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The new teacher gathered round him a distinguished275 society, comprising not only professional philosophers, but also physicians, rhetors, senators, and statesmen. Among the last-mentioned class, Rogatianus, who filled the office of praetor, showed the sincerity of his conversion by renouncing the dignities of his position, surrendering his worldly possessions, limiting himself to the barest necessaries of life, and allowing himself to be dependent even for these on the hospitality of his friends. Thanks to this asceticism, he recovered the use of his hands and feet, which had before been completely crippled with gout.409.
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Wherefore a holy law forbids that Being?
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Where the Cynics left off the Stoics began. Recognising simple self-preservation as the earliest interest and duty of man, they held that his ultimate and highest good was complete self-realisation, the development of that rational, social, and beneficent nature which distinguishes him from the lower21 animals.49 Here their teleological religion came in as a valuable sanction for their ethics. Epict锚tus, probably following older authorities, argues that self-love has purposely been made identical with sociability. 鈥楾he nature of an animal is to do all things for its own sake. Accordingly God has so ordered the nature of the rational animal that it cannot obtain any particular good without at the same time contributing to the common good. Because it is self-seeking it is not therefore unsocial.鈥50 But if our happiness depends on external goods, then we shall begin to fight with one another for their possession:51 friends, father, country, the gods themselves, everything will, with good reason, be sacrificed to their attainment. And, regarding this as a self-evident absurdity, Epict锚tus concludes that our happiness must consist solely in a righteous will, which we know to have been the doctrine of his whole school.!
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All virtue, with Plotinus, rests on the superiority of the soul to the body. So far, he follows the common doctrine of Plato and Aristotle. But in working out the distinction, he is influenced by the individualising and theoretic philosophy of the latter rather than by the social and practical philosophy of the former. Or, again, we may say that with him the intellectualism of Aristotle is heightened and warmed by the religious aspirations of Plato, strengthened and purified by the Stoic passionlessness, the Stoic independence of external goods. In his ethical system, the virtues are arranged in an ascending scale. Each grade reproduces the old quadripartite division into Wisdom, Courage, Temperance and Justice, but in each their respective significance receives a new interpretation. As civic virtues, they continue to bear the meaning assigned to them in Plato鈥檚 Republic. Wisdom belongs to reason, Courage to passionate spirit, Temperance to desire, while Justice implies the fulfilment of its appropriate function by each.493 But all this only amounts to the restriction of what would otherwise be unregulated impulse, the imposition of Form on Matter, the supremacy of the soul over the body; whereas what we want is to get rid of matter altogether. Here also, Plato sets us on the right track when he calls the virtues purifications. From this point of view, for the soul to energise alone without any interference, is Wisdom; not to be moved by the passions of the body is Temperance; not to dread separation from the body is Courage; and to obey the guidance of reason is Justice.494 Such a disposition of the soul is what Plato means by flying from the world and becoming like God. Is this enough? No, it is not. We have, so far, been dealing only with the negative conditions of good, not with good itself. The essential thing is not purification, but what remains behind when the work of purification is332 accomplished. So we come to the third and highest grade of virtue, the truly divine life, which is a complete conversion to reason. Our philosopher endeavours to fit this also into the framework of the cardinal virtues, but not without imposing a serious strain on the ordinary meaning of words. Of Wisdom nothing need be said, for it is the same as rationality. Justice is the self-possession of mind, Temperance the inward direction towards reason, Courage the impassivity arising from resemblance to that which is by nature impassive.495.
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鈥楾herefore the whole extends continuously,.
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To be after life what we have been before!鈥
We have already observed that Scepticism among the ancients was often cultivated in connexion with some positive doctrine which it indirectly served to recommend. In the case of its last supporters, this was the study of medicine on an empirical as opposed to a deductive method. The Sceptical contention is that we cannot go beyond appearances; the empirical contention is, that all knowledge comes to us from experience, and that this only shows us how phenomena are related to one another, not how they are related to their underlying causes, whether efficient or final. These allied points of view have been brought into still more intimate association by modern thought, which, as will be shown in the concluding chapter, has sprung from a modified form of the ancient Scepticism, powerfully aided by a simultaneous development of physical science. At the same time, the new school have succeeded in shaking off the narrowness and timidity of their predecessors, who were still so far under the influence of the old dogmatists as to believe that there was an inherent opposition between observation and reasoning in the methods of discovery, between facts and explanations in the truths of science, and between antecedence and causation in the realities of Nature. In this respect, astronomy has done more for the right adjustment of our conceptions than any190 other branch of knowledge; and it is remarkable that Sextus Empiricus, the last eminent representative of ancient Scepticism, and the only one (unless Cicero is to be called a Sceptic) whose writings are still extant, should expressly except astronomy from the destructive criticism to which he subjects the whole range of studies included in what we should call the university curriculum of his time.301 We need not enter into an analysis of the ponderous compilation referred to; for nearly every point of interest which it comprises has already been touched on in the course of our investigation; and Sextus differs only from his predecessors by adding the arguments of the New Academy to those of Protagoras and Pyrrho, thus completing the Sceptical cycle. It will be enough to notice the singular circumstance that so copious and careful an enumeration of the grounds which it was possible to urge against dogmatism鈥攊ncluding, as we have seen, many still employed for the same or other purposes,鈥攕hould have omitted the two most powerful solvents of any. These were left for the exquisite critical acumen of Hume to discover. They relate to the conception of causation, and to the conception of our own personality as an indivisible, continuously existing substance, being attempts to show that both involve assumptions of an illegitimate character. Sextus comes up to the very verge of Hume鈥檚 objection to the former when he observes that causation implies relation, which can only exist in thought;302 but he does not ask how we come to think such a relation, still less does he connect it with the perception of phenomenal antecedence; and his attacks on the various mental faculties assumed by psychologists pass over the fundamental postulate of personal identity, thus leaving Descartes what seemed a safe foundation whereon to rebuild the edifice of metaphysical philosophy.
Similarly, in political science, the analytical method of assuming civil government to result from a concurrence of individual wills, which with Hobbes had served only to destroy ecclesiastical authority, while leaving intact and even strengthening the authority of secular rulers, was reinterpreted by Locke as a negation of all absolutism whatever.
21 August, 2019 - 13:08
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21 August, 2019 - 13:08
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