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A CONSIDERABLE portion of the present work, comprising the whole of the first volume and the first two chapters of the second, is reprinted with corrections and additions from the Westminster Review. The last chapter of the second volume has already appeared under a slightly different title in Mind for January and April 1882. The chapters entitled, “The Sceptics and Eclectics,''The Religious Revival,' and 'The Spiritualism of Plotinus,' are now published for the first time.
The subject of Greek philosophy is so vast that, in England at least, it has become customary to deal with it in detached portions rather than as a connected whole. This method has its advantages, but it has also its drawbacks. The critic who singles out some one thinker for special study is apt to exaggerate the importance of his hero and to credit him with the origination of principles which were really borrowed from his predecessors. Moreover, the appearance of a new idea can only be made intelligible by tracing the previous tendencies which it either continues, combines, or contradicts. In a word, the history of philosophy has itself a philosophy which requires that we should go beyond particular phenomena and view them as variously related parts of a single system.
The history of Greek philosophy, whether conceived in this comprehensive sense or as an erudite investigation into matters of detail, is a province which the Germans have made peculiarly their own; and, among German schclars, Dr. Zeller is the one who has treated it with most success. My obligations to his great work are sufficiently shown by the copious references to it which occur throughout the following pages. It is in those instances--and they are, unfortunately, very numerous - where our knowledge of particular philosophers and of their opinions rests on fragmentary or secondhand information, that I have found his assistance most valuable. This has especially been the case with reference to the pre-Socratic schools, the minor successors of Socrates, the earlier Stoics, the Sceptics, and the later Pythagoreans. I must, however, guard against the supposition that my work is, in any respect, a popularisation or abridgment of Zeller's. To popularise Zeller would, indeed, be an impertinence, for nothing can be more luminous and interesting than his style and general mode of exposition. Nor am I playing the part of a finder to a large telescope; for my point of view by no means coincides with that of the learned German historian. Thus, while my limits have obliged me to be content with a very summary treatment of many topics which he has discussed at length, there are others, and those, in my opinion, not the least important, to which he has given less space than will be found allotted to them here. On several questions, also, I have ventured to controvert his opinions, notably with reference to the Sophists, Socrates, Aristotle, and Plotinus. My general way of looking at the Greeks and their philosophy also differs from his. And the reasons which have led me to follow an independent course in this respect involve considerations of such interest and importance, that I shall take the liberty of specifying them in some detail.
Stated briefly, Zeller's theory of ancient thought is that the Greeks originally lived in harmony with Nature; that the bond was broken by philosophy and particularly by the philosophy of Socrates ; that the discord imperfectly overcome by Plato and Aristotle revealed itself once more in the unreconciled, self-concentrated subjectivity of the later schools; that this hopeless estrangement, after reaching its climax in the mysticism of the Neo-Platonists, led to the complete collapse of independent speculation; and that the creation of a new consciousness by the advent of Christianity and of the Germanic races was necessary in order to the successful resumption of scientific enquiry. Zeller was formerly a Hegelian, and it seems to me that he still retains far too much of the Hegelian fornialism in his historical constructions. The well-worked antithesis between object and subject, even after being revised in a positivist sense, is totally inadequate to the burden laid on it by this theory; and if we want really to understand the causes which first hampered, then arrested, and finally paralysed Greek philosophy, we must seek for them in a more concrete order of considerations. Zeller, with perfect justice, attributes the failure of Plato and Aristotle to their defective observation of Nature and their habit of regarding the logical combinations of ideas derived from the common use of words as an adequate representative of the relations obtaining among things in themselves. But it seems an extremely strained and artificial explanation to say that their shortcomings in this respect were due to a confusion of the objective and the subjective, consequent on the imperfect separation of the Greek mind from Nature-a confusion, it is added, which only the advent of a new religion and a new race could overcome.' It is unfair to make Hellenism as a whole responsible for fallacies which might easily be paralleled in the works of modern metaphysicians; and the unfairness will become still more evident when we remember that, after enjoying the benefit of Christianity and Germanism for a thousand years, the modern world had still to take its first lessons in patience of observation, in accuracy of reasoning, and in sobriety of expression from such men as Thucydides and Hippocrates, Polybius, Archimedes and Hipparchus. Even had the Greeks as a nation been less keen to distinguish between illusion and reality than their successors up to the sixteenth century-a supposition notoriously the reverse of true—it would still have to be explained why Plato and Aristotle, with their prodigious intellects, went much further astray than their predecessors in the study of Nature. And this Zeller's method does not explain at all.
Again, I think that Zeller quite misconceives the relation between Greek philosophy and Greek life when he attributes the intellectual decline of the post-Aristotelian period, in part at least, to the simultaneous ruin of public spirit and political independence. The degeneracy of poetry and art, of eloquence and history, may perhaps be accounted for in this way, but not the relaxation of philosophical activity. On the contrary, the disappearance of political interests was of all conditions the most favourable to speculation, as witness the Ionians, Democritus, and Aristotle. Had the independence and power of the great city-republics been prolonged much further, it is probable-as the example of the Sophists and Socrates seems to show—that philosophy would have become
| Die Philosophie der Griechen, III., a, pp. 5 f.
still more absorbingly moral and practical than it actually became in the Stoic, Epicurean, and Sceptical schools. And theoretical studies did, in fact, receive a great impulse from the Macedonian conquest, a large fund of intellectual energy being diverted from public affairs to the pursuit of knowledge, only it took the direction of positive science rather than of general speculation.'
The cause which first arrested and finally destroyed the free movement of Greek thought was not any intrinsic limitation or corruption of the Greek genius, but the ever-increasing preponderance of two interests, both tending, although in different ways and different degrees, to strengthen the principle of authority and to enfeeble the principle of reason. One was the theological interest, the other was the scholastic interest. The former was the more conspicuous and the more mischievous of the two. From the persecution of Anaxagoras to the prohibition of philosophical teaching by Justinian, we may trace the rise and spread of a reaction towards superstition, sometimes advancing and sometimes receding, but, on the whole, gaining ground from age to age, until from the noontide splendour of Pericles we pass to that long night which stretches in almost impenetrable darkness down to the red and stormy daybreak of the Crusades. And it was a reaction which extended through all classes, including the philosophers themselves. It seems to me that where the Athenian school, from Socrates on, fall short of their predecessors, as in some points they unquestionably do, their inferiority is largely due to this cause. Its influence is very perceptible in weakening the speculative energies of those
"If I remember rightly, Polybius makes the same observation, but I cannot recall the exact reference,