Philon or Philon the Academic
3. The ACADEMIC, was a native of Larissa and a disciple of Clitomachus.
After the conquest of Athens by Mithridates he removed thence to Rome, where he settled as a teacher of philosophy and rhetoric. Here Cicero was among his hearers (Cic. Fam. 13.1
2.3). When Cicero composed his Quaestiones Academicae,
Philon was no longer alive (Acad.
2.6); he was already in Rome at the time when the dialogue in the books de Oratore
is supposed to have been held (B. C. 92, de Orat.
3.28). Through Philon the sepsis
of the Academy returned to its original starting point, as a polemical antagonism against the Stoics, and so entered upon a new course, which some historians have spoken of as that of the fourth academy (Sext. Emp. Hypotyp.
He maintained that by means of conceptive notions (καταληπτικὴ φαντασία
) objects could not be comprehended (ἀκατάληπτα
), but were comprehensible according to their nature (Sext. Emp. Hypotyp.
1.235; Cic. Acad. Quest.
2.6). How he understood the latter, whether he referred to the evidence and accordance of the sensations which we receive from things (Aristocles, ap. Euseb. Praep. Evang.
14.9), or whether he had returned to the Platonic assumption of an immediate spiritual perception, is not clear.
In opposition to his disciple Antiochus, he would not admit of a separation of an Old and a New Academy, but would rather find the doubts of scepticism even in Socrates and Plato (Cic. Acad. Quaest.
2.4, 5, 23), and not less perhaps in the New Academy the recognition of truth which burst through its scepticism.
At least on the one hand, even though he would not resist the evidence of the sensations, he wished even here to meet with antagonists who would endeavour to refute his positions (Aristocles, l.c.
),i.e. he felt the need of subjecting afresh what he had provisionally set down in his own mind as true to the examination of scepticism; and on the other hand, he did not doubt of arriving at a sure conviction respecting the ultimate end of life.
[Ch. A. B.