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Socratic, pursuing independence by subduing the feelings to the intellect and seeking after virtue rather than enjoyment; but the Cynics were unlike Socrates in trying to be independent of all other men and even of the Family and State ; they were like the Cyrenaics, citizens of no State in particular but of the world in general. Their philosophy was the caricature, or reductio ad absurdum, of asceticism. If all men had tried to become “independent” by creating a “sad vacuity," there would be an end first to civilization and then to the race itself. When new life was given to philosophical individualism by the extinction of the political independence of the Greek States, first under Philip (Chaeronea, 338 B.C.), then finally by the Romans (Corinth, 146 B.C.), the Cynic and Cyrenaic doctrines assumed a new phase; their extravagances were corrected ; and a more plausible and rational expression was given to the same aspirations by Stoicism and Epicureanism.
The general doctrines of Epicurus concern us less than those of the Stoics,' at least in regard to their views of wealth and social relations. The chief end is conceived by Epicurus to be pleasure, not (as with the Cyrenaics)
gentle motion” and positive enjoyment, but absence of pain and disturbance ;-or (positively) it is peace of mind, which Epicurus himself thought to be better secured by virtue and wisdom, plain living and high thinking, than by anything ‘external or bodily, Real wealth is only gained by limitation of wants ; and he who is not satisfied with little will not be satisfied at all. But even by Epicurus opulence and comfort, though not held indispensable, are not forbidden ; if there was not a doctrine of self-indulgence, there was at least no doctrine of asceticism, and though the ordinary forms of political and social life were ignored, the relation between man and man in friendship is highly valued. This is an unconscious testimony to the binding nature of the social union, disparaged in the case of the Family and the State. Aristotle had preceded Epicurus in the praise of friendship ;8
1 Professor Hashach has dwelt on the influence exerted by Epicureanism through Gassendi on modern philosophy and economics. Allgemeine Philosophische Grundlagen d. polit. Oekon. (1890), 7 seq. and 36 seq.
2 Zeller, Stoics, Epicureans and Sceptics (transl.), p. 459. 3 Eth., VIII., IX.
but with him friendship is always subordinated to citizenship. Zeller has noticed that, when current philosophy became again individualistic in the 18th century, the praises of friendship were again heard. Similarly, too, Epicureanism and the later individualism both attributed the origin of the State to a deliberate convention made for natural protection and security.
.“ Nec facile est placidam at pacatam degere ritam,
Qui violat factis communia foedera pacis.” ? The resolution of society as well as the general system of things into “atoms that swerve” brings us in thought nearer to certain modern ideas on which a political and economical system has been founded. In its ancient form the theory left at least as many difficulties as it seemed to solve. Epicureanism can hardly give materials for an economic theory, whatever be true of modern Utilitarianism.
It is otherwise with Stoicism. The opposition between nature and convention was, as we have seen, not new ; but the interpretation of “nature" by the Stoics and their use of the maxim, “live according to nature,” threw a new light on the matter. Ethics, connected by Aristotle with politics, is connected by the Stoics with metaphysics. Even more than the Epicureans, they led the way to a clearer view of the relation of individuals to society, and showed how much there was in the individual that could not be explained by the State or made to depend wholly on institutions. They viewed men in their relation not to. Civil Society or the State but to the whole human family, and they rose superior to the distinctions of race, property, and even of sex. Any human being who follows his reason and consciously acquiesces in the laws by which the world is governed becomes thereby wise, free, noble, and rich. No doubt men are “mostly fools"; but it is open to any one to be wise if he chooses, whether he be Jew or Greek, barbarian or Scythian, bond or free.
The first result of the acceptance of Stoicism was no doubt to provide for its chosen spirits a retreat from the political world into their own soul. The material world and external things, including wealth and power, were on principle indifferent to the Stoical wise man; and, like the Epicurean, he was rich because he had few wants. But it came to be recognised by the Stoics that their metaphysical principle of the reign of Reason or Nature was inconsistent with any mere hostility to the established institutions of Society. They accordingly recognised the naturalness or rationality of these institutions while holding paramount the laws of that larger society which is coextensive with humanity. That this recognition extended to the unconscious social growths as well as to the deliberately formed political organizations, appears from the fact that the Stoics instead of opposing the popular religion endeavoured to rationalize it. They recognised the truth that belief in cosmical and belief in social order are logically connected. At the same time they were perhaps the first to form a philosophical conception of individual personality. Subjectivity and personality had long been, de facto, recognised in the Roman as distinguished from the Greek conception of citizenship ; and Štoicism in all probability owed no little of its popularity among educated Romans to this coincidence. But Stoic cosmopolitanism overtopped Roman citizenship as the Roman empire overtopped the old Latin and Italian State which was once identical with the Roman. Personality under Roman law and personality under the law of Nature or of the world were analogous but unlike conceptions. In fact Stoicism, like Christianity, was fatal to the old view of the supremacy of one particular earthly state. The rights of man were not the same as the rights of the Roman, still less of the Greek citizen. The eventual importance of these Stoical notions for economics will soon appear; but at present it must be said that in the hands of the Stoics they bore no fruits for economical theory. The Stoics did not even render the indirect service of clearing up the notion of civil society and the relation of its members to each other and to the State. In fact the distinction of civil Society and State was yet to be made; and the notion that the individual could be dependent on his fellow-citizens and on the State without losing his individuality was not yet understood.
1 Stoics, Ep., and Scept., 468 n. ? Lucretius, De rerum nat., V. 1154-5.
3 Bishop Butler's second Sermon on Human Nature is an exposition of this maxim.
What Stoicism began for the few, Christianity accomplished for the many. It broke down the exclusive regard to State and citizenship. “We ought to obey God rather than man”; there is a higher law than that of the State and a higher order than that of politics or civil Society. As far as existing States were concerned, it was individualistic; but, like that of the Stoics, the individualism of Christianity was itself founded on the conception of a State, –a State which was spiritual and owed nothing to the coercive force of armies and magistrates. The Church was a community which embraced men of all ranks and nationalities. It imposed on its members a law adopted by their own choice, and a law that was supposed to derive no support from the traditional morality or the old political institutions of Greece or Rome.
It was first of all a mystical union in which the members were one in Christ Jesus, having their citizenship in the invisible world. It interfered with the earthly citizenship mainly by destroying its old identity with religion. Religion was no longer part and parcel of political citizenship
But it was not long before the visible Church became a strongly organized body, claiming for itself all the claims of the invisible city. The treatise of Augustine De Civitate Dei was written ? to defend the Christian religion against the charge of bringing down a curse on the city of Rome ; and his answer is that Rome is falling by its own sins, but the City of God is coming down from heaven to earth, prepared as a bride adorned for Christ
1 Cf. Plato, Republ., IX. 592, and Dante, Purgatorio, XIII. 94: “ Ciascuna (anima] é cittadina D'una vera città.”
2 413-426 A.D.
her husband, to take its place. This new organization was conceived by the theologians under the same figure as the Greek State was conceived by the Greek philosophers; it had, like the human body, one spirit and many members. The several Christians were the members, the Holy Ghost the one Spirit, or life in the whole." The Church soon took to itself the external forms of a government; and its officers were not unlike the Guardians of Plato's republic, being distinguished (like them) from those who were indeed citizens but were not devoted body and soul to the service of the commonwealth. The Society so ruled was not constituted by any community of blood, but by an ignoring of nationality, tradition and custom, and (in the case at least of the early converts) at the cost of a deliberate breach with the whole past and present of the Greek and Roman and Provincial world. The early success of this effort seems to show that a complete social and political revolution, as opposed to a gradual development, is not at all an impossibility ;- but the later history of the Church brings out the irrepressibility of the ignored traditions and national differences, and shows that the theology of the Church, as it shaped itself in her councils, was affected by the philosophies which it professed to supersede. The old secular nature was not revolutionized, and the Canon (or Ecclesiastical) Law, which gives us amongst other things the authoritative view of the Church on the economical relations of men, has substantially the old social problems to handle, and finds Greek philosophy helpful in the task. We are told indeed (in the Corpus Juris Canonici) that “by the law of nature" all things are common, and no less so by Divine law, for “the earth is the Lord's,” and therefore no man can truly say “this field is mine,” or “this house is mine." It is the corruption of human nature, the Fall of Man, that has destroyed natural community of goods. But canon law does not insist on literal obedience to this natural and Divine law except in the case of those who are in a very special sense the Lord's people, namely the Clergy, who,
1 1 Corinth. xii. 4-28. Ephes. i. 22, 23. See Gierke, Staats- und Cor. porationslehre d. Alterthums (1881), p. 106 seq.