Front Page Titles (by Subject) Dissertation on the Origin of Philosophy and Its Principal Founders and Exponents 1 - Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind
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Dissertation on the Origin of Philosophy and Its Principal Founders and Exponents 1 - Francis Hutcheson, Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind 
Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind, ed. James Moore and Michael Silverthorne, texts translated from the Latin by Michael Silverthorne, introduction by James Moore (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2006).
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Dissertation on the Origin of Philosophy and Its Principal Founders and Exponents1
Philosophy is the knowledge of the true and the good which men build for themselves by the powers of their own reason. Therefore we are not concerned here with the knowledge of things which has been available to men from the earliest days and which was passed down through the generations from divine revelation.
Philosophy was either barbarian or Greek. There seems to have been a considerable amount of barbarian philosophy among the Egyptians, the Chaldeans, and the Indians, but little evidence remains.2 The study of geometry, astronomy, theology, ethics, and politics flourished among them.
The earliest authors of Greek philosophy after the poets, whose philosophy is not at all certain, were Thales of Miletus and Pythagoras, unless both of them perhaps were pupils of Pherecydes of Syros.3 They lived at least 550 years before the birth of Christ. Pythagoras founded the Sicilian sect, and Thales founded the Ionian sect about the beginning of Cyrus’s reign, before the return of the Jews from Babylon to their homeland.
I. The Italian Sect.4 Pythagoras developed geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, music, ethics, and theology. He wished to be called not wise (sophos) but a lover of wisdom (philosophos). His modesty in this has been imitated by all subsequent students of wisdom. At Croton in Italy he started a school or community. He taught that there is one supreme God, who is of a nature or substance different from matter, and he believed that men’s minds are also of this nature. By his teaching and example he commended the highest piety toward God and goodness toward men, as well as a temperance which would liberate men’s minds from the chains of the body. This school flourished for a long time among the Italians and the Greeks. Pythagoras’s successor was his son, Telauges; then Empedocles, the inventor of rhetoric; and Xenophanes; and after these, Parmenides and Leucippus. Following them came Zeno of Elea in Italy, the inventor of dialectic; Socrates was his pupil who approved the practice of arguing by questions after his example. From this school came also Democritus and Heraclitus.
II. The Ionian Sect. Thales opened a school at Miletus. Little evidence remains of him, but his successors were Anaximander, Anaximenes, Anaxagoras, and Archelaus, the last of whom is famous for his disciple Socrates.5 They particularly cultivated geometry, astronomy and the whole of physics. The rest are more unsympathetic to religion, but the excellent Anaxagoras, who was called “the Mind,” held that the whole frame and structure of the world was made by the divine mind and reason.
III. The restorer or founder of true philosophy was Socrates, born at Athens to his father Sophroniscus in the time of Darius Nothus, in the period before Philip of Macedon in human reckoning, and four centuries before the birth of Christ. This truly divine man turned his penetrating mind away from corporeal and hidden things, which contribute little to a happy life, and gave himself completely to the cultivation of true piety and the knowledge of God, and to every virtue. Particularly conversant with ethics, politics, and economics, he taught that the minds of men are immortal and that their excellence consists in being as like to God as possible, and that after death men will be happy or miserable according as they have given themselves in this life to virtue or to vice.6
IV. His disciples founded various sects.7
1. Aristippus, who was very different from his master, held that the highest good lies in the pleasure of the body. He started the Cyrenaic school in Egypt; his daughter Arete succeeded him, and she was followed by Aristippus Metrodidaktos, and then by Antipater, Theodorus the atheist, Epitemides, and some others who made many innovations, especially Hegesias.
2. Phaedo, the founder of the Elean sect, taught that virtue is the sole good. He too had a number of successors,
3. Euclides, to whom we owe the Megarian sect, which was the most contentious of all, because it was solely dedicated to dialectic, as a result of which they are called the “wranglers” and “dialecticians.”8
4. Antisthenes opened his school near the gates of the city, in a Gymnasium at Cynosarges, and it is because of this, and not because of their morals, that they are called Cynics.9 His successors were Diogenes the Cynic and Crates of Thebes; everyone knows of their harsh and boorish style of life. Zeno of Citium in Cyprus was a pupil of Crates; later in life he taught in the Stoa (“Porch”) of Pisianax, and so gave the Stoics their name.10 The Stoics developed logic in their own way; in ethics and politics they really followed Socrates, but with some change of terms. Notable Stoics include Cleanthes and Chrysippus. Epicurus flourished in the time of Zeno the Stoic, about 250 years before the birth of Christ. He started a new school; in ethics he agreed with Aristippus, though he coined new terms to avoid jealousy, while in physics he followed Democritus. His successors were Hermachus, Polystratus, and others.11
5. Most eminent among the pupils of Socrates is Plato of Athens, a man of altogether divine genius, who has no rivals in the cultivation of every elegance; he founded the Old Academy.
V. The Old, the Middle, and the New Academy. Plato and Xenophon, who were very worthy pupils of their master Socrates made outstanding advances in theology, ethics, and politics. The pupils of Plato were called Academics from the charming park of a certain Academus in which they used to hold their discussions. The successors of Plato were Speusippus, Xenocrates, Polemo, Crantor, Crates, Arcesilaus (the founder of the Middle Academy, which differed from the Old Academy only in logic, that is, over the limitations of the human understanding in discovering truth), Lasydes, Evander, Egesinus, and Carneades, the father of the New Academy, which veered more toward the Skeptics; he was succeeded by Clitomachus and others.12
VI. The Peripatetics. Outstanding among the disciples of Plato was Aristotle, who was born at Stagira, a town of Macedonia, and was given charge of the education of Alexander the Great. Because he opened his school in the Peripatos, or covered walk, of the Lyceum, his followers are called the Peripatetics. They differed very little from Plato in ethics or theology, but were rather more distinct in metaphysics and politics. Aristotle wrote famous books over virtually the whole range of philosophy, and constructed the entire system of the art of logic with supreme skill. He was succeeded by Tyrtamus, to whom he gave the name of Theophrastus because of his godlike eloquence. His successors were Strato, Lyco, Aristo, Critolaus, Diodorus,13 and others; the eleventh in succession from Aristotle was Andronicus of Rhodes, who arranged the books of the philosopher in the order in which we now have them; in his time Cicero’s son was a student of Cratippus at Athens. In the period immediately following Aristotle there flourished Pyrrho, the father of the Skeptics, an assailant of all philosophy, who taught that all things are equally unknown and uncertain.14
VII. About 140 flourished Galen, the first of the commentators. The floruit of Porphyrius is 325. In 525 Boethius was born: he was the first to translate Aristotle’s Logic into Latin. 614: John Philoponus the grammarian. 800: John of Damascus. 1000: Eustathius and Eustratius. 1100: Michael of Ephesus and Michael Psellus. 1200: George Pachymerus. In these same times the Arabs Alfarabius, Avicenna, and Averroes won a great reputation. Then followed the age of the Scholastics, whose thorny and uncouth philosophy retained its influence until 1453, when after the capture of Constantinople by the Turks, the literary heritage of the Greeks was brought over to the West.15
VIII. The Eclectics.16 Although the best of the ancients, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, etc., are rightly included among the Eclectics because they were not enslaved to any master but adopted the views that seemed to them to be closest to the truth, the term “eclectic” was especially given to those who, after the formation of the different schools, refused to join any one of them. We note Potamon of Egypt, who flourished about the time of Augustus and was imitated by the philosophers of Alexandria, though they leaned more toward the views of Plato; some of them were pagan, others Christian. [They include] from the third and fourth centuries, Ammonius, Plotinus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Porphyry, Iamblichus, Syrianus, and Olympiodorus. With the revival of humane letters in the West, philosophy too was improved, especially through the strenuous efforts of those who have earned the gratitude of the human race by editing and interpreting the books of the ancients. With great acclaim, however, [moderns] have pointed out or entered upon a new road: in physics, Bacon, Descartes, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton; in ethics Grotius, Cumberland, and Pufendorf (for it was the Old Academy that was revived by Mirandula, Ficino, and the Earl of Shaftesbury); and Locke in logic and metaphysics.
[1 ]The primary source in the ancient world for the origin of philosophy and the lives of the philosophers was written in the third century by Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers. This work provided material for the more comprehensive histories of ancient philosophy composed by Thomas Stanley, The History of Philosophy: Containing the Lives, Opinions, Actions and Discourses of the Philosophers of Every Sect, and Johann Jakob Brucker, Historia Critica Philosophiae. (Brucker’s work was recast in English by William Enfield as The History of Philosophy from the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Present Century: Drawn up from Brucker’s Historia Critica Philosophiae; page references are from the 1819 edition.) Hutcheson’s brief account of the origin of philosophy appears to be digested mainly from these three sources, supplemented by the preface to Henry Aldrich, Artis Logicae Compendium: see below, note 9 and especially note 15.
[2 ]Brucker’s Historia, vol. 1, bk. 1 (Enfield, pp. 43-95) was devoted to the philosophy of the Chaldeans, Indians, Egyptians, and others.
[3 ]Diogenes Laertius, Lives, I, pp. 23-47, 121-29.
[4 ]Diogenes Laertius, Lives, II, pp. 321-463. Stanley, History, narrates the lives and opinions of Pythagoras and other members of “the Italick Sect,” pp. 346-469. Hutcheson’s unusual account of Pythagoras’s religious beliefs is also found in Ephraim Chambers, Cyclopedia, s.v. “Pythagoras.”
[5 ]Diogenes Laertius, Lives, I, pp. 131-49, for this succession of philosophers; also Stanley, History, pp. 60-73.
[6 ]Stanley, History, pp. 77-78, drawing upon texts of Plato, Plutarch, and Xenophon, underlines the piety of Socrates and his belief in the immortality of the soul.
[7 ]Diogenes Laertius, Lives, I, pp. 195-233, provides a narrative of the lives and opinions of Aristippus, Theodorus, and Hegesias. Stanley rehearsed this account under the headings of the Cyrenaic, Megaric, and Eleatic sects in History, pp. 132-53.
[8 ]“Eristici” and “elenctici.”
[9 ]Stanley, History, p. 277 ff.; Aldrich, Artis Logicae Compendium, preface, sec. 6, explains the origin of the term “cynic” in the same manner as Hutcheson.
[10 ]Stanley, History, p. 293 ff., and Brucker, Historia, II, p. 531 ff. (Enfield, I, p. 296) treat the Stoics as successors to the Cynics. It is remarkable that no reference is made by Hutcheson to the Stoic philosophers whom he most admired: Epictetus (in the gloss by Simplicius) and Marcus Aurelius.
[11 ]Diogenes Laertius, Lives, II, p. 528 ff., and Stanley, History, pp. 533-633.
[12 ]Stanley, History, pp. 154-55, identified the same members of the Old, the Middle, and the New Academy. This succession of names derives from Diogenes Laertius, Lives, I, pp. 375-444.
[13 ]See Stanley, History, pp. 269-76.
[14 ]Hutcheson’s perfunctory dismissal of Pyrrho and the Skeptics stands in marked contrast with the extensive discussion of Skeptical modes of argument, in Stanley, History, pp. 475-532.
[15 ]This paragraph and its curious chronology derive from Aldrich, Artis Logicae Compendium, preface, secs. 9, 10, and 12.
[16 ]There is no discussion of the Eclectics in Stanley’s History. But Brucker wrote at length on “the Eclectic Sect” in Historia, II, pp. 189-462 (Enfield, II, pp. 59-101) and included among the Eclectics those modern philosophers to whom Hutcheson alludes in his final sentence. Eclecticism in modern philosophy meant for Brucker concentration on the facts of nature rather than on the authority of philosophical sects: Historia, V, pp. 4-6.