By Bertrand Russell

in view that its first ebook in 1945? Lord Russell's A background of Western Philosophy has been universally acclaimed because the extraordinary one-volume paintings at the topic -- unheard of in its comprehensiveness, its readability, its erudition, its grace and wit. In seventy-six chapters he strains philosophy from the increase of Greek civilization to the emergence of logical research within the 20th century. one of the philosophers thought of are: Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, the Atomists, Protagoras, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the Cynics, the Sceptics, the Epicureans, the Stoics, Plotinus, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Benedict, Gregory the good, John the Scot, Aquinas, Duns Scotus, William of Occam, Machiavelli, Erasmus, extra, Bacon, Hobbes, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, the Utilitarians, Marx, Bergson, James, Dewey, and finally the philosophers with whom Lord Russell himself is such a lot heavily linked -- Cantor, Frege, and Whitehead, co-author with Russell of the huge Principia Mathematica.

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Then there were purely agricultural rural communities, such as the proverbial Arcadia, which townsmen imagined to be idyllic, but which really was full of ancient barbaric horrors. The inhabitants worshipped Pan, and had a multitude of fertility cults, in which, often, a mere square pillar did duty in place of a statue of the god. The goat was the symbol of fertility, because the peasants were too poor to possess bulls. When food was scarce, the statue of Pan was beaten. ) There was a clan of supposed were-wolves, associated, probably, ____________________ * Zoroaster's date, however, is very conjectural.

This is not the view of men to whom life is easy and pleasant. It is more like the Negro spiritual: I'm going to tell God all of my troubles When I get home. Not all of the Greeks, but a large proportion of them, were passionate, unhappy, at war with themselves, driven along one road by the intellect and along another by the passions, with the imagination to conceive heaven and the wilful self-assertion that creates hell. They had a maxim "nothing too much," but they were in fact excessive in everything--in pure thought, in poetry, in religion, and in sin.

The level of civilization was very different in different parts of the Greek world, and only a minority of cities contributed to the total of Hellenic achievement. Sparta, of which I shall have much to say later, was important in a military sense, but not culturally. Corinth was rich and prosperous, a great commercial centre, but not prolific in great men. Then there were purely agricultural rural communities, such as the proverbial Arcadia, which townsmen imagined to be idyllic, but which really was full of ancient barbaric horrors.

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