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A History of Philosophy in Epitome by Schwegler

The Heraclitic doctrine of absolute becoming


_The Relation of Knowing to Opinion._--Opinion is just as little identical with knowing as is the sense-perception. An incorrect opinion is certainly different from knowing, and a correct one is not the same, for it can be engendered by the art of speech without therefore attaining the validity of true knowledge. The correct opinion, so far as it is true in matter though imperfect in form, stands rather midway between knowing and not-knowing, and participates in both.

(3.) _The Relation of Science to Thinking._--In opposition to the Protagorean sensualism, we have already referred to an energy of the soul independent of the sensuous perception and sensation, competent in itself to examine the universal, and grasp true being in thought. There is, therefore, a double source of knowledge, sensation and rational thinking. Sensation refers to that which is conceived in the constant becoming and perpetual change, to the pure momentary, which is in an incessant transition from the was, through the now, into the shall be (_Parm._ p. 152); it is, therefore, the source of dim, impure, and uncertain knowledge; thinking on the other hand refers to the abiding, which neither becomes nor departs, but remains ever the same. (_Tim._ p. 51.) Existence, says the Timaeus (p. 27) is of two kinds, "that which ever is but has no becoming, and that which ever becomes but never is. The one kind, which is always in the same state, is comprehended through reflection by

the reason, the other, which becomes and departs, but never properly is, may be apprehended by the sensuous perception without the reason." True science, therefore, flows alone from that pure and thoroughly internal activity of the soul which is free from all corporeal qualities and every sensuous disturbance. (_Phaed._ p. 65.) In this state the soul looks upon things purely as they are (_Phaed._ p. 66) in their eternal being and their unchangeable condition. Hence the true state of the philosopher is announced in the Phaedon (p. 64) to be a willingness to die, a longing to fly from the body, as from a hinderance to true knowledge, and become pure spirit. According to all this, science is the thinking of true being or of ideas; the means to discover and to know these ideas, or the organ for their apprehension is the dialectic, as the art of separating and combining conceptions; the true objects of dialectics are ideas.

3. THE DOCTRINE OF IDEAS IN ITS GENESIS.--The Platonic doctrine of ideas is the common product of the Socratic method of forming conceptions, the Heraclitic doctrine of absolute becoming, and the Eleatic doctrine of absolute being. To the first of these Plato owes the idea of a knowing through conceptions, to the second the recognition of the becoming in the field of the sensuous, to the third the position of a field of absolute reality. Elsewhere (_in the Philebus_) Plato connects the doctrine of ideas with the Pythagorean thought that every thing may be formed from unity and multiplicity, from the limit and the unlimited. The aim of the Theataetus, the Sophist, and the Parmenides is to refute the principles of the Eleatics and Heraclitics: this refutation is effected in the Theataetus by combating directly the principle of an absolute becoming, in the Sophist by combating directly the principle of abstract being, and in the Parmenides by taking up the Eleatic one and showing its true relations. We have already spoken of the Theataetus; we will now look for the development of the doctrine of ideas in the Sophist and Parmenides.

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