The theoretical attitude has its historical origin in the Greeks

Before anything else, the attitude of these two kinds of ‘philosophers’, the overall orientation of their interests, is thoroughly different. Here and there one may observe a world-embracing interest that on both sides (including, therefore, the Indian, Chinese and other like ‘philosophies’) leads to universal cognition of the world, everywhere developing after the manner of a sort of practical vocational interest and for quite intelligible reasons leading to vocational groups, in which from generation to generation common results are transmitted and even developed. Only with the Greeks, however, do we find a universal (‘cosmological’) vital interest in the essentially new form of a purely ‘theoretical’ attitude.* This is true, too, of the communal form in which the interest works itself out, the corresponding, essentially new attitude of the philosophers and the scientists (mathematicians, astronomers, etc.). These are the men who, not isolated but with each other and for each other, i.e., bound together in a common interpersonal endeavor, strive for and carry into effect theoria and only theoria. These are the ones whose growth and constant improvement ultimately, as the circle of cooperators extends and the generations of investigators succeed each other, become a will oriented in the direction of an infinite and completely universal task. The theoretical attitude has its historical origin in the Greeks.

EDMUND HUSSERL: Philosophy and the Crisis of European Man

note *: The attitude that pursues ‘knowledge for its own sake’. It is precisely in this that the ‘infinity’ of the horizon consists’ there is no assignable practical goal in which its interests can terminate.

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