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Epicurus was born 341 B.C., about the same time as Zeno the Stoic. Unlike all the other philosophers of his age, he was of Athenian parentage; that is to say, he belonged to a race of exclusively practical tendencies, and marked by a singular inaptitude or distaste for physical enquiries. His father, a poor colonist in Samos, was, apparently, not able to give him a very regular education. At eighteen he was sent to Athens, but was shortly afterwards obliged to rejoin his family, who were driven from Samos in 322, along with the other Athenian settlers, by a political revolution, and had taken refuge in Colophon, on the Asiatic coast. In the course of his wanderings, the future philosopher came across some public lecturers, who seem to have instructed him in the physics of Democritus, and perhaps also in the scepticism of Pyrrho; but of such a steady discipline as Plato passed through during his ten years intercourse with Socrates, Aristotle during his twenty years studies under Plato, and Zeno during his similarly protracted attendance at the various schools of Athens, there is no trace whatever. Epicurus always described himself as self-taught, meaning that his knowledge had been acquired by reading instead of by listening; and we find in him the advantages as well as the defects common to self-taught men in all agesconsiderable freshness and freedom from scholastic prejudices, along with a59 certain narrowness of sympathies, incompleteness of information, inaptitude for abstract reasoning, and last, but not least, an enormous opinion of his own abilities, joined to an overweening contempt for those with whose opinions he did not agree. After teaching for some time in Mityln, Epicurus established himself as the head of a school in Athens, where he bought a house and garden. In the latter he lectured and gathered round him a band of devoted friends, among whom women were included, and who were wont to assemble for purposes of social recreation not less than of philosophic discipline. Just before his death, which occurred in the year 270, he declared in a letter to his friend and destined successor Hermarchus, that the recollection of his philosophical achievements had been such a source of pleasure as to overcome the agonies of disease, and to make the last day the happiest of his life.121 For the rest, Epicurus secluded himself, on principle, from the world, and few echoes of his teaching seem to have passed beyond the circle of his immediate adherents. Thus, whatever opportunities might otherwise have offered themselves of profiting by adverse criticism were completely lost.122
The addition of a few questions at the end of each chapter, some of which are not answered in the text, it is thought will assist the main object of the work, which is to promote a habit of logical investigation on the part of learners.
And at the same moment he turned round and joined the others.The unhappy man bowed his head trembling,247 and with dull resignation he left the office, strongly escorted.
"What on earth," Balmayne began, "what on earth----"To get rid of superstitious beliefs was, no doubt, a highly meritorious achievement, but it had been far more effectually57 performed by the great pre-Socratic thinkers, Heracleitus, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, and Democritus. These men or their followers had, besides, got hold of a most important principlethe vital principle of all sciencewhich was the reign of law, the universality and indefeasibility of physical causation. Now, Epicurus expressly refused to accept such a doctrine, declaring that it was even worse than believing in the gods, since they could be propitiated, whereas fate could not.119 Again, Greek physical philosophy, under the guidance of Plato, had been tending more and more to seek for its foundation in mathematics. Mathematical reasoning was seen to be the type of all demonstration; and the best hopes of progress were staked on the extension of mathematical methods to every field of enquiry in turn. How much might be done by following up this clue was quickly seen not only in the triumphs of geometry, but in the brilliant astronomical discoveries by which the shape of the earth, the phases of the moon, and the cause of eclipses were finally cleared up and placed altogether outside the sphere of conjecture. Nor was a knowledge of these truths confined to specialists: they were familiar alike to the older Academy, to the Peripatetic, and to the Stoic schools; so that, with the exception of those who doubted every proposition, we may assume them to have been then, as now, the common property of all educated men. Epicurus, on the other hand, seems to have known nothing of mathematics, or only enough to dispute their validity, for we are told that his disciple Polyaenus, who had previously been eminent in that department, was persuaded, on joining the school, to reject the whole of geometry as untrue;120 while, in astronomy, he pronounced the heavenly bodies to be no larger than they appear to our senses, denied the existence of Antipodes, and put the crudest guesses of early philosophy on the same footing with the best-authenticated results of later observation. It is no wonder, then, that during the whole58 continuance of his school no man of science ever accepted its teaching, with the single exception of Asclepiades, who was perhaps a Democritean rather than a disciple of the Garden, and who, at any rate, as a physiologist, would not be brought into contact with its more flagrant absurdities.
course in English Literature. What an exquisite work it is,
We have assumed in our last remark that it is possible to discover some sort of chronological order in the Platonic Dialogues, and to trace a certain progressive modification in the general tenor of their teaching from first to last. But here also the positive evidence is very scanty, and a variety of conflicting theories have been propounded by eminent scholars. Where so much is left to conjecture, the best that can be said for any hypothesis is that it explains the facts according to known laws of thought. It will be for the reader to judge whether our own attempt to trace the gradual evolution of Platos system satisfies this condition. In making it we shall take as a basis the arrangement adopted by Prof. Jowett, with some reservations hereafter to be specified."You lured him to the Corner House and drugged him. You kept him prisoner."