A History of Greek Philosophy / THE INCOMPLETE SOCRATICS / EUCLIDES THE MEGARIC
Euclides, a native of Megara on the Corinthian isthmus, was a devoted hearer of Socrates, making his way to hear him, sometimes even at the ‘risk of his life, in defiance of a decree of his native city forbidding intercourse with Athens. When Plato and other Athenian followers of Socrates thought well to quit Athens for a time after Socrates’ execution, they were kindly entertained by Euclides at Megara.
The exact character of the development which the Socratic teaching received from Euclides and his school is a matter of considerable doubt. The allusions to the tenets of the school in Plato and others are only fragmentary. We gather, however, from them that Euclides was wholly antithetical to the personal turn given to philosophy, both by the Cyrenaics and the Cynics. He revived and developed with much dialectical subtlety the metaphysical system of Parmenides and the Eleatics, maintaining that there is but one absolute existence, and that sense and sense-perceptions as against this are nothing. This one absolute existence was alone absolutely good, and the good for man could only be found in such an absorption of himself in this one absolute good through reason and contemplation, as would bring his spirit into perfectness of union with it. Such absorption raised a man above the troubles and pains of life, and thus, in insensibility to these through reason, man attained his highest good.
The school is perhaps interesting only in so far as it marks the continued survival of the abstract dialectic method of earlier philosophy. As such it had a very definite influence, sometimes through agreement, sometimes by controversy, on the systems of Plato and Aristotle now to be dealt with.
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