The discovery of the mind; the Greek origins of European thought (1953) by Bruno Snell

The discovery of the mind

The discovery of the mind




From the introduction:

European thinking begins with the Greeks. They have made it what it is: our only way of thinking; its authority, in the Western world, is undisputed. When we concern ourselves with the sciences and philosophy, we use this thought quite independently of its historical ties, to focus upon that which is constant and unconditioned: upon truth; and with its help, we hope to grasp the unchanging principles of this life. On the other hand, this type of thinking was a historical growth, perhaps more so than is ordinarily implied by that term. Because we are accustomed to regarding the Greek way of thinking as obligatory, we instinctively — or should we say naively? — project it also into thought processes of another order.


The discovery of the intellect cannot be compared with the discovery of, let us say, a new continent. America had existed long before Columbus discovered the New World, but the European way of thinking did not come into being until it was discovered; it exists by the grace of man's cognizance of himself. All the same, our use of the word discovery can, I think, be defended. The intellect was not ^invented', as a man would invent a tool to improve the operation of his physical functions or a method to master a certain type of problem. As a rule, inventions are arbitrarily determined; they are adapted to the purpose from which they take their cue. No objective, no aims were involved in the discovery of the intellect. In a certain sense, it actually did exist before it was discovered, only not in the same form, not qua intellect.


TABLE OF CONTENTS



Translator's Note. iv

Introduction... v

1 Homer's View of Man .. i

2 The Olympian Gods. 23

3 The Rise of the Individual in the Early

Greek Lyric ... ... ... ... 42

4 Pindar's Hymn to Zeus ... ... ... 71

5 Myth and Reality in Greek Tragedy ... 90

6 Aristophanes and Aesthetic Criticism ... 113

7 Human Knowledge and Divine Knowledge

Among the Early Greeks ... ... ... 136

8 The Call to Virtue: A Brief Chapter from

Greek Ethics 153

9 From Myth to Logic: The Role of the

Comparison ... ... ... ... 191

10 The Origin of Scientific Thought ... ... 227

11 The Discovery of HumanitaSy and Our

Attitude Toward the Greeks ... ... 246

I an Art and Play in Callimachus ... ... 264

13 Arcadia: The Discovery of a Spiritual

Landscape 281

Notes ... 311

Index ... ... ... ... 324



Author: Bruno Snell 
Translator: Thomas G. Rosenmeyer
 Publication Date: 1953

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