Hegel’s Lectures on the History of Philosophy.
Second Period: Dogmatism and Scepticism.
We must, first of all, and in a general way, remark of Stoicism, as also of Epicureanism, that they came in the place of the philosophy of the Cynics and Cyrenaics as their counterpart, just as Scepticism took the place of the Academy. But in adopting the principle of these philosophies, they at the same time perfected it and elevated it more into the form of scientific thought. Yet because in them, just as in the others, the content is a fixed and definite one, since self-consciousness therein sets itself apart, this circumstance really puts an end to speculation, which knows nothing of any such rigidity, which rather abolishes it and treats the object as absolute Notion, as in its difference an unseparated whole. Hence with the Stoics, as also really with the Epicureans, instead of genuine speculation, we only meet with an application of the one-sided, limited principle, and thus we require in both to enter merely upon a general view of their principle. Now if Cynicism made reality for consciousness the fact of being immediately natural (where immediate naturalness was the simplicity of the individual, so that he is independent and, in the manifold movement of desire, of enjoyment, of holding many things to be reality, and of working for the same, really keeps up the external simple life) the Stoic elevation of this simplicity into thought consists in the assertion, not that immediate naturalness and spontaneity is the content and the form of the true Being of consciousness, but that the rationality of nature is grasped through thought, so that everything is true or good in the simplicity of thought. But while with Aristotle what underlies everything is the absolute Idea as unlimited and not set forth in a determinate character and with a difference — and its deficiency is only the deficiency which is present in realization, the not being united into one Notion — here the one Notion is undoubtedly set forth as real existence, and everything is related to it, and hence the requisite relation is undoubtedly present; but that in which everything is one is not the true. With Aristotle each conception is considered absolutely in its determination and as separate from any other; here the conception certainly is in this relation and is not absolute, but at the same time it is not in and for itself. Because thus the individual is not considered absolutely but only relatively, the whole working out is not interesting, for it is only an external relation. Likewise with Aristotle the individual only is taken into consideration. but this consideration is lost sight of by the speculative treatment adopted: here, however, the individual is taken up and the treatment is likewise external, This relation is not even consistent, if, as also happens, something such as nature is considered in itself; for the absolute falls outside of it, since its consideration is only a system of reasoning from indeterminate principles, or from principles which are only the first that come to hand.
As a contribution to the history of the philosophy of the Stoics, we first of all desire to mention the more eminent Stoics. The founder of the Stoic School is Zeno (who must be distinguished from the Eleatic); he belonged to Cittium, a town in Cyprus, and was born about the 109th Olympiad. His father was a merchant who, from his business visits to Athens, then, and for long afterwards, the home of Philosophy and of a large number of philosophers, brought with him books, particularly those of the Socratics, whereby a love and craving for knowledge was awakened in his son. Zeno himself travelled to Athens, and, according to some, he found a further motive to live for Philosophy, in that he lost all his possessions by a shipwreck. What he did not lose was the cultured nobility of his mind and his love of rational understanding. Zeno visited several sections of the Socratics, and particularly Xenocrates, a man belonging to the Platonic School, who, on account of the strictness of his morality and the austerity of his whole demeanour , was very celebrated. Thus he underwent the same ordeals as those to which the holy Francis of Assisi subjected himself, and succumbed to them just as little. This may be seen by the fact that while no testimony was given without oath in Athens, the oath was in his case dispensed with, and his simple word believed — and his teacher Plato is said often to have remarked to him that he might sacrifice to the Graces. Then Zeno also visited Stilpo, a Megaric, whom we already know about (Vol. I. p. 464), and with whom he studied dialectic for ten years. Philosophy was considered as the business of his life, and of his whole life, and not studied as it is by a student who hurries through his lectures on Philosophy in order to hasten on to something else. But although Zeno principally cultivated dialectic and practical philosophy, he did not, like other Socratics, neglect physical philosophy, for he studied very specially Heraclitus’ work on Nature, and finally came forward as an independent teacher in a porch called Poecile (stoa poikilh), which was. decorated with the paintings of Polygnotus. From this his school received the name of Stoic. Like Aristotle his principal endeavour was to unite Philosophy into one whole. As his method was characterized by special dialectic skill and training, and by the acuteness of his argumentation, so he himself was distinguished, in respect of his personality, by stern morality, which resembles somewhat that of the Cynics, though he did not, like the Cynics, try to attract attention. Hence with less vanity his temperance in the satisfaction of his absolute wants was almost as great, for he lived on nothing but water, bread, figs and honey. Thus amongst his contemporaries Zeno was accorded general respect; even King Antigonus of Macedonia often visited him and dined with him, and he invited him to come to him in a letter quoted by Diogenes: this invitation. however, Zeno in his reply refused, because he was now eighty years of age. But the circumstance that the Athenians trusted to him the key of their fortress, speaks for the greatness of their confidence in him; indeed, according to Diogenes, the following resolution was passed at a meeting of the people: “Because Zeno, the son of Mnaseas, has lived for many years in our town as a philosopher, and, for the rest, has proved himself to be a good man, and has kept the youths who followed him in paths of virtue and of temperance, having led the way thereto with his own excellent example, the citizens decide to confer on him a public eulogy, and to present him with a golden crown, on account both of his virtue and his temperance. In addition to this he shall be publicly buried in the Ceramicus. And for the crown and the building of the tomb, a commission of five men shall be appointed.” Zeno flourished about the 120th Olympiad (about 300 B.C.) at the same time as Epicurus, Arcesilaus of the New Academy, and others. He died at a great age, being ninety-eight years of age (though some say he was only seventy-two), in the 129th Olympiad; for being tired of life, he put an end to it himself either by strangulation or by starvation — just because he had broken his toe.
Amongst the succeeding Stoics Cleanthes must be specially singled out; he was a disciple and the successor of Zeno in the Stoa, and author of a celebrated Hymn to God, which Stobaeus has preserved. He is well known by an anecdote told respecting him. It is said that he was called in accordance with the law before a court of justice in Athens to give an account of the means by which he maintained himself. He then proved that at night he carried water for a gardener, and by means of this occupation earned as much as he required in order in the day to be in Zeno’s company — as to which the only point which is not quite comprehensible to us is how, even in such a way, philosophy, of all things, could be studied. And when for this a gratuity was voted to him from the public treasury, he refused it at Zeno’s instigation. Like his teacher, Cleanthes also died voluntarily, in his eighty-first year, by abstaining from food.
Of the later Stoics there were many more who could be named as having been famous. More distinguished in science than Cleanthes was his disciple, Chrysippus of Cilicia, born 01. 125, 1 (474 A.U.C.; 280 B.C.), who likewise lived in Athens, and who was specially active in promoting the wide cultivation and extension of the philosophy of the Stoics. His logic and dialectic were what contributed most largely to his fame, and hence it was said that if the gods made use of dialectic, they would use none other than that of Chrysippus. His literary activity is likewise admired, for the number of his works, as Diogenes Laėrtius tells us, amounted to seven hundred and five. It is said of him in this regard that he wrote five hundred lines every day. But the manner in which his writings were composed detracts very much from our wonder at this facility in writing, and shows that most of his works consisted of compilations and repetitions. He often wrote over again respecting the very same thing; whatever occurred to him he put down on paper, dragging in a great variety of evidence. Thus he quoted almost entire books by other writers; and someone gave expression to the belief that if all that belonged to others were taken away from his books, only white paper would be left. But of course it is not so bad as all this, as we may see by all the quotations from the Stoics, where the name of Chrysippus is placed at the head , as it always is, and his conclusions and explanations are used by preference. His writings, of which Diogenes Laėrtius mentions a long list, have, however, all been lost to us; so much is nevertheless correct, that he was the main constructor of the Stoic logic. While it is to be regretted that. some of his best works have not come down to us, it is, perhaps, a good thing that all are not preserved; it we had to choose between having all or none, the decision would be a hard one. He died in the 143rd Olympiad (212 B.C.).
In the period immediately following, Diogenes of Seleucia in Babylonia is a distinguished figure; Carneades, the celebrated Academic, is said to have learned dialectic from him, and he is also noteworthy because with this Carneades and Critolaus, a Peripatetic thinker, in Olympiad 156, 2 (598 A.U.C. or 156 B.C.) and in the time of the elder Cato, he was sent as Athenian ambassador to Rome — an embassy which first caused the Romans to make acquaintance with Greek philosophy, dialectic and rhetoric, in Rome itself. For those philosophers there gave lectures and discourses.
Besides these, Panaetius is well known as having been Cicero’s instructor; the latter wrote his treatise, De Officiis, after Panaetius. Finally, we have Posidonius, another equally famous teacher, who lived for long in Rome in the time of Cicero.
Later on we see the philosophy of the Stoics pass over to the Romans, that is to say, it became the philosophy of many Romans, though this philosophy did not gain anything as a science by so doing. On the contrary, as in the case of Seneca and the later Stoics, in Epictetus or Antoninus, all speculative interest was really lost, and a rhetorical and hortatory disposition shown, of which mention cannot be made in a history of Philosophy any more than of our sermons. Epictetus of Hierapolis in Phrygia, born at the end of the first century after Christ, was first of all the slave of Epaphroditus, who, however, freed him, after which he betook himself to Rome. When Domitian banished the philosophers, poisoners and astrologers from Rome (94 A.D.), Epictetus went to Nicopolis, in Epirus, and taught there publicly. From his lectures Arrian compiled the voluminous Dissertationes Epicteteae, which we still possess, and also the manual (egceiridion) of Stoicism. We still have the Meditations (eis eauton) of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, in twelve books; he first of all ruled along with Lucius Aurelius Verus from 161 to 169 A.D., and then from 169 to 180 alone and lie conducted a war with the Marcomanni. In his Meditations he always speaks to himself these reflections are not, however, speculative in nature, being admonitions, such as that man should exercise himself in every virtue.
We have no other original works by the older Stoics. For the Stoic Philosophy, too, the sources on which we formerly could count are cut off. The sources from which a knowledge of the philosophy of the Stoics is to be derived are, however, well known. There is Cicero, who was himself a Stoic, though in his representation there is great difficulty in discovering how, for instance, the principle of Stoic morality is to be distinguished from that which constitutes the principle of the morality of the Peripatetics. .And, more particularly, we have Sextus Empiricus, whose treatment is mainly theoretic, and is thus interesting from a philosophic point of view. For Scepticism has had to do with Stoicism more especially. But also Seneca, Antoninus, Arrian, the manual of Epictetus, and Diogenes Laėrtius must really be called into council.
As regards the philosophy of the Stoics themselves, they definitely separated it into those three parts which we have already met with (Vol. I. p. 387, Vol. II. pp. 48, 49), and which will, generally speaking, be always found. There is Logic in the first place; secondly, Physics, or Natural Philosophy; and thirdly, Ethics, or the Philosophy of Mind, on the practical side especially. The content of their philosophy has, however, not much that is original or productive.
As regards the Physics of the Stoics, we may in the first place say that it does not contain much that is peculiar to itself, since it is rather a compendium of the Physics of older times, and more especially of that of Heraclitus. However, each of the three schools now being dealt with has had a very characteristic and definite terminology, which is more than can be altogether said of the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. Thus we must now make ourselves familiar with the particular expressions used and with their significance. The following is the essence of the Physics of the Stoics: The determining reason (logoς) is the ruling, all-productive substance and activity, extended throughout all, and constituting the basis of all natural forms; this preponderating substance, in its rational effectuating activity, they call God. It is a world — soul endowed with intelligence, and, since they called it God, this is really Pantheism. But all Philosophy is pantheistic, for it goes to prove that the rational Notion is in the world. The hymn of Cleanthes is to this effect: “Nothing happens on earth without thee, 0 Daemon, neither in the ethereal pole of the heavens, nor in the sea, excepting what the wicked do through their own foolishness. But thou knowest how to make crooked things straight, and thou orderest that which is without order, and the inimical is friendly to thee. For thus hast thou united everything into one, the good to the evil; thus one Notion (logos) is in everything that ever was, from which those mortals who are evil flee. How unhappy are they, too, who, ever longing to possess the good, do not perceive God’s universal law, nor listen thereto, the which if they but obeyed with reason (sun nw) they would attain a good and happy life! The Stoics thus believed the study of nature to be essential, in order to know in nature its universal laws, which constitute the universal reason, in order that we might also know therefrom our duties, the law for man, and live conformably to the universal laws of nature. “Zeno,” according to Cicero (De nat. Deor. I. 14), “holds this natural law to be divine, and believes that it has the power to dictate the right and prohibit what is wrong.” Thus the Stoics desired to know this rational Notion which rules in nature not altogether on its own account; and the study of nature was consequently to them rather a mere matter of utility.
If we are now to give some further idea of what these Physics are, we may say that the Stoics distinguish in the corporeal — although nature is only the manifestation of one common law — the moment of activity and that of passivity; the former is, according to Aristotle, active reason, or, according to Spinoza, natura naturans ; the latter passive reason, or natura naturata. The latter is matter, substance without quality, for quality is, generally speaking, form, i.e. that which forms universal matter into something particular. This is indeed the reason likewise that with the Greeks quality is called to poion, just as we in German derive Beschafenheit from Schaffen — that which is posited, the negative moment. But the actuating, as the totality of forms, is, according to the Stoics, the Notion in matter; and this is God. (Diog. Laert. VII. 134.)
As regards the further nature of these forms, these universal laws of nature, and the formation of the world, the Stoics have in the main adopted the ideas of Heraclitus, for Zeno studied him very particularly (supra, p. 239). They thus make fire the real Notion, the active principle which passes into the other elements as its forms. The world arises by the self-existent gods driving the universal material substance (ousian) out of the fire, through the air, into the water; and as in all generation the moisture which surrounds a seed comes first as the begetter of all that is particular, so that conception, which in this respect is called seed-containing (spermatikoς), remains in the water and then actuates the indeterminate Being of matter into the origination of the other determinations. The elements, fire, water, air and earth., are consequently primary. Respecting them the Stoics speak in a manner which has no longer any philosophic interest. “The coagulation of the denser parts of the world forms the earth; the thinner portion becomes air. and if this becomes more and more rarefied, it produces fire. From the combination of these elements are produced plants, animals, and other kinds of things.” The thinking soul is, according to them, of a similar fiery nature, and all human souls, the animal principle of life, and also plants. are parts of the universal world-soul, of the universal fire; and this central point is that which rules and impels. Or, as it is put, souls are a fiery breath. Sight, in the same way, is a breath of the ruling body (hgemonikou) transmitted to the eyes; similarly hearing is an extended, penetrating breath, sent from the ruling body to the ears.
Respecting the process of nature we may further say this Fire, Stobaeus tells us (Eclog. phys. I. p. 312), is called by the Stoics an element in a pre-eminent sense, because from it, as the primary element, all else arises through a transformation, and in it, as in an ultimate, everything is fused and becomes dissolved. Thus Heraclitus and Stoicism rightly comprehended this process as a universal and eternal one. This has even been done by Cicero, though in a more superficial way; in this reflection he falsely sees the conflagration of the world in time and the end of the world, which is quite another matter. For in his work De natura Deorum (11. 46) he makes a Stoic speak thus: “In the end (ad extremum) everything will be consumed by fire; for if all moisture becomes exhausted the earth can neither be nourished. nor can air return into existence. Thus nothing. but fire remains, through whose reanimation and through God the world will be renewed and the same order will return.” This is spoken after the manner of the ordinary conception. But to the Stoics everything is merely a Becoming. However deficient this may be, God, as the fiery principle, is yet to them the whole activity of nature, and likewise the rational order of the same, and in this lies the perfect pantheism of the Stoic conception of nature. Not only do they call this ordering force God, but also nature, fate or necessity (eimarmenhn), likewise Jupiter, the moving force of matter, reason (noun) and foresight (pronoian) to them all these are synonymous. Because the rational brings forth all, the Stoics compare this impelling activity to a seed, and say: “The seed which sends forth something rational (logikon) is itself rational. The world sends forth the seeds of the rational and is thus in itself rational;” that is to say, rational both generally, in the whole, and in each particular existent form.” All beginning of movement in any nature and soul rises from a ruling principle, and all powers which are sent forth upon the individual parts of the whole proceed from the ruling power as from a source; so that each force that is in the part is also in the whole, because the force is distributed by the ruling power init. The world embraces the seed-containing conceptions of the life which is in conformity with the conception,” i.e. all particular principles. The Physics of the Stoics is thus Heraclitean, though the logical element is entirely at one with Aristotle; and we may regard it as being such. However, speaking generally, only those belonging to earlier times had a physical element in their philosophy: those coming later neglected Physics entirely and kept alone to Logic and to Ethics.
The Stoics again speak of God and the gods according to the popular manner of regarding them. They say that “God is the ungenerated and imperishable maker of all this disposition of things, who after certain periods of time absorbs all substance in Himself, and then reproduces it from Himself.” There no definite perception is reached, and even the above relation of God, as absolute form, to matter has attained no developed clearness. The universe is at one time the unity of form and matter, and God is the Soul of the world; at another time, the universe, as nature, is the Being of the constituted matter, and that soul is antagonistic to it, but the activity of God is a disposition of the original forms of matter. This opposition is devoid of the essentials of union and division.
Thus the Stoics remain at the general conception that each individual is comprehended in a Notion, and this again in the universal Notion, which is the world itself. But because the Stoics recognized the rational as the active principle in nature, they took its phenomena in their individuality as manifestations of the divine; and their pantheism has thereby associated itself with the common ideas about the gods as with the superstitions which are connected therewith (p. 235), with belief in all sorts of miracles and with divination — that is to say, they believe that in nature there are intimations given which men must receive through divine rites and worship. Epicureanism, on the contrary, proceeds towards the liberation of men from this superstition to which the Stoics are entirely given over. Thus Cicero, in his work De divinatione, has taken the most part of his material from them, and much is expressly given as being the reasoning of the Stoics. When, for example, he speaks of the premonitory signs given in connection with human events, all this is conformable with the Stoic philosophy. The fact that an eagle flies to the right, the Stoics accepted as a revelation of God, believing that thereby it was intimated to men what it was advisable for them to do in some particular circumstances. Just as we find the Stoics speaking of God as having universal necessity, to them God, as Notion, has hence a relation to men and human ends likewise, and in this respect He is providence; thus they now arrived at the conception of particular gods also. Cicero says in the work quoted above (II. 49): “Chrysippus, Diogenes and Antipater argued thus: If gods exist, and if they do not let men know beforehand what is to happen in the future, they cannot love men, or else they themselves do not, know what stands before them in the future, or they are of opinion that it does not signify whether man knows it or not, or they consider such a revelation beneath the dignity of their majesty, or they cannot make it comprehensible to men.” All this they refute, for amongst other thing they say that nothing can exceed the beneficence of the gods, &c. Thus they draw the conclusion that “the gods make known to men the future” — a system of reasoning in which the entirely particular ends of individuals also form the interests of the gods. To make men know and comprehend at one time and not at another, is an inconsistency, i.e. an incomprehensibility, but this very incomprehensibility, this obscurity, is the triumph of the common way of regarding religious affairs. Thus in the Stoics all the superstitions of Rome had their strongest supporters; all external, teleological superstition is taken under their protection and justified. Because the Stoics started from the assertion that reason is God (it certainly is divine, but it does not exhaust divinity), they immediately made a bound from this universal to the revelation of that which operates for the sake of individual ends. The truly rational is doubtless revealed to men as the law of God; but the useful, what is in conformity with individual ends, is not revealed in this truly divine revelation.
In the second place, as to the intellectual side of the philosophy, we must first of all consider the principle of the Stoics in answering the question of what the true and rational is. In regard to the source of our knowledge of truth, or of the criterion, which in those times used to be discussed (Vol. I. p. 474, Vol. II. p. 233), the Stoics decided that the scientific principle is the conception that is laid hold of (fantasia katalhptikh), for the true as well as for the good; for the true and good are set forth as content or as the existent. Thus a unity of apprehending thought and Being is set forth in which neither can exist without the other; by this is meant not sensuous conception as such, but that which has returned into thought and become proper to consciousness. Some of the older Stoics, amongst whom we certainly find Zeno, called this criterion the very truth of reason (orqos logoς). Ordinary conception. on its own account (fantasia) is an impression (tupwsiς), and for it Chrysippus used the expression alteration (eteroiwiς). But that the conception should be true, it must be comprehended; it begins with feeling, whereby in fact the type of another is brought into us; the second step is that we should transform this into part of ourselves, and this first of all occurs through thought.
According to Cicero’s account (Academ. Quaest. IV. 47), Zeno illustrated the moments of this appropriation by a movement of the hand. When he showed the open palm he said that this was a sensuous perception; when he bent the fingers somewhat, this was a mental assent through which the conception is declared to be mine; when he pressed them quite together and formed a fist, this was comprehension (katalhyiς), just as in German we speak of comprehension [Begreifen] when by means of our senses we lay hold of anything in a similar way; when he then brought the left hand into play and pressed together that fist firmly and forcibly, he said that this was science, in which no one but the wise man participated. This double pressure, my pressing with the other hand that which is grasped, is said to signify conviction, my being conscious of the identity of thought with the content. “But who this wise man is or has been the Stoics never say,” adds Cicero; and of this we shall afterwards have to speak in greater detail. In fact, the matter is not made clear through this gesticulation of Zeno’s. The first action, the open hand, is sensuous apprehension, immediate seeing, hearing, &c.; the first motion of the hand is then, speaking generally, spontaneity in grasping. This first assent is likewise given by fools; it is weak, and may be false. The next moment is the closing of the hand, comprehension, taking something in; this makes the ordinary conception truth, because the ordinary conception becomes identical with thought. By this my identity with this determination is indeed set forth, but this is not yet scientific knowledge, for science is a firm, secure, unchangeable comprehension through reason or thought, which is that which rules or directs the soul. Midway between scientific knowledge and folly is the true Notion as the criterion, although as yet it is not itself science; in it thought gives its approbation to existence and recognizes itself, for approbation is the harmony of a thing with itself. But in scientific knowledge a perception of the first elements and determinate knowledge through thought of the object is contained. Thus the ordinary conception as apprehended is thought; scientific knowledge is the consciousness of thought, the knowledge of that harmony.
We may also give our assent to these conclusions of the Stoics with their various stages, since in them there is a perception which is undoubtedly true. In this we have an expression of the celebrated definition of the truth, by which it is made the harmony of object and consciousness; but at the same time it is well to remark that this is to be understood simply, and not as indicating that consciousness had a conception, and that on the other side stood au object, which two had to harmonize with one another, and hence that a third was necessarily brought into existence which had to compare them. Now this would be consciousness itself, but what this last can compare is nothing more than its conception, and — not the object, but — its conception again. Consciousness thus really accepts the conception of the object; it is by this approbation that the conception actually receives truth — the testimony of mind to the objective rationality of the world. It is not as is ordinarily represented. that a round object here impresses itself upon wax, that a third compares the form. of the round and of the wax and, finding them to be similar, judges that the impress must have been correct, and the conception and the thing have harmonized. For the action of thought consists in this, that thought in and for itself gives its approbation and recognizes the object as being in conformity with itself; this it is in which lies the power of truth — or approbation is the expression of this harmony, or judgment itself. In this, say the Stoics, the truth is contained; it is an object which is likewise thought, so that the thought that gives its assent is the ruling thought which posits the harmony of subject with content. The fact that anything is or has truth is thus not because it is (for this moment of Being is only ordinary conception), but the fact that it is, has its power in the approbation of consciousness. But this thought alone and for itself is not the truth, nor is the truth as such contained in it, for the Notion requires the objective element and is only the rational consciousness respecting the truth. But the truth of the object itself is contained in the fact that this objective corresponds to thought, and not the thought to the objective; for this last may be sensuous, changeable, false, and contingent, and thus it is untrue for mind. This is the main point as far as the Stoics are concerned, and even if we discover the Stoic speculative doctrines from their antagonists better than from their originators and advocates, yet from them, too, this idea of unity proceeds; and while both sides of this unity are opposed, both are necessary, but thought is essential reality. Sextus Empiricus (adv. Math. VIII. 10) understands this thus: “The Stoics say that as regards the perceptible and that which is thought some things alone are true; what is felt, however, is not immediate (ex euqeiaς), for it becomes true for the first time through its relation to the thought that corresponds to it.” Thus neither is immediate thought the true, excepting in so far as it corresponds to the Notion and is known through the working out of rational thought.
This general idea is the only one which is interesting in the Stoics, but even in this very principle, limitations are found to be present. It merely expresses the truth as subsisting in the object, as thought of, yet for that very reason it is still a very formal determination, or not in itself the real Idea. From this point of view Sextus Empiricus (adv. Math. X. 183) examines the Stoics, and he considers and discusses them in all sorts of ways. The most striking thing that he says is what relates to the following. The fact that anything is, rests in its being thought — the fact that it is thought in something being there; the one is the presupposition of the other. That is to say, the Stoics assert that a thing exists, not because it is, but through thought; but consciousness for its existence requires another, for thought is likewise one-sided. In this criticism by Sextus it is indicated that thought requires an object as an external to which it gives its approbation. There can be no talk of its being here indicated that the thinking mind in order to exist as consciousness does not require the object this is really inherent in its conception. But the “"this of the object as an external is only a moment which is not the only one or the essential. It is the manifestation of mind, and mind exists only in that it appears; this therefore must come to pass in it, that it must have its object as external and give its approbation to it — that is, it must withdraw from this relationship into itself and therein recognize its unity. But likewise, having gone into itself, it has now from itself to beget its object and give itself the content which it sends forth from itself. Stoicism is only this return of mind into itself, positing the unity of itself and the object, and recognizing the harmony; but not the going forth again to the extension of the real knowledge of a content from itself. We do not find Stoicism getting any farther, for it stops short at making the consciousness of this unity its object, without developing it in the slightest; thus reason remains the simple form which does not go on to the distinction of the content itself. Hence the formalism of this celebrated standard, and of the standpoint from which all truth of content is judged, rests further in the fact that the thought of thought, as what is highest, finds this content indeed conformable to itself and appropriates it since it transforms it into the universal, but its determinations are given. For if thought predominates, still it is always universal form alone. On account of this universality thought yields nothing but the form of identity with itself; the ultimate criterion is thus only the formal identity of the thought which discovers harmony. But it may be asked, with what? For there no absolute self-determination, no content that proceeds from thought as such is to be found; and hence everything may harmonize with my thought. The criterion of the Stoics is consequently only the principle of contradiction; yet when we remove the contradiction from absolute reality, it is indeed self-identical, but for that very reason empty. The harmony must be a higher one; there must be harmony with self in what is other than self, in content, in determination; and thus it must be harmony with harmony.
In accordance with this recognition of the principle of the Stoics, both their logic and their morality is judged; neither the one nor the other arrives at being immanent free science. We have already remarked (p. 241) that they also occupied themselves with logical definitions, and since they made abstract thought the principle, they have brought formal logic to great perfection. Logic is hence to them logic in the sense that it expresses the activity of the understanding as of conscious understanding; it is no longer as with Aristotle, at least in regard to the categories, undecided as to whether the forms of the understanding are not at the same time the realities of things; for the forms of thought are set forth as such for themselves. Then along with this comes in, for the first time, the question respecting the harmony of thought and object or the demand that an appropriate content of thought be shown. However, since all given content may be taken into thought and posited as something thought without therefore losing its determinate character, and this determinate character contradicts and does not support the simplicity of thought, the taking of it up does not help at all; for its opposite may also be taken up and set forth as something thought. The opposition is thereby, however, only in another form; for instead of the content being in outward sensation as something not pertaining to thought and not true, as it formerly was, it now pertains to thought, but is unlike it in its determinateness, seeing that thought is the simple. Thus what was formerly excluded from the simple Notion, now comes into it again; this separation between activity of the understanding and object must indeed be made, but likewise the unity in the object as such has to be shown, if it is only something thought. Hence Scepticism cast up this opposition more especially to the Stoics, and the Stoics amongst themselves had always to improve on their conceptions. As we have just seen (p. 250) in Sextus Empiricus, they did not quite know whether they should define conception as impression or alteration, or in some other way. Now if this conception is admitted into that which directs the soul, into pure consciousness, Sextus further asks (since thought in abstracto is the simple and self-identical which, as incorporeal, is neither passive nor active), How can an alteration, an impression, be made on this? Then the thought-forms tire themselves incorporeal. But, according to the Stoics, only the corporeal can make an impression or bring about an alteration. That is to say, on the one hand, because corporeal and incorporeal are unlike they cannot be one; and, on the other, incorporeal thought-forms, as capable of no alteration, are not the content, for this last is the corporeal only.
If the thought-forms could in fact have attained the form of content, they would have been a content of thought in itself. But as they were they had value as laws of thought (lekta) merely. The Stoics indeed had a system of immanent determinations of thought, and actually did a great deal in this direction; for Chrysippus specially developed and worked out this logical aspect of things, and is stated to have been a master in it (supra, pp. 240, 241). But this development took a very formal direction; there are the ordinary well-known forms of inference, five of which are given by Chrysippus, while others give sometimes more and sometimes fewer. One of them is the hypothetical syllogism through remotion, “When it is day it is light, but now it is night and hence it is not light.” These logical forms of thought are by the Stoics held to be the unproved that requires no proof; but they are likewise only formal forms which determine no content as such. The wise man is specially skilful in dialectic, we are told by the Stoics. for all things, both physical and ethical, are perceived through a knowledge of logic. But thus they have ascribed this perception to a subject, without stating who this wise man is (p. 250). Since objective grounds by which to determine the truth are wanting, the ultimate decision is attributed to the will of the subject; and this talk about the wise man consequently has its ground in nothing but the indefiniteness of the criterion, from which we cannot get to the determination of content.
It would be superfluous to speak further of their logic any more than of their theory of judgments, which in part coincides with it, and in part is a grammar and a rhetoric; by it no real scientific content can be reached. For this logic is not, like Plato’s dialectic, the speculative science of the absolute Idea; but, as formal logic, as we saw above (p. 254), it is science as the firm, secure, unalterable comprehension of reasons, and stops short at the perception of the same. This logical element, whose essence consists pre-eminently in escaping to the simplicity of the conception to that which is not in opposition to itself nor falls into contradiction, obtains the upper hand. This simplicity, which has not negativity, and content in itself, requires a given content which it may not abrogate — but consequently it cannot thus attain to a genuine “ other” through itself. The Stoics have constituted their logic often in the most isolated fashion; the principal point that is established here is that the objective corresponds to thought, and they investigated this thought more closely. If in a manner it is quite correct to say that the universal is the true, and that thought has a definite content that must also be concrete, the main difficulty, which is to deduce the particular determination from the universal, so that in this self-determination it may remain identical with itself, has not been solved by the Stoics: and this the Sceptics brought to consciousness. This is the point of view most important in the philosophy of the Stoics; it thus showed itself in their physics also.
Since the theory of mind, the doctrine of knowledge, came before us in the investigation of the criterion, we have, in the third and last place, to speak of the morality of the Stoics, to which is due their greatest fame, but which does not rise above this formal element any more than what precedes, although it cannot be denied that in presenting it they have taken a course which seems very plausible to the popular conception, but which in fact is to a great extent external and empiric.
a. In order, in the first place, to find the definition of virtue, Chrysippus gives some good expositions of practical ethics which Diogenes Laėrtius XVII. 85, 86) quotes at considerable length; they are psychological in character and in them Chrysippus establishes his formal harmony with himself. For according to him the Stoics say: “The first desire (ormh) of the animal is for self-preservation, because nature from the beginning reconciled each existence with itself. This first object innate in every animal” (immanent desire) “is thus the harmony of the animal with itself, and the consciousness of the same,” the self-consciousness through which” the animal is not alienated from itself. Thus it repels what is injurious and accepts what is serviceable to it.” This is Aristotle’s conception of the nature of adaptation to an end, in which, as the principle of activity, both the opposite and its sublation are contained. “Enjoyment is not the first object, for it” (the sense of satisfaction) “is only for the first time added when the nature of an animal that seeks itself through itself, receives into itself that which is in conformity with its harmony with itself.” This is likewise worthy of approbation: self-consciousness, enjoyment , is just this return into self, the consciousness of this unity in which I enjoy something and thereby have my unity as this individual in the objective element. The case is similar in regard to man; his end is self-preservation, but with a conscious end, with consideration, according to reason. “In plants nature operates without voluntary inclination (ormhς) or sense-perception, but some things in us take place in the same manner as in plants.” For in the plant there also is the seed-containing-conception, but it is not in it as end, nor as its object, for it knows nothing about it. “In animals inclination comes in; in them nature makes their impulses conformable to their first principle;” i.e. the end of inclination is simply the first principle of their nature, and that through which they make for their own preservation. “Rational creatures likewise make nature their end, but this is to live according to reason, for reason becomes in them the artist who produces inclination,” i.e. it makes a work of art in man from what in the animal is desire merely. To live in accordance with nature is thus, to the Stoics, to live rationally.
This now appears somewhat like certain receipts given by the Stoics for the purpose of discovering right motive forces in regard to virtue. For their principle put generally is this: “ Men must live in conformity with nature, i.e. with virtue; for to it” (rational) “nature leads us. — “That is the highest good, the end of everything — a most important form in Stoic morality, which appears in Cicero as finis bonorum or summum bonum. With the Stoics right reason and the securing of it on its own account. is the highest principle. But here, too, we immediately see that we are thereby merely led round in a circle in a manner altogether formal, because virtue, conformity to nature, and reason. are only determined through one another. Virtue consists in living conformably with nature, and what is conformable to nature is virtue Likewise thought must further determine what is in conformity with nature, but conformity with nature again is that alone which is determined through reason. The Stoics further say, according to Diogenes Laėrtius (VII. 87, 88) “To live according to nature is to live according to that which experience teaches us of the laws both of universal nature and of our own nature, by doing nothing which universal law forbids; and that law is the right reason which pervades everything, being the same with Jupiter, the disposer (kaqhgegmoni) of the existing system of things. The virtue of the happy man is when everything occurs according to the harmony of the genius (daimonoς) of each individual with reference to the will of the disposer of all things.” Thus everything remains as it was in a universal formalism.
We must throughout allow to the Stoics that virtue consists in following thought, i.e. the universal law, right reason; anything is moral and right only in as far as a universal end is in it fulfilled and brought into evidence. This last is the substantial, the essential nature of a relationship, and in it we have that which is really in thought alone. The universal which must be the ultimate determination in action, is, however, not abstract, but the universal in this relationship, just as, for example, in property the particular is placed on one side. Because man, as a man of thought and culture, acts according to his perception, he subordinates his impulses and desires to the universal; for they are individual. There is in each human action an individual and particular element; but there is a distinction as to whether the particular as such is solely insisted upon or whether in this particular the universal is secured. It is to the securing of this universal that the energy of Stoicism is directed. But this universal has still no content and is undetermined, and thereby the Stoic doctrines of virtue are incomplete, empty, meaningless and tedious. Virtue indeed is commended in a forcible, lively and edifying manner, but as to what this universal law of virtue is, we have no indications given us.
b. The other side as regards the good is external existence, and the agreement of circumstances, of external nature, with the end aimed at by man. For although the Stoics have expressed the good as being conformity with law, in relation to the practical will, they yet defined it, according to Diogenes Laėrtius (VII. 94, 95), as being at the same time the useful,” either absolutely and immediately useful or not contrary to utility,” so that generally speaking the useful is, as it were, the accident of virtue. “The Stoics likewise distinguished manifold good into good having reference to the soul, and external good; the former indicates virtues and their actions; the latter the fact of pertaining to a noble country, having a virtuous friend, and so on. In the third place it is neither external nor is it a matter of self-consciousness alone, when the self-same man is virtuous and happy.” These conclusions are quite good. Morality does not require to look so coldly on what concerns utility, for every good action is in fact useful, i.e. it has actuality and brings forth something good. An action which is good without being useful is no action and has no actuality. That which in itself is useless in the good is its abstraction as being a non-reality. Men not only may, but must have the consciousness of utility; for it is true that it is useful to know the good. Utility means nothing else but that men have a consciousness respecting their actions. If this consciousness is blameworthy, it is still more so to know much of the good of one’s action and to consider it less in the form of necessity. Thus the question was raised as to how virtue and happiness are related to one another, a theme of which the Epicureans have also treated Here it was, as In more recent times, regarded as the great problem to discover whether virtue gives happiness, taken altogether by itself, whether the conception of happiness is included in its conception. That union of virtue and happiness, as the mean, is thus rightly represented as being perfect, neither pertaining only to self-consciousness nor to externality.
a. In order to be able to give a general answer to this question, we must recollect what was said above of the principle of self-preservation, according to which virtue has to do with the rational nature. The fulfilment of its end is happiness as finding itself realized, and as the knowledge or intuitive perception of itself as an external — a harmony of its Notion or its genius with its Being or its reality. The harmony of virtue with happiness thus means that the virtuous action realizes itself in and for itself, man becomes in it an immediate object to himself, and he comes to the perception of himself as objective, or of the objective as himself. This rests in the conception of action and particularly of good action. For the bad destroys reality and is opposed to self-preservation; but the good is what makes for its self-preservation and effectuates it — the good end is thus the content that realizes itself in action. But in this general answer to that question, properly speaking, the consciousness of the implicitly existent end has not sufficiently exactly the signification of virtue, nor has action proceeding from the same exactly the signification of virtuous action, neither has the reality which it attains the signification of happiness. The distinction rests in the fact that the Stoics have merely remained at this general conception, and set it forth immediately as actuality; in it however, the conception of virtuous action is merely expressed, and not reality.
b. A further point is that just because the Stoics have remained at this position, the opposition between virtue and happiness immediately enters in, or, in abstract form, that between thought and its determination. These opposites are with Cicero honestum and utile, and their union is the question dealt with. Virtue, which is living in accordance with the universal law of nature, is confronted by the satisfaction of the subject as such in his particularity. The two sides are, in the first place, this particularity of the individual, which, in the most varied aspects has existence in me as the abstract “this,” for example, in the presupposition of determinate inclinations; and here we have pleasure and enjoyment in which my existence harmonizes with the demands of my particularity. In the second place, I, as the will that fulfils law, am only the formal character which has to carry out the universal; and thus, as willing the universal, I am in accord with myself as thinking. The two now come into collision, and because I seek the one satisfaction or the other, I am in collision with myself, because I am also individual. As to this we may hear many trivial things said, such as that things often go badly with the virtuous and well with the wicked, and that the latter is happy, &c. By going well all external circumstances are understood, and on the whole the content is quite uninteresting, for it is constituted by the attainment of commonplace ends, points of view and interests. Such at once show themselves, however, to be merely contingent and external; hence we soon get past this stand-point in the problem, and thus external enjoyment, riches, noble birth, &c., do not accord with virtue or happiness. The Stoics indeed said: “The implicitly good is the perfect” (that which fulfils its end) “in accordance with the nature of the rational; now virtue is such, but enjoyment, pleasure and such-like are its accessories” — the end of the satisfaction of the individual on his own account. Thus these may be the concomitants of virtue, although it is a matter of indifference whether they are so or not, for since this .satisfaction is not end, it is equally a matter of indifference if pain is the concomitant of virtue. Conduct which is according to reason only, thus further contains man’s abstract concentration within himself, and the fact that the consciousness of the true enters into him, so that he renounces everything that belongs to immediate desires, feelings, &c.
In this quite formal principle of holding oneself in a pure harmony with oneself of a merely thinking nature, there now rests the power of becoming indifferent to every particular enjoyment, desire, passion and interest. Because this following of the determinations of reason is in opposition to enjoyment, man should seek his end or satisfaction in nothing else than in the satisfaction of his reason, in satisfying himself in himself, but not in anything outwardly conditioned. Hence much has been said by the Stoics in respect of that which pertains to the passions being something that is contradictory. The writings of Seneca and Antoninus contain much that is true in this regard, and they may be most helpful to those who have not attained to the higher degree of conviction. Seneca’s talent must be recognized, but we must also be convinced that it does not suffice. Antoninus (VIII. 7) shows psychologically that happiness or pleasure is not a good. “Regret is a certain self-blame, because something useful has failed, the good must be something useful, and the noble and good man must make the same his interest. But no noble and good man will feel regret that he has fallen short in pleasure; pleasure is thus neither useful nor good. The man who has the desire for glory after his death does not recollect that he who holds him in remembrance himself dies also, and again he who follows this one, until all recollection through these admiring ones who have passed away, has been extinguished.” Even if this independence and freedom is merely formal, we must still recognize the greatness of this principle. However, in this determination of the abstract inward independence and freedom of the character in itself lies the power which has made the Stoics famous; this Stoic force of character which says that man has only to seek to remain like himself, thus coincides with the formal element which I have already given (p. 254). For if the consciousness of freedom is my end, in this universal end of the pure consciousness of my independence all particular determinations of freedom which are constituted by duties and laws. have disappeared. The strength of will of Stoicism has therefore decided not to regard the particular as its essence, but to withdraw itself therefrom; we see on the one hand, that this is a true principle, but on the other, it is at the same time abstract still.
Now because the principle of the Stoic morality professes to be the harmony of mind with itself, what should be done is not to let this remain formal, and therefore not to let what is not contained in this self-contained be any longer shut out of it; That freedom which the Stoics ascribe to man is not without relation to what is other than himself; thus he is really dependent, and under this category happiness really falls. My independence is only one side, to which the other side, the particular side of my existence, hence does not yet correspond. The old question, which at this time again came up, thus concerns the harmony between virtue and happiness. We speak of morality rather than virtue, because that according to which I ought to direct my actions is not, as in virtue, my will, as it has become custom. Morality really contains my subjective conviction that that which I do is in conformity with rational determinations of will, with universal duties. That question is a necessary one, a problem which even in Kant’s time occupied men, and in endeavouring to solve it we must begin by considering what is to be understood by happiness. Much more is afterwards said of that in which satisfaction is to be sought. However, from what is external and exposed to chance we must at once break free. Happiness in general means nothing more than the feeling of harmony with self. That which is pleasing to the senses is pleasing because a harmony with ourselves is therein contained. The contrary and unpleasing is, on the other hand, a negation, a lack of correspondence with our desires. The Stoics have posited as the very essence of enjoyment this harmony of our inner nature with itself, but only as inward freedom and the consciousness, or even only the feeling of this harmony, so that enjoyment such as this is contained in virtue itself. Yet this enjoyment ever remains a secondary matter, a consequence, which in so far as it is so cannot be made end, but should only be considered as an accessory. The Stoics said in this regard that virtue is alone to be sought, but with virtue happiness on its own account is found, for it confers blessing explicitly as such. This happiness is true and imperturbable even if man is in misfortune; thus the greatness of the Stoic philosophy consists in the fact that if the will thus holds together within itself, nothing can break into it, that everything else is kept outside of it, for oven the removal of pain cannot be an end. The Stoics have been laughed at because they said that pain is no evil. But toothache and the like are not in question as regards this problem. We cannot but know we are subject to such; pain like this, and unhappiness are, however, two different things. Thus the problem throughout is only to be understood as the demand for a harmony of the rational will with external reality. To this reality there also belongs the sphere of particular existence, of subjectivity, of personality, of particular interests. But of these interests the universal alone truly pertains to this reality, for only in so far as it is universal, can it harmonize with the rationality of the will. It is thus quite right to say that suffering, pain, &c., are no evil, whereby the conformity with myself, my freedom, might be destroyed; I am elevated over such in the union which is maintained with myself, and even if I may feel them, they can still not make me at variance with myself. This inward unity with myself as felt, is happiness, and this is not destroyed by outward evil.
g. Another opposition is that within virtue itself. Because the universal law of right reason is alone to be taken as the standard of action, there is no longer any really absolutely fixed determination, for all duty is always, so to speak, a particular content, which can plainly be grasped in universal form, without this, however, in any way affecting the content. Because virtue is thus that which is conformable to the real essence or law of things, in a general sense the Stoics called virtue everything, in every department, which is in conformity with law in that department. Hence, Diogenes tells us (VII. 92), they also speak of logical and physical virtues, just as their morality represents individual duties (ta kaqhkonta) by passing in review the individual natural relationships in which man stands, and showing what in them is rational. But this is only a kind of quibbling such as we have also seen in Cicero’s case. Thus in as far as an ultimate deciding criterion of that which is good cannot be set up, the principle being destitute of determination, the ultimate decision rests with the subject. Just as before this it was the oracle that decided, at the commencement of this profounder inwardness the subject was given the power of deciding as to what is right. For since Socrates’ time the determination of what was right by the standard of customary morality had ceased in Athens to be ultimate; hence with the Stoics all external determination falls away, and the power of decision can only be placed in the subject as such, which in the last instance determines from itself as conscience. Although much that is elevated and edifying may find its support here, an actual determination is still wanting; hence there is according to the Stoics only one virtue, and the wise man is the virtuous.
c. The Stoics have thus in the third place likewise been in the way of representing an ideal of the wise man which, however, is nothing more than the will of the subject which in itself only wills itself, remains at the thought of the good because it is good, allows itself in its steadfastness to be moved by nothing different from itself, such as desires, pain, &c., desires its freedom alone, and is prepared to give up all else — which thus, if it experiences outward pain and misfortune, yet separates these from the inwardness of its consciousness. The question of why the expression of real morality has with the Stoics the form of the ideal of the wise man finds its answer, however, in the fact that the mere conception of virtuous consciousness, of action with respect to an implicitly existent end, finds in individual consciousness alone the element of moral reality. For if the Stoics had gone beyond the mere conception of action for the implicitly existent end, and had reached to the knowledge of the content, they would not have required to express this as a subject. To them rational self-preservation is virtue. But if we ask what it is that is evolved by virtue, the answer is to the effect that it is just rational self-preservation; and thus they have not by this expression got beyond that formal circle. Moral reality is not expressed as that which is enduring, which is evolved and ever evolving itself. And moral reality is just this, to exist; for as nature is an enduring and existent system, the spiritual as such must be an objective world. To this reality the Stoics have, however, not reached. Or we may understand this thus. Their moral reality is only the wise man, an ideal and not a reality — in fact the mere conception whose reality is not set forth.
This subjectivity is already contained in the fact that moral reality, expressed as virtue, thereby immediately presents the appearance of being present only as a quality of the individual. This virtue, as such, in as far as only the moral reality of the individual is indicated, cannot attain to happiness in and for itself, even though happiness, regarded in the light of realization, were only the realization of the individual. For this happiness would be just the enjoyment of the individual as the harmony of existence with him as individual; but with him as individual true happiness does not harmonize, but only with him. as universal man. Man must likewise not in the least desire that it should harmonize with him as individual man, that is, he must be indifferent to the individuality of his existence, and to the harmony with the individual as much as to the want of harmony; he must be able to dispense with happiness just as, if he possesses it, he must be free from it; or it is only a harmony of him with himself as a universal. If merely the subjective conception of morality is therein contained, its true relationship is yet thereby expressed; for it is this freedom of consciousness which in its enjoyment rests in itself and is independent of objects, — what we expressed above (p. 264) as the special characteristic of the Stoic morality. Stoic self-consciousness has not here to deal with its individuality as such, but solely with the freedom in which it is conscious of itself only as the universal. Now could one call this happiness, in distinction to the other, true happiness, happiness would still, on the whole, remain a wrong expression. The satisfaction of rational consciousness in itself as an immediate universal, is a state of being which is simulated by the determination of happiness; for in happiness we have the moment of self-consciousness as an individuality. But this .differentiated consciousness is not present in that self-satisfaction; for in that freedom the individual has rather the sense of his universality only. Striving after happiness, after spiritual enjoyment, and talking of the excellence of the pleasures of science and art, is hence dull and insipid, for the matter with which we are occupied has no longer the form of enjoyment, or it does away with that conception.
This sort of talk has indeed passed away and it no longer has any interest. The true point of view is to concern oneself with the matter itself and not with enjoyment, that is, not with the constant reflection on the relation to oneself as individual, but with the matter as a matter, and as implicitly universal. We must take care besides that things are tolerable to us as individuals, and the pleasanter the better. But no further notice or speech about this is requisite, nor are we to imagine that there is much that is rational and important within it. But the Stoic consciousness does not get beyond this individuality to the reality of the universal, and therefore it has only to express the form, the real as an individual, or the wise man.
The highest point reached by Aristotle, the thought of thought,, is also present in Stoicism, but in such a way that it does not stand in its individual capacity as it appears to do in Aristotle, having what is different beside it, but as being quite alone. Thus in the Stoic consciousness there is just this freedom, this negative moment of abstraction from existence, an independence which is capable of giving up everything, but not as an empty passivity and self-abnegation, as though everything could be taken from it, but an independence which can resign it voluntarily, with. out thereby losing its reality; for its reality is really just the simple rationality, the pure thought of itself. Here pure consciousness thus attains to being its own object, and because reality is to it only this simple object, its object annuls in itself all modes of existence, and is nothing in and f or itself, being therein only in the form of something abrogated.
All is merged into this: the simplicity of the Notion, or its pure negativity, is posited in relation to everything. But the real filling in, the objective mode, is wanting, and in order to enter into this, Stoicism requires that the content should be given. Hence the Stoics depicted the ideal of the wise man in specially eloquent terms, telling how perfectly sufficient in himself and independent he is, for what the wise man does is right. The description of the ideal formed by the Stoics is hence a common subject of discussion and is even devoid of interest; or at least the negative element in it is alone noteworthy. “The wise man is free and likewise in chains, for he acts from himself, uncorrupted by fear or desire.” Everything which belongs to desire and fear he does not reckon to himself, he gives to such the position of being something foreign to him; for no particular existence is secure to him. “The wise man is alone king, for he alone is not bound to laws, and he is debtor to no one.” Thus we here see the autonomy and autocracy of the wise man, who, merely following reason, is absolved from all established laws which are recognized, and for which no rational ground can be given, or which appear to rest somewhat on a natural aversion or instinct. For even in relation to actual conduct no definite law has properly speaking reality for him, and least of all those which appear to belong to nature as such alone, e.g. the prohibition against entering into marriage relations which are considered incestuous, the prohibition of intercourse between man and man,, for in reason the same thing is fitting as regards the one which is so as regards the others. Similarly the wise man may eat human flesh, &c. But a universal reason is something quite indeterminate. Thus the Stoics have not passed beyond their abstract understanding in the transgression of these laws, and therefore they have allowed their king to do much that was immoral; for if incest, pederasty, the eating of human flesh, were at first forbidden as though through a natural instinct only, they likewise can by no means exist before the judgment-seat of reason. The Stoic wise man is thus also “enlightened,” in the sense that where he did not know how to bring the natural instinct into the form of a rational reason, he trampled upon nature. Thus that which is called natural law or natural instinct comes into opposition with what is set forth as immediately and universally rational. For example, those first actions seem to rest on natural feelings, and we must remember that feelings are certainly not the object of thought; as opposed to this, property is something thought, universal in itself, a recognition of my possession from all, and thus it indeed belongs to the region of the understanding. But should the wise man hence not be bound by the former because it is not something immediately thought, this is merely the fault of his want of comprehension. As we have, however, seen that in the sphere of theory the thought-out simplicity of the truth is capable of all content, so we find this also to be the case with the good, that which is practically thought-out, without therefore being any content in itself. To wish to justify such a content through a reason thus indicates a confusion between the perception of the individual and that of all reality, it means a superficiality of perception which does not acknowledge a certain thing because it is not known in this and that regard. But this is so for the reason that it only seeks out and knows the most immediate grounds and cannot know whether there ate not other aspects and other grounds. Such grounds as these allow of reasons for and against everything being found — on the one hand a positive relation to something which, though in other cases necessary, as such can also be again sublated; and, on the other hand, a negative relation to something necessary, which can likewise again be held to be valid.
Because the Stoics indeed placed virtue in thought, but found no concrete principle of rational self-determination whereby determinateness and difference developed, they, in the first place, have carried on a reasoning by means of grounds to which they lead back virtue. They draw deductions from facts, connections, consequences, from a contradiction or opposition; and this Antoninus and Seneca do in an edifying way and with great ingenuity. Reasons, however, prove to be a nose of wax; for there are good grounds for everything, such as “These instincts, implanted as they are by nature,” or “Short life,” &c. Which reasons should be esteemed as good thereby depends on the end and interest which form the pre-supposition giving them their power. Hence reasons are as a whole subjective This method of reflecting on self and on what we should do, leads to the giving to our ends the breadth of reflection due to penetrative insight, the enlargement of the sphere of consciousness. It is thus I who bring forward these wise and good grounds. They do not constitute the thing, the objective itself, but the thing of my own will, of my desire, a bauble through which I set up before me the nobility of my mind; the opposite of this is self-oblivion in the thing. In Seneca himself there is more folly and bombast in the way of moral reflection than genuine truth; and thus there has been brought up against him both his riches, the splendour of his manner of life, his having allowed Nero to give him wealth untold, and also the fact that he had Nero as his pupil; for the latter delivered orations composed by Seneca. This reasoning is often brilliant, as with Seneca: we find much that awakens and strengthens the mind, clever antitheses and rhetoric, but we likewise feel the coldness and tediousness of these moral discourses. We are stimulated but not often satisfied, and this may be deemed the character of sophistry: if acuteness in forming distinctions and sincere opinion must be there recognized, yet final conviction is ever lacking.
In the second place there is in the Stoic stand-point the higher, although negatively formal principle, that what is thought is alone as such the end and the good, and therefore that in this form of abstract thought alone, as in Kant’s principle of duty, there is contained that by which man must establish and secure his self-consciousness, so that he can esteem and follow nothing in himself in as far as it has any other content for itself. “The happy life,” says Seneca (De vita beata, 5), “is unalterably grounded on a right and secure judgment.” The formal security of the mind which abstracts from everything, sets up for us no development of objective principles, but a subject which maintains itself in this constancy, and in an indifference not due to stupidity, but studied; and this is the infinitude of self-consciousness in itself.
Because the moral principle of the Stoics remains at this formalism, all that they treat of is comprised in this. For their thoughts are the constant leading back of consciousness to its unity with itself. The power of despising existence is great, the strength of this negative attitude sublime. The Stoic principle is a necessary moment in the Idea of absolute consciousness; it is also a necessary manifestation in time. For if, as in the Roman world, the life of the real mind is lost in the abstract universal; the consciousness, where real universality is destroyed, must go back into its individuality and maintain itself in its thoughts. Hence, when the political existence and moral actuality of Greece had perished, and when in later times the Roman Empire also became dissatisfied with the present, it withdrew into itself, and there sought the right and moral which had already disappeared from ordinary life. It is thus herein implied, not that the condition of the world is a rational and right one, but only that the subject as such should assert his freedom in himself. Everything that is outward, world, relationships, &c., are so disposed as to be capable of being abrogated; in it there is thus no demand for the real harmony of reason and existence; or that which we might term objective morality and rectitude is not found in it. Plato has set up the ideal of a Republic, i.e. of a rational condition of mankind in the state; for this esteem for right, morality and custom which is to him the principal matter, constitutes the side of reality in that which is rational; and it is only through a rational condition of the world such as this, that the harmony of the external with the internal is in this concrete sense present. In regard to morality and power of willing the good, nothing more excellent can be read than what Marcus Aurelius has written in his Meditations on himself; he was Emperor of the whole of the then known civilized world, and likewise bore himself nobly and justly as a private individual. But the condition of the Roman Empire was not altered by this philosophic emperor, and his successor, who was of a different character, was restrained by nothing from inaugurating a condition of things as bad as his own wicked caprice might direct. It is something much higher when the inward principle of the mind, of the rational will, likewise realizes itself, so that there arises a rational constitution, a condition of things in accordance with culture and law. Through such objectivity of reason, the determinations which come together in the ideal of the wise man are first consolidated. There then is present a system of moral relationships which are duties; each determination is then in its place, the one subordinated to the other, and the higher is predominant. Hence it comes to pass that the conscience becomes bound (which is a higher point than the Stoic freedom), that the objective relationships which we call duties are consolidated after the manner of a just condition of things, as well as being held by mind to be fixed determinations. Because these duties do not merely appear to hold good in a general sense, but are also recognized in my conscience as having the character of the universal, the harmony of the rational will and reality is established. On the one hand., the objective system of freedom as necessity exists, and, on the other, the rational in me is real as conscience. The Stoic principle has not yet reached to this more concrete attitude, as being on the one hand abstract morality and, on the other, the subject that has a conscience. The freedom of self-consciousness in itself is the principle, but it has not yet attained to its concrete form, and its relation to happiness exists only in its determination as indifferent and contingent, which relation must be given up. In the concrete principle of rationality the condition of the world, as of my conscience, is not, however, indifferent.
This is a general description of Stoic morality; the main point is to recognize its point of view and chief relationships. Because in the Roman world a perfectly consistent position, and one conformable to existing conditions, has attained to the consciousness of itself, the philosophy of the Stoics has more specially found its home in the Roman world. The noble Romans have hence only proved the negative, an indifference to life and to all that is external; they could be great only in a subjective or negative manner — in the manner of a private individual. The Roman jurists are also said to have been likewise Stoic philosophers, but, on the one hand, we find that our teachers of Roman law only speak ill of Philosophy, and, on the other, they are yet sufficiently inconsistent to state it to the credit of the Roman jurists that they were philosophers. So far as I understand law, I can find in it, among the Romans, nothing either of thought, Philosophy or the Notion. If we are to call the reasoning of the understanding logical thought, they may indeed be held to be philosophers, but this is also present in the reasoning of Master Hugo, who certainly does not claim to be a philosopher. The reasoning of the understanding and the philosophic Notion are two different things. We shall now proceed to what is in direct contrast to the Stoic philosophy, Epicureanism.
Translated by E.S. Haldane and Frances H. Simson, published by K. Paul Trench, Trübner in 1894.
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