Philosophy

“Philosophy,” conventional wisdom has it, began in Ancient Greece. A problem with that line of thinking, however, is that an accepted view is not necessarily a correct one. A moment’s reflection on the word, its history, and the political circumstances leading to its Euromodern reception should occasion a long pause. “Ancient Greeks,” for instance, are an invention of early modern Europe that gained much currency in the French and German Enlightenment to refer to ancient Greek-­speaking peoples of the Mediterranean. Those people included northern Africans, western Asians, and southern peoples of what became later known as Europe. As the presumption is that the earliest practice of philosophy was among the ancient Athenians, the term acquired a near sacred association with Hellenic peoples. Understanding that the Hellens were but one group among other Greek-­speaking peoples to have emerged in antiquity reveals the fallacy. It is as if to call English-­speaking peoples …

This essay may be found on page 142 of the printed volume.

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