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Snell B. The Discovery of the Mind.pdf

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-ixin combination with the gaps, form a consistent pattern. In addition, the gradual unfolding
of the Greek world permits us to trace, step by step, those seeds which ultimately produced
the European notions of intellect and soul, and thereby made possible European philosophy,
science, ethics, and finally religion.
Our perspective of the Greek accomplishment is not that which served Classicism. Instead
of describing a perfect culture, lying beyond the confines of history, we hope to indicate an
achievement whose importance lies in its historical setting. Such an investigation need not
terminate in relativism; it is well within our power to say whether the product of a
particular era is great or small, profound or superficial, influential or ephemeral. History is
not an infinite flux, an endless oscillation; the human spirit is restricted within a small
range of possible manifestations, new departures are notably rare, and their forms severely
The findings of a scientist or a scholar are made in an atmosphere of peaceful
contemplation, whereas the discoveries of the Greeks which constitute our topic, affecting
as they do the very essence of man, take shape as vital experiences. They assert themselves
with a violence which is not merely arbitrary or accidental; the historical situation on the
one hand, and the forms in which the mind may understand itself on the other, provide the
dynamic setting for the new self-realization of the intellect. In the course of our discussion
it will become evident that certain basic mental patterns exercise a varied control over
men's minds and leave their imprint upon the manner in which man takes cognizance of
himself. Both the historical aspects and the systematic side of this process must be
illuminated in an intellectual chronicle such as this. The difficulties of our enterprise are
obvious, for it is impossible at one and the same time to demonstrate the system which
emerges from the stream of time, and to trace the history of the various motifs which
together form a system. Under the circumstances, a collection of essays would seem to be
the most appropriate medium, with now one interest, now another inviting the attention of
the reader. The systematic aspects of our inquiry will be emphasized in chapter 10; in
-x1-6 they are purposely relegated to the background, to allow the historical features to enjoy
the limelight.
I do not propose to furnish a presentation or interpretation of the poets and philosophers,
nor do I wish to offer an introduction into the wealth and originality of early Greek art, or
any other educational aim, but a close inquiry into the realm of intellectual history. On
occasion it will be necessary to use abstract terminology, if we wish to formulate our
findings in such a way that their correctness or falseness may be tested only by means of
facts, and not by other interpretations. To place our investigation on the firm footing of
demonstrability, it seems to me we have no other course but to reduce the problem of the
evolution of Greek culture to the question: What did the Greeks at any given time know
about themselves, and what did they not (or not yet) know? 3 Much that is valuable and
important must remain beyond the scope of our discussion, a victim of our chosen
procedure. For the mental processes by which a man knows something, by which he
recognizes something new, require to be ferreted out and recorded in ways which would