ACADEMICKS, Academici, Academists, a Sect of ancient Philosophers, founded by Plato, and called, also, the Academy. See ACADEMY.

The Academicks, in the later Ages, have taken the Name of Platonists. See PLATONIST.

The great Dogma of the Academics was this: Unum scio, quod nihil scio; (I know this one thing, that I know nothing.) Accordingly, they pleaded, that the Mind ought always to remain undetermined and in Suspense; as having nothing to determine on but bare Probability or Verisimilitude, which is as likely to lead into Error as Truth.See PROBABILITY, TRUTH, ERROR, &c.

It must be added, that Plato, in thus recommending it to his Disciples to distrust and doubt of everything; had it not so immediately in view to leave them fluctuating, and in continual suspense between Truth and Error, as to guard against those rash precipitate decisions which young Minds are so liable to, and put them in a disposition to enable them the better to secure themselves from Error, by examining everything without Prejudice.

M. des Cartes, has adopted this same Acatalepsia, or Principle of Doubting; but, it must be allowed, he makes a very different use of it. — The Academics doubted of everything, and were resolved still to doubt: Des Cartes, on the contrary, sets out with doubting of everything; but declares he will not always doubt; and that he only doubts at first, that his determinations afterwards may be the surer. See CARTESIANISM.

'In Aristotle's Philosophy, say the followers of Des Cartes, there is nothing doubted of; everything is accounted for, and yet nothing is explained, otherwise than by barbarous unmeaning terms, and dark confused ideas:Whereas Des Cartes makes you even forget what you knew before: but from your new affected ignorance, leads you gradually into the sublimest knowledge.' Hence they apply to him what Horace says of Homer.

Non Fumum ex Fulgore, sed ex Fumo dare Lucem Cogitat, ut speciosa dehinc miracula prodat Antiphatem, Scyllamque & cum Cyclope Charybdim.

'Tis thus the Cartesians talk: But we may add, that long before their Master, Aristotle himself had said, that to know a thing well, a man must first have doubted of it; and that 'tis with doubting all our knowledge must begin. See PERIPATETIC, PYRRHONIAN, SCEPTIC, etc.

Academics, or rather Academists, is also used among us for the Members of the modern Academies, or instituted Societies of learned Persons. See ACADEMY.