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of tl]C 

^Uttliersttg of ^oroitta 

Mrs. D.J. Snider 

Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive 

in 2007 witii funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



Which Dr. Snider has been specially engaged 
upon for some years, now embraces the following 
works ; 

1. Psychology and the Psychosis . . $1.50 

2. The Will and its World 1.50 

3. Social Institutions ........ 1.50 

4. The State 1.50 

5. Ancient European Philosophy . . . 1 50 

6. Modern European Philosophy 

[in preparation) 1.50 

It is hoped that the latter may be completed in 
the coarse of the present year (1903). As far as 
can be now foreseen, the Aesthetic, or the Psychol- 
ogy of the Fine Arts will follow. 

Sigma Publishing Co. 


European Philosophy 

The History of Greek Philosophy 

Psychologically Treated. 



1^'-. -j,^ 



210 PINE ST. 

Copyright by 
D. J. SNIDER, 1903. 



Table of contents. 


Introduction 5-30 

Ancient European Philosophy ... 40 

Chapter I, The Hellenic Period . . 56 

I. Elementalism 69 

A. The Milesian Movement . . 77 

1. Thales 79 

2. Anaximander ...... 83 

3. Anaximines 86 

B. Eleatic Movement 92 

1. Xenophones 96 

2. Parmenides 99 

3. Zeno 103 

C. The Inter-connecting Movement 113 

1. Heraclitus 117 

2. Pythagoras 123 

3. Empedocles 139 


II. Atomism 151 

A. CosMicAL Atomism — Leucippus 162 

B. Noetic Atomism — Anaxagoras . 173 

C. Egoistic Atomism — The Sophists 184 

III. Universalism 204 

1. Socrates 216 

2. Plato 252 

3. Aristotle 348 

Chapter II. The Hellenistic Period . 459 

I. The Theoretic Movement . . . 477 

1. Dogmatism 481 

2. Skepticism 500 

3. Syncretism 512 

II. The Practical Movement . . . 523 

1. Stoicism 528 

2. Epicureanism 537 

3. Legalism 543 

III. The Eeligious Movement . . . 548 

1. Philosophy religionizes . . 554 

2. Eeligion philosophizes . . 559 

3. Eeligion reveals . . . . 564 

Chapter III. The Neo-Hellenic Period 577 

1. Plotinus 602 

2. Jamblichus 665 

3. Proclus 685 


In these daj^s not a few European writers on 
Philosophy have proclaimed the demise and dis- 
appearance of the science to which they have 
devoted their powers. Philosophy, then, has 
run its course ; but what new discipline is to take 
its place? Such is the coming problem. Other 
writers have been willing to grant to Philosophy 
a fresh lease of life, if it can only be brought to 
mend its ways. And the way often recom- 
mended to it is that of Natural Science, or the 
purely experimental method. Such a solution, 
however, though it has been offered by meta- 
physicians as well as by scientists, could only 
end in the abolition or at least the enslavement 
of Philosophy as conceived by its greatest mas- 
ters. An outcome of this sort seems not alto- 
gether satisfactory, and so the solvent word 
remains unspoken. 



On the other hand, there are men who are 
still constructing or re-constructing systems of 
Philosophy, wrought after the old pattern with 
new additions here and there, and spiced usually 
with sharp criticisms on all other systems. Of 
such Germany has been and still is the prolific 
home. In the first half of the past century, 
Philosophy-building became the chief occupa- 
tion of the highest order of German intellect, 
with wonderful results ; in the second half it was 
still kept up, though the output was less in 
quantity, and far inferior in originality. The 
result, however, can hardly be denied: ancient 
Greece and modern Germany show the two highest 
points in the development of Philosophy. But 
is this all of it? What is to be its future? 
In its antique and in its modern periods it seems 
to lie before us rounded out and complete. Is it 
again to be an epoch-making utterance of human 

The present work does not disguise its opinion 
on this point. There is good reason for believ- 
ing that Philosophy as the European Discipline 
of Thought, has substantially delivered its mes- 
sage. This does not mean that Philosophy is 
now to be thrown aside, and need no longer be 
studied. On the contrary its value will remain ; 
as a great stage in the evolution of human cul- 
ture it cannot be neglected. If the higher edu- 
cation be the reproduction of the race's spiritual 


movement in each individual, Philosophy will 
not lose its meaning. Homer delivered his 
message ere Greek Philosophy was burn, still 
the works of Homer are read by more people to- 
day than ever before. In like manner Philoso- 
phy, even if it has finished its cycle and told 
what it has to tell, cannot be left out of man's 
highest training. 

Nevertheless the demand for a new formulation 
of Thought is heard in the cry of the time. This 
means not another system of Philosophy, but a 
new Discipline of Thought, which does not de- 
stroy the old one but completes it, fulfills it. The 
study of Philosophy is, therefore, the introduc- 
tion to a new science of mind, and the History 
of Philosophy is the evolution of that science. 
What shall we call it? Our name for it is Psychol- 
ogy, which, even as word, has to evolve itself 
through several meanings, as was also the case 
with the word Philosophy in ancient Greece. 

It is possible that this statement sounds pre- 
tentious ; but it simply affirms what is acknowl- 
edged by all thinkers. Every great and original 
people or period in Europe has had its Philosophy, 
which is the expression of its spiritual character 
by and for thought. In like manner every great 
and original people or period in the Orient has 
found its self-expression in a Religion. But now 
the Occident is here, with its people, its govern- 
ment, its social institutions. In the natural order 


of things there must be a Discipline of Thought 
as peculiar to it as Philosophy is to Europe or 
as Keligion is to Asia. It would be the excep- 
tion in all History if the American spirit should 
find its adequate self-expression in a Greek or 
German Philosophy. The institutions of a Re- 
public cannot have the Philosophy of an Empire ; 
indeed the Occident cannot have, strictly speak- 
ing, any Philosophy. It must have another and 
different Discipline of Thought, not subordinate 
to, but parallel with Religion and Philosophy. 

This is Psychology, which though an old and 
hitherto subsidiary branch of knowledge, must 
henceforth declare and demonstrate not only its 
independence as a science but its supremacy. It 
has been heretofore enslaved to Metaphysics or 
Physics, one or the other of which has prescribed 
its method. Thus it has not been a free science. 
But now Psychology as the science of the Self is 
to make its own method and to reveal the same 
in all creations of the Self, human and divine. 
Accordingly, instead of having a Psychology 
which is philosophical, that is, determined by 
Philosophy, we are to find out that Philosophy is 
really psychological, that it is and always has 
been determined by Psychology, toward which 
it has been developing from the beginning. The 
History of Philosophy is, then, the evolution of 

The grounds for these statements we shall uu- 


fold in some further considerations upon what 
we term the three fundamental Disciplines in 
which the Thought of mankind has uttered itself. 

We can well take as our starting-point the 
human Being, the Self, who, when he becomes 
human and rational, begins thinking, which is 
to recognize in some form or other the Self in all 
things. This thought of his may be and is at first 
exceedingly simple and crude, but just it is the test 
of humanity. The content of it is a vague notion 
of the All, of the Universe, which like himself 
must be essentially and primarily a Self. The 
first thought then is not a part, but the Whole. 
It might seem easier for the primitive man to 
seize a piece of the Universe with his mind, but 
already the Universe has dawned in him and made 
him a man, and he must have some conception 
of the totality before he gets that of its part. 
Very indefinite and undeveloped this Whole may 
be in his spirit, still it lies back of every particu- 
lar thought and act of rational man, and is the 
source as well as the sign of his rationality. So we 
answer the question. What is the first thought — 
the primum cogitatum : it is the Whole underlying 
all wholes, namely the Universe, not by any 
means explicitly analyzed, but implicitly present 
and ut work, seeking to make itself a reality 
through tliought and in thought. 


Bat the human Being (or Self) very early in 
its rational life starts on its career of sepa- 
ration, and unfolds its primal division of the 
Universe into three parts, which are variously 
designated, and assume many different forms, 
but which, in general, correspond to God, World, 
and Man. These are the three original, fun- 
damental elements which the human mind finds 
in the All, and which it will strive to formu- 
late in each of the three comprehensive Discip- 
lines — Religion, Philosophy and Psychology. To 
be sure the distinction is at first unclear, uncon- 
cious, a bursting of the cosmical bud; the three 
elements overlap and intertwine, still they lie in 
the nature of the All, and likewise in the nature 
of the human mind conceiving the All. 

Now these three fundamentals of the Universe 
are not merely asunder, separated and opposed, 
but they form a process together, which is indeed 
their very essence and life. They are stages of 
the one movement underlying and interlinking 
all things, we may for the present call it the soul 
of the Universe. We shall hereafter find that 
each of these elements or parts has in itself the 
same process ; each member of the triune move- 
ment in order to be truly a member, must reflect 
and also enact the process of the entire Universe, 
and it is just this process which the thinking Self 
nmst penetrate and appropriate in order to think, 
that is, in order to be a thinking Self. In other 


words, God, World, and Man have in each the 

essential process of all three together, otherwise 
each could not be a stage or part of this process, 
or share in its life. The earliest philosopher has 
not failed to express some such view, conceiving 
that there was a World-Soul in the vast cosmical 
body whose members were instinct everywhere 
with universal life, of which his own individual 
life was a reflection and also a part. 

This process of God, World, and Man cor- 
responds, moreover, to that of the Self, of the 
Ego, which on one side it determines, on the 
other side is determined by it. The Universe 
cannot be conceived to suffer external division, 
for there is primarily nothing external to it till 
it makes externality, which is thus its own. 
We say, the Universe must make its own out- 
sideness, its own other, its own difference, which, 
therefore, lies within itself. That is, it can be 
conceived only as the process of self-division 
which is at the same time one with itself. Here- 
in we have already described it as Self or Ego. 
For the only thing conceivable by man which 
has the power to divide itself, and still remain 
itself in the act, or rather to complete itself by 
such act, is his Self in its process, the process of 
self -consciousness, or of the Self knowino; itself. 
The germinal source of all knowledge, indeed 
of the knowledge of the All is the self-knowing 
Self, which may furthermore be regarded as the 


fundamental definition of Man, who, originally 
created by the All, must at last recreate the same 
in thought, must recreate his Creator creating 

This process of the Self or Ego in its three 
stages as implicit, as self -separating, and as self- 
returning, should have its own name ; we call it 
the Psychosis. A full unfolding of it belongs 
properly to the science of Psychology (see our 
Psychology and Psycliosis, Introduction et pas- 
sim). But the fact we now wish to emphasize 
is that the Universe shows this same general 
process in its triune movement of God, World 
and Man, which movement Man, a part of it, is 
forever trying to grasp and formulate as a Whole 
in Religion, Philosophy and Psychology. The 
utterance of the Little Self beholding and recog- 
nizing the Great Self, how each determines and 
is determined by the other, cannot be omitted 
by rational man without losing his rationality or 
giving up his Selfhood. Man, the created por- 
tion, must be creatively the Whole through his 
thinking, or surrender manhood. 

The fundamental process of the All or of the 
Universe is, therefore, a Psychosis too, which 
ought to have its special name, as it must be 
often used in our thinking. We shall term it 
the All-Psychosis, or the Pampsychosis after its 
Greek equivalent. Such a designation never 
fails to suggest that the Universe is a Self, and 


is to be seen and identified as a Self by .Thought. 
For the human Self through thinking is to make 
itself aware of its oneness with the universal 
Self, in fact, it can know nothing at all without 
recognizing and sharing in the original, creative 
process of the Universe. Knowledge, even sen- 
suous knowledge of an object is some kind of 
reproduction of that object; in a degree I have 
to reproduce the creative act which made it 
what it is. The common bond of Man and the 
Universe is the Psychosis, through which he, 
though a separate stage of the total process, 
returns and restores that total process by his 

In fact the main object and content of human 
Thought is to grasp, formulate, and thus make 
explicit in language this fundamental process of 
the Universe, which we have just named the 
All-Psychosis. The three supreme Disciplines 
which give expression to human Thinking are 
Religion, Philosophy, and Psychology, each of 
which in its way is an utterance of the All- 
Psychosis, thus going back to the fundamental 
process of the Universe for its ultimate content 
or subject-matter, as well as for its underlying 
movement or method. In regard to Psychology, 
we cannot here elaborate the reason why we 
place it in such high company, but we shall 
not fail to do so hereafter, only premising at 
present that we do not mean by it the old 


Eational Psychology or the newer Physiological 
Psychology, both of which are subordinate 
sciences, the one being determined by metaphys- 
ical and the other by physical methods. 

It looks as if we have now come upon the 
Norm of the All, the rule by which the Universe 
is built or builds itself both as a Whole and in its 
parts. This basic Norm gives the universal pro- 
cess of Man's Thinking, being itself just the pro- 
cess of the Universe, which, however, in turn is 
to be grasped and formulated in categories of 
Thought by Man's Thinking. Thus if the Norm 
of the Universe determines the process of human 
Thought, the latter goes back and determines it 
in definite forms of expression, producing the 
before-mentioned Disciplines. Using our special 
terms, we may call Man himself a Psj^chosis (the 
microcosmic Self) whose spiritual destiny is to find 
and to precipitate into speech the All-Psychosis 
(the macrocosmic Self), which, as already un- 
folded is the basic Norm of all things. Strictly 
speaking, man can only think what is already a 
Thought, realized or unrealized. When the in- 
ventor makes a new machine, he is properly re- 
creating a thought already existent, and putting 
it into a thing, realizing it (res) or expressing it 
in material form. If the mind does not think 
Thought already existent, it is not thinking at 
all, it is dreaming or sensing some object. In 
the religious realm the expression has long since 

IN TROD UC TlOn. 1 5 

been familiar that Man is to know God, the all- 
creatino; Self in whose imao;e the human Self has 
been made, and yet the latter has to return and 
know the former. 

It has already been indicated that the thinking 
Self (or the human Psychosis) will approach 
and formulate this fundamental process of the 
All (the Pampsychosis) in three different ways 
which reveal the three main Disciplines in the 
development of man's Thinking — the religious, 
the philosophical, and the pyschological, all 
of which are derived from the one fundamental 
Norm previously mentioned, and are express- 
ing the same. That is, all Religion, all 
Philosophy, all Psychology may be named in 
general, Disciplines, the universal Disciplines, in 
which the Thought of Man has uttered and is 
uttering itself in order to declare and define the 
one ultimate process of the Universe, or the All- 
Psychosis (often called simply the Universal). 
His Thinking, which is a Psj^cliosis, must see 
and formulate the Psychosis, of God, World, and 
Man, separately as well as all together. The 
Discipline in this sense is the training or the road 
over which the human Ego has to travel in order 
to recognize universal Selfhood or the Self of 
the Universe, and is particularly found in the 
History of Philosophy. 

Each of these three Disciplines is, then, a 
formulation of the one fundamental Norm of 


the Universe, each in its own distinctive 
way and with its own distinctive categories. 
Hence comes the division into three Norms, 
religious, philosophical and psychological; that 
is, each Discipline has its own ultimate Norm 
both in its form and in its method of expreS' 
sion. Still we must not forget that all of 
these three basic Disciplines have a common con- 
tent as ultimate, namely the one fundamental 
Norm, which in itself has its own process, which 
process we have called the Pampsychosis, or the 
triune psychical movement of the Universe. 
This movement we may conceive in a general way 
as: (1) Immediate origination, or the absolute 
Will which is one with Thought — God ; ( 2 ) the 
separated and opposite, or the originated — World, 
Nature; (3) the originated as also originating — 
the self -returning one, the Ego, Man. Each of 
the three basic Disciplines proceeds from each of 
these three stages respectively as its creative 
starting-point and pervasive principle, but at the 
same time each contains and unfolds within itself 
all three above-mentioned stages of the Pam- 


The object of the present work is to take up the 
philosophical Discipline, and to show all the prin- 
cipal variations of its Norm from its first ap- 
pearance in ancient Greece till the present time. 

As suggested in the preceding account, it lies 
between the religious and the psychological Dis- 
ciplines, being the middle term or the bridge 
connecting the two in thought, in time, and even 
in space. 

Plainly Philosophy is dual in its relations, be- 
lonofinof both to the before and the after, and 
parted within itself. We shall find this dualism 
to be inherent and characteristic of the philo- 
sophical Discipline throughout, indicating it to 
be the second stage in the total sweep of the 
three Disciplines which thus form a process 
together or a Psychosis, though each has its own 
triune movement within itself thousandfold. 

The philosophical Norm of the formulation of 
the Universe is preceded by the religious Norm, 
and develops out of it, and indeed in reaction 
against it. Hence we have to consider Eeligion, 
the first Disciphne of Man in Thinking, as the 
forerunner and parent of Philosophy. The be- 
i>;imiin£ and end of the relio;ious Norm is the 
Supreme Being as a personal Will which creates 
the Universe by fiat. The primal process of this 
Norm runs somewhat as follows : The Creator 
(God), the created (the World), and finally the 
created (Man) , yet this created one is to return to 
his Creator and recreate Him in his own soul 
through thought and worship. Thus Man's 
religious destiny is that he, the derived and the 
created part of the process of the All, must go 



back and reproduce in Thought the source whence 
he came. The thinking Ego as the founder of a 
Eeligion (Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Mohammed, 
Christ), establishes this religious Norm, and has 
this process, though in very different forms of 
realization. The absolute Person in his imme- 
diate will as Creator is the center and circumfer- 
ance of Being in Asia, which is the original home 
of all the great World-Religions as distinct from 
mere Nature-Religions. Hence we may say in 
general, that the religious Norm developed in the 
Orient, whence it has been transmitted westward, 
the Oriental mind being in its very nature relig- 
ious and creative of Religions. The religious 
Norm has been truly productive in Asia alone 
whose highest thinking spontaneously expresses 
itself in some iovni of Religion. 

Next we may look at the philosophical Norm 
which has developed specially in Europe. It 
seeks for the essence of the Universe or of all 
Being — the abiding Principle, Cause, Law of 
the same (the Universal). All these terms are 
abstractions, not concrete things or persons. 
Hence Philosophy is abstract from the start, 
being a product of abstraction in which man is 
now to be trained. Thinking, therefore, be- 
comes fundamentally abstract through Philoso- 
phy. Again we must note the separation which 
lies in Philosophy and is explicit in its basic 
question: What is the essence of Being? This 


is, then, the dual character of Philosophy in its 
origin, whereby it reflects what we may call the 
European dualism — the twofoldness which runs 
through Europe's Thought and Action from be- 
ginning to end. 

But from what is this abstraction? From the 
creative Self or Person who now is transformed 
into a Principle, Cause, or Essence, which works 
not by will but by its own inherent continuous 
force. This act of abstractinoj from a volitional 
and personal energy and positing a causal and 
impersonal one as the creative principle of the 
All is the primal philosophic act, which still 
further unfolds in its own process, and produces 
many systems of abstract Thought called Philoso- 
phies, all of them containing in some form and 
likewise developing the above-mentioned primal 
abstraction. Philosophy, we again see, is sepa- 
rative, and separates from the first Discipline, 
Religion, and is the abstraction from God, that 
is, from the Oriental conception of God, thus 
giving birth to European Thought or Science far 
back in old Greece, as we shall see when we 
come to the details of the History of Philos- 

The early Greek saw in the Oriental world the 
capricious Will of a ruler made absolute, and 
felt his arbitrary power. There dawned on the 
Greek consciousness the idea of Law, the fixed 
and settled versus the volitional and uncertain in 


a personal Will, be it terrestrial or celestial. 
From the caprice of personality on earth and in 
heaven, thinking Hellas began to turn away and 
to seek the abiding changeless principle which 
has no preference, but treats all alike. Hence 
it comes that the first age of the philosophers is 
also the first age of the lawgivers in Greece, 
who sought to establish a settled institutional 
order and life according to law in the cities 
against the arbitrary rule of the despot, good or 
bad, many, few, or one. 

The strong antagonism of the philosophers to 
the poets, particularly to Homer and Hesiod, 
was grounded in the opposition of the Greek 
Thought to a capricious, autocratic God, who, 
endowed with absolute power, could do as he 
})1 eased with man and the world. As they hated 
the Oriental despotism and as the Greek would 
fight Persian political absolutism, so the philos- 
ojjhers resisted the religious absolutism of Homer 
and the Gods, in whom they saw the Olympian 
counterpart of Oriental tyranny. A lawless 
deity they would put under law somehow, and 
they placed in his stead Cause, Principal, Essence 
as the governing ])rinclple of the All. 

(JrcH'k })hil()s()phy is, accordingly, a re-action 
aii;ainst Oriental absolutism in the form of reli<£- 
ion. It began at Miletus which was politically 
engaged in a struggle for autonomy with the 
Lj'dian monarchs for generations, and then with 


the Persian monarchs, who at last subdued her 

In one sense the Greek thiuker broke with the 
religion, because of its capricious and hence de- 
spotic Kuler. But the real end of his striving 
Avas a deeper religion, whose God was not law- 
less and arbitrary, but institutional and self-legis- 
lative, under whose government there could be 
freedom. He saw no such deity either in his 
own religion or in that of the Orient, and hence 
comes the anti-theistic tendency observable in the 
early Greek philosophers. In fact this remains 
the inherited trouble in all Philosophy down to 
the present time : it is in danger of losing the 
element of personality in its construction of the 
Universe through its eagerness to get rid of the 
caprice of a personal Will, which could not com- 
port with freedom. Negatively, Philosophy too 
can destroy and has repeatedly destroyed freedom 
and also God, the very things which it ought to 
secure and place upon an everlasting foundation, 
in its zeal to affirm the stability of Law against 
divine and human caprice. The Natural Science 
of to-day, in so far as it philosophizes, dwells 
largely in this antinomy between Free-Will and 
the Laws of Nature, and seemingly cannot get 
out of it, though our whole industrial civilization 
shows Man's Free-Will grasping and employing 
these Laws of Nature for the securing of Free- 


Philosophy has hitherto been the interpreter 
of all Being;, hence of all the other sciences, the 
scientia scienfiarum, the knowledge of all knowl- 
edges, the Thought thinking all other Thought. 
The universal principle or essence of things is 
its content, and it has claimed to have the uni- 
versal method. But now Philosophy itself needs 
an interpreter, its dualism is calling for some 
reconciling third principle which will complete 
that deeper process of which it has found itself to 
he only a part or a phase. It has run through 
a line of systems from Thales down to Wundt, 
and to the very last it falls into the same dif- 
ficulty, the same dualism. No new system of Phi- 
losophy can cure this ailment, for as Philosophy 
it will show the same old birth-mark which came 
with it into existence from the first philosopher. 
Hence not a new Philosophy, but a wholly new 
Discipline is demanded, which the struggling 
Thought of the time is seckiug to bring forth 
out of Philosophjs as it once brought forth 
Philosophy out of Religion, This coming Dis- 
cipline we have already indicated to be Psychol- 
ogy in its regenerated form, which is to mediate 
the burning problem of Philosophy. For Phi- 
losophy, though starting in the interest of free- 
dom in the ancient world, has developed into 
contradiction with the freedom of the modern 
world, or has become at least an inadequate 
expression of it. 


So Philosophy, which has been the great inter- 
preter of the thought of civilization hitherto, must 
itself now be interpreted. Its stream of abstract 
categories flowing down through the ages from 
the old Greek world rouses the question, What 
does it all mean? What is the significance of Phi- 
losophy anyhow? The very interrogation calls for 
the interpreter, since Philosophy can no longer 
interpret itself. To be sure it has often declared 
itself to be the self-definer, to be that which ex- 
plains all the world and itself too. This claim 
within limits must be pronounced valid ; for a 
long stretch of time and for a large division of 
the civilized earth Philosophy has been the chief 
exegete of all Being, itself included. But it 
has come to a boundary which it cannot tran- 
scend. There is not one but many Philosophies, 
not one interpretation of the Universe, but a 
long series of them strung along the ages ; hence 
the mind has come to demand. What is the 
interpretation of these manifold interpretations? 
Something underlies them all, some unity creat- 
ing this multiplicity. It is no adequate answer 
to give us simply another Philosophy, for with 
it the same problem again comes to the front. 
Very common indeed is it for the latest philoso- 
pher to regard his system as the grand finality, as 
the true exj^lanation of the Universe and of all 
the antecedent formulations of the Universe. 
But it turns out to have the same fundamental 


limitation which is noticeable in the former 
Philosophies — a limitation which is inherent in 
the philosophic Norm itself and of which the 
time has become conscious, and hence distrust- 
ful. The result is that a deeper change must be 
made, a change to a new Norm and not to a new 
Philosophy which can only be another variation 
on the old Norm. And this new Norm is not 
simply to make an autocratic system of thought, 
but is to train every individual Self to make ulti- 
mately his own system or law and thus be free. 
The History of Philosophy (or of Philoso- 
phies) has, then, as its ultimate end and 
outcome the revelation of the new Norm which 
we have called psychological, and whose total 
process we call the Pampsychosis. Philosophy 
has indeed developed all lesser potentialities of 
Thought, making them real; but it has now 
turned out to be itself a huge potentiality which 
is to be developed into reality. The Pampsy- 
chosis is the lurking potential element Avhich is 
secretly moving in all Philosophy from the be- 
ginning, and which has been impressing upon 
the same its process; we may call it the leading 
motive (the Wagnerian Leit-motif) which more 
or less implicitly runs through and organizes the 
whole sweep of philosophic harmonies from an- 
tique Hellas down to the present. As the Pam- 
psychosis is the end toward which all systems of 
Philosophy are moving and for which they really 


exist, it is the ultimate ground of them- all, and 
hence their final interpreter, or rather it is just 
themselves interpreting themselves. 

The inference is plain that this point of view 
requires the complete reconstruction and re- 
writing of the History of Philosophy. In the 
light of a new Discipline the line of European 
Thinking is to be seen, moving through many 
shapes along down the course of some twenty- 
five centuries to its own self-illuminating end, 
which is just what throws back upon it this light 
of a new Discipline. 


In the philosophic Norm the Self of the phi- 
losopher is not directly introduced, though it is 
just what is doing the work of Philosophy. It 
is the philosophic Ego which is putting all Being 
into its categories, yet leaves itself out of its own 
process. That the essence of all things is the 
Atom, is the declaration of a well-known Philos- 
ophy. But who makes such a declaration and 
what is the source or ground of his making it? 
We may simply answer, Democritus, and there 
stop, quite as the old Greek did. But time will 
develop a deeper question : Democritus the phi- 
losopher tells us what is the essence or cause of 
Being; will not somebody now tell us what is 
the essence or cause of Democritus the philoso- 


l)her himself? The reply is, Philosophy explic- 
itly asks for and unfolds the essence of Being, 
but the essence of the philosopher in formulating 
the essence of Being remains implicit in the 
philosophic Norm, which primarily makes the 
abstraction of essence and unfolds it in the three- 
fold process of universal Being — Nature's Being, 
God's Being, and Man's Being, which are the 
fundamental themes of the great historic stages 
of Philosophy, ancient, medieval and modern. 

It may be here stated that Philosophy begins 
with the Being of Nature or of the Cosmos (the 
World) which is the second stage of the total 
process of the All (the Pampsychosis), since it 
is primarily a reaction against the personal Will 
in creation. Philosophy regards the creative 
principle as immanent in the object, from 
which it is to be separated by thought and 
categorized. The philosophic abstraction moves 
away from a creative principle as transcendent, 
or from a Supreme Will outside and over all to 
the essence or cause which is a thought or an in- 
tellectual principle endowed with power. In 
other words, the creative Intellect now appears 
behind or underneath the creative Will, which 
previously in the religious Norm was immediate. 
Thus Philosophy is to see and to formulate the 
intellectual principle in the Universe, — not mere 
immediate Will, but Will explicitly mediated by 
Intellect or Thought. Such was the new Disci- 


pline which began in ancient Hellas, and" which 
started to training man's Intellect to see the In- 
tellect (or Thought) in all things, Will being 
implied and serving the creative Intellect. The 
Oriental Will was crude, immediate, hence de- 
spotic ; the Greek proposed to have it determined 
both in speculation and in action by Mind, 
Keason, Intellect. So he philosophized Oriental 
relityious absolutism and fought Oriental political 
absolutism, out of which conflict Europe was 

In the religious Norm man posits himself as the 
directly created, and thus as one with created 
Nature, though he is to rise out of Nature and 
return to God. But unconsciously in the religious- 
act he, the created, has to re-produce or in away 
re-create by thought the creator God creating the 
world and himself. So much creative activity 
the follower or worshiper has to manifest, but 
when we consider the originator of a religion we 
find him to be a man (the name of the founder 
is given in all the o-reat world-religions) who has 
made the theogonio and cosmogonic formulas 
of the various cults of the ages, and who must 
accordingly re-make or re-think the Creator 
creating the Universe. Still in the religious Norm 
the creative founder posits himself simply as the 
created, as the merest instrument in God's hands, 
quite without much Will or Intellect of his own, 
so that the supreme deity may be absolutely au- 


tocratic and all-knowing. The founders of the 
great world-religions, notwithstanding, appear 
to have been men of prodigious Will and Intel- 
lect, else they surely could not have done their 

In the religious Norm the thinking Ego (as 
founder) does not posit itself as creative of the 
said religious Norm, though it has created the 
same in thought and formulated it specially ; on 
the contrary, it assigns such Norm to the imme- 
diate creative act of a Supreme Will. In the 
philosophical Norm the thinking Ego (as philos- 
opher) likewise does not posit itself as creating 
the said philosophical Norm, though it has 
created the same in thought and formulated it 
specially; on the contrary, it assigns such Norm 
to an impersonal creative essence or intellectual 
principle primarily and not to the Supreme Will 
of a Person immediately exerted. But in the 
psychological Norm the thinking Ego does posit 
itself as creating its own Norm of the Universe, 
as determining in thought that which determines 
it. In Religion and Philosophy the thinkino- 
selves were implicit though they were doing the 
work of creating their respective Norms, but in 
Psychology, the thinking self explicitly affirms 
itself as the determinant in thought of that 
Norm which as Will and Intellect determines it. 

The general character of the three Norms may 
be indicated as follows : — 

mfRODtJCTtO^. S§ 

1. Miglon — the thinking Self (implicitly) 
posits or takes as its point of departure God or 
the absolute personal Will creating the Universe. 

2. Philosophy — the thinking Self (implic- 
itly) posits or takes as its point of departure 
Cause, Principle, Thought as determining or 
creating the Universe. 

3. Psychology — the thinking Self (explicitly 
now) posits itself as the point of departure, which 
creates in thought the Universe creating it ac- 
tually. Thus the thinking Self has become con- 
scious of itself in its own process. Or, to use 
our technical terms, the Psychosis knows itself 
re-creating thePampsychosis which has created it. 

In Psychology, therefore, Man, the third factor 
of the Norm of the Universe (God, World, and 
Man) receives the emphasis, having been in 
Religion as Oriental and in Philosophy as Euro- 
pean partially suppressed or at least undeveloped 
and unconscious of his complete creative Self- 
hood. But now he asserts himself as the crea- 
tor in thought and the formulator of the new 
Norm of the Universe, the psychological, in 
which the thinker of the thought of the All is not 
to be left out of his own All, but is to be taken 
up into its process which he has found to be es- 
sentially his own or that of his own Ego. 

It will be seen that Psychology is a return to 
Religion from Philosophy, since it goes back to 
the absolute Self out of philosophic abstraction, 


and affirms the same to be creative of the human 
Self creative. Man could not think, he could have 
no form to think with, unless there was the an- 
tecedent Divine Thought, which he is to re-think, 
and so re-create. And we have the right to 
affirm that without this perpetual re-creation 
through Man, God would not be, at least would 
not be what He is. As Philosophy was a reac- 
tion against Theism as capricious, so Psychology 
is, in the given sense a reaction against the anti- 
theistic tendency of Philosophy, seeking, how- 
ever, the return not to a capricious and arbi- 
trary, but to a rational and institutional God, 
who is re-created consciously by the Self which 
he creates, and who, divinely free, wills man's 

The same thought is realized politically in the 
Gov'ernment of the United States. The citizen 
obeys the law, but the very law which he obeys 
he is ultimately to make. He almost worships 
the Constitution, and surely to make a worship- 
ful object is the highest function of a human 
being. Authority undoubtedly determines the 
man, but man is also to determine authority 
henceforth, and so be free. The Psychological 
State is the American, and accordingly different 
from the European and Oriental States. 

Thus the Self or Humanity has begun to attain 
its true worth, and to assert its most fundamen- 
tal right, the right which comes from its rccog- 


nizinsr that it must determine all that determines 
it, recreating its own Creator, making its own 
Philosophy and not taking that of some other 
man, producing or at least reproducing all the 
laws which govern it politically or otherwise. So 
the basic Norm of the All (God, Nature, and 
Man) enters upon its third stage, completing its 
grand triune movement, which embraces spati- 
ally Orient, Europe, and Occident, and spiritually 
the three supreme Disciplines, Religion, Philoso- 
phy, and Psychology, the last of which shows man 
turning and recreating consciously the universal 
Norm of God, World, and himself. 

In Psychology the Self, thus becoming con- 
scious of its supreme creativity, dwells in its own 
eternal presence, as well as in the presence of 
God, who likewise dwells in its presence. God 
is not simply in me, but in my presence, being 
the essence or the very process of all objectivity. 
To know truly any external object, I must know 
Him and His process through my process of the 
Self or Ego. His Will is to will me and my 
freedom, whereby he too is a free God. In 
the Orient I have to be His slave; but Avith 
my enslavement He cannot be free, or only 
capriciously so. One of the supreme functions 
of Psychology is to restore God to free- 
dom out of arbitrariness, out of Oriental 
caprice. You cannot have despotism in Heaven 
and freedom on Earth. The ideal must not 


lag behind and drag down the real, for Religion 
is what ought to keep alive the ideal. Psychol- 
ogy in its new form must drive the despot, even 
though he be benevolent, out of the Universe, for 
its end is freedom, not capricious, but institu- 
tional freedom. The God-consciousness then can 
be restored to man and made harmonious with his 
political consciousness, especially in its Occidental 
stage which has already made valid in institutions 
the principle that man must determine the law 
which determines him and thus be free. 

The Universe sees itself in me, reflects itself 
as process in my process, which is in turn to re- 
flect it in Thought. I, this psychical process 
(Psychosis) go forth to know the All and find 
in it essentially the same psychical process, and 
identify it with myself, which is to know it in 
Thought. That which is Universal bears the 
impress of the Universe and its three-fold 
process, and this is what the thinking Ego 
sees in everything, namely Thought, the Univer- 
sal. This predicate can only be derived from 
the Universe, and is the great category of all 


Philosophy at the present date is not far from 
2,500 years old, and thus has a long period in 
which it can look back at itself, observing its 
greater and its lesser movements as well as seek- 


ing to discover the common underlying principle 
of all these movements. We have already found 
it to be the middle or intermediate Discipline 
between Religion and Psychology, and we may 
now proceed to designate it in its own internal 
process. This is also threefold and bears the 
impress of the fundamental Norm of the Universe 
of which it is a product, yet also a necessary 
stage or part. Philosophy as a member of the 
Universe, must manifest the process of the Whole 
to which it belongs as a member. Its prime 
function is to grasp and formulate the funda- 
mental Norm, expressing the same abstractly as 
the Universal, which is the stamp of the Universe 
on everything, even on the word which you 
speak and which the Ego reproduces in its 
thought, since it too has this Norm active within 

Every leading historian of Philosophy has 
divided its historic movement into three ffreat 
periods : ancient, medieval and modern. It is 
said to fall naturally into these three divisions. 
Still the eager student, since his science is always 
seeking the essence, ground, or cause of things, 
must ask. Why this triple movement? Perhaps a 
simple inspection of the fact is enough; but Phi- 
losophy, if it be true to itself, must search for the 
principle or reason of the phenomenon. Just at 
present, however, Ave may appeal to a consensus 
of the best judges upon this matter, and give a 



brief statement of these three periods. Recol- 
lecting, then, that Philosophy formulates the 
essence of Being to be the Universal, we may 
begin with its first great period. 

1. Ancient Philosophy, which is essentially 
Greek through its whole course, grasps the essence 
of Being as the Universal and develops the entire 
process of the latter within itself. It is the 
great and enduring advantage of Greek Philos- 
opliy that it unfolds freely, without any author- 
ity of State or Church determining its movement 
from the outside. Thus it manifests the pure 
process of Philosophy according to its own inner 
nature. Of course, Greek Philosophy was in- 
fluenced by the time, was indeed the child of the 
age in which it appeared. But it came in its own 
way and in its own right. Hence we may say 
that Greek Philosophy reveals Philosophy as it is 
in itself to all future generations ; never again will 
it be so pure, so unique, so self-contained. It is 
thus a kind of standard in its sphere, which stand- 
ard is, however, to be applied in many different 

Taking as its content the philosophic Norm of 
the Universe Greek Philosophy will unfold within 
itself, by its own innate power, all three stages of 
that Norm, beginning with Nature or the Cos- 
mos, passing to and through Man and then return- 
ing to God or the Absolute One in Neo-Platon- 
ism. Thus it completes its cycle and vanishes 


from the real world, but remains a potent influ- 
ence for all time. From the first it is instinct- 
ively triadal, without knowing the fact it 
develops according to the threefold pattern of 
the underij'ing Norm, till at last the triplicity 
becomes completely external and formal in the 
metaphysical Triads of Proclus, the last Greek 
philosopher of any importance. But the spirit 
of the Age dropping the abstract and empty 
Triad takes up or rather has already taken up 
the full and concrete Trinity, wherewith a new 
philosophical epoch begins. 

2. Medieval Philosophy affirms the essence of 
Being to be the Universal as God, whose process 
is likewise threefold, which fact is declared in the 
Trinity. The fundamental Norm now starts 
with its first member who creates the other two 
members, the World and Man, by an act of 

The great struggle of Medieval Philosophy is 
to make this creative act of God's Will rational, 
and not to let it remain purely capricious as it 
was in the Orient. For this purpose it calls to 
its aid Greek Philosophy, which was primarily a 
reaction against an arbitrary Will placed at the 
center of the Universe. The dogma is given by 
the Church and is immediately accepted by Faith, 
but this given religious element must be made 
philosophical for the Reason. So Greek Philos- 
ophy goes out to service and becomes the hand- 


maid (ancilla) of Religion, losing the independ- 
ent position which she once held in her native 
land. Still, though she be determined on the 
one hand, on the othor she determines and she 
continues to give the form for all thinking. 

Thus Medieval Philosophy is distinctly twofold, 
divided, separative in character, and so belongs 
to the second stage in the great process of 
philosophical history. It moves through various 
phases in seeking to explain the process of God 
as triune, which process is primarily given by 
Faith but is to be translated into metaphysical 
categories originally elaborated by Greek Thought 
for showing the philosophical process which is 
ultimately triadal. That is, the Trinity of Per- 
sons is seen to be grounded on the Triad of 
Thought. Origen, the Christian Theologian, 
developed the former ; Plotinus the Heathen Neo- 
Platonist, and more distinctly Proclus developed 
the latter. 

3. Modern Philosophy begins with the Renas- 
cence, which was a return to the starting-point 
of European culture in order to round itself out 
to its last completion. There was a going back 
to the fountain-head of Greek spirit for a 
rejuvenescence of the world. Philosophy also 
went back and studied afresh Plato and Aris- 
totle, and found in them an expression of the new 
time. Art and Science shared in the grand 
revival through Hellas. But this return must be 


a restoration and not a relapse, a regaining of 
something lost, not an imitation of something 
past. The Kenascence is properly the third 
stage or the completion of a great cycle of the 
World's Thought, of which Greek Philosophy 
is the first stage. The start is not now with 
Nature as in the Greek period, nor with God 
as in the Medieval period, but with Man whose 
Ego or Self is to be philosophized or categorized, 
chiefly in terms of Greek Thought. 

Modern Philosophy posits the essence of 
Beinof to be the Universal as determinino; the 
thinking Ego. Philosophy now begins to put 
its main stress upon the Ego thinking or knowing 
the object, applying to the same its categories 
and finding in the same its process. Its leading 
question is, What determines or causes me as 
thinking Ego to think the object, to think what 
it is, or its essence? In Greek Philosophy the 
question simply is. What is the essence of Being? 
The Greek thinkers found this essence and for- 
mulated it in terms which have lasted. 

Each of the three periods begins with a dif- 
ferent stage of the philosophical Norm. The 
Greek starts with a search for Nature's Being 
(or Being in itself), the Medieval with a search 
for God's Being, the Modern with a search for 
Man's or the Ego's Being. Greek Philos- 
ophy is, therefore, a pure ontology or science 
of Being, Medieval Philosophy is the ontology 


of God, Modern Philosophy is the ontology of 
the Ego, or Self. Thus Greek thought with its 
ontology has been the philosophic determinant of 
both the Medieval and the Modern Epochs. 

But a change is coming. The thinking Ego 
discovers itself as originator, becomes conscious 
that it has posited the essence of Being to be the 
Universal in each of the three great philosophic 
stages. Philosophy has run its course and 
Psychology begins when this formulation rises to 
the surface : the thinking Ego posits itself as 
determining the essence of Being to be the 
Universal which determines it (the thinking 
Ego). This means that I must posit the abso- 
lute power which posits me, that I must deter- 
mine the Norm (God, Nature, and Man) which 
determines me, that I must make the law which 
governs me. With such a conception we pass 
out of the sphere of Philosophy to that of 
Psychology, and instead of a Philosophy of 
Psj^chology we find before us the necessity of a 
Psychology of Philosophy, which is essentially 
our present work. 

In such fashion we bring before ourselves the 
fact that the long travail of European Thought 
called Philosophy has resulted in bringing forth 
a new Discipline, has led up to a realm of 
Thought beyond itself. Great has been this 
training and is not to be dispensed with yet by 
any means ; rather is its true place and value to 


be henceforth more clearly recognized in the 
universal scheme of humanity's education. 
Philosophy has been a school of authority placed 
over man to bring him to make his own author- 
ity even in Philosophy. Looking back through 
its long career, we can see that its end is 
Freedom, that it trains man to make a free 
world in order to make himself free. It unfolds 
into Psychology, which is supremely the free 
science, and therefore just the science of 

part 3ftr9t. 


When we speak of Ancient European or Greek 
Philosophy, we bring before the mind a definite 
movement of Time, having a beginning and end. 
But within this movement of Time lies also a 
movement of Spirit which goes through its periods 
of rise, culmination, decline, and final cessation 
of activity. Moreover Greek Philosophy, thus 
marked out by distinct temporal limits, has its 
special function as a phase or })art of all Philoso- 
phy. The student, as the best fruit of his effort, 
juust attain to some conception of what this long 
discipline of European Spirit means, and dis- 
cover some reason why the mind of our race has 
had to pass through such a strenuous and peculiar 


Philosophy has, in general, to investigate and 
to formulate the essence of all Being, or of the 
Universe whose fundamental Norm it seeks to 
express in speech, or, more definitely, in a cate- 
gory. Now it is Greek Philosophy which first 
makes this Norm explicit as philosophical, and 
applies it in a number of ways, each of which 
gives rise to a system of Philosophy. Still all 
of these systems have fermenting in them and 
seeking for utterance the Norm of the Universe, 
which, when uttered abstractly, can only be some 
form of the Universal. Greek Philosophy is the 
first to say that the essence of Being is the 
Universal — upon which statement a good deal 
is to be said hereafter, since it will embody 
itself in many shapes, being the subtle, ever- 
changing, yet ever-persistent Proteus of Greek 

The history of Greek Philosophy has, there- 
fore, a Time-element and also a Thought-element. 
Which of the two is to rule, the Time or the 
Thought? If we consider the movement of Phi- 
losophy as a line of successive S3'stems in simple 
historic sequence, we make Time the autocrat 
over Thought. If on the other hand we make 
Thought or a certain system of Thought the 
dominant principle by which all other sj^stems 
are explained, it is likely that we shall do violence 
to the free historic development of Philosophy. 
Such are the two extremes which are somehow to 


be reconciled, otherwise each will lame if not 
crush the other. 

The first fact here to be noted is that Philos- 
ophy incorporates itself in individuals, in a long 
line of them stretching down Time. It is the 
Philosopher wdio primordially makes or formu- 
lates the Philosophy. His thought this is, the 
product of an individual brain ; thus the outward 
appearance of the History of Philosophy is a 
gallery of great personalities whose names have 
been preserved as the thinkers of their age and 
as the founders of systems of Thought. They 
are indeed a mighty spectacle and the grand at- 
traction ; they are not to be neglected even on 
their personal side. Then their Thought is to be 
carefully set forth in its independence and in 
its connection, for it, though in itself a Whole, 
is soon found to be a link in a larger Whole, and 
finally in the largest Whole. 

Now the individual philosopher reflects the 
cast of his own mind, the circumstances of his 
life and the trend of his age, in his work. A 
thousand peculiarities flow in and color his think- 
ing, specially the greatness or the smallness of 
his native genius. He unites with others and 
forms a group, which has a common principle 
and produces a school of Philosophy. But it is 
soon seen that he, however colossal he may be, is 
a part of a mightier movement, a member of a 
greater totality than any individual philosopher. 


He, though a process in his Thought, is but a 
stage in a still higher process, which has called 
him forth and also has apparently put an end to 
his existence as this individual thinker. 

So the philosopher lives his time and then 
passes away, having had his period of free activ- 
ity. Yet we find that he has also been influenced 
deeply from the outside, that he has but expressed 
his age with its institutions and its civilization. 
This element is not to be neglected in the History 
of Philosophy, the institutional element of the 
social, political, and religious life of the world at 
the time of any given Philosophy. The grand 
totality of existence is also sweeping through its 
epochs which reflect themselves most faithfully 
and purely in the thinking of the philosophers, 
who are herein subsumed under their own princi- 
ple. For their fundamental doctrine is that the 
essence of Being is the Universal, which every 
individual philosopher has to utter and then pass 
on, being simply an individual. Only insofar as 
he makes himself the vehicle of the Universal, 
will he live, though dead. 

Thus we find that the philosopher,- even in the 
free activity of his inner Self has something 
given him from the outside, or rather imposed 
upon him by an apparent necessity. Into the 
innermost working of his own spirit creeps this 
external power with its behest which he cannot 
help obeying. Indeed it is ingrown into his very 


existence, it is an integral part of his soul, that 
part which he must express. So there rises the 
question, What is this supernal Power, Energy, 
or Being which commands the individual philoso- 
pher to do its bidding, to think its Thought? 

The reader who has followed us hitherto will 
be able, doubtless, to give our answer to this 
question : the universal Power or rather Process 
over the philosopher as well as in him and 
moving him within is what we have called the 
Pampsychosis. Over and beyond the philoso- 
pher it is, beyond his consciousness, yet stirring 
him within unconsciously to make himself a link 
in the chain of the grand totality of Being. 
The moment the system of the individual thinker 
shows itself to be a part or a stage of a still 
larger process, which is beyond his conscious 
purpose, that moment an ordering Power has 
appeared, higher than he is, and working after 
its own Norm and for its own end. At such a 
point the philosopher seems to be whelmed into 
the vortex of Fate, an external Necessity 
apparently seizes his free product, and reduces 
this to a part of its scheme, which scheme is itself 
subjected in turn to a yet larger process. Thus 
a vast movement discloses itself, consisting of 
an ever-enlarging series of processes or cycles, 
which at last complete the total round of the 
History of Greek Philosophy, and of all Philoso- 
phy, and indeed of all the Disciplines. 


This History is, therefore, conceived to move 
forward not merely in a straight line of succes- 
sive systems chronologically arranged, but in a 
chain of self-returning processes which interlink 
while advancing in time, the whole chain likewise 
being a self -returning process. The historical 
evolution of Philosophy is not to be dissolved 
into a broken succession of single systems ; it 
has another and far loftier character. Funda- 
mentally each part reflects the process of the 
Whole or rather of the All . In fact each indi- 
vidual philosopher in his thinking bears the im- 
press of the Universe, for he must think the 
Universal which can only be derived ultimately 
from the process of the Universe. 

Here lies the mediating principle of the above- 
mentioned conflict between the freedom of the 
philosopher from within and the fate of his 
world and of his age overwhelming him from 
without and reducing his work from a Whole to 
a part or phase of a still greater Whole. But 
really the process which he has impressed 
upon his work is reafiirmed by the All or by 
the Universe, which is just this process, and 
which thus pronounces his process to be its 
own. In Eeligion every man or human 
Self is declared to be the Son of God, the 
absolute Self; in Philosophy every philosopher 
thinking and formulating the Universal is taken 
up by and made to share in the process of the 


All, which is primarily his own innermost Self. 
As individual, he is in Time and subject to 
the conditions and occurrences of Time, which 
constitute the element of Fate in his life and 
also in his thinking. He, the self-determined 
internally, is determined externally by the Neces- 
sity of the world, but this world is controlled by 
law, or better, is a part of the total process 
of the Universe which is the absolutely self- 
determined. Thus the individual philosopher 
must do his thinking in Time and have it laden 
with externality and limitation; still upon this 
finite material he impresses the process of the 
Universe and thus makes his thought or his 
system an integral part of that process as actual- 
izing itself in Time. The philosopher who can 
reveal to his own age and temporal environment 
that the essence of all Being is the Universal 
has verily stamped upon Time the ineffaceable 
Image of the Eternal. 

But these eternal Images in Time, namely 
systems of Thought, are like the statues of the 
Gods, multitudinous. The History of Philosophy, 
true to their temporal succession, must also 
be true to their spiritual principle, and em- 
ploy a method which gives due validity both 
to the Time-element and the Thought-element. 
Mere sequence of systems or of persons is 
not enough, though not to be left out; there 
must be in every passing system or person 


the eternal presence of the one fundamental 

These general thoughts pertaining to History 
and to Philosophy we are now to see embodying 
themselves in the History of Greek Philosophy. 
The primal basic fact of it is to see its threefold 
spiritual process unfolding itself in the temporal 
framework of the ages. Accordingly we divide 
the History of Greek Philosophy into three 
Periods, the Hellenic, Hellenistic and the Neo- 
Hellenic, which is indeed the first and all-embrac- 
ino- process of it. To each of these three periods 
we shall devote a few prefatory words. 

I. The Hellenic Period. This embraces the 
first great epoch of Greek Philosophy, from 
Thales to and through Aristotle. It seeks to 
know Being, to find and to formulate its 
principle, which is the One under all multiplic- 
ity. This One is at first simply a physical element, 
as the water of Thales, but it passes through a line 
unfolding concepts or categories till it reaches 
the self -knowing One of Aristotle. This self- 
knowing One is, however, still Being, not the 
individual Ego. 

This first stage of Greek Philosophy, the Hel- 
enic, is national, and has an external movement 
corresponding to Greek History. It is at first 
colonial, starting in the East at Miletus, moving 
West to Italy and Sicily, also shooting up in the 
North, at Abderafor instance (Democritus), and 


finally concentrating itself at Athens, as did the 
Greek political world and all forms of Greek 
Spirit. This concentration becomes profoundly 
internal in Aristotle's philosophy whose highest 
point posits the Psychosis as Being, though not 
as Ego. Such is the great step compassed by 
the Hellenic Period of Greek Philosophy in the 
revelation of the Pampsychosis. The movement 
seeks to discover the principle or inner creative 
element of all Being, that is, the Norm of the 
Universe, and in Aristotle reaches the height of 
seeing and declaring that this universal principle 
is the Thinking of Thinking. 

Moreover Nature (Physis) or the Cosmos is 
the first object of this first Period of Greek 
philosophizing. That is, in Thales thought 
starts with manifesting itself as cosmocentric. 
The investigator hunts after this essence in 
Nature, and seeks to make it explicit in categories. 
But from Nature philosophic interest passes to 
Man in Socrates. 

More definitely stated, the Hellenic Period 
shows that the essence of Being is the Universal 
as self -unfolding, as coming to itself consciously 
out of its unconscious condition. 

But the Universal, having recognized and for- 
mulated itself, moves over into the next Period. 

n. The Hellenistic Period. The Greek Nfi- 
tional Philosophy passes to other nations and 
races, which it hellenizes partly, and is partly 


barbarized by them in turn (barbarized in the 
Greek sense, made non-Hellenic). This move- 
ment is connected with the loss of Greek political 
independence. Greek Philosophy transcends the 
national limit, goes to the Orient with Alexander, 
and moves west to Kome, the seat of univer- 
sal empire. Internally the self -knowing One of 
Aristotle enters the individual and produces 
the wise man, the Philosopher who is universal 
within, and hence ethical. 

If in the previous stage Greek Philosophy con- 
centrates itself in one city and in one mighty 
movement, and shows the forming of the Sun of 
philosophic thought, in the present stage it scat- 
ters itself from that center and rays out over the 
world, having become the irradiating luminary 
of that age and indeed of all succeeding ages. 
Thus it universalizes itself in one sense, yet it 
also individualizes itself, putting its principle into 
the individual and into his conduct, and so moral- 
izing him. 

It should be added that this inner process sepa- 
rates the individual from the City-State of 
Greece; he can no longer remain in immediate 
oneness with his community; he has become a 
citizen of the world, being a Roman. Moreover 
he deems himself to have the God within him ; 
the Aristotelian principle of Being is turned 
from the world into his soul, which has thereby 
in it the self-knowing One. 



Thus the Hellenistic Period of Greek Philoso- 
phy starts with becoming anthropocentric, seek- 
ing to unfold and to formulate the principle 
of Man's Being rather than Nature's Being, 
which was the lirst search in the previous Hel- 
lenic Period. The individual is now to embody 
in himself the true Being of Man. Not Plato, 
not Aristotle is alone to be the philosopher; 
every man is to become a philosopher. It is 
true that both Phito and Aristotle sought to 
construct the philosophic city controlling the 
individual more or less from the outside; but 
such a city must be inside the man. 

We should likewise observe the separative 
character of this Second Period in the multi- 
plicity of philosophic systems which shoot forth 
from the previous movement of Grecian thought. 
The Hellenic Period was rather a succession of 
insights or first principles unfolding in order and 
constituting a great totality Avhich is itself a 
self-developing system. But in the Hellenistic 
Period each of these single insights has a ten- 
dency to build itself out into a system as Stoi- 
cism, Epicureanism, and Skepticism, and finally 
Eclecticism particularly in the Roman world. 

But the prime fact of the Hellenistic Period 
may be stated more succinctly as follows : the 
essence Being is the Universal still, but as indi- 
vidualizing itself, as passing into individuals who 
thus become universal. But from these universal 


ones there is a going back to the one Universal 
of Aristotle and Plato, and even beyond them. 
Hence the next. 

III. The JSFeo-HeUenic Period. This is a 
return to Hellenic Philosophy whose self-know- 
ing One has been divided into many self-know- 
ing Ones (individuals) with their varied develop- 
ment of centuries. So Neo-Hellenic thought 
posits the principle of Being anew as the One, 
yet not now as over the many physical ones but 
as over the many self- knowing Ones. The One 
or Being of Plotinus is, accordingly, above all 
forms of conscious mind, and projects them into 
existence, downward out of itself. 

Hence Neo-Hellenic Philosoph}^ strives for a 
principle of Being which is beyond all self-con- 
sciousness. The self-conscious One of Aris- 
totle (noesis noeseos) fell back, or perchance fell 
forward, into a multiplicity of self-conscious 
ones in Hellenisticism ; hence the absolute One 
(or God) must be l)eyond them, attainable not 
by Reason, but by Trance or Ecstas3^ The One 
of the third period of Greek Philosophy is 
supra-rational; Reason (Nous) is supra-sensible; 
the soul (Psyche) is supra -natural. Thus there 
is the lapse from above to the soul which still 
further lapses to body and matter. 

Such is the tremendous struggle, truly 
ecstatic, to recover the One of Greek spirit, the 
pure Being which was veritably its essence, the 


Universal. We call it a return and so it was — 
a return to the primal soul of Hellas through the 
grand separation. It was a return to Plato and 
hence often called Neo-Platonic ; but it was like- 
wise a return to Aristotle and also to Pythagoras. 
The world was becoming Christian ; Neo-Hellen- 
ism was a going back to Heathen Greece, an 
attempted renewal of Heathendom by ingrafting 
the Gods upon Plato and Aristotle. Thus it 
conflicted with Christianity on the one side, yet 
paved the way for Christian Scholasticism on 
the other. 

Plotinus (Neo-Platonist) has the Psychosis, 
he employs it and sees it as the movement of 
Being or the object; but he does not recognize 
it as the movement of the Self or the subject, 
though just his Self is what is beholding and 
indeed creating this Psychosis of Being. Plotinus 
is the self-conscious One who knows and formu- 
lates the absolute One above all self-conscious- 
ness ; this is the special form of his dualism, which 
dualism in one shape or other is common to all 
European Philosophy. 

The first stage of Greek thinking has the 
Psychosis implicit in it till Aristotle, who reaches 
the point of seeing and even stating it, though 
he does not apply it. Plotinus, however, knows 
it and applies it, but still as Being, which he 
sometimes calls God, still this God cannot be a 
person, since He must be above i)oi'son. 


Greek Philosophy has as its end to make the 
Psychosis explicit as Being and in Being. This 
is necessarily the final result and conclusion of 
the thought of the Greeks, which strove to find 
the Being of all Being, to behold the essential 
Being in Being. Proclus, the last philosopher 
of this period, has the Psychosis explicit as on- 
tological, but not at all as psychological, nor 
even as theological. Doubtless intimations of 
both these last principles we may find in him, 
but not definite, not distinctly elaborated. 

Thus we behold the three completed stages or 
periods of Greek Philosophy — Hellenic, Hellen- 
istic, Neo-Hellenic — which in themselves form 
a Psychosis, making a very important cycle of 
the total movement of Philosophy. It has been 
and will remain the great intellectual training- 
school of mankind, teaching all who endeavor to 
think the thought of their race what is the creative 
essence of the world, or, more technically, the 
Psychosis of Being. The pedagogical value of 
Greek philosophy is of the highest, provided we 
get out of it its true discipline, which consists 
not in erudite details or a mere collection of 
curious opinions in chronological order. If we 
can bring away from its study the psychical pro- 
cess inherent in all existence, we have learned 
something of the hio-hest worth. 

There is a sense of completeness about Greek 
philosophy which makes it akin to Greek art. 


A well-rounded, finished, plastic shape we may 
concede to it as a whole ; it is like the totality of 
Homer embracing the Iliad and the Odyssey in 
one completed cycle of action, which takes up 
in its movement many special events and charac- 
ters, harmonizing them all into one grand poetic 
organism. In like manner Greek PhiU)soph>% 
though extending through so long a stretch of 
time and showing a vast multiplicity of princi- 
ples and systems, reveals an organic Whole, a 
complete philosophic edifice. 

Greek Philosophy will have much to do with 
the Universal ; in fact, the whole Hellenic Period 
is the Greek mind coming to it and getting 
aware of it. The Universal is the process of the 
Universe separated by Thought and categorized ; 
it is the fundamental Norm of the All, seized by 
the philosopher, abstracted from the reality and 
given an abstract name. But the philosopher is 
an individual living at a particular epoch, and 
determined by his environing world. The result 
is that his statement of the Universal is an indi- 
vidual one and falls into Time. Thus arises the 
series of philosophical systems which form the 
subject-matter of the History of Philosophy. 
Still all these different systems have in them a 
principle which is eternally the same within, but 
is seeking a more adequate self-expression, and 
hence has begotten this long line of Philos- 
ophies. Such a principle is the Pampsychosis, 


which must be grasped not merely as a process 
but as a psychical process. Or, as we have 
before stated, it is not simply the individual 
Psychosis, or Self, but the All-Psychosis, the 
process of the Universe as Self or psychical, 
which the philosopher, who is the individual 
Psychosis, or human Ego, seizes and formulates 
in his thinking, whereby he makes a Philosophy. 
For this Ego of mine and yours bears in itself 
ideally and implicitly the process of the Universe 
which it has to make explicit and actual in order 
to attain true selfhood. So it comes that the 
movement of Philosophy shows on the one hand 
the movement of the human Ego or Psychosis 
toward its supreme self-realization, and on the 
other the movement of Pampsychosis toward its 
highest self-expression in Thought. Such a 
development, as already indicated, carries us 
finally out of Philosophy into the new Discipline. 
At present, however, the first task is to take 
up Greek Philosophy in its first Period, and to 
show its unfolding in Time as well as its process 
in Thought. 


What we call the Hellenic Period of Greek 
Philosophy begins with Thales and ends with 
Aristotle. It is the greatest epoch in all Philos- 
ophy, since the latter was not only created in this 
time, but manifested its complete Norm, accord- 
ing to which it has ever since proceeded and 
unfolded. Hence the Hellenic Period is the 
most important for the student of Philosophy; in 
it he has the substance of the whole science, 
culminating in its greatest names, Socrates, 
Plato and Aristotle. 

From the Thales to Aristotle is a gradual 
ascent from the foot to the top of the mountain, 
which is not only the highest elevation but also 
the most complete concentration of Hellenic 
thought. What Thales starts with unconsciously. 
Aristotle employs consciously ; the old Milesian 


philosopher assumes that there is an essence of 
Being, and states it in his fashion; but the later 
Attic philosopher explicitly and purposely grasps 
that essence of Being and elaborates it into a 
science which lies at the basis of all thino;s. 
Hence it conies that the investigator of early 
Greek Philosophy looks back at it primarily 
thi'ough the eyes of Aristotle and his categories. 
For it was he who first became fully aware of the 
Greek philosophical movement and sought to 
express it in the terms of abstract thinking, 
which is indeed the creation of this Hellenic 
Period. Man now begins to separate the cause, 
the law, the principle, the essence from the 
immediate Being of the World, and to utter the 
same in human speech. Great and far-reaching 
is the discipline of the race in making these 
abstractions of pure Thought, of seeking to dis- 
cover and to express what truly is, namely the 
essence. It is man's grand process of self-sepa- 
ration from immediate unity with nature in which 
he had been hitherto chiefly a physical link. But 
he makes the abstraction of himself as thinking 
and holds this thought of his up before himself 
as the true Being against the apparent Being of 
nature. Here he is asserting himself in his 
thinking as the determiner of the world, instead 
of being determined by it. Thus Philosophy 
gives forth an early note of man's freedom, even 
if not a complete expression thereof. 


It is, then, Aristotle who is more fully aware 
of this abstraction of the Hellenic spirit than 
any other Greek, and who has consequently been 
able to formulate it the best. Specially in his 
Metaphysics he has the one theme to which he 
always comes back from his wildest digressions : 
the true Being of all things, or their essence. 
He turns it over in many ways and gives to it 
many names, such as Real Being, Primal Being, 
Being as Being. Thus he strives to reach the 
Being underneath all Being, to which he gives 
also the name essence or substance, as well as 
cause, principle, element, etc. 

Through all these diverse categories we need 
not follow him, but we can select two, which are 
enough for our present purpose, namely. Essence 
and Being, which are to be united in the pivotal 
phrase, the Essence of Being (in Greek the 
ousia of the on). So important is this expres- 
sion, containing as it docs the creative germ of 
all Greek philosophizing, that wo shall devote to 
it specially a few pages of exposition. 

Hellenic Philosophy, accordingly, from the 
start has before it some conception of Being, 
which it is seeking to formulate in words, or to 
put into a detinition or category. What is Be- 
ing? may be taken as the fundamental question 
of Greek Thought. This What calls for some- 
thing back of Being which explains it, calls for 
a Being which will enable us to know Being. 


Thus the starting-point of Philosophy is Ji 
dualism, the division of Being into two sorts of 

The Greeks will begin to name these two sorts 
of Being, related yet different. The tirst or 
simple Being is on or to on (the neuter participle 
of the verb einai, to be) ; the second Being 
which is to explain, or perchance to unfold, or to 
bring forth the tirst, is ousia (a noun derived from 
the feminine participle of the same verb einai, to 
be), and usually translated hy the words essence 
or substance. It is well for the modern student 
using a different language to bring before his 
mind the linijuistic suo-gestion contained in these 
terms for the Greek who first employed them. 

The principal pro1)lem, then, of Greek Philos- 
o})hy is to find and to state the ousia of the on, 
or as we have to translate it in words far less 
concrete, the essence of Being. We shall, how- 
ever, often use the Greek words in expressing 
this Greek problem, deeming that the student 
will thereby obtain ultimately a more definite 
idea of the subject. 

The question. What is the ousia of the on, 
calls for an answer ; this answer brings out the 
third principle expressed in speech, or the cate- 
gory specially. Greek Philosophy will give 
many answers to the above question, showing a 
line of many categories from its beginning to its 
end ; a chief function of it is to order and to in- 


terrelate these categories. One will be Water, 
and another Number, still another the Becomingf. 
Thus the temple of Greek Philosophy may be 
considered a Pancategoreon, in striking parallel 
with the Greek Pantheon, or the total temple of 
Greek Religion containing the many Gods who 
likewise evolve out of one another in the Mj^thus. 

Accordingly the ousia of the o)i is expressed 
in a category by the philosopher, who therel)}^ 
founds a special philosophy. This category is 
called the first principle (^arche) or the cause 
(ai/lon) or the element (sfoicheion) or the defini- 
tion (orismos). Under all these terms and others 
besides the student is to detect and to hold 
fast to the one main matter : the philosopher is 
seeking to express the ousia of the on (the es- 
sence of Being) in a category. 

And it may be well to note for the sake of the 
future that it is the philosophic Ego which is do- 
ing all this work, which is the secret demiurge 
categorizing the ousia of the on and thereby start- 
ing to transform the Universe into a S3^stem of 
Thought. When Anaximines said, air is the first 
principle of all things, or is the ousia of the on, 
he threw daringly the whole Universe into one 
category which expressed for him at least, the 
essence of all Being. Mark again his Ego, for 
it is the bold categorizer who is not content with 
mere immediate Being but seeks to penetrate and 
utter its essence. 


Three basic terms we have designated which 
together express the process of primal philosophic 
thought. First we place on which is Being as 
immediate, present, the given, possibly the sensu- 
ous ; the second is ousia. Being separated in itself, 
the Being of Being, or the Essence of Being, or the 
inner Being; third is the special Category which 
utters (or outers) this inner Being in anew Being 
which is speech and is the principle or element or 
thought of a Philosophy. We call this third the 
special Category, since the two others are also 
cateo-ories in a sreneral sense. Moreover it should 
be noted that this special Category connects with 
the first (the on) and thus becomes a new Being 
in the world, but mediated through the second, 
ousia or essence. Thus we have the three funda- 
mental stages or acts of the psychical process of 
the Ego (immediate, separative, returning), ob- 
servable in the on, ousia, and the category 

This somewhat detailed statement, which gives 
the general formula of all Greek philosophizing 
from Thales up to Aristotle and down again to 
Proclus, may be illustrated by a concrete exam- 
ple. When Heraclitus declared that all Being 
had as its essence the Becoming, he went through 
the preceding triple process, giving the on, the 
ousia and the special category. Moreover this 
process was fundamentally that of his own Ego 
or Self, for he had no other means of finding or 


recognizing such, a process of Being. It is true 
that Heraclitus was not conscious of his own Ego 
performing this movement, nor was any Greek 
Philosopher fully so, from first to last. Indeed 
the complete seK-awareness of the Ego as the 
creator of objective Being belongs to the modern 
world, really to the latest phase of the modern 
world, the Occident, Still the Ego of old Herac- 
litus, all unknown to itself, projected out of 
itself the foregoing process of Being. 

Aofain, Plato declares that the Idea, the so- 
called Platonic Idea, is the eternal, unchangeable 
essence of all Being, which latter is, on the con- 
trary, the transitory, the phenomenal. That is, 
Idea is the fundamental category of the Platonic 
system. The student will here note again the 
above mentioned process : Plato, asking himself 
the basic question of Greek Philosophy, What 
is the ousla of the on? answers his question by 
showing it to l)e expressed in the category Idea. 

One may observe in the present connection 
that the on is what is immediate, what is given 
to the mind from the outside, perchance visible, 
while the onsia is something called for by the 
mind and even produced by it, something there- 
fore intellectual and lying back of the on. The 
human spirit passing from the on to the ousia 
has begun its great philosophic quest, lasting 
thousands of years already, and seemingly not 
yet ended. Keally, let it be said here in advance, 


the spirit in this quest is seeking to find itself, or 
to know itself as the true ousia of the ow, or as 
the essence of Being, which essence it finally 
thinks to be just its own process of thinking. 

Here another example suggests itself , in a num- 
ber of respects the greatest name in Greek Phi- 
losophy, Aristotle. He throws many forms of 
Being into categories, he is indeed the grand cat- 
egorizer of the Greek world. But in a supreme 
moment he uttered his supreme category of the 
essence of Being, namely noesis noeseos, literally 
the Thinking of Thinking, or Thought thinking 
Thought. Thus Aristotle predicates the ousia of 
the 071 to be the noesis noeseos, which may be 
fairly considered the highest point that Hellenic 
Philosophy attained. For the Greek thinker 
has now discovered that his much hunted ousia 
is not simply some other form of external Being, 
but is Thought, yea the very process of Thought 
as such, or Thought thinking Thought. Still let 
it be remembered that this category expresses not 
the subjective Ego in the modern self-conscious 
sense, but is the utterance simply of the objec- 
tive principle or essence of all Being; that is, it 
is still a category of the ousia of the 07i, and 
another answer to the fundamental question of 
Greek Philosophy. That old thinker in Athens, 
however, has reached the point of seeing that his 
Thinking is one with the inner process of all 
Being, is indeed the essence of the objective 


world, which latter is accordingly in its inner- 
most nature a Thinking of Thinking, not exactly 
as the subjective individual Ego but as the true 
Being of Being. 

To keep alive the process in this matter, the 
order of the three terms should not be neglected : 
on the first, ousia the second, and the special 
category the third. Thus we identify this triple 
process as the ever-recurring fundamental Psy- 
chosis underlying and generating Greek philo- 
sophic thought. This implicit creative Psychosis 
is what is to become explicit and conscious in the 
long discipline of Hellenic Spirit. 

This same tendency to find and formulate the 
essence of Being we may see in the ancient Greek 
lawgiver, who arose with the philosophers and 
belonged to the same spiritual movement. He 
took a mass of traditions, customs and prescrip- 
tive regulations, and out of these he extracted 
the essence which was his code of laws. Solon 
the lawgiver was also called a philosopher, and 
other philosophers are reputed to have given laws 
to their respective cities. The Law written, 
fixed, stable, instead of the capricious will of the 
absolute monarch, was the chief product of the 
Greek political consciousness, and was one phase 
of its reaction against a personal ruler like the 
Oriental despot. One form, then, of the essence 
of Being is the Law of the State. 

In like manner the Greek poet of this Period 


took the Mj^hus of his people, more or less 
chaotic and disconnected, and he unfolded the 
essence of it, thereby producing his poetic work, 
whose material he did not create, but trans- 
formed. More particularly sculpture, the truly 
Greek art of the present Hellenic Period, was a 
striking example of unfolding and forming the 
essence of Being. The sculptor Phidias would 
take the rude block of marble, which was Being as 
immediate or natural, and hew out of it the form 
of the God Zeus, the creative essence of all 
things, even of the block of marble from which 
he was made. So the sculptor or the artistic 
Ego seeks for the essence or the creative Self, and 
puts it into visible shape, while the philosopher 
is striving to find and to formulate the essential 
principle in the world of objects ; the outcome 
of the one is a statue, of the other is a category. 
Still each in his own way is seeking to reach and 
to formulate the essence of Being. 

So much for the germinal idea of Greek phi- 
losophy and indeed of all philosophy, to which 
idea with its formula we shall often recur, since 
it is that which generates the whole science, 
and hence is the fundamental thino: to be ac- 
quired. But now we shall return to the special 
subject of the present Chapter, which is the Hel- 
lenic Period of Greek philosophy. K we look 
at the total sweep of this Period we observe its 
rise from taking a sensuous element as the 



essence of Being to taking the Concept, the 
Universal, or Thought (and indeed the Thought 
of Thought), as the essence of Being. It has 
three distinct stages which together make up its 
movement and are as follows : — 

I. Elementalism . The process of Being is 
elemental, since its essence is taken to be an ele- 
ment, which belongs to Nature, and is physical, 
sensuous and continuous. Or the principle of 
Nature as Being is an immediately given, natural 
object or element as substrate. This stage will 
show the Psychosis of Being as elemental or 

Here the essence of Being (the ousia of the 
oil) is categorized, but the category or concept 
belongs to Nature or is immanent in some ele- 
ment of it. But now we are to see this process 
turn about to its opposite : instead of the concept 
remaining an element, the element becomes 
a concept and no longer is of Nature, but is of 

II. Atomism. The process of Being is atomic 
or individual. The Atom is conceived to be in- 
divisible, unchangeable, indestructible, and so is 
a concept, visible onl}' by Mind, even when it is 
supposed to be material (as is the Cosmical Atom 
of Leucippus). The essence of Being is now 
the Atom or the Individual (both are etymolog- 
ically the same). In all Atomism we have a 
twofoldness : the concept and the Individual, 


which are in a process with each other. • From 
considering the Atom or Individual as a concept 
we pass to considering the concept as something 
individual (sophisticism). But the concept is 
universal and has itself as its own content ; with 
which statement we have already passed into the 

III. Universalism . The process of Being is 
universal. Thus the essence .of Being now is 
not an element nor an atom, but is the Universal 
as concept. The third stage returns to the first 
and grasps its own process therein as the essence 
of Being. The movement now is the process of 
the Universal unfolding the universal process of 

Already in the starting-point of Thales the 
Universal is present and working, but potential 
and implicit. When he declares that the essence 
of Being is the element water, we may supply 
the implicit Universal in his statement as follows : 
the essence of Being is the U7iiversal as the 
element water. For he is unconsciously seeking 
the Universal, or the principle of all things, 
though he puts it into something wholly alien. 
But when Socrates ushers in the stage of Uni- 
versalism, he declares the essence of Being to be 
the concept or the Universal in itself. That is, 
what was before implicit, is now explicit; the 
third stage returns to the first stao;e and drags 
out to light its covert meaning, which is the 


propelling cause of all Philosophy. In the 
Hellenic Period, Thought at last comes to 
recognize itself as the essence of all Being, or 
as the Universal, which though present in the 
previous stages, was unrecognized and unformu- 


I. Element ALiSM. 

Thus we seek to concentrate in a single word 
the first stage of the Hellenic Period, which stage 
is also a process within itself consisting of several 
stages. Hence we develop the thought of Ele- 
mentalism into the following sentence : it is the 
Process of Being as elemental. The essence or 
principle of Being (the ousia of the on) is an 
element taken from or connected with Nature. 
As this process of Elementalism is likewise a 
psychical one — which is indeed the ultimate fact 
of it — we shall also call it at times the elemental 
Psychosis. Such a designationis verily far-reach- 
ing, since it suggests the underlying principle 
which interlinks this stage with all Philosophy. 

The early Greek philosophers began with 
Nature as the fountain of Being and sought to 
discover and formulate its essence or principle. 
Hence these first thinkers are called physicists or 
physiologists b'y Aristotle and other later phi- 
losophers. Their primal struggle was with the 
religious or mythical conception of the world, 
which world they would remove from the per- 
sonal caprice of a Creator, and put under a fixed 
principle or law. This is very intimately con- 


nected with the Greek reaction against Oriental- 
ism, which politically believed in the one ruler 
of the State, autocratic, personal, and hence 
capricious. The Greek began the rule of Law 
for the State as well as for the cosmos. He 
fought for and thought for autonomy which was 
to be immanent in his city and in his universe. 
Such a struggle could start only on the border- 
land between Europe and Asia. Accordingly we 
find these two kinds of autonomy first asserted 
in the Greek cities along the coast of Asia 
Minor, which struggled for their independence 
against the autocratic domination of the Lydian 
and Persian Monarchs, and began to think of the 
cosmos as governed and ordered by a principle 
or by a fixed Law. The conflict of societies and 
institutions called forth the first Philosophy, and 
indeed every succeeding Philosophy, which means 
anything to anybody. Every great social and 
institutional change must have in some form 
its Philosophy, which utters its essence or crea- 
tive thought in its own categories. Now Philos- 
ophy itself arose from the deepest of all social 
and institutional changes hitherto made in his- 
tory — that between Orient and Europe, the latter 
being represented in its earliest period by Hellas. 
Such IS the philosophic starting-point on the 
Eastern rim of the Hellenic world, where the 
latter rasped against the Orient. This rim engird- 
lino; continental or central Hellas with a circle 


of cohmies which had rayed out from that center 
eastward, westward, northward, southward, is to 
be particularly noticed, as these colonies are the 
birth-places of all the early Greek Philosophies 
without exception. It is a significant fact that 
not old Greece but new Greece began to philoso- 
phize, that not Athens and Lacedemon but the 
Ionic and Doric colonies first broke forth into 
Philosophy. The most aspiring, adventuresome, 
and liberal spirits form usuaily the colonists of 
a people, while the more timid and conservative 
stay at home. To leave the native town in these 
early days, to grapple with the sea, and to wrest 
land from barbarous possessors both required 
and developed a hardy and a daring character. 
It is no wonder then that the great spiritual 
break from the old to the new was made by the 
colonies, whose inhabitants had already snapped 
the ties of their native land, and had asserted 
their personal courage and self-sulficingness. 

The next curious point in this connection is 
that Philosophy will not stay on the eastern 
borderland of Hellas where it arose through 
attrition with the Orient, but is borne across 
the sea from Asia Minor to Italy, yea to the 
western coast of Italy where it springs u}) at 
Elca in a School opposite in place and in thought 
to the Eastern or Ionic School at Miletus. 
This second or Eleatic School is supposed to 
represent Dorism versus lonism, and thus to 


indicate the great split which runs through the 
Hellenic world. We must grant some truth to 
this statement; still it is not to be forgotten 
that Elea was an Ionic colony (doubtless with 
a strong Doric admixture) from Phocaea in Asia 
Minor, and that Xenophanes the founder of the 
Eleatic School was an Ionian from Colophon. 

Another fact here to be mentioned is that these 
colonies will be joined together in an overarching 
philosophic movement which connects east and 
west. Then a northern colony, Abdera, will 
contribute its Philosophy which is the Atomism 
of Leucippus and Democritus . Finally a southern 
colony, Cyrene, will give a modest contribution 
called the Cyrenaic school, which was founded by 
Aristippus, a pupil of Socrates. Thus the peri- 
phery of colonial Philosophy is fairly complete, 
though its most fruitful portion lay in the east 
and west, whence it will gradually move to the 
rising center of the Greek world, Athens, and 
pass from its centrifugal to its centripetal period. 

Having thus considered the topographical re- 
lations of these early Greeks philosophies, we 
may next glance at their chronological relations. 
Here the uppermost fact is that nearly all of them 
are substantially contemporaneous. Unquestion- 
ably the Milesian Philosophers are first in time, 
while the great Athenian Philosophers are later. 
But l)etween these two schools lie all the early 
Greek systems, in a period of little more than 


fifty years. The exact dates of their foundation 
and development cannot be given, but their cul- 
minating period can be stated as the middle half 
of the fifth century B. C. 

From this fact comes the following result : 
These systems have to be ordered according to 
their thought quite independently of their time of 
origin. Very treacherous is any chronological 
arrangement of them. Moreover, some Philoso- 
phies, like some individuals, mature rapidly, 
others slowly. That is, one philosopher may be 
older in years than another, but later in his 
thought. Some such principle Aristotle himself 
acknowledges in reference to these early Greek 
thinkers, though he lived hardly more than a 
century after them, knew their writings and was 
in line with their traditions. Comparing Empe- 
docles and Anaxagoras he says {Met. I. 3, 984 a) 
that the latter " was before the former in age, 
but was after him in his works," that is, more 
advanced in his thought. In other words chro- 
nology, even if we knew it exactly (and Aris- 
totle must have known it much more exactly 
than we do), is not to determine the order of the 
systems of these Greek philosophers. To be 
sure the element of time need not be wholly 
eschewed, but it cannot in the present case de- 
termine their succession. The Philosophies, 
then, which lie between Anaximines, the last of 
the Milesians, and Socrates, the first of the 


Athenians, are not to bo ordered according to 
time-relations, but according to thought-relations, 
being substantially synchronous in their origin and 
development as far as we know them at present. 

Thus from the rim of the Hellenic world and 
not from its center Philosophy seemed to burst 
out almost at once in different forms and in dif- 
ferent places. Separately, yet quite contempo- 
raneously, these diverse systems of thought 
si)rang up and showed an inner process with one 
another. How shall we account for these strange 
philosophical phenomena, which, outwardly so 
disconnected in locality, nevertheless manifest al- 
ways an interior line of close relationship in their 
common national character? 

To answer this question we must grasp the fol- 
lowing thought : the total Hellenic soul was phi- 
losophizing, not simply one little corner of it in 
this place or that. The soul, we say, in the wdiole 
body of Hellas had felt the need of an utterance 
in thouirht, and this utterance broke forth almost 
simultaneously around the border of the entire 
Greek territory, where life was most active and 
progressive, and consequently where the earliest 
and strongest demand for self-expression had 
arisen. Now this total Hellenic soul would utter 
one phase of itself at Miletus, another at Elea, 
still another at Al)dcra, and so on, according to 
the human vehicle and the circumstances, still 
such a phase would belong to the whole and be 


determined by it. Moreover all these different 
phases called Philosophies are required to express 
the total Hellenic soul in its complete process, 
which is indeed the fundamental process ordering 
these various Philosophies. Herein we may see 
the interior line of connection between the early 
Greek systems, and in fact all Greek systems, 
and really all Philosophy from beginning to 
end. Underneath the diversity of systems of 
thought the soul of the nation or of the age or of 
the world is working, and perchance wrestling to 
speak itself out in adequate utterances which will 
show various stages of the one ultimate psychical 
process, which stages are the particular philoso- 
phies of the period. 

In this manner what we have called the Para- 
psychosis will give the first philosophic revelation 
of itself in the epoch before us, bringing forth 
and ordering after its own inner self the mani- 
fold and seemingly disconnected philosophic 
principles continually rising to the surface. For 
the Hellenic soul is psychical, yea in the case 
before us pampsychical, and its expression is not 
simply for Greece and the present but for Europe 
and the future. 

Thus there is a total Greek Philosophy express- 
ing itself in the different particular Philosophies 
blossoming as separate flowers around the edge 
of the Hellenic estate. That is. Philosophy first 
individualizes itself in the individual philosophers, 


each with his special principle. But all these 
principles are to be united in one process ere we 
can catch the movement of the total Hellenic soul 
philosophizing, which is the great object of our 
vision in the present search . 

Such is, in general, the ground of the divi- 
sions of the subject before us. But now we 
return to the starting-point of the present por- 
tion of Greek Philosophy which we have called 
Elementalism, or the Elemental Psychosis. This 
we shall find to be a psychical process with its 
three stages. These we designate as follows : — 

I. The Milesian Movement (East-colonial), 
whose principle is Being as a particular sensuous 

II. The Eleatic Movement (West-colonial), 
whose principle is Being as a universal sensuous 
element, or abstract Being with a sensuous sub- 
strate (Space). 

III. The Inter-connecting Movement (Inter- 
colonial), whose principle is Being as Becom- 
ing, which will pass through three different 
phases, yet all of them elemental. 

The characteristic common to eachstao;e of this 
process is the element as sensuous ; the principle 
or essence of all things is declared to be ele- 
mental, to be a given sensuous element, which 
is not always material, since Space we call a sen- 
suous element of Nature though it is not mate- 
rial. Hence the pure or abstract Being of the 


Eleatics belongs in the present division, since it 
has Space as its sensuous substrate. These 
points will come out more fully in the following 

More formally stated, Elementalism affirms 
that the essence of all Being; is the Universal 
as an element of Nature, which thus becomes a 
category of Thought. For Elementalism, simple 
and sensuous as it is, would not be Philosophy 
unless it grasped and categorized the Universal 
in some form, which is here elemental. 

A. The Milesian Movement. 

The first Movement of Philosophy as a Euro- 
pean Discipline is placed at Miletus in Asia Minor 
during the sixth century B. C. It is a Move- 
ment, not some isolated bits of reflection (like 
those of the so-called Seven Wise Men) , and is fol- 
lowed by many philosophic Movements reaching 
down to the present time. At Miletus, then, the 
human mind has begun the persistent inquiry 
after the Essence, Law, Cause or Principle of all 
things, and has given the first answer to the 

This city, Miletus, was a colony of Athens, 
hence was an offshoot of the Greek race in 
Europe, which for a time outgrew and out- 
ranked the parent in commercial and intellec- 
tual greatness. Strewn along the same coast 


of Asia Minor were many otlier Greek colonies, 
Ionic, Doric, Aeolic, all of them alert mentalh% 
full of business enterprise, and daring navigators ; 
they had grappled with the sea, making it a means 
of communication, and in manifold ways subject- 
ing it to their will. A great new epoch was dawn- 
ing in these groups of political communities, 
connected by water, otherwise independent and 
autonomous or seeking desperately their auton- 
omy. It may be said that in these cities Occi- 
dental freedom was in the process of being born 
politically, along with the inner freedom of phi- 
losophic thought. For the first time in the history 
of mankind we hear that world-encompassing 
word Democracy spoken among these cities and 
made an object of aspiration. Miletus, the great- 
est of them, was, for a while at least, a Democ- 
racy, doubtless crude and rude enough, still the 
people there had the desire and in part the power 
to govern themselves. An interior line of con- 
nection we may well trace between this rise of 
political Freedom with the rise of Philosophy. 

In the Milesian Movement three individual 
philosophers stand out prominent as its support- 
ers, and their doctrines are recognized to have 
an internal connection, yes, to form a process 
together. Their common principle is often called 
hylozoism, which means that matter is alive, that 
there is no separation between matter and life. 
The cosmos is an animal, and the First Principle 


or Essence is not dead, but living and creative, 
even if it be an element. 

The three Milesian philosophers are Thales, 
Anaximander, and Anaximenes, whose doctrines 
are in some respects not very certain, but may be 
given in their leading outlines as follows. 

1. Thales. — The name of Thales of Miletus 
heads the list of European philosophers, who 
succeed him in a line substantially unbroken 
down to the present. Authorities differ in re- 
gard to the exact dates of his birth and death, 
but his chief period of activity, political, scien- 
tific and philosophic, must have lain in the first 
half of the sixth century B. C. He must have 
been a mature man in 600 B. C. ; he saw his 
native city together with that rising Greek world 
along the coast of Asia Minor put under the 
yoke of an Oriental Monarch, Croesus, king of 
Lydia ; then he probably had the satisfaction of 
seeing this same Croesus subjected to another 
and greater Oriental Monarch, Cyrus of Persia. 
All of which is told in a fresh, simple-hearted 
style by the Father of History, ancient Herodotus, 
who regarded this conflict between Croesus and 
the Greek cities of the coast as the opening 
struggle of Orient w^ith Occident, and as the 
origin of History, which may thus be said to 
have been definite!}^ born at the same time and 
place with Philosophy. Besides these two we 
should also chronicle the birth of Natural Science 


at the same time and place. Thus the three 
great disciplines of European culture appeared 
together (Philosophy, History, and Natural 
Science), and were chiefly cultivated by the same 
class of men, being sprung of the same great 
movement of human spirit. Thales, for instance, 
was active as statesman, scientist and philoso- 
pher. Evidently an integral man bearing the 
whole soul of his period. 

Undoubtedly we may find in the Orient numer- 
ous traces, sometimes important, though usually 
fitful, of History, Science and Philosophy. But 
they all had to be born anew for the Occident, in 
which they have had a continuous, ever-unfolding 
life down to the present. This birth, or, if you 
choose, re-birth of these three disciplines took 
place in an Asiatic borderland which had become 
Greek. It is a significant fact that Thales was 
an Oriental who had become Greek. His family 
was Phoenician, as re^^orted by Diogenes Laer- 
tius (I. 22, 37) ; moreover he is declared to have 
visited Egypt and to have studied its mathe- 
matical lore. Herodotus says that he predicted 
an eclipse of the sun, thus assigning to a natural 
cause what had hitherto been regarded as the act 
of a supernatural personal Will. This fact in- 
dicates the epoch and the great spiritual transi- 
tion taking place in it, whereof Thales was the 

This brings us to the distinct philosophic act 


of Thales : lie declared water to be the substrate 
uuderlj'ing all things, the one element in all the 
multiplicity of Nature. At the first glance this 
seems a very simple if not senseless utterance, 
but there is a surprising unanimity among ancient 
and modern philosophers that it is just the 
golden sentence which begins Philosophy. We 
observe first that it takes a physical cause or 
principle as the source of the world, and not a 
divine fiat, quite as we saw in the case of the solar 
eclipse. In the next place it predicates unity, 
the one principle of all things. Likewise it seeks 
for the essence of Being (the ousia of the on). 
With such a question propounded in such a 
fashion. Philosophy has certainly begun, and that 
is the fact to be distinctly grasped at the present 

Thales then, is the first who definitely for- 
mulates the question of his period : What is the 
essence of all this Being which lies before us 
and around about us? He also answers his own 
question with his special category : water. Aris- 
totle, our oldest and best judge in these matters, 
places Thales at the head {Met. I. 3); he cites 
an opinion which takes those primeval Gods, 
Oceanus and Tethys, deities of the sea, as " the 
parents of generation" or of world-creating. 
iThales is thus supposed to have transformed 
those hoary mythical shapes into a purely natural - 
cause corresponding to the element over which 



the J ruled. This again indicates the spiritual 
transition of which he is a representative, the 
transition from the mythological to the scientific, 
from the imaginative to the historical, from re- 
ligion to philosophy, from the poetic conscious- 
ness to prose. 

Nor should we omit a reflection upon the 
nature of water conceived as a first principle. 
It is supremely formable, yet always dropping 
back into the formless ; the waters of the Egean 
sea before Miletus would rise up into an infinite 
number of forms and half -forms (Tritons, 
Nereids, hundredfold Protean shapes) under the 
Etesian winds. A Milesian philosopher, pass- 
ing from the^ Mythus to Thought, might well 
consider water with its plasticity as the mother 
of all the forms of nature, or as the formative 
principle of all things. The sea appealed 
strongly to the plastic imagination of the Greeks 
as is seen both in their poetry and in their art. 
Their first philosopher struck this same note in 
his thinking when he took water as the original 
element of the shapes of the world. And ;_we 
should not forget that Miletus specially was a 
maritime city, owing its wealth and supremacy 
to the outlying waters before its gates. The sea 
was indeed the mother of Miletus spiritually and 
materially, and her first philosophic word was a 
true echo of her own soul. 

But her second philosophic word was some- 


what different, being spoken by another of her 
sons, to whom we now pass. 

2. Anaximander . A friend, pupil and com- 
patriot of Thales, somewhat younger, yet a co- 
temporary substantially. Still the two differed ; 
as Cicero puts it, " Thales could not persuade 
his pupil that water was the source of every- 
thing." But Anaximander probably received 
from Thales the philosophic inspiration to seek 
for the source of the All, though he propounded 
for it a different principle. 

This principle was the Infinite (^to apeiron), 
which now makes its first appearance in Philos- 
ophy, and which has had a vigorous life amono- 
thinkers of the nineteenth and preceding cen- 
turies, with no signs of ceasing to exist in the 
twentieth. Such a perdurable category of human 
Thought did that old philosopher strike out, 
somewhere about five centuries and a half B. C. 
Anaximander, then, is the author of the philo- 
sophical Infinite, which he declared to be the 
true essence of Being (the ousia of the on). 

This fact is nearly all we know about the mat- 
ter, perhaps it is nearly all that is to be known. 
No complex philosophic system must be expected 
at this early stage of thinking, in fact no distinct 
idea ; the first mention of such a word is sur- 
prising enough, having such a mighty progeny 
and procreative power. 

We can, however, work out the thouo^ht a 



little and say that Anaximander must have con- 
ceived along with his Infinite its counterpart, the 
Finite, and have gotten a glimpse of the negative 
nature of the latter. The term Infinite as well 
as its idea imply the negative of the Finite, of the 
Limited, of the Sensuous. A germ of idealism, 
yes, of the dialectic of finitude we may trace 
here, though certainly the germ is not developed. 
Truly a main path of all future Philosophy leads 
out of this Infinite of the old Milesian thinker. 

Still it would be a mistake to hold that Anax- 
mander seized the idea of the Infinite purely; 
there was in it a material substrate belonging to 
his period and to the infancy of Thought. What 
this material substrate was no one has ever been 
able to tell exactly. It was not a definite element 
like water or earth or even air, though it had its 
resemblance to the latter. The best view of it is 
to consider it the circumambient ether or atmos- 
phere surrounding the earth, quite invisible and 
unbounded. So this early Infinite hovers between 
the material object and mental concept somewhat 
doubtful of itself. Still it will free itself of its 
corporeal shell in time ; even Anaximander is re- 
ported to have declared it " immortal and inde- 
structible," according to Aristotle. A kind of 
immaterial materiality it has, this first chrysalis 
of thinking, not easy to understand till we see 
what it becomes. 

One other important term in Philosophy is 


ascribed to Anaximander, the Greek word arche, 
the beginning. That is, he first used the begin- 
ning not as purely physical but as metaphysical 
also, not merely as an object but likewise as a 
thought. The Latin word iwincipium has the 
same double meaning, literal and metaphorical; 
it signifies both a sensuous beginning and a 
principle, which latter in English is mental. 
Thus Anaximander elaborated a new category to 
fix all future thinking, aware that it must have 
a first principle or arclie (also called cause, 
element, essence) in which it definitely cate- 
gorizes itself. From these two categories of 
his (the Infinite and the First Principle) we may 
conclude that Anaximander was the first abstract 
categorizer of Greek Philosophy, recognizing 
that it must express itself in a series of cate- 
gories. Herein he is seemingly an advance upon 
Thales, whose chief term, water, is not pri- 
marily a category of Thought, such as are the 
Infinite and the Finite. 

Anaximander, like Thales, was a famous 
physicist, writing on Nature, theorizing about 
the sun, moon, and stars, which were larger and 
smaller apertures in an encompassing Heaven, 
and let through a proportionate light from the 
exterior sphere of fire which enveloped the Cos- 
mos. More practical was his invention of the 
first map, doubtless giving in outline the coun- 
tries around the Mediterranean visited by the 


Milesian navigator. To him is also ascribed the 
construction of the sun-dial, which, however, he 
may have borrowed from the Orient, Some 
say, too, that the first map belongs to Egypt. 
But we can well understand how the attempt to 
make a map at that time brought impressively 
before the mind of Anaximander the bounded 
territory and the boundless Beyond of the earth's 
surface, in correspondence with the Finite and 
Infinite of his Thought. Nor must we omit to 
mention that remarkable gleam of Evolution 
far back in Miletus : man is descended from a 
fish, which Avith the lower animals arose first 
from the primitive slime of the earth, so Anaxi- 
mander said according to Plutarch. 

But the great philosophic fact in the career of 
Anaxiuumder is that he categorized the Infinite 
and handed it down to the future. Compared 
to the simple element of Thalcs (water) his is a 
kind of double principle, a kind of universal 
matter, that is, both material and universal. 
An advance of the sensuous element toward the 
supersensible we can see in this second stage 
of the Milesian movement. But now a third 
philosopher is to appear, with a new principle, 
yet connected with the two before him in one 
process of Thought. 

3. Anaximenes. This philosopher, also a 
Milesian, was the friend and pupil of Anaxi- 
mander, and his career belonged to the second 


half of the sixth century B. C. He seems to 
have been less important than either of the two 
preceding thinkers, still he has his definite place 
in the Milesian movement. 

Anaximenes held that the essence of the All 
was air, but not the continuous atmosphere of 
Anaximander, but air as breath, spirit, or soul 
(psyche) ; that is, air individualized, made defi- 
nite by and in a living organism. Here rises 
some faint conception of the World-soul, after- 
wards rendered famous by Plato in his Timmus ; 
but the idea of the Cosmos being a huge animal 
with its own peculiar life was common to many 
Greek philosophers. Anaximenes makes or begins 
to make the transition from the material sub- 
strate of Being to the psychical ; yet this psychical 
element is still regarded as the air or a material 
element. It is, however, invisible, a cause unseen 
producing effects which are seen; hence it has 
its suggestion of spirit. The air as the breath 
of the cosmic animal has in it a process, that of 
inspiration and expiration; it is, as above said, 
individualized — which fact forms the conclusion 
of the Milesian movement, which has lasted 
about one hundred years, between 600 and 500 
B. C. This is the period of the greatest glory 
of Miletus, which, though subjugated by the 
Persians for a part of the time, enjoyed a 
certain degree of independence. But the city 
took a leading part in the great Ionic revolt about 


500 B. C. The Persians captured Miletus, slew 
its male inhabitants, and sold its women and 
children into slavery (494 B. C). This blow 
crushed it completely, it had no further prestige 
in Greek History, Science, or Philosophy, whose 
first great movement it contri))uted to Occiden- 
tal civilization. Its three famous philosophers 
spanned the century of its honor, and the last 
of them probably did not live to see his country's 

Observations on the j)receding Movement. — 
We term it Milesian because it belongs to Miletus 
and nowhere else. 

1. This group of philosophers is often called 
the Ionic school, but such a name is wrong when 
the right one is just at hand. It it true that 
Miletus was an Ionic city but there were many 
other Ionic cities besides this, and many other 
Ionic philosophers besides these. Pythagoras, for 
instance, and Anaxagoras were lonians ; butchieily 
Socrates and Plato were lonians, for they were 
born Athenians, and Athens was an Ionic city. 
In fact, when we look into the matter we find 
that it was the Ionic Greek who philosophized 
not the Dorian, not the Aeolian. The Spartans, 
the typical Dorian people, never produced a phi- 
losopher worthy of note. Some Dorian colonies 
had schools of Philosophy, but these were 
founded by Ionic settlers, as we see in the case 
of Pythagoras of Samos and of Xenophanes of 


Colophon. It may be affirmed that substantially 
all the Philosophy of the Hellenic Period from 
Thales to Aristotle, its creative epoch, was Ionic. 
Rightly designated, the Milesian is simply the first 
stage of the total Ionic movement of Thouo;ht. 

2. We call these three persons philosophers 
because they were seeking the essence of Being 
(theoima of the on) and expressed the same in a 
special category. This is the process common to 
every Philosophy , the earliest as well as the latest. 
Accordingly the Milesian movement will show 
three essential categories, water, the infinite as 
atmosphere, and air as soul, or individualized. 
Now the point must be emphasized tliat these 
three principles form a single process by them- 
selves ; in other words they constitute a Psj'cho- 
sis. The first stage is the simple, immediate 
one, in which an individual material element is 
taken as first principle — the water of Thales; 
the second stage brings twofoldness, since the at- 
mosphere of Anaximander has distinctly both 
sides, that of a mental concept and that of a ma- 
terial object, and shows the incipient interplay 
of all Philosophy between the Infinite and the 
Finite ; the third stage indicates a return to the 
individual element of the first stage, yet through 
the second — the air of Anaximenes, even though 
the same, is not immediately taken (as by Anaxi- 
mander) but is the result of a process, even the 
world's process, being its breath or soul. 


3. Here, then, we have the first philosophic 
triad, implicit to be sure, but soon becoming ex- 
plicit and growing more and more concrete down 
to the present time. Philosophy will never lose 
this triune movement started in the old Greek 
city, though it was declared long before in the 
Asiatic religions. Moreover it incarnated itself 
at Miletus in three persons distinctively, each of 
whom was an Ego, a Self which was seeking to 
find itself in the world. When it asks what is 
the real essence of Being, the true answer is the 
Self, but such an answer lies far in the future. 
Still the student, tracing the inner connection of 
all Philosophy, is to see that just this is what 
lay in the fermenting souls of these ancient Mile- 
sian philosophers. 

4. Accordingly the significance of this early 
movement lies chiefly in the fact that it is the 
first Psychosis of the Philosophy of Europe. 
As Thought it is very rude and primitive ; but 
it is the germinal starting-point for what may 
be called the highest European Discipline. Let 
us term it the primordial cell out of which the 
total organism of Philosophy is to develop ; 
this Milesian Psychosis is such an embrj^onic 
cell begetting a vast progeny of philosophic 
Psychoses, the chief line of which we shall try 
to follow out in the present book. And to con- 
tinue our illustration, that water of Thales may 
be regarded as the nucleus, or even nucleolus. 


of the cell out of which is to develop all future 
Philosophy. So we see that Thales announced 
a truth in his category, though with a different 
sense from what he intended : Water has been 
the first principle, if not of all things, at least 
of many Philosophies. 

5. So much we can affirm lookino; back 
through a vista of twenty -five centuries. No 
man could tell beforehand what lay in that little 
nucleus of Thales, just as in human embryol- 
ogy the germ must be interpreted by its evolu- 
tion. And that embryonic Psychosis, as we may 
name it, of the three Milesian thinkers will be 
more fully explained by the Philosophy of the 
Twentieth Century than by that of any previous 

6. The city of the sea-coast of Hellas will differ 
much from the city of the river-valley of the 
Orient, such as are the cities of the Euphrates and 
Nile. The sea uniting Peoples and producing a 
new life by commerce and intercourse suggests 
the creative import of water (Thales). Then 
the sea is boundless and hints the Infinite (An- 
aximander), which is nevertheless to be grasped 
and possessed. The sea, too, in its movements 
seems a living thing, a huge body of ani- 
mated matter, or hylozoism incorporate. The 
Hellenic sea-city makes an epoch in the history of 
the World, and forms the transition out of Asia 
to Europe in thought and institutions. 


7. We are not to forget, however, that the 
principle of each of these Milesian Philosophers 
goes back to and reposes upon a special element 
of Nature existing for the senses. Hence the 
movement is elemental in a particular and even 
material form ; thus the Infinite of Anaximander 
has its material substrate, as we have seen. To 
this fact we must not fail to give due weight, 
since it shows the Milesian Psychosis as the first 
or immediate stage of the total elemental move- 

8. There were more Philosophers belonging to 
the Milesian Movement than those above men- 
tioned. One has been specially brought into 
prominence, Diogenes of Apollonia, a contem- 
porary of Anaxagoras and also a resident of 
Athens, though probably a Cretan by birth. He 
is interesting as relapse to an earlier stage, but is 
not an integral part of the original Milesian 

B. The Eleatic Movement. 

Already in Anaximander, the second of the Mi- 
lesian philosophers, we find a decided effort to rise 
out of the particular, sensuous element as the es- 
sence of Being. "His Infinite (apeiron), however, 
is simply another particular sensuous element, from 
which the rest spring, and so does not get beyond 
Milesianism in spite of its struggle. But the 


Eleatic Movement now follows, affirming the es- 
sence of Being to be Pure Being, and therein 
negating all particularity. Still this Pure Being 
too will be found to have an elemental substrate, 
and hence belongs to Elementahsm, in whose total 
process it is the second stage. 

The name is derived from a small city in Magna 
Grsecia (Southern Italy), Elea, where dwelt the 
three leading spirits of this second important 
phase of Greek Philosophy. A quiet, retired 
spot it was in contrast with the large, active, 
throbbing world-city, Miletus; almost its sole 
fame comes from its being a philosophic town. 
Such a place comports in character with Eleati- 
cism, which is an abstraction and inner withdrawal 
from all concrete and variegated existence into the 
colorless realm of Pure Being. Like the Milesian, 
the Eleatic movement lasted about a hundred 
years, beginning somewhere in the latter half of 
the sixth century B. C, toward its end probably. 

Again a single city gives name to a great philo- 
sophic movement, as was the case also with Mile- 
tus. But from the eastern borderland of the 
Hellenic world we pass by a sudden leap to the 
western. In this fact we may see something in 
the nature of a reaction from the Milesian Move- 
ment, especially since the founder of the Eleatic 
School was born and grew to manhood at Colo- 
phon, an Ionic city of Asia Minor not far from 
Miletus, whence he migrated to Italy. Elea 


seems to have had, in part at least, a Doric 
population, and in the Eleatic Philosophy a 
Doric character has been detected, though its 
founder was an Ionian. Yet we trace also 
among the Eleatics an Oriental Pantheistic tend- 
ency, so that the reaction from Miletus, like most 
reactions and reformations, may have been back- 
ward as well as forward. Still Eleaticism is an 
emphatic separation from Ionia and the domi- 
nant Milesian thought there ; this separation is 
not only in space but also in doctrine. 

The Eleatic principle of Being is Pure Being, 
Being as such and alone, not any form or material 
element of Being, such as water or air. Here 
lies the emphatic separation and opposition of 
Elea to Miletus. One must abstract from all mul- 
tiplicity of Beings, from all sensuous appearances, 
and grasp the one Being, veritably the One which is. 
That mobile, material, particularized Ionic world 
dominated by Miletus we must flee from, taking 
a long hazardous voyage across the sea to the free 
West not yet occupied by any Philosophy. 

The Eleatics are, accordingly, seeking the 
essence of Being (the oiisia of the on), and will 
declare its category. This essence they will hud 
not in any elemental substance, but in Being 
itself as substance, and nothing else. Pure 
Being thus is their category, which in spite of 
its oneness will show a process, as it unfolds 
itself in three leading forms through three lead- 


ing minds. For the Eleatic Movement, like the 
Milesian in this respect, incorporates itself in 
three transcendent philosophers, though there 
are many mediocre and partial Eleatics. In 
other words we shall have an Eleatic Psychosis, 
personal indeed, but also of ideas. 

It will be seen that the Eleatic doctrine rests 
upon abstraction, negation, in fact just the nega- 
tion of the finite world. Pure Being is simply 
this universal abstraction seized as a concept by 
itself and uttered in a category. From beginning 
to end it has a decided neo;ative element running; 
through it ; from this point of view Eleaticism 
may be deemed the birth of the Negative in 
Philosophy. Still its immediate purpose is posi- 
tive ; Pure Being, in spite of its negative source, 
is regarded by the Eleatics as a positive principle. 

This inherent negativity of the Eleatic Move- 
ment will come to the surface in Zeno with his 
negation of Non-Being. But his pupil Gorgias 
will put the negative principle inside of Being 
and destroy it, blowing it to pieces with its own 
petard. Gorgias is, therefore, not strictly an 
Eleatic, but we may consider him the Eleatic 
destroyer of Eleaticism. 

Pure Being, as Eleatic, has an elemental sub- 
strate, namely Space. Not any particular form 
of a material element is this; otherwise the 
Eleatic would not differ from the Milesian Move- 
ment. But a total element is taken which in- 


eludes all particular elements, the element of 
elements. Thus the Eleatics rise from the par- 
ticular to the general, but the latter is still an 
element with them; that is, the general as 
element (Eleatic) rises out of the particular 
as element (Milesian). Of course this is not 
the general or the universal in its purity, which 
does not appear before the time of Socrates. It 
is, however, an important mile-stone on the way 

Thus we see that Eleaticism is still elemental, 
and belongs to the elemental phase of the Hel- 
lenic Period of Greek philosophy. Moreover, 
it is the second or separative stage thereof, 
which is manifested by the fact above given, 
that it is fundamentally a separation or abstrac- 
tion from the particular Elementalism of the 
Milesians, which was the first stage, this separa- 
tion being also local as well as spiritual. 

The idea of Pure Being now becomes incarnate 
(ho to speak) in three philosophers, each of 
whom manifests a phase of its movement. And 
Philosophy, passing from East to West to a 
Greek colony, shows what we may call its West- 
colonial Movement, which took a strong hold of 
the Greek mind in Southern Italy and Sicily. 

1. Xenophanes. The outward life of this phi- 
losopher was that of a rover, first from East to 
West, then through various places of the West in 
Sicily and Italy. His youth reaches back to Anax- 


imander whose pupil he is said to have been, and 
possibly to Thales, whose thought he assailed. 
He was born at Colophon, from which he was 
driven away, possibly on account of his religious 
opinions which attacked the existent polytheism. 
He was an Ionian, and must have known the 
Milesian Philosophj- in all its phases at first hand, 
of which, however, he became the most decided 
opponent. In some lines written at 92 preserved 
by Diogenes Laertes, he says he has been roam- 
ing around in Greek lands for 67 years, since he 
was 25. He comj)osed verses setting forth his 
views, which he recited in the towns he visited. 
He was an old Greek Johnny Appleseed, and is 
reported to have lived till he was more than a 
hundred years of age, dying in extreme povert3^ 
Many kinds of poetry were ascribed to him — 
Epics, Elegiacs and Satires ; he wrote a poem on 
the founding of Elea in 2000 hexameters. His 
philosophic ideas were given in a didactic poem, 
of which some fragments remain. In these he 
asserts "the one supreme God" who is not 
" like mortals in body or thought," as were the 
popular deities of Greek religion and art. He 
severely blames the poets, naming Homer and 
Hesiod, who show the Gods guilty of " the most 
unjust things — lying, theft and adultery." In 
a famous line he says God is " all eye, all ear 
and all thought," or as we might translate it, 
He is the " All seeing, hearing, thinking." 



It is plain from these citations that Xeno- 
phanes was a preacher of Monotheism against 
the prevailing Polytheism. Probably this repre- 
sents but a phase of the philosopher who says, 
♦' everything is one," and is declared by Aristotle 
to be the first promulgator .of the unity of all 
things. That is, Xenophanes seems to pass from 
Monotheism to Monism, and to conceive the 
true essence to be " the One and All," and not 
necessarily a person. Thus he moves out of 
religion to ontology, and becomes the founder of 
a philosophic sect. He is reported as saying : 
" Wherever I turn my mind, everything dissolves 
into the one substance." 

Xenophanes has *an ethical strand in him, as 
we see by his attack on the immoralities of the 
Greek Gods, wherein he will have many a suc- 
cessor among the philosophers. As to his reac- 
tion from lonism to Dorism, it may lie just in this 
absorption of the individual into an all-ruling 
Being, and he will not be the last Ionic philoso- 
pher who will lean to Doric institutions, since 
Socrates and Plato show the same tendency. 

We should conceive Xenophanes as uniting in 
his thought of the Supreme One both a monothe- 
istic andamonistic element ; the two principles, the 
personal and impersonal, are not yet fully differ- 
entiated in his mind. Thus he represented the 
first or implicit stage of Eleaticism. Further- 
more he occupied himself with physical theories, 


showing that he naively took for granted a phe- 
nomenal world alongside of his one Being. Nor 
did he engage in the deeper discussions of the 
later Eleatics, whose fight was against Non- 
Being, Becoming, and the Multiplicity of things. 
These divisions lay in him implicit, not yet de- 
veloped; but now we are to consider the man 
who developed them, and thus made Eleaticism 
a distinctive philosophic doctrine. 

2. Parmenides. The philosophic career of 
Parmcnides lay within the first half of the fifth 
century B. C. The exact years of birth and 
death cannot be fixed in his case, as in most cases 
of these early philosophers. He was born at 
Elea of a wealthy and important family, and re- 
mained a citizen of the place during life ; in fact, 
he is said to have given laws to his native city. 
He was not a w^anderer like XenophaGes,but had 
a fixed abode. Still he traveled; Plato gives an 
account of the visit of two Eleatic philosophers, 
Parmenides and Zeno, at Athens, where Socra- 
tes, then very young, heard them. This indi- 
cates that even the contemplative and remote 
philosophers of Elea went abroad to impart their 
own doctrine and to learn that of others. 

The common voice of antiquity celebrates the 
lofty character, the profound thought, and even 
the personal beauty of Parmenides. In early 
years he was attached to the Pythagoreans of 
Southern Italy, and their strict and somewhat 


ascetic life he seems to have followed to the last. 
But their philosophic doctrine he renounced for 
that of Xenophanes, whom he may have heard 
chanting hexameters in some market-place. For 
this statement indeed there is no historic evidence ; 
but it is certain that the high-born Doric aris- 
tocrat adopted the philosophic message brought 
by the poor Ionic wanderer: an event which 
has often had its parallel in the world. Nor can 
we help adding to the picture the probable but 
unverified touch that the rich, highly respected 
citizen established his homeless fellow-thinker 
at Elea where they started the world-famous 
Eleatic School (as is similarly reported of two 
New England philosophers at Concord). 

As already stated, the doctrine of Parmenides 
shows a philosophical development beyond that of 
Xenophanes, since the former has freed himself 
of the latter' s theological element and has become 
distinctly ontological. That is, he seizes Pure 
Beinoj as the One, havino; little or nothing: to 
say of the one God. Then he elaborates the 
category of Non-Being, under which he places 
all Becoming, all Multiplicity, as well as Motion 
and Chano;e. Beino- cannot begin to be or cease 
to be; it cannot be divided and so be many, but 
is One, just the One, ever-present, eternal, un- 
changeable. What about Thought, especially 
this Thought of Being? It is one with Being, 
cannot be separated from it, for Being allows no 


separation within itself. From this point of view 
Parmenifles must deny the world as distinct from 
Thought, and so may )3e considered an acosmist 
like Spinoza, whose so-called pantheistic idealism 
has this Greek forerunner. 

Still Parmenides, true to the instinct of this 
early stage of Hellenic Philosophy, has a sub- 
strate which may be called physical. He con- 
ceives his Being as space-filling, as extended 
through all space, if not just the divisionless ex- 
tension of Pure Space. This fact is also implied 
in his immediate oneness of Thought and Beins;. 
The distinction between subject and object is not 
his, nor has he yet clearly discriminated between 
the immaterial and material, both are one in Be- 
ing. In fact, any distinction is non-existent, his 
Being is pure identity, it is all fullness and there 
is no void to break the One and the Same. 

But Parmenides did not allow his Being' to be 
unlimited or without bound; that would make it 
formless, chaotic, and would violate his Greek 
plastic sense. Hence he compared it to a sphere, 
giving to it completeness of form. It could be 
eternal and unchangeable, but not strictly infinite. 

Already the keen reader has not failed to find 
inconsistencies in this Being of Parmenides. 
But his chief inconsistency, one which cracks 
his philosophy wide open and leaves it a gaping 
dualism, is next to be mentioned. He wrote 
a poem setting forth his doctrine in hexameters, 


of which some fragments remain. The first 
part of his work treated of Being or Truth, 
whose leading points have been given in the 
preceding account. But, strangely, he added 
a second part, which treats of that which is not, 
never was and never will be — a most remarkable 
somersault. So his Non-Being after all has a 
kind of Being, at least in his own mind, which, 
however, was supposed to be one with Being. 
Parmenides also occupied himself extensively 
with physical investigations and theories, which 
decidedly implied the Being of his Non-Being. 
Many attempts have been made in ancient and 
modern times to explain this contradiction, but 
it lies deep in the mind of the philosopher and 
in the principle itself — Parmenides would not 
be Parmenides without this dualism, and Eleat- 
icism would not be Eleaticism without it. 

His service to culture is to have taught man- 
kind to make the mighty abstraction from all 
change and multiplicity, and to seize the change- 
less One, Pure Being. To be sure, he did not 
reach the Concept through his abstraction, this 
was reserved for Socrates, who may have received 
his hint when he saw and heard in his youth 
Parmenides at Athens. 

Thus the dualism inherent in the Eleatic doc- 
trine becomes explicit, though perchance unac- 
knowledged, in Parmenides. With all his assertion 
of Being and his denial of Non-Being, he ends 


with taking for granted the Being of Non-Being. 
This gives the starting-point of the third great 
Eleatic philosopher who will make a new hercu- 
lean attempt to rescue his school from its self- 
devouring dualism by showing that Being alone 
is and Non-Being is not at all. 

3. Zeno. The intimate friend, the companion 
in travel, and, according to one author, the 
adopted son of Parmenides, was this Zeno, born 
at Elea. He was twenty-five years younger than 
Parmenides, in the account of Plato, but an- 
other reckoning puts this difference of age at 
forty years. We can say, in general, that Zeno 
is not only the third great person, but represents 
the third generation of the Eleatic School, and 
substantially completes its movement. He, like 
Parmenides, shared in the Pythagorean life, and 
he evidently had something of a political career 
iu his native city. But his chief public action 
was his part in deposing or even slajang a tyrant, 
who put him to torture in order to wring from 
him some confession. But Zeno bit off his own 
tongue and contemptuously spit it into the 
tyrant's face as if to show his philosophic defiance 
of suffering as w^ell his determination to be 
silent. Of course this was a legend which trans- 
formed Zeno into a tyrant-slayer, who was 
always a popular Greek hero in story and song. It 
is not at all improbable that Zeno did have a 
hand in some such work, since quite every Greek 


town had similar occurrences taking place in the 
natural order of its history. Still to-day the joy 
of the Greek ballad-singer is the bold youth who 
slays a Turk, his country's oppressor. 

Aristotle makes Zeno the founder of the 
Dialectic, others say he invented the Dialogue, 
but he was probably not the first Greek prose- 
writer, as is sometimes declared. As his life 
was one long attachment to Parmenides, so his 
work had the one object of defending his mas- 
ter, though the indirect results of that work 
reached far beyond Eleaticism. Parmenides, as 
well as Xenophanes, had simply asserted that 
appearance, multiplicity, change did not exist, 
and had bolstered their statement with some 
grounds more or less external ; but Zeno's pro- 
cedure is different, he shows that Multiplicity is 
self -contradictory in its nature and negates itself 
through its inner [movement. Now, this inner 
movement of self -negation is the first appearance 
of the Dialectic in Philosophy, and it is still 
working at the present day. Let us take another 
illustration: I, as Eleatic, may deny Motion, 
and seek to refute it by certain arguments; now 
Zeno too denied Motion, but his method was to 
make it deny itself ; he did not care to refute 
Motion from the outside, but he set it going 
and let it refute itself, of course under his 
subtle guidance. Such is the emphatic point in 
Zeno's philosophizing, and a great contribution 


it was to the intellectual treasures of man to 
render him conscious of this process of his 

If we with Parmenides embrace Multiplicity, 
Becoming, Change, Motion, Appearance in the 
one category of Non-Being, then the labor of 
Zeno may be summed up in the statement 
that all Non-Being is internally self -negative. 
Here too we may see his advance upon the doctrine 
of Parmenides, who, as we have already noted, had 
been compelled practically to admit the Being of 
Non-Being after stoutly denying it, and so fell 
into dualism. Zeno will seek to vindicate his 
master by eliminating this dualism, which he does 
by making Non-Being annihilate itself through 
itself, that is, through its own inner Dialectic. 
So, if Non-Being destroys itself, there is left 
Pure Being in all its original glory, as first as- 
serted by Parmenides and Xenophanes. Herein 
we see that Zeno is a return to the purity of the 
Eleatic One out of the twofoldness into which 
it had lapsed, which fact shows him to be 
the third stage of the Eleatic Movement (or 

In general, the argument of Zeno turns against 
all separation, division, twoness or dualism. To 
be sure, he does not universalize his doctrine, but 
applies it to three main spheres, all of them 
belonging to external Nature: (1) to Multiplic- 
ity or Matter in order to assert its opposite or the 

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profoundly working in the Natural Science of 

Observations on the Eleatic Movement . It is 
not to be understood that there were no other 
Eleatic philosophers except these three. But 
the rest were of lower rank, and are not neces- 
sary to the movement as a whole. 

1. Of these lesser Eleatics the first place is 
usually assigned to Melissus of Samos, who, 
besides being a philosopher, was a famous gene- 
ral. He re-afiirnied the Pure Being of Parmen- 
ides, from whom he differed in one respect: he 
declared Being to be infinite in space, thereby 
doing away with its spherical form, which Par- 
menides gave to it. Thus the spatial substrate 
of Pure Being is without any limit, just as Pure 
Being has no limit in time, being eternal ac- 
cording to the Eleatics. 

2. A pupil of Zeno, Gorgias of Leontini in 
Sicily, may be mentioned in this connection, 
though he properly belongs to the Sophists. He 
carries out the negative procedure of his master to 
the point of negating Pure Being itself. Zeno, as 
above indicated, simply negatives Non-Being in the 
form Motion, Change, Multiplicity, and thereby 
returns to Pure Being. But Gorgias directs the 
destructive might of the Dialectic against just 
this result, and destroys Eleaticism with its own 
weapon. He wrote a famous book On Non-Being 
in which he elaborates this triple negative : — 


(1) Nothing exists ; 

(2) And if something did exist, we could not 
know it; 

(3) And if we knew it, we could not impart 
such knowledge. 

So Gorgias is the first theoretical nihilist, hav- 
mg pushed the negative principle in Eleaticism to 
the point of absolute self-negation. We have 
already noted that Pure Being is a product of ab- 
straction, of mentally doing away with all partic- 
ularity, and holding fast to the One, or Pure Being. 
But this One just in such a process becomes 
particular, and has its own negative nature turned 
back upon itself through Gorgias, who is, there- 
fore, an Eleatic undoing Eleaticism, the demon of 
the system. 

Still the reader will note that Gorgias is at the 
same time undoing himself in a truly comic fash- 
ion. He says we cannot know anything, and yet 
he claims to know something about nothing, to 
the extent of writing a book upon the subject. 
So he must know a good deal about what cannot 
be known, and is ready to impart that knowledge 
which he says cannot be imparted Thus the 
nihilism of Gorgias, like all nihilism, annihilates it- 
self, after making some noise; the demon is burnt 
up in the hell-fire of his own negation. 

Gorgias, who was sophist and rhetorician, rep- 
resents the. negative phase of Sophisticism (it has 
other phases) better than any one else, employ- 


ing speech, according to his principle, not to 
impart knowledge or truth, but seemingly the op- 
posite. But from this point of view he belongs 
to a later stage of Hellenic Philosophy, which 
will be developed in its proper place. 

3. Though Eleaticism seems to have vanished 
as a school after Zeno, it has remained an influ- 
ence through the whole course of Philosoph}^. 
The attempt to get the One, the true Being or the 
Eeal Object underlying all phenomenality has 
always been and probably always will be a fasci- 
nation for the philosophic mind. We see it 
working in Plato and Plotinus, in Spinoza and 
Hegel, in the modern movement from Monothe- 
ism to Monism. The eternal, unchangeable, im- 
perturbable, self-identical Being, without the 
caprices of a Person, even of a Divine Person, 
works with a mighty spell at times over every 
human soul. 

The influence of Eleaticism goes out directly 
upon the succeeding Greek thinkers and helps 
determine their various systems, which, however, 
will seek to avoid its pitfall, namely, the asser- 
tion of the non-existence of the phenomenal 
world. At the same time the Eleatic concept of 
Being eternal, immutable, ever the One and the 
Same, will not be lost, but will be taken as the 
essence of all things changeful and finite. In 
other words, the negative side of Eleaticism, hav- 
ing undone itself, will be dropped, but its posi- 


tive principle will persist, and will show itself in 
the systems of Empedocles and the Atomists, 
and thence will pass into Attic Philosophy. 

4. We are to keep in mind that Eleaticism 
still belongs to the elemental stage of Hellenic 
Thought. It has a phj^sical substrate and is 
not free of a material suggestion. Parmenides 
conceives his Pure Being as existent in space, as 
a sphere extended on all sides from a center. 
Indeed his Pure Being would seem to find its 
best physical counterpart in Pure Space, which 
is itself the abstraction from all physical deter- 
minations, and is still considered physical. In 
fact all this early Greek thinking, which we have 
called elemental, could not stand alone, as it 
were ; it had to have a support or prop in Matter ; 
this material hypostasis is doubtless etherealized 
in Pure Being, still is never quite absent. 

5. Eleaticism is the complete reaction against 
the caprice of an all-controlling Will, in favor of 
the immutable, eternal, impersonal Law which is 
the essence of the Universe. So absolute and 
autocratic is it that it does not allow change to 
exist ; external mutation and inner caprice are 
swallowed up and disappear in this all-de- 
vouring Eleatic One, which alone is. Herein 
philosophic Europe affirms its entire separation 
from theistic Asia on the one hand, and on the 
other makes the complete abstraction from the 
particular, phenomenal world. The changeless 


Eleatic character is in strong contrast to the 
volatile Ionic Milesian, who, indeed, as Greek 
called for the one essence of all things, but 
deemed it to be a particular, changeful element, 
like water or air, thus falling back into the 
opposite of what his question demanded. 

6. The fact should also be noted that Elea in 
Italy is half way across Europe, far from the 
Asiatic border, and is thus emphatically Euro- 
pean in location. Still further, Elea is a neigh- 
boring city to Rome, w^iich hud been founded 
some three hundred years when the Eleatic Phi- 
losophy was in bloom, and which had already 
felt a Greek influence from the cities of South- 
ern Italy. In 450 B, C. Rome is said to have 
sent three embassadors to Greece for the purpose 
of studying its laws. The Roman in these early 
days seems to have had a premonition of his his- 
toric vocation as lawgiver to the world. The 
Eleatic Philosophy with its immutable and im- 
personal One as the Law of the Universe is a 
kind of prophesy of the universal Roman Law, 
which makes practical this Greek thought. Yet 
both are Italic, — the Eleatic Philosophy and the 
Roman Law — and suggest the character and the 
work of ancient Italy in its two aspects, theoreti- 
cal and practical, or its Intellect and its Will. 
Thus we observe again that Philosophy is always 
found in an institutional setting, which it ex- 
presses for the present or for the future. Elea 


formulated the already existent aspiration of 
Koman Italy. 

7. But the Eleatic One, as the fixed and 
changeless, is separated from the Manifold, and 
excludes from itself all Change, whereby it shows 
itself incomplete, and so a part of a process 
which is higher and more complete. 

C. The Inter-connecting (or the Inter- 
colonial,) Movement. 

The previous Eleatic Movement denies all 
Movement, denies itself to be a Movement, and 
so goes to pieces of its own inner contradiction. 
It is followed by a Movement whose fundamental 
principle is to assert Movement, or the Process, 
or more abstractly, the Becoming. But here a 
new question comes up : What is the cause or 
essence of the Becoming? Three different an- 
swers will be given to this question in the present 
Movement, which answers will in themselves 
show a process, which we name as above. 

We employ the second adjective in the fore- 
going caption in order to suggest a designation 
which corresponds with the title of the two pre- 
ceding Movements (Milesian and Eleatic, or 
East-colonial and West-colonial), both of which 
are named according to their locality. So the 
term Inter-colonial is intended to call to mind that 
this third Movement unites within itself Greek 


colonies both East and West, Ionic, Italic and 

The term Inter-connecting is employed to sug- 
gest in a general way the inner character of the 
present movement, in contrast to the two preced- 
ing ones, which were single and isolated, each 
taking place in one city substantially by itself. 
But now we shall find three different Philoso- 
phies, each in its own locality forming a Move- 
ment under the lead of three different Philoso- 
phers, so that we behold a trinity both of persons 
and their doctrines as well as of places. These 
are in order the doctrine of Heraclitus, who was 
born in Ephesus, Asia Minor; the doctrine of 
Pythagoras who was born in Samos but migrated 
to Italy ; the doctrine of Empedocles whose life 
was passed at Agrigentum in Sicily. 

If we notice these localities in relation to one 
another, we find that they lie on the border in a 
peripheral line drawn around and inclosing the 
Hellenic world. All of these are colonies (as 
were likewise Miletus and Elea), and thus show 
what is called an Inter-colonial Movement. 
Moreover we observe a repetition of the transfer 
of Philosophy from the extreme East of the 
Greek frontier to the extreme West, such as was 
noted in the transition from Miletus to Elea. 
The same change from lonism to Dorism, but 
more emphatic, takes place. So we go back 
again to Asia Minor, for our starting-point, 


which is a single city; next the migration of 
Pythagoras draws a line from East to West, in- 
dicating their separation ; finally the Movement 
comes to a close in a single city, Sicilian Agrigen- 
tum. In these outer local facts the reader will 
find a hint of what takes place spiritually. 

This Inter-connecting Movement will show its 
character in three different ways. First its dif- 
ferent doctrines will be found to be related to 
those of the two previous Schools; secondly, its 
three Philosophies w^ ill be joined together in one 
pyschical process (Psychosis) ; thirdly, this pro- 
cess will show itself to be the third stage of a still 
greater process which embraces the Milesian and 
the Eleatic Schools. This is the process of 
Elementalism, that is, of Being as elemental, 
which has been already designated as the first 
stage of the Hellenic Period of Greek Philoso- 

The problem which chiefly calls forth the phi- 
losophizing of this Movement may be general- 
ized as the Becoming. TheEleatics worked over 
Being which was the unchangeable essence, while 
Non-Being, as MuHplicity, Change, Matter did 
not exist for them. Still they had always to 
pre-suppose this Non-Being in order to reach 
their Being by some form of abstraction. If 
they attained Being by negating Non-Being, 
surely the latter had to be in order to be negated. 
Hence the next step in thinking was to aflirm 


explicitly the Being of Non-Being. Therewith 
the Eleatic stage was definitely transcended, and 
a new Movement of Thought opened. 

This is the present Inter-connecting Move- 
ment, in which we find three different Philoso- 
phies connected together as follows : — 

1. That of Heraclitus. The Becoming is 
immediate; all is in a state of flux, or change. 

2. That of the Pythagoreans. The Becoming 
or Change is mediated or controlled by Number, 
which is the essence of all Being. But Number 
in its turn becomes, or changes, hence there are 
two Becomings, the mathematical and the ma- 

3. That of Empedocles. The Becoming exists 
immediately as change or the flux, but has within 
it as cause or essence, not Number, but the four 
elements, fire, air, earth and water (not fire 
or air or water singly, as other philosophers 
before Empedocles had said). These four ele- 
ments, themselves unchangeable, produce all 
Change or Becoming by separation and com- 

In these three Philosophies we are to catch the 
psychical movement which not only inter-con- 
nects them, but joints them into the total move- 
ment of Philosophy. Empedocles seeing or 
feeling that there was just as much Change or 
Becoming in number as in matter, renounced the 
Pythagorean explanation of Nature, and went 


back to pure Becoming (that of Heraclitus), and 
sought to explain it with all its qualitative trans- 
mutations by means of the four primary ele- 
ments already noted. 

1. Heraclitiis. He was of Ionic Ep^esus, on 
the eastern border of Hellas, opposite to Italic 
Elea, to whose philosophers he was in like man- 
ner opposite. For they affirmed that Being alone 
is and that Non-Being is not. But Heraclitus 
emphatically declares the Being of Non-Being 
against Parmenides, though the latter had imphed 
it in his very denial, as was noted above. Then 
Heraclitus also affirmed the counterpart to the" 
foregoing declaration when he proclaimed the 
Non-Being of Being, which is really the outcome 
of Zeno's Dialectic. For Zeno, when he showed 
the Non-Being of the Many, showed implicitly 
the Non-Being of Being, since the Many is. 
Heraclitus, therefore, undoes Eleaticism from 
two sides, through its two chief representatives, 

1. The Being of Non-Being against Parmen- 

2. The Non-Being of Being against Zeno. 

3. Their union in the Becoming, which gives 
the doctrine of Heraclitus. 

Of the life of Heraclitus very little is known ; 
he is said to have flourished at Ephesus 500 
B. C. This date makes him a contemporary 
of the later Milesians as well as of the Eleatics, 


though older than Zeno. He withdrew from the 
jHiblic life of his city, in contempt of its people. 
He believed in fire as the First Principle and evi- 
dently had some of it in his tongue and in his 
heart; he has been called the pessimist among 
these old philosophers. From antiquity he 
re'ceived the title ' ' the obscure ; " he wrote a 
book on his Philosophy which Socrates read but 
could not understand fully. Cicero, who evi- 
dently did not comprehend him, says he com- 
posed obscurely on purpose, so that he might 
seem deep to the vulgar mind ; a similar charge 
is heard still to-day from those who expect to 
read philosophic works as they do newspapers. 
The book of Heraclitus has come down to us 
only in a number of separate fragments which 
have produced a strong impression upon some 
distinguished thinkers of modern times, for in- 
stance Schleiermacher and Hegel and Lassalle 
the Socialist, the latter writing a special work in 
two volumes upon the ancient Greek philosopher. 
So Heraclitus still has a constituency of students, 
if not followers. 

His chief proposition runs thus : All flows, is 
in a flux or perpetual movement ; nothing stays 
the same. Directly opposed is this to the Eleatic 
statement that All is the One and the Same — no 
multiplicity and no motion. He declares that a 
man cannot descend into the same stream, indeed 
the same man cannot descend into a stream, for 


both stream and man are in the universal flux of 
the world. 

More abstractly stated, the thought is here 
that of the Becoming, as the continual unity and 
interflow of Being and Non-Being. For Being 
is unceasingly passing into Non-Being, and Non- 
Being is unceasingly passing into Being. The 
first is alwaj^s separating from itself and going 
over into the second, which in its turn is always 
separating from itself and returning to the first. 
From this we see that Heraclitus has seized the 
very process of Being which is in fact Being as a 
process. It is evident that this process is one 
yet threefold: first, is immediate unity; second, 
is the separation; third, is the returning phase. 
There is no stop in this whirl or double whirl of 
the universe ; all is arising yet all is ceasing ; all 
is being born yet all is dying ; all is negative, yet 
this negative is perpetually negating itself. Both 
Being and Non-Being have this process within 
themselves ; hence we can have a conception of 
what Heraclitus meant when he said that Being 
and Kon-Being are one — a statement reiterated by 
Hegel in the beginning of his Logic. That is, they 
arc really stages or phases of one process ; held 
apart from that process or from each other, each 
becomes contradictory or negative of itself and 
passes into the other. Hence the reality of Be- 
ing and Non-Being can only be their unity, their 
process, which is otherwise called the Becoming. 


Through such a hazy dance of abstruse catego- 
ries the old Ephesian philosopher leads us; no 
wonder he was named " the obscure," the reader 
will now probably understand the epithet. Still 
let it be affirmed that this thought of Heraclitus 
has been one of the most prolific in ancient Phi- 
losophy. It asserts the primal process of Being, 
or that Being must be seized as a process, with 
which conception Philosophy makes a fresh be- 
ginning. Zeno had this process indeed, but not 
fully explicit and so denied it in his conclusion. 
Heraclitus affirms unity too, not as dead or at 
rest, but as a process ; Being is not simply the 
One, but the one process, or the process of the 
One, which is the Becoming, which again is both 
negative and self -negative. 

But Heraclitus has also his implicit, uncon- 
scious side. Eeally it is the process of his own 
thinking which has beheld itself in this external 
process of Being or the Becoming. His Ego has 
caught a glimpse of the divinely creative Ego 
creating the Cosmos, and has uttered the same 
to men. His process is thus the Psychosis in the 
form of Being ; from this point of view we may 
call it the first or immediate Psychosis of Be- 
ing with its triune movement. Of any such inner 
movement Heraclitus was not conscious, nor was 
any ancient philosopher fully so. Still Heracli- 
tus uncovered the primal psychical process of all 
Being, and so he has a lofty place in the 


unfolding of the Pampsychosis, the universal 
creative principle which develops itself through 
all Philosophy, indeed through all Science and 

Heraclitus was, however, an early Greek phi- 
losopher, yes an Ionian, and like his class he had 
to have a material substrate to his thinking, indeed 

' one of the elements, of which two at least had 
already been taken by the Milesians. This ele- 
ment is Fire, which may be regarded as a visible 
manifestation of his Becoming, which both arises 
and ceases to be, is both negative and self -nega- 
tive, and leaves behind a new beginning which 
may again take fire. A still more subtle physical 
principle, that of Time, Heraclitus brought into 
connection with his Becoming. For we can say 
of Time that while it is, it is not, the Being of it 
is its Non-Being or Vanishing, and its Vanish- 
ing is the return back into itself as the Now. 
Thus the ever-vanishing; and the ever-returnins; 
Now is Nature's pure act of Becoming without 
any material substrate, her primal form of the 
process corresponding to the thought-form of it, 
which was termed the unity of Being and Non- 

^ Being. Moreover Heraclitus imaged to himself a 
process of the elements in which they were meta- 
morphosed into one another in a cycle : Fire 
was condensed to. Water, Water to Earth, which 
was * ' the way down ; ' ' then there was ' ' the way 
up," showing apparently the return. Again he 


connected Fire with the soul, even with the world- 
soul; the universe is burning, so is man; both 
are in the process, in the same process. In 
such fashion Heraclitus seeths and ferments 
darkly, darkly, like the Cosmos being born out 
of Chaos ; he is his own Becoming, an incessant 
maelstrom of arising and departing, whose Being 
is forever in a whirl into Non-Being, and whose 
Non-Being is forever in a whirl back to Being. 
No wonder he was a pessimist, for he seems to 
have been about the most harassed, writhintr 
restless soul of all antiquity, if Ave may judge by 
those turbid and turbulent fragments of his al- 
ways becoming and never become: he seems the 
abolute denial and annihilation of that Greek 
serenity which we behold in the art, in the Gods, 
and in many groat characters of Hellas. But 
where now is the ataraxia of Philosophy? Not 
in the Becoming of Heraclitus who declares that 
♦' War (polemos) is the father of things," here 
of course the War of all Creation. 

Thus we must put the stress upon the strifeful, 
negative phase of Heraclitus, both in doctrine 
and in character. Still we are not to think 
that he had not the return and reconciliation. 
Through his war and strife of the universe come 
harmony, peace, friendship, which after such 
violent birth-pangs ought to be appreciated. 
Heraclitus has the process, he knows that in all 
the hurly-burly of Becoming must lurk the Be- 


come, the One and Eternal. This he names va- 
riously Necessity, Law and Order, Reason (logos) . 
Tliis Reason is for him the divine process in all 
Becoming, which process we must participate in 
if we would know. Says he : We act and think 
everything rightly according to our participation 
in the Divine Reason ; if we act and think simply 
of ourselves, we are as in a dream. Already 
Parmenides had said that Thinking and Being are 
one ; Heraclitus utters the same thought. But 
neither of them has yet separated the self-reflect- 
ing Ego with its process from that of Being ; sub- 
ject and object are still one in their philosophiz- 
ing, though we may well suppose that a faint rift 
of separation is beginning to make itself felt. 

2. Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans. Chro- 
nologically Pythagoras himself as distinct from 
his School belongs to the latter half of the 
sixth century B. C. He must have been an 
old man in 500 B. C, how many years after 
that time he lived is uncertain. He was contem- 
porary with the Milesian Anaximander and also 
with the Eleatic Xenophanes ; Heraclitus, though 
doubtless younger, could have known him per- 
sonally. But the doctrines of all these philoso- 
phers belong in thought before Pythagoreanism 
m its developed form. 

Here we must make a distinction between 
Pythagoras and his School. This philosopher 
was able to raise up a set of disciples who 


unfolded his ideas to full maturity. The master 
has become so intergrown with his pupils that it 
is quite impossible to separate their respective 
contributions to the common body of doctrine 
except in a very few cases. Aristotle who has 
much to say of Pythagoreanism very rarely speaks 
of Pythagoras by name but of the Pythagoreans. 
This is so different from his ordinary usage 
in citing previous philosophers that modern 
historians of Philosophy have very generally 
followed his example. This trait of Pythagoras 
is quite un-Greek, at least un-Ionic. For Greece 
specially developed the individual standing apart 
and by himself, like the statue of their distinctive 
art, sculpture. The Greek character has an inner 
plastic form, within its limits well-rounded 
and self-sufficing, the incarnation of individu- 
ality as such. Herein lies the source of its 
transcendent merits as well as of its transcendent 
shortcomings. Pythagoras, however, sank his 
individuality into his School, imparted it to his 
disciples, by whom it was preserved as an imme- 
diate influence and presence for a thousand years. 
To-day we read Plato and Aristotle and catch 
their personal message; not so Pythagoras, not 
so Christ; we have to receive their tidings 
through the fragmentary utterances of their 
disciples, who, as it were, breathe the breath of 
the master laden with his word down the ages. 
Pythagoras was born in the Ionic island of 


Samos, which lies not far from the coast of Asia 
Minor. Thus he belonged in time and place to 
the great upspring of the human spirit, which we 
have already noted as centering in Miletus. It 
was also a time of great commercial enterprise 
and distant voyaging on the part of the lonians. 
There is every reason to believe that Pythagoras 
traveled extensively in the East, and especially 
in Egypt; his later life shows the influence of 
such a journey, and it was a very easy and nat- 
ural thing to do in those days, particularly from 
Samos, which had a large "navy and cultivated 
navigation during the time of its great ruler. 
Poly crates, who established the first historical 
Thalassocracy ( rule of the sea ) in Greece . Of this 
Samian monarch, who was connected by friendly 
ties with Amasis, the king of Egypt, Pythagoras 
was a prominent subject, and would certainly have 
crossed the sea to the Nile in a Samian ship bearing 
letters to king Amasis, unless we regard the young 
philosopher as not feeling the least thirst for 
knowledge. Very improbable, therefore, is the 
skepticism of Zeller in this matter. 

The next great fact of Pythagoras is his migra- 
tion to Italy. He returned to Samos, and like 
many another traveler who has stayed away 
from home too long, he found his country 
uncongenial. From his Oriental experience he 
had acquired new ideas of life which were not 
altogether consonant with his Greek, and par- 


ticularly not with his Ionic, environment. So in 
his case, too, as in that of Xenophanes, we may 
see a reaction ao;ainst his surroundino;s which 
sends him over the sea to the new West where 
was offered a free field for realizing his new ideas. 
This is the outer local separation of Pythagoras 
corresponding to his inner separation, the former 
of which we can imagine as a line drawn from 
the eastern circumference of the Hellenic world 
to the western. 

We may now discern the outlines of the three 
periods, undated yet visible, in the life of Pj^tha- 
goras. First is his early work at Samos, doubt- 
less that of a teacher, who had clarified into 
his fundamental doctrine and had announced it 
in its simplest elementary form : Number is the 
essence of all things. This is a Greek answer to 
a Greek problem ; it is the response of Pytha- 
goras to the primal Milesian question: What 
is ousia of the on? Such is, then, his first or 
pure Greek stage, or we may deem it his Ionic 
stage. Second is the period of his travels to the 
Orient, accompanied with increased knowledge 
and with new views of life and new plans; but 
his fundamental principle of Number remains and 
correlates all his added stores of learning; and 
wisdom from the Orient. Third is his return 
home and migration thence to the Greek Occi- 
dent, in which he performs the great work of 
his life. The Greek cities of Southern Italy 


constituted his chief field of propagandism, 
where his society acquired great authority, even 
to the extent of obtaining supreme political rule 
in certain localities. 

The fundamental tenet of Pythagoras, then, 
is that Number is the essence of all things. The 
authorities, headed by Aristotle, are agreed upon 
this point. It is a simple statement, almost triv- 
ial; but on examination, difficulties arise. Num- 
ber is afiirmed to be not a property or a relation 
of objects; it is their essence. Nor is it a sym- 
bol or archetypal pattern after which things are 
created; it is one with them, it is their essence. 
Number is the true genus, the creative principle 
of the universe, to which it imparts order and 
harmony. Sensible objects are numbers made 
manifest, which, however, must be at last ab- 
stracted from such objects and seized in their 

Thus, Number is another step on the philo- 
sophic path to a supersensible world, as was also 
the Pure Being of the Eleatics. It is likewise 
one in essence ; in fact Number starts with the 
essential One (Monas), which is now a distinct 
and actual concept. With the Eleatics the One 
as a whole was not yet differentiated from Being 
as a whole. Hence the Pythagorean One as 
Number is more developed and later in thought 
than the Eleatic One which is hardly yet a num- 
ber. This fact is important as it helps us clas- 


sify the two systems aright — the Pythagoreans 
being usually placed before the Eleatics in the 
histories of Philosophy. We shall further see 
that the Monas of the Pythagoreans has a pro- 
cess within it, while the Eleatic One has not, be- 
ing simple unbroken identity from eternity to 

But whence did it get this process? From 
Heraclitus ; at least such is its relation to the Be- 
coming of Heraclitus, which we have already seen 
to be the process of Being as immediate. Hence 
Heraclitus in thought is to go before the Pytha- 
goreans, even if he be younger in age than Py- 
thagoras himself ; also he is to be placed after the 
Eleatics, since he has the process in his Being, 
which makes it the Becoming. Thus we order 
genetically these early Greek Philosophies, each 
according to its first principle, as they grow more 
and more concrete, that is, as they become more 
and more an expression of the fundamental move- 
ment of the All (the Pampsychosis). 

The Pythagoreans, accordingly, made the ab- 
straction of the essence from the sensuous world, 
and called it Number. In fact they abstracted 
the essence from Becoming and made it a kind of 
ideal Becoming, or the numerical process, which 
is, in general, the Trias. It may be said that the 
Pythagoreans were the first to declare that the 
process of all things or of the Universe is three- 
fold, though this threefolduess of theirs is com- 


posed simp] J of numbers, and hence is an ex- 
ternal arithmetical triplicity. To be sure the 
number three was held sacred long before Py- 
thagoras, and in parts of the Orient, especially in 
Egypt, was divinely embodied in many Trinities. 
But the Pythagorean view is not a religion, but a 
philosophy; not three persons, but three num- 
bers are the essence or the creative principle of 
all things. Number was called divine, not so 
much because Number was a God as because God 
was a Number, and if any creating was to be done 
by either, Number would create the God, rather 
than God the Number. 

Thus the Pj'thagoreans split the Becoming of 
Heraclitus in twain, making two processes out 
of it, an ideal or numerical one and a mate- 
rial or phenomenal one, which latter was con- 
trolled, and indeed produced by the former. 
Hence Pythagoreanism had a decided germ of 
idealism, and contributed an important element 
toward the Ideas of Plato. 

But mark well the distinction. A system of 
pure idealism like the Platonic it was not. Py- 
thagoreanism still held to the elemental substrate 
for the abstraction of Number. Herein Aristotle 
gives us help. " Numbers are the things them- 
selves," and do not stand apart from the phe- 
nomena like the ideas of Plato. Nor are they the 
patterns or archetypes after which things are 
made. Number is a form which is one with its 



matter. It is undoubtedly conceived as an ab- 
straction, but this abstraction is still an element, 
an element of elements. The Pythagorean Num- 
ber is still immanent and elemental, not yet tran- 
scendent and spiritual, as was its later conception. 
The separation was present, but it was in the 
thing, which thus had two elements, a mathe- 
matical and a material. Or we may say that Py- 
thagoreanism had two Becomings, that of number 
and that of matter, yet both belonged to the one 
thing, or to the one Nature or Cosmos. This is 
the sense in which we are to grasp the formula : 
Number is the essence of all things. Thought 
has reached the essence, but is as yet unable to do 
without the thing. Herein we see that Pythagor- 
eanism can not yet do without the element, but has 
its physical substrate, and belongs to the first or ele- 
mental phase of Hellenic Philosophy. Moreover 
the twofoldness of the world, as mathematical on 
the one hand and phenomenal on the other, is the 
fundamental fact of Pythagoreanism, and places 
it in the second stage of the general movement of 
the Becoming, which we have above named the 
Inter-connecting Movement (or Inter-colonial). 

The greatness of Pythagoreanism and its im- 
portance for human culture lies chiefly in its pe- 
culiar doctrine of the twofoldness of all things. 
One element is the numerical, which, though it 
has its process within itself and thus is a great 
advance upon the crystallized Eleatic One, is the 


eternal and abiding process' inherent in the phe- 
nomenal side of the universe. Mathematics still 
retain this characteristic, and as a discipline for 
first brinojins^ the mind to see the fixed basis of 
the world and of itself, they can hardly be too 
highly estimated. 

From this general thought of Number and the 
numerical process as the essence of all things, 
the School will build a vast structure, of which 
only a brief outline can be here given. The de- 
tails are very diversified, often fantastic, and by 
no means consistent, still we can trace in them 
the lineaments of a great totality. The entire 
sweep of Pythagoreanism shows three stages or 
divisions, which, though interconnected, ramify 
and subdivide themselves in many directions. 
The three main divisions pertain to learning, to 
doing, and to living : we shall call them the Math- 
esis, the Praxis, and the Askesis of Pythagorean- 

(1) Mathesis. The word is derived from a 
Greek verb, to learn^ and means the process 
of learning or education. From the same word 
comes our term Mathematics, which originally 
meant things to be learned. The School of 
Pvthagoras is thus connected with the school 
of to-day which still retains as a primary dis- 
cipline the science of numbers. Indeed it looks 
as if the old Greek founded and organized the 
school proper with its essential branches (the 


three R's), which school has gone through many 
obscurations in the ages since, but has really 
never lapsed in its continuity down to the present. 
In fact Pythagoreanisra may be deemed the first 
pedagogical philosophy, and hence it occupies 
a very important place in the history of pedagogy. 

The first element of this Mathesis is Number, 
which, as already said, is the fundamental prin- 
ciple of the Pythagorean School, and thus the 
science of Number is the fundamental science, 
which is Arithmetic. Tliis begins with the con- 
ception of the One, the Monas, which is not 
simply an indifferent one, but is creative, divides 
within itself and produces the Two (Dyas) and 
with it all multiplicity (or many Ones). Under 
the Dyas or Twoness the Pythagoreans elab- 
orated a system of pairs or opposing categories, 
odd and even, finite and infinite, etc. Then came 
the Three (Trias), which was a very important 
number, being considered the completeness and 
reality of the One (Monas) which is now a 
return out of Twoness or separation (Dyas) 
and thereby becomes concrete and a process. 
Still the Pythagoreans did not stop with the 
Trias but went on with their numbers up to 
ten (Decas), whereby the numerical principle 
showed its externality and insufiiciency. 

The second element of the Pythagorean Ma- 
thesis is the science of Form (spatial), and un- 
folds into Geometry. This too sprang from 


numbers, as follows: the spatial One (Monas) 
was the Point, the spatial Two (Djas) or separa- 
tion was the Line, while the spatial Three (Trias) 
was Surface inclosed in its simplest way, namely 
in the triano^le. Out of the triano-le as rio-ht- 
ansjled Pythao^oras constructed the famous sfeo- 
metric proposition which still goes by his name, 
whereby Number can be applied to all Form, 
spatial or material, and the phj^sical universe can 
be measured, and, as it were, handled by mind. 
This brings us to the third element of the 
Mathesis, measure, or what is often called Ap- 
plied Mathematics. By the aid of the sciences 
of Number and of spatial Form the Pythagoreans 
began the great work of measuring and weighing 
the Cosmos as a whole and in all its parts, of re- 
ducing Nature to a mathematical formula which 
shows the order of its working and the means of 
its control. Their most celebrated measurement 
was that of musical sounds between which they 
ascertained the quantitative proportions and thus 
laid the basis of the science of harmony. They 
also carried these numerical proportions into the 
heavenly bodies whose motions were supposed to 
produce sounds like a musical instrument. In 
general, the Pythagoreans laid the mathematical 
basis for Music and Astronomy. 

Such are the three leading sciences in the school 
of Pythagoras — Arithmetic, Geometry, Men- 
suration. It was a very solid course of study for 


those early times in spite of many fantastic ap- 
])lications, to which numbers easily lent them- 
selves. This was the intellectual discipline, but 
Pythagoreanism had an equally important prac- 
tical side, which we must note : — 

(2) Praxis. Here the training of the Will has 
place, upon which the Pythagoreans put great 
stress, some think the chief stress, as if regard- 
ing the ethical interests and needs of man greater 
than his intellectual. 

First of all, the discipline of the School as a 
social body was very important. In it was that 
primal order which sprang from Number; strict 
obedience was enforced, the authority of thePj^th- 
agorean master has become proverbial in the term 
ipse dixit (^autos epha) ; silence was enjoined upon 
that most unruly Greek member, the tongue. 
Ethical subordination, probably often with Doric 
severity, was bred into the pupil by the school. 

Secondly, the Pythagoreans formulated a sys- 
tem of Morals, and inculcated personal virtue, 
which, however, was coupled with Number. Aris- 
totle says that Pythagoras was the first who at- 
tempted " to tell about virtue," but damaged 
his theory on account of " his referring the vir- 
tues to numbers." For instance, justice was a 
nuuiber; according to some it was four, accord- 
ing to others an other number. In this capri- 
cious play with numbers lies the weakness of 


Thirdly, there was an institutional training 
and participation among the Pythagoreans. 
They became political leaders, they ruled the 
State, they were law givers. They are reported 
to have favored aristocracy, which was in 
harmony with their Doric leanings. But the re- 
sult was that the party of democracy coming into 
power in various Greek cities of Southern Italy 
banished them, so that they were scattered 
through the rest of Greece. Their School had 
also a religious side ; it was something in the na- 
ture of a church, to use our term. So they 
showed phases of the three leading institutions — 
School, State, and religious Institution. With 
the Family the Pythagorean order could not have 
very strong ties, though women belonged to it, 
and Pythagoras himself was married. Theano, 
his daughter (some say his wife), was the most 
famous of Pythagorean women. 

With the religious and ethical aspects of Py- 
thagoreanism is doubtless connected its doctrine 
of Metempsychosis. Why are we here? The 
soul on account of its former transgression is 
whelmed into tiesh for punishment, and after 
death may enter Cosmos or Tartarus or be com- 
pelled to assume afresh some human or animal 
shape. This un-Greek view is probably a strand 
of Orientalism which Pj^thagoras picked up in his 
travels, and wove into his doctrine ciuite exter- 
litiily, for it has no inherent connection Avith his 


fundamental category of number, even if the 
soul be a number. 

(3) Askesis. By this somewhat unusual word 
we seek to designate the Pythagorean Life which 
was the result of both Mathesis and Praxis. It 
is possible for man both to learn and to act with- 
out living in a high sense. The school of Pythag- 
oras sought to transform the life of its mem- 
bers ; in this respect it resembles a religious order, 
and its founder has been compared to the founder 
of a religion. One of its words was palingenesia, 
or the second birth of the soul, which may have 
originally meant the return of the soul to the 
body after a period of transmigration; but the 
word must have had also its deeper meaning, 
which we designate by the term regeneration. 
The end both of the Mathesis and of the Praxis 
was just this inward life or character which was to 
transfigure all thinking and doing, and thereby 
reach the Askesis. The school evidently required 
a probationary period in its membership ; not all 
who were highly capable of learning and acting, 
were capable of the Askesis. Thus there arose 
a continuous and vigorous apostolate which per- 
petuated the school and its doctrine far into the 
Christian Era. 

In this respect the work of Pythagoras is 
unique among these old Greek philosophers. 
A great schoolmaster wils this first one, for he 
Jiad a school and he was the master of it with- 


out question. But his greatest deed was that 
he could rear other Pythagorases to succeed him 
and to keep eternally active his work; still fur- 
ther, he trained teachers to teach teachers to be 
such as he was, and so propagated his actual 
presence and selfhood for so many generations 
through his school, which lived his life, and prac- 
ticed his Askesis. This was the eternal element 
in it, each member of it became a living Pythag- 
oras through the power of the Askesis which 
he received and transmitted. 

Very rarely have other schoolmasters shown 
this power. Pestalozzi had something of it. But 
the only modern who has approached Pythagoras 
in this respect is Froebel, who has also his Math- 
esis in his theroetical doctrine, and his Praxis in 
the manipulation of his instrumentalities for the 
training of the child. But the truly marvelous 
trainino- in this work is that of the teacher or the 
kindergardner herself. Through the Mathesis 
and the Praxis she — for the woman has occupied 
the present field — attains the Froebelian Askesis, 
which is not simply a vocation but a Hfe ; she be- 
comes a kind of re-incarnation of the master, and 
a most devoted apostle of his cause, having carried 
it already quite around the world and kept it alive 
and active with consecrated energy. To external 
argumentation against her faith she pays little heed, 
having the witness of the spirit within ; she is well 
aware that she has something which the outsider 


knows not of, and that she has gotten it through 
her Froebelian discipline, which has still in it 
much that comes down directly from the founder. 

So we seek to bring before ourselves the last- 
ing element of the Pythagorean school, the 
Askesis, not very easy to grasp and formulate to 
one's satisfaction, yet the essential fact of the 
whole movement. Still we are by no means 
to neglect the other two stages, the Mathesis 
and the Praxis. The significance of Number is 
very great, being the first mastery of Nature, 
or among the first ; a kind of machine we may 
consider it for controlling the Cosmos, which 
machine Pythagoras had a large part in construct- 
ing, and which he set to running quite on the 
lines of its future development. 

Hence we may say that the Pythagoreans 
began with Physics and sought an explanation of 
Nature through Number ; in this sense they were 
physicists and belonged to the early Greek Phi- 
losophers. But they had also a metaphysical 
thread as well as an ethical one in their fabric. 
Thus we see the three branches of Greek thought 
as developed later — Metaphysics, Physics, and 
Ethics — germinating in their system, though 
it cannot well be divided in this way. Still their 
Mathesis or Mathematics they carried over into 
practice, and joined to it previous religious con- 
ceptions, and so unfolded the Askesis or the 
Pythagorean Life. 


It was possible to participate in the Pytha- 
gorean Askesis, without accepting the doctrine 
of Number. Parmenides the Eleatic is said to 
have received training in the School of Pythag- 
oras, but to have gone over to the philosophy of 
Xenophanes. Still more emphatic is the case of 
Empedocles, who, evidently discontented with 
the doctrine of Pythagoras, felt himself com- 
pelled to found a new Philosophy, through which 
the onward movement of Greek speculation passes 
beyond Pythagoreanism. 

3. Empedocles. We have reached the third 
stasfe of the Inter-connectiug Movement, whose 
locality is Agrigentum in Sicily, also a Greek 
colony in the West. The representative of this 
stage is Empedocles. The exact dates of his 
birth and death are uncertain, as has been ob- 
served already of so many of these old philoso- 
phers. But the generally received opinion now 
is that he lived about sixty years, which are placed 
between 494 and 434 B. C. He was of aristo- 
cratic lineage, yet had democratic leanings, taking 
a prominent part in the political movements of his 
city and his time. He is said to have refused the 
offer of kingship over his countrymen. 

Of his spiritual pedigree there are many diverse 
reports. The bloom of his activity quite co-in- 
cides with that of the Pythagorean School in 
Southern Italy, though he could not well have 
been a pupil of Pythagoras himself. His writ- 


ings certainly show an acquaintance with Pytha- 
gorean doctrine ; tliey also indicate a reaction 
against that doctrine and a return to Heraclitus 
and to the older philosophies, Eleatic and Milesian. 
But the prime fact in the ordering of the philos- 
ophy of Empedocles is that it is a reaction against 
the Pythagorean principle of number and a going 
back to the physical element as the principle of 
Being in the form of the Becoming of Heraclitus. 
Thus we behold in the Inter-connecting (Inter- 
colonial) Movement a psychical process with its 
three stages. 

Still Empedocles is by no means the return to 
the simple, immediate Becoming of Heraclitus, 
else his would be no original philosophy, but a 
mere repetition. He carries along with himself 
the experience which he may have obtained, and 
doubtless did obtain, from his Pythagorean 
study : beneath the world of change and multi- 
plicity, or of Becoming, lies a principle unchang- 
ing, underived, and indestructible. The Py- 
thagorean number started with being such a 
principle, but did not hold out. It claimed to 
be the essence underlying all change, but it too 
changed and showed itself derivable, in part at 
least. At this point we may trace the dissatis- 
faction of Empedocles with Pythagoreanism, and 
of his turning back to the Becoming and seeking 
a new principle or new principles. 

The peculiarity of his principle is that it is not 


one but four — the so-called four elements, 
which he names the roots (^rhizomata) of all 
Being, and of which the phenomenal world in all 
its diversity is composed through combination 
(mixture) or separation. Now these four ele- 
ments are always self -identical, qualitatively 
unchangeable, which, however, produce all 
qualitative change by mechanical union and 
division. Just here, it should be noted, is the 
primal conception of the Atom. The elements 
of Empedocles might be named the macrocosmic 
Atoms but for one difficulty : they are not 
claimed to be indivisible, nor are they infinitely 
small, as is the microcosmic Atom of Leucippus 
and Democritus, which is the very next develop- 
ment of Philosophy. So Empedocles still be- 
longs to the Elementalists and not to the 
Atoi^ists ; indeed he is a decided reaction toward 
earlier stages of Elementalism, which he strives to 
recover and to harmonize with the new incoming 
idea, but his struggles are really the death 
convulsions of the elemental epoch of Greek 

In this genesis of the thought of Empedocles 
we should further note that the multiplicity in 
his principle is a strain of his Pythagorean train- 
ing. Number is multiplex, and hence as a prin- 
ciple of Being has multiplicity. So it comes that 
Empedocles preserves numerical multiplicity in 
his elements, but excludes all changeability and 


derivability. His four elements have a certain 
resemblance to four primary numbers, out of 
which all other numbers may be obtained by ad- 
dition and subtraction. Of course the compari- 
son does not hold throughout, since the com- 
bination and separation of the four elements 
produce all qualitative changes, and not simply 
quantitative. In fact, Empedocles doubtless quit 
Pythagoreanism because he saw that its play of 
numbers could only show quantitative change, 
but could never account for qualitative change 
or the real Becoming. Some writers also point 
out that the number of the elements, four, allies 
him to the Pythagoreans, this number having a 
very important place in their system (the te- 

One other relation of Empedocles we may 
mention as it has been much emphasized, and in 
our judgment over-emphasized. Some ancient 
reports make him a pupil of Parmenides and 
call him an Eleatic. He posits an unchange- 
able principle as his pure Being, as do the 
Eleatics ; but into this pure Being he in- 
jects multiplicity, which contradicts at once the 
Eleatic fundamental category, which is the One, 
or the oneness of Being. It cannot be said that 
he denies Becoming; on the contrary he accepts 
it and seeks to explain the changeability through 
the changeless elements. He indeed denies in a 
well-known passage the ordinary conception of 


Death and Birth, "as it is called among men; " 
but this is not a denial of change, for it is just 
here explained as " a commingling and a separat- 
ing of things commingled." Much too great 
stress has been placed upon the Eleaticism of 
Empedocles by the historians of Greek Philoso- 
phy. The fact is, the entire Inter-connecting 
Movement was in opposition to Eleaticism and a 
going back to the physical Elementalism of the 
Milesian (or Ionic) School, from which Eleati- 
cism was a separation. If the reader fully studies 
the meaning of the Inter-connecting Movement 
as the third stage of the total elemental process 
of the Hellenic Period, he will see that both 
Heraclitus and Empedocles as well as the Pytha- 
goreans participate in a return to the first or Mile- 
sian stage as above set forth. Still we must not 
forget that this return is not a relapse, but shows 
that the third Movement has gone through the 
second (orEleatic) in order to reach back and 
take up the first. 

Such is the general character of the Phi- 
losophy of Empedocles and his relation to his 
predecessors. But he has other doctrines, not 
all of which can be brought into organic con- 
nection with his fundamental thoug-ht. The 
general process of his thought may be seen in the 
following outline. 

I. The Becoming as such, or as immediate 
furnishes the problem of his system. In the 


technical lanffuag^e of the time he affirms that 
both Being and non-Being exist, with perpetual 
interchange into each other. But he also holds 
to a principle changeless underneath all change ; 
to discover and to categorize this principle con- 
stitutes the salient fact of his Philosophy. 

II. The four elements, fire, air, earth, and 
water are the original principle (or principles) 
which are given, presupposed, hence uncreated 
and indestructible as well as unchangeable. 
They are, however, divisible and combinable, 
though an empty space between them, such 
as the Void, seems expressly denied. Still he has 
pores between his small particles which are like- 
wise invisible. In all these matters Empedocles 
is very uncertain and inconsistent, but it is 
astonishing how near he approaches to Atomism. 
He was a contemporary of Leucippus though less 
mature than the latter in his thought. There 
was apparently no attempt to reduce his four to 
one element. 

III. Finally, the question must arise, what is 
the power commingling and separating these four 
elements, and thus producing the changeful phe- 
nomenal world? Here again Empedocles pre- 
supposes or picks up from the outside two new 
principles — Love and Hate. He hardly consid- 
ers them as dynamic, but rather as corporeal ; 
really they are for him two new, active elements, 
in addition to the previous four, which seem to 


be essentially passive. One is the uniting and 
the other the separating principle. The inter- 
action of these two principles gives the process 
of the universe which may be seen in the follow- 
ing brief statement : — 

(1) The primordial condition of the All is the 
happy intermingling of the elements, without 
inner conflict or separation; or as Empedocles 
says, Hate was not present in it, only Love, Pri- 
mal Love. The world in this condition he calls 
Sphairos (the first Sphere or Ball, the earliest 
form of the All). 

(2) Into this paradisaical Sphairos Hate en- 
ters, and the period of separation and strife of the 
elements begins. Thus arises the Cosmos, or the 
present world as distinct from the primitive 
Sphairos. Creation is division, separation, which 
is the characteristic of the created Cosmos. Still 
Love is not wholly expelled but holds fast to a part 
and asserts itself. The result is the grand cosmical 
war between Love and Hate, uniting and sepa- 

(3) But the world is destined to make the re- 
turn to Sphairos, Love having triumphed, and 
overcome all strife and separation. 

Very shadowy are these mighty outlines, but 
we can see that Empedocles had before his mind, 
vaguely and remotely, the inherent psychical 
process of the All (or the All-Psychosis). His 
complete Sphairos must be conceived as immedi- 



ate, separative in the Cosmos, and returning to 
itself, which is for him the unconscious soul- 
process of the Universe. This is the very 
thought which Philosophy is laboring to develop 
into clearness, which clearness, however, it quite 
lacks in the wild and whirling verses of Empe- 
docles. Still it is there fermenting in volcanic 
flashes and clouds, like to Aetna which lay not 
far off from his birth-place, and of whose 
eruptive, loud-detonating and smoky nature his 
words and his character seem to partake. 

Observations on the Inter -connecting Movement. 
This in its fundamental character puts the pro- 
cess into Being and calls it the Becoming. That 
is, the essence of Being (the ousia of the on) 
now is the Becoming. Its starting-point is the 
statement of Heraclitus that all changes or flows. 
The next step is to ask, What causes this change 
or continual flux? The Pythagoreans put behind 
it their Number; Empedocles places change in 
the commingling of the four elements. So the 
present Movement seeks the essence of the Be- 
coming, which essence again shows a process, 
namely the present Movement. 

1. The great object of it is to see and formu- 
late the controlling power behind all Multiplicity, 
Mutability, Capriciousness, which lies in the Be- 
coming. Even Heraclitus, who most emphat- 
ically asserts and dwells on this principle of the 
everlasting Flux, puts over it an external Neces- 


sity or Fate, which he also sometimes calls Law, 
Mind, or even God. Here we note that Herac- 
litus expresses the institutional situation of his 
time and country. Ephesus with all Ionia lay 
under the control of an outside power, Persia. 
The Ionic multitude whom Heraclitus despises, a 
fickle, uncertain, ever-changing mass, is the Be- 
coming which is held firm by the iron hand of 
Fate in the shape of the Persian despotism. 
Democracy, though starting there, cannot con- 
tinue ; its changeability must be controlled by an 
external, fixed might, the foreign monarch. 

2. The Pythagoreans likewise seek to find the 
governing principle of this mutable world or of 
the Becoming. With them Number is such a 
principle to which is attached the idea of order, 
discipline, law. They too have their very . im- 
portant institutional relation to their age and 
also to their country, which is Lower Italy. 
They form a society of initiates who by knowl- 
edge and self-discipline place themselves over 
the mass of the people representing the mutable 
multitude. Hence the Pythagoreans tend to 
Aristocracy, not so much of birth as of intellect. 
They are not an outside power like the Persian 
Monarch; they spring from the people, ruling 
by superior mind and training, but they separate 
themselves from the people, their origin, and 
become exclusive, domineering, aristocratic. The 
result is the people rise in might and cast them 


out, establishing democracies in many cities of 
Italy and Sicily during a large portion of the fifth 
century B. C. Thus the people try to be the 
whole process of the Becoming, but they in turn 
often generate the one-man power, the tyrant, 
for instance Dionysius of Syracuse, who again 
rules them like an outer Fate. 

3. It is manifest that this Philosophy of the 
Becoming expresses the grand social and political 
fact of the time. The Universe is, indeed, full 
of change and multiplicity, so is man; the prob- 
lem is. How shall we get unity and order into 
his social life? Monarchy, ■Aristocracy, Democ- 
racy are in a grand process with one another, 
which is the Becoming of Government. Each of 
these methods seeks to rule, and claims to be able 
to put into order the warring multiplicity of 
social existence. Such is the underMng institu- 
tional significance of this entire Inter-connecting 
Movement, with its various attempts to control 
the Becoming, of which two have been alluded to. 

4, The next is the philosophy of Empedocles, 
who in one sense doubts the Becoming, but really 
seeks to explain it and control it by a new princi- 
ple, namely the four elements. The large mass 
or multiplicity is reduced to a few controlling in- 
gredients which are mixed to make the mass. 
But with Empedocles rises the question : who 
shall be the mixer of these elements which pro- 
duce the multiplicity or the Becoming? In his 


tlieoiy Democracy, Aristocracy, :iud Monarchy 
(or perchance Dyarchy) are united, constituting 
truly a mixed government of the Cosmos, or a 
combination of the One, the Few, and the Many. 

The political life of Empedocles seems in a cer- 
tain sense to have reflected his Philosophy. He 
evidently belonged to the aristocracy, but sided 
Avith the people and helped them put down their 
tyrant; it is said the throne was offered him, 
which he refused. Still he too suffered from the 
mutability of the people ; being compelled to 
leave his native city, he wandered into the Pelop- 
onnesus, where he died. He manifestly reacted 
from the Pythagorean aristocracy, as he did also 
from their philosophical doctrine, passing over 
to democracy, yet uot to lawless, uncontrolled 
democracy. From this point of view he can be 
seen to be a return to ^Miletus and Ionia, which 
also had had early democratic tendencies. "We 
may regard his f our ek^ments (aristocratic) as the 
mediating principle between the One and the 

5. Such was the institutional substrate of the 
philosophizing in these Greek cities, all of which 
were in the grand process of Becoming. AVhat 
are they to become? Soon they are to become 
subjects of Rome, also an Italic city, which is 
in this period (tifth century B. C), likewise go- 
ing through her Becoming or preparatory train- 
ing to be the conqueror of the world. Monarchy 


Rome has already passed through ; now follows 
the long conflict between the Few and the Many, 
the patricians and the plebeians, aristocracy and 
democracy, both of which are finally united in 
that all-subduing political process which is Rome. 
Thus the Roman City-State practically solves the 
problem presented by the Greek City-State, and 
set forth in abstract form by Greek Thought. 
All this will help us understand that these Greek 
Philosophies were not an idle play of fancy to 
amuse vacant heads, but were statements of mind 
to mind concerning the most important practical 
questions of the age. 


II. Atomism. 

We have now reached the second main stage 
in the total sweep of Hellenic Philosophy, which 
stage we may more particularly designate as the 
Process of Being as individual. The previous 
elemental continuity of Being is now broken up 
into changeless, undivided units (atoms), which, 
however, are conceived by the mind and hence 
are supra-elemental. Herein we see the sepa- 
rative character of Atomism. 

The present stage follows in due order the 
previous stage of Elementalism, which was fur- 
ther designated as the Process of Being as ele- 
mental^ that is, the first stage of the Hellenic 
Period of Greek Philosophy, which we may call 
for brevity's sake the elemental Psychosis. But 
now we have reached the second stage of this 
same Hellenic Period, whose general character 
we have sought to designate in the above cap- 
tion. The search is still kept up to find the 
essence of Being (the ousia of the on), and we 
have run through quite all its elemental possi- 
bilities. At present, however, we pass from the 
elemental to the individual ; the essence of Being 


is now posited as tlie individual. We shall find 
that this essence of Being likewise (as in case of 
the elements) will reveal a process, that is, a 
Psychosis, which we have already named the 
Process of Being as individual. 

This is the sphere which in its widest scope is 
known as Atomism, a term applied primarily to 
one of the special classes of Philosophies belong- 
ing here. The atom in Greek is quite the same 
etymologically as the individual in Latin, and 
both words are employed in English usage. 
Atomism is to be regarded as the process of In- 
dividuation, tlie first getting of the individual in 
the universe by thought. The movement of 
Atomism will embrace World, God and Man, tlie 
fundamental objects of all philosophic thinking. 
Of course it has its own way, its own peculiar 
method and nomenclature. It starts with in- 
dividuating Nature (or the Cosmos); but next 
the all-controlling principle is separated from 
the atomic Cosmos and is named Nous (Divine 
Reason) ; finally we reach in this process the 
true individual, the atom as subject or Ego, 
which is the outcome and ultimate purpose of 
the whole movement. These three stages con- 
stitute the total sweep of the present sphere and 
will be developed more fully later on. 

Just now, however, it is worth our while to 
look back at the elemental process and see in it 
the individual as implicit, unborn but struggling 


to be born. That process sought the One, but 
always fell back into the Many ; it posited the 
fixed and the abiding but this was unfailingly 
found to be changeful and transitory. The ele- 
mental process could not avoid contradicting 
itself. It affirmed the principle of all things to 
be an element, but this element itself needed a 
principle. It sought to explain Nature by taking 
an element of Nature, which was just the thing 
to be explained. It endeavored to find the 
essence of Being by employing a phase of Being 
as that essence. The cause of the phenomenon 
it demanded and then took the phenomenon in 
some form as cause. It asked fen- the fixed in 
the fleeting, and then took a phase of the fleeting 
as the fixed. Thus the elemental Psychosis rolls 
and tosses through all the elements, and is still 
dissatisfied, and for a good reason. Its grand 
hunt is for the One in the Manifold, but every 
such One turns out to be Manifold. Such is the 
restless pursuit of the unity of Being through all 
the multiplicity of the world. The result is that 
the element as the one essence of all thinofs has 
to be given up ; the spirit overruling Greek 
Philosophy and all Philosophy (we have already 
called it the Pampsychosis) is to take a new 
step and begin a new considerable journey ; it is 
to pass from the element to the individual as the 
unitary essence of the world. 

In this chase through the elements after the 


essence the mind has to ask, What is the element 
behind this play of elements — the one undi- 
vided, unchangeable element of them all? So it 
begins to conceive an essence from which sepa- 
ration, change, the Becoming shall be excluded, 
yet which shall be the source or principle of the 
changeful world. Mark, this is something con- 
ceived, it is a thought; truly it is the Atom, 
which, therefore, is not a sensible object, but 
has to be given by thought. To be sure, it is at 
first conceived as material or even as elemental ; 
but just this fact of its being a conception lifts it 
out of the sphere of the elements as such and 
their process, and makes it supra-elemental. To 
get the One in the Manifold, the unity in all 
division, the true individual underlying and in- 
deed producing all separation and phenomenality, 
is the problem of Atomism. 

In this atomistic movement the topography is 
to be noted. It is not centrifugal, it does not 
stay on the borderland of the Hellenic world, 
and never penetrate to the continental center of 
Hellas, as was the case with the elemental Move- 
ment, just described, which rose and flourished 
in the outlying colonies east and west from the 
fatherland. But now the tendency is centripetal , 
the atomistic movement as a whole seeks the heart 
of Greece, which after the Persian War is Athens. 
To be sure. Atomism as such starts in a northern 
colony, Abdera, and seems in the main to stay 


there. But the second stage of it, in the person 
of Anaxagoras migrated to the Athenian capitol. 
In like manner the Sophists, wliom we have to 
put into the general atomistic movement, flocked 
to Athens during this period. Thus a centripe- 
tal tendency is seen in the topographical order of 
the successive stages of Atomism. Such is the 
flight of the Atoms toward the point of unity 
and authority ; they may be regarded as starting 
from the periphery of Hellas and whirling in a 
kind of vortex around and into that city which 
had so mightily asserted the cause of itself and 
of its race against the countless hordes of the 

Now this atomistic movement is a reflection 
of the social and political character of the time, 
as is every philosophy of any significance. 
Atomism means in its very nature the dismem- 
berment of the old Greek world, and a new 
arrangement of it according to a new principle. 
Many city-states, the political Atoms of that 
world, had broken their former ties and were 
gravitating into the Athenian Empire. Still fur- 
ther, the individuals throughout Greece had 
obtained culture and with it a new sense of per- 
sonal freedom, which separated them from their 
community and converted them into fugitive 
Atoms, which had the general tendency to move 
toward the grand center of attraction, where was 
room for every species of self -exploitation. 


After the Persian and during the Peloponnesian 
Wars there was a great breaking-up of the in- 
timate communal life of Greece, which turned 
the individual loose upon the world, making him 
an independent Atom governed by himself, often 
very capriciously. And what would he find 
when he got to Athens? The greatest collection 
of atomic individuals in all the land, each one 
not only autonomous for himself but also ruling 
the city — the Athenian democracy. Thus At- 
omism took possession of the government, and 
becoming political ruled for a time all Hellas 
through its dominant power. Mark again, we 
do not here mean simply the doctrine of Leu- 
cippus and Democritus, but the total atomic 
movement, as hereafter set forth. 

But the deepest fact now is this : Atomism 
unchains individuality and lets it run loose in the 
world. Such is the very essence of the present 
movement : the winning of the Individual, who 
may be said to have been now for the first time 
truly born on this earth, and placed in a foster- 
ins: and congenial environment. The result is 
that the Individual during this epoch of little 
more than one hundred years developed and 
exploited himself with such an astonishing rapid- 
ity and fecundity of word and deed that he has 
kept the world busy ever since in fathoming 

Though we trace a connection between Atom- 


ism and antecedent forms of Elementalism 
(specially as represented by the Elcatics, Herac- 
litus and Empedocles) we must not forget that 
the total Greek spirit was philosophising and 
expressing various phases of its whole Self in 
these various Greek Philosophies. Now the turn 
of Atomism has come, the soul of Hellas utters 
itself atomistically, and we are to see the 
place of such an utterance in the entire philo- 
sophic process of the Hellenic Period. Indeed 
our glance may well reach out farther, and catch 
in Atomism an early and indistinct expression not 
only of Greek Spirit, but of the universal Spirit 
(the Pampsychosis) whose morning voice is 
heard in these early Philosophies. 

There are three stages of Atomism as the pro- 
cess of Individuation or the getting of the Indi- 

I. Oosmical Atomism. The Atom is now the 
undivided one produced by division, yet con- 
trolled essentially by this division. Thus the 
Atom, being left quite to itself in separating and 
combining to produce the world of objects, is 
declared to be governed by Chance or Necessity. 
The undivided one is conceived to have all di- 
vision and hence all motion external to it, and so 
determining it (LeucippusandDemocritus). 

The Atom is on the one hand a concept and 
hence supra-elemental, and on the other it is a 
material thing and hence elemental. This is the 


inherent dualism of the Atom, nothing less than 
Thought and Matter; yet the two are immedi- 
ately united in a Thought which is posited as 
Matter; i. e., an Atom. 

II. Noetic Atomism. The Atom is still the 
undivided one produced by division, yet it now 
controls this division (motion, separation and 
combination) of the Atoms. This is Nous (In- 
telligence, Reason), or the Noetic Atom, which is 
still conceived as the one individed Atom, yet also 
as the Atom-controller, and hence as the orderer 
of the Cosmos (Anaxagoras). 

Here the supra-elemental principle as Nous 
(from which noun the adjective Noetic is taken), 
is separated from the Atom as elemental, and 
rules it, so to speak, from above, as a kind of 
deity. But in the cosmical Atom these two prin- 
ciples (the supra-elemental as concept and the 
elemental as matter) we found to be in immedi- 
ate unity. Moreover this Nous in ordering the 
Atoms has its end (telos), which is manifest in 
the harmonies of the Cosmos. 

III. Egoistic Atomism. The Atom is still 
the undivided one produced by division (as in 
birth) on the one hand, yet on the other pro- 
ducing and controlling all division. This is the 
Ego or Self, which is not only conceived as the 
one undivided Atom, but also conceives itself 
to be such an Atom or Individual. The Ego 
makes every distinction from itself, and further- 


more affirms that every distinction in the world 
of objects is made by itself, or b}^ the Self as In- 
dividual or Subject. This is, in general, the 
standpoint of the Sophists or of Sophisticism, 
and finds utterance in the maxim, t' Man is the 
measure of all things" (that is, Man as In- 

Thus every Ego has become a JVou,^ or deter- 
mining principle of the Cosmos, which is now 
what every Ego deems it to be. In other words, 
the objective JVous of Noetic Atomism with its one 
end, has become subjective, whereby each Indi- 
vidual (or Atom) has also its own end (or telos) ; 
or the Atom-controlling Atom (the N'ous of 
Anaxagoras) is put into every Atom which was 
previously controlled, but which is now trans- 
formed into a world-controller. 

Moreover this third stage of Atomism (Ego- 
istic) is the return to and restoration of the first 
stage of Atomism (Cosmical) in the fact of 
unity, though this unity of the Atom is no longer 
immediate and implicit, but mediated and ex- 
plicit. For the Atom as Ego is not the siinple 
oneness of the external "divisions of Thought and 
Matter, or of the supra- elemental and the ele- 
mental, such as is the Cosmical Atom, but is the 
producer of all divisions and distinctions from 
itself, and the re-uniter of them with itself, having 
its motion not given outside itself but inside 


Thus the Atom in its process has found itself, 
has returned upon itself in the Ego (which is 
inherently just this self-returning principle), and 
has discovered itself to be the undivided One, 
yet the source of all division. Therein it has be- 
come the true Individual, self -active, product of 
division, yet the producer of the division which 
produces it, hence the internally self-detennined 
and subjectively free. 

Here we may add, however, that this sub- 
jective or individual freedom is not the conclu- 
sion of the process or the highest freedom, which 
Socrates will soon show to be objective and insti- 
tutional. In fact, there is a decided streak of 
Caprice in all Atomism, as there is in every 
individual. The Chance or the Necessity of 
Democritus is an external or cosmical Caprice 
inseparable from the Cosmical Atom. Then the 
one Koas, or the Atom-compelling Atom, rules 
the world of Atoms according to its own end or 
purpose, which in form at least is capricious, 
even if rational — which fact is the chief diffi- 
culty with it. Finally the Egoistic Atom or the 
Sophist is the very essence of Caprice, since he 
makes what distinctions in the objective world 
he pleases and as he pleases. Thus the external 
Caprice or Chance of the mindless Atom in 
Democritus, becomes the internal Caprice of the 
mental Atom or Ego in Sophisticism. One capri- 
cious macrocosm with its vortex is not enough ; 


every man has to have a capricious microcosm 
within himself, whereby every Ego becomes a 
workl-swallowing vortex which can only end by 
swallowing itself. 

This Caprice of Atomism is what the next 
stage of thinking (which we call Universalism) 
must transcend. Each atomistic Eo-o asserts its 
own subjective criterion as final, and so must 
sooner or later get into conflict with its neighbor 
who is also a self-asserting atomistic Ego. This 
is indeed the picture of the Greek world at the 
present period (just before the Peloponnesian 
War) ; all Hellas shows the tendency to turn 
atomistic politically and socially, as well as in- 
tellectually. The counter-revolution, as we shall 
see later, was headed by Socrates, and is what 
constitutes mainly his epoch-making appearance 
in the philosophic world. 

We may now see that the process of Atomism 
is to individuate the All or the Universe in its 
three grand divisions — Nature, God and Man. 
To be sure, this is not done in the purest and 
highest fashion; still in a general way we can 
see that Cosmical Atomism deals with Nature, 
Noetic Atomism with the Divine Reason (JV^ous) 
and Egoistic Atomism with Man. So we must 
come to the thought that Atomism in the three 
stages of its psychical process reflects, even if 
faintly, the triple movement of the whole Uni- 
verse (or the Pampsychosis). The details of 



this process we may now look into more fully in 
the following exposition, which will illustrate the 
points briefly touched upon in the present gen- 
eral introduction to Atomism. 

A. CosMiCAL Atomism. 

As already noted, there are three kinds or rather 
stages of Atomism, each of which is to be desig- 
nated by an adjective characterizing it. Cosmi- 
cal Atomism connects directly with Empedocles 
whose four elements pass over into innumerable 
Atoms which compose the Cosmos. So now the 
essence of Being is affirmed to be the Atom as 
cosmical, which has to be thought, not sensed, as 
a material object. 

Hence it comes that this kind of Atomism is 
often called materialistic Atomism since it has 
been a chief source of what is known as a mate- 
rialistic view of the world. But it may be also 
designated as ideo-])hysical, since the Atom is 
ideal, purely a conception of the mind, though it 
is conceived to be physical. Thus it is the con- 
cept materialized, or rather the Ego itself put 
into a material form and made the fundamental 
constituent of the universe. One of the books 
of Democritus is said to have been entitled 
" Concerning Ideas," and by Ideas he must have 
meant Atoms, curiously paralleling Platonic Ideas 
with a material counterpart, which must have 


been a horrible phantasm to the idealist Plato, 
who was a younger cotemporary of Democritus. 

It should also be added that Cosmical Atomism 
is essentially microcosmic (micros, small) in con- 
trast to the preceding elementary stage which 
is macrocosmic. Cosmical Atomism, however, 
looks at the large world also, but reduces it to 
the small, the Atom, which is the unit underlying 
all change. The endeavor is to get down to the 
})rinial One out of which the universe is built, 
to find the pattern brick which enters into every 
construction of nature's architecture. 

Cosmical Atomism is chiefly connected with 
two names, Leucippus and Democritus. Of the 
former little is known, but he was probably the 
founder and first teacher of the system, while 
the latter was his pupil and chief expositor. 
Leucippus left few if any writings ; he was evi- 
dently the creative spirit and the oral teacher, 
like Socrates ; while Democritus was the scribe, 
the literary apostle of the atomistic doctrine, hav- 
ing written a vast number of books, all of which 
have perished except fragments. In later an- 
tiquity Leucippus seems to have been quite for- 
gotten, but our own time has restored him to his 
place as founder, as well as revived his Philoso- 
phy, making it the basis of Natural Science. 
Thus the Atom, brought into the world of thought 
through Leucippus, has shown itself very per- 


Democritus, the pupil, was born about 460 
B. C. He asserted, according to Diogenes Laer- 
tius, that he was forty years younger than An- 
axagoras who is likewise declared to have been a 
pupil of Leucippus; from the latter, accordingly, 
proceeded two chief streams of Atomism. This 
fact puts Leucippus into a high rank as a mind- 
fertilizing genius. Doubtless the third stream of 
Atomism, the sophistic, was strongly influenced 
also by Leucippus in the person of Protagoras, 
who came from Abdera, where Democritus was 
born and where Leucippus taught. The historic 
facts about these men are hazy and uncertain, 
still they show a tendency to lead back to Leu- 
cippus as the fountain-head of all three stages of 
Atomism — the Cosmical, developed by Democ- 
ritus, the Noetic, developed by Anaxagoras, and 
the Egoistic, represented most prominently by 
the sophist Protagoras. The home of Leucip- 
pus is variously stated as Miletus in the east, Elea 
in the west, and Abdera in the north ; he was 
evidently a wandering teacher, a prototype of 
the later Greek sophist or of the medieval roviug 
scholastic. His teacher, or one of his teachers, 
is said by Simplicius to have been Parmenides, 
and Atomism is distinctly a development out of 
Eleaticism, though connected with other early 
Greek philosophies. Very mistily but hugely 
the outlines of a great character loom up out of 
this early Greek age in the person of Leucippus, 


a kind of roaming Socrates ready to plant his 
thoughts in any congenial mind. 

The chief fact of Cosmical Atomism is that it 
puts the immediate or outer world through the 
process of individuation. It takes nature or 
matter, and subjects it to the princij)le of di- 
vision till it finds the undivided or the indivisible, 
which, however, it can find only as a concept or 
thought. This is the individual of nature — the 
Atom, being the ultimate unitary principle of the 
Cosmos. Hence we have Cosmical Atomism, 
which also has its process. 

1. The Atom. The starting-point being ob- 
tained, the Atom may be given its predicates. 
It has no beginning or end, it becomes not but 
is, wherein we see the assertion of Eleaticism 
against Heraclitism. It is the absolutely given, 
the pre-supposed, not derived, not perishable, 
the one persistent identical thmg in the Cosmos. 
It is not divisible, has no space or pores within 
it, which would imply separation and division 
inside of it; it is unchangeable, self -identical, 
excludes all inner transformation; also it is im- 
penetrable, for that would mean divisibility. 
Each is wholly separate, stays by itself, individ- 
ualized, yet all have the same common charac- 
teristic, hence they are simple, homogeneous. 
Such is the germ of all Atomism, or of Being as 

In these numerous predicates there is one 


effort and one purpose : all separation and vari- 
ety must be taken out of the Atom, so that no 
form of division can penetrate the same. Im- 
penetrable, indivisible, unchangeable, imperish- 
able — every one of these terms is a negation 
of the separated and manifold, and an assertion 
of the One which is the Atom. This is, accord- 
ingly, the- denial of the elemental principle of 
previous Philosophies, which always became 
self -contradictory, since it claimed to be the one 
essence, yet turned out to be manifold in the end. 

Thus it is that all inner difference is sought to 
be eliminated from the atom. We have seen 
this same purpose in the Pure Being of the Ele- 
atics. But as the Atom is to constitute the 
world and all its variety (which is difference), 
the question rises: How does this difference get 
to be? It is on the Atom, not in it; hence the 
Atom has an infinite difference of form, and for 
this reason it was also called a Form or an Idea 
by Democritus, as already noted. Atoms were 
likewise said to be distinguished from each other 
by their size and weight: in which statement the 
theory begins to contradict itself, for difference 
is getting inside the Atom. 

Through the infinitely diverse combinations of 
these Forms (Atoms) there will be produced all 
qualitative differences in the world. Every phe- 
nomenon v/ill be, from this point of view, caused 
by an arrangement of the Atoms peculiar to 


itself; the Atoms do not change in themselves, 
bu-t their order changes. Accordingly there 
must be conceived in addition a place for 
changes outside of the Atoms. 

2. The Void. This is the second principle of 
Atomism, usually known by its dual name, the 
Full and the Void, or the Atom and the empty 
space around the Atom. 

Through the Void the Atoms are separated 
externally, and are preserved as individuals. Thus 
separation is put outside of them, yet they are 
given a field of movement and arrangement. 
Points of contact between Atoms seem to have 
been allowed, but there was no entrance to this 
Holy of Holies. The universe might crash to 
pieces, the Atom was safe in its citadel, guarded 
by an impassable barrier, the Void, which, we 
must remember, is also a conception, being in- 
visible on account of its smallness. 

Still the Void, though a conception, was con- 
ceived as real, just as real as the Atom. Accord- 
ingly the Atomists declare that Non-Being (which 
is the Void) is, or has Being — wherein the doc- 
trine departs from the Eleatics (who affirm that 
Non-Being is not) and agrees with Heraclitus, 
whose Becoming the atomic principle seeks to 

The possibility of change, being excluded from 
the Atom, is restored by the Void, in which the 
changeless Atoms can combine mechanically and 


produce all the manifold diversity of the world. 
Herein we see the fundamental purpose of Atom- 
ism: to reduce the varied multiplicity of Na- 
ture to Atoms for the purpose of knowing it. 
Science is, according to the Atomists, the reduc- 
tion of the qualitative to the quantitative, whereby 
it can be counted and measured. 

We have obtained the Atom and a place for it 
to move in ; now follows the question, what moves 
it? Herewith we come to the third presupposi- 
tion of Atomism — Motion. 

3. The Vortex. Each Atom is moving, is en- 
dowed with motion from all eternity, and cannot 
help moving, motion being itself eternal. Thus 
the changeless One of Nature is perpetually 
changing its place in the Void, making new com- 
binations and producing new phenomena. De- 
mocritus seems to have ascribed weight to his 
Atoms, so that they were moved by gravitation, 
thus there is a perpetual fall of the Atoms. In 
this fall they impinge upon one another, and from 
the collision and recoil arises the grand whirl of 
the Atoms (dinos, vortex), the circular movement 
in the macrocosm as well as in the microcosm. 

In this atomic maelstrom there was no design 
or end, for Democritus specially opposed the 
tclism of Auaxagoras, of which we shall speak 
later. Hence there was an element of chance in 
this collision of the Atoms. Yet also an element 
of necessity, for their fortuitous meeting and 


clashing terminated in the whirl. Democritus 
uses even the word logos (Reason) to express 
this overruling necessity. Still the grand fact 
of the Cosmos is the masquerade of the Atoms, 
full of external caprice as regards movement, 
even if this everlasting mutual jostling turns into 
the universal g3'ration. 

The scheme of Cosmical Atomism would seem 
not to be well adapted for Ethics, still Democ- 
ritus had his ethical writings. But they could 
liardly have been an integral part of his system ; 
he was the cotemporary of Socrates and Plato 
whose thought was so strongly ethical, and he 
naturally responded to a call of his time, even if 
this was not a call of his doctrine. He also 
speaks of the Gods, though they are quite abol- 
ished by his Philosophy. But he is not the only 
philosopher who injects unassimilated material 
into his system. 

The soul is composed of Atoms according to 
Democritus, of the fine, smooth and round 
Atoms, which adjectives pertain to no inner 
quality but only to external form and size. In fact 
the soul's Atoms are those of fire, are endowed 
with motion and hence able to produce motion 
by contact, for they have no power to originate 
motion in themselves. From this we can see 
the ground of his assertion that soul was imma- 
nent in all things, iilasnuich as it was ultimately 
reducible to Atoms with their movement. 


Here we note the great difference between him 
and Anaxagoras, who placed a transcendent 
power (N^ous) over his Atoms. 

In general, we observe that there are three 
pre-suppositions or postulates in Cosmical Atom- 
ism — the Atom, the Void, and Motion. All 
three are assumed as original, eternally existent, 
uncaused. Then the three together form a 
triple process, which is the atomic whirl, world- 
producing. Creation in all its variety is the 
mechanical concourse of Atoms; to see this 
supersensible mechanism is knowledge. Atom- 
ism in its present sphere atomizes the Cosmos, 
reduces it to the irreducible unit, which is the 
cosmical individual (Atom). 

We are impelled to look into the origin and 
nature of this Cosmical Atom. The difficulty 
with the preceding elemental philosophies was 
that their essence or principle was always divis- 
ible, hence manifold and changeable, and there- 
fore no true essence or principle. But now the 
divisible, through division reaches the indivisible 
(individual), which is just the opposite of itself 
(as element), and is given only by thought. In 
Cosmical Atomism, therefore, the mind begins to 
create its own principle of nature, and not take it 
as already given, which we have seen to be the case 
in the previous elemental stage of Philosophy. 
This is a great step and marks a very important 
phange in the movement of early thinking. 


But the Atom is conceived as natural, hence 
as extended, though infinitely small. But if 
extended it must be divisible. Here lies the 
inner contradiction which will destroy the Cos- 
mical Atom. As a conception it has two differ- 
ent and indeed antagonistic predicates. Thus 
diiference, which was supposed to be eliminated, 
lurks in the Atom and tears it in twain. After 
all it is twofold and self-opposed, and must 
cease to exist as Atom. 

Still the Atom has a sphere of existence, as we 
shall find hereafter, but this is not the material 
world. Only the Ego can be self -separated or 
self-opposed, and exist. Its very essence is to 
divide into two opposites, subject and object, 
and therein be one and a process. Such is the 
true individual, which is philosophically not yet 
born, though conceived. For the Cosmical 
Atom is the Ego materialized, externalized, 
thrown outside of itself into matter, or rather an 
image of matter. And the process of Atomism 
is the Psychosis made material. 

One of the peculiar facts about the atomic 
theory is its revival in modern times. Apparently 
in antiquity Leucippus and Democritus were not 
regarded with much favor, their system was dis- 
credited and their writings were allowed to per- 
ish. Certain it is that Plato and Aristotle occu- 
pied substantially the philosophic field through 
the ancient and medieval periods. But after 


more than two thousand years of neglect the old 
atomists come into favor and furnish a principle 
for the new science of the world. That is a long 
time to wait for recognition ; it may look as if 
they were much farther in advance of their age 
than Phito and Aristotle. When the circling 
years brought man around to the study of nature 
once more, the Atom rose from its long sleep and 
began a new life of activity. 

The mind creating and ordering the Atoms is 
implicit in Leucippus and in Cosmical Atomism. 
But that mind is next to become explicit, sepa- 
rate from the Cosmos, and recognized as the 
moving or arranging principle in the Nous of 
Anaxao-oras, which is thus the second stage of 
the atomistic movement. The fortuitous throw 
of the cosmical dice (Atoms) by Chance, Neces- 
sity, or even by the God of Democritus, is now 
transformed into a pre-ordering and purposeful 
act of the World's Keason (iVb«.s-). 

Before leaving his Little World, we gladly 
cast back a glance at ancient Leucippus, whom 
we must deem the original Atom (Individual) 
determining these Atoms, having separated them 
from the visible Cosmos, described them and de- 
clared them to be inseparable within. Yet mark 
what he has done : the atomic Leucippus has per- 
formed the act of ordering these Atoms, wherein 
he is already the N^oas of Anaxagoras; still fur- 
ther, he has performed the act of separation, 


which must finally get inside the Atom so that it 
will be self-separating, and so become the very 
Ego which now produces it — the atomic Ego. 
So Leucippus, in creating and positing the Cos- 
mical Atom, has to go through implicitly the 
whole process of Atomism, transcending his own 
principle in practice, though not in theory. After 
all, something mightier than he is, has hold of 

B, Noetic Atomism. 

If the soul of all Hellas l)e philosophizing at 
this time, as has been affirmed, and uttering 
special phases of itself in these various systems 
of thought, then that total Hellenic soul must 
call forth out of itself a counterpart to the one- 
sided view of Cosmical Atomism. Havinff besrot- 
ten the Atoms in their capricious whirl, it must 
beget next the Atom-compeller, the atomic Zeus, 
who will transform this realm of Cosmical Atom- 
ism into a Cosmos. 

Accordingly the stress is now to be placed upon 
the one controlling Atom, the Atom of Atoms 
which is in this relation called Reason {Nous, 
whose adjective is JSToetihos). The important 
point is to find and to formulate the governing 
principle in the vast whirl of Atoms which must 
be something other than blind Chance or equally 
blind Necessity, one of which seems to be the 
final arbiter in the preceding Cosmical Atomism. 


Consequently a new form steps forth with great 
distinctness, still atomic, yet the orderer of Atoms 
according to an end [felos). This was the work 
of Anaxagoras of Clazomenas, which was one of 
the Ionic towns on the coast of Asia Minor, not 
far from Miletus. 

His birth is usually assigned to the year 500 
B. C. His country then lay under the absolute 
authority of Persia; his youth must have seen 
the great invasion of Greece by the Orient as 
well as the overwhelming defeat of the latter at 
Salamis and Platsere. When he was about forty 
years old he came to Athens, which was then in 
its bloom, and was the center of attraction for 
the aspiring souls throughout the Hellenic world. 
Empire as well as Intellect were collecting there, 
the Atoms from all Greece were moving in that 
direction. Among them was Anaxagoras, who 
arrived at Athens about 460 B. C. where he 
remained more than thirty years, giving instruc- 
tion and having intercourse with the distinguished 
men of the city, which at that time was full of 
artists, poets, philosophers. 

A sig-nificant fact in the life of Auaxag-oras is 
his friendship for Pericles, the great statesman 
of the epoch, and its typical character. As 
Athens was the center of all the city-states of 
Greece, so Pericles was the center of Athens, 
with its mighty whirl of democratic Atoms, each 
of whom was in a way self-controlling, yet also 


controlled by the central Atom, by the Nous or 
Reason of Pericles. Particularly did this Reason 
of Pericles have an end for his state, and in- 
stilled it into the Athenian people, or the atomic 
mass swirling around him. Such was the polit- 
ical phenomenon which Anaxagoras had before 
him for thirty years or more, and, as he stood 
in intimate relation to its central individual, he 
could hardly help mirroring the situation in 
his Philosophy. For the true philosopher is not 
simply blowing bubbles for the fun of the thing, 
but is the most earnest of men, seeking to for- 
mulate in thought the profoundest fact of his 
age and of his nation. 

We may now see why Anaxagoras could not 
remain satisfied with the Cosmical Atomism of 
Leucippus. It is reported that he was the pupil 
of Leucippus, and certainly his theory has its 
atomic side, as we shall see. On the border of 
Hellas at Abdera, the Atoms of the Greek world 
just after the Persian War might seem in an 
everlasting jostle and gyration ; but at the cen- 
tral city, Athens, there was an ordered movement 
consonant with a great purpose in all the bustle 
and strenuous activity of the democratic Atoms. 
In them was manifested particularly during this 
period the World's Reason, which was voiced by 
the eloquence of Pericles, and found a mau}- 
sided expression in art. It should be remem- 
bered that Socrates was a younger contemporary 


of Anaxagoras, and must have begun his philo- 
sophic career during the bloom of that of the 
latter. The two could hardly help meeting each 
other, and the junior philosopher may well 
have received his early stimulus from the senior. 
Anaxagoras was probably the first to bring 
Philosophy to Athens, where it was destined to 
celebrate its proudest triumph immediately after 
him, and in a line of succession with him. It 
was borne thither by him from the periphery of 
Hellas, on which we have seen it bursting forth, 
as it were all around the horizon. 

Toward the end of his life he was accused of 
impiety and compelled to leave Athens. He 
went to Lampsacus where he died about 428 
B. C. at the age of seventy-two. The Atom had 
to flee from the center back to the border, 
whence it originally came ; the controlling JSTous 
(Pericles) had no longer the power to protect. 
It is a significant fact of the age, a change is 
taking place which is otherwise betokened by 
the Peloponnesian War. Anaxagoras had deliv- 
ered his message and taught his generation. And 
a great generation it was, having what we may 
call a noetic character; its mighty individuals 
seemed to participate in a world-mastering 
Olympian N^ous, as if of Zeus himself, whereof 
we may still catch a breath in the Parthenon, in 
the statues of Phidias, in the dramas of Aeschy- 
lus and Sophocles. 


Anaxagoras in his doctrine shows connections 
with the preceding elemental philosophies — with 
the Milesians, with Parmenides, and with Eni- 
pedocles. But his most immediate derivation is 
from Louci})pus, from whom spring both De- 
mocritus and Anaxagoras. Both the latter are 
atomistic philosophers, each in his own w^ay. 
The system of each has the same general outline, 
though the stages are differently defined and 
differentlj^ emphasized. This we may observe in 
the following sketch of the Philosophy of Anax- 

1. The Sperm. Such is the name which 
Anaxagoras gives to his Atom and which w^e 
shall retain, as it is not the same as the Democ- 
ritean Atom (from sjjerma, germ or seed). 
These Sperms are infinitely small and infinite in 
number, uncreated, uncliangeable, hence they 
cannot perish; they are presupposed, taken for 
granted, existent from eternity to eternity ; they 
cannot be increased or diminished. All Becom- 
ing, all birth and decay is simply a new ordering 
of the Sperms. Dislocation, translocation, col- 
location of these Sperms produce the phenomenal 
world with all its qualitative differences. A 
well-known f rao;mcnt of Anaxagoras declares : 
" The Greeks do not think aright about Birth 
and Death. Nothing ever becomes or perishes, 
but all is compounded on the one hand or is 
separated on the other, from things akeady ex- 



istent (Sperms). The correct way would be to 
call Birth a commingling and Death a separating ' ' 
(Anax. Frag. 17, Ed. Mullach). The term 
"the Greeks" in the preceding extract doubt- 
less refers to former Greek philosophers, not 
including Leucippus, and marks the distinction 
of the Atomists from the Elementalists, espe- 
cially the later ones. 

2. The Different. So far, then, the Atom of 
Leucippus and the Sperm of Anaxagoras are 
quite alike. Now comes the difference. First 
of all, the Sperms are divisible to infinity, as is 
usually supposed ; division in their case does not 
reach the indivisible, it would seem. Anaxa- 
goras thus seeks to avoid that contradiction 
which we found in the Leucippian Atom, namely 
to be extended and yet to be indivisible. Still 
further, Sperms differ from one another quali- 
tatively, and hence are heterogeneous, while 
Atoms differ from one another quantiia' 
tively (in size and form), and are homo- 
geneous. But not only in relation to one an- 
other are they of different kinds ; likewise they 
have different qualities in their composition. 
Finally Anaxagoras has no Void. His principle 
of combination is a commingling of the quali- 
tatively different Sperms, whereby comes all the 
diversity of the world . 

It is manifest that Anaxagoras takes the ob- 
ject, such as a stone or bone, as the starting- 


point, and declares it to be infinitely divisible, 
but in such division it never loses the quality of 
the object. These infinitely small particles are 
the Sperms which simply require to be mixed in 
order to produce things as they are. The qual- 
ity is immanent, not a product of the form and 
arrangement of Atoms, as in Cosmical Atomism. 
On the other hand motion is not immanent in 
the Sperm (as it is in the Atom) and hence the 
ordering movement must come from the outside. 
An organic object like a tree determines the 
Sperm, while the Atom determines it. Accord- 
ingly we must regard the Sperm as essentially 
passive, while the Atom is active, being endowed 
originally with motion, indeed with a kind of self- 

Very plainly do the Sperm and its Mixture 
call for an ordering principle from the outside, 
transcendent, world-controlling. So we pass to 
that which is altogether the main principle in the 
system of Anaxagoras. 

3. JSFous. This is one of the most important 
words in all Philosophy and runs through the 
whole history of it like a thread of light. It 
may be variously translated Reason, Mind, Intel- 
ligence, Spirit. With it is formulated for the 
first time a spiritual view of the Universe. The 
emphatic testimony of Aristotle is that the phi- 
losopher who first declared JSFous to be "the 
cause of the Cosmos and of all its order appeared 


like a sober man in comparison with those pre- 
viously talking at random" (Met. I. 3, ad 
finem). It is true that Anaxagoras did hardly 
more than speak the word, without applying his 
principle to the details of his system. But to 
speak the word was to start the conception, 
which has been unfolding ever since. 

Nous is, then, the world-ordering principle 
which is given from the beginning ; it finds the 
original confusion or chaos which it at once 
begins to order, and its work is not yet done b}- 
any means. The Sperms are separated from 
the mass, and the JSfous transforms them into 
the Cosmos, starting in them the whirling motion 
which we already saw in the Atoms. But this 
whirl is imparted to the Sperms by JSTous, whereas 
the Atoms generated it by their collisions. 

The power of knowing all things, past, present, 
and future, belongs to JSTous. It is also self- 
determined (^autokrates) , self -active while the 
Sperms are passive. Fate or Necessity has no 
meanino; for JVous. It is conceived as transcend- 
ent, though it also exists immanently in all living 
creatures. At least Anaxagoras sometimes takes 
the latter view though sometimes he talks as if 
everything in the world was but an automaton 
mechanically moved by JSfous, while this was the 
self-moved, self-determined, self-active One in 
the Universe ordering the Many. 

Still Anaxagoras never succeeded in eliminating 


from JSfous its atomistic substrate. He resrards 
it as " the most refined of all things," a kind of 
etherealized matter ; he could not wholly get rid 
of the material hypostasis, which belongs to all 
the philosophers before him, in spite of the lofty 
spiritual predicates which he assigns to J^ous. 
It is indeed the most subtle of Atoms, veritably 
the Atom of Atoms, and thus is connected with 
Atomism, being therein the undivided One con- 
trolling all division in the universe. 

To his JSTous Anaxagoras adds the conception 
of end (felos). This is a great thought and 
gives the fundamental characteristic of JSfous. 
As the world-forming energy it has a purpose 
which means order, harmou}^, the Cosmos. It 
is pure, unmixed, just the opposite of the com- 
mingled Chaos which it is to arrange. Still 
Rous has to divide within itself and to place 
before itself its end, which it is to realize in the 

Anaxagoras has, therefore, distinctly uttered 
a telistic (often called teleologic) view of world, 
which will never pass away in the history of 
thought. The universe has an end through 
which and into which it is developing; or as 
Anaxagoras would say, the JVous is still separat- 
ing and ordering the migma (mixture) according 
to its telos (end). Socrates, Plato and Aristotle 
will show the influence of this thought in man- 
ifold ways. The last and greatest instance of 


the iVow.s formulating its end is seen in Darwin- 
ism. The fact is, in the whole movement of 
Philosophy we seek the felos which is working 
and developing throughout the many successive 
systems of thought. This book has a telistic 
object as already declared ; it is trying to unfold 
and to formulate the purpose which underlies 
and calls forth all philosophic thinking (the 

What the end is, Anaxagoras does not dis- 
tinctly declare ; but he does say that there is a 
JV^ous building the Cosmos according to an end. 
He was criticised by Socrates, Plato, and Aris- 
totle because he did not consistently carry out 
his principle. Aristotle says that " Anaxagoras 
uses his I'J'ous for world-making," but only 
"drags it in" when he is in straits about his 
causes; otherwise " he posits as causes of things 
arising all else but jSTous.'' But a siniihir incon- 
sistency we shall find in Aristotle himself (see 
Metcvpliysics, I. 4.) It is this telistic principle 
which will hereafter develop ethically into the 

We have to conceive of JSfous choosing its end 
by its own prompting, and also taking what means 
it pleases for fultilling that end. The Noetic 
Atom is, therefore, capricious, autocratic, im- 
perial as Atoia-controller. The hegemony of 
Nous is distinctly asserted, like that of Athens 
over the other cities of Greece, like that of Pericles 


over Athens. Still Anaxagoras hardly conceived 
of N'ous as person, though it was self-conscious 
and self-active, and had its own end. Why is 
this not a person? There was still a material sub- 
strate. Nous was still an Atom not yet free of 
its Leucippian heritage of matter. Nous is not 
called a God by Anaxagoras who was rather re- 
garded as atheistic ; still his Nous is a kind of 
Pallas Athena, the tutular deity of Athens, 
which was named after her, with her Intellect 
abstracted from its divine incarnation, and looked 
at philosophically, as it is in itself, as the essence 
of the world, specially of the Athenian Cosmos. 
So we see that Anaxagoras with his Nous helped 
to transform the content of Athenian Religion 
into Philosophy. 

We cannot, then, affirm that Anaxagoras intro- 
duced the Ego into the history of thought, though 
he led the way to it, and, so to speak, compelled 
its presence. The principle of Nous is the recog- 
nition that mind must grasp and order the unseen 
realm of Atoms, for Atoms are supersensible and 
demand a supersensible orderer — Nous. Each 
of these categories (the Atom and Nous) has 
separately played a great part in human think- 
ing — the one more especially in Natural Science, 
the other in Philosophy proper. 

But now they are to come together. Each 
Atom (or Individual) is to be a Nous ordering 
the world according to its own particular end. 


Thus JSTous gets inside the Atom, going back to 
it specially and making it in itself a world-com- 
peller. This is the atomic Ego. 

C. Egoistic Atomism. 

Already the JSTous of Anaxagoras implies Ego 
or Person, but does not quite express it. When 
we say mind or reason, we can hardly conceive 
it apart from an individual Self. But Anaxagoras 
has not yet reached the point of making a sharp 
distinction between personal and impersonal, or 
between material and non-material, or between 
the immanence and the transcendence of his 
]Vous (Pantheism and Theism). His JSTous is the 
World-Reason, not distinctly personalized ; some- 
times it might be regarded as elemental from his 
language, but then it has an end, according to 
which it orders things. Thus it in a manner 
thinks, it is indeed the Cosmos thinking, the one 
vastCosmical Atom asthinking. The true Atom 
of Anaxagoras is the indivisible, impenetrable, 
indestructible JSTous, the one Atom or Atom of 
Atoms, which, however, are reduced by it to 
Sperms, these being passive and receiving motion 
and order from it, the thinking or Noetic Atom. 

But the epoch has arrived in the spiritual 
movement of total Hellas when this lofty solitary 
JSTous must descend into the Atoms below and 
incorporate itself in each of them, making the 


same an Ego with an inner world seeking to con- 
trol the outer. So we enter the realm of the Ego 
grasping itself as Atom with JS^ous inside of it — 
which realm we name Egoistic Atomism. 

This is the third stage in the process of win- 
ning the Individual (Atom), for the Individ- 
ual as such is now won. We have reached the 
Ego in this movement of Individuation, which 
started with Atomism proper, that of Leucippus. 
Or it might be better to sa}^ that Philosophy in 
its search for the essence of all things has 
reached the Ego. A very important stage of 
human development is this, since the Self (or 
Ego) has found itself and recognized itself to be 
the principle of the universe. The worth of 
man, the dignity of selfhood has now truly 
dawned upon the world, and will pass through a 
marvelous career in the future. The modern 
Ego begins to see its own outline in this its 
earliest prototype. 

In Greek Philosophy the present sphere is 
known as Sophisticism which is derived from the 
word 8ophist^ and this comes from sojjhos 
(wise). A great many people of very diverse 
kinds were anciently called sophists — teachers, 
orators, philosophers of all sorts. Still there 
was a Avider and narrower usage of the term. 
There was a distinctive sophistic Philosophy, 
though every philosopher might in a general way 
be named a sophist. Moreover an evil flavor was 


given to the epithet sometimes, which we may 
still hear in the English word sophistry. This 
taint in the expression is due particularly to 
Plato, who was the great enemy of the sophist, yet 
who was himself often designated as a sophist. 

Our preceding philosopher of the ISFous, An- 
axgoras, was also called in a general way a 
sophist, as well as Socrates, who is our suc- 
ceeding philosopher. It is evident that Sophis- 
ticism (or the Sophists) is not a good designa- 
tion for the present philosophical epoch, though 
this designation is the one currently used in the 
Histories of Greek Philosophy. Or if we em- 
ploy the general term, we may also use along 
with it a more special and definite expression 
for the philosophical phase of Sophisticism. 
Hence our rubric, as above given, is Egoistic 
Atomism, which wording strives to connect the 
present stage with the total atomistic movement 
(of which we deem it a part and the concluding 
part), as well as to suggest the form of the 
Individual (or Atom) which is attained, namely, 
the Ego as subject. 

Already we found that the Cosmical Atom 
was a conception, was a purely mental product, 
being made by the Ego, and asserted to be an 
Individual, that is, indivisible and impenetrable. 
Now the Ego, the original Atom-maker, has 
found itself to be the indivisible and impene- 
trable, to be itself the true Individual or Atom 


which is the producer of Atoms. The Ego is 
the undivided, yet capable of dividing itself, and 
hence capable of making all possible divisions in 
the universe. We have already noted that Leu- 
cippus strove to keep divisio-u out of his Atom 
(cosmical), and yet division entered and tore it 
in twain. But now the Atom is self-dividing, 
and also self-uniting; it is the undivided One 
still, yet dividing itself from within and return- 
ing to unity out of its division. All of which is 
simply a description of the Ego in its self- 
conscious action, which separates itself into 
subject and object, and then makes itself one 
with itself just in that separation. Or, to use 
still another expression taken from Psychology, 
the Psychosis has here appeared in its earliest 
independent form, though we have found it 
working implicitly and fermenting in the pre- 
vious stages of Greek Philosophy, 

While thus the Sophists represent a philosophic 
tendency, and hence in the narrower meaning of 
the word may be deemed a certain definite school 
of thought, in the wider sense they are a class 
including many persons of diverse ways of think- 
ing, particularly of diverse characters. Sophis- 
ticism becomes the culture of the age, and 
remains not merely a doctrine of a few; all 
Greece seems to desire the new enlightenment. 
European historians of Philosophy are continu- 
ally comparing the sophistic period to their own 


18th Century with its Illumination (Aufklilrung, 
Eclaircissement), and the Sophists are supposed 
to correspond with the Encyclopedists of France, 
who along with theirpositive merits show a decided 
negative tendency culminating practically in the 
French Eevolution. So the age of Sophisticism 
may be deemed to have reached its acme in and 
during the Peloponnesian War, in whict the 
atomic Ego, specially as it was manifested in the 
Athenian Democracy, broke loose from all its 
institutional moorings, even from the control of 
the N'ous of Pericles and its great men, and gave 
itself up to a grand revel, till it was suppressed 
from the outside. For such a result the Sophists 
are often blamed, but the age produced them 
fully as much as they produced the age. They 
were the teachers of the time, but the time called 
them, and indeed paid them beautiful money as 
their reward, for which again they have been 
severely censured by Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, 
not to speak of many lesser accusers. But the 
modern schoolmaster or professor, who works 
for pay and is unfailingly seeking an increase of 
salary, will defend the ancient schoolmaster on 
this point if on none other. In fact, the taking 
of pay for instruction is a part of the modernity 
of Sophisticism, which it shows in other ways, 
particularly in its assertion of the right of the 
Ego. The Sophists were in certain respects 
more modern than Plato and Aristotle, more 


modern even than Rome or Medievalism. It 
really took two tliousand years and more for the 
world to digest that Ego which Greek Sophisti- 
cism threw up to the surface, and the work is 
by no means yet done. The modern social In- 
stitution begins to show its early fermentation 
just in this struggle over working for hire in 
spiritual matters. The social Whole which calls 
for and rewards labor, has taken a considerable 
step toward its coming function in this much- 
discussed fact pertaining to the remuneration of 
the Sophists. 

The Ego now performs its first great act of 
self-emancipation, which undoubtedly shows 
both positive and negative tendencies, both con- 
structive and destructive results. It questions 
everything that has been transmitted; all the 
past with its customs and institutions is to be 
subjected to this new scrutiny of tlie subjective 
Self. We must examine what has hitherto been 
taken for granted, and confirm it or reject it by 
our own criterion. Still the Ego must be trained 
to this business, the uncultivated man does not 
possess the intellectual means for such a work. 
Hence the Sophists were teachers primarily, 
teachers of all branches, but specially of the art of 
speaking. They examined the nature of human 
speech and began to organize it in grammar, 
rhetoric, and even in logic. Their instruction 
had doubtless a practical end: the ability to 


control men by means of the golden gift of 
eloquence. Still they turned the mind back 
upon the words it uses, and the way to use them ; 
that is, the Ego now begins to examine its own 
categories. We have already seen the philos- 
ophers employing philosophical categories, with 
little or no scrutiny of them ; the Sophists start 
this work which culminates in Aristotle. Not 
before the Ego begins to look at itself as the test 
of all things, will it look at the words with which 
it utters itself in the act of testing. 

Freedom of thought comes in with the Sophist 
and is taught to the people of culture, though 
unquestionably this freedom was exercised by 
previous philosophers in individual cases. But 
the distinctive right of the subjective Ego to 
judge the world for itself is now asserted. In 
fact it is the chief function of Sophisticism to 
make the whole Universe pass through the alem- 
bic of the subjective Self or the Egoistic Atom. 
Much will be gained by the operation, but also 
much will be lost. Destroying agencies will be 
let loose; selfish motives, ambition, money, fame, 
will seem to rule the time, since each Ego claims 
the privilege of reducing all to its particular end. 
It tears itself away from city, state, religion and 
often from law, from everything which is estab- 
lished and which it deems external authority. 
Hence it comes that Sophists were so often wan- 
derers, a vast horde of Atoms roving through 


Hellas, whose general direction, however, was 
toward the center, toward Athens, where they 
found the widest and richest field for their en- 
deavors. Protagoras of Abdera, Gorgias of 
Leontini, Prodicus of Ceos, Hippias of Elis, 
were born aliens, but domiciled in Athens at least 
for a part of their lives, and they were the most 
famous Sophists whom Greece produced. The 
centripetal tendency which has been already 
designated as characteristic of the whole move- 
ment of Atomism is here specially observable. 

The Sophist greatest in mime and loftiest in 
character was doubtless Protagoras, who was 
born about 480 B. C. and perished in a voyage 
to Sicily when he was not far from seventy 
years old. After practicing his profession in 
his native town of Abdera as well as in Sicily 
and in Italy, he gravitated toward the Athenian 
city where he is said to have enjoyed the society 
of Pericles and Euripides. He wrote a book 
about the Gods ; on account of it he was charged 
with atheism and had to leave Athens, after 
which he set sail on his fatal voyage to Sicily. 
Thus his departure was somewhat like that of 
Anaxagoras above described. Plato has named 
one of his dialogues after him, in which the 
general outline of his appearance and character, 
as well as of his doctrine, is giv^en. It should 
also be added that the life of Protagoras largely 
coincides with that of Democritus, also of Ab- 


dera, and it is highly probable that he was there 
a pupil of Leucippus, the founder of Cosmical 
Atomism. Again we should note that this third 
phase of Atomism is in a direct line of descent 
from the first, both phases being connected 
through Protagoras. 

The most famous sophistic maxim is " Man is 
the measure of all things; " of this maxim Pro- 
togoras was the author. Man is here the indi- 
vidual, the Egoistic Atom, or the subject. There 
is no truth for man except what he feels and 
experiences. And each man has his own feel- 
ings, and also standards of judgment; what is 
true for one man will not be true for another, 
or even for the same man at different times. 
This also holds of the Good. In other words 
there is nothing universally valid, only individu- 
ally or Egoistically. This view will again arise 
and become the characteristic phrase of a skep- 
tical age which will declare that " Man cannot 
know Truth." 

Culture has thus attained the standpoint of 
regarding the cultured Ego as the measure of 
all things, or, in philosophic phrase, as the 
essence of Being. Man in his development has 
reached the stage — and it is an advanced one — 
in which he is to be put under the training of 
his own subjective caprice. The human world 
dissolves itself into its Egoistic Atoms, and 
starts on a new career. It will be found not to 


be an easy discipline, though a necessary grade 
in the great university of civilization. Mankind 
at certain times has to be sent to school to its 
own caprice. Thus it finds out the meaning of 
the same as well as the meaning of the objective 
world of Law, of Institutions, in fine, of God 
himself. Likewise the individual in his per- 
sonal life has to pass through a similar schooling 
of subjective caprice, and sou*ietinies he never 
gets out of it. Every person at some period in 
his development reaches the point of considering 
the inner movement of his own Ego to be the 
true movement of the Universe. Then he is in 
the school of the Sophists, who are training 
him toward freedom and self-determination, 
even though this freedom be at first capricious. 

In Greece proper Sophisticism finds the Greek 
determined more or less externally by omens, 
oracles, ancient habits, and the whole routine of 
social and religious ceremonial. It was a step in 
progress to liberate him from these outer fetters, 
and to prepare him for seeing the rationality of 
Law and Institution, which was a part of the 
great work of Plato and Aristotle, who will also 
assert that man is the measure of all things, yet 
not man as Individual (egoistic Atom) but man 
as Universal. 

The Sophists largely taught the Greek to be a 
reflective person, and not imaginative. The wan- 
dering rhapsode reciting the verses of Homer and 



other poets, had been hitherto the chief teacher 
of the people. But now comes the wandering 
Sophist, who transmutes images into thoughts, 
and passes from poetry to prose, which he cul- 
tivates with as much care and uses with as much 
skill as the poet does his verse. Of course the 
age was ready and the Spirit was calliug. Still 
we may say that the Hellenic consciousness, being 
sent to and through the school of Sophisticism, 
came out reflective, the previous all-dominating 
imagination being curtailed though not by any 
means destroyed. That school prepared both 
the language and the audience for the coming 
Plato and Aristotle, who, notwithstanding, des- 
perately assailed their own generative source, as 
often happens. Just the Ego, whose nature is 
to turn back upon itself and assert itself as ab- 
solute, is this reflective or self-returning process, 
which was first distinctly called up and cultivated 
by the Sophists. In fact, egoistic Atomism 
deals with the Atom which has become self- 
reflecting or Ego ; it is the Cosmical Atom turn- 
ing back upon itself and seeing itself as the 
principle of all things. This makes the vortex 
internal, the Ego within itself has the circular 
whirl or its own inner movement eternally self- 
returning, into which it now precipitates all things 
existent, whereby it shows both a negative and 
a positive character. If it assailed the old insti- 
tutional order established by hiw and custom on 


the one hand, on the other it began to affirm the 
right of the inner man as self-determined, and 
so started the science of Morals, which was still 
further developed by Socrates, Plato, and Aris- 
totle. Some of the Sophists were distinctively 
moral teachers, as Prodicus of Ceos, and it ac- 
cords with their subjective tendency to develop a 
moral view of the world, in which the individual 
sets up his own insight or conscience as the guide 
of conduct. 

These general facts al30ut the Sophists we 
shall put together in the following statement, 
which will also indicate their relation to the total 
movement of Atomism. 

1. The Ego as Subject. Such is primarily 
the Ego's individual or atomic character: it is 
both self-dividiug and self -unifying in conscious- 
ness, thus showing the total process within 
itself. Man as the atomic Ego, is the measure 
of all things, having within himself the final 
criterion, under which everything is to be sub- 
sumed directly. The individual as Self is this 
fundamental process without doubt ; but finding 
the objective world different from it, that is, 
from himself, he turns negative to the same 
and seeks its undoing. 

The Sophists as individuals will show very 
different characters, (a) Protagoras with his 
sensism regarded everj'thing as true immediately. 
{b) Gorgias with his skepticism regarded 


everything as false immediately, (c) Other 
Sophists hovered between these extremes, in 
manifold shades of earnestness, frivolity, and 
personal self-exploitation. 

2. The Ego as Destroyer. That there is a 
deeply negative side to Sophisticism is indicated 
in the preceding statement and cannot be suc- 
cessfully denied. The atomic Ego had also its 
Void, which, howiever, it made. In its new-born 
consciousness of selfhood, the subject could not 
endure the object as different from itself. Such 
was the negative manifestation of a very impor- 
tant stage of human development. 

Sophisticism, accordingly, assails and under- 
mines the existent, the established, the transmit- 
ted in various forms, of which the following may 
be noted. («) Religion, the old foe of the 
philosophers, receives the deepest wound. Pro- 
tagoras affirmed his total ignorance of the Gods. 
(5) Institutions are attacked. Hippias the 
Sophist says (according to Plato) that Law is 
man's tyrant, compelling him to do many things 
against Nature. Here rises the distinction of 
Nature versus Law, the latter being unnatural, 
(c) Philosophy, as the science of objective 
truth, especially in its antecedent Greek forms, 
is rejected by the Sophists, notably by Protag- 

3. The Ego as Builder. To the foregoing 
negative side of Sophisticism there is a positive 


constructive tendency. In general, the Sophists 
were the teachers of the time, giving instruction 
in those branches which were a necessary prepa- 
ration for life. Hippias, according to Plato, 
taught arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and 
music. But their special field was rhetoric, the 
art of speaking and writing. They were the in- 
troducers of the new education. 

Their positive work may be summarized as 
follows, (a) Grammar and rhetoric they culti- 
vated with zeal, and made men conscious of the 
language they use. Protagoras distinguished 
himself by his grammatical investigations. (Ij) 
Logic goes back to the Sophists ; but the Dialec- 
tic, with the double-dealing negative, was their 
special favorite, and became the chief source of 
their bad name, (c) Ethics they (or some of 
them) began to teach and the virtues; herein 
they were the forerunners of Socrates, as well as 
in the use of the Dialectic, which is the basis of 
the Socratic method. 

With the atomic Ego as subject, the process of 
Atomism has come to a conclusion, having won 
the Individual, which has manifested both its 
positive and its negative phases. It asserts itself 
against the object, not yet knowing that its pro- 
cess is essentially that of the object. Still it has 
a presentiment thereof, or a feeling which is to 
be purified into thought, whose supreme func- 
tion is to behold the process of the Ego in all 


objectivity. This transition to thought is what 
carries us out of Atomism to the next higher 
stage of the Hellenic Period. 

Ohservations on Atomism. If the preceding 
exposition has attained its purpose, the reader 
will feel that he must appropriate the atomistic 
movement as an integral part of the spiritual 
evolution of his race. It rose to the surface and 
uttered itself in ancient Greece and has ever since 
filled its niche in the development of the universal 
spirit which every individual has to make his own 
in order to be fully and consciously one with his 
kind. Indeed the individual (as reader) is to 
realize that Atomism is just the process of win- 
ning the Individual in thought, which fact is 
affirmed in the phrase, the essence of Being is 
the Individual. Herein he beholds the conscious 
getting of himself, the first assertion of the Self 
on principle and not at random. 

1. Before going further, it may be well to 
take a retrospect of the three forms of Atomism, 
as they have unfolded themselves in the foregoing 
account. A brief diagram may bring out the 
interrelations of the different parts, as follows : — 

I. Cosmical: (1) Atom; (2) the Void; (3) 

II. Noetic: (1) Sperm; (2) the Diiferent; 
(3) Nous. 

III. Egoistic: (1) Subject; (2) the Nega- 
tive; (3) the Positive. 


The movement of these various divisions runs 
crosswise as well as lengthwise. For instance 
/he Atom is unconscious and indivisible, the 
Sperm is unconscious jet divisible, the Subject is 
conscious, self-dividing, and producer of division. 
In like manner the Void is the externally or 
spatially separtited, the Different is the internally 
or qualitatively separated, the N'egative as Ego is 
the active or the separating principle. Similarly 
we may follow out the relation between the 
Vortex or the immanent whirl of the Atoms, 
Nous or the transcendent orderer of the Sperms 
(or Atoms), and the Positive as creative or con- 
structive Ego, which introduces the new order. 
And the reader who is alert in spying out funda- 
mental analogies in diverse systems of Thought 
will trace in the three stages of Atomism a 
monistic, a dualistic, and a triune tendency. 

2. Moreover with Atomism the hypothesis 
enters as an explanation of Being. The Atom 
of Leucippus is a purely hypothetical principle, 
a principle which confessedly cannot be proved 
by its own method. The Atom is supposed to 
be material, and to be endowed with attributes 
of matter, yet there can be no direct experience 
of it as matter. The Atom is at first the ex- 
ternally posited, assumed, hypothetical, but it 
must travel in its process till it finds the Atom 
which posits it, namely the Ego. 

3. Wq have observed that Atomism did not 


originally arise from the needs of Natural Science, 
which employs it especially to-day. Not so much 
a physical as a metaphysical origin it had in its 
old Greek form. Atomism springs from the 
search for the essence of Being (the ousia of the 
o?i), and from this point of view it is as ontolog- 
ical as Parmenides or Plato. It deals with the 
supersensible, even if this is supposed to bo 
material. Through Atomism Philosophy m:ikcs 
one of its most important transitions — froin 
object to subject, or from the sense-world to the 
thought- world as the essence of all things. We 
may call it a bridge from the Real to the Ideal, 
partaking of both, indeed being on both sides as 
a bridge must be. Through Atomism Philosophy 
passes and has to pass in order to evolve out of 
its elemental (or elementary) condition into its 
universal stage. 

4. In Elementalism we observe Greek Philoso- 
phy starting with the total Cosmos (Macrocosm) 
and specially regarding the heavenly world with 
Sun, Moon, Stars, in which it beholds motion as 
regular, orderly, and cyclical. This seems in 
marked contrast to the irregular, capricious, 
partial motion which is manifest everywhere on 
earth . 

The inner movement of all things the early 
Greek began to have a presentiment of in the self- 
returning bodies which make their daily, monthly, 
yearly revolutions in the skies. The conception of 


a World-Soul producing this outward manifesta- 
tion of itself in the cycles of the heavenly spheres 
goes back to Anaximander, if not to Thales. 
The old philosophers felt the working of the all- 
pyschical process (Panipsychosis) in the Macro- 
cosm, and gradually developed it till it manifested 
itself in the microcosm through the movement 
of Atomism, whose final stage is the human soul 
or Ego, which will also be found to move cycli- 
cally or in a self -returning process. Again we 
note what a significant place in the unfolding of 
man's thought is occupied by Atomism, which 
at last internalizes the external movement of the 
visible universe. 

5. Here we may add that Atomism, being the 
second stage of a Psychosis, has an inner relation 
to all preceding second stages, such as Eleati- 
cism, or the first principle of Anaximander. The 
student who is eager to master all these fine and 
somewhat intricate threads of organization, will 
be able to trace them by himself from the sug- 
gestions already given. Thus he will grasp more 
distinctly what may be called the homologies of 
this vast but subtle organism of Greek Phi- 

6. We always come back to the question: 
What has the soul of total Hellas, philosophizing 
and seeking to find and to express the essence 
of all things for its own spiritual satisfaction, 
gotten out of this Atomism? It has at least set 


free the Individual as subject from the trammels 
of Elementalism, and, starting with the Atom 
as thought or conceived, it has reached the Atom 
which thinks — thinks itself as atomic or indi- 
vidual. Thus man knows himself as free subjec- 
tively, and he shows in this stage all the positive as 
well as the destructive consequences of freedom. 

It is plain, however, that Hellas as atomic 
cannot last. The land is full of atomic cities 
which can be set against one another ; each city 
is full of atomic persons who can be easily 
turned into mutual hostility. Such a condition 
invites or rather demands the external conqueror, 
who will subject them all anew to the authority, 
not their own but alien. The people who once 
beat off the Persian will call in the Macedonian 
and the Roman, who will subordinate these ca- 
pricious recalcitrant Greek Atoms. Such is the 
political outcome of Atomism. 

On the other hand the soul of all Hellas cen- 
tering itself at Athens and still philosophizing, 
will rapidly think itself out of Atomism and will 
carry the Individual forward beyond Caprice into 
the realm of Reason or Thought, which is to be 
the universal inner ruler of man. Thus an em- 
pire of Mind will be erected which lasts down to 
this day. 

7. In Cosmical Atomism the Atom has to be 
conceived — not sensed immediately as a material 
object, but conceived as a material object; hence 


it is the conceptiou which materializes the Atom 
or makes it. So it results that in Atomism the 
essence is really not the Atom as material, but 
the Atom as concept or thought. When the 
mind becomes aware of this lurking concept, 
separates it from the Atom, and makes it ex- 
plicit, then we have transcended Atomism, and 
the formula becomes the following: the essence 
of Being (the ousia of the on) is the concept or 
the Universal. That is, when the Ego beholds 
its own process as that of the object, it is no 
longer atomic and subjective merelj^, but it has 
also become objective and universal, seeing the 
process of the Universe in each part. This 
inducts us into the realm of Universalism. 


III. Universalism. 

By this designation we strive to suggest the 
third stage of the First or distinctively Hellenic 
Period of Greek Philosophy. If the previous 
or second stage took for its fundamental principle 
the Process of Being as individual, the present 
stage rises to the point of beholding the Process 
of Being as universal, and so concludes the 
Period, which is the greatest in Greek Thought, 
since it grasps and formulates just this Thought 
as the principle of all things. 

Atomism has unfolded the character of individ- 
uation or the getting of the Individual ; Univer- 
salism is to unfold the character of universalizing 
or the getting of the Universal, which is the 
creative principle or Thought of every object, 
hence of the Individual also. Atomism reached 
the undivided one (the Individual) through 
division, and its process was to control this 
division (as in Egoistic Atomism) and not be 
controlled by it (as in Cosmical Atomism). We 
have just seen the sophistic Ego regarding every 
distinction in the world as its own subjectively ; 
its opinion (doxa) of the object, and not the 
object itself, is the valid thing. But now in this 
third stage the object is to come to validity 


and is to manifest the process of Thought which 
is universal; every individual has within itself 
Thought, and this Thought is what Philosophy 
is next going to take up and elaborate. 

We may here call to mind the topographical 
character of the present stage. It is central in 
contrast to the atomic stage, which was centripe- 
tal, and in contrast to the elemental stage, which 
was peripheral, if not centrifugal. We saw that 
Elementalism arose and flourished in the Greek 
cities of the border, east and west, which were 
colonies, or colonies of colonies, of central or 
continental Hellas. We also saw that Atomism 
started on this border in the north, but that its 
tendency as a whole was toward Athens, espe- 
cially in its noetic form (Anaxagoras) and in its 
sophistic form (Protagoras and many others). 
The flight of the- Atoms or individual Atomists 
to the center, where they took part in the grand 
Athenian vortex, was one of the characteristic 
facts of that age. So there was first the peri- 
pheral vortex, or whirl {dinos), which we have 
noted as the elemental Psychosis of Greek Phi- 
losophy ; then there was the vortex of the Atoms 
in their whirl from the periphery to the center of 
Hellas, also in the form of a Psychosis (the At- 
omic). But now we have reached the central 
vortex, the very heart of the maelstrom of Hel- 
lenic Philosophy, which will also be found to be 
a psychical process, but confined to one city 


which has shown itself imperial not only in In- 
tellect, but also in Will, in the deed. So we may 
apply the thought of the vortex, so dear to the 
early Greek philosophers, who saw in it the image 
of their own selves and their epoch. 

Thus Philosophy from the outside of Greece, 
from its border, has gotten to the inside, to its 
heart. The movement is not only of location 
but also of mind, passing from the elemental and 
sensuous to the intellectual and spiritual. Here- 
in we may observe the artistic character of ever}^- 
thing Greek, which always has an outer material 
manifestation for its inner soul. The sweep of 
Greek Thought in space has its spiritual counter- 
part in that Thought itself. Moreover the 
Philosophy of Hellas is no longer colonial, but 
has come back to the starting-point of the 
colonies. It no longer tarries on the outskirts 
of the Hellenic world but has penetrated to the 
original source of that world's marvelous expan- 
sion. We have noticed that in origin all Hellenic 
Philosophy seems to be Ionic ; even when it took 
a Doric bent (as in Eleaticism and Pythagorean- 
ism), its founders were lonians. The only 
Doric founder of a Philosophy in a Doric city 
was Empedocles of Agrigentum, yet his prin- 
ciple showed a decided reversion to Ionic 
elementalism. The creative spirit of Greek 
Philosopliy may, therefore, be said to be Ionic, 
startinir in Ionic Miletus of Asia Minor. Now 


the mother city of lonism was Athens. Miletus 
was a coh)ny of Athens. Hence comes the in- 
teresting fact : Philosophy is a return of the 
Greek spirit to its fountain-head, moving back 
from the colony to the original seat of coloniza- 
tion, back from Miletus the daughter to Athens 
the mother, back from the derived, external, 
peripheral, to the underived, internal, central. 
For Athens always claimed to be the underived, 
autochthonous, born of the Attic soil itself, even if 
we now know that she too, in her forgotten past, 
had a derivation from a Pelasgian, or at least 
from an Aryan, ancestry. 

Nor must we omit to notice the chronological 
aspect of the present stage, its movement in 
time. It shows three phases in succession, rep- 
resented by three colossal geniuses, Socrates, 
Plato, and Aristotle, following one another sub- 
stantially in the order of three succeeding gen- 
erations. From the birth of Socrates (469 B.C.) 
to the death of Aristotle (322 B. C), is a period 
of 147 years ; but when we recollect that Soc- 
rates did not begin his full philosophizing career 
before middle life, we have but little more than 
one hundred years for the present epoch. This 
succession in time is still further shown by the 
fact that Plato was about forty j^ears younger 
than his master Socrates, and Aristotle more 
than forty years younger than his master Plato. 
Very marked, then, is the chronological order of 


the separate stages of the Athenian movement. 
Now note its difference in this respect from the 
whole preceding movement of Greek philosophy, 
which was, as already set forth, substantially 
contemporaneous, with the exception of the 
Milesian School. But the Schools of Pythagor- 
eanism, of Eleaticism, of Heraclitus, even of 
Empedocles and the Atomists developed quite 
simultaneously in the middle half of the fifth 
century B. C, even if their founders were not 
all born together. Thus the total Hellenic spirit 
was philosophizing, and burst forth almost at once 
into different stages of its one great fundamental 
thought at different places on its territorial rim. 
But when this same Hellenic spirit concentrates 
itself at Athens, and unifies itself in one uni- 
versal formulation (which, by the way, is just 
the formulation of the Universal) the stages are 
not the contemporaneous fragments of the one 
philosophic Whole struggling to express itself, 
but they are the explicit process of that philo- 
sophic Whole of all Hellenism, not now thrown 
out piecemeal at many diiferent localities but 
gathered up into a single total movement in one 
place. While this Athenian movement was going 
on, it was all-comprehending, and no other philos- 
ophy of any importance arose, or could arise, in 
Hellas, though the other philosophies still had 
their followers. And after the great Athenian 
cycle every new philosophy seemed to spring out 


of it as the generating center of all future 

In such fashion we bring before ourselves the 
external local sweep of the Hellenic Period : first 
and outermost it is peripheral ; then it is centri- 
petal, moving from without to within; finally it 
is central, unified in a process which is no longer 
synchronous but successive in time, and localized 
in one point. The very soul of the Greek race, 
after a wonderful expansion outwards and mighty 
manifestation of Will, in the Persian War, re- 
turns into itself and becomes thereby self- 
conscious, not only thinking l)ut knowing itself 
as thinking. Very suggestive is the image of the 
movement, as it seems to break forth in fitful 
flashes around the edges of the Hellenic world ; 
then these flashes turn inward and unite at 
Athens into the one central sun of philosophy 
which is still to-day shining in its primal splen- 
dor. This Hellenic stage appears to pass actually 
out of Space into Time — out of Greece particu- 
larized in this and that Greek city into Greece 
universalized, belonging to all lands and to all 
ages. The very transition from Atomism to 
Universalism in its real significance is the transi- 
tion from individual Hellas to universal Hellas, 
from the capricious Greek to the eternal Greek, 
from a town's Philosophy to the world's Philoso- 

We are also to see that this third stage of the 



Hellenic Period returns to and takes up the first 
stage, or the elemental, of course through the 
second stao;e or the individual. The element 
as such was divisible, but the individual is now 
not simply divisible or indivisible, but self -divid- 
ing; within itself, and also self-unitino^. Thus it 
is elemental and objective on the one hand ; and 
on the other contains the process of the Ego as 
individual and subjective. This is primarily the 
Socratic Concept, which however is to receive a 
full discussion later on. Still we may here em- 
phasize the fact that this present stage, called 
Universalism, is not isolated but is a part (the 
third) in the total psychical movement of the 
Hellenic Period. 

How shall we organize and concretely formu- 
late this greatest of philosophical epochs? First, 
let us state in a brief summary the process of its 
Thought as manifested in its three supreme per- 

I. Socrates: Thought as Concept or the con- 
ceptual stage, in which Thought is in its imme- 
diate form, is directly in unity with its object, yet 
is the essence thereof. 

n. Plato: Thought as Idea or the ideal stage, 
in which Thought separates itself from the 
object, and makes its own ideal world as distinct 
from the phenomenal world. 

in. AvistotJe: Thought as Thought of 
Thought or Thought thinking Thought, which is 


the real stage, wherein Thought returns to itself 
in the object and unfolds itself as the essence of 
the same. 

These are very brief designations of the three 
summits of Greek thinking, which are neverthe- 
less to be seen united together in one process. 
Through Socrates the Ego rises out of its subjec- 
tive attitude in Sophisticism (Egoistic Atomism) 
and finds itself the inner creative principle of the 
objective world, and thereby truly conceives the 
same. This is the Concept, in which the Ego 
asserts itself to be objectively existent in the 
thing, asserts itself to be the universal principle 
thereof, orthe very universal itself both as knower 
and as known. Plato keeps the Concept but 
separates it from the object, whereby the Platonic 
dualism comes to light, which divides the universe 
into Idea and Appearance. Plato, therefore, 
belongs to the second or separative stage of 
this mighty Athenian Psychosis. But Aristotle 
returns to the real object and reunites with it the 
Platonic Idea, thereby reconciling the Platonic 
dualism and causing the world of Appearance to 
vanish. Aristotle is thus a return to Socrates 
through Plato, since he (Aristotle) takes the 
Concept of the former, which is the unfolding of 
the Individual into the Universal and restores the 
Universal to the Individual after the two had 
been divorced by Plato. Such is the psychical 
process with its three stages, each of which is 


represented by one of these great philosophical 

Taking up the common principle of Greek 
Philosophy, which is the essence of Being, we 
may apply it here. All three, Socrates, Plato 
and Aristotle, affirm the essence of Being (the 
ousia of the on) to be Thought — not the ele- 
ment, not the atom, which are the fundamental 
categories of the two preceding movements re- 
spectively. Now Socrates affirms the essence of 
Being to be Thought as Concept, or as the 
Universal which determines and creates the 
objective world. Plato affirms the essence of 
Being to be Thought as the Idea separate from 
the objective world which is thus reduced to an 
Appearance. Aristotle affirms the essence of 
Beino; to be Tliouo;ht as self-thinkinof or Thought 
thinking Thought (^JSfoesis JSfoeseos, or the specu- 
lative Reason). All three philosophers take for 
granted that Thought is, has Being or is one 
with Being as the essence thereof. That is, the 
Ego with its process is one with the process of 
Beino;, is the Universal seizino; and formulatino^ 
the Universal in Being. Thus the Ego knows, 
and comes into the possession of science which 
is here outoloo-ical or the science of Beino^. 

Such is the psychical movement of the pres- 
ent stage whose phases are embodied in the three 
philosophers. Next we come to the fact that 
each of these is doing fundamentally the same 


thing, has fundamentally the same content in 
his philosophizing. In a general way this content 
is the All, the Universe, which, however, becomes 
now distinctly separated into its three grand 
divisions — the Absolute Being (God), Nature 
(the Cosmos or the World), and Man (the 
human Being, who Is a natural Being sharing in 
and returning to the Absolute Being). And 
these three divisions constitute likewise a process, 
which is a Psychosis of the All, or the Universe, 
and which we name, accordingly, the Pampsy- 
chosis (the All-Psychosis) . Each of these stages, 
when formulated by Thought, has its own desig- 
nation, and they together form the sciences of 
Metaphysics, Physics and Ethics. That is, each 
of the philosophers, Socrates, Plato, and Aris- 
totle will reveal a common Norm which they 
more or less implicitly follow, and according to 
which their work divides itself, yet in such 
division preserves the unity of the process. 

The principle of each philosopher is distinct 
and peculiar to him, still it moves through the 
common Norm — Metaphysics, Physics, and 
Ethics, though with different degrees of empha- 
sis and excellence. Socrates, as is well known, 
places his chief stress upon the ethical, though 
he is not without the metaphysical and even the 
ph3^sical side. Thus every one of thein is seek- 
in«i; to iirasp and to formulate in categories the 
Pampsychosis, or the inner psychical movement 


of the Universe. God, Nature, and Man are the 
content of all philosophizing worthy of the 
name, and are seen by it to form a process to- 
gether, which is ultimately psychical, and which 
must at last be made explicit through Psychol- 
ogy. The same Universe of God, Nature, and 
Man is likewise the content of Religion, as well 
as that of Philosophy and of Psychology, though 
the expression of it in each of these supreme 
Disciplines be very different. (See preceding 
Introduction, pp. 10, 13, 16, etc.) 

This third stage we may derive from the state- 
ment of Protagoras, Man is the measure of all 
things. Here the meaning turns upon the defin- 
ition of Man. Does the above statement mean, 
man as individual (feeling, opinion, subjective 
notion), or Man as universal, as Thought? In 
the first case it signifies Sophisticism, in the 
second case Universalism. Hence Socrates right- 
fully puts such stress upon Definition, which 
is the Concept expressed in its proper category. 
The sentence of Protagoras has two meanings 
quite opposite to each other, involving, as it 
does, the Definition of Man in two diverse ways, 
as subjective and individual or as objective and 

So we are now to consider the great concen- 
tration of Thought at Athens which expresses 
the highest height attained by Greek Intellect. 
In this movement three supreme men participate, 



each of whom is to be considered in himself first 
of all ; still even as a great individual he must 
be seen to be a part or member of a still greater 
process which concludes the Hellenic Period of 
Greek Philosophy. Accordingly we pass to 
study separately the three exalted personages 
who compose this Athenian Psychosis. 


L Socrates. 

The mighty protagonist of the new epoch rep- 
resents the dawn of Thought; in Socrates the 
human mind bursts forth into knowing itself as 
thinking; from this time onward man is to be a 
Thinker in liis highest spiritual manifestation, 
and also to know himself as Thinker. As al- 
ready stated, the philosophical principle of 
Socrates is the Concept or Thought in its first or 
immediate form . More fully formulated it is this : 
Socrates holds that the essence of Being (the 
ousia of the on) is Thought as Concept, or the 
Universal. The whole significance of the man, 
philosophical as well as ethical, we shall find 
flowing out of this })rop()sition. 

It is not to be denied that Thinking had been 
done before Socrates, though more or less im- 
plicitly. The first philosopher, Thales, when he 
had simply asked for the essence of Being, had 
begun to think. lie was in(iuiring after the 
Thought, Principle, or Concept underlying the 
world. That is, his Thought had unconsciously 
asked for the Thought of all things; it was evi- 
dently in search of itself. But it did not find 
itself till Socrates discovered it and pointed it 
out. When the mind of Thales declared that 



the essence of Being was water, he was thinking, 
yet not thinking Thought as the essence of Be- 
ing but a sensuous element. Then Socrates 
arose, and his Tliought affirmed that the essence 
of Being was not an element but Thought itself, 
and not simply his individual Thought but 
Thought as universal, as the immanent creative 

' principle of every object in existence. Thus 
what Thales implicitly sought for, Socrates ex- 
plicitly stated, and Thought, going forth at the 
beginning of Greek Philosophy in search of the 
essence of Being, has returned home after a long 
journey and found just there the object of its 
search. Thus not only Man but Philosophy be- 
comes self-conscious, and Thought not only 
thinks unconsciously but knows itself as think- 
ing, or as the creative essence of all objectivity. 
Such is the return of Greek thinking upon 
itself, which constitutes the fundamental psychi- 
cal fact of the present third stage (Universalism), 
which is opened by Socrates. This return upon 
itself is the deepest internal act of the present 
Plellenic Period, and rounds it out into a Psy- 
chosis or a spiritual cycle of the absolute Self 

^ (the Pampsychosis). Moreover we may again 
note the external correspondence in the movement 
of the Philosophy of this Period : it is a return 
from the rim of colonies, specially Ionic colo- 
nies, to tiie main center of their origination, 
which was just this Athens. The spirit which 


these colonies prhuordially took from their 
mother city in :in nnconscious form returns to it 
j)hilc)S()phizing, that is, asking for the essence of 
Being, which question the mother will now pro- 
ceed to answer for all her children, 3'es, for all 
future generations. It has been sometimes 
doubted whether Socrates was a true philosopher ; 
was he not rather a moralist or preacher? 
Though he occupied himself in public largely 
with ethical discussions, as we see by his picture 
in Xenophon's MemorahUia, the real underlying 
principle in all his endeavors was the formation 
of Concepts, which is, of course, a philosophi- 
cal act. Indeed with him the Concept (philo- 
sophical) is quite the same as the Good (ethical). 
We are tirst to get the Concept, then we have 
knowledge, science; then, too, we can act virtu- 
ously. Socrates even went so far as to say that 
all virtue is knowledge, is the Concept, which if 
we once possess, virtuous conduct follows neces- 
sarily. Hence it comes that the primary occu- 
pation of Socrates even as a teacher of virtue 
was the clearing-up of Concepts by means of his 
famous Socratic method, or his Dialectic. 

On the other hand we are never to forget that 
the philosophizing of Socrates was a life fully as 
much as a doctrine, and that too an active 
life. His thinking was done not so much in his 
closet as in public; he unfolded his theoretical 
view in immediate practical contact with men by 


means of conversation. Thus his Concept was 
seldom if ever separated from the process which 
was forming it; tlie Dialectic was in immediate 
unity with the Concept, though the latter was 
the end toward which it was moving, or was the 
soul of the dialectical procedure. Later the 
Concept, the Dialectic, and Ethics will all be sepa- 
rated, held apai-t and considered as they are in 
themselves. But Socrates had them all and all 
at once, they being immediately united in the 
living activity of his conversation. Thus we can 
see that Socrates belongs to the implicit or the 
tirst stage of this third movement of the Hellenic 
Period. He has the self-returning Thouo-ht or 
Thought grasping Thought as the essence of 
Being, which is the fundamental characteristic of 
this third movement; but he has the Thought of 
it as immediate, not yet developed, as the Con- 
cept undifferentiated from its dialectical and 
ethical relations, both of which, however, are 
present and at work, soon to develop independ- 
ently in future Philosophies. 

I. The birth of Socrates is usually assigned 
to the year 469 B. C, his death to the year 
399 B. C. ; thus he was 70 years when he 
died. In early life he was a sculptor; it is 
supposed that he did not begin his vocation 
of })liilosophcr till somewhere about the bogin- 
ninjjf of the last half of his life. No dou))t he 
had been preparing a long time by meditation, 


as he hammered and chiseled away at his marble, 
and gradually from it wrought out his concep- 
tion. One may trace an analogy between de- 
fining a concept from the mass of chaotic opin- 
ion and defining a shape from a mass of stone. 
When he was ready, he must have quit his trade 
and beo:un his new career. Who it was that 
extended to him encouragement and possibly 
financial help, finding him philosophizing in his 
workshop, is hinted in a few brief words by Di- 
ogenes Lacrtius {Li/e of Socrates) citing a state- 
ment that " it was Crito who made him leave his 
workshop and instruct men, out of the admiration 
which he conceived for his abilities." Let Crito 
then be honored, whose fidelity to Socrates at 
the last moment Plato has celebrated in a well- 
known Dialogue. 

Without claiming historical accuracy for the 
declaration, one may well suppose that Socrates 
began his public philosophizing a few years be- 
fore the Peloponnesian war. An important pre- 
lude of this war was the siege of Potidaia, a city 
in Thrace which had revolted from the Athenians. 
Socrates was present at the siege as a heavy- 
armed soldier (432 B. C), where he is said to 
have rescued Alcibiades — then or afterwards 
one of his pupils — from death at the hands of 
the enemy. Again in 424 B. C. Socrates marched 
out with the Athenians against the Thcbans, and 
took part in the battle of Delium, in which his 


countrymen were badly whipped and quite lost 
their military prestige. In a third campaign 
two years later Socrates went to Amphipolis, 
where again he saw his city defeated. Thus he 
shared in the repeated humiliations of his native 
land, and must have felt her gradual decline. 
Such an experience could not help sharpening 
the eye to the need of a radical reform in the 
spirit of the Athenian citizens. They show only 
opinions about public aif airs which they transact ; 
they must rife to knowledge, they must be 
trained to get the Concept of things, and this 
training must become their habit, their character. 
Accordingly, Socrates has made himself the 
schoolmaster of Athens ; he is the self-appointed 
teacher of the whole Athenian people, seeking to 
save it from its coming fall, which he sees but 
too clearly, by a complete inner regeneration. 
As the citizens will not come to him, so he 
goes to them, and engages them in talk on the 
market-place, in the streets, shops, promenades, 
anywhere. He is considered a nuisance by many, 
and receives insult, buffetings, blows, it is said; 
but that does not swerve him from his purpose. 
His person is not attractive: bald-pated, snub- 
nosed, corpulent in body, with projecting goggle- 
eyes which roll around oddly when he speaks, he 
is compared to the arch satyr, Silenus, by both 
Xenophon and Plato, his most devoted friends 
and pupils. He dressed carelessly, like many an- 


other philosopher, struck awkward attitudes hid- 
eous to the beauty-loving eyes of the sculpture- 
trained Greek; he "strutted proudly barefoot 
along the streets" among sandaled gentlemen 
who ridiculed him, and still "you hold your head 
above us." So, at least, Aristophanes com- 
plains, and satirizes him in a famous comedy, 
"The Clouds." 

And yet this man, the reverse of the beautiful 
form, possessed the power of rousing the 
strongest manifestations of love in many of the 
fair and high-born youths of Athens. How? 
By the inner beauty of his life and character ; 
minds holding converse with him had to turn 
from the outer shape of the man, and regard the 
perfection of the spirit. That meant a great 
change, indeed it meant ultimately the transition 
out of the art-world of Greece, which loved so 
intensely and created so profusely the sculptured 
shapes of beauty. But a new Love has dawned 
which Plato has celebrated in his Symposium as 
Eros Philosophus, and which turns from without 
to within for the object of its devotion. Thus 
the ugly body of Socrates has its place in his 
teaching, as it compelled his young Athenian 
followers to reheve their eye-pain by beholding 
him inwardly and there communing with his soul 
divested of its inadequate or rather lying cor- 
poreal counterpart. Above all, w^e can trace 
this influence in Plato, who fled to the pure Idea 

80CBATES. 223 

away from Appearance, and who most artistically 
reacted against the art of Hellas. Thus in the 
very person of Socrates lay the Platonic dualism 
in its unseparated or implicit form. And from 
the particular Socrates manifested in the pecu- 
liarities of his body and its actions, the pupil was 
forced to rise to the universal Socrates, to the 
inner Concept of him, in order to find the essence 
of the man, corresponding herein to his own 
philosophic doctrine. 

II. Socrates is more widely known than any 
other character in Greek History. His name has 
been heard or read oftener than that of Homer 
or Alexander, who are probably his nearest Greek 
competitors in popular fame. In general Soc- 
rates and his fate are known to the people of 
Christendom ; this seems to spring from the fact 
that he is deemed the Greek Christ. Every 
thinking Christian will compare, secretly or 
openly, the two in life and in death. He will 
find striking differences, and also surprising 
parallelisms. The Greek and the Jew — both 
martyrs of the spirit — have come down time 
associated together not only in the minds of tiie 
learned, but to a degree in the popular imagi- 

Twenty-three centuries have joined their voices 
in proclaiming the greatness of Socrates, and in 
placing him at an important turning-point in the 
march of humanity. Studious men to-day more 


ardently than ever are asking themselves the 
question : What did he do that he should take 
such an epoch-making position in our spiritual 
evolution? Especially every student of Philos- 
ophy grapples with that Concept called Socrates, 
which has in many cases been transmitted to him 
more or less vaguely from childhood. Sup- 
posing that he is imbued with the philosophic 
spirit, he has reached the stage of seeking to 
define, formulate, categorize Socrates, bringing 
the same out of a shadowy, semi-conscious, 
shiftino- mass of indefinite notions into a clear, 
well-rounded, and, as it were, plastic outline 
of a Concept, general indeed, but distinct and 
mentally employable. 

Now what if Socrates be just the person who 
first showed mankind how to extract this general 
Concept (or Universal) of an object out of the 
chaotic multitude of fleeting notions which 
encompass it or rather bury it in the mind? 
What we here propose to do with him, he first 
taught the race to do; his own procedure 
we shall seek to apply to him who started it, 
bringing back to him his own deed, subsuming 
him under his own thought. Thus every thinker 
has to repeat and renew Socrates in himself 
in order to get Socrates. 

Nor is it merely the general Concept which 
lies Implicit and unborn in a mass of indiscriminate 
images and opinions, from which it has to be un- 

S0CBATE8. 225 

folded and extricated. Processes also lie thus im- 
bedded, yea, the process of all processes, the Psy- 
chosis itself, which is fermenting in every Religion 
and in every Philosophy, is indeed the very 
principle of such fermentation. Now and then it 
breaks out of the secret abode in unexpected spots, 
and becomes explicit and visible for a time, when 
it passes again into an eclipse. Such is the ran- 
dom and uncertain manifestation of the Psycho- 
sis throughout European Philosophy, certainly 
alive and moving in the womb of time, and oc- 
casionally lustily struggling there, but still un- 
born. The day is coming (we hope) when the 
Psychosis will come forth out of its long, long 
period of gestation into light, definite, visible, 
actually existent in the world, being parallel in its 
way to the birth of the Socratic general Concept. 

Under the image just presented, Socrates 
conceived his vocation, comparing himself to his 
mother Phsenarete who was a midwife. In like 
manner he was to help to birth the general Con- 
cept conceived in the brain and struggling there, 
by his peculiar art of mental obstetrics. So Plato 
(in Themtetus 149, A) and Xenophon {Mem. 
IV, 7), make him talk about himself, wherein 
he shows himself conscious of his procedure. 

We may also draw the old calling of his father 
and of himself into the illustration of this his 
new profession. Socrates was in early life a 
sculptor, as was Sophroniscus his father. Thus 



both belonged to the great age of Greek ph\stic 
art, that of Phidias, and may have wrought in 
the latter' s workshop or under his guidance, upon 
the marbles of the Parthenon. Young Socrates, 
born in 4(J9 B. C, must have seen this supreme 
temple of the world gradually rising up and taking 
on its beautiful form from the brain of Ictinus 
the architect and of Phidias the sculptor. The 
Parthenon was finished about 438 B. C, and its 
construction is said to have lasted some twelve 
years — a period of great artistic and intellectual 
stimulation at Athens, in which Socrates must 
have partaken. He, a receptive youth of nine- 
teen, sees the Parthenon with all its sculptur- 
esque decoration at the beginning of its birth 
into time, and also sees its completion when a 
man of thirty-one. This of itself would be an 
education unparalleled, and, as before said, he 
may have had a hand in the work. At least he 
beheld day after day the rough blocks of marble 
transported from Pentelicus and changed into 
shapes which were called divine, and which made 
visible the creative powers of the universe. 
Truly at Athens in the time of Socrates there 
was a grand epiphany of the Gods appearing to 
the senses of men in the forms of Art. Phidias 
at this period made the chryselephantine statue 
of Olympian Zeus, from all accounts the nearest 
visible embodiment of the Supreme God that has 
ever manifested itself upon our earth. Socrates 

80CBATES. 227 

could well have been present in 438 B. C, at the 
dedication of the colossal standing figure of 
Pallas Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and the pro- 
tecting deity of Athens. Already the artist was 
expressing the divinely creative Idea in shapes of 
marble and bronze, and in that mighty epoch 
poetry sang of the same spirit which inspired the 
heroic deeds of Marathon and Salamis. 

Socrates, then, began life as an artist — his 
group of the Three Graces was pointed out in 
later times — but he found that it was not his 
calling to shape the Idea or Concept in the forms 
of sense. From an outer work he changed to an 
inner, transmutino- the rough masses of human 
speech into clear-cut terms, which also gave ex- 
pression to the Idea. From a statuary working 
in stone he changed to a statuary working in 
mind, which he informed anew with his own art 
and that of his age. In the market-place he 
opened his new workshop among the people, 
wdiose words he began to trim and train till he 
made them expressive of distinct, well-defined 
Concepts, plastic, too, in their way. As he once 
chiseled off, chip by chip, the marble-block of 
rude nature till a beautiful shape came forth rep- 
resenting the God, so he now by his new art, 
which is the so-called Socratic method, removes 
one after another the wild growths of man's un- 
trained thmking, till the clear shapely thought 
appears uttered in kindred speech. 


Ill the age of Socrates sculpture unfolded its 
highest bloom, attaining an excellence which it 
never reached before or since. He may rightly 
be connected with this art, because he belonged 
to it professionally, and from it received his 
earliest training, but especially because it was 
the most direct and lofty expression of the age, 
in which he as the child of his time profoundly 

III. But Socrates must have had other teach- 
ers, those who taught him something of Philoso- 
phy directly. At that time, during the age of 
Pericles, Athens was the gathering point of all 
thinkers, sophists, philosophers. Among others 
Anaxagoras had come thither during the boyhood 
of Socrates, and is said to have remained in the 
city some thirty years, giving instruction and 
imparting his doctrines. Here certainly was an 
opportunity for Socrates lasting through the 
whole period of his manhood. One may well 
trace in his work the influence of the JSfous of 
Anaxagoras, or the principle of Mind as the 
fundamental principle of all things. The general 
Concept or Idea of Socrates is related to JVous, 
of which it is a more highly developed form. 

Socrates is, however, more closely connected 
with the Sophists than with Anaxagoras. Indeed 
he is a Sophist on one side, but on the other side 
he is their opposite, their declared foe. Of 
them, through them, beyond them, were steps 


iu the growth of Socrates. With the Sophists 
he turned inward and began to find his oracle 
there; with them he passed from authority, from 
tradition, from the established to the realm of 
individual insight. But this individual insight is 
to be employed in attaining the Universal, the 
Concept, whereby the subject begins to know 
itself as objective. This is the line on which he 
moves out of the negative condition of the 
Sophists to a positive view of the world. 

In giving an account of the education of Soc- 
rates, we must not leave out his greatest teacher, 
Athens, the supreme Hellenic Commonwealth, 
which was in this period building itself externally 
into the most beautiful city that ever existed, and 
even more wonderfully was building a group of 
men, a set of human characters, the like of whom 
have not often appeared since or before on our 
planet. Prominent, and of the same general 
mould, among these stands Socrates himself, nur- 
tured to greatness by the same spirit in his own 
peculiar domain. 

The overshadowing power of Persia, which had 
threatened the Greek world for two generations, 
had been broken, chiefly by the might of Athens 
and her great man, Themistocles. This city could 
well say that she had saved Hellas from the Ori- 
ent, and we, looking back through a vista of more 
than twenty-three centuries, can say far more, 
namely, that she saved Europe from the Orient. 


The spirit which had done such a deed was cen- 
tered in the one small city and its citizens. Soc- 
rates was born ten years after the battle of Pla- 
tsea, his daily life was passed among the victors 
of Salamis and of the other great battles by sea 
and land during the Persian War; we may sup- 
pose that hundreds of the veterans of Marathon 
were still living, and were among his neighbors, 
each one of whom had his own story to tell of the 
great conflict. On such memories the youth was 
nourished, and grew to manhood, which also saw 
his native city the acknowledged political leader 
of the Hellenic world. 

Socrates likewise witnessed the outer struggle 
of the Greek city-states with the foreigner be- 
comino; an internal conflict among themselves, 
till they all took sides and began the long civil 
conflict known as the Pelopounesian war, whicli 
lasted twenty-seven years (431-404 B. C), and 
ended in the complete humiliation of Athens. 
He lived through this slow painful undoing of 
his country, passing in it the meridian of his life 
(from his 38th to his 65th year). Such a polit- 
ical struggle among those refractory units, the 
Greek city-states, lies in the background of his 
civil life and also of hisphilosophizing; the strug- 
gling mass of individuals, as atoms, notions, cap- 
rices or men he would bring under the Universal, 
and thus have a ruling objective principle of 
order in the vvorkl. The subjective autonomy of 


the man and correspondingly of the city has its 
sphere, but also there must be an objective hege- 
mony of the Concept as well as of the State. 

The conflict and disintegration going on below 
among Greek men was also taking place above, 
among the Greek Gods, who now, even more 
than in Homer's time, formed a Pantheon of 
many recalcitrant units. Zeus, the chief ruler 
of the Olympians, if not exactly dethroned, had 
been placed in the background, especially at 
Athens, which worshipped Pallas Athena, the 
Goddess of the Mind, the divine embodiment of 
I^ous. Her new beautitul temple, and her new 
colossal statue have been already noticed, both 
being erected in the prime of Socrates' man- 
hood, and both being situated high upon the 
hill of the Acropolis, overlooking the valley of 
the Ilissus below. Down there in that valley lay 
the unfinished temple of Zeus, begun by the 
tyrant Pisistratus, which the democratic Athe- 
nians never would complete even for the Monarch 
of Heaven. Finally the Monarch of the World, 
the Roman Emporer Hadrian, built it up anew, 
more than six hundred years after the laying of 
its first foundation. All of this is very significant 
of the religion of Athens during the present 
epoch : she led a revolt against the old auto- 
cratic God of Hellas, and set up in his stead 
the deity of Wisdom, of individual Insight, of 


There is no doubt that Socrates shared in this 
great spiritual change of his city and of his age. 
He did not deny the Gods, but he certainly 
transformed them, and indeed had to do so. 
This fact was so well known that his enemie3 
could get him arraigned before the Athenian 
dicastery and condemned to death, chiefly on the 
ground of impiety. 

This last act is the most impressive and mem- 
orable one in his whole career, enrolling him 
among the martyrs of the race for the highest 
good of the race. And yet there are two sides 
to the question of the justification of his death. 
The real interest of it lies in the fact that over 
Socrates two world-views, the outgoing and the 
incoming, collided sharply, and thus gave a 
most striking manifestation of their existence. 
If he had perished through a brutal, violent exe- 
cution by the State (say at the hands of the 
thirty tyrants, whom he opposed), his death 
would have simply been a lamentaljle accident. 
But as it is recorded by Plato and Xcuoplion, it 
shows two spiritual powers grappling with full 
intensity, each in its own way and in its own 
right. Thus it becomes a spectacle for all time, 
a veritable drama enacted on the stage of the 
world. Both sides have to be present in full pan- 
oply, assertmg their respective principles before 
the two arbiters, one of which is that trans- 
itory Athenian dicastery, the other is the tri- 


bunal of the ages. Before the former, Socrates 
lost his cause and perished ; before the hitter he 
has clearly won it, and still lives. 

IV. We pass next to consider the basic maxim 
of Socrates, Know thyself. 

" Tell me, Euthydemus, did you ever go to 
Delphi? " asks Socrates (Xeuophon's Mem. IV, 

" Yes, twice." 

" Did you read that inscription upon the tem- 
ple, Knoio thyself? " 

" Certainly." 

Whereupon Socrates proceeds to enforce the 
deeper significance of this maxim by various ex- 
amples. Self-knowledge is the key to all knowl- 
edge; only by knowing yourself or the Self, can 
you know the world, and thereby pass from sub- 
ject to object. This maxim also is capable of a 
double construction. If I know myself imme- 
diately, or as the individual, to be the essence of 
all Being, I take the sophistic standpoint of 
Protagoras. But if I know myself as thought 
to be the essence of all Being, my self-knowledge 
is that of Socrates. In thought I recognize the 
self-knowing Ego as the creative principle of the 
objective world. The Self knowing itself sees 
this process of self-knowledge to be the process 
of all things. Hence Aristotle will explicitly 
affirm that the Thought of Thought, or Thought 
thinking Thought (noesis noeseds) is the true 


reality, the real essence of Being. So it comes 
that we shall find in him from this point of view 
a return to Socrates, whose implicit Concept or 
Thought he develops to its full expression. 

Knoiv thyself may be considered the germinal 
starting-point of Socrates. The self-knowing 
Ego had already been announced by the Sophists 
who made it purely subjective, and hence nega- 
tive also, when they said that man is the measure 
of all things. But Socrates proclaimed that this 
self-knowing Ego knows itself likewise as object, 
as the principle of the world, in which man is to 
find himself in order to know it. Thus Socrates 
reached the lofty point of seeing that Thought is 
objective, that the world is Thought which his 
Thought must recoo;nize in order to obtain true 
knowledge. In this sense Socrates still holds to 
the principle that man is the measure of all 
things, but with a vast new meaning different 
from that of the Sophists who made the particu- 
lar subjective Ego with all its caprices and opin- 
ions to be the measure of all things. Socrates saw 
the all-creating Nous, if not in the whole universe, 
at least in important parts of it; his own Nous 
must recreate the same by thinking if he is to 
know the truth of it. This objective all-creating 
iVbi^s'is whatthe Sophists denied or left out; they 
were su])jcctivo, subjecting creation to their own 
Ego, from the outside, instead of identifying 
their own Ego in creation. 


To know thyself is not merely to know this 
individual Self with its ever-changing bubbles of 
notions, but to know thyself as man, as human- 
ity, as universal. Not simply an introspective 
act is this, but at the same time an extrospec- 
tive look into the creative soul of the world, 
whose process is that of truth itself. We may say 
then, that Socrates saw the fundamental Norm 
of the Universe, but he saw it immediately, and 
did not separate it fully from its particular em- 
bodiment, grasping and uttering it as it is in 
itself. This, however, makes him the beginner 
of the movement which unfolds the philosophic 
Norm of human Thinking to a full consciousness 
of itself. 

Now, this self-knowledge of Socrates has its 
own process, whose stages we shall glance at. 

1. He starts with an act of faith, which is 
that every person, even the humblest Athenian 
laborer, has Avithin himself implicitly the truth, 
the universal Concept. But it is covered up and 
intertwined wath a mass of opinions and notions 
from which it must be sifted, and exposed as it is 
in itself. So he goes to the people, in whom he 
believes this original germ to be existent, though 
as yet potential and unconscious. He is one with 
them, and he puts every man, high and low, who 
will talk with him, through the same process 
which he has experienced within himself. 

2. He separates the fleeting, untrue, insubstan- 


tial shreds of miud from the eternal and universal 
element, whereby the latter becomes conscious 
and explicit. This he does by question and an- 
swer, by his peculiar method still known as So- 
cratic, which is the pedagogic method. He, too, 
wants to know somewhat, so he starts to interro- 
gate the bystander and interweaves him into a 
Socratic dialogue (dialogos, whose end is the 
logos, or Idea). The general movement of it is 
to make the interlocutor contradict his own inad- 
equate opinions, to make him negate his own 
negative notions, and thereby to have him rise to 
the true Concept of the object. The irony of 
Socrates is to assume ignorance himself in order 
to convict others of ignorance and thence lead 
them to knowledge. 

3. This knowledge was the becoming con- 
scious of the general Concept, the advance from 
the particular to the universal or to the creative 
thought of the object. It is sometimes called 
the Definition of the thing under consideration, 
as of Justice or the Good. We may deem it 
also a criticism of the terms used by the people, 
and a finding of their essential meaning. Thus 
it becomes a category; Socrates calls forth out 
of the vague notion, the definite category — a 
great step in philosophy which now becomes 
a conscious categorizing of the universe. Un- 
doubtedly Philosophy has moved hitherto in 
categories, but such a movement has been largely 


unconscious. In Socrates, however, Thought 
returns upon itself and formulates itself as 
Thought, wherein we behold the third or self- 
returning stage of this whole Hellenic Psychosis, 
or psychical movement of the Hellenic Period 

As Socrates w^orks up from the particular 
to the general, his method has likewise been 
called inductive (or epagogic). The Sophist 
took the particular subject with all its impulses, 
feelings, fancies, as the man who was to measure 
all tilings ; but Socrates purified this measuring 
man', of his subjective caprices, and elevated 
him into a rational or universal Self, which 
was Thought as reproductive of the Universe. 
Not simply man is the measure of all things, 
but man as thinker, as the maker of the Concept, 
is the measure of all things. 

Connecting the work of Socrates with the 
fundamental movement of Greek Philosophy 
(which is the grand search for true Being) 
we see that his message is that the Concept 
is true Being, or that the essence (ousia) of 
Being is Thought, or that Thinking is also 
objective, not simply subjective. All these terms 
express the one supreme fact of Socrates as 
the founder of the third or Athenian stage of 
Hellenic Philosophy. 

V. A skeptical element Socrates had in con- 
nection with the preceding movement out of 
skepticism. He did not adopt the whole range 


of science like Plato and Aristotle ; there were 
spheres of knowing into which he would not 
carry his general Concept. On this side he was not 
universal, but showed his limitation. This nega- 
tive phase of his connects him with the Sophists, 
from whom he inherited it; he, too, affirmed the 
right of the subjective Ego to criticise the Estal)- 
lished, and even to deny its validity in certain 
cases. But his effort was to move forward out 
of denial to the new future order, not to relapse 
in terror to the old past, which seems to have 
the principle of Aristophanes, as far as \\p had 

1. Socrates particularly eschewed the previous 
speculations of Greek philosophers on Nature. 
He would rule out the Ionic and the Atomistic 
Schools as unworthy of being known. 

2. He shunned the mathematical views of the 

3. The metaphysical subtleties of philoso- 
phers like the Eleatics had no fascination for 

He was, therefore, negative to the Philoso- 
phies before his time — physical, metaphysical 
and mathematical. And yet he stands in relation 
to all these, he is indeed their direct product and 
outcome. At times he seems to have felt this, 
and so is not wholly consistent in his attitude 
toward them. More will be said upon this topic 
in another connection. 


VI. But the field to which Socrates turned 
with singleness of purpose was the ethical. Hav- 
ing reached his general Concept by induction, he 
applies it to human conduct. Hence his inv^esti- 
gations pertained almost wholly to Virtue and the 
Good. Says Aristotle: " Socrates regarded the 
problem of Philosophy to be the seeking for the 
essence of Virtue." But Aristotle also attribu- 
ted to Socrates the determining of general Con- 
cepts. These two views find their reconciliation 
in the fact that Socrates investigated the Concept 
in order to settle the nature of Virtue, which is a 
general Concept. That is, having gotten the 
universal Thought as such, he will not apply it 
universally to all objects, but simply to human 

Under the head of Ethics we put together the 
most distinctive teachings of Socrates. 

1. The best known of his ethical doctrines is 
that Virtue is knowledge, which he affirmed ap- 
parently with all its consequences. Hence no 
man does wrong knowingly ; goodness cannot be 
truly predicated of a person who acts instinc- 
tively; if a man could do a wrong knowingly, he 
would still be better than one who did it iguo- 
rantly, since the former lacks only goodness, while 
the latter lacks both goodness and knowledge. 
Herein we see how emphatically Socrates asserted 
the self-conscious stage of spirit against tlie un- 
conscious. He had quite reached the view that 


good done instinctively is no good at all. The 
old prescriptive morality of Greece was to be sup- 
planted by this new self -knowing ethical world. 
He seeks to change the Athenian from a man de- 
termined by his community with its transmitted 
beliefs to a man self-determined in conduct ; the 
inner Universal, the thinking Ego is to take 
the place of the outer Universal, the Law and 
Institutions. Socrates does his thinking in the 
greatest City-State of Greece, passing from 
the instinctively institutional condition to the 

Socrates deserves credit for seeing that all 
knowledge has a moral side, and is followed by 
responsibility. But he ignored the primacy of 
the Will in Ethics, and asserted the primacy of 
Intellect ; to know was to be good in his view ; 
he did not understand how a man could know the 
good and not do it ; surely the evil-doer was igno- 
rant of what he was doing. Thus knowledge 
was one with Virtue, and could not be separated 
from it. To know the good was immediately the 
Will to do the good, he thought; he permitted no 
division of Will from knowledge. 

Such a view is inadequate, still it has been too 
much neglected by modern writers on Ethics, 
who put an overwhelming stress upon the 
motive, without a sufficient consideration of its 
basis in knowledge. Socrates rightly held that 
all knowledge nuist be moralized; his mistake 


lies in maintaining that it will moralize itself 
without any special effort of Will. 

2. Virtue, being a general Concept, was uni- 
versal, common to all men, hence impartablc or 
teachable. This is also a most weighty doctrine 
of Socrates: the teachability of Virtue, so that 
it can be given to the rising generation by in- 
struction. Previously the Virtues, Temperance, 
Justice, Heroism, etc., existed in living exam- 
ples, connected with many other qualities of the 
concrete person ; Socrates separated or abstracted 
the single Virtue, defined it as a Concept, 
whereby it could be imparted to other minds. 
The value of this service to mankind can hardly 
be overrated ; it not only produced but planted 
moral science in the world, where it has never 
since ceased to grow. The vocation of Socrates 
was to be teacher of Ethics far more than of 
Philosophy, which with him was the handmaid of 
Ethics. All Athens was his School, truly a pub- 
lic School, starting anywhere or at any time, 
on the street or in the market place. Every 
man was subjected to a training by this self- 
chosen teacher, the end being first to know 
Justice, for example, and then to act justly. 
The whole citizenship of Athens was to pass 
from impulsive or prescriptive doing to self- 
conscious doing. Unquestiona])ly this is what 
led him into collision with the old order of 
things — the old religion, the old state, the 



conservatives generally — and at last brought 
on his fate. 

3. With that fact is also connected his Demon 
or Genius, the inner Oracle of the man, which 
gave him warnings, presentiments, and signs of 
the future. Thus Socrates seems to fall back 
into a kind of superstition ; though internal it is 
a voice speaking to him with authority. The 
outer Delphic Oracle has gone inside, yet remains 
oracular. Many explanations have been given of 
it — some calling it a devil and others conscience. 
To our mind it is the Greek counterpart to the 
Categorical Imperative which has such an impor- 
tant place in the Ethics of Kant. It is an inner 
power which commands imperatively, usually not 
to do, but sometimes to do. 

Socrates restores the Greek unity of Being, 
which he places in Virtue. The latter is one, or 
it is reducible to one by abstraction. Virtue is 
thus the true genus, the general, and genetic of 
character. If the Idea or Concept of Virtue be 
given, it will transform the person. General 
Concepts once entering the mind have a tendency 
to become generative, creative, making over the 
man in their image, making him just from his 
conceiving of justice, makiug'him good from his 
conceiving of the good. So Socrates sets out on 
his career, seeking to impart to all Athenians the 
conception of Virtue and the Virtues, with the 
hope of making them virtuous. Moral freedom 


he preached, and thus he heralded the dawn of a 
new epoch. But here lies his conflict with the 
old prescriptive morality of Athens, and out of 
this conflict resulted his tragedy. At his trial 
the eye which beholds the true reality of occur- 
rences, can see two principles in a death-grapple : 
the ancient prescribed order and the new con- 
sciousness of inner freedom. This tragedy of 
Socrates is truly Promethean in its mighty out- 
lines and in its suggestive prefiguring of the 
future . 

VII. That which we have called the JSForm of 
philosophizing — the psychical process of Abso- 
lute Being (God), Nature (the Cosmos), and 
Man — is far from explicit in Socrates, yet im- 
portant phases or parts of it are present. Out of 
the preceding account we may put together the 
philosophy of Socrates from the point of view 
of the Norm, especially after the manner in 
which it showed itself in later Greek thinking. 

1. 3Ietaphysics. The entire elaboration of the 
Concept as well as the Socratic method of reach- 
ing it, may be placed under this head. Funda- 
mentally the work of Socrates has a metaphysical 
stamp, which we first observe in his favorite 
maxim know thyself. The passing from the 
Particular to the Universal as Concept is done 
by the power of abstraction and is a metaphys- 
ical act. Here we can find various phases : — 

(a) An ontological strand in the investiga- 


tions of Socrates is noticed even by Xenophon, 
who had little aptitude for this side of his mas- 
ter's instruction. We read in the Memora- 
bilia (IV. 6. 1) that "he never ceased to discuss 
with his companions what was the nature of 
each existent thinof," or the essence of Beino; in 
every particular object. More emphatic are the 
statements of Aristotle: "Socrates with right 
reason investigated the what is," true Being (or 
the ousia of the on, which is likewise an Aris- 
totelian phrase) (Met. XIII. 4; 1078, b). In 
the same passage we read : ' ' two things may be 
justly ascribed to Socrates : inductive (epagogic) 
discourses and the definition of the Universal," 
the former leading up to the latter which is the 
Concept categorized. Herewith the second point 
is sugo-ested. 

(b) The method of Socrates, which is the 
dialectical, and leads up to the logical, has been 
already considered. Xenophon says that " he 
made his companions more dialectical" (Mem. 
IV. 6. 1). Socrates reaches the Concept by his 
Dialectic, by the development of the Universal 
through question and answer, which procedure 
is based upon the fact that all division and defi- 
nition will turn out self -contradictory when ap- 
plied to the object from the outside. This is the 
true content and purpose underlying the play of 
Socratic irony. But when the object is seen to 
posit its own divisions and thus become the Con- 


cept or the Thought, it c:m escape from the neg- 
ative power of the Dialectic. We may say then 
that the Dialectic is the process of negating the 
Negative (as mere Opinion, Notion, or outside 
Reflection), and of attaining the positive genetic 
Thought of the thing, or, more completely ex- 
pressed, the creative principle of the Universe. 

(c) The Theology of Socrates has in the main 
been considered. In one sense he accepted the 
old Gods of his people, yet he certainly trans- 
formed them, he put into them the new Thought, 
though he called them still by their former 
names. Xenophon seeks to defend his master's 
piety ; his defense is both successful and unsuc- 
cessful. Socrates, like most of the Greek 
philosophers, seeking the one principle of the 
Universe, could not well admit a fundamental 
plurality of the Gods. We question even if old 
Homer is always a polytheist. 

In the Memorabilia (I. 4) we find the doctrine 
of Socrates in reg-ard to the world-order whose 
controlling principle is JSTous, Intelligence, Mind. 
" Do you think that you, by a stroke of luck, 
have gotten for yourself a mind which is nowhere 
else, and that the infinite world gets its order 
through a lack of mind? " asks Socrates of skep- 
tical Aristodemus, who seems inclined to fall 
back upon Chance (Democritus). It is manifest 
that Socrates afiirms here the JSTous of Anaxago- 
ras and a teleological view of the world. But the 


physical speculations of Anaxagoras he rejects and 
ridicules, according to the report of Xenophon. 

2. Physics. Aristotle declares that Socrates 
turned from the investigation of Nature as a 
Whole, and herein was different from the early 
Greek philosophers. Xenophon emphasizes the 
same point in his master. Such, indeed, we may 
deem the reaction of Socrates against his prede- 
cessors in Philosophy. With him, the essence of 
Being was no longer an element or an atom, but 
the Concept. The result was, he felt inclined to 
throw to one side all former speculations on the 
Cosmos and its origin. 

Still he did not and could not wholly desist 
from them, in which lay, indeed, his origin, 
Xenophon shows him looking into the end and 
purpose of all creation — man, animals and Cos- 
mos (Mem. I. 4). Yet the same reporter de- 
clares elsewhere that " he did not converse on 
the nature of the All " (Mem. I. 1. 11). From 
these contradictory statements we may infer that 
the aversion of Socrates was not so much to Na- 
ture as a subject of discourse, but to the physical 
theories of the preceding Greek jjliilosophers. In 
disliking Elemeutalism and Atomism, ho did not 
need to dislike Nature herself. He belongs to a 
new order of tliinking, and is well aware of it; 
and so he turns away not only from the old meth- 
ods of treating a theme, but in a certain degree 
from the theme itself. 

S0CBATE8. 247 

Hence, a marked deficiency, though not a total 
absence, as regards Physics, must be acknowl- 
edged in the philosophizing of Socrates. Herein 
he shows himself not all-sided, and the reason is 
his mtense interest in the human, in man as an 
ethical being. Socrates recognizes the creator 
of the world and of man, and that he has mind 
{N'ous) and creates with an end in view (telos). 
He calls this creator a demiourgos (Mem. I. 4. 
7), a word which plays an important part here- 
after. The double nature of man he assumes, 
the physical and the spiritual. The latter is 
specially developed by Ethics, whose function is 
to train the man out of the immediacy of Nature 
into universality of conduct. 

3. Ethics. The general character of the ethical 
teaching of Socrates has been already given. 
Here w^e wish to bring it into connection with the 
philosophical Norm — Metaphysics, Physics and 
Ethics — of which Norm it is the third stasfe in 
Greek Philosophy. By means of Ethics man 
rises through himself to the Universal, or to true 
Being, or even to God. The soul as embodied 
belongs in part to Physics, but it also has reason, 
through which it ascends to the Concept, whereby 
it can become ethical. The individual Self has 
been reached and unfolded by the philosopher, 
and therewith the power of overcoming the lower 
side of itself, such as appetite and passion, has 
been attained. Through this new inner power 


Socrates seeks to make man realize true Being, 
the Universal, in life and conduct. 

Of the ethical process we see three leading 
stages manifested in Socrates, though not in an 
equal degree of completeness. 

(a) The conception of the Good he has; 
though not very distinctly stated in his utter- 
ances, it is substantially one with the Universal, 
and is the great ol)ject of ethical attainment 
and realization. Such a general end for man he 
declares to be happiness. 

(b) Far more definite and detailed are the Vir- 
tues in the discussions of Socrates. Into these 
manifold Virtues, the Good specializes itself. 
His common topic of conversation is the defini- 
tion of some particular Virtue whose concept he 
endeavors to bring out through question and 
answer. (See the instances in Plato and Xeno- 
phon, passim.) But no ordering of the Virtues 
into a system can be found in Socrates, who dis- 
cussed whatever single Virtue might rise to sur- 
face on the occasion of meeting some man in the 

(c) What may be called Institutional Virtue 
is for Socrates the fundamental and all-inclusive 
Virtue, the ground of the other Virtues. He 
believes in the State, obeys the Laws, performs 
his duty as citizen. This docs not hinder him 
from seeing defects in the existent State and its 
Laws, and trying to remedy them. Indeed his 


whole scheme of training in Virtue is to produce 
a man who can make good Laws, and so estab- 
lish a good State. What isj^iety? he asks. Not 
a blind worship of the Gods, but a worship of 
them according to their laws and customs, which 
one must know. That is, one must know the 
law of the thing, the time of mere instinctive 
action and obedience is past. 

Many matters at Athens Socrates did not like, 
for instance, the ballot by lot, the pure democ- 
racy. He had the idea of the philosophic ruler; 
an aristocracy of intellect he favored. Still 
Socrates did not apparently despise labor, as did 
Plato, and Aristotle, and Xenophon. In early 
life he was himself an artisan (or artist), as was 
his father before him. In fact he was in his phil- 
osophic career primarily an Athenian missionary 
to the humble mechanic, tradesman, and laborer. 

It is the chief object of Plato in his Crito to 
exhibit Socrates supremely as the institutional 
man. He could not be persuaded to escape from 
.the prison to which the laws of his country had 
consigned him ; he Avould rather die than disobey 
them, even though innocent. 

Thus we may see that Socrates has the triple 
philosophic Norm — Metaphysics, Physics, and 
Ethics — though in its tirst undeveloped, or rather 
unequally developed, stage. Hitherto this Norm 
had been seeking a . partial expression among 
various philosophers ; now it is beginning to con- 


ccutrate itself iu one philosopher, and this con- 
centration is to grow more and more decided 
after Socrates, till the Norm becomes fully ex- 
pressed and consciously established. This com- 
plete recognition reaches bej^ond Plato and 
seemingly Aristotle also, being usually ascribed 
to Xenocrates, a pupil of Plato. Out of Socrates 
flow many streams of philosophic influence which 
become schools of more or less importance. The 
so-called Socratic Schools — Megaric, Cynic, 
Cyrenaic — we shall consider in another connec- 
tion. But the overtowering successor of the 
master and the chief developer of Socraticisra is 
Plato. We must regard Socrates as a great 
mind-fertilizing genius — one of the greatest that 
the world has ever seen. Very diverse are these 
Schools, and of very diverse characters are their 
founders. Antisthenes the ascetic, Aristippus 
the man of pleasure, Xenophon the limited, 
Plato the unlimited, were all fructified by Socrates 
and produced their individual work after his 
mould. Thus it is practically manifest that 
Socrates was himself his own Universal, his own 
all-embracing Concept, out of which went forth 
so many special forms and applications. He was 
the One which was creative of all Difference ; he 
could impregnate every soul with his Thought 
and make it productive. Greek Philosophy 
seems to center itself iu him, preparatory to a 
new evolution. 


The next great step is taken by Plato who sep- 
arates the Socratic Concept from its wrappage in 
the object, holds it apart and contemplates it by 
itself, calling it the Idea as opposed to the world 
of sense, which he reduces to a mere Appearance, 
a Show, a Lie, in fine, to non-existence More- 
over Plato seeks to find whence came this Con- 
cept and how it got into us mortals. What he 
receives united in the Socratic Concept, he sep- 
arates and puts through a long process, which 
doubtless constitutes the most influential chapter 
in European Philosophy. 


2. iplato. 

The total Plato is generally considered under 
three aspects: his Life, his Writings, and his 
Philosophy. The first gives the outer circum- 
stances of the man and shows him acting and 
reacting within his local and temporal environ- 
ment. The second indicates the form of hisself- 
exi)ression as well as the entire body of his liter- 
ary work, in which his thought manifests itself. 
The third is the system or scheme of thought 
which lies at the foundation of what he has 
written, and which has to be considered by 
itself. All of these phases of the total Plato 
have been transmitted to us with a relative degree 
of completeness. 

The philosophic life of Plato is doubtless not 
so original as that of Socrates, but it is far more 
comprehensive. The vein of gold is not so rich, 
but it is of much greater extent. Socrates rather 
turned away from all previous forms of philos- 
ophizing, genius that he was ; Phito went back to 
them, in a degree fraternized with them, and took 
them up into his own philosophic movement. 
Thus Plato is a resumption of nearly all the 
Philosophies before his time. He does not treat 
them historically, as Aristotle often does, but 

PLATO. 253 

works them over after his own manner, puts them 
together and weaves them into his thought. 

Having gotten the Socratic Concept with its 
power of abstraction, he will proceed to get the 
Concept of other Philosophies, till he attain the 
supreme Concept, which, in his own Philosophy, 
is the Idea, as distinct from the sensuous world 
or Appearance. This shows the Platonic dual- 
ism, which, more than any other one thought, 
utters the essence of Europe, The Concept, as 
distinct from and independent of the phenomena, 
is the separation of Plato from Socrates, and 
gives essentially the Platonic Idea. 

I. Plato's Life. — This is first to be con- 
sidered, as it furnishes the harmonious and sug- 
gestive setting to the inner development of his 
Writings and of his Philosophy. The external 
career of Plato is a kind of index to his spiritual 
unfolding; his first stay at his Athenian home, 
his separation from home, and his final return 
home, are not simply outward epochs of his life, 
but have their correspondence in his soul's trans- 

Since our philosopher lived to the age of eighty 
years and more, and as these years were full of 
activity, we may expect to behold a grand human 
development, which only a long life of highest 
endeavor combined with supreme genius can bring 
to fruitage. From his birth till his decease, we 
note distinctly three periods, a beginning, middle, 


and end, the latter being a prolonged fulfillment, 
the plenteous harvest of what was sown in the 
early part of his career. He remained in his 
city from infancy to mature manhood, then came 
the separation, the departure from home and 
country for many years ; finally the return fol- 
lowed, and with it a kind of self-restoration which 
rounded out to completeness his life and his work. 

1. Plato at home in Athens. This is the city 
in which he was born about 427 or 428 B. C. 
His lineage was aristocratic ; he is said to have 
been descended from King Codrus and from a 
kinsman of Solon, not to speak of his sup- 
posed divine ancestors, Apollo and Poseidon. 
The Athenian Democracy was then in authority ; 
Plato by birth was plunged into a world from 
which he felt estranged at the start ; his family 
and his class were hostile to the existing popular 
government, and he grew up in a state of separa- 
tion from the reality about him. His doctrine of 
the Idea as transcendent over the world of 
Appearance lay primarily in his aristocratic blood 
and training. High above the vulgar Demos he 
stood by birth, and ho has always been the nour- 
isher of those who have withdrawn from the 
common herd, and dwelt in the realm of the 
ideal. In Plato we see Philosophy asserting 
strongly its aristocratic character. 

Still men of high family could become at 
Athens the leaders of the people. It seems that 

PLATO. 255 

Plato in early life had political aspirations, pos- 
sibly to be the leader of his part}^ The govern- 
ment of the State formed a very important part of 
his speculations and called forth his masterpiece, 
the Republic. Thus while estranged from the 
real political world, he was always endeavoring 
to return to it through the Idea. 

We should also note that Plato's youth was at 
a period of decline in the Athenian Democracj-. 
The Peloponnesian War had been going on for 
some four years when he was born, and it lasted 
twenty-three years longer. As a boy twelve 
years old he may have seen the Sicilian expedi- 
tion set out from the Piraeus with the hiohest 
hopes, after which came the great defeat and 
humiliation. As an Athenian youth he would 
have to perform military service at the age of 
eighteen ; thus he must have had the experience 
of the soldier. Finally came the destruction of 
the Athenian fleet at the battle of Aegospotami, 
followed by the capture of Athens itself, with 
which the Peloponnesian War closed in 404 
B. C. 

Plato must have felt himself living on a sink- 
ing ship during all these years of ardent boyhood 
till he became a man, when the ship went down. 
A deep distrust of Democracy and of the People 
was thereby ground into his very soul, and was 
reinforced by the prejudices of birth. On the 
other hand, he saw the triumph of the Spartan 


aristocracy in the long struggle with his country. 
The result was, he Dorized, becoming a friend 
of Doric institutions. Thus the dualism of 
the Greek race as a whole went into him ; he 
was Ionian in blood but Dorian in spirit, or 
largely so. This dualistic character will not fail 
to show itself in his Philosophy. 

After the close of the Peloponnesian War the 
so-called Thirty Tyrants came into power at 
Athens. They belonged to the aristocratic party ; 
two near relatives of Plato , Critias and Char- 
mides, were of the number. In one of Plato's 
letters (if it be genuine) we read of his high 
hopes of the reform and restoration of the city 
under the new order. Bitter was his disappoint- 
ment ; he found his own class to be more blood- 
thirsty and tyrannical than the fierce democracy, 
which was soon restored by Thrasybulus, against 
whom both of Plato's relatives marched out and 
were slain in battle. Particularly the name of 
Critias, on account of his violence and cruelty, 
was ever afterward abhorred at Athens, and cast 
a cloud over Plato's future, contributing also to 
the condemnation of Socrates, of whom he was 
declared to be a pupil. Phito was apparently not 
disturbed by the restored Democracy, though he 
saw that he had no hope of political preferment, 
since in his veins ran the blood of the tyrant Critias 
on his mother's side. After the overthrow of the 
Thirty, in 403 B. C, we may suppose that he 

PLATO. 257 

devoted himself to Philosophy with a renewed 
energy till the death of Socrates in 399 B. C. 

Such was the outer political environment in 
which Plato grew up to manhood and with which 
the ancient Athenian citizen was far more inti- 
mately ingrown than is the citizen of any modern 
city. Its training on the whole we can see to be 
productive of a deep alienation from the real 
world — democratic and aristocratic — and a flight 
to the inner realm of the Idea. Of course he 
had not yet formulated any such view, but the 
instinctive groundwork for it had been laid by 
life. The utterance of that which the social and 
institutional character of his age has deposited 
deep in his soul, will come with the ripening 
poAverof time. 

Parallel to this public strand of his life runs 
that of his private education. Of a robust 
physical frame, he passed through the regular 
ti-aining in gymnastics with distinction ; but he 
also cultivated poetry, lyric, dithyrambic, tragic, 
elegiac; a number of his epigrams have been 
preserved, the rest of his poems he is said to 
have burned when he became the follower of 
Socrates. A tetralogy of tragedies he is re- 
ported to have composed for competition at the 
Dionysiac festival, while Euripides and Sopho- 
cles were still composing dramas. The Platonic 
dialogue has its suggestion in the drama, though 
the one l)e in prose and the other inverse. 



But the great event in the education of Plato 
was his acquaintance with Socrates, which took 
place in his twentieth year (407 B. C). After 
the fall of city and the defeat of the Thirty 
Tyrants, Plato, abandoning his political hopes, 
threw himself upon Philosophy without reserve 
and remained in intimate intercourse with 
Socrates till the latter's death in 399 B. G. 
This seems to have broken the last tie which 
connected him with his native city from which 
he now takes his flight. 

It is reasonably plain why Plato took so readily 
to the Socratic Philosophy. This rose to the 
Concept out of the external and real ; with its 
keen Dialectic it cut to pieces the appearance of 
knowledge, the mere opinion of the unthinking 
masses. Socrates, though a man of the people, 
did not favor democracy, nor is his Philosophy 
democratic, nor is any Philosophy strictly. It 
is probable that Plato during this period looked 
into other Philosophies, in which Athens, as 
the center of Greek culture, abounded; he 
could easily read the book of Anaxagoras, whit^h 
was common, and report states that he stud- 
ied for awhile with Cratylus, a follower of 
Heraclitus. But not the phenomenal Becoming 
but the Universal, the Concept, with its suprem- 
acy over all particularity, was what appealed both 
to his innate character and his experience. 

2. Plato abroad. So the separation takes 

TLATO. 259 

place from his native city, which he had seen all 
his life slowly going down to final defeat and cap- 
ture. Then his own party, led by his own rela- 
tives made itself thoroughly detested, and it too 
was defeated and ruined. At last the restored 
Democracy brought about the death of his revered 
master, Socrates. Such was the troubled descent 
which Plato had to pass through in the first period 
of his life. 

He flees to the neighboring city of Megara, 
where he stays for a time with Eucleides, a for- 
mer pupil of Socrates and founder of the so- 
called Megaric School of Philosophy. Here it is 
supposed that his views began to widen and to 
transcend the limits of pure Socraticism, through 
the more sympathetic study of other lines of 
thought. Particularly he seems at Megara to 
have studied the Eleatics with their Pure Being 
.and their developed Dialectic. 

From Megara he proceeds on his travels, which 
must have been quite extensive. He is supposed 
to have gone to Cyrene, where Theodoras, a 
celebrated mathemathician, was his teacher in 
Geometry, which has a Platonic character. The 
abstractions from the real object, namely, point, 
line, and surface, are purely ideal, and are the 
elements of geometrical science, which is thus 
a supersensible construction of forms. Perhaps 
from Cyrene he passed to Egypt, which once 
was supposed to have been a chief fountain 


of bis wisdom, but recent investigators have 
largely discredited the claim. A far deeper 
and more enduring influence than that of Egypt 
resulted from his visit to Lower Italy, where he 
became acquainted with the society of Pythago- 
reans, particularly with Archytas, their greatest 
man after the founder. From them he may have 
acquired some additional mathematical knowledge, 
but his chief gain was the conception of the or- 
ganized school with its teacher, which conception 
he was to realize later at Athens. He witnessed 
the Pythagorean Askesis, or Life, and adopted it 
with such success that the Platonic Life with 
its philosophic school extended over five hundred 
years into the Christian Era. Thence he paid a 
visit to Sicily, where he became acquainted with 
young Dion, whose mind he deeply imbued with 
his idealism (see the latter' s life by Plutarch). 
Through Dion's influence Plato was induced to 
visit the elder Dionysius, tyrant of SjTacuse, 
evidently with some hope of realizing through 
him the ideal State. But Plato used his 
Athenian freedom of speech to the tyrant, who 
drove him from court and gave him to the Spar- 
tan embassador Pollis,who sold him into slavery 
in Aegina — to what other use could a Spartan 
put a philosopher? A Cyrenean by the name of 
Anniceris bought him, and so he returned to 
Athens, after having had quite a taste of Dorian 
experience at Syracuse, Aegina, and Avith the 

PLATO. 261 

Spartan embassador. His Dorian s3'-mpathics 
were probably satisfied and he was again content 
to live in his native city, which, in spite of his 
well-known affiliations, made no objection ap- 
parently to his opening a school and teaching 
his Philosophy. 

Such was the period of Plato's separation from 
his city, in all some thirteen years, from 399 to 
386 B. C. An outer wandering from place to 
place, to which corresponded an inner wandering 
from doctrine to doctrine, till he had quite com- 
passed the experience of the whole Greek world 
of that age, both in space and in thought, we may 
conceive it to have been. It is possible that he 
may have visited Athens several times during this 
period, for there was no public decree of banish- 
ment against him, but he did not and could not 
remain, for there was an inner decree of self- 
banishment which was coercive. Back now he 
comes, with forty 3^ears upon his head; having 
tasted of Dorian slavery, he can at least endure 
Athenian freedom. But he never recants; the 
dualism between the real and the ideal remains to 
the end. 

3. lleturn to Athens. About the year 386 
B. C, Plato formally opens his School in 
his native city, where he will remain the rest of 
his life, with the exception of a few temporary 
journeys. He chose a place outside the walls, on 
the road to Eleusis, somewhat less than a mile 


from the city-gate called Dipjlon. It was a pub- 
lic garden adjoining the sacred precinct of a 
Hero, with shady walks and a gj^mnasium for ex- 
ercise. Near by, Plato owned a small dwelling- 
house and garden. Such was, in general, the 
locality of the famous Academy, which Plato 
unquestionably patterned after the Pythagoreans, 
though he probabl}^ improved the pattern. 

At once we see the difference from the manner 
of Socrates, whose instruction was public, upon 
the streets, in the market-place or in the shops. 
But Plato's School is esentially private, for the 
few, exclusive. It is intellectually aristocratic, 
it is again the Idea withdrawn into itself and sep- 
arated from the world. Now, we hold that Plato 
was rio;ht in this arrang-ement if he wished to 
attain his purpose. For the mastery of Plato's 
Philosophy a select company was necessary. A 
long training could not be dispensed with, both 
theoretically and practically. Philosophy itself 
is mentally aristocratic, choosing its votaries by 
a Spiritual Selection far more remorseless than 
any Natural Selection. And the Philosophy of 
Plato is the most aristocratic of all Philosophies. 

In other respects there was a good deal of the 
Socratic method ; particularly instruction was 
carried on through question and answer, or 
through conversation. In the guidance and un- 
folding of such conversation lay a chief part of 
the teacher's skill. The Platonic Dialogues are 

PLATO, 263 

essentially patterned after this way of instruc- 
tion. From Plato's repeated expression of dis- 
like for long speeches, such as those of the 
Public Assembly, we may suppose that he did 
not give formal lectures in the modern manner. 
Nor did he think highly of the written word as 
a means of imparting Thought, in spite of his 
own example to the contrary. The interchange 
of living speech was the method he preferred, of 
which he must have recollected many striking in- 
stances from his intercourse with Socrates. 

Still, when it was necessary, Plato could pro- 
long his discourse into a dissertation. Dis- 
courses of this sort seem to be mentioned by 
Aristotle and others. With advancing years the 
conversational tone of his Dialogues changes, often 
dropping to a mere formalism in the Republic 
and the Laws. Necessarily, as his system grew 
more explicit and dogmatic, his manner took the 
same character. 

Some of his early Dialogues are hardly 
more than a play of conversation for its own 
sake, the speakers being intoxicated with their 
own talk. Also he had the common meal and 
banquet for his }*upils and disciples. His Phi- 
losophy was to be not simply a doctrine but a 
life, a training of the total individual in ethical 
practice as well as in intellectual theory. 

Thus the Pythagorean and Socratic methods 
were united in the School of Plato, doubtless to 


the improvement of both, and were made the 
spiritual possession of all time. The School of 
to-day has come down through Plato, though it 
has been popularized. 

What was Plato's new relation to his native 
city? It should be noted that Athens itself, as 
well as Plato had undergone a considerable 
change during the thirteen years of his absence. 
When he left it for Megara after it had put to death 
Socrates, he deemed it to be at the very bottom, 
with prestige lost in the Peloponnesian war, with 
possessions gone, with Long Walls destroyed, 
with Democracy again in the saddle. But there 
had been a new rise and restoration of Athens, 
and a corresponding decline and defeat of 
Sparta. In 395 B. C. Lysander, the great enemy 
and conqueror of Athens, is defeated and slain 
by the Athenians at Haliartus. In 394 Conon, 
the Athenian admiral, aided by the Persians, 
overwhelms the Spartan fleet at the battle of 
Cnidus and kills its commander. In 393 Conon 
begins to restore the Long Walls of Athens, 
within which the city again feels her old strength 
and freedom. A great step forward is this, which 
is during the next year followed by the surpris- 
ing victory of Iphicrates, an Athenian general, 
who with his light-armed soldiers cut to pieces a 
Spartan division, to the amazement of all Hellas. 
This broke the prestige of Sparta, whose harmosts 
or governors were generally expelled from the 

PLATO. 265 

Greek cities. At last in 387 came the peace of 
Antalcidas, with Dorism and its institutions sunk 
to the lowest ebb. The next year Plato is back 
in Athens to stay for the rest of his life, doubt- 
less with some degree of restored pride and love 
for his native city after his and her intervening 

Plato had a strong desire to realize his political 
Ideal, which could not take place at Athens. 
After the death of the elder Dionysius, he was 
induced to make the voyage to Sicily for the 
purpose of winning the younger Dionysius to his 
scheme of government, which was that of the 
philosophic State. But he was unable to trans- 
form the young tyrant into the philosopher as 
ruler, and he came into such straits that he was 
glad to get back to democratic Athens once 
more, and to his Academic groves. This second 
visit to Sicily took place 367 B. C, when Plato 
was sixty years old. Still in spite of these ex- 
periences he was persuaded some six years after- 
wards to make a third visit to Sicily for the osten- 
sible purpose of reconcihng Dionysius and Dion, 
but also with the design of realizing there some 
new hope for the philosophic State. But again 
he had to flee for his life from the tyrant back to 
the shelter of that hated Athenian Demos, which 
had not only tolerated but protected him so long, 
though well knowino; that he was its bitterest 
enemy. In fact it is said that Plato would have 


surely perished this time, but for the intervention 
of powerful friends, the Pythagoreans who were 
in power at Tarentum. From this time on he 
stayed at Athens, occupying himself with his du- 
ties as teacher, till about the year 347, when he 
died at the age of eighty, while he was present 
at a wedding feast, it is said. 

Thus Plato separated thrice from Athens and 
thrice returned. To esstablish his Ideal he may 
be said to have thrice exposed his hfe and failed, 
having to hurry back to the Real for cover. 
His career suggests that the Ideal is already in 
the Real and must be sought there. This, how- 
ever, means the transition from Plato to Aris- 
totle, who in these last years did separate from 
Plato and founded an independent school. 

Phito's life in its periods and their general 
outlines, has found expression iu his Writings, 
which are one of the chief literary treasures of 
the world. 

II. Plato's Writings. — Though Plato dis- 
paraged the written in comparison with the spoken 
word, he owes his fame and his influence to 
his writings. No human being has W'ielded the 
pen with greater power, very few with as great. 
He has been and still is the favorite philosopher 
of Europe, whose dual character he has most 
adequately represented and portrayed. The 
Platonic dualism is essentially that of Euro})ean 


Spirit, which has not failed to respond to the 
best picture of itself. 

Moreover, Plato may be considered the father 
of Romanticism with its flight from the Real 
to the Ideal. Epochs, nations, and individuals 
fall out with the present, with the world as it is, 
and betake themselves to Atlantis, to Utopia, 
even to Heaven. For such souls Plato furnishes 
the most delightful and soothing refuge. In 
recent times it was the Romantic Movement 
of Germany that rejuvenated Plato through 
Schleiermacher. The discussion is still going on. 
Though Plato belongs to the classic world and 
touches the age of Phidias and Sophocles, the 
deep scission in his soul is essentially romantic. 

In the School of Plato we have found that he 
united a Socratic and a Pythagorean element. 
But to these he adds now a contribution of 
his own, namely his writings. Socrates did not 
write ; the Pythagoreans composed books but 
these seem to have been chiefly read by their 
own pupils. At least they had no books like 
those of Plato, for a great public and for all 
time. The unique product of the Platonic School 
is the Platonic writ. The teacher Plato could 
not help appearing in person, but the writer 
Plato sets aside his own personality for that 
of another, Socrates. He sacrifices as writer 
his individual Self for what he deems the universal 
Self, and thus eternizes his own instruction. 


Plato teaching existed in a small bit of time, but 
Plato writing exists for all time. There can 
be little doubt that most of his works sprang 
from his conversation with pupil? , and were 
written down to make permanent his work. The 
word as spoken is transitory and phenomenal, 
the word as written is the voice made eternal. 
It was Plato's deepest need to write, he could 
not help himself; he had to turn away from 
the momentary Appearance of speech to its 
everlasting Form in writ. He would not have 
been Plato if he had not done this. Still with 
his peculiar inconsistency he puts the spoken 
before the written word, and seems unaware 
of his chief glory and his most unique gift. 
Nevertheless he wrote and kept at writing through 
life so that Cicero says of him, sc7'ibens mortuus 

The large mass of Platonic Compositions is the 
product of his whole mature life, and reflects its 
various stages. The number is usually put at 36, 
including the letters as a single work. One of 
the chief problems which has busied Plato's com- 
mentators is. What is the order of these works? 
In antiquity already the same question was raised. 
Two arrangements were given by Thrasyllus, the 
dramatic, composed of nine Tetralogies, and the 
thematic, which divided the Dialogues into those 
of Search and those of Exposition. In recent 
times, especially during the last century, many 

PLATO. Sfi9 

writers have tried their hand at a new order- 
ing of the Phitonic material, from which has 
sprung an extensive literature, particularly in 

In this respect there is a striking similarity 
between Shakespeare's Dramas and Plato's Dia- 
logues. The number of compositions in each case 
is about the same ; there are several spurious pro- 
ductions attached to the genuine — productions 
generally acknowledged to be spurious. Then 
recent critics, proceeding from internal evidence, 
have endeavored to prove the spuriousness of 
certain productions (both of the dramatist and of 
the philosopher) hitherto accepted as genuine. 
With these questions are coupled those of ar- 
rangement, of inner meaning and of outer rela- 
tions, not to speak of philological and historical 
details in both cases. 

This phase of PLitonism we shall, however, 
have to dismiss, stating simply what we believe to 
be the net result. Plato's "Writing-s show a grand 
development of the philosopher through quite 
sixty years. This being accepted, we wish to see 
the main stages of this development. There is a 
very general consensus of judgment that these 
stages are three, though there is a great differ- 
ence of opinion among critics in regard to the Dia- 
logues which are to be included in each of these 
stages. Still even here we may note a kind of 


undulatory line of agreement, fluctuating up nnd 
down and around the following scheme. 

1. The First Period of Platonic Composition is 
dominated directly and immediately by the doc- 
trine and person of Socrates, of whose conver- 
sations they seem to be ideal transcripts. There 
is the attempt to reach the Concept, but this 
Concept is usually some particular virtue, as tem- 
perance (Charmides), friendship (Lysis). There 
is a predominance of dramatic effect with a lack 
of philosophic content in these early pieces ; 
often the whole affair ends in smoke. One is 
tempted to call such productions the tirst sketches 
of the reporter trying to put into writing that 
marvelous personality, Socrates. 

The Protago7'as may be taken as the best sam- 
ple of this First Period. The Gorgias seems to 
be a Dialogue of transition, since in it the Good 
as real and objective, makes its appearance, being 
distinguished from the particular virtues on the 
one hand and from pleasure on the other. The 
conception of the Good, however, is still Socratic. 

2. The Second Period corresponds with Plato's 
expatriation, which also must utter itself in writ- 
ing. This group of Dialogues is sometimes called 
the Megaric, but such a designation is too nar- 
row. It shows Plato passing beyond the horizon 
of Socrates and appropriating other Philosophies, 
movinsf out of his strict Athenian limits and 
becoming truly Hellenic, by taking up the 

PLATO. 271 

thought of all Helhis, east and west. The Ele- 
atic doctrines (Being and Non-Being) the Hera- 
clitic category (Becoming) and particularly 
Pythagoreanism he studied largely on their own 
original ground, and from their own best exposi- 
tors, as far as possible. Thereby he was broad- 
ened out into universality ; the Universalism still 
implicit in Socrates, becomes explicit in Plato. 

The inner necessity of appropriating and sub- 
suming particular Philosophies, will give a nega- 
tive, dialectical cast to this second set of Platonic 
Dialogues. Chiefly by means of Eleaticism he 
learned the play of the Negative, which runs 
through all particularity, and it never left him. 
Here the characteristic work is the Parmenides, 
though this Dialogue has been placed in each of 
the other periods, and has even been suspected 
of being spurious by some modern German 
critics. Still the consensus of the best holds to its 
genuineness and puts it into the present place. 

The great dispute over the position of the 
PJiaedrus in the total scheme cannot be entered 
into here. This peculiar Dialogue has marks of 
all three epochs — youth, middle life, and old 
age. We once heard a distinguished philosopher 
say that a recent book of his had passages in suc- 
cession which were written fifty years apart. 
Only an old man could put together such a work, 
and it may be that the diversities of Phaedrus, 
both in style and thought, are explicable in some 


such way. So it would in a nuinuer represent all 
three periods. 

3. The greatest single work of Plato is gener- 
ally considered to be the Republic, and this is 
the culmination of the Third Period which began 
with his return to Athens when he was a little 
over forty years old, and lasted nearly forty 
years longer, till his death. The question comes 
up. What works shall we specially assign to 
this lono^ Academic Period? And the larger 
question rises, What was his literary relation 
dui'ing this time to all of his writings, includ- 
ing those which belong to the two previous Pe- 
riods? There are almost no facts or dates to 
guide us in such an investigation, there are only 
the works themselves ; the evidence is essentially 
internal, and so it comes that the two extremes, 
unreasonable skepticism on the one side and ar- 
bitrary conjecture on the other, show themselves 
in the treatment of Plato's writings. Inner 
grounds of connection are for the most denied 
by Grote, but are employed with unmeasured 
caprice by Schleiermacher and many of his Ger- 
man successors. The law of internal evidence 
for inter-relating the Platonic compositions has 
seemingly not been discovered. 

This long Third Period necessarily has its sub- 
ordinate stages, to the last of which probably 
belongs the Laws. The effect of the journey 
to Sicily may be detected in Plato's political spec- 

PLATO. 273 

ulations. During the Third Period he probably 
edited and published what he had written in the 
former periods. Such a return upon his earlier 
Self in his later years'is not only likely in his in- 
dividual case, but may be deemed generally a 
psychical necessity. The parallel case of Goethe 
suggests the fact; Faust, for instance, is made 
up of many periods in the life of the poet. 

It is highly characteristic of Plato that he 
concludes his career by being lawgiver. This fact 
is in deep correspondence with the philosopher 
Plato, who prescribes obedience on the part of 
the People to his enactments. Herein we see 
the opponent of everything like civic or national 
self-government. The philosopher is to make 
institutions, all that the rest of the world has to 
do is simply to accept them. Thus Plato pushes 
the autocracy of Philosophy to its highest point 
at the very end of his life, and in his last written 
production probably (the Laws). Before him 
Greece had had practical lawgivers like Solon 
and Lycurgus, but the philosopher now appears 
and puts himself theoretically into their place 
asserting his right to make laws for the world. 
We hold that in this colossal assumption Plato 
is true to the absolutistic character of all Phi- 
losophy as the chief European Discipline. 

III. Plato's Philosophy. — In Plato's Writ- 
ings as a Whole there is no completely developed 
formulation of his Philosophy, which is essen- 



tially a growth. And yet this growth is more 
aud more toward an organized system. This is 
one of the instructive facts in Phito's Philoso- 
phy : it shows the unfokling of a philosophic 
S3^stem, indeed of all philosophic systema- 
tization. The most striking instance herein is 
the Republic with its psychological, ethical and 
political ordering. Philosophy learns to systema- 
tize itself in Plato, it becomes conscious that it 
must be a system, though our philosopher 
does not fully realize this consciousness. But 
those who come after him will study his thought 
systematically, and can only reach it in that way. 

Accordingly, in the mass of Platonic Writings 
there is a germ unfolding, and seeking to come 
forth into the light. The philosophic Norm it 
is (see preceding pp. 16-25) Avhich is struggling 
in this seething multitude of Dialogues to be born. 
Yet how often does Plato fall back into the relig- 
ious Norm, particularly as expressed in the My- 
thus ! We are to see that he is making the grand 
separation of Philoso[)hy from Peligion, and 
cannot easily maintain himself on the pure phi- 
losophic heights of his Thought, but must return 
for support and recuperation to the mythical view 
of the Universe. In this respect Aristotle will 
make an advance upon Plato, and quite eliminate 
the mythical element. 

Still Plato is the philosopher and is seeking to 
grasp and utter the philosophic Norm of the 

PLATO. 275 

Universe in his way. His fundamental statement 
is that the essence of Being (the ousia of the on) 
is the Idea, or more precisely, is the Universal as 
Idea, and that this is opposed to non-essence or 
non-being (appearance). Thus he posits the one 
supreme autocratic [Principle or Cause as over 
all things, and shows the philosophic Norm ac- 
cording to his formulation. 

It is highly characteristic that in his own Dia- 
logues Plato never appears in person as one of 
the speakers. Socrates is the center, is the 
philosophic autocrat of the conversation from 
start to finish. At least such is the case 
in most of the Dialogues. Here is the picture 
of the sovereign Philosopher, whom Plato 
makes the actual ruler in his JRejmblic. Still 
we must not forget that it is really Plato 
projecting himself as the world-governing JSFous, 
even though he hides himself behind the colossal 
figure which he makes of Socrates. That is a 
true image of all Philosophy, in fact of the philo- 
sophic Norm in itself, for it is inherentlj^ autocratic 
or perchance aristocratic. We must note too, 
that the Dialogue has its select group of persons 
around Socrates ; it is not the vulgar crowd upon 
the street and marketplace, such as the real Soc- 
rates sought. It is a chosen, aristocratic set in 
the main, and Socrates himself is aristocratized 
not only in doctrine but also in practice. The 
Dialogue brings before us a small social Whole 


(as was Plato's School) with its owu monarch 
and select members. The talk is not at random 
but is secretly governed by the Thought or Con- 
cept, the accidental element being subordi- 
nated. Each interlocutor is a thinking Self, 
who is presupposed to be capable of reaching 
the Concept through training. Herein lies 
one of the chief differences between Plato 
and Xenophon, both of whom in their writings 
show Socrates at the head of groups of persons, 
but the one group is select and the other popu- 
lar for the most part. Diogenes Laertius says 
that Plato and Xenophon did not like each other, 
though both were contemporaries and followers 
of Socrates. Hence it comes that they make no 
mention of each other's work pertaining to their 
common master. 

Plato's use of the Mythus is conscious and 
purposed; it is not, therefore, the first naive 
myth-making which uncultivated peoples mani- 
fest. The story of the Gods has usually with 
Plato passed through the alembic of Philosophy, 
and is intentionally made to illustrate some doc- 
trine. Thus we may call Plato's Mythus by the 
name of Paramyth, having been constructed or 
often reconstructed for the sake of the new 
philosophic meaning. Still Plato's soul has in 
it an original mythical strain after the Hellenic 
pattern, though Philosophy dominates this 
strain, as it does all else. 

TLATO. 277 

Our ()l)jeet now is to extract Pluto's Philoso- 
phy out of his manifold writings. To this end 
we must find and unfold in them the Norm which 
underlies and indeed creates all Philosophy. 
This Norm manifests itself in a variety of ways, 
l)ut ancient Thought usually expressed it (when- 
ever it came to expression) in the threefold 
division : — 

I. Metaphysics. 

II. Physics. 

III. Ethics. 

In this tri[)le movement we shall see the sec- 
ond fundamental Discipline ( which is Philosophy ) 
formulating the process of the Universe. Plato 
will show his own peculiar method of handling 
and unfolding this Discipline. Such is the sub- 
ject of our present study, which is not only to 
reach up and grasp the philosophic Norm as just 
stated, but this Norm is finally to be seen hold- 
ing the second place in the process with the two 
other supreme Disciplines, Religion and Psj^chol- 
ogy. (See Introduction, p. 10, et seq.) 

A. Metaphysics. 

The word Metaphysics is not found in Plato 
nor in Aristotle, but makes its appearance among 
the philosophers succeeding the great Athenian 
Period. It designates in a general way the 
first stage of the philosophic Norm, which seeks 


to formulate directly in categories the essence of 
Being as such, in distinction from Nature and 
Man. In this special sense it is the primal ut- 
terance of Philosophy, is that which starts the 
same into existence. In the religious Norm its 
place is taken by the Supreme Person creating 
all things. But Greek Philosophy, as we have 
already set forth, begins by making the abstrac- 
tion of Principle, Cause, Essence, which deter- 
mines the All apart from the caprice of personal 
Will. So Metaphysics is the science of this first 
Principle or Cause. 

But such is the diversity of the Platonic system 
that we are compelled to see three divisions, or 
rather a process in its Metaphysics. The first 
division shows the genesis of the Platonic dual- 
ism, that of Essence or Idea on the one hand, and 
of Appearance or the Phenomenon on the other, 
which dualism underlies all Plato. Then these 
two sides divide and become as the One and 
Many, negative and self -negative, which fact 
brings out Plato's Dialectic. Finally all the 
multiplicity of Ideas unites into a system which 
we may call Plato's Ideology, whose final out- 
come is the Idea of Ideas, or the Good. 

1. The Platonic Dualism Generated. Already 
we have noted what the dualism is : Idea and Ap- 
pearance. The Essence of all Being according 
to Plato is the Idea as opposed to the phenomenal, 
transitory, changeful. This is the dual or sepa- 


rative principle, to which wc always come back, 
and from which we alwajs go out in Plato. 

The Socratic concept is the given starting-point 
which Plato first attained as a pupil of Socrates. 
But the pupil will come to a^k : Whence this con- 
cept, this universal, which we reach through our 
thinking? Such a question the master Socrates 
hardly asked, being satisfied with the ethical ap- 
plications of his concept and avoiding metaphys- 
ical inquiries, which he deemed futile. 

Plato's Dialogues of what may be in general 
called his second period show him going back 
and studying the older philosophers. A very 
important thought may have come to him from 
the Pythagorean school, which cultivated speci- 
ally the mathematical field. Geometry became 
a favorite study with him and it remained a lead- 
ing discipline in his school. Its fundamental 
elements, such as surface, line and point, to- 
gether w^ith their combinations in geometric fig- 
ures, showed him the pure abstractions of mind 
from the material world, and their movement in 
a realm of forms, entirely apart from any sen- 
suous embodiment. Here was certainly a sug- 
gestion of the supersensible realm of Ideas. In 
a certain degree it may be said that the method of 
Plato is geometric or derived from geometry and 
applied to all Being. Still further, he could 
have found that these ideal geometric forms are 
the means for controlling the kingdom of matter. 


The mind deals with such forms us existent, as 
pure intuitions of Being in its essence ; we be- 
hold them directly, intuitively, by an inner 
vision. So Plato nuist have seen Philosophy to 
be Geometry universalized. 

The counterpart to these ideal shapes of pure 
Being, eternal and unchangeable, is found in the 
doctrine of the Becoming which affirms that all 
things are in a flux, nothing is permanent or sub- 
stantial. Thus a phenomenal, changeful world 
rises up in opposition to the realm of Ideas, and 
will be a perpetual harassing presence to the 
philosopher of Idealism. It is, in fact, Plato's 
devil, as far as he had any. Such was the con- 
tril)ution of Heraclitus, which is now made to 
take its place in the general system of Plato, 
playing a negative part there, continually denied 
yet undeniable, always being put out of the uni- 
verse yet forever popping up again, not without 
a touch of Mephistophelean iron} . But what a 
labor does this Satanic fiend. Appearance, impose 
upon our philosopher ! 

Plato also goes back and studies the doctrine 
of Pure Being at its fountain-head inEleaticism. 
Here he works out the dialectical relation be- 
tween the One and the Many, Being and Non- 
Being, which relation is sul)stantially identified 
with that of the actual (ideal) and i)henomenal 
worlds. Still Plato affirms that the One is not 
conceivable without the jNlany, or the Many with- 


out the One (in the Parmenidcs), thus making 
both spheres dialectical. 

In a general way we may now see the origin 
of the Platonic dualism. The Socratic concept 
transformed into a real entity in its own realm 
he could get from the Pythagorean geometry; 
the significance of the phenomenal realm he 
could receive from the Heraclitic Becoming; 
the dialectical character of each side probably 
dawned upon liim from the study of the 
Eleatics, Parmenides and Zeno. Herewith the 
dialectical procedure becomes universal with him^ 
he applies it to every o])ject of speculation, 
and for awhile at least it becomes his method, 
yea, he calls it his Philosophy. 

2. The Dialectic. This term is used in 
several senses by Plato. He sometimes regards 
it as the science of Being, of the true and 
abiding, the science of sciences, which would 
nuike it one with Philosophy. Yet more often 
is it considered a branch of Philoso[)hy, and 
employed somewhat like Logic. It is what brings 
the many to unity, what brings the particular to 
the universal, what rescues the soul from Appear- 
ance and conducts the same to true Being. 
We find it occupying an important place in 
the educational system of the Republic. The 
Overseers or Guardians are to be trained in 
the Dialectic at the proper period in order 
that they may know "the nature of Being." 


Such instruction is declared to be fundamental 
upon whatever subject it may take place. " The 
chief test is of dialectical capacity ; the person 
capable of becoming an Overseer must be dialec- 
tical." {Republic 537 C.) 

At the same time Plato does not conceal the 
abuses to which the Dialectic may be perverted in 
improper hands. It leads to logomachy, to love 
of controversy, especially in youths, who go 
about the city exploiting their argumentative 
skill on every one who will listen. Here is a 
picture taken from life: "Young fellows who 
have for the first time tasted of the Dialectic, 
run about with it as with a toy, always 
employing it for contradiction, refuting others 
as they have been refuted, with a delight like 
whelps in tearing and pulliiig at whoever 
may come near." {Republic Book VII, chap. 
17, near the end.) This sounds very nmcli 
as if old Plato were criticising the faults of 
3'Oung Plato. For those early Dialogues of 
his are mainly a display of dialectical acuteness 
without any positive conclusion whatever. The 
whole thing has become a nuisance, and in 
this ideal State of his, he will not permit 
its continuance. We can see that even Socrates 
is henceforth impossible with his public disputa- 
tions in shops and on the streets. The Dialectic 
is no longer for all ; those alone are allowed 
to participate in it who are " orderly and settled 


by nature." Still it is acknowledged to be a 
great means for him " who wishes to behold 
the truth " and to attain unto real Being. 

In general, therefore, the Dialectic must be re- 
garded as a method, as a way by which the mind 
is to rise to the Idea, rather than the Idea 
itself. Already w^e have noted that geometry 
moves in pure forms of the mind, which are 
seized directly and intuitively, and which may 
have been the first hint to Plato concerning his 
realm of Ideas. But these geometric forms are 
relatively imperfect, as they stand too near to 
the material object from which their elements, 
such as line, point, surface, figure are immediate 
abstractions. Hence Plato makes the striking 
transition from the geometric method to the Dia- 
lectic, Avhich we find developed in the Itepublic 
(Book VI, chaps. 20 and 21). He^gives his two 
divisions of the world, ideal and phenomenal; 
the former he calls the cogitable {noeton), the 
latter the visil^le (horafon). Each of these di- 
visions he subdivides ; the cogitable realm of 
thought (yous) is either mathematical or dia- 
lectical, the first of which employs figures or 
images, the second thoughts or ideas. But now 
for the main point, namely, the method in each 
case. In geometry " the soul is compelled to 
make use of hj^potheses and does not go back 
to the beginning, being unable to transcend these 
hypotheses " with which it starts. But Thought 


in its realm proceeds differently : though it starts 
with an hypothesis, it marches up, step by step, 
to that which is without hypothesis, thus " com- 
ing to the source of the All, and laying hold of 
it;" then from this height Thought follows out 
what proceeds from the source of the All, " cle- 
cending to the end without having employed any- 
thing from the sensi])le world, but simply Ideas, 
which are through themselves for themselves." 
Evidently the geometric method has but the 
one movement, descending from its primal as- 
sumption to what is derived from the same. But 
the Dialectic is conceived as having a double move- 
ment, the ascending as well as the descending ; in 
fact, its movement may well be deemed circular 
if the Idea be considered as producing the phe- 
nomenal world (which is a contested point in 
Plato), for w^ith this world the rise to the Idea 
begins. Thus the Dialectic would return to its 
starting-point through the Idea ascending and 
descending. At any rate, the difference between 
the two methods is manifest ; geometry assumes 
its beginning or principle (^arche), and demon- 
strates only what is derived therefrom, while the 
Dialectic demonstrates its beginning or principle 
which then becomes the source of derivation. So 
Plato in passing from the mathematical to the 
dialectical method moved forward from an im- 
mediate vision of the Idea to the mediated thought 
of it, from his Pythagorean to his truly Platonic 


period. He saw the Idea immediately in the geo- 
metric form, which was, however, something 
assumed and derived ; but through the Dialectic 
he is to mediate the Idea and behold it not only 
as derived but also as the fountain head of all 
derivation, not only originated but originating, 
as the acorn originates the oak and then the oak 
originates the acorn. 

The Dialectic, accordinglj^ shows the inner 
process of all things ; still it too must rest 
ultimately upon an insight, a presupposition, 
even though this in the end proves itself. The 
ground of the Dialectic is the inherent self- 
contradiction in all finitude. The sensuous 
world, opinion, and often the concept have 
in themselves the limit, and hence the negative, 
which, when put to the test of Thought, will 
show itself neojatino; itself. For Thouoht is 
universal, and so when the particular, the sen- 
suous, in general the finite is truly thought, 
that is, universalized, it must reveal its own 
limitation and insufficiency. Now this process 
of the finite world when subjected to Thought is 
the Dialectic. It is thus a process of negation, 
of undoing, yea of self-undoing, in part at 
least. It has however a positive end, which 
is the Idea as explicit, or as the underlying 
Thought made manifest in its own form. 
In fact the secret moving princijDle of the 


Dialectic from the start has been the Idea 
which finally becomes real. 

Thus the Dialectic by making the transitory 
vaniph, by compelling the fool to show his 
foll}^ by forcing the finite to end itself, has 
an inherent cast of humor which flavors most 
of the dialogues of Plato. Such is the native 
literary quality of the Dialectic, which springs 
from what we may call the play of the Negative, 
dramatic and often comic in its descent to 

We shall note the leading stages in the 
employment of the Dialectic by Plato, since 
he handles it variously at various times. 

(1) First is the pure play of the Negative 
for its own sake apparently. We have already 
observed that Plato shows the influence of his 
master in his earlier works, which through 
question and answer unfold the general out of 
the particular. Socrates left no writings, it 
is said, but now the writer has appeared who 
reproduces his method, his irony, and probably 
many actual details of his conversation. The 
dialectical procedure here is largely negative, 
or we niigbxt say the undoing of the negative. 
The finite, inadequate opinion is made to contra- 
dict itself. But not always after the negation 
of the negative docs the positive appear in 
the form of the Concept, or Universal; hence 
many of these Socratic dialogues seem to have 


no meaning and leave the reader dissatisfied, 
with a sense of having thrown his time away 
in reading them. Some of them end in an 
intended confusion, and, if they are genuine, 
show that Plato must have had not only his 
Socratic but even his Sophistic period — 
Sophistic in the lower sense of the word. Plato 
himself learned to reprobate this kind of Dialec- 
tic, as we see by the above-cited passages 
from the Republic. 

(2) The second kind of Platonic Dialectic is 
altogether more serious and fundamental. The 
play of the Negative still continues, but for a 
positive end, yea, for the most positive of all 
ends, namely. Truth or the Idea. The finite 
opinion, doctrine, concept, is still made to cancel 
itself through its own inherent negativity, but 
no longer just for the fun of the thing, or as a 
juggling sophistical sport. The Dialectic is now 
employed for the purpose of reaching the Uni- 
versal, the highest Concept, in fine the Idea, and 
then to fasten the same in the right word or cat- 
egory. For the Dialectic cannot leave out the 
element of language; in fact the Dialogue, with 
its pros and cons, with its undulatory sweep from 
this side to the other and back again is the true 
linofuistic settino; for the movement of the Dia- 
lectic, whose finality is Thought categorized, 
whereby the mind can handle it as its own. 

In illustration of this second kind of Dialectic 


we may take an example from the Protagoras, a 
Dialogue which Plato named after a sophist 
(whom he may have heard at Athens in his 
youth), whose doctrine was that all knowledge 
consisted in sense-perception. Man was the meas- 
ure of all things, and each individual man at 
each moment was such a measure, and there 
was no other kind of knowing. Hence there could 
be no Universal, no Idea; only the immediate 
sensation or impression exists. To such a doc- 
trine Plato applies his Dialectic: Protagoras 
asserts the truth of his doctrine, yet his doctrine 
asserts that there is no such thing as truth . He ar- 
gues with me against the validity of my impression, 
yet his argument affirms that my impression 
must be just as valid as his own. In fact he, 
though an arguer by profession, as a Sophist, is 
guilty of self-contradiction in the very act of ar- 
guing for his doctrine. The negation of knowing 
he declares, yet he somehow knows this negation 
and tries to make me know it too. Protagoras 
repeats the statement of Heraclitus that all is in 
a flux, or all changes; if so, then change is per- 
manent and must be the opposite of itself, or self- 
negative. The denial of truth implies the truth 
of denial, and thus is self-denying. 

Such is an example of this kind of the Platonic 
Dialectic, which seizes the finite, inadequate neg- 
ative thought or doctrine, and turns it inside out, 
making it undo itself through its own inner move- 


ment. Often this Dialectic is mino-led with ex- 
ternal arguments and reflective repetitions which 
render it impure, disturb the clear direct flow of 
its otherwise transparent stream. Then inter- 
twined with it are the innumerable excursions and 
amplifications in the form of myth, story, descrip- 
tion, seasoned through and through with the 
excessive palaver of Attic etiquette. Just a little 
too much urbanity, for one reader at least, who 
has often to exclaim. Our Plato is a wordy fellow, 
why can't he come to the point? Out of such 
an exuberance of speech, we have often to extract 
the pure process of the Dialectic, whose essence 
we have sought to give in the foregoing state- 

Thus the Platonic Dialogues give in their di- 
versity, multiplicity and changefulness a picture 
of the outer world of Appearance, which has, 
nevertheless, an inner compelling principle which 
brings forth the abiding, the eternal, and which 
is manifested in this Dialectic of Appearance pre- 
cipitating the pure forms of Thought. 

(3) But these pure forms of Thought are 
manifold and contradictory, so that they too be- 
come dialectical among themselves. This shows 
us the third kind of the Platonic Dialectic, that 
of abstract concepts, or indeed of Ideas. Cer- 
tain Dialogues mingle this kind with the pre- 
ceding. An instance is the Philehus which 
begins with treating of pleasure, and hence deals 



with a sensation like the Protagoiris. But from 
the individual fact of sense it rises to a consider- 
ation of the Infinite and Finite, wherein lies the 
universal nature of the Dialectic itself. For the 
self -negating character of all finitude is just the 
province of the Dialectic, as already said. But 
now it must be seen that not only matters of sen- 
sation, but also concepts are limited against one 
another, and hence finite and dialectical. In the 
Sophisies we may note the same general proced- 
ure; Plato aims to refute the sophistic doctrine 
which holds that all is feeling or individual opin- 
ion, and that there is no objective standard of 
truth, nothing which may be called Reason 
(^JSfous) among men. But from this stage of the 
discussion Plato advances to the consideration of 
Being and Non-Being, which constitute indeed 
the underlying principle of the argument. These 
are abstract concepts in a dialectical movement 
with each other. 

But the chief Dialogue in the present sphere is the 
Parmenides, named after the Eleatic philosopher 
whose work has been already considered (p. 99). 
Here Plato enters primarily the field of Eleati- 
cism with its two main categories. Being and Non- 
Being, to which he unites a dialectical discussion 
of the One and the Many. The main point now 
made is that the One cannot be conceived without 
the Many, nor the Many without the One; each 
taken by itself and thought contradicts itself, 


and passes over into the other to complete itself. 
In different words, each alone is finite and self- 
annulling, in which fact we behold the internally 
working Dialectic which compels the one-sided, 
finite concept to move out of its limitation and be- 
come universal orthe Idea. This of course annuls 
Eleaticism proper, with its exclusive concept of 
Being (the One) and its denial of Non-Being 
(the Many); or rather it unfolds the Eleatic 
doctrine by adding the complementary side. 

In the Parmenides, however, the positive result 
is not given except by implication. In fact, the 
deepest conse(|uence of this Dialectic of the 
One and the Many is hardly implied by Plato. 
The One is also self -separating, or it is the 
self-division into the many, which self-division 
returns and makes itself One. Such is the 
process underlying all this dialectical phi}^ of the 
One and the Many, which process Plato does not 
clearly indicate ; still less docs he indicate 
that this process is just that of Ego with its 
three stages of inner unity, self-separation, 
and return. Thus Plato has an intimation 
of the Psychosis as implicit in Being; we shall 
find that the later Neo-Platonist will nuike it 
consciously explicit in Being ; modern Europe 
will recognize it as sul)ject, but from this last 
Euro[)ean stage it is still to be unfolded as 
the universal process of science both subjective 
and objective. Such a marvelous germ we 


may see budding in this Platonic Dialectic of 
the One and the Many. 

Unfolding the metaphysical Plato, we have 
now reached the result of his dialectical proced- 
ure, and wc have no longer to deal with his 
Method, but with the outcome or the product of 
his Method. The Dialectic as the play of the 
Negative deals with separation, division, in gen- 
eral with the finitude of the world and of think- 
ing. But the Dialectic is not to end in a result 
merely negative (which was largely though not 
wholly the casein So[)histicisni) ; it is likewise 
to negate its own negation and to rise to a posi- 
tive realm. 

3. Ideologij. We have now reached the Idea 
as mediated by the Dialectic, which as Method 
has made it a conscious possession. Previously in 
the first stage of Platonic Metaphj^sics we looked 
at it (the Idea) as immediately given, as it is in 
the forms of geometry, which may be deemed 
the simple, intuitive state of the Idea. But out 
of this undeveloped implicit condition the Idea 
has become explicit with its process through the 

We are, then, to return to the Idea as it is in 
itself, separated from the material world. We 
take up again the Phitonic dualism — the cleav- 
age of the universe into the ideal and nuiterial 
worlds. The former is conceived as the pattern 
of the latter, as a supersensible realm of forms 


with its own life. These Phito conceives to be 
derived not inductively from sense-perception 
(as did Socrates), but to be pre-existcnt in the 
mind, though latent till roused by some external 
stimulation of the senses. This process of recall- 
ini^ the Idea throuo;h the outward stimulus is 
named Reminiscence by Plato. Through it the 
soul returns upon its essence which is the Idea. 
For the Idea is the primary original endowment 
of the Soul, the essential principle of its Being. 
The external world simply rouses the Soul to 
look upon its own essence, the Idea, and this 
activity is the Platonic Reminiscence. 

Of course the question arises, How did these 
Ideas originally get into the Soul? Plato's the- 
ory (in the Pliaedrus) is that before its earthly 
life the Soul beheld these ideal forms in their 
native incorporeal world where it could see 
them by some kind of ideal sense-perception. 
Then when the embodied Soul perceives the 
corporeal shapes of these Ideas in the Sense- 
world, it remembers them in their purity, as 
they existed in the other world, and is seized 
with a longing to dwell Avith them continually 
in the present life. This is philosophic love 
(^eros), love of the Idea, whereby we may here 
and now return to the ideal pre-existent world 
out of which we were plunged into flesh. The 
relation of this thought to Christian eschatology 
will be evident to the reader. 


To this conception of the Idea Phito seems 
to have come through mathematics. In the 
Meno he shows that the knowledge of the 
Pythagorean theorem is evolved not out of 
sense-perception, but that the latter stirs the 
mind to recall what is already existent within it 
implicitly, and causes it to recognize an essential 
content of itself. Here again we may note the 
influence of geometry in leading Plato to his 
doctrine of the Ideas. It is well known that 
the Pythagoreans generally claimed him as a 
disciple of their master. 

Having now our world of Ideas, we ask 
Avhat is its organization, what is its process 
within itself? Such is the central question of 
Platonic Ideology. It must be understood at 
the start that we are not to expect a thorough- 
going detailed system, consistent and finished in 
every part. On the contrary we come upon big 
gaps, great uncertainties, and not a few inner 
contradictions. Still we can see a general out- 
line which will show the Idea as Essence, the 
Idea as Hierarchy, and the Idea as the Good. 
A few words upon each of these points. 

(1) The Idea as the essence of Being in 
Plato has been already often declared and im- 
plied. Here we may emphasize it as wholly dis- 
tinct and separated from the phenomenal world, 
and as having its own inherent process (or Psy- 
chosis) within itself. It is primarily the univer- 


sal, the genus or class; as distinct from the 
individual object it is the general concept ; on the 
one hand it is innate, intuitive, regulative of our 
sensuous knowledge, but not derived from it; on 
the other hand it is objective, existent in its own 
right, the eternal and immutable essense of all 
Being, dwelling in a world all its own. It is the 
common principle, the universal Reason in us 
and in the universe outside of us — the princi- 
ple by which our mind cognizes or rather recog- 
nizes the mind (or iVow.s) in all things. 

Every object is what it is by virtue of the 
Idea, which is thus its Idea. K we can truly 
think anything, it must be an Idea in order 
to be tliouffht. The result is a vast multi- 
plicity of the Idea which thus reveals itself as a 
world of Ideas. Whatever can be designated 
by name, as bed, table, dirt, has its corre- 
sponding Idea, its supersensible counterpart. 
Sometimes Plato seems inclined to put a limit 
upon this universal application and consequent 
degradation of his ideal world, for it would have 
tocontain all ugliness, meanness, wickedness, and 
even his great enemy, the lying Appearance, in 
fine, the opposites of the True, the Beautiful 
and the Good. But this negative Element he 
naturally shuns, though now and then it unpleas- 
antly pops up its head and puts in a word from 
the mouth of one of his characters. 

(2) So we come to a division of the Idea 


into a very numerous multitude, about which 
we at once ask: Is there any order liere? Tliis 
brings us to what may be called the Hierarchy 
of Ideas, for Plato, true to his aristocratic 
feelings, has not permitted his Ideas to have 
democratic equality. That would be too much 
like the Athenian Demos for him. As it is 
the universal element in the Ideas which distin- 
guishes them from the phenomenal world, there 
will be a gradation in them according to the 
degree of their universality, for this we may 
conceive as having degrees. Or we may say 
that in proportion as they share in the universal, 
they are ranked in an ascending order toward 
the highest Being, or, on the contrary, in a 
descending scale to the lowest. Higher than 
the Idea of the piece of marble is the Idea of 
the statue made from it, higher than the 
statue is the Idea of the Beautiful embodied 
in it, higher seemingly than the Beautiful is 
the supreme Idea, the Good. 

But now appears a great difficulty. By what 
criterion shall we test this enormous mass of 
heterogeneous Ideas for the purpose of grading 
them? How shall Ave discover their relative 
values? They can not be ordered after the 
manner of the Aristotelian logic, for that implies 
that the lower concept be explicitly contained 
in the higher, whereas the Platonic Idea in 
its self-contained separation re-acts against any 


such su1)sumpti()n. For the sjime reason they 
are not to be conceived as evolving themselves 
one out of the other through an inner trans- 
formation; surely that would introduce change 
into the unchanging Idea. Plato passingly speaks 
of the lower sharing in the higher, but such 
a conception makes their impassable limits pass- 
able. Hence only one way is possible : the 
Hierarchy of Ideas must be ordered somehow 
from the outside, by a power lying back of them. 
So we have projected behind our phenomenal 
world a world of Ideas, but behind this world of 
Ideas with its order we have to project an 
orderer, for certainly these eternal, changeless, 
self-subsistent units (like atoms) will not order 
themselves through themselves. 

Plato has not undertaken to give anything re- 
sembling a detailed system in his Hierarchy of 
Ideas. He has no consistent ground of their 
inter-connection ; passages here and there may be 
found which seem to imply a dynamic activity in 
them, and once he attributes to them creative 
power. But in general they are shown as static, 
separate from one another, and from the phe- 
nomenal realm, the atoius of the inmiaterial 
world. Many commentators have tried to relieve 
them of this lonely and inactive condition, but 
on the whole without success. They have been 
made sul)jective as the Ideas of our mind ; they 
have been made objective as the Ideas of the 


Divine Mind. Bnt Plato insists upon their self- 
subsistent distinct Being, solitary and homeless, 
all in an ideal home of their own. Still Plato 
places them in a Hierarchy, and thus demands 
an orderer from the outside. The result is we 
have one Idea as supreme and autocratic, the 
only Idea gifted with causal energy, herein dis- 
tinct from and even opposite to all other Ideas, 
but still an Idea. This brings us to the third 
stage in the process of the ontology of the Idea, 
in which the sepanitive charactor of the second 
stage just given is overcome, and the grand mul- 
tiplicity of Ideas subjected to a principle of uni- 

(3) Such is the Good, the Idea of all Ideas, 
placed at the head of their hierarchical order, 
the Pope of this ideal world. The first fact to 
be emphasized is that the Good is here metaphysi- 
cal rather than moral (the latter is to appear 
later in Ethics), it is still regarded as an Idea in 
the sense of the essence of Being, hardly as a 
norm of human conduct. 

In the Republic (517 C.) we read: "In the 
realm of the known, the Idea of the Good is ulti- 
mate, though difficult to be seen; but l)eing seen 
it compels us to think it the cause of all things 
right and beautiful, for all." Here the Idea of 
the Good is directly called the cause (aifia) of 
what is often put with it, namelj^ the beautiful 
mid the right, which are also Ideas in Plato. 


Still further in the same passage : "In tne visible 
world it (the Idea of the Good) is the Light and 
the begetter of the ruler of Light," which at 
least ascribes a creative power (^tekousa) to this 
Idea. Again: "In the thought-world it (the 
Idea of the Good,) is itself the ruler and the pro- 
vider of truth and thought " to the one thinking. 
Finall}^ we have a touch which indicates its eth- 
ical connection: "It behooves the man who 
intends to act wisely in private or in pu])lic to 
behold this Idea of the Good." The position, 
character and function of the Idea of Good are 
thus briefly but distinctly outlined : It is supreme, 
it is cause, it lias a sphere of creativity, and it 
furnishes Truth and Thought (as objective) to 
the thinker. 

This last item we may expand a little by the 
aid of another passage: "The Idea of the Good 
is what gives Truth to things known, and fur- 
nishes the capacity to know them to the knower," 
hence it is the source both of the knower and 
the known, " being the cause of both Truth 
( objective) and Knowledge (subjective) . Though 
both these are excellent, you will consider their 
cause (the Idea of the Good) as yet more excel- 
lent," indeed the most excellent of all. 

The i)rcscnt thought of the Idea of the Good 
being beyond Truth and Knowledge Phito illus- 
trates by an exam[)le taken from the Sun : 
"Just as we rightly consider the light (object) 


and the vision (subject) to be of the Sun, 
though not the Sun itself, so we rightly con- 
sider Truth and Knowledge to be of the Good 
though not the Good itself." (Ttepuhlic 508, 
E.) Still again: " The Sun, you will say, also 
imparts genesis, gro wth, increase (to the mate- 
rial world) without being itself agenesis." So 
it is with the Good: " The essence of all things 
comes from it, without its being that essence; " 
wdiich thought we shall find reappearing in Aris- 
totle's Moving JSfot Moved. But now consider 
the following sentence: " The Good is not es- 
sence, but still beyond essence, surpassing the 
latter in dignity and power . " ( Republic 509 , E . ) 
A mighty future lies in this expression, for it 
gives the germ of Neo-Platonism and there- 
with of Christian Mysticism. Indeed, a marvel- 
ous fecundity in coming philosophies character- 
izes all these passages. 

The Idea of the Good is thus tlie grand unifier 
and ruler of the ideal world, transcendent, auto- 
cratic, of it, yet over it. This supreme Idea is 
endowed with power, will, and with an intelligence 
that is above intelligence (iVo«is) subjective and 
objective. Seemingly it is a person, but the very 
notion of personality Plato shuns, at least for 
his pure Ideas. Can this Good be other than 
God himself? It is said that only once has he 
bt'cn found to identify the (lood with the Divine 
Mind. Some commentators explain his silence 


by saying that the distinction between the per- 
sonal and the impersonid was not definitely pres- 
ent to his tliinkinsf. Phito then has no ontoh)o^v 
of God, whicli was such a dominating thought in 
the Middle Ages. Plato's faith may have had a 
God, but not his philosophy. Thus faith was 
not a very exalted mental activity with him. He 
often speaks of God and of the Gods, but it is 
a transmitted mytliological matter. 

Such is in outline Plato's o-rand messao;e to the 
future — the doctrine of Ideas, which has been 
the nourisher of all romanticism, idealism, other- 
worldliness, autocratism, both personal and po- 
litical. We may call it the Platonic Panideon, 
in striking contrast to the Greek Pantheon, from 
which the philosopher re-acted, evidently seeking 
to get rid of the caprice of the Gods of popular 
mythology, and to find an eternal, unchangeable 
principle in the Universe. In like manner Plato 
trains us away from the phenomenal world with 
its mutability, and also from the subjective 
Ego which is likewise capricious, enticing us to 
dwell in his Panideon or extra-mundane temple 
of Ideas. It may be rightly said that to his call 
a greater mass of humanity has responded than 
to that of any other philosopher. 

Such is, then, the metaphysical (or ontological) 
portion of Plato's Philosophy. It treats of the 
essence of Being as the Idea in its own separate 
realm, which shows a triple process : The Idea 


as immediate or conceptual (unfolding out of the 
Socratic concept); the Idea as dialectical; the 
Idea of the Good, or the Idea of Ideas. But now 
the Good, in order to be the Good, must some- 
how impart itself and get out of its seclusion; or 
the Idea, if it be truly universal, must be made 
creative, if not through itself then from the out- 
side. The latter is what happens; anew power 
enters the Panideon, bearing forth its ideal con- 
tents and through them constructins; the Cosmos. 
This brings us to a new stage of Plato's philo- 
sophical Norm. 

B. Physics. 

This portion of Plato's Philosophy has been 
possibly more influential than the metaphysical 
portion, though it be much less in quantity, and 
chiefly confined to one composition (the Timceus). 
In it Plato shows that he has become to a certain 
extent conscious of the difficulty with his theory 
of the Idea in its total separation from the phe- 
nomenal world, and in its lack of creative power. 
Still he will not abandon it, but will introduce a 
third principle, which has to make the Idea ap- 
pear, and assign to it a place in the Cosmos. This 
new principle is known as the Demiurge, or in- 
deed the God, who now is given something to do 
in Plato's Universe. 

The present sphere is the second main divisi(m 


of Platonic Philosophy as a whole. We name it 
Physics, following precedent, though in a num- 
ber of ways the word conveys a wrong impression 
to the modern mind. It is very different in pro- 
cedure and in content from what is called Physics 
at the present time. It must be regarded as the 
Philosophy of Nature, but it includes the soul, 
in fact we shall find a soul at work through all 
its stages. Thus it is really physio-psychical; 
the physical world is shown as created or con- 
trolled by the physical. Also the title of it is 
sometimes given as Cosmology, but the distinc- 
tion between Cosmology and Psychology is not 
definitely drawn by Plato. Nature is regarded as 
having a soul, as being a living thing, and its pro- 
cesses are essentially manifestations of the soul 
in various gradations. 

Here we may note that each of the subdivi- 
sions has its own special soul, so that there are 
witnessed three souls in a descending order : the 
demiurgic Soul (God), the cosmieal Soul (World- 
Soul), and the human Soul (man). Each of the 
three is always a mediating (or third) power be- 
tween the two extremes of the Platonic dualism : 
the Idea or Archetype on the one hand, and the 
Matter or Body on the other. Here lies the 
great difference between the present (physio- 
psychical) and the former (metaphysical) portion 
of Plato's Philosophy; the world of Ideas is no 
longer allowed to be apart by itself, but has to be 


phenomenalized, has to enter into the material 
realm and there build another empire after its own 
ideal pattern. Thus Phenomenality, Appearance, 
the World of Manifestation, which was formerly 
cast aside as quite nothing, is now compounded 
with the Idea on one side and Matter on the other. 
This twofoldness we shall find running through 
the entire sphere of Platonic Physics, and making- 
it truly the second stage in the total process of 
Plato's Philosophy. 

It was probably not a very congenial task for 
our philosopher to make this transition out of his 
pure ideal realm into that of the senses, and he 
hardly attempted it till late in life (in his 
Timceiis), and then not very completely. It 
could not have been altogether pleasant to him 
to phenomenalize the Idea. It was making the 
perfect imperfect, it was contaminating the pure 
with the impure, it was reducing the self-subsis- 
tent to a kind of dependence. A fall, a lapse 
he cannot help regarding it, and we shall find 
him makino; the movement of it a descending 
one from the original archetype down to the hu- 
man soul incarnate. In fact what need of an 
imperfect real world when there is already a per- 
fect ideal world? Why should the good make 
the bad with the certainty of its damnation? 
Moreover the original unity of idealism is now 
dualized, it recognizes the material principle, 
compromises with it, goes into partnership with 


it; verily the sons of the Gods now intermarry 
with the chikh'en of mortals. 

So much from the standpoint of a strict ex- 
clusive idealism; but from another view this en- 
tire sphere of Physics must be regarded as 
greatly broadening Plato's Philosophy. In fact 
it furnishes us with the middle link of the sys- 
tem and makes the same a philosophic totality 
which will dominate the coming ages . From pure 
ontology he now passes to the ontology of Na- 
ture including the soul. He makes his ideal real 
and thus truly universal; at least such is his 
effort in a marvelous new stretch of his spirit. 

There is a striking symmetry in the develop- 
ment of the various movements of this Platonic 
Physio-psychology. Already we have alluded to 
the three souls in its three stages (or sub-di- 
visions) ; each of these three stages begins with 
a primal noumenal principle (or Idea) which is 
followed by its opposite, namely a material or 
corporeal element, and these two antagonistic 
principles are mediated by a third which is a 

The whole we shall consider as three processes. 
First is the creative process considered in and by 
itself, with its three interacting principles — the 
Archetype, Matter, and the Demiurge. Second is 
the cosmical process, by which creation manifests 
itself in the total physical Cosmos. Third is 
the human process, which deals with the origin 



of man, ending in the rise of the soul incor- 

1. The Creative (Formative) Process. Plato's 
pure ontology, which we have unfolded hith- 
erto, is essentially uncreative; the Idea does not 
create the phenomenon, nor does the supreme 
Idea create the other lesser Ideas. On the 
whole creativity was excluded from the Idea, 
for thus it would be moved within itself and 
separated inside, which would destroy its fixed 
and changeless character. But now we must 
have a creative ontology, the Idea must be 
made somehow to produce the phenomenon or 
Nature. This is accomplished by the introduc- 
tion of a specially self-active creative principle, 
namely God. We have already noted the fact 
that God with his creation of the world is 
banished from the pure realm of Platonic Ideas. 
Here, however, he appears, yet with decided 
limits to his creative power; he is properly the 
demiurge or world-former who finds already at 
hand both the ideal and the material for his work, 
not having to create them, but to mould them into 
his cosmical product. 

Thus we have in this creative process three 
principles brought in from the outside, presup- 
posed and taken for granted. These are the 
Archetype, Matter, and the Demiurge. They 
should be placed in this order, for thus we see 
their inter-relation as a threefold psychical move- 


ment (Psychosis). There is the primal Idea as 
immediately given; then there is its absolute 
opposite, Matter, which is also a thought, yea an 
Idea on its reverse side ; thirdly is the divine 
maker who returns to the primal Idea and incor- 
porates it in Matter. Such is the creative pro- 
cess of the present sphere, the whole of it 
noumenal or ideal, being the process antecedent 
to and creative of the cosmical reality or the vis- 
ible universe. 

(1) The Archetype is the term by which we 
may designate the Idea in its present creative 
relation to the phenomenal world, though it 
is not of itself creative. With the Archetype, 
then, we make the connection with the pure 
ideal realm of Plato; it is the highest Idea, the 
Idea of the Good itself as pattern (paradeig^na) 
for the creation of the Cosmos. It was to 
this pattern that the divine artificer looked 
when he made the world. He did not take 
a created, changeful, finite pattern, but the 
eternal, unchangeable one, namely the Idea 
and the Highest Idea, which is the Good. So 
his work, which is the world, is likewise good. 
" For the work of the artist who always looks to 
the eternal and unchangeable, and who designs 
and moulds his work after such a pattern, 
nmst of necessity be beautiful and perfect ' ' 
( Timaeus 28, A). 

The Archetype, then, after which the Cosmos 


is copied, is the Good, which we have ah'eady 
found to be for Plato the supreme essence 
of Being. Evidence of the fact is seen not 
only in the excellence of the created world 
but also in the excellence of the creator who 
is "the best of causes," and who must have, 
therefore, " looked to the eternal for his copy and 
original." Hence this Archetype was in the 
mind of God, "for he was good," and this 
is the reason why he made the universe. 

Such, then, is the first stage in the primordial 
creative process of the world — the Archetvpe 
which is the Idea of the Good. But this Idea 
is not creative, it cannot realize itself without 
a material, which is the very opposite and 
counterpart of itself. 

(2) Here we come to Matter which must be 
thought as pure Matter and not any particular 
form thereof. Plato himself confesses this sub- 
ject to be dark and difficult. For Matter in itself 
is the embodiment of self-contradictory predi- 
cates ; it is the non-Being which is, but especially 
it is the Idea which is the opposite of the Idea, 
for it is declared to be non-material. So we have 
to put together the conception that Matter is 
immaterial, indeed ideal, though the opposite of 
the Idea. Matter as such is bodiless, though it 
may be made to take on body through the form- 
ing activity of the Demiurge working after his 
pattern. It is the source of all separation and 


change, thoutj-h it is itself eternal — Matter 
is eternal in Plato, not created. It is the 
ground of all Appearance, though it does not 
appear, being an invisible thing. It is the unde- 
termined, the unlimited (ajjeiron), the formless 
{amorphon) which is to be determined, limited, 
formed. In one passage Plato calls it space, 
" providing a home for all created things " 
(Timceus 52 B). But in other passages of the 
same dialogue (see 49,50) he regards Matter as 
the mother or maternal principle of the Cosmos, 
" in which the begotten becomes," she being the 
universal recipient of the seeds of all forms. 
" Receiving all things, she never ceases from her 
own nature, and never in anyway or at any time 
adopts a form like the things which enter into 
her, " being the unformed, the eternal and un- 
changeable as pure Matter. " We may compare 
the receiving principle (Matter) to a mother, the 
source (Demiurge) to a father, and the middle 
nature to a child" which is the Cosmos ( Timceus 
56). So we have here a gleam of the domestic 
trinity applied to the creation of the world, 
which thought is to be developed later. 

Thus Matter is the Idea as the complete other 
of itself, its own negation, yet still as itself. 
Aristotle also will deal with this conception of 
Matter, and will call it ht/Ie, whose essence he 
designates as separation or deprivation (sttresis). 
On account of this dual and contradictory/ na- 


ture of Matter historians of philosophy divide 
iuto two opposite camps in describing it. The 
one set say that Plato's Matter is corporeal, the 
other that it is incorporeal. (See the two sides 
partially listed in Zeller, Phil, der Griechen II. s. 
609, Dritte Aufiage.) Of course this refers to 
pure Matter, that out of which the world was 
created by the Demiurge. 

There is no doubt that this conception of 
Matter seems absurd, and one seeks the ground 
of such a contradictory view. The Ego is self- 
separating, and becomes twofold within itself in 
the second stage of its process which is just that 
of self-consciousness. The fact is Matter is the 
second stage of the Idea iu its world-creating 
process, and thus corresponds to the movement 
of the Ego. But for Plato the Idea is not Ego, 
not a Self, not creative, and still the world 
must somehow be gotten out of it, or patterned 
after it. Hence he has to take Matter for 
granted, as something entirely separate from the 
Idea, though really it be the second stage of the 
process of the Idea as creative Ego. So Matter 
stands divorced from its proper place in the 
process to which it belongs and can give no ac- 
count of itself except the self-contradictory and 
absurd one : I am Matter which is immaterial, a 
bodiless Body, a Being which is non-Being, an 
Idea which is the opposite of the I'dea. Plato's 
Matter, thus thrown outside of the process of 


the objective, world-creating Reason, can only ap- 
pear irrational to our Reason. 

Still we are not to forget that Plato is seeking 
to set forth the spiritual movement of the world. 
But he separates the spiritually connected stages 
of this movement. And yet Plato has intima- 
tions of something beyond his view. He speaks 
of the Idea communicating itself to its other, 
to Matter, whereby the phenomenal world may 
take part in true existence, which is the Idea. 
These are momentary exceptions which contra- 
dict his permanent conception of the Demiurge, 
whose function is to make the world by patterning 
it in Matter after the archetypal Idea. But the 
Demiurge too is picked up from the outside and 
so pre-supposed, being the third assumption in 
Plato's creative process. 

(3) Of this Demiurge we have already had a 
good deal to say in the preceeding exposition, as 
it is difficult to separate him from the Matter in 
which he works and the Archetype which he 
copies. Moreover he is the Platonic God, who 
now first distinctly appears and performs his 
part in the universe; previously in the realm of 
Ideas his presence was very questionable. He is 
conceived rather as the artist or artificer than 
the creator; we feel like calling him the 
divine sculptor in his workshop shaping his 
given block of marble which is pure Matter, 
after an ideal pattern of the Good which is in 


his soul on the one hand and is the essence of 
all Being: on the other. The Cosmos itself is a 
work of art and God is the artist. Plato univer- 
salized Phidias, and transformed the whole 
world into a sculptor's atelier; Phidias, the 
shaper of the God, is now supplanted by the 
God himself who is shaper of Phidias and all 
men and things. 

Why is it that Plato will have nothing 
to do with a divine Creator of the Universe? 
It is his reaction against the Greek religion 
as portrayed by the Greek poets (specially Homer 
and Hesiod), who make the Gods the authors 
of evil, and ascribe to them human passions 
and weaknesses. Particularly does this fact come 
out in certain passages of the Republic (379, 
380). "God, if he be good, is not the 
author of all things as many declare, but 
only of a few things in men's lives." So God 
must be dethroned from his universal creativity, 
for " the Good is to be attributed to God alone, 
the cause of evil is to be sought elsewhere 
and not in Him." Such is the emphatic dualism 
like Zoroastriauism, here declared. Hence, too, 
Homer and the poets must be put out of 
the ideal State. 

Plato will also probe down to the reason 
why God made the world : beci;use ' ' He was 
good and without envy." Being artist he must 
produce, and being good he must produce 

PLATO'S rilYSICS. 313 

the good work and beautiful, and being free 
from envy " he wishes that all things should 
be like himself." {Timceus 29 E). Herodotus 
and other Greeks held that the Gods were 
envious of mortals, if the latter became great 
and successful. Hence Nemesis, the divine 
leveller, goes forth and abases the exalted, as she 
did Xerxes the Great King in his invasion 
of Greece. Every such God Plato would fling 
out of his Pantheon, for his God is only good 
and the author only of good. 

2. The Cosmical Process. The product of 
the preceding creative Process is the Cosmos, 
which also has its Process. The Demiurge or 
God puts the world into its existent shape, 
which is an appearance in Space and Time. 
It manifests the twofoldncss which we alread}^ 
noticed in the conception of Matter: it is the 
Idea showing itself through the opposite of 
the Idea, or the Idea in its creative process 
made real. It is, therefore, the primal artistic 
product which reveals the spiritual in a sensuous 
form on the grandest scale possible, unrolling 
before us the whole physical universe as a work 
- of art, or rather as the one work of art, 
prototype of all others. And the Demiurge, 
as already suggested, is the one artist with 
his one work, truly a panorama all-including. 
The Greek was essentially an artist and took 
an artistic view of life; Plato is also an artist, 


lliou^Ii the philosopher and universalizer, and 
so he brings before us the artist as world- 
creating, truly universal, and hence the pattern 
of all artists. For art at its best always creates 
a new world, in which its shapes arise and 
abide, copied after some ideal exemplar — tlie 
world of Shakespeare, of Michel Angelo, of 
Phidias. Containing these and far greater than 
them all is the world of the Demiurge, the Cosmos, 
which, if we are to see with Plato's eyes, we 
nnist look at artistically. We may here add 
that this thought want deep into Schelling, from 
whom it passed to Hegel, who has elaborated it .so 
fully in his Aestheiik. 

On another side Plato contemplates the l)irth 
of the world. The Demiurge he calls the father 
as well as the maker; Matter is the mother prin- 
ci[)lc, and their son is the Cosmos. This Son of 
God with })rophetic suggestiveness is called the 
only-begotten (monogenes), the God that is 
to be (^esomenos), the visible God who is 
image of the invisible God (^Timoius 29, 31, 
34). Very surprising do these words seem com- 
ing from a heathen philosopher nearly four cen- 
turies before Christ. Repeatedly Plato declares 
that the Cosmos is a God, " a blessed God," yet 
also the Son of a God. Divine fatherhood 
invisible and divine sonship visible are, then, 
Platonic conceptions. 

Accordingly, Plato endowed his Cosmos with 


a soul, though ho hardly conceived it as a per- 
son. A huge living thing, an animal (zoon) he 
calls it, with life in it from center to circumfer- 
ence. Such a world must indeed have a world- 
soul, a thought which other philosophers before 
him had broached. 

Putting these statements together, we grasp 
Plato's Cosmos as a work of art which is divine 
and alive or is a living God. From this point of 
view we may regard Plato as reconstructing 
Homer's Olympus. Rejecting Homer, he be- 
comes his own Homer, for he is truly a poet 
(Poiefes, Maker), and he is here building the 
world as it ought to be built. So Plato is really 
the God-making Demiurge in this whole work, 
he makes the God who makes the Cosmos and 
man too, including Plato the maker. To be 
sure he seems not conscious of the part which he 
plays in this business of world-creating, nor is 
any European philosopher apparently. Indeed 
all Philosophy is inclined to leave out the philos- 
opher constructing it. 

In the present portion of Platonic Physics 
which we have above called the Cosmical Pro- 
cess, are to be found three special phases which 
we shall first consider separately and then in 
their united movement. 

(1) Here again Ave begin with the archetyi)al 
Idea, but as working in and through the God or 
Demiurge, who is now distinctively called 


the Creator (in the Timceits). He is thus the 
active principle of the Good, which he seeks to 
reahze in the creation of the Cosmos. Hence he 
has an end (^lelos) wliich is his own self-reahza- 
tion in the workl, which workl he will make like 
to himself. Thus the principle of teleology, 
which we have already found in the JV^ous of 
Anaxagoras, enters and subjects to itself all other 
ends or causes. The livinsi; embodiment of the 
Idea of the Good is the ultimate end, or, as it 
is often called, the linal cause of the Cosmos ac- 
cording to Plato. 

The world-creating God, with his Idea of the 
Good which he is to realize iu his creation, is 
the all-dominatino; figure in Plato's account of 
this creation (in the Tlinmus). " Such was the 
scheme of the eternal God" (34), that is, he 
had a pre-conceived plan, or as we still say an 
Idea. "He intended that the animal (Cosmos) 
should be as near as possible perfect; " thus his 
intention is repeatedly emphasized. " God de- 
sired that all thino;s should be good and nothinir 
bad; " the Idea of the Good is in many pas- 
sages, one with God, who is one and alone till he 
creates some other gods, such as the stars. 

So Plato represents his creative God or Demi- 
urge as creating immediately, by fiat, out of 
Matter, and incorporating the Good in the Cos- 
mos. But Plato also represents this same Creator 
shaping certain things mediately, by means of 


given or fore-ordained patterns, namely, mathe- 
matical elements such as numbers and geometric 
figures. This fact, notable in the Timceus, would 
seem to indicate a change towards Pjthagoreauism 
in Plato, since he relegates mathematical Ideas de- 
cidedly to a second place in the Republic. But now 
they seem to determine the Demiurge more de- 
cidedly than the Pure Ideas which have become 
almost a part of him, he himself being the Good 
(in the Timceus). As Plato grew old, his pref- 
erence for Pythagoreanism appears to have re- 
turned, or rather to have fully developed itself, 
so that in the Laws (usually supposed to be his 
last book), Mathematics quite supplant Philos- 
ophy as the chief discipHne for the ruler. 

(2) We come next to consider the Cosmical 
Body as the product and counterpart of the Cos- 
mical Archetj^pe just considered, or as the ex- 
ternal manifestation of this Archetype in matter. 
What, then, will be the Appearance of the Cos- 

In the first place God " made the world round 
and smooth as from a lathe, in every direction 
equally distant from the center to the extremes, 
the sphere being the most perfect and the most 
like unto itself of all figures." It also " compre- 
hends within itself all other figures ' ' which can be 
unfolded out of it. It needs no senses, no eyes, 
ears, hands, members, as it has all that it re- 
quires within itself. " For the Creator conceived 


that a beino; which was self-sufficient would be 
more excellent than one which lacked some- 
thing" which would have to be supplied outside 
of itself ( Timoeus 33.) 

But, secondly, into this one Cosmos difference 
enters through creation. Primarily the God cre- 
ates Time, the absolutely separative and divis- 
ible, yet eternall}' continuous, hence "the image 
of eternity," though not eternity itself which 
' ' rests in unity ' ' and is uncreative as the Pure 
Idea. The Heavens with Sun and Moon and 
Stars were created along with Time which they 
measure by day, month and j-ear. Yet here, too, 
the God makes a division into Fixed-Stars and 
Planets, according to their motion. Still further 
Plato considers all the Fixed-Stars and Planets 
(to these he reckons Sun and Moon) to be dei- 
ties, and thus he returns to a kind of Greek 
Polytheism, with its divinization of nature, spec- 
ially of the heavenly bodies. Moreover they are 
the highest and best of all created beings ; the 
Fixed-Stars especially " are divine and eternal, 
ever remaining and revolving on the same spot," 
while the Planets being wanderers (so they 
seemed to Plato) are less excellent, A new 
Olj^npian world dawns on us from the skies, and 
it is also represented as determining man to a 
more stable and natural life, but chiefly " from 
this source (the vision of the Cosmos) we obtain 
Philosophy, than which no greater good has been 


or will be given by the Gods to mortal men ' ' 
( Timceus 47). 

Here Plato brings into his cosmical process the 
four elements, which have such an important 
place in early Greek philosophy, especially that 
of Empedocles. " God placed water and air in 
the middle between fire and earth, since solid 
bodies must be united by two middle terms, not 
by one alone." Moreover the Creator forms 
material objects out of the elements according to 
mathematical patterns — numbers and geometric 
figures. God fashioned them (the four elements) 
by form and number. Moreover " all solids must 
be contained in surfaces" which consist ulti- 
mately of triangles, and " these triangles are 
originally of two kinds, the right-scalene capa- 
ble of infinite forms and the right-isosceles capa- 
ble of only one form ' ' ( Timceus 53-54) . Plato, 
like a true Greek, proceeds to select the most 
beautiful of all these triangular forms, which he 
maintains to be " that which, being doubled 
makes the equilateral triangle." The reason for 
this would be " long to tell " and so he does not 
tell it. 

But what is strange, an atom appears in Plato's 
cosmical Process, an atom not of an irregular 
shape, but geometric, chiefly triangular. Out 
of these atomic forms the four elements are 
composed — -the Earth of Cubes, Fire of Tetra- 
hedrons, Air of Octahedrons, Water of Icosa- 


hedrons. Here the stress is upon the primal 
geometric form of the atoms out of which tiie 
manifold geometric shapes of the Cosmos arc 
produced. Thus Plato on this side wheels into 
the line of his cosmical construction another 
antecedent philosopher, Democritus, not a 
little changed it is true, but very perceptible in 
outline. He, too, along with Empedocles and 
Pythagoras, as well as Parnienides and Herac- 
litus must take his place in the system which is a 
resumption of all previous philosophies. 

(3) The third principle in the cosmical Pro- 
cess is the Cosmical Soul, better known as 
the World-Soul, or the animate principle of 
the World, the Soul of the Cosmical Body. 
Already the fact has been noted that Plato 
believed the whole universe to be alive, and 
he often calls it a living animal. Evidently 
this Cosmical Soul is the mediating element, 
which unites the Cosmical Archetype with the 
Cosmical Body, returning to the former and 
harmonizino; it with the latter, in fact beinir 
itself the harmony of the inner and outer, 
of the spiritual and material, of the Idea and 
the Appearance in the Cosmos. Such is in 
general, the function of the Soul in Plato: 
it partakes of the two opposites. Idea or Reason 
(JYous) on the one hand, and of the Body 
or the Phenomenon on the other; it coninumicatcs 
between the two, mediates them and thus over- 


comes the Platonic dualism (or dissonance) 
by a world-harmony. Very significant there- 
fore, is the position of the World-Soul in Plato's 

The Demiurge is the Creator of this World- 
Soul, and his method was to " put Reason 
into Soul, and then to put Soul into Body," 
Avhereby he " framed the Cosmos to be the 
fairest work in the order of Nature." So the 
whole World is more beautiful than any part 
of it, and the World-Soul is more excellent 
than that of any individual (Timmus 30). In 
this creative work of the Demiurge, we behold 
the triple process : the Idea or Eeason, Matter, 
and the Soul which is made to inform Matter and 
to produce the living Body of the Cosmos. 
The World-Soul is incorporeal like the Idea, 
yet is a created thing, like the corporeal; it 
shares in the multiplicity of the latter and 
in the unity of the former, showing itself 
the permanent in the transitory, the law in 
all change. In Plato's language it unites the 
Same and the Other, or identity and difference, 
whereby it maintains uniformity of motion 
(in the Fixed-Stars) and diversity of motion 
(in the Planets), thus transferring its inner 
nature to the outermost sphere of the Cosmos. 

The World-Soul, though created by the fiat of 
the Demiurge (whom Plato in this connection 
calls God), has its own function, which is chiefly 



regulative ; it keeps iu order and under law all 
the diverse movements of the Cosmos. It goes 
of itself within its sphere after being created and 
started; it is self-moved yet not capricious, obe}'- 
ing the Idea or Reason, which, in connection 
with it as united with Matter, becomes mathe- 
matical. For Mathemiitics is the mediating 
principle between the sensuous and the ideal 
realms, participating in both. Now this is just 
the position and character which are assigned to 
the World-Soul in Plato ; it mediates between 
the Cosmical Archetype and the Cosmical Body. 
Accordingly the most immediate fact of the 
World-Soul is that it is mathematical, employ- 
ing number and form (arithmetic and geometry) 
to reg-ulate the Cosmos. Mathematics is not 
simply the means of the World-Soul, but the 
very Self of it, its primal original Self as imme- 
diate. This Self is expressed from the center of 
the Cosmos to the circumference in the harmo- 
nious proportion of things, which is especially 
heard in terrestrial music, and is seen most com- 
pletely in the movements of the heavenly bodies. 
Both Pythagoras (from whom this thought is 
derived) and Plato had the conception that 
Mathematics rule the material world, that all 
Nature must be reduced to number and form, 
and thereby controlled by Reason. In their way 
they are the precursors of modern Natural 
Science, giving a forecast of it in an imaginative 


flight, without, however, any demonstration. 
On this side of demonstrated Science the present 
age is far in advance of these old philosophers, 
many of whose statements are so wildly fantas- 
tic; but in another respect the future has still to 
realize their thought. For they believed in and 
tried to outline a Cosmical Psychology, a sci- 
ence which exists not to-day but which is yd 
to be. Their doctrine is that Nature is primarily 
})sycliical, having a Soul, yea a World-Soul for its 
order and government, while the Psychology of 
the present time is getting to doubt that even 
man has a soul, not to speak of the Cosmos. 
To be sure, Cosmical Psychology, when its 
period arrives again, must be scientific in the best 
sense, and not imaginative, though science does 
and must employ the imagination in its search 
for truth, as a famous scientist has told us. 

But this first, immediate phase of the World- 
Soul, the mathematical, is not the only one; on 
the contrary Plato shows the element of separa- 
tion in it, whereby it becomes a process within 
itself having three stages which are grasped by 
Plato as the Indivisible and the Original (One), 
the Divisible and the Derived (Many), and their 
unity as one movement (World-Soul). In this 
labor the procedure of the Demiurge is given as 
follows: "He creates her (the World-Soul) 
out of the unchangeable and indivisilile, and 
also out of the divisible and corporeal principles, 


constituting her a third intermediate principle, 
which partakes of the Same and of the Other or 
Different" (Timceus 35 A). What is darkly 
fermenting in Plato's mind? He sees the psychi- 
cal process of the World-Soul in its three stages 
and formulates them after his metaphysical 
fashion. It is indeed a great thought, nothinsj 
less than the thouo:ht of the Cosmos as a Psy- 
chosis. But Plato does not conceive the World- 
Soul as person, still less as self-conscious E^- >. 
Such a conception belongs not to him, nor t;) 
Greek Philosophy, though it is unconsciously 
struggling in both, and often breaks out irregu- 
larly to the surface. The Ego is not yet defi- 
nitely separated from Being, and seized as it is 
in itself, in its own self -knowing process. It is 
still ontological supremely, though psj'cholog}' 
is working within and underneath all this ontol- 
ogy. For instance, the formula (the Undivided, 
the Divided, and the One) is not the self-ex- 
pression of the Soul, but is alien, having been 
derived from ontology. It is a Psychosis, but 
not recognized as such. The Soul in Greek is 
Being, but Being is not Soul, at least not 

Still further, Plato represents the World-Soul 
as self-returning; "it turns within itself" and 
from this produces the self-returning motion of 
the Cosmos, the circular. The circular move- 
ment of the heavenly l)odies comes from the 


inner self-returning process of the World-Soul, 
which brings us to its next characteristic, the 
final and highest one of it, the self -moved. 

The third phase of the World-Soul is then 
that it moves itself from within, it is a self-de- 
termined entity inside its sphere. This is, in a 
general way, involved in the fact already stated* 
that the Cosmos is alive, is an animal, and so 
has a soul. But the definite grasping of the 
World-Soul as self-moved is a decided step in 
the development of its thought. In the PJkm- 
drus (245 D) the declaration is made that " the 
beginning (or the principle) of all motion is 
what moves itself;" the corporeal or the Cosmi- 
cal Body can be moved only by the self-mover, 
and "this self -mover is nothing else but the 
Soul." Here again we have the thought of the 
self-return as the essence of the Soul's move- 
ment. For Body is the moved, but when the 
moved turns back and takes up within itself its 
mover, it is the self-moved and the self-moving 
too. This self-moving principle as distinct from 
the moved is the Soul. 

3. Man (^Tlie Human Process), We have 
reached the third stage or princii)le of Plato's 
Physics, or rather Cosmical Psychology, to which 
the human being also belongs by virtue of his 
Body and his Soul. In fact the whole sweep of the 
Cosmos from its beginning to its end is to bring 
forth Man, in whom is the conclusion of the de- 


scent from above and the starting-point of the 
ascent, or return upward. Man is regarded as 
an epitome of the Cosmos, a Microcosm in him- 
self; implicitly he contains the entire creation 
of the world. From this point of view we may 
see that he is a going back and a taking up of 
the total creative process, as hitherto set forth ; 
he is the Archetype, the Matter and the Dem- 
iurge in small; he is the little Demiurge who 
really creates the big one, for, after all, it is a 
man, the philosopher, who has produced this 
whole scheme of creation, or at least repro- 
duced it. 

The great function of the Demiurge is to make 
whatever is immortal, but he hands over the 
making of mortality to the Gods whom he has 
made. For Plato will not have the perfect make 
the imperfect immediately, but through another; 
the Creator will not create the mortal but creates 
the creator of it. Plato's scruple in this matter 
transferred itself to Christian theologians, to 
whom it gave no end of trouble, since the creat- 
ive nature of God the Father as distinct from 
that of the Son seems to be chiefly derived from 
the heathen philosopher. 

So it comes that in the creation of Man two 
sorts of creators participate, the uncreated and 
the created. The latter produces the perishable 
part, the former the imperishable, which is the 
Soul. Of these Souls the number corresponded 


to the Stars, on each of which there was placed 
a Soul as on a chariot, in order that it might 
watch from such a lofty station the heavenly 
order and make the same its own ere the time 
cauie for it to be born into the flesh. Still while 
in this corporeal existence the Soul has a memory 
(reminiscence) of what it beheld in its former 
existence, namely the Pure Ideas. 

(1) From this view of Man's creation spring 
Plato's three leading; doctrines in regard to the 
Soul. First is its pre-exist ence , its Star-life ere it 
became incorporate, which has apparently given 
rise to the conception that the Soul has also still 
a sidereal body. Second is post-existence , or 
immortality proper, which Plato has dwelt upon 
with peculiar fondness in several dialogues, spe- 
cially in the Phdndo. But the entire discussion 
always goes back to one fundamental statement, 
which in dogmatic form is, that God created the 
Soul immortal. This proposition you must be- 
lieve, for Plato himself did not think that he has 
proved immortality, which he declared to be only 
probable, as something which is reached by 
faith. This principle of faith occupies a far 
lower place in Plato's scheme than in the Chris- 
tian. That which is truly immortal according to 
Plato, is the Reason (Nous) in Man, or the Idea; 
he w^ho cultivates the Idea, the philosopher, is 
the surely immortal one, and will return to his 
star-life of contemplation forever. Truly Plato 


is the aristocrat of Philosophy, which science is 
by its very nature aristocratic ; a member of tlic 
Athenian Demos can hardly possess immor- 

Of greater interest to the ordinary mass of 
humanity (the Demos) is the doctrine of remin- 
iscence, as it pertains not so much to Man pre- 
existeut or post-existent as present here and 
now. The thought arose probably in con- 
nection with the Socratic question: Can virtue 
be taught to anybody? No, it can only be 
recalled, for it is already something given in the 
Soul, though implicit there till it be roused and 
made explicit. For the soul is not a blank sheet 
of paper (^tabula rasa) on which the external 
world writes itself, but it is potentially this world. 
The object of sensation provokes or stimulates 
the Soul to call up out of itself the Idea of which 
the object is the material copy. For the Soul is 
the microcosm in which there is a part corre- 
sponding to every part of the macrocosm. 
Thinking [ennoesis) is still higher, since through it 
the Soul reproduces the Idea creating the object 
instead of the image. Eeally this is the process 
of all intellection : the Soul reproduces out of 
itself the object which is and thus knows it, hav- 
ing identified it with itself. It is inept however 
to deem such an act to l)e one of memory and to 
connect it with pre-cxistence. 

(2) After the creation of the human Soul 


Plato takes up the liuiiiau Body upon whose pro- 
duction and purpose he spends a good deal of 
effort. His physiology is far removed from that 
of to-day and seems largely a fantastic sport 
which he himself deems only probable. The head 
is round as it is the seat of Reason and so it is of 
the most perfect form, the circular or self- 
returning, which is also the form of the Cosmos. 
The nobler passions are located in the breast, 
being placed under the head or Reason. In the 
abdominal region lie the sensuous appetites; 
lower in place and hence under the control of the 
nobler passions and the Reason above. In the 
liver is the seat of divination, and. he gives a 
ground why the intestines are so long and lie 
in a coil : food must not pass through the body 
too rapidly, otherwise man would be entirely 
occupied with eating and evacuating, and " the 
whole race would become an enemy to music and 
philosophy." And much more of the same 
sort in the later portions of the Timmus. Of 
course this is Plato just about at his worst; it is 
enough to cast a passing ghmce at him in this 
aspect. Though we grant that the end of nature 
be to })roduce a comi)lcte man who would be the 
philosopher in Plato's opinion, the structure of 
the human being does show such an end immedi- 
atdij. A teleology of this sort becomes purely 

(3) The human ^oul is eijclQwed by Plato 


with three main activities, eacli of which he evi- 
dently regards as an activity by itself, yet also 
as a stage or phase of the total activity of the 
Soul. First and highest is the rational principle, 
in correspondence with the Keason (Nous or 
Idea) in the physical and metaphysical realms; 
second is Desire or the material sensuous prin- 
ciple, which is the man determined by his Body; 
third is the tJujmos, variously translated as pas- 
sion or impulse, but it means properly the ele- 
ment of Will, the activity of the Soul whereby 
the individual externalizes himself, or puts that 
which is within him outside of himself. This 
third element (ihf/mos), returns to the preceding 
for its content, which hence may be sensuous 
Desire or ideal Reason. Herein we observe the 
fact with which Platonic Ethics begins, the orig- 
inal dualism which it seeks to overcome in Man. 
Thus Plato sees the threefoldness of the hu- 
man Soul, its three stages or activities which 
make one — one Soul. This triple movement 
has been at work all along, though often unex- 
pressed ; it lies in every attempt to mediate the 
Idea and the Appearance by some third princi- 
ple sharing in both. How many times this has 
occurred in the preceding exposition, the reader 
himself can count. Note the primal division 
of the philosophical process into Metaphysics, 
Physics, and Ethics; the triplicate of ideal, 
material and mathematical realms, which, being 


taken up by the Intellect, correspond to Reason 
()ioesis), Understanding (^dianoia) and Sense- 
perception (aisthesis), producing Science (epis- 
ieme), mathematical Knowledge, and Opinion 
(doxa). In the Repuhlic we shall find this 
psychical triplicate to be the ordering principle 
of the virtues, of the classes, and of the State 

We have now reached the foot of the ladder of 
descent, which ladder starts from the very apex 
of the upper world with the Idea of the Good, and 
passes down through the Cosmos to the human 
Soul, which is the bottom of the movement of 
Physics, or better, of Cosmical Psychology. 
And then lurkins: in this Soul we have found a 
Psychosis, which is not only the bottom of the 
preceding descent, but also is the basis for a new 
superstructure, for the rise of the future ethical 

That which we have above called the descent 
of the human Soul was somewhat differently 
stated by Plato during his long life. In au 
earlier work (^Phcedrus) the birth into flesh is 
regarded as a lapse which must have happened 
while the Soul was a star. But this fall of ^Nlan 
from his heavenly sphere is softened in the 
Timreus (-iS) to a kind of probation; if the 
l)orn Soul stands the test, it returns to its star ; 
if not, it has to come back to earth in the form 
of a woman — evidently a degradation in the 


ejes of Plato. But if the Soul fails on this 
second trial, it is compelled to become a brute 
" which resembles him in his evil ways." Nor 
would these transformations cease till he changed 
to the pursuit of the Idea, which seems to be 
Platonic repentance. 

But with this repentance, which results through 
Will, leading to a change of life, we come into a 
new field, the ethical, which is the third of the 
grand divisions of Plato's Philosophy. 

Before leaving the present field, however, Ave 
jnay observe that the preceding cosmical con- 
struction of the Universe with its Demiurge has 
a great future before it. Here is the point 
at which the Greek and the Jew begin 
to come together. The cosmogonies of the 
Timceus and of the book of Genesis were 
harmonized ; Plato was declared to have derived 
his thousht of the creation from the Hebrew 
Bible; it was said he was "Moses atticising." 
The Demiurge, w^holly separate from the world 
which he created, and transcendent, was easily 
identified with Jahveh, while the lesser created 
Gods might be the ousted pagan deities of the 
Greek Pantheon. In this work of Hebraizing 
Plato the Jewish exegete Aristoboulus ( 150 B.C.) 
became famous. Thus the Timceus was a kind 
of bridge from Polytheism into Monotheism, and 
a means of uniting Oriental Eeligion with Euro- 
pean Philosophy. But the mighty fact of this 


movement was its influeuce upon Christianitj', 
into which flowed both these streams, Jewish and 
Greek, which had been ah'eady united at Alex- 
andria long before the birth of Christ. 

C. Ethics. 

In general, the purpose of the Ethics of Plato 
is to show the return of man out of his separation 
through Nature to his original s})iritual home in 
the Idea. The soul is to get back and repossess 
its lost heritage by means of an ethical life. 
Through birth and the dip into flesh it has be- 
come alienated from its primal high estate, and 
the science of Ethics makes the path back to 
restoration. For this reason. Ethics forms the 
third stage in the total philosophic Norm in which 
the soul returns to the essence of Bein^, to the 
first stage of the Norm, or the Platonic Idea. 

In Ethics, therefore, the fundamental concep- 
tion is that of a rise and restoration after a 
descent and lapse. The rise to what? To the 
Idea, which now is regarded as definitely the 
Good, the great end to be attained. The essence 
of Being is this Idea, according to Plato ; man is, 
therefore, to realize in himself True Being, or 
the essence of Being ; thus through Ethics he 
first gets to be in truth. In this way we can see 
that all Philosophy, particularly the Philos- 
ophy of Plato, finds its culmination and 


final purpose in Ethics, which is man's way 
of salvation in the scheme of our philosopher. 
Greek Philosophy hitherto has sought for the 
essence of Beino; rather through the Intellect 
and has found it to be some form of the Univer- 
sal. But now man is to l)e transformed into this 
Universal in his life and conduct l)y Ethics, 
whereby Philosophy reaches its true end and be- 
comes practical. 

If Ethics shows something of the nature of a 
restoration, a previous state is supposed which 
existed before the descent or separation. Plato 
seeks in various ways to formulate this pre-existent 
condition. The Ideas were pre-existent ere they 
manifested themselves in the world of Appear- 
ance ; the soul was pre-existent before it descended 
into flesh; metempsychosis is a pre-existent fact 
or state which is intended to account for such a 
descent of the soul. Ethics is the practical 
counterpart to these theoretic views; the ethical 
ascent of man throuo-h himself or his Will over- 
comes the antecedent descent. 

1. The Good as Idea. We have already con- 
sidered the metaphj'sical Good under its appro- 
priate head. But the present Good is in a different 
relation, it is the ethical Good, toward and through 
which is the rise, and which is to possess and 
transform the man inwardly. The metaphysical 
Good is in one sense tlie same as the eihit-al ; yet 
on the other hand, it is that from which the dc- 


scent has taken place. Thus the ethical Good, 
even if still the essence of Being taken by itself 
or metaphysically, is to be re-embodied by man 
through his Will ; by means of it he is to be born 
anew, and this second birth is of his own effort, 
if not creation. We saw in Physics the Demi- 
uro;e creatinoj the world and causino; the descent 


till man was made flesh. But in Ethics man 
wheels about and transforms his nature through 
attaining the Good as Idea. 

( 1 ) The Good in itself is declared by Plato to 
be existent and indeed visible ; the sight of it is 
all-persuasive, compelling pursuit, when the soul 
is sufficiently puriQed to have such vision, or 
knowledge. Here lies the rational part of man, 
whose content is the Good. 

(2) But the Good has an opposite, which in 
the world is Matter, and in man is appetite, 
passion, the descending or degrading portion 
of himself. Thus rises a conflict between the 
Keason and Appetite or the lower and higher 
forms of the soul. 

(3) The Good as Idea may become reconciled 
with Matter and embody itself therein. Where 
such a union takes place we have the Beautiful. 
Plato was too much of a Greek not to show many 
indications of his love for sensuous beauty. Still 
it tends with him to become non-material and 
to vanish into the Good. The sensuous manifest- 
ations of the Beautiful both in poetry and art 


he subjects to a rigid censorship iu the RejmhJic. 
But he is not at one with himself on this subject. 
Sometimes he would banish pleasure (artistic as 
well as other kinds) as the great incumbrance to 
attaining the Good; sometimes he regards it as 
one of the constituents of the highest Good. 
The general trend, however, of the Platonic 
Philoso[)hy is a reaction against Greek Art. 

But the Good as Idea is to be realized in the 
living man, and is to irradiate his actions and his 
life. Thus we come to Plato's conception of 
Virtue which is the most universal theme of his 

2. The Good as Virtue. The Good realized 
in the human soul and made the mainspring of 
every human activity, is the general notion of 
Virtue, which is the cause of all real happiness. 
Vice calls forth misery ; to follow appetite and 
passion is to return to animality. He who pur- 
sues the Good and fills his life with it has the 
only true satisfaction. Virtue is an end in it- 
self. We should cultivate it for its own sake, 
not for some ulterior advantage ; it is with Plato 
its own reward. Virtue is also a habit or dis- 
position whereby the soul unceasingly subordi- 
nates its lower nature. The Good as Idea indi- 
vidualized and made active is Virtue ; the Good 
by itself is general, but man filled with it in his 
doing has the particular Virtues. 

(1) Plato inherited directly from Socrates 


this search for Virtue tis well as for some adequate 
definition of it. In his earlier Dialogues the con- 
versation turns largely upon fixing the meaning 
of some particular Virtue. So there was the per- 
sistent effort to grasp and formulate the essence 
of Virtue, to separate it from its concrete mani- 
festations and to seize it as it is in itself. Thus 
the special Virtues were abstracted and discussed 
in various ways, and finally their number began 
to require some kind of order among themselves. 
This process of separating the abstract Virtue 
from its eml)odiment in the manifold activities 
of life was a great step in moral education, and 
was what rendered Virtues as such teachable. 
The old instinctive morality is thus transformed, 
and man becomes conscious of his conduct when 
Virtue can be defined. Plato, having done a 
good deal in the way of defining single Virtues 
in his earlier writings, will in his Republic move 
forward to a new stage. 

( 2 ) This is the organization of the many Vir- 
tues into a system, which has had a marvelous 
life and currency. The first and most elevated 
single Virtue is Wisdom according to Plato, and 
has its corresponding faculty in the Soul (Reason) 
and its corresponding Class in the State (Guard- 
ians). The second Virtue is Courage which has 
also its parallel in the Soul (thymos, will) and in 
the State (the Warriors). The third Virtue is 
Temperance corresponding to Desire in the Soul 



and to the Workmen in the State. Plato deems 
that these Virtues underlie and indeed produce 
the social and political order; on the other hand 
the State is to look out for them and produce 
them in turn. Hence the importance of educa- 
tion in the training to Virtue, upon whose teach- 
ability the social structure reposes. 

(3) There is the fourth Virtue belontrino- to 
Plato's sj'stem, Justice; yet he regards it in a 
different light from the other three, hence it is 
to be classified apart. Justice in Plato is the 
universal, all-pervasive Virtue; a man cannot be 
just without being at the same time wise, cour- 
ageous, and temperate. But the just man is 
more than this : he is the one who has most ad- 
equately realized in his own soul as well as in his 
own life the Idea or the Universal. He is the 
living embodiment of the essence of Being, or 
the Truth in its highest character; he is the 
philosopher who is to be ruler. The just man is 
really the only man who is fit to administer In- 
stitutions, specially the State ; through him alone 
can Justice become sovereio-n and govern the 

Virtue thus rises to its institutional sphere ; 
Justice indeed may be called the institutional 
Virtue. Courage, Temperance and Wisdom are 
the moral or more directly the individual Virtues, 
though they, too, have their social side; Justice, 
while individual also, must be exalted into its in- 

PLATO' ii ETHICS. 339 

stitutional sphere. These two very different 
significations of Justice are noticed by Plato — 
the one pertaining more to the individual and 
moral life, the other to the universal and insti- 

Hence we come to the fact that every man is 
to realize in his spirit the idea of Justice, whose 
content is Institutions, specially the State and its 
Laws. This brings us to the last great effort of 
Plato : he will build a Commonwealth and estab- 
lish Laws whose end is to realize Justice in the 
class and in the individual. Such is the object 
of the two great works of the later period of his 
life, the Republic and the Laws, which indicate 
an important transition in his philosophizing. 

3. The Good as Institution. Plato saw that 
man alone cannot realize the Good or True Being 
even in himself ; he must have Institutions for 
that purpose. Now the great Institution devel- 
oped in Plato's time was the State, particularly 
in its two forms at Athens and Sparta. The 
State is accordingly the third and highest mani- 
festation of the Good, whose object is to make 
men virtuous or to realize the Good in the soul. 
Yet Plato conceives the State itself to be a 
Good, or capable of becoming such. The State 
is the Good made actual as an existent entity in 
the world, whose end is to realize the Good in 
man. Plato deems the State to be the individual 
"writ large;" it is the big individual whose 


function is to make the little individual (man) 
virtuous . 

But it does not perform this function at pres- 
ent (so thought Plato), hence it must be recon- 
structed. What is the essential point which has 
to be met in such a reconstruction? The indi- 
vidual had broken with the existent prescriptive 
order; he had largely fallen out with his State, 
and for good reasons. Both individual and State 
must be built up anew; in fact, they must be 
both built up together, since the State is the 
great means of making the individual virtuous. 
Plato himself had gone through each of these 
stages of alienation; his studies of the Virtues 
in his earlier Dialogues had given him the moral 
Idea. But he was also deeply estranged from 
his own State, Athens; hence this too he must 
make over, at least for himself and his followers. 
The problem, as grasped by Plato, was to sub- 
ordinate, and, if possble, extirpate the individual- 
ism which was most distinctively represented by 
the Sophists. Chiefly for such a purpose he 
organizes his State, which is thus a return or 
perchance a relapse to the old instinctive mor- 
ality of the Greeks. A very brief outline of this 
political organism we may here present : — 

(1) The division of the people into three 
separate classes is fundamental in the Platonic 
State. The first and lowest class is that of the 
Laborers, composed chiefly of artisans and agri- 


culturists, who are to supply the physical wants 
of the inhabitants of the commonwealth. These 
are nearly without rights, and are to work at the 
behest of others. The second class is that of 
the Warriors, for the defense of the State. The 
third class is that of Guardians or Rulers, who 
have absolute authority in their hands and who 
are to receive special training for their vocation 
through Philosophy. Thus the aristocratic Plato, 
evidently more proud of his Intellect than of his 
Birth — his family having produced such detested 
specimens as Critias and Charmides — transfers 
his aristocracy from Birth to Intellect, and in 
particular deems his own class or indeed himself 
to be the right ruler of the State. In fact, what 
else could he do? Certainly the maker of the 
new State ought to be its director. These classes 
of Plato are still realities in Europe, which 
seemed to develop them specially in the medieval 
period. Plato is supremely the Philosopher of 
Europe, and Philosophy here again shows itself 

(2) The Platonic State has a very decided 
negative element, directing its destructive blows 
particularly against the individual, who is, first 
of all, to be put into his Class by the Guardians 
without any choice of his own. The Family is 
set aside ; the individual relation of love between 
man and wife is reo-arded as antaoonistic to their 
devotion to the State, which furthermore takes 


charge of the children who are to have no rec- 
ognized parents. Thus the whole emotional 
nature of the individual is to be absorbed into 
the State, which still further takes away all in- 
dividual ownership of property, wherein the 
social Institution is made to vanish into the polit- 
ical. Thus Plato sought to cut up by the roots 
the destroying influences which he saw at work 
in the Greek world about him. 

(3) The object of Plato is to- get back to the 
old condition of things, to that immediate, in- 
stinctive oneness of the individual with his State, 
with which he lived in an unbroken unity. But 
that time is gone, never to return. The breach 
is made, the separation has taken place, man can- 
not restore his unconscious Paradise when he has 
become conscious. This is the ideal or rather 
chimerical element in Plato's I^ejmblic. He will 
negate progress, destroy evolution, turn the 
stream of time backward and try to make it run 
up hill. For Plato's ideal commonwealth is really 
the village community which Greece has trans- 
cended; it is therefore a relapse to the past 
instead of a forecast of the future. Still the 
coming time will suipiisingly adopt some of its 
provisions, especially the Christian Church will 
show numerous similarities to Plato's State. The 
Village Community, particularly of the less 
advanced peoples, has been investigated exten- 
sively in the last fifty years, and it would furnish 


one of the best commentaries upon the Platonic 

In the matter of government, Plato had before 
himself the two chief political tendencies of the 
Greeks manifested in Athens and Sparta, whose 
excellence he would combine in a new arrange- 
ment. The great product of Athens was the 
philosopher, namely Plato himself, and he was 
the only fit ruler, though he could not rule in 
a democracy. But Sparta produced no philoso- 
phers, it generated rude might and a strict obedi- 
ence to formal law, which law was supposed to 
have been once introduced by Lycurgus, the 
Spartan lawgiver, whose part Plato is to re- 
enact in the new Commonwealth. So we witness 
the Athenian philosopher made the ruler over 
Spartan institutions, though with important 
chano-es in order to make them more rational. 
Pluto had seen the failure of the Spartan gov- 
ernors (harmosts) who were placed over many 
Greek cities after the Peloponnesian War. The 
caprice and self-will of democracy had likewise 
caused the defeat of Athens. So Plato en- 
deavors to make a new synthesis derived from 
the experience of his time. Of Spartan tyranny 
and of Athenian individualism he will set the 
Greek world free, and so back he goes to the 
long-past age of the Village Comnmnity with 
its absorption of the individual into the com- 
munal life. 


Such is the third stage of the philosophic 
Norm in Plato, showing the ethical return of man, 
out of his descent through Nature, to the Idea 
which he is to appropriate anew and thereby at- 
tain the Good. Thus we may conceive the cycle 
to be completed when the soul has gotten back to 
the beginning and re-possesses the primal Idea 
which man realizes in himself. It is a process of 
self -restoration on the one hand, through Will, 
and on the other through Institutions, specially 
the State. Herein a former, pre-existent con- 
dition of the soul is assumed, to which the ethical 
return has to be made after the descent or lapse. 

But this Platonic State, as the culmination of 
Ethics, makes the individual a good man by sup- 
pressing if not destroying his individuality. 
Such is the deep contradiction in it, splitting it 
to the very bottom. Plato expects man through 
freedom to annihilate freedom; man is to reach 
by his Frce-Will (Boidesis) the Good, which is 
the undoing of his Free-Will. That the State 
is itself Free-Will actualized whose end is to 
secure Free-Will through the Law is a concep- 
tion of the State far removed from Plato. He 
grants that the individual can l)ccome good only 
through Free-Will, yet his State must substan- 
tially eliminate this Free-Will of the individual. 
At least it can be exercised only by a few Guard- 
ians, and by them only in a circumscribed w^ay. 
§0 the PUitouic dualism asserts itself ; or rather it 


is the diuilism of all Philosophy which is sure to 
l)reak asunder on the question of freedom, since 
it is inherently aristocratic or even autocratic, de- 
manding of the free individual to give up his 
freedom and follow its behest or formula. The 
movement of History will reverse the Platonic 
State in this respect — transforming all Institu- 
tions into safeguards of freedom. 

There is no doubt that Plato has a noble end 
in view: he will cast out of the State of his time 
caprice and tyranny. But in his effort to get 
rid of capricious Will, he cuts up Will itself by 
the roots. Hence his Eepublic, from this point 
of view, is not a return, which is the way of 
evolution, but is a relapse, which is the way of 
retrogression. In fact, with Plato generally, 
the pre-existent is the excellent — the pre-exist- 
ent soul, the pre-existent realm of Ideas, the pre- 
existent State as Village Community. So it 
comes that his ethical cry is, Back to the pre- 
existent Good, let us get out of this present 
sensuous world, if need be, by destruction. 

Thus Plato concludes his Ethics in a separation, 
if not opposition between the moral and the in- 
stitutional. Morally man can use his freedom 
to rise to True Being, putting down appetite and 
his lower nature generally. But all this moral 
freedom he must subject to an Institution 
which does not secure his Free-Will whereby 
he has become moral, but which suppresses 


if not destroys it. Such opposition between 
the moral and institutional is a phase of the 
European dualism, for Europe has never been 
able to reconcile the moral law with the law 
of the institution. Many of her best thinkers 
say that the two are irreconcilable, and it 
must be confessed that Philosophy as such 
cannot harmonize this ethical dualism, for it 
labors under the same dualistic difficulty. Not 
till the Self, which is the source of the moral 
sphere, be also made the source and the end 
of Law and Institution, can the outer behest 
be brought to correspond with the inner. But 
this is a step far beyond Plato, beyond all 
Greek Philosophy, even beyond Modern Euro- 
pean Philosophy in its very latest manifestation, 
though such a step with its thought is the 
inner lurking motive power which is propeUing 
Philosophy toward its end from its beginning in 
ancient Miletus. Yet Philosophy, as such, cannot 
harmonize this deep scission and separation in 
Human Spirit which it has begotten or at 
least unfolded: a new Discipline is necessary 
with a new Norm. 

But now we are to consider the next philosopher 
who comes just after Plato and in a direct 
line with him, who, conscious of the Platonic 
dualism, at least in part, will seek to over- 
come it by briugiug the Idea back to Reality, by 
restoring the Universal to the Individual. A 


mighty, herculean, world-encompassing effort 
it is on the part of one of the greatest intel- 
lectual giants that the ages have brought forth, 
wielding anew the philosophic Norm with the 
mio;ht of a Titan in order to win the loftiest 
Olympian peak of abstract Thought. Wherein 
he succeeded in his colossal attempt, and wherein 
he failed must now be recorded in a chapter 
of culminating importance for Greek Philosophy. 


3. Hrtetotlc. 

There are many similarities between Plato and 
Aristotle, not onlj^ in the matter of doctrine, but 
also in the development of their lives. Equally 
manifest is it that the differences between them 
are numerous and striking. They belong to- 
gether in one great historic period, in one su- 
preme philosophic movement, in one mighty 
manifestation of national genius. We must dis- 
tinguish them carefully, but we must unite them 
with equal care. First of all, we make the same 
divisions of the total Aristotle as we did of the 
total Plato, since each of them passed through 
an outer temporal career, wrote many books in 
which is contained a system of Thought. Accord- 
ingly, we shall look at Aristotle also under three 
leading heads: his Life, his "Writings, and his 

I. Aristotle's Life. — It is generally accepted 
that our philosopher was born in 384 B. C. at 
Stagira, a town of the Thracian Chalcidice, and 
died in 322 B. C. at the city of Chalcis in Eu- 
l)oea. Father and mother were both Greeks, so 
that he was not a half-Greek, as some have 
called him ; but his birthplace was a Greek col- 


ony, in what may be considered the Hellenic 
borderland on the North. Still the center of 
his philosoiihic discipline was Athens, in which 
he first obtained his universal culture, from 
which he separated for a time, and to which he 
returned for his crowning work in his School. 
From this statement it will be seen that the Life 
of Aristotle falls into three main periods, all of 
which turn upon his relation to Athens, the cen- 
tral philosophiclight-point of the Hellenic world. 
He is first drawn thither for a long preparation 
and instruction; he is next driven thence, inter- 
nally, if not externally, and betakes himself to 
his Northern borderland, where he obtains sig- 
nificant new experiences very needful for his 
complete self-realization ; finally he must go back 
thither to bring to fruitage, in teaching and 
writing, the work of all his years. 

The reader will be interested and instructed by 
comparing the life of Plato with that of Aris- 
totle. There is the same general outline in both, 
though the filling-in be different as to the events 
and the number of years. Both have to get their 
first training at and through Athens, both have 
to quit Athens after a time of such training, 
both have to return to Athens for the last har- 
vest. These three periods we may set down as 
follows : — 

1. The young man and his years of prepara- 
tory discipline — the Apprcnticeship(7ye/f?'yw/!7'e). 


2. The middle period of separation from 
Athens with travel and experience in other lands 
( WanderJaJn^e). 

3. The last period, which embraces the return 
to Athens, and which shows the perfect mastery 
of philosophy and the grand fulfillment of his 
lif e ' s work ( Meisterjahre ) . 

Goethe's great novel, Wilhelm Meister, which 
shadows forth the movement of human life in 
its universal outlines, suggests by its titles these 
three divisions {^Apprenticeship, Travels, Mas- 
ter), they being stages in the life of the German 
artisan. The same mighty sweep we may 
observe in the two epics which herald the birth 
of the Greek world, for the Iliad shows the long 
separation from home and country with the 
multifarious experiences of foreign war, while the 
Odyssey has as its all-comprehensive theme the 
return to home and country, which name it 
especially gives itself {nostos), being thus con- 
scious of its own purpose. Particularly in the 
latter poem it is the return of the one Greek 
hero, Ulysses, who, however, may be said to 
represent typically all the others. 

Thus the great poets and artists have not failed 
to see and to set forth the universal movement of 
a com[)leted human life which we may trace in 
both Plato and Aristotle. The hitter's career 
we shall now designate briefly in accord with the 
preceding outline. 


1. Aristotle's First Period. He was the son 
of Nicomachus, a surgeon in the employ of the 
Macedonian king Amjntas. The father's pro- 
fession was hereditary, and we may well suppose 
that the son was both trained in Natural Science 
and inherited a taste and aptitude for it from his 
ancestors. There is a statement by Galen that 
the so-called Asclepiad families, or those belonging 
to the medical profession, trained their boys in 
reading, writing, and dissection (anatemnein) . 
Thus we catch a glimpse of the early source of 
Aristotle's scientific attainments. Moreover this 
dissection or analysis will be also a mental 
characteristic of his to the end. "We may 
also suppose that 3'oung Aristotle made some 
acquaintance with the Macedonian court and 
people through his father, which will not 
be without important results in his later 

But the great fact of this early period is 
what we read in Diogenes Laertius ( Vita 
Arist.), namely that Aristotle came to Athens 
at the age of seventeen and joined the School 
of Plato, where he stayed twenty years, till 
Plato's death, being then thirty-seven years old 
and more (347-6 B. C). With what did he 
occupy himself during all these years? Plato, 
it is supposed, at the time of the arrival of 
Aristotle (367-6 B. C.) was absent in Sicilv, 
seeking to realize the ideal ruler of his Hejniblic 


ill the tyrant Dionysius. It is known thnt 
Aristotle studied rhetoric under Isocrates, which 
he may have combined with his first lessons 
in Philosophy. The attractions of rhetorical 
study for a young man at this time must 
have been very strong; it was the period of 
the great Attic orators, whom our youth, though 
he was a foreiarner, mio;ht have heard addressins: 
the peo})le assembled in the Pnyx with brilliant 
display of eloquence. Demosthenes was there, 
whose life ran quite parallel in years with that of 
Aristotle. However this may be, Aristotle never 
lost his theoretical interest in rhetoric, which 
Plato was inclined to despise, thous^h the writino-s 
of the latter are splendidly rhetorical, while 
those of Aristotle are not. 

It is likely, however, that with the return of 
Plato, Aristotle quite exclusively devoted himself 
to Philosophy, since there is evidence that the 
rhetorical school of Isocrates afterwards regarded 
him as a kind of apostate. He probably found 
enough to do in mastering former Greek phih)s- 
ophers, and specially in grasping the develop- 
ment of Plato, who was at this tiuie over sixty 
years old. Doubtless he saw his true vocation 
to be Philosophy, which was the universal Disci- 
pline, or w^hicli was to become such in his hands. 
But he must have made extensive studies in art 
and poetry, for which Athens offered specially 
good opportunities, though the period of 


their greatest originality had passed. Athens 
had become critical, reflective, philosophical, a 
citj of culture, no longer creative except in ora- 
tory and philosophy. Very necessary were these 
refined linguistic studies for the alien youth, who 
came to Athens with his provincial, if not rude 
dialect, a shade of which seems to have remained 
to the end in the lisp which is noted by Timo- 
theus the Athenian {Diog. La. V. A,), as the 
Athenian was very sensitive to any mispronunci- 
ation of his Attic Greek. It was well that he 
should study rhetoric first; even if his parents 
were educated, he could hardly help bringing to 
Athens a colonial accent. 

But what was the institutional background of 
Hellas during these twenty years? We have the 
right to suppose, from his many works pertain- 
ing to the State, that the political interest of 
Aristotle was always strong. He saw the decline 
of the third Hegemony of the Greek Citj^-State, 
the Theban, after the battle of Mantinea in 362 
B. C. Athens had risen to a second supremacy, 
but her power was undermined afresh by the re- 
volt of her dependencies in 357 B. C. Thus Aris- 
totle, looking out upon the Greek cities from the 
central one, could see them all in a condition of 
mutual separation, hostility, weakness; there was 
no doubt of their decadence, the Greek City- 
State had run its course. Still he had hopes; 
as we see by his later work on Politics, he was 


not ready to draw the f idl conclusion of the 
time, though he drew it in part. 

But let us look to the North, in the direction 
of Aristotle's home. In Macedon a man of 
power had arisen and was king, Philip, who as- 
cended the throne in 359 B. C. He forms the 
Macedonian phalanx, conquers the neighborinp; 
nations and in 355 B. C. he begins to interfere 
in Greece, arraying one city against the other. 
In 348 B. C. he captures Olynthus, the ally of 
Athens. The eloquence of Demosthenes was 
exerted to rouse the Athenians against the man 
of destiny who had evidently appeared. These 
must have been warm days for Aristotle, whose 
connection with Macedon was known ; at last it 
must have gotten too warm for him, so he quits 
Athens in 347-6 B. C. and goes northward to 
Atarneus, whither he had been invited by the 
tyrant Hermias, a philosophical friend of his. 

At this! time another cause co-operated. Plato 
had just died and his nephew Speusippus had 
been appointed his successor in the school. 
Other reasons for his departure are mentioned, 
but are more doubtful. At any rate, Aristotle 
leaves Athens, his long apprenticeship ends, and 
a period of change of places w^ith varied new 
experiences begins. He was thirty-seven years 
old when he was thus shaken loose from Athens, 
in preparation for a greater work to be accom- 
plished when he returned. 

AB18T0TLE 355 

2. Aristotle Abroad. Two tendencies had ap- 
peared in Hellas: one was the complete lack of 
unity among its cities, and the other was the 
rise of a new united autocratic power in tiie 
North, with which power Aristotle was connected 
bv various ties. It is said that during his stay 
at Athens (in 348 B. C.) he had sufficient influ- 
ence with Philip to cause the latter to restore 
his native town, Stagira, after its capture, appar- 
ently during the Olj^nthian war. The Athenians 
would hardly look with favor upon such a great 
influence with their enemy, though Aristotle is 
said to have interceded for them too. 

The death of Plato may have been one ground 
for Aristotle's quitting Athens, but the deeper 
reason lay in the Macedonian attitude toward 
Greece. He must have seen the struffo-le risino; 
between Philip and Athens, and have heard the 
sound of danger, if in no other wa}^ at least in 
the thunder of Demosthenes. Aristotle's pru- 
dence is seen in the fact that the whole time of 
his absence was a continued conflict between 
Macedon and Athens. When this conflict was 
over, Aristotle returned to Athens. 

Meanwhile we must glance at his career during 
the present period. With Hermias at Atarncus 
he remained three years, evidently in philosophic 
quiet and study, as Hermias had been once a 
member of Plato's school. But Hermias was 
slain by treachery, and Aristotle went to Mi- 


tjlene. About this time he seems to have 
taken a wife, Pytheas, the sister or niece of 
Hermias. A good many variations on this love 
affair of the philosopher have been handed 
down, some of them mal-odorous ; but let 
tliem be dropped, and let us hasten to the 
next important event, when Aristotle went to 
Macedon by invitation and became the instructor 
of the son of Philip, young Alexander, in 343-2 
B. C, then thirteen years old. Three years 
later the youthful prince was appointed regent 
by his father and took an active part in military 
carapaigus. Of these we shall here notice only 
the one terminating in the battle of Chieroneia 
(338 B. C), in which the Macedonians utterly 
defeated Athens and Thebes. All Greece now 
lay at the feet of Philip. Athens made peace 
with him and became submissive. In 335 B. C. 
the Greeks appoint Alexander their general-in- 
chief, and the next year he starts on his conquest 
of Asia. At this time and under such protection 
Aristotle returns to Athens, after an absence of 
some twelve years. 

With what had he occupied himself during 
these years, making quite a large slice out of the 
best part of human life? Externally he had 
swept around the North-eastern horizon of Greece 
from Mitylene to Pella, the Macedonian capital ; 
he had loved and gotten married — sometliing; of 
an experience for a philosopher or any other 


man ; he had helped mould the mind of the future 
conqueror of the world ; he had become an edu- 
cator of vast outlook ; he must have acquainted 
himself with the policy, purposes and resources 
of the Macedonian kings. Internally he had 
much leisure to digest his mental stores acquired 
at Athens, and to order his thought. We may 
fairly conclude that he substantially completed 
his system during this period. 

3. Return to Athens. Aristotle was now forty- 
nine years old, with the central principle of 
his Philosophy matured and gathering about 
it all his accumulated knowled2;e. He felt the 
need of formulating his work and of propagating 
it in other minds. Indeed he must have known 
that unless he planted his work in the rising 
generation, it would be likely to perish. Macedon 
was no place for such an enterprise ; intel- 
lectually its people were backward, and its rulers 
were too much occupied with their grand plans 
of conquest. Macedon was full of Will, Athens 
was full of Intellect; to Athens, Aristotle had to 
return from Macedon, if he would fulfill his 
philosophic destiny. That city was the intel- 
lectual center of the civilized world, which could 
be moved from it and from it alone. Political 
conquest might proceed from the outlying uncor- 
rupted, but rude Macedon ; philosophic conquest 
must proceed from Athens, 

Moreover Aristotle could feel a personal 


security there which he never felt before, even 
in his first period. Athens was at this time 
controlled by leaders, such as Demades and 
Phocion, in the interest of Macedon, under 
whose protecting supremacy the philosopher 
could freely do his work. Had not Alexander, 
his pupil, been chosen generalissimo of all the 
Greeks? Antipater, the regent during the 
absence of Alexander in the East, was the friend 
of Aristotle, as we see by the latter' s will 
(in Diogenes Laertius Vita Ar.). Antipater's 
son, Cassander, was a pupil in the School of 
Aristotle, who was the State philosopher, some- 
what as Hegel was regarded at Berlin as the 
State philosopher of Prussia. 

So Aristotle opens his school in the Lyceum, 
which was a gymnasium attached to the temple 
of Apollo Lyceios in the suburbs of the city. 
It had shady walks (jjeripatoi) where our philos- 
opher was in the habit of conversing with his 
followers, who were hence called the peripatetics. 
Besides these walks and talks he probably had a 
fixed place for giving lectures to a larger audience. 
During a dozen years and more he continued his 
School. Suddenly the news comes that Alexan- 
der is dead. All Greece begins stirring to throw 
off the Macedonian yoke. Athens again became 
too hot for A:: ;:ot](>, he fled to Chalcis (323 B. 
C.) where the next year he died. The great op- 


ponent of Macedon, Deinostbenes, ended his life 
shortly afterwards . 

. Aristotle left his School in the hands of Theo- 
phastus, who transmitted it to the later schol- 
archs. The master had imparted to it so much 
of his spirit that it remained a great philosoph- 
ical influence for many generations. 

11, Aristotle's Writings. — The need of ex- 
pressing himself by the written word was quite 
as strong in Aristotle as in Plato, though he never 
disparaged it, as Plato did. On the contrary, 
Aristotle studied language in all its forms, and 
made the linguistic side of science — such as 
Rhetoric and Poetic, along with Grammar and 
Logic — an integral part of his encyclopedic 
knowledge. Doubtless, as a provincial, he had 
to cultivate specially the Attic style of Hellenic 
speech. This turned the philosopher's attention 
to the nature and forms of language in general, 
which necessity was never felt by Plato, a born 
Athenian, and a born stylist in addition. Thus 
there is a reflective and studied element in Aris- 
totle's use of words, different from the native and 
spontaneous flow of Plato, who artistically scouts 
the artist, and poetically rejects the poets. 
Aristotle on the other hand very unpoetically 
treats of poetr}^ and very undramatically shows 
his love for the drama. 

It is the grand function of Aristotle to strip 
the my thus and the image from Homer and 


Plato, and to present Greek spirit in the pure 
forms of thought, or in abstract categories. 
Often he seems to pUiy at making categories, for 
the mere pleasure of the exercise, so easy it is for 
him, and so hard for the reader. He refines and 
divides and distinguishes, and then he may say 
that some of these distinctions are of little ac- 
count. He starts (in the Metaphysics) with four 
causes, then reduces them to two, and still later 
he uses three. We feel in him often the very 
riot of abstraction, which is by no means favor- 
able to clear exposition. So Aristotle likewise 
has his Greek exuberance, that of colorless cate- 
gorizing, while Plato luxuriates in imagery and 
dialectical fireworks of many hues. 

Still Aristotle, just through this characteristic, 
has been one of the great educators of the hu- 
man race. The pure movement of Thought, or 
Thought grasping Thought as the creative prin- 
ciple of the Universe, is what he has brought 
most distinctively to the consciousness of man. 
Moreover in him the great movement of Hellenic 
Philosophy has become explicit, and formulated, 
and partly organized; the essence of Being 
(the ousia of the on) has reached the Universal 
in conscious statement, having been hitherto im- 
plicit. He sees the genetic Thought, the Uni- 
versal, in the object, and proceeds at once to pre- 
cipitate it into a category, whereby others, in 
fact all the future, may think it too. For with 


the category we think; it is a Thought which 
compels us to re-think the Thought which made 
it as the expression of the essence of Being. 
Thus every true category contains Thought 
thinking Thought. The world is Thought pri- 
mordially, but this must be categorized, or made 
over into speech which compels Thought to think 
Thought as the essence of the creative principle 
of the world. 

In this respect Aristotle is the counterpart to 
Homer. We have already noted that Philoso- 
phy began in a reaction against a personal capri- 
cious Will as the creative essence of the world, 
which it affirmed to be principle, element, law, 
in fine some category posited by Thought. Hence 
arises the realm of the Categories in contrast 
with the realm of the Gods — a Pancatagorcou 
of Philosophy over against a Pantheon of Greek 
Poetry and Religion. And if we call Homer a 
Polytheist, Aristotle can well be named a Poly- 
categorist. Marvelous is this Hellenic metamor- 
phosis of deities into principles, of images into 
abstractions, which we have been tracing under 
the name of Philosophy till the process reaches 
- its culmination in Aristotle. Before us passes a 
vast and intricate play of Gods in the Poet, and 
an equally vast and intricate play of Categories m 
thePhilosopher. But there is one supreme God, 
Zeus, in Homer, and there is one su]:)reme Cate- 
gory, Thought thinking Thought, in Aristotle. 


Both sliov/ ail Upper World ruling a Lower; but 
Homer's world is the epos of the Gods, interfer- 
ing, capricious, partisan ; while Aristotle's work is 
the epos of the Categories eternally the same, 
motionless and emotionless. 

It is not our purpose here to undertake the 
huge task of listing and ordering all the writings 

O O C3 O 

of Aristotle. A general outline of his literary 
labors may, however, be traced. Many of his 
works have perished, wherein again there is a 
contrast to Plato, all of whose compositions seem 
to have come down to us, even those which were 
left unfinished. This difference in the literary 
fate of the two philosophers is very significant. 
Moreover we possess writings of Plato belonging 
to all three of his periods, which cover his entire 
philosophic life, while of Aristotle we have com- 
plete treatises of only one of his periods, the 
last, thouo;h there are fra<;nicnts bclono-iuo- to his 
first period, and possil)!}' to his second. A brief 
summary of these three periods may be here 

1. During i^ristotle's first stay at Athens 
(lasting twenty years, till he was thirty-seven) 
he had to learn to speak and write correctly first, 
and then with precision and elegance. Undoubt- 
edly he, a ])()y of seventeen, brought from home 
a fair ])rimary education, but this was by no 
means sufficient at Athens, particularly if he was 
going to speak and write for an Athenian public, 


which was indeed just his ambition. Hence his 
early rhetorical studies with Isocrates probably ; 
but he soon must have become wholly absorbed 
in Plato, for reasons which we can easily see if 
we but compare the writings still extant of the 
rhetor with those of the philosopher. Then 
came a long period of study and imitation and 
appropriation of Plato, as must be expected from 
the circumstances — Aristotle a young man just 
passing into the twenties (let us say) and Plato 
moving through the early sixties, in the very 
plenitude of his personal power and literary 
achievement. From the fragments and titles of 
works still remaining we can find some traces of 
his Itibor during this period. 

(1) Dialogues he wrote, evidently copying 
Plato both in matter and manner. They have 
perished except a few fragments. A surprising 
fact about them is the praise lavished upon them 
by ancient critics for the richness and sweetness 
of their style — qualities which certainly cannot 
be predicated of any of Aristotle's Writings now 

(2) Popular essays seem to be indicated by 
some titles, as " On Kingship," " On the States- 
man," " On Education," " On the Good," etc. 
This sounds somewhat like Emerson, who also 
studied Plato and transformed him into the essay. 

(3) Studies on antecedent [)hiloso})hers (Dem- 
ocritus, the Eleatics, etc.) ; also on cotemporarieis 


(Speusippus, Xeuocrates). Here we may see 
that he has already begun to look back upon the 
History of Greek Philosophy. 

(4) There is evidence of his making excerpts 
from Plato's Works, especially from the Timceus 
and the Laws. 

(5) Orations were ascribed to him, some of 
which, doubtless, fell into this first period when 
he was tr\ing his hand at rhetoric and at differ- 
ent kinds of style. Poems and letters of his 
were known anciently, of which there are still a 
few remains. 

Such were some of his svorks during his years 
of learning and preparation, in which we see a 
great activity not only in acquiring knowledge 
but also in testing himself in many kinds of 
composition, particularly of the popular (exo- 
teric) sort. 

Did he discover his true bent in all these ex- 
periments? There is evidence that, toward the 
latter part of his stay, he began to branch off 
from the School of Plato, and to differ from 
the master, especially in regard to the doctrine 
of Ideas. His development from imitation to 
independence has been traced in the difference 
between two of his Dialogues — the Eademus, 
which was mainly a copy of Plato's P]i<edo,Vi\i(\ 
a later Dialogue on PJiilosoplnj , in which he 
assailed Plato's theory of Ideas, and atlirmcd 
the world to l)e without beginning as avcII as 


without end. Anecdote and fable have also 
handed down in their way the separation of Aris- 
totle from Plato before the death of the latter. 
So the inference is that Aristotle had broken 
through Platonisni and had entered his phil- 
osophic world at the time he left the School. 

To this inner change were added important 
external changes which determined the future 
course of Aristotle. Plato died and gave by 
will to Speusippus, his nephew, the headship of 
the School, though all must have known — Plato 
certainl}^ knew — that the intellectual supremacy 
belonged to Ari^'totle. The latter might indeed 
have started another School. But this was pre- 
vented by the political situation which was 
already of menacing proportions. The struggle 
between Philip of Macedon and Athens had 
reached the acute stage, and the Macedonian 
connection of Aristotle made it prudent for him 
to withdraw from the city. So the Aristotelian 
School cannot open now ; anew and significant 
period of discipline must be passed through ere 
the final philosophic fruit can mature. 

2. We have alreadj'^ spoken of Aristotle 
abroad, and of what he did during the dozen 
years of his absence from Athens. What ho 
wrote during this period is not known, but there 
is no doubt that he was active. Self-expression 
in writing had become a prime inner necessity to 
him. We may also suppose that he could look 


forward to his return to Greece, considering the 
strong, vigorous power of Macedon on the one 
hand and on the other the dissension and weak- 
ness of the opposing Greek cities. It was not 
hard for him to forecast the result. But in 
Macedon, the reahn of Will, was little chance 
for philosophizing ; he must wait till he can get 
back to Athens, which, quite paralyzed in Will, 
has become the city of the Intellect. When the 
aegis of Macedon is once held firmly over all 
Hellas, which event is now in process of fulfill- 
ment, the philosopher will place himself under it, 
and live and labor with security on that spot 
where lies the hope of his heart. 

In a certain degree we can conjecture the 
spiritual effect of this separation from Athens 
with all its advantages and stimulations. He 
was thrown back upon himself and found there 
his fresh task. He could not have had in his 
new situation the same opportunity for reading 
books, for conversing with learned men, for 
hearing discourses of all kinds, from the popular 
address of Demosthenes in the Assembly or 
Dicastery to the lecture of Plato at the Academy. 
The Destinies, though seemingly harsh, were 
really propitious to him in forcing his flight 
from the home of learning. He, with his om- 
nivorous tendency in acquiring knowledge, would 
probably have become, if he had remained, a 
mere puff-ball of erudition, an enormous en- 


cyclopedia on two legs, such as is many a 
learned Professor still in these days. But would 
he have digested and ordered his stores? At 
any rate the Destinies banish him, or rather 
scouro;e him forth to a chanceful career from 
place to place, with little or no access to books, 
to philosophic conversation, or external means of 
culture. He could not help turning inward and 
settino; in order his manifold accumulations. 
Now he has to commune with himself, he is 
forced to think. 

Such, we conceive, was the general trend of 
Aristotle's inner life during this second period 
embracing his absence from Athens. Undoubt- 
edly he had many other experiences connected 
with Atarneus and Macedon, and the North gen- 
erally. But he had much solitary leisure; he 
could look inward and sj'stematize all his acqui- 
sitions more or less separated hitherto, turn them 
over and over many times in his mind, and finally 
co-ordinate them under a central thought. Now 
he is ready and so is Time, which strikes the 
hour for his return to Athens. 

3. All of the writings of Aristotle which we 
possess in anything like a state of completion, 
belong to the third period, lasting some thirteen 
years (335-322 B. C). These works are great 
in variety as well as in quantit}' , not to speak of 
their profundity. A peculiar fact about them is 
that no evolution can be traced in them, thej^ are 


finished aud inter-related, no succession of one 
treatise after another can be distinctly made out. 
In Plato's writings there is a development from 
beginning to end through all his periods. But 
in Aristotle's books no such development can be 
found, except possibly m the fragments of his 
first period, in which he seems to unfold out of 
Platonism by degrees c We have to infer that he 
brought with him back to Athens his system 
quite fully wrought out, though perhaps not fully 
written out. Accordingly, Aristotle's Philos- 
ophy gives us a sense of completeness very differ- 
ent from Plato's; it can not be chronologized 
into epochs but is all at once, everywhere and all 
the tmie. The whole philosopher utters himself 
in every part, the Universal particularizes itself in 
every thought quite without regard to the when. 
All of Aristotle's treatises seem, therefore, syn- 
chronous, and this impression is still further 
heightened by the fact of the cross references 
found in them. That is, the various books often 
refer to one another, backward and forward ; 
for Instance, the Analytics repeatedly cites the 
Topics, and the Tby^/cs repeatedly cites the -4na- 
lytics. Wliicli was written first? As a whole 
neither; they doubtless grew to their present 
shape together, like all the members of a plant 
or any organism. In like manner there are cross 
references between the Politics on the one side 
and the Rlittoric and the Poetics on the other, 


and also between the Metapliysics and some of 
the treatises on Physics. Aristotle, teaching in 
his School, and giving several courses each year 
on different branches of his total system for a 
dozen years and more, gradually wrote out the 
whole, perhaps as we now have it. 

In like manner the literary style of these 
writings of the Third Period is surprisingly the 
same. Abstract, colorless, it is the reflective 
style supremely, and it undoubtedly corresponds 
to Thought thinking Thought, the very expres- 
sion thereof in fact. "We find scarcely a reminder 
of that sweetness and grace which are said to 
belong to the works of his First Period, when 
he so successfully imitated Plato and the rheto- 
ricians. This reflective cast of style he must 
have brought back with him from the deep med- 
itations of his Second Period, when he was far 
away from the temptations of Attic eloquence, 
and when his Pure Thought sloughed off all the 
external ornament of diction. We hold also that 
this reflective style was more native to him than 
the ornate, more easilv a product of his deepest 
mental character when he had found himself out. 
Still further, it is less difticult for the cultivated 
foreigner to acquire the reflective part of a lan- 
guage than the immediate, idiomatic, sensuous 
l)art. Aristotle speaking and writing Attic was 
not Attic-born, he came a young man to Athens 
from a provincial Greek town, and then in mid- 


die age a secoud loug separation from Athenian 
speech took phice. So when he again came back 
to Athens it was easier and more natural for him 
to use reflective Greek, as well as altogether 
more consonant with his Thought which is now 
to be told in its unrobed purity, categorically. 

In all the various works of Aristotle, then, 
we find essentially one and the same system, 
world-view and style. It is the whole man now 
complete in his development uttering his whole 
work in its wholeness as far as possible. Herein 
lies a striking similarity to the tirst general 
movement of Hellenic Philosophy, whose unfold- 
ing and expression in its numerous systems we 
have already found to be mostly contemporane- 
ous. A little more than fifty years gave us all 
the Philosophies originating between the Milesian 
and the Athenian Schools. (See preceding pp. 
72, 73.) As entire Greece was then philoso- 
phizing so now the total philosopher, Aristotle, 
is philosophizing, he being the concentration in 
one individual of all those previous philosophers. 

The various extant treatises of Aristotle can 
be thrown into three main groups which corre- 
spond to the general movement of his Philosophy. 

(1) Metaphysical and logical works, which 
we classify together under the general head 
of Metaphysics. 

(2) Physical and psychological works which 


are placed in close relation by Aristotle in his 
scheme of Natural Science. 

(3) Ethical and political works, with which 
are joined the RJietoric and the Poetics. 

It is manifest that in this division lurks the 
philosophical Norm as already often given — 
Metaphysics, Phj'sics, and Ethics. Aristotle, 
himself, has no working division of his writings, 
one which he clino;s to throughout. In his 
Topics he has a division which is nearly the 
same as the preceding, but he makes no further 
use of it. Then he gives several other divisions 
in the course of his works. We have, therefore, 
to think that Aristotle was not yet fully con- 
scious of the best way of dividing his own 
writings, the way which came into use soon 
after his time and which has continued down 
to the present. Though he wrought after the 
philosophical Norm it was not yet fully explicit 
in his mind. Probably his most frequent division 
of Philosophy is into theoretical and practical 
(to which he appends the artistic ov thQ poietic) . 

His library along with his School was left to 
Theophrastus, evidently his favorite pupil. 
There is a famous story told by Strabo and by 
Plutarch about the loss and the recovery of 
Aristotle's writings. At the death of Theo- 
phrastus they passed to his heir, Neleus of Scep- 
sis, whose descendants stowed them away in a 
damp cellar where they remained nearlj'^ 200 


years, till they were discovered by Apelicoii of 
TeoSjiiud brought back to Athens. Soou after- 
ward (86 B. C.) Athens was captured by the 
Romans under Sulla, who carried them to Rome 
as spoils of war. There they passed into the 
hands of Tyrannion and Andronicus who pre- 
pared a new edition. This story has been sub- 
jected to a good deal of criticism, and has met 
with only a partial credence. 

III. Aristotle's Philosophy. — It is evident 
from the preceding that the threefold philosophic 
Norm is more easy to extract out of Aristotle's 
works than out of Phito's, which are stretched 
along a chronological line of development quite 
through the author's literary life. But the 
writings which contain Aristotle's Philosophy 
belong in their present state to one period of the 
author's life, the last and ripest. The result is, 
they appear to be composed almost at one heat, 
mutually related and self-consistent. They can- 
not well be ordered according to the time of 
origin ; as this is not known we are forced to 
order them according to their thought, Avhich 
unfolds on all sides into one system. To be sure 
such a system could not spring up in a day, nor 
in a year, nor in ten years. It is really the fruit 
of his whole philosophic life, of all his periods. 
Still the growth of this fruit in its various stages 
we do not behold, particularly in its last period. 
It a})pears before us fully ripe and ready to pluck. 


The whole philosopher utters himself as a whole, 
in one mighty outpour, after having gathered 
himself up for forty-nine years. Herein he is 
the Hellenic spirit concentrating itself in its 
philosophizing. Previously this spirit shot forth 
into individual philosophies, or rather into indi- 
vidual phases of one great Hellenic Philosophy, 
which we have already noticed raying out on the 
border and at the center of the Greek world. 
But now the same total Hellenic spirit, after 
struggling so often and in so many places for 
expression, has expressed itself in the Athenian 
philosopher, and especially in Aristotle. His is 
the universal Philosophy since it is distinctively 
and consciously the Philosophy of the Universal. 

It is true that Socrates already sought for the 
Concept or the Universal, and often formulated 
it in a category or definition. Now the object of 
Socrates was to apply his result to the particular 
case, usually ethical. But Aristotle elaborates 
the Universal in itself, in its own right, and 
thus elevates it into the knowing of itself. The 
Concept as creative (the genus, the Universal) 
is in Socrates, but it is not yet conscious of itself 
as the actual essence of all things, such as we 
find it in Aristotle. Socrates makes the abstrac- 
tion of the Universal ; Aristotle not only makes 
it but is conscious of making it, and formulates 
the process. 

All Philosophy must have categories from its 


beginning, though at first they be taken at ran- 
dom and unconsciously. Socrates through his 
Concept showed the method of making categories, 
though he did not sift and order them when made. 
It is Aristotle who is not only thecategorizer, but 
the categforizer of cateo-ories, criticizino; and ar- 
ranging quite all of those which had been em- 
ployed before him in the antecedent Philosophies. 
This is what he largely puts into his First Philos- 
ophy, being really an organized Pancategoreon, 
or Temple of all the categories, with the supreme 
one placed over the rest on its Olympian height. 

Of course we do not mean by the categories of 
Aristotle merely the ten which he names in his 
treatise on the Categories, or even the thirty 
terms which he defines in his Metaphijdcs (Book 
IV.) Any concept expressing the Universal in 
the Particular by an abstract word may in a gen- 
eral way be deemed a category. Aristotle himself 
is not very consistent in his use of this term, 
and yet he is the grand categorizer. Though he 
makes essence a category, and being too, he ap- 
parently does not see that category is itself a cat- 

Aristotle's Philosophy, from the very fact 
of its being a Philosophy, must show itself 
dividing according to the philosophic Norm into 
Metaph3^sics, Physics, and Ethics, which we may 
freely render as the sciences of God, Nature, 
and Man, constituting the scientific encyclopedia 


of the Universe. Aristotle has this encyclopedic 
character both in his mind and in his works. 
The All in its fundamental process is distinctly 
working in him and through him, the Pampsy- 
chosis is what he sees and voices, in his way and 
for his time. Yet with such truth and com- 
pleteness has he done this task that he belongs to 
all time; he, the individual thinker, has spoken 
to men the thought of the Universal, and so 
ui)on the temporal has stamped the impress 
of the eternal. It is Aristotle who has given us 
more explicitly than any former philosopher 
the concept and the vocable called the Universal, 
which can only be derived from a vision of 
tlie process of the Universe. Of this process 
the philosophic Norm, with its threefold division 
before mentioned, is the fundamental organic 

We may add here that Aristotle puts far 
more stress upon the process in general, than 
Plato who sought to remove his Idea from 
all connection with the material world. Accord- 
ingly, this fact should be strongly emphasized 
in the exposition and comprehension of Aristotle, 
being a deeper insight into and derivation from 
the soul moving in all things. His philosophic 
Norm, both in itself and in its sub-divisions, 
begins to reveal more decidedly the common 
underlying process which the whole History 


of Philosophy is seeking to make explicit in 
its end. This Norm of Aristotle we shall now 
elaborate in its general outlines. 

A. Metaphysics. 

It has been already noted that this word is not 
of Aristotle's own coinage, as far as is now known, 
but belongs to the time after him. His term 
for the present sphere is The First Philosophy 
or the Philosophy of what is First ( To Proton) 
of Principles, Beginnings, Causes. The corre- 
sponding Second Philosophy is Physics, which 
philosophizes Nature, the world, the realm of 
the sensible, this being regarded by Aristotle as 
well as Plato as the secondary, the derived (in 
part at least). Thus Metaphj^sics gives the 
first stage or division of the philosophic Norm, 
which stage is called variously God, the Absolute 
Being or Essence or Cause. We may note that 
Aristotle has the habit of designating several of 
his most important categories as first and second, 
for instance he has a first and second Essence 
(ousia), and a first and second Matter (hyle), 
which terms suggest the relation of original and 
derived — also he has a first and second Entelechy . 

Philosophy is called by Aristotle the universal 
science, which is the science of the universe as 
such. His First Philosophy (Metaphysics) 
seeks to think and express the universe in its 


pure process, and this process is what hovers 
continually before him as the Universal, which 
is the abstract form of it given by thought and 
formulated in a category. We ma}^ repeat that 
the unfolding of the Universal is the work of 
Hellenic Philosophy in general ; in Aristotle it 
has developed to the point of being separated 
and grasped in itself as a Thought, yea as a 
Thought which thinks itself. The essense of Be- 
ing is still the Universal, as it was at the start, 
but it is now the Universal as Thought thinking 

Still there are various stages of this metaphys- 
ical process. These are also to be conceived as 
processes which we name (1) the ontological, 
(2) the logical, and (3) the theological. All 
these together form the distinctively metaphys- 
ical movement in Aristotle, yet each of them 
will be found to have its own special movement. 
It is worth while for the reader to note that in 
the names of these divisions the fact of the pro- 
cess is to be strongly emphasized. 

I. The Ontological Process. — This deals 
directly with the essence of Being (the oiisia of 
on) which has now become explicit and formu- 
lated. Hitherto we have found this phrase with 
its thought implicitly lurking in the preceding 
philosophies. When Thales said that the prin- 
ciple of all things was water, he was in search of 
the ousia of the on, or the essence of Being. 


The same is true of the manifold principles of 
all things (air, fire, the atom, etc.), which have 
been promulgated between Thales and Aristotle. 
It is evident that here is a line of categories, 
each of which is affirmed to be the essence of 
Being. What is their value? This can only be 
ascertained through having a criterion by which 
we may judge them. Such a criterion is the final 
cateo-ory which must order all the others and 
itself too. 

Now this order of philosophical categories 
will be a science which will be designated 
after its fundamental principle — the essence of 
Beino" — as ontology, literally the science of 
Beino-. Hence Aristotle at the start (in his 
first Book of Metaphysics) gives a brief account 
of preceding systems of thought, to a certain 
extent arranged and adjudged according to his 
principle. Ontology is, therefore, the science 
of "Being as Being," or of the essence of 

Now what will this science consist of? Sub- 
stantially of an examination of the categories 
which may claim to express the essence of 
Being. Here, however, Aristotle overwhelms us, 
and it is not always easy to find his arrange- 
ment. The following is the way in which we 
shall construe the somewhat chaotic mass of 
his categories : — 

1. The Real Thing. The starting-point of 


Aristotle is his assertion of the immanence 
of the Universal or genus in the individual 
object. Plato had separated the Idea from the 
Appearance, the Universal from the Particular ; 
Aristotle returns to the Particular with the Idea, 
and, so to speak, inserts the same in the latter. 
Thus that which is phenomenal or unreal in 
Plato becomes real in Aristotle, or the Real 

This is a significant point in the Philosophy 
of Aristotle. It shows his turn to the individual 
object, and toward the study of Nature, away 
from the pure Ideas of his master Plato which 
were abstractions from the reality. It is the 
reality to which Aristotle will return, yet with 
the Idea, not as separate from it but immanent 
in it. This is a going back to the World, from 
which Plato had estranged Greek Philosophy 
by insisting upon the pure Universal apart from 
all manifestation. Aristotle reconciles Thought 
with the physiocentric starting-point of the 
Hellenic Period. He will not leave out Nature, 
the Particular, the Appearance, but gives to 
this side of the Universe its due validity. Hence 
the debt of Natural Science to him is great. 

It is, therefore, no wonder that Aristotle be- 
gins in his first Book of the Metaphysics his po- 
lemic against Plato's Ideas, and ends it only with 
the end of the whole work. So it may be said 
that this work commences and concludes with the 


refutation of the Ideal Theory, accomi)anied by 
numerous intervening thrusts. For this reason 
it has often been declared that a personal feeling 
of hostility existed in the pupil against the mas- 
ter. Possiblj' ; still the difference in the point of 
view is sufficient to explain the warmth and the 
persistence of Aristotle's attack. 

The general objection of Aristotle to Plato's 
Ideas is their separative, isolated character. They 
are in fact but abstractions of the mind from par- 
ticular objects and hence are particular and mani- 
fold themselves. They are called Archetypes, 
Species, Ideas, etc. ; yet they are hardly more 
than another set of particular objects. Plato 
has not given any clear or consistent account of 
the relation between Ideas and their real counter- 
parts. The two sides are generally held in com- 
plete separation, though sometimes things are 
said to participate in their Archetypes. 

Now Aristotle evidently deems it his prime 
philosophical task to unite these two sides, to 
overcome this separation which he finds in Plato. 
So he brings back to the particular thing the 
Universal or the Idea from which Plato had di- 
vorced it, reducing it merely to a shadow or an 
appearance. Also he returns to Socrates who 
always started with the individual object and 
sought to find in it the essence, the concept or 
the Universal. Still further, he returns to the 
reality of Nature with which Greek Philosophy 


started. Hence his strono- stateincnt i.s of the 
Real Thing. 

Still Aristotle does not at all propose to do 
away with the Idea or the Genus, only it does 
not exist apart from the particular thing. In 
fact the only object of science is the Universal, 
the true essence of the thing is the Genus which 
is just what we know. The ousia of the on is 
wnth him also the Universal, the Concept or 
Idea. But what now about the particular thin 2: 
in which the Universal or the Concept was im- 
manent? Strictly it cannot be known in itself, 
foronl}' the Universalis the object of knowledge. 
Thus again a separative dualism enters the object 
itself in spite of all of Aristotle's attempts to get 
rid of it. The result is a doubling of certain cat- 
egories peculiar to Aristotle. 

2. Pairs of Categories. At this point we 
have to consider the trend in our })hilosopher to 
duplicate his terms in reference to the object 
which he has found to have both a particular and 
a universal element. He spends a good deal of 
effort in this attempt, and it must be confessed 
that some of it seems superfluous. It has its an- 
alogy to earlier Greek philosophers, for instance 
to the Pythagoreans, who arranged principles in 
pairs of opposites. Still we may regard it as a 
stage of the total ontological process, which is 
first the unity of the Idea and the Appearance 
in the Eeal Thing ; but the latter is now duahzed 


into various forms of the Universal and the 

(a) The first pair may be placed under the 
head of Cause and Effect. The thing (the Eeal 
Thing) is the effect of which the cause is sought 
(^arche, aiiia). Here again we observe thai 
Aristotle, having united Plato's Idea and Phenom- 
enon into his Real Thing tries to get back of 
the latter and find its cause or source, which he 
will also call sometimes Idea, by its Platonic 
name. Thus he cannot altogether shake off the 
spell of his master in spite of his struggles. 

Accordingljs the doctrine of Causes is to be 
considered of which Aristotle mentions four 
{Met. I. 7, 8). For instance a statue has a 
material Cause in the stone of which it is made, 
a formal Cause in the pattern or conception 
after which it is made, an efficient Cause in 
its maker, a final Cause (or End) in the actual 
statue when made. Aristotle uses these four 
Causes in his criticism of former Philosophies 
all of which sought the Cause (or Essence) 
of Being in common, but found for it different 
kinds of Causes. For example, Thales had 
a material Cause (water) which in the foregoing 
account we have called elemental. The grand 
instance of the final Cause is in the Nous of 

But these four Causes Aristotle reduces to 
two: the final Cause or End, and the material 


Cause ; thus we come to the second pair of 
categories which he names Form and Matter. 
The four Causes above mentioned played a great 
part in Scholastic Philosophy and have appeared 
in modern writers as a basis of philosophic 
exposition. But with Aristotle we may pass 
on to what he has evolved out of them. The 
material Cause suggests matter ; but matter 
itself, especially in this particular form of a 
material Cause, must be determined by something 
else behind it. Hence the following. 

(6) Form and Matter may, then, be taken as 
the next pair, being directly suggestive of Plato's 
Idea and Appearance. Form (^eidos or morphe) 
is inherent in the thing, inseparable from it 
except by the abstraction of thought. Form 
is the essence or the Idea, yet this Idea is 
not like Plato's, existing apart from the individual 
object. The latter is determined by it, receiving 
from it not simply the outward shape, but all 
other qualities. 

What is then left for Matter (hi/Ie), which 
also belongs to the individual object? It cannot 
do without the Idea or Form, as the latter 
cannot do without it. It is, therefore, the 
absolutely formable, and so it too can have 
no existence outside of the mind. Thus the 
Real Thing of Aristotle is made up of two 
abstract elements which are not real, except 
in their unity. Through the conception of 


Matter, however, he is led to form another 
pair of categories. 

(c) These are the Potential and the Actual. 
As ah"eady stated. Matter is supremely the 
Formable, the capacity for Form, but neither 
Form itself nor the Formed. Matter is not 
Non-Being, as Plato and the Eleatics declared, 
it is the Being which is not yet but may be. 
Thus it is not merel}^ the Negative, but the 
seed, the germ, the Potential, 

For example, the wood is the potential table, 
the possibility of it, while the table is the poten- 
tial made actual. Yet it can be said that the 
wood or the tree is the potential seed made actual. 
So the particular thing may be both potential 
and actual according to the way it is regarded by 
the mind. The thing as formed Matter becomes 
simple Matter to a higher Form ; it is both 
potential and actual. Still in both directions 
there is an extreme; in one way lies the first 
(or pure) Matter, in the other the first (or pure) 
Form, though these two likewise seem upon anal- 
ysis to coincide. This first Matter Aristotle 
con(;eives as the substrate of every determinate 
object, being without determination or predicate 
itself. It is eternal, the changeless in all change, 
the abiding element which underlies all becom- 
ing. INIatter, therefore, corresponds to the Po- 
ential, 3'et the latter is something more, since it 


implies the process of which the Actual is the 

But what makes the Potential move into Actual- 
ity? Here Aristotle introduces a third assumed 
element: Motion, which mediates the Potential 
and Actual. But if the two latter are simply 
held asunder, or evenused as correlated opposites, 
they are quite the same as Matter and Form. 
The two, however, the Potential and the Actual, 
are now conceived as constituting a process 
through the mediating third ; this process must 
therefore have a name of its own, as it shows a 
new stage of the present thought. With this 
process, also, we have moved out of the forego- 
ing twof oldness which expressed itself in pairs of 

Of these pairs three have been given, showing 
a connection between themselves. Aristotle hav- 
ing asserted the Real Thing, seeks next to find 
its Cause ; but this Cause is found to have a ma- 
terial form, in which a new pair appears (Form 
and Matter) ; to bring these two together a third 
pair (Potential and Actual) is introduced which 
pass finally into the process of Entelechy. In all 
this we see Aristotle's desperate struggle with the 
Platonic dualism, transcending it, yet always fall- 
inof back or forward into it again. 

3. EnteJechij. The object is grasped as having 
the total process within itself, and is no longer 
either twofold or simple. Entelechy is the true 



actuality, in which the Actual is not held in 
opposition to the Potential but takes it up into 
itself and unites with it in the process of true 
Being. The sculptor not working is potential, 
but making a statue he is continually actualizing 
his potentiality, which constitutes hiui an actual 
sculptor (actus). It is the process which makes 
hlni actual; without it he is not, but may be. 

Very important is this thought of Entelechy. 
With it Aristotle grasps and formulates the onto- 
logical process or the inner movement which is 
the essence of all Being. Form is not now at rest, 
as is the Idea of Plato, but is perpetually becom- 
ing Form out of Matter which is the Formable ; 
it is an eternal energy or rather energizing. 
Entelechy is the Universal as the process of 

Aristotle's ontology has as it were gone back 
to the Real Thing with which it began, and has 
unfolded in the same its process of Entelechy. 
The etymology of the word would seem to 
have some such purport, suggesting that which 
has its own end (telos) working within it and 
making it actual. It is the Becoming of Ilerac- 
litus not as external change or the flux of all 
things, but it is the Becoming as Entelechy 
or the inner process of Being. This we may 
also consider the Psychosis as purely ontological, 
not yet as psychological. It is indeed the Ego 
of Aristotle which projects out of itself this 


Entelechy, but does not recognize in the same 
its own threefold process, which is, as it were, 
stamped upon Entelechy. 

Entelecli}^ however, is the process of sub- 
sumption, not that of creation. For the first 
stage (Matter, the Potential) is something 
given, yea eternal; the last stage (Form or 
the Actual) is also given; so is Motion or 
the mediating stage. Thus the process of 
Entelechy is the subsumption of the Potential 
under the Actual through the mean or middle 
term. Entelechy is not the positing of the 
Potential through its own act, whereby the 
whole is a creative process. We may call 
Entelechy imperial, the commanding and sub- 
ordinating principle which brings a disordered 
world into a universal sj^stem. It is the empire 
of Alexander which puts all the scattered nations 
(as potentialities) into the one process with 
it.self. Thus the world remains no longer in 
its potential stage, but the lowest is mediated 
with all in an ordered whole. 

The next step in the movement of Aristotle's 
thought is to make this inner process of Entelechy 
external in speech, to express its movement in 
categories, which show the forms of all Thinking. 
These forms were implicit in Entelechy, but 
are now to be made explicit and shown in 
their outer relations to one another. Here we 
pass from the ontological to the logical Process 


of Aristotle. In the latter the outolooical 
Process of Being, which was immanent in the 
object, is separated from the same, and is 
taken by itself, being developed in its own 
sphere and expressed in its own terms. 

II. The Logical Process. — This is usually 
placed first in expositions of the Aristotelian 
Philosophy, of which it is supposed to be 
the instrument (organon). The implication 
here is that the Logical Process prepares the 
terms and the method which are to be 
applied in all the other sciences. According 
to this we should expect to find in Logic the 
categories already unfolded and the procedure 
already set forth in which Ontology, for instance, 
develops into a sj'Stem. But such an expectation 
is completely groundless, the fact is altogether 
different. Aristotle does not use his Log-ic in 
his exposition of Ontology, which on the whole 
has its own set of categories and its own pro- 
cedure. And when we look into the other 
scientific expositions of Aristotle, for instance, 
the Physics, we find that it is rather the onto- 
looical Process than the loojical which furnishes 
the terms and the method. This fact alone 
is sufiicient to call up a decided doubt in regard 
to the propriety of putting Logic first in the 
Aristotelian system with the express or implied 
doctrine that it is the ordering principle of the 
whole Philosophy. 


Still further, in the work on Metaphysics 
as it lies before us, we find that the discussions 
arc mainly ontological, but in the Fourth Book 
there is an exposition of categories among which 
are the main ones set forth in the loo^ical 
treatise " On the Categories." "Without putting 
too much stress upon this fact, we can regard 
it as suggesting that Logic interlinks with 
Ontology and that the point of such inter- 
linking is hinted, especially as both are made 
to start with the same Category of Essence 

We may, therefore, reasonably infer that 
Aristotle himself did not consider his Logic 
as an instrument — he nowhere calls it his 
Organon — for ordering the sciences, but rather 
he regarded it as an integral co-ordinate part 
of his system with its own scientific right in 
its own sphere. How then has the misconception 
about it arisen? We learn from Waitz (Org. 
IL 293) that no Greek commentator till the 
sixth century A. D. applies the term Organon to 
the logical treatises of Aristotle, though they 
were previously called organic in the sense of 
being an organic part of the whole system 
of Philosophy. This is in our judgment the 
right view of them — not an instrument of the 
other parts but an organic part of the whole. 
Not till Theology got hold of Aristotle's Logic 
and made this an instrument for its purposes, 


making at the same time all Philosophy a 
handmaid (anciUa) or an instrument, did the 
name and idea of Loo;ic as an Oro^anon become 
current. From this medieval usage the term 
has descended to our own time. I have given 
these details, since in the above ordering; of 
the Logical Process, I felt myself compelled 
to run counter to the chief historians of Greek 
Philosophy, as well as to the leading expositors 
of Aristotle. 

The function of Logic is to show Thought pass- 
ing over into Speech, or the process of mind 
uttering itself in the process of language. The 
Enteloehy now clothes itself in words which show 
its movement. Logic seeks for and expresses the 
connecting process between Thought and Speech. 
It is not Grammar which proceeds from the side 
of language, taking up the same as a fact and 
classifying it in parts of Speech and their rela- 
tion. But Logic proceeds from the side of 
Thought ( or from the Ontological Process ) , which 
it unfolds into language. Can we see Thought 
moving into and though Speech and revealing 
therein its forms? Or can the ontological Pro- 
cess be made to externalize itself into a kind of 
skeleton of words, and thus bring out what are 
often called the Pure Forms of Thought? These 
are said to cijastitute the content of logical 

Here, too, we have to begin with the essence 


of Being, which is the Universal as the supreme 
category of the Logical Process, often named its 
summum genus. Now tbis Universal in Logic 
subsumes the Particular, quite as we found the 
Entelechv in Ontology subsuming Matter or the 
Potential. Still further, this subsumption is 
made through a Mean or Middle Term in Logic 
(corresponding to Motion in the process of En- 
telechy). Thus we reach the kernel of the 
Logical Process : the Particular is subsumed 
under the Universal through a mediating term. 
Such is the hierarchical order of Logic in Avhich 
can be seen the spiritual character of the Middle 

On the other hand Aristotle has also the 
counterpart to this deductive movement, namely 
the inductive or epagogic movement from the 
Particular to the Universal, which he inherited 
from Socrates, whose rise to the Concept or 
Universal has been already given. Medieval 
Scholasticism, however, naturally put its stress 
upon the hierarchical side of Logic, making 
the same largely its mental discipline, till Bacon 
in the Renascence restored the inductive prin- 
ciple, which was really a restoration of the 
total Aristotelian process of Logic. It was also 
a restoration of the right of the Particular 
to help make the Universal which subsumes it. 
Nor should we omit to note that this same 
movement is correlated with the right of the 


human individual, which likewise asserted itself 
anew at the Renascence. 

Still there is no doubt that the deductive 
side of Aristotle's Logic is the more emphatic, 
and is what has made its great fame, as well 
as given to it its importance as a pedagogical 
discipline. It shows what is complete demon- 
stration, formally at least; it is the tjqiical 
movement of all proof through its process of 
subsumption. Thus it gives a basic form for all 
classification of details ; it runs a thread of 
unity through the infinite mass of particulars 
that always keeps flowing in upon us from 
the outside world. Undoubtedly the mind sub- 
sumes and classifies instinctively, but it was 
Aristotle's great merit to make the mind con- 
scious of its own method in this regard, which 
method thereby becomes a scientific acquisition 
for us all. 

While Logic may be called the science of the 
Forms of Thought, we must not consider this 
Thought to be merely subjective. With Aris- 
totle as with the Greeks generally. Thought and 
Being were so completely one that there' is little 
or no separate elaboration of the subjective side 
of Thinking. Hence the Forms of Thought are 
just as well the Forms of Being, separated in- 
deed from immediate Being whose process we 
have found to be Entelechy. The stages of the 


latter fall asunder and find verbal expression in 
this separation through the Logical Process. 

The central facts of this Process are three, 
Concept, Judgment, Syllogism. Each of which 
again has its stages. 

1. The Concept. This is expressed in a cate- 
gory, in which the ontological and logical pro- 
cesses are immediately united. This primal cate- 
gory is the essence of Being (^ousia of the on) in 
both cases. Moreover, the fundamental statement 
of Logic must be the same as that of all Philos- 
ophy : the essence of Being is the Universal. 
But Loorjc begins when we think of this essence 
(^oiisia) as subsumed under the Universal, whereby 
the former becomes subject '^and the latter 
predicate. Or we may say the Particular is (sub- 
sumed under) the Universal. Tliepartin paren- 
theses is present but as yet implicit. The move- 
ment of Logic is to make it (the subsumption) 
explicit. For instance, in the sentence John is 
a man, John, the subject or the particular one, is 
explicitly subsumed under the Universal, man. 
The Concept man, however, has the subject still 
implicit, yet present and seeking to become ex- 
plicit in a sentence — which event has now taken 

2. Judgment. So is named the second stage 
of tlie Logical Process, which shows the subject 
or the Particular as explicitly placed under the 
Universal by the Copula. But there id a vast 


multiplieitj of jadgments, the world is full of 
tiieiii — the world without as well as within. 

Logic proceeds to harmonize this diversity and 
separation, by developing the Copula, which was 
an immediate joining together of the Subject and 
Predicate, into a Middle Term mediatino- the 
extremes. Thus three terms appear, and with 
them three judgments, which now take the 
name of Premises, Major, Minor and the Con- 
clusion. So the act of subsumption which was 
implicit in the simple Judgment becomes explicit 
itself in a Judgment uniting two separate Judg- 
ments by a Middle Term which is both Subject 
and Predicate. 

3. Syllogism. This is the name of the scheme 
of the three Judgments just mentioned, which 
are seen to form a process together. This 
process (the syllogistic) is the completely 
actualized Logical Process, which started with 
the Concept in which both Subject and Copula 
were implicit (or potential); then it unfolded 
into Judgment, which made the Subject explicit, 
the Copula being still implicit; finally in the 
Syllogism all three are explicit and uttered in 
words. Thus the movement of subsuni])tion 
has completed itself. 

Still of this explicit subsumption there are 
various methods which are called the Figures 
of the Syllogism, properly three, though a 
fourth has been unnecessarily added. The first 


Figure is so ordered thut the conclusion is 
both affirmative and universal, the second can 
have only a negative conclusion, the third a 
particular conclusion. The first Figure gives 
the perfect form of Demonstration, hence 
Aristotle shows the ways of converting the other 
Figures of the Syllogism into the first, Avhich 
process of conversion thus indicates the return 
of the negative and particular into the positive 
and universal. These matters our philosopher 
has wrought into numerous details which we 
shall here omit. 

It should be observed, however, that Aristotle 
by no means subjects all knowledge to the Log- 
ical Process. There is a realm above it, Nous 
or the Intellect proper ; also there is a realm be- 
low it, Sense-perception, which is immediate and 
can not be proved. Logic is the realm of medi- 
ate knowledge or science (episteme). 

According to Aristotle there can be no Logic 
of Sense-perception ; also the intuitive Intellect 
(A^ow.9) gives a kind of knowledge which tran- 
scends the Logical Process, yet upon which this 
Process depends, for instance, the summum 
genus. Thus Logic lies between two unprovable 
realms of knowledge which it has to take for 

The Syllogism is, therefore, the subsumption 
of all particularity of the world under the Uni- 
versal or the Supreme Genus. But what or who 


performs this act of subsumption? I, perchance, 
for one, am performing it now. But this sub- 
sumption is, has Being, is objective, and existed 
long befare me and without me. Who, then, is 
the universal subsumer behind this subsumption 
of Being? 

The Universe is a Syllogism, let us say; but 
who is its syllogizer? With these questions we 
begin to rise to Aristotle's conception of God, 
and to see that over or behind his Logical Pro- 
cess, there must be the Theological Process upon 
which it really depends. God syllogizes the 
Universe, and I re-syllogize it after Him, think- 
ing his creative thought of it- syllogistieally. 
Logic is the externalized Form of Divine Think- 
ius: — the machine as it were of the Universal 
Reason (hence often called Reasoning or Ratioci- 
nation). But the machine is not the machine- 
maker or the machine-mover. 

The formal Syllogism must take its premises 
from the outside, and so is unable to prove 
them within itself, and above all, is not able 
to prove itself internally or externally. Given 
its supreme premise, it can subsume every 
premise less than itself under itself ; but whence 
this supreme premise? Given this logical or 
hierarchical order of the world, how does it 
set to be? Here ao;ain Aristotle shows that 
his Platonic training is really the deepest fact 
of his philosophizing. The dualism of Plato 


comes to light in his need of finding the Idea 
which hes behind and determines this outer 
h)gical realm. But such an Idea, having come 
up for exposition, will not be wholly set off 
by itself, in the Platonic fashion, but will be 
treated in Aristotle's manner, which is to give it 
some power in the world, if not all. 

Accordingly we find the theological element 
more developed in Aristotle than in Plato in 
spite of the hitter's mythical tendencies, and 
also in spite of the suggestion of Proclus (who 
calls one of his treatises a Platonic Theologtj). 
Perha})s we may say that Aristotle has more 
Theology, and Plato more Religion. We must 
not fail to observe also that Aristotle has a Theol- 
ogy which is not fixed in one category, but which 
shows an inner process through three of them. 

III. The Theological Process. — The Aris- 
totchan Philosophy rises to Theology or the 
science of the Supreme Being. This we may 
well deem its highest point as well as its greatest 
service to mankind. Greek Philosophy started 
in an anti-theistic tendency, seeking for a fixed 
principle of all things as against a creative arbi- 
trary Will. But it has reached Theism in its on- 
going development through Aristotle, who does 
not fall back, as Plato often does, into a mythical 
view of the world. On the contrary. Philosophy 
in Aristotle becomes theistic by evolution and 
not by relapse. Hence it has a great future be- 


fore it in forming the rational foundation of 
Christian Theology. Herein, too, the pupil Ar- 
istotle makes his most distinctive and original 
step beyond his master Plato, even if he often 
drops back into the latter, and in some cases 
deepens the Platonic dualism. 

When the medieval period used Aristotle's 
Logic to rise to Theology, it was giving the best 
interpretation of the philosopher's Logic, and was 
putting it into its right place in his system. This 
is the place to which we have assigned it in the 
preceding exposition, differing from the modern 
commentators generally. But time is, after all, 
the best expositor, and to its voice the individual 
student or teacher may well pay some heed. 

Aristotle's Theology is chiefly contained in the 
same book — the Metaphysics — as the Ontology, 
to which it is a return and of which it is a fulfill- 
ment. The ontoloo;ical Process externalized itself 
ill the logical Process, whose final form was the 
Syllogism. But the Syllogism in its turn calls for 
the Sjdlogizer, as the real essence of itself as well 
as of all Being, which has become syllogized. 
Thus the process of Being is no longer imme- 
diate as in Ontology, but is mediated through the 
Divine Process. Ontology may treat of the es- 
sence of Motion — but what starts this motion? 
who is the First Mover? Again, it is Ontolog}^ 
vviiich unfolds the Entelechy in Being; but there 
is something behind this Entelechy — what is 


the Entelechy of Entelech}^? As before un- 
folded, this Entelechy is the pure process of 
Being (potentiality, energy and actuality) ; but 
whence this process and how did it get to be? 
Only through another process (or Entelechy) 
which is the process of all processes — Absolute 
Being, God. 

Aristotle's Theology is, accordingly, a return 
to his Ontology, whose categories it elaborates 
anew, whereby they are transformed and applied 
to Absolute Being or God. These we shall 
glance at in this new conception. 

1. The First Mover. Or we can say also, the 
First Cause. Eunning back through the chain 
of causation, we find the primeval cause is de- 
rived from motion. The world before us is full 
of motion, which comes from another motion or 
moving object, and this from another stiil ; what 
is the source of it? The First Mover, is Aris- 
totle's answer, for a chain has to hang on some- 
thing. But mark, this First Mover is not moved, 
else it would be involved in the finitude of Mo- 
tion, and become a part or a link in the chain, 
and not its source or cause, since it too would l)e 
caused. Hence there is the following process in 
the thought of the First Mover : — 

(a) It is the unmoved and unc-aused, within 
itself the undivided. 

{h) It moves the world, determines the same 
to all motion. 


(c) It is, then, the moving not moved (kinoun 
ouMnoumenon, inovens non motum). This last 
becomes a very important tliought for the future, 
runnino; through all the later Greek and Medieval 
Philosophy as well as Theology. 

Undoubtedly at this point a question comes 
up : How can the First Mover move anything 
without being moved itself (or himself)? Aris- 
totle has his answer ready : The thing imperfect 
desires God, but He, the perfect, does not de- 
sire it for his perfection. The First Mover 
affects us and moves us like a work of art, which 
is itself not affected or moved. The statue of 
Z^eus stirs the beholder, but it is not stirred itself. 
It shows me the Divine Ideal toward which I 
strive and move, but it moves not toward me. 
All the world seeks the perfection of the First 
Mover, who cannot change or move without be- 
coming imperfect. The First Mover can have 
no Feeling or Will, since both finitize him through 
Motion. Aristotle's God is the ideal statue of the 
Supreme Being of the Universe, immovable and 
causeless, yet moving and causing all ; we may 
consider Him the Phidian Zeus philosophized 
and made into a category. Thus in that Greek 
world the act of worship is becoming an act of 
thought, and Religion is turning to Theology. 

The unmoved Mover sug-gests a mechanical re- 
lation to the world as moved, the latter being 
determined to Motion from the outside. But 


now arises the fact that it is also determined to 
its Motion from the inside ; the workl, in order 
to respond to the first Mover has to be prepared, 
pre-disposed, pre-formed to such a mov^ement; 
it has to move, though He does not, it has to de- 
sire, though He does not. Whence does it get 
this peculiar character, and who formed such a 

2. Pure Form. The Absolute Beings is Pure 
Form , conceived as separate from the formed worl d , 
whose Idea or Archetype it is, independent, self- 
existent, immaterial, since it is the negative of all 
matter. Here the Platonic Idea makes itself de- 
cidedly felt again. jMoreover it is the Highest 
Good, the end toward which all things aim ; their 
Form in itself strives toward the Pui"e Form, the 
Idea, God, who is thus in the things of the 
world (immanent) and also above them, dis- 
tinct from them and in Himself (transcend- 
ent). He is their order and their orderer, just 
as the character of the school must be in the 
mind of the schoolmaster and in his school. God 
as Pure Form reflects the principle of organiza- 
tion in the Cosmos, which is the real ground of 
its moving through itself toward the First 
Mover. God as Pure Form is both immanent 
and transcendent, or rather the unity of the 
two in a process — the one Infinite Form and 
Form of all Forms. 

Here rises the fact that there are also many 



Forms, indicating something opposite to Pure 
Form which enters into it — Matter. This is 
the absence of Form, which is nevertheless to 
be formed; it is privation (s^e^^es**), the Nega- 
tive. Yet only through it can the individual 
object be obtained from Pure Form, whose op- 
posite or counterpart Aristotle seems to consider 
as Pure Matter (eschafe hyU). Now Pure Form 
is the unformed or formless (as the First Mover 
is moveless) ; also Pure Matter is unformed or 
formless ; thus the two opposites or extremes 
are one and the same according to Aristotle, 
{Met. 1045 h. 18,) who also speaks of a First 

But this unity of Pure Form, and Pure Matter 
is not a negative result as might seem, but a 
process with new categories, namely, Form as 
the actual and Matter as the Potential, and their 
unity as the complete process (Potentiality, 
Energy, Actuality) which is Eutelechy. This 
category, which we have also met with in On- 
tology, is next to be theologized, as we have 
already seen in the two cases of Cause (or the 
First Mover) and of Form (the Pure Form as 
Idea or the Good), both of which have been ele- 
vated into categories of God. 

3. Pure Entelecliy. The Absolute Being is 
Pure Entelechy, the Divine Process of all exist- 
ent Processes, the Entelechy of all Entelechies, 
which now divides within itself and beholds itself 


as the absolute Process or Pure Eutelechy (called 
also Pure Actuality). This brings before us the 
most perfect Being, God, whose thought must 
be of himself, namely of the most perfect object. 
God cannot be the thought of the world which is 
imperfect. He can only be the thought of Him- 
self, if He be perfect. He can pay no attention 
to the world or to man who loves Him ; if He 
loves in return, He has a finite content to His 
lov« and is in so far imperfect. In like manner 
His thought can be aljout nothing finite, other- 
wise He finitizes Himself in his thinking. Still 
less can He be the creator of a realm of finitude 
without reducing Himself to imperfection. He 
has perfect blessedness, which can only come 
from His occupying Himself wholly and exclus- 
ively with what is perfect, namely, with Him- 
self. God is never-ceasing self-contemplation 
(fheoria). He divides into subject and object, 
the seeing and the seen, but is one and the same 
in both. Thus He is self-consciousness as di- 
vine ; not only does he think but He is Thought 
thinking Thought, and can be nothing else. An- 
axagoras had JSTous (Thought, Reason), which 
ordered the world ; but here JVous is doubled and 
turned back upon itself (JVoesis JSToeseos). The 
dualism of Form and Matter is overcome in the 
fact that the Form is now its own Matter or Con- 
tent, and the immanency of Form in Matter has 
become complete transcendency. 


From this point of view God is called often 
Pure Actuality or Pure Entelechy, or the most 
real Being (e?i6' rea7^'ss^m^<w^). He is the abso- 
lute Process beholding itself as absolute. This 
Process we can trace in Him as the self-conscious 
iict of the Universe, eternally self-separating and 
self-returning in thinking itself. It may be 
doubted if Aristotle conceives of God as Person, 
as Ego, even thouoh He be self-conscious, for He 
is without Will and without Love or Feeling. 
He is still Being whose essence is now Thought 
thinking Thought; that is, all Being, the Uni- 
verse is just this Noetic Process. Aristotle is 
not dealing with the individual subject like you 
and me. With him the All is self -consciousness, 
Thouafht thinkino- Thought. 

We may see that the Syllogism, reaching up to 
the swnmum genus, which subsumes all else, 
yet is itself the unsubsumed, corresponds to the 
First Mover, the unmoved one who moves all 
else, and likewise to the Thought thinking 
Thought as the process of all processes. Logic 
thus is the counterpart of Theology which by its 
very nature expresses itself syllogistically, sub- 
suming the world under itself in a hierarchic 
fashion. The medieval union of Logic and The- 
ology lies in the character of both and goes back 
to Aristotle. It is not too much to say that God 
syllogizes, in the Aristotelian conception of Him. 

In this connection it is significant to note the 


inherently triune movement which runs through 
the Syllogism. It has three Terms, three Prop- 
ositions (Premises and Conclusion) three Fig- 
ures, each of which has three subsumptions. As 
seen by Aristotle, God syllogizes in trinities, 
which make up all Being, and which man has to 
re-construe after Him, in order to think His 
Thought in His way. 

So Ave put together the three categories — the 
First Mover, Pure Form, and pure Entelechy — 
and seek to order them into a Process, naming it 
the Theological Process. This order, however, is 
not to be found in the extant works of 
Aristotle. He has the three mentioned cate- 
gories and elaborates them more or less fully, 
but his elaboration of them is not consecutive 
and not connected together and not alwaj's con- 
sistent. This may be owing to the imperfect 
condition in which his writings have come down 
to us. Still we can see in them that psychical 
movement (the Psychosis) which we have so 
often found secretly determining the thought 
and the development of all Greek Philosophy, 
and which is ultimately to evolve its own com- 
plete self-conscious expression. 

As this Theological Process has been the most 
effective and influential part of Aristotle's philos- 
ophy, reaching down through Europe to the 
present time in quite every form of Christian 


Theology, we can well afford to look back at 
it and grasp it in a summarj. 

The First Mover is transcendent immediately, 
quite mechanically, over the physical world, and 
is the source or cause of all Motion, which is the 
essence of Nature, according to Aristotle (see 
his Physics, passim). The First Mover has 
also his inner Process : (1) the unmoved, (2) the 
mover, (3) the unmoved mover. 

Pure Form is immanent in the material world, 
yet also is conceived^as in itself, separated, trans- 
cendent. Hence the twofoldness of this stage 
of thought. The necessity of the immanence is 
seen in the fact that the First Mover could not 
move the world unless the latter had the capacity 
or immanent power (desire) of moving toward 
Him, This power is of God, or is God as Pure 
Form. But again Form cannot be manifested 
without Matter, which is given and unformed. 
So here also we have an inner process: (1) Pure 
Form, (2) Pure Matter, (3) their unity, which 
has to be conceived as the immanence of Pure 
Form or God in the world which desires Him as 

Fare Eiitelechy (or Pure Actuality) is again 
transcendent, not now immediately (as the First 
Mover) but mediately through the Process, 
ultimately through the Process of the Thought 
Avhich thinks Thought. The total svveep may be 
seen in the following movement: (1) The im- 


mediate or outological Process: («) Potential- 
ity, (b) Energy, (c) Actuality. (2) The 
Process separating within itself and making itself 
the object of itself, the second stage of self- 
conscious Being. (3) The unity of the two 
sides, in which the Process returns into itself 
through itself : which fact may be fully f ormu- 
lated as follows : Thought (the Process) thinks 
(the Process) Thought (the Process). Such is 
the explicit derivation of the oft-cited formula : 
Thought thinking Thought. This is the highest 
point reached by Hellenic Philosophy and is the 
touchstone by which it is to be tested. It de- 
clares that Being is ultimately self -knowing, that 
the essence of Being (the ousia of the on) is 
self-conscious Thought. Science can now be 
seen to be possible, the Universe can be known, 
and even man through vision (as shall be 
set forth later) can share in the Divine Pro- 

Such is the completed movement of Aristotle's 
Metaphysics, with its three main Processes — 
outological, logical and theological. How these 
are intimately connected together, we need not 
further repeat. Having thus developed the first 
stage of the philosophical Norm of Aristotle we 
may proceed to the second which pertains to the 
World, to the Cosmical Order. 


B. Physics. 

Of Aristotle's writings, the Physics or the 
Phik)sophy of Nature forms the Largest part, 
while in Plato this division is the smallest. 
Such a fact is highly characteristic of the ten- 
dencies of the two men: the one turning away 
from the phenomenal world and the other turn- 
ing towards it. Yet Aristotle carried over into 
this world the Concept or Idea, and so, while he 
does not neglect experience by any means, his 
construction of Nature is on the whole a-priori. 
This presupposes Metaphysics and its categories, 
which are to be applied to Physics, which science 
goes back to the metaphysical concept of God 
as the unmoved Mover. For that which he 
moves, though motionless himself, is the phys- 
ical world ; hence Motion arises and the Aris- 
totelian Physics may be called, in the last 
analysis, the science of Motion, including all 
bodies which are subject to Motion. On the 
other hand. Metaphysics is the science of the 
unmoved, culminating in Theology which treats 
of the unmoved who is the Mover (see Met. 
V. 1, 1026, a. 19), and so the Divine, whose 
science is the highest and most worthy. 

We must consider it a great advance of Aris- 
totle beyond Plato, that the latter elevates the 
conception of God from the i)hysical sphere (in 
which the former makes Him the world-shaping 


Demiurge) to the metaphysical sphere, iu which 
He is expressly Thought as uuiversal. In Plato 
the Idea seems to be apart from and above God, 
the creator of the world. Still Aristotle does 
not hold God to be the creator of the world 
through His Will. Nothing can be made of 
nothing. Matter exists primordially for Aristotle 
as well as for Plato ; and just this is one of the 
points at which the former passes again into the 
Platonic dualism after all his struo-crles to rise 
out of it. Aristotle, however, has strongly 
asserted his deity to be a self-conscious Being, 
and thereby has started Theology as a science. 

The transition from Metaphj^sics to Physics 
lies in the fact that God, being desired by the 
material world, produces Motion. This takes 
many forms as birth and decay, qualitative and 
quantitative change, finally change of place, the 
latter being regarded as the universal form of 

The physical works of Aristotle constitute a 
vast mass of dissertations which are not con- 
nected together by their author. Their scattered, 
disorganized condition seems to repel all attempts 
at ordering them, still a principle of organization 
is soon found running through them and putting 
each part into its place. The whole is a Philos- 
ophy of Nature or of the physical world; that is, 
the philosophic Norm is to be applied to that 
part or element of the Universe which we call 


nature or the world, and is to reduce the same to 
science. But in this science all three elements 
of the Universe — God, "World, and Man — have 
each a share, constituting the basis of its three 
divisions, which here follow. 

First is the Formative Process taken by itself, 
in which the World, separated from God and 
hence material, longs for the First Mover and so 
produces Motion, the active forming principle. 
Second is the Cosmical Process, which deals in 
general with the formed world and its move- 
ments — the physical Cosmos as such. Third is 
the Human Process, which treats of the rise of 
the soul of man, which is the returning principle 
of the Cosmos out of the primal separation of 
matter . 

It will be seen that this formulary of Physics 
has much in common with that of Plato whose 
general outline is followed. Still there are im- 
portant differences. Both of course connect 
their physical science with the antecedent Meta- 
physics, though Plato's point of connection is the 
archetypal Idea after whic h the Demiurge pat- 
terns the Cosmos, while Aristotle's point of con- 
nection is the First Mover whose perfection 
Matter (which is given from the start) desires 
and so produces the movements of the Cos- 
mical Order. The one Process of Physics dis- 
rupting itself into three divisions which are also 


Processes we iiiuy see in the following explana- 

1. The Formative Process. This can hardly 
be called the Creative Process (as it may he in 
the corresponding place of Plato's Physics) 
since there is here no world-forniino- Demi- 
urge as person patterning Matter after the Idea. 
Of him Aristotle has gotten rid in the physical 
realm, which, however, longs for the perfection 
of God as the unmoved Mover, and so moves 
toward Him, really in order to get rid of Motion 
(or external determination). The Cosmos longs 
to be God, the moveless Mover, or better still. 
Thought thinking Thought, self-conscious Be- 
ing. But there is the alienation or separation, 
(^steresis) pure Matter (hr/Ie), which is eternal 
and thus eternally persists in producing Motion. 

(1) Already we have considered the Supreme 
Being as He (or It) is in Himself, that is, 
metaphj^sically. But He has also a physical 
relation as the source of Motion. (2) Matter 
is that which is moved in Aristotle, not directly 
that which is formed by the Demiurge as in 
Plato. It is the potential whose essence it 
is to become actual, whereby we again come 
to Motion as (3) Entelechy or the poten- 
tiality of matter realized. Hence Aristotle in 
his technical way considers Motion to be the 
Entelechy of Matter or the process of Matter 
manifested. Accordingly, in Physics we have 


to keep in mind the first Mover, the first Moved, 
and that which partakes of both the Mover and 
the Moved — the Cosmos, Nature. 

God, the unmoved, docs not seem to mean 
that lie is not moved from within, but that He 
is not determined from without. If lie be 
self-conscious and thinks Himself, He has to 
have so much inner movement. But He deter- 
mines what is outside of Him, the material 
world which desires Him, yet is itself eternally 
separated from Him. This is the dualism of 
Nature Avhich shows itself just in Motion — the 
world externally determined yet seeking to be 
self-determined or self-conscious. The forma- 
tive Process, be it of generation and destruction, 
of qualitative or quantitative change, is the Eutel- 
echy or the potential becoming actual, and there- 
fore lies in the object, in its nature or character. 
Motion is the desire of the outfer to be inner, and 
forms the world in the effort. 

2. Tlie Cosmical Process. We have just seen 
the Cosmos produced, but as a thing produced it 
also nuist have its Process, which keeps it going. 
Its essence is still Motion. But it is Motion 
embodied in its own distinct world, which is not 
controlled directly by the will of the Demiurge, 
but through material objects themselves in their 
desire for the First Mover. But here enter 
secondary relations, namely, those of the mov- 
ing objects to one another, for they both im- 


part to others and receive from others the 
original Motion coming from the First Mover. 
Thus a principle of conflict enters, since the 
Motion sprung of their desire may collide with 
the Motion of some other object. 

Still out of these conflicting materials the 
cosmical Process brings forth order, the Cosmos. 
A brief outline of this varied field may be given. 

(1) The cosmical Process as embodied has 
certain underlying ideal elements, which, how- 
ever, Aristotle conceives with a sensuous sub- 
strate. He defines space as " the limit of the 
surrounding body " (PJnjs. IV. 6) which body 
is thus conceived as containing a space which is 
always the same. Space is not regarded as in- 
finite by Aristotle ; it does not circumscribe the 
world, but the world circumscribes it, limits it 
to itself. Time is, however, infinite in Aristotle, 
but potentially so, as the infinite can only be 
potential, not actual. Time is the measure or 
number of Motion, which is Time actualized in 
Space. But the infinity of Time can be fully 
actualized only in the Cycle, which is the self- 
returning movement; thus the total Cosmos 
revolves upon itself forever. Nature in the 
day, the month and the year, suggests these 
ever-returning cycles of Time in bodies moving 
through Space. 

(2) These moving bodies form the visible 
Cosmos, which may be called real, in contrast to 


the previous ideal or abstract elements — Space, 
Time, the Cycle — which, however, are not con- 
ceived by Aristotle in their pure abstraction (the 
modern way) but with a material substrate. The 
real or embodied Cosmos consists of the First 
Heaven, which supports the Fixed Stars and 
revolves as a solid vault on its axis, being 
attracted immediately by the First Mover. This 
sphere of the Fixed Stars communicates its 
motion to the lower Spheres, hence it is double, 
both moving and moved. But these lower or 
planetary Spheres (the Second Heaven) are 
manjs each having its own Sphere and Motion, 
and they revolve about the Earth as their center, 
which is the center of the Cosmos. Still they 
also have their own movement in opposition to 
the o;eneral movement. Here enters the fact of 
individuality, or special capacity of each body, 
which it asserts ao;ainst being moved from with- 
out by the moved Mover, the sphere of the Fixed 
Stars. Finally is the central sphere, the Earth, 
which is declared not to revolve on its own axis, 
and to be the realm of finite Motion in contrast 
with the infinite cyclical Motion above. This 
fanciful scheme, though supplanted by the Co- 
pernican theory, we still have to study when we 
read Dante, especially his Paradiso. 

(3) The cosmical Process has an End (telos) 
or goal toward which it is moving and which is 
the inner cause of Motion, or the Fiual Cause » 


so-called. Though Aristotle combats Plato's 
conception of a World-Soul, he puts into the 
World something very similar. All Nature is 
regulated by an order, which has a purpose. 
Aristotle refuses to call the Cosmos an animal 
(with Plato), still it is animated by a design 
which it strives to realize, namely perfection. In 
a famous saying he declares that God and Nature 
do nothing in vain; the study of Natural 
Science is to penetrate this universal end. So 
Aristotle also has the conception of a World- 
Soul, which is a truly Greek conception, going 
back apparently to the Milesians with their 
hylozoism, but is quite fully elaborated by Plato 
(see preceding p. 320) who makes the Demiurge 
create it, and assigns to it a mathematical 
character. In these respects Aristotle is differ- 
ent; still, he too, has a living soul in the World 
with an End which is the source of all activity. 
So it comes that the chief function of Natural 
Science is to discover the laws of the movement 
toward the End or the Final Cause. We must 
indeed carefully investigate the individual ob- 
ject, but such investigation is not science till it 
be correlated with the universal End of total 

All this may sound as if Nature proceeds with 
conscious deliberation in formino- the world after 


her design, like the artist who makes a statue. 
But Aristotle declares that even thouofh the 


artist should proceed unconsciously, he still has 
the End outside of himself, in his work, while 
Nature has her End inside herself. She is the 
maker and the made, she has the End but it is 
immanent in her own form or forms. Still, 
owing to the resistance of the material in which 
she works, she may produce a monstrosity — she 
fails to realize her End. Nay, she produces a 
line of imperfect shapes in her ascent toward per- 
fection. Here enters the conception of a rise of 
Nature unfolding herself through a series of 
forms more and more perfect towards the 
supreme End, which can only be God. This rise 
seems to begin with the inorganic, ascending 
through the organic up to the conception of 
Nature with her End. 

Reviewing the Cosmical Process as a whole, 
we find in it primarily the Cosmical Elements 
(Space, Time, the Cj^cle) ; then comes the Cos- 
mical Body (the First Heaven, the Intermediate 
or Planetary World, and the Earth) ; third is the 
Cosmical End which is manifested in the C'os- 
mical Body showing the ascent of Nature (the 
Inorganic, then the Organic, which reaches up to 
man with his Soul). 

Aristotle has a descent in the Cosmos whose 
lowest stage is Matter, which resists the End 
with its moving and shaping power. But at the 
extreme point begins the ascent which is the 
movement of Nature throuui;h and toward its End. 


Plato owiug to his repugnance to the physical 
world as a whole, seems to make the descent 
deeper, and so places the rise and return at a 
different point. 

3. Man — The Human Process. This is essen- 
tially psychical ; Nature produces a body having 
a soul, which soul is, in Aristotelian phrase, 
" the body's first Entclechy," is the living body 
as potential made actual in the soul's Process, 
(i)e Anima II. 1). Or the essence of the body 
(the ousia of the on) is the soul. Or in st'U 
different categories, the body is Matter of which 
the soul is Form. 

To Aristotle belongs the credit of having: first 
grasped Psj^chology as a distinct science (the 
treatise De Anima). To be sure, psychical 
phases had been noticed by previous philosophers 
and partially ordered, especially by Plato. But 
to separate the science of the soul from its 
immediate adjuncts, and to look at it as it is in 
itself, begins with Aristotle. On the one hand 
he connects it with the body and so gives to it a 
physical side ; on the other he defines it with his 
metaphnsical categories (Entelechy, etc.). That 
it is ultimately the soul Avhich makes these cate- 
gories does not enter his head. The supreme 
creativity of the soul, the Creative or Formative 
Reason (JV^ous jjoiefikos) comes to man from the 
outside, and departs from him with his decease, 
apparently lent to him for a lifetime. 



A fully ordered and connected sj-stem of 
Psychology is not to be found in Aristotle. His 
book is composed of shreds of organization, but 
it is not organized as whole. Still he emphat- 
ically suggests that there is such an organic 
Whole, but it is to be developed by time. The 
most that can be done by us is to present some 
of these fragments as ordered by him here and 

1 . First is the division of the soul into three 
fundamental forms or stages in ascendinj!: order : 
the vegetative or nutrient, the animal, and the 
rational. The vegetative function belongs pri- 
marily to the plants, but \^ taken up also into 
animal life, which has feeling, sense-percci)tion, 
and locomotion. Those again are all found in 
man, who has in addition Reason {N^ous^. 

2. In the lower stages of intellection Aristotle 
has made some important distinctions. What he 
calls Phantasy is the soul's power of retaining 
the image after the perception of the object. 
This image may rise involuntarily in memory 
miieme), or voluntarily in Recollection (^anam- 
nesis). All these furnish materials for the still 
higher activity of N'ous. 

3. In general Aristotle sees and affirms not 
only in his book on the soul but also in his Meta- 
physics, the supremacy of N'ous, Reason, Intel- 
ligence, Thought. The dominating purport of 
his Philosophy is that Thought is essentially 


creative of the object, which conception wo 
found already in Socrates. It indeed underlies 
the whole Athenian movement. We saw the 
Metaphysics of Aristotle culminating in Thought 
thinking Thought; the Phj'sics we now behold 
ascending to man whose distinctive trait is de- 
clared to be this Reason or Thought (N^ous). 

But here arises a great difficulty. Aristotle 
makes a distinction in this Reason which has 
probably given more trouble to his readers and 
commentators than any other passage in his works, 
being aggravated by the fact that it involves a 
religious question, the belief in the immortality 
of the soul. There are two kinds of N'ous. 
First is the Passive Reason (iVows pathetihos), 
the receptive element of the soul, under which 
term Aristotle would include sensation, memory, 
and imagination, and even reflection. Still the 
Passive Reason has to respond to the external 
object, in so far as to take its impression, and 
thereby to reproduce it as copy. In this con- 
nection our philosopher uses the famous com- 
parison of the mind to a tabula i^asa, or to the 
white sheet of paper upon which the outer world 
inscribes itself. Here also can be applied an- 
other well-known philosophic expression : NiJiil 
in intellectu, quod non fuerit in sensu. The Pas- 
sive Reason thus represents the mind as deter- 
mined by the outside sensuous world, and is 
declared by Aristotle to be perishable. 


Then comes the second kind of ISFous, called 
the Active or Formative Reason (JVoiis poietikos) . 
To it Aristotle applies a distinctive set of predi- 
cates. First, it is separate {choriston) from the 
soul; while other activities are not separable. 
It conies from without {thurathen), and " it is 
divine alone." This seems to mean that it conies 
from God or the Absolute Being. Moreover it 
is impassive, immaterial, immortal. How it 
individualizes itself and co-operates with the Pas- 
sive Reason, from which it always remains 
separate, and what becomes of it after the disso- 
lution of the mortal Passive Reason, is not told 
by the philosopher. Yet the mind " can think 
nothing" without this Formative or Creative 

We can well understand why many commenta- 
tors have interpreted this view of the soul pan- 
theistically, that is, as inconsistent with individ- 
ual immortality. So in ancient times the Stoics, 
and the later exegete Alexander of Aphrodisias ; 
so in the Middle Ages the Arabian Peripatetics, 
followed by many expositors of the modern 
period down to the present day. And yet there 
are strong grounds for thinking that Aristotle 
could not liave regarded his supreme God, the 
immovable and indivisible, in this way. How 
could a divinity, whose character is to be eter- 
nally by himself alone, impart himself to many 
individuals? From the outside ( whence Aristo- 


tie does not say) the Creative Soul enters the 
body or rather the individual, being pre-existent ; 
thou it departs unsullied after the death of the 
body, being post- existent, very much like the 
Platonic Idea. And here again we note that 
Aristotle, with certain changes, chiefly in his 
nomenclature, falls back upon his master Plato. 
In regard to the Passive Reason, it can take 
and preserve impressions of the external object ; 
whence does it get this power? On the other 
hand, the external object has the power of stim- 
ulating the image in the Passive Reason — 
whence does the object get such a power? Thus 
both sides, the mind and the object, or the im- 
pressed and the impressing, call for a common 
creative principle which is over both and unites 
both. Also the two kinds of JSTous have a com- 
mon principle indicated in the name. Repeat- 
edly Aristotle declares that the thinking act 
and the object thought are one, or that 
the mind thinking the object, thinks itself 
in the object. Now this is the essential 
function of the Creative or Formative Reason : 
it sees itself as the generative principle of the 
world, which world is what imagoes itself in the 
Passive Reason, while this in turn stimulates 
the Creative Reason to think, that is, to repro- 
duce the stimulating world. We can only say 
that such seems to be the process whereby Aris- 
totle connects together his two kinds of JVoui^ 


with the Noumenon. Furthermore the state- 
ment may be allowed that the Passive Reason 
can attain to knowledge or the cognition of the 
object (episteme), but that Creative Reason at- 
tains to the recognition of the object (fheoria) 
as itself, as its own self -reproduction. In other 
words, all cognition becomes recognition through 
the Creative (or Speculative) Reason. 

We find a third kind of N'oiis mentioned iu 
Aristotle, the Practical Reason, which considers 
thought as antecedent to action. This kind of 
iVbws also has a creative power, being able to 
transform and regenerate the entire nature of 
man. At this point, however, we begin to enter 
the sphere of Ethics. Accordingly we may 
consider the Psychology of Aristotle as round- 
ing itself out with three kinds of Nous or 
Retison: (1) The Passive Reason which repro- 
duces the impress of the object, from image 
to cognition; (2) The Creative or Formative 
Reason, which reproduces the object making such 
impress; (3) The Practical Reason which repro- 
duces aud makes over the entire soul of man, 
In-injiino; him to lead a life in accord with the 
supreme End, or with true Being. 

The N'oiis Poietikos which we translate Forma- 
tive or Creative Reason has a decided resem- 
blance to the D.'miurge of Plato both by its 
name and character. Its name is applied by 
Aristotle to artistic production {lioicsis) in which 


the artist transforms the given material into his 
work. So the Demiurge uses Matter as his given 
materitil for world-forming. The Formative 
Reason of Aristotle enters the soul from without 
and enables it to think, that is, to re-create the 
world as Thought . But the Formative Reason 
is as distinct from the soul as such, as is the 
Demiuro;e from the Cosmos. Aristotle, however, 
seeks to get rid of the Platonic Demiurge by his 
doctrine of Motion, which is the potentiality of 
Matter becoming actual. Having thus banned 
the demiurgic soul out of the Cosmos apparently 
forever, Aristotle nevertheless lets him in at 
the last corner of it when the human soul has to 
be endowed with an original world-forming 
power. Thus our philosopher, after getting out 
of Plato, does not get rid of him really, but has 
to drop back (or perchance forward) into him in 
the final outcome. So Aristotle shows himself 
asraiu unable to transcend the Platonic dualism, 
which, if he fully succeeded in doing, w^ould be 
to transcend Philosophy itself. But he remains 
the philosopher still. 

At this point, then, the Physics of Aristotle 
concludes with its three Processes — Formative, 
Cosmical, and Human. In the latter the soul 
rises out of nature and becomes ethical, where- 
with the transition to the third stage of the 
philosophical Norm has taken place. The fore- 
going Philosophy of Nature has shown God's 


part, the World's part, and Man's part in the 
total process of the Cosmos, which process 
involves the separation from God and the over- 
coming of this separation in the soul's return 
to God. Through this return man and with 
him the Universe become ethical, and the phi 
losophic Norm rounds itself out with being 
ethical also bj means of its third stage, which 
is now to be set forth. 

C. Ethics. 

Under this title are included several different 
treatises by Aristotle — three works on Ethics, 
the Politics, the Rhetoric, and the Poetics. 
These various productions are loosely joined to- 
gether, and it is not easy to find their connecting 
links. The three ethical treatises taken by 
themselves, wall not cohere; nay, the main one, 
the Nicomachean Ethics, does not form a self- 
consistent whole. Aristotle sometimes seems 
to regard Ethics as an adjunct or branch of 
Politics; then again the two are treated as co- 
ordinate divisions of a higher science, which 
has to do with the entire sphere of human 
action, namely Practical Science. It should be 
added that two of the treatises on Ethics — the 
Eudcniian and the Great Ethics — have been 
suspected to be not genuine works of Aristotle. 

Still there is in Aristotle the outline, even if 


vague ill places, of a sphere which, may l)e called 
ethical in the wider sense, embracing Morals and 
Politics, and possibly Poetics. Thus there ap- 
l)ears an order in this sphere, not fully explicit 
in the philosopher, but which an expositor, look- 
ing back at it in the light of its succeeding evo- 
lution, can see and unfold in a more definite 

The ethical sweep, of Aristotle shows in a gen- 
eral way the return of man to True Being which 
is Thought thinking Thought, or God. The 
same return essentially we find in Plato's Ethics, 
though the outcome is different, since True 
Being in Plato is the Idea, or the a])stract Good. 
The supreme ethical attainment in Aristotle is 
the vision of the Divine (^theoria). Says he: 
" Such an activity is the best though it is ours 
but for a short time." (See the well-known 
passage in Met. XI. 7, 1072 b.). Man cannot 
continuously have this theoria, as God has, but 
he can rise to it through an ethical discipline. 
Thus he shares temporarily in the eternal nature 
of God, attaining therein blessedness through 
the vision of perfection. "Theoria is the most 
- delightful and the most excellent" of all things, 
the supreme attainment. 

Here again we have to see that Aristotle moves 
on the great general lines which Plato laid down, 
though with significant differences. Even Aris- 
totle cannot help having a return and restoration 


of man, after some kind of descent, for the 
ground- work of his Ethics, lie may avoid the 
conception of a lapse through Nature, or a pri- 
mordial fall; still there is a descent from the 
First Mover down through the First Heaven and 
the Second Heaven to the Earth and Matter. 
When he comes to man, he puts l)oth tendencies 
into the human soul, the lower and the higher, 
the irrational and the rational. At this point 
begins or may begin the ethical rise, for the 
soul has also Will, which is the power of 
subordinating its lower elements to its higher, 
or to Reason, who is finally to be enthroned in 
man somewhat like the First Mover, toward 
whom all the imperfect and finite elements of the 
soul move as toward the i)erfect and the infinite. 
In fact, this movement of the separated, imper- 
fect soul unto the perfect Reason is the Will of 
Aristotle, corresponding to that Desire in the 
Cosmos for the First Mover, whereby resulted 
all Motion in the physical world. 

Ari stotle denies the pre-existent soul of Plato. 
Yet ^ve have seen on a previous page how closely 
he brushes to it in his conception of tlie Forma- 
tive or Creative Reason [JVoiis jwicfil'os) , which 
enters the human soul from without some- 
wheuce and survives the death of the body and 
the evanishment of the Passive Soul. Thus it 
is S(jmothiug separate (c/ioriston), existent in 
and throui>h itself. Now this Fornuitive or 


Creative Eeason iii the essential ethical prin- 
ciple in man, which is to unite him Avitii the 
Divine, ' even for a little while " in this life. 
Here there seems to be a pre-existent element 
in Aristotle's conception of the soul, and it is 
this element which makes it ethical. 

From these statements we can see that Ethics 
in Aristotle also constitutes the third stage of 
the philosophical Norm whose two previous 
stages were Metaphysics and Physics. The cul- 
mination of Metaphysics was the theological Pro- 
cess, to whose highest principle Ethicsis the return 
of the soul from its extreme alienation in the irra- 
tional Body, through its rise to the Divine, whose 
Process is given in Metaphysics. Herein we find 
that same ultimate underhing psychical move- 
ment which we found in Plato, and which we 
shall tind in all Philosophy. At the same time 
Ethics will have its own Process, showing a 
complete psychical movement within itself, ■ 
whose stages are the following : — 

First is what we may call Personal UtJiics, 
which shows the Good inmiediately real- 
ized in the conduct and life of the individual 
through the Will. Second is the Good in con- 
duct (or possibly its opposite) represented in a 
Avork of art, particularly in the drama, whereby 
the good character is separated from its imme- 
diate doing {praxis) and is nuide to manifest 
itself through a new form of production [jjoicsis). 


which is the field of Poeilcs. Third is Insiilu- 
tional EtJiics, showing the Good reahzed in In- 
stitutions, especially the State, whose object is to 
reinforce the Will of the Individual in realizing 
the Good in his conduct and life, wherein we see 
the return to Personal Ethics. Such is the pro- 
cess within the ethical sphere which is itself a 
return of man to the metaphysical sphere, partic- 
ularly to the Divine part thereof, whose essence 
he is to make his own. 

Such is Aristotle's ethical scheme as a whole, 
though some portions of it are by no means so 
ade(juately wrought out as others. 

1. Personal Ethics. Aristotle seeks not so 
much the Good in itself as the Good in man and 
what is good for him. The Idea (here of the 
Good) must be realized in the individual. In this 
respect he contrasts with Plato, who begins with 
the Good as Idea, while Aristotle must have from 
the start the Good individualized in man. Still he 
keeps the Good as the ultimate end in which all 
other and lower ends culminate and which is, 
therefore, the means for ethicizing human con- 
duct. Now what is the Good, or the end which 
all individuals strive for? Aristotle's answer to 
this question is Happiness (^eudaimonia). 

But such a term is still indefinite and the phi- 
losopher proceeds to limit it and to explain it. It 
is not pleasure, for he declares that pleasure 
cannot be the motive of right conduct, tliough it 


be the result. To complete Happiness belong 
external goods, wealth, health, even good-luck ; 
still these are not the essence of it. True Hap- 
piness lies in man's noblest activity, that of 
Eeason ; self-realization of his highest manhood 
is the happy state. The man doing his best in 
the best thing that he can do best, may be 
deemed the happy man. The work must be 
done for its own sake on the one hand, yet also 
for the sake of the doing, which is the highest 
activity and which is Happiness. This highest 
activity producing Happiness is the activity which 
is distinctively man's: namely. Reason. Such 
rational activity must have its own name and is 
called Virtue. But there are numerous forms 
and stages of rational activity, hence at this point 
comes the division of Virtue into the Virtues. 
At the start this division is twofold in Aristotle — 
the dianoetic and the moral (Eth. Nic. I. 13, 
15.) The first is the development of the rational 
element in itself, the second is the proper sub- 
ordination of feeling and appetite to this rational 
element. A double moral discipline is here sug- 
gested: that of the higher (Reason) within itself, 
and that of the lower which is to obey the 

Besides these two kinds of Virtue, Aristotle 
suggests the third kind, natural or physical Vir- 
tue. For Nature of herself longs for the Good, 
though obstructed by Matter, and the lower or 


appetitive soul tends of itself to Reason and so 
possesses its own peculiar Virtue, which is thus 
the normal or natural product of human instinct 
and desire. So when we put his divisions to- 
gether, he seems to have three kinds of Virtues — 
the immediate or physical, the subordinated 
or ethical, the self-determined or theoretic 

After these three general divisions Aristotle 
proceeds to consider the single Virtues. Each is 
a mean between two vices which are its extremes ; 
thus true courage lies between cowardice and 
rashness. Virtue is a process of the soul which 
unites and reconciles its own opposites, being 
really a continual return out of its own separa- 
tion. As this continual activity or process, it is 
emphasized by Aristotle as a habit (hexis). 

To regard Virtue as a mean between two 
extremes is open to objection, since it is likely to 
be misconceived. It suggests as man's supremo 
action the conduct of the trimmer and the tem- 
porizer. Still the deed of Virtue is not to strike 
the balance between two opposing principles, but 
to realize the best self, the highest conviction of 
what is the Good. Aristotle's mean must iinally 
be regarded not as an end in itself, but as a 
means for attaining this supreme ethical end. 
In the ultimate Virtue {theoria) we cannot seek 
the mean, there is no too-much, even if there be 
a too-little. Virtue as mean is determined by 


reason as arbiter, and thus presupposes knowl- 
edge. We have to know the two extremes as 
vices in order to establish the mean as Virtue. 

The supreme ethical attainment in Aristotle is 
the theoria (vision, contemplation of the Divine 
as habit). This brings with it the highest hap- 
piness, or blessedness. It is a participation in the 
})erfection of the Absolute Being, in the pure self- 
conscious One of the Universe. It is the hig-hest 
dianoetic Virtue, sometimes called theoretic Virtue 
in the rather unstable nomenclature of Aris- 
totle. The ultimate end [(elos) of man is to 
make himself Thought thinkino; Thouo;ht (noesis 
noeseos). Such a man is verily the philosopher, 
is just this Aristotle, to produce whom his ethi- 
cal and metaphysical doctrines unite. This is 
the sweep of his whole philosophy, its innermost 
method, which is not found in his logical Or- 
ganon. The supreme principle of Aristotle's 
Philosophy is thus the intellectual vision of the 
process of the All, and is grounded in his per- 
sonal charater, in his very selfhood, whose high- 
est delight or blessedness is to see in everything 
this Thought thinking Thought. Hence comes 
all true knowledge, or science itself. The scien- 
tific man is thus the moral man in the supreme 
sense. This does not mean (with Socrates) that 
knowledge is virtue, but rather that virtue is 
knowledge; man is not good in proportion as he 
knows, but rather he knows in proportion as he 


is good. Nature, Aristotle often asserts, has as 
its end the good; so man is naturally good, 
though by his own will he can become bad. 

A certain order we may, therefore, find in 
Aristotle's ethical writings, though not without 
uncertainties. (1) He has the natural or instinc- 
tive Virtue in which Nature is considered good. 
(2) But he has also the subordination of this 
instinctive natural element, in which Nature is 
not considered good. Here is the realm of the 
rational versus the irrational, with Reason deter- 
mining Virtues by the mean between two ex- 
tremes or vices, which are natural. (3) But the 

highest Reason and the hio-hest Virtue come to- 
ft r) 

gether in the tlteoria already defined, for now 
Reason is what Virtue is and Virtue is what Rea- 
son is. Thus the cycle is complete: Aristotle's 
Philosophy has unfolded the Ethics out of the 
Metaphysics, and then the former back into the 

2. Artistic Ethics — The Poetics. Aristotle 
ela])orated a doctrine of the Fine Arts, but to 
find its place in the system is not easy. Only a 
single fragment (the Poetics) belonging here, 
has come down to us, and this leaves in doubt 
many important matters. It would seem that 
Aristotle conceived of a sphere embracing all the 
artistic products of man's intelligence, including 
the useful as well as the fine Arts, which were 
the result of construction (poiesis'), in contrast 


with action {praxis). The science of the latter 
would be Ethics, of the former Poetics in a wide 

From the existiua: treatise called the Poetics 
(in a narrow sense), we see that Aristotle (like 
Plato) regards the essence of Art to be imita- 
tion. Still the object imitated is not merely this 
particular thing, but is the universal, the genus. 
Herein is that characteristic which we observed 
at the start in Aristotle : the essence or idea is not 
to be separated from the manifestation (which 
is particular) but is one with it, constituting the 
reality (see preceding, p. 378-9). Thus Art is 
to manifest the universal as immanent in the in- 
dividual object, and this is the artistic imitation 
of it mentioned by Aristotle. But Plato would 
cast away all Art as the imitation of the Appear- 
ance, or the Appearance of Appearance. This 
is his general trend, though he is not always 
consistent. But in this sphere Aristotle's most 
famous dictum is that poetry is truer (more phi- 
losophical) than history, since the particulars of 
the former are so chosen and set forth as to 
reflect the universal more adequately than do the 
events of the latter. Still Aristotle does not 
deny that there is a philosophy of history, and 
he specially indicates that there is a history of 

We have a right to say that Aristotle's concep- 
tion of Art is ethical, since the artistic individual 



is to represent what is rational and universal. 
The tragic catharsis or purification is certainly 
ethical in some form or degree. There has been 
much discussion about the exact meaning of this 
catharsis. Tragedy must show in the death of 
its hero the law of his deed, or the universal 
consequence of his act; he does not perish merely 
through an accident. The catharsis comes to the 
spectator by beholding the universal law in the 
particular career of the tragic character. Art 
and specially tragedy, according to Aristotle, 
ethicizes the individual through its catharsis. 

For this reason we would place the Poetics and 
Art generally, according to its Aristotelian con- 
ception, as an element or stage in the total ethi- 
cal Process, wdiich shows man's discipline unto 
the Good. Already our philosopher sees that 
Art is fundamentally ethical, though it may turn 
to the opposite of its true purpose. The expos- 
itors of Aristotle ha^e had great difficulty in 
finding the right position of the Poetics in his 
total system. Usually it is put last, which 
means that it is thrown outside and cannot be 
co-ordinated with the whole. Such an act of de- 
spair is not to be thought of. We cannot 
doubt that Aristotle held that Art, by its repre- 
sentation both of Gods and Men in their action 
and character, was a great ethical trainer of the 
race . 

Moreover, in ordering it, we can well place it 


in the second stage of the entire ethical Process, 
since the artist separates the individual from his 
immediate world of action and projects him into 
a new world of art in which his action and char- 
acter are represented. The spectator thus be- 
holds an ideal ethical discipline, even the Divine 
itself manifested in visible shape, whereby he re- 
ceives or may receive for his own life and con- 
duct purification. While the Art- World thus 
Avorks upon the Real World, and helps to make 
it ethical, there is a third World, that of Institu- 
tions, which according to Aristotle has the same 
purpose of rendering man ethical, of bringing 
about his return to a participation in tlie Divine. 
3. Institutional Etliics. Aristotle, in harmony 
with Plato, is convinced that the individual alone 
cannot become truly virtuous ; he must have in- 
stitutions to assist him. All virtue is, therefore, 
primarily political, is determined by the State 
which for the Greek is the chief institution. 
The Family is considered at some length by 
Aristotle in his Politics, also the Social or Eco- 
nomic Order; but the all-comprehending institu- 
tion for him is the State, which is an ethical 
entity likewise, higher and more perfect than 
the individual, who is not ethically self-sufficient 
without the State. It is true that Aristotle has 
treated of Personal EtJiics as a sphere quite b}^ 
itself, in which the individual is shown rising to 
virtue through his own inner development and 


effort. This, however, is but one side or stage 
of the total process ; an outer institutional 
counterpart must co-operate for his training, 
practice, and persistence in virtuous conduct. 

Thus we see a sphere of Institutional Ethics 
turning back to the sphere of Personal Ethics, 
confirming it and even reproducing it in the in- 
dividual by education. Also right conduct is 
enforced in the State by law. The object of the 
State according to Aristotle is not simply the 
protection of person and property, not simply to 
secure internal welfare and to ward off external 
foes, but is likewise to produce the highest virtue 
in the citizens, who are to obtain happiness 
through the State. As already set forth, their 
happiness can only be produced by rational ac- 
tivity of the individual, who is, therefore, by 
reason of the State to attain his supreme self- 
realization, which is Virtue. 

But this Virtue we have seen differeutiating; 
itself into three main Virtues — phj^sical, moral, 
and dianoetic. But how do these arise in the 
individual citizen? Only through the State 
which thereby gets the benefit of them in turn. 
Already we have seen the individual in possession 
of these three kinds of Virtues (under the head 
of Personal .Efhics) ; we have also heard that 
the individual obtains them through the co- 
operation of the State. Next is the question: 
Whence comes this State? 


Man is a State-making animal (j>olitikon zoon) 
says Aristotle. The State evolves by nature, 
man builds it instinctively, as the bird builds its 
nest. Aristotle regards the State as before the 
individual, it is the total organism of which the 
individuals are parts or members ; it is the ethical 
Whole from which these parts or members derive 
their ethical character. Aristotle shows his 
State as a growth, which unfolds through the 
Family and the Village Community ; it is a natural 
product. Plato's State is, on the contrary, an 
ideal projection, and yet manifests a relapse to 
the past, to something like the Village Com- 
munity, in a number of its features. 

Aristotle's State unfolds into many forms, 
such as Aristocracy, Democracy, Monarchy, each 
with a good and a bad representative. These 
forms he discusses in some detail. On the whole 
Aristotle manifests aristocratic and autocratic 
leanings. Barbarians are to be enslaved,' the 
rulers are the citizens with equal rights and with 
nothing to do except to govern, unless a super- 
eminent man appears, who is to be the absolute 

Education is to be deemed the chief duty of the 
State in Aristotle. If the end of existence is 
to unfold the supreme rational activity of man, 
and if this end can only be attained through the 
State, then the hitter's main function is educa- 
tion of the citizen who is so to administer the 


State that it may perform its work, namely, 
reproduce himself. The highest product of the 
State must be the philosopher, the man who 
is capable of Theoria, or Thought thinking 

It may, therefore, be said that in Aristotle 
the State exists for the philosopher, while in 
Plato the philosopher exists for the State. It is 
true that Plato also holds that the State is 
necessary to make men virtuous, to train them 
into the idea of the Good. But when indi- 
viduals are so trained, they are rulers, guardians 
(in the Republic), the highest class in the State. 
The philosopher, by virtue of his training, has 
to be a ruler in Plato's State, but no such ne- 
cessity hangs over him in Aristotle's State. 
Even the philosophic individual Plato would not 
permit to run free, but remands him to his 
institutional place. But with Aristotle he may 
be a ruler or not. Plato's School has its end 
in the State, or indeed is the State; per contra, 
the State has its end in Aristotle's School, and 
exists supremely to make Aristotelian })liilos- 

Aristotle's State interferes with the individual 
from the beginning; it tries to say whether he 
shall be born, and if born, whether he shall live. 
The supply of individuals is to be regulated 
by the State. The child, once granted the right 
to exist, is to be educated according to the 


scheme of the State, which seeks to call forth 
iu it the three great divisions of virtues, phys- 
ical, moral, and dianoetic. Gj^mnastic training 
is the chief means for the first, upon which 
Aristotle in his Politics gives us a number of 
observations. Music in the narrower sense 
(not including poetry) is the chief ethical dis- 
cipline for the youth — an unusually high place 
for it according to modern notions. At this 
point Aristotle's scheme of education, as set 
forth in his Politics, is brought to a sudden 
close, possibly owing to the fragmentary char- 
acter of the work. 

What we most miss is Aristotle's views on 
education is the dianoetic virtue, or the supreme 
training to rational activity. To make his 
scheme complete, he should have shown how 
the individual is to be educated into participa- 
tion in the highest philosophic principle, which 
is Thought thinking Thought (noesis noeseos). 
Thus the State through education would have 
mediated the return of every born (or rather 
saved) individual to the Theoria, to that exalted 
^irtue of Contemplation through which man 
shares in the Divine. 

But when we look into the matter niore closely, 
we begin to spy certain reasons which may have 
stopped the philosopher from carrying out his 
scheme to its last conclusion. If the State edu- 
cated the man upwards into the pure realm of 


theoretic (dianoetic) Virtue, he was beyond all 
practical activity, beyond the State itself. The 
great end of education is the contemplative life, 
in which the Will is quiescent. The State is to 
produce the philosopher at its best, but the 
philosopher at his best is not to produce or to 
administer the State. That would be a descent 
from the lofty pinnacle of the Theoria. Aris- 
totle's State has as its supreme end to bring 
forth an Aristotle, but such an Aristotle cannot 
bring forth his own State, which, however, he 
has brought forth seemingly in spite of his 
doctrine. He is the lofty 7novens non 7notum ; 
the State is to move toward him, but he cannot 
move toward the State, at least not without 
degrading himself. 

Such is the deep separation between the in- 
dividual and the State in the last outcome of 
Aristotle's political Philosophy. Really it is a 
phase of that dualism inherent not only in Aris- 
totle' s but in all Philosophy. It is the First 
Principle controlling not controlled, moving not 
moved, the autocrat of the Universe who is desired 
but desires not, who is loved but loves not. 
The State must long for Aristotle, the philoso- 
pher, and seek to reproduce him as the quin- 
tessence of its activity ; but Aristotle, the phileso- 
pher, is not to long for the State, as it is some- 
thing finite and lower than himself. And yet he 
is just the man who has constructed this State, 


and so must have longed for it with the serious- 
ness of a man seeking to help his country, since 
it is no mere bubble blown for the pleasure or 
the dexterity of the thing. 

Still it is a great and fruitful thought of Aris- 
totle that the chief function of education is to 
reproduce in every soul the institutional world. 
For this reason the State must support education, 
which supports the State far more than armies. 
It would be well for modern thinkers on educa- 
tion who are apt to dwell so exclusively upon the 
individual element of it, to go back to Aristotle 
and learn the institutional element which is its 
deepest ground of existence. 

Looking at Aristotle's conception of the State 
we find in it a movement embracing the follow- 
ing stages: (1) The State grows by nature, 
evolves immediately out of the natural man, 
through various grades of institutional life. (2) 
Its end is to produce the highest virtue in its 
citizens. (3) This end is to be attained by edu- 
cation, which is to reproduce in the individual 
the entire realm of institutions. 

Thus the ethical process as conceived by Aris- 
totle has completed itself. What we call Insti- 
tutional Ethics has returned to and reproduced 
Personal Ethics, making the individual ethical. 
Still further, this whole sphere of Ethics we 
have seen going back to Metaphysics, especially 
to its highest activity, which is Thought thinking 


Thought, and making the same live in the con- 
duct of the individual. The philosophic Norm — 
Metaphysics, Physics and Ethics — has rounded 
itself out to that form and degree of complete- 
ness which we find in Aristotle, and which 
constitutes the distinctive character of his Phi- 
losophy. Already we" have seen this same Norm 
in Plato, but realized so differently as to consti- 
tute the Platonic Philosophy with its distinctive 
character. And with many diversities this same 
Norm will run through all Philosophy, and will 
everywhere show the like excellence and the like 
limitation. The philosopher enounces the prin- 
ciple, the law, the universal freed from all 
caprice and change ; but he leaves himself out 
as the determiner of this law or principle which 
determines everything. The autocracy of Phi- 
losophy is sublimated in Aristotle's God who is 
himself motionless and emotionless, though the 
cause of all motion in nature, and of the highest 
emotion in man, namely, blessedness. 

Still we are to see how vast a step Aristotle 
has taken in this formulation of the one supreme 
Deity, which is verily the capstone of the Hel- 
lenic Period of Greek Philosophy. He has seen 
and asserted the essence of the Universe to lie 
self-conscious Being, which signifies at least that 
the basic principle of all things or of the All is 
self-consciousness. This hardly means a Person 
in our sense, as it is without Will and Feeling, 


But this very abstraction and deification of tlie 
Intellect as the central principle of the Universe 
makes it more simple and impressive. God is 
henceforth never to lose the self-conscious In- 
tellect which Aristotle vindicated for Him, 
though He is aojain to be endowed with Will and 
Feeling (or Power and Love) which the early 
Greek thinker took from Him, when He mani- 
fested them in the form of Oriental caprice and ar- 
bitrariness. But it is strauo;e ! Hellenic thought 
seeking the law of Being and looking for it 
away from the Divine has come back to the God- 
consciousness through Aristotle. In fact he 
has affirmed that this return of the man to God 
is the innermost movement of the ethical process, 
as we have noted in studjdng his Ethics. From 
this point of view Hellenic Philosophy, starting 
in the separation observed in the Milesian Move- 
ment may be considered an unfolding of hunum 
Thought into Divine Thought as the principle of 
all things. With man thinking the Thought of 
God, the Science of God (Theology) becomes 

Plato and Aristotle. These men are connected 
together by an indissoluble tie, and have been 
for twenty-three centuries, and probably will be 
as long as civilization lasts. They present many 
points in common and many strong contrasts. 
It may be said that one cannot be ade(|uately 
understood without the other. Their lives have 


fundamentally the same general outline or norm, 
though there is much diversity in incident and 
content. Paralellisms might be drawn indefi- 
nitely in reference to their careers, their writ- 
ings and their doctrines. 

The basic fact in all these likenesses and dif- 
ferences is found in the statement already often 
made : they belong to the same great movement 
of Athenian Universal ism, and therein show 
sameness; but they also belong to different 
stages of that movement, and therein show di- 
versity. Nothing is plainer than that the special 
effort of Aristotle is to unify the separation or 
dualism which is in Plato. Equally certain is it 
that Aristotle is bound up with Plato in the one 
great thouo;ht which finds its most general ex- 
pression in the proposition that the essence of 
Being; is the Universal. 

But now we have reached the significant and 
surprising outcome of Aristotle's philosophizing, 
which is, that at last he too drops backward or 
rather downward into dualism. After all his 
polemics against Plato, after all his struggles to 
unite the separation of the Universal and the 
Individual, of the Idea and the Phenomenon, 
he finally divides them, and leaves his Philoso- 
phy still wrestling with or rather writhing in 
their contradiction. This point we shall trace 
out more fully. 

1. The most decisive note in Aristotle s Meta- 


physics is his opposition to Plato's Beparation of 
the Idea from the Phenomeuon, of the Universal 
from the Particular. He affirms the innuanence 
of the Universal in the Particular and their union 
in the Real Thing again and again. From this 
we might infer that his doctrine is that the 
essence of Being is the Particular or the Individ- 
ual. But he with equal emphasis affirms that 
knowledge is of the Universal and not of the 
Particular, that science has to do with general 
concepts, not with individual things. So after 
he has put Plato's Idea back into the Appear- 
ance, and made it the Eeality, this Reality cannot 
be known as such but only the Idea of it, the 
Genus, the Universal. Thus he returns in this 
first point of his Philosophy to dualism (not 
Plato's exactly), after having united its two sides. 
2. When we come to Aristotle's supreme con- 
ception, that of God, a like difficulty presents 
itself. Deity with him is self-conscious Being, 
transcendent, outside the world and its process, 
essentially uncreative and staying with Himself 
alone. Such separation of the Divine from all 
manifestation is even deeper than Plato's supreme 
Idea, for this is not self-conscious. Nothing can 
l)e more isolated than Aristotle's God, eternally 
contemplating Himself and doing nothing else, 
whom the world desires, though He does not 
desire the world. Could there be a more com- 
plete expression of autocratic haughtiness? 


Yet this is what the philosopher is to appropriate 
in order to become ethical in the highest sense, 
in order to attain to the supreme theoretic virtue, 
that is, in order to be truly the philosopher, who 
is to make himself a hermit, after having made 
God a hermit and put him on top of the 

3. The Aristotelian conception of Nature 
which is developed in his Physics shows a similar 
contradiction. Aristotle says that the material 
world has a desire for God, which can only cause 
it to move toward Him, yet it is certain that it 
also moves from Him. This latter power Aris- 
totle seems to place in Matter, which is an energy 
also, and draws the world. Thus there are 
two antagonistic powers exerted over Nature 
from opposite directions. It would not be far 
out of the way to consider him as imaging two 
Gods contending for the mastery of Nature, first 
the one prevailing and then the other. So there 
seem to be in Aristotle's Physics two Motions 
coming from two opposite sources and wrestling 
in a kind of conflict over the total Cosmos as 
their arena. 

4. Already we have considered the dualism in 
Aristotle's conception of the soul, whose immor- 
tal principle — the Creative Reason — he repre- 
sents as coming from the outside and co-operat- 
ing with the soul during life, and then at the 
death of the individual departing unsullied and 


apparently unchanged hy its mortal companion- 
ship. Thus he brings together two souls, or, to 
use his own expression, two kinds of N'ous and 
harnesses them as yoke-fellows, till one of them 
dies, when the other goes his w^ay, no one knows 
exactly whither. For like the fabled Dioscuri, 
one of them is mortal and the other immortal, 
the latter somehow preferring to spend a part of 
his time with his mortal brother on earth, out 
of some unknown pre-existent affection or af- 
finity, which our philosopher docs not explain. 

5. In the final movement of Aristotle's philos- 
ophy, the ethical, we have found a deep separa- 
tion of the individual, when he has attained the 
supreme Virtue (theoretic), from the reality by 
which he has attained such highest end. This 
reality is the State, which he is to make (he 
being defined a State-making animal) in order to 
become virtuous. Still when he has become 
virtuous supremely, he can no longer have any- 
thing to do with State, but is to occupy himself 
with Theoria, to participate in divine self -contem- 
plation. Thus the individual as virtuous or as 
philosopher (for both are the same in this 
highest sphere) is isolated from the world which 
produced him, and is as transcendent as the 
Aristotelian God. 

These points are sufficient to show the funda- 
mentally dual and contradictory character of 
Aristotle's philosophizing. Primarily his move- 


raent is toward unifying the Platonic dualism 
into a new reality, but secondarily this reality 
develops in his hands into a fresh dualism and a 
deeper one than Plato's. 

Inevitably the question forces itself to the 
front, What is the signiticance of this peculiar 
philosophic evolution? Sharp critics have not 
failed to point out the above ditficulties, often 
with all due appreciation of the greatness of the 
man whom they criticise. Usually, however, 
they regard this relapse to Platonism (so they 
mostly deem it) as the grand weakness, if not 
failure of the Aristotelian system. 

We have already intimated that our solution 
of the present problem is altogether different. 
Aristotle in his completeness has to be conceived 
in this double and contradictory relation : on the 
one side he is unitary, on the other dualistic. 
As the third stage of the movement of Univers- 
alism he unifies the twofoldness of Plato, who 
is the second stao-e of the same movement which 
finds its highest expression in Aristotle's doc- 
trine that the essence of all Being is self-conscious 
Being or Thought thinking Thought. But, as 
we have seen, this self-conscious Being at once 
separates itself from the Whole, from the Uni- 
verse as it were, and the dualism again appears, 
another dualism after Plato's and more profound. 
It is at this point that Aristotle winds up the 


Hellenic Period and gives a glimpse of the com- 
ing Hellenistic Period. 

We hold, therefore, that Aristotle even in his 
contradiction is deeper than Plato, and hence 
more difficult to reach, with meaning darker and 
more veiled. Plato's dualism is open, frank, 
confessed with a sort of defiance ; he scorns the 
Particular, and despises it as a mere appearance, 
a vain show, a lie, which is to be throttled at the 
start by the Idea. For this reason he is the 
philosopher of Europe, not so hard to under- 
stand, at least in his general trend, though some 
of his lateral excursions are mysterious enough . 
His aristocracy of the Idea is so pronounced as 
to be ready to wipe out the Demos called the 
Phenomenon or the Particular. Aristocracy 
with Plato is a ^\orld-principle, and not simply a 
political creed ; the Universe is aristocratic, and 
is to be exploited by and for a select set of the 
best. Such is Plato's message whose good side is 
not to be forgotten : he puts supreme stress upon 
the excellent, and gives himself great trouble to 
find it, to utter it, and even to produce it in man. 
But, O Plato, be not so exclusive in thy pursuit 
and recognition of the excellent, and then we 
shall take quite a slice of thy aristocracy and 
incorporate it in our democracy, which is really 
the whole thing, and through which we all can 
participate in the excellent, all mankind becoming 
one great school of Platonic philosophers. But, 



in such an event, what becomes of our aristocratic 
Plato, when everybody is an aristocrat? 

Aristotle felt the inadequacy of the Platonic 
view and sought at first to resist it, putting the 
Idea into the Phenomenon, and the Universal 
into the Particular. But, as we have seen, this 
unity he at last dualizes, and he cannot help 
himself. He has to remain a philosopher, though 
he probes to the very heart the philosophic 
dualism, reaching it, but not transcending it. 
In order to transcend it he would have to get out 
of Europe which had in his age barely begun its 
historic career, he would have to skip more than 
twenty centuries of time, he would have to rise 
above Philosophy itself and ascend into an entirely 
new Discipline of the World's Spirit. 

It is, therefore, the supreme greatness of 
Aristotle that he feels and unconsciously struggles 
against the dualism inherent in all Philosophy, 
nay in the European consciousness itself, which 
had been so powerfully and so fascinatingly 
championed by Plato with his unsurpassed literary 
power. When we see Aristotle's effort to put 
that lofty, all-dominating, transcendent Idea into 
every common thing, into every little "nasty" 
particular of the sensuous world, we have to call 
him prophetic of the far-off coming time, jqh 
of another continent with its new institutional 
order, which not only exists in every individual 
but of which every individual has to be con- 


sciously creative. These thoughts of his stir us 
as does the thought of that ancient statesman of 
Miletus who sought to introduce a Federal Union 
among the Ionic cities of Asia Minor more than 
twenty-five centuries before it could be realized, 
which realization could only take place beyond 
the limits of the European territory and beyond 
the limits of the European consciousness. Plato 
on the whole (though not always consistent 
herein) disdains to make his Idea creative of the 
Individual ; Aristotle seeks to do just this on one 
side of him and yet on another side does quite the 
opposite. But the final outcome of both philoso- 
phers and of all philosophy is the new and com- 
plete thought in which not only the Idea or the 
Universal determines and creates the Individual, 
but also the Individual wheeling about, in his turn 
determines and creates the Universal. Man is 
not simply to be controlled by Law and Institu- 
tion, but is to make the Law and Institution 
which control him. 

Very suggestive, therefore, is Aristotle's 
attempt to solve the philosophic dualism so im- 
pressively set forth by Plato, even more sug- 
gestive is the failure of this attempt, whereby 
the Stagirite is landed in a still deeper abyss of 
the Spirit, which the coming time will endeavor 
to close or at least to overarch. 

Such limitations we may see in these great 
Athenian philosophers, looking back at them and 


judging them from the standpoint of a new order 
in whose evolution they themselves are among 
the mightiest factors. 

Retrospect. We have now concluded the 
originating epoch of all Philosophy. The pre- 
ceding Hellenic Period has its chief significance 
in being the genesis of Philosophy itself, which 
has expressly unfolded into its Norm. Primarily 
there is the line of individual philosophers, each 
with his doctrine. Then comes the tendency of 
these philosophers to group themselves into 
schools, which further arrange themselves into 
still higher groups, and these ultimately form a 
Period. But this is not the end; for we find 
that the Period also is only a member of a group 
of Periods, which constitute the total sweep of 
Greek Philosophy, which last again shows itself 
to be a member in still larger totality. Thus 
the Hellenic period is composed of Elementalism, 
Atomism, and Universalism, which together re- 
veal the process of Hellenism as such (as dis- 
tinct from the following Hellenisticism). Yet 
each of these members of the Hellenic process 
is in itself a process similar, though not the 
same, having its own members or stages, which 
finally reach back to the individual philosopher 
whose Ego is a process grasping and formulating 
in its own way the process of the All. 

On the one hand a power seemingly external 
is directing and arranging the single philoso- 


phers into groups, aud then forming these 
groups into hirger wholes in some mighty 
struggle to express or manifest itself as the 
supreme Whole, the Universe. Yet, on the 
other hand, all these subordinate groups, smaller 
and greater, show fundamentally one and the 
same process or method ; they have a common 
impress by which we see them to be members of 
the Universe through a process which is their 
own as well as that of the All. 

Now the philosopher is a philosopher because 
his entire effort is to seize and to formuhite in 
abstract terms just this process of the All or of 
the Universe, which, when he has abstracted, 
he calls the Universal. Hence the first philo- 
sophic Period, the Hellenic, has to grasjD this 
abstraction, to make it conscious, and to state it 
for all time. Such we have seen to be the per- 
sistent struggle of Hellenism in the preceding- 

The power which apparently determines man's 
philosophic Thinking and drives it forward to an 
ever-continued repetition of itself in successive 
cycles, little and large, we have called the Pam- 
psychosis. Yet, if it determines him on the one 
hand, on the other he determines it, putting it 
into his thought, into his own inner process. 
He has to order it in his philosophizing, for just 
that is his philosophy ; still it orders him in its 
development, putting him into his place in a 


group, a movement, a period, and finally in the 
total philosophical Discipline of all ages. The 
philosopher, in seeking to utter the law of the 
Universe, utters the law of himself, indeed, of 
the Self as universal, which is the Pampsychosis. 
Such utterance is the spontaneous expression of 
his own deepest nature, of his spirit's freedom; 
yet the process of his spirit's freedom is deter- 
mined by the process of the Universe, which is 
the Pampsychosis. The philosopher is a kind 
of legislator, making a code of the All ; yet this 
code is just what he is obeying in his legislation. 
Thus in every particular Philosophy are united 
the two extremes : the Ego of the philosopher 
and the movement of the Universe. Each is a 
process, yes, a psychical process; hence w^e may 
say in technical terms that the Psychosis of the 
philosopher determines in its formula the Pam- 
psychosis which in turn determines the Psychosis 
in its content, and also determines its particular 
place in the order of philosophic evolution. In 
Philosophy as such the Universe is seeking to 
think itself, to become conscious of its own 
process, and to express the same; but it can do 
this only through the individual philosopher who 
belongs to a certain time, city, nation, and who, 
therefore, stamps u})on Philosophy his own indi- 
vidual limits and those of his period and race. 
So it comes that Philosophy the one divides into 
Philosophies the many, whose varied forms nev- 


ertheless reveal singly and iu groups the one 
process of the All, seeking but not attaining its 
adequate self-expression in an historic line of 
systems down the ages. 

It has been already stated (see pp. 74, 75) 
that in the Hellenic Period the total soul of Hellas 
was philosophizing, breaking forth into single 
Philosophies and then into cycles of these single 
Philosophies, which must have been determined 
by some Power, Energy, or Spirit beyond the 
individual philosopher. His thought or system 
was taken up into a larger process of which he 
could not have been conscious ; Xenophanes the 
Eleatic, could hardly have been aware of the 
place of his principle in the total movement of 
Eleaticism, still less of its place in the much 
wider and longer sweep of Elementalisni. And 
yet it has its place not only in these two move- 
ments, but also in the yet vaster movements of 
Hellenism and of all Greek Philosophy. What 
is the ordering principle of these ever-widening 
cycles of philosophic processes, extending farther 
and farther beyond the consciousness of the in- 
dividual philosopher, yet making him always a 
stage of the movement somewhere, and even giv- 
ing to him the ultimate purpose and content of 
his thinking? It can only be the psychical pro- 
cess of the Universe itself w^hich we have so often 
pointed out and named the Pampsychosis, inti- 
mating thereby that it must be grasped as the 


process of the Absolute Self, triune, self-con- 
scious, creative of all selfhood, and hence the 
process of Processes, or the Psychosis of all 
Psychoses, just the Pampsychosis. 

But not alone the Hellenic soul was at work 
during the present Period, for this too was a 
stage in the greater totality of Greek Philosophy, 
whose process again is a stage of the entire move- 
ment of European Philosophy. So there is a 
power above all these philosophical stages, indeed 
above the philosophical Norm itself after whose 
pattern Philosophy fashions itself, or is fash- 
ioned spontaneously by the thinking mind of the 
philosopher. For that man is the philosopher 
who has spiritual possession of this philosophic 
Norm, and employs it, not as an external instru- 
ment whose use he has learned, but through the 
native bent of his genius as the most direct and 
natural expression of his very selfhood. Such a 
man cannot help himself : he has to follow the 
philosophic Norm, both in its grandeur and in 
its limitation, whenever he utters what is deepest 
within him. 

Still the Pampsychosis as the process of the 
Universe is not confined to the philosophical 
Norm, but is evolving it into another and higher 
Norm, which we have called the psychological 
(see Introduction, pp. 24, 29, 31, etc.). Lying 
underneath all Philosophies, and lurking quite 
unconsciously in the thought of all philosophers 


is this unborn Norm, yet struggling to be born 
whenever the time is ripe and the environment is 
calling for its achievement. Already we have 
noticed that Aristotle sending down the plummet 
to the deepest depth of his thought, came upon 
the limit of the philosophical Norm with its 
dualism, and lay there helplessly stranded, 
though his keen eye had seen and had sought to 
remedy the same difficulty in Plato. But such 
is the struggle of all Philosophy, whose whole 
historic movement shows the effort to evolve 
itself out of its own Norm continually becoming 
inadequate and demanding a new and more com- 
plete formulation, which, however, will at last 
develop the same old trouble. 

The Pampsychosis, employing the philosophic 
Norm, has now unfolded through the Hellenic 
Period to the point of formulating the essence of 
Being as Thought thinking Thought, of declar- 
ina: the Universe to be self-thinking or self-con- 
scions. Such is the lofty attainment of Hellenic 
Intellect in Aristotle. But the Will is left out 
of this supreme principle called God by the phi- 
losopher, who, however, vindicates for man the 
Will to attain such a height and to participate in 
the Divine. Aristotle, therefore, rises to 
Thought thinking Thought, but does not reach 
Will willing Will ; he has a world of Free 
Thought as absolute and autocratic, but not a 
world of Free- Will asserting freedom for the 


individual. Aristotle's God does not and can- 
not love man, so occupied is He vrith the con- 
templation of His own perfection ; the Universal 
as divine cannot humanize itself or really indi- 
vidualize itself. But just this is what must next 
take place, is the coming chief philosophical 

It is true that Aristotle begins vrith putting the 
Universal into the Particular, brinsrinoj Plato's 
Idea down into reality, and making it the Real 
Thing. And this strand will run through his 
whole philosophic career. But then there is 
the other and deeper strand above mentioned, 
quite the opposite, in which he is seen separat- 
ing his first principle and holding it aloof from 
all reality, whereby he passes into a dualism 
beyond Plato's. We have, therefore, to say 
that the process of the Universal as Will enter- 
ing into, transforming and even becoming the 
individual, belongs not to Aristotle, not to the 
Hellenic Period, but is the supreme philosophic 
task of the Hellenistic Period, which is to take 
up the Universal inherited from Hellenism, and 
to make it individual in the World, in Man, and 
in God. This is the task to which we have now 
to address ourselves. 


From a mighty movement of concentration we 
pass to a movement of expansion still mightier, 
longer, more extended. From one city there is 
a going forth of its great spiritual acquisitions 
to many cities ; from one people and race to 
many peoples and races ; from essentially one 
Philosophy to many Philosophies with their 
Schools; from one individual to many individuals 
if not to all; from the one supreme activity of 
the nuin through the Intellect to the total man in 
all his activities through the Will also. Such is 
tlie marvelous overflow of Philosophy from its 
one center, and its fertilization of the whole civ- 



ilized world as well as of the whole individual 
within. From these facts we may catch the gen- 
eral thought of the transition from Hellenism to 
Hellenist icism. 

Still we shall find not a few indications of the 
counter movement, which seeks to bring together 
this expanding multiplicity into unity. The in- 
dividual unfolds and exploits himself with vast 
diversity, still this diversity we shall see encom- 
passed and subordinated to law — to the outer law 
in the Roman Empire, and to the moral law 
which is at first subjective in Ethics but which 
becomes realized in the Christian Relio;ion. 

I. In Hellenisticism we behold the Universal 
which has been attained in the Hellenic Period 
passing into the Individual, parting itself from 
the one and imparting itself to many ones, thus 
individualizing itself. So we shall employ a brief 
formula for the Hellenistic Period : the Univer- 
sal individualized, specially in man, since the 
Universal is to enter into, transform, and so 
ethicize his very Self. Accordingly we may fol- 
low the line of previous formulations with the 
statement: the essence of Being (the onsi a of 
the on) is now the Universal individualized, or 
if we put the stress upon the process, the Univer- 
sal individualizing itself. This thought, quite 
abstract and possibly not very intelligible at the 
start, will run through and connect together all 
Hellenisticism, as well as suggest its relation to 


tlie previous Hellenism. It may be added (as 
will be later unfolded more fully) that if the Uni- 
versal makes itself individual, it follows that this 
individual in turn must make itself Universal. If 
the Whole divides psychically, each division must 
have the process of the Whole. Such is the in- 
ner germ of the entire Period, which, however, it 
is well to look at discursively from several points 
of view before entering upon the detailed organic 

II. This second Period in the total sweep of 
Greek Philosophy is called the Hellenistic, its 
thought is no longer purely national and Hellenic, 
but the world outside of Greece is Hellenizing 
(hellefiizein, from which verb the above term is 
derived). The conquests of Alexander who was 
a pupil of Aristotle, broke through the purely 
Hellenic boundary and brought not only Greek 
armies but the Greek spirit into the Orient, 
which soon began to show its influence in various 
ways, especially in the cultivation of Philoso- 
phy. Afterwards world-conquering Rome stud- 
ied and appropriated certain phases of Greek 
Philosophy, which thereby passed from its 
national to its universal supremacy, being the 
universal discipline of the civilized world both 
in the East and in the West. 

The nations and the tribes which the Greeks 
deemed barbarous, being non-Greek, have neces- 
sarily changed this pure Hellenic culture in 


adopting it and in passing it through their own 
mental alembic; the j have made it their oivn, 
have barbarized it by the very act of assimila- 
tion; thus they have to a degree transformed 
their spiritual conqueror while accepting his 
sway. So Hellenic spirit in all its forms, push- 
ing beyond its original bounds, becomes Hellen- 
istic ; separating from its primal creative sources 
it coalesces with foreign elements, which in time 
return and transform it in its native seats. A re- 
ciprocal influence between the two sides can be 
traced throughout the present Period, so that if 
Hellas hellenizes Barbary, similarly though by 
no means so profoundly Barbary barbarizes Hel- 
las. Or, we may say, Hellenism is now to vanish 
into Hellenisticism, with which are connected 
many changes. 

In the first place, what we designated as the 
topographical movement of Greek Philosophy, 
its outermost spatial presentation, whirls about as 
it were on its Athenian center, and sweeps from 
within outwards in all directions. This is in the 
sharpest contrast with the topographical move- 
ment of the previous Hellenic Period, in which 
we saw Philosophy bursting forth on the peri- 
phery of the Greek world at divers places, and 
thence gathering itself into the central city of 
that world, where it had its grand culmination in 
its three greatest individuals, Socrates, Phito, and 
Aristotle. But now this centripetal tendency is 


changed into a centrifugal, which will radiate 
Philosophy from its central Sun not simply back 
again to its Hellenic borders, whence it started, but 
far beyond them, to the very rim of civilization 
in Orient and Occident. So, after concentrating 
at Athens, it must separate from it, becoming 
emanative through Space and down Time. 

Athens will, however, continue to be for along 
period the center of philosophic culture, though 
it will have to share its honors with other rising 
centers, in Rhodes, in Pergamus, in Tarsus, in An- 
tioch, in Rome. Finally the supremacy will dis- 
tinctly pass to Alexandria, with its unparalleled 
library said to have contained 700,000 volumes 
in the first centuries of the Christian era; it also 
had a zoological collection, and a botanical gar- 
den, both of vast proportions, for the study of 
biological science; mathematicians, astronomers, 
geographers were gathered there through the 
unrivaled facilities afforded by the Ptolemies ; 
we even hear that scholars were entertained at 
public expense without regard to nationality. 
Nothing like that in the modern world ; no 
University of to-day would think of such a 
programme. But the chief significance of Alex- 
andria lies in the fact that it was the point in 
which Oriental Religion and Greek Philosophy 
met, clashed, and then coalesced, laying the 
foundations for a new European Religion, and 
with it a new European World. 


III. Thus we observe the second Period of 
Greek Philosophy as a whole to be separative, 
emanative, decentralizing both in locality and in 
thought. The same fact may be noted in the 
political sphere. Athens, the imperial City- 
State of Greece after the Persian War, had not 
only lost its supremacy, but also its freedom ; 
this was likewise true of every other Greek City- 
State. Hellas was no longer ruled from within 
but from without ; each community had to give 
up its Greek civic virtue of being self-centered 
and to acknowledge a master. The individual 
citizen was thereby thrown back upon himself, 
and all Hellas was dissolved into its atoms, since 
the political bond which held them together was 
broken. The Greek, living hitherto an institu- 
tional life prescribed by the laws and customs of 
his country, is now to pass to his moral epoch 
in which he becomes self-legislative ; he is to 
find the law within, and to establish that in the 
coming centuries. The Athenian, though dwell- 
ing at Athens and calling himself a citizen, was 
in reality a subject of Alexander's empire and 
then of Rome; he could live an autonomous 
life in his community no more, he must become 
autonomous in himself if he wishes to be free 
henceforth ; he has to pass from his un- 
consciously institutional freedom into a moral 
and subjective freedom. Hence the Hellenistic 
Period will develop and practice the science 


of Ethics with an emphasis previously un- 

In this stage we again come upon the atomic 
Ego which we found first appearing in the time 
and worlv of the Sophists, and which Socrates 
special!}^ grappled with and subjected to an 
ethical discipline, whereby it lost its distinctively 
atomic character. As already set forth, the 
great Athenian movement of Philosophy rose to 
the point of declaring through Aristotle that the 
self-conscious act was the essence of all things, 
was the first principle of the Universe (or, to 
use the Greek terms again, the ousia of the 
on, was the noesis noeseos). But this one object- 
ive self-consciousness, perched on the height of 
Hellenic speculation, has to descend into every 
Greek Ego and even into the non-Greek, and 
thus become Hellenistic. In such a transition it 
will lose its originality, its sublimity, and no 
small part of its interest ; but it will become 
human, universal, for all mankind. 

Here the pedagogic element in the Greek peo- 
ple comes prominently to the surface. What 
the few have won in the supreme discipline of 
Philosophy, must now be imparted to the world. 
The mighty inner concentration of the act of 
production is henceforth to be turned outward 
and scattered among the nations by a kind of 
philosophical apostolate. Paul had his Greek 
prototypes for being an apostle to the Gentiles. 



In ftict the Greeks are supremely the educational 
nation of the human race. Their deepest in- 
stinct is to impart what they have spiritually 
won, be it science, art, poetry, or philosophy. 
Very different seem the Orientals in this regard ; 
the Egyptians sought to conceal their science, 
while the Greeks had to reveal theirs by an 
inner need of utterance. The Greeks have been 
the educators of the educators of the world's 
peoples, and are largely so still, at least in the 
European sphere. Their work as universal 
educators begins decisively in the Hellenistic 
Period before us, which will have many schools, 
and scholars, and scholarchs, radiating from 
the Athenian center to other Greek cities, then 
over the border to the East and to the West. 

It will not be a great creative epoch, like 
the one just preceding ; that epoch is past 
and must now be understood, and appropriated. 
It will be a time of vast erudition, and special 
investigation into different fields — literary, his- 
torical, scientific, philosophical; a time of 
commentators and learned interpreters of all 
sorts of ancient books ; translators and expositors 
of Oriental lore will appear particularly at 
Alexandria — Egyptian, Jewish, Persian, Baby- 
lonian, and even Hindoo. The main lines of the 
schools will be laid down and followed with 
a certain fixity and obedience to transmitted 
authority; but within these lines a vast speciali- 


zation will take place, as well as instruction. 
The Hellenistic Period with its schools has a 
certain resemblance to the German University 
of to-day. Indeed this term (University) is 
often applied by writers of the present time 
to those ancient centers of learning, especially 
to Athens and Alexandria. 

IV. The Hellenistic Period lasted fully 550 
years, if we reckon it from the death of Aristo- 
tle to the development of Neo-Platonism in the 
school of Ammonius Saccas. To be sure, it was 
already putting forth its early germs in the So- 
cratic schools, before the birth of Aristotle; the 
great Athenian movement was continuouslv 
throwing off lateral branches, which fore- 
shadowed the breaking-up of that mighty con- 
centrated activity into many channels which were 
to become independent Philosophies. And those 
colossal thinkers in whom the Universal had, as 
it were, individualized itself, will send forth 
many streams of influence in accord with their 
character and principle; they, too, as universal 
individualize themselves in a multiplicity of phi- 
losophers, who as teachers will still further prop- 
agate that Athenian thought-world till it becomes 
the possession of all civilization in the East and 
West, the possession of all individuals of culture. 
For the philosophic formula of Hellcuisticism, 
as already stated, is the Universal individualized, 
made the spiritual property of the individual 


universally. Man is to be made over, trans- 
formed out of his narrow, selfish particularity 
into the universal man, and this can only be done 
by the Universal itself, as manifested in Attic 
Philosophy, entering into him and there per- 
forming its work of palingenesis. The outcome 
of the previous Hellenic Period we have called 
Universalism or the getting of the Universal in 
Thought. But the Hellenistic Period is to put 
this into man's Will also, into human conduct, 
whereby the world becomes ethical ; nay, is to 
put this into God, whereby the world can again 
become religious. So we see that Hellenism in 
Philosophy is a vast preparation for Hellenisti- 
cism, whose outcome is the Univorsal individual- 
ized, not only in man but also in God, in the 

Far slower is this second process than the 
first; the Hellenistic movement is at least twice 
as long as the Hellenic, which we have followed 
as it concentrated itself from the rim of Hellas 
inward with steady yet rapid progress. That 
whirl of sj'stems, often suggested in Greek Phi- 
losophy under the image of a cosmical vortex, 
gathers itself up and rises mightily at the center 
into the supreme philosophic movement of all 
aoes and lands, and thence breaks forth into 
many streams and streamlets which subdivide 
and ramify themselves far beyond the Greek 
borderland where Philosophy starts into the non- 


Greek world, spreading among till civilized Aryan 
peoples from Bactria and India in the Orient to 
Gaul and Spain in the Occident, penetrating into 
the spiritual recesses of even non- Aryan peoples, 
particularly of the Semites and Egyptians. Nat- 
urally such a process had to be slower, overcom- 
ing, as it must, the deepest racial and religious 
prejudices of the human soul, than the original 
Hellenic Movement, confined as it was to the 
relatively small and homogeneous Greek world. 

V. If we glance at the historic events of this 
Hellenistic Period, we find that institutions 
political and social are passing through essen- 
tially the same process which is uttered in thought 
by Philosophy. Alexander the Great, the politi- 
cal incarnation of the Spirit of the Age, the 
pupil of Aristotle, who may be deemed his 
philosophic counterpart, is supremely the Univer- 
sal individualized, and actively showing himself 
just such an individual by subordinating and then 
as it were absorbing into his all-comprehending 
universal selfhood the whole of Hellas and of 
Western Asia. After his death his one central 
authority breaks up into many authorities or 
individual Greek rulers with their empires, 
between whom rises incessant struo-o-le of the 
individual for universal sway. In like manner 
after the death of Aristotle, the central Athenian 
Movement, whose })rinciple is the Universal, 
splits into many schools with their individual 


leaders and followers, among whom rises an 
incessant warfare of words and arguments, cor- 
responding to the political wars among the suc- 
cessors of Alexander. But in the West a new 
power has appeared above the political horizon, 
with its sword in one hand and its law in the 
other, first subjecting to its sway Occidental 
Hellas in Italy and Sicilj^ then passing over to 
the mainhmd of Greece and reducing it to obedi- 
ence, then finally conquering the Orient and 
thereby putting the whole Hellenistic world under 
its Universal which is the Roman State with its 
Law. But even here in Rome the Universal 
again individualizes itself in the one man, the 
emperor, and the old separative conflict among 
individuals, now emperors of Rome, breaks out 
afresh. In the meantime, however, Helleni.sti- 
cism has found out that no Philosophy within and 
no State without can solve its problem or heal 
the deep inner scission of its soul. Accordingly 
it has brought forth a new Religion whose great 
consolatory promise is individual salvation both 
here and hereafter, Man cannot rest satisfied 
with himself deified within, or with an emperor 
deified without; the Universal must be individu- 
alized in God Plimself , but it will be God in a 
wholly new part : He makes Hiuiself individual 
in an only-begotten Son, whereby is revealed in 
a religious form the absolute Process of the 


VI. Hellenic Philosophy (by which we mean 
the preceding First Period) is the child of 
Greek communal freedom, of the autonomy of 
the Greek City-State, with its independent life. 
We have seen all the early Hellenic Philosophies 
springing up in separate communities along with 
and out of the civic spirit of the time. Each of 
these Philosophies has an air of independence 
and originality peculiarly its own, though united 
unconsciously in the total philosophic movement 
of the Period. And each of these philosophers 
has a unique and original character in himself 
and in his thinking, he is a product of the soil 
directly, or rather a product of the soul of his 
community. But when the autonomy of these 
communities is gone, their independent philoso- 
phizing ceases. Subjected first to Macedon and 
then to Eome in the Hellenistic Period, they 
lose their inborn creative power and sink back 
exhausted into both political and intellectual 
submission to external authority. Not only 
Greek Philosophy loses its generative energy, 
but also Greek Art and Poetry. It is most sur- 
prising, and even painful, to witness this sudden 
and universal echpse of Greek originality; the 
great Sculptors, Poets, Historians, as well as 
Philosophers, belong without exception to the 
Hellenic Period. 

One cannot help delving with sympathetic 
interest into the sources of such a rapid and 


complete decay of the national spirit. The 
Greek at first took for granted the oneness of 
Thought and Being; his life was a unity, quite 
unconscious of the inner and outer workls, and 
his work manifested that unity. His song re- 
vealed Nature, but for him her forms had always 
a spontaneous soul; his Art expressed naively 
the harmony of the Cosmos with the Spirit ; his 
early Philosophy showed the same character. 
What he thinks, is, and the essence of being is 
his thought. 'Whatever he shapes has life and 
speaks, telling outward what is inward. He 
cannot help being the artist. An artless objec- 
tivity is his art, yea his very existence; if he 
does anything, he has to create the Beautiful. 

But the time conies, and has to come in the 
natural order of evolution, when this instinctive 
unquestioning unity of the inner and the outer, 
of Thought and Being, is broken in twain, and 
that artistic creative Greek world vanishes as a 
fair dream, becoming only a reminiscence and an 
imitation. Plato began this separation by his 
breach between the Idea and Reality. Aristotle, 
well knowing the fatal result of such a breach 
for Greek spirit, sought to heal it, but only 
deepened the Platonic dualism to the very bot- 
tom. Then comes Ilcllenisticism in which the 
abj'smal separation in life, the divorce of the 
Idea from the World, is the ever-present actual 
fact; behold this corrupt, tyrannical, alien State 


over us which dominates everywhere from the 
outside without any relief. The individual 
Greek now sees and feels with all the intensity 
of his nature the utter worthlessness of the Re- 
ality, and this is what hamstrings his original 
artistic productivity. For the artist must seize 
the Reality in its first immediate bloom, but 
what if this Reality, in his conviction and also in 
fact, has become utterly damnable and infernal? 
He has no longer an harmonious beautiful exist- 
ence before him as the model for his work; if 
he pours out his artistic soul at all, or if he has 
any to pour out, it will show its writhing agony 
in the same consuming fire which is destroying 
his world. Hence it comes that the greatest 
artistic product of all Hellenisticism, in that art 
which is peculiarly Greek, namely sculpture, is 
the Laocoon, representing by its tortures the 
dying struggles of the universal Greek soul in 
the coils of the Destroyer. 

The consequence is that the Greek turns to 
the Idea within, uncontaminated by the Reality, 
and makes it his own, so that he becomes the 
Platonic dualism incorporate. Thus that naive 
unity of Hellenism between Thought and Being 
is torn asunder, that spontaneous fountain of 
his creative power no longer wells up to sunlight 
in Art, Poetry, and Philosophy; the original 
charm of the Greek world has de[)arted, though 
its echoes may still be heard repeating them- 


selves with numerous variations down through 
the long journey of the Hellenistic centuries. 

Accordingly, for the origination of Hellenic 
Philosophy, communal freedom is seen to be 
necessary. When that freedom perishes, there 
perishes with it the creative power of Philos- 
ophy. Long before the Hellenistic Period this 
fact was foreshadowed in the history of Miletus, 
which began Greek Thinking. It philosophized 
while free, but after its conquest by the Per- 
sians, it was struck philosophically dumb forever, 
though inhabited at a later time. The Democ- 
racy of Athens developed its undemocratic Phi- 
losophy, which became almost as centralized and 
autocratic as the Macedonian State. The author- 
ity of the Schools may have helped to quench 
Greek Intellect, but it had really spent itself, 
and Greece had passed into another stage in 
which the individual must through Will realize 
in life and conduct the thought which his Intel- 
lect has formulated. 

VII. In the Athenian movement, so prolific of 
greatness, the individual as philosopher could 
and did say that the essence of Being is the 
Universal, and he realized the same in his thought. 
Thus he, the individual, made himself the image 
and the voice of the Universal in his thinking. 
This Universal ultimately can onl}^ be derived 
from the Universe with its threefold process, 
which becomes the innermost process of the 


Intellect. The Hellenic Period evolved the 
Athenian philosopher, who is the individual with 
the Universal or the process of the All in his 
thought. Thus Athens produced the individual 
universalized in Intellect — doubtless the highest 
form which the mind of man had yet taken. 
For he had reached universality, which signifies 
that the process of his thinking was one with the 
process of the Universe. 

In the Hellenistic Period, a further step must 
betaken. The individual as philosopher now says 
that the essence of Being is not simply the Uni- 
versal, but the Universal individualized, not 
simply the Universal in Intellect or theoretical, 
but the Universal in Will or practical. It must 
enter into and determine the actions of the indi- 
vidual, it must ray itself out into all the par- 
ticulars of life and conduct; thus it is to be 
individualized, made the inner possession of every 
individual in all his activities. We have noticed 
the centrifugal movement of Philosophy from 
Athens during the Hellenistic Period, over the 
whole civilized world ; in like manner this central 
thought of the Universal is to specialize itself 
into all the details of human conduct. In the 
Athenian Epoch man thinks universally ; in the 
Hellenistic he must both think and act univer- 
sally in his own person ; then he must reach up 
to the conception of a Divine Person who thinks 
and acts universally, not capriciously. Thus 


Hellenisticisin comes to Religion as its final goal, 
passing through Philosophy proper or Meta- 
physics, and also Ethics. 

From the preceding general statements it is 
evident that the Hellenistic Period will show three 
stages which constitute its fundamental process. 
The first we name the Theoretic Movement ; the 
preceding philosophical Schools determine di- 
rectly this movement, in which we shall find an 
acceptance (Dogmatism), denial (Skepticism) 
and selection (Syncretism) of transmitted doc- 
trines. The philosophic Norm is repeated, but 
usually with more stress upon one part than upon 
the rest, according to the bent of the philosopher. 
The second will be called the Practical Move- 
ment ; the thinking man (theoretic) is to turn to 
action in the sense of realizing the Universal of 
Thought in conduct and in law, thereby becom- 
ing ethical in the wide meaning of the term 
( including both moral and institutional) . Under 
this general head we shall place Stoicism, Epi- 
cureanism, and Legalism, each of which will be 
discussed later on. The third is the Religious 
Movement; this shows thnt neither Metaphysics 
nor Ethics can fully realize the Hellenistic man, 
who turns to seek the Divine in Person. But 
this search will also have its process, in which 
Philosophy and Religion will struggle together 
till they unite in a new Faith. 

The Hellenistic Period leads out of the philo- 


sophical Norm into the religious Norm through 
Ethics. Thus we seem to return to the first Dis- 
cipline, Religion, from which Philosophy origi- 
nally separated, through which separation some- 
thing is lost which the human spirit has to 
recover. The struggles for this recovery, which 
is also to be a regeneration, are manifested in the 
present Period. These struggles are very multi- 
farious, and produce a vast mass of material 
which it is not easy to organize. Usually the 
Hellenistic Period is deemed purely ethical, but 
it is also metaphysical and religious. In it the 
Universal individualizes itself in the world and its 
objects, in man and his deeds, finally in God who 
becomes man in his Son Christ. It philosophizes, 
ethicizes, and theologizes, in distinct movements, 
which, however, form one characteristic epoch. 
All these movements must be set forth not merely 
in their isolated doctrines but in their mutual rela- 
tions and processes. 

I. The Theoretic Movement. 

The final attainment of man in the preceding 
Hellenic Period was Aristotle's TAeorm, whereby 
the individual participates in the vision of God 
or the Absolute Truth, even if briefly and par- 
tially. Thus the Universal has individualized 
itself theoretically, has entered into man's intel- 
lect and made its human home there. The indi- 


vidual has now primarily the conviction that he 
can know the essence of Being through his 
thought, that he can grasp Truth through his 
intelligence. With such a conviction he goes 
forth into the world and starts to using and 
applying his principle, wherewith a new epoch 
begins. This principle is already won and pre- 
pared for employment, being formulated and, as 
it were, learned by heart. 

It is evident that the present Movement has a 
distinct connection with the preceding third stage 
of the Hellenic Period, which has been designated 
as Athenian Universallsm. In it the essence of 
all things has been found to be the Universal as 
Thought; but now this first principle or Thought 
is to be applied primarily to the various fields of 
knowledge. Such a procedure orders them ac- 
cording to Thought, which thus gives the special 
sciences, and brings to light the scientific strand 
in this Movement. 

It is first to be observed that such a Movement 
is no longer in the Hellenic Period, but belongs 
to the Hellenistic Period, of which the gen- 
eral purport is the Universal individualized, 
separated within itself, whose first phase 
appears^ in the present theoretic activity. 
Here we have not the work or the process of 
unfolding and creating the fundamental principle 
of Philosophy, but of specializing and applying 


the principle already found. It is a time of 
systematizing and classifying, even if largely in 
an external way. The labor is to make the 
universal principle valid in all particulars, to have 
philosophy, hitherto limited to one spot and 
possessed by a few, branch out into every im- 
portant line of knowledge and enter into the 
soul of every person capable of appropriating it. 

Amid all these developments and specializa- 
tions there will be found the one essential Norm, 
to which allusion has already been often made. 
This philosophical Norm will now become more 
explicit than ever, indeed it will be directly 
formulated, and thus become a conscious prod- 
uct of the time. To be sure, this Norm will 
manifest a good deal of variability according to 
the philosopher who is employing it and through 
it making his system. Each philosopher will 
put a special stress upon some phase of the 
total Norm, following his bent, his abihty, and his 
attainments. One prefers the ethical, another 
the physical, still another the metaphysical 
province of the Norm. And the three provinces 
will be still further divided and specialized. But 
in these particular manifestations we are to see 
the philosophic Norm working itself out toward 
completeness, even to the point of transcending 
itself and reaching forth to the rehgious Norm 
from which it once re-acted. 

Thus the individual of the Hellenistic Period, 


being in his very essence the Universal individual- 
ized, will carry out his own innermost principle, 
which is also that of his age, putting it into all 
the details of his investigation and thought ; he 
will seek to make the Universal individual every- 
where theoretically, through the Intellect. But 
this Intellect has the power of denying as well as 
affirming, hence the theoretic movement will have 
its negative as well as its positive stage, and 
even a mingling of the two . So it comes that a 
process shows itself, in which we note the follow- 
ing stages : ( 1 ) there is the dogmatic acceptance 
and assertion of the doctrines of the preceding 
Schools, connected with the further unfolding 
and application of these transmitted doctrines; 
(2) there is a denial of the fundamental princi- 
ple underlying these and all philosophic doc- 
trines, namely, that man can know Truth or the 
essence of Being, which denial, however, im- 
plies the theoretic knowledge of the Truth; (3) 
the individual, seeing that he is both what affirms 
and what denies, selects from each side, attempt- 
ing to compromise or to harmonize extreme 
views. It is to be noted that all these stages are 
theoretic and pertain to intellectual knowing ; the 
individual knows that his thought is one with the 
object, or he knows that he does not know any 
such thing, or finally he knows both that he 
does know in part, and does not know in part, 
what is true. 


Of the Theoretic Movement we maj name the 
stages as follows : First is the Dogmatism of the 
Schools — scholastic Dogmatism ; second is Skep- 
ticism, which is negative to the dogmatic posi- 
tion; third is Syncretism, w^hich is eclectic, a 
a selecting and putting together of doctrines 
from dogmatic and skeptical sources. Three 
streams we may deem them, arising and develop- 
ing in succession, yet running parallel and 
interacting quite through the whole Period of 

I. Dogmatism (scholastic). — A time of 
authority in philosophy begins, the doctrines 
of the great masters are transmitted to Schools 
which continue to exist in one form or other 
for nearly a thousand years. The Thought is 
given in its essential formulation which remains 
pretty much the same. Philosophy is a thing 
settled, established, and handed down to the 
future in the shape of a fixed dogma; it is no 
longer to be determined by thinking but rather 
determines thinking. Such is the sudden 
prodigious change after Aristotle, the change 
from a bold originality to an almost servile 
acceptance and imitation, the change from 
Hellenism to Hellenisticism. Erudition, particu- 
larization, analysis thrives ; the Thought is taken 
for granted from the founders and is applied 
in a more or less external way to many new 
details and departments of information. We see 



the Universal individiuilized immediately, sepa- 
rated and broken up into a thousand particulars, 
which are nevertheless controlled from the 
outside bj a transmitted doctrine or principle. 

This corresponds to the political condition 
of the Hellenistic Period. Free Greece was 
at an end, subjected first by the outside power of 
Macedon and then of Rome. An external 
absolutism arose both in Thought and in the 
State; the inner creative self -activity of Hellas, 
which kept rising higher and higher in the 
Hellenic Period till it culminated at Athens in 
Aristotle, now sinks far more suddenly than 
it rose. Activity by no means ceased, still 
the Greek mind cut no new grooves, but ran 
in the old. 

This philosophical Scholasticism or doctrine 
of the Schools transmitted from generation to 
generation — we ask its source? It springs from 
the three great Athenian philosophers directly — 
Socrates, Plato and Aristotle — sending forth 
three streams of influence, which is marked by a 
line of Schools. Yet we must not underrate the 
work of these Schools. They transcended the 
narrow Hellenic or Athenian limit and made 
Philosophy the property of every individual, 
Greek or non-Greek, who would choose it. 
From this point of view Hellenisticism is a 
humanizing process, and breaks through the old 
exclusive Greek world, moving from the center 


to the periphery and over it into Orient and 

Only a brief survey can be given of its three 
lines of Schools — Socratic, Platonic and Aris- 
totelian — all starting from the Athenian foun- 
tain-head, which is the Universal as Thought. 

1. Socratic Schools. The great stream of phi- 
losophic evolution passes from Socrates through 
Plato to Aristotle, as has been already unfolded . 
Still Socrates sends off several lateral branches, 
as it were, partial developments of certain phases 
of the total man whose marvelous many-sided 
personality would throw out a shoot anywhere. 
Three of these Schools may be mentioned, each 
representing a part of the total Socrates or 
of the Socratic process — the Megaric School 
founded by Euclid, the Cj^nic School founded by 
Antisthenes, and the Cyrenaic School founded 
by Aristippus. These three are the main ones, 
though there were others arising and departing 
for many years after the death of Socrates. 

T/te Megaric School must have existed already 
during the life-time of Socrates with some 
degree of eminence, since Plato is reported to 
have fled thither after the death of the master, 
and there first to have studied the Eleatic 
doctrine of Being which Euclid combined 
with the Socratic Concept of the Good. 
The Megaric School, however, put its main 
stress upon the dialectical side of Socrates which 


is the movement toward the Concept through 
question and answer, rather than the Concept 
itself. Hence this School has the name of beingr 
disputatious and fault-finding, and even quarrel- 
some. Its chief fame to-day comes from the 
influence of it seen in a group of Plato's Dia- 
logues — often called the Meo;aric or Dialectical 
group, of w^hich the Parmenides with its discus- 
sion of Being and Non-Being showing their dia- 
lectical interplay, may betaken as an example. 

The Cynic School seems to have sprung up at 
Athens in direct contact with Socrates and to 
have imitated his personal peculiarities, some- 
times even to the verge of caricature, as in the 
case of Diogenes. The endurance, the indiffer- 
ence to the luxuries or even the necessaries of 
life, the personal independence of the master 
they appropriated in conduct ; unlike him, how- 
ever, they cut themselves off from all institutional 
and social relations, yet lived as beggars and 
parasites upon society in their pursuit of wisdom 
and virtue. 

In doctrine Antisthenes, the founder of the 
Cynic School, concentrated himself upon the 
attainment of virtue, which was with him hardly 
a positive but a negative activity, an abstraction 
from all public interests, from all needs, from 
riches, honor, })leasurc. Moreover he dispensed 
WMth the dialectical process for reaching the con- 
cept of virtue, which is such an important part 


of Socrates' training. Antisthenes deemed that 
he could lay hold of virtue immediatel}^ or at 
least by simply leaving out all the relations of 
life, or reducing them to the lowest possible 
terms. Thus he asserts the individual against 
all the world which seeks to determine him. 
This ultimate affirmation of the Self, though 
wholly abstract and empty, has its place in the 
history of the time, since even the tyrannical 
State with its absolute rulers could not crush it. 

Such a personal defiance of all externality 
seems to have reached its culmination in a disci- 
ple of Antisthenes, the Cynic Diogenes of Sinope. 
His direct individual challenge of the world and 
all its cohorts to determine his Ego made a 
mighty impression upon all succeeding antiquity, 
if we may judge by the many allusions to him in 
the writings of those who came after him. Still 
to-day we know well his name and catch some- 
thing of his character in the word Cynicism. 
Such a man could only arise and become a typi- 
cal character when the age was what he was, 
when the World-Spirit itself had become cynical. 

The Cyrenaic School develops a third phase 
of the Socratic doctrine or perchance of the So- 
cratic personality. For Socrates was not an ascetic 
and never renounced pleasure if kept in due sub- 
ordination. A most remarkable capacity for 
wine he must have had, being judged by Plato's 
Symposium. Aristippus of Cyrene, the founder 


of this School, develops the ideti, which is also 
Socratic, that virtue is a means of happiness, 
producing great benefits to the individual who 
joractices it. From this point of view it is but a 
step to affirm with Aristippus that pleasure is the 
end of life, virtue itself being chiefly useful for 
that end. Hedonism, with all its various forms, 
Utilitarianisn, Eudemonism, etc., finds here its 
germinal doctrine, which will be still further 
developed in the later School of Epicurus. Aris- 
tippus dees not eschew knowledge, temperance, 
culture, but he considers them not as ends but 
as means for heightening the sensation of pleas- 
ure. The fact may also be noted that a Greek 
colony of the South, African Gyrene, now enters 
the philosophic periphery of Hellas with its 
small derived light, not to be compared with the 
original Philosophies which we have seen shoot- 
ing up on the border at other points of the com- 
pass — East, West and North. 

Thus each of these three Schools takes a part 
or phase of the total Socratic process and holds 
fast to it alone — the Dialectic, the pure Concept, 
and the a})plicat!on of the Concept as universal 
to the individual case, this being the final end of 
the process. In such fashion is Socrates, doubt- 
less during his life, divided, anatomized, dis- 
membered; ahcady in these pupils of his the 
Hellenistic movement has begun, or the universal 
Socrates with his Universal is specialized, being 



reduced to particulars. The stress of this mighty 
unification is too great for Greek Spirit, which, 
when the all-compelling man is removed flies into 
a thousand pieces, and each piece now becomes 
the object of consideration. Thus we observe 
that the Hellenistic Period overlaps backward 
the Athenian movement, each of whose philoso- 
phers sends forth successive streams of influence 

2. The Platonic School — The Academy. 
Plato gathered his pupils into one spot, held 
them together to one fundamental doctrine, 
which was still further fixed in books, and he 
transmitted the headship of his School to one 
person, his nephew Speusippus, making of his 
scholarchy a kind of monarchy to be kept in the 
family, though such a plan after his death did 
not hold out very long. This unity of the 
School shows itself in a long line of Scholarchs, 
who, amid many variations, cling to the general 
Platonic traditions. 

Here we see the difference in development 
between the Platonic and the Socratic Schools. 
The latter sprang up contemporaneously and 
became many at once, while the former remained 
one, though passing in time through many 
changes. The original School of Socrates had 
no fixed locality in Athens ; it was opened any- 
where at any time, and anybody could be a 
pupil. The exclusive, aristocratic Plato changed 


this, and sought to establish an aristocracy of 
philosophers with a ruler at their head, some- 
what as we see in his Republic. But Socrates 
founded no distinctive School of his own; he 
let his followers do that, of whom the chief one 
was Plato. The latter, however, developed his 
own philosophical principle as the basis of his 
School, which was, therefore, Platonic and not 

The divisions of the Platonic School are, ac- 
cordingly, successive and not contemporaneous ; 
the whole does not split up into parts, but un- 
folds into differences. The history of the 
Academy is usually divided into three periods, 
and sometimes into five, extending down to 
the Christian Era and beyond. The three divi- 
sions bear the names of Old, Middle and New 
Academies, each of which will be briefly 

The Old Academy lasted about one hundred 
years after the death of Plato, and continued to 
propagate his Philosophy though in its later and 
less pure form. It began to revert to the doc- 
trine of Pythagoras, and to pass from the Idea 
to Numbers as the essence of things — a distinct 
relapse, whose source we may observe in the last 
works of Plato — the Laws and the Epinomis. 
The grand Platonic chasm these later Platonists 
sought to brido-e over — the chasm between the 
sensible and supersensible realms ; so they 


turned back to the Numbers of Pythagoras as 
the intermediate entity between Idea and Matter. 
Xenocrates succeeded Speusippus; he divided 
philosophy into Dialectics, Physics and Ethics, 
which, though not explicitly stated by Plato 
or even by Aristotle, is present in their 
writings taken as a whole, The philosophic 
Norm is now formulated, though not completely 
formulated, and will remain as a kind of center 
for all systems. A popular moralizing is found 
in the Old Academy rather than a scientific 
development of Ethics ; also there is a tendency 
to religion or religionizing ; both are significant 
siofns of the coming time. 

The Old Academy transmitted the doctrines 
of the master in a somewhat formal academic 
manner (whence comes the secondary mean- 
ing of this term). But outside of the Acad- 
emy new forces are at work which it cannot 
ignore, its assumptions are assailed by a keen 
foe, and its dogmatic certainty is undermined. 
Skepticism enters it, and questions the validity 
of the principle upon which Plato had founded 
his Philosophy. Herewith begins a decided 
change, introducing a new period of the Acad- 

The Middle Academy begins with Arcesilaus 
of Pitane as scholarch. He makes the transition 
out of the Old Academy into the Middle Acad- 
emy, which is the transition from prescription to 


doubt, from dogmatism to skepticism. He 
taught his people to think for themselves, to test 
the transmitted doctrine. One main dogma he 
had : take nothing for granted. Thus he too 
could not help being dogmatic in his hostility to 
dogmatism; his one assumption is: have no as- 
sumption. He affirmed the skeptical suspension 
of judgment {epoche), because of the contradic- 
tious of reason. Hence, if he spoke, he must 
speak on both sides ; Diogenes Laertius says of 
him "he was the first to argue on both sides of 
a question;" such was his principle as both were 
for him equally valid. Thus he shows strikingly 
the dualism which has come into the Platonic 
School. The same Diogenes reports further of 
him that some say he never wrote a book, be- 
cause of his suspension of judgment on every 
point, while others say that he wrote a book 
"but threw it into the fire." He must have 
discovered that it contradicted his principle of 
suspension of judgment even to write a book, 
and so he concluded to suspend judgment on his 
doctrine of suspension of judgment by burning 
his production. Arcesilaus (born about 315 B. 
C, died about 241 ) was succeeded by a number 
of unimportant Scholarchs, till a greater than he 

This was Carneades (215-130 B. C.) who 
wrought out the system of Academic skepticism 
to completion. Fir^t of all he assailed the cri- 


terioii of Truth, as maintained by the Stoics, who 
chiimed an immediate intuition of it by the Ego. 
But Carneades shows how this Ego varies, and 
thus he returns to the standpoint of Protagoras 
and Sophisticism. He denies the validity of 
logic by pointing out that the major premise is 
itself an assumption requiring proof. He argues 
that the idea of God is a contradiction, and so 
are right, duty, responsibility ; in general, all re- 
ligious and ethical concepts are really inconceiv- 
able. The fact is, all thought is a denial of 
thought; still man thinks and acts from thought. 
Hence, as a kind of compromise between Intel- 
lect and Will, Carneades developed the doctrine 
of Pro])abilism. Though there is no certainty, 
no objective Truth for us, we still can judge of 
probabilities which have their degrees of Truth. 
This thought, after all, may probably be true. 
Thus skepticism acknowledges a criterion of 
Truth (even if this be merely probable Truth), 
and gives up its fundamental principle. It has 
come to an end, has really ended itself as it ulti- 
mately must. Carneades, in fighting the dogma- 
tism of the Stoics, brought into clear light his 
own dogmatism ; he even makes a system with a 
principle which denies the possibility of any such 
principle. In his case, too, the negation has 
negated itself. 

The Middle Academy lasted about one hundred 
and fifty years. A significant picture is that of 


Carneades at Eome (155 B. C), as an embas- 
sador from conquered Greece to her conqueror. 
The philosopher is reported to have given two 
discourses on two successive days, the first for 
and the second against justice. This philosophy 
Eomau Cato did not think a good thing for 
Eome, whose destiny was to be the great or- 
ganizer of justice for all the world. So we 
behold in this act Carneades the philosopher 
undoing Carneades the embassador, who must 
have been sent to get justice for his countrj^men. 
Having given this display of itself in its greatest 
representative, the Middle Academy can now be 
allowed to retire. 

The New Academy shows the Platonic School 
gradually developing out of Skepticism into 
Eclecticism, that principle which became the 
characteristic of the Eoman world in the second 
century B. C, when it had conquered many 
nations and had to govern them from some gen- 
eral policy. An adoption and amalgamation of 
the best ideas of all for all became the ruling: 
spirit of the age. Each people of importance 
was found to have something important to give 
and also to receive. A universal liberalism of 
mind and mutual appreciation began to weaken 
all limits, and particularly the limits of the phi- 
losophical Schools against one another. 

The pupils of Carneades began to show this 
relaxation of doctrine, and when Philoof Larissa 


(in the early part of the first century B. C.) 
was Schohirch, the renunciation of Skepticism 
was openly avowed. Tlie same attitude was 
taken by his successor Antiochus of Ascalon, 
whom Cicero heard at Athens in 79-78 B. C, 
and who supported the view that Plato, Aristotle, 
and the Stoics gave the same thing from differ- 
ent standpoints. This eclectic attitude main- 
tained itself with some variations in the School 
till the rise of Neo-Platonism. With this return 
to the great founders of the Schools was con- 
nected a renewed study of their works, with a 
preference for Ethics. 

Looking back at the three Academies, Old, 
Middle, and New, we observe that they form a 
process together, which rounds them out with 
a certain degree of completeness. The Old 
Academy, most of whose Scholarchs lived amid 
the memories of the personal Plato, was dom- 
inated prescriptively by his doctrine. But the 
Middle Academy shows the separation from 
Plato and also within itself, while the New 
Academy indicates a return to the first stage. 
All three likewise reflect the historical character 
of their respective periods, from the absolute 
personal authority of the great conqueror like 
Alexander, through a time of reaction and revolt 
under his successors, to the universal Eoman 
domination which has in its character a kind of 


3 . The Aristotelian Schools — Th e Peripatetics . 
The philosophic movement springing from Aris- 
totle has a continuous development at Athens, 
like the Platonic Academy, whose counterpart is 
there the Aristotelian Lyceum. But Aristo- 
telianism sends forth many branches elsewhere ; 
it scatters itself over the Greek world and forms 
not a few Schools outside of Athens. Thus it 
works like Socraticism also, dividing up into 
special tendencies, and throwing itself out 
spatially; but it, like Platonism, keeps its 
central locality too, and unfolds in time through 
a long list of Scholarchs. Hence it shows itself 
more universal, capable of assimilating a greater 
diversity of minds and of peoples. Plato is 
still an Athenian and his School remains essen- 
tially Athenian; Aristotle is a Greek as well 
as an Athenian, and is spiritually a world-con- 
queror, such as Alexander is politically. 

The creative spirit of Aristotle manifested it 
self more powerfully at Alexandria than it did 
among his successors at Athens, where the 
Platonic School seems on the whole to have 
drawn the abler men. Specially the departments 
of Natural Science, Literature, and History were 
cultivated at Alexandria, and later it became the 
center of the great religious movement which 
agitated both Orient and Occident. Still the 
pure philosophy of Aristotle as well as its 
physical and humanistic departments, was kept 


alive by the School of Athens with great zeal 
and persistency for more than five hundred 
years, till the time of Neo-Platonism. That is, 
the entire Aristotelian Norm — Metaphysics with 
Logic, Physics, and Ethics — Avas preserved in 
the teaching of the Lyceum as a whole, though 
each Scholarch may have had his individual 
preference for certain branches or portions of 
the Norm. 

Another point may be here noted in advance : 
the movement of the Peripatetic School in time 
shows the same general stages as the Academy, 
indicating the similar response of each to the 
spirit of the age. These stages, which are 
three, we shall briefly designate. The first or 
prescriptive stage was represented by the first 
Scholarch after Aristotle, Theophrastus, who 
assisted the master in founding the Lyceum 
(335 B. C), and after the flight and death of 
Aristotle (323-2 B. C.) took charge of the 
School. His bent was toward Natural Science, 
in which two of his botanical works have been 
preserved as well some fragments pertaining 
to the History of Physics. But he did not 
neglect Metaphysics or Ethics, to the latter of 
which belongs his well-known book on Ethical 
Characters. Others are named (Eudemus of 
Ehodes, Aristoxenus of Tarentum, Dicsearchus 
of Messene) who may be said to represent this 
first or prescriptive stage along with Theo- 


phrastus, each one, however, having his own 
special tendency. All of these maintain in 
o-eneral the Aristotelian tradition in its more 
immediate ^forra. But necessarily the breach 
with external authority will set in, especially 
when such a spirit belongs to the time. 

The second or separative stage begins with 
decided emphasis in Strato, who was head of 
the Peripatetic School for eighteen years (287- 
269 B. C), and so was an early contemporary 
of the Middle Academy, which reacted from 
Plato to Skepticism. The dualism of Aristotle 
has been already noticed : the transcendence of 
the Supreme Being, Thought of Thought, God 
on the one hand, yet the immanence of this high- 
est principle in the world and man on the other. 
Strato working at this dualism of the master, 
rejected the transcendent part both in Man and 
God. The human Nous or Thought is one with 
perception; the divine Rous is one with the 
world. Thus he reacts from the supreme prin- 
ciple of his master to pantheism or immanence. 
His attack is against an external absolute power 
or authority, hence it would turn against an 
absolute political ruler like Alexander, and also 
aofainst an absolute intellectual ruler like Aris- 
totle. This, at bottom, shows the same spiritual 
tendency as the reaction of Arcesilaus of the Mid- 
dle Academy against the Platonic doctrine. Both 
are moving in opposition to a prescribed authority 


in philosophy, which ought to develop the free 
activity of the spirit. Both are revolts against 
the domination of an external autocratic prin- 
ciple of mind, and correspond to the contem- 
porary political revolts against the autocratic 
authority capriciously exercised by the successors 
of Alexander. 

But again the mighty genius of the master 
after a period of protect and partial obscuration 
makes itself valid in his School, and the result 
is a new period in its history. 

The third stage of the Peripateticism is a 
period of commentators, zealous expositors, 
who have returned to the fountain head and 
occupy themselves with an erudite and detailed 
study of the Aristotelian writings. The first 
important Scholarch to be mentioned in this 
connection is Andronicus of Ehodes, belono^ino- 

' CO 

to the first half of the last century B. C, and 
hence quite cotemporaneous with the beginning 
of the New Academy, which likewise sought to 
get back to Plato out of skepticism. Androni- 
cus edited and interpreted the works of Aristotle 
afresh,' and his pupil Bocthus continued the task. 
At the same time the spirit of the Roman age in 
the form of eclecticism made itself felt in the 
Peripatetic School as well as in the Platonic, as 
is seen in the pseudo-Aristotelian treatise De 
Mundo written in the first century B.C. 

The line of commentators continues in the 


school at Athens for quite 300 years, teaching, 
interpreting, and writing without much origi- 
nality, maintaining themselves on pretty much 
the same dead level of mediocrity. Finally the 
line concludes in the greatest of them all, Alex- 
ander of Aphodisias, called the exegete jjar 
excellence.^ even proclaimed a second Aristotle 
by some extravagant admirers. His time in the 
School was from the year 198 A. D. to 211 
A. D., the Eoman Emperor during this period 
being Septimus Severus. He may have had 
some successors in the School, but they are not 
known with any definiteness, and certainly were 
of small importance. 

The Neo-Hellenic movement was already set- 
ting in, which was a far deeper and grander 
return to Hellenism than that of either the 
Platonic or Aristotelian Schools, which had 
chiefly gone back to the dogmas of the two 
masters. It is no wonder then that both Schools 
were gradually absorbed into this new philo- 
sophical movement, which sought not merely to 
restore formal Aristotelianism and Platonism 
(hence the term Neo-Platonism is not a good 
one) but the entire Hellenic Philosophy, and to 
make it the fundamental principle of the great 
religious regeneration which was expressing 
itself in Christianity. 

This, however, brings us to the end of the 
distinctively scholastic (or dogmatic) Movement 


of Greek Philosophy in the Hellenistic Period. 
The Athenian Schools have run their course, 
which we have seen to correspond in a general 
way to the social and institutional changes of 
the ancient world to which they belonged. Still 
amid all their ups and downs these Schools 
clung to the doctrines of their respective founders, 
even if they had at times to contradict them- 
selves in doing so. The Middle Academy still 
called itself Platonic and apparently taught Plato's 
principles in conjunction with its skepticism. 
Strato still considered himself an Aristotelian 
though he renounced Aristotle's transcendent 
Thought of Thought. Thus the philosophical 
Schools remained essentially prescriptive, holding 
fast to the transmitted doctrine, even when 
in partial reaction from it; in other words 
they never fully renounced their dogmatic 

Hence they naturally beget a deeper opposition 
than any that lies inside their Schools, an oppo- 
sition which denies wholly their prescriptive 
basis as well as their inherited doctrines. This 
is then an assault upon the very principle of the 
School as the preserver and propagator of philo- 
sophic dogmas, which in one way or other, atfirm 
the validity of our knowledge of the object. 
Skepticism breaks the unity of Thought and 
Being which underlies the whole Hellenic Period. 
It denies that what we think necessarily is ; the 


truth of the thing known we cannot know, it is a 
mere appearance. Yet somehow we do know 
that it is an appearance, and so the skeptical atti- 
tude has its Dogmatism also, and asserts it 
ao-ainst all Dogmatism, which thus divides within 
itself into two opposite forms, positive and nega- 
tive. Hence the following is the second or sep- 
arative stage in the total sweep of the present 
(Theoretic) Movement. 

II. Sl'epticism (^negative). This is the nega- 
tive counterpart and indeed product of- philoso- 
phical Dogmatism, which we have just considered. 
Skepticism is primarily a reaction against the im- 
perialistic tendency of Philosophy. Especially 
the system dominated externally by a first princi- 
ple and ordering everything according to its 
behest begins to be questioned by Skepticism in 
the interest of freedom. The inherent Dogma- 
tism of European spirit as expressed in its supreme 
Discipline is now brought to light by itself in one 
of its manifestations, the skeptical. Philosophy, 
being imperial in its law or principle commands 
the individual, who has nothing to do but obey or 
revolt. In Dogmatism he obeys, in Skepticism 
he revolts. But that the individual is to make 
the law which commands him, is a height to which 
Skepticism with its negative never reaches in spite 
of its protest against external authority. Nor 
has European philosophy reached it consciously 
to this day. Only the Occidental Discipline as the 


expression of a free institutional world can bring 
to light completely and positively that thought 
which shows its first blind and helpless struggle 
in Greek Skepticism. Thus we may catch here 
an early premonition of the coming science of 
Psychology, as the successor of Philosophy. 

The skeptical affirmation is that the essence of 
Being is Appearance. Things have no essence, 
no truth in themselves ; they are simply what 
they seem to us. We cannot, therefore, know 
them as they are, but as they affect us. 
There is no thouajht in this thino; as far as we 
can tell, no genus, no universal. Thus Skepti- 
cism is a philosophy which negatives philosophy 
declaring that the essence of Being is no essenc® 
at all, but its opposite, an appearance, a lie. 

The general formula of Hellenisticism is that 
the essence of Being is the Universal individual- 
ized, that is, divided, made particular. Dog- 
matism affirms this Universal individualized to be 
reality, truth; Skepticism affirms this Universal 
individualized to be unreality, appearance, a 
contradiction in terms. For the individual is 
just the opposite of the Universal, which vanishes 
into the individual when held off against it. So 
the Universal individualized is the complete 
evanishment of the Universal; that is, the skep- 
tical Ego posits the Universal individualized to 
be merely individual (or what appears tome), 
while the dogmatic or scholastic Ego posits the 


Universal individualized to be still universal. 
Such is the inner dialectical movement of these 
two spheres of Hellenisticism, in which the Uni- 
versal is seeking to be the complete psychical 
process of itself, which process is to separate itself 
into individuals and then to return to itself out 
of this self-separation. The inadequacy of Dog- 
matism is that the Universal is not made to 
evolve internally its own difference (or its indi- 
viduals), but is clapped upon the same from the 
outside by the dogmatic Ego. The inadequacy 
of Skepticism is that the difference (or the indi- 
vidual) is not made to evolve out of itself and 
return to the Universal, in other words, that the 
Negative is not made to overcome itself and so 
become positive, but remains fixed in its own 
self-assertion. Thus Skepticism may and docs 
usually become as dogmatic as Dogmatism 
itself. The contradiction which it points out in 
the dogmatic schools becomes its own, particularly 
when it too makes itself a dogmatic school, 
which it will not fail to do. 

The germ of Skepticism may be traced in the 
very birth of Philosophy, which sprang from a 
reaction against the absolutism of an Oriental 
Will divine and human. Zeno, the Eleatic, 
showed it in his negative Dialectic, and particu- 
larly the Sophists in their maxim that man is 
the measure of all things. Socrates cannot be 
left out with his " I know that I do not know." 


But as already said, philosophical Skepticism 
cannot arise till there is a Philosophy with a 
system. For Skepticism must have some kind 
of system in refuting system, some kind of 
knowledge in denying knowledge. 

Thus Philosophy as affirmative casts this pe- 
culiar neo^ative image of itself as a kind of Me- 
phistophelean companion to itself, which never 
fails to appear with it through all ages. The 
most important of these Hellenistic skeptics and 
their work we may briefly glance at. 

1. Pyrrho. Distinctly the first philosophical 
skeptic, since philosophy had to develop to the 
point of affirmmg truth to be objective and uni- 
versal, before such a proposition could be denied. 
The Athenian Movement (Socrates, Plato and 
Aristotle) had declared, in general, the universal 
validity of Thought; this is what Pyrrho assails, 
he is the primal antagonist of Athenian Univer- 
salism. He is not of Athens, but an Elean, and 
may have felt that Olympia, seat of Zeus, de- 
served pre-eminence instead of the city of Pallas 
Athena. He also went with Alexander's army 
as far as India in the company of Anaxarchus, a 
follower of Democritus ; both of which facts may 
have had an influence upon his negative attitude 
toward Athenian domination in philosophy. He 
is supposed to have had some connection with two 
Socratic offshoots, that of Megara and that of 
Elis, in which latter province he lived; both of 


these offshoots were dialectical and critical rather 
than creative. His life lies between 365 B. C. 
and 275 B. C, so that he was a younger contem- 
porary of Aristotle, 43 years old when the latter 
died, and also was a witness of the rise of the Stoic 
and Epicurean Schools in addition to the Academy 
and Lyceum. Thus the Athenian empire was 
transferred from the political to the intellectual 
work] , and another Peloponnesian War broke out, 
the two chief hostile protagonists against Athens 
being Pyrrho and Timon (of Phlius), both 
Peloponnesians, but not Spartans, since the latter 
did not philosophize, and were averse even to 
talking. We shall see that a doctrinal point of 
Timon was aphasia, talklessness, and also of 
Pyrrho (though Timon seems to have first used 
the word) by which they proposed to put down 
or refute Attic volubility. 

It was consistent in Pyrrho not to leave any 
writings, and indeed not to converse at all ; still 
he had to talk a little just for the purpose of 
fighting the Athenian devil with his own fire. 
The starting-point of Pyrrho was, Man cannot 
know the essence of things, or the essence of 
Being is to have no essence, at least for us. 
What then are we to do? As we cannot know 
the object, the best is to withhold judgment 
(^cpoche) ; surely from this follows also that we 
should hold our tongue (aphasia). Nothing 
ought to paralyze the talking member more com- 


pletely than the knowledge that we can know 
nothing. Here we observe the contradiction in- 
herent in all Skepticism, it is dogmatic in deny- 
ing Dogmatism, it knows all about the unknowa- 
ble, it covertly reaffirms what it is refuting. 

Though this difficulty lies in Pyrrho's general 
principle, there is no doubt that he did good 
work in pointing out and criticising the formal 
and inadequate views of the Schools. Already 
philosophy had begun to transmit categories and 
maxims externally, its divisions were accepted 
as final, authority began to rule in the very cita- 
del of freedom, in the self -active mind. After 
a great original movement like the Athenian, 
formalism sets in and really destroys the very 
purpose of philosophizing. Now Pyrrho wins 
his eternal fame because he was the first philos- 
opher who made philosophy itself assail its own 
formalism, made it batter down its own external 
autocratic authority and assert freedom, though 
this was as yet only a negative freedom. When 
the soul has gone out of the philosophic body 
Skepticism first proclaims the fact of death, 
though it has no power in itself of bringing back 
life. Pyrrho, therefore, belongs to all times, 
and represents a typical fact not only in Phi- 
losophy, but also in Religion, in Literature, in 
Art, and in Institutions. His part is a negative 
part, as far as he is concerned, ])ut in the total 
process of the AH (the Pampsychosis) he is ne- 


gating a negative, he is destroying what has 
ah-eacly become destructive, and must be burnt 
up to prepare for the new positive era. 

Pyrrho, as a result of his philosophical Skep- 
ticism, enforced the mental attitude which he 
called ataraxia, impassiveness, which has its 
ethical side and connects him with the Stoics and 
Epicureans. But his ataraxia springs from 
his skeptical philosophy and is not primarily 

Already we have mentioned Timon, the friend 
and follower of Pyrrho, who, in spite of the 
doctrine of suspension of judgment and of 
aphasia^ wrote books which very decisively pro- 
nounced judgment upon the philosophers. In 
those biting epigrams of his (called silloi) some 
of which have come down to us, he shows an 
unbridled tongue and damns Dogmatism in a 
most dogmatic and discourteous manner. 

Strictly speaking there could be no system of 
Skepticism, since that would imply a funda- 
mental principle, which the skeptics denied. 
Nor could there well be a School holding the 
followers together by a common thought, for it 
was just that common thought of which they 
were skeptical. Hence we need not be sur- 
prised to find that this early Skepticism was taken 
up by the Middle Academy which united it with a 
dogmatic principle, and maintained both in spite 
of the contradiction. Herewith Skepticism as 


an active original force quite vanishes for more 
than two centuries. 

But when the Middle Academy abandoned 
Skepticism, and, adopting Eclecticism, became 
the New Academy, the skeptical consciousness 
began to awaken and after a time started a fresh 
movement in its own right and under its own 

2. Aenesidemus. This is the name of the 
chief reviver of the Pyrrhonian Skepticism. He 
is supposed to have lived a little before the Chris- 
tian Era, though his exact period is uncertain. 
He came from Gnossus in Crete, taught in Alex- 
andria, and wrote a book in which are given the 
so-called ten tropes of Skepticism, or reasons for 
discreditino: all our knowledge of thino-s. These 
reasons are founded upon the nature of the sub- 
ject perceiving, the object perceived, and the 
relation between the two. Aenesidemus herein 
goes back to the general standpoint of Sophisti- 
cism. Yet we see that he has started to system- 
atize Skepticism, which we may suppose is his 
chief advance upon Pyrrho. Thus his dogmatic 
procedure becomes pronounced, and his tropes 
are means of knowing that things cannot 
be known, and therefore of imparting quite a 
little bit of knowledge about those unknowable 

Another skeptic, Agrippa, added five tropes, 
which are more profound as well as more general 


than those of Aenesidemus. Finally these tropes 
are reduced to two. In such changes we see an 
attempt to order Skepticism into a system, but 
this Skepticism seems to be somewhat skeptical 
of its own system. Still the old contradiction 
grows more explicit: in denying that he can 
know truth, the skeptic implies the truth of his 
denial. He was aware of this dogmatic implica- 
tion in his Skepticism, and sought to get rid of it 
by a new denial, which could only mean the de- 
nial of his denial. Where then was his Skep- 

3. Sextus Empiricus. This is the only ancient 
skeptic whose writings have been preserved with 
any degree of completeness. He lived about 
200 A. D., and is supposed to have resided at 
Alexandria and also at Athens. Very distinctly 
does the fact come out in Sextus that the skeptics 
form a school with its history, its body of doc- 
trines, also with its great names, and its inher- 
ited enemies. It is a system similar to the other 
dogmatic systems which it is assailing for their 
Dogmatism. It has its regular tenets, its pre- 
scribed lines of procedure, its assumptions which 
require proof. In Sextus Skepticism has become 
quite as scholastic as the Schools which it com- 
bats for this very reason. He brings his skep- 
tical principle against the truth of all the sciences, 
.metaphysical, physical and ethical. Thus Skep- 
ticism which is to permit no self-assertion, asserts 


itself veiy emphatically and profusely iu those 
writings of Sextus. 

Of this inner contradiction in himself and in 
his books Sextus is aware ; keen antaofonists had 
made it only too evident. So he declares him- 
self opposed to both sorts of Dogmatism, to that 
of the Peripatetics and Stoics, who affirm the 
knowability of things, and to that of the Aca- 
demics who affirm the unknowability of things. 
The skeptical objection is to the positive affirma- 
tion in each case. Sextus the skeptic affirms 
very positively that one is not to affirm positively. 
It must be confessed that he shows little suspen- 
sion of judgment in his argument for suspension 
of judgment, and his aphasia has talked itself 
out in two (some say three) considerable books, 
in which his imperturbability {ataraxia) often 
shows a state of perturbation at the dogged 

It is manifest that the inherent negative 
nature of Skepticism has negated itself and has 
shown the underlying affirmation in its denial. 
There are many details in Sextus which we here 
pass over. His general place in the sweep of 
philosophical Skepticism is to have made its 
inner contradiction evident to his age, which, 
restless as it was spiritually, cannot find peace in 
such a doctrine. Still Skepticism performed a 
great function in the movement of ancient 
Philosophy, by exposing its assumption, its 


authoritative and dogmatic character, which, in 
form at least, sought to dominate the free spirit 
from the outside. The philosophic system 
posits the essence of being as this all-ruling 
principle; the Skeptic demands, why should it 
rule me, and proceeds to deny its supremacy. 
Thus Skepticism is always a step in spiritual 
freedom, though its freedom be but negative. 
Moreover it winds up in a system also, with a 
dogmatic principle denying all dogmas. Thus it 
anciently rounded itself out to a kind of negative 

Still Skepticism is not going to die ; it has an 
abiding principle as the critique of all philo- 
sophic systematizing, which never fails to have 
the same old danger of becoming an external 
dogmatic authority over the free self. In fact. 
Skepticism lays bare, though it cannot remedy, 
the inherent defect in all Philosophy as the 
European world-discipline. Philosophy becomes 
imperial, absolute, autocratic, laying down its 
principle as the final law governing spirit, which 
is expected to acquiesce. Still in Si^epticism 
spirit revolts, and may overturn the prevailing 
philosophy by a revolution, which revolution, 
however, is likely to end in a new dogmatism or 
a new despotism. Sextus Empiricus belonged to 
the age of Roman imperialism, which the world 
could not yet shake off ; though it protested and 
revolted and fought, it always fell back into the 


arms of a new imperial tyrant. The Skepticism 
of Sextus voices in its way the time's protest, 
and also shows the time's impotence. 

The reader will observe that Skepticism has 
a humorous if not comic strain in its very 
character which comes to the surface in any 
complete statement of it. Seen in its depths 
it is always affirming what it denies, being 
through its negative nature self -annulling, nuga- 
tory, absurd, comic in itself. It is a fire which 
burns itself up while burning up something 
else which is combustible. Hence it often takes 
a bitter satirical form, which, however, is always 
a boomerang. The damnation which it hurls 
against Dogmatism (often very effectively) is 
equally or even more deeply true of itself, 
so that the charitable reader is frequently com- 
pelled to cry out: O, my brother, you are 
another. But let such an undignified comedy be 
at once banished from the presence of divine 

Thus we have traced down through the 
Hellenistic Period two philosophical threads, the 
dogmatic and the skeptical, or the positive and 
the negative. Both arose in Greece and were 
born of Greek conditions belonging to the age 
of Alexander. Then a new world-conqueror 
appears, not a Greek, but one coming out of the 
West! What will he do with Greek thought? 
He will take possession of it, but far more 


deeply it will take possession of him, and 
overlay his native bent with a philosophical 
training. The Eoman is developing his imperial- 
istic character and moving toward universal 
domination, when Greek philosophy meets him 
in its two leading forms — Dogmatism and Skep- 
ticism. He will not become a partisan of either, 
bat will assume the attitude of a judge over 
both, and even in Philosophy enact the dispenser 
of justice. He will choose some doctrines from 
each side, making his Ego the lord over all these 
Greek Schools of Philosophy, as becomes the 
ruler of the world. For he, the monarch over 
the monarchs of all nations, must assert himself 
as autocrat over autocratic Philosophy, which 
is nationally a Greek. The path for choosing 
has been already made by Skepticism, which has 
assailed the authority of the dogmatic Philoso- 
phies, asserting the right of the individual 
to reject and consequently to select, according 
to insight and needs. The chooser must, there- 
fore, know what is true, in order to make 
his selection out of the materials which lie 
before him. Thus we reach the third stage 
of the present Theoretic Movement. 

HI. Synceetism or Eclecticism. — After a 
great struggle of parties, political or philosoph- 
ical, there rises in many minds a tendency to 
compromise, to select the good in each and make 
a new party. Such a bent is always present in 


some individuals, but at given periods it becomes 
national, or indeed universal. In the matter of 
Philosophy, a period of this sort began to a[)pear 
in the second century B. C, and its germs can 
be found sprouting in the third century B. C. 
In fact some such Syncretism, by which name 
Eclecticism is also called, we may trace already 
in the early Hellenic Period during which many 
Philosophies rose to the surface almost simul- 
taneously. Even Plato, at one time of his life, 
might be termed an eclectic. But, on the whole, 
the great Athenian thinkers assimulated the pre- 
ceding Philosophies into their own, making the 
same an organic part of a greater philosophic 

Such a power of assimilation is, however, 
largely wanting in the Hellenistic Period, for no 
great original thinker arises with a thought capa- 
ble of taking up and organizing into a new sys- 
tem the previous Philosophies in which antiquity 
had expressed itself. Plato and Aristotle remain 
the two canonical books of the philosophical 
Bible, with exegesis piled mountain high down 
the ages, and with many small single rivulets 
running in various directions out of the great 
fountain-head. Four leadins; Schools at Athens, 
with many lesser Schools at different places de- 
velop various sides of the one great Thought 
which underlies Athenian Universalism as ex- 
pressed by its three supreme philosophies. Each 



of these Schools antagonized the rest and they 
filled all Greece with disputes, subtleties, and 
negations, which in the course of time made even 
the disputants long for a truce. Eclecticism was 
the result which we can hardly consider a definite 
school, but rather a tendency or even a fashion 
of time, in which everybody may indulge accord- 
ing to insight, taste, fancy, or associations. 

It is impossible to regard Eclecticism as a very 
profound thing, or its followers as very profound 
men. It had its chief harvest in the Roman 
mind and in the Roman world during the century 
before and after the Christian Era. Eclecticism 
was old Rome's first attempt to think and just 
about its last. The Roman had an enor- 
mous will-power, but small thought-power; left 
to his native bent he expressed his thinking 
by doing. Really Thought had no meaning 
for him except as directly leading to action. 
Science he might condescendingly call useful 
if he could put it into practice without too much 
delay. Herein he was quite the opposite of the 
intellectual Greek who possessed the faculty of 
pursuing science for its own sake. Especially 
did he delight in thinking Thought, which act 
Socrates, Plato and Aristotle enthrone at the 
summit of human attainment. Not so the 
Roman, who would saj^: My Intellect must be 
useful to my Will ; but the Greek would say : 
My Will must be useful to my Intellect. So the 


one put all of his thinking into action and the 
other all of his action into thinking. " Will 
your philosophy help conquer this world before 
me and rule the nations? " asked the Eonian of 
the Greek, who replied: "It will help you to 
conquer the world within you and to rule your 
self." "I'll take some of it," replied the 
Roman after a while, for he was in no hurry 
to begin thinking ; but finally he started to select 
this and that doctrine from the various Greek 
Schools, whatever he might find useful for his 
Roman ends. Quite like the Anglo-Saxon of 
to-day, English or American, adoring his God 
Utility, mighty in doing, weak in thinking. To 
Cicero, the silver-tongued Roman spokesman of 
Eclecticism, even God is useful, otherwise not 
much, if He exists at all. Thus the one divine 
attribute is utility, which however undoes all 
true divinity. 

Still Eclecticism arose in Greece before it 
reached Rome. It is a part of a process which 
presupposes both Dogmatism and Skepticism. 
First is the separation and strife of the dogmas 
of the Schools ; second is the dogma denying 
the validity of all dogmas — a new separation 
and strife ; then comes peace and also partnership 
among the dogmas, since that negative dogma 
of Skepticism has negated all dogmas, itself 
included, as isolated dogmas. So they are no 


longer hostile to one another but come together 
and fraternize under a new power. 

Eclecticism takes for granted a multiplicity of 
doctrines, from which the choice is to be made; 
the Ego is the chooser, independent, possibly 
capricious, who is to take what pleases him or is 
useful for his ends. Here again we may note 
the Roman conqueror with the world at his feet ; 
in the present case Greek Philosophy is spread 
out before him for his choice. Knowing his 
wants, he selects what is useful for meeting 
them, and lets the rest go. Every individual is 
thus a kind of master over Philosophy, which is 
likely in turn to become master over him and 
lead him to self-mastery, or make him ethical, 
to Avhich end all later Greek Philosophy chiefly 
directed itself. 

Moreover, we see in Eclecticism a return to 
the positive or dogmatic principle (first stage) 
through the negative or skeptical (second stage), 
which fact shows it to be the third stage of a 
psychical movement, here named the Theoretic 
Movement of the Hellenistic Period. In other 
words, Eclecticism is a return to Dogmatism 
through Skepticism, and shows a commingling 
of its two antecedents in the doctrine of Prob- 
jibilism, which is not altogether skeptical nor 
altogether certain or dogmatic, but both of them 
in one. 

Looking back at the general formula of the 


Hellenistic Period we find now that the Universal 
individualizes itself in a new way, namely in the 
individual who selects and adopts certain doc- 
trines which he has taken from the various 
Schools of Philosophy. Over the multiplicity of 
dogmas stands the individual who has appro- 
priated them all and judges them by his criterion 
of value. This tendency doubtless shows itself 
in the time of the early Greek Schools, bnt its 
culmination belongs emphatically to the Roman 
epoch of universal conquest and rule, of which 
it is more nearly the theoretic side than any 
other kind of Philosophy. 

1. Greek Eclecticism. The first Eclecticism 
properly belongs to Greece and the Middle 
Academy. Thus its origin is philosophical. 
"When Arcesilaus could unite the Platonic dogma 
with the Pyrrhonic denial of dogma, he had 
started Eclecticism (or Syncretism, which 
term emphasises the combining rather than the 
choosing). Still further, when Carneades had 
elaborated his doctrine of Probabilism, he made 
a new synthesis of the positive and the negative 
in Thought, a union of the is and of the is-not 
in the may -he, in which secretly lurks the may- 

Probabilism is a thinking which is simply a 
preparation for action. It puts together certain 
facts and from these casts up the probability of 
a future event which calls for the deed. To 


speculate upon past probabilities is an idle busi- 
ness. It once seemed probable that Hannibal 
would take Kome, but he did not, and that is the 
end of the probability. What might have hap- 
pened if Hannibal had taken Rome, the Eoman 
did not trouble himself about, but he did con- 
sider the probabilities of victory in an impend- 
ing battle by taking every means to secure it. 
A purely speculative probability, that of thought, 
is not worth the thought. But a reckoning of 
probability as a preparation for the deed is what 
the practical man must perform, or act blindly. 
The doctrine of Probabilism is thus a philos- 
ophy of action, and appealed strongly to the 
Roman, and doubtless gave him much real help. 
Here, then, Greek thinking and Roman doing 
begin to join hands and co-operate. 

Still this first Eclecticism of the Middle Acad- 
emy, culminatmg in the Probabilism of Car- 
neades, was a direct outgrowth of Greek philos- 
ophy and not at all an intentional adaptation to 
Roman ends. It suited the time, however, and 
the intellectual need of the new world-people. 
For the Greeks, who were once the world-people, 
were so no longer, their place had been taken by 
the Romans, who were at this time (second and 
first century B. C.) toiling at their mighty his- 
torical task. Of course when we speak of the 
Greeks in the present connection, we mean the 
contemporaries of the Romans, not the Mara- 


thonian Greeks, who also had shown colossal 
will-power, which, however, seems to have ex- 
hausted itself in the desperate struggles, outer 
and inner, of the fifth century B.C. Then that 
and the next century brought forth the great 
Athenian philosophers, the most gigantic and 
deepest-reaching minds that Greece ever pro- 
duced (with the single exception of Homer), 
who had the power of turning the whole Greek 
national character from Will to Intellect, and 
of making themselves the thinkers of their race. 

Still there were Greek philosophers who more 
or less consciously adapted their doctrine to the 
Roman character. These we may briefly desig- 

2. Romanizing Greek Eclecticism. We have 
already noted that the Middle Academy after 
Carneades substantially threw its Skepticism aside 
and became eclectic in a postitive fashion (under 
Philo of Larissa and Antiochus of Ascalon). 
And something of the same sort occurred at 
about the same time in the Peripatetic School. 
It may be said that these Greek Schools were 
Romanizing on the one hand and on the other 
were being Romanized. Hardly different could 
be the situation in the first century B. C. 
During this period the two other Athenian 
Schools, Stoic and Epicurean (hereafter to be con- 
sidered in the Ethical Movement of Hollenisti- 
cism), Romanized with great success, especially 


the Stoic School. Pancetius of Rhodes ( 180-112 
B. C.) was the first important man to introduce 
Stoicism into Rome, winning the friendship of 
Scipio and LtfiUus. More popuhir and influen- 
tial his pupil, Posidonius, seems to have been in 
the matter of instruction, whose activity belongs 
to the first half of the first century B. C, and 
extends over the whole Roman Empire from 
Cadiz in Spain to Rhodes and Athens in the East. 
The missionary and popular writer (a journalist 
he would have been to-day) of his cause he may 
be regarded, though less original than his master, 
Panffitius. Thus Eclectic Stoicism becomes uni- 
versally known to the Roman educated world, 
whose members begin to choose for themseves 
from the various branches of the Greek uni- 

3. Roman Hellenizing Eclecticism. Very nat- 
urally this Roman Eclecticism begins to express 
itself in the native tongue of Rome, which could 
find a grammatical pattern for itself in the fully 
developed Greek language. The retro-active in- 
fluence must have shown itself from the start : as 
the Hellenes Romanized, so the Romans Hellcn- 
ized. The appropriation of Greek art, literature 
and philosophy had to become finally the work of 
the Romans themselves. The empire of Rome 
must be intellectual as well as political; she must 
seek to rule the philosophies as well as the na- 
tions, the word as well as the deed. 


Here we can place the aspiration and to a cer- 
tain degree the achievement of Cicero. Greek 
oratory, reborn in him, speaks at Rome upon 
Roman affairs ; but he makes Greek philosophy 
talk Latin to all future ao^es with such eleijance 
and charm of style that its propagation and its 
perpetuity are in no small degree due to him. 
Even at the present time the number is not small 
who derive their sole idea of philosophy from 
reading Cicero at College or the High School. 
In fact the general popular conception of the 
philosophic discipline is largely Ciceronian to- 
day. The deeper-digging specialists in philos- 
ophy are apt to despise Cicero because he is not 
what they are, but they will hardly do as much, 
all of them put together, for the sacred cause as ho 
did. It is not hard now to point out his mistakes, 
his superficial views, his lack of originality and 
all the other defects ; in spite of our regard for the 
man, we cannot help taking a little furtive laugh 
at him, when he starts on one of his grandiose 
rhetorical flights, which of themselves constitute 
a unique species of philosophical spread-eagleism, 
always dear to the popular heart. Cicero is the 
greatest of all phil-Hellenes ; not only Rome but 
all civilization he has helped to Hellenize, having 
in this line done more than any other mention- 
able person. During the Middle Ages his light 
did not go out, and in the Renascence he was the 


central literary luminary and chief trainer of the 
new-born spirit. 

Cicero prochiims himself an Eclectic with Stoic 
preferences; he selects, arranges and utters his 
favorite doctrines of the Greek Schools, which 
have to pass through him on their way down 
time. Cicero's Eclecticism is still a working 
power. Other Romans such as Varro and the 
Sextii, famous in their day, belonged to the same 
general tendency, but their works are lost, and 
probably would not add much to those of Cicero. 

The spirit of the time showed itself in rehgion, 
as the Roman practiced his Eclecticism upon the 
Gods of the nations, making himself in his choice 
a kind of God over them all. In politics the 
eclectic tendency manifested itself in the Roman 
State of this period, with its peculiar comming- 
ling of Aristocracy, Democracy, and Monarchy. 
But the philosopher of Eclecticism took the en- 
tire philosophic Norm — Metaphysics, Physics, 
and Ethics — which he subjected to his selection, 
taking what parts he wanted and putting them 
together without regard to their inner principle 
of order. In this way his individual Ego as think- 
ing asserts itself over the Norm, determining it 
from the outside. 

Thus the Theoretic Movement of Hellenistic! sm 
completes itself by the Universal individualizing 
itself in the thinking in<lividual who determines 
his own philosophic Norm, and is not determined 


by it, as Avas the case in Dogmatism. He 
has passed through three stages as this thinking 
Self — that of accepting, denying, and finally 
determining the philosophic Norm for himself. 
We have now shown the individual as thinking ; 
next this thinking individual is to be seen acting^ 
or realizing himself in deed and conduct. From 
Intellect wo go to Will, which makes outside 
what is inside, passing from Thought to Action, 
from the Theoretical to the Practical Movement 
of the Hellenistic Period. This Movement like- 
wise we shall find beo;inning far back in the 
Hellenic Period, and is notably prominent in 
Plato and Aristotle; still it docs not separate 
itself from the total Norm and start out for 
itself till the epoch of Hellenisticism, in which 
it is the central and most voluminous stream. 

II. The Practical Movement. 

We place the present Movement as second in 
the Hellenistic Period, since its general character 
is that the individual now makes external in act 
what he had theoretically taken up in thought. 
Thus the Movement is psychically separative, as 
is the Will generally; what the Ego has in- 
ternalized through Intellect, it separates from 
itself and realizes in conduct. 

From this psychical point of view we have to 
order the present and the preceding movements. 


In the meanwhile it must not be forgotten that 
their evolution is not simply successive, but also 
synchronous; the main streams run parallel, 
and to a certain extent also their subdivisions, 
the streamlets. For instance, the Theoretical 
and the Practical Movements start quite abreast 
in the same place (Athens), and at about the 
same time (a little before 300 B. C). The 
first successors in the Schools of Plato and 
Aristotle, and the founders of Stoicism and 
Epicureanism, belong essentially to the same 
generation and are the product of the epoch of 
transition from the Hellenic to the Hellenistic 
Period. And these two primary divisions 
(Theoretic and Practical) as well as their leading 
subdivisions maintain their separation and their 
individuality while Hellenisticism lasts. 

The Practical Movement involves a change in 
the sweep of the philosophic Norm, which now 
becomes dominantly ethical. Metaphysics and 
Physics are still studied, but their purpose is 
Ethics. The Good in Plato and Aristotle is the 
intellectual Good, whose object is to produce the 
Philosopher in thought. But the Good in Hel- 
lenisticism is the practical Good whose object is to 
produce the Wise Man in conduct. Ethics in the 
first case is the means, in the second case it is 
the end. The total philosophical Norm is pres- 
ent in both cases, but we see how different is the 
stress or the ideal point of striving. The scien- 


tific interest is subordinated to the ethical. This 
corresponds deeply to a need of the age, which 
had to be made moral, internally self-deter- 
mined throuo;h the moral law. The institutional 
law of the Greek City- State was lost forever, 
and the institutional law of the Roman World- 
State had not yet arisen. Society would have 
gone to pieces in sheer lawlessness, but for 
this cultivation of the inner moral spirit of its 
best men. Hence the stress of the Age falls 
upon Ethics for salvation. 

Moreover, not only man in general but all 
knowledge is to be moralized. It has been made 
only too clear that science itself can become ut- 
terly depraved, diabolic, destructive of the so- 
cial order and of and hence of man, unless it 
undergo a transformation in the individual and 
be subjected to an ethical end. The moraliza- 
tion of knowledge is one of the chief functions 
of Hellenisticisni, wherein the Stoics play a very 
important part. Whatever we learn is in itself 
of small worth till it be turned to account in 
making us virtuous. The philosophical Norm 
thus becomes ethical. 

It may well be repeated that the Greek City- 
State, subjected first to Macedon and then to 
Rome, has lost its autonomous character, through 
which both Plato and Aristotle made the individ- 
ual ethical. Autonomy must, accordinglj^, go 
inside the man, and be cultivated there, while the 


civil authority, having become alien and external, 
can only be regarded with indifference. Hence 
the rise of incivism in this epoch of pure Ethics, 
or, more exactly stated, the moral has become 
indifferent, if not hostile, to the institutional. 
Moreover, the doctrine of apathy or impassive- 
ness, which has such an important place in all 
the systems of Hellenisticism, Stoic, Epicurean, 
Skeptic, and even Dogmatic, is at bottom the Greek 
steeling himself to the separation from his com- 
munal life, weaning himself from the breast of 
his institutional mother. Only with difficulty 
can we moderns think ourselves back into such a 
situation, to which the Greek was peculiarly sen- 
sitive. Endure, endure, is the painful cry of 
Hellenistic Ethics, painful from its very suppres- 
sion of pain. We can hear or even see that cry 
in the fragments of Greek art, especially in the 
sculpture of this period. An external power like 
Fate has swooped down upon our beautiful Hel- 
lenic world and wiped out its free public life ; 
but this inner world of ours, the moral life, Fate 
cannot reach, at least not without our consent. 
Let us cultivate it, and suppress our s®rrows — 
and so the Greek with an agonizing world-pain 
slowly moved from Civics to Ethics, from a com- 
munal to a moral manhood, and with that Greek 
tongue of his expressed the same for all coming 

In each individual, therefore, the Universal in 


the form of the inner or moral hiw is realized. 
This, however, can only lead to a struggle of in- 
dividuals, to meet which a new outer law grad- 
ually appears, for all and over all. The phe- 
nomenon of Roman Law is intimately connected 
with the movement of Hellenistic Ethics, 
especially with Stoicism, whose moral cosmo- 
politanism is made legal and authoritative by the 
jurisprudence of Rome. Thus the moral spirit 
has not only put down nature in the form of 
physical appetite and passion (Naturism), but 
has also gone far toward doing away with the in- 
equalities of birth and race (Nativism). 

In general, we see the following process in this 
Practical Movement : The moral element (sub- 
jective) in the individual separates itself from 
the institutional element (objective) in the 
Greek City-State, first asserting (Stoic) and 
then denying (Epicurean) its own universality, 
which is then reaffirmed by the Roman World- 
State with its law. Thus the moral principle 
after being estranged from the institutional, and 
even from itself, returns to the same and shapes 
the external law governing the world. 

Accordingly this second or Practical Move- 
ment of the Hellenistic Period will show three 
stages : First is Stoicism in which the Univer- 
sal as the Good is affirmed, and is taken as the 
immediate end of the individual by himself, 
commanding him to obey its behests. Second is 


Epicureanism, in which the Universal as the 
Good is denied to be the end, but is reduced to 
a means for the individual and his gratification. 
Third is Legalism in which the Universal as the 
Good is again affirmed, not merely as a subjec- 
tive behest, but as an objective Law, whose 
command is over all. 

Such are the three stages of the present 
sphere, of which the last is, in certain respects, 
an outgrowth of the two former. But, when 
once started, it runs parallel with them for sev- 
eral hundred years, down through the Hellenistic 

I. Stoicism — The Moral Law. — One of the 
chief acquisitions given by the Hellenistic Period 
to the race was the distinct affirmation and prac- 
tical realization in conduct of the Moral Law. 
This was particularly the great contribution of 
the Stoics. Undoubtedly the Athenian philoso- 
phers (Socrates, Plato and Aristotle) had devel- 
oped the moral element of man, but this was 
never completely separated from the communal 
hfe of the City-State with its laws and customs. 
Hence there always remained a tie or thread 
which bound up the individual immediately with 
his native Athenian institutions. Thus he was 
not fully freed of the prescribed, the estab- 
lished ; he was not altogether thrown back upon 
himself and made a law unto himself. The 
umbilical cord of nativism was not completely 


severed even in thought by the greatest Greek 
thinkers. But the time has come when the 
separation must take phice, and the man has 
appeared who is to perform the operation. 

This was Zeno of Citium in Cyprus, on the 
borderLaud between the Greek and Semitic peo- 
ples, both of which commingled in many Cyprian 
towns. Citiuni is said by Diogenes Laertius to 
have had Phoenician immigrants, and Zeno is 
called a Phoenician. He is supposed to have 
reached Athens about 320 B. C, having come 
thither for trade. But he found the philosophers 
and studied in several Schools. Finally about 
300 B. C. he began teaching in the Stoa Poekile, 
from which fact his followers were called Stoics, 
though at first they took the name of Zenonians. 
But this School did not continue to bear the in- 
dividual name of its founder, which was in con- 
trast to most of the other great Schools. 

Thus a man of a different race, a non-Aryan 
seemingly, has the power to interweave himself 
and his doctrine into the spiritual development of 
Athens, of Greece, and finally of the whole civi- 
lized world. The Semitic type of mind is best 
revealed in the Hebrew Scripture, and Stoicism 
has a Jewish cast, as has often been observed. 
Zeno himself may have been of Jewish blood, for 
by the Greeks of this age, all who came from the 
Syrian coast were called Phoenicians. 

Moreover this same character is preserved in 


the School after the time of Zeno. Some of his 
most famous pupils came from the Greco-Semitic 
borderland in Asia Minor, Syria and the eastern 
islands of the Mediterranean. Cleanthes, the 
successor of Zeno as Scholarch, was a native of 
Assus; Chrysippus, the main writer and thought- 
organizer of the school and third Scholarch, was 
from Soli in Cilicia (others say Tarsus, which 
city furnished several distinguished Stoics). 
The other Schools of Athens had at first the 
tendency to be manned by Greeks, if not by 
Athenians. But here is distinctly a disregarding 
and a transcending of Hellenic nativism; Bar- 
barians have actually intruded themselves into 
Athens, have taken possession of its beautiful 
Pictured Porch, and are philosophizing with 
great success. Shocking it must have appeared 
to the hide-bound autochthonous Athenian, but 
his time is past, even in his own city. 

We may therefore consider Stoicism the first 
important philosophical meeting of Greek and 
Oriental. They had indeed met before in re- 
ligion, in mythology, in literature and art; but 
above all they had met in battle. The Oriental, 
conquered by arms, had become a part of the 
greater Greek political empire. But now he has 
reached out to the center of Hellenic culture, 
and is to become a part of the greater Greek 
intellectual empire. Not Hellenic but Hellenistic 
Stoicism is, and so is mediatorial in its character, 


reconciling the Greek and the non-Greek spirit. 
In this function it will travel westward to Rome, 
and there show itself as one of the chief mediat- 
ing influences between the new world-conqueror 
and conquered Hellas. Many of the great 
Romans will embrace Stoicism, which will in and 
through them bring forth new fruit, which is 
hereafter to be considered. 

The Roman, it may here be said, cannot be- 
come Hellenic, but he can Hellcnize, if taught 
aright, and his chief teacher was the Stoa. The 
philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, with its pure 
Hellenism, and especially with its small exclusive 
City-State of a few thousand citizens, must be 
transformed in order to meet the needs of Rome, 
the World-City, all-inclusive. We have already 
noted that it was the Greek philosopher Panaetius 
who first introduced Stoicism into Rome, about 
150 B. C. He was followed by Posidonius, who 
made himself a kind of missionary to the whole 
Roman Empire. After the Christian Era Stoi- 
cism produced the writers who have made it best 
known to future ages — Seneca, Epictetus, 
Marcus Aurelius. The eclectic Cicero leaned 
mainly to Stoicism in the matter of Ethics. 

The Stoics expressed the triple philosophical 
Norm as Logic, Physics and Ethics. Their Logic 
sought specially for the criterion of knowledge. 
All knowing of the thing was an impression from 
within, like that of a seal upon wax: so said 


Cleanthes, though later Stoics modified this 
statement. Sensation is the source of ideas, the 
outside world is the determinant of the Ego's 
knowing. Thus in their pure Philosophy they 
were materialistic. In their Phj^sics they re- 
garded the cosmos as an animal or living being 
of which God is the soul. Yet there is a Reason 
or Intelligence governing the world, which is the 
law, and is also called the spirit or breath 
(pneinna). The Stoics ascribe to God provi- 
dence, love of mankind, as well as unitary su- 
premacy; herein they are very different from 
Epicureflns, and even from Aristotle, whose deity 
was "moving not moved." The Stoical con- 
ception of God is on one side pantheistic, on the 
other theistic ; it did not distinguish between 
immanence and transcendence, but employed 
somewhat of both. In these religious views we 
see that Zeno was a Semite who was Hellenizing ; 
he was a monotheist, yet compromised with 
polytheism by allowing lesser Gods who were 
mortal, the one only God being immortal. Man 
is a little copy of the great world-animal, the 
Cosmos, with a spark of the divine Spirit or fire 
in him, which is finally to be united with its 
source in the great conflagration at the last day. 
Many of these Stoical doctrines sound like stray 
thoughts coming from afar without much inner 
connection. There is no doubt, however, that 
the Stoics clung to the conception of a Divine 


Reason (N'ous, Logos) which permeates every 
thing and especially man, who was to live 
according to its behest, or according to Nature, 
as they stated it generally . 

This brings us to the Ethics of the Stoics, 
their great field. They cared little about 
knowledge for its own sake; logic, the sciences, 
philosophy itself are only a means for Virtue, 
for the Good. Whatever does not make man 
better is indifferent or bad; moral conduct is 
the sole end, and in proportion as they conduce 
to that end, do things have true value. Hence 
the Stoics moralized all knowledge and indeed 
everything else; the function of man was to 
moralize himself and the world. 

What was their method of bringino- about 
such a result? The Person or Self was the 
center — the ideal Wise Man whose supreme 
wisdom consisted in the pursuit of virtue for its 
own sake. Such was the command, not an 
external one but his own; really it was the 
command of his higher Self to his lower, to his 
appetites, desires, temptations, in fine to every 
sort of external determination, which floAved in 
upon him from the world. Thus the Stoic as- 
serted the colossal power of Selfhood; it could 
cut loose from and throw away the entire outer 
world of splendor, wealth, ambition, as well as 
of gratification. The Stoic proclaimed the 
freedom of the Ego, as such; his was a declara- 


tion of independence of the Self. To be sure, 
this was the inner, subjective moral independence. 
Macedon and Rome might establish an external 
empire over and around him, he had an un- 
conquered and unconquerable empire within, of 
which he was the sole emperor. Moreover while 
he can command, he knows at the same time 
how to obey; in fact his is the only true 
obedience — the obedience to Duty, which 
includes all other kinds. 

It is through the Stoics that the three central 
categories of morality. Duty, Conscience and 
Responsi])ility, were exemplified in life as well as 
taught to the world. The whole is indeed an 
inner process: Duty is the voice of the Impera- 
tive commanding that the Good be done, which is 
to subject all passion, desire, in fine all ex- 
ternality; Conscience is the Self knowing such 
command to come from within, from the Self as 
inspired with the divine spirit (^pneuma) whereby 
Conscience becomes the supreme judge sitting 
within and demanding rigid Responsibility. Such 
is the inner judicial process practiced and taught 
by the Stoics, which process, we may here 
remark, has to be within before it can be ex- 
ternalized in Roman Law. 

But now it is the Moral Law which has risen 
in the souls of men and is uttering itself through 
the Stoics. Limitations they showed, which 
however were profoundly inwoven with their 


excellences. Only one virtue and only one vice 
at first existed for them, but from this narrow- 
ness they afterwards relaxed somewhat. Their 
virtue of impassiveness (apatheia) was an ex- 
treme, so was their withdrawal from the world 
as well as their exclusive occupation w^ith the 
Self. Still it may be affirmed that without just 
such intense and pointed concentration, the 
worth of the Self with its inner freedom could 
never have been established as a spiritual pos- 
session of the race. Morality, theoretical and 
practical, certainly existed before the Stoics, but 
they by example and precept confined themselves 
to the one great object of moralizing the Self 
through rousing the sense of Duty and Eespon- 
sibility, as well as the negative counterpart there- 
of, the sense of Sin. 

The Stoic in his one-sided moralism was indif- 
ferent or hostile to institutions. This was his 
greatest defect; though he realized the supreme 
universal law in himself, he could not actualize 
it in the world. He proclaimed the equality 
of men before the inner tribunal; he asserted 
a common humanitv, he maintained the wrong- 
fulness of slaver}^ he broke down tribal 
and national limits in determining human rights. 
It may be justly said of the Stoic that he 
was the first to declare : All men are created 
free and equal. Moreover we are to live accord- 
ing to Nature, which is what determines the con- 


tent of Virtue, and hence is the Universal Law, 
the World-Law, which the wise man grasps and 
realizes in his individual life, and which Borne 
will raise to a positive universality in her Juris- 
prudence. Furthermore the Stoic renouncing all 
ties of city and nation and race, declared him- 
self to be cosmopolitan, whereby a vague ideal 
of a World-State of which he was a citizen 
floated before his imagination. This ideal will 
bear fruit in the Roman future, indeed it has 
evidently yet to bear fruit in the future of our 
modern age. 

With many modifications we find the philoso- 
phic Norm — Metaphj'sics, Physics, and Ethics — 
running through the whole course of Stoic 
philosophizing. This had little theoretic interest, 
and showed small philosophic originality. Its 
meaning is practical, ethical; its intensity lies in 
putting the Universal into the individual acting 
rather than thinking. In Stoicism Athenian 
Thought showed signs of satiety, of intellectual 
disgust and exhaustion. To the metaphysical and 
physical spheres of the Norm, Stoicism con- 
tributed almost nothing in their scientific aspect, 
but treated them perfunctorily as a means for 
Ethics. Thus it reverses quite the movement 
of the Norm as indicated in the works of Plato 
and Aristotle. Still we must not fail to notice 
that the Stoics are in conscious possession of this 


Norm and are uioviug ou its lines after their own 

^ II. Epicureanism (Hedonism). — That which 
the Stoic regarded as the universal End (the 
Good, Virtue) is by the Epicureans reduced to 
a means for a particular End. I am indeed to 
cultivate Virtue, yet not for its own sake but for 
my pleasure. And if it 4oes not conduce to my 
pleasure it has no right to be. The Stoic af- 
firmed the inner Law as the determinant of the 
individual in all his particularity ; the Epicurean 
affirms the inner Law to be determined by the 
individual in all his particularit}^ ; that is, what- 
ever will make him happy is his inner Law, 
which is indeed to have no law at all but Caprice. 
The doctrine of Epicurus, therefore, declares 
the negation of the Moral Law to be moral. It 
proclaims an universal End, which, however, is 
some particular end, whatever pleases me. 

Epicureanism is, accordingly, from this point 
of view, a separation from and opposition to 
Stoicism. Pleasure and Virtue were completely 
one for the Stoic, but they are emphatically 
two for the follower of Epicurus, who separates 
Pleasure from Virtue and makes it the goal even 
for Virtue. As Skepticism is a dogmatic denial 
of dogmatism, so Epicureanism is a moral denial 
of morality; that is, the universal end is to have 
no universal end, but your particular pleasure. 
Both sides, however, assert the right of the 


Ego — the one to set up the Moral Law and the 
other to knock it down. Hereui both are 
equally subjective, capricious, insufficient; each 
is equally impotent against the other, each 
asserting the absolute right of asserting itself 
absolutely. The Epicurean Ego shows to the 
Stoic Ego its weakness, which is, in general, the 
weakness of the purely .subjective, moral stand- 
point. The Epicurean claims the moral right to 
destroy morality, and the Stoic cannot deny such 
a right without denying his own right to establish 
morality. Something must be appealed to 
above both, some Law ruling both their laws. 
Moralism and Hedonism by themselves will keep 
the universe in an eternal see-saw between two 
equally one-sided and contradictory principles. 
Without doubt Stoicism has the advantasre of 
baing a positive moral doctrine, though dog- 
matically and arbitrarily such. On the other 
hand. Epicureanism has the advantage of the 
negative side in the argument, and so can easily 
call in question, deny and even burn up in its 
dialectic the dogmatism of the Stoic. 

Epicureanism is named after its founder, Epi- 
curus, who was probably born at Samos, of 
Athenian parents, who had gone out to that 
island as settlers. The date of his birth is 341 
B. C, aud of his death 270 B. C. His father 
was a schoolmaster, and he seems to have taken 
lessons (doubtless very elementary) from some 


philosophers at Samos ; theu, in his eighteenth 
3'ear, he came to Athens, and probably heard the 
Aristotelian Xenoorates. But the philosopher 
who gave him his bent was undoubtedly the At- 
omist, Democritus, one of whose disciples is re- 
ported to have instructed him in early youth. 
After trying at Mitylene and Lampsacus, he re- 
turned to Athens and founded his School, which 
was located in a garden, where he philosophized 
on his own private ground and not in public 
places, as did most of the philosophers. This 
is in accord with the doctrine of Hedonism, 
which cannot well be a missionary Philosophy. 
If a man's pleasure is in being a Stoic or a Pla- 
tonist, Epicurus cannot properly have anything 
to say to him. A garden is a quiet, retired spot 
to which friends can withdraw and have a good 
time. At most the Hedonist can laugh at the 
folly of the Stoic for taking such a rough road 
to pleasure, the road of Duty for its own sake. 
Ensconced in his beautiful garden, why should 
he care for the outside world? The great object 
is to get rid of care and fear and even responsi- 
bility, so that you can really enjoy j^ourself . If 
you seek to convert others, you give y(>urself 
care instead of ridding yourself of it ; hence any 
propagandism of Epicurus was a contradiction 
of his doctrine. Still Epicurus was an industri- 
ous propagator of his Philosophy, writing more 
than three hundred volumes according to Diog- 


enes Laertius, who adds that there is uot one 
citation in them from another author. We have 
to infer that the great end of Epicurus was the 
pleasure, not of eating and drinking, but of 
writing books. 

Epicurus has the philosophical Norm which he 
calls Canonic (Logic), Physics, and Ethics. 
The first was hardly more than a superficial ap- 
plication of the Sophistic formula that Man is 
the measure of all things — that is, Man as this 
sensuous individual. The Physics of Epicurus 
are almost wholly based upon the atomistic 
theory of Democritus. But science, physical or 
philosophical, is to be studied not for its own 
sake, but for relieving man of fear, specially the 
fear of Gods, the fear of future punishment in 
Tartarus, the fear of any kind of responsibility. 
In general Epicurus never stops raising his 
bulwarks against fear, which seems to have been 
his devil. From that life of his, written by the 
friendly hand of Diogenes Laertius, we cannot 
help taking away the impression that of all 
mortals Epicurus was the one most afraid of 
fear, the one most anxious about not beins: 
anxious. The state of the political world, 
especially the political outlook of Athens and 
Hellas, was indeed dark under the successors of 
'Alexander. Sensitive Epicurus and many others 
doubtless were afllicted Avith the world-pain 
(Weltschmerz) of the time, and their leading 


question was, How can I deaden this consuming 
intolerable anxiety which creeps in upon me 
from the whole external universe? The Epi- 
curean answer is, ataraxy, imperturbility ; the 
Wise Man is not to be moved by any care or 
fear or hope ; the whole universe has indeed 
turned into one colossal threatening demon, but 
we shall flee from him into our little garden of 
pleasure and there cultivate ataraxy. The 
thought will, however, come up that the fiend 
still pursues Epicurus and gets into his garden, 
creeping in unawares perchance, as that other 
fiend crept once into that other garden of much 
greater fame. Else why this prodigious effort, 
lasting a whole life-time and piling up " more 
than three hundred volumes, all his own" in 
order to live without anxiety? 

Though Epicurus connects with the Cyrenaic 
School of Aristippus, he modified the grossness 
of the latter, and inculcated Virtue as the best 
means for happiness. We may well believe his 
biographer Diogenes Laertius, who defends him 
against the charges of debauchery and licentious- 
ness with which his name has been generally 
associated. Epicureanism still to-day popu- 
larly means unrestrained sensual indulgence, and 
not an ethical doctrine. Such a reproach we 
may not cast upon Epicurus personally, but time- 
has doubtless drawn the right inference from his 
teachings. He does not deny the existence of 


the Gods, but he makes them Epicureans, wholly 
without any care or love for mortals, existing 
apart by themselves, happy Homeric deities in 
an eternal round of enjoyment. The God of 
Epicurus is selfishness immortalized, gratification 
deified, the very apotheosis of the sensuous nature 
of man. Thus in the present sphere is the Uni- 
versal made individual in an Ego which denies it 
(the Universal), affirming it to be only an indi- 
vidual affair and to exist perchance (as Virtue) 
for the gratification of the individual. 

So Epicureanism hands man over to his own 
Pleasure, to be followed or restrained according 
to his Pleasure. Epicurus acknowledges .that 
Pleasure pursued to excess may turn to its oppo- 
site, to Pain; hence there is to be employed in 
its pursuit some judgment or calculation, and 
this is the only use of Philosophy or Logic 
(Canonic). It is evident that the individual, 
having reached the utter denial of any law except 
his own pleasure, must have the law placed over 
him externally. Such is what next appears. 
Epicureanism is not only destructive, but through 
it man has become self-destructive. Hence if he 
continues to exist, his own principle must be put 
down from the outside. 

Again the Roman appears, and asserts himself 
practically as the arbiter over both doctrines. 
He will not be satisfied with the principle of the 
Stoic's virtue as the merely subjective end — on 


this side he denies it with the Epicureans ; still 
he agrees with the Stoics in having a controlling 
law, but it must be objective and institutional, 
the authority over all. Thus Greek Stoicism 
finds its external counterpart in Roman Law, and, 
externally at least, puts a limit upon its antag- 
onist, Greek Epicureanism. 

III. Legalism — The Institutional Law\ — - 
The third stage of the Practical or Ethical Move- 
ment of the Hellenistic Period is that the Moral 
Law, hitherto internal and subjective, becomes 
external and actual, the positive Law of the 
World, specially of the Roman World. In 
Stoicism the Universal in the form of the Good, 
determines the individual through himself, 
through his own particular Will in consequence 
of his own particular insight. But in Legalism 
the Universal in the form of the enacted Law 
determines the individual not particularly but 
universally, being placed over all individuals 
alike and recognizing their equality as well as 
their right. Thus the inner Moral Law of the 
Stoics is now made actual and objective, being 
enthroned the true ruler of men, whose end is 
to secure to them equal and impartial justice. 
So we pass from Moralism to Institutionalism, 
being forced thereto by the caprices of the 
Moral Ego which has manifested its own self- 
negation, particularly in Hedonism. 

Though the Stoics, by their withdrawal from 


all externality into themselves, were in the main 
indifferent to Institutions (Family, Society, 
State), still they conceived of man as a 
member of the great cosmic Whole imbreathed 
with the spirit of the one God. It was but a 
step from such a conception to that of a World- 
State of which every human being was or could 
be a citizen (cosmopolite). So it comes that we 
hear of a Polity or ideal State written by Zeno, 
in evident contrast to the Polities of Plato and 
Aristotle, which were narrowly Greek and which 
limited themselves to the transmitted Cit^^-State 
of Greece. In Zeno's State there were "no 
divisions into cities and peoples ; ' ' every 
political limit which separated man from man 
on account of city, tribe, nation, race, was 
broken down, so that " we may consider all 
men our countrymen and our fellow-citizens " 
who are to be provided with Law and Justice, 
not local but universal. Another Stoic, Mu- 
sonius, is reported by Stobaeus as sajdng: the 
good man is a citizen of the city of Zeus (Aug- 
ustine's Civitas Dei), which city is composed 
of "Men and Gods." And Stoic Epictetus could 
go yet further and say that all men are brothers 
as having God for their father. Such were the 
far-reaching; flights of Stoic idealism, fore- 
shadowing not only the coming secular World- 
State of Rome, but also the coming religious 
" City of God," the Church. 


The Stoic morality, as we have seen, very 
strongly insisted upon Law as controlling the 
individual, though the Law was internal. Still 
it was that which all men had in common, and 
by which they lived or might live. Such a life 
the Stoics called a life according to Nature, and 
its Law could only be the Law of Nature. That 
inner judicial act wherein the Self judges the 
Self, absolving or condemning the same accord- 
ing to this Law of Nature, was the great prepara- 
tion for an external jurisprudence corresponding 
to it and actualizing it through the universal 
Institution, the Eoman World-State. 

To this development there was an historical 
side. Each nation or tribe had its own customs 
and laws ; the Roman City-State had its special 
body of Laws (^thejus civile). But now arose 
over the whole the conception of the one Law 
of Nations (Jus gentium) which the necessities 
of the Roman Empire elaborated for securing 
justice to all its diverse peoples along with its 
own authority. The Roman lawyers who were 
deeply imbued with the principles of Stoicism 
found it their chief practical vocation to trans- 
form the Stoic ideal World-State into the Roman 
actual World-State. Rome could not adopt pure 
Hellenism with its narrowness and nativism; it 
must also lay aside pure Romism, which was 
also nativistic. It is the merit of Stoicism that 
it trained the Roman to universality and con- 


stituted him the world's perpetual lawgiver, 
who makes actual the supreme ethical transition 
from Moralism to Institutionalism. 

Leojalism restores a missino- element in the 
ethics of both the Stoics and the Epicureans — 
the institutional element, which we have already 
found to be an integral part in the total ethical 
movement of Plato (p. 339) and of Aristotle 
(p. 435). Both Stoics and Epicureans were so 
narrowly moralistic that they can justly be 
charged with incivism. What may be called 
institutional Virtue, they had not, in spite of 
Zeno's cosmopolitanism. So the Stjite with its 
Law, which was an inner evolution in the ethical 
systems of both Plato and Aristotle, has to be 
clapped on externally to these ethical systems of 
Hellenisticism, in order to complete the Practical 
Movement of which they are stages. 

It will be noticed that these three stages 
of the Practical Movement have a decided 
correspondence to the three stages of the 
preceding Theoretic Movement, Stoicism is 
dogmatic, affirming the Universal immedi- 
ately, or that Virtue is the end for the individual ; 
Epicureanism is skeptical, denying the Universal, 
declaring that Virtue is not the end but the 
means for the individual, Legalism is a kind of 
Roman Eclecticism which places itself above both 
sides and chooses, making its choice the law. 
Thus the Universal has individualized itself in 


the law-giver, who, however, is not merely the- 
oretic, but also practical, making rather his 
Intellect subserve his Will, than his Will sub- 
serve his Intellect, producing a legal rather than 
a philosophical world. 

In this way the Practical Movement of Hellen- 
istic Ethics completes itself. But now a new 
fact appears : Hellenistic Ethics though appar- 
ently completed in separate systems, begins to 
show itself again as a means for brino-inar back 
man to participation in the Divine, such as we 
saw the Ethical process to be in Plato and Aris- 
totle. Once more the philosophic Norm asserts 
itself, and Ethics is seen to be at bottom the 
third stage of its movement, which is the return 
to Absolute Being in some form. Particularly 
Aristotle's ethical end as the vision of God be- 
gins to realize itself in every thinking individual. 
Indeed, Roman Law, with its universal authority, 
as a phase of institutional Ethics, led in the same 
direction, moving back to the one supreme Au- 
thority of the Universe. Greek Philosophy, 
though born of a reaction against Eelis^ion, is in 
a process of returning to Religion, to an abso- 
lute Will with its moral Law willing man's moral 
Law. Necessarily the Universal has to be indi- 
vidualized in the universal individual as its ulti- 
mate ground. We have now reached that 
nittvement, long and fluctuatiug, in which divinity 
is to be humanized and man is to be divinized — 


the son of God is to become a man and man 
is to become the son of God. 

Thus we attain to the Religious Movement, 
which is the outcome and inner significance of 
the Hellenistic Period from the start. It is not 
simply an ethical return to the Good (Plato) or 
even to the vision of God (Aristotle), both of 
which are essentially philosophical. But now 
Philosophy itself is to move back (or rather for- 
ward) to Religion from which it was once es- 
tranged ; the philosophical Norm as a whole is 
in some vv^ay to become reconciled with the re- 
lio;ious Norm, which has risen to be the most 
urgent need of the civilized world. 

III. The Religious Movement. 

In the sweep of the practical movement just 
giv^en, we passed from Moralism, which de- 
veloped in Man the inner Moral Law, to Legal- 
ism, which developed the outer Positive Law in 
the political Institution, the Roman World- 
State. It was found that Moralism terminates 
in Individualism, though this be moral — each 
man is a law unto himself. Thus we have my- 
riads of law-makers, each with his own code; 
the result could only be an incessant conflict of 
laws. This conflict the Roman State solved ex- 
ternalhj with its positive jurisprudence, which 
affects chiefly the outer reUitions of life (in the 


matter of property, contract, business, personal 
rights, etc.). But there must be an internal 
solution of the great conflict called up by Moral- 
isra; there must be a universal inner law and 
law-giver corresponding to the individual inner 
law and law-giver. In other words, there must 
be an Absolute Being, who is himself a Moral 
Ego, governed by his own inner Moral Law, 
which thus becomes also objective and universal. 
Through the Ethical Movement God is born or 
rather re-born in the soul of the Greco-Roman 
world. Those profound ethical categories. Duty, 
Conscience, Responsibilty, must be actually 
deified, made divine, elevated into the univer- 
sality of God's Self, whereby they are no longer 
individual and subjected to each man's insight 
or caprice. Thus the inner Law has its corre- 
spondence and confirmation only in God Himself, 
who also has the Ethical Process in His spirit as 
the ruler of the L^niverse. 

The Roman Law could, then, construct simply 
an outer order, very important for that time and 
for all time. But, on the whole. Legalism pre- 
supposes wrong, violation, negation on part of 
the individual, who thus has the initiative ; the 
Law is in some way to meet his wrong and undo 
it as far as possible; in other words, positive 
Law is chiefly a negation of a negative, actual or 
possible. Hence, the question arises. Cannot 
this negation which lies in the will of the indi- 


vidual be reached and internally transformed be- 
fore it becomes negative? The universal outer 
Law can only seize hold of the deed already done ; 
it must be supplemented by an universal inner 
Law which on the one hand rules the human soul 
by authority, which authority is, on the other 
hand, the soul's own, its own command to itself. 
So Religion becomes the true realization of 
Ethics, making the inner Moral Law as well as 
the outer Positive Law over into a single supreme 
authoritative Person who is both the moral and 
legal legislator in one, is God moralized and in- 
stitutionalized. The Wise Man of Moralism 
with his inner Law and Order ascends into Divin- 
ity; the Roman fornudator of Legalism with his 
outer Law and Order also ascends into Divinity ; 
there is now a wise and moral God with his Law 
and Order which are both inner and outer. 

But here we must interweave an historical and 
evolutionary element, since it interweaves itself 
into the age we are cons idering. Religion is not 
made now for the first time, but is something 
given by the past, transmitted from antecedent 
peoples. The Orient is the creative home of 
Religions, which just in the present conjuncture 
come streaming into the Hellenic world, as it 
were in response to the fervent call of the spirit. 
As already observed, all Greek Philosophy is a 
reaction against Religion in its immediate i)hase ; 
])ut that very Greek Philosophy has brought men 


back to the need of Eeliiiion. The result is a 
grand gathering of Eeligions into one center, 
where they are to be wrought over by Greek 
spirit which they in turn are to work over for 

This geographical center is Alexandria in Egypt, 
founded by Alexander the Great and nurtured for 
business and science by the Ptolomies. Hellas 
comes to the Orient, and this is a sign of her 
present Orientalizing spirit. The Greek has 
conquered and unified the Oriental nations polit- 
ically, at least he did so for a short time; but 
his chief feat is that he brings the many sepa- 
rate and recalcitrant Oriental Religions into one 
spot under the inspection of Greek Philosophy. 
In Alexandria, then, a religious process begins 
to manifest itself which in its total sweep consti- 
tutes the greatest epoch in the history of Relig- 
ion, at least as far as the Occident is concerned. 
The Orientals flock to the Greek City with their 
Gods, all of them tribal or national, none of 
them universal or as yet having the principle of 
universality, whereat through mutual friction the 
general swirl commences. 

Thus the spiritual center of the age begins to 
pass from Athens to Alexandria somewhere in 
the third century B. C. Zeno, an Oriental of 
Semitic birth and cast of mind, had already pen- 
etrated Athens and had assailed and in part 
broken through Greek civic nativism, proclaim- 


ing in substance that all men are free and equal. 
But in Alexandria a deeper and more desperate 
conflict was taking place: the mutual interaction 
and gradual transformation or abolition of nativ- 
istic Keligions. The tribal and national Gods 
of Hellas and the Orient were whirled into that 
seething cauldron of peoples in order to free 
them of religious nativism (something far more 
profound and stubborn than even political nativ- 
ism), wherefrom the coming world-religion was 
to spring forth, which was just now in the pro- 
cess of evolution. The present Religious Move- 
ment is, therefore, to bring to light Christianity ; 
in fact it may be said that this whole Hellenistic 
Period has as its outcome the one underlying 
thought and purpose : to bring forth, to propa- 
gate and to formulate the Christian Religion. 

The Hellenistic Period is characterized by an 
original and widespread development of Ethics. 
But it is more deeply characterized by its longing 
for a Personal God. Ethical culture did not and 
could not satisfy it ; man will not rest content 
with making himself a subjective deity governed 
internally by his own moral Law. Deity and 
Law must be made objective, world-ruling through 
a personal Will. We have seen Greek Philoso- 
phy going East already during the ethical period 
for its teachers, especially in case of the Stoics. 
But with far profounder aspiration it turns to the 
Orient to still its religious yearnings. At the 


same time the Orient comes to it, having on its 
side a philosophical need. Philosophy has ethi- 
cizedman; can it ethicize God, freeing Him from 
His Oriental caprice (against which Philosophy was 
originally a protest), and putting Him too under 
the Moral Law? So Philosophy will religionize 
and Religion will philosophize. In the one 
we see man making God, in the other God mak- 
ing man, in both cases after some philosophic 
pattern. Each of these efforts show the all- 
dominating religious struggle of the ao^e in seek- 
ing God who will at last be found in a revealed 

Meanwhile Rome is ethiclzedby Greek Thought, 
which her practical spirit makes the Law of the 
State for governing the world. Thus she pre- 
pares civilization by an obedience to universal 
external Law for an obedience to the Divine 
Person, who has the universal Moral Law within. 
Rome herself with her secular emperor will sub- 
mit to this imperial Divine Person and become 
Christian. Moreover the Church will arise to 
make objective and institutional the Moral Law 
of God and to enforce the same in its own name 
and right. 

So Greek Philosophy and Oriental Religion are 
now to pass before us in their mutual inter- 
action, opposition and final union. The one pri- 
marily seeks to get God through Thought, the 
other seeeks to get Thought through God. Both 


ways will show themselves inadequate and one- 
sided ; each, however, is a contribution, in fact, 
a necessary stage to the revelation of the Abso- 
lute Self as the Divine Process of the Universe, 
or the Pampsychosis in religious form. Hence 
Ave classify the stages of the Religious Movement 
of the Hellenistic Period as follows : ( 1 ) Philos- 
ophy religionzes; (2) Eeligion philosophizes; 
(3) Religion reveals. 

Casting a glance back at our Hellenistic for- 
mula (the Universal individualized), we observe 
that its outcome has been reached. That is, the 
Universal individualizes itself in the Individual 
who is universal, having in Himself the process 
of the Universe as his own individual or personal 
process in triune form. And the inner Moral 
Law has become truly universal in the universal 
Person (objective) ; not alone in the individual 
Person (subjective) can it be such. Thus Ethics 
has become religious and Religion has become 
ethical. And God both moves and is moved, 
both is loved and loves in return, wherein we see 
the great change from Aristotle and Hellenism. 
Of this important Movement we shall note some 
of the details. 

I. PuiLOSoriiY Religionizes. — The great 
effort now is to evolve Religion out of Philos- 
ophy; the philosopher is somehow to make 
God and reveal Him with His worship. Such 
is the time; Ethics can no longer satisfv the total 


man, and Pbilosopb}', the great creative discipline 
of the Greco-Koman world, is invoked to create 
a Religion suited to the needs and responsive to 
the longings of the age. The result is an untold 
variety of attempts to formulate the coming Re- 
ligion. The most prolific period of God-making 
in the history of the world starts with Alex- 
andria, as center. Every philosopher begins to 
call bis lirst principle a God or divine, and every 
Philosophy is going to establish its Religion. 

To be sure, Aristotle bad already, in a very 
circumspect way, defined a philosophic God. 
Plato often mythologizes, introducing deity and 
deities. The Stoics conceived their God as the 
soul or breath (pnei'.ma) immanent in the 
cosmos. Nor must we forget that the Epicurean 
also had his Gods dwelling " in the intermundane 
sjDaces," free of all care, regardless of mortals, 
and devoted to the pursuit of their own happiness. 
Thus every system made its own God, who was 
certainly not the most important part of it, being 
rather a supernumerary or a double of the 
abstract First Principle. And we must remem- 
ber that Hellenic Philosophy set out as a reaction 
against Religion. 

But Hellenistic Philosophy has very decidedly 
moved forward to a return and recovery of Re- 
ligion, and the first stage of such a tendency is 
to make Religion after a philosophic fornuila. 
At least Philosophy can select what it needs 


from the vast repertory of Religions which 
poured into Alexandria, and later into Rome ; 
thus people can have an eclectic Religion as well 
as eclectic Philosophy. The man-made God is a 
characteristic of the age. Even Skepticism has 
its deities; Cicero who hardly believes in the 
Gods, believes them to be useful to the State 
and so philosophizes them into a system. But 
of course this does not represent the deep and 
earnest longino; of the time for God and for a 
revelation of Him. 

Of all these God-creating Philosophies which 
were called into activity at the present period, 
that of Plato comes first. And the sect or school 
which used Plato's thought most successfully in 
this movement were named Neo-Pythagoreans, 
though they were more properly Neo-Platonists. 
The Platonic Ideas are, however, no longer inde- 
pendent entities, as they appear in Plato, but 
are thoughts of the Divine Ego. Thus God is 
posited as transcendent, being the Absolute Self 
over Hellenic Philosophy and thinking all its 
thoughts. This conception will remain and be- 
come a leading principle of the Neo-Hellenic 
Period, to be treated of later. Moreover, as the 
Absolute Self is the Supreme Thinker, it must 
speak and be able to utter itself. Thus with the 
thinking God, whose essential content is the 
thought of Greek Philosophy, comes the belief 
that he must give a Revelation of Himself. The 


Neo-Pjthagoreans claimed for themselves a Di- 
vine Revelation, which, however, was voiced by 
their teachers, heroes, God-favored disciples, to 
whom the pure doctrine was imparted imme- 
diately from its primal source. One of these 
disciples, Apollonius of Tyana, became cele- 
brated in the first century A. D. as a worker of 
miracles and the founder of a new religion — a 
kind of Neo-Pythagorean Christ. 

The Neo-Pythagoreans had also their world- 
forming Demiurge (as in Plato's Timccus), for 
God is not to touch matter, otherwise he would 
be polluted by it. This Demiurge plays a some- 
what uncertain and variable part, being regarded 
as a sort of mediator or at least intermediary be- 
tween God and the World, to the latter of which 
man belongs. But this sect seems never to have 
coupled the idea of divine sonship with the 
Demiurge, at least in its pre-Christian phases. 

Man, sunk in the flesh, is to be restored to 
communion with God through the complete sub- 
ordination of passion and appetite by means of 
prayer, rites, and purification. The moral prob- 
lem of subjecting the senses to the reason is ele- 
vated into a religious duty with elaborate forms 
of expiation which introduces demons and lesser 
deities with supernatural agencies of many kinds. 
Here lay the weakest side of this sect; along 
with its Greek philosophical training it let in all 
the superstitions of Hellas and the Orient. All 


the crudities of popular religion it coupled with 
the ideal thinking of Plato. It did not employ 
the Philosophy of Pythagoras to any great ex- 
tent, though it played with his sacred numbers 
as archetypal forms, as Plato himself had done 
in the last period of his philosophizing. The 
sect seems to have taken the name of Pj^thagoras 
since he was the founder of a school of ascetic 
practice and religious mysticism. 

Thus the time religionizes, seeking through 
Philosophy to make or at least formulate God. 
This is reliojionism rather than relioion. Still 
this Neo-Platonism puts a God back of Plato, 
and wants a revelation from Him directly as 
authority. In Ethics every man makes his own 
law, makes, so to speak, his own God. But the 
reflection will come : mau cannot make God 
unless God has already made man, yea made 
man the God-maker. Hence He is really the 
authority of all authority. Thus the subjective 
ethical Ego comes to demand an objective ethical 
Ego as the one law-giver, who is to reveal his 
law as authoritative and universal. Very dis- 
tinctly does the ethical, through its inner process, 
call forth the religious. But Greek Ethics is the 
product of the great creative discipline of the 
Greeks, Philosophy, which must now be invoked 
to create this supreme authority. The call is 
answered in many ways, but Neo-Pythagoreanism, 


founded mainly upon Plato's thought, is the 
most characteristic. 

So Philosophy religionizes, seeking to utter 
after its formula the process of the absolute Self 
unto man. But man, making his God, will come 
at last to ask : Who then made me? Which is 
first, the maker or the made? Herein we begin 
to see the transition to an entirely new move- 
ment : from the ready-made Philosophy religion- 
izing to the ready-made Religion philosophizing. 
II. Religion Philosophizes. — It is evident 
that Religion is now the given thing and the 
determinant, such as Philosophy was in the 
foregoing movement. Religion, though the au- 
thoritative and the transmitted, is neverthe- 
less called upon, in this philosophical world 
of Ilellenisticism, to justify itself by Philos- 
ophy. So we are to see for the first time a 
Philosophy of Religion, of course from the 
standpoint of Religion, while just before we 
have had more a Religion of Philosophy. 

Ao^ain, the center of such a movement can only 
be Alexandria, the grand arena of Oriental Re- 
lio-ions, which are battling with one another, 
seeking to justify themselves externally as well as 
internally before Greek Philosophy, which is in- 
voked, not only as judge, but as defender of the 
Religions of the East. The Egyptians, the Par- 
sees, the far-off Brahmins and Buddhists are 
there with the extraordinary claim that more or 


less directly the Greek thinkers drew their doc- 
trines from these Oriental Keligions. The Ori- 
entals still to-day declare that the West has 
derived its chief wisdom from their ancestors. 
Indeed some modern German philosophers have 
written learned books in support of the same 

Eeliffion is now not the man-made, but the 
God-made, and is divinely transmitted to man. 
Still at Alexandria even the ardent devotees feel 
that it must be philosophized, Hellenized, cate- 
gorized into the concepts made universally cur- 
rent by Greek Thinking. This undoubtedly pro- 
duces a change in the Eeligion, it is made 
rational through interpretation, it is no longer 
the work of Divine Caprice, but of Divine 
Eeason. Greek Philosophy, we' may repeat, was 
born of a reaction against Greek and Oriental 
Religions, chiefly because of their capricious 
deities, who seemed to have no law, moral or 

Eeligion is philosophizing — what? The 
process of the Absolute Self, which now lurks 
in all human thinking. The Universe is in- 
dividualized in the universal Ego or Person who 
is to be vindicated by thought. Religion 
determines Philosophy, not Philosophy Religion. 
Indeed it is said that Religion determined the 
philosopher originally, for instance, Plato, who 


could only have obtained such wisdom as his 
from Moses. 

Doubtless many Oriental Religions were thus 
philosophizing at Alexandria and elsewhere in the 
East, but the one that outstripped all the rest in 
this movement was the Jewish, with its all-sur- 
passing Holy Books, which now become the spir- 
itual treasure of the race. The Hebrew Bible 
was translated into Greek (Septuagint) at Alex- 
andria, and thereby passed from being a national 
or tribal possession into its marvelous career as 
a chief world-book of Western civilization. Now 
this world-book opens with God who is creating 
man and the cosmos, and then delivering the 
law to his people. Very impressive is the ap- 
pearance of the man-creating God of the Hebrews 
in contrast to the man-created God of the Neo- 
Pythagoreans with their theurgic rites and invo- 
cations. It is no wonder that man creating his 
God becomes dissatisfied and seeks after a God 
who creates man. Ethically man has subjected 
himself to his higher Self within, but religiously 
he is next to subject himself to the supreme cre- 
ative Self of the Universe, who is the true reali- 
zation of the Moral Law. 

So the Jews have returned to Egypt in great 
numbers and live under the Ptolomies, as they 
once before went to Egypt and lived under the 
Pharaohs. According to Philo there were a mil- 
lion Jews in Egypt during his time (about the 



beginning of the Christian Era), and it would 
seem from his account that quite one-third of the 
inhabitants of Alexandria were Jews. But again 
persecution followed them as of old, and as of 
to-day; under the Romans, especially in the time 
of Caligula, they seem to have been substantially 
extirpated from Egypt. 

Judaism, then, philosophizes in Alexandria 
and interprets its Holy Books through Greek 
Philosophy. The outer events of scriptui-al 
history were supposed to have an inner philo- 
sophical meaning; thus the interpretation be- 
came a system of allegorizing. The Jewish 
claim was that Greek wisdom was derived from 
the Hebrew Bible primarily, so that the ex- 
positors were simply bringing the Philosophy of 
Greece to its fountain-head. Of course the 
Bible was first, the authority, the divine revela- 
tion and perfect; then came Philosophy, the 
handmaid, the servant. This was a situation 
afterwards repeated in the Middle Ages. 

The most famous name in the history of phil- 
osophizing Judaism is that of Philo (born about 
25 B. C, died about 50 A. D.), whose life 
spanned the Christian Era. His philosophy is 
})rimari]y religious, seeking to conceive the 
nature of God, and determining Him to be 
essentially indeterminate. The Absolute Being 
is affirmed with negative predicates only ; He is 
beyond any idea of human perfection, beyond 


our conception of goodness and wisdom. This 
begins to resemble Plotinus, though for Philo 
God is already given, is the Hebrew Jehovah, 
and isfnot merely a philosophic projection beyond 
Plato's Ideas. But since God cannot be con- 
nected with impure matter, He sends forth the 
Potencies which culminate in the Logos. 

Here we come to the most interesting doctrine 
in Philo. The Logos is the grand mediator be- 
tween God and the world. Here the original, 
immediately creative act of the Hebrew God is 
changed, or is at least explained, in accord with 
Platonism. The Logos is the Idea (or Power) 
which embraces all other Ideas, and, while being 
a property of God, seems at the same time to be 
an individual entity alongside God. Does Philo 
conceive the Logos to be a person? Sometimes 
and sometimes not ; he uses such contradictor}^ 
predicates concerning the Logos that the easiest 
way out is to consider that the question did not 
present itself to him consciously. To us, indeed, 
with the Gospel of John in mind it is the cjues- 
tion of questions. Philo can call the Loofos an 
angel, a priest, a second God, yet also regard the 
same as a quality or iK)wer of the one God. 

Another important doctrine of Philo is that 
the Highest God is supra-rational, beyond 
Thought or Reason. This doctrine will be trans- 
mitted to the Xeo-Platonists and furnish them 
with their supreme prmciple. Philo has also 


the conception of ecstasy, or the immediate 
union of the soul with God, which is with him 
the prophetic condition. Plotinus hereafter will 
employ this Philonic ecstasy as the highest ethi- 
cal act of the soul in its return to the Supreme 

But the world cannot become Jewish, nor can 
it worship the Jewish God, who is after all a 
tribal deity and not universal, in spite of Philo's 
Philosophy. In fact his attempt to force what 
is universal into what is purely national and par- 
ticular, has driven the Jewish Religion into a 
decided contradiction with itself. Philo, the 
Jew, has unconsciously though very decidedly, 
shown the insufficiency of the old Jewish Revela- 
tion by thrusting into it with a kind of externa] 
violence too large a content just through his phi- 
losophical interpretation. A new Revelation, 
w^hich will again be of Jewish origin, will answer 
the importunate call of the age. 

III. Religion Reveals. — Naturally one asks : 
What does relio-ion now reveal? In o-eneral terms 
the answer is the process of the Absolute Self. 
The divinely creative Ego is explicitly manifested 
in the individual, proclaims itself to the world in 
Christ and is finally categorized in the Christian 
dogma. What Philosophy religionized in Neo- 
Pythagorianism and in kindred movements, what 
Religion philosophized in Philo and others of 
his tendency, is revealed in the Christian Relig- 


ion, whose birth is the end toward which all 
Ilellenisticism has been moving. If we glance 
back at the Hellenistic formula as the Universal 
individualized, we find that this resulting individ- 
ual is the universal Self grasped in its triune 
process. Or, the Universal as Hellenic Thought 
is now individualized in the universal individual 
as the Son of God, who thereby has revealed 
not merely the implicit, indeterminate Oriental 
God, but the total divine process of the Universe, 
of which he is a part or stage, yet which is in 
him in its entirety. He is a member of the 
whole and just for this reason has the whole 
within him. 

Thus that which the Hellenistic world has been 
seeking for in manifold tortuous ways has come 
to light — a Revelation of the process of the 
Absolute Self, which calls for and calls forth a 
new Holy Book. The greatest written product 
of Hellenisticism is the New Testament, just as 
the greatest written product of Hellenism is 
the works of Plato and Aristotle. Strong indeed 
is the contrast. Originally, however, the chief 
contents of the New Testament were spoken in 
Aramaic, or probably in a local dialect of the 
Aramaic. Then they were written down in 
Hellenistic Greek, the universal tongue of the 
age, whereby they became the property of all 
civilization. So we may see that even in the 
matter of language, the Universal as the thought 


of the age, individualizes itself first in a petty 
rustic patois, from which it elevates itself into 
the dominating speech of the world at that time. 

Thus there is an immediate present Revelation 
of the present, as well as the Revelation coming 
down from the past through Moses and the 
Prophets, which is being bolstered up so labor- 
iously through Greek philosophy by the learned 
Jews of Alexandria. Good is the intention, and 
by no means is such work thrown away ; but can 
we not have a new Revelation? is the voice of 
the time crying out of the depths of its doubt 
and despair. Yes, is the answer, and here it is 
just now being uttered in the rude dialect of a 
rural district of Judea cotemperaneously with the 
erudite philosophizing Judaism of Philo at Alex- 

If we look into the doctrine thus announced 
and trace its relation to what has gone before, 
we find that the two previous stages of the Hel- 
lenistic Religious Movement are united in a third, 
which gives the new Revelation. The man-cre- 
ating God (Jewish) begets the man (Christ) 
who re-creates God in life and thought (Greek) ; 
that is, reveals Ilini creatively, in His own Divine 
Process. Thus Christ is here the mediator, me- 
diating the two sides, Greek and Hebrew, both 
of which were deeply fermenting in the spirit of 
the age. Thereby it is not said that Christ was 
conscious of any such purpose. Probably not. 


But that spirit of the age was working within 
him and all others; he possessed the power (we 
may call it genius) to give it adequate utterance 
for the people, he being of the people. We must 
recollect that for more than three centuries be- 
fore Christ the Greeks had ruled in Palestine and 
had established Greek cities there which had their 
share of Greek philosophic schools. Greek civ- 
ilization had entered deeply into the world-view 
of the Jews, and was transforming it, in a part 
of them at least. Then came the other question, 
Can the Jewish spirit transform the Greek spirit 
into a new world-view, or indeed into a new re- 
ligion? Such is the process now starting from 
Galilee, destined to embrace all Europe and to 
continue more than five hundred years, till the 
final close of the Schools of Athens. 

Evidently there will be many stages of this 
process and stages of those stages. Here, how- 
ever, it is in place to give only a brief outline of 
the main sweep, which we shall characterize by 
the Greek terms generally used in this connec- 
tion — Pistis, Gnosis, Dogma. 

1. Pistis. The stage of Faith is first, which 
comes from the immediate personal appearance 
of Christ proclaiming himself to be tho Sou of 
God, embodying in conduct and in simple speech 
the supreme Moral Law, aud manifesting the 
process of man in his life, death and resurrec- 
tion. The Pistis is primarily based upon the 


immediate, visible, we may say, sensuous mani- 
festation of tlie actual Person, who thus is a 
direct Eevelation from God, as well as utters a 
Revelation, and whose human career is a Revela- 
tion. We may note three processes here inter- 
woven in one Personality: the Religious (the 
Son of God), the ethical (the Moral Self with 
its law), and the human-divine (the Son of Man). 
Thus, the Religious Movement of Hellenisticisin 
has revealed not merely the Absolute Self but 
especially the process thereof in an Ego or Per- 

This doctrine is now to be imparted by those 
who have it in the form of Faith (Pis( is) to those 
who have it not. Hence rises the Apostolate of 
Christianity, bringing the new Evangel to the 
Jews first (through the twelve Apostles) and 
alsoto the Gentiles (through Paul). Butanother 
stream sets in, an age of culture and philosophy 
demands to know. To believe is well, yea is 
fundamental ; but cannot this new Faith be 
explained, interpreted, categorized for the under- 

2. Gnosis. This general term may include 
several important movements, heretical, semi- 
heretical and orthodox, which sought to base 
upon reason and })hilosophy the Christian Re- 
ligion. The original stream of Fjiith (Pisfis) 
remains and develops, at first in opposition to the 
Gnosis (Science), and then in harmony with it. 


In the New Testament the first heresy appears 
in Simon Magus. But the Christian communi- 
ties show an early tendency to split up into sects 
under the guidance of leaders who give some 
new turn to the doctrine of Christians. 

Very early in the history of Christianity 
appeared the Gnostics proper, who were named 
from the Gnosis. They too had many divisions 
among themselves. But they showed a common 
tendency in the fact that they regarded Christi- 
anity as evolved out of antecedent Eeligions, 
Jewish and Heathen, whose conflict they por- 
trayed as the battle of the old Gods. These 
were conquered by the true God through the 
Revelation of Jesus, which is thus the final pur- 
pose of the historic movement of Religion. This 
was a significant thought and it remained a valid 
contribution for the future. But the warlike 
form of the Greek My thus of Homer, in which 
their doctrine clothed itself, was not consonant 
with the New Testament, w^hich was thereby 
heathenized. The struggle between Gods be- 
comes the conflict between good and evil and 
begets in the Orient Manichaeism. But Christian- 
ity could not well take the Gnostic attitude to- 
ward the Jewish Jehovah of the old Testament. 
Nor could the mythical element in Gnosticism 
satisfy the philosophical mind. 

Accordingly the Apologists arise who seek to 
make Revelation rational, and to bring it into 


harmony with Greek thought. Thus began the 
tendency to philosophize Christianity. Socrates 
and Plato had flashes of inspiration, moreover 
they were supposed to have received somehow 
the teachings of Moses and the Prophets. But 
the perfect Kevelation of the Divine Logos is in 
Jesus who is to redeem man fallen in sin. The 
chief Apologists are Justin Martyr and Athena- 
goras. But they as rationalists found opposition 
in the followers of the pure Faith (Pistis) who 
did not wish for any philosophical interpretation 
of the Christian Religion (Tatian and Tertul- 
lian ) . 

Still the Gnosis is indispensable, and begins 
to take a new shape in the so-called Catechists 
of Alexandria, among whom Clement and 
Origen stand pre-eminent. The various doc- 
trines are now brought too;ether and ordered into 
a system by reason, so that we begin to see the 
total Christian edifice, constructed, to be sure, 
by Greek thought. Christianity now becomes a 
science, it has a theology which is chiefly the 
work of Origen, the great constructive thinker 
of early Christendom. He starts at the top by 
conceiving God as pure creativity, as Supreme 
Will, who eternally creates the Logos as Person or 
second God. The created spirits are endowed 
with Freo Will and have fallen, but can be saved 
thiougli Faiili in the Mediator. 

The great struggle of the Gnosis in all its forms, 


heretical, orthodox aud semi-orthodox, is to evolve 
the conception and formulation of the Trinity 
out of the Pistis. The process of the Absolute 
Self has now to be known and categorized as the act 
of Will which creates the Universe. This is ex- 
plicitly the work of Origen, who declares the world 
to be the product of God's AYill. The world is aud 
is what it is because God has willed it to be such. 
Tlius Origen is the most direct and emphatic de- 
nial of the whole sweep of Greek Philosophy ; he 
has postulated an universal arbitrary Will as the 
source of all things. Now Greek Philosophy 
came into existence by way of protest against the 
divinely creative Will of the Oriental and Greek 
Keligion as arbitrary. Is this view of Origen a 
relapse to the Orient? Not exactly, for he seeks 
to make the Divine Will permanent, essential, 
eternal as Law and Cause. But this element is 
Greek and philosophical, and seems to determine 
the Divine Will. Creation is not a single act in 
time, but is the very essence of God manifesting 
itself from eternity to eternity, according to 

He, therefore, has still a refractory Greek ele- 
ment in him, which has not permitted him to 
overcome wholly the dualism between Religion 
and Philosophy. Hence, in the view of the 
Church, he is still tainted with heresy. On one 
side he is still a Gnostic. But he has proclaimed 
the Will of God as the central creative i)rinciplc 


of the universe, which doctrine will remain as 
Christian, and against which the mighty Greek 
protest, Neo-Platonism, will rise and struggle 
with a new-born energy lasting hundreds of years. 
Origen was a contemporary of Plotinus, and both 
probably attended at Alexandria the School of 
Ammonius Saccas, from which the two chief spir- 
itual tendencies of the future gush forth, as two 
opposite streams from a single fountain-head. 

But the separative, unregulated condition of 
Religion, which is the character of the Gnosis, is 
now to be united, formulated and organized, 
whereby a universal creed is established and a 
universal church becomes possible. 

3. Dogma. The general principle of Dog- 
matism has already appeared in the preceding 
Theoretic Movement of Hellenisticism, in 
which the doctrines of the antecedent philoso- 
phers (especially Plato and Aristotle) were still 
further unfolded, applied, and formulated. In 
the present epoch the Christain doctrine will de- 
velop for a century from Origen (185-254 A. 
D.) in whom the Dogma becomes explicit and 
organic till Athanasius (298-373) through 
whom chiefly the Dogma becomes authoritative, 
the universal creed of Christendom, mainly by 
means of the Council of Nice (325). 

It was this Council which defined the doctrine 
of the Trinity for the Christian world, which doe- 
trine turned chiefly upon the nature of the Son, 


declaring it to be of like essence [homoousios) to 
that of the Father. The Logos (or Son) is not 
the Demiurge, not an intermediate being, who is 
inferior, who is not eternal, not able to com- 
municate an adequate knowledge of God : so 
Athanasius contended against Arius, whose tend- 
ency was to relapse to Platonic Heathenism. 
On the other hand, Sabellius had the tendency to 
relapse to purely monotheistic Hebraism, but the 
creative power of the world was no longer to be 
the Father immediately. There is a very im- 
portant distinction between genesis and creation ; 
the Father generates the Son of like essence, but 
the Son creates the world of different essence. 
Really the Son is both created and creating, 
recreating the Father who would not be Father 
without the Son ; the latter is thereby the total 
process in Himself. This process, taken by 
itself and formulated, becomes the doctrine of 
the Holy Spirit, which is dogmatically enounced, 
though not yet fully defined, at Nice. 

Herewith the Religious Movement of Hellenis- 
ticism has revealed itself as the process of the 
Absolute Self, which has finally formulated itself 
in the Christain Dogma. Thus it has become 
the Law of Faith, enforced by authority, first of 
the Religious Institution (Church), and then of 
the political Institution (State). From subjec- 
tive Faith (Pistis) it has unfolded through science 
(Gnosis) till it has become objective in its own 


formulated Law and Institution. So we recollect 
that subjective Ethics (in the preceding Prac- 
tical Movement) rose to objective authority in 
the Roman Law and State. Both the latter are 
now to re-enforce and support the Religious 
Movement as established by the Dogma. At 
this point, then, one epoch of Religion ends 
and another begins. 

Moreover, looking back at the total sweep of 
the Hellenistic Period, we find that its three 
Movements (Theoretic, Practical, and Religious) 
have brought forth and made explicit the inner 
creative movement of the Universe expressed in the 
form of the Christian Trinity. Thus the triune 
process manifests itself as three Divine Persons, 
each of which is a stage of the total process, yet 
is also this process in itself. That which we 
have called the Pampsychosis, the threefold 
psychical movement of the All, has assumed 
its religious form and has become an object 
of Faith, the basic formula of Christendom. 

At the same time it is established as externally 
authoritative in Church and State, dogmatic, 
autocratic, hence dominating the free Ego from 
the outside. That is, the Pampsychosis in the 
shape of Dogma determines and subjects to its 
outer authority the Psychosis as individual, 
which is its essence and which must also deter- 
mine it, as well as be determined by it. Here- 
with a new Religious Movement opens, which 


cannot be here set forth. But we may remark 
that this imperial Dogma of Trinity is destined to 
be the great educator of Europe for a thousand 

The progressive movement of the Hellenic 
Period has produced the Hellenistic Period, and 
the latter has now produced the Christian Trinity 
as a formulated doctrine. This Trinity has 
shown itself as three Persons and one Process, 
the absolute Process of the Universe. Not 
three Persons and one Substance is the present 
formulation ; we must see and express the Pro- 
cess of the All as personal. Now this fact is 
what has been brought into the foreground of 
the whole preceding exposition of Greek Phi- 
losophy. Every stage of it has shown a process 
which three persons constitute, beginning far 
back in old Miletus, and culminating in the three 
great Attic philosophers. The conclusion is that 
the Trinity is the true outcome of the progres- 
sive movement of Greek Philosophy, and must 
have been implicit in the same from the start. 
Hence it is the principle by w^hich this Philoso- 
phy is to be interpreted and organized. The 
Pampsychosis is now conceived as personal, and 
as the creative ground of all philosophic Thought. 
But next comes the reaction against this 
explicit personal principle which is indeed the 
undoing of the Greek world-view as such. A 
new Period begins, which shows the attempt to 


return to the first Hellenic Philosophy, and to 
restore it as the vital power of a new era. This 
is our next task. 


Such is the name we give to the new Period 
instead of calling it Neo-Platonism, which is its 
ordinary designation. For it is not simply an 
attempt to rejuvenate Plato, or to go back to 
the study of his works, but it is a return to the 
total Hellenic Period from begimiino: to end, 
and includes all the great Greek philosophers. 
Aristotle has quite as much influence as Plato 
upon Neo-Hellenism ; Pythagoras and the Stoics 
are very important factors. But this is not all : 
the present movement reaches back, as we shall 
see, to the very starting-point of Greek Think- 
ing, which it in its final effort tries to recover. 

37 (577) 


It will seek to return to that primal unity of 
Thought and Being, of the individual and the 
universal, from which Hellenic Philosophy sets 
out. Neo-Platonism we have had all along, 
especially at Alexandria during the Hellenistic 
Period. The early Christian Thinkers were Neo- 
Platonists ; so were the learned Jews of Alex- 
andria, where seemingly all Oriental religions 
had a tendency to Platonize. 

The inadequacy of the term ISFeo-Platonism 
for the present movement has been very gene- 
rally recognized by modern Historians of Philos- 
ophy. Even ancient Porphyry, who was the 
friend and pupil of Plotinus, and who edited the 
latter' s writings, acknowledged in them Stoical 
elements, and particularly emphasized the influ- 
ence of Aristotle's Metaphysics (see his life of 
Plotinus c. 14). It is true, however, that Plo- 
tinus is devoted to Plato, and evidently regards 
him as master. But that Plotinus transcended 
the Master, and in the deepest matter ran coun- 
ter to him, becomes evident in studying the Plo- 
tinian Philosophy. Neo-Hellenism is not then 
an imitation or reproduction of Plato; if such 
were the case, it Avould not be an original system 
of Thought. Nor is it an imitation or reproduc- 
tion of the total Hellenic Period, for the same 
reason. It is, indeed, a return to Hellenism, yet 
is also its opposite. In general, Hellenism is a 
forward movement, Neo-Hellenism a backward 


movement; their movements are, therefore, con- 
tradictory at bottom. Hence we shall see that 
Neo-Hellenism on its negative side counteracts 
and neutralizes in principle all that Hellenism 
has done. But just this is the winding up and 
completion of Greek Philosophy, whereby it be- 
comes a well-rounded, finished totality, unique 
of its kind in the spiritual achievements of the 
race. The cycle of Greek Philosophy is fulfilled 
by Neo-Hellenism, which has, therefore, to join 
together the last and the first, to push, forward 
to a conclusion which goes back and interlinks 
with the starting-point. Thus the movement of 
the Thought of Hellas with its three Periods 
completes itself. 

So we shall here persist in using the term 
Neo-Hellenic for the present Period as far more 
definite and far more suggestive of its true pur- 
port. To be sure Ave have already employed 
the word J^eo-Platonic in a general way, as the 
one in common use and therefore more intelli- 
gible on the spot. But now we must employ 
more accurate terms for the sake of the more 
precise thought which is at present our object. 
There need be no confusion if both words are 
used in the right place and in the right way. 
1. If we wish to grasp, as nearly as possible, 
the definite time and place at which Neo- 
Hellenism shows itself a distinct Movement as 
against Hellenisticism, we must turn to Alexan- 


drill in the second quarter of the third century 
A. D. In fact we may well point to the School 
of Ammonius Saccas as the very source from 
which proceeds the grand bifurcation of the 
Hellenistic Period into two streams, the Chris- 
tian and the Neo-Hollenic, each of them being 
represented by a great, epoch-making thinker — 
Origen the Christian, and Plotinus the Neo- 
Hellenist. Both were pupils of Ammonius, not 
indeed at the same time, for Origen quit Alexan- 
dria in 232 A. D., the year Plotinus entered the 
School of Ammonius. 

Of this Ammonius very little is known. Por- 
phyry (in his Life of Plotinus) gives some facts 
about him which are sio;nificant. He seems not 
to have left any writings, and he made his pupils 
promise not to publish his opinions, though evi- 
dently they had the right of teaching these 
opinions orally. After several pupils had broken 
their promise, Plotinus broke his too, or at least 
broke his silence, and began to write, but not until 
many years had elapsed. Then he started to 
compose his Enneads, for which act Philosophy 
will always be thankful. It is strange that 
Plotinus seldom if ever mentions his master by 
name; very different is Plato's treatment of 
Socrates. Still we may note in Plotinus a dis- 
inclination to speak of persons, even when he is 
discussing their doctrines. We find that Plato, 
upon whose writings he so often falls back, is 


not always cited by name. The individual was 
worthless in the eyes of Plotiiius, he was to be 
re-absorbed, was to get rid of himself by return- 
ing to the One, even in this life. So Plotinus, 
in accord with his doctrine, " seemed to be 
ashamed of his being in a body," and more 
deeply still contemned his own Self. Hence he 
appears to shun any glorification of the indi- 
vidual, of his individual teacher Ammonius, and 
even of his master, the divine Plato. Not in- 
gratitude but conviction we may see in his scant 
mention of his great predecessors in Philosophy. 
It is further stated of Ammonius that he was 
born of Christian parents in humble life, but 
that he, studying Greek Philosophy, renounced 
his faith and returned to the Hellenic Gods. 
This fact is characteristic, as is the further state- 
ment that in his teaching^ he sought to show the 
fundamental unity of doctrine in both Plato and 
Aristotle. In his school he seems to have 
adopted something similar to the Pythagorean 
Askesis. From these hints we see that Ammo- 
nius sought to return to Hellenism, especially 
to Hellenic Philosophy. But long before him, 
the same movement was fermenting in the spirit 
of the time. We catch its struggles in Philo, 
in the Gnostics, especially in Numenius, from 
whom cavilers said that Plotnius had plagiar- 
ized his Philosophy. This is, of course, false, 
since Plotinus is as original as any philosopher 


that ever lived; still the charge indicates that he 
came forth only in the fullness of a long preced- 
ing evolution, which had given many signs of 
the new thought. 

So we may conclude that in the little school of 
master Ammonius Saccas, seemingly insignifi- 
cant in the great bustling city of Alexandria, 
full of commercial life, and particularly full of 
religious and philosophical feuds, began distinct- 
ly that prophetic Parting of the Ways, the one 
leading forward through Christian Origeu to the 
future of Europe, the other leading backward 
through heathen Plotinus to the past of Hellas, 
the one being essentially a progressive and the 
other a regressive movement. 

II. In this manner we bring before ourselves 
the bifurcation of Hellenisticism, which is also 
its conclusion. Seeking for the deeper ground 
of these movements, we find that Origen first 
decisively formulates the Will, the divinely 
creative Will, as the source of the world and 
man, though this creative activity he posits as 
eternal. Secondly,' he proclaims Christ as the 
only begotten Son of God, generated not pro- 
duced or emanated. Thus the Universal individ- 
ualizes itself in a Person who is the universal indi- 
vidual. Thirdl}', Origen proclaims the Trinity as 
personal; the abs(;lute process of the Universe is 
triune and is composed of three Divine Persons. 
Thus Origen organizes Christianity, and lays the 


foundation of Christian Theology, and with it of 
the Church. 

Every one of these three doctrines Neo-Hellen- 
ism controverted, reacting against them prima- 
rily by a return to philosophic Hellenism, which, 
however, it transcended. It sought to conceive 
God as supra-personal, as the pure Universal which 
swallows up the individual. It would not think 
of God begetting a Son like unto Himself, that 
were the deepest divine degradation for those 
who were ashamed of their bodies and of their 
selfhood. The great ethical function of the 
individual in Neo-Platonism is to get rid of 
himself by becoming one with the One, and van- 
ishing as a self-conscious individual or person. 
But to make God a person, whose first duty is to 
cancel personality, could only be for the Neo- 
Hellenist unphilosophical or even blasphemous. 
On the contrary, Christianity is fundamentally 
personal, making God a person and the father 
of a person. The infinite stress is upon the 
salvation of the individual and not his absorption. 

Plotinus has left a considerable record of this 
early separation and antagonism between the 
Christians and Neo-Platonists, in a treatise 
(^Ennead II., Book 9) which Porphyry entitles 
"Against the Gnostics," though the Gnostics 
are not mentioned in it, nor is any sect named, 
as is the custom of Plotinus. But a careful 
reading of the treatise shows clearly that it is 


directed ao;ainst the leading doctrines of the 
Christians, both Gnostic and Catholic. There 
is a decided polemic poured forth upon the idea 
of the Christ. Plotinus with an aristocratic 
disdain reprobates the custom of saying to every 
common man " Thou art the son of God." 
Who could have spoken such a sentence, but a 
Christian? And " thou art better than the Heaven 
itself " with its sun and stars. Plotinus deems 
it not proper to say that the soul of the vilest 
man is immortal and divine. Who could have 
asserted that? Many other passages show the 
philosopher's protest against the worth of the 
individual, especially if he be of the common 
herd. In these statements, some of which still 
retain the heat of discussion, we can doubtless 
hear an echo of the controversies in the Alexan- 
drian School of Ammonius. 

In the same treatise Plotinus reveals his ten- 
dency to go back to " the doctrines of those 
ancient and divine men," the old Hellenic phi- 
losophers. Again he grows warm in reproving 
the arrogance of those who claim to have a new 
light surpassing that of the Wise Men of all 
heathendom, and " who defame and insolently 
assail the opinions of the Greeks." Great is 
the philosopher's indignation, though he men- 
tions no names ; over and over again his aristo- 
cratic contempt breaks out against those " who 
are willing to call the lowest of mankind their 


brethren." Just here indeed lies the great dis- 
tinction which causes the open split in the Hel- 
lenistic Period. Shall the return to God save the 
individual or destroy him? Neo-Hellenisni de- 
clares that he must go back and be re-absorbed in 
the source whence he came. Hellenisticisni, 
with its doctrine of individualizing the Universal, 
has unfolded to the point of individualizing, that 
is, humanizing even God, having made Him a 
man. But at this point Neo-Hellenism separates 
from the Hellenistic stream, rising up in a mighty 
swell and rolling back to the fountain-head of 
Greek Philosophy. It will continue this return- 
ing current with a surprising vitality, seeking a 
restoration of Hellenic Thought, but in reality 
accomplishing something very different. 

in. The Neo-Hellenic Period lasted about 
300 years, if we reckon from its beginning in 
Alexandria to the close of the School of Athens 
(529 A. D.). This is nearly the same in length 
of time as the Hellenic Period to which it is a re- 
turn. All these years it was engaged in a life- 
and-death struggle with Christianity, gradually 
losing its hold upon the world till at last it suc- 
- cumbed, or rather was knocked in the head by 
the emperor Justinian. 

It was indeed a sad time, in which all men, 
both Christian and Heathen, were overwhelmed 
with a feeling of decadence, which sprang from 
a civilization going to pieces. In this decline and 


fall of a world man felt hiniself utterly helpless, 
and in a kind of terror turned for external aid to 
the higher powers, being ready to believe almost 
anything, if it promised assistance. Even intel- 
ligence was no bulwark against the superstitious 
dread of the grand collapse which everybody felt 
to be coming. The philosopher, who ought to be 
the last person to be terrorized, though caught 
in the catacly sm of the Universe, yielded and be- 
came panicky along with the common mass. For 
the Neo-Hellenic Period was one long panic of 
the whole Greco-Eoman wo rid fleeing for shelter 
with prayers, incantations, ceremonies, invoca- 
tions to every imaginable sort of supernatural 
beings against the impending Crack of Doom. In 
this universal scare Christian and Heathen equally 
participated, being equally threatened when the 
whole edifice of antiquity, in which they all were 
still living, was toppling over their heads. 

In this way we account for a peculiar element 
in Neo-Hellenism : the crass superstition which 
weaves through it from beginning to end, in the 
shape of demons and devils and spirits and spooks 
in infinite quantity and gradation up to the gods, 
who are likewise of all conditions and tribes and 
nations. Now such a tendency is directly the 
opposite of the Hellenic Period, which starts in 
the clear sunrise of Intelligence and grows brighter 
and brio-hter till the noon of Athenian Universal- 
ism. But the Neo-Hellenic Period moves the 


other way ; the night-side of human spirit grows 
darker and darker from Pk)tinus to Jamblichus 
and Proclus, till at last the philosophic light of 
Hellas sinks down forever. Thus the return to 
Hellenism in this as in so many other cases 
is not progressive, but regressive ; the day of 
Greek Philosophy is indeed advancing, 3'et not 
from dawn to noon, but from afternoon to 

Still we must admire the desperate valor of 
those thinkers who refused to give up their old 
world, but sought to get back to it again through 
a rejuvenation of its Philosophy. They were the 
romanticists of their age, and have nourished the 
romanticism of all times, which generally is seek- 
ins: to restore some lost ideal. We recollect that 
Schelling, the philosopher of the last century's 
German romanticism, received no small part of 
his intellectual food from Neo-Hellenism. 
Though the old heathen life of Hellas was felt to 
be giving away, many of the choicest spirits of 
this period made a strong, fresh endeavor to r3- 
store that antique power, originality and happi- 
ness which still irradiated the clouds that overcast 
their heaven. At first, indeed, the State was on 
their side, but gradually it went over to their 
enemies, and finally gave them the fatal blow, 

IV. The outer topographical movement of Neo- 
Hellenism is seen again to be essentially centri- 
petal, as was the first Hellenic Period, whose 


sweep we have already noted, starting from the 
Greek borderland and concentrating finally at 
Athens. In a similar manner the Neo- Hellenic 
idea begins at Alexandria in the south, then 
comes to Rome in the west in the person of 
Plotinus, then leaps to Syria in the east to the 
school of Jamblichus, and finally reaches the cen- 
ter, Athens, for the last years of activity, dying 
in the same city wliere Philo30[)hy first concen- 
trated itself for its highest effort nearly a thou- 
sand years before. In one sense, however, Neo- 
Hellenism did not die, and is not yet dead, for 
it is still an influence, a spirit which stirs to-day 
kindred souls to adopt its doctrines. 

On the contrary, the Hellenistic movement 
was centrifugal, going forth from Athens to the 
borders of tlie civilized world east, west, north 
and south. Hellenisticism had a missionary 
function, it carried Greek Philosophy far beyond 
the periphery of Hellas to the very rim of the 
Roman Empire where it touched outlying bar- 
barism. In this work it had spent several cen- 
turies, seeking to give itself to all men of all 
nations, But its chief product was the new uni- 
versal Religion, Christianity, 

But now to this vast outward sweep of expan- 
sion succeeds a fresh concentration, in which 
Greek Philosophy seeks to return to its first cen- 
tralizing, unifying tendency, and to save itself 
from its own child. Indeed, as Hellenism un- 


folded itself into this expansion, Neo-Hellenism 
must get back of it and negate just the preceding 
evolution which has been revealed as its very 
nature. Such a principle we shall find in the 
One of Plotinus, which is beyond Reason, beyond 
Plato and Aristotle, even if it can be shown to 
be implicitly in them at times. But really it is 
an Oriental religious inheritance, which Neo- 
Hellenism probably received from Philo the Jew. 
The philosophic Norm has gone outside of itself 
for its highest principle, having no longer the 
controlling power over itself within itself. Phi- 
losophy is not autonomous, not truly self-deter- 
mined in Neo-Hellenism, but invokes a supra- 
rational, indeed supra-philosophical energy to 
come down and rule its world. In other words 
Neo-Hellenism is autocratic, absolutistic, im- 
perial like its age. 

The fact that the Neo-Hellenic movement, 
even in its outward topographical sweep, is cen- 
tripetal, can now be seen to be deeply consonant 
with the social and institutional character of the 
time. The Roman Emperor was likewise the 
absolute One in whom all was concentrated ; he 
was, too, a God, in whom all lesser deities of 
tribe and nation vanished, before whom all indi- 
viduals were as stubble in the fire. Verily he 
was the Universal individualized in a being whose 
universality was all-absorbing. The negative 
might of Neo-Hellenism asainst the individual 


received its living, practical illustration in such a 
supreme ruler. Indeed the Roman Emperor as 
individual was liable to be destroyed by another 
stronger individual during the whole Neo-Hellenic 
Period. Some mightier being seemed to hover 
above every Emperor as person, often swooping 
down and devouring him after a little brief 
authority. The One of the Neo-Hellenic world 
would appear to tolerate no individual, not even 
an Emperor. Thus it swallowed its own personal 
representatives one after another with great 
rapidity. Think of what passed before the eyes 
of Plotinus at Rome. Gallienus the Roman 
Emperor was his friend ; he saw that friend, 
after having reached the throne by destroying 
other pretenders, destroyed in turn by Claudius 
who succeeded him, but who was soon followed 
by Aureliau, in the year of the death of Plotinus. 
So the time reveals an all-devouring One above 
the individual, even the highest, above Emperors, 
who seem to be its choicest food. 

Thus Greek Philosophy returns to Athens for 
its last years, after making the circuit of the 
Roman Empire lying around Hellas. We are 
again reminded of the vortex, of the peripheral 
movement of the First Period and the final 
flight to the Athenian center. But Athens was 
in a very different condition at that former 
time. Then it was independent, autonomous, 
the center of the Will and also of the Intellect 


of the Hellenic world. But now its power and 
its freedom as well as its spirit are gone; it 
receives its law not from itself but from an 
external authority. Thus Neo-Hellenism does 
not return to Hellenic Athens, to the Athens of 
Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. These were the 
marvelous product of the Athenian City-State, 
the children of its free communal life. Athens 
then could give birth to its own philosophers. 
But the Neo-Hellenists come to it from the out- 
side, they are not its mighty progeny. Athens 
is now but a tomb out of which they seek to raise 
the dead. But their philosophic fate is to die on 
that tomb themselves, and they only bring 
Philosophy back to expire in its own birthplace. 
Thus the return of Neo-Hellenism to Athens is 
just the opposite of the first, in which the city 
was determined from within, while in this it is 
determined from without, by an external power. 
Neo-Hellenism was philosophically the bearer of 
that supernal One, which was already over it 
politically, and which had absorbed its essence, 
its individuality. Such a doctrine do these late 
philosophers bring to Athens — a doctrine which 
heralds its own dissolution as well as that of its 

V. But who were these ardent disciples seek- 
ing to restore that primal Hellenic Philosophy, 
and even to bring it back to its first home? The 
curious fact comes to light that the most impor- 


tantof them were not Athenians, not even Greeks, 
yes, not even Aryans .apparently. Ammonias 
Saccas the founder of Neo-Phitonism was an 
Egyptian, judging by his name; so wasPlotinus. 
Jambhchus and Porphyry, coming next in time 
and importance, were Syrians. Proclus, the last 
great light of Neo-Hellenism, was born of parents 
who came from Lycian Xanthus in Asia Minor. 
These are the greatest names — all of them 
Orientals, though Hellenized. As Greek culture 
once went to the Orient with Alexander and 
deeply transformed it, so now the Orient will 
return to the Greco-Roman world, seeking to 
restore that original Hellenic spirit which has 
given so freely of itself to the East. 

Still this is not a Greek love of Greece, but an 
Oriental love of Greece ; it is not an Hellenic 
return to Hellas, but an Oriental return. And 
just in this last fact lies the originality of Neo- 
Hcllenism, which will have in it a new strand 
coming from the Orient, and so will not be and 
cannot be a more repetition or imitation of Hel- 
lenism. The Supreme One above Reason, which 
is the highest principle of Neo-Hellenism, is 
distinctly non-Hcllcnic, we may sa}^ anti-Hel- 
lenic. Without doubt it developed in the Hel- 
lenistic Period, but from Orientals. For instance, 
the djniamic pantheism of the One is derived 
from the Stoics, whose founder Zeno and whoso 
chief Scholarchs came from the Orient. On the 


other baud, the One as supra-rational is found in 
the Jew Philo, who also has the idea of ecstasy 
whereby the individual returns to an unconscious 
unity with the One. Neo-IIellenism will com- 
bine these doctrines with Hellenic Philosophy, 
making a new and distinct Philosophy, far more 
original than that of the purely Platonic or Peri- 
patetic Schools, more original than any system 
of Thouij;ht that arose durino; the Hellenistic 
Period. Creative Thinking shows itself once 
more and celebrates a second birth. Plotinus is 
properly to be placed with Plato and Aristotle 
as the third among the greatest Greek philoso- 
phers, who have organized their Thought and 
set it down in writing. 

So it was not the Greek personally who was 
the bearer of Greek Philosophy in its final stage 
of return upon itself, but the Oriental. The 
Greek philosopher proper had done his work in 
the Hellenic Period, which through him had 
advanced into Hellenisticism. He seemingly 
could not reverse himself ; he might repeat his 
progressive movement in the Schools, but he 
could not become regressive and run counter to 
his own philosophic evolution. Yet this is what 
a return meant, what it had to do. Greek 
thought had, therefore, to take possession of an 
Oriental mind in order to fulfill itself, and com- 
plete its cycle. Having gone forth to the 



Orient, it could not get back except through 

VI. There is a stronoj negative element in Neo- 
Platonism, which places the One, the grand ob- 
ject of attainment, above all reason, all know- 
ing, all consciousness. This, of course, denies 
not only science, but even the possibility of 
the same ; it denies the scientific results of Plato 
and Aristotle, while going back to them and 
treating them as a kind of Bible. Hellenistic 
skepticism lurks in the very fiber of Neo-Hellen- 
ism ; though there is the return to the Hellenic 
Period, Plotinus and his followers must carry 
back with themselves the knowledge of its de- 
cline. Plato and Aristotle did not save Greece, 
or the Greco-Roman life ; there was some power 
over them which made them instruments in the 
evanishment of their own world. The Neo- 
Hellenist, therefore, even while studymg his 
philosophical Bible, cannot help having the con- 
sciousness of an energy mightier than the 
mightiest philosophers — an energy transcending 
their science and all science. Yet this potency 
unknown (for it is above knowledge), indeter- 
minate, but all-posverful, he must somehow reach 
and participate in, otherwise he loses the whole 
purpose of his return. The latter must lead him 
to what lies beyond it and determines it — to the 
Supreme One beyond Thought, and hence be- 


yond Hellenism, yet the secret power producing 
the same. 

Thus the skeptical element of Hellenisticism 
will not be wanting to the Neo-Hellenic move- 
ment. Still this is not the bitter Pyrrhonic 
skepticism which denies all authority and all 
truth. Neo-Hellenism will have its authoritative 
canonical books, its Bible, as already stated. 
Such a characteristic it could also have derived 
from religious Hellenisticism, especially from 
Philo who took the Hebrew Biljle as supreme 
authority even for Philosophy. But in the pres- 
ent case Philosophy furnishes its own Bible, the 
Hellenic one, made up of the w^ritings of the old 
Greek philosophers, especially of Plato and Aris- 

From these statements w^e see that Neo-Hel- 
lenism bears in it both a positive, preservative 
principle, and also a negative, destructive prin- 
ciple toward the world to which it returns. In 
the first case it appropriates and affirms, in the 
second case it transcends and so denies as ulti- 
mate, the Ideas of Plato and the Thought-thin k- 
ing-Thought of Aristotle. In like manner it 
shows both a positive and negative attitude 
toward the world from which it departs, the 
Hellenistic. With the Christian the Neo-Hellen- 
ist affirms the supra-rational One, and accepts a 
biblical authority ; but in opposition to the 
Christian he denies the personality of the One 


and its process, and scouts the biblical authority 
of the New Testament. 

VII. The absolute autocracy of Neo-Platon- 
ism has been already touched upon and c®nsti- 
tutes one of its most strikino; characteristics, 
and one which is decidedly anti-Athenian, in 
fact anti-Greek. In this respect, too, the Neo- 
Hellenic return runs counter to Ilelleuisni. Still 
the autocratic Philosophy is deeply harmonious 
with the institutional environment of the whole 
Neo-Hellenic Period. The imperial, irresponsible, 
supra-rational One has its unquestioned represent- 
ative in the political head of Rome, in whose 
presence the individual can have no substantial 

The Roman State was still heathen when Neo- 
Hellenism began in Alexandria, and it became a 
persecutor of Christianity ; but it changed com- 
pletely at the time of Constant ine's conversion 
(usually dated 312 A. D.) Not Plotinus but 
Jamblichus saw the civilized world becomino; 
Christian in its political authority. Finally, in 
the last stage of Nco-Hellenism, persecution 
had faced about, and the philosophers in their 
turn felt its blow coming from the Christian 
State. The fact is, then, that Christianity with- 
stood persecution and even thrived on it, while 
it destroyed Neo-Hellenism as an active existing 
school, though the hitter's doctrines were still 
studied, and privately taught and believed. 


But its power as an independent movement was 
broken with the closing of the School of Athens 
bj Justinian. Its teachers were scattered, 
though they did not fail to produce an important 
influence upon the dominant Christianity, con- 
tributing largely to its element of mysticism. 

The fact is, the Neo-Hellenists never sought 
to improve the ' condition of the Roman State 
when the latter was at its worst. They held 
aloof from political affairs, no reform for the 
betterment of social conditions is attributed to 
them, no ideal polity like that of Plato and Aris- 
totle did they try to construct. It is true that 
Plotinus is reported by Porphyry to have con- 
ceived a City of Philosophers, a Platonopolis ; 
this, however, could not have been a State, but a 
School, a Monastery, a Mount Athos full of celi- 
bates, vegetarians and ecstatlcs. Neo-Hellenism 
is not institutional, has no institutional Ethics, 
except perchance the shadow of a political virtue, 
the very lowest virtue in its opinion. It must 
shun the real world of sense, and so it eschewed 
politics ; it could not reach the people with its 
abstract, impersonal One as God. 

In Neo-Hellenism, accordingly, we cannot help 
finding the belief that the Eoman State and in- 
deed that the State as an Institution was a failure. 
The time gave only too much confirmation to 
such a belief. But still dce[)er runs the Neo- 
Hellenic criticism of the age, proclaiming that 


Europe has failed. What has the Greco-Roman 
civilization produced? Look around everywhere 
and behold a kind of Inferno. How shall we 
get out of it? Back, back to old Hellas, and 
then beyond it to the Orient. Such is their 
regressive cry, on the one side a gospel of de- 
spair, ^on the other the deep necessity of the 
time. The Neo-Hellenic Orientals have come 
into Europe, acquired its language, culture and 
civilization, and are now subjecting the whole 
European world to their fierce criticism, indirect, 
to be sure, but very real. Their work reveals 
the disease and must be regarded as a condition 
of future health. 

From this point of view Neo-Hellenism has a 
prominent place in Thought. It will become 
the nourishment of ideal spirits who are in a 
state of protest against their age and its civiliza- 
tion. Hence it exi.sts to-day. In Neo-Hellenism 
European Philosophy is made, by its own act, to 
reach entirely through itself and to get out of 
itself. The Supreme One is to be attained by 
the complete cancellation of the European dual- 
ism, which dualism is what Philosophy at bottom 
expresses, and by the very nature of its Norm it 
can ultimately express nothing else. Hence Neo- 
Hellenism becomes extremely interesting and 
valuable as a judgment of Europe seen in its 
very essence. 

Still this judgment is fundamentally negative. 


and that is its weakness. Spirit must go for- 
ward for its highest fruition, not backward — 
forward to the Occident, not backward to the 
Orient. It must advance to a new Discipline, 
not retreat to an old Discipline. Hence Neo- 
Platonism will remain good as a critique of the 
old, but not as a construction of the new. 

Moreover it is a Philosophy which retires to 
the shelter of Religion and still remains philo- 
sophical. It seeks to transcend Philosophy, and 
yet it remains Philosophy in the act of trans- 
cendence. Thus it will show the very malady 
which it points out and strives to remedy. It 
to© labors under the European dualism of which 
it seeks to get rid. It will run into the same 
trouble from which it is a flight. Some writers 
call it a religion, but it remains a philosophy in 
spite of its strong religious element, which, 
indeed, varies a good deal among its different 

VIII. The Neo-Hellenists will preserve the 
philosophic Norm in their Thinking, and hence 
must be called philosophers even when they put 
the greatest stress upon religion, as does Jam- 
blichus. Still further the Neo-Hellenists will 
have their own form of the philosophic Norm, 
wherein lies the distinctive characteristic of their 
School. It is Plotinus who elaborates the Neo- 
Hellenic edition of the philosophic Norm, and 


therefore he is the great original thinker and 
founder of Neo-Hellemsni. 

The movement of this Third Period of Greek 
Philosophy groups itself around three central 
personages, quite as we saw in the Athenian 
movement of the First Period. Moreover these 
three central personages form together a psy- 
chical process which is the total sweep of the 
Period. Likewise each philosopher has his own 
individual process which is revealed in his 
Philosophy. To be sure there are many other 
Neo-Hellenists of distinction besides these three, 
but in one way or other they range themselves 
with or between these loftiest summits of specu- 
lation, which alone can be regarded in the 
present exposition. 

( 1 ) Plotinus seeks primarily to restore Hel- 
lenic Philosophy as such, though he does not 
leave out Religion. He is therefore the pure 
Neo-Hellenist, and constructs the philosophical 
Norm of his School. In Plotinus man is to re- 
turn to the supra-rational One essentially through 
Philosophy. The Roman School. 

(2) Jamblichus seeks really to restore Poly- 
theism, but formally he makes this a means for 
his Philosophy. Thus he is twofold, dualistic, 
hovering between the abstract (})hilosophical) 
and concrete (religious) elements of his system. 
The Syrian School. 

(3) Produs goes back to Ploiiuus and seeks 


to restore Hellenic Philosophy, yet unites with it 
the religious tendency of Jamblichus. The for- 
mal element dominates him, so that he has been 
called the scholastic of Neo-Hellenism. The 
Athenian School. 

All three formulate the descent of the soul 
into body, and then its ethical rise to the supra- 
rational One in some form. - Inside of this gen- 
eral formula, we are now to consider their 
individual diversities — Plotinus being more the 
complete Neo-Helleuist, lamhlicJius more the 
Neo-Pythogorean, Proclus more the Neo-Aris- 



H. HMotlnue, 

*rhe greatest name in Greek Philosophy after 
the great Athenians — Socrates, Plato and Aris- 
totle — IS Plotinus. Neo-Hellenisni as a perma- 
nent system of Thought, which is still an 
intellectual force, having its followers and 
propagators even to-day, is his work. Though 
not a Greek, his keynote is the restoration of 
the Hellenic world. It is true that he more or 
less unconsciously reaches back of Hellenism, 
and employs a first principle quite unknown to it 
and inconsistent with it; still his avowed object 
is a return to the old Philosophy of Hellas, that 
of her First Period. 

A good deal has been handed down about 
Plotinus ; we are able to gain a pretty fair 
survey of the man and his doctrines, putting him 
in line with Plato and Aristotle, whom he sought 
to re-establish in their spiritual supremacy witli 
so much devotion and genius. Accordingly, we 
shall give an outline of him in three fundamental 
aspects : his Life, his Writings, and his Philos- 

I. His Life. — We are fortunate in possessing 
a considerable biography of Plotinus written by 
his friend and pupil Porphyry, who narrates 


that his master would not speak of his birth- 
place or of his origin, as if he " were ashamed of 
being in his body." But a later writer, Euna- 
pius, has told us that Plotinus was born at Ly- 
copolis in Egypt, whether of Greek, Semitic or 
Egyptian parentage is not said. As this Ly- 
copolis was probably a city of the upper country 
in the Thebaid according to Creuzer, it is likely 
that Plotinus was of Egyptian blood and lan- 
guage. According to what Porphyry says of 
him, he never fully mastered the Greek tongue in 
speech or in writing. The date of his birth is 
usually assigned to 204 A. D., though sometimes 
it is placed a year later. 

( 1 ) Nothing is told of his youth in the matter of 
education, till he is brought before us wandering 
about in Alexandria in search of a philosopher 
who could speak to him the satisfying word. 
Evidently he has come to that great center of 
learning and of disputation, impelled by his 
spiritual needs. He passes from one school to 
another "full of sorrow," because of disap- 
pointment ; finally a friend, to whom he has im- 
parted his unhapj)y state of mind, directs lijipi to 
Ammonius Saccas. Entering and listening he says 
to his companion, "this is the man I have been 
hunting for." Some eleven years he remained 
with Ammonius, beginning when he was 28 years 
old (in 232 A. D.), studying philosophy, and 


doubtless discussing the burning questions of the 

What was going on at Alexandria during this 
period? It was the time of Origen (185-254) 
who was the founder of Christian Theology, who 
sought to unite Christian Faith (Pisfis) with 
Greek Science ( G^?40S2s), making the latter the 
means for organizing and upbuilding the super- 
structure of Christianity. Origen was born in 
Alexandria and remained there till 232, when he 
was compelled by religious strife to leave the city. 
But he had already (before 228) written his great 
work on Fundamental Principles (j^eri archon) 
in which Dogmatic Theology first became a sys- 
tem. An interesting fact is that Origen attended 
the school of Ammonius Saccas, though there 
was another person by the name of Origen who 
belono;ed to the same school and continued to be 
a heathen. To the last there remained in the 
thought of Origen the Christian a Neo-Platonic 
strain, especially in his mystic union of the soul 
with God through contemplation. But on the 
other hand he emphasized the personalitj^ of God, 
who^e Will was the source of the world, even 
though the latter be eternal. 

Now Plotinus, thrown into this seething mass 
of controversies, religious and philosophical, the 
very year in which Origen <]uit Alexandria, was 
at the heart of the epoch about to be born, and 
felt its throes during the whole time of his school- 


training. He may be said to have been present 
at the birth of Christianity as the European Re- 
ligion, with its personal Trinity theologically for- 
mulated. Just this constitutes the germinal 
starting-point of his career of reaction against 
the new order, and of his return to Hellenism. 
That school of Ammonius must have had many 
memories of the great Origen, which Plotinus, 
coming after him, heard and appropriated in his 
own fashion. 

In some such way we may conceive the years 
of instruction (Lehrjahi'e) of Plotinus. But 
the time conies when he must quit school, and go 
forth into the wide world. It is probable, as in 
so many other cases, that the pupil of genius had 
learned all that the master had to give him, and 
had begun to feel the limits of his situation. 

(2) Accordingly he breaks loose from Alexan- 
dria and starts on his travels. He is thirty-eight 
years of age, a year older than Aristotle when 
the latter quit the school of Plato, having out- 
grown the master, or at least having attained his 
own independent standpoint. But whither will 
Plotinus bend his steps? Toward the East 
whose wisdom he longs to drink from its native 
fountains. This fact is highly characteristic of 
the man; he turns away from the Occident, 
which he deems corrupt and lost, as it is slowlv 
becoming Christian, and he will go back to the dis- 


tant Orient, to Persia and India, beyond the in- 
fluence of Cliristianity, for his truth undefiled. 

The Emperor Gordian was making an expedi- 
tion against the Persians ; to this our philosopher 
attached himself. But the campaign turned out 
unfortunate and the Emperor perished. Why 
Plotinus did not endeavor to reach the peaceful 
wisdom of the East through peaceful channels, 
we do not know. At last he had to flee from the 
Orient for life, and with difficulty reached Anti- 
och in safety. He continued his journey back 
to the Occident till he reached Pome, this time 
not staying even at Alexandria. Such was his 
violent rebound, externally at least, from his 
Oriental search for wisdom. Somewhat simi- 
larly the last Neo-Hellenists, nearly 300 years 
afterwards, went to Persia when their school at 
Athens had been closed by the order of Justinian, 
and there sought to realize their ideal. But after 
a brief experience they were glad to get back to 
the Occident and live again in the Empire. 

This episode, though not lasting two full years, 
must have made quite an epoch in the life of 
Plotinus. He, a born Oriental, and evidently 
dissatisfied with the Occident and its tendencies, 
sought to Orientalize himself still more pro- 
foundly. Behold the result: he is thrown back 
upon the west, and never stops till he comes to 
Rome, its central seat of authority. Without 
this Oriental experience he would probably have 


never devoted himself to the restoration and fur- 
therance of Greek wisdom, instead of that of the 
Orient. Be this as it may, he returns to the 
Hellenic lines of the school of Ammonius, and 
starts out for himself in the capital of the world. 

( 3 ) Plotinus at Rome gives instructionto a few 
private listeners, which evidently becomes more 
and more public, though Ammonius, in Egyptian 
fashion, had forbidden any publication of his 
doctrines. Plotinus, however, may well have 
thought that he was teaching his own philosophy, 
and not that of another man. He was forty 
years old when he began his Roman career (in 
244 A. D.), which lasted some twenty-six years, 
till his death. 

His method of teaching, as indicated by Por- 
phyry, was mainly through the reading of the 
old philosophers and their commentators, accom- 
panied by interpretation and discussion. In this 
way his own thoughts unfolded till they formed 
an independent philosophy. He possessed the 
power of inspiring his pupils and of forming 
them into an apostolate for perpetuating and 
propagating his doctrines. He not only imparted 
knowledge, but the ashesis or the philosophic 
life, for which he had the example of Pythagoras 
and Plato. He abstained from animal food, and 
practiced a stern purity tinged with a sort of 
monasticism. Still he had women as hearers and 
disciples, among them the empress Salonina. 


Plotinus kept aloof from institutions, family, 
society, state. He was the individual Ego that 
must get back to God at all hazards, and do 
nothing else in this terrestrial existence. His 
way leads not through the institutional, but 
through the ethico-philosophical life; that is, 
through himself, through his own subjective dis- 
cipline culminating in ecstasy. Herein he is dif- 
ferent from both Plato and Aristotle, leaning 
more to the Stoics. Still the influence of Plato 
led him to the idea of establishing a philosophic 
city in Campania, to be called Platonopolis, and 
to bo oro;anized and governed after the manner 
of Plato's Republic. The plan was favored at 
first by the emperor and empress, but came to 

It must have given a great shock to Plotinus 
when his patron and friend, the Emperor Galli- 
enus (260-8) was slain by Claudius who seized 
the imperial throne. The philosopher might 
truly think in such an age that the world below 
was falhng to pieces, that the reality was a show 
and delusion, from which the wise man had to 
flee to the supra-mundane, immutable one above 
all consciousness. The absolutism of Plotinus 
rises beyond that of imperial Rome with its ever 
changing rulers, thouo:h these be absolute too. 
At the center of the world's unity, he felt still 
all its uncertainty, and longed for the unity 
above this conscious, purposed unity of man's 


intelligence. His doctrine lay in his time, and 
his environment might well drive him into a 
divine nirvana as a relief from his world-pain. 

So Plotinus continued to philosophize at Rome 
till his last illness came on, when he went to the 
country-seat of a friend where he died in 270 
A. D. at the age of 66. 

II. His Writings. ^ — Not till he was about 
fifty years old did Plotinus begin to set down his 
doctrines in writing. These must have been 
pretty thoroughly thought out during his long 
period of instruction at Eome. His philosophy 
was, therefore, the fruit of his teaching, as it 
usually is. One result was a certain uniformity 
of thought and style, as we found to be the case 
with Aristotle. Consequently there can be dis- 
covered no inner development of the man Plo- 
tinus in his works, such as we noted in Plato, 
whose Writings runthrouo;h and reflect his whole 
life. But the Writings of Plotinus are essen- 
tially of one period, though some critics have 
endeavored to re-arrange them in chronological 
order. It is true that Porphyry {Life PI. c. 4) 
throws them into three successive groups, and 
thinks he sees a rise, culmination, and decline of 
power in these groups. Other readers have not 
been able to discern any such distinctions. 

Porphyry was the first editor of Plotinus and 
was the one who took the fifty-four books of the 
author and divided them into six Enneads of nine 



books each, under which name the work is still 
known. An ancient authority states that there 
was another edition of Plotmus by a different 
editor, Eustochius, also a pupil of the philos- 

The style is abstract, with little ornament, 
often oracular. It is not like that of Plato, it 
calls to mind Aristotle. There is no Platonic 
dialogue, but a series of dissertations, not always 
connected. Plotinus had a master, Anunonius, 
who must have possessed considerable philo- 
sophic originality ; but he plays no personal part 
in the Enneads, as dees Socrates in the Platonic 
Writings. Herein again Plotinus is like Aristotle. 
Though he often refers to Plato as his teacher, 
the thought will come that he owes more to 
Aristotle than to Plato. The total mass or hody 
of his work resembles Aristotle's and not Plato's. 
Then the distinctive Plotinian doctrine, that of 
ecstasy, is more Aristotelian than Platonic. In 
style, in thought, and in exposition, Plotinus is 
the child of the Stagiritc, though with many 
Platonic connections. Ammonuis Saccas, his 
teacher, declared that Plato and Aristotle had 
the same fundamental doctrine; but the pupil, 
Plotinus, shows the desire of referring his thought 
wholly to Plato. Why is this? Plato had been 
almost christianized at Alexandria ; Plotinus 
would wrench him from the Christian Platonists, 


and restore him to Heathendom in this Neo- 
Hellenic renascence. 

It seems strange, but this ardent Hellenizer 
did not speak Greek correctly, often transposing 
the syallables of a word, of which Porphyry gives 
an instance. The same editor comphiins of his 
bad spelling, and of his faulty composition. He 
would not even re-read what he had once hastily 
written. Such trifles as style, orthography, 
grammar, belong to the outer appearance, and 
evidently seemed despicable to Plotinus. In this 
again he was not like Plato the stylist. Still 
he was a genius, even if he could not spell; he 
was a great philosopher even if he spluttered 
Attic Greek with an Egyptian accent. No 
native Grecian of that age approached him in 
the zeal and ability with which he sought to 
restore the old Hellenic world, at least in its 

There is only the one work of Plotinus, the 
Enneads, but it is a large one, and requires 
effort for its mastery. One of the greatest 
spiritual treasures of antiquity it must be re- 
garded, and has a very important place in the 
evolution of human Thinking, of which it is a 
unique specimen. 

III. His Philosophy. — Out of the Enneads 
the Philosophy of Plotinus is to be extracted 
and organized. Its diversity is considerable and 
its doctrines are manifold ; still we see the great 


effort to be one in the attainment of the One. 
Plotinus, in order to get rid of the vast conflict- 
ing multiplicity of the individual self-conscious 
ones, projected the Absolute One above all self- 
consciousness, wherein the Greek mind vanished 
into its own boundlessness. Seeking the imper- 
sonal One, it undid itself as person, and thus 
concluded its thinking activity. The Self pro- 
jects itself through its own inner self-transcend- 
ence into the One above all selfhood, and there- 
with ends, must end. But this requires a long 
process of thought, indeed an extensive scheme 
of Philosophy, which is what we are now to con- 

As already indicated, the work of Plotinus is 
thrown together into the form of essavs or disser- 
tations on different topics without any direct 
systematic connection. Still there is a system 
underlying all these different expositions ; there 
is not only a series of subjects, but an order 
moves in them and controls them, though such 
an order never becomes fully explicit. To the 
mind of Plotinus, his manifold discussions, his 
explanations, his fantastic flights (for he has 
these too) hover about a scheme which is the 
ultimate deposit and outc®me of his philoso- 
phizing, and which is the overflowing center 
whence all comes and whither all returns. 

It is not Ions: before the reader of Plotinus 
begins to get glimpses of this pervasive scheme. 

PL TIN us. C13 

and finds himself continually carried back to it 
as to the source of light. Still it i,-; never elab- 
orated in detail as the total plan of his book. 
What, then, is this scheme, ever present but 
never fully schematized? The answer can be 
given directly: it is that philosophical Norm 
which we have seen working itself out and ex- 
pressing itself in one way or other through all 
Greek Philosophy, both Hellenic and Hellenis- 
tic. Plotinus, like a true philosopher, has before 
him the Universe, and is seeking to grasp and to 
exj)ress its fundamental process to his age; such 
is the depth and the worth of the man. But 
this philosophical Norm has its Greek mould and 
its Greek utterance, given to it alreadj^ by the 
greatest Greek thinkers, Plato and Aristotle, in 
accord with the inner behest of the universal 
Greek spirit. Plotinus is seeking to recover and 
to restore this philosophical Norm after the 
pattern of it in its great creative Hellenic Period. 
Undoubtedly he changes it, has to change it, 
though partly unconscious of the act, for he lives 
in a new epoch, in a new order of the world 
which moulds his thinking even against his will. 
There will be, accordingly, the Plotinian or 
Neo-Hellenic formulation of this philosophical 
Norm, keeping its great general outline, luit 
marvelously transforming its contents. AVe shall 
behold in the scheme of Plotinus the three 
main divisions so often noted already — God, 


Nature, and Man, the three grand elements 
in the triune process of the AIL The Greek 
i:)hilosophers unfolded these into science and 
called them Metaphysics, Physics and Ethics, 
which division is explicit but not yet fully 
expressed in Aristotle. Plotinus subdivides each 
of these divisions in his own way, using, old 
terms in new relations and old material in a 
new fashion. Our eye meets the categories and 
the language of the ancient Greek world, but 
they are not the same in meaning, nor are 
they in the same order in which we once knew 
them, but strangely translocated and transfigured. 
And, as above stated, the same general Norm is 
there, but the whole matter has to be re-thought, 
and explained anew. 

Here we shall] set down in advance the Ploti- 
nian Norm which is the more or less concealed 
framework of these discursive Enneads : — 

I. Metaphysics, dealing with the supra-sen- 
sible, invisible world. Three stages. 

1. The One, above consciousness, above Per- 
son or Self, the supra-rational One, often called 
the Good by Plotinus, and also God, whence all 
overflows or emanates. 

2. Nous or Reason, Intelligence. The first 
emanation from the supra-rational One into the 
rational world, which is now twofold — subject 
and object (^Nms wnd )ioe(os kosmos). Nous \s 
also the realm of Ideas as supra-sensible. 


3. Ps]jche — the Soul. This is an emanation 
from the jSFous, as the latter is from the first (the 
One). The Soul has no longer pure Ideas, as 
the Nous, but sees them by reflection. Not the 
Idea in itself (or Thought) but the image of the 
Idea is the Soul's content. 

II. Physics, which in Plotinus does not mean 
the Science of Nature in the ordinary sense, but 
which pertains to the visible, sensible, phenome- 
nal world, as distinct from that of Ideas. The 
Soul is the bridge between these two worlds supra- 
sensible and sensible, partaking of both. 

1. The Body or Soul embodied, which em- 
braces Nature with its Soul. The Body human, 
telluric, or cosmic, is the manifestation of the 
indwelling Soul which in Plotinus is double, 
according to its corporeal or incorporeal relation. 

2. Matter, the purely formless, hence without 
Body and without Soul. It is the negative as 
such or non-Being which yet is, the self -opposed 
as the opposite of the One. Called by Plotinus 
the Privation (steresis). 

3. Evil ; here the ethical substrate which un- 
derlies the Plotinian Physics begins to show 
itself. Matter is the original evil of the Uni- 
verse, being the opposite pole of the supra-rational 
One or of the Good (or God). Yet the Body 
participates in this ]\Iatter or Evil, and through 
the Body the Soul also. Thus we have reached 
the bottom of the Plotinian world : the Supreme 


Good luis overflowed itself into Evil, h:is ema- 
nated the bad Soul, with the accompaniment, 
however, of Frce-Will, or the power of self- 
overcoming. At this point, then, the rise and 
return of the Soul is possible (or the negation 
shows itself to be self-negative). 

There are two Souls in Plotinus or two rela- 
tions of the Soul-prmciple : supra-sensible, the 
emanation of Nous, and sensible, the embodi- 
ment in Matter. The former is more in the 
descending line, the hitter is the starting-point 
for the ethical ascent. 

III. Ethics; this is the third stage or the 
restoration of the estranged, materialized Soul to 
its primordial source in the Supreme One at the 
summit of the Universe. Here again we can dis- 
tinguish three stages, or perhaps methods of 
attainino- the hio-hcst. 

1. Praxis, or the virtues; man can realize the 
good in many forms through his personal con- 
duct, and tiius manifest in life the Virtues, w^hich 
were specially unfolded by the old philosophers. 

2. Theoria. Three theoretic ways or dis- 
ciplines — Art, Religion, and Philosoi)hy — were 
employed by Plotinus for the ascent of the Soul 
to God. 

3. Ecstasis. The entrance of the Soul into 
immediate c(Mnmunion with the suj)ra-rati()nal, 
supra-conscious, and also supra-beautiful One- — 
the Being of all Being. 


Such is the philosophical Noi'in of Plotinus. 
While the outline or skeleton remains the same 
as before, we can see that it has been internally 
transformed from beginning to end. That supra- 
rational One lies beyond the Ideas of Plato and 
the Thought-thinking-Thought of Aristotle, and 
really determines them and everything else. The 
Hellenistic principle is thus carried back to 
Hellenism and placed over it. One cannot help 
thinking of the Roman Empire of the time of 
Plotinus, which had made the individual the 
universal ruler, establishing; him over Hellas and 
the whole civilized world with absolute authority. 
Or, to put it abstractly, Neo-Hellenism affirms 
the essence of being to be the universal individ- 
ualized in the Universal above all individuality. 

The exposition of the philosophy of Plotinus 
is simply the development of the precedmg Norm 
into completeness, the unfolding of the bud into 
the perfect flower. Still it should be noted that 
Plotinus by no means works out this Norm with 
the same degree of fullness or of clearness in all 
of its parts. His book is not a systematically 
constructed edifice with all its architecture laid 
out in due proportion and order. There are 
gaps, some portions are hastily sketched, while 
others are dwelt upon with evident delight and 
often repeated. One can see that Plotinus loved 
the supra-sensible world far better than the 
sensible, the latter being indeed for him but a 


lapse or degradation of the former. Still the 
exposition of his system must proceed on the 
lines above siven and unfold the Norm. 

I. Metaphysics. 

This embraces what may be called the 
supra-sensible world, and suggests the sepa- 
ration of the latter from the sensible world. 
Such a separation goes back to Plato with 
whose name it is particularly connected. 
Plotinus, however, bridges the chasm between 
these two worlds (which Plato does not) by mak- 
ing the one arise or overflow out of the other. 
The visible realm is but a deeper lapse of the 
soul from its invisible sphere. 

Very distinctly, however, Plotinus divides his 
supra-sensible world into three stages or grades 
of descent. This descending stairway from the 
height of the Supreme One to the lower spheres 
is often referred to by the philosopher and may 
be given in some detail. 

I. The Supra-rational One. — In some such 
way it is necessary to designate the first principle 
of Plotinus, though it does not permit positive 
predicates. A main fact of it is that it trans- 
cends Reason, Thought, the Rational, rising 
above Aristotle's Tbought-thinking-Thought, 
and so we call it the sujn-a-rational. Plotinus 
often names it God, as the supreme source of 


all things, but it is not a Person or a Self, as it 
is supra-personal also, above self-consciousness. 
Hence in the supra-sensible world it is that stage 
Avhich is supra-rational. 

Moreover, Plotinus has emphasized it as the 
One, from which all multiplicity has to be ex- 
cluded, since it is the One above many ones, yet 
the sfflurce or essence of them all. Hence the 
One is not merely One arithmetically, but the 
unifying principle which keeps the universe from 
flying to pieces. This conception of the Supreme 
One took the deepest hold of Plotinus, without 
its almighty grip he deemed that the All would 
go asunder in a general crash. It is, therefore, 
the Good, or rather the supernal Good to 
which all things tend, and to which man must 
assimilate himself in his ethical ascent and 
purification. To be good, man must get rid 
of all division, inner and outer, even of the 
separation of the Self and the not-Self, as 
well as of the internal separation of the Self 
into subject and object. 

The effort of the philosopher is to extirpate 
the separative stage in God and Man, and to get 
back to that of immediate unity. God is not self- 
conscious, for this implies the Ego's twofoldness. 
Nor can the Supreme One be Will which is like- 
wise an act of self -separation, hence it is not 
maker or creator. Will is a finitizmg, a deter- 
mming of the undetermined Self, while the One 


is the Undeterniinod, being the negsitiou of every 
determinate predicate. It is, accordingly^ tlie 
unthinkable, for Thought would determine its 
content. In general, the distinction between the 
thinkino; and that which is thought must be 
obliterated in the One, which, therefore, does not 
think. It* neither wills nor thinks, yet it is the 
unity of willing and thinking, over both and the 
source of both. Nevertheless both are lapses, 
and the world, having deteriorated into Intellect 
(Greece) and Will (Rome), must return to the 
One in which such a differenced world overcomes 
all its separation, strife, and wrong in a nirvana 
of eternal rest. To such a doctrine had the 
Greco-Roman time driven the last great philoso- 
pher ; the prodigious outlay of its Thought and 
Action is to end m the negation of all Thought 
and Action. 

Here is without question an Oriental strain in 
the system of Plotinus, who, we must not forget, 
was an Egyptian, born not in the Greek city of 
Alexandria, but at Lycopolis. At any rate this 
doctrine of the Supreme One recalls the unspeak- 
able, almighty, absolute Power, personal or 
impersonal, whom the Orientals name God. 
Plotinus has, therefore, in him not merely the 
return to old Hellenic philosophj^ but to the 
Oriental conception of the divine order. He 
thought he was going back to Plato, but uncon- 
sciously he went back still further, out of Europe 


into Asia. For in tlie time and in his own nature 
lay this flight to an antecedent and probably an- 
cestral world, in. which the present decadent and 
utterly corrupted Greco-Roman world with 
its Thought and Action inio;ht be swallowed 
up and lost in unconsciousness. Was it 
not evident on every hand that Europe 
had utterly failed in civilization? Externally it 
could no longer defend itself: behold the in- 
breaking barbarians ; internally it was rotten 
at the heart, a condition most manifest in the 
line of emperors. Their conduct and fate would 
seem to declare : let no person be put at the 
head of the Universe. Such was a voice of the 
age which our philosopher heard, but there was 
another voice which he did not hear or to which 
he shut his ears. Plainly his remedy is negative, 
really destructive as the barbarians themselves ; 
but the positive remedy already working with 
might, the Christian remedy for this world- 
malady he re-acted against with intensity. Still 
he IS supremely interesting, being the grand 
romanticist of these ages, in certain respects the 
greatest one that ever lived. 

The doctrine of Plotinus is therefore a form 
of Pantheism, in which the one is not simply 
immanent, but distinctly transcendent. Still 
the Self is absorbed into this one only One, and 
loses consciousness of selfhood, and that in 
which it is lost is the supremely unconscious 


One, which can have no virtue, being above it, 
can have no wisdom, being above it, can have no 
beauty, being above it. Nor can it be categor- 
ized except with the category above all categoriz- 
ing. Hellenic philosophy affirms the essence of 
Being fo be, Neo-Hellenic philosophy affirms the 
essence of Being to be above Being. And still 
it is: wherein lies the inherent, necessary con- 
tradiction of the Plotinian doctrine. 

This form of Pantheism has been called 
dynamic Pantheism, since it overflows from its 
own fullness and even communicates its power 
But it does not generate, that is, it does not 
communicate its substance or itself . Thus, how- 
ever, very manifestly difference has entered, 
cover it up as we may; emanation takes place, 
which cannot be conceived without some sort of 

Somehow thus we strive to comprehend the 
supernal One, the distinctive tenet of Plotinus 
and of all Neo-Platonism, though it be above 
comprehension. Its characteristic is supra — 
supra-rational, supra-personal, supra-beautiful, 
in fact, supra-everything. Plotinus struggles to 
name it, and well he may, for it is the un- 
nameable. Still he will use certain terms for it : 
the metaphysical (the One), the ethical (the 
Good) and also the religious (God). The un- 
speakable One which still must be spoken — 
such is the germinal point of Medieval Roman- 


ticism in Art, and of Medieval Mysticism in 
Eeligion. Distinctly can these be traced to the 
present doctrine of Plotinus, the creative ro- 

But the One overflows through its own power, 
dynamically ; this brings us to the second stage 
of the supra-sensible world. 

II. Nous. — The primal fact of Nous (Intel- 
lect) in Plotinus is the self-conscious or the self- 
reflecting act of mind: the seeing and the seen, 
the knowing and the known, the thinking and the 
thought. This is the original separative stage 
of the Ego or Self, wherein it is divided within 
itself and becomes subject and object. By 
Plotinus this was regarded as a descent or lapse 
from the Highest One which has no such div- 
sion within itself, being unconscious or properly 
supra-conscious. But in its first overflow or 
emanation there arises the second One which 
is, however, twofold (dyas), or the twain which 
is One, this second One being not the original 
One but the derived One which comes from the 

Thus Plotinus in a kind of numerical play, 
which hints the Pythagorean side of his doctrine, 
seeks to adumbrate the primordial act of self- 
consciousness or the Self knowing itself. He 
tells in some detail how this is brought about. 
The second or the separated (the overflow) turns 
back to the First One of its own inherent nature 


(this is the epistrophe, a very important word 
in Plotinus), and images the same, whereby it 
gets a content, and thus thinks. Such is the 
simple Nous with its twofoldness, thinking on the 
one hand, and having a thought on the other; the 
latter is the First One, as yet unthought, till it 
becomes the content of Nous. 

Manifestly Plotinus is seeking to bring 
before himself the orio;in of the Ego with 
its self-separating yet self -returning power. 
It is the only thing in all the universe 
which has any such power, the power of cutting 
itself in two (becoming the dyas) and remaining 
itself in that operation, that is, remaining in 
complete unity while sundering itself. This is 
the real mystery which Plotinus has before 
him in all vividness, the mystery of the self-con- 
scious Self which, however, is no mystery at all, 
being the most transparent matter in the world, 
since it is just the self -manifested, or that which 
is perfectly clear to itself. Plotinus endeavors 
to account for this fundamental act of the Ego 
and of the Universe too, by projecting back of it 
the primal undivided One, from which somehow 
this separation was to be derived, yet from which 
it was also to be kept away by all means. Behind 
that which is thouo-ht must be the unthouo:ht, 
whose destiny is, however, to be thought. So it 
overflows by its own inner necessity or emanates, 
as the sun overflows with light. Really it sep- 


arates within itself and becomes ISFous and the 
Noumenon. Plotiiuis knows the difficulty of this 
transition from the First One to the Two and 
the Many — from the Infinite to the Finite, from 
the Perfect to the Imperfect. Why did God 
create the world, create negation, separation, 
sin? Or, as Plotinus puts it, " Why did not the 
One stay with itself," and not overflow? So 
impressed is he that he would have us open the 
consideration of this subject with prayer, "in- 
voking God himself not with words but with the 
soul, extending ourselves in supplication to Him, 
the alone to the Alone:' {Enn. V. 1. 6.) Thus 
we may behold Nous emanating from the One, 
then turning back to it and reflecting it, whereby 
this Nous is the image of the One, yet also is 
that which images it as content. " But it is not 
the One," as Plotinus is careful to say, this does 
not transfer its own essence, or its absolute 
Oneness to the derived Nous. " How then 
does it produce the same? Because the latter 
(Nous) by tuiMiing around to it (^epistrophe) saw 
it — this seeing is Nous." (Unn.Y. 1, 7.) 

But also the Nous in beholding the One 
beholds itself, or is subject-object in grasping 
the object. Very often does Plotinus say that 
this descent of the Nous into itself is the means 
of all knowing, which is at bottom self-knowing. 
He is himself Nous in seeing and setting forth 
all these characteristics of Nous. It is Plotinus 



himself as Nous, who turns back and looks at 
the primal undivided One which he projects 
back of his looking. It is only the conscious 
man who can think his unconsciousness and talk 
about it and describe it, setting aside even that 
separation which makes him conscious. Thus 
Plotinus as philosopher is conscious of the 
unconscious, which is just the trouble that he 
seeks to remove by Ecstasy. 

Such is the essential fact of the Nous of 
Plotinus, who next seeks to put into it things 
more or less alien. He makes it the realm of 
Ideas taken from Plato. From the latter also 
he derives the notion of the Good (or the One) 
as the cause of knowing and being, which arc 
essentially the twofolduess of Nous already 
considered. Then too Plotinus has his doctrine 
of the categories, which he reduces to five. 
Finnally he combines all these forms, ideas 
spirits, intelligences into a grand totality which 
he names the world of Nous (cosmos noetos), 
which has an extended description in his book, 
Plotinus employs his Nous as a kind of receptacle 
for the many Gods — a phase which later Neo- 
Hellenism will dcvlop enormously. 

In general we see that Plotinus grasps the 
realm of Nous as that of self-conscious Being, 
substantially that of Aristotle's Thought- 
thinking-Thought, which, however, has over- 
flowed from a highc^r principle than Aristoile's 


highest. But in this realm also an overflow 
takes place, which brings us to the next. 

III. Soul. — Of the supra-sensible world the 
Soul is distinctly the third stage in the process 
of emanation, as set forth by Plotinus. As the 
One overflows and becomes Nous (self-conscious 
mind), so now Nous overflows and becomes soul. 
As Nous had essentially the first great separation 
into Thinking and Thought, or subject and 
object, so Soul has the second great separation 
between the spiritual and material, the supra- 
sensible and sensible, or the Self and the 
not-Self. That is, the Soul is the bridge from 
mind to matter, partaking of both : it is the 
conclusion of the supra-sensible (or noetic) 
movement, as well as the transition to the sensible 
world. As Nous revealed the inner dualism 
of self -consciousness, so the Soul reveals the 
outer dualism between spirit and sense. 

Still the Soul does not of itself belong to the 
sensible world, though overflowing into it and 
causing it. The Soul, therefore, is double, divid- 
ing primarily into two parts or tendencies. As 
intelligible (or noetic) it remains in its own supra- 
sensible realm, or rather it turns back and re- 
unites itself with the same (^ejnsfrophe), fleeing 
from the sensible. Equally certain is the oppo- 
site tendency of the soul ; it moves forward to 
the sensible, enters it, and produces body, cor- 
poreality. For in strict speech, there can be no 


Body without its Soul, they are counterparts, 
two yet one. Now this One of the Body, every- 
where in it yet in no particuhir part or member, 
indivisible yet in the divided, is the Soul, while 
the divisible, spatial, extended, is Body, which, 
however, is Body through the presence of the 
One, the indivisible Soul. 

The primal characteristic of the Soul, then, as 
it comes down out of Nous is this bifurcation of 
itself into two tendencies, the one rolling: back 
eternally into the Nous or indeed to the One, 
and thereby maintaining the unceasing process 
of the supra-sensible world, the other tendency 
moving forward or downward (in the view of 
Plotinus), and incorporating itself in the ex- 
tended and divisible world. The Soul has, there- 
fore, as its inheritance from Nous, the primal 
separation or bifurcation, also the return out of 
separation on the one side, yet the persistence in 
the separation on the other side, whereby it be- 
comes corporeal, and sensible, without, however, 
losing even then its unity as Soul in Body. But 
in this way it has thrown oft' the sensible world 
which now appears. 

The first Soul is naturally the All-Soul, or, as 
it is often called by Plotinus and Plato, the 
cosmical Soul, the World-Soul. The total 
Cosmos has its own Soul, and is alive, a ver}^ 
animal (^autozoon). It seems to be a kind of 
Person too, and has self -consciousness, yet with- 


out memory, since it has never had any relation 
to the sensible world ; also it is without reason- 
ing power {logizesthai) , this being something un- 
necessary to its working. Still into the World- 
Soul must come the dualism above noted ; it has 
a double relation, to the supra-sensible and to 
tlie sensible, which bifurcates it into two op- 
posite tendencies, both of which become in 
Plotinian speech two World-Souls, higher and 
lower, the heavenly and the earthly Venus — 
the former turning; back to the Nous, the latter 
entering the visible Cosmos and manifesting 
itself in the same as Nature {physis). 

This World-Soul as universal is the holder 
and indeed producer of all individual Souls. 
Here again we have the One overflowing into the 
Many — the One Soul into the Many Souls. 
Each individual Soul has in it the same duality 
which we have observed in the World-Soul, 
which, however, is as different from individual 
Souls as the One is from Nous. It is the 
Soul, as 't were, in itself, in the descent from 
Nous, without choice, acting by necessity in the 
line of the lapse, hence it has no ethical char- 
acter. But the individual soul, man, is very 
different in this regard, as we shall see, having 
Will and hence belonging to the ethical sphere 

Such are the three distinctive forms or phases 
of the supra-sensible world of Plotiuus. They are 


iu a descending order, yet they are not wholly 
without a psychical process among themselves. 
Certainly there is the primal unseparated One, 
unconscious, yes, undeveloped, unemanated. 
Then there a separative act in Nous, that of self- 
consiousness; finally in the lapse of the Soul, 
there is the conception of the return, however 
incomplete. Still the general sweep here is not 
the evolution to the Higher, but the devolution 
to the Lower, which does not stop with the 
supra-sensible Soul, but lapses still further into 
Body — wherewith we have entered a new realm. 

II. Physics. 

By means of the Soul the transition is made 
out of the supra-sensible (or noetic) world to 
the sensible, which distinction is decidedly em- 
phasized in Plotinus. How does he construct 
the bridge? In general by means of the various 
categories of Separation and its opposite, for 
just here (in Mind and Matter) the Universe is 
cleft in twain, and still it must be one. 

It is a characteristic of sensible magnitudes 
that they are in themselves separable, divisible, 
opposed to unity, given up to multiplicity. 
Such is the fundamental fact of the sensible or 
phenomenal world : it is the INIany versus the 
One, this One always becoming Many, or infin- 
itely divisible; it is, therefore, the realm of 


change, of appeamnce, of Time versus Eternity; 
it is the arising and the departing, the flux of 
Heraclitus, the fleeting show of the external 
world. Still further it is the false, the bad, in fine 
it is evil. Such does the Soul produce, or rather 
become ; the divided Soul becomes the Soul of 
all division. Dividing itself within itself (bifur- 
cating) and not recovering itself and returning 
to the One, it drops to the Many in all its separa- 
tion and manifests itself as the outer material 
phenomenon, as the sensible World. As endless 
self-division the Soul is materialized, which is its 
lapse into complete self -externality. 

There are, however, stages in this physical 
realm, not so distinctly set forth as in the pre- 
ceding supra-sensible world, nevertheless obtain- 
able by a little search. 

I. Body. — Thisisprimarily the embodied Soul, 
the immediate unity of the Soul and its opposite, 
or of the indivisible and the divisible. The Soul, 
being without division, gives itself to Body or 
makes itself Body and thus becomes divided, 
passing into all parts of the Body . Still in 
all these parts of the body it shows itself to 
be one, for instance, through sensation. The 
Body, taken simply by itself, has continuity, one 
part or particle outside of the other and in a 
different place. But the Body ensouled has a 
unity in all its multiplicity, has a center raying 
out into all its members, which are the periphery 


of the Soul's corporeal sphere. So Plotiiius 
speaks of "that Nature both divisible and indi- 
visible which we call Soul;" really it is Soul 
embodied, or Body ensouled; " it is divisible be- 
cause it is in all the parts of that Body in which 
it subsists ; it is indivisible, because it is the 
Whole of itself in all the parts, and in each part. ' ' 
{Enn. IV, 2. 1.) Still further in the same 
place : " Not having magnitude, the Soul is pres- 
ent in all magnitude ; just here it is, j'et not here ; 
it is determined not by another but by itself, so 
as not to be divided in its very divisions." With 
such a dialectical play of contradictories does 
Plotinus seek to express this union of oppo- 
sites — Body and Soul, the non-extended and the 
extended, the undivided which divides itself and 
yet is one in all its divisions. 

The entire physical universe is the Body into 
which the All-Soul has poured itself, or over- 
flowed ; it manifests itself in the beauty and 
order of the Heavens with their Bodies. " Soul 
has made the Sun, has made the stars, and keeps 
them in order; Soul has made all living things, 
breathing into them the breath of life ; whatever 
the land, the sea, and the air nourishes, is the 
product of Soul." {Enn. V. 1. 2.) Plotinus 
tells us to behold the cosmical Soul enterins: 
" the Body of Heaven as the rays of the Sun dart 
into a black cloud, illuminating it and making 
it golden." Thus the Body of Heaven is 


endowed with immortal life, and " becomes a 
happy animal." It has many different parts or 
members, but it is " One through the power of 
Soul." It is at this point we may see Plotinus 
adjusting his scheme to Greek polytheism, 
though there be for him " the one only One " 
above all division and multiplicity. " The Sun 
is a God, because it is ensouled, also the Stars 
are Gods, and the total Cosmos is a God." 
Here is an element which later Neo-Hellenism 
will develop with a luxuriant imagination. 

In the same chapter is the following thought : 
"The Soul does not, by cutting up itself into 
small particles, impart life to individuals, but all 
these it vivifies through the Whole of itself; it 
is present everj^where (i.e. in each part and par- 
ticle) as Whole, assimilating itself therein to the 
creative parent, both in respect to its unity and 
multiplicity (or ubiquity)." A very significant 
insight is this, showing that Plotinus had glimpses 
of the fundamental fact of the Soul as Eojo or 
Self, which we have already named the Psychosis. 
For every separate act of the Soul is to be 
grasped as the total process of the Soul ; in 
every division or stage of it exists the whole 
Soul in threefold movement. Still Plotinus 
does not distinctly seize and formulate the Soul 
as process, though there are many intimations 
and adumbrations thereof in these Enneads. 
Nor must we leave out the further hint that Soul 


i.s, iu the above-mentioned activity, truly creative, 
like unto " its creative parent," who i.s an Ego 
or Person. So our philosopher struggles with 
his conception of the All-Soul, seeking to explain 
its embodiment in the Cosmos as well as in the 
individual, by the dividing of the Whole which 
in its divisions still remains Whole. All this is 
a faint and far-off image of the Pampsychosis, 
which is hero expressed abstractly, without the 
inner process of the Self. Still the latter too is 
suggested in this same chapter: " Our own Soul 
is similar in form (hoinoeides) to the elder God," 
who is the All-Soul, and is the cause of the later 
Gods above mentioned. And if the cosmical 
Body is an object of pursuit for our thoughts, be- 
cause it is ensouled, " why dost thou neglect 
thine own Soul, running after another? Admir- 
ing the Soul in another, admire thyself." Such 
a subjective psychical turn we can often find in 
Plotinus, but rather as a premonition than as a 
principle. He has at least directed the Soul 
inwards, with the possibility of seeing somethiug 
there corresponding to the All-Soul. Of course 
if he would push this insight to its conclusion, 
he would have to reconstruct his whole sj^stcm 
by it, and become psychological instead of phi- 
l()so})hical. Any such mighty stride at that 
period and in his environment is im})ossiblo, for 
the greatest thinker can only philosophize his 
Qwii world. Plotinus having caught just a 


glim})se of the Pampsycnosis, must drop it, for 
if it once rose to his supru-rational One and be- 
gan ordering the same, astonishing would be the 
metamorphosis of the Plotinian universe. 

But what was the Cosmos before the Soul en- 
tered it and transfigured it in a living Whole? 
" It was a dead body, earth and water, or rather 
the darkness of matter and non-Being, hateful to 
the Gods, as some one says." Here, then, we 
have come upon the antecedent element, that 
which the World-Soul found before itself ready 
for its formative breath. 

II. Matter. — The first necessity of Matter lies 
in the fact that the Soul must form something 
absolutely, which something is, therefore, pre- 
existent and formless. This is the substrate (Ay- 
pokeimenon) of all material bodies, which never 
changes amid the manifold changes of form in 
physical objects. Water, for instance, has the 
three forms, vapor, liquid, and solid, yet its sub- 
strate is one and indestructible. This substrate 
is the Plotinian conception of Matter, which he 
describes at considerable length and with no small 
labor, since he declares it to be without qualities. 
Still he has somehow to qualify with predicates 
that which properly has no predicates. Herein 
we shall follow him, endeavorino; to think a con- 
tradictiou, which is just the profoundest fact of 
Matter, as it is the self-opposed, the self-nega- 
tive, the self-contradictory, flung down by 


Plotinus to the bottom of his Universe, where 
all is dark (sJcoteinon) , the gloomy abysm 

The first determination of Matter, then, is that 
it is the undetermined, chaotic, without form. It 
is the infinite as such (apeiron) which the Greek 
plastic spirit shunned as the Ugly and damned as 
the Bad. Yet the Greek philosophic spirit had to 
recognize it as the primordial stuff out of which 
all forms are produced. So Plotinus as thinker 
philosophizes Matter, but with the feeling of the 
artist he sends it down below into the Erebos of 
monstrosities where dwell Gorgons, Hydras and 
Chimoeras dire — the poetic shapes of the shape- 
less. It is the other side of the Universe, the 
other pole of it, opposite to the Supreme One on 
the top of the All. 

Another predicate (negative, to be sure) which 
is applied to Matter is that it is without Body, 
being that out of which Body is produced by the 
Soul. " Corporeity is a certain form or a cer- 
tain reason which, getting to be in Matter, makes 
Body." (Unn. II, 7. 3.) Herem we see that 
Body is divided into its two constituents. Form 
and ]Matter ; when the Form is taken away Body 
drops down to Matter, which is thus a separation, 
really a separation of the Soul from its unity 
with the Body. In this comes to view another 
important predicate which Plotinus applies to 
Matter: it is Privation (^f</e)'esif<), the World's 


grand deprivation of its Sonl. Such a condition 
be likewise calls absolute Poverty ( pen i a pan- 
teles), also tbe desert, tbe solitude, the shadow 
of existence, which is not, and the non-Being 
Avbich nevertheless is. 

In such fashion Plotinus seeks to bring before 
our minds the conception of pure negativity, 
which runs through all his stages of descent. 
Hence Nous as the primal separation from the 
One has a material element {hyle noete). In 
like manner the Soul in its manifold divisions 
shows that which is at bottom Matter, which is 
thus the very principle of multiplicity and of all 
distinction. In this sense we can truly say that 
without Matter there Avould be no yous, no 
Intellect, no self -consciousness. There would 
never be any separation from the Primal One, 
whose characteristic is to be the unseparated, the 
completely immaterial. No Bod}^ no Soul, no 
Reason without Matter; indeed that first over- 
flow of the Supernal One secretly implies Mat- 
ter, which gradually purities itself into pure 
Negation or pure Privation and Separation which 
is Matter. The separative stage in man and in 
the world is thus abstracted, taken by itself, and 
looked at in its purity. Hence Matter is a very 
important concept in the scheme of Plotinus; 
without it indeed there would be no scheme. It 
is the opposite of the undiffcrenced One, and 
so is the One containing all difference. 


We place Matter under Physics since it reaches 
its complete abstraction as Body deprived of 
Soul. Still Plotinus indicates a material prin- 
ciple m the noetic world also, where it appears 
in the image (^eidolon) but not in the form 
{morpM) as sensible. Being in itself separation, 
it belongs to the separative stage of the physical 
realm, which is likewise the second or separative 
stage of the total Norm of Plotinus (see this 
Norm outlined on p. 614-6). 

Thus pure Matter is not simply separation, but 
the separation in all separation. It remains not 
merely passive, but becomes active. As nega- 
tive it has two phases; one is only absence, a 
mere nothing; the other is a working power. 
Poverty is the absence of wealth, but this ab- 
sence is also an active negative presence — is an 
evil. "Whatever lacks anything but can get 
what it lacks, may become a mean between good 
and evil, if perchance it be equally related to 
both sides; but whatever has nothing at all, as 
being in poverty, or rather as being Poverty itself, 
is of necessity evil " (Enn. II. 4. 16). That is, 
Matter as simple privation may be indifferent, 
intermediate between good and evil; but Matter 
virulent, as the active privation, may deprive the 
Soul of wisdom, of virtue, of beauty. At this 
point the physical world shows a new stage. 

Matter is deemed by Plotinus as the Soul in 
complete estrangement from itself, which is man- 


ifested in the lapse to Evil. Matter has a more 
important place in his system than in that of 
either Plato or Aristotle, from whom he derives 
his thought of it primarily. Plato makes it 
chiefly the passive material for the Demiurge ; 
with Aristotle it is potential Being. But Ploti- 
nus gives it an active negative power as Priva- 
tion, which drags the Soul down to its antipodes 
in the grand descent. 

III. Evil. — The negative, destructive element, 
which has unfolded out of Nature, turns back 
upon Nature and assails it. Thus Body becomes 
Evil, since it as virulent Matter is hostile to the 
Soul united with itself. The great struggle 
between the supersensible and the sensible 
worlds has its source here ; Soul and Matter 
wedded in the Body have made the Univ^erse 
resound with their quarrel, and it is not done 

The pre-existence of the Soul before entering 
the Body, and thus causing Evil, is a doctrine 
strongly maintained by Plotinus. The Soul 
after death migrates ; if it is worthy it ascends 
into the supersensible world and dwells among 
spirits; if unworthy, it enters a new bodv, 
according as inclination leads it ; it may become 
an animal if its propensities are bestial ; or it 
may sink down into pure Matter as a mere cipher 
or as a destructive fiend. Plotinus was a fol- 
lower of Plato, who also holds the doctrine of 


transmigration, which probably came to both 
Pythagoras and Plato from Egypt. But Plotinus 
who was a born Egyptian may have had in him- 
self an ancestral strand of belief in metempsj'^- 
chosis deeper than his Platonism. However this 
may be, the Soul by its own destiny, not by 
choice or calculation, slips into a Body and the 
wrestle begins. , Not consciously does the great 
event transpire, still it lies in the Soul's own 
nature to do just this, unconstrained from with- 

Evil is, accordingly, the division which assails 
the One or the Good by dividing it and so un- 
doing it. Separation separates unity, and there- 
by tears the Univ^erse to pieces, which rending 
of the Supreme One is Evil. Such is, however, 
the result of the primal overflow of the Supreme 
One, with which the grand descent started, 
ending in the very opposite of the One or of the 

The question comes up with Plotinus, "What 
is the purpose of Evil? Why must the Soul 
take this dip into material existence, which it 
is to get out of with all speed? An interesting 
passage runs thus: "Experience of Evil is a 
more manifest knowledge of the Good for 
weaker natures than the knowledge of Evil by 
information without experience." (^Enn. IV. 8. 
7.) Such is then the argument: The Soul is to 
come to the knowledge of the Good consciously 


through the experience of Evil. For the sake 
of knowledge is the colossal lapse of the Uni- 
verse into Evil ; man can now know the Good and 
return to it through wisdom. 

The Soul, accordingly, becomes conscious of 
its own division into Soul and Matter. Body 
had the same division, but unconscious, imme- 
diate. Thus the Soul has become a self-con- 
scious individual knowing the Self and the not- 
Self, or that which is its other or opposite. It 
is different from Nous as previously set forth, 
for Nous is inner self-consciousness, is the sepa- 
ration into subject and object, while Soul is now 
the deeper separation into the Ego and Non-Ego, 
having gone through the process of the Negative 
or of Evil. 

Plainly the Soul has at last attained the knowl- 
edge which makes it a moral Ego. As simply 
one with the Body, it was an animal, unaware of 
the deepest fact of itself and hence not responsi- 

* ble. But the separation takes place, Matter by 
itself gets to be destructive, yea soul-destructive ; 
the Soul becomes conscious of having a destroj^er 
bound up with itself, which destroyer it must 

. subordinate or perish. The bottom of the de- 
scent is reached in the self-conscious Ego, and 
therewith the whirl upwards begins. 

Evil lies implicitly in all emanation, or other- 
ing of the One or the Good, and really reaches 
back to the first overflow as its source. This 



unconscious One above lapses till it reaches the 
self-conscious one below which is the individual 
Soul as ethical. Evil, therefore, concludes what 
we have called the physical or phenomenal stage, 
since the Soul goes back to itself in Body and 
becomes aware of itself as different from Bodjs 
Nature, or the World. This is the great turning 
point in the Plotinian system ; the Universe has 
descended till it reaches the self-conscious Ego, 
which is the pivot, being able to turn around on 
itself, and to know its past, its descent, and to 
rise out of the same. This rise is, accordingly, 
what comes next. 

III. Ethics. 

The Soul, having reached the bottom of its 
descent, is now to return to the top, overcoming 
the various stages of separation which it has 
passed through in the lapse. In a general way 
the line of return is that of descent, though an 
exact co-incidence must not be expected. The 
Eo;o havinoj won consciousness, the knowledge of 
good and evil, is to flee from the sense-life and 
strive to get back to the primal One, union 
with which is blessedness. This return is eth- 
ical in the widest sense of the term, not simply 
moral, but also religious and contemplative. It 
is the journey of the Soul back to its source, the 


restoration to God out of separation, the grand 
epifilroplie of the whole Plotinian system. 

The ethical rise has its starting-point in the 
Will of the individual which can now choose be- 
tween the two courses, the Descent and the 
Ascent. Hitherto there was no such choice ; 
necessity ruled the Descent from the top to the 
bottom, but at this bottom is found freedom. 
The lapse is therefore to freedom which is the 
true Evil of the Universe. God overflows "with- 
out any motion of will." Plotinus intimates 
that the origfin of the Bad is " man's wish to do 
as he pleases." Capricious liberty is, indeed, 
not good, but institutional liberty is unknown to 
Plotinus. There is only one way out: man is 
to travel back the long line of his lapse, and 
reach the essence beyond essence {epelceina 
ousias), the supra-essential One. This is in gen- 
eral the ethical movement of our philosopher. 

Plotinus seems to say in a well-known passage 
(Enn. I. 3. 1) that Music (or Art), Love and 
Philosophy are the three ways to the attainment 
of the One or the Supreme Good. Now what 
he really declares is that the musician, the lover 
and the philosopher are naturally adapted for 
such elevation. But he does not affirm that the 
ways of these three are the only ways upward. 
On the contrary he gives quite a number of 
other ways in his work, though they are not 
systematically arranged and co-ordinated. Plo- 


tinus shows a certain impatience in staying 
below; he makes his start in the lower spheres 
and then rushes upward without elaborating the 
stages of his flight. These have to be put 
together out of the different parts of his book. 

It seems to us that we have been able to find 
in Plotinus three leading paths of ethical ascent, 
and that these three paths are capable of minor 
subdivisions. It must be repeated than any 
such precise formulation is not found in Plo- 
tinus, who is not easily detained below by a 
system, since in his case the essence of Being is 
above essence (or supra-essential). We name 
the three paths as follows: (1) Praxis, the 
moral life, or the practice of the Virtues ; (2) 
TJieoria, which embraces all forms of contem- 
plative life; (3) Ecsfasis, the final union of the 
Soul with the One, which, is, therefore, the 
ultimate purpose and realization of this phi- 

I. Praxis. — This pertains, in general, to the 
moral life, to the training of the individual to 
Virtue. It is, therefore, but a phase or stage of 
the total ethical process, dealing with outer con- 
duct more than inner, with the Soul (Psi/clte) 
more than with JVous. But to Plotinus morality 
has not the all-absorbino; sio;nificance which we 
have seen it to have in certain phases of Hellen- 
isticism. Nor has it the same prominent place 
in Neo-Hellenism that it has in the great Hel- 


lenic philosophers, Phito aud Aristotle. Their 
highest Virtue was institutional, which with 
Plotinus is the lowest, since institutions have 
little or no meaning for him. One may well ask. 
How could he believe in them, living in such a 
State as the Roman Empire of his time? If the 
State determined the moral individual (as both 
Plato and Aristotle maintain), that Roman State 
could only make man immoral. So Plotinus 
really throws overboard the institutional world, 
but out of respect for his great masters assigns 
a little corner in his scheme to political Virtue. 

The general character of Virtue in the account 
of Plotinus is negative more than positive; it 
consists chiefly in the suppression of the sensuous 
nature of man, when the Soul will of itself begin 
the ethical ascent. The universal form of Virtue 
is the indifference to the blows of fate and to 
external fortune ; its end is the inner discipline 
of the Ego, which quite corresponds to the Stoic 
apathy. By moral practice the Ego is not de- 
termined by the sense-world in which it has to 
dwell temporarily. 

All virtues are purificatory (^Enn. I. 2. 7) in 
character or at least have a purificatory stage ; 
their object is to free the Soul of its sensuous 
determination. " Virtue pertains to the Soul, 
not to the JSTous or to the One beyond the JSfous. ' ' 
Enn. II. 2.3.) The moral act is "to separate 
the Soul from the Body" and to restore it to 


its original uncontaminated purity from Matter. 
This is "to gather itself up from different 
places," from its separated, scattered condition 
in its Body and so to become entirely impassive 
(I. 2. 5) having regained its original unity. 

Though virtue as such properly pertains to 
the Soul, still the idea or pattern (pa7xideig77ia) 
lies back in the Nous, or Intellect, which, there- 
fore, determines and orders the virtues. Indeed 
this pattern may itself be deemed a higher vir- 
tue, while the lower corresponding virtue is that 
of the Soul. For instance, temperance is a 
political (or social) virtue in Plato; yet the 
truly good man will not live the life which such 
a virtue demands, but " fleeing from it he will 
choose the life of the Gods," who belong to 
Nous. "For the assimilation should be to 
these and not to good men " who are themselves 
but an image of the Gods. Hence Virtue must 
rise above the Soul into Nous, copying the 
original itself, and not staying with the image of 
an image. (See Enn. I. 2. 7.) 

Thus before Plotinus hover three sorts of 
virtues, or perchance each virtue may have 
three stages — the political, the purificatory 
(cathartic), and the paradeigmatic. It is mani- 
fest that these stages are an adjustment to his 
philosophical Nona — the Sense-world, the Soul- 
world, and the Nous-world. He is not altogether 
consistent in his account of the relation of virtue 


to these stages, as the reader will note. Of 
course virtue cannot be predicated of the supra- 
natural One, since this is also supra-moral. 
So we see in the present as in other cases that the 
end of morality is to transcend morality, or that 
the Plotinian morality is transcendental. Even 
the essence of Being has now became supra- 
essential ( hyperousion ) . 

Later Neo-Platonists added other divisions of 
the virtues, but these three are the fundamental 
ones. It will be seen that the new Platonic 
Republic of Plotinus, the Platonopolis, was not 
for embodying the cardinal virtues — justice, 
temperance, fortitude, wisdom, as political, but 
as paradeigmatic. The philosophers there were 
not to rule a city with people in it, but were to 
devote themselves to the cultivation of the para- 
deigmatic virtues, dictated or determined by the 

Thus virtue as practical {praxis) rises to 
intellect, in which there must be vision (theoria) 
of the pattern or idea. The practice of the 
virtues becomes their contemplation also, with 
which we have entered a new phase of the ethical 
ascent to the Supreme One. 

II. Theoria — The Contemplative World. 
The present subject (or World) occupies a very 
important place in the scheme of Plotinus. 
With him the Soul is to rise out of the sensible 
to the supra-sensible realm through Contempla- 


tion or Vision. Tliis is really the inner self- 
activity of the Ego which is now to retrace its 
steps, to ascend toward the first source, the One 
along the general path by which it descended. 
The Soul when it has sunk to the bottom of the 
Universe and is materialized, or rather completely 
individualized, has as its prime function to undo 
its fall, and to regain its first unity with the All. 
The ultimate duty of the individual is to get rid 
of his individuality. The one only One over- 
flowed somehow and produced him ; he is now to 
compel that Supreme One to take him back into 
the original Oneness from which there is, theo- 
retically at least, no separation. 

Theoria or Contemplation shows always an 
ascent of the Soul from the sense-world to the 
pure forms of the nous-world, which is just 
below the supra-rational One, the great object of 
attainment. Between these worlds run three 
roads. Art, Eeligion, and Philosophy, each of 
which is a Theoria with a sensuous, psychic, and 
noetic stage. That is, the Soul is to behold the 
Beautiful, Godhood and Science, in its complete 
ascent to the Supreme One, who is, however, 
supra-beautiful, supra-religious, and supra-philo- 
sophical. Thus Theoria, after having disciplined 
itself in all the stao;es of Art, Belioion and Phi- 
losophy, must rise above itself in order to reach 
its purpose. All of which will be briefly outlined 
in the following details. 


1. Art. Through the contemplation of the 
Beautiful we rise out of the sensible realm 
to the supra-sensible, since even the material 
world Plotinus holds to be beautiful. Still it is 
Form and not Matter which is the Beautiful 
as object of sense, and it is this Form which 
we are to separate from its material part and 
contemplate. In this way art becomes an ethical 
trainer of the Soul to the supra-sensible. 

Of the Beautiful Plotinus seems to have three 
different phases before him, corresponding to the 
descending series — Nous (Intellect), Psyche 
(Soul), and Matter (Hyle). The ascent through 
the contemplation of Beauty may be conceived 
as follows : — 

(a) Sensuous Beauty; in spite of his depre- 
ciation of the sense-world, Plotinus is too much 
of a classic Greek not to enjoy and praise 
its beauty. His return to Hellenism is too 
complete, he cannot leave out one of its most 
distinctive characteristics. Herein also he differs 
from his Christian antagonists, who despise the 
beautiful world both of Nature and Art (see 
Ennead II. 9, which is directed particularly 
against the Christians). Still Plotinus regards 
sensuous Beauty as something to be transcended ; 
the Form or Idea finds no fitting home for 
itself in Matter, which is, after all, the bad, 
the negative, the damnable. Hence the Beautiful 
must rise out of it to the supra-sensible realm. 


(h) Psychic Beauty, or the Beauty of the 
Soul in itself ; this is seen when the Soul mani- 
fests itself in the virtues, in all noble activities, 
in worthy deeds. Here is likewise a contempla- 
tion of the Beautiful by which we ascend to the 
higher sphere of Soul. Art we still call it, being 
a manifestion, though not a material one. Hence 
the Form may be deemed purer, even if it needs 
still an act for its appearance. Hence we 
ascend a step beyond, to JSfous. 

(c) Noetic Beauty; the Forms of things 
which have made the material world beautiful, 
and also the moral world of action, are now seen 
in a world of their own [cosmos noetos). Not 
an outward appearance have they here, but as 
they are in themselves they exist, indeed as 
Gods. This is the realm of primal Beauty, 
from which all other sorts of Beauty flow. 
Contemplation now beholds the beautiful Gods, 
not their statues or images, or even their deeds. 
Such is truly the vision of the artist ; for Phidias 
fashioned the statue of Zeus not after some 
perceived object, but from the sight of the God 
himself (^Enn. V. 8. 1). Only as a copy of the 
Idea in the noetic world is the sensuous object 
beautiful, whose true effect is to carry the 
beholder back to its source in the JSfous. 

But even this is not the highest attainment ; be- 
yond the Nous is still the One in which the many 
Ideas or Forms are to vanish. Here lies the 

PL O TINUS. — E Tines. 651 

supra-beautiful realm, out of which is the pri- 
mordial overflow into all these beautiful worlds 
above designated — noetic, psj^chic and material. 
Thus the complete movement of Beauty is to get 
rid of itself and pass beyond ; its ethical purport 
is its evanishment. Art is a kind of beholding 
or vision; as such, it ceases when it has served 
its purpose, since all vision is a separation into 
subject and ol)ject which the Supreme One can- 
not admit into itself. So the final view of Art 
is to see it lea:ling beyond Art; the final view of 
the Beautiful is its form disappearing into the 

"When through the Beautiful the Soul is borne 
up to the noetic or intelligible world, it finds 
there the realm of the Gods, the lirchetypal 
Forms which the artist is to copy. But this 
realm of the Gods exists in its own right and can 
be reached in another way, which Plotinus does 
not neo;lect — Eeligion. This is also regarded 
as a form of Contemplation by which the Soul 
is brought into communion with the One. 

2. Religion. The great end of the scheme 
of Plotinus as of all Neo-IIellenists may be 
deemed religious, being the unity of the soul 
with God, or with the Supreme One. Plotinus 
is ready to employ the transmitted Eeligion, 
especially of Greece, as a means of ascent to the 
Divine; still he employs it as philosopher rather 
than as a believer. In other words he philosophizes 


E,olio;ioii far more than he religionizes Philoso- 
phj, this hitter being rather the attitude of Jam- 
blichus. Herein he follows the Neo-Pjthago- 
reans, and differs from the Platonizing Jews of 
Philo's pattern, both of whom we have already 
found in the religious movement of Hellenisti- 
cism. It may be questioned if Plotinus had 
much direct spontaneous faith in the Greek or 
any Gods, in the plural, but he certainly had an 
immediate faith in the one God above all Gods. 
His manifold deities and demons are hardly more 
than forms for his concepts, though their names 
be taken from the popular Religion. His poly- 
theism is an inferior thing, an overflow and de- 
scent from his monotheism or monism. So the 
One emanates the whole Pantheon into a descend- 
ing system. But beside its deities Religion has 
my thus and worship, all of which Plotinus 
brings into line with his thought. 

(a) As to his Gods, the first grade is to be 
assigned to jVous, being the first emanation, as we 
have previously seen. In this fact we may well 
read that Thought is the highest derived God, 
who, however, is divided up into many Thoughts 
or Ideas, or into many forms of N^ous. Another 
grade of divine Beings is the heavenly bodies, 
then the class of demons follows. 

(6) Plotinus has an extensive interpretation 
of the stories of the Gods, of their Mythology 
in which he finds philosophical concepts. The 

PL TIN US. — E Tines. Goo 

mytliiciil form is translated into the thought of 
the Plotiiiian system. Homer in particuhir en- 
tices him to an explanation of the inner meaning 
of poetic shapes and occurrences. Of course, 
Plotinus was not the first to employ this sort of 
interpretation. Really it is as old as Homer 
himself, who can be detected in places allegori- 
zing his deities, and also personifying his abstrac- 

(c) To Religion also belongs worship with 
rites, prayers, images, etc. The worship of 
idols, to which the old Greek philosophers ob- 
jected, Plotinus defends by his doctrine of sym- 
pathy {Enn. IV. 3, 11). The image of the 
God, patterned after his Idea in the realm of 
Nous, has the power of mediating the worshipper 
with the God. In like manner the God hears 
the prayers of the supplicant, since all things 
above and below are connected in a sympathetic 
or magic relation, which the individual through 
worship may be able to set in motion. 

Thus Plotinus philosophizes Religion, which 
he received in its established form. Herein Neo- 
Hellenism can be seen running counter to the 
general movement of the early Hellenic Period, 
which turned away from the popular Religion. 
Plato indeed, as a born poet and myth-maker, 
often mythologizes his philosophy, moulding the 
myth anew according to his conception. But 
Plotinus does the converse : he philosophizes 


mythology, which is the given, accepted thing, 
to be transformed as it is into philosophic 
thought. Such a treatment means an outer con- 
formity to the positive Religion of the time, even 
if it does not mean an inner acceptance thereof. 
The trend of the age was religious, the world 
was seeking God. So Plotinus wheels into line 
Religion as a means of the Soul's rise to the one 
God, through the vision of and communion with 
the many Gods of the received polytheism. 

The preceding account of Religion as em- 
ployed by Plotinus gives its descent from the 
One. But its true ethical conception must pro- 
ceed the other way, which is the rise of the 
Soul or Self to the One through Religion. This 
will have its sensuous or immediate stage in the 
external rites and worship ; thence it will show a 
ps3^chic (or imaginative) stage in the history of 
the Gods, or Mythology ; finally the noetic 
stage shows the Gods as they are in themselves, 
and demands some kind of Theology. 

In this field, then. Philosophy begins to take 
hold of Religion and to transform the same into 
itself, philosophizing all religious forms and 
stages. But Philosophy has its own forms or 
categories, its own process and history. Plo- 
tinus is, after all, the philosopher; so he will 
not fail to give an account of his own science in 
this connection. 

3. Philosophy. This term has been already 

PL TINUS. — E THIC8. 6o5 

used for the entire movement of the system of 
Plotinus — Metaphysics, Physics and Ethics. 
But here we employ the word in a narrower 
sense, designating the ethical effect of the 
study of Philosophy as a means for the Soul's 
ascent to the Supreme One. Philosophy deals 
with the knowing of the truth in its present form, 
the truth stripped of its artistic and religious 
wrappage. The metaphysical movement, more 
or less hidden in the shapes of Art and Eeligion, 
is now to be grasped as it is in itself and made 
the discipline of the Soul (or Self) unto the 
attainment of the Highest One. Man through 
knowing or science also is to return to God. 
Indeed, Plotinus as philosopher must deem this 
the best way, and the foundation of all the other 
ways to the same end. He discusses the many 
forms of mental activity in knowing, which we 
shall omit except the following main ones : — 

(a) Sensuous knowing or sense-perception is 
naturally placed lowest by Plotinus, who regards 
it as a faint shadowy indication of the Idea or 
the Truth lying in the supra-sensible realm. 
The senses, as determined by the outer, material 
world, belong to the impure part of our nature 
and are to be transcended by the training of 
Philosophy, not only for the sake of our morals 
but also for the sake of our knowledge. 

(6) Eepresentative (or psychic) knowing is 
higher, since the Soul now reaches the supra- 


sensible, and deals with its own forms, as in 
memory, imagination, and also reflection. Yet 
these forms are derived from the sense-world, as 
images, judgments, inferences. Thus the Soul 
(Psyche) works over the shapes of sensation into 
its own manifold combinations. But whence 
comes this its power? From a higher source 
than itself, to which we may next look. 

(c) Dialectic (or noetic) knowing is the true 
science, whose ultimate ground or principles 
must be souo;ht for in the JSfous. We have the 
advantage of a special dissertation on the 
Dialectic by Plotinus (^Enii. I. 3). It enables us 
" to say rationally what each thing is, wherein 
it differs from other things, and what is the 
common principle of those things in which it 
is." It deals "with science and not with 
opinion; it causes the Soul to cease from wan- 
dering about in the Sense-world and to take its 
position in the Nous-world " (c. 4). Moreover 
the Dialectic is the ordering principle, being not 
a mere " collection of propositions and rules, but 
deals with things ", with the objective fact 
(ch. 5). It is indeed " the most honorable part 
of Philosophy," the highest stage thereof, and 
Plotinus revolts at its being called " the in- 
strument (organon) of the philosopher," as if 
the latter employed it like a tool, when rather it 
employs him. In the Dialectic, as Plotinus re- 

PL O TmUS. — E THICS. 657 

gards it, Thought is grasped as the reality, and 
orders itself and all else. 

Thus we see that Philosophy here reaches the 
highest point of Aristotle, which is Thought- 
thinking-Thought as the fundamental prin- 
ciple of the Universe. This is the realm of 
Nous, to which there has been a rise of the 
individual up through the sensuous and psychic 
spheres by means of Philoso[)hy. 

Looking back at this whole movement of 
Theoria, we find that the same end (the noetic) 
has been attained through its two other waj^s, 
those of Art and of Religion. The grand 
theoretic attainment is, therefore, the realm of 
the JVous, where are the highest forms of 
Beauty, the highest Gods and the highest 
Thoughts, even that Thought thinking the 
Thought of all Art, of all Religion, and of all 

This is essentially the supreme Thought of the 
Hellenic Period. But Plotinus is no longer sat- 
isfied with it, and so he proceeds to that princi- 
ple which is the chief characteristic of the Neo- 
Hellenic Period, making this something more 
than a mere return to and repetition of Hellenism. 
He will transcend the separation which lies in 
self-consciousness, in Thought thinking Thought, 
and reach back to the One in which all distinc- 
tion and Reason itself vanish — to the supra- 
rational One from which the rational (noetic), 



psychical, and physical realms overflowed in a de- 
scending order. The Soul, however, is to ascend 
through these same grades to the supra-rational 
One, with which it is to become one, and thus 
bring to a final consummation its ethical process, 
to whose third stao-e we have now come. 

III. EcsTASis. — The Soul or the individual 
Self is now to rise beyond all kinds of knowing, 
beyond JS/^oiis, beyond Tlieoria or Vision, since 
it must obliterate the difference between subject 
and object, between the seeing and the seen. 
Hence beyond Art, Eeligion (as positive) and 
Philosophy (as Hellenic), is to be the ascension, 
and Plotinus, the individual, through his indi- 
vidual effort is to break over the bounds of 
individuality and to become united with the One 
and the All. Thus the final stage of his Philos- 
ophy is to mount above all Philosophy, and the 
height of his Eeason transcends all Reason. 

.In this act our philosopher does not know 
God but is God; he is divine as much as 
the Divinity Himself. For he, the philosopher, 
is no longer a separate entity, is no longer 
a Self properly or a Soul. He has still experi- 
ences, but he has them in God, and as God; 
these he may remember if he ever is ema- 
nated again as an individual Soul. Such is the 
Ecstasy (Elcs(asis) of Plotinus, in which the 
Self gets rid of Selfhood, and becomes one with 

PL TINUS. — E THICS. 65 9 

the One, with the Supreme God of Plotinus, 
as distinct from the many Gods of his JSToiis. 

In this Ecstasy we shall also find a process if 
we carefully trace and put to^^ether the discon- 
nected hints of our philosopher. 

(1) We must begin with the Soul abstracting 
from all difference and separation in the world 
and in itself. As self-conscious intelligence, as 
J^ous it must rid itself of that selfhood which 
knows itself, and rise to the Unconscious. 
Such a negative power over itself and its 
own process the Ego has : the separative stage 
(as subject-object) which makes it what it is, it 
must take away. Then it is ready. 

(2) Ready for what? For the grand over- 
flow of the One which can now reach out, take 
it up, and make it one with the One. When the 
Soul is thus free of all knowledge, then comes to 
it " a Presence better than knowledge, inasmuch 
as the Soul suffers a separation from the One 
when it knows anything. It must therefore 
transcend knowledge, and hold aloof from every 
beautiful view, since the Beautiful comes after 
and from it, as all light of the day comes from 
the Sun." {Enn. VI. 9. 4.) The great illustra- 
tion of the One for Plotinus is the sun with its 
light. He is a sun-worshiper witn the sun in- 
ternalized. Into the soul which has liberated 
itself from division, the light suddenly enters ; 
" this lisjht is from Him and is He : then we must 


consider Him to be present. So the Soul witliout 
light is without God, and having light, has what 
it seeks. Such is the true end of the Soul : to 
receive that light, and to see that through which 
it was illuminated." (^Enn.Y. 3. 17, adfinem.) 
Strictly there can be no vision of the One, as 
that implies the very dualism which is to be 
gotten rid of. Such inconsistencies, however, are 
very frequent in Plotinus and often confusing. 

So the illumination comes from without when 
the Soul is prepared within. And yet even these 
terms are not applicable. It does not come at 
all, but is already there, and everywhere; "we 
are not to ask whence, for it neither comes nor 
goes away, it appears and does not appear." 
(Enn. V. 5. 8.) Such is the struggle of Plo- 
tinus to express the inexpressible, to see the 
invisible, to point out the way when there is no 
way; " for the soul hastening to another simply 
runs to itself, and getting to be in another, is in 
itself alone." For the One is what truly /n, 
and when the Soul also truly is, it has found the 
Divine Presence, which likewise tinds it. Thus 
all "privation," separation, indeed the Will it- 
self vanishes into the transcendental One. 

(3) Going back to the individual Soul we see 
that it is swallowed up, is no longer self-consci- 
ous, or a distinct individual at least in Thought 
or Will. The primordial outflow of the One or 
of God which produced it iu a descent down to 

PL TINUS. — E THIC8. 661 

mail, has been counteracted or overcome by a 
corresponding inflow which has borne the Soul 
back to its original source. The individual 
through his own Will refuses to be individual, 
to be separated from the One ; his whole effort, 
after becoming an individual by a divine act, 
is to undo this divine act through its entire 
course down to his making. From this point 
of view, the supreme ethical end of man is to 
negate God's work in producing him. If he 
can do that which is God's undoing, he is cer- 
tainly divine. Mighty indeed is that individual 
who refuses to be an individual, but will be God 
in spite of God, and so returns out of his 
emanated state and compels the Supreme One 
to take him back, after having thrown him out. 
In this return of the Soul to the Supreme One 
and its unification with the same lies the princi- 
ple of mysticism as it has manifested itself in 
Religion, and even in Philosophy. The Soul as 
God-compeller gets back to its Divine Source 
and becomes one with it again. This is the con- 
dition of blessedness, as the mystics conceive, the 
supernal rapture and ecstasy, the complete get- 
tino; rid of Self, of that Self which is the cause 
of all suffering, limitation and fate. It would 
seem, therefore, that the Soul as individual is not 
wholly lost, not wholly absorbed, but has still 
Feeling, which indeed is the potentiality of Self, 


and indicates the possibility of its becoming 
again an individual. 

And this is what happens, at least during the 
present life. Only for a short time here can the 
state of ecstasy be enjoyed. For in the midst of 
its unconscious rapture there steals upon the soul 
a fear of passing into pure nothingness, and of 
losing utterly that individuality whose Will and 
Intellect have been obliterated, and whose Feel- 
ing alone remains in the boundlessness of the 
One. " When the Soul passes into the realm of 
formless One, being unable to comprehend it on 
account of its being unlimited, then the Soul 
w^eakens and is afraid, terrified lest it may get 
nothing. Wherefore it labors in such a state." 
What now has become of our ecstasy? And our 
vanished Self seems to have returned and to be 
claiminor its right against the All. Still 
further in the same passage: "Thence the 
Soul descends 2vifh joy, often falling away 
from all, until it gets back to the sense- 
world, breathing freely as it were upon solid 
ground." (^n;i. VI. 9. 3.) In this connection 
what Porphyry says in his Life of Plotinus (c. 
43) should be cited. The biographer states that 
Plotinus attained this ecstatic unification with 
" the God above all Gods four times while I was 
with him," and then had to descend again into 
his body. Poi-phyry himself rather })laintively 
confesses that he " once for all in my sixty-eighth 


year "' succeeded in ascending into the Ecstasis, 
from which he came back again and wrote the 
Life of Plotinus. 

So it seems that the individual, having made 
himself one with God, cannot stay there, in this 
life at least, on account of a creeping fear lest he 
may lose his individuality. Accordingly he is 
emanated again, unable to dwell harmoniously 
with the One, and returns to his noetic, psychic, 
and sensuous life, with the marvelous account of 
his supernal experience. 

Herewith the ethical movement of the Ploti- 
nian Philosophy is concluded, having shown its 
three stages of Praxis, Theoria, and Ecstasis. 
And the philosophical Norm — Metaphysics , Phys- 
ics, and Ethics — in its Plotiuian form has ex- 
pressed itself with a fair degree of fullness. This 
Norm is that of Plato and Aristotle, though each 
philosopher fills it out after his own fashion, 
wherein lies the difference between these three 
greatest thinkers of Hellas. The horizon of 
Greek Philosophy widens in accord with the 
nativity of the three. Plato was an Athenian, 
Aristotle was colonial (Hellenic) by birth, Ploti- 
nus was an Oriental. It is the last one (Ploti- 
nus) who pushes Greek Philosophy beyond itself 
and thus leads the way to its evanishment in the 
Supreme One from whom it originally started as 
a reaction in the Milesian Movement. 

Plotinus has told us a good deal about the One 


which cannot be known, yet which he l^nows 
pretty well. Also he has described a state of 
consciousness, of which he must have been un- 
conscious. His God is not a Self but is above all 
selfhood, yet it is the Self of Plotinus which has 
to reach Him, conceive and formulate Him. He 
is placed above all Thought, and still this very 
statement must be the way to think Him. The 
Ego of Plotinus is the product of the overflowing 
God, but this Ego of his must go back and re- 
produce the God overflowing into himself, the 
individual. This individual, however, must van- 
ish back into the God who produced him — 
wherein lies the chief vocation of man according 
to Neo-Hellenism. 


2. 3aml>Itcbu0, 

After Plotinus (204-270) is usiuilly placed his 
pupil Porphyry, a good man and important in a 
number of ways. But in philosophical signifi- 
cance, and as giving expression to the age, he is 
far outstripped by his scholar Jamblichus, the 
dates of whose birth and death are not known 
with exactness. But the best authorities place 
his death at about 330 A. D., after a long and 
active life. Thus the period of his work nearly 
coincides with that of the Emperor Constantine 
the Great, in whose reign the supremacy of 
Christianitybeganto be recognized by the Komau 
State. The old Greco-Roman world with its 
religion or its religions felt itself to be sinking 
before a new and mightier power. Jamblichus 
sought to stay this result and preserve the ancient 
order. Such was his general relation to the 
trend of his time, which accounts for much in 
his thought and in his career. An overwhelming 
need of help from above, an almost crushing 
sense of God as the Supernal One comes over 
man here below, which state of mind finds a 
voice in Jamblichus, who thercb}^ adds a trans- 
forming principle to Plotinus. 

So we have reached a new stage in the total 


sweep of Xeo-Hellenism. The general character 
of this stage is indicated by the first fact of it : 
over and apart from the supra-rational One of 
Plotinus appears another and even higher One, 
to which attaches no predicate or quality ; it can- 
not even be called the Good, or be said to have 
Beiufif. Thus Jamblichus shows the strugg:le to 
reach out beyond Plotinus, and produces a new 
separation in the latter' s unseparated First Prin- 
ciple, the One. In such fashion the very thing 
guarded against has taken place in the master's 
own School ; the undivided is divided, and at the 
first glance is dualized. 

Still it is not the intention of Jamblichus to 
introduce a dual principle as ultimate; if that 
were so, he would have to be ruled out of the 
Neo-Hellenic movement. On the contrary, his 
object is to keep off by a new bulwark the dual- 
ism which threatens the undivided One of 
Plotinus; it overflowed and so in a manner im- 
parted itself in a kind of generation ; hence we 
must have two Ones up somewhere above, the first 
of which is not impartible, while the other is. 
Moreover we may well deem that the Plotinian 
One might be disturbed by the individual who 
succeeds in rising to it and becoming united with 
it through ecstasy. So Jamblichus must insist 
upon the idea that the Absolute One cannot be 
communicated (a;/ie^AeAYo.s). To be sure, this is 
a predicate of the One, though nothing was to 


be predicated of it, being allowed not even a 
negative predicate. Still " the altogether un- 
fjpeakable principle " has been at least spoken. 

Such is the desperate struggle of Jamblichus 
to preserve the original One of Xeo- Hellenism, 
.and we ask why? Undoubtedly keen antagonists, 
especially the Christians, had pointed out that 
the act of emanation in the One implies separa- 
tion, and that Plotinus himself says that it 
generates what lies below it. Thus division has 
crept into the primal undivided One, which 
division must be banished l)y a new effort. 
Moreover there lay another and deeper reason in 
the time. Christianity was becoming more and 
more the prevailing religion ; even the Emperor 
Constantine had begun to favor it during the life 
of Jamblichus. Xow the Christian God was 
supremely a creative God, who freely imparted 
Himself to His creatures through divine grace. 
The grand act of the Christian God was His 
begotten Son, Christ, who, according to the 
formulated dogma, was of like nature with the 
Father. Such was the doctrine of the Church 
established at the Council of Nice (325 A. D.), 
toward the close of the life of Jamblichus, 
who was surrounded everywhere with the din 
of the Arian controversy. His ineffable and 
incommunicable One is the direct opposite of 
Christian Homoousianism. His First Principle 
or God cannot descend or imjiart itself, or 


generate a Son of like substance (Jiomoousios') 
with Himself ; that were His greatest degradation. 
We can hardly now conceive how shocking 
it was to these Neo-Hellenic idealists that the 
one only God should perpetrate an act of 
generation, bringing His only Son into the world 
of Matter, which even to Plotiuus was the First 
Evil (^proton kakon). Hence Jamblichus, in his 
sheer repulsion against the fundamental doctrine 
of the Nicene Creed, hoists over the highest One 
of Plotinus, which was still emanative, another 
and higher One which has no emanation. Thus 
he sought to keep at least the Supreme One 
pure, uncontaminated with the world, unsullied 
with the thought of any physical process. This 
was a genuine feeling of the time and was one 
main reason why Neo-Hellenism held out so 
many centuries against its mighty rival. 

The second important fact in connection with 
the work of Jj^mblichus was his remarkable 
religious tendencies. He retained the metaphy- 
sical outline orskeleton of the system of Plotinus, 
but filled up this outline with a vast multitude 
of deities. That which is Nous in Plotinus 
becomes in Jamblichus a God or rather several 
orders of Gods connected together mostly in 
Triads. Every abstract concept of mind seems 
to be struggling for the personal shape in his 
supra-sensible world. What a multiplication of 
divinities ! He wheels into line the polytheistic 


religions of the Orient and of Ilclhis, making 
them fit somewhere into his Divine Order. 
The unity of Philosophy passes over into the 
diversity of Keligion : this we may consider the 
general transition from Plotinus to Jamblichus ; 
the former is indeed religious, but he philoso- 
phizes Religion, while the latter, though still a 
philosopher, religionizes Philosophy. The Neo- 
IIclleniG philosophical Norm is preserved by 
Jamblichus but is made over into the holder of 
all the Gods of all the religions except one, the 

This characteristic, too, we can see, springs 
from hostihty to the popular sweep toward 
Christianity. Plotinus, living many years be- 
fore the time of Constantine, was still the Greek 
philosopher, opposed to superstition and to the 
crude Greek religion of the people. We have 
seen that he was essentially aristocratic and his 
Philosophy was imperialistic, being favored by 
at least one Roman emperor. The same is true, 
though doubtless in a less degree, of Porphyry. 
It is plain from the treatise De Mysieriis 
Egyptiorum that a rift had occurred in the Neo- 
Hellenic School, caused by just this change of 
tendency in Jaml)lichus who probably did not 
write the aforesaid treatise, though it must have 
come from one of his followers. It censures 
Porphyry for his attitude toward the new move- 


ment of the School, but the reproof would be 
quite as strong against Plotinus himself. 

Very striking indeed is the change. Of a sud- 
den Philosophy, in the Neo-Hellenic stage of it 
represented by Janiblichus, takes up the old 
Greek relio-ion and the Gods into its bosom, and 
becomes their warm defender and devotee. 
Polytheism is patronized, paganism is re- 
affirmed with its rites and beliefs. Yet this is 
not all. There is a resort to sorcery, magic, 
exorcism of spirits ; the world of delusion seems 
to pour itself out into these Neo-Hellenic meta- 
physical formulas and to make them overflow 
with Gods, demons, angels, spirits, produc- 
ing a phantasmagoria which has hardly been 
equaled since. The great word is Theurgy, a 
making of the Gods, or at least a producing of 
their activity through praj^ers, incantations, and 
many ceremonies. Yet all this is kept in the 
general framework of Plotiniau metaphysics. 

What does it mean? It is the desperate 
attempt to recover religious Hellenism, from 
which Philosophy hitherto had been in the main 
a re-action. It is the merit of Jamblichus that 
he saw the deepest problem of the age to be 
religious and not merely philosophical ; he saw 
that the civilized world would no longer be 
satisfied with Philosophy alone, but must have 
also Religion. He recognized that the Christian 
Faith could only be met by another Faith. So 


he proposes to construct a universal Religion by 
throwino; together into one seethinsj cauldron 
all the cults of the Roman Empire, and after 
due process moulding them into one system of 
belief after the Neo-Hellenic scheme. Thus 
Philosophy in a sense faces about at this point, 
for it was really Philosophy which had under- 
mined Greek polytheism, having assailed it since 
the time of old Xenophanes, the Eleatic; but 
now Philosophy undertakes to restore not merely 
Greek but to construct a universal polytheism. 

Another profound insight of Jamblichus into 
the needs of his age is that he would make his 
Religion popular. He saw that the lofty ideal 
Philosophy of Plotinus could never win in the 
form given to it by its founder ; it could not be 
understood generally, it was exclusive, for the 
select few, not truly universal. Hence Jam- 
blichus, while preserving the Neo-Hellenic 
thought, would fill it with the folk-soul of faith 
in the Gods. Great and noble was his idea of 
winning all peoples by their religions and uniting 
them into one religious Institution corresponding 
to their secular union in the political Institution 
of the Roman Empire. One thinks that a kind 
of Church hovered before his mind, whereof he 
could see the Cliristian counterpart already build- 
ing around him. Another Semite (he vvas from 
Syria) would found a new Religion, all-inclusive, 
embracing all peoples under its imperial sway. 


being set in the frame-work of an imperial Phi- 
losophy such as was that of Plotinus. In like 
manner we have seen that the Christian Eeligion 
had been already organized by Greek Philosophy 
in the hands of Origen. 

Nor must we forget to emphasize still an- 
other weighty matter in Jamblichus : his em- 
ployment of the triadal movement in his 
arrangement of the Gods. This indeed he 
could have picked up directly from his con- 
tact with Oriental religions, especially the 
Egyptian, which has a peculiar fondness for 
Triads in its manifold systems of deities. 
Nor is the Triad by any means absent from the 
Greek religion in the earliest stages of it known 
to us. The religious mstinct of Jamblichus, his 
deep sympathy with the universal form of all 
religions, not even excepting those called mono- 
theistic, made him a trinitarian, to be sure not 
after the Christian pattern, which was just what 
he scouted and sought to supplant. Moreover 
each stage or person of these Triads is made to 
form a new Triad ; each part has in it the whole 
triadal movement, and often manifests the same 
in a genetic fashion. This we hold to be a very 
important thought universally, and it is one that 
specially pervades later Neo-Hellenism. Already 
we have noticed a triadal tendency in Plotinus, 
not so much religious as metaphysical. When 
we come to Proclus who substantially closes the 


Neo-Hellenic movement, we shall find the Triad 
all-dominating both in Philosophy and in Relig- 
ion. We need hardly remind the reader that 
the Triad more or less implicitly controls the 
whole line of Greek Thoua;ht from its bco-innino; 
in Thales. Undoubtedly there is a great differ- 
ence in the formal completeness and develop- 
ment of these Triads ; this present book of ours 
may well be called a book of Triads, which have 
to be seen finally as psychological, not simply as 
philosophical or religious. In this grand triadal 
process of the thought of the ages, Jaml)^ichus 
has his place, his special niche, whom it is 
easy to scoff at and nickname, but whom it is 
better to appreciate. 

We do not know many facts about the life of 
Jamblichus, though it has been written by Euna- 
pius, a devoted admirer and follower. He came 
from Chalcis in Coelesyria, and belonged to a rich 
and influential family. He is said to have visited 

- Rome, and there to have met Porphyry, who was 
his teacher for a time, Rome being still the cen- 
ter of Neo-Hellenism. After a period of instruc- 
tion Jamblichus went back to Sj^ria and opened a 

. school of his own which became flourishing and 
powerful. In fact it transferred the scat of Nep- 
Hellenic Philosophy from Rome to the East, and 
to a degree orientalized it with the religions of 
Western Asia. Hence it is called the Syrian or 
Oriental stage of Neo-Hellenism in contrast with 



the earlier Roman and the hiter Athenian stao;es. 
The name of Jamblichus eclipsed that of his 
teacher Porphyry who was also a Syrian, and 
even that of the great founder Plotinus. ^The 
most extravagant titles were given him by his 
pupils, and the wildest stories were current about 
his miraculous powers. Rumor had it that dur^ 
ing prayer he hovered above the earth surrounded 
by an aureole ^of light. Among the later Neo- 
Hellenic writers his standing designation is " the 
divine Jamblichus." There is an agreement that 
his personality was very impressive. Euuapius 
praises his noble character, his readiness to im- 
part his knowledge, and his friendly intercourse 
with his pupils, who in great numbers flocked to 
his school and became deeply attached to him 
personally as well as animated with a fervent 
discipleship. Living some three hundred years 
after Christ, he wrought in the same general 
territory, and to a certain extent employed the 
same means. His influence must have been a 
personal one largely, for his writings, as far as 
they have come down to us, must be regarded as 
poor both in form and content. A heavy turgid 
style, and an exposition obscure, full of repetition, 
and ever wandering from the point, a love of the 
occult and the miraculous are some of the literary 
sins laid at his door, which must, however, have 
been far more than counterbalanced by the charm 
and power of his personal presence. 


Jamblichus read with his pupils and wrote com- 
mentaries upon Plato and Aristotle, whom he 
souo;ht to brino; into ao;reemeut, following a fun- 
damental canon of the Neo-Hellenic School. 
The inheritance of Greek culture had been for 
six hundred years in Syria, ever since the time 
of its conquest by Alexander the Great; that 
culture too he proposed to retain, though filling 
it and supplementing it with the native 
religions of his Oriental home. In contrast 
with Hellenisticism, which spread out into the 
Orient from Hellas, we now see the Orient re- 
turning to Hellas, cherishino; and safe-guardino- 
her spiritual treasures. Nevertheless Jamblichus 
was essentially religious, his deepest conscious- 
ness lay in the belief that man needed help from 
above in working out the purification of his sen- 
suous nature. So he organizes a divine world 
which is to give life to the philosophic skeleton 
of abstract thought, and at the same time be a 
means of the grand catharsis of mortality. 

Still along with this interference of the Gods, 
Jamblichus asserts the freedom of man. Though 
the soul descends into flesh and becomes laden 
with appetites and passions, it has nevertheless 
the power to rise out of its low condition, which 
fact constitutes its ethical turning-point in its 
return to the Upper World. Yet it must have 
the continued help of the Gods from above. 
Herein Jamblichus has a spirit different from 


that of Plotinus who in his ethical return to the 
Good and the One Pives the greater range to 

o o o 

Morality and to Art and Philosophy. This 
tendency of Jamblichus shows a decided lean- 
ing toward Neo-Pythagoreanism which had long 
been known as a cult embracing doctrines from 
various religions. This cult he threw into the 
philosophic formula of Neo-Hellenism. 

It is not possible to put together in any great 
detail the system of Jamblichus from the docu- 
ments pertaining to it which have come down to 
us. And learned historians of Philosophy, read- 
ing and weighing these documents, give a vary- 
ing report of their meaning and contents. Nev- 
ertheless it is manifest that Jamblichus must 
have had in his mind the philosophical Norm of 
Greek thought, especially in its Plotinian form. 
The three divisions. Metaphysics, Physics, and 
Ethics must have been known to him from his 
studies of Plato and Aristotle, as well as of the 
Stoics and later philosophers. Little use can 
he have for the study of Natural Science, since 
Nature is controlled by Magic, by Theurgy. 
All the more does he expand his metaphysical 
outline and till it up with orders of deities. 

I. Metaphysics. 

That which Jamblichus starts with are the 
first three principles of the Plotinian scheme — 


the One, Nous, and the Soul. (Sec the scheme, 
p. 614.) Pie makes some changes, still they re- 
main the three notes upon which he plays his 
variations. These three metaphysical elements 
of Plotinus are to be transformed into deities by 
Jamblichus, which fact becomes evident in the 
following plan : — 

A. The First One, above all Being, above 
the Good, without predicates ; it has no emana- 
tion, and cannot be imparted, neither moving 
nor moved. (More about it on a previous page, 
as well as the probable reasons which led Jambli- 
chus to posit such a principle over the One of 

B. The Second One, which is the source of 
the lower intelligences, and which is endowed 
with the power of emanation, and even of gener- 
ation. This Second One is to stand between the 
First or Absolute One, and the multiplicity of 
both the supersensible and sensible worlds below. 
Here the creative power of the Plotinian One is 
explicitly stated, while its unemanative phase is 
relegated to the First One above mentioned. 

C. Many Ones, which are next in the order 
of creative descent. Jamblichus had not merely 
one but many of these Gods above all Being 
(/ii/perousioi), "a multitude of them" says 
Damascius. These were probably the Hen ads, 
which have an important part in the later system 
of Proclus. 


There is no doubt that here lies a difficulty in 
the ordering of Jamblichus. Fairly distinct are 
the three preceding stages. But he now passes 
to another part of his scheme, and it is hard to 
see how he makes his transition. Of a sudden 
his divisions, the Nous and the Soul (after Plo- 
tlnus) are endowed with divinities. We ask our- 
selves : Where is the antecedent of these two, 
the One? 

1. It is probable that Jamblichus took the 
three preceding stages (the First One, the Second 
One, and the Henads) as his exposition of the 
Plotinian Supreuie One. At least in our emer- 
gency we shall have to conjecture this to be the 
case, and so pass on to the next in schematic 

2. The Nous-Gods or Gods of Intellect, 
which are of two kinds (some say three)* 
Note that Jamblichus is following Plotinus, but 
is transforming the latter's metaphysical entities 
into deities. 

The first kind of these Nous-Gods is the in- 
telligible (^noe(os), which appear in a Triad of 
Father, Power, and Energy. Each of these 
again forms a Triad, so that there are at least 
three intelligible Triads. 

The second kind of Nous-Gods is the intel- 
lectual (^noeros\ Here again is a Triad of Gods, 
each of w^hich forms a new Triad of its own, 
which new Triad becomes a Hebdomad (seven) 


in a peculiar way. For eacli God of this new 
Triad begets a still newer Triad of his own ex- 
cept the last God who remains unprodactivc ; 
thus the Triad is made up of seven, a sacred 
number which Jamblichus, in his universal adop- 
tion of all religions, had to take somehow into 
his system. 

3. Soul-Gods we have next to consider, in 
accord with the Plotinian Scheme which Jam- 
blichus still follows in outline. Here again he 
introduces his triadal principle, and the meta- 
physical Soul breaks forth into systems of Gods. 

Primarily he places above all others the 
one Soul, supernal, evidently corresponding 
to his absolute One. Then comes his series 
of supra-mundane Souls which are Gods. 
Finally are the mundane deities (also Souls), 
those which are placed just over man's world, 
namely the common Gods, the Angels, the 
Demons and the Heroes. At this point we 
come upon the deities of the popular re- 
ligions, among whom we find the twelve Great 
Gods of Greece arranged in Triads ; each of 
these again has his own Triad, making thirty-six 
Gods, who are still further increased to three 
hundred and sixty. Every people and every 
tribe have their guardian Gods and guardian 
Spirits, who must be taken into the universal 
system. For, as there is a universal State exist- 
ent, so there must also be a universal Religion 


with its law and organization. Some such 
aspiration underlies the fantastic scheme of 

II. Physics. 

The Neo-Hellenic School regards the phenom- 
enal world as a descent from the supra-sensible, 
which descent is not the fiat of a single will but 
has been going on from all eternity. Herein 
Jamblichus accords with his School. He has 
before his mind the physical Norm of Plotinus — 
Body, Matter, Evil. The Powers or Gods who, 
in the supersensible world, act for themselves, 
become embodied in the phenomenal world, and 
are, as it were, borne down by a foreign element, 
which is in general called Nature. It is through 
this Nature that Evil arises, which requires for 
its avoidance the continued interposition of the 
Gods above. 

Of course there could be no investigation of 
Nature and her laws in such a doctrine as that of 
Jamblichus. She was determined primarily by the 
world of spirits above; man, if he wished to con- 
trol her, or to use her for his ends, must appeal 
to them as her masters. Still Nature was en- 
dowed with a kind of independent material ele- 
ment, which was in opposition to the spirit-world, 
and which was united with the Soul in Body. 
Hence Nature from this side became a sort of 


Fate to man, a new hostile power or possibly 
demon over liim, which it was his great duty to 
cast out. 

So we see that the physical calls for the ethi- 
cal, which fact Ave noted in Plotinus as well as in 
Plato and Aristotle. The metaphysical part of 
the S3^stem with all its manifold organization is 
ultimately for the sake of man with his dual 
nature, which produces the final struggle between 
good and evil. So Jamblichus must also have 
his process' of purification which is fundamentally 
ethical, though this includes his vast religious 
procedure on its practical side. 

III. Ethics. 

The return from the world and from evil to 
the Gods and the Good is the scope of the ethical 
process. Here as elsewhere Jamblichus holds to 
the general scheme of Plotinus, but he carries it 
out in a somewhat different way, and with a dif- 
ferent spirit. Plotinus was still the philosopher 
and laid stress upon the abstract virtues ; Jam- 
blichus retains these abstract virtues, but has a 
decided tendency to make them religious, and to 
put them into a cult connected with Gods. Plo- 
tinus has not lost the Greek love of Art and of 
the Beautiful, the latter being properly a part of 
his ethical process ; Jamblichus the Semite shows 
little or no tendency of the kind. 


1. As to the Virtues Jamblichus has given 
us five classes, adding a new class to those of 
his teacher Porphyry. First are the political 
Virtues, secular, institutional, v^^orldly, and so 
lowest in the scale. It may be here noted that 
Jamblichus shows probably less regard for the 
political Virtues than even Plotinu3 (who has lit- 
tle enough), owing to the changed attitude of 
the Eoman State toward Christanity. For in 
the reign of Constantine all the ethnic deities 
were being slowly deprived of their author- 
ity by the political institution — which fact 
could not be regarded in a friendly light by 
Jamblichus with his universal Pantheon of 
heathen Gods. Still he keeps the political Vir- 
tues, probably more as a reminiscence of Plato's 
Republic than any love of them or belief in 

The second class of Virtues is the purificatory, 
in which spirit turns back into itself for the 
catharsis of the Self. The third class is the 
theoretic Virtues, in which the spirit contem- 
plates what is above itself, in the supersensible 
world. The fourth class is the paradeigmatic, 
which' indicate not only a rise to the Nous, but a 
participation and union with it. To these Jam- 
blichus adds the hieratic or sacerdotal Virtues, 
in which the si)irit rises yet alcove the Nous, to 
the Supreme One with which there is the final 
mystic union. This would seem to correspond 


to the ecstasy of Plotinus, though the name has 
the suggestion of a special caste or set of initiates 
who practice these Virtues. 

2. The distinctively religious element in the 
scheme of Jamblichus far overbalances the 
practice of the Virtues as such. The rites and 
worship of all Gods of all religions are a very 
important part of his plan ; his generous spirit 
included every manifestation of human belief. 
He was a thorough-going idolater, maintaining, 
in a special treatise on the subject, that images 
of the Gods have a divine efficacv. Miracles 
he performed; he believed in magic and prac- 
ticed it; prophecy, prayer, sacrifice in the 
crassest forms were defended by him. Appar- 
ently he accepted as truth what the most ignorant 
soul regarded as divine. 

3. The conception of ecstasy is not of so great 
significance with Jambhchus as with Plotinus, 
who had the tendency to have the Soul carry 
itself up from quite any point in the system and 
to unite itself with the Highest One immediately. 
But Jaml)lichu3 would evidently have the Soul 
pass through the intermediate stages of Gods 
and their Triads, partially, at least. Divine 
mediation is in fact very strongly developed in 
Jamblichus, and belongs to his age more pro- 
foundly, on account of the increased influence of 
Christianity, than to the age of Plotinus. This 
mediatorial tendency we may note in his par- 


tiality for Triads, unci we can also trace it in his 
highest abstract principles. His Absolute One 
does not immediately pass over into the Many 
Ones, but there must be a mediating principle 
between them, the Second One, which becomes 
Many. In response to the s})irit of the time, ho 
seeks to evolve a Mediator, in a kind of rivalry 
(one cannot help thinking) with the Christian 
Mediator. He employs Nco-Hellcuic Philosophy, 
whose metaphysical scheme he fills up with his 
ordered system of divinities taken from the posi- 
tive religions of the world. Mighty was the re- 
sponse of his age to this attempt of Jamblichus, 
and we can see the reason why : he felt the pulse- 
beat of a sick world, recognized the disease and 
tried to supply what it mast needed — a Mediator, 
a Savior. For that Greco-Roman heathen world 
knew itself to be sinking, to be lost, unless 
there came from some quarter a God to save 
them. It was an epoch that seemed in one 
continued prayer for divine help, and was ready 
to grasp at anything that offered assistance. 
Hence it could swallow the grossest superstitions 
and ask for more. In the light of his period 
we must see what Jamblichus endeavored to do, 
and appreciate his effort though it was fore- 
doomed to failure. Still to a large portion of 
the people of the Roman Empire — many of 
them the best souls of the age — it furnished 
spiritual food for fully two centuries. 

FBOCL US. 685 

3. iproclue. 

The third great philosopher of Neo-Hellenism 
is Prochis, who was born at Constantinople in 
410 and died at Athens in 485. He was called 
the Lycian, since his ancestors came from Lycia 
in Asia Minor. Already the fact has been 
emphasized that all of the leading Neo-Hellenic 
philosophers were Oriental in origin. Proclus 
studied at Alexandria in early life, then he went 
to Athens where he received instruction from 
Plutarch the Neo-Hellenist, and then from 
Syrianus, whom he succeeded in the school which 
had been established at Athens by the Neo- 
Hellenic philosophers. These still taught Plato 
and Aristotle, the latter was regarded as a prep- 
aration for the former. According to Proclus, 
Aristotle was demonic, but Plato was divine. In 
the coming Medieval Theolosfy Aristotle will 
keep his place as a preliminary discipline, but 
Plato will be supplanted by the Christian Bible 
and doctrine. 

It is not known exactly how or when this 
Athenian movement of Xeo-Hellenism began, but 
it is conjectured that some pupil or pupils of Jam- 
blichus may have nuidc the start. The Christians 
obtained the upper hand in Alexandria and drove 


out the Heathen Schools of Philosophy. During 
these troubles the most famous woman philoso- 
pher of antiquity, Hypatia, was murdered by a 
Christian mob (415 A. D.). She was a sup- 
porter of Neo-Hellenism, which began to look to 
Athens as its future home. Proclus was already 
in Athens during his twenty-second year, accord- 
ing to his biographer Marinus, though he had 
previously studied at Alexandria. Plutarch, the 
above-mentioned Scholarch, dying in 432, had 
left the School prosperous and famous, so that 
from this time forward it is the center of Neo- 

We are then to see a second Athenian move- 
ment in philosophy, the first being Hellenic and 
this being Neo-Hellenic. Each lasts about the 
same length of time, a century more or less (see 
p. 207), and their beginnings are not far from 
eight centuries and a half apart. Both are the 
result of a centripetal tendency ; the first sweeps 
inward from the periphery of Hellas, the second 
from the Greco-Roman world. Thus both Hel- 
lenism and Neo-Hellenism cencentrate in Athens 
for their last philosophic movements. We see 
that Neo-Hellenism is outwardly a return to 
Athens, as well as inwardly a return to her 
great thinkers. Particularly Proclus who is the 
real spatial returner of this Neo-Hellenic return 
(the grand episfroplie) will make explicit the 
total process of it in his famous Triad. 


A brief reaction to Heutheiidoin took posses- 
sion of the throne of the Cs^^sars in Julian the 
Apostate, who became emperor (361-3), and 
sought to restore the old Hellenic Eeliffion. 
This is the most important philosophic fact in 
the century between the School of Jamblichus 
and the School of Athens. Such was the last 
attempt to re-establish the ancient Gods by 
authority. Still they did not yet perish. Their 
worship was kept up in many an unobserved 
corner of the Roman Empire; particularly the 
learned Neo-Hellenists preserved in secret the 
faith of the fathers. Proclus once had to retire 
from Athens to escape from Christian persecu- 
tion, though he returned after a year's absence, 
and remained in the city till his death. He took 
up his abode not far from an old Greek temple 
to which he might betake himself to worship 
without attracting attention. 

The School of Athens shows a development 
out of the exclusive religious tendency of Jam- 
blichus, to which it added the study of pure 
philosophy, specially of Metaphysics and Dialec- 
tics. It made the attempt to reduce to a philo- 
sophic form all heathen religions. It restored 
Aristotle to his place as the organizer of thought. 
Jamblichus had undoubtedly kept to the Neo- 
Hellenic Norm, but in a loose way; his vast 
polytheistic material, derived from many cults, 
was not a well-arrano;ed Whole. The School of 


Athens, on the contrary, has a tendency to order- 
ing and categorizing the Universe anew, especially 
its accumulated religious stores. This order, it 
is true, remains more or less external, formal, 
without inner development. The movement be- 
gins before Proclus, who, however, inherited the 
work and carried it forward to its highest point. 
Herein we observe the struggle between the two 
Norms, philosophical and religious, the former 
at present subordinating the latter. Proclus 
retains an exceedingly diversified religious con- 
tent in the shape of rites, ceremonies, theurgy, 
even magic; sacred books he has, such as the 
Orphic Sayings, the Chaldean Oracles, even the 
poems of Homer ; this recalcitrant mass he will 
compel into philosophic form, chiefly by means 
of Plato and Aristotle. Certainly a catholic 
taste he shows; he seems to have the idea of an 
universal religion, the Christians alone being 
kept out of his scheme. Also a philosophy of 
religion lies fermenting in his thought; in fact 
his whole plan is largely a philosophizing of re- 

As Proclus had predecessors in the School of 
Athens, so he will have successors. But none 
will approach him in importance, none will be 
able to form with hiui a great movement. 
Hence he rises up from the lesser mountains 
about him a lofty solitary peak. For this reason 
the second Athenian period of Philosophy will 


not be like the first in having a personal trinity 
of three great philosophers in a process with one 
another, as we see in the case of Socrates, Plato 
and Aristotle. Proclus, however, will form the 
third stage of the total Neo-Hellenic process, 
Avhich is likewise personal. Still this personal 
Triad of individual philosophers will have as the 
ultimate principle the evanishnient of the indi- 
vidual in the One. The essence of Beiuo; with 
them is indeed the Universal, but the Universal 
as negative to the individual. In Hellenisticism 
we saw the Universal realized in the individual 
as such, but in Neo-Hollenism we see it realized 
in the Supreme One which is the negation of in- 
dividuality. Hellenism unfolds the Universal as 
such, Hellenisticism puts the Universal into the 
individual, and thus makes him universal, 
Neo-Hellenism puts the individual into the Uni- 
versal which undoes him. Proclus, indeed, did 
not live in the autonomous Athens which pro- 
duced the great individuals whose very character 
was that of universality. His time went rather 
the opposite way, and he moved with it. The 
Universal no longer passed over into the indi- 
vidual and made the latter, but the individual 
passed over into the Universal and was lost as a 
self-conscious, self-active being. 

Such, then, is the outcome of Neo-Hellenism. 
Jamblichus sought to divinize the metaphysical 
stages of Plotinus, turnino; the hitter's Nous and 



Soul into Threes of Gods. But Proclus will go 
back to Plotinus, nuiking metaphysical Triads out 
of the personal Trinities of Jamblichus, whose 
work is thus retained but philosophized by Pro- 
clus. The deities adopted by Jamblichus and 
put into the Plotinian Norm, were those of es- 
tablished systems of religion, Greek and Oriental. 
Proclus will keep them, but subordinate them to 
his metaphysical principle, which is the abstract 
Triad. Thus it is Jamblichus who furnishes 
the religious content to Proclus, while the latter 
brings to it his Philosophy. 

Proclus has, therefore, in mind the philosoph- 
ical Norm of Plotinus as modified by Jamblichus ; 
the latter he modifies in turn. We must also 
connect Proclus with the total movement of Greek 
Philosophy primarily through this Norm, which 
seeks to comprehend and to categorize the Ab- 
solute One (God), the World (Nature), and Man. 
These three constituents of the Universe we have 
found most fully developed and expressed by 
the great Athenian Philosophers, Plato and Aris- 
totle, of whom Proclus may be deemed a worthy 
successor in their own home. He was probably 
the most important philosopher that had taught 
in the city of Athens since Aristotle, with the 
possible exception of Zeno the Stoic. We shall 
look at the three usual divisions in order. 


I. Metaphysics. 

Especially in the iiictaphysical sphere Proclus 
is a return to Plotinus, whose three stages of 
it — the One, Nous, and Soul — form the core 
of the Proclian exposition. Still there are im- 
portant changes from both Plotinus and Jam- 
blichus. Indeed these two philosophers are on 
weighty points combined in Proclus, who shows 
the abstract philosophical tendency of the one 
and the concrete religious tendency of the other. 
The trend of Plotinus is to categories, the trend 
of Jamblichus is to Gods, both meaning pretty 
much the same thing. Proclus keeps the two 
forms of expression, though with him it is the 
Category determining the God (as in case of 
Plotinus) rather than the God determining the 
Category (as in case of Janiljlichus). Still both 
the philosophical and the religious sides are 
vigorously present in his scheme. 

A. The Supra-rational Oxe. — At the top 
of his system Proclus places the One which is 
above Nous (Keason or Intelligence). It is the 
supreme Good above all kinds of Good, the 
primordial cause before all Being, the First One 
before the Manjs in any shape. Yet after giv- 
ing these predicates he struggles to deny them all ; 
it is not even One, but above One, it is above all 
negation or affirmation; ineffable, incommunica- 
ble, incomprehensible; it can have no thought. 


IK) consciousness, no will. Herein Proclus has 
reproduced the Supreme One of Plotinus who 
banished from his first principle all separation, 
and therewith the self-conscious Person. No 
Neo-Hellenist could let the Highest be a Self, 
an Ego ; that would introduce the division which it 
was the object of Philosophy to drive out of the 

B. TiieHenads. — With some surprise we now 
find Proclus deviating from Plotinus by intro- 
ducing at this point the Henads (the Many 
Ones), which we also found in Jamblichus, but 
far more obscurely, and in a somewhat different 
position. For they take the place of the Second 
One of Jamblichus, which is not divided into 
multi})licity. These Henads are still above 
Being, above Life, above Nous; yet they are 
distinct from the Supreme One undivided, for 
these are divided, and also they are distinct from 
one another. Just in this fact lies their mean- 
ing: they are the principle of separation in the 
Universe, theirs is the primal realm of divine 
differentiation, for each of these Henads Proclus 
specially calls a God. The Henads are a group 
of Gods individualized. Says Proclus in a 
cardinal passage: "The First One is sim- 
ply the Good, and simply the One; but 
each of those succeeding the First One (the 
Henads) is a particular goodness or a particular 
Henad. For divine iudividualitv has so differ- 


enced the Henads that each has its own kind of 
soodness * * * Each of these is a certain 
good, but not the total Good." (^Institutio 
Til eologica , 133). 

This tells distinctly the general character of 
the Henads as well as suggests their place in the 
system. They represent the stage of difference, 
of separation over against the undivided First 
One. Herein Proclus has made a decided 
advance upon Plotinus who has no such distinct 
stage of separation, and also an advance upon Jam- 
blichus, who has apparently a second stage, but it 
is still the One, undivided though impartible. 

The Henads, being Gods, are the source of 
divine influence extending from above to below, 
and are also the seat of divine providence. Thus 
they have a mediatorial character. Here we 
see Proclus theologizing his metaphysical cate- 
gories. The Henads are primarily a product of 
our philosopher's thinking, but he is not satis- 
fied with these abstract thoughts, till he has 
projected them into Gods. This procedure is 
characteristic of Proclus in contrast b(>th with 
Plotinus, who keeps more closely to philosophy, 
and with Jamblichus, who keeps more closely 
to religion. 

We may also note a relation to the age. The 
Henads give a ground for polytheism, a])out 
which Proclus, as a foe of triumphing Chris- 
tianity, must have been deeply concerned. 


Plotinus, two hundred years before, could have 
felt no such anxiety to enthrone the many Gods 
so high in his system. 

C. The Fundamental Triad. — This is the 
greatest insight of Proclus. He distinctly de- 
clares that the basic principle of the Universe is 
triadal, and that it is a process, not a fixed single 
concept. This process has in it the three 
stages, which may be here simply expressed as 
the Stay (mone), the Going-forth ( j)rdodos) 
and the Coming-back {ejnstropJie) . Such is the 
movement which Proclus declares to be in all 
things, and he proclaims it to be the true 
method of all science, which has to seek out and 
formulate this triadal process. 

Undoubtedly this Triad has been more or less 
in evidence from the beginning of Greek Philoso- 
phy. It rises to the surface repeatedly in Plato 
and Aristotle, but does not stay there. Particu- 
larly it has woven itself through theNeo-Hellenic 
stage, since this is the third stage of the grand 
triadal movement of Greek philosophic thought, 
and, as we have already seen, is the Keturn 
(^epistrophe) to the first or Hellenic Period. It is 
the chief merit of Proclus that he has completely 
abstracted the fundamental Triad which has 
been implicit in Greek thinking, but which be- 
gins to become explicit in Plotinus, and still 
more so in Jam))lichus. Neo-Hellenic thought is 
Greek Philosophy turning back upon itself and 


becoming; conscious of itself in its own inner 
process. Proclus, having torn the metaphysical 
Triad from all its former wrappage, and held it 
forth to the light, as it in itself, in all its naked- 
ness, has wound up not only Neo-Hellenic but 
all Greek philosophy. To be sure, its inside is 
now outside, its soul is separated from its body 
and will animate it no more. Still that soul, 
though deprived of its own Greek body, is im- 
mortal, and begins (in Neo-Hellenic phrase) its 
career of transmigration into other future philos- 
ophies, wherein it is, one sometimes thinks, 
more lively than ever. 

In the ordering of his philosophic scheme we 
shall take Proclus at his word, and arrange its 
divisions under the present head. According to 
him the above triadal movement is the genera- 
tive principle of the true philosophical method. 
It really transforms the fixed, indivisible, supra- 
rational One of Neo-Hellenism into a process, 
which is indeed the process of all things. That 
is, the Absolute One, the many Henads, and the 
fundamental Triad are themselves converted into 
the stages of the Triad through the Triad, which 
thus returns upon its starting-point, the First 
One, and wheels it into the universal movement 
of itself. Very important is this development of 
the Plotinian Norm, which hitherto has been so 
inactive and solitary, even if Proclus did not in- 
tend to disturb the impassive and uniinpartiblo 


Supreme One of liis School. At any rate we have 
gotten a genetic-, unfolding principle launched 
from above, and we shall see first how it organ- 
izes itself and then proceeds to organize other 

I. The Triad organized. In the organism of 
the Triad Proclus emphasizes primarily its three 
elements. First is the Stay with itself, or the 
immediate, implicit stage of anything, the undi- 
vided and undeveloped condition of it, in which 
it is " asleep." Second is the Separation within 
itself, which Proclus calls the Procession, or the 
moving forth into multiplicity and externalitv. 
Third is the Return or the eoing back tf) the first 
stage, which attracts the object and draws it out 
of its second stage of separation or procession. 
Mighty is the stress which Proclus puts upon this 
Eeturn. " All that goes forth from anything, by 
its inherent nature turns itself back to that from 
which it comes forth." (Inst. Theol . ^1 et pas- 
sim ) . It is said by Proclus to desire its source which 
is the Cause, the Good, the One which heals it of 
all difference and separation. Is not this the 
Psychosis? asks our alert reader. Yes, it is, but 
not yet complete, as we shall see later. 

(rt) Looking at the organic movement of the 
Triad as it is within itself, we observe that it is 
a cycle. It rounds itself out in a circular process. 
Savs Proclus: "All that goes forth from any- 
thing and comes back has an energy which is 


cyclical. Thus the end connects with the be- 
ginning, and the movement is single and con- 
tinued, starting from the staying one and return- 
ing to the same. All things move in a cycle 
from their causes to their causes." (Inst. Theol. 
33). Of course this idea is not original with 
Proclus, it is found in the religions of the Orient 
as well as in Greek philosophy, and is the basic 
fact of human consciousness, which is just what 
it is through its self-separating and its self-re- 
turning movements, or its cycle. But this is not 
the end of the matter. Out of the one cycle are 
generated many cycles or circular processes, 
which constitute the essence of things. 

(&) The organic Triad, having unfolded itself, 
proceeds to realize its genetic nature by devel- 
oping into many Triads. Each stage of the first 
Triadbecomes itself triadic in energy, as it were by 
inheritance. Thus there is a Triad of Triads, and 
cycles within cycles. In the same passage Pro- 
clus says : ' ' There are greater and lesser cycles ; 
the return may be to the beginning which lies 
immediately above, or to the one still higher, or 
up to the beginning of all things. From this 
primal beginning all comes and to it all returns." 
This thought has been already pointed out in 
Plotinus and Janiblichus, and it was common in 
the Neo-Hellenic School. That is, each stage of 
the one total process participates in that process 
and shows in itself the three stages — the simple 


Unity, the Separation, and the Return. Thus 
the fundamental triadal process shows itself cre- 
ative in all its parts, reproducing itself in all its 
differences, as their uniting principle. 

(c) The line of cycles is conceived by Proclus 
to be made up of " lesser or greater cycles," in 
succession ; but this line is not a straight line on 
which the cycles are strung, but is itself circular, 
and returns into itself. The earth turning on its 
axis performs its daily cycle, while it is at the 
same time going forth and returning in its yearly 
cycle, which is itself probably but a stage of a 
still vaster cycle spatial and temporal. The meta- 
physical counterpart to this physical illustration 
was present to Proclus, and we find it hovering 
vaguely before the minds of other Greek think- 
ers, who may have derived it from Egypt, that 
land of cycles both in nature and spirit. 

Such is, in general, the triadal system of Pro- 
clus, which one cannot study in its vast bearings 
without being impressed with the greatness of 
the thought. Its suggestiveness carries us back 
to the beginning of Neo-Hellenism and compels 
us to see this as a Triad. Indeed we are borne 
back to the beginning of the total sweep of 
Greek philosophy which we now have to see also 
as a Triad. Naj^ the philosophical Norm seems 
to have separated its very shape and movement 
from itself and to be holding the same up before 
us through Proclus. Instinctive! v he leads to a 


view of the lesser and greater Triads ever circling 
and unfolding, even to a glimpse of the greatest, 
all-inclusive Triad. The inner moving principle 
of Greek philosophy, that which produced all its 
divisions, large and small, with their separations 
and returns, the secret thinking Demiuroe who 
has been lurking and working in this world of 
Hellenic thought for a thousand years and more, 
has now been exorcized and been made to appear 
in his own naked form and in his own pure ac- 
tivity. Surely the end of this world is at hand. 
Still we must consider the limitation. This 
Triad is formal, metaphysical, producing a kind 
of shadowy multiplication of shadows, a disem- 
bodied soul triplicating itself in round after round 
to infinity. Just here lies the difficulty. The 
Triad of Proclus is not the concrete spirit, not 
the self-conscious Ego with its power of self- 
verification, but abstract, unreal, producing the 
impression of a dance of phantoms. Over and 
over again he describes the triadal process care- 
fully and rightly, yet he never identifies it with 
the Self, which is just this process in fact. For 
it is really the Self of Proclus describing its own 
inner movement, and affirming such a movement 
of the Self to be the process of the All 
that produces the Triad. But the Triad be- 
comes metaphysical and indeed unreal when 
divorced from the Self which is just it (the 
Triad^ in the making of it, and which U 


its recality. In other words, Proclus has 
the Psychosis without the Psyche, which 
he put down far below the Triad as one of 
its inferior products, whereas the Triad is really 
its product or rather it itself. The worth of 
the Self in its own right as the self-conscious 
principle of the All is not recognized by Pro- 
clus; he extracts its inner process and projects 
it outwards as the creative essence of his system, 
whereby it is emptied of its true content. So 
the Triad in his hands appears a kind of machine 
or gimcrack which, being external, he applies ex- 
ternally to man and also to the Gods who are 
whipped into order by this contrivance. Pro- 
clus is truly a God-compeller by means of his 
Triad, leaving out of the account, all uncon- 
scious, the user of the Triad, the Self who with 
it is manipulating with such ease apparently the 
vast multitude of Hellenic and Oriental deities. 

All this is only saying that Proclus is meta- 
physical and not psychological, that he lived 
long ago at an earlier stage than ours in the 
evolution of human Thinking. Let not our 
different and possibly higher criterion blind us 
to his deep insight and his greatness. Like all 
the past he has much to tell us by way of instruc- 
tion. I hold that the Proclian Triad has still 
a message for the thinker of to-day. 

2. JVous. We are first to observe that Proclus 
has his Nous follow from the triadal process 


which determines it throughout as threefold in 
its movement. This is diferent from Plotinus 
whose Supreme One simply overflows and lapses 
(emanates) into Nous. At first glance it would 
seem that Proclus makes his Nous evolve out of 
the antecedent stage, from which it is an advance. 
But he breaks just at this point, his Nous is still 
an emanation or descent, not an evolution or 
ascent ; Proclus now turns back from Proclus to 
Plotinus, not proceeding to the higher but to the 
lower; his return becomes a relapse. His Triad 
is still retained, but is externally applied rather 
than internally developed. The Going-forth 
(proodos) is reallj^ a going down to Nous; our 
philosopher dualizes himself, his Janus-face on 
one side looks toward the rising and on the other 
toward the setting sun. 

The divisions of Nous will show in all fullness 
the f ormalistic strain in the philosophic character 
of Proclus. He first separates the sphere of 
Nous into three leading departments or classes, 
which are still further divided triadally into 
Orders, and these again are subdivided into 
fresh Triads. 

The Classes of Proclus start from Jamblichus 
who had two Classes of Nous, the Intellegible 
(noefos), and Intellectual (^noeros). Proclus 
interjects an intermediate Class between these 
two, in accord with his triadal principle, which 
Class he names Intelligible-Intellectual (^noetos 


kai noeros) being compounded of the two 
extreme classes. At the same time he gives the 
essential attributes of these three Classes respec- 
tively as Being, Life, Thinking (Nous in the 
narrower sense). Even a second set of attributes 
appears which need not be mentioned. Tlie 
relation of these attributes he describes as 
follows. " Being is before Life, and Life is 
before Thinking. * * * All things are in all, 
and peculiarly in each ; in Being are Life and 
Thinking, in Life are Being and Thinking, 
and in Thinking are Being and Life." (Inst. 
Theol. 101, 103.) The triadal organization is 
not clear in all its details, but a general outline 
can be given about as follows : — 

(I.) Litelligible Class {noetos). Object, Be- 
ing, Actuality, even Goodness. But the main 
point is its three Triads. 

(1) The Triad pertaining to the Limit: (a) 
the Limit as such, (6) the Unlimited, (c) the 
Composite (mixton) of the two, which he calls 
also essence (ousia). Moreover out of this last 
composite springs a notable Triad: Sj^mmetry, 
Truth, and Beauty; notable as one little gleam 
that Proclus may not have wholly left out of 
his philosophy some consideration of Art and 
Beauty. Still this remote Triad may only have 
been a faint suggestion from Plotinus. 

(2) The second Intelligible Triad is called the 
Intelligible Life, or Etej:nity. It is a Triad as 


follows : (a) the One or the Limit, (6) the Force 
or the Unlimited, (c) Life. It will be observed 
that each of the categorise of this Triad has been 
used before in other connections by Proclus, who 
thus lays bare his chief sin in exposition. He 
has no hesitation in applying the same term to 
members of wholly different Triads, so that the 
reader is often confused utterly about the no- 
menclature. In like manner be puts the same 
God into different Triads whereby his Pantheon 
becomes a veritable jumble of the fiends. Pa- 
tience-provoking is this " damnable iteration" of 
Proclus, so that one feels at times like flinging 
his whole scheme out of. the window. Still the 
much-enduring investigator of human Thought 
must know Proclus. So, having regained our 
composure, let us glance at the next Triad. 

(3) The third Intelligible Triad embraces the 
world of Ideas, originally transmitted from 
Plato, who (with Aristotle) wrote the Neo- 
Hellenic Bible. Here then we have (a) unity 
wdiich creates (6) multiplicity with all its Ideas 
inclosed (c) in a new or mediated unity. 

(II.) The Intelligible-Intellectual Class. Its 
main predicate is Life, wdiich is always creating 
and multiplj'ing ; as the second stage, it is the 
Procession or the Separation specially. This too 
furnishes a set of three Triads. 

(1) The original numerical elements which 
underlie this double Class:, (a) One as number 


(b) the Other {^Jieteron) (c) Being, seemingly as 
rehited to number. 

(2) The connected elements which are joined 
in pairs: (a) The One and Many, (/>) the 
Whole and the Parts, (c) the Limited and the 
Unlimited. These are called combinino; Gods. 

(3) The completing elements, also made into 
Gods . These show a return to the three Orders of 
Nous, which are set forth again in three Triads. 

(III.) The Intellectual Class. Here a new 
principle is added : to the three a four is joined, 
making a seven (Hebdomad). This is derived 
from Jamblichus directly, but the sacredness of 
the number seven is old, hinting probably of the 
ancient worship of the seven planets. Still in 
the Hebdomad the underlying Triad is preserved 
by making the first two members treble while the 
latter remains single. Thus the seven keeps the 
triadal form. 

But now comes another result. Instead of the 
Class being divided into three Triads as hereto- 
fore, we now see it divided into seven Hebdo- 
mads. The development of these are given by 
Proclus in his Platonic Theology, where the ab- 
stract categories may usually be found along 
with the corresponding deities. 

Such is, in brief outline, the organization of 
Nous in Proclus, whose procedure here seems 
external and capricious, quite different from his 
treatment of the preceding stage, the triadal 


One. We cannot help thinking; that they belong 
to different periods of the philosopher's own 
development, though these periods can hardly 
be studied so fully in Proclus as they have been 
in Plato, whose writings reflect so completely his 
spiritual unfolding. 

3. The Sold. In general Proclus follows 
Plotinus in his view of the Soul, which as dis- 
tinct from the sensible world has the power of 
turning back into itself, or self -consciousness. 
Thus it makes itself One through the return. It 
is the bridge from the material to the immate- 
rial, though bodiless in itself and immortal. 

There are three classes of Souls — divine, 
demonic, and human. 

(I.) The first class is composed of divine 
Souls, specially the Gods of Greek mythology. 
These again fall into a Triad, composed as 
follows : — 

(1) The leading Gods (hegemonikoi), or the 
Great Gods, who are still further divided into 
four Triads, of which the first has Zeus, Posei- 
don and Pluto, but the rest we shall omit. 

(2) The separative Gods {apolufoi), inter- 
mediate, separating upper or supramundane 
Gods and the lower or mundane Gods. Also 
four Triads embracing familiar names of the 
Greek Pantheon. 

(3) The mundane Gods (egJcostnioi) , which 
can have a body, and which seem to have but 



two divisions, the stellar and the sublunary 

(II.) The second Class is made up of demons, 
which word does not mean in Proclus bad spirits, 
as he directly denies that they are bad, probably 
in answer to the Christian belief which after- 
wards has such a tremendous expression in Dante's 
Inferno. These, too, are in three sets. 

(1) Angels, whom we are surprised to meet 
here in this heathen company of ghosts. But 
it is not the only interpolation which Proclus 
has taken from his Christian environment. 

(2) Demons in the special sense, intermediate 
beings of varied rank and power who have 
played a great part in popular superstition, and 
who have furnished materials for a special 
science, demonology. 

(3) Last are the souls of Heroes, who also 
have their worship and their influence over the 
world from which they have departed. This is 
decidedly a Greek cult. 

(III.) The third Class of souls are human, or 
like the human soul, which shares in a thinking 
and an unthinking principle. These too can be 
divided into various kinds, but it is manifest that 
the soul with its unthinking part has a body of 
some sort. 

Thus we have before us in brief outline the 
supersensible or metaphysical sphere of Proclus. 
We see that it is a highly organized system which 


tries to put into order tlie vast multitude of the 
divinities of the Greco-Roman world according 
to the philosophical categories of the Plotinian 
scheme. Still Proclus has gotten behind even 
this scheme and evolved out of it the Triad as 
the governing principle of the categories and 
through them of the Gods. This governing 
principle is, however, applied externally, clapped 
on from the outside; only the original Triad 
seems to be self -unfolding, and so is truly the 
topmost part of Proclus who makes a descent 
from it both in his method as well as in the value 
of his work. 

This descent gives Proclus no little trouble, 
for his generative Triad has to be linked into 
the emanative principle of Neo-Platonism. So 
he employs (in his Insf. Theol. particularly) 
two categories for explanation : similarity and 
dissimilarity. It is similarity which makes the 
One stay with itself {mom), but it is dissimilar- 
ity which causes it to move forth and to produce 
separation and multiplicity. Now this second 
stage is always a descent with Proclus, because 
it has something dissimilar to the First One. 
Still it has also something similar, therefore it 
desires to return to what is purely similar or 
simple. Hence the simplest beings are the most 
perfect, while the composite or differenced ones 
are lower. Also the more perfect a being is, 
the more power it has, and the more productive 


it is, that is, the more it goes over into multi- 
plicity (^Inst. Theol. 25) or imperfection, from 
which, however, it longs to get back. Still 
another category which Prpclus employs to 
explain his triadal procedure is Cause. Every 
effect has in itself its Cause, yet also a separa- 
tion from its Cause, otherwise it would not be 
effect. Hence this effect is something derived, 
inferior, baser, wherefore it too strives to return 
to its Cause. 

Such is the struggle of Proclus to get back of 
his abstract triadal process, for he feels that 
something lies behind it, something deeper than 
it is. And in this feeling he is right. But he 
is unable to help himself. He feels the in- 
adequacy of his metaphysical Triad; but in 
order to explain it he can only project behind it 
another set of metaphysical categories, which 
are in precisely the same need of explanation. 
So he rolls from this abstraction to that, in a 
kind of philosophical fever. Still we cannot 
help admiring the genuine instinct of the man, 
which will not be satisfied with his own formu- 
lation. No wonder that he at last throws the 
whole business up into the realm of the One 
where there is no consciousness, no reason, and 
especially no categories, being just the realm of 
the Ineffable. 

To our mind that which Proclus feels from 
afar, in a kind of distant presentiment, is the 

PliOCL US. — PHYSICS. 709 

fundamental Triad of the Self as the principle 
of all things, the Psychosis. But his philo- 
sophical Norm of Neo-Hellenism cannot express 
it, in spite of iteration and reiteration of triple 
ternaries in eternal succession. Thus all Phi- 
losophy gets empty, reverberating its own 
hollowness in a long line of fantastic Triads 
without real connection or content. Still that 
first organic or perchance genetic Triad of his 
must be deemed a very significant step in Phi- 

II. Physics. 

The search for the laws of Nature as a 
pursuit in itself is hardly known to Proclus, 
since in his thought Nature was determined 
by Spirits from above, and is a lapse. Yet 
he assigns the origin of this lapse to a being far 
above the Demiurge of Plotinus, so that the 
regular gradation of descent is broken into by 
Proclus. In other words, a form of Nous 
creates the material world directly, without 
passing through the intervening third stage of 
the Soul. This may have been influenced by the 
Christian doctrine which makes God the creator 
of all things. Nature included. Still Proclus 
follows in the main the Neo-Hellenic ladder 
of descent, and combats openly the Christian 
idea of creation by fiat. He holds with the 
Greek thinkers in general, that the creation 


of the world did not take place in time, nor was 
it the act of a conscious will. 

1. Body. The primal corporeal shape is the 
Cosmos, which is a living animal, and has the union 
of soul and body. Proclus considers even Space 
to have a body with a soul in it. Still the soul 
is apart from the body. Says he : " Every soul 
is incorporeal, and distinctfrom the body. AYhat- 
ever knows itself (self-conscious) turns back to 
itself, which is not possible with the bodj^" 
Here Proems has come upon the Ego " which 
knows itself," and therefore cannot be cor- 
poreal; for this self-knowing "is the turn- 
ing back into itself." He sees the triadal 
form of the Soul (or the Ego) and declares: if 
it knows the things above itself, so much the 
more by its nature must it know itself, since it 
knows itself apart from the cause before itself. 
Thus Proclus has really identified with his self- 
returning Triad the self-conscious Ego, and saj's 
or seems to say that the latter or the Soul can 
only know what is above itself through knowing 
itself. If he could have carried out this. thought 
he would have had the Psychosis fifteen hundred 
years ago. But he proceeds at ouce to imply 
that the Triad above causes this self-conscious 
act — which is to put the cart before the horse. 
Like all Greek philosophers, Aristotle inckidcd, 
when he had the real self-returning process 
before his eyes and had formulated it, he could 

PROCL US. — niYSICS. 7 1 1 

not conceive of it as Ego or Self, but projected 
out of all selfhood into an abstract metaphysical 
entity, and so could not rise to a psychological 
view of the Universe. 

Thus Body separates, the Soul within it turn- 
ing back into itself and thereby showing itself to 
be bodiless. The self-conscious act is the self- 
assertion of the Soul as incorporeal. " Every- 
thing which turns back into itself cannot have a 
body" {Inst. TheoJ. 15. 16. Also 186 for the 
identification of the self -returning Triad with the 
self -knowing act.) 

The soul may be said to roll back from the 
body and curl over into itself, though it be 
united with the body. Still the body without 
soul is strictly no longer body but drops down 
to the next element. 

2. Matter. Something already existent must 
be given to the soul for its embodiment. This 
is Matter which according to Proclus (wherein 
he differs from Plotinus) is a product of the 
Unlimited, a God whose seat is in the first Triad 
of Nous far over it (see the Intelligible Class 
above). Matter is not, therefore, the First Evil, 
being neither good nor bad. Herein Proclus 
makes a step outside the entire Platonic School, 
and goes over to Aristotle who certainly found no 
ethical character in Matter taken by itself. To be 
sure, Matter is in Proclus still nearly at the 
bottom of the ladder, far removed from the 


One and the Good. Still that does not neces- 
sarily make it bad, since it has no will or 
consciousness, and cannot help itself from getting 
to be. This brings us face to face with the 
question: Whence does Evil come and what 
is it? 

3. Evil. It springs from the Free- Will of the 
individual, which is much more strongly empha- 
sized by Proclus than by Plotinus. In this 
again we may well see a Christian influence 
coming particularly from Origen. Everything 
as sent forth from the Higher Powers is in 
itself good, the Evil in the world is the fault 
of man and his freedom. Proclus considers 
external ills not to be evil, but to be the course 
of nature, wherein lies often the punishment 
of some former offense. As Proclus also believes 
in pre-existence, he has that to fall back upon 
in accounting for the afllictions of this present 
life. Moreover he, with Plotinus, regards Evil 
as a great means of instruction through expe- 
rience. But man, being endowed with Free- 
Will, becomes more distinctively an ethical being 
whose rise we may next consider. 

III. Ethics. 

This sphere embraces the complete return 
of the Soul (or Ego) to the One, to the Good, 
or to God, the creative source of all Being, It 

PR CL US. — E THICS. 713 

IS the third stage of the philosophical Norm, 
which we have found to be the inner frame- 
work of Greek philosophy. It is Proclus who 
is more conscious of this return than an}^ 
philosopher of Hellas, since he has made it 
the third stage of his metaphysical Triad which 
is really the genetic source of all things. But 
the ethical return had long been known, since 
it appears distinctly in the great Athenian 
thinkers and may be traced in some of their pre- 
decessors. In fact, the idea of some sort of 
restoration to God lies more or less explicitly 
in every kind of religion. The ethical in the 
present case includes the religious and every other 
method of rising to the supra-sensible out of the 
sensible world. 

This rise or ascent proceeds, in general, by the 
same steps which w^e saw in the descent. Proclus, 
being the formalist of his school, naturally insists 
more strongly upon a methodical procedure than 
Plotinus or Jamblichus. " The road upward is 
through the same stages as the road downward " 
{In Timaeum 325. E, apud Zeller). " All that 
proceeds from several causes, returns through 
just what it has proceeded. Every Going-back 
is through the same stages as the Coming-f orth ' ' 
{Inst. Tlieo. 38). " Through whatever (course) 
Being arises to the individual, through the same 
arises his Well-being" or the Good. By the 
same stages he gets to be in descent, by the same 


stages does he get to be good in ascent. Still Pro- 
clus holds to an immediate union with God as the 
end of this mediational scheme, though it receives 
much less emphasis with him than with Plotinus. 

It is from Plotmus, however, that Proclus has 
his o-eneral outline of ethical ascent to the High- 
est Good, to which lead three main ways. 

I. The practice of the Virtues is one of these 
ways. This we may specially call the moral 
sphere to distinguish it from the broader ethical 
sphere which includes it. The classes of Virtues 
are not altogether certain in Proclus, but they 
seem to be nearly as follows : — 

1. The political Virtues, which are the four 
cardinal Virtues of Plato's Republic. But Pro- 
clus, like most of the Neo-Hellenic philosophers, 
will have little or nothing to do with the State or 
with other Institutions. 

2. The theoretic Virtues are often placed next, 
but they properly belong to a different sphere. 

3. The paradeigmatic Virtues are still higher, 
drawing the soul into communion with the pure 
Ideas above the sensible world. 

4. The hieratic Virtue is essentially religious, 
bringino; into the soul the divine illuminaion 

II. Contemplation (^tlieoria) is the second gen- 
eral way to rise to the Highest. Some of the 
Virtues s