THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL PERIOD.
G. Grote, History of Greece, VIII. (London, 1850), pp. 474-544.
C. F. Hermann, Geschichte und System der platonischen Philosophic, I. (Heidel
berg, 1839), pp. 179-231.
Blass, Die attische Beredsamkeit von Gorgias bis zu Lysias. Leips. 1868.
H. Kochly, Sokrates und seinVolk, 1855, in " Akad. Vortragen und Ileden," I.
(Zurich, 1859), pp. 219 ff.
H. Siebeck, Ueber Sokrates Verhaltniss zur Sophistik, in " Untersuchungen
zur Philosophie der Griechen," 1873, 2 Aufl. (Freiburg i. B. 1888).
W. Windelband, Sokrates in "Prseludien" (Freiburg i. B. 1884), pp. 64 ff.
[H. Jackson, Art. Sophists, in Erie. Brit.}
THE farther development of Greek science was determined by the
circumstance that in the powerful, universal upward movement of
the mental and spiritual life which the nation achieved after the
victorious result of the Persian wars, science was torn away from
the restraints of close schools in which it had been quietly pursued,
and brought out upon the stage of publicity, where all was in vehe
The circles in which scientific research was fostered had widened
from generation to generation, and the doctrines which at first had
been presented in smaller societies and spread abroad in writings
that were hard to understand, had begun to filter through into the
general consciousness. The poets, as Euripides and Epicharmus,
began already to translate into their language scientific conceptions
and views ; the knowledge gained by investigation of Nature had
already been made practically effective, as by Hippodamus in his
architecture. Even medicine, which had formerly been only an art
practised according to traditions, became so permeated with the
general conceptions of natural philosophy, and with the special doc
trines, information, and hypotheses of physiological research which
in the course of time had occupied an ever-broader space in the
systems of science, that it became encumbered with an excessive
CHAP. 2.] The Anthropological Period. 67
growth of etiological theories, 1 and first found in Hippocrates the
reformer who reduced this tendency to its proper measure and gave
back to the physician s art its old character in contrast to scientific
Moreover, the Greek nation, matured by the stern experience
which had been its lot within and without, had entered upon the
age of manhood. It had lost its naive faith in old tradition, and
had learned the value of knowledge and ability for practical life.
Of science, which up to this time had followed in quiet the pure
impulse of investigation the noble curiosity which seeks knowledge
for its own sake the state now demanded light on the questions
which disturbed it, counsel and help in the doubt into which the
luxuriance of its own development in culture had plunged it. In
the feverish emulation of intellectual forces which this greatest
period in the world s history brought with it, the thought everywhere
gained recognition that in every walk in life the man of knowledge
is the most capable, the most useful, and the most successful. In
every department of practical activity, the fruitful innovation of
independent reflection, of individual judgment, took the place of the
old life controlled by custom. The mass of the people was seized with
the burning desire to make the results of science its own. v lt was espe
cially true, however, that at this time family tradition, habituation,
personal excellence of character and address were no longer suffi
cient, as formerly, for the man who wished to play a political part.
The variety of transactions and the attendant difficulties, as well as
the intellectual status of those with whom and upon whom he would
work, made a theoretical schooling for the political career indispen
sable. Nowhere was this movement so powerful as in Athens, then
the capital of Greece, and here also these desires found their fullest
For the supply followed the demand. The men of science, the
Sophists (<ro<icrrai), stepped forth out of the schools into public life,
and taught the people what they themselves had learned or discov
ered. They did this, indeed, partly out of the noble impulse to
teach their fellow-citizens, 3 but it was none the less true that this
teaching became their business. From all parts of Greece men of
the different schools flocked toward Athens to expound their doc-
1 This innovation in medicine began among the physicians who stood in near
relation to .Pythagoreanism, especially with Alcmaeon. Asa literary instance
of it, the writing which goes falsely under the name of Hippocrates, vtpl diairris,
serves. Cf. II. Siebeck, Gesch. d. Psych. I. 1, 94 ff.
2 Cf. principally his writings Trepi apx*^* IT)TPIKTJS and vep
3 Cf. Protagoras in Plato, Prot. 316 d.
68 The Philosophy of the Greeks. [PART I.
trines, and from so expounding them in the capital as well as in
the smaller cities, to gain honour and wealth.
In this way it happened that in a short time not only the social
position of science, but its own inner nature, its tendency and the
questions for its solution, were fundamentally changed. It became
j a social power, a determining factor in political life, as in the case
of Pericles ; but just by this means it came into a state of dependence
upon the demands of practical, and in particular, of political life.
These demands showed themselves principally in the facts that
the democratic polity demanded of politicians first of all the capac
ity for public speaking, and that in consequence the instruction
of the Sophists was especially sought as a preparation for public
life, and converged more and more upon this object. Men of science
became teachers of eloquence.
As such, however, they lost sight of the goal of nature-knowledge,
the vision of which had formerly hovered before the eyes of science.
At the most they presented transmitted doctrines in the most grace
ful and pleasing form possible. But their own investigations, if
they were not confined to a formal routine, were necessarily directed
toward man s thinking and ivilling, the activities which public
speaking was designed to determine and control, toward the
manner in which ideas and volitions arise, and the way in which
they contend with one another and maintain their mutual rights.
In this way Greek science took an essentially anthropological or -
subjective direction, studying the inner activities of man, his
ideation and volition, and at the same time lost its purely theoretical
character and acquired a preponderantly practical significance. 1 J < -
But while the activity of the Sophists found itself brought face
to face with the manifold character of human thought and will,
while the teachers of eloquence were presenting the art of persua
sion and pursuing the path upon which every opinion could be
helped to victory, every purpose to its achievement, the question
rose before them whether above and beyond these individual opin
ions and purposes which each one feels within himself as a necessity
and can defend against others, there is anything whatever that
is right and true in itself. The question whether there is anything *
universally valid, is the problem of the anthropological period of
Greek philosophy, or of the Greek Enlightenment.
For it is likewise the problem of the time, of a time in which
religious faith and the old morality were wavering, a time when the
1 Cicero s well-known expression (Tusc. V. 4, 10) with regard to Socrates
holds good for the entire philosophy of this period.
CHAI>. 2.] The Anthropological Period. 69
respect which authority had commanded sank more and more, and
all tended towards an anarchy of individuals who had become self-
governing. Very soon this internal disintegration of the Greek
spirit became clearly evident in the disorders of the Peloponnesian
war, and with the fall of Athenian supremacy the flower of Grecian
The dangers of this condition were at first decidedly increased by
philosophy. For while the Sophists were perfecting the scientific
development of the formal art of presentation, verification, and refu
tation which they had to teach, they indeed created with this rheto
ric, on the one hand, the beginnings of an independent psychology,
and raised this branch of investigation from the inferior position
which it had taken in the cosmological systems to the importance of
a fundamental science, and developed, on the other hand, the prelim
inaries for a systematic consideration of the logical and ethical norms.
But as they considered what they practised and taught, viz. the
skill to carry through any proposition whatever, 1 the relativity of
human ideas and purposes presented itself to their consciousness so
clearly and with such overwhelming force that they disowned in
quiry as to the existence of a universally valid truth in the theoreti
cal, as well as in the practical sphere, and so fell into a scepticism
which at first was a genuine scientific theory, but soon became a
frivolous play. With their self-complacent, pettifogging advocacy,
the Sophists made themselves the mouth-piece of all the unbridled
tendencies which were undermining the order of public life.
The intellectual head of the Sophists was Protagoras; at least, he
was the only one who was the author of any conceptions philosophi
cally fruitful and significant. Contrasted with him, Gorgias, who is
usually placed at his side, appears only as a rhetorician who occa
sionally attempted the domain of philosophy and surpassed the
artifices of the Eleatic dialectic. Hippias and Prodicus are only to
be mentioned, the one as the type of a popularising polyhistor, and
the other as an example of superficial moralising.
To the disordered activity and lack of conviction of the younger
Sophists, Socrates opposed faith in reason and a conviction of the
existence of a universally valid truth. This conviction was with
him of an essentially practical sort; it was his moral disposition, but
it led him to an investigation of knowledge, which he anew set over
against opinions, and whose essence he found in conceptional thought.
Socrates and the Sophists stand, accordingly, on the ground of
1 Cf. the well-known rbv TJTTW \6yov Kpflrria iroitiv, Aristoph. Nnl> 112 ff.,
893 ff. ; Arist. Ehet. II. 24, 1402 a 23.
70 The Philosophy of the Greeks. [PART I.
the same common consciousness of the time, and discuss the same
problems ; but where the Sophists with their skill and learning re
main caught iu the confusion of the opinions of the day and end
with a negative result, there the plain, sound sense, and the pure
and noble personality of Socrates find again the ideals of morality
The strong impression which the teaching of Socrates made forced
the Sophistic activity into new lines. It followed him in the at
tempt to gain, through scientific insight, sure principles for the
ethical conduct of life. While the old schools had for the most part
become disintegrated, and had diverted their activity to the teaching
of rhetoric, men who had enjoyed intercourse with the Athenian
sage now founded new schools, in whose scientific work Socratic
and Sophistic principles were often strangely intermingled, while
the exclusively anthropological direction of their investigation
remained the same.
Among these schools, called for the most part " Socratic," though
not quite accurately, the Megarian, founded by Euclid, fell most
deeply into the unfruitful subtleties of the later Sophists. Con
nected with this is the Elean-Eretrian School, the most unimportant.
The fundamental contrast, however, in the conception of life which
prevailed in the Greek life of that day, found its scientific expression
in the teachings of those two schools whose opposition permeates all
ancient literature from that time on: namely, the Cynic and the
Cyrenaic, the precursors of the Stoic and Epicurean. The first of
these schools numbers among its adherents, besides its founder
Antisthenes, the popular figure of Diogenes. In the latter, which is
also called the Hedonistic School, the founder, Aristippus, was suc
ceeded by a grandson of the same name, and later by Tlieodorus,
Anniceris, ffegesias, and Euemerus.
The wandering teachers known as the Sophists came in part from the earlier
scholastic societies. In the second half of the fifth century these had for the
most part disappeared, and had given place to a freer announcement of opinions
attained, which was not unfavourable to special research, particularly physiologi
cal research, as in the case of Hippo, Cleidemus, and Diogenes of Apollonia,
but which was attended by a crippling of general speculation. Only the school
of Abdera and the Pythagorean School survived this time of dissolution. A
society of Heracliteans which maintained itself in Ephesus appears soon to have
fallen away into the pursuits of the Sophists, as in the case of Cratylus. 1
From the Atomistic School came Protagoras of Abdera (about 480-410). lie
was one of the first, and rightly the most renowned, of these wandering teachers.
Active at various times in Athens, he is said to have been convicted of impiety
in that city, to have fied because of this, and to have met his death in flight. Of
his numerous treatises, grammatical, logical, ethical, political, and religious in
their character, very little has been preserved.
In Plato (The<zt. 181 A) they are called ol ftovw. cf. Arist. Met. IV. 5,
CHAP. 2.] The Anthropological Period. 71
Gorgias of Leontini (483-375) was in Athens in 427 as an envoy from his
native city, and there gained great literary influence. In old age he lived in
Larissa in Thessaly. He came from the Sicilian school of orators, with which
Empedocles also had been connected. 1
Concerning Hippias of Elis, with the exception of some opinions (among
which are those criticised in the Platonic dialogue Hippias Major), it is known
only that he made great parade of his "much knowledge." Of Prodicus of
lulls, a town on the island of Ceos, the familiar allegory "Hercules at the Cross
roads" is preserved by Xenophon, Mmwr. 11. 1,21. The remaining Sophists,
known for the most part through Plato, are without intrinsic importance. We
know only that this or that characteristic affirmation is put in the mouth of one
In forming a conception of the Sophistic doctrine we have to contend with the
difficulty that we are made acquainted with them almost exclusively through
their victorious opponents, Plato and Aristotle. The first has given in the Pro-
tayoras a graceful, lively delineation of a Sophist congress, redolent with fine
irony, in the Goryias a more earnest, in the Theatetus a sharper criticism, and
in the Cratylus and Euthydemus supercilious satire of the Sophists methods of
teaching. In the dialogue the Sophist, to which 1 lato s name is attached, an
extremely malicious definition of the theories of the Sophists is attfmpted, and
Aristotle reaches the sime result in the book on the fallacies of the Sophists
(Ch. I. 165 a 21).
The history of philosophy for a long time repeated the depreciatory judg
ment of opponents of the Sophists, and allowed the word 0-o0m?s (which
meant only a "learned man," or, if you will, a " professor") to bear the dis
paraging meaning which they had given it. Hegel rehabilitated the Sophists,
and thereupon it followed, as often happens, that they were for a time eve r-
estimated, as by Grote.
M. Schanz, Die Sophistm (Geittingen, 1867).
Socrates of Athens (469-399) makes an epoch in the history of philosophy,
even by his external characteristics, by his original personality, and his new
style of philosophising. He was neither savant nor wandering teacher, le-
longed to no school and adhered to none. He was a simple man of the people,
the son of a sculptor, and at first busied himself with the chisel. In his ardent
desire for knowledge he absorbed the new doctrines with which the streets of
his native city re-echoed, but did not allow himself to be dazzled by these brill
iant rhetorical efforts, nor did he find himself much advanced by them. His
keen thought took note of their contradictions, and his moral earnestness was
offended by the superficiality and frivolity of this constant effort after culture.
He held it to be his duty to enlighten himself and his fellow-citizens concerning
the emptiness of this pretended knowledge, and, through earnest investigation,
to follow after truth. So, a philosopher of this opportunity and of daily life, he
worked unremittingly among his fellow-citizens, until misunderstanding and per
sonal intrigue brought him before the court which condemned him to the death
that was to become his greatest glory.
The accounts concerning him give a clear and trustworthy picture of his per
sonality. In these accounts Plato s finer and Xenophon s coarser portrayal
supplement each other most happily. The first in almost all his writings brings
out the honoured teacher with dramatic vividness. Of the second we have to
consider the Memorabilia ( \iro^vrnjMvev^a.Ta. ~ZwKparovs) and the Symposium.
As regards his teaching, the case is more difficult, for here the presentations of
both Xenophon and Plato are partisan writings, each laying claim to the famous
name for his own doctrine (in the case of Xenophon a mild Cynicism). The
statements of Aristotle are authoritative on all essential points, because of the
greater historical separation and the freer point of view.
E. Alberti, Sokrates (Gottingen, 1869) ; A. Labriola, La Dottrina di Socrate
(Naples, 1871) ; A. Fouill6e, La Philosophic de Socrate (Paris, 1873).
Euclid of Megara founded his school soon after the death of Socrates. The
two Eristics (see below), Eubulides of Miletus, Alexinus of Klis, Diodorus
Cronus of Caria (died 307), and Stilpo (380-300), are to be mentioned as
1 In regard to these relationships cf. H. Diels, Berichte der Berl, Akademie,
1884, pp. 343 ff.
72 The Greeks : Anthropological Period. [PART I
belonging to this school, which had only a brief existence, and later became
incorporated with the Cynics and Stoics. The same is true of the society which
Pheedo, the favourite pupil of Socrates, founded in his home at Elis, and which
Menedemus soon after transplanted to Eretria. Cf. E. Mallet, Histoire de
Vecole de Megare et des ecoles (T Elis et <T Eretrie (Paris, 1845).
The founder of the Cynic School (named after the gymnasium Cynosar-
ges) was Antisthenes of Athens, who, like Euclid, was an older friend of
Socrates. The singular Diogenes of Sinope is rather a characteristic by-figure
in the history of civilisation than a man of science. In this connection Crates
of Thebes may also be mentioned. Later this school was blended with that of
F. Dummler, Antisthenica (Halle, 1882) ; K. W. Gottling, Diogenes der
Kyniker, oder die Philosophie des griechischen Proletariats (Ges. Abhandl.
I. 251 ff.).
Aristippus of Cyrene, a Sophist and wandering teacher, somewhat younger
than Euclid and Antisthenes, and united only for a little time with the Socratic
circle, founded his school in old age, and seems to have left to his grandson the
systematic development of thoughts, which, for himself, were rather a practical
principle of life. The above-named successors (Theodoras, etc.) extend into
the third century, and form the transition to the Epicurean School, which took
up the remnants of the Hedonistic into itself.
A. Wendt, De Philosophia Cyrenaica (Gottingen, 1841).