Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE

BIBLICAL REPOSITORY

AND

CLASSICAL REVIEW.

THIRD SERIES, NO. V.-WHOLE NUMBER LXI.

JANUARY, 18 46.

ARTICLE I.

SKETCHES IN GRECIAN PHILOSOPHY.

By Prof. Wn. S. TYLER, Amherst College, Mass.

WORKS OF ARISTOTLE.

ARISTOTLE was a voluminous writer. Like the great metaphysician and divine of New-England, he seems to have observed, reflected, and read with his pen, as it were, always in his hand. We bave it on the authority of Diogenes Laertius, that there were 445,270 lines in Aristotle's manuscripts. All that the fruitful imagination of the Greeks ever accused Homer of writing, scarcely amounted to a tithe of that number. But Time has handled his works roughly, and given them a severe sisting. Less than one quarter of them have come down to us. He is said to have composed above 400 different treatises. Fabricius has collected the titles of 250 of bis books, which are lost. Only 48 entire treatises are now extant. Many of them, however, consist of several books. And the existing remains of Aristotle, we believe, still exceed in bulk those of any other classic author. They were reckoned by folios, when folios were in fashion ; and in the compact orm of the Tauchnitz editions, they occupy sixteen volumes. THİRD SERIES, vol. II. NO. 1.

1

The books of Plato are contained in eight volumes, in the same series. The Iliad and Odyssey fill only two. And what is altogether paramount to the mere bulk of his remains, his most valuable works have been preserved. Indeed, the same is true of the classic authors in general, not excepting the Greek Tragic Poets, nine-tenths of whose productions have perished. Sincerely as we must regret the loss of so considerable a portion of the Greek and Latin Classics, we may console ourselves with the reflection that it is still our privilege to read those pieces of nearly every classic author, which were most admired by the Greeks and Romans themselves. Never was a close observer and deep thinker more misled by a fancied analogy, than Bacon was, when he said: “Time seemeth to be of the nature of a stream, which carrieth down to us that which is light and blown up, and sinketh and drowneth that which is weighty and solid.” A more just analogy would have been this : Time seemeth to be of the nature of a flood, which sweepeth away that which is light and blown up, and leaveth that which is weighty and solid fast anchored at the bottom. So it is in fact in the history of literature. So it must be, as a general rule, from the nature of the case. The more important works of Aristotle, and so of all the ancients, have been in too comnion use and too high esteem in all ages and countries to perish every where and for ever. They were cherished in too many libraries and monasteries to perish even in the Dark Ages.

The remains of Aristotle may be classed under the heads of Physics, Metaphysics, Mathematics, Ethics, Logic, Rhetoric, Politics, and Poetry. Several of these heads, however, comprise a number of distinct treatises, as they were composed and arranged by the author.

His physical works bear the following titles, most of which, of themselves, indicate with sufficient clearness, the subjects of which they treat : On the Heavens; on the Production and Dissolution of Natural bodies ; on Meteors ; of Animal Life ; Physical Miscellanies ; on the Natural History of Animals ; on Plants ; on Colors'; on Sound; A Collection of Wonderful Facts; against the Doctrine of Xenophanes, Zeno, and Gorgias; on the Wind; on Physiognomy; Miscellaneous Problems; on the Doctrine of Nature. This last is the work which is usually known by the name of Aristotle's Physics ; and which professes to explain, not so much the properties of matter, as the metaphysical nature of time, place, motion, and the like abstractions.

The metaphysics are contained in fourteen books, which treat of Being, considered abstractly, of Deity, and of the Human Soul.

Aristotle's Logic, so called, consists of a number of distinct works. These are, the Categories or ten general Heads of Arrangement; the Explanation of Nouns and Verbs, a work which explains the philosophical principles of grammar ; Analytics, including the doctrine of Syllogism and Demonstration ; Topics, or Common Places, from which Probable Arguments may be drawn ; and Sophistical Refutations, which teaches the art of replying to an antagonist. These logical treatises are usually published together, under the general title of the Organon of Aristotle, in allusion to which, Bacon gave

name of Novum Organum to his counter system of in

the duction.

machus

The pieces on mathematics which Aristotle has left, are an obscure, and probably incomplete, treatise on Incommensurables, and a book of questions in Mechanics. His system of Ethics is contained in ten books to Nico

; seven to Eudemus ; two entitled the Greater Morals ; and a book on Virtue and Vice, which aims to define the several virtues and vices.

His political writings consist of two books on Economics, and eight on Politics, or the Science of Government.

His Rhetoric comprises three books. His Poetic, as extant, is contained in a single book, though it was originally an extended treatise.

The following remarks on the present state of these several works, are from Krug's Encyclopædia of Philosophy :

"The Poetic is a mere fragment of a larger work. The The books of Plato are contained in eight volumes, in the same series. The Iliad and Odyssey fill only two. And what is altogether paramount to the mere bulk of his remains, his most valuable works have been preserved. Indeed, the same is true of the classic authors in general, not excepting the Greek Tragic Poets, nine-tenths of whose productions have perished. Sincerely as we must regret the loss of so considerable a portion of the Greek and Latin Classics, we may console ourselves with the reflection that it is still our privilege to read those pieces of nearly every classic author, which were most admired by the Greeks and Romans themselves. Never was a close observer and deep thinker more misled by a fancied analogy, than Bacon was, when he said : “ Time seemeth to be of the nature of a stream, which carrieth down to us that which is light and blown up, and sinketh and drowneth that which is weighty and solid.” A more just analogy would have been this : Time seemeth to be of the nature of a flood, which sweepeth away that which is light and blown up, and leaveth that which is weighty and solid fast anchored at the bottom. So it is in fact in the history of literature. So it must be, as a general rule, from the nature of the case. The more important works of Aristotle, and so of all the ancients, have been in too common use and too high esteem in all ages and countries to perish every where and for ever.

They were cherished in too many libraries and monasteries to perish even in the Dark Ages.

The remains of Aristotle may be classed under the heads of Physics, Metaphysics, Mathematics, Ethics, Logic, Rhetoric, Politics, and Poetry. Several of these heads, however, comprise a number of distinct treatises, as they were composed and arranged by the author.

His physical works bear the following titles, most of which, of themselves, indicate with sufficient clearness, the subjects of which they treat: On the Heavens; on the Production and Dissolution of Natural bodies; on Meteors; of Animal Life; Physical Miscellanies; on the Natural History of Animals; on Plants ; on Colors'; on Sound; A Collection of Wonder

« PreviousContinue »