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The Eleatic

He gave

extension and gravity, the ratios of musical tones, astronomy, and medicine. He directed his disciples, in their orgies or secret worship, to practise gymnastics, dancing, music. In correspondence with his principle of imparting to men only such knowledge as they were fitted to receive, he communicated to those who were less perfectly prepared exoteric doctrines, reserving the esoteric for the privileged few who had passed five years in silence, had endured humiliation, and been purged by self-denial and sacrifice.

We have now reached the consideration of the Eleatic philosophy. It differs from the preceding in its neglect of

material things, and its devotion to the supraphilosophy. sensible. It derives its name from Elea, a Greek colonial city of Italy, its chief authors being Xenophanes, Parmenides, and Zeno.

Xenophanes was a native of Ionia, from which having been exiled, he appears to have settled at last in Elea, after leading for many years the life of a wandering rhapsodist. Xenophanes

his doctrines a poetical form for the represents a purpose of more easily diffusing them. To the great philosophical

multitude he became conspicuous from his oppo

sition to Homer, Hesiod, and other popular poets, whom he denounced for promoting the base polytheism of the times, and degrading the idea of the divine by the immoralities they attributed to the gods. He proclaimed God as an all-powerful Being, existing from eternity, and without any likeness to man. A strict monotheist, he denounced the plurality of gods as an inconceivable error, asserting that of the all-powerful and all-perfect there could not, in the nature of things, be more than one ; for, if there were only so many as two, those attributes could not apply to one of them, much less, then, if there were many. This one principle or power was to him the same as the universe, the substance of which, having existed from all eternity, must necessarily be identical with God; for, since it is impossible that there should be two Omnipresents, so also it is impossible that there should be two Eternals. It therefore may be said that there is a tincture of Orientalism in his ideas, since it would scarcely be possible to offer a more succinct and luminous exposition of the pantheism of India.



The reader who has been wearied with the frivolities of the Ionian philosophy, and lost in the mysticisms

He approaches of Pythagoras, cannot fail to recognize that here the Indian we have something of a very different kind. To an Oriental dignity of conception is added an extraordinary clearness and precision of reasoning:

To Xenophanes all revelation is a pure fiction ; the discovery of the invisible is to be made by the intellect of man alone. The vulgar belief which imputes to the Deity the sentiments, passions, and crimes of Theology of man, is blasphemous and accursed. He exposes Xenophanes. the impiety of those who would figure the Great Supreme under the form of a man, telling them that if the ox or the lion could rise to a conception of the Deity, they might as well embody him under their own shape.; that the negro represents him with a flat nose and black face; the Thracian with blue eyes and a ruddy complexion. “ There is but one God; he has no resemblance to the bodily form of man, nor are his thoughts like ours." He taught that God is without parts, and throughout alike; for, if he had parts, some would be ruled by others, and others would rule, which is impossible, for the very

notion of God implies his perfect and thorough sovereignty. Throughout he must be Reason, and Intelligence, and Omnipotence, “ ruling the universe without trouble by Reason and Insight.” He conceived that the Supreme understands by a sensual perception, and not only thinks, but sees and hears throughout. In a symbolical manner he represented God as a sphere, like the heavens, which encompass man and all earthly things.

In his natural philosophy it is said that he adopted the four elements, Earth, Air, Fire, Water; though by some it is asserted that, from observing fossil fish on the tops of mountains, he, was led to the belief that the His physical earth itself arose from water; and generally, views. that the phenomena of nature originate in combinations of the primary elernents. From such views he inferred that all things are necessarily transitory, and that men, and even the earth itself, must pass away. As to the latter, he regarded it as a flat surface, the inferior region of which extends indefinitely downward, and so gives a solid foundation. His physical views he, however, held with a doubt almost bordering on scepticism : “No mortal man ever did, or ever shall know God and the universe thoroughly; for, since error is so spread over all things, it is impossible for us to be certain even when we utter the true and the perfect.” It seemed to him hopeless that man could ever ascertain the truth, since he has no other aid than truthless appearances.

I cannot dismiss this imperfect account of Xenophanes, who was, undoubtedly, one of the greatest of the Greek philosophers, without an allusion to his denunciation of Homer, and other poets of his country, because they had aided in degrading the idea of the Divinity; and also to his faith in human nature, his rejection of the principle of concealing truth from the multitude, and his self-devotion in diffusing it among all at a risk of liberty and life. He wandered from country to country, withstanding polytheism to its face, and imparting wisdom in rhapsodies and hymns, the form, above all others, calculated most quickly in those times to spread knowledge abroad.

Το those who are disposed to depreciate his philosophical conclusions, it may be remarked that in some of their most striking features they have been reproduced in modern times, and I would offer to them a quotation from the General Scholium at the end of the third book of the

Principia of Newton: “The Supreme God exists thoughts

necessarily, and by the same necessity he exists reappear in

always and everywhere. Whence, also, he is all

similar, all eye, all ear, all brain, all arm, all power to perceive, to understand, and to act, but in a manner not at all human, not at all corporeal; in a manner utterly unknown to us. As a blind man has no idea of colours, so have we no idea of the manner by which the allwise God perceives and understands all things. He is utterly void of all body and bodily figure, and can therefore neither be seen, nor heard, nor touched, nor ought to be worshipped under the representation of any corporeal thing. We have ideas of his attributes, but what the real substance of anything is we know not.”'

To the Eleatic system thus originating with Xenophanes is to be attributed the dialectic phase henceforward so

Some of his



prominently exhibited by Greek philosophy. It abandoned, for the most part, the pursuits which had occupied the Ionians—the investigation of visible nature, the phenomena of material things, and the laws piesiding over them; conceiving such to be merely deceptive, and attaching itself to what seemed to be the only true knowledge—an investigation of Being and of God. By the Eleats, since all change appeared to be an impossibility, the phenomena of succession presented by the world were regarded as a pure illusion, and they asserted that Time, and Motion, and Space are phantasms of the imagination, or vain deceptions of the senses. They therefore separated reason from opinion, attributing to the former conceptions of absolute truth, and to the latter on reason and

opinion, imperfections arising from the fictions of sense. It was

on this principle that Parmenides divided his work on

“ Nature” into two books, the first on Reason, the second on Opinion. Starting from the nature of Being, the uncreated and unchangeable, he denied altogether the idea of succession in time, and also the relations of space, and pronounced change and motion, of whatever kind they may be, mere illusions of opinion. His pantheism appears in the declaration that the All is thought and

Philosophy intelligence; and this, indeed, constitutes the becoming essential feature of his doctrine; for, by thus placing thought and being in parallelism with each other, and interconnecting them by the conception that it is for the sake of being that thought exists, he showed that they must necessarily be conceived of as one.

Such profound doctrines occupied the first book of the poem of Parmenides; in the second he treated of opinion, which, as we have said, is altogether dependent on the senses, and therefore untrustworthy, not, however, that it must necessarily be absolutely false. It is scarcely possible for us to reconstruct from the remains of his works the details of his theory, or to show his approach to the Ionian doctrines by the assumption of the existence in nature of two opposite species-ethereal fire and heavy night; of an equal proportion of which all things consist, fire being the true, and night the phenomenal. From such an unsubstantial and delusive basis it would not repay us, even if


Parmenides carried out by Zeno;

we had the means of accomplishing it, to give an exposition of his physical system. In many respects it degenerated into a wild vagary; as, for example, when he placed an overruling dæmon in the centre of the phenomenal world. Nor need we be detained by his extravagant reproduction of the old doctrine of the generation of animals from miry clay, nor follow his explanation of the nature of man, who, since he is composed of light and darkness, participates in both, and can never ascertain absolute truth. By other routes, and upon far less fanciful principles, modern philosophy has at last come to the same melancholy conclusion. The doctrines of Parmenides were carried out by Zeno

the Eleatic, who is said to have been his adopted Doctrines of

son. He brought into use the method of refuting error by the reductio ad absurdum.

His compositions were in prose, and not in poetry, as were those of his predecessors. As it had been the object of Parmenides to establish the existence of “the One,” it was the object of Zeno to establish the non-existence of “ the Many.” Agreeably to such principles, he started from the position that only one thing really exists, and that all others are mere modifications or appearances of it. He denied motion, but admitted the appearance of it; regarding it as a name given to a series of conditions, each of which is necessarily rest. This dogma against the possibility of motion he maintained by four arguments; the second of them is the celebrated Achilles puzzle. It is thus stated: “ Suppose Achilles to run ten times as fast as a tortoise, yet, if the tortoise has the start, Achilles can never overtake him ; for, if they are separated at first by an interval of a thousand feet, when Achilles has run these thousand feet the tortoise will have run a hundred, and when Achilles has run these hundred the tortoise will have got on ten, and so on for ever; therefore Achilles may run for ever withoutovertaking the tortoise.” Such were his arguments against the existence of motion ; his proof of the existence of One, the indivisible and infinite, may thus be stated : “ To suppose that the one is divisible is to suppose it finite. If divisible, it must be infinitely divisible. But suppose two things to exist, then there must necessarily be an interval between

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