body, like all matter, being inherently evil, is a hindrance to the soul, ? here we have a glimpse of hereditary depravity. But Plate ?reduced moral evil to the category of natural evil.? He failed to recognize God as creator and master of matter; failed to recognize man?s depravity as due to his own apostasy from God; failed to found morality on the divine will rather than on man?s own consciousness. He knew nothing of a common humanity, and regarded virtue as only for the few. As there was no common sin, so there was no common redemption. Plato thought to reach God by intellect alone, when only conscience and heart could lead to him. He believed in a freedom of the soul in a preexistent state where a choice was made between good and evil, but he believed that, after that ante- mundane decision had been made, the fates determined men?s acts and lives irreversibly. Reason drives two horses, appetite and emotion, but their course has been predetermined.
Man acts as reason prompts. All sin is ignorance. There is nothing in this life but determinism. Martineau, Types, 13, 48, 49, 78, 88 ? Plato in general has no proper notion of responsibility; he reduces moral evil to the category of natural evil. His Ideas with one exception are not causes. Cause is mind, and mind is the Good. The Good is the apex and crown of Ideas. The Good is the highest Idea, and this highest Idea is a Cause. Plato has a feeble conception of personality, whether in God or in man. Yet God is a person in whatever sense man is a person, and man?s personality is reflective self-consciousness. Will in God or man is not so clear. The Right is dissolved into the Good. Plato advocated infanticide and the killing off of the old and the helpless.
Aristotle (384-322) leaves out of view even the element of God-likeness and ante-mundane evil which Plato so dimly recognized, and makes morality the fruit of mere rational self-consciousness. He grants evil proclivities, but he refuses to call them immoral. He advocates a certain freedom of will, and he recognizes inborn tendencies, which war against this freedom, but how these tendencies originated he cannot say or how men may be delivered from them. Not all can be moral; the majority must be restrained by fear. He finds in God no motive, and love to God is not so much as mentioned as the source of moral action. A proud, composed, self-centered, and self-contained man is his ideal character. See Nicomachean Ethics, 7:6, and 10:10; Wuttke, Christian Ethics. i:92 ? I26. Alexander, Theories of Will, 39-54 ? Aristotle held that desire and reason are the springs of action. Yet he did not hold that knowledge of itself would make men virtuous. He was a determinist. Actions are free only in the sense of being devoid of external compulsion. He viewed slavery as both rational and right. Butcher, Aspects of Greek Genius, 76
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