THE HELLENIC PERIOD (from 650 to 300 B.C.)
THE beginnings of this period are marked by an intimate mingling of scientific, cosmogonical and philosophical considerations. If Hegel is to be believed, these considerations would have manifested themselves in the form of a thesis, anti- thesis and synthesis on the problem of existence. But the historic reality does not correspond to this brilliant conception. In fact, from its first appearance, Greek philosophical thought betrayed diverse tendencies more or less opposed, which often ignored one another. It was not with one single problem that it was occupied, but rather with a number of questions more or less disconnected, concerning the origin and the purpose of the Universe. From the first there can be clearly perceived three tendencies, which persisted through the centuries unto our own times. The school called Ionian applied itself to external phenomena, and endeavoured to find in them the final explanation of reality. At almost the same period, the Pythagorean school, in the south of Italy, sought, on the contrary, this explanation in number, an abstract principle which is not directly provided by the senses. Heraclitus, indeed, considered that the unstable "becoming" was the very substance of reality, and that, in order to know it, recourse must be had, not to intelligence, but to intuition.
In spite of these divergences, there is, however,