Page images
PDF
EPUB

CHAP.
XIV.

Thus the Cyrenaic doctrine is seen gradually to vanish away. Aristippus declared that pleasure was the only good, understanding by pleasure actual enjoyment, and not mere freedom from pain; and, moreover, making the pleasure of the moment, and not the state of man as a whole, to be the aim of all action. One after another these limitations were abandoned. Theodorus denied the last one, Hegesias the second, and even the first was assailed by Anniceris. It thus appears how impossible it is to combine the Socratic demand for prudence and independence of the external world, with the leading thought of the theory of pleasure. The Socratic element disintegrates that theory and brings it round to its opposite. The process, however, taking place without intellectual consciousness, no new principle results therefrom. Oddly enough the very men in whom this result is most apparent, in other respects clung to the doctrines of Aristippus with the greatest pertinacity.

CC

CHAPTER XV.

RETROSPECT.

CHAP.
XV.

INCONSISTENCIES appear to have been common to all

the Socratic Schools. It was, without doubt, an inA. Incon- consistency on the part of the Megarians to confine of the im- knowledge to conceptions, and at the same time to perfect do

away with all possibility of development and with Socratic schools. anything like multiplicity or definiteness in concep

tions; to declare that being is the good, and, at the same time, by denying variety and motion to being, to deprive it of that creative power which alone can justify such a position; to begin with the Socratic wisdom, and to end in unmeaning hair-splitting. It was an inconsistency on the part of Antisthenes to endeavour to build all human life on a foundation of knowledge, whilst at the same time destroying all knowledge by his statements touching the meaning and connection of conceptions. It was no small inconsistency both in himself and his followers to aim at a perfect independence of the outer world, and yet to attribute an exaggerated value to the externals of the Cynic mode of life; to declare war against pleasure and selfishness, and at the same time to pronounce the wise man free from the most sacred moral duties; to renounce all enjoyments, and yet to revel in the enjoyment of a moral self-exaltation. CHAP. In these inconsistencies and in their unintentional

XV. contradictions appears the unsatisfactory nature of the principles from which all these Schools started. It is seen how far they were removed from the perfect moderation, from the ready susceptibility of mind, from the living versatility of Socrates, all clinging to particular sides of his personal character, but unable to comprehend it as a whole. The same fact will also, no doubt, explain that B. These

schools are tendency to Sophistry which is so striking in these more folphilosophers. The captious reasoning of the Mega- lowers of

Socrates rians, the indifference of the Cynics to all speculative than of the knowledge, and their contempt for the whole theory

Sophists. of conceptions, no less than the doctrines of Aristippus relative to knowledge and pleasure, savour more of the Sophists than of Socrates. Yet all these schools professed to follow Socrates, nor was there one of them which did not place some element of the Socratic philosophy at the head of its system. It is therefore hardly correct for modern writers to find nothing but sophistical views in their teaching, supplemented and corrected by what is Socratic, and, instead of deducing their differences from the manysidedness of Socrates, to refer them to the diversities of the Sophists converging from many sides towards the Socratic philosophy as a centre. With decided

1 K. F. Hermann, Ges. Abh. to be regarded as a corrective, 228, who, amongst other things modifying more or less strongly there says that the agreement their fundamental views dein matter between these schools rived from the Sophists; they .and the Socratic teaching ought are the pioneers of advancing

CHAP.
XV.

admirers of Socrates, such as Antisthenes and Euclid, there can be not even a shadow of support for this view. Such men conscientiously aiming at a faithful reproduction of the life and teaching of Socrates, must have been conscious that to him they were first indebted for an intellectual centre, and that from him they had first received the living germ of a true philosophy ;-indeed this may be clearly observed in their philosophy. In their case it is wrong to speak of the ennobling influence of Socrates on sophistical principles; we ought rather to speak of the influence of sophistry on their treatment of the teaching of Socrates. Socrates, as it were, gave the substance of the teaching, sophistry being only a narrower limitation of it; for this reason a School like that of the Stoics was able in the end to connect itself with that of the Cynics.

With Aristippus the case is somewhat different. Yet even in respect of him it has been already established, not only that he professed to be a follower of Socrates, but that he really was one, although he penetrated less than others into the deeper meaning of the founder's teaching, and showed the influence of sophistical views most plainly. If then,

as

sophistry, endeavouring to act with the proof of the differ

an equipoise to Socratic ence in principle between the teaching, &c. Yet this remark Eristie of the Sophists and agrees ill with those steps in that of Megara. (Ges. Abh. 250, advance of Socrates which f.) Far more correct and more Hermann thinks to discern in in keeping with our view was. many sophistical assertions of that expressed by Hermann at Antisthenes and Aristippus an earlier time. (Plat. 257.) (see pp. 296, 1; 370, 2), and

XV.

besides lower capacities, previous sophistical training CHAP. may be the cause which prevented the founders of the imperfect Schools from entering so deeply or fully into the spirit of their master as Plato did, it should also be remembered that Socrates himself gave occasion to this variety in the Schools which 'were connected with him. On the one hand, his personal character afforded so rich a field as to invite investigation in the most opposite directions; on the other hand, the scientific form of his philosophy was so imperfect and so unsystematic, that it gave scope for many diverging modes of treatment.

This disintegration of the Socratic Schools is C. Imaccordingly not without importance for the further portance progress of philosophy. Bringing out the separate schools. elements which were united in Socrates, and connecting them with the corresponding elements in the preSocratic philosophy, it held them up for more careful observation. The problems were set for all subsequent thinkers to discuss. The logical and ethical consequences of the Socratic maxims were brought to light. On the other hand, it was seen what the separation of the various elements in the teaching of Socrates, and their combination with other theories, would lead to, unless these theories were

? Cic. de Orat. iii. 16, 61, quasi familiæ dissentientes inobserves with some justice, but ter se, &c. For instance, Plato somewhat superficially : Cum and Antisthenes, qui patienessent plures orti fere a Socrate, tiam et duritiam in Socratico quod ex illius variis et diversis sermone maxime adamarat, and et in omnem partem diffusis also Aristippus, quem illac madisputationibus alius aliud ap- gis voluptariæ disputationes prehenderat, proseminatæ sunt delectarant.

« PreviousContinue »