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Ancient Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BC and continued throughout the Hellenistic period and the period in which Greece and most Greek-inhabited lands were part of the Roman Empire. Philosophy was used to make sense out of the world in a non-religious way. It dealt with a wide variety of subjects, including astronomy, mathematics, political philosophy, ethics, metaphysics, ontology, logic, biology, rhetoric and aesthetics.
The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire as signified by the Battle of Actium in 31 BC and the subsequent conquest of Ptolemaic Egypt the following year. The Ancient Greek word Hellas is the original word for Greece, from which the word Hellenistic was derived.
Ancient Greece was a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Roughly three centuries after the Late Bronze Age collapse of Mycenaean Greece, Greek urban poleis began to form in the 8th century BC, ushering in the Archaic period and colonization of the Mediterranean Basin. This was followed by the period of Classical Greece, an era that began with the Greco-Persian Wars, lasting from the 5th to 4th centuries BC. Due to the conquests by Alexander the Great of Macedon, Hellenistic civilization flourished from Central Asia to the western end of the Mediterranean Sea. The Hellenistic period came to an end with the conquests and annexations of the eastern Mediterranean world by the Roman Republic, which established the Roman province of Macedonia in Roman Greece, and later the province of Achaea during the Roman Empire.
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of ancient Rome, consisting of large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean sea in Europe, North Africa and West Asia ruled by emperors. From the accession of Caesar Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, it was a principate with Italy as metropole of the provinces and its city of Rome as sole capital. The Roman Empire was then ruled by multiple emperors and divided in a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople. Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until 476 AD, when it sent the imperial insignia to Constantinople following the capture of Ravenna by the barbarians of Odoacer and the subsequent deposition of Romulus Augustus. The fall of the Western Roman Empire to Germanic kings, along with the hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire into the Byzantine Empire, is conventionally used to mark the end of Ancient Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages.
Greek philosophy has influenced much of Western culture since its inception. Alfred North Whitehead once noted: "The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato".Clear, unbroken lines of influence lead from ancient Greek and Hellenistic philosophers to Early Islamic philosophy, Medieval Scholasticism, the European Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment.
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization, Occidental culture, the Western world, Western society, and European civilization, is the heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems, political systems, artifacts and technologies that originated in or are associated with Europe. The term also applies beyond Europe to countries and cultures whose histories are strongly connected to Europe by immigration, colonization, or influence. For example, Western culture includes countries in the Americas and Australasia, whose language and demographic ethnicity majorities are European. Western culture has its roots in Greco-Roman culture from before 800 B.C.E..
Alfred North Whitehead was an English mathematician and philosopher. He is best known as the defining figure of the philosophical school known as process philosophy, which today has found application to a wide variety of disciplines, including ecology, theology, education, physics, biology, economics, and psychology, among other areas.
Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Asia to the east, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia.
Greek philosophy was influenced to some extent by the older wisdom literature and mythological cosmogonies of the ancient Near East, though the extent of this influence is debated. The classicist Martin Litchfield West states, "contact with oriental cosmology and theology helped to liberate the early Greek philosophers' imagination; it certainly gave them many suggestive ideas. But they taught themselves to reason. Philosophy as we understand it is a Greek creation".
Wisdom literature is a genre of literature common in the ancient Near East. It consists of statements by sages and wise men that offer teachings about divinity and virtue. Although this genre uses techniques of traditional oral story-telling, it was disseminated in written form.
The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, ancient Iran, Anatolia/Asia Minor and Armenian Highlands, the Levant, Cyprus and the Arabian Peninsula. The ancient Near East is studied in the fields of Near Eastern archaeology and ancient history.
Martin Litchfield West, was a British classical scholar.
Subsequent philosophic tradition was so influenced by Socrates as presented by Plato that it is conventional to refer to philosophy developed prior to Socrates as pre-Socratic philosophy. The periods following this, up to and after the wars of Alexander the Great, are those of "classical Greek" and "Hellenistic" philosophy.
Socrates was a classical Greek (Athenian) philosopher credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, and as being the first moral philosopher of the Western ethical tradition of thought. An enigmatic figure, he made no writings, and is known chiefly through the accounts of classical writers writing after his lifetime, particularly his students Plato and Xenophon. Other sources include the contemporaneous Antisthenes, Aristippus, and Aeschines of Sphettos. Aristophanes, a playwright, is the main contemporary author to have written plays mentioning Socrates during Socrates' lifetime, though a fragment of Ion of Chios' Travel Journal provides important information about Socrates' youth.
Plato was an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought, and the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world.
A number of early Greek philosophers active before and during the time of Socrates are collectively known as the pre-Socratics. Their inquiries spanned the workings of the natural world as well as human society, ethics, and religion, seeking explanations based on natural principles rather than the actions of supernatural gods. They introduced to the West the notion of the world as a kosmos, an ordered arrangement that could be understood via rational inquiry.
The convention of terming those philosophers who were active prior to the death of Socrates as the pre-Socratics gained currency with the 1903 publication of Hermann Diels' Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, although the term did not originate with him.The term is considered useful because what came to be known as the "Athenian school" (composed of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle) signaled the rise of a new approach to philosophy; Friedrich Nietzsche's thesis that this shift began with Plato rather than with Socrates (hence his nomenclature of "pre-Platonic philosophy") has not prevented the predominance of the "pre-Socratic" distinction.
Hermann Alexander Diels was a German classical scholar.
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, the founder of the Lyceum and the Peripatetic school of philosophy and Aristotelian tradition. Along with his teacher Plato, he has been called the "Father of Western Philosophy". His writings cover many subjects – including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theatre, music, rhetoric, psychology, linguistics, economics, politics and government. Aristotle provided a complex synthesis of the various philosophies existing prior to him, and it was above all from his teachings that the West inherited its intellectual lexicon, as well as problems and methods of inquiry. As a result, his philosophy has exerted a unique influence on almost every form of knowledge in the West and it continues to be a subject of contemporary philosophical discussion.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a German philosopher, cultural critic, composer, poet, philologist, and Latin and Greek scholar whose work has exerted a profound influence on modern intellectual history. He began his career as a classical philologist before turning to philosophy. He became the youngest ever to hold the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel in 1869 at the age of 24. Nietzsche resigned in 1879 due to health problems that plagued him most of his life; he completed much of his core writing in the following decade. In 1889 at age 44, he suffered a collapse and afterward, a complete loss of his mental faculties. He lived his remaining years in the care of his mother until her death in 1897 and then with his sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche. Nietzsche died in 1900.
The pre-Socratics were primarily concerned with cosmology, ontology, and mathematics. They were distinguished from "non-philosophers" insofar as they rejected mythological explanations in favor of reasoned discourse.
Cosmology is a branch of astronomy concerned with the studies of the origin and evolution of the universe, from the Big Bang to today and on into the future. It is the scientific study of the origin, evolution, and eventual fate of the universe. Physical cosmology is the scientific study of the universe's origin, its large-scale structures and dynamics, and its ultimate fate, as well as the laws of science that govern these areas.
Ontology is the philosophical study of being. More broadly, it studies concepts that directly relate to being, in particular becoming, existence, reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology often deals with questions concerning what entities exist or may be said to exist and how such entities may be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences.
Thales of Miletus, regarded by Aristotle as the first philosopher,held that all things arise from a single material substance, water. It is not because he gave a cosmogony that John Burnet calls him the "first man of science," but because he gave a naturalistic explanation of the cosmos and supported it with reasons. According to tradition, Thales was able to predict an eclipse and taught the Egyptians how to measure the height of the pyramids.
Thales inspired the Milesian school of philosophy and was followed by Anaximander, who argued that the substratum or arche could not be water or any of the classical elements but was instead something "unlimited" or "indefinite" (in Greek, the apeiron ). He began from the observation that the world seems to consist of opposites (e.g., hot and cold), yet a thing can become its opposite (e.g., a hot thing cold). Therefore, they cannot truly be opposites but rather must both be manifestations of some underlying unity that is neither. This underlying unity (substratum, arche) could not be any of the classical elements, since they were one extreme or another. For example, water is wet, the opposite of dry, while fire is dry, the opposite of wet.This initial state is ageless and imperishable, and everything returns to it according to necessity Anaximenes in turn held that the arche was air, although John Burnet argues that by this he meant that it was a transparent mist, the aether. Despite their varied answers, the Milesian school was searching for a natural substance that would remain unchanged despite appearing in different forms, and thus represents one of the first scientific attempts to answer the question that would lead to the development of modern atomic theory; "the Milesians," says Burnet, "asked for the φύσις of all things."
Xenophanes was born in Ionia, where the Milesian school was at its most powerful, and may have picked up some of the Milesians' cosmological theories as a result.What is known is that he argued that each of the phenomena had a natural rather than divine explanation in a manner reminiscent of Anaximander's theories and that there was only one god, the world as a whole, and that he ridiculed the anthropomorphism of the Greek religion by claiming that cattle would claim that the gods looked like cattle, horses like horses, and lions like lions, just as the Ethiopians claimed that the gods were snubnosed and black and the Thracians claimed they were pale and red-haired.
Burnet says that Xenophanes was not, however, a scientific man, with many of his "naturalistic" explanations having no further support than that they render the Homeric gods superfluous or foolish.He has been claimed as an influence on Eleatic philosophy, although that is disputed, and a precursor to Epicurus, a representative of a total break between science and religion.
Pythagoras lived at roughly the same time that Xenophanes did and, in contrast to the latter, the school that he founded sought to reconcile religious belief and reason. Little is known about his life with any reliability, however, and no writings of his survive, so it is possible that he was simply a mystic whose successors introduced rationalism into Pythagoreanism, that he was simply a rationalist whose successors are responsible for the mysticism in Pythagoreanism, or that he was actually the author of the doctrine; there is no way to know for certain.
Pythagoras is said to have been a disciple of Anaximander and to have imbibed the cosmological concerns of the Ionians, including the idea that the cosmos is constructed of spheres, the importance of the infinite, and that air or aether is the arche of everything.Pythagoreanism also incorporated ascetic ideals, emphasizing purgation, metempsychosis, and consequently a respect for all animal life; much was made of the correspondence between mathematics and the cosmos in a musical harmony. Pythagoras believed that behind the appearance of things, there was the permanent principle of mathematics, and that the forms were based on a transcendental mathematical relation.
Heraclitus must have lived after Xenophanes and Pythagoras, as he condemns them along with Homer as proving that much learning cannot teach a man to think; since Parmenides refers to him in the past tense, this would place him in the 5th century BCE.Contrary to the Milesian school, which posits one stable element as the arche , Heraclitus taught that panta rhei ("everything flows"), the closest element to this eternal flux being fire. All things come to pass in accordance with Logos, which must be considered as "plan" or "formula", and "the Logos is common". He also posited a unity of opposites, expressed through dialectic, which structured this flux, such as that seeming opposites in fact are manifestations of a common substrate to good and evil itself.
Heraclitus called the oppositional processes ἔρις ( eris ), "strife", and hypothesized that the apparently stable state of δίκη ( dikê ), or "justice", is the harmonic unity of these opposites.
Parmenides of Elea cast his philosophy against those who held "it is and is not the same, and all things travel in opposite directions,"—presumably referring to Heraclitus and those who followed him.Whereas the doctrines of the Milesian school, in suggesting that the substratum could appear in a variety of different guises, implied that everything that exists is corpuscular, Parmenides argued that the first principle of being was One, indivisible, and unchanging. Being, he argued, by definition implies eternality, while only that which is can be thought; a thing which is, moreover, cannot be more or less, and so the rarefaction and condensation of the Milesians is impossible regarding Being; lastly, as movement requires that something exist apart from the thing moving (viz. the space into which it moves), the One or Being cannot move, since this would require that "space" both exist and not exist. While this doctrine is at odds with ordinary sensory experience, where things do indeed change and move, the Eleatic school followed Parmenides in denying that sense phenomena revealed the world as it actually was; instead, the only thing with Being was thought, or the question of whether something exists or not is one of whether it can be thought.
In support of this, Parmenides' pupil Zeno of Elea attempted to prove that the concept of motion was absurd and as such motion did not exist. He also attacked the subsequent development of pluralism, arguing that it was incompatible with Being.His arguments are known as Zeno's paradoxes.
The power of Parmenides' logic was such that some subsequent philosophers abandoned the monism of the Milesians, Xenophanes, Heraclitus, and Parmenides, where one thing was the arche, and adopted pluralism, such as Empedocles and Anaxagoras.There were, they said, multiple elements which were not reducible to one another and these were set in motion by love and strife (as in Empedocles) or by Mind (as in Anaxagoras). Agreeing with Parmenides that there is no coming into being or passing away, genesis or decay, they said that things appear to come into being and pass away because the elements out of which they are composed assemble or disassemble while themselves being unchanging.
Leucippus also proposed an ontological pluralism with a cosmogony based on two main elements: the vacuum and atoms. These, by means of their inherent movement, are crossing the void and creating the real material bodies. His theories were not well known by the time of Plato, however, and they were ultimately incorporated into the work of his student, Democritus.
Sophism arose from the juxtaposition of physis (nature) and nomos (law). John Burnet posits its origin in the scientific progress of the previous centuries which suggested that Being was radically different from what was experienced by the senses and, if comprehensible at all, was not comprehensible in terms of order; the world in which men lived, on the other hand, was one of law and order, albeit of humankind's own making.At the same time, nature was constant, while what was by law differed from one place to another and could be changed.
The first man to call himself a sophist, according to Plato, was Protagoras, whom he presents as teaching that all virtue is conventional. It was Protagoras who claimed that "man is the measure of all things, of the things that are, that they are, and of the things that are not, that they are not," which Plato interprets as a radical perspectivism, where some things seem to be one way for one person (and so actually are that way) and another way for another person (and so actually are that way as well); the conclusion being that one cannot look to nature for guidance regarding how to live one's life.
Protagoras and subsequent sophists tended to teach rhetoric as their primary vocation. Prodicus, Gorgias, Hippias, and Thrasymachus appear in various dialogues, sometimes explicitly teaching that while nature provides no ethical guidance, the guidance that the laws provide is worthless, or that nature favors those who act against the laws.
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Socrates, believed to have been born in Athens in the 5th century BCE, marks a watershed in ancient Greek philosophy. Athens was a center of learning, with sophists and philosophers traveling from across Greece to teach rhetoric, astronomy, cosmology, geometry, and the like. The great statesman Pericles was closely associated with this new learning and a friend of Anaxagoras, however, and his political opponents struck at him by taking advantage of a conservative reaction against the philosophers; it became a crime to investigate the things above the heavens or below the earth, subjects considered impious. Anaxagoras is said to have been charged and to have fled into exile when Socrates was about twenty years of age.There is a story that Protagoras, too, was forced to flee and that the Athenians burned his books. Socrates, however, is the only subject recorded as charged under this law, convicted, and sentenced to death in 399 BCE (see Trial of Socrates). In the version of his defense speech presented by Plato, he claims that it is the envy he arouses on account of his being a philosopher that will convict him.
While philosophy was an established pursuit prior to Socrates, Cicero credits him as "the first who brought philosophy down from the heavens, placed it in cities, introduced it into families, and obliged it to examine into life and morals, and good and evil."By this account he would be considered the founder of political philosophy. The reasons for this turn toward political and ethical subjects remain the object of much study.
The fact that many conversations involving Socrates (as recounted by Plato and Xenophon) end without having reached a firm conclusion, or aporetically,has stimulated debate over the meaning of the Socratic method. Socrates is said to have pursued this probing question-and-answer style of examination on a number of topics, usually attempting to arrive at a defensible and attractive definition of a virtue.
While Socrates' recorded conversations rarely provide a definite answer to the question under examination, several maxims or paradoxes for which he has become known recur. Socrates taught that no one desires what is bad, and so if anyone does something that truly is bad, it must be unwillingly or out of ignorance; consequently, all virtue is knowledge.He frequently remarks on his own ignorance (claiming that he does not know what courage is, for example). Plato presents him as distinguishing himself from the common run of mankind by the fact that, while they know nothing noble and good, they do not know that they do not know, whereas Socrates knows and acknowledges that he knows nothing noble and good.
Numerous subsequent philosophical movements were inspired by Socrates or his younger associates. Plato casts Socrates as the main interlocutor in his dialogues, deriving from them the basis of Platonism (and by extension, Neoplatonism). Plato's student Aristotle in turn criticized and built upon the doctrines he ascribed to Socrates and Plato, forming the foundation of Aristotelianism. Antisthenes founded the school that would come to be known as Cynicism and accused Plato of distorting Socrates' teachings. Zeno of Citium in turn adapted the ethics of Cynicism to articulate Stoicism. Epicurus studied with Platonic and Pyrrhonist teachers before renouncing all previous philosophers (including Democritus, on whose atomism the Epicurean philosophy relies). The philosophic movements that were to dominate the intellectual life of the Roman empire were thus born in this febrile period following Socrates' activity, and either directly or indirectly influenced by him. They were also absorbed by the expanding Muslim world in the 7th through 10th centuries AD, from which they returned to the West as foundations of Medieval philosophy and the Renaissance, as discussed below.
Plato was an Athenian of the generation after Socrates. Ancient tradition ascribes thirty-six dialogues and thirteen letters to him, although of these only twenty-four of the dialogues are now universally recognized as authentic; most modern scholars believe that at least twenty-eight dialogues and two of the letters were in fact written by Plato, although all of the thirty-six dialogues have some defenders.A further nine dialogues are ascribed to Plato but were considered spurious even in antiquity.
Plato's dialogues feature Socrates, although not always as the leader of the conversation. (One dialogue, the Laws, instead contains an "Athenian Stranger.") Along with Xenophon, Plato is the primary source of information about Socrates' life and beliefs and it is not always easy to distinguish between the two. While the Socrates presented in the dialogues is often taken to be Plato's mouthpiece, Socrates' reputation for irony, his caginess regarding his own opinions in the dialogues, and his occasional absence from or minor role in the conversation serve to conceal Plato's doctrines.Much of what is said about his doctrines is derived from what Aristotle reports about them.
The political doctrine ascribed to Plato is derived from the Republic, the Laws, and the Statesman. The first of these contains the suggestion that there will not be justice in cities unless they are ruled by philosopher kings; those responsible for enforcing the laws are compelled to hold their women, children, and property in common; and the individual is taught to pursue the common good through noble lies; the Republic says that such a city is likely impossible, however, generally assuming that philosophers would refuse to rule and the people would refuse to compel them to do so.
Whereas the Republic is premised on a distinction between the sort of knowledge possessed by the philosopher and that possessed by the king or political man, Socrates explores only the character of the philosopher; in the Statesman, on the other hand, a participant referred to as the Eleatic Stranger discusses the sort of knowledge possessed by the political man, while Socrates listens quietly.Although rule by a wise man would be preferable to rule by law, the wise cannot help but be judged by the unwise, and so in practice, rule by law is deemed necessary.
Both the Republic and the Statesman reveal the limitations of politics, raising the question of what political order would be best given those constraints; that question is addressed in the Laws, a dialogue that does not take place in Athens and from which Socrates is absent.The character of the society described there is eminently conservative, a corrected or liberalized timocracy on the Spartan or Cretan model or that of pre-democratic Athens.
Plato's dialogues also have metaphysical themes, the most famous of which is his theory of forms. It holds that non-material abstract (but substantial) forms (or ideas), and not the material world of change known to us through our physical senses, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality.
Plato often uses long-form analogies (usually allegories) to explain his ideas; the most famous is perhaps the Allegory of the Cave. It likens most humans to people tied up in a cave, who look only at shadows on the walls and have no other conception of reality.If they turned around, they would see what is casting the shadows (and thereby gain a further dimension to their reality). If some left the cave, they would see the outside world illuminated by the sun (representing the ultimate form of goodness and truth). If these travelers then re-entered the cave, the people inside (who are still only familiar with the shadows) would not be equipped to believe reports of this 'outside world'. This story explains the theory of forms with their different levels of reality, and advances the view that philosopher-kings are wisest while most humans are ignorant. One student of Plato (who would become another of the most influential philosophers of all time) stressed the implication that understanding relies upon first-hand observation.
Aristotle moved to Athens from his native Stageira in 367 BC and began to study philosophy (perhaps even rhetoric, under Isocrates), eventually enrolling at Plato's Academy.He left Athens approximately twenty years later to study botany and zoology, became a tutor of Alexander the Great, and ultimately returned to Athens a decade later to establish his own school: the Lyceum. At least twenty-nine of his treatises have survived, known as the corpus Aristotelicum , and address a variety of subjects including logic, physics, optics, metaphysics, ethics, rhetoric, politics, poetry, botany, and zoology.
Aristotle is often portrayed as disagreeing with his teacher Plato (e.g., in Raphael's School of Athens). He criticizes the regimes described in Plato's Republic and Laws,and refers to the theory of forms as "empty words and poetic metaphors." He is generally presented as giving greater weight to empirical observation and practical concerns.
Aristotle's fame was not great during the Hellenistic period, when Stoic logic was in vogue, but later peripatetic commentators popularized his work, which eventually contributed heavily to Islamic, Jewish, and medieval Christian philosophy.His influence was such that Avicenna referred to him simply as "the Master"; Maimonides, Alfarabi, Averroes, and Aquinas as "the Philosopher."
During the Hellenistic and Roman periods, many different schools of thought developed in the Hellenistic world and then the Greco-Roman world. There were Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Syrians and Arabs who contributed to the development of Hellenistic philosophy. Elements of Persian philosophy and Indian philosophy also had an influence. The most notable schools of Hellenistic philosophy and some of their best-known philosophers were:
The spread of Christianity throughout the Roman world, followed by the spread of Islam, ushered in the end of Hellenistic philosophy and the beginnings of Medieval philosophy, which was dominated by the three Abrahamic traditions: Jewish philosophy, Christian philosophy, and early Islamic philosophy.
During the Middle Ages, Greek ideas were largely forgotten in Western Europe due to the Migration Period, which resulted into decline in literacy. In the Byzantine Empire Greek ideas were preserved and studied, and not long after the first major expansion of Islam, however, the Abbasid caliphs authorized the gathering of Greek manuscripts and hired translators to increase their prestige. Islamic philosophers such as Al-Kindi (Alkindus), Al-Farabi (Alpharabius), Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes) reinterpreted these works, and during the High Middle Ages Greek philosophy re-entered the West through translations from Arabic to Latin and also from the Byzantine Empire.The re-introduction of these philosophies, accompanied by the new Arabic commentaries, had a great influence on Medieval philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas. Although we are fortunate to have some figures who preserved these valuable texts, the general trend in Islam was to dispose of books that conflicted with the teachings of Mohammad. This can be seen in events such as the burning of the Al-hakam II library in Córdoba by Al-Mansur Ibn and Abi Aamir in 976.
Anaximenes of Miletus was an Ancient Greek Pre-Socratic philosopher active in the latter half of the 6th century BC. The details of his life are obscure and undocumented because none of his work has been preserved. Anaximenes’s ideas and philosophies are known today because of comments made by Aristotle and other writers on the history of Greek Philosophy. Apollodurus noted the dates Anaximander was alive in relation to defining historical events, and estimated Anaximenes’s lifespan to occur in same time period that Cyrus beat Croesus in the Battle of Thymbra in 546 BCE. Some of his writings survived the Hellenistic Age, but no record of these documents currently exist. As one of the three Milesian philosophers that were considered the first revolutionary thinkers of the Western world, he is best known and identified as a younger friend or student of Anaximander. Much of his astronomical thought was based on Anaximander’s, but he altered Anaximander’s astrological ideas to better fit his own philosophical views on physics and the natural world. The Ionian school was the first school on record that encouraged their pupils to constructively criticize their master’s teachings, which aptly demonstrated a tolerance toward new ideas and logic for their time. Thales taught Anaximander, and Anaximander taught Anaximenes. Each philosopher developed a distinct system of cosmology without completely rejecting their teacher’s view of universe or creating major disagreement between them. Anaximenes, like others in his school of thought, practiced material monism. This tendency to identify one specific underlying reality made up of a material thing is what Anaximenes is principally known for today. Anaximenes was the last known Milesian philosopher, as Miletus was taken over by the Persian army in 494 BC. Because none of his works contain theological references, there is no evidence as to whether or not he practiced religion or if he was an atheist.
Heraclitus of Ephesus was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, and a native of the city of Ephesus, then part of the Persian Empire. He was of distinguished parentage. Little is known about his early life and education, but he regarded himself as self-taught and a pioneer of wisdom. From the lonely life he led, and still more from the apparently riddled and allegedly paradoxical nature of his philosophy and his stress upon the heedless unconsciousness of humankind, he was called "The Obscure" and the "Weeping Philosopher".
Parmenides of Elea was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher from Elea in Magna Graecia. Parmenides has been considered the founder of metaphysics or ontology and has influenced the whole history of Western philosophy. He was the founder of the Eleatic school of philosophy, which also included Zeno of Elea and Melissus of Samos. Zeno's paradoxes of motion were to defend Parmenides' view.
Thales of Miletus was a pre-Socratic philosopher, mathematician and astronomer from Miletus in Ionia, Asia Minor. He was one of the Seven Sages of Greece; many, most notably Aristotle, regarded him as the first philosopher in the Greek tradition, and he is otherwise historically recognized as the first individual in Western civilization known to have entertained and engaged in scientific philosophy. He can also be regarded as one of the first option traders.
Zeno of Elea was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher of Magna Graecia and a member of the Eleatic School founded by Parmenides. Aristotle called him the inventor of the dialectic. He is best known for his paradoxes, which Bertrand Russell has described as "immeasurably subtle and profound".
The Eleatics were a pre-Socratic school of philosophy founded by Parmenides in the early fifth century BC in the ancient town of Elea. Other members of the school included Zeno of Elea and Melissus of Samos. Xenophanes is sometimes included in the list, though there is some dispute over this. Elea, whose modern-day appellation is Velia, was a Greek colony located in present-day Campania in southern Italy.
Socratic dialogue is a genre of literary prose developed in Greece at the turn of the fourth century BC. It is preserved in the works of Plato and Xenophon. The discussion of moral and philosophical problems between two or more characters in a dialogue is an illustration of one version of the Socratic method. The dialogues are either dramatic or narrative and Socrates is often the main participant.
Sophroniscus, husband of Phaenarete, was the father of the Philosopher Socrates.
The Ionian school of Pre-Socratic philosophy was centred in Miletus, Ionia in the 6th century BC. Miletus and its environs was a thriving mercantile melting pot of current ideas of the time. The Ionian School included such thinkers as Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Heraclitus, Anaxagoras, and Archelaus. The collective affinity of this group was first acknowledged by Aristotle who called them physiologoi (φυσιολόγοι), meaning 'those who discoursed on nature'. The classification can be traced to the second-century historian of philosophy Sotion. They are sometimes referred to as cosmologists, since they were largely physicalists who tried to explain the nature of matter.
John Burnet, FBA was a Scottish classicist. He was born in Edinburgh and died in St Andrews.
The Sophist is a Platonic dialogue from the philosopher's late period, most likely written in 360 BC. Its main theme is to identify what a sophist is and how a sophist differs from a philosopher and statesman. Because each seems distinguished by a particular form of knowledge, the dialogue continues some of the lines of inquiry pursued in the epistemological dialogue, Theaetetus, which is said to have taken place the day before. Because the Sophist treats these matters, it is often taken to shed light on Plato's Theory of Forms and is compared with the Parmenides, which criticized what is often taken to be the theory of forms.
Cratylus was an ancient Athenian philosopher from the mid-late 5th century BCE, known mostly through his portrayal in Plato's dialogue Cratylus. He was a radical proponent of Heraclitean philosophy and influenced the young Plato.
Plato was an ancient Greek philosopher, the second of the trio of ancient Greeks including Socrates and Aristotle said to have laid the philosophical foundations of Western culture.
This page is a list of topics in ancient philosophy.
The Ionian Enlightenment was a set of advances in scientific thought, explanations on nature, and discovering the natural and rational causes behind observable phenomena, that took place in archaic Greece beginning in the 6th century BC. This movement began on the Ionian coast of western Anatolia by small numbers of forward-thinking Greeks from cities such as Miletus, Samos, and Halicarnassus. They saw the world as something ordered and intelligible, its history following an explicable course and its different parts arranged in a comprehensible system. Most historians agree that Thales, one of the Seven Sages of Greece, started this movement by predicting a solar eclipse that actually occurred, though some believe this feat to be false.
The theory of Forms or theory of Ideas is a philosophical theory, concept, or world-view, attributed to Plato, that the physical world is not as real or true as timeless, absolute, unchangeable ideas. According to this theory, ideas in this sense, often capitalized and translated as "Ideas" or "Forms", are the non-physical essences of all things, of which objects and matter in the physical world are merely imitations. Plato speaks of these entities only through the characters of his dialogues who sometimes suggest that these Forms are the only objects of study that can provide knowledge. The theory itself is contested from within Plato's dialogues, and it is a general point of controversy in philosophy. Whether the theory represents Plato's own views is held in doubt by modern scholarship. However, the theory is considered a classical solution to the problem of universals.
The Exhortation to the Greeks is an Ancient Greek Christian paraenetic or protreptic text in thirty-eight chapters.
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Ancient Greek philosophy