Rafed English

History of Western Philosophy

History of Western Philosophy


A History of Philosophy, Frank Thilly, 1914, 30 revised edition Ledger Wood, 1957, has the virtues of brevity and impartiality [attempt to understand each system in its integrity; to formulate the tacit and implicit basic assumptions of each system: allowing the primary criticism to be the criticisms made by other contemporary and later philosophers. Often, the tacit assumptions are brought out by later philosophers of the same movement or tradition]. This history is based in Thilly''s work, re-thought and adapted to my understanding.

Thilly holds the view that the only complete systems of thought are Western. I wish to briefly examine possible bases of the claim. The claim is decomposable into two parts and the first is that the Western tradition contains complete systems of thought. What does that mean? It cannot mean that everything is known. It must mean, then, that there is something about the Western tradition that contains in principle completeness the establishment of a world view of sufficient breadth and of methods that eliminate false views or aspects of the world view. However, Western thought of the 20th century has cast serious doubt on the completeness or possibility of completing any system. From the psychological point of view, what would convince one that a system of thought is complete? There is a tendency, perhaps tacit, that probably exists within all cultures and individuals the natural belief in or identification with the paradigms of the culture. Such paradigms present a picture of the world; and the systems of thought of the culture are an elaboration of that picture. The psychological story cannot be whole in itself. It is embedded in a system of relations among attitudes [psychology] and the institutions of society. Together, these must adequately mesh with reality. The role of psychology would then be an over-compensation so that the tentative but otherwise valid common knowledge of society is seen as imbued with a degree of the absolute. To a degree this is functional; and, usually, held with some degree of ambiguity. Thus, with a degree of success of the elaborated picture there is a natural tendency to assume completeness. However, there is truly no way to demonstrate this completeness because such a demonstration would depend on another, larger, picture. Even within the western intellectual traditions [pictures] there is serious doubt the intrinsic limitations of empiricism [e.g. Hume, Russell] and rationalism [e.g. Kant, G?del] regarding completeness. There is, however, a picture that casts doubt that possession of a complete paradigm / picture of the world is an ideal. It is the view of the community of life as an open community in an open universe. Our presence in the universe is an affirmation that an anchor in completeness is unnecessary; the openness affirms that "incompleteness" is not a deficiency but may be properly taken as positive, as an opportunity

The second part to Thilly's claim must be that there are no other complete systems of thought. That is true. However, there may well be other systems that have depths unfathomed by the West see the introduction to Dictionary of Asian Philosophers, St. Elmo Nauman, Jr., 1978 just as Western science is in some ways far in advance of other systems

The open picture is a view that disaffirms the completeness of Western thought and presents to the West a place in the universe that is a positive opportunity it is a view of opportunity and promise rather than gloom. It is not a cultural relativism. It assigns different strengths to different cultures, it validates the different cultures and it allows for cultural ascendance. Such ascendance, however, is not obtained by proclamation

In Journey in Being, I provide a positive picture where thought is not something that aspires to be complete within itself. Rather, thought and being move in relation to each other. Journey in Being provides an open picture. It also suggests the possibility of completeness of being in the sense of "Being = universe" rather than in the sense of completeness of any given being or thought. That, however, is presented as a necessity rather than as an intrinsically ideal or joyful or joyless event or condition. Joy and other states are found in the contemplation and living out of every day life and that includes the remote and ultimate as much as the present

There are many other sources including many that may be implicit or forgotten

I have referred to the 15th Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica for many major and minor points

For recent philosophy, I have referred to Research Guide to Philosophy, by T. N. Tice and T. P. Slavens, 1983, and One Hundred Twentieth-Century Philosophers, by Stuart Brown, Diane Collinson and Robert Wilkinson, 1998

[From A History of Philosophy, Thilly]

is the thesis that personal and cultural factors are important in philosophical thought in addition to intellectual, logical and philosophical ones

The two types of temperament according to William James:

Rationalist ["tender-minded"]: intellectualistic, idealistic, optimistic, religious, free-willist, monistic and dogmatic [Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Hegel]

Empiricist ["tough-minded]: sensationalistic, materialistic, pessimistic, irreligious [deterministic, perhaps], pluralistic and skeptical [Democritus, Hobbes, Bacon, Hume]

Of course: all philosophy is rational in its use of criticism; no philosopher is a pure temperament; some philosophers Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley straddle the classification; and, this simple scheme of classification does not exhaust the possibilities for precision, dimensionality or completeness

This history of Western philosophy began as an endeavor to provide myself with a coherent picture of philosophy. The following brief paragraphs define the aims

What is significant about the historical approach to philosophy? A good history of philosophy, whatever its shortcomings, will, among other things, give the reader a perspective on philosophy: philosophy as in-process, the relations of philosophy to life and to the other academic disciplines, show how the attempt to understand the world must introduce radical elements of novelty. As a consequence of the radical novelty, systems of metaphysics are relative to one-another. Views that eschew radical metaphysics are, therefore, based in a closed view of knowledge and the world. In the open view, metaphysics is at once serious and play

A good history of philosophy is a contribution to philosophy. It is a contribution to the understanding of the nature of philosophy the study, description and demarcation of philosophy is philosophy. And, a good history provides an environment that enhances the quality of action. History of philosophy provides an environment for the conduct of philosophy

The restriction to Western philosophy is practical. First, is my desire to understand a tradition. To include other thought would have been a diluting influence

Having obtained an adequate understanding of Western philosophy and thought, the next step is a placement and broadening of that thought. Both these objectives can be accomplished by, as one way, the parallel study of Western and non-western systems. And, as stated above, "there may well be other systems that have depths unfathomed by the West." Perhaps what has been accomplished in the West by way of empiricism is complemented in other systems by placement in the universal. That statement is of course both polarized and a simplification

My writing includes, elsewhere, considerations of other systems. When occasion arises and time permits, I will strengthen those other writings and attempt a mesh of the following systems: Western, Eastern and native

The changes in the sections on Greek, Medieval and Modern philosophy have not undergone significant revision but there are numerous minor changes

The following sections are completely new as of January 2002:

Periods And Trends Or Main Influences Of Western Philosophy Error! Bookmark not defined. is an encapsulated overview of Western philosophy

The Recent Period: The Philosophies Of The Late 19th And The 20th And 21st Centuries Error! Bookmark not defined. characterizes the recent period and its formative influences and effects

The Recent Period: Schools And Trends Of Philosophy Error! Bookmark not defined. is an outline discussion of close to fifty schools and trends and seven Specialized Disciplines or Activities Within Philosophy. Whereas the Greek and the Modern periods were presented through the thought of the major philosophers, I thought it would be effect to present the recent period through the schools. One motive for so doing was in order to be able to characterize the formative influences and the resulting trends. The section 20th Century Philosophers is a list of recent philosophers. The source for these sections was One Hundred Twentieth-Century Philosophers, by Stuart Brown, Diane Collinson and Robert Wilkinson, 1998

The Recent Period: Influential Philosophers Error! Bookmark not defined.. The purpose of this section is to discuss the thought of a small number of thinkers who significantly influenced recent Western philosophy

A Concept Of Philosophy 104 synthesizes and broadens previous conceptions of philosophy

The Future is a discussion of trends and possibilities and is not intended to be predictive; The Future has the following sub-sections

Philosophical nihilism considers the trend in which it is considered to be problematic to make positive statements in philosophy. Some of the influences or forces that resulted in this trend and the related conceptions of philosophy and the role of philosophy are discussed in Influences on recent philosophy and subsequent sections including The Effect on Philosophy

The obligations and needs of academic philosophy considers some of the functions that academic philosophy undertakes. It is not suggested that these functions are necessary although there is some degree of obligation that are felt by academic philosophers in virtue of the social and economic environment of the university

The possibilities of philosophy in the Western and other academic traditions considers the possibilities of philosophy from the point of view of its heritage as an intellectual pursuit. The theme is elaborated in the following sub-sections: Ways of Philosophical Understanding, Ways that are unique to philosophy, Further considerations

Journey in Being considers an endeavor that results from a synthesis of the possibilities of philosophy and the potential of being. This endeavor is taken up in the author's website of the same name: Journey in Being

A section on Transcendental Logic added June 16, 2003

In the following table, a philosopher, school or temperament e.g. rationalism is directly influenced by the one immediately above it and, perhaps, by others above it; these lines of influence are not shown. Other influences are shown by deep blue arrows

700 BC


600 BC




400 BC




300 BC


[to Christ]


[to 300 AD]




[to 200 AD]


300 AD

500 AD


St. Augustine


800 AD


Johannes Scotus Erigena

1100 AD


1200 AD


Duns Scotus

1400 AD

William of Occam

Renaissance Platonism



1600 AD








1700 AD






1800 AD



JS Mill

Late 19th and

20th Centuries






Analytic and linguistic philosophy


Two aspects of Greek religion are selected for their significance:

Anthropomorphic religion of the gods of Olympus made familiar by the Homeric epicsGods exhibit, on a most majestic scale, human passions and concern for the affairs of human beings. The Homeric conception of the Gods as subject to fate may have contributed to the attitude of mind that produced the first Greek philosophy: the Milesian natural philosophy of the sixth century BCE

Religious revival of sixth century BCE associated with mystery cults. Mystery cults local forms of gods: symbolizing individualismthe Dionysian cults join with the Orphic: doctrine of the immortal soul and its transmigrationperhaps incline toward philosophy especially metaphysics and especially to religiously oriented philosophies of Pythagoreans, of Parmenides and of Heraclitus

2.2.1 Early Greek philosophy Problem of Substance [Metaphysics] and The Philosophy of Nature

Thales c. [624-550 BCE]: water is original stuff [possible observation: nourishment, heat, seed, contain moisture], out of water everything comes but Thales does not indicate how

Anaximander c. [611-547 BCE]: the essence or principle of things is the infinite a mixture, intermediate between observable elements, from which things arise by separation; moisture leads to living thingsAll animals and humans were originally a fish. All return to the primal mass to be produced anew

Cosmology: physical: sphere of fire leads to eternal motion: separation: hot, cold leads to hot, surrounds cold on a sphere of flame: heat: cold leads to moisture leads to air: fire leads to rings with holes: heavenly bodies: sun [farthest], moon, planets

Anaximines [588-524 BCE]: first principle is definite: air; it is infinite. From air all things arise by rarefaction and condensation a scientific observation

These three philosophers Thales, Anaximander and Anaximines, of Miletus, represent advance from qualitative-subjective to quantitative-scientific explanation of modes of emergence of being from a primary substance

Pythagorean School: Pythagoras of Samos [c. 575-500 BCE]. The Pythagorean School was concerned less with substance than with the form and relation of things. Numbers are the principles of things number mysticism. Origin, in astronomy, of the dual: systematic, fixed stellar system and chaotic, dynamic terrestrial world. Ethics, too, rooted in number-mysticism Problem of change

arises from the intuition that something from nothing is impossible

Problem of Change:

Qualitative Theories of Change: Empedocles [495-435 BCE] and Anaxogoras [500-428 BCE]. Quantitative theories: Atomism: transition from teleology to mechanism: Leucippus and Democritus [460-370 BCE]. Metaphysics, cosmology, psychology, theory of knowledge, theology and ethics

Heraclitus [535-475 BCE] born Ephesus: [1] Fire and universal flux, [2] opposites and their union, [3] harmony and the law

Eleatic School: Xenophanes [570-480 BCE] Colophon, precursor, first basis of skepticism in Greek thought, Parmenides founder of philosophy of permanence change is relative: combination and separation [becoming]paradoxes of being and nonbeing, Zeno [of the paradoxes] [490-430 BCE] and Melisus of Samos are defenders of the doctrine

Democritus: same concept in atomic form. Metaphysics, ontology: space: nonbeing exists; motion in space: atomic. Psychology, theory of knowledge: information from object to sentient: propagation of actions through toms in air, soul atoms: the finest in-between body atoms

2.2.2 Age of sophists

The development of Greek thought led to a spirit of free inquiry in poetry: Aeschylus [525-456 BCE], Sophocles [490=405 BCE], Euripedes [480-406 BCE]; history: Thucydides [b. 471 BCE]; medicine: Hippocrates [b. 460 BCE]. The construction of philosophical systems ceases temporarily; the existing schools continue to be taught and some turn attention to natural-scientific investigation The resulting individualism made an invaluable contribution to Greek thought but led, finally, to an exaggerated intellectual and ethical subjectivism. The Sophists who were originally well-regarded came gradually to be a term of reproach partly owing to the radicalism of the later schools: their subjectivism, relativism and nihilism. For Protagoras, all opinions are true [though some "better"]; for Gorgias none are true [there is nothing; even if there were something we could not know it; if we could know it we could not communicate it]. "Sophists exaggerated the differences in human judgments and ignored the common elements; laid too much stress on the illusoriness of the senses Nevertheless, their criticisms of knowledge made necessary a profounder study of the nature of knowledge."

2.2.3 Socrates and the Socratic schools

Socrates [469-399 BCE], Xenophon: "The Socratic problem was to meet the challenge of sophistry, which, in undermining knowledge, threatened the foundations of morality and state." Socratic method: includes the elements: [1] skeptical, [2] conventional, [3] conceptual or definitional, [4] empirical or inductive, [5] deductive a "dialectical" process for improving understanding of a subject

The treatment to this point has been more detailed since [1] I am relatively ignorant of it, and [2] a detailed study of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle a natural study of the tree supreme Greek philosophers is left for later

Ethics: knowledge is the highest good. Knowledge is virtue

2.3.1 Plato [427-347 BCE]

The method of Socrates suggested: a system of thought to be worked out. Plato's system incorporates and transforms the doctrines of his predecessorsThe problems suggested are the intimate ones: meaning of human life, human knowledge, human conduct, human institutions which depend for an adequate answer upon the study, also, of their interrelations and their place as parts of the larger Ontological Question [and indeed are not comprehensible without an ontology at least "an implicit" one]. Plato developed such a system

The division of philosophy into [1] logic or dialectic [including theory of knowledge], [2] metaphysics [including physics and psychology], and [3]ethicsis implied in Plato's work

Dialectic and Theory of Knowledge: Plato recognizes the importance of the problem of knowledge

Sense perception, opinion cannot lead to genuine knowledge

Eros, the love of truth, is necessary for advanceit arouses the contemplation of beautiful ideasdialectic is the art of thinking in concepts: the essential object of thought

Ideas do not have origin in experiencewe approach the world with ideals: truth, beauty, the good; in addition to the value-concepts. Plato also came to regard mathematical concepts and certain logical notions, or categories, such as being and nonbeing, identity and difference, unity and plurality, as inborn, or a priori

Therefore, conceptual knowledge is the only genuine knowledge

What guarantee, then, is there of the truth of conceptual knowledge? [Plato's answer is based on the metaphysics of certain of his predecessors, especially Parmenides: thought and being are identical; Parmenides speaks of or indicates the world of logical thought as true, and the world of sense perception as illusion.]

For Plato, knowledge is correspondence of thought and reality [or being] knowledge must have an object. If the concept is to have value as knowledge, something real must correspond to it realities must exist corresponding to all our universal ideas: there must be, for instance, pure absolute beauty corresponding to the concept of beautyconceptual knowledge presupposes the reality of a corresponding ideal or abstract objectsOr, in contrast to the transient world of the senses, which is mere appearance, illusion: true being is unchangeable, eternal. Conceptual thought alone can grasp eternal and changeless being: it knows that which is, that which persists, that which remains one and the same in all diversity, namely the essential forms of things Plato's theory of knowledge:

Conjecture Mere sense impression Guess [opinion]

Belief Sensible objects Sense perception [opinion]

Understanding Mathematical and other Hypothesis [and education]

Rational [insight] Forms or ideas Dialectic

Hierarchy of the Sciences: Arithmetic; geometry; astronomy; harmonies; dialectic the coping stone of the sciences

Dialectic knowledge considers forms as constituting a systematic unity as related to the form of the Good; rests on categorical first principles not hypothesis Doctrine of ideas: [Plato's most original philosophical achievement.]

According to Plato, universals exist. Corresponding to the concept of horse, as example, there is a universal or ideal entity; it is the idea that is known in conceptual knowledge, reason

The variety of ideas or forms is endless: there are ideas of things, relations, qualities, actions and values[these are some classes of ideas]: of tables and chairs; of smallness, greatness, likeness; of colors and tones; of health, rest and motion; of beauty, truth and goodnessThe ideas or archetypes constitute a well-ordered world or rational cosmos; arranged in a connected, organic unity, a logical order subsumed under the highest idea: the Good

The Good, the supreme idea, the logos or cosmic purpose, the unity of pluralities, the source of all ideasis also the truly real. The function of philosophy, by exercise of reason, is to understand this inner, interconnected order of the universe and to conceive its essence by logical thought

Outline of the doctrine: [1] The forms, or ideas defined as objects corresponding to abstract concepts are real entities. The Platonic form is the reification or entificiation of the Socratic concept; [2] there are a variety of forms; [3] they belong to a realm of abstract entities, a "heaven of ideas", separate from their concrete exemplification in time and space [the Platonic dualism]; [4] form is archetype, particular: copy; form is superior: forms are real, particulars mere appearances; [5] the forms are neither mental they exist independently of any knowing mind, even God's nor physical: yet real; [forms are non-temporal and non-spatial: eternal and immutable]; [7] they are logically connected in a "communicative" hierarchy in which the supreme form is the Good; [8] forms are apprehended by reason, not sense; [9] the relation between a particular and a form which it exemplifies is "participation"; all particulars with a common predicate participate in the corresponding form; a particular may participate simultaneously in a plurality of forms or successively [in change] in a succession of forms Philosophy of nature

Matter [the second principle, diametrically opposed to the idea] is the raw material upon which the idea is impressed. Dualism. Matter is perishable, imperfect, unreal, nonbeing Cosmology

The Demiurge or Creator [more an architect than a creator] fashions the world out of matter in the patterns of the ideal worldThe four factors in creation enumerated in Timmaeus are [1] the Demiurge or God: the active principle or dynamic cause of the world; [2] the pattern as archetype of the world; [3] the receptacle: the locus and matrix of creation; matter; brute fact; source of indeterminacy and evil; and [4] the form of the Good

Plato's cosmology, garbed in myth: an attempt to identify the causes in [and creation of] the actual world [interpretation]

The influence of Plato's doctrine of ideas, and cosmology is enormous upon Aristotle: the four causes of Aristotle are the four factors in Plato's cosmology and in Christian [medieval] thought[argument from design] Psychology

"Faculty" psychology: [1] rational faculty [mind], [2] spirited faculty [emotionsit is doubtful that Plato considered will and free choice], [3] appetitive faculty: desire, motivation Doctrine of immortality

[From psychology: the part of the individual, which "knows" sense impression and opinion, is the body; the soul knows or has genuine knowledge or science. Because the soul possesses apprehension of ideas prior to its contact with the world: all knowledge is reminiscence and all learning is awakening.]

Arguments for Immortality: Epistemological: [1] The soul has contemplated eternal ideas and only like can know like: [2] from the doctrine of reminiscences. Metaphysical: [1] From the simplicity of the soul: it cannot be produced by composition or destroyed by disintegration, [2] from vitality: as the source of its own motion, the soul is eternal [a survival of atomistic conceptions] [first cause argument, perhaps]and various other metaphysical arguments. Moral and Valuational: from the superiority and dignity of the soul: it must survive the body; a variation: everything is destroyed by its "connatural" evil; the evils of the soul [its worst vices: injustice, etc.] do not destroy the soul hence its indestructibility. [There are hardly any arguments advanced in the literature on immortality which are not foreshadowed by Plato.] Ethics

Ethical being is one in which the superior principles dominate: rationality. Wisdom: reason over other impulses of the soul; bravery: reason over emotion [fear, pain]; temperance: reason over desireJustice: wisdom with bravery and temperance Politics

Plato's theory of the state [in The Republic] is based on his ethics. Social life is a means to perfection of individuals. Laws result from imperfection of individuals which leads to the state. Classes in society result from functions of the soul; harmony among the classes results from functional relations of the healthy soul:

Ruling class: those embodying reason [philosophers]

Warriors: the spirited. Their function: defense

Agriculturists, workers, merchants, artisans: lower appetites. Their function: production

Justice in state: each class functions according to its character

The ideal society is a family: Plato opposes monogamy, private property, recommends for the two upper castes who are to be supported by workers communism and common possession of wives and childrenPlato recommends: eugenic supervision of marriages and births, exposure of weak children, compulsory state education, education of women for war and government, and censorship

The state is an educational institution, the instrument of civilization; its foundation must be the highest kind of knowledge which is philosophy. The education of the children of higher classes will follow a definite plan: identical for the sexes during the first twenty years: myths selected for ethicality, gymnastics for body and spirit; poetry, music harmony, beauty, proportion and philosophical thought; reading, writing; mathematics which tends to draw the mind from the concrete and sensuous to the abstract and real. At 20, superior young men will be selected and shall integrate their learning. At 30, those who show greatest ability in studies, military officers, etc., will study dialectic for five years. Then they will be put to test as soldiers, militias and in subordinate civic offices. Starting at the age of fifty, the demonstrably worthy will study philosophy until their turns come to administer the offices for their country's sake

2.3.2 Aristotle [384-322 BCE]

Aristotle's Problems: Plato's system had difficulties and inconsistencies to be overcome; it was left to Aristotle to reconstruct it in a more consistent and scientific manner. First, the problem of transcendent ideas and the degradation of the world of experience to mere appearance and, second, the concept of the secondary Platonic element matter and the gulf between form and matter provided difficulties. Other difficulties: changing forms, immortal souls in human bodies, makeshift nature of the Demiurge

Aristotle claims the changeless eternal forms but as inherent, immanent in things: form and matter are eternally togetherBecause of his realism, Aristotle studied science sympathetically, his theories always in close touch with it and he encouraged the natural sciences Extant writings

1. Logic: Organon includes: Categories, De Interpretationae, Prior and Posterior Analytics [includes induction and the syllogism], Topics, Sophistic Fallacies [Topics are largely concerned with dialectic reasoning]

2. Natural sciences: Physics [8 books]; On the Heavens [4]; Origin and Decay [2]; Meteorology [4]; Cosmology [spurious], Botany [spurious]; History of Animals [10]; On the Parts of Animals [4]; On the Progression of Animals; On the Origin of Animals [5]; On the Locomotion of Animals [spurious]

3. Psychology: On the Soul [3, treating sensation, memory, imagination, thought]; Parva Naturalia [including De Memoria et Reminiscentia, On Dreams]

4. Metaphysics: [14] "First Philosophy"

5. Ethics: Nicomachean Ethics [10] Eudaemian Ethics [revision of Nicomachean by Eudaemas]; Magna Moralia, the Greater Ethics [compilation of the two proceeding]

6. Politics: [8, apparently incomplete]; On the Constitution of Athens [discovered 1890] [the work on economics attributed to Aristotle is not authentic]

7. Rhetoric: Rhetoric to Theodectes [based on Aristotle's teachings]; Rhetoric to Alexander [spurious]; Rhetoric [3, the third is of doubtful authenticity], Poetics [part of 2 books extant; concerned with principle forms of literature: epic, tragic, comic] Philosophy and the sciences

The universe is an ideal world, an organic whole of interrelated parts, a system of eternal, unchangeable ideas or forms: these are the ultimate essences and causesideas are, in contrast to Plato, immanent in the world giving it form and lifeexperience is real the basis of knowledge; starting from experience we rise to the science of ultimate principles

Genuine knowledge is not merely factual but consists in knowing the reasons and causes of things. Philosophy or science in the broad sense is reasoned knowledge. Metaphysics is concerned with being qua being

Aristotle's classification of sciences: [1] Logic, the method of inquiry, [2] theoretical sciences [mathematics, physics, biology, psychology and first philosophy or metaphysics], [3] practical sciences in which knowledge is a means to conduct [ethics, politics], [4] productive sciences in which knowledge is subordinate to artistic creation [poetics] Logic

The creation of the science of logic is in a certain sense Aristotle's most amazing achievement [there is no parallel case in intellectual history where a single thinker has brought to completion a new science]. [There have been only two revolts against the Logic in recent times Francis Bacon's advocacy of inductive method and the nineteenth-twentieth century revolution in mathematical logic.]

Function: method of obtaining logic: the science of sciences

Theme: analysis of form and content of thought. Scientific truth is characterized by strict necessity: to establish a scientific proposition it must be proved that it could not possibly be otherwise

Demonstration: the form of thought: propositions from propositions: the syllogism

Intuition or induction: establishment of primary propositions. Intuition is the apprehension of the universal element in the particular: or induction

Content: the doctrine of the categories [also part of his metaphysics]: categories are the fundamental, indivisible concepts of thought: the most fundamental and universal predicates that can be affirmed of anything, not mere forms of thought or language but also predicates of realitythe ten categories [1] what [e.g., man: substance], [2] how it is constituted [e.g., white: quality], [3] how large [quantity], [4] relation [double, greater], [5] where [space], [6] when [time], [7] posture, [8] condition [e.g., armed: state], [9] activity [what it does], [10] what it suffers [what is done to it] Metaphysics

Substance [that which exists], abstractly defined in metaphysics, is a key conceptand is in sharp contrast to the Platonic notion. In rejecting the Platonic theory of ideas, Aristotle offers two broad criticisms [seven actual items]: [1] ideas, though intended to explain the nature of things, are not adequate to do so, and [1] the relation between things and ideas is inexplicable [and even somewhat contradictory leading to a regress: the idea of the relation, the idea of the idea of]

In contrast to Plato who held that things were incomplete copies of universals [the form is the substance] and in contradiction to the atomism of Democritus, Aristotle regards particular objects as real substances, but the essence of a thing is its form: the class to which it belongs

There is plurality of substances, hierarchically arranged: indeterminate matterphysical objectsplantsanimalsmanGod

The process of becoming, or change: the substratum [matter] persists and changes, governed by forms [qualities] which are responsible for diversity and change

Related to the relationship of form to matter is the relationship of potentiality to actuality: the stages in development: [acorn / oak : materials / building corresponds to potential / actual]the series from potential to actual is, progressively, realization of form over matterForm realizes itself in the thing: it causes the thing to move and to realize an end or purpose

[Aristotle has been called the "father of Biology"Plato of "Physics".] Four causes

[1] Material [constituents], [2] formal [structure], [3] efficient or moving [the producer', [4] the final cause [end or purpose]

Everything is explicable, at the same time, by all four causes. In nature causes 2 and 4 coincide as do 2 and 3, so the only causes are form and matter Theology

Eternal motion on the part of matter presupposes an eternal unmoved mover: God: the cosmological argumentGod is pure form, unadulterated by mater, complete actuality, substance par excellence, thought-thinking-thought [which has been ridiculed on account of its inadequacies] Physics

Science of bodies and motion: motion is change: matter is dynamic, atomism rejected [empty space is rejected]four kinds of motion: [1] substantial [origin and decay], [2] qualitative, [3] quantitative, [4] local [place]. Qualities are things: there are, therefore, absolute qualitative changes in matternature is teleological and qualitative Biology

Aristotle may be called the founder of systematic and comparative zoology which he subordinates to the teleologic, dynamic, qualitative interpretation. Aristotle's biology may be described as vitalism: it posits an animating and directing vital principle in organisms Psychology

Man is the microcosm and the final goal of nature, distinguished from all other living beings by the possession of reasonMan's soul is like the plant soul: lower vital function, and animal soul: perception, common sense, imagination, memory, pleasure, pain. [Pleasure arises when functions are furthered, pain when they are impeded; these feelings arouse desire and aversion which alone cause the body the move.] Desire with deliberation is called rational will

Besides the foregoing function the human soul possesses the power of conceptual thought, or thinking the universal and necessary essences of things. Reason comes to think concepts as follows: creative reason is pure actuality, the essences are directly cognized: thought and object are here one [in passive reason concepts are merely potential], passive reason is the mater on which creative reason, the form, actsthee is a distinction formal and material phases of reason

Perception, imagination, memory are connected with the body and perish with it: creative reason is absolutely imperishable, absolutely immaterial Ethics

[Aristotle's ethics are based in his metaphysics and psychology and is the first comprehensive scientific theory of moralityit attempts to give a define answer to the Socratic question of the highest good.]

All human action has some end in viewwhat is the highest end or good? For man this must be his essence: the life of reason, the complete and habitual exercise of the functions which make him human: eudaemonia [happiness is a substitute provided it does not mean pleasure]

A virtuous soul is a well-ordered souland since the soul does not consist of reason alone, it is one in which the right relation exists between reason, feeling and desire

The highest good for man is self-realization [:not selfish individualism] he realizes his true self when he loves the supreme part of his being: the rational partwhen he is moved by a motive of nobleness, promotes the interests of others and of country"The virtuous man will act often in the interest of friends, country and if need be die for themsurrender money, honour and all the goods for which the world contends, reserving only nobleness for himself"

Justice is a virtue implying a relation to others, for it promotes the interest of othersit is taken in two senses: lawfulness and fairnessNor is the happiness-theory understood in the hedonistic sense a pleasure theory: therefore, all things which are honorable and pleasant to the virtuous man are honorable and pleasant

Aristotle rejects the Socratic maxim that knowledge is virtue: we must in addition to a knowledge of virtue, endeavor to possess and exercise itMoral action is fostered by a moral societyLaws are required to teach us the duties of lifeThe state should seek to provide a social environs conducive to the morality of its citizensAnyone who wishes to elevate the people must acquaint himself with the principles of legislationtherefore: ethics and politics are never divorced by Aristotle: the moral ends of man are promoted by legal and political means Politics

Man is a social being who can realize his true self only in society and the statethe state as the goal of evolution of human life is prior in worth and significance to its component societiesSocial life is the goal or end of human existencethe aim of the state is to produce good citizensAristotle was perhaps even more successful than Plato in steering a middle course between "statism" and individual

The constitution of the state must be adapted to the character and requirements of its people. It is just when it confers equal rights on the people in so far as they are equal, and unequal rights in so far as they are unequal

There are good constitutions: the monarchy, the aristocracy and the polity a norm in which the citizens are nearly equal and bad forms: the tyranny, oligarchy and democracyAs the best state for his own time Aristotle advocates a city-state in which only those citizens who are qualified by education and by position in life participate actively in government that is, an aristocracy. He justifies slavery on the grounds that it is a rational institution: it is just that the inferior foreigners should not enjoy the same rights as the Greeks

Aristotle's Genius and Influence: Aristotle's claim to the title "master of those who know" can easily be substantiated. He occupies a unique position in philosophy by whatever standard we judge him, breadth of learning, originality, or influenceAristotle's philosophy is perhaps the most comprehensive synthesis of knowledge ever achieved by the mind of a human being with the possible exception of Hegel

His genius is his ability to use an enormous amount of knowledge into a unified whole: which he achieves by means of certain integrating concepts: substance, matter, form, actuality, potentiality, etc

His influence was greatest during the Middle Ages but it is also apparent in the greatest systems of the modern period including those of Descartes, Leibniz and Hegel

2.4.1 Epicureanism and stoicism

The following on Epicureanism and Stoicism is a brief complement to the longer discussion on Stoicism, which is taken up again, below

The Epicureans and Stoics. These thinkers were concerned primarily with ethics however the ethics needed a metaphysics and cosmology and a theory of knowledge and truth in terms of sense experience they were pioneers of the empirical tradition in epistemology. They were nominalists a universal is not a reality but a mark or sign: the only realities are particulars. They were also forerunners of medieval nominalism. Opinions and hypotheses must be confirmed by sense experience or at least suggested by perception and not contradicted by them

Epicurean metaphysics is, in its essentials, a restatement of the atomistic and materialistic mechanism of Democritus. Psychology also derives from the emanationism of Democritus likewise soul the nimble fiery soul atom is material; soul has a rational part, is mortal there is no afterlife to be feared

Epicurean ethics is hedonism based on pleasure but not a basis for debauchery: some pleasures are followed by pains and many pains are followed by pleasures; therefore not all pleasures are to be chosen and not all pains avoided. Mental pleasures are greater than pleasures of the body, mental pains worse than physical pains therefore a life of prudence and wisdom is good and this has a naturalistic basis in the caprice of the world. In truth, Epicureanism is an ethics of enlightened self-interest: Epicurus extolled the same virtues as did Plato, Aristotle and the stoics wisdom, courage, temperance and justice but for different reasons. [However, although the pleasure-theory of Epicurus is not a doctrine of sensuality, it came to be so interpreted by many.]

Epicurean 341 270 BCE social and political philosophy: the enlightened self-interest of the individual is the highest good; from here follows justice and right, laws and institutions, practical rules of action but only as means

2.4.2 Skepticism and eclecticism

Skepticism was contemporary with Stoicism and Epicureanism. After Socrates and the great system of Plato and Aristotle, time was right for a new period of movement of doubt. The Skeptics filled this function: the thought common to this school is that we cannot know the nature of things: Pyrrho [365-270 BCE] may be called the founder but wrote nothing: his views were set down by Timon of Phlius [320-230 BCE]. After Timon, the Skeptical school was absorbed by the Platonic Academy and did not emerge as an independent school until the Academy called the Middle Academy during the Skeptical period purged itself of Skepticism under Philo of Larina and Anticus: Skepticism again became an independent movement at the beginning of the Christian era and was later represented by Sextus Empircus. Eclecticism was encouraged by the growing intercourse between Greek scholars and the Romans. The Romans had no genius for philosophy; it was only after Rome conquered Macedonian 168 BCE and Greece became a Roman Province [146 BCE] that interest arose in philosophical speculation. The Romans produced no independent system: they selected and modified according to their practical needs: "They sought and found in Philosophy, nothing but a rule of conduct and a means of government." Subsequently, Eclecticism made its way into nearly all the schools, into the Academy [Plate], the Lyceum [Aristotle] and the Stoa; the Epicureans alone remained true to their creed

Zeno [336-264 BCE] b Citium, Cyprus, came to Athens in 314, and in 294 opened his school in the Stoa Poikile [painted corridor or porch, from which "Stoicism"] and was founder of the school. Zeno was esteemed for his upright character, the simplicity of his life, his affability and moral earnestnessHe was followed by his pupil Cleanthes [264-232 BCE] who lacked the qualities needed to defend the school against the Skeptics and the EpicureansNext came Chrysippus of Soli, Cilicia [232-204 BCE], a man of great ability who clearly defined the teachings of the school, gave unity to the system, and defended it against the Skeptics. His pupils included Zeno of Tarsis, Diogenes of Babylon, Antipater of TarsusStoicism as developed by Chrysippus found favor in Rome during the Republic: Panaetius [180-110 BCE] being one of the first Roman adherents of note. During the Empire it divided into two schools: one popular, represented by Musonius Rufus [first century CE], Seneca [3-65 CE], Epictitus [first century CE] and Emperor Marcus Aurelius [121-180]: the other scientific, whose sole aim was to preserve intact and interpret the old doctrine Logic and the theory of knowledge

The goal of Stoic philosophy is to find a rational basis for ethics: they start with logic, the science of thoughts and discourses. Stoic logic included grammar, and thus Stoics are founders of the traditional science of grammarthe dialectical part of logic deals with the theory of knowledge: of which there are two problems: [1] what is the origin [source] of knowledge, and [2] what is the criterion of knowledge

Sources: Knowledge is gained through perception. The mind has the faculty of forming general ideas and concepts of a large number of cases which are alike and of forming universal judgments. This faculty, reason, is a faculty of thought and speech identical with the universal reason which pervades the worldthe Stoics posited objected rationality in the world and yet opposed the Platonic doctrine of ideas: only particular objects have real existence and universals are subjective abstractions

Criterion: A sense image is true when it is an exact copy of the object. A concept is true when it agrees with the qualities pervading similar things. How shall we distinguish true from false? Man is entitled to his conviction when he has satisfied himself that his sense organ is in normal condition, that the percept is clear and distinct and that repeated observations by him and others verify his first impression. Since true premises are deduced logically from true premises, the faculty of drawing correct inferences is accordingly another means of reaching the truth and dialectic an essential qualification of the Stoic sage. Consequently, the stoics gave considerable attention to formal logic, particularly the syllogism, which they regarded as its most important phase [they made minor additions to Aristotle's scheme of syllogism and revised his table of categories] Metaphysics

Stoic metaphysics a materialistic version of Aristotelian metaphysics: force [or form] and matter are both corporealbut force consists of a finer kind of stuff, while matter as such is coarse, formless and immovableOnly forces have causality the effect which results, however, is not a cause or a force nor is it a body but a mere accidental state of the bodyThe forces in the universe form one all-pervasive force or fire: the rational active soul of the world. The universe is a cosmos a beautiful, well-ordered, perfect whole. The rational principle is related to the world as the human soul is to its body [the pervasion of the cosmos by a rational principle is pure pantheism]but just as the governing part of the soul is situated in a particular part of the body, so the ruling part of the world soul, the Deity, or Zeus, is seated at the outermost circle of the world: pantheism and theism dwell together in the Stoic system [as in many modern systems], however in Stoicism the pantheistic aspect clearly prevails Cosmology

The Stoics offer a detailed description of the evolution of the world from the original divine fire: every recurring world will resemble its predecessors in every detail the theory of cyclic recurrence for each world is produced by the same lawMan is free in the sense that he can assent to what fate decrees, but, whether he assents or not, he must obeyNow, if everything is a manifestation of God, how shall we explain evil in the world? [1] The negative solution denies the existence of evil what we call evils are only relative evils; [2]the positive solution regards evil, such as disease, as the necessary and inevitable consequence of natural processes or as a necessary means of realizing the good Psychology

A man is free when he acts in accordance with reason; that is, obedience to the eternal laws of nature. The Stoic conception of freedom is one of rational self-determination

The Stoic doctrine of cyclic recurrence implies that all souls necessarily reappear with the recreation of the universe Ethics

Man is part of the universal order, a spark of the divine fire, a small universe [microcosm] reflecting the greater universe [macrocosm]. Hence it behooves man to act in harmony with the purpose of the universeto reach the highest possible3 measure of perfection. To do this he must put his own soul in order: reason should rule him as reason rules the worldto live according to nature for a human being is to act in conformity with reason, the logosto live thus is to realize one's self and to realize one's true self is to serve the purposes of universal reason and to work for universal ends. The Stoic ethical ideal implies a universal society of rational beings with the same rights for reason is the same in all and all are part of the same world soul

A truly virtuous act is one which is consciously directed toward the highest purpose or end, and is performed with conscious knowledge of moral principle. Thus, virtuous conduct implies complete and certain knowledge of the good and a conscious purpose, on the part of the doer, to realize the supreme good. To act unconsciously and without knowledge is not virtue. Virtue is one, a unity, for everything depends on disposition, on the good will: a man either has it or he has it not: there is no middle ground: he is either a wise man or a foolVirtue is the only good, vice the only evil all else is indifferent

Evil conduct is the result of wrong judgment, or false opinion: the Stoics sometimes regard evil as the cause, sometimes the effect of the passions or immoderate impulses. The four such passions are pleasure, desire, grief and fear. These passions and their many variations are diseases of the soul which it is our business, not merely to moderate, but to eradicate, since they are irrationalApathy or freedom from passion is, accordingly, the Stoic ideal Religion

True religion and philosophy are one, according to the Stoics. [Little wonder that Stoic philosophy should appeal to the Jesuits.]

Greek philosophy began in Greek religion; and after its formative phase, described earlier, reached an apex in Socrates, Plato, Aristotle. The subsequent ethical theories of the Epicurean and Stoic schools, the nihilism of the Skeptics and the piece-meal practicality of the Eclectics did not satisfy all types of mind"We come now to a period in History when Philosophy seeks refuge in Religion"The new attitude sought to know and see God, brought about by and expresses consciousness of the decline of the classical peoples and their culture, "gave rise to a philosophy strongly tinctured with religious mysticism," "brought to life not only Christianity, but, before its advent, pagan and Jewish Alexandrianism and its kindred phenomena""We may distinguish three currents to this religious philosophy: [1] an attempt to combine an Oriental religion, Judaism, with Greek speculation: Jewish Greek Philosophy, [2] an attempt to construct a world-religion upon Pythagorean doctrines: Neophythaore4anism;[3] an attempt to make a religious philosophy of the Platonic teaching: Neoplatonism"Here are some comments on the main tendencies:

2.5.1 Jewish Greek philosophy

The main exponent is Philo [30 BCE-50 CE]. Philo read Greek philosophy, especially Platonism and Stoicism, into the Scriptures by the allegorical method which was common in Alexandria [founded by Alexander the Great in 333 BCE, which had become under the descendents of his general Ptolemy [328-181 BCE] the leading commercial and intellectual center of the world and the chief meeting place of Hellenic and Oriental civilization. Here a great scientific museum with its celebrated library of 700,000 volumes was established under Ptolemy which attracted poets, men of science, philosophers from every region of the classical world]. The fundamental concept in the system of Philo is God and his powers are the Logos, the Divine reason or Wisdom, which we recognize through the logos in ourselvesMan, the most important piece of creation, is a microcosm which, like the universe, is composed of both soul and matter [the source of defects and evils in the world]

2.5.2 Neo-Pythagoreanism

has its sources in Platonism. Plato in his old age absorbed the number-theory and the religious mysticism of the Pythagoreans: his immediate successors in his school emphasized these latter day teachings. With the rise of Aristotelianism, the Academy abandoned Pythagoreanism. The Pythagorean secret societies with their mysteries, continued to lead a precarious existence until they were revitalized by the religious upsurge which took possession of the Roman world in the first century CE and the spirit of the times encouraged them to devote themselves once more to philosophy. The leaders in the movement, however, did not go back to early Pythagoreanism but to the doctrine as it appeared in Platonism and combined it eclectically with other elements of Greek philosophy, including Aristotelianism and Stoicism. All this they naively ascribed to Pythagoras

2.5.3 Neoplatonism

Generally regarded to have been founded by Plotinus [204-169 BCE.] derives from Pythagoreanism. Plato's system becomes the framework for a religious worldview. The main figure is Plotinus [204-269 BCE]. His philosophy is briefly summarized: [1] God is the source of all being [the One whose infinity contains all, the first causeless cause, the unity prior to all being and beyond all being], [2] the stages of being are [I] pure thought or mind, [ii] soul and [iii] matter; [3] the human soul is part of the world soul and its freedom consists in turning away from sensuality towards its higher nature. If it fails to do this it becomes attached after death to another human, animal or plant body according to the degree of its guilt. The ideal in life is return to God this occurs only on rare occasions, [4] ordinary virtues do not suffice to return to God; first purification from the sense, the body then contemplation, and finally the mystical union with God in which the soul transcends its own thought

Common to all these theologies, or theosophies, are: the concept of God as a transcendent being, the dualism of God and world, the idea of revealed and mystical knowledge of God, asceticism and world denial, the belief in intermediary beings, demons and angels

2.6.1 The closing of the school at Athens

The period from Aristotle on is a decline in quality and originalityNeoplatonism was revived by Procleus [410-485] the head of the Academy at Athens. He was succeeded by Marius, Isidorius, and Damascius. In 529 the School at Athens was closed by an edict of the Emperor Justinian. After this time some good commentaries on the writings of Plato and Aristotle were published by Simplicus, the younger Olympiodorus, and by Boethius [c. 470 / 475 524] and Philoponnus. The works of Boethius as well as his translations of Aristotelian writings and of Porphyry [Porphyry's Introduction to the Categories of Aristotle: Porphyry of Tyre [232-304] was a pupil of Plotinus] contributed largely to the knowledge of Greek philosophy in the early Middle Ages

2.6.2 The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius

written while imprisoned [he came to high political office under Theodoric but was accused of conspiracy against Theodoric], takes its place along with Marcus Aurelius' Meditation [Stoic philosopher, Emperor 121-180] and Thomas ? Kempis Imitation of Christ [fourteenth century mystic: 1380-1471] as the great documents in which religious, philosophical and ethical ideas are applied in the personal life of their authors

In the sixth century, Greek Platonism was making its final desperate attempt to maintain itself in competition with the new Christian worldview but Greek philosophy at this period had lost its vitality, had outlived its usefulness. The future belonged to Christianity; and by a strange irony of fate, the Christian religion, in it attempt to conquer the intellectual world, made an ally of the philosophy of the Greeks

3.1 Doctrine and dogma

While medieval philosophy is philosophy, it is dominated by Christian themes including the formation of the fundamental doctrines and the influence of dogma. Transition from Greek to Medieval philosophy as a decline in Hellenism and ascent of Christianity including incorporation of Greek philosophical and theological ideas has been discussed in the previous pages and in the outline of periods, names and dates

Doctrine in theology refers to theoretical component of religious experience. Dogma refers to the first principles at the core of doctrine, professed as true and essential by those of the faith

The Patristic Period: from the origins of Christianity: the time of Christ to the formation of the major and fundamental doctrines and the triumph of Christianity as an organized Church [ending, philosophically, with Augustine]

The Scholastic Period: of philosophical construction devoted to the elaboration of a philosophy in which the subject matter and guiding principles were determined by "dogma"

The Patristic Period was, at least in things of the spirit, an age of richness and promise extending from the time of Christ to the death of Augustine in 430 or, interpreted most widely, until the Council of Trullo in 692. Concern is with the development of dogma in this period

Early theology. The Acts of St. Paul. The Gnostics. The Apologists the Logos doctrine [logos, reason, the first cause, in God]; free will and original sin

The period, which results from the fusion of early Christian religion with Hellenistic philosophy, is much richer in theology than in philosophy. St. Augustine [353-430] the greatest representative of the age, the only figure who fully deserves the title: philosopher, has no immediate philosophic descendents, and comes into his own much later in an age clearly medieval

Earliest Christian communities varied greatly in type but can be classified as [a] Gentile, and as [b] a type still oriented largely to Jewish religion. Very early, there emerged from these two sources: Hellenistic Christianity, exemplified by St. Paul, in whose writing two significant natures: [1] exaltation of Christ, [2] interpretation of his person in then dominant Hellenistic conceptscontains only the germ of the later doctrine of Trinity, and union of human and divine natures in Christ

The doctrine of the Trinity on which the whole theology of Western Christianity is ultimately based, was not given definite form until the Council of Niacea in 325, and was established as a secure and accepted basis of the new Church until the Trinitarian disputes in controversy between Arians and Athanasius' followers were settled by the Council of Constantinople, 381, and further disputes on the relation between the human and divine in Christ were ended in the West at least by the Council of Chacedon, 451. Prior to these developments there was considerable controversy employing Hellenistic philosophical terminology largely Platonic

Council of Niacea 325 turned away from Neoplatonism, and devised a formula for the Christian conception of Jesus Christ: the son of God and at the same time truly God incarnate. The Nicene definition established the meaning of faith which Christians were to hold and its defenders had recourse less to philosophical or theological speculation than to the Scripture as they understood it

Athanasius completed the Nicene definition in such a way as to include the third member of the Trinity the Holy Spirit and achieved a definition which became the starting point of a genuinely philosophical doctrine. By doing this he set the stage for St. Augustine's formulation of a truly Christian philosophy which made use of Hellenistic classical Greek phraseology without being subservient to it

Patristic philosophy provided the materials of the medieval synthesis achieved during the Scholastic Period and thereby determined the complexion of Western European Civilization of the Middle Ages

Augustine's ethics: The supreme goal of human conduct is a religious, mystical one the mind's union with God in the vision of God [to take place in a future, true life]Rich and poor alike were capable of salvation but possession of private property is a hindrance to the soul: Augustine places emphasis on povertythough the highest good is the transcendent good, a relative perfection may be obtained by performance of external works: venial sins may be wiped out by prayer, fasting, almsMan was free to sin or not to sinbut this was corrupted by Adam, and the entire human race is corrupted: now it is not possible for man not to sinGod alone can change him

His philosophy of history: In the City of God: a universal philosophy of history [considers temporal and historical processes in the context of external nature and the purpose of God]: it became the prototype of such modern though radically different philosophical interpretations of history such as those offered by Rousseau, Hegel, Comte, Nietzsche, Marx, Spengler, and Frobenius. The essential features: [1] historical process is a purposive teleological whole, [2] the process is predestined by God to bring about the redemption of some men and the destruction of others [but this does not preclude free will]

The free roaming of the human mind within the framework of dogma in time leading to the freeing of human reason, intellect from its theological bondage. The agenda of scholasticism: o elaborate a system of thought which will square with dogmas

Stages: [1] Formative: ninth-twelfth centuries: Platonism, Neoplatonism and Augustinianism are the dominant philosophical tendencies. Universals are real essences and prior

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