Page:The Outline of History Vol 1.djvu/385

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361
GREEK THOUGHT AND LITERATURE

age by comparison a period of dazzling illumination. What we shall lose in reverence by this familiar treatment, we shall gain in sympathy for that group of troubled, uncertain, and very modern minds. The Athenian writers were, indeed, the first of modern men. They were discussing questions that we still discuss; they began to struggle with the great problems that confront us to-day. Their writings are our dawn.[1]

They began an inquiry, and they arrived at no solutions. We cannot pretend to-day that we have arrived at solutions to most of the questions they asked. The mind of the Hebrews, as we have already shown, awoke suddenly to the endless miseries and disorders of life, saw that these miseries and disorders were largely due to the lawless acts of men, and concluded that salvation could come only through subduing ourselves to the service of the one God who rules heaven and earth. The Greek, rising to the same perception, was not prepared with the same idea of a patriarchal deity; he lived in a world in which there was not God but the gods; if perhaps he felt that the gods themselves were limited, then he thought of Fate behind them, cold and impersonal. So he put his problem in the form of an enquiry as to what was right living, without any definite correlation of the right-living man with the will of God.... To us, looking at the matter from a standpoint purely historical, the common problem can now be presented in a form that, for the purposes of history, covers both the Hebrew and Greek way of putting it. We have seen our kind rising out of the unconsciousness of animals to a continuing racial self-consciousness, realizing the unhappiness of its wild diversity

  1. Jung in his Psychology of the Unconscious is very good in his chapter I on the differences between ancient (pre-Athenian) thought and modern thought. The former he calls Undirected Thinking, the latter Directed Thinking. The former was a thinking in images, akin to dreaming; the latter a thinking in words. Science is an organization of directed thinking. The Antique spirit (before the Greek thinkers, i.e.) created not science but mythology. The ancient human world was a world of subjective fantasies like the world of children and uneducated young people to-day, and like the world of savages and dreams. Infantile thought and dreams are a re-echo of the prehistoric and savage. Myths are the mass dreams of peoples, and dreams the myths of individuals. The work of hard and disciplined thinking by means of carefully analyzed words and statements which was begun by the Greek thinkers and resumed by the scholastic philosophers of whom we shall tell in the middle ages, was a necessary preliminary to the development of modern science.