Image from page 196 of "History of civilization, being a course of lectures on the origin and development of the main institutions of mankind" (1887)
Authors: Reich, Emil, 1854-1910
Publisher: Cincinnati, O. : The author
Contributing Library: University of California Libraries
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and the religious institutions ofancient Greece. I tried to show the intimate connectionbetween these three factors of a nations life, and pre-eminently I endeavored to prove that the political insti-tutions of Greece were the first and richest fountains ofall other institutions of this classical country. I proceednow to a discussion of another aspect of Greek life—ofthe scientific life of the Grecians, of the nature and pro-gress of Grecian science in classical times. For the Gre-cians were not only the greatest artists the world has everseen, they have not only developed the most beautifultype of the human physique, they have not onh given usthe most marvellous example of great statesmanship, ofheroic self-sacrifice, of political wisdom and liberty, theyhave besides given us the first as well as the real patternof genuine science; they are the first people in point oftime as well as in point of quality, who possessed in thehighest degree what has to be considered as the most nee-
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Scientific Development of Greece. 171 essary ingredient of scientific treatment; I mean the powerof abstraction. To 00k at things in an abstract \yay. topart from the immediate and as it were gross impressionfurnished by the senses, this is the first and most primi-tive of all requisites for a scientific investigation. Sciencedeals with abstracts, with things that are not really exist-ent in external nature, but with things that have a mentalexistence only. Take e. g. geometry. A geometricalline is a mere mental being, it does not exist, for a geo-metrical line is supposed to possess no breadth at all, it issupposed to consist of nothing but i)ure length. But sucha line does not exist in reality, it is only in the mind, intha abstraction of the thinker that such a thing exists, andstill you know that there is no more practical and usefulscience than geometry. This power of abstraction is theoriginating source of science. The Greeks had this power toan extraordinary degree. In fact, al
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