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Art. 1.-REVIEW, HISTORICAL AND CRITICAL, OF THE DIFFERENT SYSTEMS
OF SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY :*
OR, INTRODUCTION TO A MORE COMPREHENSIVE SYSTEM.
THE SOCIOLOGY OF TIIE GREEKS CONSIDERED-THE IDEAS OF PLATO, ARISTOTLE, AND POLYBIUS, CRIT
ICALLY EXAMINED-THE FAMOUS REMARKS OF SOLON AND ANACHARSIS, THE SCYTHIAN, BRIEFLY COMMENTED UPON-SOME REMARKS ON THE CONSTITUTIONS OF SPARTA AND ATIIENS, AND OX THEIR FAMOUS LAWGIVERS, LYCURGUS AND SOLON-CONCLUDING GENERAL OBSERVATION.
THE Greeks, as they were the first European nation to cultivate science, were also the first, in point of eminence, in scientific as well as literary attainment, among the earlier nations of Europe, and indeed among all the ancient nations. As it has been said of the modern Germans, so it may be said of the ancient Greeks, that they have left no field of literature or science unexplored. Among such a people, as might reasonably be supposed, the science of Sociology did not escape a searching investigation, at least in some of its departments. It must be admitted, however, that their sociological ideas were rather crude and imperfect, and, as the earlier ideas in every science are apt to be, for the most part, superficial.
The Social Philosophy of the Greeks was predicated, almost entirely, upon the idea that the social welfare of mankind is to be attributed to political causes. With this view, they prosecuted inquiries into the science of Politics with great zeal, and, in so far as the fundamental principles of government are concerned, with considerable success, though with
• Entered according to an act of Congress, in the year 1859, by Geo. W. &JNO. A. Wood, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, for the southern district of New York.
+ ERRATA, Owing to the miscarriage of the author's revised proof of the previous article of this review, some typographical errors occurred that are worthy of note. On page 661, last line, " Dr. Maistre " was published for De Maistre; on page 671, sixth line, " Kamayana" for Ramayana; on page 604, seventeenth line of second paragraph, " Superior" for Supreme; on page 665, last line,
commonest" for communist; and other errors occurred, which, though very slight errors of type, prodace very serious errors as to signification, and impediments as to the force of the author's language.
very unsatisfactory results, in respect to the structure and organization of government.
An eminent author, the Abbe Barthelemi, better known as Anacharsis,* has observed that “two great questions employ the attention of the philosophers of Greece; the one concerning the manner in which the universe is governed, the other on the mode in which men ought to be governed.” It is to this latter question that the Social Philosophy of the Greeks addressed itself almost exclusively. It considered with great particularity, and some measure of.sagacity, how men ought to be governed, but gave little or no attention to the question how they can be rendered comfortable.
The failure of the Grecian philosophers to consider the latter question resulted partly, no doubt, and in a great measure, from their disposition to depreciate and despise the wants of the body, and to aim chiefly at the elevation of the qualities of the soul. But it resulted, also, to a large extent, from their ignorance of the truth, that good government does not by any means necessarily insure the comfort or general welfare of the community. They did not progress far enough, either experimentally or speculatively, in Social Philosophy, to ascertain that even after good government has been secured, there yet remains a great deal to be done to insure a perfect social state, or one in which every member of the community is in a condition (as to material comfort) fit for the healthful enjoyment of rational existence. They failed, therefore, to discover those great fundamental laws of Sociology which tend at once to secure good government, and the social welfare of the governed, and without which it would be in vain, or at least of little avail, to give to a people the best of governments.
Nor is it to be wondered at that even the greatest philosophers of Greece should have been blinded as to the ulterior and more fundamental causes of social prosperity, and been induced to attach undue importance to governmental causes, in view of the wretched systems of government which prevailed in almost every part of Greece during their times. Political science was then in its infancy; and the Greeks were not a people whose genius was so well adapted as that of the modern Anglo-Saxons to work out the great problem, which so much engaged their attention, what is the best government for a State ; which, whatever confused and inaccurate ideas the Grecian philosophers or others may have entertained respecting it, cannot perhaps be more correctly defined than as that government which insures stability and order in the State, with the least sacrifice to the individual liberty of the citizens; or, in other words, as that government which renders a very large share of individual liberty, consistent with order and stability in the industrial as well as the political affairs of the State.
This problem, indeed, was not one of very easy solution. Mankind arrive at perfection, or rather at proficiency, in government, as they do in the mechanical arts, only by long teaching and rigid discipline in the severe school of experience. From the rude attempt of the Cretan sage to give to his people a model government, some 1,200 years before the Christian era, the struggle for this perfection of government may be traced in
* It may be superfluous to remark that the Abbe Barthelemi, a French Josuit of the eighteenth century, was the author of the work which has attained so much celebrity as “The Travels of Anacharsis," which was first published in 1788.
its onward course, through many nations, and under various circumstances
-now advancing, and then retrograding, but on the whole decidedly progressing, in its long career, for the period of some 3,000 years, down to the 4th day of March, A. D., 1789, when the American system of government was established by the inauguration of the federal constitution, and the federal government commenced its operation under the administration of GEORGE WASHINGTON.
In the commencement of this great and protracted struggle, which took its rise in Greece, political ideas were very rude and undigested. Politics in Greece may indeed be said to have been in a state of chaos, even in the most enlightened period of their country. Having thrown off that patriarchal or kingly form of political organization, which prevails in the earlier age of every nation, the States of Greece had not been able to organize government upon the principles of republicanism, at which they aimed, upon any except very rude and disorderly bases. Politics in Greece were in a transition state, which was necessarily, to a great extent, a state of disorder and confusion.
The political systems of Greece, scarcely excepting that of Sparta, which was decidedly the best of them all, were remarkably rude, imperfect, and defective. The principle of representation, indispensable to the operations of the republican system, upon any enlarged plan, was almost wholly unrecognized by them, except in the case of the ordinary magistracy, of foreign ambassadors, and delegates to the Amphyctionic council. The idea of unity in the head of the executive department of government was unappreciated. The highest legislative and judicial authorities of the State were the primary assemblies of the people. There was no well-defined distinction between the legislative and judicial powers of the State, and still less between the fundamental, organic laws of the State and the ordinary statute laws. Indeed, the republics of Greece were not only without any distinctly recognized organic law, but also, to a great extent, without any well-defined code of jurisprudence ; so that the most fundamental questions of State, as well as those common questions which should be entirely referred to ordinary judicial tribunals, were decided, in many cases, by the legislative body, and that, too, the worst of all legislative bodies, the primary assembly of the people. 'Accordingly, we find Aristotle, in his celebrated treatise on Politics, gravely recommending that the supreme power of the State be lodged in laws duly enacted, rather than left to the caprice of any one man, or a few, or the many, as it the propriety of such a method admitted of the least possible doubt.
In such a crude and disorderly condition of Politics, it is obvious that deplorable mismanagement must have prevailed, and frequent disorders arisen. Nor need we wonder that almost every State in Greece was repeatedly the prey of a licentious democracy or a rapacious tyranny.
In view of the many great evils which undoubtedly resulted from the imperfect and positively defective political systems which generally prevailed in Greece, it was natural enough that it should be supposed, even by its wisest men, that were society relieved from these evils entirely, it would be relieved of all its important evils. Such, at least, seems to have been their supposition; and it may be safely asserted that the social phil. osophers of Greece, if they did not consider government as the essential or most prominent cause of the social ills of humanity, evidently supposed that it might be made the instrument for curing those ills, or rather that those ills required no other treatment than the administration of good government.
At any rate, this was the controlling, if not the exclusive, idea of the Social Philosophy of the Greeks. All their speculations on society were directed to the end of devising some plan of government that should constitute a perfect political system, or well-governed State. They were constantly aiming at the improvement of the State, rather than of the individuals composing the State. If indeed they aimed at the improvement of individuals, it was mainly with the view of thereby improving the State; thus sadly mistaking the proper aim of the political and social philosopher-a mistake, by the way, not confined to the Social Philosophy of Greece, though in a distinguished degree characteristic of their speculations, but one which has continued to the present time almost universally prevalent—a mistake, moreover, which, though it has been casually noticed by many, and emphatically denounced by a few, profound thinkers in later times, has never yet received the overwhelming and complete overthrow which a mistake so serious should long ago have received.
These general remarks on the Social Philosophy of the Greeks, and their imperfect political systems, might appear sufficient, in regard to the Sociology of Greece. But the discourses of some of the Grecian philosophers on government, and some of the actual governments of Greece, have acquired so great a celebrity, that some particular notice of them seems to be demanded by the character of our “ Review, Historical and Critical, of the different Systems of Social Philosophy.”
Of the Grecian philosophers who have written discourses on government, as, indeed, of those who have written upon any other branch of Philosophy, Plato and Aristotle were undoubtedly the most celebrated, and, if we except Polybius, who flourished some two centuries later, the most able and profound. The Republic of Plato, commonly styled “the Ideal Republic,” and the Politics of Aristotle, have indeed played such prominent parts in the subsequent discussions of mankind on government, that no one should claim to be well versed in the history of Social or Political Philosophy who has not some general acquaintance with the character and leading doctrines of these two celebrated works.
Plato's Republic, which, like most of his discourses, is written in the dialogue form, (Socrates, as usual, being the chief interlocutor, and uttering what may be regarded more particularly as the peculiar views of Plato,) seems to have for its leading object to ascertain what is justice, essentially considered, and more particularly what is real and essential justice in respect to the organization of society. To establish this principle of justice in a State, is obviously the grand desideratum of Sociology in the estimation of Plato.
After determining what justice is, and defining it, with much more profundity and philosophical precision than is usual, as the habitual practice of one's own proper and special work, be proceeds to inquire how this principle is to be made practically operative in a State. His reasoning on this point, though rather disjointed, and by no means, closely connected, may be logically summed up as follows:-As there are, in the human soul, three grand principles, the concupiscant, the irascible, and the rational, or, (as our professional phrenologists would most probably trans