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2020-09-20 07:13:22


It seems difficult to reconcile views about marriage involving a recognition of the fact that mental and moral qualities are hereditarily transmitted, with the belief in metempsychosis elsewhere professed by Plato. But perhaps his adhesion to the latter doctrine is not to be taken very seriously. In imitation of the objective world, whose essential truth is half hidden and half disclosed by its phenomenal manifestations, he loves to present his speculative teaching under a mythical disguise; and so he may have chosen the old doctrine of transmigration as an apt expression for the unity and continuity of life. And, at worst, he would not be guilty of any greater inconsistency than is chargeable to those modern philosophers who, while they admit that mental qualities are inherited, hold each individual soul to be a separate and independent creation.

According 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.

The qualities which enabled Epicurus to compete successfully with much greater thinkers than himself as the founder of a lasting sect, were practical rather than theoretical. Others before him had taught that happiness was the end of life; none, like him, had cultivated the art of happiness, and pointed out the fittest methods for attaining it. The idea of such an art was a real and important addition to the resources of civilisation. No mistake is greater than to suppose that pleasure is lost by being made an object of pursuit. To single out the most agreeable course among many alternatives, and, when once found, steadily to pursue it, is an aptitude like any other, and is capable of being brought to a high degree of perfection by assiduous attention and self-discipline.211 No doubt the capacity for enjoyment117 is impaired by excessive self-consciousness, but the same is true of every other accomplishment during the earlier stages of its acquisition. It is only the beginner who is troubled by taking too much thought about his own proficiency; when practice has become a second nature, the professor of hedonism reaps his harvest of delight without wasting a thought on his own efforts, or allowing the phantom of pleasure in the abstract to allure him away from its particular and present realisation. And, granting that happiness as such can be made an object of cultivation, Epicurus was perfectly right in teaching that the removal of pain is its most essential condition, faulty as was (from a speculative point of view) his confusion of the condition with the thing itself. If the professed pleasure-seekers of modern society often fail in the business of their lives, it is from neglecting this salutary principle, especially where it takes the form of attention to the requirements of health. In assigning a high importance to friendship, he was equally well inspired. Congenial society is not only the most satisfying of enjoyments in itself, but also that which can be most easily combined with every other enjoyment. It is also true, although a truth felt rather than perceived by our philosopher, that speculative agreement, especially when speculation takes the form of dissent from received opinions, greatly increases the affection of friends for one another. And as theology is the subject on which unforced agreement seems most difficult, to eliminate its influence altogether was a valuable though purely negative contribution to unanimity of thought and feeling in the hedonistic sect.So far, however, we only stand on the threshold of Platonic love. The earthly passion, being itself a kind of generalisation, is our first step in the ascent to that highest stage of existence where wisdom and virtue and happiness are one—the good to which all other goods are related as means to an end. But love is not only an introduction to philosophy, it is a type of philosophy itself. Both are conditions intermediate between vacuity and fulfilment; desire being by its very nature dis218satisfied, and vanishing at the instant that its object is attained. The philosopher is a lover of wisdom, and therefore not wise; and yet not wholly ignorant, for he knows that he knows nothing. Thus we seem to be thrown back on the standpoint of Plato’s earliest agnosticism. Nevertheless, if the Symposium agrees nominally with the Apologia, in reality it marks a much more advanced point of speculation. The idea of what knowledge is has begun to assume a much clearer expression. We gather from various hints and suggestions that it is the perception of likeness; the very process of ascending generalisation typified by intellectual love.

Before entering on our task of reconstruction, we must turn aside to consider with what success the same enterprise has been attempted by modern German criticism, especially by its chief contemporary representative, the last and most distinguished historian of Greek philosophy. The result at which Zeller, following Schleiermacher, arrives is that the great achievement of Socrates was to put forward an adequate idea of knowledge; in other words, to show what true science ought to be, and what, as yet, it had never been, with the addition of a demand that all action should be based on such a scientific knowledge as its only sure foundation.87 To know a thing was to know its essence, its concept, the assemblage of qualities which together constitute its definition, and make it to be what it is. Former thinkers had also sought for knowledge, but not as knowledge, not with a clear notion of what it was that they really wanted. Socrates, on the other hand, required that men should always be prepared to give a strict account of the end which they had in view, and of the means by which they hoped to gain it. Further, it had been customary to single out for exclusive attention that quality of an object by which the observer happened to be most strongly impressed, passing over all the others; the consequence of which was that the philosophers had taken a one-sided view of facts, with the result of falling into hopeless disagreement among themselves; the Sophists had turned these contradictory points of view against one another, and thus effected their mutual destruction; while the dissolution of objective certainty had led to a corresponding dissolution of moral truth. Socrates accepts the Sophistic scepticism so far as it applies to the existing state of science, but does not push it to the same fatal con118clusion; he grants that current beliefs should be thoroughly sifted and, if necessary, discarded, but only that more solid convictions may be substituted for them. Here a place is found for his method of self-examination, and for the self-conscious ignorance attributed to him by Plato. Comparing his notions on particular subjects with his idea of what knowledge in general ought to be, he finds that they do not satisfy it; he knows that he knows nothing. He then has recourse to other men who declare that they possess the knowledge of which he is in search, but their pretended certainty vanishes under the application of his dialectic test. This is the famous Socratic irony. Finally, he attempts to come at real knowledge, that is to say, the construction of definitions, by employing that inductive method with the invention of which he is credited by Aristotle. This method consists in bringing together a number of simple and familiar examples from common experience, generalising from them, and correcting the generalisations by comparison with negative instances. The reasons that led Socrates to restrict his enquiries to human interests are rather lightly passed over by Zeller; he seems at a loss how to reconcile the alleged reform of scientific method with the complete abandonment of those physical investigations which, we are told, had suffered so severely from being cultivated on a different system.

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.500Every great system of philosophy may be considered from four distinct points of view. We may ask what is its value as a theory of the world and of human life, measured335 either by the number of new truths which it contains, or by the stimulus to new thought which it affords. Or we may consider it from the aesthetic side, as a monumental structure interesting us not by its utility, but by its beauty and grandeur. Under this aspect, a system may be admirable for its completeness, coherence, and symmetry, or for the great intellectual qualities exhibited by its architect, although it may be open to fatal objections as a habitation for human beings, and may fail to reproduce the plan on which we now know that the universe is built. Or, again, our interest in the work may be purely historical and psychological; we may look on it as the product of a particular age and a particular mind, as summing up for us under their most abstract form the ideas and aspirations which at any given moment had gained possession of educated opinion. Or, finally, we may study it as a link in the evolution of thought, as a result of earlier tendencies, and an antecedent of later developments. We propose to make a few remarks on the philosophy of Plotinus, or, what is the same thing, on Neo-Platonism in general, from each of these four points of view.

If the cessation of speculative activity among the Greeks needs to be accounted for by something more definite than phrases about the objective and the subjective, so also does its resumption among the nations of modern Europe. This may be explained by two different circumstances—the disapxvipearance of the obstacles which had long opposed themselves to the free exercise of reason, and the stimulus given to enquiry by the Copernican astronomy. After spreading over the whole basin of the Mediterranean, Hellenic culture had next to repair the ravages of the barbarians, and, chiefly under the form of Christianity, to make itself accepted by the new nationalities which had risen on the ruins of the Roman empire. So arduous a task was sufficient to engross, during many centuries, the entire intellectual energies of Western Europe. At last the extreme limits of diffusion were provisionally reached, and thought once more became available for the discovery of new truth. Simultaneously with this consummation, the great supernaturalist reaction, having also reached its extreme limits, had so far subsided, that Nature could once more be studied on scientific principles, with less freedom, indeed, than in old Ionia, but still with tolerable security against the vengeance of interested or fanatical opponents. And at the very same conjuncture it was shown by the accumulated observations of many ages that the conception of the universe on which the accepted philosophy rested must be replaced by one of a directly opposite description. I must confess that in this vast revolution the relation between the objective and the subjective, as reconstituted by Christianity and the Germanic genius, does not seem to me to have played a very prominent part.

Our personality, says the Alexandrian philosopher, cannot be a property of the body, for this is composed of parts, and is in a state of perpetual flux. A man’s self, then, is his soul; and the soul cannot be material, for the ultimate elements of matter are inanimate, and it is inconceivable that animation and reason should result from the aggregation of particles which, taken singly, are destitute of both; while, even were it possible, their disposition in a certain order would argue the presence of an intelligence controlling them from without. The Stoics themselves admit the force of these considerations, when they attribute reason to the fiery element or vital breath by which, according to them, all things are shaped. They do, indeed, talk about a certain elementary disposition as the principle of animation, but this disposition is either identical with the matter possessing it, in which case the difficulties already mentioned recur, or distinct from it, in which case the animating principle still remains to be accounted for.

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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