« PreviousContinue »
The concept (évvoca) was produced from the impressions by generalization, which might be either spontaneous and unconscious, giving rise to common ideas or natural anticipations (κoιναι έννοιαι, έμφυτοι προλήψεις), or it might be conscious and methodical, giving rise to artificial concepts. In entire opposition to Plato they held that the individual object alone had real existence; the universal, the general term, existed only in the mind as subjective thought. The truth or falsehood of these impressions and conceptions depended on their possession of το καταληπτικόν, the power of carrying conviction. An impression which was not merely assented to, but forced itself irresistibly on the mind, was a καταληπτική φαντασία a perception that has a firm grasp of reality'. The same irresistible evidence attaches to a apóanyes, but artificial concepts required to have their truth proved by being connected with one or other of these criteria. The ten Categories of Aristotle were reduced by the Stoics to four, (1) the substratum, tÒ ÚTOKeluevov, (2) the essential quality, To Tokov, (3) the condition, To Tos xov, (4) the relation, το πρός τι πως έχον.
The physical theory of the Stoics is a pantheistic materialism. The only real existences are such as can act and be acted upon, and these are bodies, for like can
1 Zeno compared the simple impression or sensation (pavraola) to the touching of an object with the outstretched fingers; the mental assent which follows (ouykatá€ols) to a half closure of the hand upon the object; the distinct apprehension (katáanyes) to a tight grasp; knowledge itself to the grasping of the fist by the other hand, so as to keep it more firmly closed.
2 Cicero's renderings of the above technical terms are as follows: φαντασία υisum, κoιναι έννοιαι communes motiones, έμφυτοι προλήψεις insitae anticipationes, karálnyus comprehensio, ouykatádeous assensio. i Not only substances, but feelings and attributes were regarded as corporeal. Thus the virtues, and even the seasons of the year, were called animals or bodies. These paradoxical modes of speech were explained by saying, that virtue denoted a certain tension or elasticity (róvos) of the psychical element, ether; that when we speak of summer, we mean air of a certain temperature, &c.
only act on like'. But these bodies are not moved simply by mechanical laws, as Democritus supposed. The whole universe is an embodied spiritual force, of which we may call one part passive, one part active, but all is alike material. The active portion is soul, a fiery ether pervading the whole, but having its principal seat in the heaven which encompasses it on every side; the passive portion consists mainly of the inferior elements, water and earth. These latter proceed from the former and are periodically reabsorbed into it in the world-conflagration. The universe itself, as a perfect living creature, is rightly called God, but the name is more particularly given to the soul of the universe, who is also known by many descriptive appellations, Rational or Artistic Fire (Tüp voepov, TÚP TEXvikóv), All-penetrating Air, Spirit, Reason, Nature, Providence, Destiny, Law, Necessity, the Ruling Principle (TÒ vyepovikov), and, with reference to his creative and ‘informing' power, the Generative Reason (Wóyos otepuaτικός). TLKÓS). The gods of the popular religion represented different activities of the one true Deity. Thus Zeus, one God under many names as Cleanthes calls him, is denominated Hera, when we think of him as pervading the air, Poseidon as pervading water, Demeter as pervading earth : again Demeter is the name we give to Zeus when we think of him as the giver of corn, Dionysus, when we think of him as the giver of wine.
The foolish or immoral stories told by the poets were explained as allegories intended to convey some moral or physical truth. For instance, when Hera is represented as suspended by a gold chain from heaven with weights round her feet εν αιθέρι και νεφέλησιν, this is interpreted to mean the order of nature binding the four elements together. The human soul is an emanation from Deity, and is often spoken of as the God within us”. Although it outlives the body, it will only retain its individual existence till the next conflagration, and that only in the case of the wise. The stars being made of pure fire are divine.
In all this we see the influence of Heraclitus, who was much quoted by the Stoics; but in their distinction between the active and passive elements of the universe they probably had in mind the Aristotelian distinction between Form and Matter, only substituting for the mysterious attraction exercised on Matter by the transcendent First Form of Aristotle, the quickening influence of an ever-active all-pervading Spirit. They agreed with Aristotle also in holding the unity, finiteness and sphericity of the world, but, unlike hin, considered that there was an unlimited void beyond it. That which was peculiarly Stoical was the strong moral colouring which they gave to their materialistic system. The all-pervading fire was at the same time the all-seeing Providence, who creates and governs all things for the best ends, and makes each several existence, each several fact, conspire together for the good of the whole. It is the privilege of
1 Heracl. Alleg. Hom. p. 463 Gale.
2 See Seneca Epp. 31 and 41, and other passages quoted in Zeller III. 1. p. 3193.
man to be able knowingly and willingly to act as a
άγου δε μ ω Ζεύ, και συ γ η Πεπρωμένη,
κακός γενόμενος, ουδέν ήττον έψομαι.
The stages of rational development in the individual were thus described. The first impulse in every animal is to its own self-preservation. This appetite manifests itself in little children before any pleasure or pain is felt. We begin by loving our own vitality; and we come, by association, to love what promotes our vitality; we hate destruction or disablement, and we come to hate whatever produces that effect. But these prima naturae are not good in themselves, and there is nothing virtuous in the effort to attain them. It is only as the dawning reason of the youth becomes conscious of a wider nature of which his own nature is a part, and of a higher Reason revealing itself in the order and harmony of nature and of human society, that the true Good becomes possible for him, not in the attainment of those primary ends, but in the right choice of the means by which to attain them. And the right choice is one which is always in accordance with reason and with nature. If he takes the right course, whether he attains those lower ends or not, he has attained the highest end of man, the true Bonum or Honestum. Just as the archer's excellence is shown in aiming rightly, and there is no independent value in the mere act of hitting the target; so there is no independent value in those prima naturae; the acting in accordance with nature is all in all?. One who has thus learnt to live in accordance with nature is atrapkńs, in need of nothing. He alone is free, for he has all he wishes : his will is one with the universal Will. “External good, external evil are matters of indifference (adiápopa): intrinsically and in themselves they are neither bad nor good, though they may become such according to the manner in which they are used. Nothing can be called really good which is not always and under all circumstances good. What are commonly regarded as goods, such as wealth, station, &c., only provide the field in which virtue is to exercise itself;
1 Cf. Diog. L. VΙΙ. 88 τέλος γίγνεται το ακολούθως τη φύσει ζην, όπερ έστι κατά τε την αυτού και κατά την τών όλων, and Cic. De Of.
% This was called the prima conciliatio naturae, ý a pútn olkelwols, see Cic. Fin. III 16 with Madvig's note.