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A Critical History of Greek Philosophy Paperback – December 30, 2014

4.4 out of 5 stars 36 ratings

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 30, 2014)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 212 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1505854873
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1505854879
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 10.2 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 0.48 x 9 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 36 ratings

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Reviewed in the United States on October 12, 2019
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stace is a literally philosopher. He thinks of philosophy as copy of original copy by thought.
By Sujittra Chaturongkul on October 12, 2019
I'm not a philosopher by trade and only have had three university courses in philosophy, but thus, I should be qualified to read this book as Stace says:

(This book - the reviewer) "it assumes, of course, a state of general education in the reader. " Preface

What I like first about the book is his excellent mastery of the English language, (he's originally from London), and most of all his lucidity. I read the book mainly for factual information and not necessarily for guidance or to lead a good life, he's also real great at that.

I, nevertheless, have problem with what he defines as philosophy.

"philosophy is founded upon reason. It is the effort to comprehend, to understand, to grasp the reality of things intellectually. Therefore it cannot admit anything higher than reason." Chap. XIX

For me, philosophy is about thinking and/or thinking process. And thinking is more than mere intellect. I would call Stace, a literally philosopher, for he thinks about every subject literally, the way it is (philosophy as copy of original copy by thought.) Thus, it makes him seem to think less of mysticism, which is a kin branch of knowledge, than what it should be which is: both are equal on knowledge ground. He thinks too favorably of rationalism. He uses the word "mystic fantasy" in chap. XII. Mysticism itself to him seems to be something so elusive and ungraspable by the healthy, rational mind. Thus, other quote:

"He (Plato - the reviewer) frequently uses the word God both in the singular and the plural, and seems to slip with remarkable ease from the monotheistic to the polytheistic manner of speaking." Chap. XII

If Plato seems both monotheistic and polytheistic to Stace, it's because in fact Stace did not consider the possible oneness of these two beliefs/approaches. What Stace lacks here is his mystical sense. Thirdly, Stace says about Plato's theory of Idea:

"it must end in the complete recognition of reason by itself, not in the feeling and intuition, but in the rational comprehension of the Idea." Chap. XII

My point is, Idea may not be attained by intellect alone no matter how much it sounds like it. A lot of things go into the making of the Idea (or the Good), for example, faith, maturity, imagination, understanding, insightful grace. It would even include feeling and intuition mentioned by Stace as well.

Another thing I don't like about Stace, his book is exactly a critical history (of Greek philosophy) of which he sees connection from the first Greek philosophers to the last Greek philosophers in the development and the decline of cosmological Greek philosophy, as he states:

"from this sensualism of the Ionics, thought the semi-sensuous idealism of the Eleatics, to the highest point of pure non-sensuous thought the idealism of Plato and Aristotle." Chap. II

It might be better to talk about each philosopher in his own space/time/motion and then branch off into each piece as an organism within the organism of philosophy, finally historicalize it all. It then should be more organized.

Now I want to add this good part. It seems like the concept of the Christian God might have come heavily from the Greeks starting from the thinking in sum of the One. The One is universal, eternal, all powerful, being everywhere and being above all things (thus the omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence of God.) The One also emanates into the other particulars (thus, creations.)

There is one my personal view on Stace,

"the general defect of oriental thinking, its vagueness." Chap. XIII

Orientals are mostly mystical because of the two biggest religions i.e., Hinduism and Buddhism. That's why Stace could be too specific theocratically about thing when he says that oriental thinking is vague. The ideas of God(s), the One, the Universal Being, the universe ruler and creator occurred around the same time in the occident and in the orient. It may be possible that the ideas passed from one side to the other side, but it's still unclear. Stace rejects that the ideas came from Hinduism, and that the highest truth comes from the occidental philosophy.To say that one is better than the other is not a good practice for philosopher to approach things inconclusive.

Here are some nice quotes:

"It was the work of Socrates to found knowledge upon reason, and thereby to restore to truth its objectivity." Chap. X

" I have explained before that the object of philosophy is, not merely to feel the truth, as the poet and mystic feel it, but intellectually to comprehend it, not merely to give us a series of pictures and metaphors, but a reasoned explanation of things upon scientific principles." Chap. XII

"the universal only exists in the particular, which, as we have seen, is the fundamental note of Aristotle's philosophy. " Chap. XIII

"The main idea of Pantheism is that everything is God." Chap. XIII

" The innermost substance of the national life is found in the national philosophy, and the history of philosophy is the kernel of the history of nations. " Chap. XIV

"The dualism of matter and thought, which we have seen Plato and Aristotle struggling in vain to subjugate, is loosely and slightly slurred over by Plotinus with poetic metaphors and roseate phrases." Chap. XIX

" philosophical education must begin, and the function of such books as this, is, not to complete it but to begin it, and to obtain first of all a general view of what must afterwards be studied in detail is no bad way of beginning. Moreover, the study of the development and historical connexions of the various philosophies which is not found in the original writings themselves, will always provide a work for histories of philosophy to do. " Preface

Finally, I would like to offer the term, "philosophical mysticism" which I think should now be the field requiring further study. The topics in this field might be, "the study of the origin of the One", "the logical mysticism of the anthropomorphic G(g)od." I've found on YouTube the short video called "Introduction to Philosophical Mysticism" by Alexander S. J. R. which I think is worth watching here.
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