Page:EB1911 - Volume 01.djvu/137

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106
ACADEMY

of Plato had been changed into an ethical syncretism which combined elements from the Scepticism of Carneades and the doctrines of the Stoics; it was a change from a dogmatism which men found impossible to defend, to a probabilism which afforded a retreat from Scepticism and intellectual anarchy. Cicero represents at once the doctrine of the later Academy and the general attitude of Roman society when he says, “My words do not proclaim the truth, like a Pythian priestess; but I conjecture what is probable, like a plain man; and where, I ask, am I to search for anything more than verisimilitude?” And again: “The characteristic of the Academy is never to interpose one’s judgment, to approve what seems most probable, to compare together different opinions, to see what may be advanced on either side and to leave one’s listeners free to judge without pretending to dogmatize.”

The passage from Sextus Empiricus, cited above, gives the general view that there were three academies: the first, or Old, academy under Speusippus and Xenocrates; the second, or Middle, academy under Arcesilaus and Polemon; the third, or New, academy under Carneades and Clitomachus. Sextus notices also the theory that there was a fourth, that of Philo of Larissa and Charmidas, and a fifth, that of Antiochus. Diogenes Laertius says that Lacydes was the founder of the New Academy (i. 19, iv. 59). Cicero (de Orat. iii. 18, &c.) and Varro insist that there were only two academies, the Old and the New. Those who maintain that there is no justification for the five-fold division hold that the agnosticism of Carneades was really latent in Plato, and became prominent owing to the necessity of refuting the Stoic criterion.

The general tendency of the Academic thinkers was towards practical simplicity, a tendency due in large measure to the inferior intellectual capacity of Plato’s immediate successors. Cicero (de Fin. v. 3) says generally of the Old Academy: “Their writings and method contain all liberal learning, all history, all polite discourse; and besides they embrace such a variety of arts, that no one can undertake any noble career without their aid. . . . In a word the Academy is, as it were, the workshop of every artist.” It is true that these men turned to scientific investigation, but in so doing they escaped from the high altitudes in which Plato thought, and tended to lay emphasis on the mundane side of philosophy. Of Plato’s originality and speculative power, of his poetry and enthusiasm they inherited nothing, “nor amid all the learning which has been profusely lavished upon investigating their tenets is there a single deduction calculated to elucidate distinctly the character of their progress or regression” (Archer Butler, Lect. on Anc. Phil. ii. 315).

The modification of Academic doctrine from Plato to Cicero may be indicated briefly under four heads.

(1) Plato’s own theory of Ideas was not accepted even by Speusippus and Xenocrates. They argued that the Good cannot be the origin of things, inasmuch as Goodness is only found as an attribute of things. Therefore, the idea of Good must be secondary to some other more fundamental principle of existence. This unit Speusippus attempted to find in the Pythagorean number-theory. From it he deduced three principles, one for numbers, one for magnitude, one for the soul. The Deity he conceived as that living force which rules all and resides everywhere. Xenocrates, though like Speusippus infected with Pythagoreanism, was the most faithful of Plato’s successors. He distinguished three spheres, the sensible, the intelligible, and a third compounded of the two, to which correspond respectively, sense, intellect and opinion (δόξα). Cicero notes, however, that both Speusippus and Xenocrates abandon the Socratic principle of hesitancy.

(2) Up to Arcesilaus, the Academy accepted the principle of finding a general unity in all things, by the aid of which a principle of certainty might be found. Arcesilaus, however, broke new ground by attacking the very possibility of certainty. Socrates had said, “This alone I know, that I know nothing.” But Arcesilaus went farther and denied the possibility of even the Socratic minimum of certainty: “I cannot know even whether I know or not.” Thus from the dogmatism of the master the Academy plunged into the extremes of agnostic criticism.

(3) The next stage in the Academic succession was the moderate scepticism of Carneades, which owed its existence to his opposition to Chrysippus, the Stoic. To the Stoical theory of perception, the φαντασία καταληπτική, by which they expressed a conviction of certainty arising from impressions so strong as to amount to science, he opposed the doctrine of acatalepsia, which denied any necessary correspondence between perceptions and the objects perceived. He saved himself, however, from absolute scepticism by the doctrine of probability or verisimilitude, which may serve as a practical guide in life. Thus his criterion of imagination (φαντασία) is that it must be credible, irrefutable and attested by comparison with other impressions; it may be wrong, but for the person concerned it is valid. In ethics he was an avowed sceptic. During his official visit to Rome, he gave public lectures, in which he successively proved and disproved with equal ease the existence of justice.

(4) In the last period we find a tendency not only to reconcile the internal divergences of the Academy itself, but also to connect it with parallel growths of thought. Philo of Larissa endeavours to show that Carneades was not opposed to Plato, and further that the apparent antagonism between Plato and Zeno was due to the fact that they were arguing from different points of view. From this syncretism emerged the prudent non-committal eclecticism of Cicero, the last product of Academic development.

For detailed accounts of the Academicians see Speusippus, Xenocrates, &c.; also Stoics and Neoplatonism. Consult histories of philosophy by Zeller and Windelband, and Th. Gomperz, Greek Thinkers, ii. 270 (Eng. tr., London, 1905).


ACADEMY, ROYAL. The Royal Academy of Arts in London, to give it the original title in full, was founded in 1768, “for the purpose of cultivating and improving the arts of painting, sculpture and architecture.” Many attempts had previously been made in England to form a society which should have for its object the advancement of the fine arts. Sir James Thornhill, his son-in-law Hogarth, the Dilettanti Society, made efforts in this direction, but their schemes were wrecked by want of means. Accident solved the problem. The crowds that attended an exhibition of pictures held in 1758 at the Foundling Hospital for the benefit of charity, suggested a way of making money hitherto unsuspected. Two societies were quickly formed, one calling itself the “Society of Artists” and the other the “Free Society of Artists.” The latter ceased to exist in 1774. The former flourished, and in 1765 was granted a royal charter under the title of the “Incorporated Society of Artists of Great Britain.” But though prosperous it was not united. A number of the members, including the most eminent artists of the day, resigned in 1768, and headed by William Chambers the architect, and Benjamin West, presented on 28th November in that year to George III., who had already shown his interest in the fine arts, a memorial soliciting his “gracious assistance, patronage and protection,” in “establishing a society for promoting the arts of design.” The memorialists stated that the two principal objects they had in view were the establishing of “a well-regulated school or academy of design for the use of students in the arts, and an annual exhibition open to all artists of distinguished merit; the profit arising from the last of these institutions” would, they thought, “fully answer all the expenses of the first,” and, indeed, leave something over to be distributed “in useful charities.” The king expressed his agreement with the proposal, but asked for further particulars. These were furnished to him on the 7th of December and approved, and on the 10th of December they were submitted in form, and the document embodying them received his signature, with the words, “I approve of this plan; let it be put into execution.” This document, known as the “Instrument,” defined under twenty-seven heads the constitution and government of the Royal Academy, and contained the names of the thirty-six original members nominated by the king. Changes and modifications