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PHILOSOPHY 26 PHILOSOPHY


definitions of philosophy, some of the most significant may be given. Plato calls it "the acquisition of knowledge", κτήσιζ έπισΤήμηζ (Euthydemus, 288 d). Aristotle, mightier than his master at compressing ideas, writes: τήν ονομαζομένην σοφίαν περί τά πρώτα αίτια καί τας άρχας ύπολαμβάνουσι πάντες—"All men consider philosophy as concerned with first causes and principles" (Metaph., I, i). These notions were perpetuated in the post-Aristotelean schools (Stoicism, Epicureanism, neo-Platonism), with this difference, that the Stoics and Epicureans accentuated the moral bearing of philosophy ("Philosophia studium summæ virtutis", says Seneca in "Epist.", lxxxix, 7), and the neo-Platonists its mystical bearing (see section V below). The Fathers of the Church and the first philosophers of the Middle Ages seem not to have had a very clear idea of philosophy for reasons which we will develop later on (section IX), but its conception emerges once more in all its purity among the Arabic philosophers at the end of the twelfth century and the masters of Scholasticism in the thirteenth. St. Thomas, adopting the Aristotelean idea, writes: "Sapientia est scientia quæ considerat causas primas et universales causas; sapientia causas primas omnium causarum considerat"—"Wisdom [i. e. philosophy] is the science which considers first and universal causes; wisdom considers the first causes of all causes" (In metaph., I, lect. ii).

In general, modern philosophers may be said to have adopted this way of looking at it. Descartes regards philosophy as wisdom: "Philosophiæ voce sapientiæ studium denotamus"—"By the term philosophy we denote the pursuit of wisdom" (Princ. philos., preface); and he understands by it "cognitio veritatis per primas suas causas"—"knowledge of truth by its first causes" (ibid.). For Locke, philosophy is the true knowledge of things; for Berkeley, "the study of wisdom and truth" (Princ). The many conceptions of philosophy given by Kant reduce it to that of a science of the general principles of knowledge and of the ultimate objects attainable by knowledge—" Wissenschaft von den letzten Zwecken der menschlichen Vernunft". For the numerous German philosophers who derive their inspiration from his criticism—Fichte, Hegel, Schelling, Schleiermacher, Schopenhauer, and the rest—it is the general teaching of science (Wissenschaftslehre). Many contemporary authors regard it as the synthetic theory of the particular sciences: "Philosophy", says Herbert Spencer, "is completely unified knowledge" (First Principles, § 37). Ostwald has the same idea. For Wundt, the object of philosophy is "the acquisition of such a general conception of the world and of life as will satisfy the exigencies of the reason and the needs of the heart"&mdash"Gewinnung einer allgemeinen Welt- und Lebensanschauung, welche die Forderungen unserer Vernunft und die Bedürfnisse unseres Gemüths befriedigen soil" (Einleit. in d. Philos., 1901, p. 5). This idea of philosophy as the ultimate science of values (Wertlehre) is emphasized by Windelband, Döring, and others.

The list of conceptions and definitions might be indefinitely prolonged. All of them affirm the eminently synthetic character of philosophy. In the opinion of the present writer, the most exact and comprehensive definition is that of Aristotle. Face to face with nature and with himself, man reflects and endeavours to discover what the world is, and what he is himself. Having made the real the object of studies in detail, each of which constitutes science (see section VIII), he is led to a study of the whole, to inquire into the principles or reasons of the totality of things, a study which supplies the answers to the last Why's. The last Why of all rests upon all that is and all that becomes: it does not apply, as in any one particular science (e. g. chemistry), to this or that process of becoming, or to this or that being (e. g. the combination of two bodies), but to all being and all becoming. All being has within it its constituent principles, which account for its substance (constitutive material and formal causes); all becoming, or change, whether superficial or profound, is brought about by an efficient cause other than its subject; and lastly things and events have their bearings from a finality, or final cause. The harmony of principles, or causes, produces the universal order. And thus philosophy is the profound knowledge of the universal order, in the sense of having for its object the simplest and most general principles, by means of which all other objects of thought are, in the last resort, explained. By these principles, says Aristotle, we know other things, but other things do not suffice to make us know these principles (διά γάρ ταύτα καί έκ τούτων τ'άλλα γνωρίζεται, άλλ' ού ταύΤα διά τών ύποκειμένωνMetaph., I). The expression universal order should be understood in the widest sense. Man is one part of it: hence the relations of man with the world of sense and with its Author belong to the domain of philosophy. Now man, on the one hand, is the responsible author of these relations, because he is free, but he is obliged by nature itself to reach an aim, which is his moral end. On the other hand, he has the power of reflecting upon the knowledge which he acquires of all things, and this leads him to study the logical structure of science. Thus philosophical knowledge leads to philosophical acquaintance with morality and logic. And hence we have this more comprehensive definition of philosophy: "The profound knowledge of the universal order, of the duties which that order imposes upon man, and of the knowledge which man acquires from reality" — "La connaissance approfondie de l'ordre universel, des devoirs qui en résultent pour l'homme et de la science que l'homme acquiert de la réalité" (Mercier, "Logique", 1904, p. 23).—The development of these same ideas under another aspect will be found in section VIII of this article.


II. Division of Philosophy.—Since the universal order falls within the scope of philosophy (which studies only its first principles, not its reasons in detail), philosophy is led to the consideration of all that is: the world, God (or its cause), and man himself (his nature, origin, operations, moral end, and scientific activities).

It would be out of the question to enumerate here all the methods of dividing philosophy that have been given: we confine ourselves to those which have played a part in history and possess the deepest significance.


A. In Greek Philosophy.—Two historical divisions dominate Greek philosophy: the Platonic and the Aristotelean.

(1) Plato divides philosophy into dialectic, physics, and ethics. This division is not found in Plato's own writings, and it would be impossible to fit his dialogues into the triple frame, but it corresponds to the spirit of the Platonic philosophy. According to Zeller, Xenocrates (314 B.C.) his disciple, and the leading representative of the Old Academy, was the first to adopt this triadic division, which was destined to go down through the ages (Grundriss d. Geschichte d. griechischen Philosophie, 144), and Aristotle follows it in dividing his master's philosophy. Dialectic is the science of objective reality, i. e., of the Idea (ίδέα, είδος), so that by Platonic dialectic we must understand metaphysics. {CE lkpl|History of Physics|Physics}} is concerned with the manifestations of the Idea, or with the Real, in the sensible universe, to which Plato attributes no real value independent of that of the Idea. Ethics has for its object human acts. Plato deals with logic, but has no system of logic; this was a product of Aristotle's genius.