「ケンブリッジ・プラトニストのエピクロス哲学論駁」 : ジョン・スミス『無神論に関する短い講話』 [in Japanese] The Refutation of the Philosophy of Epicurus by a Cambridge Platonist : John Smith, A Short Discourse on Atheism [in Japanese]
Access this Article
Search this Article
This article deals with A Short Discourse on Atheism delivered by John Smith, a Cambridge Platonist (1618-52). In this discourse he picks up the supposedly atheistic philosophy of Epicurus which will be a threat to his theistic thought, and attempts to refute it by his own arguments. His argumentation is to be to a large degree dependent upon the correctness of his understanding of the philosophy of Epicurus. Therefore the aim of this article will examine the validity of both his understanding of and his refutation of the philosophy of Epicurus.For this purpose we will examine the following points in accordance with theorder of the discourse.1 Smithʼs view that "there is a near affinity between atheism and superstition."2 Smithʼs view that "epicurism is but atheism under a mask."3 Smithʼs citations from Cicero, De finibus bonorum et malorum and from Lucretius, De rerum natura.4 Smithʼs understanding and criticism of the chief doctrines of Epicurus which include plenum and inane and the movement of atoms.5 Smithʼs strange omission of the consideration of Epicurusʼ view of gods.6 Smithʼs view that "Atheism lurks in confinio scientiae et ignorantiae."7 Smithʼs view that "superstition is more tolerable than atheism."8 Smithʼs insufficient understanding of Epicurusʼ theory of pleasure.9 Smithʼs view that "atheism itself is a most ignoble and uncomfortable thing."10 Smithʼs underestimation of such ethical theories of Epicurus as justice and philia.The conclusion to be drawn from the above examination will be as follows:Differently from the stubborn conservatives who had no room to listen to the opinions of the opponents, Smith was prepared to understand even the philosophy of Epicurus which was regarded as threat to Christianity. This attitude is worth more than a little estimation given that in his times the extremist type of Christianity had a sway over the society and tried to overcome the opponents by brute force. However it is undeniable that his understanding had limitations in that concerning Epicurusʼ view of gods Smith neither refers to the primary sources nor goes into a deeper investigation although his refutation is concerned with Epicurusʼ atheism. The same thing can besaid to Epicurusʼ view of pleasure which is a central idea of his philosophy. Smith shows no intension to reflect upon it and just gets carried away by a stereotyped view of Epicurean idea of pleasure. In addition he should have noted the ethical doctrines of Epicurus which would have much in common with his thoughts.As a whole Smithʼs arguments do not seem to have become a valid refutation of Epicurusʼ "atheism", while his courage to have challenged the philosophy of Epicurus is valuable and should not be underestimated.
- 人文・社会科学論集 = Toyo Eiwa journal of the humanities and social sciences
人文・社会科学論集 = Toyo Eiwa journal of the humanities and social sciences (32), 1-30, 2015-03