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At this last point we touch on the final generalisation by which Plato extended the dialectic method to all existence, and readmitted into philosophy the earlier speculations provisionally excluded from it by Socrates. The cross-examining elenchus, at first applied only to individuals, had been turned with destructive effect on every class, every institution, and every polity, until the whole of human life was made to appear one mass of self-contradiction, instability, and illusion. It had been held by some that the order of nature offered a contrast and a correction to this bewildering chaos. Plato, on the other hand, sought to show that the ignorance and evil prevalent among men were only a part of the imperfection necessarily belonging to derivative existence of every kind. For this purpose the philosophy of Heracleitus proved a welcome auxiliary. The pupil of Socrates had been taught in early youth by Cratylus, an adherent of the Ephesian school, that movement, relativity, and the conjunction of opposites are the very conditions under which Nature works. We may conjecture that Plato did not at first detect any resemblance between the Heracleitean flux and the mental bewilderment produced or brought to light by the master of cross-examination. But his visit to Italy would probably enable him to take a new view of the Ionian speculations, by bringing him into contact with schools maintaining a directly opposite doctrine. The Eleatics held that existence remained eternally undivided, unmoved, and unchanged. The Pythagoreans arranged all things according to a strained and rigid antithetical construction. Then came the identifying flash.132 Unchangeable reality, divine order,208 mathematical truththese were the objective counterpart of the Socratic definitions, of the consistency which Socrates introduced into conduct. The Heracleitean system applied to phenomena only; and it faithfully reflected the incoherent beliefs and disorderly actions of uneducated men. We are brought into relation with the fluctuating sea of generated and perishing natures by sense and opinion, and these reproduce, in their irreconcilable diversity, the shifting character of the objects with which they are conversant. Whatever we see and feel is a mixture of being and unreality; it is, and is not, at the same time. Sensible magnitudes are equal or greater or less according as the standard of comparison is chosen. Yet the very act of comparison shows that there is something in ourselves deeper than mere sense; something to which all individual sensations are referred as to a common centre, and in which their images are stored up. Knowledge, then, can no longer be identified with sensation, since the mental reproductions of external objects are apprehended in the absence of their originals, and since thought possesses the further faculty of framing abstract notions not representing any sensible objects at all.
The rift within the lute went on widening till all its music was turned to jarring discord. With the third great Attic dramatist we arrive at a period of complete dissolution.71 Morality is not only separated from mythological tradition, but is openly at war with it. Religious belief, after becoming almost monotheistic, has relapsed into polytheism. With Euripides the gods do not, as with his predecessors, form a common council. They lead an independent existence, not interfering with each other, and pursuing private ends of their ownoften very disreputable ones. Aphrodite inspires Phaedra with an incestuous passion for her stepson. Artemis is propitiated by human sacrifices. Hr causes Heracls to kill his children in a fit of delirium. Zeus and Poseid?n are charged with breaking their own laws, and setting a bad example to mortals. Apollo, once so venerated, fares the worst of any. He outrages a noble maiden, and succeeds in palming off her child on the man whom she subsequently marries. He instigates the murder of a repentant enemy who has come to seek forgiveness at his shrine. He fails to protect Orestes from the consequences of matricide, committed at his own unwise suggestion. Political animosity may have had something to do with these attacks on a god who was believed to side with the Dorian confederacy against Athens. Doubtless, also, Euripides disbelieved many of the scandalous stories which he selected as appropriate materials for dramatic representation. But a satire on immoral beliefs would have been unnecessary had they not been generally accepted. Nor was the poet himself altogether a freethinker. One of his latest and most splendid works, the Bacchae, is a formal submission to the orthodox creed. Under the stimulus of an insane delusion, Pentheus is torn to pieces by his mother Agav and her attendant Maenads, for having presumed to oppose the introduction of Dionysus-worship into Thebes. The antecedents of the new divinity are questionable, and the nature of his influence on the female population extremely suspicious. Yet much stress is laid on the impiety of Pentheus, and we are clearly intended to consider his fate as well-deserved.
Antisthenes and his school, of which Diogenes is the most popular and characteristic type, were afterwards known as Cynics; but the name is never mentioned by Plato and Aristotle, nor do they allude to the scurrility and systematic indecency afterwards associated with it. The anecdotes relating to this unsavoury subject should be received with extreme suspicion. There has always been a tendency to believe that philosophers carry out in practice what are vulgarly believed to be the logical consequences of their theories. Thus it is related of Pyrrho the Sceptic that when6 out walking he never turned aside to avoid any obstacle or danger, and was only saved from destruction by the vigilance of his friends.9 This is of course a silly fable; and we have Aristotles word for it that the Sceptics took as good care of their lives as other people.10 In like manner we may conjecture that the Cynics, advocating as they did a return to Nature and defiance of prejudice, were falsely credited with what was falsely supposed to be the practical exemplification of their precepts. It is at any rate remarkable that Epicttus, a man not disposed to undervalue the obligations of decorum, constantly refers to Diogenes as a kind of philosophical saint, and that he describes the ideal Cynic in words which would apply without alteration to the character of a Christian apostle.11CHAPTER XXXII. TOUCH AND GO.
Anaximanders system was succeeded by a number of others which cannot be arranged according to any order of linear progression. Such arrangements are, indeed, false in principle. Intellectual life, like every other life, is a product of manifold conditions, and their varied combinations are certain to issue in a corresponding multiplicity of effects. Anaximenes, a fellow-townsman of Anaximander, followed most closely in the footsteps of the master. Attempting, as it would appear, to mediate between his two predecessors, he chose air for a primal element. Air is more omnipresent than water, which, as well as earth, is enclosed within its plastic sphere. On the other hand, it is more tangible and concrete than the Infinite, or may even be substituted for that conception by supposing it to extend as far as thought can reach. As before, cosmogony grows out of cosmography; the enclosing element is the parent of those embraced within it.
Past the buildings, and palaces with gardens enclosed behind pierced stonework, and then across fresh green fields full of flowers, under the shade of banyans and palm trees, we reached the temple of the monkeys. This temple, dedicated to the fierce and bloodthirsty goddess Durga, is painted all over of a vivid red colour, blazing in the sunshine with intolerable brightness. Inside the sanctuary a black image of the goddess may be seen, mounted on her lion, and flowers are arranged about her in radiating lines mingled with gold thread, and producing very much the effect of a theatrical sun. In the [Pg 162]forecourt, on the carvings and the roof of the temple monkeys swarm, rushing after each other, fighting for the grains of maize that are thrown to them, and tormenting the wretched mangy dogs that seek refuge in the temple precincts, where they, too, are kept alive by the faithful.
"Well, this love came--the wild, unreasoning passion of the South. Dr. Bruce was pushed on, his fortune was being rapidly made. Then my heroine makes a discovery in strict accordance with the conditions of the game. Her governess and the doctor are affianced to one another."Behind this mosque, by narrow alleys hung with airy green silk that had just been dyed and spread to dry in the sun, we made our way to the mausoleum of Badorgi Shah: a cloister, an arcade of octagonal columns carved with flowers, and in the court, the tombs of white stone, covered with [Pg 64]inscriptions, that look like arabesques. There are some children's tombs, too, quite small, in finer and even whiter stone, and two tiny stones under which lie Badorgi's parrot and cat.