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impressions and laws. In this application, the German philosophere have, up to the present time, rested upon this distinction a great part of the weight of their systems; as when Kant says, that Space and Time are the Forms of Sensation. Even in our own language, we retain a trace of the influence of this Aristotelian notion, in the word Information, when used for that knowledge which may be conceived as moulding the mind into a definite shape, instead of leaving it a mere mass of unimpressed susceptibility.
Another favorite Aristotelian antithesis is that of Power and Act (δύναμις, ενέργεια). This distinction is made the basis of most of the physical philosophy of the school; being, however, generally introduced with a peculiar limitation. Thus, Light is defined to be “the Act of what is lucid, as being lucid. And if,” it is added, " the lucid be so in power but not in act, we have darkness.” The reason of the limitation, “ as being lucid,” is, that a lucid body may act in other ways; thus a torch may move as well as shine, but its moving is not its act as being a lucid body.
Aristotle appears to be well satisfied with this explanation, for he goes on to say, “ Thus light is not Fire, nor any body whatever, or the emanation of any body (for that would be a kind of body), but it is the presence of something like Fire in the body; it is, however, impossible that two bodies should exist in the same place, so that it is not a body;" and this reasoning appears to leave him more satisfied with his doctrine, that Light is an Energy or Act.
But we have a more distinctly technical form given to this notion. Aristotle introduced a word formed by himself, to express the act which is thus opposed to inactive power: this is the celebrated word ÈvreméXETA. Thus the noted definition of Motion in the third book of the Physics," is that it is "the Entelechy, or Act, of a movable body in respect of being movable;" and the definition of the Soul is22 that it is “the Entelechy of a natural body which has life by reason of its power." This word has been variously translated by the followers of Aristotle, and some of them have declared it untranslatable. Act and Action are held to be inadequate substitutes; the very act, ipse cursus actionis, is employed by some; primus actus is employed by many, but another school use primus actus of a non-operating form. Budæus uses eficacia. Cicero*: translates it “quasi quandam continuatam motionem, et perennem;" but this paraphrase, though it may
21 Phys, iii. 1.
12 De Animâ, ii. 1.
93 Tusc. i. 10.
fall in with the description of the soul, which is the subject with which Cicero is concerned, does not appear to agree with the general applications of the term. Hermolaus Barbarus is said to have been so much oppressed with this difficulty of translation, that he consulted the evil spirit by night, entreating to be supplied with a more common and familiar substitute for this word : the mocking fiend, however, suggested only a word equally obscure, and the translator, discontented with this, invented for himself the word perfectihabia.
We need not here notice the endless apparatus of technicalities which was, in later days, introduced into the Aristotelian philosophy; but we may remark, that their long continuance and extensive use show us how powerful technical phraseology is, for the perpetuation either of truth or error. The Aristotelian terms, and the metaphysical views which they tend to preserve, are not yet extinct among us.
In a very recent age of our literature it was thought a worthy employment by some of the greatest writers of the day, to attempt to expel this system of technicalities by ridicule.
“Crambe regretted extremely that substantial forms, a race of harmless beings, which had lasted for many years, and afforded a comfortable subsistence to many poor philosophers, should now be hunted down like so many wolves, without a possibility of retreat. He considered that it had gone much harder with them than with essences, which had retired from the schools into the apothecaries' shops, where some of them had been advanced to the degree of quintessences.?
We must now say a few words on the technical terms which others of the Greek philosophical sects introduced.
2. Technical Forms of the Platonists.—The other sects of the Greek philosophy, as well as the Aristotelians, invented and adopted technical terms, and thus gave fixity to their tenets and consistency to their traditionary systems; of these I will mention a few.
A technical expression of a contemporary school has acquired perhaps greater celebrity than any of the terms of Aristotle. I mean the Ideas of Plato. The account which Aristotle gives of the origin of these will serve to explain their nature. 95 " Plato,” says he, “ who, in his youth, was in habits of communication first with Cratylus and the Heraclitean opinions, which represent all the objects of sense as being in a perpetual flux, so that concerning these no science nor certain
24 Martinus Scriblerus, cap. vii.
25 Arist. Metaph. i. 6. The same account is repeated, and the subject discussed, Metaph. xii. 4.
knowledge can exist, entertained the same opinions at a later period also. When, afterwards, Socrates treated of moral subjects, and gave no attention to physics, but, in the subjects which he did discuss, arrived at universal truths, and before any man, turned his thoughts to definitions, Plato adopted similar doctrines on this subject also; and construed them in this way, that these truths and definitions must be applicable to something else, and not to sensible things : for it was impossible, he conceived, that there should be a general common definition of any sensible object, since such were always in a state of change. The things, then, which were the subjects of universal truths he called Ideas ; and held that objects of sense had their names according to Ideas and after them; so that things participated in that Idea which had the same name as was applied to them.”
In agreement with this, we find the opinions suggested in the Parmenides of Plato, the dialogue which is considered by many to contain the most decided exposition of the doctrine of Ideas. In this dialogue, Parmenides is made to say to Socrates, then a young man, “O Socrates, philosophy has not yet claimed you for her own, as, in my judgment, she will claim you, and you will not dishonor her. As yet, like a young man as you are, you look to the opinions of men. But tell me this: it appears to you, as you say, that there are certain Kinds or Ideas (sior) of which things partake and receive applications according to that of which they partake: thus those things which partake of Likeness are called like ; those things which partake of Greatness are called great; those things which partake of Beauty and Justice are called beautiful and just.” To this Socrates assents. And in another part of the dialogue he shows that these Ideas are not included in our common knowledge, from whence he infers that they are objects of the Divine mind. In the Phædo the same opinion is maintained, and is summed up
in this way, by a reporter of the last conversation of Socrates," sivas so έκαστον των ειδών, και τούτων σ'άλλα μεταλαμβάνοντα αυτών τούτων την êr wuuiav io xeiv; “ that each Kind has an existence, and that other things partake of these kinds, and are called according to the kind of which they partake."
The inference drawn from this view was, that in order to obtain true and certain knowledge, men must elevate themselves, as much as possible, to these Ideas of the qualities which they have to consider :
26 Parmenid. p. 131.
37 Phædo, p. 102.
and as things were thus called after the Ideas, the Ideas had a priority and pre-eminence assigned them. The Idea of Good, Beautiful, and Wise was the “First Good,” the “ First Beautiful,” the “ First Wise." This dignity and distinction were ultimately carried to a large extent. Those Ideas were described as eternal and self-subsisting, forming an " Intelligible World," full of the models or archetypes of created things. But it is not to our purpose here to consider the Platonic Ideas in their theological bearings. In physics they were applied in the same form as in morals. The primum calidum, primum frigidum were those Ideas of fundamental Principles by participation of which, all things were hot or cold.
This school did not much employ itself in the development of its principles as applied to physical inquiries: but we are not without examples of such speculations. Plutarch's Treatise IIspi Foũ II purou Yux poū, “ On the First Cold,” may be cited as one. It is in reality a discussion of a question which has been agitated in modern times also;
- whether cold be a positive quality or a mere privation. “Is there, O Favorinus," he begins, “a First Power and Essence of the Cold, as Fire is of the Hot; by a certain presence and participation of which all other things are cold : or is rather coldness a privation of heat, as darkness is of light, and rest of motion ?”
3. Technical Forms of the Pythagoreans.—The Numbers of the Pythagoreans, when propounded as the explanation of physical phenomena, as they were, are still more obscure than the Ideas of the Platonists. There were, indeed, considerable resemblances in the way in which these two kinds of notions were spoken of. Plato called his Ideas unities, monads; and as, according to him, Ideas, so, according to the Pythagoreans, Numbers, were the causes of things being what they are. But there was this difference, that things shared the nature of the Platonic Ideas“ by participation," while they shared the nature of Pythagorean Numbers" by imitation.” Moreover, the Pythagoreans followed their notion out into much greater development than any other school, investing particular numbers with extraordinary attributes, and applying them by very strange and forced analogies. Thus the number Four, to which they gave the name of Tetractys, was held to be the most perfect number, and was conceived to correspond to the human soul, in some way which appears to be very imperfectly understood by the commentators of this philosophy.
* Arist. Metaph. i. 6.
It has been observed by a distinguished modern scholar,99 that the place which Pythagoras ascribed to his numbers is intelligible only by supposing that he confounded, first a numerical unit with a geometrical point, and then this with a material atom. But this criticism appears to place systems of physical philosophy under requisitions too
If all the essential properties and attributes of things were fully represented by the relations of number, the philosophy which supplied such an explanation of the universe, might well be excused from explaining also that existence of objects which is distinct from the existence of all their qualities and properties. The Pythagorean love of numerical speculations might have been combined with the doctrine of atoms, and the combination might have led to results well worth notice. But so far as we are aware, no such combination was attempted in the ancient schools of philosophy; and perhaps we of the present day are only just beginning to perceive, through the disclosures of chemistry and crystallography, the importance of such a line of inquiry.
4. Technical Forms of the Atomists and Others.—The atomic doctrine, of which we have just spoken, was one of the most definite of the physical doctrines of the ancients, and was applied with most perseverance and knowledge to the explanation of phenomena. Though, therefore, it led to no success of any consequence in ancient times, it served to transmit, through a long series of ages, a habit of really physical inquiry; and, on this account, has been thought worthy of an historical disquisition by Bacon. 30
The technical term, Atom, marks sufficiently the nature of the opinion. According to this theory, the world consists of a collection of simple particles, of one kind of matter, and of indivisible smallness (as the name indicates), and by the various configurations and motions of these particles, all kinds of matter and all material phenomena are produced.
To this, the Atomic Doctrine of Leucippus and Democritus, was opposed the Homoiomeria of Anaxagoras; that is, the opinion that material things consist of particles which are homogeneous in each kind of body, but various in different kinds : thus for example, since by food the flesh and blood and bones of man increase, the author of this doctrine held that there are in food particles of flesh, and blood,
29 Thirlwall's Hist. Gr. ii. 142.
30 Parmenidis et Telesii et præcipue Democriti Philosophia, &c., Works, vol. ix. 317.