Early Greek Philosophy by John Burnet, with Burnet's notes
34. Orphicism 36. Relation of Religion and Philosophy

From Chapter II., Science and Religion

35. Philosophy as a Way of Life
The chief reason for taking account of the Orphic communities here is that their organisation seems to have suggested the idea that philosophy is above all a "way of life." In Ionia, as we have seen, φιλοσοφία meant something like "curiosity," and from that use of it the common Athenian sense of "culture," as we find it in Isokrates, seems to have been derived. On the other hand, wherever we can trace the influence of Pythagoras, the word has a far deeper meaning. Philosophy is itself a "purification" and a way of escape from the "wheel." That is the idea so nobly expressed in the Phaedo, which is manifestly inspired by Pythagorean doctrine.10 This way of regarding philosophy is henceforth characteristic of the best Greek thought. Aristotle is as much influenced by it as any one, as we may see from the Tenth Book of the Ethics, and as we should see still more clearly if we possessed his Προτρεπτικός in its entirety.11 There was a danger that this attitude should degenerate into mere quietism and "other-worldliness," a danger Plato saw and sought to avert. It was he that insisted on philosophers taking their turn to descend once more into the Cave to help their former fellow-prisoners.12 If the other view ultimately prevailed, that was hardly the fault of the philosophers

Burnet's Notes


10. The Phaedo is dedicated, as it were, to the Pythagorean community at Phleious. Plato speaks in Rep. x. 600 b of Pythagoras as the originator of a private ὁδός τις βίου. Cf. the ἄτραπος of Phaed. 66 b.

11. For the Προτρεπτικός, see Bywater in J. Phil. ii. p. 35. It was the original of Cicero's Hortensius, which had such an effect on Augustine.

12. Plato, Rep. 520 c 1, καταβατέον οὖν ἐν μέρει. The Allegory of the Cave seems clearly to be of Orphic origin (Stewart, Myths of Plato, p. 252, n. 2).

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