Christianity and Greek Philosophy: Or, the Relation between Spontaneous and Reflective Thought in Greece and the Positive Teaching of Christ and His Apostles

By B. F. Cocker | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X. THE PHILOSOPHERS OF ATHENS (continued).

THE SOCRATIC SCHOOL(continued). PLATO.

WE have seen that the advent of Socrates marks a new era in the history of speculative thought. Greek philosophy, which at first was a philosophy of nature, now changes its direction, its character, and its method, and becomes a philosophy of mind. This, of course, does not mean that now it had mind alone for its object; on the contrary, it tended, as indeed philosophy must always tend, to the conception of a rational ideal or intellectual system of the universe. It started from the phenomena of mind, began with the study of human thought, and it made the knowledge of mind, of its ideas and laws, the basis of a higher philosophy, which should interpret all nature. In other words, it proceeded from psychology, through dialectics, to ontology.1

This new movement we have designated in general terms as the Socratic School. Not that we are to suppose that, in any technical sense, Socrates founded a school. The Academy, the Lyceum, the Stoa, and the Garden, were each the chosen resort of distinct philosophic sects, the locality of separate schools; but Athens itself, the whole city, was the scene of the studies, the conversations, and the labors of Socrates. He wandered through the streets absorbed in thought. Sometimes he stood still for hours lost in profoundest meditation; at other times he might be seen in the market-place, surrounded by a crowd of Athenians, eagerly discussing the great questions of the day.

____________________
1
Cousin's "Lectures on the History of Philosophy", vol. i. p. 413.

-326-

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