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The Greek Philosophers, Vol. 2 (of 2)

The Greek Philosophers, Vol. 2 (of 2)
Title: The Greek Philosophers, Vol. 2 (of 2)
Release Date: 2018-11-03
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The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Greek Philosophers, Vol. II (of 2), byAlfred William Benn

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Title: The Greek Philosophers, Vol. II (of 2)

Author: Alfred William Benn

Release Date: November 3, 2018 [eBook #58224]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8



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Εὑρηκέναι μὲν οὖν τινὰς τῶν ἀρχαίων καὶ μακαρίων φιλοσόφωντὸ ἀληθὲς δεῖ νομίζειν· τίνες δὲ οἱ τυχόντες μάλιστα καὶ πῶς ἂνκαὶ ἡμῖν σύνεσις περὶ τούτων γένοιτο ἐπισκέψασθαι προσήκει


Quamquam ab his philosophiam et omnes ingenuas disciplinashabemus: sed tamen est aliquid quod nobis non liceat, liceat illis






(The rights of translation and of reproduction are reserved)



THE STOICSpages 1-52

I. Why the systems of Plato and Aristotle failed to secure a hold on contemporarythought, 1—Fate of the schools which they founded, 2—Revival of earlierphilosophies and especially of naturalism, 3—Antisthenes and the Cynics, 4—Restorationof naturalism to its former dignity, 6.

II. Zeno and Crates, 7—Establishment of the Stoic school, 8—Cleanthes andChrysippus, 9—Encyclopaedic character of the Stoic teaching, 9—The greatplace which it gave to physical science, 10—Heracleitean reaction against thedualism of Aristotle, 11—Determinism and materialism of the Stoics, 12—Theirconcessions to the popular religion, 14.

III. The Stoic theory of cognition purely empirical, 15—Development offormal logic, 16—New importance attributed to judgment as distinguished fromconception, 16—The idea of law, 17—Consistency as the principle of the Stoicethics, 18—Meaning of the precept, Follow Nature, 19—Distinction betweenpleasure and self-interest as moral standards, 20—Absolute sufficiency of virtuefor happiness, 21—The Stoics wrong from an individual, right from a social pointof view, 22—Theory of the passions, 23—Necessity of volition and freedom ofjudgment, 24—Difficulties involved in an appeal to purpose in creation, 24.

IV. The Stoic paradoxes follow logically from the absolute distinction betweenright and wrong, 25—Attempt at a compromise with the ordinary morality by thedoctrines (i.) of preference and objection, 26—(ii.) of permissible feeling, 27—(iii.)of progress from folly to wisdom, 27—and (iv.) of imperfect duties, 27—Cicero’sDe Officiis, 28—Examples of Stoic casuistry, 29—Justification of suicide, 30.

V. Three great contributions made by the Stoics to ethical speculation, (i.)The inwardness of virtue, including the notion of conscience, 31—Prevalent misconceptionwith regard to the Erinyes, 32—(ii.) The individualisation of duty,33—Process by which this idea was evolved, 35—Its influence on the Romans ofthe empire, 36—(iii.) The idea of humanity, 36—Its connexion with the idea ofNature, 37—Utilitarianism of the Stoics, 38.

VI. The philanthropic tendencies of Stoicism partly neutralised by its extremeviindividualism, 40—Conservatism of Marcus Aurelius, 41—The Stoics at once unpityingand forgiving, 42—Humility produced by their doctrine of universal depravity,42—It is not in the power of others to injure us, 43—The Stoic satiristsand Roman society, 44.

VII. The idea of Nature and the unity of mankind, 44—The dynamism ofHeracleitus dissociated from the teleology of Socrates, 46—Standpoint of MarcusAurelius, 46—Tendency to extricate morality from its external support, 47—Modernattacks on Nature, 48—Evolution as an ethical sanction, 49—The viciouscircle of evolutionist ethics, 50—The idea of humanity created and maintained bythe idea of a cosmos, 51—The prayer of Cleanthes, 52.



I. Stationary character of Epicureanism, 53—Prevalent tendency to exaggerateits scientific value, 55—Opposition or indifference of Epicurus to the science ofhis time, 57.

II. Life of Epicurus, 58—His philosophy essentially practical, 59—The relationof pleasure to virtue: Aristippus, 60—Pessimism of Hêgêsias, 61—Hedonismof Plato’s Protagoras, 61—The Epicurean definition of pleasure, 62—Reaction ofPlato’s idealism on Epicurus, 63—He accepts the negative definition of pleasure,64—Inconsistency involved in his admissions, 65.

III. Deduction of the particular virtues: Temperance, 66—Points of contactwith Cynicism, 66—Evils bred by excessive frugality, 67—Sexual passion discouragedby Epicureanism, 67—Comparative indulgence shown to pity and grief,68—Fortitude inculcated by minimising the evils of pain, 69—Justice as a regardfor the general interest, 70—The motives for abstaining from aggression purelyselfish, 70—Indifference of the Epicureans to political duties, 73—Success ofEpicureanism in promoting disinterested friendship, 74.

IV. Motives which led Epicurus to include physics in his teaching, 75—Hisattacks on supernaturalism directed less against the old Polytheism than againstthe religious movement whence Catholicism sprang, 76—Justification of the tonetaken by Lucretius, 78—Plato and Hildebrand, 78—Concessions made byEpicurus to the religious reaction, 80—His criticism of the Stoic theology, 81.

V. Why Epicurus adopted the atomic theory, 82—Doctrine of infinite combinations,83—Limited number of chances required by the modern theory of evolution,84—Objections to which Democritus had laid himself open, 85—They arenot satisfactorily met by Epicurus, 85—One naturalistic theory as good as another,87—except the conclusions of astronomy, which are false, 87.

VI. Materialism and the denial of a future life, 88—Epicurus tries to argueaway the dread of death, 89—His enterprise inconsistent with human nature, 90—Thebelief in future torments is the dread of death under another form, 92—Howthe prospect of death adds to our enjoyment of life, 93—Its stimulatingeffect on the energies, 94—The love of life gives meaning and merit to courage, 95.

VII. The Epicurean theory of sensation and cognition, 95—Negative characterof the whole system, 98—Theory of human history: the doctrine of progressivecivilisation much older than Epicurus, 98—Opposition between humanism andnaturalism on this point, 99—Passage from a drama of Euphorion, 99.

VIII. Lucretius: his want of philosophic originality, 100—His alleged improvementsviion the doctrine of Epicurus examined, 101—His unreserved acceptanceof the Epicurean ethics, 103—In what the difference between Lucretius andEpicurus consists, 103—Roman enthusiasm for physical science, 104—Sympathyof Lucretius with early Greek thought, 105—The true heroine of the De RerumNaturâ, 105—Exhibition of life in all its forms, 106—Venus as the beginningand end of existence, 106—Elucidation of the atomic theory by vital phenomena,107—Imperfect apprehension of law: the foedera Naturai and the foedera fati, 108—Assimilationof the great cosmic changes to organic processes, 110—False beliefsconsidered as necessary products of human nature, 111—and consequently as fitsubjects for poetic treatment, 112—High artistic value of the De Rerum Naturâ,113—Comparison between Lucretius and Dante, 113.

IX. Merits and defects of Epicurus: his revival of atomism and rejection ofsupernaturalism, 114—His theory of ethics, 115—His contributions to the science ofhuman nature, 116—His eminence as a professor of the art of happiness, 116—Hisinfluence on modern philosophy greatly exaggerated by M. Guyau, 117—Uniquecombination of circumstances to which Epicureanism owed its origin, 119.



I. Philosophic embassy from Athens to Rome, 120—Lectures of Carneades onJustice versus Expediency, 121—Public and private morality in Rome: positionof Cato, 122—His motion for the dismissal of the embassy, 123—Carneades andPlato, 123.

II. Different meanings of the word scepticism, 123—False scepticism as anally of orthodoxy, 125—Vein of doubt running through Greek mythology, 126—Wantof seriousness in Homer’s religion, 127—Incredulous spirit shown by someof his characters, 127—Similar tendency in Aeschylus and Herodotus, 128—Negativeand sceptical elements in early Greek thought, 128.

III. Protagoras the true father of philosophical scepticism, 129—The threetheses of Gorgias, 130—Sceptical idealism of the Cyrenaic school, 132—Scepticismas an ally of religion with Socrates and Plato, 133—The Parmenides, the Sophist,and the Timaeus, 134—Synthesis of affirmation and negation in metaphysicsand in dialectics, 135—Use of scepticism as a moral sanction by the Megarians,136.

IV. Life and opinions of Pyrrho, 137—Denial of first principles: presentaspect of the question, 139—Practical teaching of Pyrrho, 140—Encouragementgiven to scepticism by the concentration of thought on human interests, 141—Illogicalcompromise of Epicurus, 143—Parasitic character of the scepticalschool, 143.

V. Origin of the New Academy, 144—Character and position of Arcesilaus,145—The Stoic theory of certainty, 146—Criticism of Arcesilaus: his method ofinfinitesimal transitions, 147—Systematic development and application of theAcademic principle by Carneades, 148—His analysis of experience, 149—Hisattack on syllogistic and inductive reasoning, 150—His criticism of the Stoic andEpicurean theologies, 151—Sceptical conformity to the established religion, 153—Theoryof probable evidence as a guide to action, 154A priori reasoning ofthe ancient sceptics, 155—Their resemblance in this respect to modern agnostics,156—and also in their treatment of ethics, 157—Obedience to Nature inculcatedviiiby Carneades, 158.

VI. Return of Greek thought to the Sophistic standpoint, 158—Obstacles toa revival of spiritualism, 159—Platonising eclecticism of the Academy: Philo andAntiochus, 160—Approximation of Stoicism to Aristotle’s teaching, 162—Generalcraving for certainty and stability in philosophy, 163.

VII. Sudden paralysis of the Greek intellect, 165—Probable influence of thenew Latin literature, 165—Adaptation of Greek philosophy to Roman requirements,166—Increased prominence given to the anti-religious side of Epicureanism,167—Its ethics ill-suited to the Roman character, 168—Growing popularity ofStoicism: Panaetius and Posidonius, 168—It is temporarily checked by theinfluence of the Academy, 169.

VIII. Academic eclecticism of Cicero, 170—His attempted return to theprinciples of Socrates, 171—Natural instinct as the common ground of philosophyand untrained experience, 172—Practical agreement of the different ethical systems,173—The weakness of Cicero’s character favourable to religious sentiment,173—His theological position, 174—Contrast between Cicero and Socrates, 175.

IX. The ideas of Nature, reason, and utility, 176—Meaning and value whichthey possessed for a Roman, 177—Cynic tendencies of Roman thought, 178—Influenceexercised by the younger Cato in favour of Stoicism, 179—The philosophyof natural law as illustrated in Roman poetry, 180—Stoic elements in theAeneid, 181—The Roman love of simplification and archaism, 182—Cynicismof Juvenal, 183.

X. Neo-Scepticism as a reaction against Naturalism: Aenesidêmus, 184—Returnto the standpoint of Protagoras, 184—Critical analysis of causation andperception, 185—The ten Tropes, 186—Their derivation from the categories ofAristotle, 186—Ethical scepticism of Aenesidemus, 187—The Tropes simplifiedand extended to reasoning, 188—Their continued invincibility as against all appealsto authority, 189—Association of Scepticism with Empiricism, 189—SextusEmpiricus and Hume on causation, 190.

XI. The philosophy of the dinner-bell and its implications, 191—Subsequentinfluence of Scepticism on Greek thought, 192—Unshaken confidence of the Neo-Platonistsin the power of reason, 193—Their philosophy a genuine return to thestandpoint

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