The Lyceum was a philosophy school founded by Aristotle, a student of Plato, that survived through the Hellenic period, until 83 BC. It was a gymnasium, used to train military and to assemble the people, surrounded by a grove of trees. It was a place of discussion, debate and deep thinking. Scholars that we still quote today graced its paths, taught its courses, moulded Athenians' minds: Socrates, Isocrates, Protagoras, Rhapsodes. It was the place to be in the 5th century BC. And (insert math here) years later, I was walking those same paths in my flip flops.
It wasn't the ruins that impressed me, though they were impressive, but rather the park area that surrounded the ruins of the Lyceum. With it's rocks and trees and sense of ghostly knowledge, I felt like maybe some of that history could seep through my feet into my brain and implant a philosophical plateau from which I could launch and grow.
I was walking where Aristotle walked. I sat on a rock where Plato surely sat. It seemed to me that I could close my eyes and be there, that I had always been there, that I had come from there, and it hit me: our shared intellect is akin to Bob Barner's children's anatomy song (the foot bone's connected to the leg bone, the leg bone's connected to the hip bone, etc.) in that our current knowledge and understanding is directly connected to our previous knowledge and understanding. A simple fact, I know, but I felt it walking through the Lyceum grounds, and it felt as real as the breeze on my skin and the grass under my feet.
Henry Ward Beecher, clergyman, adulterer, social reformer and slavery abolisher said: "The philosophy of one century is the common sense of the next." Right on, Henry, right on.