Academics and Peripatetics – All the Same

Bartolomeo Scala, On the Philosophical Sects (§6):

They go wildly astray, who think that the old Academics (who get that designation because of the new Academics, of whom I will speak a little later) differ from the Peripatetics because the Academics maintained the old method of Socrates in holding off one’s assent in all things, and in thinking that the truth could not be discovered by people; on the other hand, the Peripatetics, thinking otherwise, assented to many things and affirmed for certain what they said. But as Cicero says, even if Plato appears in his books to imitate that Socratic doubt about all things and his habit of speaking with no affirmation, just so that he can give a more lively portrait of Socrates, whom he often brings into the scene of dispute, the successors of Plato abandoned these principles.

Thus (and Socrates would have disapproved) there sprung up in philosophy a certain art of speaking, an order of things, and a description of the discipline, which was initially just one thing with two names. For there was no difference between the Peripatetics and that old Academy. Aristotle seemed to stand forth with his abundance of mental acuity, but each school had a fount of matter, and there was the same division in both schools of things to be sought and things to be avoided. They differed in name alone, which for Aristotle came from his strolling while teaching, and for Plato came from the place where he taught.


Aberrant enim qui putant veteres Academicos (sic enim dicti sunt propter novos, de quibus paulo dicetur post) ideo differre a Peripateticis quod illi antiquum Socratis morem omnibus in rebus continendi assensionem tenuissent, quod inveniri ab hominibus verum posse non putarent; contra vero hi, aliter iudicantes, et assentirentur aliis et ipsi quod dicerent pro certo confirmarent. Illam enim Socraticam dubitationem de omnibus rebus et nulla affirmatione adhbita consuetudinem disserendi, ut ait Cicero, etsi imitari videtur Plato in suis libris ut Socratem verius exprimat, quem frequentissime inducit disputantem, qui a Platone postea manarunt, reliquerunt. Ita facta est disserendi, quod minime Socrates probabat, ars quaedam philosophiae et rerum ordo et descriptio disciplinae, quae quidem primo erat duobus nominibus una. Nihil enim inter Peripateticos et illam veterem Academiam differebat. Abundantia quadam ingenii praestabat, ut mihi videtur, Aristoteles, sed idem fons rerum erat utrisque et eadem rerum expetendarum fugiendarumque partitio. Solo igitur nomine differebant, quod hinc disputando deambulatio, illinc in quo Plato docuerat locus fecerat.

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