Alexandria and Her Schools / Four Lectures Delivered at the Philosophical Institution, Edinburgh

Charles Kingsley

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Before I begin to lecture upon the Physical and Metaphysical schools of Alexandria, it may be better, perhaps, to define the meaning of these two epithets.  Physical, we shall all agree, means that which belongs to f?s??; natura; nature, that which f?eta?, nascitur, grows, by an organic life, and therefore decays again; which has a beginning, and therefore, I presume, an end.  And Metaphysical means that which we learn to think of after we think of nature; that which is supernatural, in fact, having neither beginning nor end, imperishable, immovable, and eternal, which does not become, but always is.  These, at least, are the wisest definitions of these two terms for us just now; for they are those which were received by the whole Alexandrian school, even by those commentators who say that Aristotle, the inventor of the term Metaphysics, named his treatise so only on account of its following in philosophic sequence his book on Physics.