, an ancient sect of philosophers, who followed the doctrine of Socrates and Plato, as to the uncertainty of knowledge, and the incomprehensibility of truth.

Academic, in this sense, amounts to much the same with Platonist; the difference between them being only in point of time. Those who embraced the system of Plato, among the ancients, were called academici, academician or academic; whereas those who did the same since the restoration of learning, have assumed the denomination of Platonists.

We usually reckon three sects of academics; though some make five. The ancient academy was that of which Plato was the chief.

Arcessilas, one of Plato's successors, introducing some alterations into the philosophy of this sect, founded what they call the second academy.

The establishment of the third, called also the new academy, is attributed to Lacydes, or rather to Carneades.

Some authors add a fourth, founded by Philo; and a fifth, by Antiochus, called the Antiochan, which tempered the ancient academy with Stoicism.

The ancient academy doubted of every thing; and carried this principle so far as to make it a doubt, whether or no they ought to doubt. It was a kind of a principle with them, never to be certain or satisfied of any thing; never to affirm or to deny any thing, either for true or false.

The new academy was somewhat more reasonable; they acknowledged several things for truths, but without attaching themselves to any with entire assurance. These philosophers had found that the ordinary commerce of life and society was inconsistent with the absolute and universal doubtfulness of the ancient academy: and yet it is evident that they looked upon things rather as probable, than as true and certain: by this amendment thinking to secure themselves from those absurdities into which the ancient academy had fallen.

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Entry taken from A Mathematical and Philosophical Dictionary, by Charles Hutton, 1796.

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ABSTRACT Mathematics