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BY THE AUTHOR OF THE ART OF REASONING," " RHETORIC," &c. In pre-European times Religion and Legislation held the place of philosophy. Then the relations of man to the superior intelligences who govern, or are supposed to govern, the world, the motives which ought to constitute the basis of human self-hood, and the moral and social duties of life, received their solutions from these sources. Religion defines moral guilt; Legislation determines social criminality. The former teaches those dogmatic maxims which ought to be adopted by each individual as the rule of his inner life; the latter imposes upon the members of the social state those laws to which the external conduct of each citizen must be conformed. In many cases we find these powers in friendly alliance; Religion prescribing rituals, formulas, and external observances, as well as promulgating laws regulative of daily life and its affairs; Legislation adding its imperative mandate enjoining submission, adjudging and exacting penalties for transgression. Often the regal sovereignty and the priestly office were vested in the same sacred personage, and then Religion and Legislation became identical. In the childhood-epoch of the race, so long as the intellect remained merely or chiefly receptive-and, in the East, all the circumstances which environed man were such as to cultivate this state of mind-subordinativeness was indispensable to tranquillity and progress, and hence this state of matters was highly necessary. Material wants are loudest and most irresistible in their demands for gratification; these, therefore, claim man's earliest and most earnest care; and there is as little leisure as inclination to trace the pathway of speculative thought. Unfortunately too, when our tastes and appetites are unstintedly indulged, the higher nature of man is often held in abeyance, or else governed by his lusts, the nobler aspirations are checked in their upward flight, and human progressiveness in good ceases. Wherever Religion and Legislation co-exist the rude and primary germs of philosophy may be found. Deity, with its resulting ideas—in Physics, causation,-in Morals, obligation, involves, besides, a system of Practics, and the idea of retribution; Law, with its consequents, duty and punishment-necessitate the assumption of certain principles of action, i. e., a Metaphysic. Veneration invents symbols by which God may be forth-shadowed, and the ideas of the Illimitable and Eternal may be embodied; causation is developed from the reflective survey of nature and its changes; moral obligation emerges from our views of our relations to “ The Cause of causes;" the notion of future retribution succeeds to that; and practical morality, as well as the potency of law, depend for the notion of their bindingness upon the before-mentioned precedents. But man feels within himself desires in opposition to law and religion, power to disobey their precepts and disregard their mandates, and herein finds an incentive to reflection, an inclination to question his own nature regarding its inherent powers, its disposition, and its relations to those great pulsations of effectual power which originate within the dim-lit chambers of the intellect the idea shadowed forth in that multi-significant monosyllable-God. '“ This effort of reflection is named the act of philosophizing."
In Oriental nations those parties who had received culture, and knew the blessings it conferred upon the soul, feeling the gratefulness of power, seem to have yielded to the
natural tendency of the mind when exposed to extraordinary temptations, and to have striven by all possible means, however selfish, to retain their hold of the reins of governmenttheir tenure of supremacy. Ignorance, acted upon by external power, authority, and influence, readily succumbs, from internal weakness and the debilitation resulting from indulgence in mere sense-enjoyments. Regal potentates, priestly officials, and military commanders, impose upon the mind, subtract from the grandeur of the exertions of its powers in the individual man, stereotype, to a certain extent, the station, the wants, the desires, and even the thoughts, of men, and thus by a slow and sure, though it may be a gradual process, sameness of character is effected, and thus the principle of Caste is introduced, or rather superinduced. An unprogressive state of civilization results; grandeur, and power, and wealth, accrue to the higher or governing classes, knowledge increases among them and augments their superiority; weakness, irresolution, animality, prevail in the inferior castes, and the glory of man wanes as the might of empire extends. Here Philosophy, properly so called—that is, the free operation of the reason upon all the facts of experience, whether communicated from without or within, whether the phenomena which constitute the inner life of humanity, or those of which man gains a cognition by sensational perception, so as to combine them together, transform them into scienee, and arrange them into a systematic whole- cannot exist. Free thought is the only agency by which this,-man's noblest intellectual development,-can be brought into being, is the one condition on which the advancement of our race, the civilization and socialization of man, depends. All restraint or stagnation of thought is inimical to man's highest interests—all that tends to the production, or actively assists in the maintenance of a tyranny over thought-all that aids in keeping the mind in servile pupilage-all that fetters the expression of opinion, condemns the sifting of doctrines, or opposes the honest search after truth, whithersoever that may lead—is alien to the highest development, the noblest progressiveness, the grandest purposes, of human existence. It is only where opportunity is given for the culture and exercise of the investigative tendency that ultra-conservatism and despotic dominancy hastens to decrepitude, and a manlier civilization becomes possible. Gregariousness is not civilization; obsequiousness is not the natural characteristic of man; enslavement is not his destined state. In none of these conditions can the higher qualities of mind be educed; in none of these is a spontaneously active assertion of self-hood possible; and without these true philosophy cannot exist. Doubtlessly the queries which have for ages occupied the human mind must have existed in their elements in the religions and laws of the East; but then they were dogmatically answered, not excogitated by the reason; and hence those solutions, however accurate, were not philosophically arrived at. Not until such facts arose as, despite of all efforts to the contrary, placed those thoughts in new forms before the intellect of man, and thus made them assume a new aspect, was the transfer of questions relative to God, destiny, life, death, immortality, the universe, &e, from faith to reason, legitimate; but when these facts made themselves manifest, the birth of philosophy was inevitable. The absence of these fact-elements in the constitution of Oriental, and their presence in Occidental or European nations, demonstrates the impossibility of true philosophic speculation in the former, and the necessity and inevitability of its rise in the latter.
In the East we find the practical arts developed, the fine arts achieving wondrous saccesses, poesy embodying glowing thoughts in “ words that burn,” religions established, laws
enacted, and civil society organized; but no attempt to trace the birth-sources of ideas, no attempt to make these ideas a scientific study; in short, no philosophy.
The East glows with marvels; the world's strangest myths arose there; the scholar's most mysterious symbols, the architect's greatest and most wondrous phenomena are seen there; the historian's most perplexing investigations commence there; the ecclesiologist's insoluble curiosities proceed thence; it is the statesman's problem-book-a sphinx-riddle to all. Thence, too, come the vague religionism of the Vedas, the philosophemes of Zerduscht in the Zend-Avesta, the moralisms of Confucius in the classical books of China, and the God-inspired writings of the Hebrews. In all these, great, profound, and important truths are observable; but they do not take a scientific form—that spontaneous, free, and active exertion of the reason—that individual energy of thought—that turning in of the mind upon itself—that abstract and generalized view of circumstance, feeling, and fact-which we denominate Philosophy.
Different developments of thought arise in different circumstances; and wherever fitting circumstances are originated, there will philosophy appear. In Greece the earliest manifestations of true philosophic speculativeness are observable. Let us here attempt most briefly to trace the causes which resulted in the production of effects so potent on the after-life of man.
Greece, beloved Greece! land of intellectual grandeur, of heroic devotion to the investigation of truth, of honest daring and manly fortitude of mind!
“ Oft have I dreamed of thee, whose glorious name
Who knows not, knows not man's divinest lore!" “ Land of lost gods and god-like men,” in which civilization, learning, piety, agriculture, and legislation had their birth, and were distributed over every land!
4. 'Tis still a watchword to the earth.
He points to Greece." This land of mountain grandeur, embosomed in the ever-heaving sea, and engirt by islandmasses which pleasantly break the blue crystal of the waves, “and gem Old Ocean's purple diadem,” was specially fitted by its structure to mature the seeds of progressive civilization which remained unfruitful in the delicious climates of Asia, or the lands which lie upon the banks of the mystic Nile. Difficulties awaken reflection; effeminacy cannot overcome them, nor sloth nerve itself to the necessary exertion; but thought, industry, and courage, can make even difficulty advance human culture and promote man's independence. The indomitable resoluteness with which the Greek faced every difficulty and bent all his energies to the conquest, is his grand distinguishing characteristic. Mental or physical obstacle his intense bravery inspired him to oppose and attack; for him there was no pause or rest till “victory sat on his shield” and the laurel was wreathed round his brow. How strange! that in the vast plains of the Oriental continent, where an unsurpassed soil was watered by majestic rivers and overarched by a sky of the intensest loveliness, where nature's fruits sprung forth almost spontaneously, and everything seemed to invite men to the culture of art, the indulgence of the amenities of life, and the development of thought, Civilization should rapidly and repeatedly rise and flourish only to languish, and decay,
* “ Unde humanitas, doctrina, religio, fruges, leges ortæ ; atque in omnes terras distributæ."
Cicero, “ Pro Flacco," 26.
while in Greece-parted from Asia by the “ broad Hellespont," flanked on the north by the mountain-ranges of Thrace and Illyricum, and moated on all sides else by the empireshored Levant, where mountain-wall rises within mountain-wall, to bound its fertile plains at the same time that they add the zest of difficulty to their culture-humanity took its earliest steps in the pathway of progress! Yet so it is; the difficulties which threaten to overwhelm and render powerless are the agencies by which, in brave hearts, the energies are knit and compacted, skill is educed, intellect matured; then thought triumphs, and destiny writes a new future for the man or for the race. Barbarism is inert or destructive; civilization is active and constructive. The philosophic mind is the genius of civilization.
So far we have suggested what seems to us to have been the external educative process to which the Greeks were subjected; we shall now turn our attention to the people placed under this propaideutic, or system of elementary instruction. Greece first comes within the range of the historian's vision about 1800 B.C. Then a tribe named Pelasgians, under the leadership of Inachus, migrated from Asia Minor to the islands of the Ægean Sea and the coasts of Greece. For a time they wandered about as hunters and shepherds, without settled habitations; but at length they became associated into states, and the cities of Sicyon and Argos were under the dominion of chiefs before 1500 B.C.
Another press of population in Asia causes another migration, and the Pelasgians were, in considerable numbers, driven into Crete, Italy, and the islands adjacent to Achaia and Epirus, to make room for a new tribe, named Hellenes, consisting of four families, respectively known in history as Achaians, Æolians, Dorians, and Ionians. Colonists from Egypt and Phænicia seem also to have settled in Athens and Thebes. This mingling of nations, this fusion of races, this gregation of men possessed of different arts, worships, governments, skill
, and culture, must of itself have given rise to reflection and inquiry. Where all was different, What is right? and What is true? seemed pertinent questions; and these questions lie at the foundation of all philosophy. It was natural, in such circumstances, that a considerable change should be effected in the mythology and worship of a people originally so heterogeneous; it was no less probable that the answers of each tribe to the queries enounced by the reason should bear the tinge of the dominant characteristics of the races who gave them. Mentally and morally the Ionians and Dorians earlily acquired supremacy; and, while we must remember that all intellectual interactions produce change, we cannot but believe that the most potent powers shall leave the most marked impress; hence we should expect that the Doric and Ionic peculiarities should be most remarkably manifested in the earlier speculations of the Greeks—that their idiosyncracies should form the chief elements in the distinction observable between the nations of the East and West. Despite, therefore, of other minor elements, which may and must have entered into and formed component parts of the Greek tendencies of thought, two distinct, though mutually co-operative agencies should be discoverable. Do we find our speculations realized in the facts of philosophic history? We opine so, and proceed to remark, in proof, that in the Ionic race the epic poem had its origin, and history its earliest cultivators; this indicates an inquisitive intellect and acute observational powers with a decidedly objective tendency,—that the Dorians were our earliest lyrists, a qualification which implies great subjective intensity, a predominance of feeling over intellect, a tendency to throw our own ideas into nature and make it take their impression. The Ionians were wisdom-worshippers; the Dorians were lovers of the good. The Ionic race was fickle, mobile, democratic; the Doric staid, severe,
aristocratic. The former most frequently inquired what were the facts of nature and the efficient causes of their being, and being as they are; the latter most sedulously studied why things were so constituted as they appear—what great ends they were meant to subserve. The one devoted itself to the investigation of "the how;" the other of “the why.” From what has been advanced in the former portion of this paragraph it has been shown, we humbly submit, that philosophy was inevitably latent in the Greek mind, that it was necessarily developed, and that this development became manifest in two modes, objective and subjective, in accordance with the predominant bias of the predominant races.
Philosophy is not, however, Minerva-like, perfect at its birth. In the primary efforts of investigation the mind obeys an impulse; it yearns to see all, and to understand all it sees; it casts its eye over the whole domain of knowledge, and would fain reduce all to its power; it braces itself for exertion, impatiently hurries on, advances boldly, then feels its feebleness, wanders, and succumbs; and it is not till after many failures it perceives the necessity of drawing a chart, regulating its march by that, and following a definite method. in all its researches. Hence we find many philosophic queries started in the early ages, but left unanswered. The mind is, then, Pilate-like, * frivolous and impatient, and will not bend its undivided energies to the most important speculations. But the urgency of thought
, when once truly awakened, is unresting, and will not be satisfied with the harlotkiss of pleasure. Truth becomes then a priceless jewel, with which worlds are valueless in the balance, and the resistless energies of the soul will dare and suffer all for its attainment.
It were a vain task to attempt the separation of the true from the false, the philosophic from the mythologic, the imaginary from the real, in the traditions which have been handed down regarding the early allegorists, or to attain a člear idea of their beliefs from those works, or fragmentary portions of works, which have been transmitted to us as theirs. We shall only mention the names
Prometheus, Linus, Orpheus, Museus, Thamyris, Amphion, Melampus, Thaletus, Epimenides, and Onomacritus, as those with whom the splendid philosophic literature of Greece originated. Difficult as the task doubtlessly is, the intimate relation which these authors bear to the succeeding developments is so important that it would be well could we express in a few sentences the chief influences which their thoughts were likely to produce. This we shall endeavour as briefly as possible to do. The Orphic poems were obviously written under an Egyptic influence, and are richly coloured by the Oriental mythology. The Divine Essence being inconceivable by man, the objects of nature, and the abstract ideas which the mind forms, are deified for vulgar use. The Deity is, in fact
, only known by those emanations of his power which the visible and tangible make manifest. Chronus (Time) creates Chaos and Aether. In Chaos, Chronus produces a mundane egg, which, being impregnated by Aether, gives life to the golden-winged Eros (Love). Eros becomes the parent of a numerous progeny of gods— Titanic beings; from these Zeus, after a long interval, was born. He, seeing no grand purpose wrought out in and by the existences everywhere abounding, seized the sceptre of universal empire, and reduced all jarring and discordancy to harmony and peace. After a time the Titanic race
their wickedness by dashing them to pieces with his mighty thunderbolts. From their remains sprung the race of man. They retain much of the rebellious
*"What is truth?' said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer."-Bacon's “Essays"