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plexing. The natural consequence, mocritus, maintained the existence of therefore, of the discussion of points of a plenum in nature. Democritus afthis nature, was a diversity of opinions ferted, that matter consists of self-exand a variety of fubtle and endless dis- iftent, eternal, incorruptible, and im, putes. Yet this cannot with propriety penetrable atoms or indiviĝble particles, be urged against Plato.
of which extension and figure are the Daring the time of the establishment essential properties. He likewise afof the Grecian school, under Thalesferts a vacuum. Cicero and Plutarch and his successors, the wise Samian Py- both affirm that Epicurus derived his thagoras became famous in Italy. This opinions from Dennocritus, and the philofopher was one of the most accom- former author charges Epicuras with a plished men of his time. He spent a want of integrity and candour in conconfiderable time among the Egyptians, cealing the obligation. and travelled over many parts of the The same variety of opinions which East. There is great reason to think divided the Grecian school after the that the knowledge of the true fyftem death of Socrates, appeared likewise of the world, of which there are many among the successors of Democritus. proofs among his disciples, was ob- The Pythagoreans, however, do not tained by him
among the orientals. His appear to have neglected the cultivation opinions respecting the physical causes of that natural knowledge the first prin of things were fingular and mysterious. ciples of which were established by the He fought for these caufes among the founder of their sect; though the greatrelations of number and the symmetry er abilities of Pyrrho and Epicurus of figures. The five regular solids were when compared with Theodorus and held by him to partake of something Ariftippus, followers of Socrates, enaof a divine nature, and the harmony bled the former to spread their opinions by which the spheres were supposed to with greater fuccefs. From Pyrrho be governed is among his inventions. arose the fceptice. The candour and His doctrine of the metempsychosis was hesitation of Democritus, who was more probably one of the acquisitions he desirous of enquiring than dogmatizing. made in the east, where it is held even was imitated by Pyrrho, but with this to this day.
difference, that he chose to affirm no. Heraclitus, Democritus, Pyrrho, and thing, and even to deny the existence Epicurus, are the chief philosophers of or posibility of certainty. He asserted the Italian school who have established that all things were indifferent, life or fects. Very little is recorded of the death, pleasure or pain, virtue or vice. firft of these four, except that he was a And for thefe opinions, so obviously misanthrope. Democritus possessed a productive of the greatest mischiefs to mind equal to the greatest undertakings, fociety, his country raised him to the and his industry was adequate to his honour of the priesthood, and exempted extreme desire of acquiring knowledge. the students of philofophy from taxes. Skilled in the pursuits of men both Epicurus is reckoned of the Italian from travel and his natural penetration, school, because of the advantages he he regarded those pursuits as futile and derived from Democritus, though he beneath the notice of a philofopher. passed the greatest part of his life at Bur this did not render him a misan- Athens. The opinions both of the anthrope like Heraclitus. Aftrong sense cients and moderns concerning this of the ridiculous accompanied his me- philofopher are various and contrathod of eftimating things. The oc- dictory. By some he is represented as casions for exercising this talent were a man of small abilities, and debauche not a few, and the habit of derifion in- ed principles, while others describe him creased so much that his countrymen as the contrary character, and affirm are said to have written to Hippocrates that his dogmas refpecting pleasure requefting his affiftance to cure the in- ought to be understood as relating to fanity of Democritus. Plato, and most the true pleasure which accompanies of the other philosophere before De virtue and temperance. Among the July
HISTORY OF NATURAL PHILOSOPHY. in the fame rank with those which are cellent man how little they contributed now known to be unworthy of notice. to the advantage of mankind when comThus Plutarch de placitis philosophorum, pared with the knowledge and practice lib. 3. cap. 13. gives an obscure ac- of those duties which become the man count of the opinions of Philolaüs, He- and the citizen. Without entirely neraclides, and Ecphantus, from which glecting them, he exerted his endeait is probable that those philosophers vours to make his scholars more worwere acquainted with the true system thy of esteem than admiration. It is of the world. Copernicus, in his pre- a blot both on his character and that of face to his celebrated work De Revolu- his contemporaries, that he found it netionibus orbium cæleftium, quotes the cessary to have recourse to artifice, in passage and another of the like nature order to procure that respect and atten. from Cicero; but it seems rather strange tion which his upright life and easy that he mould have overlooked another conversation deserved. It was not paffage in Plutarch's imperfect treatise enough that Socrates was the first of De facie in orbe Lune, in which the moral philosophers, but fupernatural theory of gravity is very clearly ex- communications were pretended to. He pressed. As the passage is curious, a affirmed he had a demon, or familiar translation may be acceptable : spirit, that directed him to good, and
“ But the moon is prevented from taught him to avoid evil. falling by the violence of the motion While philosophy was chiefly conby which the revolves, upon the fame versant among natural things the minds principle that stones or other weights of men appear to have been calm, and are kept from dropping out of a Ning the common study of nature seemed ra. by the swiftness of their motion while ther to unite than divide them. But they are whirled about. For every the study of morality foon created di. body will be carried according to its visions. We can much more readily ai. natural motion if not prevented by low the fuperiority in learning than in fome intervening cause. The moon, morality. An acknowledged pre-emi. therefore, does not move according to nence in virtue either creates a laudable the action of her weight because her emulation, or the most rancorous envy. tendency is overcome by the violence The example and precepts of the divine of the circular motion.'
Socrates produced both these effects. Thales of Miletus is regarded as the Many of his fellow-citizens became founder of the Ionic school of philo- more virtuous, but those who beheld sophers. Moft of the opinions which him without amendment saw with anxiare recorded of this great man are suchety that his conduct was a continual as do him great credit. By travelling reproach to their own. They became into Crete, Phenicia, and lastly Egypt, his enemies, and as the offender is alwhich was then the residence of the best ways more implacable than the injured geometers, he acquired all the know. person, their hatred was not satiated ledge which those times possessed, and but with his life. He was accused of is said to have made very considerable fubverting the religion of his country, discoveries.' He is affirmed to be the and condemned to drink poison. first who gave any rational account of Immediately upon the death of Son the cause of eclipses, and even proceed crates, the Grecian school became died so far as to foretell them. The fuc- vided into parties. It has been a dificessors of Thales attended chiefly to culty in all ages to determine the orithe study of nature till the time of So- gin of moral obligation, and the world
is not yet agreed upon the subject. InSocrates, according to Cicero, was deed the question itself his so many the first who called the attention of complicated relations,
such philosophers from the heavens, and a considerable know? fixed it upon the study of morality. An fical habitudes, intimate acquaintance with the sciences he wondered, of the age he lived in, fewed this ex- and modern
who ftrict vhich quirer easily
mind. he huore de.
thing ore creengaged h seems s not rereferring wilfully
the suc. ived and umber to 1, till at Jade ourh is equal y effects, creation hor himderation · favour,
ancients, Cicero and Plutarch may be rived from Heraclitus and Pythagoras,
Contemporary with Plato and Arifto The reader may fee_this itated at largetle, lived Diogenes the cynic, the in Diderot's Essay on the Blind, or in scholar of Antifthenes, who was a di. the Characteristics of Shaftsbury. The sciple of Socrates. The arrogance and opinion of the plurality of worlds was pride of this sect of philosophers, their common to almost all the Pythago- voluntary poverty, and their want of
delicacy in reprimanding others is well To return to the academies. The known. It does not appear that the unsettled state of government at Athens, science of natural philosophy is much and the death of Socrates, induced indebted to them. Plato to retire to Megara with the elder A few years after the death of A. Euclid. According to the custom of ristotle the sect of stoics was established the age he visited Egypt, and afterwards at Athens by Zeno. Being much afwent into Magna Græcia to make him- flicted at a considerable loss he had self acquainted with the Pythagorean sustained in commerce, he happened to philosophy, under Philolaüs, Archytas read one of the books of Xenophon, the Tarentine, and Eurytus. Upon his which assuaged his grief and gave him return, he fixed his residence at a house a degree of unexpected pleasure. He and gardens, called the Academy, in applied to Crates the cynic, and be the neighbourhood of Athens, from came his disciple. The indifference whence his followers have been called with which the cynics suffered the want academics. Plato's moral philosophy of what are generally called the necesconfifted chiefly of that of Socrates, ex- saries of life inspired him with the pressed in the most elegant and animated idea of the stoic good man. Rejecting ityle. His natural philosophy was de- their effrontery and impudence, he
taught the most severe morality, at- 'with arguments drawn from reason and tended with the highest degree of for- the nature of things. The well-known titude and indifference for extemal ac- Descartes may be said to have put an cidents. Epictetus was of this sect. end to the reign of the Stagyrite. The
'l he few rational enquirers who were first book of his Principia is an admiof cofeit were disregarded among the rable introduction to metaphysics. It many different orders of philosophers, has its errors, but for itrength of and the succeeding ages faw an impe. thought and elegance of expreilion is diment thrown in the way of free dif- perhaps unequalled. The following quifition, which not only prevented its books display much ingenuity, though progress but even destroyed the ad- nothing but the very imperfect state of vancement already made. The Chris- philofophy at the time of their publitian religion became established and cation can account for their being rewas supported by the civil power. ceived and cultivated. Those who It is a dreadful error for man to ima- have not become inured to that strict gine himself entrufted with the autho- and unbiassed regard for truth, which rity of the Almighty, and the most is absolutely necessary for an enquirer horrid of all cruelties which disgrace into natural appearances, cannot easily the annals of history are those which conceive the fascinating effect which a have been acted in the name of the Dei- received hypothesis has upon the mind. ty. The primitive fathers imagined it Nothing is less calculated for the hunecessary to philofophize in religious man powers, and nothing is more dematters. They became Christian Pia- fired than to account for every thing tonists, and disseminated the seeds of we see. An interest is therefore crean infinity of controverfies. Inftead of ated, and the paslions become engaged that mild and charitable forbearance in favour of that system which seems which the example and precepts of adequate to the talk, and does not reChrift invariably inculcated, the most quire the laborious caution of referring acrimonious disputes were agitated con- to experiment. The eye is wilfully cerning what are called myiteries. Ca- shut upon the difficulties, while the fucbals, persecutions, and a jealous ob- cessful elucidations are received and servance of every thing which could be mutually contribute by their number to supposed in the most distant manner to establish each others authority, till at affect the faith, contributed to fetter the length we can scarcely persuade ourminds of men. Science degenerated selves that the hypothesis which is equal into a fuperficial and unmeaning play to the explanation of so many effects, of words. Buried beneath valt aggre- can be nothing more than the creation gates of fyllogisms, confined to a few of fancy. The illustrious author himaniversal propositions, which, being felf, indeed, urges this consideration branched into numberiess divisions, af as a principal argument in his favour, forded a species of empty knowledge “ Sed qui advertent quam multa de magcalculated only to feed the vanity of nete, &c. But those who consider how its poffeffor, it seemed almost lost to many things relating to magnetism, the world. But the effect has ceased fire, and to the construction of the uni. upon the removal of the cause. The verse are here deduced from a few prinreformation has been followed by a ciples, even though they should think gradual increase of liberality and can- those principles have been assumed cadour, and thence the sciences have de- sually and without reason, will yet rived infinite advantages.
perhaps acknowledge that it could During the dark ages, when the scarcely have happened that so many schoolmen flourished, the works of things should agree together, and muAristotle were regarded with a degree tually confirm each other, if they were of reverence to which no book whatso- false." Principia sub fine. And it is ever can poffibly be entitled. For in their remarkable, that in his epiftle to the disputations a quotation from the works French translator of this book, he adof that philosopher was allowed to rank vises that the book ought to be “ read