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Diccionario filosófico
Voltaire. Complete edition.


Diccionario de Filosofía

Brief definition of the most important concepts of philosophy.


 A Dictionary of English Philosophical Terms  Francis Garden


Biografías y semblanzas  Biographical references and lives of philosophers.


Brief introduction to the thought of Ortega y Gasset


History of Philosophy Summaries


Historia de la Filosofía

Explanation of the thought of the great philosophers; summaries, exercises... 


Historia de la Filosofía

Digital edition of the History of Philosophy by Jaime Balmes


Historia de la Filosofía

 Digital edition of the History of Philosophy by Zeferino González


Vidas, opiniones y sentencias de los filósofos más ilustres

 Complete digital edition of the work of Diogenes Laertius

Compendio de las vidas de los filósofos antiguos



Introductory Paragraph

Early Ionic Natural Philosophers

The Pythagoreans

The Eleatics


Later Natural Philosophers

General Character of the First Period in the History of Greek Philosophy

The Sophist


The Followers of Socrates

The Lesser Socratics

Plato. Life. Works

Plato. Philosophy

The Disciples of Plato

The Old Academy

Aristotle: Life and works

Aristotle: Theory of Knowledge

Aristotle: Metaphysics

Aristotle: Physics

Aristotle: Psychology

Aristotle: Practical Philosophy

Aristotle: Rhetoric and Poetic

Aristotle: Sources

Aristotle: Unity of Plato and Aristotle

Aristotle: result

The Peripatetic School

Three Leading Post-Aristotelian Schools

The Stoics and Stoicism

The Epicureans and Epicureanism

The Sceptics

The Common Ground of the Stoics, Epicureans, and Sceptics

Philosophy in Rome: Eclecticism

The Later Peripatetics

The Later Academics

The Later Stoics

General Character of the Second Period

Standpoint and Schools of the Third and Latest Period of Greek Philosophy

Jewish-Alexandrian School


The Eclectic Platonist

Neo-Platonism. Plotinus

Neo-Platonism. Porphyry. Jamblichus

Neo-Platonism. Proclus




B. C. BURT (1852-1915) - Table of contents                        




§ 13 - The Old Academy


To the Academy in various periods of its existence various names have been applied. As it was in the period immediately after Plato's death, it is known as the Old Academy. The names Middle Academy and New Academy apply to it in later periods of its existence. At the present moment we are concerned only with the the Old Academy, and have to speak particularly of Speusippus, Xenocrates, Heraclides of Pontus, Polemo, Crates, Philip of Opus, and Crantor.


Speusippus, Plato's nephew and successor at the head of the Academy (347-339 B.C.), discarded the theory of Ideas, and posited many principles instead of one, reducing the Idea of Plato to three distinct "causes," or "principles," viz., the One, Reason, and the Good. He adopted the Pythagorean theory of numbers, separating, however, numbers from things. He slighted physics; and in ethics advanced the theory that the highest good, or happiness, is virtue plus certain external goods needed to make life agreeable, in other words, is "life according to nature".


Xenocrates of Chalcedon, the successor of Speusippus at the head of the Academy, and the most distinguished member of the Old Academy, modified the Theory of Ideas, identifying Ideas with mathematical entities. Following Plato, he held all things to be derived from Unity and Duality. He distinguished three media of knowledge and three corresponding classes of existence: thought (which affords pure knowledge), perception (which gives knowledge, though not pure), and opinion (in which truth and knowledge are mixed in equal proportions); intelligible objects (beyond the heavens), sensible objects (within the heavens), and objects intermediate between these (the heavens themselves). The soul, which like all things else springs from the two primary causes, Unity and Duality, is a self-moved number; souls differ by virtue of the difference in the manner in which Unity and Duality unite in forming them. The soul is a spiritual essence, may exist apart from the body, and is, in its irrational as well as its rational part, immortal. The world is a system of graduated existences, is permeated by soul, is ruled by gods and dæmons, and is eternal. The five elements, ether, fire, air, water, earth, originated from atoms. Goods are goods of the soul, of the body, and of the outer life. Virtue is the highest good. Happiness is virtue, or the proper development of natural faculties, plus the external goods conducing to it. Wisdom and science are related to prudence as the theoretical to the practical.

Other Members of the Old Academy

Heraclides of Pontus, who is said to have been "entrusted with the direction of the Academy during Plato's last journey to Sicily," Polemo, who succeeded Xenocrates as head of the Academy, Crates, successor to Polemo, Philip of Opus, editor of Plato's Laws and supposed author of Epinomis, a supplement to the Laws, and Crantor, "the earliest expounder of Platonic writings," deserve mention. Heraclides followed Plato in ethics, and the Pythagoreans in cosmology, in general, but assumed as material principles atomic bodies having the power to affect each other not mechanically but by a kind of affinity, and affirmed the soul to be an ethereal essence. Polemo is said to have devoted himself exclusively to ethics, particularly discountenancing dialectical speculation.



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