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Such is the mild and conciliatory mode of treatment at first adopted by Plato in dealing with the principal representative of the Sophists鈥擯rotagoras. In the Dialogue which bears his name the famous humanist is presented to us as a professor of popular unsystematised morality, proving by a variety of practical arguments and ingenious illustrations that virtue can be taught, and that the preservation of social order depends upon the possibility of teaching it; but unwilling to188 go along with the reasonings by which Socrates shows the applicability of rigorously scientific principles to conduct. Plato has here taken up one side of the Socratic ethics, and developed it into a complete and self-consistent theory. The doctrine inculcated is that form of utilitarianism to which Mr. Sidgwick has given the name of egoistic hedonism. We are brought to admit that virtue is one because the various virtues reduce themselves in the last analysis to prudence. It is assumed that happiness, in the sense of pleasure and the absence of pain, is the sole end of life. Duty is identified with interest. Morality is a calculus for computing quantities of pleasure and pain, and all virtuous action is a means for securing a maximum of the one together with a minimum of the other. Ethical science is constituted; it can be taught like mathematics; and so far the Sophists are right, but they have arrived at the truth by a purely empirical process; while Socrates, who professes to know nothing, by simply following the dialectic impulse strikes out a generalisation which at once confirms and explains their position; yet from self-sufficiency or prejudice they refuse to agree with him in taking their stand on its only logical foundation.The other great ethical method of the eighteenth century, its hedonism, was closely connected with the sceptical movement in speculative philosophy, and, like that, received an entirely new significance by becoming associated with the idea of law. Those who isolate man from the universe are necessarily led to seek in his interests as such the sole regulator of his actions, and their sole sanction in the opinion of his fellows. Protagoras went already so far, notwithstanding his unwillingness to recognise pleasure as the supreme end; and in the system of his true successor, Aristippus, the most extreme hedonism goes hand in hand with the most extreme idealism; while with Epicurus, again, both are tempered by the influence of naturalism, imposing on him its conceptions of objective law alike in science and in practice. Still his system leaned heavily to the side of self-gratification pure and simple; and it was reserved for modern thought to establish a complete equilibrium between the two competing tendencies of Greek ethics. This has been effected in Utilitarianism; and those critics are entirely mistaken who, like M. Guyau, regard that system as a mere reproduction of Epicureanism. It might with full as much reason be called a modern version of Stoicism. The idea of humanity is essentially Stoic; to work for the good of humanity was a424 Stoic precept; and to sacrifice one鈥檚 own pleasure for that higher good is a virtue which would have satisfied the most rigorous demands of a Cleanthes, an Epict锚tus, or an Aurelius.

Against these we have to set the confident expressions of belief in a future life employed by all the Platonists and Pythagoreans, and by some of the Stoic school. But their doctrines on the subject will be most advantageously explained when we come to deal with the religious philosophy of the age as a whole. What we have now to examine is the general condition of popular belief as evinced by the character of the funereal monuments erected in the time of the empire. Our authorities are agreed in stating that the majority of these bear witness to a wide-spread and ever-growing faith in immortality, sometimes conveyed under the form of inscriptions, sometimes under that of figured reliefs, sometimes more na?vely signified by articles placed in the tomb for use in another world. 鈥業 am waiting for my husband,鈥 is the inscription placed over his dead wife by one who was, like her, an enfranchised slave. Elsewhere a widow 鈥榗ommends her departed husband to the gods of the underworld, and prays that they will allow his spirit to revisit her in the hours of the night.鈥366 鈥業n death thou art not dead,鈥 are the words deciphered on one mouldering stone. 鈥楴o,鈥 says a father to a son whom he had lost in Numidia,236 鈥榯hou hast not gone down to the abode of the Manes but risen to the stars of heaven.鈥 At Doxato, near Philippi in Macedonia, 鈥榓 mother has graven on the tomb of her child: 鈥淲e are crushed by a cruel blow, but thou hast renewed thy being and art dwelling in the Elysian fields.鈥濃367 This conception of the future world as a heavenly and happy abode where human souls are received into the society of the gods, recurs with especial frequency in the Greek epitaphs, but is also met with in Latin-speaking countries. And, considering how great a part the worship of departed spirits plays in all primitive religions, just such a tendency might be expected to show itself at such a time, if, as we have contended, the conditions of society under the empire were calculated to set free the original forces by which popular faith is created. It seems, therefore, rather arbitrary to assume, as Friedl?nder does,368 that the movement in question was entirely due to Platonic influence,鈥攅specially considering that there are distinct traces of it to be found in Pindar;鈥攁lthough at the same time we may grant that it was powerfully fostered by Plato鈥檚 teaching, and received a fresh impulse from the reconstitution of his philosophy in the third century of our era.

IX.In view of such tendencies, one hardly knows how much confidence is to be placed in Porphyry鈥檚 well-known picture of his master as one who lived so entirely for spiritual interests that he seemed ashamed of having a body at all. We are told that, as a consequence of this feeling, he avoided the subject of his past life, refused to let his portrait be painted, neglected the care of his health, and rigorously abstained from animal food, even when it was prescribed for him under the form of medicine.424 All this may be true, but it is not very consistent with the special doctrines of Plotinus as recorded in his writings, nor should it be allowed to influence our interpretation of them. In his personal character and conduct he may have allowed himself to be carried away by the prevalent asceticism and superstition of the age; in his philosophy he is guided by the healthier traditions of Plato and Aristotle, and stands in declared opposition to the mysticism which was a negation of Nature and of life.

To make matters worse, the original of this unflattering portrait was rapidly becoming the most powerful man in the State. Increasing specialisation had completely separated the military and political functions which had formerly been discharged by a single eminent individual, and the business of legislation was also becoming a distinct profession. No orator could obtain a hearing in the assembly who had not a technical acquaintance with the subject of deliberation, if it admitted of technical treatment, which was much more frequently the case now than in the preceding generation. As a consequence of this revolution, the ultimate power of supervision and control was passing into the hands of the law courts, where general questions could be discussed in a more popular style, and often from a wider or a more sentimental point of view. They were, in fact, beginning to wield an authority like that exercised until quite lately by the press in modern Europe, only that its action was much more direct and formidable. A vote of the Eccl锚sia could only deprive a statesman of office: a vote of the Dicastery might deprive him of civil rights, home, freedom, property, or even life itself. Moreover, with the loss of empire and the decline of public spirit, private interests had come to attract a proportionately larger share of attention; and unobtrusive citi201zens who had formerly escaped from the storms of party passion, now found themselves marked out as a prey by every fluent and dexterous pleader who could find an excuse for dragging them before the courts. Rhetoric was hailed as the supreme art, enabling its possessor to dispense with every other study, and promising young men were encouraged to look on it as the most paying line they could take up. Even those whose civil status or natural timidity precluded them from speaking in public could gain an eminent and envied position by composing speeches for others to deliver. Behind these, again, stood the professed masters of rhetoric, claiming to direct the education and the whole public opinion of the age by their lectures and pamphlets. Philosophy was not excluded from their system of training, but it occupied a strictly subordinate place. Studied in moderation, they looked on it as a bracing mental exercise and a repertory of sounding commonplaces, if not as a solvent for old-fashioned notions of honesty; but a close adherence to the laws of logic or to the principles of morality seemed puerile pedantry to the elegant stylists who made themselves the advocates of every crowned filibuster abroad, while preaching a policy of peace at any price at home.There is, perhaps, no passage in Aristotle鈥檚 writings鈥攖here is certainly none in his scientific writings鈥攎ore eloquent than that which describes the glory of his imaginary heavens. The following translation may give some faint idea of its solemnity and splendour:鈥

Before entering on our task, one more difficulty remains to be noticed. Plato, although the greatest master of prose composition that ever lived, and for his time a remarkably voluminous author, cherished a strong dislike for books, and even affected to regret that the art of writing had ever been invented. A man, he said, might amuse himself by putting down his ideas on paper, and might even find written178 memoranda useful for private reference, but the only instruction worth speaking of was conveyed by oral communication, which made it possible for objections unforeseen by the teacher to be freely urged and answered.117 Such had been the method of Socrates, and such was doubtless the practice of Plato himself whenever it was possible for him to set forth his philosophy by word of mouth. It has been supposed, for this reason, that the great writer did not take his own books in earnest, and wished them to be regarded as no more than the elegant recreations of a leisure hour, while his deeper and more serious thoughts were reserved for lectures and conversations, of which, beyond a few allusions in Aristotle, every record has perished. That such, however, was not the case, may be easily shown. In the first place it is evident, from the extreme pains taken by Plato to throw his philosophical expositions into conversational form, that he did not despair of providing a literary substitute for spoken dialogue. Secondly, it is a strong confirmation of this theory that Aristotle, a personal friend and pupil of Plato during many years, should so frequently refer to the Dialogues as authoritative evidences of his master鈥檚 opinions on the most important topics. And, lastly, if it can be shown that the documents in question do actually embody a comprehensive and connected view of life and of the world, we shall feel satisfied that the oral teaching of Plato, had it been preserved, would not modify in any material degree the impression conveyed by his written compositions.The idea of Nature, or of the universe, or of human history as a whole鈥攂ut for its evil associations with fanaticism and superstition, we should gladly say the belief in God鈥攊s one the ethical value of which can be more easily felt than analysed. We do not agree with the most brilliant of the English Positivists in restricting its influence to the aesthetic emotions.106 The elevating influence of these should be fully51 recognised; but the place due to more severely intellectual pursuits in moral training is greater far. Whatever studies tend to withdraw us from the petty circle of our personal interests and pleasures, are indirectly favourable to the preponderance of social over selfish impulses; and the service thus rendered is amply repaid, since these very studies necessitate for their continuance a large expenditure of moral energy. It might even be contended that the influence of speculation on practice is determined by the previous influence of practice on speculation. Physical laws act as an armature to the law of duty, extending and perpetuating its grasp on the minds of men; but it was through the magnetism of duty that their confused currents were first drawn into parallelism and harmony with its attraction. We have just seen how, from this point of view, the interpretation of evolution by conscience might be substituted for the interpretation of conscience by evolution. Yet those who base morality on religion, or give faith precedence over works, have discerned with a sure though dim instinct the dependence of noble and far-sighted action on some paramount intellectual initiative and control; in other words, the highest ethical ideals are conditioned by the highest philosophical generalisations. Before the Greeks could think of each man as a citizen of the world, and as bound to all other rational beings by virtue of a common origin and a common abode, it was first necessary that they should think of the world itself as an orderly and comprehensive whole. And what was once a creative, still continues to work as an educating force. Our aspirations towards agreement with ourselves and with humanity as a whole are strengthened by the contemplation of that supreme unity which, even if it be but the glorified reflection of our individual or generic identity, still remains the idea in and through which those lesser unities were first completely realised鈥攖he idea which has originated all man鈥檚 most fruitful faiths, and will at last absorb them all. Meanwhile our highest devotion can hardly find more fitting52 utterance than in the prayer which once rose to a Stoic鈥檚 lips:鈥

Turning from dialectic to ethics, Plato in like manner feels the need of interposing a mediator between reason and appetite. The quality chosen for this purpose he calls θυμ??, a term which does not, as has been erroneously supposed, correspond to our word Will, but rather to pride, or the feeling of personal honour. It is both the seat of military courage and the natural auxiliary of reason, with which it co-operates in restraining the animal desires. It is a characteristic difference between Socrates and Plato that the former should have habitually reinforced his arguments for virtue by appeals to self-interest; while the latter, with his aristocratic way of looking at things, prefers to enlist the aid of a haughtier feeling on their behalf. Aristotle followed in the same track when he taught that to be overcome by anger is less discreditable than to be overcome by desire. In reality none of the instincts tending to self-preservation is more praiseworthy than another, or more amenable to the control of reason. Plato鈥檚 tripartite division of mind cannot be made225 to fit into the classifications of modern psychology, which are adapted not only to a more advanced state of knowledge but also to more complex conditions of life. But the characters of women, by their greater simplicity and uniformity, show to some extent what those of men may once have been; and it will, perhaps, confirm the analysis of the Phaedrus to recall the fact that personal pride is still associated with moral principle in the guardianship of female virtue.301

To be free and to rule over freemen were, with Socrates, as with every Athenian, the goals of ambition, only his freedom meant absolute immunity from the control of passion or habit; government meant superior knowledge, and government of freemen meant the power of producing intellectual conviction. In his eyes, the possessor of any art was, so far, a ruler, and the only true ruler, being obeyed under severe penalties by all who stood in need of his skill. But the royal art which he himself exercised, without expressly laying claim to it, was that which assigns its proper sphere to every other art, and provides each individual with the employment which his peculiar faculties demand. This is Athenian liberty and Athenian imperialism carried into education, but so idealised and purified that they can hardly be recognised at first sight.XI.

A far higher place must be assigned to Judaism among the competitors for the allegiance of Europe. The cosmopolitan importance at one time assumed by this religion has been considerably obscured, owing to the subsequent devolution of its part to Christianity. It is, however, by no means impossible that, but for the diversion created by the Gospel, and the disastrous consequences of their revolt against Rome, the Jews might have won the world to a purified form of their own monotheism. A few significant circumstances are recorded showing how much influence they had acquired, even in Rome, before the first preaching of Christianity. The first of these is to be found in Cicero鈥檚 defence of Flaccus. The latter was accused of appropriating part of the annual contributions sent to the temple at Jerusalem; and, in dealing with this charge, Cicero speaks of the Jews, who were naturally prejudiced against his client, as a powerful faction the hostility of which he is anxious not to provoke.330 Some twenty years later, a great advance has been made. Not only must the material interests of the Jews be respected, but a certain conformity to their religious prescriptions is considered a mark of good breeding, In one of his most amusing satires, Horace tells us how, being anxious to shake off a bore, he appeals for help to his friend Aristius Fuscus, and reminds him of217 some private business which they had to discuss together. Fuscus sees his object, and being mischievously determined to defeat it, answers: 鈥榊es, I remember perfectly, but we must wait for some better opportunity; this is the thirtieth Sabbath, do you wish to insult the circumcised Jews?鈥 鈥業 have no scruples on that point,鈥 replies the impatient poet. 鈥楤ut I have,鈥 rejoins Fuscus,鈥斺榓 little weak-minded, one of the many, you know鈥攅xcuse me, another time.鈥331 Nor were the Jews content with the countenance thus freely accorded them. The same poet elsewhere intimates that whenever they found themselves in a majority, they took advantage of their superior strength to make proselytes by force.鈥332 And they pursued the good work to such purpose that a couple of generations later we find Seneca bitterly complaining that the vanquished had given laws to the victors, and that the customs of this abominable race were established over the whole earth.333 Evidence to the same effect is given by Philo Judaeus and Josephus, who inform us that the Jewish laws and customs were admired, imitated, and obeyed over the whole earth.334 Such assertions might be suspected of exaggeration, were they not, to a certain extent, confirmed by the references already quoted, to which others of the same kind may be added from later writers showing that it was a common practice among the Romans to abstain from work on the Sabbath, and even to celebrate it by praying, fasting, and lighting lamps, to visit the synagogues, to study the law of Moses, and to pay the yearly contribution of two drachmas to the temple at Jerusalem.335

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The Epicurean cosmology need not delay us long. It is completely independent of the atomic theory, which had only been introduced to explain the indestructibility of matter, and, later on, the mechanism of sensation. In describing how the world was first formed, Epicurus falls back on the old Ionian meteorology. He assumes the existence of matter in different states of diffusion, and segregates fluid from solid, light from heavy, hot from cold, by the familiar device of a rapid vortical movement.168 For the rest, as we have already noticed, Epicurus gives an impartial welcome to the most conflicting theories of his predecessors, provided only that they dispense with the aid of supernatural intervention; as will87 be seen by the following summary, which we quote from Zeller:鈥擨f we interpret this doctrine, after the example of some of the ancients, to mean that any wrong-doing would be innocent and good, supposing it escaped detection, we shall probably be misconstruing Epicurus. What he seems to allude to is rather the case of strictly legal enactments, where, previously to law, the action need not have been particularly moral or immoral; where, in fact, the common agreement has established a rule which is not completely in harmony with the 鈥榡ustice of nature.鈥 In short, Epicurus is protesting against the conception of injustice, which makes it consist in disobedience to political and social rules, imposed and enforced by public and authoritative sanctions. He is protesting, in other words, against the claims of the State upon the citizens for their complete obedience;71 against the old ideas of the divine sanctity and majesty of law as law; against theories like that maintained by contemporaries of Socrates, that there could be no such thing as an unjust law.143

Nor in his childhood, nor in youth, nor when




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