I noticed some great symbols of Greek thinking in the Olympics opening ceremonies last night. There was a scene with a man standing on top of a cube and on the cube was projected other geometric shapes. This the commentators said was to represent the birth of "thinking man".
The Greeks here are taking credit for human progress.
OK, history and a short study of Greek thinking gives the Greeks only credit for half the story. Just a few esoteric notes: The revival of Europe has three important stages:
1. The revival of European started in the 15th century with the late Renaissance. The renaissance simply introduced the idea of critical humanistic thought. The attempt to rationally solve life’s problems and improve society using either objective or speculative analysis but analysis nonetheless. This step toward change was obviously positive when compared to the fatalism and superstition of the dark ages. He source of comparison for the renaissance thinkers was indeed ancient Greek and Roman culture, but other than in Art, the renaissance did not lead to a better quality of life. In fact, it was the renaissance that introduced slavery back into European life (in imitation of the racism and speculative Historicism of the philosophers especially Plato) Such humanistic historicism which is a Platonic approach to history led to such 20th century ideas as Marxism and Fascism!! Hello!!
2. True improvements did not come until the reformation broke open the realm of religion and philosophy and introduced ideas like the knowability of God and His universe. The speculative era of Greek thinking finally was crushed with the pen of Martin Luther. The Greeks were good at math but terrible at religion and the values which flow from religion. These western religious values we owe to the Judeo-Christian tradition in the West. Basically, the values of equality are traced not to the Greeks but the Hebrews. And this is pretty important!! 3. In the 17th century (Galileo was tried in 1632) we have the birth of science. Science is new and a departure form the method of the Greeks. So progress happened in a three-stage process: 1. Acknowledgement of the dignity of man to search out and discover solutions to his problems and societies problems through the renaissance. 2. The overthrow of superstition and religious tyranny by returning to a reasonable, knowable, and practical religion through the reformation.
3. The discovery of the method of observation as final authority with respect to knowledge and learning through the scientific revolution. So I would say that yes the re-discovery of Greek thinking promoted a return to some form of reasonable problem solving BUT their speculative method was horrible and destructive in issues of religion and actual philosophy and faith. The dignity of the individual and universal freedom must be traced back not to Greek thinking but Hebrew. Likewise, it was Greek speculative and abstract analysis when applied to issues of faith and practice which diverted the church from the concrete and practical approach to religion of the Hebrew founders of true religion.