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The Discovery of the Mind: In Greek Philosophy and Literature

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  132 ratings  ·  10 reviews

The present translation is based on the second edition of Die Entdeckung des Geistes (Claassen und Goverts, Hamburg, 1948), with the addition of the essay which here appears as Ch. 7: Human Knowledge and Divine Knowledge.

In this immensely erudite book, German classicist Bruno Snell traces the establishment of a rational view of the nature of man as evidenced in the litera

Paperback, Reprint, 323 pages
Published 1982 by Dover Publications (first published 1948)
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For a very long time, I’ve told myself that I just wasn’t all that interested in Greek and Roman history. It’s overrated, I would tell myself. It got glorified by a bunch of snobby Renaissance poets way beyond its actual historical value. It’s boring. Being a medievalist will do things like this to you.

More and more, I’m realizing that this attitude probably set itself up predominately on the grounds of self-preservation. I study medieval and early modern history, which already takes up a solid
Joseph Hirsch
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the few books I've read that can truly be described as mind- and life-altering, without an ounce of hyperbole. Mr. Snell (or maybe Doctor Snell?) sets himself the nigh-on impossible task of parsing Greek philosophy and literature (to include plays and poetry) to try to delineate moments in which human thought (or at least Western thought) evolved, on concepts ranging from the soul to the idea of a metaphor. I say the task is "nigh-on impossible" hedging my bet, if only because Sne ...more
Darin Stevenson
Oct 19, 2014 rated it liked it
It is a startling moment when one realizes that ‘consciousness’ as we understand it, is fluid and changing over human developmental time. By readings in Julian Jaynes, and other authors who speak towards the evolution of consciousness... one begins to glimpse this strange terrain, which we, ourselves, recursed upon in our own developmental arcs during our childhood... but also throughout our lives in cycles that, themselves, re-iterate histories otherwise unimaginable.

Snell is useful in sketchin
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Snell argues that the literary and philosophical writings of the early Greeks peeled open the mind within men bit by bit. In the Homeric epics and tales of Hesiod, the thoughts of the various heroes arise as speech of the Olympic gods and goddesses within the heroes' minds. The poet is the instrument through which the immortals speak inside men's heads. Gradually, over the course of the 5th century BCE--as revealed in the lyrics of Pindar, Sappho, and other poets; the traditional portrayal of he ...more
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sulla scia dell'entusiasmo da precedenti letture sull'argomento, e nonostante i limiti della mia cultura tecnica, iniziai con tanto entusiasmo questo libro. Entusiasmo che si arenò davanti alle tante frasi in greco senza traduzione e spiegazione. Non per profani.
Maan Kawas
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent read!
Larry Hinman
Nov 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
This is one of the first books, along with From Religion to Philosophy: A Study in the Origins of Western Speculation, that drew me into philosophy as an undergraduate. His chapter on Homer and the emerging Greek concept of the self is superb and helped me to understand just how profound a change occurred with the emergence of early Greek philosophy.
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Bruno Snell (18 June 1896 – 31 October 1986) was a German classical philologist. From 1931 to 1959 he held a chair for classical philology at the University of Hamburg where he established the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae research centre in 1944.
After studying law and economics at University of Edinburgh and University of Oxford, Snell gained interest in classical studies and finally changed his majo
“there is one respect in which we too must abide by the principle of humanitas, even though we may not have the talent which makes men humanists. That is the esteem in which we must hold the dignity of man: a modicum of humanitas for which no particular talent is needed. The eternal absolutes which rule over us, especially justice and truth, unhappily often make us forget that the absolute which accedes to our understanding is not entirely absolute after all. On occasion they will even allow us to act as if we were the absolute embodied, to the great sorrow of our fellow-men. At that point, morality turns into dynamite, and the explosion increases in violence as more and more men come to believe that it is their duty to follow the absolute. Finally, when it is agreed that certain institutions have come to represent that absolute, the catastrophe becomes inevitable. Then is the time to remind oneself that each and every human being has his own share of dignity and of freedom. All we require is a little courtesy, a bit of tolerance, and, o sancte Erasme, just a dash of your irony.” 0 likes
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