Torre de Babel Ediciones




B. C. BURT, M.A.,

Formerly Fellow and Fellow by Courtesy in the
Johns Hopkins University


To  H. G. B.  and  E. S. McK.


The following work had its beginning in a series of essays written for one of the ethico-religious periodicals of the country. To these —at the suggestion of friends whose counsel seemed to be as valuable as that of any could possibly be and could not well be disregarded— others were added to make a brief account of Greek speculation from its beginning to its end. This account has been prepared in the belief that the problems of philosophy are in a large measure always the same, and that the Greek solutions of the cardinal problems, by reason of their simplicity and freshness (for they are solutions that were found when the world’s thought was comparatively in its youth, and are, in larger measure than those unacquainted with the history of thought begin to suspect, the only original solutions of those problems), and by reason of their remoteness from the prejudices of the present, have a certain value not possessed by any others, particularly for the beginner in philosophical thinking.

Most of the works treating of the subject of which this volume treats are learned and extensive, overwhelming the general reader, and even the student, almost, with a sense of the superabundant wealth of the ancient thought in particular and the world’s thought in general. It is hoped that the present work will render accessible in convenient form and quantities some of the noblest portions of the intellectual wealth of Greece.

An attempt is here made not merely to expound and elucidate, but also to present in their historical connection, and give a just estimate of the validity of the leading standpoints and categories of Greek thinking. Much reading and not a little original study have been given to the task.

The writer takes the liberty to express here his sense of obligation to G. S. Morris, Professor of Philosophy in the University of Michigan, and formerly Lecturer on Philosophy in the Johns Hopkins University, and to G. S. Hall, late Professor of Psychology in the Johns Hopkins University, and now President of Clark University, for suggestions and encouragement received from them. A word of thanks is due also to John Dewey, now Assistant Professor of Philosophy in Michigan University, and Professor Elect of Philosophy in the University of Minnesota; and to a college-classmate who has become a life-companion.

ANN ARBOR, June, 1888.

General Table of Contents

Brief Bibliography

Introductory Paragraph


§ 1. The Hylicists, Hylozoists or Early Ionic Natural Philosophers: ThalesAnaximanderAnaximenes; Result.

§ 2. The Pythagoreans: Pythagoras and the Pythagorean Society; Pythagorean Philosophy; Number-Theory and Doctrine of Contraries; Theories not purely Pythagorean; Miscellaneous Theories; Result.

§ 3. The Eleatics: Life of Xenophanes; Philosophy of Xenophanes; Result; Life of Parmenides; Philosophy of Parmenides; Result; Life of Zeno; Philosophy of Zeno; Result,; Melissus; General Result.

§ 4. Heraclitus: Life of Heraclitus; First Principle; Physical Doctrine; The Soul and Reason; Result.

§ 5. Later Natural Philosophers: Life of Empedocles; Theory of Nature; Theory of Knowledge; Result; Life of Anaxagoras; Theory of Nature; Theory of Nous or Mind and Knowledge; Result; The Atomists; Leucippus and Democritus; Theory of Nature; Theory of the Soul; etc.; Result.

§ 6. General Character of the First Period in the History of Greek Philosophy.


§ 7. The Sophists: Life of Protagoras; Theory of Protagoras; Life of Gorgias; Theory of Gorgias; Result; Hippias and Prodicus; The Sophists as a Class (Result).

§ 8. Socrates: The Sophists and Socrates; Special Sources of Information regarding Socrates; Life of Socrates; Personality of Socrates and its Relation to the Subsequent History of Greek Philosophy; Philosophy of Socrates; Spirit of the Socratic Philosophizing; The Socratic Method; The Doctrines of Socrates (their general character); Physical Philosophy of Socrates; (Ethical Philosophy of Socrates) Relations between Knowledge and Virtue; General Consequences of the Unity of Knowledge and Virtue; Classification of the Virtues; Temperance; Friendship; Right Citizenship and Justice; Piety; Wisdom; Beauty; General Result.

§ 9. The Followers of Socrates.

§ 10. The Lesser SocraticsThe Megarians (EuclidEubulidesDiodorusStilpo and their doctrines); The Cynics (AntisthenesDiogenes, —their doctrines); The Cyrenaics (AristippusTheodorusHegesiasAnniceris, —their doctrines); Result.

§ 11. PlatoLife of Plato; Plato’s WorksPlato: Philosophy:  Plato’s General Conception of Philosophy; The Divisions of Philosophy; Dialectic as a Twofold Science; Dialectic as a Theory of Knowledge and Method; (Dialectic as a System) Thought and Being; The World of Ideas; Relation of the Ideal to the Phenomenal World; (Physics or the Theory of Nature) The Method of Physical Speculation; The Cosmos; Body and Soul; (Plato’s Ethics) General Basis; The Method of Ethics; Nature and End of the State; The Parts of the State and the Virtue of Each; Virtue in the Individual; State Administration; False Forms of the State and their Genesis; The Eternal Life; Beauty and Art; Later Form of Plato’s Philosophy; Result.

§ 12. The Disciples of Plato.

§ 13. The Old AcademySpeusippusXenocrates; Other Members of the Old Academy.

§ 14. AristotleLife of Aristotle; Aristotle’s Works: General Character of Aristotle’s System and His Chief Philosophical Works; Theory of Knowledge: Kinds of Knowledge; Scientific or Philosophical Knowledge; Demonstration; The Syllogism (Deductive); Definition and Predicables; The Categories; Syllogism (Inductive); Probable Proof and Dialectical and Rhetorical Method; First Philosophy or Metaphysics: Being and Plato’s Ideas; Matter and Form; Potentiality and Actuality; Causes or First Principles (άρχαί); Kinds of Real Substance; Immovable Substance; God, Physics or the Philosophy of Nature: Essential Character of Nature; Method of the Philosophy of Nature; Motion, Space, and Time; The Visible Universe; Graduated Scale of Being in Nature; Psychology as a Science: Body and Soul; Parts or Faculties of the Soul; (General Analysis, Sense-Faculties, Phantasy and Memory, Reason, Desire and Locomotion); Practical Philosophy: Method of Practical Philosophy; End of Practical Philosophy or «Political Science»; Psychological Basis of Ethics; Sources and Conditions of Virtue; Definition of Virtue; Deliberate Choice; The Ethical Virtues; Right Reason, Prudence and the Intellectual Virtues, Generally; Self-Control and its Opposite; Friendship; Pleasure and Happiness; «Practical» Ethics; Origin of the State; The Family; Criticism of Certain Theories and Forms of State (Plato and Others); The End of the State; The Nature of the Citizen; A Polity and its Kinds; Who Should be Rulers; The Best Polity; Characteristics of Different Polities; Methods of Establishing and Maintaining the Various Forms of State; Causes of Political Revolutions; The Most Permanent Polities; Plato’s Theory of Revolutions; Rhetoric and Poetic: Rhetoric; Poietical Philosophy; Sources and Genesis of Aristotle’s PhilosophySubstantial Unity of Plato and AristotleResult.

§ 15. The Peripatetic SchoolTheophrastus; Strato of Lampsacus; Diæarch of Messene.

§ 16. Three Leading Post-Aristotelian Schools.

§ 17. The Stoics and StoicismZeno; CleanthesChrysippus and Others —Lives; Stoic Conception of the Nature and Parts of Philosophy; Stoic Logic; Origin of Ideas; The Criterion of Truth in Ideas; System and Logical Method; The Categories; Physics or the Theory of Nature; Ethics and its Parts; The Chief Good, —Life according to Nature; Nature of Virtue; Classes of Virtue; Classes of Goods; —the Summum Bonum; The Wise Man; The Stoics and the Popular Religion; Historical Sources of Stoicism; Result.

§ 18. The Epicureans and EpicureanismEpicurus and his School; The Parts of Philosophy; (Canonics) Criterion of Truth in Ideas; Method of the Study of Nature, Physics —Aim and General Character; First Principle; Atoms; Properties of bodies; The Visible Universe; The Gods; The Human Soul; Ethics —First Principle (Pleasure); Kinds of Pleasure; The Wise Man; Friendship; The State; Religion; Historical Sources of the Epicurean Doctrines; Result.

§ 19. The ScepticsPyrrhonists —PyrrhoTimon of PhliusÆnesidemusAgrippaSextus Empiricus; Theories of the Earlier Pyrrhonists; The Later Pyrrhonists —The «Tropes»; The Impossibility of Demonstration, Sign and Cause, Pure Negativism of the Pyrrhonists; Middle and New Academies; ArcesilausCarneades, Result.

§ 20. The Common Ground of the Stoics, Epicureans and Sceptics.

§ 21. Philosophy in Rome: Eclecticism.

§ 22. The Later PeripateticsAndronicus of RhodesBoëthus of Sidon, an unknown author, Alexander of ÆgæAspasius and Adrastus of Aphrodisias, Aristocles, Alexander of Aphrodisias.

§ 23. The Later Academics: Philo of LarissaAntiochus of Ascalon.

§ 24. The Later StoicsBoëthus;Panætius of Rhodes; PosidoniusVarroCicero —Life; General Conception of Philosophy; Theory of Knowledge; Physics; Ethics; Seneca —Life; Philosophy; Musonius RufusEpictetusMarcus Aurelius; Cynicism.

§ 25. General Character of the Second Period.


§ 26. Standpoint and Schools of the Third and Latest Period of Greek Philosophy.

§ 27. Jewish-Alexandrian SchoolAristobulusPhilo-Judæus; General Attitude; Theory of Knowledge; God; The Logos; The Sensible World and Matter; Man, Result.

§ 28. Neo-Pythagoreanism.

§ 29. The Eclectic Platonists.

§ 30. Neo-PlatonismPlotinus: Ammonius SaccasPlotinus —Life; Dialectic; Reason; Intellect or Nous (Realm of Ideas); The One; The first; The Good; Intellect; Reason or Nous as an Emanation; Soul; Soul and Body; Individual Soul and Soul of the World; The Sensible World and Matter; Virtue; Historical Sources of the System of Plotinus; Result. Porphyry and JamblichusPorphyry and Others; JamblichusProclus:  Proclus—Life; Philosophy of Proclus; Result.