The Schism in Philosophy is an introduction to a mode of philosophizing rather than simply a history of philosophical questions and the responses proposed to them. Historically there have been two contrasting modes of philosophizing: the communal mode of the Hellenic world and the individualistic mode of the post-Roman West. What the Greeks sought was the “criterion of truth”: a thing was true when it did not change or decay. Whereas existents themselves are ephemeral and subject to decay, the mode of their coexistence is the rationality of harmony and beauty, and this mode of being renders the universe a cosmos, a thing of ordered beauty. Consequently, the Greeks found their criterion of truth—that upon which they founded philosophy—not only in changelessness but also in the communal verification of knowledge: a thing was true if it could be defined as the result of shared experience. In contrast, in the Western tradition truth was a product of the individual’s intellectual capacity—sufficient on its own to guarantee the possession of knowledge—rather than a product of communal verification; for Western philosophers truth was defined as “the coincidence of the perceived object with its intellectual conception” (adaequatio rei et intellectus). This book’s purpose is to trace the divergent paths along which philosophy developed in the Hellenic and the Western traditions as a result of this fundamental schism.
Norman Russell, translator