GREEK PHILOSOPHY - III.
SUPRA-RATIONALISM (AND SUPRA-NATURALISM)
- Standpoint and Schools of the Third and Latest Period in Greek
matter of fact it was just this supra-rationalism (and hence supra-naturalism)
that became the standpoint of the thinkers and schools of the latest period of
Greek thought. Such a standpoint was in part involved even in the common,
non-philosophical consciousness of the time, —one century B.C. and several
centuries afterwards—, which was filled with (supposed) intimations of and
with aspirations towards the supra-natural: belief in magic, the existence of "dæmons," a prophetic character in dreams, and, of course, in the immortality of
the soul, was rife(1); and it was but natural that an attempt should be made to
find a real warrant, a philosophical basis, for such intimations and
aspirations. It was natural also that such basis and warrant should, first of
all, be looked for in systems of philosophy already in existence. As a matter of
fact, it was found particularly in the systems of the Pythagoreans, Plato,
Aristotle, and the Stoics; and certain systems arose that were little more than
professed rehabilitations of these systems, and having in common with one
another, not only the same general aim but many doctrines, adopted from these
systems. To the schools thus arising have been applied the names, Alexandrian,
or Jewish-Alexandrian (Platonic and Aristotelian), Neo-Pythagorean,
Eclectic-Platonic, Neo-Platonic, etc.
(1) See an interesting discussion on this point in A. W. Benn's The Greek Philosophers, Vol. II. Ch. 4.