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 XIII. THE PHILOSOPHERS OF ATHENS(continued).

POST-SOCRATIC SCHOOL. EPICURUS AND ZENO.

PHILOSOPHY, after the time of Aristotle, takes a new direction. In the pre-Socratic schools, we have seen it was mainly a philosophy of nature; in the Socratic school it was characterized as a philosophy of mind; and now in the post-Socratic schools it becomes a philosophy of life -- a moral philosophy. Instead of aiming at the knowledge of real Being -- of the permanent, unchangeable, eternal principles which underlie all phenomena, it was now content to aim, chiefly, at individual happiness. The primary question now discussed, as of the most vital importance, is, What is the ultimate standard by which, amid all the diversities of human conduct and opinion, we may determine what is right and good in individual and social life?

This remarkable change in the course of philosophic inquiry was mainly due --

ISt. To the altered circumstances of the times. An age of civil disturbance and political intrigue succeeded the Alexandrian period. The different states of Greece lost their independence, and became gradually subject to a foreign yoke. Handed over from one domination to another, in the struggles of Alexander's lieutenants, they endeavored to reconquer their independence by forming themselves into confederations, but were powerless to unite in the defense of a common cause. The Achæan and Etolian leagues were weakened by internal discords; and it was in vain that Sparta tried to recover her ancient liberties.

-422-

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