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that is, from about the year 400 to 300 the era when the human mind first stepped B.C. The principal school of this period out of the nursery of tradition into the was that of Plato, which, from being held school of observation, it is reason's first in the grove of Academus in Athens, was guess about a God, and the memorial of called the Academy. Its old age begins the first traveller who set out to explore about the time of Epicurus, and lasts till the source of being. Speculation being that of Cicero; that is, from about the | thus started, Thales was soon followed year 300 to 60 B.C. The schools of this by other kindred spirits. Anaximenes period were numerous, but the chief one thought that there was in nature a more was called the New Academy, to distin- general and powerful element than water; guish it from that of Plato. As we intend and that the air which surrounded him, to confine our present remarks to the specu- and filled all things, was his own soul, lations of the three primary schools, this and the life of all other beings—was general outline will serve our purpose. therefore the first cause. More followed We call this period the dawn of philosophy, in the same course, and arrived at different not only to mark its place in the history of conclusions. Some asserted that the first science, but to describe the condition of cause was fire, some that it was the earth, philosophy at this time. In the early dawn, and others that it was all the four elewhen darkness still covers the landscape, ments combined. They were all agreed we are unable to distinguish between field that the world was developed from one or and flood, hill and dale, sea and land; all all of the primary elements; and as all are for the time blended in confusion, and it their speculations were founded on the is only after the day breaks, and the dark- supposition that the world sustains the ness rolls past, that we can distinguish same relation to its Creator as a plant the one froin the other. Even so in the does to its seed, all their reasoning ended dawn of philosophy, men were unable to in a material cause. At this period men discriminate between one science and were in the habit of reasoning by analogy; another. Astronomy and geography, that is to say, they supposed that some. physics and metaphysics, arithmetic and thing which was not well known to them, theology, were all mingled together; and was like some other thing with which it was only after knowledge had increased, they were better acquainted, and having that order and arrangement began to ap- fixed on a similitude, they endeavoured to pear. Hence, if our remarks should seem prove their supposition by following out to want arrangement, we may plead, as the resemblance between the object they an apology, that it would be easy to wished to describe and that which they assume more order than what is war- had chosen to represent it. It will thus ranted by the materials we have here to be seen that the accuracy of their reasondeal with, or by the state of the period we ing would depend very much on their are attempting to describe.
choice and use of a similitude ; for if the As Thales of Miletus was the first who emblem was not like the object, or if they made natural science a subject of study, carried their analogy too far, they were he has the honour of being called the sure to land in error. Hence, as a soul first philosopher. He is chiefly distin suggests a better analogy than a seed, guished for his knowledge of astronomy, Anaximenes made the best supposition. by which he discovered the rotundity of His disciple, Diogenes of Apollonia, fol. the globe, the nature and time of eclipses, lowed it out thus:-A soul is a living and invented a system of geography, and im- | intelligent principle, so also is the first proved navigation, by teaching the Greeks cause; what the soul is to the body, so is to direct their course by the polar star. the first cause to nature. But as he sought He was the first who sought to trace out to complete the analogy by furnishing a first cause. He assumed that moisture, nature with bodily organs, he carried out or water, was the origin of all things; but the idea to an absurdity. Anaxagoras whether he borrowed this idea from the took it up and refined it thus :- A soul is Egyptians, or had it suggested to him by not matter, but mind; the first cause is his residence near the Ionian Sea, is a neither part of nor connected with the point disputed by the learned, and we visible world, it is an intelligence-a spirit. need not attempt to settle it. This opi There is thus a considerable difference nion of him
between the opinion of Thales and that of "Who wandered about the beach, nourishing a
Anaxagoras; but as the one was the first
and the other was the last of the Ionian youth sublime, With the fairy tales of science, and the long
school, there was more than a 150 years
between them; and the fact that it took a results of time,
century and a half to develop this thought, is not only interesting as an example of is a sad proof of the intellectual weakness what men then thought, but as an evidence of man." At least, one would have supthat they were begun to think. It marks | posed that the discovery when made would have commended itself to the common the sun is male, the earth is female, and sense of mankind; but society was not they are the progenitors of all things. ready to receive such a truth-it was too This sexual distinction they affirm is not refined for men. Anaxagoras was the only evident in all that is material, but first who taught philosophy at Athens, also certain in all that is mental: and and this idea of the first cause was a start they assume that a unit, and every odd ling novelty to the Greeks. They had number, is male; and that two, and every the sense to see that if this opinion was even number, is female: and hence there true, their own theology was false; and is a mysterious virtue in certain combinafearing lest, through his teaching, their tions of figures. However worthless this own religion would be despised, they ex- system may appear, yet it is certain that pelled him from the city. But as they the ancients believed that there was some could neither banish nor uproot the mysterious power in diagrams and numthoughts he had planted in the minds of bers, and all their systems of divination his scholars, the discussion about the were formed in accordance with this supautocrat of being soon spread the idea of a position; and it seems probable that Py. supreme supernatural intelligence through thagoras, the prince of mystics, believed their schools, and left their national divi- and taught that this mysterious influence nities but a very subordinate place in the was the most powerful of all things, and government of the world.
the first cause of all being. Let it not be During the same period, while the forgotten that this notion belongs to the teachers of the Ionian school were endea- dawn of philosophy, and was the dream vouring to discover a first cause by an ex- of a discoverer over a new-born and amination of nature, Anaximander and favourite science, before its nature was Pythagoras sought to find out this by a clearly known. Neither ought we to overdifferent method. Pythagoras was the look the fact that there is in some minds founder of the Italian school, and the such a love for the mysterious and the most popular philosopher of the West; marvellous, and such a confidence in their and as tradition has surrounded his own intellectual power, that they prefer memory with so much supernatural gran- groping in the dark to walking in the deur, there must have been some founda- light. Instances of this are nnmerous in tion for a fame so wide, though we may the pages of history, but the most notonow be unable to discover it in the ruins rious cases of great minds who have thus of the past. He is said to have been the gone astray, are those of Pythagoras first who taught the knowledge of arith- amongst the ancients, and Swedenbourg metic; and as he sought to demonstrate amongst the moderns. Both were senthe great problem of existence by the sible that they had wandered beyond the science of numbers, his school is called boundaries of reason, and would require a the Mathematical School. As he did not higher power than persuasion to compel commit his thoughts to writing, we can men to follow them; so the one assumed only learn his sentiments from the conflicto the dignity of a God, and the other claimed ing statements of his disciples; and as they the authority of a revelation. How true assumed so much mystery, it is now diffi is it of such that 'they became vain in cult to comprehend or explain his philo- their imaginations, and their foolish hearts sophy. We believe it would be no slander were darkened.' While Pythagoras taught to say that his scholars did not understand this dogma to the initiated, his disciples his system themselves, and that in many taught another doctrine to the multitude. instances they have misrepresented his They affirmed that every thing in nature meaning. There is a fragment in the may be reduced to one, and that thisworks of Aristotle, which contains a con 'the one':-- the unity '--'the all'—the densed account of the system of Pytha- infinite '—was God; and then explained goras; but as it is too long for insertion, that he was spread over all nature, as the and too complex to be easily understood, centre and source of all other beings. we prefer giving a specimen of the They also taught the doctrine of a transChinese philosophy, which is not only migration of souls, or that the souls of more intelligible, but is also so like the men, after their death, pass into the Italian, that the one may serve to illus-bodies of such beasts as they most retrate the other. Confucius and his fol- sembled in life, and endure a variety of lowers taught, that as we can discover in transformations, until they are purified all classes of animals and vegetables a for a better state of being. But he was male and a female, we may assume that chiefly distinguished for his attempt to the same arrangement exists in other ob- form an order - like the priests of Egypt, jects which do not come under our ob- the Levites of Palestine, or the Jesuits of servation, and that the arrangement for Europe -a sort of literary aristocracy, by propagating existence is also the origin which he sought to reform and govern of being; hence, according to this theory, society. However, the democracy of the
Italian states, conceiving that this order clothing him with a material element, or was dangerous to popular liberty, revolted confounding him with his works. His against it, and its sections being violently adopted symbol of the divinity was a broken up, all that remained of this once sphere or circle, which being complete in powerful institution was but a few secret itself was the type of perfection ; and hav. ceremonies, similar to the mummeries of ing neither beginning nor end, was the an impotent freemasonry. This result emblem of eternity. His simple creed, was very different from that of the system There is but one God, neither resembling of his contemporary Confucius. He was us in form nor ideas,' was only a strong also a politician and philosopher, and de- protest against polytheism; and as he vised å scheme of policy, in which the neither sought to prove this truth, nor to patriarchial system was extended. The follow it out, but only applied it to existpower of the father was said to be supreme ing error, and endeavoured to reduce the in the family; and as society was but one superstition of the times to this standard, great family, of which the ruler was father, we are more disposed to look on him as a every man was under the same obligations reformer than as a philosopher. He kept to obey him, as children are to honour no school, but wandered for more than their parents. This doctrine was so ac- fifty years over the countries of the west, ceptable to the despots of China, that they preaching his one great truth, until the immediately sanctioned it, and fostered intolerance of his countrymen banished by their patronage, the polity and philo him from the society he sought to improve. sophy of Confucius have continued for There is not in the history of philosophy more that twenty-four centuries. It was a more melancholy spectacle than the close these peculiarities in the system of Pytha- of his life. Socrates is represented as goras-its studied mystery, the concealing making his departure amid the company of its doctrines from the many, and the of his friends, cheered by their sympathy, revealing of them only to the few, and and sustained by the hope of entering on the enlisting of the great and the wise a better state of being ; but Xenophanes only in his service that are so often is represented as a solitary exile, afflicted alluded to by the writers of the New Tes- with poverty and suffering from infirmity, tament, and contrasted with the scheme as repining at his fruitless efforts to learn of the gospel. Its great truths are called truth and expose error, till these clouded mysteries, but God is said to have hid his mind, and his wandering spirit sunk them from the wise and prudent, and re- in a hopeless death. In these circumvealed them to babes and children. It stances à brother poet describes him as was not the wise, the mighty, and the thus bewailing his lot~ O that mine were noble that were called, but the foolish, the the deep mind, patient and looking to both weak, and the mean; and it is not to the sides. Long have I wandered on the road few, but the many, that the gospel is of error beguiled, and am now hoary of preached ; for it pleased God to save men years, yet exposed to doubt of all kinds; and regenerate society by the apparently for wherever I turn I am lost in the one foolish means of publicly proclaiming and all. He was an interesting specimen the truth to the multitude. The success of a class of men who were probably more which has attended the faithful preaching numerous than we now believe them to of the gospel in every land, furnishes an have been, men who earnestly desired to abundant proof, that in this, as in every see and did not see the things which we other instance, the supposed foolishness | have seen and heard. Of all the ancient of God's plans are always superior to the philosophers, he was the most opposed to seeming wisdom of man's.
polytheism, but his theology was too abThe next distinguished name in the his- stracted, its mysterious one was to him but tory of philosophy was Xenophanes of an ideal being without any attribute that Elea, the founder of the Eleatic school. could stimulate his faith or hope; so that He believed in the great truth taught by if his hostility to polytheism never relaxed the other schools, that there was a God, from the hatred of a confirmed passion, but he made no attempt to prove it. Thé his conviction of one God scarcely reached Ionian school had chosen the elements as the conviction of a settled principle. It representatives of the Creator, and their is this peculiarity in his character which philosophy was but a materialism, in which gives him the singular position in history God and nature were confounded. The of being sometimes placed as the first of Italian school, preferring the mental to the the monotheists, and at others as the head material, reasoned about the unity, and of the atheists. His follower Parmenides, the all till the Creator and the creature be- perceiving that the Ionian or physical came mingled in the relation of a whole school, by following their senses only were and its parts. But Xenophanes was satis generally led into error, and that the fied with the conception of the unity, and Italian or mathematical school, by followthat unity he called God, without either ing their reason only, had also failed to
discover the truth, set himself to examine | ing Athens, that the Ionian philosophy both sides, and the result was another step was established as the reigning doctrine, in advance. He believed that as the cir- and that his own attempt to teach the cumstances of men were different, their Eleatic was universally ridiculed; but opportunities of judging were as varied as though stunned at first by the noisy oppotheir lot in life; and as each man would sition that everywhere met him, he soon form his opinions of things according as recovered himself, and changing his these appeared to himself, their opinions ground, he ceased to expound and defend would be as diverse as their circumstances. his own system, and commenced to attack Besides, as in judging by the senses, men that of his opponents; hence, as prose suited could only give a verdict upon such things | his purpose better than poetry, he was the as were manifest to the sense, therefore | first to introduce that method of treating the infinitely great and the infinitely small scientific subjects. Also, as in his debates being beyond their reach, the senses could he made the attack, and endeavoured to never be a perfect or proper guide to men. expose error by exhibiting its absurdity, On the other hand, as man's reason was this led him to be careful in the arrangethe result of his superior organization, and | ment and expression of his own thoughts, as the organization of all men were alike, and taught his opponents to be more caretherefore reason in all was essentially the ful in theirs, and thus this gifted polemic same, hence it was a better guide; and as made reasoning a science, and introduced the reason of every man led him to believe | a more accurate method of thinking and in a supreme being, that belief, being natu- 1 speaking. With Zeno dogmatic philoral to man, must be true. This was a bold sophy ended, and dialectics or the art of step, to assume at once that the idea of a reasoning began; but as he was more disdivinity was natural to man, and that the tinguished as a debater than as a thinker, existence of God was a necessary truth. he rather taught men how they were to The teachers of the other schools had argue, than what they were to believe. tasked themselves to find such a. proof as Besides, as his vocation was rather that of would carry them across the gulf that lay the opponent of error than the advocate between them and the certainty of God's of truth, he only exploded the opinions of being. The Ionians sought to fill it up others, without establishing any of his own; with their material causes, and found none so that on the whole the first result of his of sufficient magnitude; the Italians sought labours was more favourable to scepticism to calculate the distance, and found no than science. thing that could measure it; Xenophanes Men had now discovered that there was fearlessly leaped the chasm, and hung a First Cause, and that he was a spiritual trembling on the brink with no support intelligence; but the teachers of the three save his yielding faith ; but Parmenides primary schools were unable to throw any discovered that man's reason had been more light on the mystery of God's being. given him, like seraph's wings, to mark The human intellect appears to have been his high order in the scale of being, and unable to go any farther into the interior to waft him over every difficulty that lay l of truth; so what was yet unexplored was between him and the assurance of a divi- left in darkness, and that which had been nity. It was a valuable discovery that the discovered soon became clouded with assurance of a Supreme Being was but the doubt. At this point in the progress of natural element of man's reason, and that knowledge human reason may well pause, his reason pointed out this truth as clearly to muse over its weakness, to bury its as the foot, the fin, and the wing point out pride, and to bless the grace that has now the elements to which other creatures be given to man that which the eve hath long. Zeno of Elea, the disciple of Par not seen, nor the ear heard, neither hath menides, endeavoured to propagate this it entered unto the heart of man to contruth, but unhappily his lot fell on evil ceive. times. He was the first who taught men Ancient philosophy was dogmatic, barto reason, and invented the first outlines ring all inquiry and silencing all disputes of logic. The Chinese say, 'That the hu with the maxim, “The master has said man feelings, when exited, become articu- so;' but with Zeno dialectics began, and late in words; when words fail to express men refused to be any longer led in the them, sighs or inarticulate tones succeed ; leading-strings of a blind faith. Other and when these are inadequate, then re- masters gave forth other opinions, so that course is had to song. This sentiment school was pitted against school, and the appears to have been very general amongst voice of truth was drowned in the baball" the ancient nations, for their first lings and contentions of science falsely so thoughts are always breathed in poetry: called.' Democritus laughed at all existand all the early philosophy of Greece, ing opinions, and taught that the world down to the time of Zeno, was but a few was composed of atoms which had a selffragments of songs. He found, on visit- acting power, and that these, combining of themselves, formed all things as they from India, and as the national vanity of are. His disciple Protagoras followed up the Greeks would lead them to adopt this this opinion, and believing in a self-made opinion, because it not only gave a more and self-governed world, he denied both a dignified origin to their philosophy, but Creator and a Providence. Having gone deprived the neighbouring nations of the thus far, he next published a treatise, in honour of contributing to it, we do not which he ventured to confess that he was attach much weight to these traditions. unable to arrive at any knowledge whether But we cannot so easily dismiss the reports there are any Gods or no,' and for this of a correspondence between the first sentiment he was banished from Athens. philosophers, for though the reports of He was the first of a class called Sophists, their travels were pruned of all that is or 'the wise. This class professed to teach fabulous or doubtful, yet enough would all knowledge for a gratuity, and while remain to prove that they did travel far pretending to know every thing, were into other lands to acquire knowledge; and suspected to believe nothing. But as the though thie resemblance between the spefate of their teachers made them cautious culations of the East and West is not of in their attacks on the national supersti- itself sufficient to prove a relationship, tions, they speedily acquired great popu- yet the proof does not rest on such a larity in the city. This was but the solitary evidence, but on the truth of a natural result of the circumstances we resemblance combined with other evidence. have described. Philosophy had tried to Besides, though we admit that much of find out God, and failed, and men, dissa- the philosophy of both places may have tisfied and disappointed, protested against been spontaneous, we have still to account all truth as uncertain, and all faith as a for the fact that it sprung up in both delusion. Then a shallow sophistry set places at the same time. To ascribe this itself up as the monitor of society, and its simultaneous origin to a common want, is hired teachers sold their superficial know- not a sufficient explanation of the causes ledge for wisdom. But while this prating that led society at this time to feel its scepticism was contending with a dogged want. Such a general want could only be superstition for the mastery, and when the effect of an equally general cause, science and religion hung trembling in whether we can discover that cause or no. the balance, Socrates appeared, to bring We admit that abuses bring reform, and down philosophy from the regions of that necessity prompts invention; and if cloudland, and to place it in the domains we had no evidence that any other agency of common sense, and its day broke and was at work, we might have ascribed the its dawn passed away.
movement to a reaction in the public mind We may now pause to notice the in against superstition. But when civil quiry as to the original source of the history clearly indicates that there was at philosophy of the West. It is generally this time a great change in society, and believed to have had its origin in the when sacred history as plainly teaches East, and this opinion is supported by the that God was at this time using efficient following reasons. It was in its eastern means to destroy existing error, we are colonies that the Greek mind first de- unwilling to ignore the agency of the Jews veloped itself, and it was to the East that in producing this reaction, and look on all the traditions of the country pointed the dispersion as one of the chief causes as the source of its knowledge. This of the decline of idolatry, and of the dawn opinion is also supported by the reports of of better times. a correspondence between the first philo- In our previous remarks in a former sophers of the East and West, and by Number, on the history of the East, we the evidences of a resemblance between endeavoured to show how the spirit of protheir speculations. However, it is main pagandism in the monarchs of Assyria and tained by other writers—that these tradi- Chaldea tended to prevent the superstitions are not of much weight—that the tion of the East from taking root, and to accounts of the travels of the first philo- prepare society for any change; and sophers are extremely fabulous—that the how well adapted these wide-spread' kingevidence of a resemblance between the doms were for spreading any truth that early speculations of the East and West might be then discovered or revealed; and is not of itself sufficient to prove a rela- that as the tribes of the West were not tionship—that it is most probable that the subjected to this influence, they would be systems of both were the spontaneous pro- less prepared for any reform. We also ductions of their own localities—and that endeavoured to illustrate how the dispertheir simultaneous origin may be easily sion of the Jews brought their creed and accounted for from the prevalence of a customs into contact with prevailing error, common want. Now, as these traditions and spread the knowledge of the true God of an eastern origin do not seem to be wide as the dominions of Babylon, and any older than the return of Alexander far as the dispersed of Israel. It may be