The Influx of Metics

It would seem that all the possible solutions had been proposed, and that any others were inconceivable. The principles are one, many, infinite, or even do not exist; everything is in motion, everything is motionless; everything depends on the ordering intelligence of Mind, everything is derived from a mechanical movement. Thus it is possible to proceed in the list of the antithesis.

Let us remember, above all, the slow but inevitable crisis of the aristocracy, which went hand in hand with the always increasing power of the demos, of the people. Theses factors must also be kept in mind: the affluence in the cities, especially Athens; of an increasing number of metics, the widening of opportunities for commerce that surpassed the limiting restrictions of individual cities bringing each of them in contact with a much wider world, and the widening of experience and knowledge of the voyagers who brought to the fore the inevitable comparison of usages, customs, and laws in relation to wholly different usages, customs, and laws. All these elements must have constituted the first premise of relativism, causing the conviction that what was eternally stable and valid was instead lacking value in other circumstances and environments.

[In V in. BC,] the Sophists completely welcomed these attitudes of this period of turmoil in which they lived. And this explains why they achieved such a great success especially among the young. They answered to the real needs of the moment, they spoke to the young who were no longer satisfied with traditional values that their elders proposed nor with the manner in which they proposed them, and they gave the young the new language for which they were waiting.

Giovanni Reale – History of Ancient Philosophy

Rationalism as Faith

It may be said of the eighteenth century that it was an age of faith as well as of reason, and of the thirteenth century that it was an age of reason as well as of faith.

Since eighteenth-century writers employed reason to discredit Christian dogma, a “rationalist” in common parlance came to mean an “unbeliever,” one who denied the truth of Christianity. In this sense Voltaire was a rationalist, St. Thomas a man of faith. But this use of the word is unfortunate, since it obscures the fact that reason may be employed to support faith as well as to destroy it.

There were, certainly, many differences between Voltaire and St. Thomas, but the two men had much in common for all that. What they had in common was the profound conviction that their beliefs could be reasonably demonstrated.

Carl L. Becker – The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers

Pourquoi y a-t-il quelque chose plutôt que rien?

A belief in the existence of the material world is impossible to justify using reason. When I get lost in thoughts on that subject, what happens to me always when I wonder about it, I come to a conclusion that everything we see is a mere phenomenon, that there is nothing outside of us that relates to our fantasies, and I always go back to this question of the Indian king: “Why is there something rather than nothing?”

Jean d’Alembert – Letters to Voltaire


I have read many writings both of heathen philosophers and inspired prophets, ancient and modern, and have sought earnestly to discover what is the best and highest quality whereby man may approach most nearly to union with God, and whereby he may most resemble the ideal of himself which existed in God, before God created men.

And after having thoroughly searched these writings as far as my reason may penetrate, I find no higher quality than sanctification or separation from all creatures. Therefore said our Lord to Martha, “One thing is necessary,” as if to say, “whoso wishes to be untroubled and content, must have one thing, that is sanctification.”

Meister Eckhart – Sanctification

Luke 10,38-42
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.

Form of Appearance

It will first be necessary to explain as distinctly as possible our opinion in regard to the fundamental constitution of sensible cognition in general, in order to preclude all misinterpretation of it.

We have therefore wanted to say that all our intuition is nothing but the representation of appearance; that the things that we intuit are not in themselves what we intuit them to be, nor are their relations so constituted in themselves as they appear to us; and that if we remove our own subject or even only the subjective constitution of the senses in general, then all the constitution, all relations of objects in space and time, indeed space and time themselves would disappear, and as appearances they cannot exist in themselves, but only in us.

What may be the case with objects in themselves and abstracted from all this receptivity of our sensibility remains entirely unknown to us. We are acquainted with nothing except our way of perceiving them, which is peculiar to us, and which therefore does not necessarily pertain to every being, though to be sure it pertains to every human being. We are concerned solely with this.

Through sensibility we do not cognize the constitution of things in themselves merely indistinctly, but rather not at all, and, as soon as we take away our subjective constitution, the represented object with the properties that sensible intuition attributes to it is nowhere to be encountered, nor can it be encountered, for it is just this subjective constitution that determines its form as appearance.

Immanuel Kant – Critique of Pure Reason