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Eclecticism - Modern Era, Nineteenth Century, Bibliography

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Ancient eclecticism, according to the second century C.E. doxographer Diogenes Laertius, began with Potamon of Alexandria, who broke with traditions of discipleship and doctrinal loyalty by making a selection from the tenets of all the existing sects, including Platonists, Aristotelians, Stoics, Epicureans, and Cynics. The Roman adaptation of eclectic attitudes was given legitimacy by the famous, often repeated motto of Horace (65–8 B.C.E.), "I am not bound over to swear as any master dictates." Eclecticism included women philosophers, especially (whatever her religion) the beautiful, intellectually peerless, and ill-fated Hypatia (c. 370–415), whose death, according to Denis Diderot (1713–1784), marked also the end of ancient eclecticism. The Christian fathers also inclined to this view in their search for pagan anticipations of their wisdom, so that for example St. Clement of Alexandria (c. 150–between 211 and 215) celebrated the value of Greek and even "barbarian" philosophy according to this method, which he also called "eclectic" (eklektikon). This approach, which was inadvertently comparative and necessarily historical, was a prototype of the more self-conscious ideas of eclecticism, German and then French, which emerged in modern times, especially in the search for a "new philosophy." Thus Petrus Ramus (Pierre de La Ramée; 1515–1572) claimed membership in the secta veritatis, "the sect not of Aristotle, of Plato, or of any man, but only of truth" (Aristotelicae Animadversiones, 1543; Aristotelian criticisms).

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