The Evolution of Theology in the Greek Philosophers: The Gifford Lectures - Vol. 1

By Edward Caird | Go to book overview

LECTURE THIRD.

THE PRECURSORS OF PLATO.

IN the last lecture I suggested that Plato is the first systematic theologian, the first philosopher who distinctly grasped the idea that lies at the root of all religion, and used it as the key to all the other problems of philosophy. Or, if this statement require some qualification, we may at least say that he is the philosopher to whom all our theology may be traced back, and to whom it owes most. Emerson once said that Plato Dialogues were the Bible of educated men; and if by this he meant that from them the reflective consciousness has drawn its greatest nutriment and support, it is not too much to say of the writings of one who is the fountainhead of idealistic, we might even say of ideal, views of life. Plato has done more than any other writer to fill both poetry and philosophy with the spirit of religion, to break the yoke of custom and tradition "heavy as frost and deep almost as life," which

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