Aristotle and design — Matter and form — Abstraction — Trinity — The ascent — The four causes — A first mover — Lambda of the Metaphysic — The hymn of Aristotle — Speculation — Mankind — Erdmann — Theory and practice — Nature — Kant Byron Mme. Genlis — Aristotle's ethic and politic — God — Cicero — Time — Design — Hume Buffon — Plato and Aristotle — Immanent Divinity and transcendent Deity — Schwegler — Bonitz — The soul — Unity — Homer — The Greek movement up to Aristotle Biese — The Germans and Aristotle — Cuvier Owen Franzius Johann von Müller — Darwin — Aristotle in conclusion.
Gifford Lecture the Eighth.
IN the conclusion of the last lecture we saw that Aristotle in a chapter in which he was supposed to have shadowed out the modern doctrine of natural selection had nothing in view but the impossibility of mechanical principles ever explaining the phenomena which seem to bear on their front the relation that is named of final causes. And in fact to say it again the whole philosophy of Aristotle is founded on and rises out of the single principle of an object a purpose an end that is good an end that is beneficial an end that is advantageous. Design animates the whole but the very breath of this design the heart that beats in it the soul that guides it is the Good—service that is wise. Nature is but a single organic congeries—as it were a crystallization into externality of internality. There is matter; but there is no separate individual entity so named—cognizable as so named existent as so named. Conceived as such separate existence matter is only an abstraction. Objects have matter but they have also form; and the two elements the two sides are indissolubly together though we may logically see them apart and name them apart. That is we may fix our mind on the material side of some formed object and speaking of that side abstractedly we may name it apart; but it does not exist apart. Conceived apart it is but an abstraction. There is no such thing as matter qua matter any more than there is such a thing as book qua book or paper qua paper: there is always only such and such a book such and such particular paper. But the other side already present and immanent in the material side as it were fused into integrated and identified with it is form. An impression in wax so far illustrates the idea. There is the wax and there is the impress: they can be conceived apart and spoken of apart; but they are practically one. You cannot take the impress into your hand and leave the wax; and neither can you take the wax into your hand without the impress. Only in the case of any Aristotelian σύνολον of any Aristotelian co-integer of form and matter the one side without the other absolutely disappears. Destroy the impress and the wax remains; but destroy form and with its extinction there is to Aristotle the extinction of matter as well. The form can exist only in matter; the matter can exist only in form. Either of the two sides as separated and by itself is abstract an abstraction; but in the concrete of their coalescence there is as it were a life between them. Even as together there is always to be conceived a nisus an effort of matter towards form a hunger of matter for form; and there is no less on the part of form such nisus or such hunger for realization substantiation in matter. This is much the same thing as to say: What is is potentiality that realizes itself into actuality. We may remember now that reference in Plato to a somewhat trinitarian suggestion where the receiving element was compared to the mother the formative element to the father and the formed element between them to the ϵ̓́κγονος the offspring the son. And we may similarly present here the σύνολον the co-integer of Aristotle and the life at work as it were within even in its elements. There is the matter ὕλη the form ϵἰ̑δος or μόρφη and the σύνολον itself all three respectively in a sort of relation of mother father and son. It is but the same idea the same life too that we see in the further forms of potentiality energy and actuality. There is an ϵ̓νϵ́ργϵια energy comparable to the father that leads δυνάμις potentiality comparable to the mother into ϵ̓ντϵλϵ́χϵια actuality comparable to the son. This son too evidently combines the virtue of both father and mother. The ϵ̓ντϵλϵ́χϵια has its own ϵ̓νϵ́ργϵια in its own δύναμις. It has its own end τϵ́λος within itself; it is an end unto itself—a life that lives into itself that realizes itself. And there is realization above realization. There is a rise from object to object. The plant is above the stone and the animal above the plant. But man is the most perfect result. His supremacy is assured. He alone of all living creatures is erect; and he is erect by reason of the divinity within him whose office it is to know to think and to consider. All other animals are but incomplete imperfect dwarf beside man.
Potentiality is realized into form then but to effect this movement is necessary. The realization is movement; and the principle of movement is the efficient cause while of this cause itself the further principle—what gives it meaning and guides it—is the purpose of good the intention of profit design to a right and fit end. There are thus as we saw once before four causes and generally co-operant in one and the same subject. There is the material cause the formal cause the efficient cause; and there is also the final cause. All four causes may be found apart as in the building of the house. Here is the matter say stone wood lime what not; there is the form in the idea of the architect; and there are the efficient causes in the various artizans. But it is the design that sets all the rest in motion; and it is the last to be realized though also the first of the four that comes into existence; the final cause—namely the comfort convenience pleasure the shelter and protection which the house is there alone to afford. In such a case as we see material formal efficient and final causes are all four apart; but in man the formal efficient and final causes are at once and unitedly the soul—the soul which in its body is the master of matter. But man is still a creature; of all the creatures he is but one. And of all the movements in the universe and in the things of the universe he is not the mover. But a mover there must be. In every movement that takes place there are always at once moved and mover; and for the universal series and system of movements there must be an ultimate mover. Further indeed there must be an ultimate actuality. Potentiality were it alone as has been already said would remain potentiality. Potentiality presupposes actuality. Were there no actuality already present neither would there be any movement on the part of potentiality into actuality. There must therefore be a first actuality and that first actuality must be the first mover which unmoved itself moves all. But that first mover and that first actuality that is required for every other actuality and requires no other for itself is God—God eternal increate and immaterial. Not throughout never-ending time was there in night and chaos in darkness and the void potentiality alone but what was was actuality: always and ever and everywhere the infinite I AM.
No one I may venture to say will read the latter half of the twelfth book called by some the eleventh by all the Lambda of the Metaphysic and yet feel inclined to reproach me with hebraizing Aristotle here. If we have not in the Greek the direct words of the Hebrew I AM we have them every such reader will I feel sure readily confess fully in meaning. When we turn from Plato to Aristotle it is usually said that we turn from the warmth of feeling to the coldness of the understanding from the luxuriance of figurative phrase to the dryness of the technical term from poetry to prose; but to my mind these five chapters of Aristotle are at least in their ideas more poetical than anything even in Plato. That πρω̑τον κινου̑ν of Aristotle let certain critics find what fault they may with it is as near as possible as near as possible for a Greek then the Christian God. And Aristotle sings Him if less musically than Milton still in his own deep way musically and in a vastly deeper depth philosophically than Milton. Especially in the seventh chapter of the twelfth book it is that we find that wonderful concentration and intensity of thought which deep dense metalline-close glows—unexpectedly and with surprise—glows into song—the psalm the chant de profundis of an Aristotle. It proceeds somewhat in this way:—
As there comes not possibly anything or all out of night and nothingness there must be the unmoved mover who in his eternity is actual and substantial one. Unmoved himself and without a strain he is the end-aim of the universe towards which all strain. Even beauty is not moved but moves; and we move to beauty because it is beauty not that it is beauty only because we move to it. And the goal the aim the end moves even as beauty moves or as something that is loved moves. It is thought that has made the beginning. As mere actuality actuality pure and simple as that which could not not-be God knows not possibility he is before and above and without potentiality the beginning the middle and the end the first and last the principle and goal without peers as without parts immaterial imperishable personal single one eternal and immortal. On him hang the heavens and the earth. And his joy of life is always as is for brief moments when at its best ours. In him indeed is that enduringly so. But it is impossible for us. For joy in him is his actuality—even as to us the greatest joy is to be awake to see and feel to think and so to revive to ourselves memories and hopes. Thought intellection is his; and his intellection is the substantial intellection of that which is substantial the perfect intellection of that which is perfect. Thought as thought intellection as intellection knows itself even in apprehension of its object; for holding and knowing this it is this and knowing and known are identical. Intellection indeed takes up into itself what is to be known and what substantially is: it acts and is the object in that it has and holds it. What then there is of divine in intellection that is diviner still in its actuality in God; and speculation is what is the highest joy and the best. And if as with us interruptedly it is always in felicity so with God then is there cause for wonder; and for much more wonder if the felicity with God is of a higher order than ever it is with us. But that is so. In him is life; for the actuality of intellection is life and that actuality is his. Actuality that is absolute—that as life of him is life best and eternal. So it is we say that God is a living being perfect and eternal. Life eternal and enduring being belong to God. And God is that.
That is the great passage.
There are many other passages in several of his works where Aristotle returns again and again to the bliss of mere thinking the joy of θϵωρία speculation contemplation the joy and the bliss of διαγωγή of a life that lives on without a change or a check in the continuity of mere thinking. That to Aristotle is the enviable beatitude of the Godhead. So we can think of Aristotle as loving to retire from the world always into the bliss of his own thoughts. There are circumstances in his life as well as points in his will that show Aristotle in a very favourable light with regard to integrity considerateness and amiability whether as affectionate father loving spouse warm and constant friend or good master; but perhaps experience did not lead him to have any very high opinion of mankind as a whole. In his Rhetoric (ii. 5. 7) he speaks of it as a position of fear to be within the power of another men being mostly bad timid for themselves and open to temptations of profit. And the general scope of the observation is not a solitary one. So it is therefore that perhaps latterly at least his own thoughts in solitude were to Aristotle his own best society.
This is what διαγωγή he assumes always for the Godhead as ἡ ἀρίστη the best and the best for us too but alas! as he sighs only μικρὸν χρόνον only a short time ἡμι̑ν for us—the condition namely of contemplative thinking of inward peace untroubled from without where spirit is in the element of spirit thought in the element of thought spirit in spirit thought in thought. This in his Ethic (x. 7. 12) is what he holds to be the true life for us. “It becomes a man” he says there “not as some advise being man to think as a man or being mortal to think as a mortal but to be in possibility immortal (ϵ̓φ̕ ὅσον ϵ̓νδϵ́χϵται as far as possible ἀθανατίζϵιν to become immortal make oneself immortal); that is it becomes a man as far as possible to take on assume immortality. Of course it has been pointed out that such life of self-absorption may suit the philosopher but not at all the citizen; and in the same way it has been objected that if Aristotle is a theist so far as he assumes or grants an intellectual God he is not surely such so far as he denies this God the attributes of practical action. And certainly it is with accuracy that Erdmann laying stress on Aristotle bettering Plato so far as reality is concerned points nevertheless to a failure of this practical element in regard to the Godhead; meaning that Aristotle had secluded his God too largely to the region of contemplation. But says Erdmann Aristotle “could not have done otherwise for the time had not yet come when God should be known as the God that took on himself πόνος labour without which the life of God were in heartless ease and troubled with nothing while with it alone is God love and with it alone is God the Creator.” “It was reserved for the Christian spirit” adds Erdmann “to see in God at once rest and movement work and weal.” And no doubt as I say that has its own accuracy. But it is to be said also that where there is question of the citizen Aristotle does not confine himself to the joys of contemplation but has something to say on the duties of action as well. Similarly then let Aristotle have expressed himself as he may on the intellectual aspect of the Godhead it by no means follows that he deserves to be called by such an ugly word as atheist because when occupied with one thing he did not turn his attention to another. It is impossible better to illustrate this than by a reference to the actual fact of Aristotle's practical philosophy. And here the mastery of Aristotle in regard to what is sensible and sound as well as deep and true will be more readily apparent perhaps than even where it is speculation theory that is concerned. I know nothing more complete and cogent than what we have from Aristotle practically as regards morals and the State. Here the question is How is man to realize his life individually and in association? Man's growth is given to himself to realize. The principle in him is not a mere force which as in processes of nature as in plant as in beast acts so to speak in his despite or without consulting him. Unlike processes of mere nature unlike plant unlike beast man has his own self very much in his own hands. He knows that he is from nature he knows that nature is in him; but he knows that if only so he is evil and the bad. He knows that he must control nature in him; he knows that he must lift it that he must lift sense into reason. Even externally he knows that nature is his friend only if he harnesses it. He must drive nature out—out into the wilderness while he remains himself in the cornfield. Nature clamours and brawls and storms around him; but he has made himself a hearth and sits by it. Nature fills the hollows of the earth with poisons or hangs them on the tree; but man transforms them into health and the means of health. It is somewhat in this way that we may conceive Aristotle to regard man when he approaches him to build man into manhood and men into humanity—man into manhood being the province of ethics men into humanity the province of politics. How it is that man stands in need of process and progression in either direction will readily suggest itself by reference to what I have said of an element of nature within him and around him. That element while it is to be walled out from without has to be eliminated from within. On both sides it is man's business to convert nature into reason. No doubt much mistake still obtains here. There are those to whom the prescript Follow nature is the open sesame of salvation and who hardly opposed by any one in that form are yet silently controverted by the unceasing industry of millions and millions of hostile life-points—parasites—without and within them. So far as religion is concerned indeed there have always been the two allegations: on the one hand that man is by nature bad; and on the other that man is by nature good. I daresay what has been already said will not ho far from suggesting the false abstraction of either phrase. Man in that he is of sense falls into the danger of sense; but man in that he is of reason rises into the safety and security of reason. But both sense and reason are in the nature of man; and that nature may be named good or bad accordingly. Nevertheless if either side is to he termed more exclusively nature surely that side must he sense. It is when we obey sense that we are said to obey nature and when we obey reason that we are said to rise above sense and consequently above nature. Not but that there may be legitimate application enough of the maxim or precept Follow nature. That nature however means an emancipated nature an enfranchised nature a moralised nature a nature that has been lifted from the ground the blind confused ground of the particular and placed on the specular heights of the universal. In regard to clothing eating sleeping drinking etc. there is much talk about following nature; but if we look close in all such cases we shall find that to obey nature as it is named is to disobey nature as it is. Nature when she calls to man with the appetites vanities envies and sloths she has given him in regard to his eating drinking clothing sleeping calls to him in general “not wisely but too well.” Immanuel Kant lay down at ten and rose at five; George Noel Gordon Lord Byron sat up all night and breakfasted at four in the afternoon; which of these men can be most truly said to have followed nature? Surely it was nature the Lord followed when he yielded to his own inclinations and surely Kant had put himself in bonds to reason and against nature when Lampe was obliged to admit that his master had never lain still a moment longer than he was called. Not but that in its overmuch it was only a kind of bastard reason that Kant obeyed after all! No doubt it was only some copy-line “early to bed and early to rise” etc. that Kant followed as indeed such exemplary copy lines were everywhere set by the Aufklärung at that time. It was in deference to some such copy-lines that Madame de Genlis as governess to a royal family fed her young princes and princesses on bread and milk and gave them cow-houses to sleep in.
But what Aristotle would have from or for man was after all only his own happiness. That was his highest good he taught him; but then it was not from nature that it came but reason. Not but that it was true still that nothing on earth could be made happy without consultation of its nature. To give success to anything we must give it its own swing; and to effect happiness for man we must effect the realization of his nature. But that nature at its truest and best that nature at its realest is not mere animal nature; it is on the contrary rational nature. And only by being put in accordance with reason is it that nature in man can he realized. Reason is the work of man and man is to be realized in his work. As it is with the flute-player or the statuary says Aristotle whose happiness lies in the successful practice of his work so it is with man generally. He must have the full exercise and complete realization of the ϵ̓νϵ́ργϵια the energy that is proper to him. But when a man accomplishes this he is called virtuous; it is only when he is virtuous that man is able to realize himself; and virtue requires to be developed. All the principles in connection here Aristotle expounds at full and in the clearest and most interesting manner in his Ethics which is essentially a modern book. Curiously analytic and telling captivating—that is the good sense of the world one half of the world's historical life back and it is the good sense of the world still. A like good sense we have in Aristotle's politics. If it is man's virtue to realize emphatically himself then is that possible for him only in the State. Hence it is ours only to live in the sense and feeling and knowledge of what is due to the State. So living we shall be neither demagogue nor obstructive not a partizan of self under any name. But it cannot be my intention to enter into the details of either Aristotle's ethics or Aristotle's politics; it is sufficient that I refer to their interest and their excellence and their useful application to these our own days and our own experiences. At the same time our main object here was to point out by the example of his practical philosophy as respects man that if Aristotle in one regard seemed unduly to emphasize the bliss of mere contemplation on the part of Deity he might not have been without practical ideas in the other regard either. He certainly seems to accentuate mere contemplation as the ultimate good even for man himself; and yet there is that vast and grand practical philosophy of his both for the individual and the State. So even in unmoved contemplation it may be that Aristotle does not conceive the Godhead to be wanting in influence on and care of the affairs of mankind. He has such words as these: Poets may lie but God cannot be envious and neither is he inactive; for man (Pol. vii. 1) if he would be happy must act even as God acts according namely to virtue and to wisdom. All things for Aristotle are directed to an end an end which is good an end and a good which are ultimate—God. There is but one life one inspiring principle one specular example in the whole. All is for God and from God and to God. He is the all-comprehending unity in whose infinite I am all things rest; but he is the ϵ̓νϵ́ργϵια the actuality also that realizes them all from the least to the greatest. Even should we admit what we do not admit that contemplation as conceived by Aristotle excludes action we would still point again in proof of the purity of his theism to that wonderful hymnic inspiration of his wonderful twelfth book. There is but one idea in the midst of that inspiration; and for the first time to the whole pagan world for the first time to the whole great historical world it is the complete idea of a one supreme perfect personal Deity. It is for Greece ultimate and complete monotheism. I cannot conceive how in any sense the word atheist with as much as that before us can even by mistake be applied to Aristotle. The translator of the Metaphysic in Bohn's Classics however does so apply it but in the midst as one is happy to see of insoluble inconsistency and contradiction. It is in reference to Aristotle's attitude as regards what are called the moral attributes that the application is made. Nevertheless in identically the same reference we can read this: “It is indeed remarkable to find Aristotle thus connecting the moral attributes of the Deity with what we would call God's natural attributes.” That is Aristotle does give God practical or moral attributes. Then elsewhere we have this complete characterization: “The Stagyrite therefore beholds in God a Being whose essence is love manifested in eternal energy; and the final cause of the exercise of his divine perfections is the happiness which He wishes to diffuse amongst all his creatures; and this happiness itself doth He participate in from all eternity. Besides His existence excludes everything like the notion of potentiality which would presuppose the possibility of non-existence; and therefore God's existence is a necessary existence. Further also He is devoid of parts and without passions or alterations possessed of uninterrupted and eternal life and exercising his functions throughout infinite duration” Now I think it will be admitted that many of these characters are of a quite Christian quality; they may for Aristotle be even a little too Christian; so that we may not unnaturally expect excuse for our wonder at association with them of the word atheist.
Cicero has preserved for us a passage from a lost work of Aristotle's which in its bearing on the proofs for the Godhead has seldom probably for power and beauty whether of idea or diction been either equalled or excelled. It is thus (d. N. D. ii. 37) that Aristotle as Cicero says praeclare admirably expresses himself: “Suppose there were a people living under ground but in splendid domiciles filled with statues and pictures and all the beautiful things that constitute in men's minds happiness—suppose too that though secluded to their subterranean abodes they had heard of some strange power on the part of some unknown supernatural beings that were named gods—suppose then that the earth should open to this people and that they should come forth from their darkness into the light of day—then assuredly we must suppose when all of a sudden they saw the earth and the sea and the sky and the great cloud musters moving in the air and the mighty sun in the glory and beneficence of his all-pervading brightness—or when again it was night and they saw the bespangling stars and the moon that wanes and waxes in her gentleness and all those movements immutable in their appointed courses from eternity—then assuredly as we must suppose they would think that there are gods whose handiwork all these wonders were.”
Cicero as we know speaks of the to us hard dry Aristotle being sweetly and exuberantly eloquent. Flumen orationis aureum fundens pouring forth a golden flood of declamation: so it is that he pictures Aristotle to us. And it would seem that Aristotle really had written in that style works which are now lost to us. At all events it seems true that let modern scepticism as to the so-called exoteric writings of Aristotle be as well-founded as it may—it seems true that he did compose in a popular form a dialogue on philosophy from the third book of which Cicero took his extract. And however all that may be it is quite certain that if Aristotle really wrote what Cicero pretends to have extracted from him then the extravagant terms which have been applied to that golden oratio of his are more than justified; for it is impossible to deny that the extract in question is a morsel of genuine eloquence that is at the same time popular. The great Humboldt praises it in his Kosmos (ii. 16). “Such argument for the existence of celestial powers” he says “from the beauty and infinite grandeur of the Creation stands very much alone in Antiquity.” It is indeed magnificent and reminds us of the inspired Psalmist in his deeper Hebrew grandeur. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handy-work. Day unto day uttereth speech and night unto night showeth knowledge.… He hath set a tabernacle for the sun: which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber.… His going forth is from the end of the heaven and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.” How all that brings home to us at once the grandeur and the stability of the universe! To borrow an earlier illustration. Hundreds of years ago thousands of years ago the Hebrew bard from the streets of Jerusalem as the Greek philosopher from the streets of Athens could look up into the night and see the stars and the moon and the clouds even as we can. Ay when the first stone of the first pyramid was laid all was as now in man and bird and beast and earth and heaven. For man at least civilised man the world is as it was in the beginning. These names and dates by which we would drive God from us are names and dates not in time but eternity. With our scales and weights and tapes and measuring-rods we do but deceive ourselves: what is is dimensionless; the truth is not in time; space is all too short for a ladder to the Throne. And what we say now was said by Aristotle then. Custom hides it from us; but not one of us can go out into the night and see the heavens without asking as Napoleon did but “Messieurs les philosophes who made all that?” That is the argument which Aristotle as reported by Cicero makes vivid to us—the argument from design the proof in Natural Theology that there is a Supreme God. So it is that he feigns his underground people coming up to the light of day. And Aristotle has not been left without imitators. “Adam” says David Hume to whom what was poetry was pretty well starch—“Adam rising at once in Paradise and in the full perfection of his faculties would naturally as represented by Milton be astonished at the glorious appearances of nature the heavens the air the earth his own organs and members; and would be led to ask whence this wonderful scene arose?” We have from Hume's contemporary Buffon too an account of the experiences of the first man after his creation: How “il se souvient de cet instant plein de joie et de trouble où il sentit pour la première fois sa singulière existence;” how he too was astonished at “la lumière la voute cèleste la verdure de la terre le cristal des eaux” etc. One of course has little hesitation in finding the original of all that in Cicero's extract not but that the simple situation might very well have suggested his own picture to Milton. The one idea in all is how a man should feel when he sees for the first or the fiftieth time as a man the miracle of heaven and the glory and beauty of the earth. To Aristotle plainly it must have brought the certainty and the conviction that it was not from accident it came not from τύχη nor yet from τὸ αὐτὸμα˄ον the spontaneity of chance. The whole movement and life on the contrary must be inscribed with the words end-aim and design τϵ́λος and οὑ̑ ϵ̔́νϵκα. Nature was not to Aristotle as it was to Plato the mere μὴ ὄν the mere region of the false. No it is to him God's own handiwork transcendent and alone in beauty and wisdom and beneficence. There is nothing in it in vain nothing humblest but has its own nature to unfold and its own life to realize. And there is a common striving as though in mind and will in all things towards God who is their exemplar and their home. Each would produce another like itself says Aristotle the plant a plant the animal an animal in order that as far as possible they too may participate in the eternal and divine; for to that all tends. And again Aristotle directly asks directly puts the question How are we to conceive this eternal principle (Met. xii. 10)? Does it exist simply as the order of an army exists in the order of an army (which as the moral order of the universe was at one time the answer of Fichte)? Or does it exist as the general of the army exists from whom that order proceeds? Contrary to what some say Aristotle answers this question quite unequivocally. And I may adduce at once here the authority on the point of the two recognised masters in the Metaphysic of Aristotle. Of these the one Schwegler has edited the text of the book with wonderful power translated it and in two volumes commentated it; while the other Bonitz who for that and much else is pretty well the acknowledged prince of Aristotelians has also edited the text and without translating but with a perfect insight and marvellous sagacity in admirable Latin commentated it “The answer of Aristotle” it is thus that the former Schwegler speaks “is that the Good exists in the universe as its designed order and intelligent arrangement; but it exists also and in a far higher form without the universe as a personal being who is the ground and cause of this designed order and intelligent arrangement: the principle of immanence and the principle of transcendence are here brought together and combined in one.” As for Bonitz he heads his commentary of the last chapter of the great twelfth book with the words: “How that which is good and beautiful exists in the universe of the world”—and he expresses himself on this question as I translate his Latin thus: “In regard to the nature of the supreme principle and its relation to the world whether that principle as the Good is to be referred to the divine nature of the first substance or to the order of the world itself Aristotle finds that the Good has place in the world in both ways the possibility of which he illustrates by the example of an army; for the commander is certainly the prime source of the discipline of the army; but if he has rightly established that discipline the individual parts of the army accord together of themselves. In the same way the first cause of that order which we observe in the world is to be assigned to the Supreme Intelligence but then the parts of the world have been so ordered by him that they are seen to harmonize of their own accord; for all things cohere with all things and all tend to one.” In the presence then of both these proofs and these testimonies we must conclude that the views of Aristotle in the particular reference were very much our own. There was God transcendently existent; but He had created the world in beauty and harmony.
It is in a certain way in agreement with this that we are to understand the soul proper of man to enter into him as it were from without. Aristotle's own words are λϵίπϵται τὸν νου̑ν μὸνον θύραθϵν ϵ̓πϵισιϵ́ναι καὶ θϵι̑ον ϵἰ̑ναι μόνον (d. G. A. ii. 3 med.). “We are left to conclude that the soul alone enters from without and is alone divine.” The word for from without here θύραθϵν meaning from outside from out of doors is too unequivocal for any quillet to be hung upon it. This soul then is the self-determinative principle of divine reason in man and in it is the immortality of man. The two considerations cohere: God the transcendent Deity as Creator of the universe and man in reason as cope-stone and key-stone and end-aim of all. Aristotle is specially emphatic on the unity of God. The universe must have a single head like any other well-organized community. Polyarchy is anarchy: in monarchy alone is there order and law and Aristotle winds up with the line from the second Iliad: Οὐκ ἀγαθὸν πολυκοιρανίη ϵἱ̑ς κοίρανος ϵ̓́στω. “Many masters are not a good thing let there be but one.”
And it is in this way that “Greek philosophy has in Aristotle completed itself. Up to the time of Anaxagoras” says Biese “the real characters of objective existence were the business of philosophical inquiry. Through him reason came to be pronounced the principle of the world; whereupon from Socrates onwards the development of cognition as exclusively in the special subjective faculty of thought occupied philosophy; till at last Plato through and in the Ideas returned to the objectivity of cognition without evincing it however as the power and the truth in actuality. Aristotle speculatively resolves the antithesis between reality and ideality frees the world of sense from the character of mere illusory appearance and raises it into the position of the genuine reality in which the Idea gives itself form and action. From this high position to which the philosophical spirit of the Greeks had in and through its own self risen Aristotle considers and examines with interest the manifold forms of reality and takes up into himself the entire wealth of Greek life as it has developed itself in science art and the State becoming thereby the substantial channel through which to attain to a view of the Greek world as well in its various aspects generally as in regard to the historical development of its philosophy specially.”
There are other such testimonies from Germans in regard to Aristotle. In fact when one considers the enormous development of the study of Aristotle among them which this century exhibits with the great names that belong to it—Bekker Brandis Biese Bonitz Schwegler Prantl Trendelenburg Michelet Heyder Stahr Waitz Zeller and even a whole host more—it must be evident that it would quite be possible to fill entire pages in the general reference. Even in a special regard as concerns matters of fact in science there are great names in all the countries that bear their emphatic testimony to the ability compass and exactitude of Aristotle. Thus Cuvier for example “lavishes unstinted praise” on much that concerns Birds; while both Cuvier and Owen regard as “truly astonishing” the fulness and accuracy of his details in respect to the Cephalopods. Franzius in that connection and otherwise alludes to the “surprising result that in many references Aristotle possessed a far more extensive and intimate knowledge than we.” The celebrated Johann von Müller expresses himself in this way; “Aristotle was the clearest head that ever enlightened the world; he possessed the eloquence of a great all-penetrating understanding supported on the direct observation of experience: he is astonishingly learned and in natural history compared with Buffon has led me into remarkable thoughts.” Even as we saw Mr. Darwin himself who is recent enough and certainly a special expert enough when he reads Aristotle on the Parts of Animals in the admirable translation which with its valuable notes had been executed and forwarded to him by his friend Dr. Ogle is obliged to cry out in his letter of acknowledgment by return: “I had not the most remote notion what a wonderful man he (Aristotle) was: Linnaeus and Cuvier have been my two gods though in very different ways; but they were mere schoolboys to old Aristotle.” Aristotle however is no mere specialist: he is as wide as the circumference and as the centre deep. The old idea of him is that he is cold and dry technical practical and of the earth earthy only. But this is not the case. Aristotle is even a deeper mind than Plato. He may take up things as he finds them or as they come to him; but he never lets them go till he has wrung from them their very inmost and utmost. We have to bear in mind too that we have lost five-sixths of his writings while the best of the sixth we have has suffered lamentably. For myself here I feel in this way that if I were condemned to solitary confinement for the rest of my life and no book allowed me but an edition of Aristotle I should not as a student conceive myself ill-served. Perhaps indeed looking round me to think I know only three other collective writings which in such circumstances I should wish added to those of Aristotle; but these I shall leave to your own conjectures.
Professor Blackie after hearing the foregoing lecture was kind enough further to honour it by publishing (as dated) the following obliging note and admirable verses:—
(Lines written after hearing the masterly discourse on the Philosophy and Theology of Aristotle by Dr. Hutchison Stirling in the University of Edinburgh on Saturday 23rd March.)
Well said and wisely! Who would measure take
Of his true stature let him choose the tall:
We all are kin with giants when we make
Ourselves the big yoke-fellows of the small.
Give me no peeping scientist if I
Shall judge God's grandly-ordered world aright;
But give to plant my cosmic survey high
The wisest of wise Greeks the Stagirite.
Not beetles he alone and grubs might ken
Narrow to know and curious to dissect
But with a broad outlook he stood erect
And gauged the planful ways and works of men
And owned the God who rules both great and small
The soul and strength and shaping power of all.
JOHN STUART BLACKIE.
THE SCOTSMAN Tuesday March 26 1889.
From the book: