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Why study the ancient Greeks?

September 5, 2022

The experience of the sacred which was at the root of mythic symbolizations of cosmic order was not rejected by the early Greek philosophers. These mystic philosophers were daimonic men who sought a first principle (arche) which expressed the sacred arche in terms that were, by varying degrees, nonmythic.

Still very close to the myth, Thales suggested that the origin of the process of coming into being, growth, and death was water,  a  symbol  of generation in all mythic cultures.

Anaximenes, perhaps more revolutionary, said that it was air; and Anaximander made the complete break with the formulation that the arche was infinite (to apeiron) and that the infinite arche of being was divine (to theion), which symbol, itself, was a philosophic revolution.

No longer from that point could the question of the beginnings be answered in terms of a mythic god.

Anaximander had abstracted the essence of the genderless divine (theion) reality from the mythic gods and chose the neuter article (to) to express that absence of myth.

The arche of nature is not a god (theos), Anaximander said, it is the divine (to theion) reality.

Socrates stood in this constructive tradition of criticism of myth, founded upon a new concept of the divine reality differentiated intellectually from the previous mythic forms

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