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Alfred North Whitehead – Greece and Chicago

July 30, 2014

“[The Greeks] bothered themselves singularly little about Egypt and Persia, if you will notice. True, they picked up a few principles of civilization from Crete and Mycenae and Asia Minor, and not very much from Egypt – as you will remember, the Egyptian priests in Plato’s story told Solon: ‘You Greeks are only boys.’ The point is, they did it on their own. And like America, they were rather violent. I can imagine the Persians and Egyptians saying to one another, ‘I say, isn’t it shocking how many murders get committed in Greece? Their society must be fearfully insecure.’ But the murders didn’t stop things from getting done. I fancy the place I have been in that was most like Greece was a gathering of university scholars at Chicago! The city was disorderly but very much alive. The Greeks weren’t studying the best models to be had abroad. They were making their own. That, I fancy, is the most Greek thing a man can do.”

(from Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead [1954])


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