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Notebook

Notebook, 1993--

ANCIENT GREEK CULTURE

Ancient Greek Philosophy
Attic Philosophy

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Attic philosophy was represented by the three unique personalities, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, who held an unceasing disputatious dialogue with Sophistic. In essence, they strove to rebuild what had been demolished.

As has been pointed out, Socrates agreed with the Sophists that the traditional way of life had become bankrupt, that, for example, the Olympian gods had lost their pristine splendour and their worship had become one of outward formality only. Also that the brilliant democracy of Athens had reverted into the hands of the mob. And that justice was no longer 'just', that all the institutions and laws had lost their purity and effectiveness, and the citizens their faith in these laws and institutions. Nevertheless, and while the Sophists with their relativities gave the 'coup de grace' to the traditional values, Socrates believed that a fresh start could be made. He believed that life, since it had lost its traditional criteria, should turn within itself, so that by itself, and from within, it would discover the logical criteria and with these could rebuild what corrosion had destroyed. [p. 184]

The Socratic line of thought was extended and enlarged upon to an extreme degree by Plato. There exists no traditional element or traditional meaning which was not regurgitated by the master philosopher and assumed a new interpretation in his variegated work. Religious concepts, such as 'God', 'soul', ideas of everyday life such as 'essence', 'wealth', and numerous others, assume with Plato new meanings. He is thus not demolishing tradition as are the Sophists, but restoring it. The immortality of the soul, for example, which was a time-worn religious belief of the Greeks, becomes in the hands of Plato an object of philosophical examination, which is supported by logical and metaphysical argument. The immortality of the soul is not abolished as a popular belief but is remodeled on a philosophical basis. Plato practices the same with all the traditions. We should not think for a moment that he does so simply to prop up and reinforce tradition as a conservative that he is, but because he believes in their values. With the profundity of his personality he strengthens the traditional values, for he believes in their eternal values.

Aristotle too in continuing the battle against the Sophists systematizes logic and makes of it such a solid branch of philosophy that any doubt or scepticism is crushed by the sheer weight of his argument.

Generally Attic philosophy is for the most part guided by the principles of intellect. It works with meanings and strives to draw up by means of logic both the exoteric and the esoteric worlds of man. And lastly it divides the universe into the sensitive and intelligible, a separation that sealed the course not only of Greek but of universal contemplation, and was destined to give rise to heated argument, leading at the same time and charting the course of the finest philosophical creations in the centuries that would follow. It would not be an exaggeration to maintain that, the entire corpus of European philosophy is but a 'commentary' on Plato and Aristotle.

[Kyriazis, Constantine D. Eternal Greece. Translated by Harry T. Hionides. A Chat Publication.]




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