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Sect. 3.—Technical Forms of the Greek Schools. We have hitherto considered only the principle of the Greek Physics; which was, as we have seen, to deduce its doctrines by an analysis of the notions which common language involves. But though the Grecian philosopher began by studying words in their common meanings, he soon found himself led to fix upon some special shades or applications of these meanings as the permanent and standard notion, which they were to express; that is, he made his language technical. The invention and establishment of technical terms is an important step in any philosophy, true or false; we must, therefore, say a few words on this process, as exemplified in the ancient systems.

1. Technical Forms of the Aristotelian Philosophy.We have already had occasion to cite some of the distinctions introduced by Aristotle, which may be considered as technical; for instance, the classification of Causes as material, formal, efficient, and final; and the opposition of Qualities as absolute and relative. A few more of the most important examples may suffice. An analysis of objects into Matter and Form, when metaphorically extended from visible objects to things conceived in the most general manner, became an habitual hypothesis of the Aristotelian school. Indeed this metaphor is. even yet one of the most significant of those which we can employ, to suggest one of the most comprehensive and fundamental antitheses with which philosophy has to do ;—the opposition of sense and reason, of impressions and laws. In this application, the German philosophers have, up to the present time, rested upon this distinction a great part of the weight of their systems; as when Kant says, that Space and Time are the Forms of Sensation. Even in our own language, we retain a trace of the influence of this Aristotelian notion, in the word Information, when used for that knowledge, which may be conceived as moulding the mind into a definite shape, instead of leaving it a mere mass of unimpressed susceptibility.

Another favourite Aristotelian antithesis is that of Power and Act (dúvauis, évépyeta). This distinction is made the basis of most of the physical philosophy of the school; being, however, generally introduced with a peculiar limitation. Thus, Light is defined to be “the Act of what is lucid, as being lucid. And if,” it is added, “the lucid be so in power but not in act, we have darkness.” The reason of the limitation, “as being lucid,” is, that a

, lucid body may act in other ways; thus a torch may move as well as shine, but its moving is not its act as being a lucid body.

Aristotle appears to be well satisfied with this explanation, for he goes on to say, “Thus Light is not Fire, nor any body whatever, or the emanation of any body, (for that would be a kind of body,) but it is the presence of something like Fire in the




body; it is, however, impossible that two bodies should exist in the same place, so that it is not a body;" and this reasoning appears to leave him more satisfied with his doctrine, that Light is an Energy or Act.

But we have a more distinctly technical form given to this notion. Aristotle introduced a word formed by himself, to express the act which is thus opposed to inactive power: this is the celebrated word évteléxeia. Thus the noted definition of Mo

εντελέχεια. tion in the third book of the Physics?, is that it is “the Entelechy, or Act, of a moveable body in respect of being moveable;” and the definition of the Soul is that it is "the Entelechy of a natural

21 body which has life by reason of its power.” This word has been variously translated by the followers of Aristotle, and some of them have declared it untranslateable. Act and Action are held to be inadequate substitutes; the very act, ipse cursus actionis is employed by some; primus actus is employed by many, but another school use primus actus of a non-operating form. Budæus uses efficacia. Cicero” translates it “quasi quandam continuatám motionem, et perennem ;” but this paraphrase, though it may fall in with the description of the soul, which is the subject with which Cicero is concerned, does not appear to agree with the general applications of the term. Hermolaus Barbarus is said to have been so much oppressed with

Phys. ii. 1. De Animâ. ii. l. 22 Tusc. i. 10.




this difficulty of translation, that he consulted the evil spirit by night, entreating to be supplied with a more common and familiar substitute for this word: the mocking fiend, however, suggested only a word equally obscure, and the translator, discontented with this, invented for himself the word perfectihabia.

We need not here notice the endless apparatus of technicalities which was, in later days, introduced into the Aristotelian philosophy; but we may remark, that their long continuance and extensive use show us how powerful technial phraseology is, for the perpetuation either of truth or error. The Aristotelian terms, and the metaphysical views which they tend to preserve, are not yet extinct among us. In a very recent age of our literature it was thought a worthy employment by some of the greatest writers of the day, to attempt to expel this system of technicalities by ridicule.

“Crambe regretted extremely that substantial forms, a race of harmless beings, which had lasted for many years, and afforded a comfortable subsistence to many poor philosophers, should now be hunted down like so many wolves, without a possibility of retreat. He considered that it had gone much harder with them than with essences, which had retired from the schools into the apothecaries' shops, where some of them had been advanced to the degree of quintessences *3.


23 Martinus Seriblerus, cap. vii.

We must now say a few words on the technical terms which others of the Greek philosophical sects introduced.

2. Technical Forms of the Platonists.The other sects of the Greek philosophy, as well as the Aristotelians, invented and adopted technical terms, and thus gave fixity to their tenets and consistency to their traditionary systems; of these I will mention a few.

A technical expression of a contemporary school has acquired perhaps greater celebrity than any of the terms of Aristotle. I mean the Ideas of Plato. The account which Aristotle gives of the origin of these will serve to explain their nature”. “Plato," says he, “who, in his youth, was in habits of communication first with Cratylus and the Heraclitean opinions, which represent all the objects of sense as being in a perpetual flux, so that concerning these no science nor certain knowledge can exist, entertained the same opinions at a later period also. When, afterwards, Socrates treated of moral subjects, and gave no attention to physics, but in the subjects which he did discuss, arrived at universal truths, and before any other man, turned his thoughts to definitions, Plato adopted similar doctrines on this subject also; and construed them in this way,

that these truths and definitions must be applicable to something else, and not to sensible

Arist. Metaph. i. 6. The same account is repeated, and the subject discussed, Metaph. xii. 4.


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