Hegel’s History of Philosophy: Greek Philosophy

Section One
First Period, From Thales to Aristotle

IN this first period we shall again make three divisions: —

1. The first extends from Thales to Anaxagoras, from abstract thought which is in immediate determinateness to the thought of the self-determining Thought. Here a beginning is made with the absolutely simple, in which the earliest methods of determination manifest themselves as attempts, until the time of Anaxagoras; he determines the true as the nous, and as active thought which no longer is in a determinate character, but which is self-determining.

2. The second division comprises the Sophists, Socrates, and the followers of Socrates. Here the self-determining thought is conceived of as present and concrete in me ; that constitutes the principle of subjectivity if not also of infinite subjectivity, for thought first shows itself here only partly as abstract principle and partly as contingent subjectivity.

3. The third division, which deals with Plato and Aristotle, is found in Greek science where objective thought, the Idea, forms itself into a whole. The concrete, in itself determining Thought, is, with Plato, the still abstract Idea, but in the form of universality; while with Aristotle that Idea was conceived of as the self-determining, or in the determination of its efficacy or activity.


Translated by E.S. Haldane and Frances H. Simson, published by K. Paul Trench, Trübner in 1894.

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