by Athanase Papandropoulos
In times of a great importance for humanity, there were periods of genius creations that in their own way have marked both the human existence and being. Introducing himself as a traveler, Eric Weiner, author and commentator of the New York Times best seller book "The Geography of Genius (Travail Publications), brings into the spotlight an exciting question: Which invisible thread connects Plato’s Athens with Leonardo da Vinci’s Florence and the Silicon Valley of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook? How did the spark of brilliance light up in the Viennese cafes during the 1900’s, in the region of Hangzhou in China, in the Edinburgh Enlightenment or in the chaotic Calcutta?
Specialized in the weaving of travel reporting and academic research, witty, modest, and always willing to share a bottle of good wine, Eric Weiner tours the world, goes back in time, honors history and highlights the place as a great source. He thus refers to the characteristics of ancient Athens and combines them with the spirit that, in these times, was prevalent in the city, from which, in his opinion, Western genius began. In his striking description, however, Eric Weiner, despite his frequent and apt references to Socrates, does not diverge from his philosophical quest. In this sense, the author does not combine Athens’ enormous spiritual impulse with another vital phenomenon in his time, that being the emergence of "Hellenism". The last mentioned, as brilliant and masterfully, is described by the Professor of Philosophy of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Mr. Pan. Tzamalikos, “is the fact of the historical and spiritual existence for Greeks in a ’way’ defined at a specific place and time. This place is, of course, already known as Hellenic; but mainly it is the Attica Basin.”
There we developed and completed what we describe as a "Hellenism" phenomenon that, even if in a specific place and time, eventually raised above and beyond the space it nourished -and above the time- it took place. This land, surrounded by tranquil and "human" mountains - Ymittos, Penteli, Parnitha - and a hospitable sea - the Saronic Gulf - constitutes the main place, where this phenomenon has emerged, to its fullest extent, the phenomenon of Hellenism. The time is the known Golden Age and the historical periods immediately tangent to each other. A set of about two hundred years. Hellenism received the greatest shine of the second half of the fifth century; then its fruits reached their highest maturity and then its charm peaked. However, the historical and spiritual prerequisites for this have already been put into place since the time of the so-called Prosocrastics (before Socrates).
According to professor Tzamalikos, it is when there is a parthenogenesis: The word itself is opposed to the myth, fighting the same challenge: the interpretation of nature (that is, the interpretation of the world and its changes), however, following its own paths, its own laws and its own dynamics. The basis of this dynamic was as follows: A ’first principle’ is sought, from which many events are necessarily derived and ultimately all the phenomena of nature. This means that a causal relationship is established.
So, world is no longer interpreted as mythological, malicious and sometimes inconsistent-but it is imposed on a world that is derived from the logical relations of cause and effect. Greeks
conceive a rational principle, submit to it, so that they can use it to subdue the world. For Thales it was the enzymatic "water", for Anaximander the "infinite", for the Anaximenis the "air" etc. But the way this thought unfolds already has definite characteristics: The non-acceptance of the mythological interpretation of the world, the acceptance of a natural "first principle" as the substance of the world, the adoption of the cause-and-effect principle for the development of thought, and the constant, and prudent, compliance with this principle.
In conclusion, the Greek subdued the chaos by giving a rational version of the world and its phenomena - that is, nature. A version that has internal order and consistency in its structure. So, there is his "liberation" from mythology, a cosmic-historical event that brings Athens to the forefront of freedom. At this way, many other phenomena could follow…