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It has already been observed that the thoughts of Socrates were thrown into shape for and by communication, that they only became definite when brought into vivifying contact with another intelligence. Such was especially the case with his method of ethical dialectic. Instead of tendering his advice in the form of a lecture, as other moralists have at all times been so fond of doing, he sought out some pre-existing sentiment or opinion inconsistent with the conduct of which he disapproved, and then gradually worked round from point to point, until theory and practice were exhibited in immediate contrast. Here, his reasoning, which is sometimes spoken of as exclusively inductive, was strictly syllogistic, being the application of a general law to a particular instance. With the growing emancipation of reason, we may observe a return to the Socratic method of moralisation. Instead of rewards and punishments, which encourage selfish calculation, or examples, which stimulate a mischievous jealousy when they do not create a spirit of servile imitation, the judicious trainer will find his motive power in the pupil鈥檚 incipient tendency to form moral judgments, which, when reflected on the155 individual鈥檚 own actions, become what we call a conscience. It has been mentioned in the preceding chapter that the celebrated golden rule of justice was already enunciated by Greek moralists in the fourth century B.C. Possibly it may have been first formulated by Socrates. In all cases it occurs in the writings of his disciples, and happily expresses the drift of his entire philosophy. This generalising tendency was, indeed, so natural to a noble Greek, that instances of it occur long before philosophy began. We find it in the famous question of Achilles: 鈥楧id not this whole war begin on account of a woman? Are the Atreidae the only men who love their wives?鈥99 and in the now not less famous apostrophe to Lycaon, reminding him that an early death is the lot of far worthier men than he100鈥攗tterances which come on us with the awful effect of lightning flashes, that illuminate the whole horizon of existence while they paralyse or destroy an individual victim.

In criticising the Stoic system as a whole, the New Academy and the later Sceptics had incidentally dwelt on sundry absurdities which followed from the materialistic interpretation of knowledge; and Plotinus evidently derived some of his most forcible objections from their writings; but no previous philosopher that we know of had set forth the whole case for spiritualism and against materialism with such telling effect. And what is, perhaps, more important than any originality in detail, is the profound insight shown in choosing this whole question of spiritualism versus materialism for the ground whereon the combined forces of Plato and Aristotle were to fight their first battle against the naturalistic system which had triumphed over them five centuries before. It was on dialectical and ethical grounds that the controversy between Porch and Academy, on ethical and religious grounds that the controversy between Epicureanism and all other schools of philosophy, had hitherto been conducted. Cicero and Plutarch never allude to their opponents as materialists. Only once, in his polemic against Col?tes, does Plutarch observe that neither a soul nor anything else could be made out of atoms, but this is because they are discrete, not because they are extended.446 For the rest, his method is to trip up his opponents by pointing out their inconsistencies, rather than to cut the ground from under their feet by proving that their theory of the universe is wrong..
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The profit reaped by Aristotle from the connexion seems equally doubtful. Tradition tells us that enormous sums of money were spent in aid of his scientific researches, and a whole army of crown servants deputed to collect information287 bearing on his zoological studies. Modern explorations, however, have proved that the conquests of Alexander, at least, did not, as has been pretended, supply him with any new specimens; nor does the knowledge contained in his extant treatises exceed what could be obtained either by his own observations or by private enquiries. At the same time we may suppose that his services were handsomely rewarded, and that his official position at the Macedonian Court gave him numerous opportunities for conversing with the grooms, huntsmen, shepherds, fishermen, and others, from whom most of what he tells us about the habits of animals was learned. In connexion with the favour enjoyed by Aristotle, it must be mentioned as a fresh proof of his amiable character, that he obtained the restoration of Stageira, which had been ruthlessly destroyed by Philip, together with the other Greek cities of the Chalcidic peninsula.?
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To appreciate the labours of Plotinus, we must, first of all, compare his whole philosophic method with that of his predecessors. Now, Zeller himself has shown quite clearly that in reach of thought, in power of synthesis, in accuracy of reasoning, not one of these can be compared to the founder of Neo-Platonism for a single moment.507 We may go still further and declare with confidence that no philosopher of equal speculative genius had appeared in Hellas since Chrysippus, or, very possibly, since Aristotle. The only ground for disputing his claims to take rank with the great masters of Hellenic thought seems to be that his system culminates on the objective side in something which lies beyond existence, and on the subjective side in a mystical ecstasy which is the negation of reason. We have shown, however, that if the One is represented as transcending reality, so also is the Idea of Good which corresponds to it in Plato鈥檚 scheme; and that343 the One is reached if not grasped by a process of reasoning which, although unsound, still offers itself as reasoning alone, and moves in complete independence of any revelation or intuition such as those to which the genuine systems of mysticism so freely resort.!
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The rules which Aristotle gives us for the conversion of propositions are no doubt highly instructive, and throw great light on their meaning; but one cannot help observing that such a process as conversion ought, on his own principles, to have been inadmissible. With Plato, the copulation of subject and predicate corresponded to an almost mechanical juxtaposition of two self-existent ideas. It was, therefore, a matter of indifference in what order they were placed. Aristotle, on the other hand, after insisting on the restoration of the concrete object, and reducing general notions to an analysis of its particular aspects, could not but make the predicate subordinate to, and dependent on, the subject鈥攁 relation which altogether excludes the logical possibility of making them interchangeable with one another.275.
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