Browsing Leo Tolstoy By Tag : ancient greece

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Summing up the pre-Christian ethics of ancient Greece, we see that in spite of the different interpretations of morality by the Greek thinkers they all agreed on one point: they saw the source of morality in Man, in his natural tendencies and in his reason. They were far from having a clear idea as to the true nature of these tendencies. But they taught that, owing to his reason and owing to his social mode of life, Man naturally develops and strengthens his moral tendencies, which are useful for the maintenance of the sociality essential to him. For this reason the Greek thinkers did not look for any external, supernatural forces to come to the aid of Man. Such was the essence of the teaching of Socrates, Aristotle, and partly even of Plato and of the early Stoics, though Aristotle already attempted to base morality on a natural-scientific basis. Only Plato introduced into morality a semi-religious element. On the other hand, Epicurus, possibly in opposition...

Most philosophers of the eighteenth century had very elementary ideas on the origin of societies. According to them, in the beginning Mankind lived in small isolated families, and perpetual warfare between them was the normal state of affairs. But, one day, realizing at last the disadvantages of their endless struggles, men decided to socialize. A social contract was concluded among the scattered families who willingly submitted themselves to an authority which - need I say? - became the starting-point as well as the initiator of all progress. And does one need to add, since we have been told as much at school, that our present governments have so far remained in their noble role as the salt of the earth, the pacifiers and civilizers of the human race? This idea dominated the eighteenth century, a period in which very little was known about the origins of Man; and one must add that in the hands of the Encyclopedists and of Rousseau, the idea of the '...

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