Thinking – Part III

The New Yorker, December 5, 1977.


Reflections  about thinking. Writer gives the answer of Greek thinkers to the question: “What makes us think?” They felt that philosophizing transforms mortals into godlike creatures. In pre-philosophic Greece men strove for immortality by means of the great deed which would be recorded by poets. Tells how this changed & to the Greeks philosophy was “the achievement of immortality” Philosophy is Greek in origin & set itself the goal of immortality. The goal disappeared from philosophy with the arrival of Christianity, when faith replaced thought as the bringer of immortality. One of the answers in Greek philosophy to “What makes us think?” is the saying of Plato that the origin of philosophy is wonder. In the writer’s opinion that answer has lost nothing of its plausibility. Plato does not specify what his wonder is directed at nor how it is transformed into the dialogue of thinking. Writer goes on to explain that the wonder concerns itself with Being & quotes from Coleridge to demonstrate this. Coleridge asks his reader if he has ever considered the mere act of existing. Writer goes on to discuss Being and nothingness & the need to reconcile thought with reality. Discusses bracketing out of reality-getting rid of it as though it were a mere “impression”. Gives Roman point of view on philosophy, which is very different from the Greek. Writer, at some length, uses Socrates as a model t to answer the question, “What makes us think?” Finally in summarizing, she asks “Where are we when we think?” and deals with time in answering it.

The New Yorker