ACADEMY (Ἀκαδήμεια, or
Ἀκαδημία)—the name of the gymnasium or garden in which
Plato taught; hence his disciples were called "Academics," and the successive
schools of Platonists, "The Academies." The garden was a piece of ground left to
the inhabitants of Athens by a hero named Academus (or Hecademus) acquired by
Plato, and handed down to successive teachers.
The several schools of Platonists are known as the Old, Middle, and New
The Old Academy consisted mainly of disciples
who had been under the teaching of Plato himself. Their first
leader was Speusippus, son of Plato's sister; he was succeeded
by Xenocrates of Chalcedon, who was held in high estimation
among the Athenians. The doctrine of the First Academy was a
continuation of Platonic teaching, with some admixture of the
Pythagorean philosophy. In all its teaching, prominence was
given to Ethics (Zeller's Plato and the Older Academy,
Alleyne and Goodwin, p. 553; Uebenveg's
History, I. 134).
The Middle Academy developed a sceptical tendency. The two most conspicuous
names connected with it are Arcesilas and Carneades. This Academy belonged to
the two centuries preceding the Christian era. Arcesilas is described as the "founder of the Middle Academy, and the first who professedly suspended judgment
because of the conflict of evidence" (Diog. Lært.,
IV. 28). This sceptical
tendency, sustained by a keen critical spirit, became from the first
characteristic of the School, even while owning high admiration of Plato.
Carneades advanced in the same course
denying the possibility of certainty (Ritter's History, III. 600; Ueberweg's
History, I. 136).
The New Academy owed its origin to Philo of Larissa, at a time when the Stoics
were exercising great influence, and was a reaction against the scepticism of
the Middle Academy, returning upon the Platonic doctrine concerning
supersensible existence. Antiochus of Ascalon carried this reaction still
further. The teaching of the School dealt largely with Ethics, and involved a
discussion of the Peripatetic and Stoic Philosophy. Cicero refers to both Philo
and Antiochus as teachers whom he had heard and known (Brutus, p. 89; Tusc,
3, 9; Acad. Pr., II. 4; Ueberweg's Hist., p. 136; Ritter's Hist., p. 632; Archer
Butler's Lectures on Ancient Philosophy, 4th series, II. 313).
By some, the Middle and New Academies are subdivided, making five academies.