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Cicero: Academica

-   Book 2 , sections 98-148


Translated by H. Rackham (1933). Click on ** to go to the translator's footnotes.   Click on the   L symbols to go to the Latin text of each section.


Previous sections (49-98)

[31.] "But to leave all those stinging repartees and the whole of the tortuous class of argument ** and to display our real position, as soon as the whole system of Carneades has been unfolded the doctrines of your Antiochus will come to the ground in complete collapse. However, I will not assert anything in such a manner that anybody may suspect me of inventing ; I shall take it from Clitomachus, who was a companion of Carneades quite until old age, a clever fellow as being a Carthaginian, and also extremely studious and industrious. There are four volumes of his that deal with the withholding of assent, but what I am now going to say has been taken from Volume One. [99] L   Carneades holds that there are two classifications of presentations, which under one are divided into those that can be perceived and those that cannot, and under the other into those that are probable and those that are not probable ** ; and that accordingly thosepresentations that are styled by the Academy contrary to the senses and contrary to perspicuity belong to the former division, whereas the latter division must not be impugned ; and that consequently his view is that there is no presentation of such a sort as to result in perception, but many that result in a judgement of probability. For it is contrary to nature for nothing to be probable, and entails that entire subversion of life of which you, Lucullus, were speaking ** ; accordingly even many sense-percepts must be deemed probable, if only it be held in mind that no sense-presentation has such a character as a false presentation could not also have without differing from it at all. Thus the wise man will make use of whatever apparently probable presentation he encounters, if nothing presents itself that is contrary to that probability, and his whole plan of life will be charted out in this manner. In fact even the personwhom your school brings on the stage as the wise man follows many things probable. that he has not grasped nor perceived nor assented to but that possess verisimilitude ; and if he were not to approve them, all life would be done away with. [100] Another point : when a wise man is going on board a ship surely he has not got the knowledge already grasped in his mind and perceived that he will make the voyage as he intends ? how can he have it ? But if for instance he were setting out from here to Puteoli, a distance of four miles, with a reliable crew and a good helmsman and in the present calm weather, it would appear probable that he would get there safe. He will therefore be guided by presentations of this sort to adopt plans of action and of inaction, and will be readier at proving that snow is white than Anaxagoras was (who not only denied that this was so, but asserted that to him snow did not even appear white, because heknew that it was made of water solidified and that water was black) ; [101] L   and whatever object comes in contact with him in such a way that the presentation is probable, and unhindered by anything, he will be set in motion. For he is not a statue carved out of stone or hewn out of timber ; he has a body and a mind, a mobile intellect and mobile senses, so that many things seem to him to be true, although nevertheless they do not seem to him to possess that distinct and peculiar mark leading to perception, and hence the doctrine that the wise man does not assent, for the reason that it is possible for a false presentation to occur that has the same character as a given true one. Nor does our pronouncement against the senses differ from that of the Stoics, who say that many things are false and widely different from what they appear to the senses.

[32.] "If however this be the case, let the senses receive but a single false presentation, and he ** stands ready to deny that the senses can perceive anything ! Thus a single first principle of Epicurus combined with another belonging to your school results in the abolition of perception and comprehension, without our uttering a word. What is the principle of Epicurus ? 'If any sense-presentation is false, nothing can be perceived.' What is yours ? 'There are false sense-presentations.' What follows ? Without any word of mine, logical inference of itself declares that nothing can be perceived. 'I do not admit Epicurus's point,' says he. Well then, fight it out with Epicurus - he differs from you entirely ; don't join issue with me, who at all events agree with you so far as to hold that there is an element of falsehood in the senses. [102] Although nothing seems to me so surprising as that those doctrines should beasserted, especially indeed by Antiochus, who was perfectly well acquainted with the arguments that I stated a little before. For even though anybody at his own discretion may criticise our statement that nothing can be perceived, that is a less serious criticism ; but it is our assertion that there are some things that are probable that seems to your school to be inadequate. It may be ; anyhow it is certainly up to us to get round the difficulties that you raised with the greatest insistency : 'Do you then see nothing ? do you hear nothing ? is nothing clear to you ?' I quoted from Clitomachus a little earlier an explanation of the way in which Carneades treated the difficulties you refer to ; let me give you the way in which the same points are dealt with by Clitomachus in the volume that he wrote to the poet Gaius Lucilius, although he had written on the same subjects to the Lucius Censorinus who was Manius Manilius's colleague in the consulship. ** He wrote then in almost these words - for I am familiar with them, because the primary 'system' or doctrine ** which we are dealing with is contained in that book - but it runs as follows : [103] L   'The Academic school holds that there are dissimilarities between things of such a nature that some of them seem probable and others the contrary ; but this is not an adequate ground for saying that some things can be perceived and others cannot, because many false objects are probable but nothing false can be perceived and known.' And accordingly he asserts that those who say that the Academy robs us of our senses are violently mistaken, as that school never said that colour, taste or sound was non-existent, but their contention was that these presentations do not contain a mark of truth and certainty peculiar to themselves and found nowhere else. [104] After setting out these points, he adds thatthe formula 'the wise man withholds assent' is used in two ways, one when the meaning is that he gives absolute assent to no presentation at all, the other when he restrains himself from replying so as to convey approval or disapproval of something, with the consequence that he neither makes a negation nor an affirmation ; and that this being so, he holds the one plan in theory, so that he never assents, but the other in practice, so that he is guided by probability, and wherever this confronts him or is wanting he can answer 'yes' or 'no' accordingly. In fact as we hold that he who restrains himself from assent about all things nevertheless does move and does act, the view is that there remain presentations of a sort that arouse us to action, and also answers that we can give in the affirmative or the negative in reply to questions, merely following a corresponding presentation, provided that we answer without actual assent ;but that nevertheless not all presentations of this character were actually approved, but those that nothing hindered.

[105] L   If we do not win your approval for these doctrines, they may no doubt be false, but certainly they are not detestable. For we don't rob you of daylight, but, whereas you speak of things as being 'perceived' and 'grasped,' we describe the same things (provided they are probable) as 'appearing.'

[33.] "Now therefore that we have thus brought in and established 'probability,' and probability rid of difficulties, untrammelled, free, unentangled with anything, you doubtless see, Lucullus, that all your former advocacy of 'perspicuity ' now collapses. For this wise man of whom I am speaking will behold the sky and earth and sea with the same eyes as the wise man of your school, and will perceive with the same senses the rest of the objects that fall under each of them. Yonder sea that now with the west wind rising looks purple, will look the same to our wise man, though at the same time he will not 'assent' to the sensation, because even to ourselves it looked blue just now and tomorrow it will look grey, and because now where the sun lights it up it whitens and shimmers and is unlike the part immediately adjoining, so that even if you are able to explain why this occurs, you nevertheless cannot maintain that the appearance that was presented to your eyes was true ! [106] If we perceive nothing, what is the cause of memory ? ? that was a question you were asking.' ** What ? are we unable to remember sense-presentations unless we have comprehended them ? What ? Polyaenus is said to have been a great mathematician : after he had accepted the view of Epicurus and come to believe that all geometry is false, surely he did not forget even the knowledge that he possessed ? Yet what is false cannot be perceived, as you yourselves hold ; if therefore the objects of memory are things perceived and comprehended, all the things a man remembers he holds grasped and perceived ; but nothing false can be grasped, and Siro remembers all the doctrines of Epicurus ; therefore in the present state of things those doctrines are all true. This may be so as far as I am concerned ; but you are either bound toallow that it is so, which is the last thing you are willing to do, or you must grant me memory and admit that it has a place, even if grasp and perception are non-existent. [107] L   What will happen to the sciences ? What sciences ? the ones that themselves confess that they make more use of conjecture than knowledge, or those that are only guided by appearance, and are not possessed of that method belonging to your school to enable them to distinguish what is true from what is false ?

"But the two outstanding things that hold your case together are the following. The first is your statement that it is impossible for anybody to assent to nothing, and that this at all events is 'perspicuous.' Seeing that Panaetius, who in my judgement at all events is almost the chief of the Stoics, says that he is in doubt as to the matter which all the Stoics beside him think most certain, the truth of the pronouncements of diviners, of auspices and oracles, of dreams and soothsaying, and that he restrains himself from assent, which he can do even about things that his own teachers held to be certain, why should not the wise man be able to do so about everything else ? Is there any proposition that he can either reject or approve, but is not able to doubt ? will you be able to do so with sōrites arguments when you wish, but he not be able to call a similar halt in everything else, especially as he is able to followmere resemblance to truth when unhampered, ** without the act of assent ? [108] The second point is the assertion of your school that no action as regards anything is possible in the case of a man who gives the approval of his assent to nothing ; for in the first place the thing must be seen, and that includes assent, for the Stoics say that the sensations are themselves acts of assent, and that it is because these are followed by an impulse of appetition that action follows, whereas if sense-presentations are done away with, everything is done away with. [34.] On this matter a great deal has been said and written both for and against, but the whole subject can be dealt with briefly. For even although my own opinion is that the highest form of activity ** wars against sense-presentations, withstands opinions, holds back acts of assent on their slippery slope, and although I agree with Clitomachus when he writesthat Carneades really did accomplish an almost Herculean labour in ridding our minds of that fierce wild beast, the act of assent, that is of mere opinion and hasty thinking, nevertheless (to abandon that section of the defence) what will hamper the activity of the man that follows probabilities when nothing hampers ? [109] L   'The very fact,' says he, 'that he will decide that not even what he approves can be perceived, will hamper him.' Well then, that same fact will hamper you also in going a voyage, in sowing a crop, in marrying a wife, in begetting a family, in ever so many things in which you will be following nothing but probability.

"And putting that aside, you repeat the old, familiar and oft-rejected argument, not in Antipater's manner, but as you say 'coming more to grips with it ' ** ; for Antipater, you tell us, was censured for saying that it was consistent for one who asserted that nothing could be grasped to say thatthat assertion itself could be grasped. This seemed stupid and self-contradictory even to Antiochus ; for it cannot consistently be said that nothing can be grasped if anything is said to be able to be grasped. The way in which Antiochus thinks Carneades should preferably have been attacked was this - to make him admit that, since the wise man can have no 'decision' ** that is not grasped and perceived and known, therefore this particular decision itself, that it is the decision of the wise man that nothing can be perceived, is perceived. Just as if the wise man held no other decision and could conduct his life without decisions ! [110] On the contrary, he holds this particular opinion, that nothing can be perceived, in just the same way as he holds the 'probable' but not 'perceived' views that have been mentioned ; for if he had a mark of knowledge in this case, he would employ the same mark in all other cases, but sincehe has not got it, he employs probabilities. Thus he is not afraid lest he may appear to throw everything into confusion and make everything uncertain. For if a question be put to him about duty or about a number of other matters in which practice has made him an expert, he would not reply in the same way as he would if questioned as to whether the number of the stars is even or odd, and say that he did not know ; for in things uncertain there is nothing probable, but in things where there is probability the wise man will not be at a loss either what to do or what to answer. [111] L   Nor yet, Lucullus, did you pass over the criticism made by Antiochus ** - and no wonder, as it is one of the most famous - which Antiochus used to say Philon had found most upsetting : it was that when the assumption was made, first, that there were some false presentations, and secondly, that they differed in no respect from trueones, Philon failed to notice that whereas he had admitted the former proposition on the strength of the apparent existence of a certain difference among presentations, this fact was refuted by the latter proposition, his denial that true presentations differ from false ones ; and that no procedure could be more inconsistent. This would hold good if we abolished truth altogether ; but we do not, for we observe some things that are true just as we observe some that are false. But there is 'appearance' ** as a basis of approval, whereas we have no mark as a basis of perception.

[35.] [112] "And even now I feel that my procedure is too cramped. For when there is a wide field in which eloquence might expatiate, why do we drive it into among such confined spaces and into the briary thickets of the Stoics ? If I were dealing with a Peripatetic, who would say that we can perceive 'an impression formed from a true object,' without adding the important qualification 'in a manner in which it could not be formed from a false one,' I would meet his frankness with frankness and would not labour to join issue with him, and if, when I said that nothing can be grasped, he said that the wise man sometimes forms an opinion, I would even refrain from combating him, especially as even Carneades does not vehemently combat this position ; but as it is what can I do ? [113] L   For I put the question what there is that can be grasped ; I receive the answer, not from Aristotle or Theophrastus, not even from Xenocrates or Polemon, but from a smaller person, ** 'A true presentation of such a sort that there cannot be a false one of the same sort.' I do not encounter any such presentation ; and accordingly I shall no doubt assent to something not really known, that is, I shall hold an opinion. This both the Peripatetics and the Old Academy grant me, but your school denies it, and Antiochus does so first and foremost, who influences me strongly, either because I loved the man as he did me, or because I judge him as the most polished and the most acute of all the philosophers of our time. The first question that I put to him is, how pray can he belong to that Academy to which he professes to belong ? To omit other points, what member of the Old Academy or of the Peripatetic school ever made these two statements that we are dealing with ? either that the only thing that can be perceived is a true presentation of such a sort that there could notbe a false one of the same sort, or that a wise man never holds an opinion ? No one, without a doubt ; neither of these propositions was much upheld before Zenon. I nevertheless think both of them true, and I do not say so just to suit the occasion, but it is my deliberate judgement.

[36.] [114] "One thing I cannot put up with : when you forbid me to assent to something that I do not know and say that this is most disgraceful and reeks with rashness, but take so much upon yourself as to set out a system of philosophy, to unfold a complete natural science, to mould our ethics and establish a theory of the chief good and evil and map out our duties and prescribe the career that I am to embark upon, and also actually profess to be ready to impart a criterion and scientific system of dialectic and logic, will you secure that I on my side when embracing all your countless doctrines shall never make a shp, never hold a mere opinion ? What system pray is there for you to convert me to if you can withdraw me from this one ? I am afraid you may be doing rather a presumptuous thing if you say your own system, yet all the same you are bound to say so. Nor indeed will you be alone, but everybody will hurry me intohis own system. [115] L   Come, suppose I stand out against the Peripatetics, who say that they are akin to the orators and that famous men equipped with their teaching have often governed the state. and suppose I resist the Epicureans, that crowd of friends of my own, so worthy and so affectionate a set of men : what shall I do with Diodotus the Stoic, whose pupil I have been from a boy, who has been my associate for so many years, who lives in my house, whom I both admire and love, and who despises the doctrines of Antiochus that you are putting forward ? 'Our doctrines,' you will say, 'are the only true ones.' If they are true, certainly they are the only true ones, for there cannot be several true systems disagreeing with one another. Then is it we that are shameless, who do not wish to make a slip, or they presumptuous, who have persuaded themselves that they alone know everything ? 'I don't say that Imyself know,' says he, 'but that the wise man knows.' Excellent ! no doubt you mean 'knows the doctrines that are in your system.' To begin with, what are we to think of this - wisdom being unfolded by a man that is not wise ? But let us leave ourselves and speak about the wise man, on whom all this inquiry turns, as I have often said already.

[116] " Wisdom then is divided by your own school, as it is also by most philosophers, into three parts. First therefore, if you agree, let us see what investigations have been made about natural science. But one thing first : is there anybody so puffed up with error as to have persuaded himself that he knows this subject? I am not asking about the theories that depend upon conjecture, that are dragged to and fro in debate, employing no convincing cogency ; let the geometricians see to that, whose claim is that they do not persuade but convince, and who proveall their propositions by their diagrams to the satisfaction of your school. I am not asking these people about those first principles of mathematics which must be granted before they are able to advance an inch - that a point is a thing without magnitude, that a 'boundary' or surface ** is a thing entirely devoid of thickness, a line a thing without any breadth. When I have admitted the correctness of these definitions, if I put the wise man on his oath, and not until Archimedes has first, with him looking on, drawn all the diagrams proving that the sun is many times as large as the earth, do you think that he will take the oath ? If he does, he will have shown contempt for the sun itself which he deems is a god. [117] L   But if he is going to refuse credence to the methods of geometry, which in their teaching exercise a compelling force, as your school itself asserts, surely he for his part will be far from believingthe proofs of the philosophers ; or else, if he does believe them, which school's proofs will he choose ? for one might set out all the systems of the natural philosophers, but it would be a long story : all the same, I want to know which philosopher he follows. Imagine that somebody is becoming a wise man now, but is not one yet ; what doctrine or system will he select to adopt ? although whichever one he does select, the selection will be made by a man not wise ; but suppose he be an inspired genius, which single one among the natural philosophers will he choose to approve ? more than one he will not be able to. I am not asking about problems of unlimited vagueness : let us merely consider what authority he will approve in respect of the elements of which the universe ** consists, for it is a subject extremely debated among the great.

[37.] [118] "At the head of the list Thales, the one of the Seven to whom the remaining six are stated to have unanimously yielded the first place, said that all things are made of water. But in this he did not carry conviction with his fellow-citizen and associate Anaximander ; Anaximander said that there exists an infinity of substance ** from which the universe was engendered. Afterwards his pupil Anaximenes held that air is infinite, but the things that spring from it finite, and that earth, water and fire are engendered, and then the universe of things out of these. Anaxagoras held that matter is infinite, but that out of it have come minute particles entirely alike, which were at first in a state of medley but were afterwards reduced to order by a divine mind. Xenophanes at a somewhat earlier date said that the universe is one, and that this is unchanging, and is god, and that it never came into being but has existed for ever, of aspherical shape ; Parmenides said that the primary element is fire, which imparts motion to the earth that receives from it its conformation ; Leucippus's elements were solid matter and empty space ; Democritus resembled him in this but was more expansive in the rest of his doctrines ; Empedocles taught the four ordinary elements that we know ; Heraclitus, fire ; Melissus, that the present infinite and unchangeable universe has existed and will exist always. Plato holds the view that the world was made by god out of the all-containing substance, to last for ever. The Pythagoreans hold that the universe originates out of numbers and the first principles of the mathematicians. From these teachers your wise man will doubtless select some single master to follow, while the numerous residue of men of such distinction will depart rejected and condemned by him. [119] L   But whatever opinion he approves, he will hold it in as firma mental grasp as he holds the presentations that he grasps by the senses, and he will not be more firmly convinced that it is now daylight than he is convinced, being a Stoic, that this world is wise and is possessed of an intelligence that constructed both itself and the world, and that controls, moves and rules the universe. He will also be convinced that the sun and moon and all the stars and the earth and sea are gods, because a 'vital intelligence' ** permeates and passes through them all ; but that nevertheless a time will come when all this world will be burnt out with heat. [38.] Suppose these facts of yours are true (for you see now that I do admit the existence of some truth), nevertheless I deny that they are 'grasped' and perceived. For when your Stoic wise man aforesaid has told you those facts one syllable at a time, in will come Aristotle, pouring forth a golden stream of eloquence, to declare that he isdoting, since the world never had a beginning, because there never can have been a commencement, on new and original lines, of so glorious a structure, and since it is so compactly framed on every side that no force could bring about such mighty movements of mutation, ** no old age arise from the long lapse of years to cause this ordered cosmos ever to perish in dissolution. For you it will be obligatory to spurn this view, and to defend the former one as you would your life and honour, while to me it is not even left to doubt. [120] Not to speak of the frivolity of those who assent without consideration, how valuable is the mere freedom of my not being faced by the same obligation as you are ! I ask for what reason did the deity, when making the universe for our sakes (for that is the view of your school), create so vast a supply of water-snakes and vipers, and why did he scatter so many death-bringing and destructivecreatures over land and sea ? Your school asserts that this highly finished and accurately constructed world of ours could not have been made without some skill of a divine nature (indeed it brings down that majestic deity to minutely fabricating the bees and the ants, so that we must even suppose that the list of gods included some Myrmecides, ** an artist whose works were on a minutely small scale) : you assert that nothing can be created without a god. [121] L   Lo, here you have Straton of Lampsacus cutting in, bent on bestowing upon your deity exemption from exertion on any extensive scale (and seeing that the priests of the gods have holidays, how much fairer it is that the gods themselves should have them !) ; he declares that he does not make use of divine activity for constructing the world. His doctrine is that all existing things of whatever sort have been produced by natural causes, although he does not follow themaster who says that this world of ours was welded out of rough and smooth, hook-shaped or crooked atoms interspersed with void - he judges these doctrines to be dreams on the part of Democritus, the talk of a visionary, not of a teacher, - but he himself, reviewing the various departments of the universe one by one, teaches that whatever either is or comes into being is or has been caused by natural forces of gravitation and motion. Assuredly he frees the deity from a great task, and also me from alarm ! for who holding the view that a god pays heed to him can avoid shivering with dread of the divine power all day and all night long, and if any disaster happens to him (and to whom does it not ?) being thoroughly frightened lest it be a judgement upon him ? All the same I do not accept the view of Straton, nor yet yours either ; at one moment one seems the more probable, and at another moment the other.

12 [39.] [122] "All those things you talk about are hidden, Lucullus, closely concealed and enfolded in thick clouds of darkness, so that no human intellect has a sufficiently powerful sight to be able to penetrate the heaven and get inside the earth. We do not know our own bodies, we are ignorant of the positions of their parts and their several functions ; and accordingly the doctors themselves, being concerned to know the structure of the body, have cut it open to bring its organs into view, yet nevertheless the empiric school assert that this has not increased our knowledge of them, because it is possibly the case that when exposed and uncovered they change their character. But is it at all within our power similarly to dissect and open up and separate the constituents of the universe, in order to see whether the earth is firmly fixed deep down and holds so to speak by its own roots, or hangs suspended at thecentre ? [123] L   Xenophanes says that the moon is inhabited, and is a land of many cities and mountains : these seem marvellous doctrines, but nevertheless I am no more able to swear that they do not agree with the facts than their author could swear that they do. Your school even says that there are people opposite to us on the contrary side of the earth, standing with the soles of their feet turned in the opposite direction to ours, whom you call 'antipodes' : why are you more irritated with me who do not scoff at these doctrines of yours than with those who when they hear them think you are out of your minds ? Hicetas of Syracuse, as Theophrastus asserts, holds the view that the heaven, sun, moon, stars, and in short all of the things on high are stationary, and that nothing in the world is in motion except the earth, which by revolving and twisting round its axis with extreme velocity produces allthe same results as would be produced if the earth were stationary and the heaven in motion ; and this is also in some people's opinion the doctrine stated by Plato in Timaeus, ** but a little more obscurely. What is your view, Epicurus ? say, do you really think that the sun is as small as it appears ? for my own part I don't think it is twice as big either ! ** Your school are laughed at by Epicurus, and you yourselves also in your turn mock at him. Mockery of that sort therefore does not touch Socrates and does not touch Ariston of Chios, who think that none of the things that you treat of can be known. [124] But I return to the mind and the body. ** Pray are we sufficiently acquainted with the nature of the sinews and the veins ? do we grasp what mind is, where it is, and in fine whether it exists, or, as Dicaearchus held, does not even exist at all ? If it does, do we know if it has three parts, as Plato ** held, reason,passion and appetite, or is a simple unity ? if simple, whether it is fire or breath ** or blood, ** or, as Xenocrates said, an incorporeal numerical formula (a thing the very nature of which is almost unintelligible) ? and whatever it is, whether it is mortal or everlasting ? for many arguments are put forward on both sides. Some part of these matters seems to your wise man to be certain, but ours has not a notion even what part is most probable, to such an extent do most of these matters contain equal reasons for contrary theories.

[40.] [125] L   "If on the other hand you behave with greater modesty and charge me not with not agreeing with your arguments but with not agreeing with any, I will overcome my inclination, and will choose, in order to agree with him - whom for preference ? whom ? Democritus : for, as you know I have always been a devotee of rank ** ! Now I shall be assailed with upbraiding by all of you : 'Can you really suppose that any such thing as empty void exists, when the universe is so completely filled and packed that whenever a bodily object is set in motion it gives place and another object at once moves into the place that it has left ? or that any atoms exist out of which are made things that are all entirely unlike them ? or that anything splendid can be produced without the action of some mind ? and that when one world contains the marvellously ordered beauty that we see, there exist above it and below, on the right and on the left, infront and behind, countless other worlds, some unlike it and others of the same sort ? and that just as we are now at Bauli and have a view of Puteoli, so there are innumerable other groups of people with the same names and distinctions and records, minds, appearances and ages, discussing the same subjects in similar places ? and that, if now or if even when asleep we seem to see something with the mind, it means that images are forcing a way through the body into our minds from outside ? You must not accept such notions, or give your assent to mere fictions : it is better to have no opinions than to have such wrong ones !' [126] Oh, then, the object is not to get me to give the approval of my assent to something - a demand which it is surely actually impudent and not merely arrogant for you to make, especially as these dogmas of yours don't seem to me even probable ; for I don't as a matter of fact think thatthere is any such thing as the divination which your school accepts, and I make light of the existence of that destiny which your school declares to be the bond that holds the universe together ? I do not even deem that this world was built on a divine plan ; and yet it may be so. [41.] But why am I dragged into disfavour ? may I have your leave not to know what I do not know ? Are the Stoics to be allowed to dispute among themselves but nobody allowed to dispute with the Stoics ? Zenon and almost all the other Stoics think the aether a supreme deity, endowed with a mind whereby the universe is ruled, Cleanthes, the Stoic of the older families as it were, who was a disciple of Zenon, holds that the sun is lord and master of the world ; thus the disagreement of the wise compels us to be ignorant of our own lord, inasmuch as we do not know whether we are the servants of the sun or of the aether. Then the sizeof the sun - for this radiant sun himself seems to be gazing at me, reminding me to keep mentioning him - your school then report his size as if you had measured it with a ten-foot rule, while I declare that I mistrust this measurement of yours as I distrust incompetent architects : then is it doubtful which of us is - to speak frivolously - the more modest ? [127] L   And all the same I do not think that these physical investigations of yours should be put out of bounds. For the study and observation of nature affords a sort of natural pasturage for the spirit and intellect ; we are uplifted, we seem to become more exalted, we look down on what is human, and while reflecting upon things above and in the heavens we despise this world of our own as small and even tiny. There is delight in the mere investigation of matters at once of supreme magnitude and also of extreme obscurity ; while if a notion comes to us that appears to beara likeness to the truth, the mind is filled with the most humanising kind of pleasure. [128] These researches will be pursued both by your wise man and by this sage of ours, but by yours with the intention of assenting, believing and affirming, by ours with the resolve to be afraid of forming rash opinions and to deem that it goes well with him if in matters of this kind he has discovered that which bears a likeness to truth.

Now let us come to the concept of good and evil : but a few words must be said first. When they assert those doctrines so positively they seem to me to forget that they also lose the guarantee for facts that appear to be more clear. For their assent to or acceptance of the fact that daylight is now shining is no more positive than their assent to the belief that when a crow croaks it is conveying some command or prohibition, and if they measure yonder statue, they will not affirm that it is six feet high with greater positiveness than they will affirm that the sun, which they cannot measure, is more than nineteen times as large as the earth. From this springs the following train of argument : if it cannot be perceived how large the sun is, he that accepts all other things in the same way as he accepts the sun does not perceive those things ; but the size of the sun cannot be perceived ; therefore he that acceptsit as if he perceived it, perceives nothing. Suppose their answer is that it can be perceived how large the sun is : I will not combat this provided that they say that everything else can be perceived and grasped in the same manner ; for in fact it is impossible for them to say that one thing is grasped more, or less, than another, since there is one definition of mental grasp in relation to all objects.

[42.] [129] L   "But to resume : in the matter of good and evil what certain knowledge have we got ? Clearly the task is to determine the Ends which are the standards of both the supreme good and the supreme evil ** ; if so, what question is the subject of greater disagreement among the leading thinkers ? I leave out the systems that appear to be now abandoned - for example Erillus, who places the chief good in learning and in knowledge ; although he was a pupil of Zenon, you see how much he disagreed with him and how little with Plato. A famous school was that of the Megarians, whose founder, as I see it recorded, was Xenophanes whom I mentioned just now ; next he was followed by Parmenides and Zenon ( and so the school of thought derived from them the name of Eleatic ) and afterwards by Euclides, the pupil of Socrates, a Megarian (from whom the same school obtained the title of Megarian) ; their doctrine wasthat the sole good is that which is always one and alike and the same. These thinkers also took much from Plato. But from Menedemus, who was an Eretrian, they received the designation of the Eretrian school ; they placed their good wholly in the mind and in keenness of mental vision whereby the truth is discerned. The school of Elis taught a similar doctrine, but I believe they expounded it in a more copious and ornate style. [130] If we look down on these philosophers and think them out of date, we are undoubtedly bound to feel less contempt for the following : Ariston, who, having been a disciple of Zenon, proved in practice what his master established in theory, that nothing is good except virtue, and nothing evil unless it is contrary to virtue ; those motives of action which Zenon held to exist in things intermediate he deemed to be non-existent. Ariston's chief good is in these things to be moved inneither direction - he himself calls it adiaphoria ** ; Pyrrhon on the other hand held that the wise man does not even perceive these things with his senses - the name for this unconsciousness is apatheia. Leaving on one side therefore all these numerous opinions, let us now look at the following which have long been strongly championed. [131] L   Others have held that the end is pleasure ; their founder was Aristippus, who had been a pupil of Socrates, and from whom they get the name of the Cyrenaic school ; after him came Epicurus, whose doctrine is now more famous, although on the actual subject of pleasure it does not agree with the Cyrenaics. But Calliphon defined the end as being pleasure and moral goodness, Hieronymus as freedom from all annoyance, Diodorus the same combined with moral goodness - both the two latter were Peripatetics ; but the Old Academy defined the end as living the moral life while enjoying those primary things which nature recommends to man - this is proved by the writings of Polemon, who is very highly approved by Antiochus ; and also Aristotle and his adherents seem to come very near to this position. Also Carneades used to put forward the view - not that he held it himself but in order to combat the Stoics with it - that the chief good was to enjoy those things that nature had recommended as primary. Zenon however, who was the originator and first head of the Stoics, set it up that the end of goods is the morally honourable life, and that this is derived from nature's recommendation.

[43.] [132] "There follows the obvious point that corresponding to all the ends of goods that I have set out there are opposite ends of evils. Whom I am to follow now I leave to you, only do not let anyone make that very uneducated and ridiculous answer 'Anybody you like, only follow somebody' ; no remark could be more ill-considered. I am eager to follow the Stoics : have I permission - I don't say from Aristotle, in my judgement almost the outstanding figure in philosophy, but from Antiochus himself ? he was called an Academic, and was in fact, had he made very few modifications, a perfectly genuine Stoic. Well then, the matter will now come to an issue : we must settle on either the Stoic wise man or the wise man of the Old Academy. To take both is impossible, for the dispute between them is not about boundaries but about the whole ownership of the ground, since the entire scheme of life is boundup with the definition of the supreme good, and those who disagree about that disagree about the whole scheme of life. They cannot therefore each of them be the wise man, since they disagree so widely ; it must be one or the other. If Polemon's is, the Stoic wise man sins in assenting to a falsehood - for you certainly say that nothing is so alien from the wise man ; if on the other hand Zenon's doctrine is true, the same verdict has to be passed against the Old Academics and the Peripatetics. Will Antiochus therefore agree with neither ? or if not, which of the two, say I, is the wiser ? [133] L   What then ? when Antiochus himself disagrees in some things from these Stoic friends of his, does he not show that it is impossible for these views to be what the wise man must approve ? The Stoics hold that all sins are equal, but with this Antiochus most violently disagrees ; do please give me leave to deliberatewhich opinion to follow. 'Cut it short,' says he ; 'do for once decide on something !' What of the fact that the arguments advanced seem to me both acute on either side and equally valid ? am I not to be careful not to commit a crime ? for you, Lucullus, said that it is a crime to abandon a dogma ** ; therefore I hold myself in so as not to assent to a thing unknown - that is a dogma that I share with you. [134] Look at an even much wider disagreement : Zenon thinks that the happy life is placed in virtue alone ; what is the view of Antiochus ? 'Yes,' says he, 'the happy life, but not the happiest.' Zenon was a god, he deemed that virtue lacks nothing : Antiochus is a puny mortal, he thinks that many things besides virtue are some of them dear to man and some even necessary. But I fear that Zenon assigns more to virtue than nature would allow, especially as Theophrastus says a great deal with eloquence and fullness on the opposite side. And as for Theophrastus, I am afraid it is hardly consistent of him both to say that certain evils of body and estate do exist, and yet to hold that a man for whom these are his entire environment will be happy if he is wise. I am dragged in different directions - now the latter view seems to me the more probable, now the former. And yet I firmly believe that unless one or other is true, virtueis overthrown ; but they are at variance on these points.

[44.] [135] L   "Again, those tenets on which they agree surely cannot be approved by us as true ? The doctrine that the mind of the wise man is never moved by desire or elated by joy ? well, granted that this may be probable, surely the following tenets are not so too, that he never feels fear and that he never feels pain ? would the wise man feel no fear lest his country might be destroyed ? no pain if it were ? A hard doctrine, although unavoidable for Zenon, who includes nothing in the category of good save moral worth ; but not at all unavoidable for you, Antiochus, who think many things good beside moral worth, and many bad beside baseness - things that the wise man is bound to fear when they are coming and to regret when they have come. But I want to know when the Old Academy adopted 'decisions' ** of that sort, asserting that the mind of the wise man does not undergo emotion and perturbation. That school wereupholders of the mean in things, and held that in all emotion there was a certain measure that was natural. We have all read the Old Academician Crantor's On Grief, for it is not a large but a golden little volume, and one to be thoroughly studied word by word, as Panaetius enjoins upon Tubero. And the Old Academy indeed used to say that the emotions in question were bestowed by nature upon our minds for actually useful purposes - fear for the sake of exercising caution, pity and sorrow for the sake of mercy ; anger itself they used to say was a sort of whetstone of courage - whether this was right or not let us consider on another occasion. ** [136] How indeed that ferocity of yours forced an entrance into the Old Academy I do not know ; but I cannot approve ** those doctrines, not because they seem unsatisfactory to me ( for most of the 'surprising arguments,' the so-called paradoxa, of the Stoics belong to Socrates ), but where did Xenocrates hint at those views, or Aristotle (for you maintain that Xenocrates and Aristotle are almost identical) ? could they ever say that wise men alone are kings, alone wealthy, alone handsome, that all the things anywhere existing belong to the wise man, that no one is consul or praetor or general, no one even a police-magistrate, except the wise man, and finally that he only is a citizen and a free man, and that all those not wise are foreigners and exiles and slaves and madmen ? in fact that the rules given under the hand of Lycurgus and Solon, and our Twelve Tables, are not laws ? that there are no cities even nor states save those that are the work of wise men ? [137] L   You, Lucullus, if you have accepted the views of your associate Antiochus, are bound to defend these doctrines as you would defend the walls of Rome, but I need only do so in moderation, just as much as I think fit.

[45.] "I have read in Clitomachus that when Carneades and the Stoic Diogenes ** were on the Capitol attending on the senate, Aulus Albinus, who was praetor at the time, in the consulship of Publius Scipio and Marcus Marcellus, - he was a colleague of your grandfather, Lucullus, as consul, and his own history written in Greek shows him to have been a decidedly learned man, - said to Carneades in jest: 'In your view, Carneades, I am not a real praetor [because I am not a wise man **], nor is this a real city nor its state a real state.'   'In the view of our Stoic friend here you are not,' replied Carneades. Aristotle or Xenocrates, the masters of whom Antiochus made himself out to be a follower, would not have doubted either that Albinus was a praetor or Rome a city or its inhabitants a state ; but our friend Carneades, as I said above, is a downright Stoic, though stammering on a very fewpoints. [138] As for yourselves however, seeing that I am afraid I may slip into forming opinions and adopt and approve something that I do not know (which you specially disapprove of), what advice do you give me ? Chrysippus often solemnly avows that from among possible views as to the chief good there are only three that can be defended - a crowd of others he lops off and discards : for he holds that the end is either moral goodness, or pleasure, or a combination of the two ; for those who say that the chief good consists in our being free from all trouble are trying (he says) to avoid the unpopular word 'pleasure,' but don't get very far away from it, and the same is also the case with those who combine freedom from trouble with moral goodness, nor is it very different with those who to moral goodness join the primary advantages of nature : thus he leaves three opinions that he thinks capable of a probable defence. [139] L   Suppose itis so, although I find it hard to be parted from the Ends of Polemon and the Peripatetics and Antiochus, and hitherto have got nothing more probable - but nevertheless I see how sweetly pleasure flatters our senses. I am slipping into agreeing with Epicurus or else Aristippus : virtue calls me back, or rather plucks me back with her hand ; she declares that those are the feelings of the beasts of the field, and she links the human being with god. A possible line is for me to be neutral, so that, as Aristippus looks only at the body, as if we had no mind, and Zenon takes into consideration only the mind, as if we were without a body, I should follow Calliphon, whose opinion indeed Carneades was constantly defending with so much zeal that he was thought actually to accept it (although Clitomachus used to declare that he had never been able to understand what Carneades did accept) ; but if I were willing to follow that End,would not truth herself and the weight of right reason meet me with the reply : 'What, when the essence of morality is to scorn pleasure, will you couple morality with pleasure, like a human being with a beast ? '

[46.] [140] "There remains therefore one match to be fought off - pleasure versus moral worth : and on this issue Chrysippus, as far as I for my part can perceive, had not much of a struggle. If one should follow the former, many things fall in ruin, and especially fellowship with mankind, affection, friendship, justice and the rest of the virtues, none of which can exist unless they are disinterested, for virtue driven to duty by pleasure as a sort of pay is not virtue at all but a deceptive sham and pretence of virtue. Hear on the opposite side those who say that they do not even understand what the word 'virtue' means, unless indeed we choose to give the name 'moral' to what looks well with the mob : that the source of all things good is in the body - this is nature's canon and rule and injunction, to stray away from which with result in a man's never having an object to follow in life. [141] L   Do you people therefore suppose that when Iam listening to these and countless other things, I am quite unaffected ? I am just as much affected as you are, Lucullus, pray don't think that I am less a human being than yourself. The only difference is that whereas you, when you have been deeply affected, acquiesce, assent, approve, hold that the fact is certain, comprehended, perceived, ratified, firm, fixed, and are unable to be driven or moved away from it by any reason, I on the contrary am of the opinion that there is nothing of such a kind that if I assent to it I shall not often be assenting to a falsehood, since truths are not separated from falsehoods by any distinction, especially as those logical criteria of yours are non-existent.

[142] "For I come now to the third part of philosophy. One view of the criterion is that of Protagoras, who holds that what seems true to each person is true for each person, another is that of the Cyrenaics, who hold that there is no criterion whatever except the inward emotions, another that of Epicurus, who places the standard of judgement entirely in the senses and in notions of objects and in pleasure ; Plato however held that the entire criterion of truth and truth itself is detached from opinions and from the senses and belongs to the mere activity of thought and to the mind. [143] L   Surely our friend Antiochus does not approve any doctrine of these teachers ? On the contrary he does not even accept anything from his own ancestors - for where does he follow either Xenocrates, who has many volumes on logic ** that are highly thought of, or Aristotle himself, who is assuredly unsurpassed foracumen and finish ? He never diverges a foot's length from Chrysippus. [47.] Why then are we called the Academics ? is our use of that glorious title a mistake ? Or why is the attempt made to force us to follow a set of thinkers who are divided among themselves ? Even on a matter that is among the very elements taught by the dialecticians, the proper mode of judging the truth or falsehood of a hypothetical judgement like 'if day has dawned, it is light,' what a dispute goes on ! Diodorus holds one view, Philon another, Chrysippus another. Then, how many points of difference there are between Chrysippus and his teacher Cleanthes ? Then, do not two of even the leading dialecticians, Antipater and Archidemus, the most obstinate dogmatists ** of all mankind, disagree on many things ? [144] Why then, Lucullus, do you bring me into disfavour, and summon me before a public assembly, so to speak, and actually imitate seditious tribunes and order the shops to be shut ? for what is the object of your complaint that we are abolishing the practical sciences, unless it aims at stirring up the craftsmen ? But if they all come together from every quarter, it will be easy to stir them on to attack your side ! I shall first expound the unpopular doctrine that all the persons then standing in the assembly are on your showing exiles, slaves and madmen ; then I shall come to the point that concerns not the multitude but you yourselves now present : according to Zenon and according to Antiochus, you do not know anything ! 'What do you mean by that ?' you will say ; 'for what we maintain is that even the unwise man can comprehend many things.' [145] L   But you deny that anybody except the wise man knows anything ; and this Zenon used to demonstrate by gesture : for he would display his hand in front of one with the fingers stretched out and say 'A visual appearance is like this' ; next he closed his fingers a little and said, 'An act of assent is like this' ; then he pressed his fingers closely together and made a fist, and saidthat that was comprehension (and from this illustration he gave to that process the actual name of catalepsis, which it had not had before) ; but then he used to apply his left hand to his right fist and squeeze it tightly and forcibly, and then say that such was knowledge, which was within the power of nobody save the wise man - but who is a wise man or ever has been even they themselves do not usually say. On that showing you, Catulus, at the present moment, do not know that it is daytime, nor do you, Hortensius, know that we are at your country-house ! [146] Surely these are not less unpopular arguments ? though they are not over-neatly put - the ones before were more clearly worked out. But just as you said ** that if nothing can be comprehended, the practice of the arts and crafts collapses, and would not grant me that sufficient validity for this purpose is possessed by probability, so now I retort to you that artcannot exist without scientific knowledge. Would Zeuxis or Phidias or Polyclitus endure to admit that they knew nothing, when they possessed such great skill ? But if somebody explained to them what power is said to be possessed by knowledge, they would cease to be angry : indeed they would not feel a tinge of resentment even against us after it had been explained to them that we do away with a thing that nowhere exists but left to themselves what is sufficient for them. This theory is also supported by the precaution of our ancestors in requiring every juror to swear to give a verdict 'after the opinion of his own mind,' and afterwards to be held guilty of perjury 'if he gave a false verdict wittingly' (because much that was unwitting occurred in life), and then enacted that a witness giving evidence should say that he 'thought' even something that he had himself seen, and that the jury giving their verdict onoath should declare not that the facts which they had ascertained 'had occurred' but that they 'appeared to have.'

[48.] [147] L   "However, Lucullus, not only is our sailor signalling but even the west wind itself is whispering that it is time for us to be cruising, and also I have said enough ; so I ought to round off. On a later occasion however when we engage in these inquiries, let us by preference discuss the wide differences of opinion that exist among the men of greatest eminence, the obscurity of nature and the errors of all these philosophers (who disagree so violently about things good and their opposites ** that, since there cannot be more than one truth, a large number of these famous systems must of necessity collapse), rather than the subject of the falsehoods told by our eyes and the rest of our senses, and the fallacies of 'the heap' ** and 'the liar' ** - traps that the Stoics have set to catch themselves."   [148] "I am not sorry," replied Lucullus, "that we have debated these subjects ; in fact we will meet morefrequently, and particularly at our places at Tusculum, to investigate such questions as we think fit." "Excellent," said I, "but what is Catulus's view ? and Hortensius's ?" "My view ?" replied Catulus ; "I am coming round to the view of my father, which indeed he used to say was that of Carneades, and am beginning to think that nothing can be perceived, but to deem that the wise man will assent to something not perceived, that is, will hold an opinion, but with the qualification that he will understand that it is an opinion and will know that there is nothing that can be comprehended and perceived ; and therefore although agreeing ** with their rule of epoche as to everything, ** I assent emphatically to that second view, that nothing exists that can be perceived." "I have your view," said I, "and I do not think it quite negligible ; but pray, Hortensius, what do you think ? " "Away with it !" ** he repliedwith a laugh. "I take you," said I, "for that is the true Academic verdict." The conversation thus concluded, Catulus stayed behind, while we went down to our boats.

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FOOTNOTES

189.   Cf. 75.

190.   φαντασίαι καταληπτικαί and ἀκατάληπτοι, πιθαναί and ἀπίθανοι.

191.   31, 53, 58.

192.   i.e., Lucullus, whom Cicero is addressing, cf. 80, 94.

193.   149 B.C.

194.   Quasi marks disciplina as an explanation of institutio used to translate some Greek term, perhaps systēma.

195.   See 22.

196.   anempodistos, i.e., not inconsistent with some other apparent truth.

197.   i.e., the activity of reason.

198.   29.

199.   27.

200.   44.

201.   Species = phantasia.

202.   i.e., Antiochus.

203.   Libramentum, 'evenness,' applied primarily to the scales of a balance ; quasi marks it as here used to explain extremitatem, which is a translation of peras (i.e. πέρας σώματος, the boundary of a solid, viz. a surface, epiphaneia).

204.   Omnia = τὸ πᾶν.

205.   See i. 28 note.

206.   Quaedam marks a translation of some phrase like Diog. vii. 147 θεὸν δὲ εἶναι ζῷον ἀθάνατον λογικόν.

207.   A rendering of the two meanings of kinēsis.

208.   A Greek artist famous for his microscopic works, doubtless chosen here because of his appropriate name (or nick-name) 'Son of an Ant.'

209.   Plato, Timaeus 40 b.

210.   See 82.

211.   See 122, where however the mind is not introduced.

212.   Republic, e.g., 439 d ff. τὸ λογιστικόν, τὸ θυμοειδές and τὸ ἐπιθυμητικόν.

213.   Some Stoics said fire, others warm breath (pneuma enthermon).

214.   Empedocles.

215.   Implying that Democritus holds the high position in philosophy that noblemen hold in society,

216.   i.e., summum bonum et summum malum, 'the supreme good and the supreme evil.' Finis has come to be almost a synonym for summum, 'highest in the scale,' losing the sense of 'object aimed at.'

217.   The term is more often applied as an adjective to the things themselves, adiaphora 'indifferent,'

218.   i.e., an opinion once decided, decretum, cf. 27.

219.   Cf. 27.

220.   This is done in the Tusculan Disputations.

221.   i.e., allow you to advance them.

222.   With Critolaus they came on an embassy from Athens, 155 B.C.

223.   This interpolation spoils the joke, which turns on the Academician's doctrine of the uncertainty of all things.

224.   See i. 25 note.

225.   This word is coined by Cicero in jest. For opinio = doxa or dogma cf. i. 39, 42.

226.   See 22 note.

227.   This foreshadows De Finibus, and possibly the preceding words also include De Natura Deorum, which was certainly written after the second edition of Academica was finished.

228.   See 49 note.

229.   See 95.

230.   Possibly the Latin should be corrected to 'disagreeing'.

231.   i.e., refusal to state any opinion, whether as certain or as probable : see 104, and for the term, 59.

232.   A double entente, (1) 'make a clean sweep' of assent, and (2) 'weigh anchor.'



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