John Burnet, Greek Philosophy Thales to Plato

Download John Burnet, Greek Philosophy Thales to Plato

Post on 22-Nov-2014

308 views

Category:

Documents

22 download

Embed Size (px)

TRANSCRIPT

MACMILLAN A N D CO., LIMlTsDLONDON'

BOMBAY

hlELBOVPNE

-

CILCUTTA

-

MADPIS

THE MACMILLAN COMPANYNEW l O R K . 80ST0V CHICAGO DALLAS ' S A N FRANCISCO

.

THE MACMILLAN CO. O F CANADA. LTD.TOEO%TO

GREEK PHILOSOPHYPART I

THALES TO PLAT0

BY

JOHN BURNET

MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED

ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON1928

COPYRIGHT

Pint Edition l i l l i Reprhtad 1020, 1024, 192%

PPINTSD IN GREAT BRITAIN

PREFACE

TFIE preparation o f this volume was undertaken someyears ago, b ~ i was interrupted by my work on the Lfxicon t Pl~tonicutn,which has proved a more formidable task than was at first anticipated. I have t o thank the editor of this series and the publishers for their generous indulgence in the circumstances. I t is unfortutiate in some respects that I have been obliged to deal with certain parts of the subject in a form which does tiot admit of detailed argunient atid still less o f controversy. T h e second edition of my Early Greek Phi/orophy (referred to as E. Gr. PI,.*) makes this in large measure unnecessary in Book I., but there are certain parts of Book 111. where I have had t o state my conclusions baldly in the hope that I may have a later opportunity of discussing their grounds. M y chief aim for the present has been t o assist students who wish to acquire a firsthand knowledge of what Plato actually says in the dialogues of his maturity. So long as they are content t o know something o f the Republic and the earlier dialogues, Platonism must be a sealed book t o them. I have not thought it well to present Greek names in a Latin dress. I see no advantage, and many disadvantages, in writing Herakleltos as Heraclirus. I t often leads to his being called out of his name, as the Emperor Herakleios

vi

PREFACE

usually is when disguised as Herarlius. O n the other hand, the Latin titles of Plato's dialogues are English words. Theaitetos of Athens is best left with the beautiful name chosen for him by his father Euphronios, but the" Th~aetetusis as much English as Thessalonians. W e shall never, i t seems, reach agreement o n this matter ; I onlv wish t o explain my own practice. I have to thank my friend and former colleague, Sir Henry Jones, for many valuable suggestions and, above all, for his constant encouragement. Mr. Hetherington o f Glasgow University was good enough to verify most of my references, and the proofs have been carefully read by M r . W. L. Lorimer, Lecturer in Greek at the University of St. Andrews. F o r the imperfections which remain I am solely responsible.

CONTENTS INTRODUCTION-

-

-

-

- - - -

3,ac5

1

BOOK I. T H E I O N I A N S-

THE WORLD

CHAPTER I

-

-

-

Miletos - - - - The Breakdown of Ianiarl Civilisation Religion - - - Enlightenment - - CHAPTER I1

-

-

PYTHAGORASThe Problem Life and Doctrine Music - Medicine Numbers

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

CHAPTER I11

HERAKLEITOS AND PARMENIDES 13erakleitosParmenides -

-

-

-

-

-

-

VIII

...

CONTENTSCHAPTER IV

THEPLURALISTSEtnpedoklesAnaxagoras-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

7AC.X

69

7' 76

CHAPTER V

ELEATICS I'YTHAGOREANS AND ZelloMelissos

-

.

-

The Later Pythagoreans

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Qz 82 85 8i

LEURIPFOS

-

CHAPTER VI

-

-

94

BOOK II. KATOWLEDGE AND CONDUCTCHAPTER VII

THESOPHISTS-

-

LawsndNatureThe'LSopl~ists"- ProtagorasHippiasandProdikos Gorgias - - Eclectics and Reactionaries

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

105

roS107 I10

-

-

118119122

CHAPTER VIII

THE LIFE SOKRATES OF -

Theproblem ThePlatonicSokratesAristophanes and Xenophon -

-

-

-

-

126 I26 128r44

CONTENTSCHAPTER 1X

IX

THE PHILOSOPHY O F SOKKATES The Associates of Sokrates The Forms - . Goodness -

-

-

-

-

-

CHAPTER X

'THE TRIALD DEATHF SOKRATES AN OThe The The The The Condemnation Alleged Offence Real Offence Pretext Death of Sokrates-

-

.

-

-

-

-

CHAPTER XI

BOOK III.

PLAT0

CHAPTER XI1

PLATO N D A

THE

ACADEMY -

.-

Plato'sEarlyLife - Foundation of the Academy Plata and Isokrates The Methods of the Academy The Programme of Studies Eukleides and Plato -

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

.

-

x

CONTENTSCHAPTER XI11

CHAPTER XIV

CHAPTER X V

P O L I T I C S --

-

Thestatesman Plato and Dionysios TheLawsEducation-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

CHAPTER X V I

THE HILOSOPHY P OF NUMBERS-

-

I. Farms, Mathematicals and Setlsibles11. The One and the Indeterminate Dyad ThePhilebusCHAPTER XVIl

-

-

-

2

INTRODUCTION

upon him, the grounds of which can only he represented very imperfectly by a number of references in a footnote. Unless the enumeration o f passages is complete-and it can never be complete-and unless each passage tells exactly in the same way, which depends on its being read in the light o f innumerable other passages not consciously present to memory, the so-called proofs will not produce the same effect on any two minds. T h a t is the sense in which philological inquiry, like every other inquiry, requires an act of faith. I t is clear, however, that no one whose experience has not been identical can be called on t o repeat this act after another, and for this reason professed histories of philosophy are often more of a hindrance than a help. They seem only to interpose another obstacle where there are obstacles enough already. But though a history o f philosophy is impossible, there are some humbler tasks that can in a measure be performed, and of which the performance may help t o prepare the way for a more direct vision. In the first place, there are certain external matters that may be determined with considerable accuracy and which are not without importa~lce. W e are more likely to understand a philosopher rightly if we know the time he lived at and the surroundings that may have helped to shape his thought, even though these can never wholly explain him. I t is particularly useful to know what other philosophers he was acquainted with, either directly or through their writings. In the second place, the development of Greek philosophy depends on the progress of scientific, and especially mathematical, discovery more than on anything else, and it is possible to ascertain pretty accurately the stage Greek science had reached by a given time. T h e records are full, and, when critically used, trustworthy. I t is for these reasons that this work deals so largely with matters which may appear at first t o lie outside the province of philosophy. T h a t is, in fact, its chief justification. I t is an attempt to lead the render to the right point of view, from which he may then see for h~mself. Lastly,

YYTIlOLOGY

3

there is what may be called the cathartic or purgative function o f history. T h e greatest of all the obstacles we have to surmount is just the mass of scholastic explanation and dogma which so soon overwhelm the teaching of any original genius. T o clear that away is perhaps the greatest service that can be rendcred i l l this field. W e d o not wish to see Plato with the eyes of Aristotle, or even of Plotinos, but if possiblc, face to face, and anyone who can help us here deserves our thanks. I t may seem a purely negative service, but that lies in the nature of the case. 111 the long run the positive coostruction must be left to the individual student, and no two studellts will see quite alike. All the historian cat] d o is to point the way, and warn others off tracks which have already been found to lead nowhere. Even this, however, implies that we know already what philosophy is, and clearly, unless we have'some notion of that, we shall be in danger o f losing the thread of our story. W e can nevertheless dispense with such a definition as would be applicable to the philosophy of all ages and peoples, for we shall find a pretty clear notion of what philosophy was during the Helleilic period emerging as we g o on. This will at least do justice to one aspect of the suhject, and that the one we are immediately concerned with. I t will be convenient to state at once, however, that for the purpose of this work, I n ~ e a n by philosophy all Plato meant by it, and nothing he did not mean by it. T h e latter point is important ; for it means that philosophy is not mythology, and, on the other hand, that it is not positive science, however closely it may be related to both of these.

I n the first place, philosophy is not n~ythology. I t is true that there is plenty of mythology ill Plat(,, and we shall have to consider the mcanillg of that later. I t is aiso true that we shall have to take account from the first

4

INTRODUCTION

of a mass of cosmogonical and eschatological speculation which influenced philosophy in many ways. These things, however, are not themselves philosophy, and it cannot even be said that they are the germ from which philosophy developed. I t is important t o be quite clear about this; for in some quarters Oriental cosmogonies are still paraded as the source of Greek philosophy. T h e question is not one o f cosmogonies at all. T h e Greeks themselves had cosmogonies long before the days of Thales, and the Egyptians and Babylonians had cosmogonies that may he older still. Even savages have cosmogonies, and they are nearly as advanced as those of more c~vilisedpeoples. I t is possible, though it has certainly not been proved, that the oldest Greek cosmogonies, or some o f them, came from Egypt or Babylon. I t is still more probable that systems such as that o f Pherekydes have preserved fragments of '< Minoan" speculation, which may be o f indefinite antiquity. These things, however, have nothing directly to d o with philosophy. From the Platonic point of view, there can be no philosophy where there is no rational science. I t is true that not much is required-a few propositions of elementary geometry will d o to begin withbut ratiollal science o f some sort there must be. Now rational science is the creation of the Greeks, and we know when it began. W e d o not couut as philosophy anything anterior to that.

I t is true, o f course, that science originated at the time when commutlication with Egypt and Babylon was easiest, and just where the influence of these countries was likely t o he felt, and it is a perfectly fair inference that this had something t o d o with its rise. O n the other hand, the very fact that for two o r three generations Greek science remained in some respects at a very primitive stage affords the strongest presumption that what came to Hellas from Egypt and Babylon was not really rational science. I f the

EGYPTIAN SCIENCE

5

Egyptians had possessed anything that could rightly be called mathematics, i t is hard to understand how it was left for Pythagoras and his followers to establish the most elementary propositions in plane geometry; and, if the Babylonians had really any conception of the planetary system, it is not easy to see why the Greeks had to discover bit by bit the true shape of the earth and the explanation of eclipses. It is clear that these thillgs were not known at Babylon ; they were gradually worked out in South Italy, where we can hardly assume Oriental influences. O f course everythitlg depends on what we mean by scicnce. If we are prepared to give that name to an elaborate record of celestial phenomena made for purposes of divination, then the Babylonians had science and' the Greeks borrowed it from them. Or, if we are prepared to call rough rules o f thumb for measuring fields and pyramids science, then the Egyptians had science, and it came from them to Ionia. But, if we mean by science what Coperrlicus and Galileo and Kepler, and Leibniz and Newton meant, there is not the slightest trace of that in Egypt o r even in Babylon, while the very earliest Greek ventures are unmistakably its forerunners. Modern science begins just where Greek science left off, and its development is clearly t o be traced from Thales to the present day. Copernicus says himself that he was put on the track by what he read of the Pythagoreans in the Plncifn ascribed to Plotarch.' T h e only remains that have come down to us show that the Egyptians were not without a certain ingenuity in the solution of particular arithmetical and geometrical problems, but there is not the slightest trace of anything like general methods? I f inconvenient remainders occur, they are simply dropped. In the same way, the rulesP ' E . Gr. Ph.e p. 349, s t. It W ~ "the Pythagorean doctrine, taught . also by Nicolar Copcinicus," that war condemned by the Congregation of the Index in 1616. *For the Rhind papyrus, see E. Gr. PA2 pp. zz &, and, for a later discussion, sce v. Disring in Neur JahrbUchtr, xrv. (rgtz), pp. 81 ff.

6

INTRODUCTION

given for reducing triangles to rectangles are only correct if the triangles are right-angled, though those given in the diagrams are appnrently meant to he equilateral. I n fact the whole system resenihles the rough and ready methods o f the Roman agrinzensorej far more than anything we. should call scientific. Nor is there the slightest ground for the statement sometimes made that the Egyptians had a more highly developed geometry which they guardedas a mystery. T h a t is based mainly on the story that Plato went to Memphis to study under the priests, a story for which there is no good evidence. In any case we know Plato's opinion of Egyptian mathematics, and it is that there was all element of illiberality in it due to its preoccupation with merely practical ends? I t is stated that, though hexagons are common on the Egyptian monuments, the pentagon is never found? If that is so, it is very significant. Anyone call make hexagons, but the construction of the regular pentilgon is a different matter. W e shall see that it was known to the Pythagore:ltis, to whom the pentagon was of interest as the side o f the regular dodecahedron, the most important figure in thcir system. I t should he added that all mathematical ternis, 'pyramid' included, are of pure Greek origin.= I t is true, o f course, that in H e l l e ~ ~ i s ttimes, a certain ic number of Egyptian priests applied the methods of Greek science to the traditional lore o f their own country. T h e Hermetic literature proves it, and so does the elahorate astrological system the later Egyptia~iserected on a Stoic foundation. All that, however, throws no light on the originsof Greek science. On the colitmry, if the Egyptians of these days adopted the contemporary Greelc science1 Plato,

L a m , 747 b, 64q.

ZZeuthen, lfbtoin drr mntblmotipigurr (Paris lgoz), p. 5. 8The words nt,pup;s, at,papo6s, which mean a cake made of whert and honey, ar...