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Philosophy was no sooner domiciled at Athens than its professors came in for their full share of the scurrilous personalities which seem to have formed the staple of conversation in that enlightened capital. Aristotle, himself a trenchant and sometimes a bitterly scornful controversialist, did not escape; and some of the censures passed on him were, rightly or wrongly, attributed to Plato. The Stagirite, who had been brought up at or near the Macedonian Court, and had inherited considerable means, was, if report speaks truly, somewhat foppish in his dress, and luxurious, if not dissipated in his habits. It would not be surprising if one who was left his own master at so early an age had at first exceeded the limits of that moderation which he afterwards inculcated as the golden rule of morals; but the charge of extravagance was such a stock accusation at Athens, where the continued influence of country life seems to have bred a prejudice in favour283 of parsimony, that it may be taken almost as an exoneration from graver imputations; and, perhaps, an admonition from Plato, if any was needed, sufficed to check his disciples ambition for figuring as a man of fashion.
In fixing the relation of Plotinus to his own age, we have gone far towards fixing his relation to all ages, the place which350 he occupies in the development of philosophy as a connected whole. We have seen that as an attempt to discover the truth of things, his speculations are worthless and worse than worthless, since their method no less than their teaching is false. Nevertheless, Wisdom is justified of all her children. Without adding anything to the sum of positive knowledge, Plotinus produced an effect on mens thoughts not unworthy of the great intellect and pure life which he devoted to the service of philosophy. No other thinker has ever accomplished a revolution so immediate, so comprehensive, and of such prolonged duration. He was the creator of Neo-Platonism, and Neo-Platonism simply annihilated every school of philosophy to which it was opposed. For thirteen centuries or more, the three great systems which had so long divided the suffrages of educated mindsStoicism, Epicureanism, and Scepticismceased to exist, and were allowed to lapse into such complete oblivion that only a few fragments of the works in which they were originally embodied have been preserved. And Plotinus was enabled to do this by the profound insight which led him to strike less at any particular doctrine held by his opponents than at the common foundation on which they all stood, the materialism openly professed by the Stoics and Epicureans, and assumed by the Sceptics as the necessary presupposition of every dogmatic philosophy. It is true that the principle which he opposed to theirs was not of his own origination, although he stated it more powerfully than it had ever been stated before. But to have revived the spiritualism of Plato and Aristotle in such a way as to win for it universal acceptance, was precisely his greatest merit. It is also the only one that he would have claimed for himself. As we have already mentioned, he professed to be nothing more than the disciple of Plato. And although Aristotelian ideas abound in his writings, still not only are they overbalanced by the Platonic element, but Plotinus might justly have contended that they also belong, in a sense, to Plato,351 having been originally acquired by a simple development from his teaching.Charlton proceeded to open a safe in the wall and took from it two letters.
She called thus to her maid inside. With a smile she intimated to Prout that she might keep him a little time waiting. It did not matter how long seeing that he had his bird fast in the toils.
"Now is your chance," he said. "It is a pretty neat turn of fortune for us. I've got the motor round and will meet you at the corner of the street. You had better be disguised."
"You wished to speak to me," said Gordon. "Pray sit down."