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2020-09-29 07:44:49


Absolute being is next distinguished from truth, which, we are told, has no objective existence237—a remarkable declaration, which throws much light on other parts of the Aristotelian system, and to which we shall subsequently return.238

We have now to consider how the philosophy of the empire was affected by the atmosphere of supernaturalism which surrounded it on every side. Of the Epicureans it need only be said that they were true to their trust, and upheld the principles of their founder so long as the sect itself continued to exist. But we may reckon it as a first consequence of the religious reaction, that, after Lucretius, Epicureanism failed to secure the adhesion of a single eminent man, and that, even as a popular philosophy, it suffered by the competition of other systems, among which Stoicism long maintained the foremost place. We showed in a former chapter how strong a religious colouring was given to their teaching by the earlier Stoics, especially Cleanthes. It would appear, however, that Panaetius discarded many of the superstitions accepted by his predecessors, possibly as a concession to that revived Scepticism which was so vigorously advocated just before his time; and it was under the form imposed on it by this philosopher that Stoicism first gained acceptance in Roman society; if indeed the rationalism of Panaetius was not itself partly determined by his intercourse with such liberal minds as Laelius and the younger Scipio. But Posidonius, his successor, already marks the beginning of a reactionary movement; and, in Virgil, Stoical opinions are closely associated with an unquestioning acceptance of the ancient Roman faith. The attitude of Seneca is much more independent; he is full of contempt for popular superstition, and his god is not very distinguishable from the order of Nature. Yet his tendency towards clothing philosophical instruction in religious terms deserves notice, as a symptom of the superior facility with which such terms lent themselves to didactic purposes. Acceptance of the universal order became more intelligible under the name of obedience to a divine decree; the unity of the human race and the obligations resulting therefrom242 impressed themselves more deeply on the imaginations of those who heard that men are all members of one body; the supremacy of reason over appetite became more assured when its dictates were interpreted as the voice of a god within the soul.375

Above all, he exclaims, we must not fail to notice what effect this doctrine has on the minds of those whom they have persuaded to despise the world and all that it contains. Of the two chief methods for attaining the supreme good, one has sensual pleasure for its end, the other virtue, the effort after which begins and ends with God. Epicurus, by his denial of providence, leaves us no choice but to pursue the former. But this doctrine [Gnosticism], involving as it does a still more insolent denial of divine order and human law, laughs to scorn what has always been the accepted ideal of conduct, and, in its rage against beauty, abolishes temperance and justice—the justice that is associated with natural feeling and perpetuated by discipline and reason—along with every other ennobling virtue. So, in the absence of true morality, they are given over to pleasure and utility and selfish isolation from other men—unless, indeed, their nature is better than their principles. They have an ideal that nothing here below can satisfy, and so they put off the effort for its attainment to a future life, whereas they should begin at once, and prove that they are of divine race by fulfilling the duties of their present state. For virtue is the condition of every higher aspiration, and only to those who disdain sensual enjoyment is it given to understand the divine. How far our opponents are from realising this is proved by their349 total neglect of ethical science. They neither know what virtue is, nor how many virtues there are, nor what ancient philosophy has to teach us on the subject, nor what are the methods of moral training, nor how the soul is to be tended and cleansed. They tell us to look to God; but merely saying this is useless unless they can tell us what the manner of the looking is to be. For it might be asked, what is to prevent us from looking to God, while at the same time freely indulging our sensual appetites and angry passions. Virtue perfected, enlightened, and rooted in the soul, will reveal God to us, but without it he will remain an empty name.521

The sceptical philosophy, already advocated in the Middle Ages by John of Salisbury, was, like every other form of ancient thought, revived at the Renaissance, but only under419 the very superficial form which infers from the co-existence of many divergent opinions that none of them can be true. Even so, however, it led Montaigne to sounder notions of toleration and humanity than were entertained by any of his contemporaries. With Bacon, and still more with Descartes, it also appears as the necessary preparation for a remodelling of all belief; but the great dogmatic systems still exercised such a potent influence on both those thinkers that their professed demand for a new method merely leads up to an altered statement of the old unproved assumptions.III.

A great reformer of the last generation, finding that the idea of Nature was constantly put forward to thwart his most cherished schemes, prepared a mine for its destruction which was only exploded after his death. Seldom has so powerful a charge of logical dynamite been collected within so small a space as in Mill’s famous Essay on Nature. But the immediate effect was less than might have been anticipated, because the attack was supposed to be directed against religion, whereas it was only aimed at an abstract metaphysical dogma, not necessarily connected with any theological beliefs, and held by many who have discarded all such beliefs. A stronger impression was, perhaps, produced by the nearly simultaneous declaration of Sir W. Gull—in reference to the supposed vis medicatrix naturae—that, in cases of disease, ‘what Nature wants is to put the man in his coffin.’ The new school of political economists have also done much to show that legislative interference with the ‘natural laws’ of wealth need by no means be so generally mischievous as was once supposed. And the doctrine of Evolution, besides breaking down the old distinctions between Nature and Man, has represented the former as essentially variable, and therefore, to that extent, incapable of affording a fixed standard for moral action. It is, however, from this school that a new49 attempt to rehabilitate the old physical ethics has lately proceeded. The object of Mr. Herbert Spencer’s Data of Ethics is, among other points, to prove that a true morality represents the ultimate stage of evolution, and reproduces in social life that permanent equilibration towards which every form of evolution constantly tends. And Mr. Spencer also shows how evolution is bringing about a state of things in which the self-regarding shall be finally harmonised with the social impulses. Now, it will be readily admitted that morality is a product of evolution in this sense that it is a gradual formation, that it is the product of many converging conditions, and that it progresses according to a certain method. But that the same method is observed through all orders of evolution seems less evident. For instance, in the formation, first of the solar system, and then of the earth’s crust, there is a continual loss of force, while in the development of organic life there is as continual a gain; and on arriving at subjective phenomena, we are met by facts which, in the present state of our knowledge, cannot advantageously be expressed in terms of force and matter at all. Even if we do not agree with George Sand in thinking that self-sacrifice is the only virtue, we must admit that the possibility, at least, of its being sometimes demanded is inseparable from the idea of duty. But self-sacrifice cannot be conceived without consciousness; which is equivalent to saying that it involves other than mechanical notions. Thus we are confronted by the standing difficulty of all evolutionary theories, and on a point where that difficulty is peculiarly sensible. Nor is this an objection to be got rid of by the argument that it applies to all philosophical systems alike. To an idealist, the dependence of morality on consciousness is a practical confirmation of his professed principles. Holding that the universal forms of experience are the conditions under which an object is apprehended, rather than modifications imposed by an unknowable object on an unknowable subject, and that these50 forms are common to all intelligent beings, he holds also that the perception of duty is the widening of our individual selves into that universal self which is the subjective side of all experience.

Plotinus follows up his essay on the Virtues by an essay on Dialectic.498 As a method for attaining perfection, he places dialectic above ethics; and, granting that the apprehension of abstract ideas ranks higher than the performance of social duties, he is quite consistent in so doing. Not much, however, can be made of his few remarks on the subject. They seem to be partly meant for a protest against the Stoic idea that logic is an instrument for acquiring truth rather than truth itself, and also against the Stoic use or abuse of the syllogistic method. In modern phraseology, Plotinus seems to view dialectic as the immanent and eternal process of life itself, rather than as a collection of rules for drawing correct inferences from true propositions, or from propositions assumed to be true. We have seen how he regarded existence in the334 highest sense as identical with the self-thinking of the absolute Nous, and how he attempted to evolve the whole series of archetypal Ideas contained therein from the simple fact of self-consciousness. Thus he would naturally identify dialectic with the subjective reproduction of this objective evolution; and here he would always have before his eyes the splendid programme sketched in Plato’s Republic.499 His preference of intuitive to discursive reasoning has been quoted by Ritter as a symptom of mysticism. But here, as in so many instances, he follows Aristotle, who also held that simple abstraction is a higher operation, and represents a higher order of real existence than complex ratiocination.500

Neo-Platonism was the form under which Greek philosophy passed into Christian teaching; and the transition was effected with less difficulty because Christianity had already absorbed some of its most essential elements from the original system of Plato himself. Meanwhile the revival of spiritualism had given an immense impulse to the study of the classic writings whence it was drawn; and the more they were studied the more prominently did their antagonism on certain important questions come into view. Hence, no sooner did the two systems between which Plotinus had established a provisional compromise come out victorious from their struggle with materialism, than they began to separate and draw off into opposing camps. The principal subject of dispute was the form under which ideas exist. The conflicting theories of365 Realism and Nominalism are already set forth with perfect clearness by Porphyry in his introduction to the Organon; and his statement of the case, as Victor Cousin has pointed out, gave the signal for a controversy forming the central interest of Scholasticism during the entire period of its duration.

It had been urged against hedonism that pleasure is a process, a movement; whereas the supreme good must be a completed product—an end in which we can rest. Against sensual enjoyments in particular, it had been urged that they are caused by the satisfaction of appetite, and, as such, must result in a mere negative condition, marking the zero point of pleasurable sentiency. Finally, much stress had been laid on the anti-social and suicidal consequences of that selfish grasping at power to which habits of unlimited self-indulgence must infallibly lead. The form given to hedonism by Epicurus is a reaction against these criticisms, a modification imposed on it for the purpose of evading their force. He seems to admit that bodily satisfaction is rather the removal of a want, and consequently of a pain, than a source of positive pleasure. But the resulting condition of liberation from uneasiness is, according to him, all that we can desire; and by extending the same principle to every other good, he indirectly brings back the mental felicity which at first sight his system threatened either to exclude or to reduce to a mere shadow of sensual enjoyment. For, in calculating the elements of unhappiness, we have to deal, not only with present discomfort, but also, and to a far greater extent, with the apprehension of future evil. We dread the loss of worldly goods, of friends, of reputation, of life itself. We are continually exposed to pain, both from violence and from disease. We are haunted by visions of divine vengeance, both here and hereafter. To get rid of all such terrors, to possess our souls in peace, is the highest good—a permanent, as distinguished from a transient state of consciousness—and the proper business of philosophy is to show us how that consummation may be attained.65 Thus we are brought back to that blissful self-contemplation of mind which Aristotle had already declared to be the goal of all endeavour and the sole happiness of God.

Institute of Plasma Physics, Hefei Institutes of Physical Science (ASIPP, HFIPS) undertakes the procurement package of superconducting conductors, correction coil, superconducting feeder, power supply and diagnosis, accounting for nearly 80% of China's ITER procurement package.

"I am so proud of our team and it’s a great pleasure for me working here," said BAO Liman, an engineer from ASIPP, HFIPS, who was invited to sit near Chinese National flay on the podium at the kick-off ceremony to represent Chinese team. BAO, with some 30 ASIPP engineers, has been working in ITER Tokamak department for more than ten years. Due to the suspended international traveling by COVID-19, most of the Chinese people who are engaged in ITER construction celebrated this important moment at home through live broadcasting.

One of ASIPP’s undertakes, the number 6 poloidal field superconducting coil (or PF6 coil) , the heaviest superconducting coil in the world, was completed last year, and arrived at ITER site this June. PF6 timely manufacturing and delivery made a solid foundation for ITER sub-assembly, it will be installed at the bottom of the ITER cryostat.

Last year, a China-France Consortium in which ASIPP takes a part has won the bid of the first ITER Tokamak Assembly task, TAC-1, a core and important part of the ITER Tokamak assembly.

Exactly as Bernard BIGOT, Director-General of ITER Organization, commented at a press conference after the ceremony, Chinese team was highly regarded for what they have done to ITER project with excellent completion of procurement package.


The kick-off ceremony for ITER assembly (Image by Pierre Genevier-Tarel-ITER Organization) 


the number 6 poloidal field superconducting coil (Image by ASIPP, HFIPS) 


ITER-TAC1 Contract Signing Ceremony (Image by ASIPP, HFIPS)

World dignitaries celebrate a collaborative achievement

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