The great modern authorities are the Germans, and these are very numerous. Among the most famous writers on the history of philosophy are Brucker, Hegel, Brandis, I.G. Buhle, Tennemann, Hitter, Plessing, Schwegler, Hermann, Meiners, Stallbaum, and Spiegel. The History of Ritter is well translated, and is always learned and suggestive. Tennemann, translated by Morell, is a good manual, brief but clear. In connection with the writings of the Germans, the great work of the French Cousin should be consulted.
The English historians of ancient philosophy are not so numerous as the Germans. The work of Enfield is based on Brucker, or is rather an abridgment. Archer Butler’s Lectures are suggestive and able, but discursive and vague. Grote has written learnedly on Socrates and the other great lights. Lewes’s Biographical History of Philosophy has the merit of clearness, and is very interesting, but rather superficial. See also Thomas Stanley’s History of Philosophy, and the articles in Smith’s Dictionary on the leading ancient philosophers. J. W. Donaldson’s continuation of K. O. Mueller’s History of the Literature of Ancient Greece is learned, and should be consulted with Thompson’s Notes on Archer Butler. Schleiermacher, on Socrates, translated by Bishop Thirlwall, is well worth attention. There are also fine articles in the Encyclopaedias Britannica and Metropolitana.
To Socrates the world owes a new method in philosophy and a great example in morals; and it would be difficult to settle whether his influence has been greater as a sage or as a moralist. In either light he is one of the august names of history. He has been venerated for more than two thousand years as a teacher of wisdom, and as a martyr for the truths he taught. He did not commit his precious thoughts to writing; that work was done by his disciples, even as his exalted worth has been published by them, especially by Plato and Xenophon. And if the Greek philosophy did not culminate in him, yet he laid down those principles by which only it could be advanced. As a system-maker, both Plato and Aristotle were greater than he; yet for original genius he was probably their superior, and in important respects he was their master. As a good man, battling with infirmities and temptations and coming off triumphantly, the ancient world has furnished no prouder example.
He was born about 470 or 469 years B.C., and therefore may be said to belong to that brilliant age of Grecian literature and art when Prodicus was teaching rhetoric, and Democritus was speculating about the doctrine of atoms, and Phidias was ornamenting temples, and Alcibiades was giving banquets, and Aristophanes was writing comedies, and Euripides was composing tragedies, and Aspasia was setting fashions, and Cimon was fighting battles, and Pericles was making Athens the centre