59. Division of this Period. -- (1) The opening years of the third century saw four great schools of philosophy in existence: the Peripatetic, the Stoic, the Epicurean, and the New Academy which perpetuated the Platonic tradition. For a century and a half those different schools flourished side by side, each pursuing its own ideal with absolute independence.
(2) But from the second half of the second century B.C. the disciples began to deviate from the absolute purity of doctrine professed by the founders of their respective schools. In general, we may give them the title of Eclectics.
(3) Eclecticism was more especially the fruit of the scepticism of the New Academy. And it in turn gave rise during the last years of the first century B.C. to a new form of scepticism, which for two centuries onward developed on lines parallel to those of eclecticism itself. The phases of this historical and logical evolution will form the subject-matter of the following three sections.
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