2. The son of Arcesilaus, of Lampsacus, was a distinguished peripatetic philosopher, and the tutor of Ptolemy Philadelphus.
He succeeded Theophrastus as head of the school in Ol. 123, B. C. 288, and, after presiding over it eighteen years, was succeeded by Lycon. (D. L. 5.58
He devoted himself especially to the study of natural science, whence he obtained, or, as it appears from Cicero, himself assumed the appellation of Physicus
). Cicero, while speaking highly of his talents, blames him for neglecting the most necessary part of philosophy, that which has respect to virtue and morals, and giving himself up to the investigation of nature. (Acad. Quaest.
1.9, de Fin.
In the long list of his works, given by Diogenes, several of the titles are upon subjects of moral philosophy, but the great majority belong to the department of physical science.
The opinions of Straton have given rise to much interesting controversy; but unfortunately the result has been very unsatisfactory on account of the want of positive information. From the few notices of his tenets. which we find in the ancient writers, he appears to have held a pantheistic system, the specific character of which cannot however, be determined.
He seems to have denied the existence of any god out of the material universe, and to have held that every particle of matter has a plastic and seminal power, but without sensation or intelligence; and that life, sensation, and intellect, are but forms, accidents, and affections of matter. Some modern writers have regarded Straton as a forerunner of Spinoza, while others see in his system an anticipation of the hypothesis of monads.
He has been charged with atheism by Cudworth, Leibnitz, Bayle, and other distinguished writers, and warmly defended by Schlosser, in his Spicilegium historico-philosophicur de Stratone Lampsaceno, cognomine Physico, et atheismo vulgo ei tributo,
Vitemberg. 1728, 4to.
A good account of the controversy, with references to the writers who have noticed Straton, is given by Harless, in his edition of Fabricius.
vol. iii. pp. 506-508; C. Nauwerck, de Strat. Lamps. Phil. Disquis.
Berol. 1836, 8vo.