Carneades

, a celebrated Greek philosopher, was an African, a native of Gyrene, and is supposed to have | been born in the third year of the 141st olympiad, or B. C. 214. He was first instructed by Diogenes the stoic, and afterwards becoming a member of the academy, he attended upon the lectures of Egesinus, and by assiduous study acquired great skill and readiness in the method of disputing, which Arcesilaus had introduced. He succeeded Egesinus in the chair, and restored the declining reputation of the academy. With Diogenes the stoic, and Critolaus the peripatetic, he was sent on an embassy from Athens to Rome, complaining of the severity of a fine inflicted upon the Athenians, under the authority of the Romans, by their neighbours the Sicyonians, for having laid waste Oropus, a town in Bceotia. The three philosophers whom they entrusted with their embassy, whilst they were in Rome, gave the Roman people many specimens of Grecian learning and eloquence, with which till then they had been unacquainted. Carneades excelled in the vehement and rapid, Critolaus in the correct and elegant, and Diogenes in the simple and modest kind of eloquence. Carneades particularly attracted the attention and admiration of his new auditors, by the subtlety of his reasoning, and the fluency of his language. Before Galba, and Cato the censor, he harangued, with great variety of thought, and copiousness of diction, in praise of justice. The next day, to establish his doctrine of the uncertainty of human knowledge, he undertook to refute all his former arguments. Many were captivated by his eloquence; but Cato, apprehensive lest the Roman youth should lose their military character in the pursuit of Grecian learning, persuaded the senate to send back these philosophers, without further delay, to their own schools.

Carneades obtained such high -reputation in his school, that other philosophers, when they had dismissed their scholars, frequently came to hear him. In application to study he was indefatigable. So intensely did he fix his thgughts upon the subject of his meditations, that even at meals he frequently forgot to take the food which was set before him. He strenuously opposed the stoic Chrvsippus, but was always ready to do justice to his merit. He used to say, that if there were no Chrysippus, there would be no Carneades; intimating, that he derived much of his reputation as a disputant from the abilities of his opponent. His voice was remarkably strong, and he had such a habit of vociferation, that the master of the gymnastic exercises. | in the public field, desired him not to speak so loud: in return, he requested some measure to regulate his voice; to which the master very judiciously replied, you have a measure, the number of your hearers. As Carneades grew old, he discovered strong apprehensions of dying; and frequently lamented, that the same nature which had composed the human frame could dissolve it. He paid the last debt to nature in the eighty-fifth, or, according to Cicero and Valerius Maximus, in the ninetieth year of his age.

It was the doctrine of the new academy, that the senses, the understanding, and the imagination, frequently deceive us, and therefore cannot be infallible judges of truth; but that, from the impressions which we perceive to be produced on the mind, by means of the senses, we infer appearances of truth, or probabilities. These impressions Carneades called phantasies, or images. He maintained, that they do not always correspond to the real nature of things, and that there is no infallible method of determining when they are true or false, and consequently that they afford no certain criterion of truth. Nevertheless, with respect to the conduct of life, and the pursuit of happiness, Carneades held, that probable appearances are a sufficient guide, because it is unreasonable not to allow some degree of credit to those witnesses who commonly give a true report. Probabilities he divided into three classes; simple, uncontradicted, and confirmed by accurate examination. The lowest degree of probability takes place, where the mind, in -the casual occurrence of any single image, perceives in it nothing contrary to truth and nature; the second degree of probability arises, when contemplating any object in connection with all the circumstances associated with it, we discover no appearance of inconsistency, or incongruity, to lead us to suspect that our senses have given a false report; as, when we conclude, from comparing the image of any individual man with our remembrance of that man, that he is the person we supposed him to be. The highest degree of probability is produced, when, after an accurate examination of every circumstance which might be supposed to create uncertainty, we are able to discover no fallacy in the report of our senses. The judgments arising from this operation of the mind are, according to the doctrine of the new academy, not science, but opinion, which is all the | knowledge that the human mind is capable of attaining. Carneades, as Cicero has related at large, strenuously opposed the doctrine of the Stoics concerning the gods, and was likewise desirous of refuting their doctrine concerning fate. On this subject, he assumed on the ground of experience, the existence of a self-determining power in man, and hence inferred that all things did not happen, as the stoics maintained, in a necessary series of causes and effects, and consequently, that it is impossible for the gods to predict events dependent on the will of man. As" the foundation of morals, he taught, that the ultimate end of life is the enjoyment of those things, towards which we are directed by the principles of nature. Such, according to Brucker, is the general idea which the ancients have left us concerning the doctrine of Carneades: but after all, it must be owned, that his real tenets are not certainly known. Even his immediate successor, Clitomachus, confessed that he was never able to discover them. 1

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Gen. Dict. Brucker.