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SECTION XXV.

Epicureanism and Stoicism are two diametrically opposed but also mutually requiring and complementing phases of the Greek spirit; both are equally one-sided, both are equally remote from the Christian ethical idea;—both refer all moral truth back to the individual subject. In the place of Christian morality, the Epicureans offer joyous voluptuousness; the Stoics offer the high-minded pride of complete self-righteousness; neither party feels the least need of redemption, of divine grace; for the Epicureans regard the per se sinful as right, while the Stoics imagine themselves to have overcome the same through their pee se pure individual will.

Epicurean ethics emphasizes the nature-phase in man; Stoic the spirit-phase; the former teaches an unresisting, voluptuous giving-over of self to sensuous nature, the latter an earnest but only partially successful resisting of the same; the former is absolutely indifferent as to moral knowledge,—natural instinct supplies the place of knowledge; the latter manifests a busy seeking after knowledge, and esteems it as a virtue; the former is a crude realism,—in all essential features a materialistic naturalism; the latter is a one-sided idealism,—in all essential 143features a ploddingly-calculating spiritualism; the former bears a feminine character,—is passive, yielding, lax; the latter bears a masculine character,—is active, earnest, rigorous; the former suited better the effeminate Ionic tribe and the Orient, the latter rather the stern Doric tribe and the Romans.

The Epicurean seemingly gives sway to the universal, namely, to nature, to which the individual subordinates himself; in reality, however, the individual subject is set free from the bonds of the universal, of the spiritual, of rationality; the Stoic also seemingly subordinates the individual subject to a general thought, namely, the moral idea; in reality, however, also here the universal is made to yield to the individual subject; in the place of a general moral idea we find, strictly speaking, only the calculating opinion of the individual; it is the self-will of the subject in the face of the spiritual objective world, namely, history, that asserts itself as rational freedom. According to both systems, therefore, the truth is found only within the subject; nature and existence in general have value for the Epicurean only in so far as they can be enjoyed, that is, in so far as they are for the individual subject,—in every other respect existence is indifferent; in the eyes of the Stoic, existence is truth only in so far as it appears in the subject; the sage is the embodiment of the moral order of the universe, which, apart from him, exists but very imperfectly. In both systems the higher thought of Plato, namely, that, by the moral, the real harmony of existence, the harmony between nature and spirit, is realized, is one-sidedly perverted; the Epicurean effects this harmony only by sacrificing the rationally-personal spirit to nature, the Stoic by sacrificing nature to the individual personal spirit; it is no longer a harmonizing, but a giving up, of one of the two phases of existence.

Though Stoic ethics is in many respects graver, and more worthy of man than Epicurean, nevertheless both systems are equally remote from the Christian view. The Epicurean does not recognize the spiritual personality as the highest factor; the Stoic does not recognize the rights of objective reality; but Christianity recognizes both as absolutely belonging to each other. In both systems, the natural man, the individual subject, thrusts himself in his fortuitous reality into the foreground, as having the highest claims; in both the subject is of 144himself perfectly competent to attain to all perfection,—as no need, in this work, either of God or of history; neither has even the faintest presentiment of the moral significancy of history, of humanity as a unity. In both, therefore, there is absolutely no humility of moral self-denial, but either a mere lustful devotion to world-enjoyment, or a haughty contempt of the external world,—and hence in neither of them is there the least felt need of redemption; the sole redemption from the burden, not of guilt but of an evil world of reality, is, suicide with the Stoic, and sensuous intoxication with the Epicurean. In neither system is there manifest the least approximation to the Christian principle,—no progress beyond Plato and Aristotle, but rather simply the moral consciousness of heathenism in its incipient dissolution,—which is consummated in Skepticism.

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