Carnéade , in Greek old Καρνεάδης / Karneádês (Cyrène, v. 219 av. J. - C. - Athens, 129 av. J. - C.) was one of the largest philosophers of the Nouvelle Academy and the Antiquité.
Carnéade, wire of Épicomus or Philocomus, was born in Cyrène the same day as Plato, one May seven (day devoted to Apollon). It had as a Hégésinus Master, whom it succeeded and Diogène of Babylon, stoical which taught him the Dialectique. It is possible that it mainly learned philosophy by the reading from the works of Chrysippe, because, according to Diogène Laërce (IV, 62), he often repeated:
“If there had not been of Chrysippe, there would not have been of Carnéade. ”
In 156, it was charged with an embassy with Rome, with Diogène of Babylon and Critolaüs, to make exempt the Athéniens fine received for the bag of Orope. Its speech on the Justice frightened Caton Old the. There were hardly other significant events in its life. In its old age, it became blind. He died at the 90 years age, in 129 av. J. - C.
Its reputation was exceptional: Cicéron speaks about a quickness of mind, a promptitude and an insurance incredible ( Of oratore , II, XXXVIII 161). One even says that its adversaries fled by seeing it. After his death, one said in proverb, of a difficult problem (Lactance, divine Institutions , V, 14):
“Carnéade itself, if the hell let it return, would not solve it. ”
Carnéade did not write anything, and it is thanks to its successor, Clitomaque de Carthage, which we can know his thought. It took again the work of Arcésilas and developed it considerably while endeavouring to cure its defects. He was opposed to the stoical Chrysippe same manner that its predecessor had opposed stoical the Zénon de Citium. The main new thing which it brought to the theory of Arcésilas is the concept of probability that one particularly associates with the history Nouvelle Academy.
Critical of the certainty
There is no criterion of the truth, because there is no true representation. The thesis is directed particularly against the Stoïcisme, which admits the existence of representations expressing their truth intrinsically. Cicéron ( Acad. , II, XIII, 41) summarize in four proposals this thesis of Carnéade and the Academy:
- there are false representations;
- these representations do not allow an unquestionable knowledge;
- so of the representations does not have between them any difference, one cannot distinguish their degree from certainty;
- it does not have there a true representation distinct from a false representation.
This argumentation is so solid that it was still the starting point of the Théorie of knowledge of Bertrand Russell, in the first chapter of the Problèmes of Philosophy : the variations of our representations do not enable us to affirm with certainty which an object has such color, such form and such movement. The truth does not appear with obviousness in the testimony of our directions; the representation is thus not a criterion of truth.
Moreover, the reasoning of the sorite, which, while adding to one of minor amounts, forwards imperceptibly to a great quantity, shows that one could not put precise limits nowhere, even less between our representations.
But, for Carnéade, as for the whole of the philosophers skeptics, the Raison does not have either the ability to make known to us the things such as they are in themselves. The reason alone, without representation, cannot indeed know the world. But, even considered in itself the Dialectique of the reason leads to insurmountable contradictions. Carnéade also went until calling in question the certainty of the Mathématiques. Thus, according to Clitomaque (Cicéron, Acad. , II, XXXIV, 108):
“To drive out our hearts this frightening and savage monster that one calls the precipitation of the judgment, here is the work of Hercules that Carnéade achieved. ”
This criticism of the Certitude leads to the state of incomprehension (acatalepsy), state in which one suspends his judgment and one believes of nothing. So the same difficulty which had arisen to the skeptics and for Arcésilas will arise in Carnéade: so to act, it should be believed, how to act, if nothing can be believed?
But, on this question, we have several contradictory testimonys. The testimony of its Clitomaque disciple, and that of Métrodore and Philon.
The existence of the gods
The free will
Critical of morals
Cicéron, Academic the , the Republic and Of finibus ;
- , delivers IV;
- Eusèbe de Césarée, evangelic Preparation , delivers XIV;
- Lactance, divine Institutions .
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