of natural science, others of a more popular treatment of ethics, introducing many changes into the Aristotelian doctrine in a naturalistic direction. A return to the views of the founder first appears among the later Peripatetics, who did good service as expositors of Aristotle's works. The tendency of the Peripatetic School, to make philosophy the exclusive property of the learned class, thereby depriving it of its power to benefit a wider circle, soon produced a reaction; and philosophers returned to the practical standpoint of Socratic ethics. The speculations of the learned were only admitted in philosophy where immediately serviceable for ethics. The chief consideration was how to popularize doctrines, and to provide the individual, in a time of general confusion and dissolution, with a fixed moral basis for practical life.
Such were the aims of Stoicism, founded at Athens about 310 by Zeno of Cittium, and brought to fuller systematic form by his successors as heads of the school, Cleanthes of Assos, and especially Chrysippus of Soli, who died about 206. Their doctrines contained little that was new, seeking rather to give a practical application to the dogmas which they took ready-made from previous systems. With them philosophy is the science of the principles on which the moral life ought to be founded. The only allowable endeavour is towards the attainment of knowledge of things human and divine, in order to regulate life thereby. The method to lead men to true knowledge is provided by logic; physics embraces the doctrines as to the nature and organization of the universe; while ethics draws from them its conclusions for practical life. All knowledge originates in the real impressions of things on the senses, which the soul, being at birth a tabula rasa, receives in the form of presentations. These presentations, when confirmed by repeated experience, are syllogistically developed by the understanding into concepts. The test of their truth is the convincing or persuasive force with which they impress themselves upon the soul. In physics the foundation of the Stoic doctrine was the dogma that all true being is corporeal. Within the corporeal they recognized two principles, matter and forcei. e. the material, and the Deity permeating and informing it. Ultimately, however, the two are identical. There is nothing in the world with any independent existence: all is bound together by an unalterable chain of causation. The concord of human action with the law of nature, of the human will with the divine will, or life according to nature, is Virtue, the chief good and highest end in life. It is essentially one, the particular or cardinal virtues of Plato being only different aspects of it; it is completely sufficient for happiness, and incapable of any differences of degree. All good actions are absolutely equal in merit, and so are all bad actions. All that lies between virtue and vice is neither good nor bad; at most, it is distinguished as preferable, undesirable, or absolutely indifferent. Virtue is fully possessed only by the wise man, who is no way inferior in worth to Zeus; he is lord over his own life, and may end it by his own free choice. In general, the prominent characteristic of Stoic philosophy is moral heroism, often verging on asceticism. See Zeno.
The same goal which was aimed at in Stoicism was also approached, from a diametrically opposite position, in the system founded about the same time by Epicurus, of the deme Gargettus in Attica (342-268), who brought it to completion himself. Epicureanism, like Stoicism, is connected with previous systems. Like Stoicism, it is also practical in its ends, proposing to find in reason and knowledge the secret of a happy life, and admitting abstruse learning only where it serves the ends of practical wisdom. Hence, logic (called by Epicurus κανονικόν, or the doctrine of canons of truth) is made entirely subservient to physics, physics to ethics. The standards of knowledge and canons of truth in theoretical [p. 1241]
matters are the impressions of the senses, which are true and indisputable, together with the presentations formed from such impressions, and opinions extending beyond those impressions, in so far as they are supported or not contradicted by the evidence of the senses. In practical questions the feelings of pleasure and pain are the tests. Epicurus's physics, in which he follows in essentials the materialistic system of Democritus, are intended to refer all phenomena to a natural cause, in order that a knowledge of nature may set men free from the bondage of disquieting superstitions. In ethics he followed within certain limits the Cyrenaic doctrine, conceiving the highest good to be happiness, and happiness to be found in pleasure, to which the natural impulses of every being are directed. But the aim is not with him, as it is with the Cyrenaics, the pleasure of the moment, but the enduring condition of pleasure, which, in its essence, is freedom from the greatest of evils, pain. Pleasures and pains are, however, distinguished not merely in degree, but in kind. The renunciation of a pleasure or endurance of a pain is often a means to a greater pleasure; and since pleasures of sense are subordinate to the pleasures of the soul, the undisturbed peace of the soul is a higher good than the freedom of the body from pain. Virtue is desirable not for itself, but for the sake of pleasure of soul, which it secures by freeing men from trouble and fear and moderating their passions and appetites. The cardinal virtue is wisdom, which is shown by true insight in calculating the consequences of our actions as regards pleasure or pain. See Epicurus.
The practical tendency of Stoicism and Epicureanism, seen in the search for happiness, is also apparent in the Sceptical School founded by Pyrrho of Elis (about 365-275). Pyrrho disputes the possibility of attaining truth by sensuous apprehension, reason, or the two combined, and thence infers the necessity of total suspension of judgment on things. Thus can we attain release from all bondage to theories, a condition which is followed, like a shadow, by that imperturbable state of mind which is the foundation of true happiness. Pyrrho's doctrine was followed by the Middle and New Academies (see above), represented by Arcesilas of Pitan (316-241) and Carneades of Cyrene (214-129) respectively, in their attacks on the Stoics, for asserting a criterion of truth in our knowledge, although they considered that what they were maintaining was a genuine tenet of Socrates and Plato. The latest Academics, such as Antiochus of Ascalon (about B.C. 80), fused with Platonism certain Peripatetic and many Stoic dogmas, thus making way for Eclecticism, to which all later antiquity tended after Greek philosophy had spread itself over the Roman world. After the Christian era Pythagoreanism, in a resuscitated form, again takes its place among the more important systems; but the preminence belongs to Platonism, which is notably represented in the works of Plutarch of Chaeronea and the physician Galen, while Scepticism is maintained by another physician, Sextus Empiricus.
The closing period of Greek philosophy is marked in the third century A.D. by the establishment in Rome, under Plotinus of Lycopolis in Egypt (205-270), of Neoplatonism, a scientific philosophy of religion, in which the doctrine of Plato is fused with the most important elements in the Aristotelian and Stoic systems and with Oriental speculations. At the summit of existences stands the One or the Good, as the source of all things. It generates from itself, as if from the reflection of its own being, reason, wherein is contained the infinite store of ideas. Soul, the copy of the reason, is generated by and contained in it, as reason is in the One, and, by informing matter in itself non-existent, constitutes bodies whose existence is contained in soul. Nature, therefore, is a whole, endowed with life and soul. Soul, being chained to matter, longs to escape from the bondage of the body and return to its original source. In virtue and philosophic thought it has the power to elevate itself above the reason into a state of ecstasy, where it can behold, or ascend up to, that one good primary Being whom reason cannot know. To attain this union with the Good, or God, is the true function of man, to whom the external world should be absolutely indifferent. Plotinus's most important disciple, the Syrian Porphyrius, contented himself with popularizing his master's doctrine. But the school of Iamblichus, a disciple of Porphyrius, effected a change in the position of Neoplatonism, which now took up the cause of polytheism against Christianity, and adopted for this purpose every conceivable form of superstition, especially those of the East. Foiled in the attempt to resuscitate the old beliefs, its supporters then turned with fresh ardour to scientific work, and especially to the study of Plato and Aristotle, in the interpretation of whose works they rendered great services. The last home of philosophy was at Athens, where Proclus (411- 485) sought to reduce to a kind of system the whole mass of philosophic tradition, till in A.D. 529 the teaching of philosophy at Athens was forbidden by Justinian.
II. Roman Philosophy is throughout founded on the Greek. Interest in the subject was first excited at Rome in B.C. 155 by an Athenian embassy, consisting of the Academic Carneades, the Stoic Diogenes, and the Peripatetic Critolas. Of more permanent influence was the work of the Stoic Panaetius, the friend of the younger Scipio and of Laelius; but a thorough study of Greek philosophy was first introduced in the time of Cicero and Varro. In a number of works they endeavoured to make it accessible even to those of their countrymen who were outside the learned circles. Cicero chiefly took it up in a spirit of Eclecticism; but among his contemporaries Epicureanism is represented in the poetical treatise of Lucretius (q. v.) on the nature of things, and Pythagoreanism by Nigidius Figulus. In imperial times Epicureanism and Stoicism were most popular, especially the latter, as represented by the writings of Seneca, Cornutus, and the emperor Marcus Aurelius; while Eclectic Platonism was taken up by Apuleius of Madaura. One of the latest philosophical writers of antiquity is Bothius, whose writings were the chief source of information as to Greek philosophy during the first centuries of the Middle Ages. See Bothius.
Useful works on the general history of the philosophy of Greece and Rome are the following: Ueberweg, A History of Philosophy, vol. i. (Eng. trans., N. Y. 1875), valuable for its bibliography; Ritter and Preller, Historia Philosophiae Graecae et Romanae ex Fontium Locis Contexta (Berlin, 1878; ed. Schultess, Gotha, 1887); [p. 1242] Schwegler, History of Philosophy (Eng. trans., N. Y. 1882); J. B. Mayor, A Sketch of Ancient Philosophy from Thales to Cicero (Cambridge, 1881); Burner, Early Greek Philosophy (London, 1892). Zeller's Die Philosophie der Griechen in ihrer geschichtlichen Entwicklung dargestellt is the fullest of all works yet published, 5 vols. with index (Berlin, 1874-79). A short syllabus is Scott's Simple History of Greek Philosophy, in 91 pp. (London, 1894).
For special periods, the following portions of Zeller's great work, in English translation, may be recommended: Pre-Socratic Schools (London, 1880); Socrates and the Socratic Schools (2d ed., London, 1877); Stoics, Epicureans, and Skeptics (London, 1870); Plato and the Older Academy (London, 1877); Aristotle and the Elder Peripatetics (London, 1882); History of Eclecticism in Greek Philosophy (London, 1883); also Teichmller, Xenophon und Platon (1884); Lange, History of Materialism, 2 vols. (Eng. trans., London, 1878-81); Denis, Histoire des Ides Morales dans l'Antiquit (2d ed., Paris, 1879); Martha, Les Moralistes sous l'Empire Romain (Paris, 1872); Herbart, Die Philosophie des Cicero (Leipzig, 1842); Burmeister, Cicero als Neuakademiker (Oldenburg, 1860); Levin, Lectures on the Philosophy of Cicero (London, 1871); Holzherr, De Philosophia Senecae (Rastatt, 1858); Binde, Seneca de Rerum Natura et Vita Humana (Glogau, 1883); and Havet, Le Christianisme et ses Origines (Paris, 1873).