The Origin And Principle Of

in difference, Aristotle, indeed, lays more stress on the individuality of the real than Plato, but he gives as little countenance as Plato to the abstract nominalism which would reduce the world to a mere aggregation of individual substances.

The Cynics, however, were primarily bent upon practice and not upon theory; and the dialectical defence of individualism was valuable to Antisthenes mainly as a support to his ethical views, and especially to his attempt to isolate the individual and maintain his independence, his natural freedom and self-sufficiency. Indeed, to Antisthenes, the autonomy .of the individual, his independence of everything but himself, seemed of itself to constitute that supreme good which Socrates had taught him to seek. " Virtue is sufficient for happiness," he declared, "and all that it needs is the Socratic vigour" (layus IZwKpaTuai). Antisthenes may rightfully claim to be the first of the enthusiasts for ' formal freedom,' that is, for a freedom which is nothing but the negation of bondage—the assertion of the self against everything that is regarded as belonging to the not-self, the demand of the individual to be his own law and his own end. To such a temper of mind, every claim of society upon the individual, every custom or law or authority that demands the slightest deference from him, seems to be an outrage; and outrage must be met with outrage. The Cynic, therefore, is in a continual attitude of protest against what is conventional or artificial ; and to him the whole order of social life, every rule of morals or manners, or even of decency, seems to he conventional and artificial. He proclaims the watchword : ' Return to nature,' with all the dangerous ambiguities that have attached themselves to that phrase. For, while nature is set up as the type to which man is led by reason to conform himself, yet it is apt to be taken, not as meaning the ideal to which his development points as its goal, but that which is earliest and most elementary in its existence, as opposed to that which is later (that which is later being assumed to be imported from without). In this way the Cynic seeks the true man in the child, the savage, or even the animal; and the return to nature means for him the repudiation of all civilisation, of all that is due to education or social discipline. This is the fatal circle which moral speculation has trodden again and again from the time of Antisthenes down to that of Rousseau; and in which the attempt to get rid of what is adventitious and unnecessary, to free life from artificial adjuncts, and to get down to the basal facts of existence, converts itself into an effort to strip man of every veil that hides the nakedness of the animal.1

1Cf. the words of King Lear about the naked Edgar: "Ha I here*» three on's are sophisticated! Thou art the thing itself: unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art. Off, off, you lendings 1 Come, unbutton here,"

But this is not all. The Cynic sets up the standard of revolt against all social pressure, as trenching upon the native liberty of man: but, in the strange weakness of this merely negative attitude, the Cynic is found to have his own raison d'être just in that very society against which he protests, and without antagonism to which his own life would be empty and meaningless. His independence is an inverted dependence ; his pride and contempt for others are in essence one with the servility that hunts for their suffrages. " I see your vanity," said Socrates to Antisthenes, " through the holes in your coat." The Cynics are a crucial example and illus-tration of the law that men inspired by a one-sided theory and carrying it out unflinchingly to all its consequences, end in becoming a living demonstration of its absurdity. They supply, as it were, the corpus vile on which the experiment is made that exhibits the impossibility of an emancipation that is merely negative. They seek to make men free by breaking the ties that bind them to their fellowmen, to the objects of their desires, and to everything that is not themselves. But with every tie they break, with every relation they repudiate, their own life becomes poorer. In rejecting what seems to them the bondage of the State, they give up all the intellectual and moral discipline, all the culture and refinement of manners, all the opportunity for the exercise of human faculty, which made Plato and Aristotle prize the civic life so highly. Refusing to weaken themselves by luxury, because it enslaves men to outward things, they end in counting everything a luxury which man can exist without, that is to say, everything except the satisfaction of the barest sensuous wants. And, after all, they find that man is bound to the world he would escape as firmly as ever, though now only by the vulgar tie of appetite. They thus discover that there can be no end to what they regard as the servitude of the self to the not-self,* except in the extinction of the life they would emancipate. And indeed many of the Cynics, having reduced life to its beggarly elements, were ready to throw it away. Death is the only negative freedom; but bare death is not the emancipation of man from natural forces, rather it is their final triumph over him. There is, however, another aspect of the case. The real interest which fills the life of the Cynic, and in which his happiness consists, lies not, of course, in the necessaries of life to which he confines himself, but in the assertion of himself as against the political and social claims upon him. It is not, therefore, that he really excludes the ordinary interests of life, but that he takes them in a negative way. His very contempt and hatred binds him to that which he despises and hates. But he fails to recognise that such contempt and hatred needs

the objects against which it is directed, and that, without such objects, it would have nothing to spend itself upon. Thus, after all, the Cynic is a parasite upon the society he repudiates, and that just because he lives to defy and insult it.

Still, in spite of all this, we must recognise that there was an element of truth wrapped up in Cynicism, and this gave it an undoubted power over a certain class of minds. The negative idea of independence may be false and self-contradictory when it is divorced from any positive idea, but it has a real value as an element in the truth. There*is a sense in which the 'return to nature*c and the repudiation of luxury constitute the conditions of any healthy morality. And the Cynics, in denouncing the artificiality of the Greek State and the whole framework of society connected therewith, might be regarded as defending the integrity of the moral life. For it is true that, in orie aspect of it, the civilisation of Greece was an artificial product, based on the social privilege of a slave-holding aristocracy, and, therefore, upon injustice to human nature in the persons of their slaves. Hence also its morality was partial and one-sided, not the universal law of duty but the code of honour of a class, whose honour stood 4 rooted in the dishonour' of others. It was no little thing that, in the face of such a civilisation and such a morality, there should be men who main tained the dignity of labour, condemned the false glories of war, denounced the prejudices of class and race, and maintained that the only true State is the woXiTela tov kocrjuiov, the community of all men. But in the Cynic expression of these truths there is often a crudity and violence which seems to show that they were not appreciated in their highest meaning,' that they were grasped as weapons to throw at the enemy rather than as expressions of positive truth. "Follow philosophy till you regard the generals of armies as leaders of asses." " I would rather be mad than, feel pleasure." " Why should a man be proud, lite the Athenians, of being sprung from the soil with the worms and snails." " The most noble of all things is wapprivia, the power to speak out freely what we think." Are these sentences expressions of righteous horror at war, of genuine temperance and self-control, of a regard for humanity which reaches beyond patriotism, of a simple resolve to speak the truth at all hazards ? Or are they the utterance of a bitter wrath against the pleasures and ambitions of others, of a vulgar hatred and jealousy of superiority either in birth or culture, and of a desire for the utmost license of intemperate speech ? We can only say that the good and evil are so inextricably mingled together that we are bound to take the one with the other in our estimate. But we are bound also to recognise that the Cynics in their condemnation of the limited aristocratic State and of the culture and refinement that went with it, were tru^r prophets than Plato and Aristotle, who spent their great philosophic genius in trying to regenerate a form of social and political life which mankind had outgrown.

Now in the Stoic philosophy all these ambiguities are cleared up. Stoicism is Cynicism enlarged, r. deepened, idealised, freed from the violence and exaggeration of men who were outlaws and rebels against the social system under which they lived, and transformed into the calm strength of a rational faith. This may partly be explained by the history of the founder of the Stoic school. Zeno got his first initiation into philosophy from Crates the Cynic, and his whole system bore such distinct traces of the Cynic teaching that he was said to have written his works on the dog's tail (an untranslatable pun). But while he absorbed the lesson of the Cynic, we are told that he was repelled by the Cynic's outrages upon taste and decency: repelled also, we may fairly add, by ■'■his narrowness and hostility to culture. To this, however, Zeno found a corrective in the teaching of another of the Socratic schools; for we hear that he studied not only under Crates, but also under Stilpo, the Megarian. Now the peculiarity of the Megarian school was that it had developed the principles of Socrates in a diametrically opposite direction to that in which they were developed by the Cynics. To use the terms of later philosophy, the Megarians were extreme Realists as the Cynics were extreme Nominalists. Socrates had laid great stress on the importance of general notions, and had maintained that it is only when we grasp and define the universal that we can rightly judge of the particular. Thus he might seem to have given countenance to that tendency to exalt the universal at the expense of the particular, which is supposed to have led Plato to attribute absolute reality to the former and- to treat the latter as an illusive appearance. "But Plato, as we have seen, soon became aware of the danger of this exaggeration,'the danger of losing difference in unity and treating abstractions as the only realities; and, at least in his later writings, he insisted on the equal importance of analysis and synthesis. The founder of the Megarian school, on the other hand, being a man of subtle rather than comprehensive intelligence, possessed with the Platonic desire for unity without the Platonic desire for systematic completeness, fell early into the trap of abstraction from which Plato escaped. He set the one against the many, the universal against the particular; and he even went so far in this direction as to revive the abstract doctrine of the Eleaties,—though the influence of Socrates led him to call the absolute unity in which all difference is lost by the name of the Good, and also, we may add, to think of it not as a material but as an ideal principle. Moreover, like the later Eleatics, the Megarians devoted all their dialectical skill to the task of showing that multiplicity and change are essentially contradictory, and must, therefore, be mere illusive appearances.

But their doctrine became in this way the opposite counterpart of that of the Cynics. They maintained the exclusive reality of the abstract universal, as the Cynics maintained the exclusive reality of the abstract individual; and while the Cynics set* up the independence of the individual as the end of all action, the Megarians taught that the end was to be found in a pantheistic absorption in the Absolute, an extinction of all personal feeling in the contemplation of the One. But 'extremes meet,' —in the sense that when we entirely isolate them from each other and annul all positive relation between them, their negative relation also disappears, and they reach the same end by opposite roads. Thus the Cynic and the Megarian agree in denying the truth of any judgment which is not tautological; because to admit that the universal can be truly predicated of the individual would be to the Cynic inconsistent with the self-identity and independence of the individual, and to the Megarian inconsistent with the absolute unity and reality of the universal. And, if we consider their respective views of ethics, we can see that the self-centred freedom of the Cynic, to whom any desire or affection that went beyond himself would be slavery, has in it something closely akin to the apathy of the Megarian. It is a curious fact that this community of the two doctrines was already recognised by Stilpo, the Megarian teacher of Zeno, who, therefore, is sometimes called a Cynic, and who may possibly have suggested to Zeno the idea that a higher result might be reached by a combination of the doctrines of the two schools, in which he had •received his philosophical education.

Be th&t as it may, it is the fact that Zeno, looking at the Cynic philosophy with the eyes .of a Megarian, and at the Megarian philosophy with the eyes of a Cynic, rose to the conception of a system in which these two theories, which appeared to be diametrical opposites of each other, were united and reconciled. The originality of Zeno consisted mainly in this one illuminating thought—that the individualism of the Cynics and the pantheism of the Megarians, the sensationalism of the Cynics and the idealism of the Megarians, the materialism of the Cynics and the intellectualism of the Megarians, were not really contradictory, but were rather complementary aspects of one truth. The possibility of this union of opposites and the self-consistency of the philosophy founded upon it, we shall have to consider hereafter. But, in the first place, I wish to point out how by this change the spirit, tone, and temper of Stoicism became entirely different from that of Cynicism, and even sharply contrasted with it. For the Cynic school was, as we have seen, almost exclusively occupied with the negative side of its philosophic creed. Its activity was absorbed in the manifestation of its scorn and hatred for the institutions and principles of a society which seemed to it to stand in the way of the free development of the individuality of man; and by the inevitable recoil, it became imprisoned in its own negations, and the half-truth ' which it grasped was almost turned into a ialsehood by the exaggeration of its expression. For the Stoic, on the other hand, the doctrine of independence ceased to be a doctrine of revolt, and became a positive consciousness of the dignity of man as a rational being. The self-concentration—the consciousness of being a law to himself and subjected to no external authority, of being an end to himself and not a means to the ends of any other being or society without him—remained to the Stoic as his inheritance from the Cynic. But he had learned from the Megarian that the reason which made him a true individual, an independent self, was at the same time a universal principle, the principle of a life common to him with all other rational beings and uniting him to them all. Withdrawing into himself from all the entanglements of life, from all the special connexions of society, and realising to the full his individual selfhood and his separation from every other thing or being, he found that, when most alone, he was least alone, and that just in the inmost secret of his soul, he was at one with all mankind.

But in this way the Stoic had discovered that the deepest, and, in a sense, the most individual experiences of humanity are also the most universal. It is what is particular, the special characteristics of the individual and the race, the special traditions of each # family and nation, the special disposition and tendencies of each man, that hold us apart and make us incomprehensible to each other; but when we get down to the root of humanity, to the self-consciousness that makes us men, we find that our differences have been left behind or have become transparent, and that the language spoken by each individual is intelligible to all. The inmost secret of each man's heart is the secret of the whole world, and if we only go deep enough, we can evoke an echo in every breast. Hence it is just the greatest poets, those whose range of thought and feeling is widest, who are secure of a welcome everywhere; while those who express the special sentiments of any nation or class cannot be understood beyond their country and time, except by elaborate study and

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