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The political inst.i.tutions of the Platonic state are decidedly aristocratic. Grown up in opposition to the extravagances of the Athenian democracy, Plato prefers an absolute monarchy to every other const.i.tution, though this should have as its absolute ruler only the perfect philosopher. It is a well-known expression of his, that the state can only attain its end when philosophers become its rulers, or when its present rulers have carried their studies so far and so accurately, that they can unite philosophy with a superintendence of public affairs (V. 473). His reason for claiming that the sovereign power should be vested only in one, is the fact that very few are endowed with political wisdom. This ideal of an absolute ruler who should be able to lead the state perfectly, Plato abandons in the _Laws_, in which work he shows his preference for a mixed const.i.tution, embracing both a monarchical and an aristocratic element. From the aristocratic tendency of the Platonic ideal of a state, follows farther the sharp division of ranks, and the total exclusion of the third rank from a proper political life. In reality Plato makes but two cla.s.ses in his state, the subjects and the sovereign, a.n.a.logous to his twofold psychological division of sensible and intellectual, mortal and immortal, but as in psychology he had introduced a middle step, spirit, to stand between his two divisions there, so in the state he brings in the military cla.s.s between the ruler and those intended to supply the bodily wants of the community. We have thus three ranks, that of the ruler, corresponding to the reason, that of the watcher or warrior, answering to spirit, and that of the craftsman, which is made parallel to the appet.i.tes or sensuous desires. To these three ranks belong three separate functions: to the first, that of making the law and caring for the general good; to the second, that of defending the public welfare from attacks of external foes; and to the third, the care of separate interests and wants, as agriculture, mechanics, &c. From each of these three ranks and its functions the state derives a peculiar virtue-wisdom from the ruler, bravery from the warrior, and temperance from the craftsman, so far as he lives in obedience to his rulers. In the proper union of these three virtues is found the justice of the state, a virtue which is thus the sum of all other virtues. Plato pays little attention to the lowest rank, that of the craftsman, who exists in the state only as means. He held that it was not necessary to give laws and care for the rights of this portion of the community. The separation between the ruler and the warrior is not so broad. Plato suffers these two ranks to interpenetrate each other, and a.n.a.logous to his original psychological division, as though the reason were but spirit in the highest step of its development, he makes the oldest and the best of the warriors rise to the dignity and power of the rulers. The education of its warriors should therefore be a chief care of the state, in order that their spirit, though losing none of its peculiar energy, may yet be penetrated by reason. The best endowed by nature and culture among the warriors, may be selected at the age of thirty, and put upon a course of careful training. When he has reached the age of fifty and looked upon the idea of the good, he may be bound to actualize this archetype in the state, provided always that every one wait his turn, and spend his remaining time in philosophy. Only thus can the state be raised to the unconditioned rule of reason under the supremacy of the good.
THE OLD ACADEMY.
In the old Academy, we lose the presence of inventive genius; with few exceptions we find here no movements of progress, but rather a gradual retrogression of the Platonic philosophizing. After the death of Plato, Speusippus, his nephew and disciple, held the chair of his master in the Academy during eight years. He was succeeded by Xenocrates, after whom we meet with Polemo, Crates, and Crantor. It was a time in which schools for high culture were established, and the older teacher yielded to his younger successor the post of instruction. The general characteristics of the old Academy, so far as can be gathered from the scanty accounts, were great attention to learning, the prevalence of Pythagorean elements, especially the doctrine of numbers, and lastly, the reception of fantastic and demonological notions, among which the worship of the stars played a part. The prevalence of the Pythagorean doctrine of numbers in the later instructions of the Academy, gave to mathematical sciences, particularly arithmetic and astronomy, a high place, and at the same time a.s.signed to the doctrine of ideas a much lower position than Plato had given it. Subsequently, the attempt was made to get back to the unadulterated doctrine of Plato. Crantor is said to be the first editor of the Platonic writings.
As Plato was the only true Socraticist, so was Aristotle the only genuine disciple of Plato, though often abused by his fellow-disciples as unfaithful to his master's principles.
We pa.s.s on at once to him, without stopping now to inquire into his relation to Plato, or the advance which he made beyond his predecessor, since these points will come up before us in the exhibition of the Aristotelian philosophy. (_See_ -- XVI: III. 1.)
I. LIFE AND WRITINGS OF ARISTOTLE.-Aristotle was born 384 B. C. at Stagira, a Greek colony in Thrace. His father, Nicomachus, was a physician, and the friend of Amyntas, king of Macedonia. The former fact may have had its influence in determining the scientific direction of the son, and the latter may have procured his subsequent summons to the Macedonian court. Aristotle at a very early age lost both his parents.
In his seventeenth year he came to Plato at Athens, and continued with him twenty years. On account of his indomitable zeal for study, Plato named him "the Teacher," and said, upon comparing him with Xenocrates, that the latter required the spur, the former the bit. Among the many charges made against his character, most prominent are those of jealousy and ingrat.i.tude towards his master, but most of the anecdotes in which these charges are embodied merit little credence. It is certain that Aristotle, after the death of Plato, stood in friendly relations with Xenocrates; still, as a writer, he can hardly be absolved from a certain want of friendship and regard towards Plato and his philosophy, though all this can be explained on psychological grounds. After Plato's death, Aristotle went with Xenocrates to Hermeas, tyrant of Atarneus, whose sister Pythias he married after Hermeas had fallen a prey to Persian violence. After the death of Pythias he is said to have married his concubine, Herpyllis, who was the mother of his son Nicomachus. In the year 343 he was called by Philip of Macedon, to take the charge of the education of his son Alexander, then thirteen years old. Both father and son honored him highly, and the latter, with royal munificence, subsequently supported him in his studies. When Alexander went to Persia, Aristotle betook himself to Athens, and taught in the Lyceum, the only gymnasium then vacant, since Xenocrates had possession of the Academy, and the Cynics of the Cynosaerges. From the shady walks pe??pat?? of the Lyceum, in which Aristotle was accustomed to walk and expound his philosophy, his school received the name of the Peripatetic.
Aristotle is said to have spent his mornings with his more mature disciples, exercising them in the profoundest questions of philosophy, while his evenings were occupied with a greater number of pupils in a more general and preparatory instruction. The former investigations were called acroamatic, the latter exoteric. He abode at Athens, and taught thirteen years, and then, after the death of Alexander, whose displeasure he had incurred, he is said to have been accused by the Athenians of impiety towards the G.o.ds, and to have fled to Chalcis, in order to escape a fate similar to that of Socrates. He died in the year 322 at Chalcis, in Eubaea.
Aristotle left a vast number of writings, of which the smaller (perhaps a fourth), but unquestionably the more important portion have come down to us, though in a form which cannot be received without some scruples.
The story of Strabo about the fate of the Aristotelian writings, and the injury which they suffered in a cellar at Scepsis, is confessedly a fable, or at least limited to the original ma.n.u.scripts; but the fragmentary and descriptive form which many among them, and even the most important (_e. g._ the metaphysics) possess, the fact that scattered portions of one and the same work (_e. g._ the ethics) are repeatedly found in different treatises, the irregularities and striking contradictions in one and the same writing, the disagreement found in other particulars among different works, and the distinction made by Aristotle himself between acroamatic and exoterical writings, all this gives reason to believe that we have, for the most part, before us only his oral lectures written down, and subsequently edited by his scholars.
II. UNIVERSAL CHARACTER AND DIVISION OF THE ARISTOTELIAN PHILOSOPHY.-With Plato, philosophy had been national in both its form and content, but with Aristotle, it loses its h.e.l.lenic peculiarity, and becomes universal in scope and meaning; the Platonic dialogue changes into barren prose; a rigid, artistic language takes the place of the mythical and poetical dress; the thinking which had been with Plato intuitive, is with Aristotle discursive; the immediate beholding of reason in the former, becomes reflection and conception in the latter.
Turning away from the Platonic unity of all being, Aristotle prefers to direct his attention to the manifoldness of the phenomenal; he seeks the idea only in its concrete actualization, and consequently grasps the particular far more prominently in its peculiar determinateness and reciprocal differences, than in its connection with the idea. He embraces with equal interest the facts given in nature, in history, and in the inner life of man. But he ever tends toward the individual, he must ever have a fact given in order to develope his thought upon it; it is always the empirical, the actual, which solicits and guides his speculation; his whole course is a description of the facts given, and only merits the name of a philosophy because it comprehends the empirical in its totality and synthesis; because it has carried out its induction to the farthest extent. Only because he is the absolute empiricist may Aristotle be called the truly philosopher.
This character of the Aristotelian philosophy explains at the outset its encyclopedian tendency, inasmuch as every thing given in experience is equally worthy of regard and investigation. Aristotle is thus the founder of many courses of study unknown before him; he is not only the father of logic, but also of natural history, empirical psychology, and the science of natural rights.
This devotion of Aristotle to that which is given will also explain his predominant inclination towards physics, for nature is the most immediate and actual. Connected also with this is the fact that Aristotle is the first among philosophers who has given to history and its tendencies an accurate attention. The first book of the _Metaphysics_ is also the first attempt at a history of philosophy, as his politics is the first critical history of the different states and const.i.tutions. In both these cases he brings out his own theory only as the consequence of that which has been historically given, basing it in the former case upon the works of his predecessors, and in the latter case upon the const.i.tutions which lie before him.
It is clear that according to this, the method of Aristotle must be a different one from that of Plato. Instead of proceeding like the latter, synthetically and dialectically, he pursues for the most part an a.n.a.lytic and regressive course, that is, going backward from the concrete to its ultimate ground and determination. While Plato would take his standpoint in the idea, in order to explain from this position and set in a clearer light that which is given and empirical, Aristotle on the other hand, starts with that which is given, in order to find and exhibit the idea in it. His method is, hence, induction; that is, the derivation of certain principles and maxims from a sum of given facts and phenomena; his mode of procedure is, usually, argument, a barren balancing of facts, phenomena, circ.u.mstances and possibilities. He stands out for the most part only as the thoughtful observer. Renouncing all claim to universality and necessity in his results, he is content to have brought out that which has an approximative truth, and the highest degree of probability. He often affirms that science does not simply relate to the changeless and necessary, but also to that which ordinarily takes place, that being alone excluded from its province, which is strictly accidental. Philosophy, consequently, has with him the character and worth of a reckoning of probabilities, and his mode of exhibition a.s.sumes not unfrequently only the form of a doubtful deliberation. Hence there is no trace of the Platonic ideals, hence, also, his repugnance to a glowing and poetic style in philosophy, a repugnance which, while indeed it induces in him a fixed, philosophical terminology, also frequently leads him to mistake and misrepresent the opinions of his predecessors. Hence, also, in whatever he treated, his thorough adherence to that which is actually given.
Connected in fine with the empirical character of the Aristotelian philosophizing, is the fragmentary form of his writings, and their want of a systematic division and arrangement. Proceeding always in the line of that which is given, from individual to individual, he considers every province of the actual by itself, and makes it the subject of a separate treatise; but he, for the most part, fails to indicate the lines by which the different parts hang together, and are comprehended in a systematic whole. Thus he holds up a number of co-ordinate sciences, each one of which has an independent basis, but he fails to give us the highest science which embraces them all. The principle is sometimes affirmed that all the writings follow the idea of a whole; but in their procedure there is such a want of all systematic connection, and every one of his writings is a monograph so thoroughly independent and complete in itself, that we are sometimes puzzled to know what Aristotle himself received as a part of philosophy, and what he excluded. We are never furnished with an independent scheme or outline, we rarely find definite results or summary explanations, and even the different divisions of philosophy which he gives, vary essentially from one another. At one time he divides science into theoretical and practical, at another, he adds to these two a poetical creative science, while still again he speaks of the three parts of science, ethics, physics, and logic. At one time he divides the theoretical philosophy into logic and physics, and at another into theology, mathematics, and physics. But no one of these divisions has he expressly given as the basis on which to represent his system; he himself places no value upon this method of division, and, indeed, openly declares himself opposed to it. It is, therefore, only for the sake of uniformity that we can give the preference here to the threefold division of philosophy as already adopted by Plato.
III. LOGIC AND METAPHYSICS. 1. CONCEPTION AND RELATION OF THE TWO.-The word metaphysics was first furnished by the Aristotelian commentators.
Plato had used the term dialectics, and Aristotle had characterized the same thing as "first philosophy," while he calls physics the "second philosophy." The relation of this first philosophy to the other sciences Aristotle determines in the following way. Every science, he says, must have for investigation a determined province and separate form of being, but none of these sciences reaches the conception of being itself. Hence there is needed a science which should investigate that which the other sciences take up hypothetically, or through experience. This is done by the first philosophy which has to do with being as such, while the other sciences relate only to determined and concrete being. The metaphysics, which is this science of being and its primitive grounds, is the _first_ philosophy, since it is presupposed by every other discipline. Thus, says Aristotle, if there were only a physical substance, then would physics be the first and the only philosophy, but if there be an immaterial and unmoved essence which is the ground of all being, then must there also be an antecedent, and because it is antecedent, a universal philosophy. The first ground of all being is G.o.d, whence Aristotle occasionally gives to the first philosophy the name of theology.
It is difficult to determine the relation between this first philosophy as the science of the ultimate ground of things, and that science which is ordinarily termed the logic of Aristotle, and which is exhibited in the writings bearing the name of the _Organon_. Aristotle himself has not accurately examined the relations of these two sciences, the reason of which is doubtless to be found in the incomplete form of the metaphysics. But since he has embraced them both under the same name of logic, since the investigation of the essence of things (VII. 17), and the doctrine of ideas (XIII. 5), are expressly called logical, since he repeatedly attempts in the Metaphysics (_Book_ IV.), to establish the logical principle of contradiction as an absolute presupposition for all thinking and speaking and philosophizing, and employs the method of argument belonging to that science which has to do with the essence of things (III. 2. IV. 3), and since, in fine, the categories to which he had already dedicated a separate book in the Organon are also discussed again in the Metaphysics (_Book_ V.), it follows that this much at least may be affirmed with certainty, that he would not absolutely separate the investigations of the Organon from those of the Metaphysics, and that he would not counsel the ordinary division of formal logic and metaphysics, although he has omitted to show more clearly their inner connection.
2. LOGIC.-The great problem both of the logical faculty and also of logic both as science and art, consists in this, viz., to form and judge of conclusions, and through conclusions to be able to establish a proof.
The conclusions, however, arise from propositions, and the propositions from conceptions. According to this natural point of view, which lies in the very nature of the case, Aristotle has divided the content of the logical and dialectical doctrine contained in the different treatises of the Organon. The first treatise in the Organon is that containing the _categories_, a work which treats of the universal determinations of being, and gives the first attempt at an ontology. Of these categories Aristotle enumerates ten; essence, magnitude, quality, relation, the where, the when, position, habit, action, and pa.s.sion. The second treatise (_de interpretatione_) investigates speech as the expression of thought, and discusses the doctrine of the parts of speech, propositions and judgments. The third are the a.n.a.lytic books, which show how conclusions may be referred back to their principles and arranged in order of their antecedence. The first a.n.a.lytic contains in two books the universal doctrine of the Syllogism. Conclusions are according to their content and end either apodictic, which possess a certain and incontrovertible truth, or dialectic, which are directed toward that which may be disputed and is probable, or, finally, sophistic, which are announced deceptively as correct conclusions while they are not. The doctrine of apodictic conclusions and thus of proofs is given in the two books of the second a.n.a.lytic, that of dialectic, is furnished in the eight books of the Topic, and that of sophistic in the treatise concerning "Sophistical Convictions."
A closer statement of the Aristotelian logic would be familiar to every one, since the formal representations of this science ordinarily given, employ for the most part only the material furnished by Aristotle. Kant has remarked, that since the time of the Grecian sage, logic has made neither progress nor retrogression. Only in two points has the formal logic of our time advanced beyond that of Aristotle; first, in adding to the categorical conclusion which was the only one Aristotle had in mind, the hypothetical and disjunctive, and second, in adding the fourth to the first three figures of conclusion. But the incompleteness of the Aristotelian logic, which might be pardoned in the founder of this science, yet abides, and its thoroughly empirical method not only still continues, but has even been exalted to a principle by making the ant.i.thesis, which Aristotle did not, between the form of a thought and the content. Aristotle, in reality, only attempted to collect the logical facts in reference to the formation of propositions, and the method of conclusions; he has given in his logic only the natural history of finite thinking. However highly now we may rate the correctness of his abstraction, and the clearness with which he brings into consciousness the logical operation of the understanding, we must make equally conspicuous with this the want of all scientific derivation and foundation. The ten categories which he, as already remarked, has discussed in a separate treatise, he simply mentions, without furnishing any ground or principle for this enumeration; that there are this number of categories is only a matter of fact to him, and he even cites them differently in different writings. In the same way also he takes up the figures of the conclusion empirically; he considers them only as forms and determinations of relation of the formal thinking, and continues thus, although he allows the conclusion to stand for the only form of science within the province of the logic of the understanding. Neither in his Metaphysics nor in his Physics does he cite the rules of the formal methods of conclusion which he develops in the Organon, clearly proving that he has nowhere in his system properly elaborated either his categories or his a.n.a.lytic; his logical investigations do not influence generally the development of his philosophical thought, but have for the most part only the value of a preliminary scrutiny.
3. METAPHYSICS.-Among all the Aristotelian writings, the Metaphysics is least ent.i.tled to be called a connected whole; it is only a connection of sketches, which, though they follow a certain fundamental idea, utterly fail of an inner mediation and a perfect development. We may distinguish in it seven distinct groups. (1) Criticism of the previous philosophic systems viewed in the light of the four Aristotelian principles, _Book_ I. (2) Positing of the apories or the philosophical preliminary questions, III. (3) The principle of contradiction, IV. (4) Definitions, V. (5) Examination of the conception of essence (??s?a) and conceivable being (the t? ?? e??a?) or the conception of matter (???), form (e?d??), and that which arises from the connection of these two (s??????), VII. VIII. (6) Potentiality and actuality, IX. (7) The Divine Spirit moving all, but itself unmoved, XII. (8) To these we may add the polemic against the Platonic doctrine of ideas and numbers, which runs through the whole Metaphysics, but is especially carried out in _Books_ XIII. and XIV.
(1) _The Aristotelian Criticism of the Platonic Doctrine of Ideas._-In Aristotle's antagonism to the Platonic doctrine of ideas, we must seek for the specific difference between the two systems, a difference of which Aristotle avails himself of every opportunity (especially _Metaph._ I. and XIII.) to express. Plato had beheld every thing actual in the idea, but the idea was to him a rigid truth, which had not yet become interwoven with the life and the movement of existence. Such a view, however, had this difficulty, the idea, however little Plato would have it so, found standing over against it in independent being the phenomenal world, while it furnished no principle on which the being of the phenomenal world could be affirmed. This Aristotle recognizes and charges upon Plato, that his ideas were only "immortalized things of sense," out of which the being and becoming of the sensible could not be explained. In order to avoid this consequence, he himself makes out an original reference of mind to phenomenon, affirming that the relation of the two is, that of the actual to the possible, or that of form to matter, and considering also mind as the absolute actuality of matter, and matter, as the potentially mind. His argument against the Platonic doctrine of ideas, Aristotle makes out in the following way.
Pa.s.sing by now the fact that Plato has furnished no satisfactory proof for the objective and independent reality of ideas, and that his theory is without vindication, we may affirm in the first place that it is wholly unfruitful, since it possesses no ground of explanation for being. The ideas have no proper and independent content. To see this we need only refer to the manner in which Plato introduced them. In order to make science possible he had posited certain substances independent of the sensible, and uninfluenced by its changes. But to serve such a purpose, there was offered to him nothing other than this individual thing of sense. Hence he gave to this individual a universal form, which was with him the idea. From this it resulted, that his ideas can hardly be separated from the sensible and individual objects which partic.i.p.ate in them. The ideal duality and the empirical duality is one and the same content. The truth of this we can readily see, whenever we gain from the adherents to the doctrine of ideas a definite statement respecting the peculiar character of their unchangeable substances, in comparison with the sensible and individual things which partic.i.p.ate in them. The only difference between the two consists in appending _per se_ to the names expressing the respective ideas; thus, while the individual things are _e. g._ man, horse, etc., the ideas are man _per se_, horse _per se_, etc. There is only this formal change for the doctrine of ideas to rest upon; the finite content is not removed, but is only _characterized_ as perpetual. This objection, that in the doctrine of ideas we have in reality only the sensible posited as a not-sensible, and endowed with the predicate of immutability, Aristotle urges as above remarked when he calls the ideas "immortalized things of sense," not as though they were actually something sensible and s.p.a.cial, but because in them the sensible individual loses at once its individuality, and becomes a universal. He compares them in this respect with the G.o.ds of the popular and anthropomorphical religion; as these are nothing but deified men, so the ideas are only things of nature endowed with a supernatural potency, a sensible exalted to a not-sensible. This ident.i.ty between the ideas and their respective individual things amounts moreover to this, that the introduction of ideas doubles the objects to be known in a burdensome manner, and without any good results. Why set up the same thing over again? Why besides the sensible twofoldness and threefoldness, affirm a twofoldness and threefoldness in the idea? The adherents of the doctrine of ideas, when they posit an idea for every cla.s.s of natural things, and through this theory set up two equivalent theories of sensible and not-sensible substances, seem therefore to Aristotle like men who think they can reckon better with many numbers than with few, and who therefore go to multiplying their numbers before they begin their reckoning. Therefore again the doctrine of ideas is a tautology, and wholly unfruitful of the explanation of being, "The ideas give no aid to the knowledge of the individual things partic.i.p.ating in them, since the ideas are not immanent in these things, but separate from them." Equally unfruitful are the ideas when considered in reference to the arising and departing of the things of sense. They contain no principle of becoming, of movement. There is in them no causality which might bring out the event, or explain the event when it had actually happened. Themselves without motion and process, if they had any effect, it could only be that of perfect repose. True, Plato affirms in his Phaedon that the ideas are causes both of being and becoming, but in spite of the ideas, nothing ever _becomes_ without a moving; the ideas, by their separation from the becoming, have no such capacity to move. This indifferent relation of ideas to the actual becoming, Aristotle brings under the categories, potentiality and actuality, and farther says that the ideas are only potential, they are only bare possibility and essentiality because they are wanting in actuality.-The inner contradiction of the doctrine of ideas is in brief this, viz., that it posits an individual immediately as a universal, and at the same time p.r.o.nounces the universal, the species, as numerically an individual, and also that the ideas are set up on the one side as separate individual substances, and on the other side as partic.i.p.ant, and therefore as universal. Although the ideas as the original conceptions of species are a universal, which arise when being is fixed in existence, and the one brought out in the many, and the abiding is given a place in the changeable, yet can they not be defined as they should be according to the Platonic notion, that they are individual substances, for there can be neither definition nor derivation of an absolute individual, since even the word (and only in words is a definition possible) is in its nature a universal, and belongs also to other objects, consequently, every predicate in which I attempt to determine an individual thing cannot belong exclusively to that thing.
The adherents of the doctrine of ideas, are therefore not at all in a condition to give an idea a conceivable termination; their ideas are indefinable.-In general, Plato has left the relation of the individual objects to ideas very obscure. He calls the ideas archetypes, and allows that the objects may partic.i.p.ate in them; yet are these only poetical metaphors. How shall we represent to ourselves this "partic.i.p.ation,"
this copying of the original archetype? We seek in vain for more accurate explanations of this in Plato. It is impossible to conceive how and why matter partic.i.p.ates in the ideas. In order to explain this, we must add to the ideas a still higher and wider principle, which contains the cause for this "partic.i.p.ation" of objects, for without a moving principle we find no ground for "partic.i.p.ation." Alike above the idea (_e. g._ the idea of man), and the phenomenon (_e. g._ the individual man), there must stand a third common to both, and in which the two were united, _i. e._ as Aristotle was in the habit of expressing this objection, the doctrine of ideas leads to the adoption of a "third man."
The result of this Aristotelian criticism is the immanence of the universal in the individual. The method of Socrates in trying to find the universal as the essence of the individual, and to give definitions according to conception, was as correct (for no science is possible without the universal) as the theory of Plato in exalting these universal conceptions to an independent subsistence as real individual substances, was erroneous. Nothing universal, nothing which is a kind or a species, exists besides and separate from the individual; a thing and its conception cannot be separated from each other. With these principles Aristotle hardly deviated from Plato's fundamental idea that the universal is the only true being, and the essence of individual things; it may rather be said that he has freed this idea from its original abstraction, and given it a more profound mediation with the phenomenal world. Notwithstanding his apparent contradiction to Plato, the fundamental position of Aristotle is the same as that of his master, viz., that the essence of a thing (t? t? ?st??, t? t? ?? e??a?) is known and represented in the conception; Aristotle however recognizes the universal, the conception to be as little separated from the determined phenomenon as form from matter, and essence or substance (??s?a) in its most proper sense is, according to him, only that which cannot be predicated of another, though of this other every remaining thing may be predicated; it is that which is a this (t?de t?), the individual thing and not a universal.
(2.) _The four Aristotelian principles or causes, and the relation of form and matter._-From the criticism of the Platonic doctrine of ideas arose directly the groundwork of the Aristotelian system, the determinations of matter (???), and form (e?d??). Aristotle enumerates four metaphysical principles or causes: matter, form, moving cause, and end. In a house, for instance, the matter is the wood, the form is the conception of the house, the moving cause is the builder, and the end is the actual house. These four determinations of all being resolve themselves upon a closer scrutiny into the fundamental ant.i.thesis of matter and form. The conception of the moving cause is involved with the two other ideal principles of form and of end. The moving cause is that which has secured the transition of the incomplete actuality or potentiality to the complete actuality, or induces the becoming of matter to form. But in every movement of the incomplete to the complete, the latter antedates in conception this movement, and is its motive. The moving cause of matter is therefore form. So is man the moving and producing cause of man; the form of the statue in the understanding of the artist is the cause of the movement by which the statue is produced; health must be in the thought of the physician before it can become the moving cause of convalescence; so in a certain degree is medicine, health, and the art of building the form of the house. But in the same way, the moving or first cause is also identical with the final cause or end, for the end is the motive for all becoming and movement. The moving cause of the house is the builder, but the moving cause of the builder is the end to be attained, _i. e._ the house. From such examples as these it is seen that the determinations of form and end may be considered under one, in so far as both are united in the conception of actuality (?????e?a), for the end of every thing is its completed being, its conception or its form, the bringing out into complete actuality that which was potentially contained in it. The end of the hand is its conception, the end of the seed is the tree, which is at the same time the essence of the seed. The only fundamental determinations, therefore, which cannot be wholly resolved into each other, are matter and form.
Matter when abstracted from form in thought, Aristotle regarded as that which was entirely without predicate, determination and distinction. It is that abiding thing which lies at the basis of all becoming; but which in its own being is different from every thing which has become. It is capable of the widest diversity of forms, but is itself without determinate form; it is every thing in possibility, but nothing in actuality. There is a first matter which lies at the basis of every determinate thing, precisely as the wood is related to the bench and the marble to the statue. With this conception of matter Aristotle prides himself upon having conquered the difficulty so frequently urged of explaining the possibility that any thing can become, since being can neither come out of being nor out of not-being. For it is not out of not-being absolutely, but only out of that which as to actuality is not-being, but which potentially is being, that any thing becomes.
Possible or potential being is no more not-being than actuality. Every existing object of nature is hence but a potential thing which has become actualized. Matter is thus a far more positive substratum with Aristotle than with Plato, who had treated it as absolutely not-being.
From this is clearly seen how Aristotle could apprehend matter in opposition to form as something positively negative and ant.i.thetic to the form, and as its positive denial (st???s??).
As matter coalesces with potentiality, so does form coincide with actuality. It is that which makes a distinguishable and actual object, a this (t?de t?) out of the undistinguished and indeterminate matter; it is the peculiar virtue, the completed activity, the soul of every thing.
That which Aristotle calls form, therefore, is not to be confounded with what we perhaps may call shape; a hand severed from the arm, for instance, has still the outward shape of a hand, but according to the Aristotelian apprehension, it is only a hand now as to matter and not as to form: an actual hand, a hand as to form, is only that which can do the proper work of a hand. Pure form is that which, in truth, is without matter (t? t? ?? e??a?); or, in other words, the conception of being, the pure conception. But such pure form does not exist in the realm of determined being; every determined being, every individual substance (??s?a), every thing which is a this, is rather a totality of matter and form, a (s??????). It is, therefore, owing to matter, that being is not pure form and pure conception; matter is the ground of the becoming, the manifold, and the accidental; and it is this, also, which gives to science its limits. For in precisely the measure in which the individual thing bears in itself a material element is it uncognizable. From what has been said, it follows that the opposition between matter and form is a variable one, that being matter in one respect which in another is form; building-wood, _e. g._ is matter in relation to the completed house, but in relation to the unhewn tree it is form; the soul in respect to the body is form, but in respect to the reason, which is the form of form (e?d?? e?d???) is it matter. On this standpoint the totality of all existence may be represented as a ladder, whose lowest step is a prime matter (p??t? ???), which is not at all form, and whose highest step is an ultimate form which is not at all matter, but is pure form (the absolute, divine spirit). That which stands between these two points is in one respect matter, and in another respect form, _i. e._ the former is ever translating itself into the latter. This position, which lies at the basis of the Aristotelian view of nature, is attained a.n.a.lytically through the observation that all nature exhibits the perpetual and progressive transition of matter into form, and shows the exhaustless and original ground of things as it comes to view in ever ascending ideal formations. That all matter should become form, and all that is potential should be actual, and all that is should be known, is doubtless the demand of the reason and the end of all becoming; yet is this actually impracticable, since Aristotle expressly affirms that matter as the ant.i.thesis, or denial of form, can never become wholly actualized, and therefore can never be perfectly known. The Aristotelian system ends thus like its predecessors, in the unsubdued dualism of matter and form.
(3.) _Potentiality and Actuality_ (d??a?? and ?????e?a).-The relation of matter to form, logically apprehended, is but the relation of potentiality to actuality. These terms, which Aristotle first employed according to their philosophical significance, are very characteristic for his system. We have in the movement of potential being to actual being the explicit conception of becoming, and in the four principles we have a distribution of this conception in its parts. The Aristotelian system is consequently a system of the becoming, in which the Herac.l.i.tic principle appears again in a richer and profounder apprehension, as that of the Eleatics had done with Plato. Aristotle in this has made no insignificant step towards the subjection of the Platonic dualism. If matter is the possibility of form, or reason becoming, then is the opposition between the idea and the phenomenal world potentially overcome, at least in principle, since there is one being which appears both in matter and form only in different stages of development. The relation of the potential to the actual Aristotle exhibits by the relation of the unfinished to the finished work, of the unemployed carpenter to the one at work upon his building, of the individual asleep to him awake. Potentially the seed-corn is the tree, but the grown up tree is it actually; the potential philosopher is he who is not at this moment in a philosophizing condition; even before the battle the better general is the potential conqueror; potentially is s.p.a.ce infinitely divisible; in fact every thing is potentially which possesses a principle of motion, of development, or of change, and which, if unhindered by any thing external, will be of itself. Actuality or entelechy on the other hand indicates the perfect act, the end as gained, the completely actual (the grown-up tree _e.g._ is the entelechy of the seed-corn), that activity in which the act and the completeness of the act fall together, _e. g._ to see, to think where he sees and he has seen, he thinks and he has thought (the acting and the completeness of the act) are one and the same, while in those activities which involve a becoming, _e. g._ to learn, to go, to become well, the two are separated. In this apprehension of form (or idea) as actuality or entelechy, _i. e._ in joining it with the movement of the becoming, is found the chief antagonism of the Aristotelian and Platonic systems.
Plato considers the idea as being at rest, and consisting for itself, in opposition to the becoming and to motion; but with Aristotle the idea is the eternal product of the becoming, it is an eternal energy, _i. e._ an activity in complete actuality, it is not perfect being, but is being produced in every moment and eternally, through the movement of the potential to its actual end.
(4.) _The Absolute, Divine Spirit._-Aristotle has sought to establish from a number of sides, the conception of the absolute spirit, or as he calls it, the first mover, and especially by joining it to the relation of potentiality and actuality.
(_a._) _The Cosmological Form._-The actual is ever antecedent to the potential not only in conception (for I can speak of potentiality only in reference to some activity) but also in time, for the acting becomes actual only through an acting; the uneducated becomes educated through the educated, and this leads to the claim of a first mover which shall be pure activity. Or, again, it is only possible that there should be motion, becoming, or a chain of causes, except as a principle of motion, a mover exists. But this principle of motion must be one whose essence is actuality, since that which only exists in possibility cannot alone become actual, and therefore cannot be a principle of motion. All becoming postulates with itself that which is eternal and which has not become, that which itself unmoved is a principle of motion, a first mover.
(_b._) _The Ontological Form._-In the same way it follows from the conception of potentiality, that the eternal and necessary being cannot be potential. For that which potentially is, may just as well either be or not be; but that which possibly is not, is temporal and not eternal.
Nothing therefore which is absolutely permanent, is potential, but only actual. Or, again, if potentiality be the first, then can there be no possible existence, but this contradicts the conception of the absolute or that which it is impossible should not be.
(_c._) _The Moral Form._-Potentiality always involves a possibility to the most opposite. He who has the capacity to be well, has also the capacity to be sick, but actually no man is at the same time both sick and well. Therefore actuality is better than potentiality, and only it can belong to the eternal.
(_d._) So far as the relation of potentiality and actuality is identical with the relation of matter and form, we may apprehend in the following way these arguments for the existence of a being which is pure actuality. The supposition of an absolute matter without form (the p??t?
???) involves also the supposition of an absolute form without matter (a p??t?? e?d??). And since the conception of form resolves itself into the three determinations, of the moving, the conceivable, and the final cause, so is the eternal one the absolute principle of motion (the first mover p??t?? ??????), the absolute conception or pure intelligible (the pure t? ?? e??a?), and the absolute end.
All the other predicates of the first mover or the highest principle of the world, follow from these premises with logical necessity. Unity belongs to him, since the ground of the manifoldness of being lies in the matter and he has no partic.i.p.ation in matter; he is immovable and abiding ever the same, since otherwise he could not be the absolute mover and the cause of all becoming; he is life as active self-end and actuality; he is at the same time intelligible and intelligence, because he is absolutely immaterial and free from nature; he is active, _i. e._ thinking intelligence, because his essence is pure actuality; he is self-contemplating intelligence, because the divine thought cannot attain its actuality in any thing extrinsic, and because if it were the thought of any thing other than itself, this would make it depend upon some potential existence for its actualization. Hence the famed Aristotelian definition of the absolute that it is the thought of thought (???s?? ???ae??), the personal unity of the thinking and the thought, of the knowing and the known, the absolute subject-object. In the Metaphysics (XII. 1.) we have a statement in order of these attributes of the Divine Spirit, and an almost devout sketch of the eternally blessed Deity, knowing himself in his eternal tranquillity as the absolute truth, satisfied with himself, and wanting neither in activity nor in any virtue.
As would appear from this statement, Aristotle has never fully developed the idea of his absolute spirit, and still less has he harmonized it with the fundamental principles and demands of his philosophy, although many consequences of his system would seem to drive him to this, and numerous principles which he has laid down would seem to prepare the way for it. This idea is unexpectedly introduced in the twelfth book of the Metaphysics simply as an a.s.sertion, without being farther and inductively substantiated. It is at once attended with important difficulties. We do not see why the ultimate ground of motion or the absolute spirit must be conceived as a personal being; we do not see how any thing can he a moving cause and yet itself unmoved; how it can be the origin of all becoming, that is of the departing and arising, and itself remain a changeless energy, a principle of motion with no potentiality to be moved, for the moving thing must stand in a relation of pa.s.sive and active with the thing moved. Moreover, Aristotle, as would follow from these contradictory determinations, has never thoroughly and consistently determined the relation between G.o.d and the world. He has considered the absolute spirit only as contemplative and theoretical reason, from whom all action must be excluded because he is perfect end in himself, but every action presupposes an end not yet perfected; we have thus no true motive for his activity in reference to the world. He cannot be truly called the first mover in his theoretical relation alone, and since he is in his essence extra-mundane and unmoved, he cannot once permeate the life of the world with his activity; and since also matter on one side never rises wholly to form, we have, therefore, here again the unreconciled dualism between the Divine spirit and the unmistakable reality of matter. Many of the arguments which Aristotle brings against the G.o.ds of Anaxagoras may be urged against his own theory.
IV. THE ARISTOTELIAN PHYSICS.-The Aristotelian Physics, which embraces the greater portion of his writings, follows the becoming and the building up of matter into form, the course through which nature as a living being progresses in order to become individual soul. All becoming has an end; but end is form, and the absolute form is spirit. With perfect consistency, therefore, Aristotle regards the human individual of the male s.e.x as the end and the centre of earthly nature in its realized form. All else beneath the moon is, as it were, an unsuccessful attempt of nature to produce the male human, a superfluity which arises from the impotence of nature to subdue the whole of matter and bring it into form. Every thing which does not gain the universal end of nature must be regarded as incomplete, and is properly an exception or abortion. For instance, he calls it an abortion when a child does not resemble its father; and the female child he looks upon as an abortion in a less degree, which he accounts for by the insufficient energy of the male as the forming principle. In general, Aristotle regards the female as imperfect in comparison with the male, an imperfection which belongs in a higher degree to all animals except man. If nature did her work with perfect consciousness, then were all these mistakes, these incomplete and improper formations inexplicable, but she is an artist working only after an unconscious impulse, and does not complete her work with a clear and rational insight.
1. The universal conditions of all natural existence, _motion_, _matter_, _s.p.a.ce_ and _time_, Aristotle investigates in the books of Physics. These physical conceptions may, moreover, be reduced to the metaphysical notions of potentiality and actuality; motion is accordingly defined as the activity of being potentially, and is therefore a mean between the merely potential ent.i.ty and the perfectly realized activity;-s.p.a.ce is the possibility of motion and possesses, therefore, potentially, though not actively, the property of infinite divisibility; time is in the same way the infinitely divisible, expressing the measure of motion in number, and is the number of motion according to before and after. All three are infinite, but the infinite which is represented in them is only potentially but not actually a whole: it comprehends nothing, but is itself comprehended,-a fact mistaken by those who are accustomed to extol the infinite as though it comprehended and held every thing in itself, because it had some similarity with the whole.
2. From his conception of motion Aristotle derives his view of the _collective universe_, as brought out in his books _De Caelo_. The most perfect motion is the circular, because this is constant, uniform, and ever returning into itself. The world as a whole is therefore conditioned by the circular motion, and being a whole complete in itself, it has a spherical form. But because the motion which returns into itself is better than every other, it follows, from the same ground, that in this spherical universe the better sphere will be in the circ.u.mference where the circular motion is most perfect, and the inferior one will arrange itself around the centre of the universal sphere. The former is heaven, the latter is earth, and between the two stand the planetary spheres. Heaven, as the place of circular motion, and the scene of unchangeable order, stands nearest the first moving cause, and is under its immediate influence; it is the place where the ancients, guided by the correct tradition of a lost wisdom, have, placed the Divine abode. Its parts, the fixed stars, are pa.s.sionless and eternal essences, which have attained the best end, which must be eternally conceived in a tireless activity, and which, though not clearly cognizable, are yet much more divine than man, A lower sphere, next to that of the fixed stars, is the sphere of the planets, among which, besides the five known to the ancients, he reckons the sun and the moon. This sphere stands a little removed from the greatest perfection: instead of moving directly from right to left, as do the fixed stars, the planets move in contrary directions and in oblique orbits; they serve the fixed stars, and are ruled by their motion.
Lastly, the earth is in the centre of the universe, farthest removed from the first mover, and hence partaking in the smallest degree of the Divine. There are thus three kinds of being, exhibiting three stages of perfection, and necessary for the explanation of nature; first, the absolute spirit or G.o.d, an immaterial being, who, himself unmoved, produces motion; second, the super-terrestrial region of the heavens, a being which is moved and which moves, and which, though not without matter, is eternal and unchangeable, and possesses ever a circular motion; and, lastly, in the lowest course this earth, a changeful being, which has only to play the pa.s.sive part of being moved.
3. _Nature in a strict sense_, the scene of elemental working, represents to us a constant and progressive transition of the elementary to the vegetative, and of the vegetative to the animal world. The lowest step is occupied by the inanimate bodies of nature, which are simple products of the elements mingling themselves together, and have their entelechy only in the determinate combinations of these elements, but whose energy consists only in striving after a fitting place in the universe, and in resting there so far as they reach it unhindered. But now such a mere external entelechy is not possessed by the living bodies; within them dwells a motion as organizing principle by which they attain to actuality, and which as a preserving activity develops in them towards a perfected organization,-in a word they have a soul, for a soul is the entelechy of an organic body. In plants we find the soul working only as persevering and nourishing energy: the plant has no other function than to nourish itself and to propagate its kind; among animals-where we find a progress according to the mode of their reproduction-the soul appears as sensitive; animals have sense, and are capable of locomotion; lastly, the human soul is at the same time nutritive, sensitive, and cognitive.
4. _Man_, as the end of all nature, embraces in himself the different steps of development in which the life of nature is exhibited. The division of the faculties of the soul must therefore be necessarily regulated, according to the division of living creatures. As the nutritive faculty is alone the property of vegetables, and sensation, of animals, while to the more perfect animals locomotion also belongs, so are these three activities also development steps of the human soul, the antecedent being the necessary condition of, and presupposed in time by, the subsequent, while the soul itself is nothing other than the union of these different activities of an organic body in one common end, as the entelechy of the organic body. The fourth step, thought or reason, which, added to the three others, const.i.tutes the peculiarity of the human soul, forms alone an exception from the general law. It is not a simple product of the lower facilities of the soul, it does not stand related to them simply as a higher stage of development, nor simply as the soul to the body, as the end to the instrument, as actuality to possibility, as form to matter. But as pure intellectual activity, it completes itself without any mediation of a bodily organ; as the reason comes into the body from without, so is it separable from the body, and therefore has it no inner connection with the bodily functions, but is something wholly foreign in nature. True, there exists a connection between thought and sensation, for while the sensations are outwardly divided, according to the different objects of sense, yet internally they meet in one centre, as a common sense. Here they become changed into images and representations, which again become trans.m.u.ted into thoughts, and so it might seem as if thought were only the result of the sensation, as if intelligence were pa.s.sively determined; (here we might notice the proposition falsely ascribed to Aristotle: _nihil est in intellectu quod non fuerit in sensu_, and also the well-known though often misunderstood comparison of the soul with an unwritten tablet, which only implies this much, viz., that as the unwritten tablet is potentially but not actually a book, so does knowledge belong potentially though not actually to the human reason; fundamentally and radically the thought may have in itself universal conceptions, so far as it has the capacity to form them, but not actually, nor in a determined or developed form). But this pa.s.sivity presupposes rather an activity; for if the thought in its actuality, in that it appears as knowledge, _becomes_ all forms and therefore all things, then must the thought _const.i.tute itself_ that which it becomes, and therefore all pa.s.sively determined human intelligence rests on an originally active intelligence, which exists as self-actualizing possibility and pure actuality, and which, as such, is wholly independent of the human body, and has not its entelechy in it but in itself, and is not therefore partic.i.p.ant in the death of the body, but lives on as universal reason, eternal and immortal. The Aristotelian dualism here again appears.
Manifestly this active intelligence stands related to the soul as G.o.d to nature. The two sides possess no essential relation to each other. As the Divine spirit could not enter the life of the world, so is the human spirit unable to permeate the life of sense; although it is determined as something pa.s.sionless and immaterial, still must it as soul be connected with matter, and although it is pure and self-contemplative form, still it should be distinguished from the Divine spirit which is its counterpart; the want of a satisfactory mediation on the side of the human and on that of the Divine, is in these respects unmistakable.