Ancient philosophy

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This page lists some links to ancient philosophy. In Western philosophy, the spread of Christianity in the Roman Empire marked the ending of Hellenistic philosophy and ushered in the beginnings of medieval philosophy, whereas in Eastern philosophy, the spread of Islam through the Arab Empire marked the end of Old Iranian philosophy and ushered in the beginnings of early Islamic philosophy.

Contents

Overview

Genuine philosophical thought, depending upon original individual insights, arose in many cultures roughly contemporaneously. Karl Jaspers termed the intense period of philosophical development beginning around the 7th century and concluding around the 3rd century BCE an Axial Age in human thought.

Ancient Chinese philosophy

Chinese philosophy is the dominant philosophical thought in China and other countries within the East Asian cultural sphere that share a common language, including Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.

Schools of thought

Hundred Schools of Thought

The Hundred Schools of Thought were philosophers and schools that flourished from the 6th century to 221 BCE, [1] an era of great cultural and intellectual expansion in China. Even though this period – known in its earlier part as the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period – in its latter part was fraught with chaos and bloody battles, it is also known as the Golden Age of Chinese philosophy because a broad range of thoughts and ideas were developed and discussed freely. The thoughts and ideas discussed and refined during this period have profoundly influenced lifestyles and social consciousness up to the present day in East Asian countries. The intellectual society of this era was characterized by itinerant scholars, who were often employed by various state rulers as advisers on the methods of government, war, and diplomacy. This period ended with the rise of the Qin Dynasty and the subsequent purge of dissent. The Book of Han lists ten major schools, they are:

  • Confucianism, which teaches that human beings are teachable, improvable and perfectible through personal and communal endeavour especially including self-cultivation and self-creation. A main idea of Confucianism is the cultivation of virtue and the development of moral perfection. Confucianism holds that one should give up one's life, if necessary, either passively or actively, for the sake of upholding the cardinal moral values of ren and yi . [2]
  • Legalism. Often compared with Machiavelli, and foundational for the traditional Chinese bureaucratic empire, the Legalists examined administrative methods, emphasizing a realistic consolidation of the wealth and power of autocrat and state.
  • Taoism, a philosophy which emphasizes the Three Jewels of the Tao: compassion, moderation, and humility, while Taoist thought generally focuses on nature, the relationship between humanity and the cosmos; health and longevity; and wu wei (action through inaction). Harmony with the Universe, or the source thereof (Tao), is the intended result of many Taoist rules and practices.
  • Mohism, which advocated the idea of universal love: Mozi believed that "everyone is equal before heaven", and that people should seek to imitate heaven by engaging in the practice of collective love. His epistemology can be regarded as primitive materialist empiricism; he believed that human cognition ought to be based on one's perceptions one's sensory experiences, such as sight and hearing instead of imagination or internal logic, elements founded on the human capacity for abstraction. Mozi advocated frugality, condemning the Confucian emphasis on ritual and music, which he denounced as extravagant.
  • Naturalism, the School of Naturalists or the Yin-yang school, which synthesized the concepts of yin and yang and the Five Elements; Zou Yan is considered the founder of this school. [3]
  • Agrarianism, or the School of Agrarianism, which advocated peasant utopian communalism and egalitarianism. [4] The Agrarians believed that Chinese society should be modeled around that of the early sage king Shen Nong, a folk hero which was portrayed in Chinese literature as "working in the fields, along with everyone else, and consulting with everyone else when any decision had to be reached." [4]
  • The Logicians or the School of Names, which focused on definition and logic. It is said to have parallels with that of the Ancient Greek sophists or dialecticians. The most notable Logician was Gongsun Longzi.
  • The School of Diplomacy or School of Vertical and Horizontal [Alliances], which focused on practical matters instead of any moral principle, so it stressed political and diplomatic tactics, and debate and lobbying skill. Scholars from this school were good orators, debaters and tacticians.
  • The Miscellaneous School, which integrated teachings from different schools; for instance, Lü Buwei found scholars from different schools to write a book called Lüshi Chunqiu cooperatively. This school tried to integrate the merits of various schools and avoid their perceived flaws.
  • The School of "Minor-talks", which was not a unique school of thought, but a philosophy constructed of all the thoughts which were discussed by and originated from normal people on the street.
  • Another group is the School of the Military that studied strategy and the philosophy of war; Sunzi and Sun Bin were influential leaders. However, this school was not one of the "Ten Schools" defined by Hanshu.

Early Imperial China

The founder of the Qin Dynasty, who implemented Legalism as the official philosophy, quashed Mohist and Confucianist schools. Legalism remained influential until the emperors of the Han Dynasty adopted Daoism and later Confucianism as official doctrine. These latter two became the determining forces of Chinese thought until the introduction of Buddhism.

Confucianism was particularly strong during the Han Dynasty, whose greatest thinker was Dong Zhongshu, who integrated Confucianism with the thoughts of the Zhongshu School and the theory of the Five Elements. He also was a promoter of the New Text school, which considered Confucius as a divine figure and a spiritual ruler of China, who foresaw and started the evolution of the world towards the Universal Peace. In contrast, there was an Old Text school that advocated the use of Confucian works written in ancient language (from this comes the denomination Old Text) that were so much more reliable. In particular, they refuted the assumption of Confucius as a godlike figure and considered him as the greatest sage, but simply a human and mortal.

The 3rd and 4th centuries saw the rise of the Xuanxue (mysterious learning), also called Neo-Taoism. The most important philosophers of this movement were Wang Bi, Xiang Xiu and Guo Xiang. The main question of this school was whether Being came before Not-Being (in Chinese, ming and wuming). A peculiar feature of these Taoist thinkers, like the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove, was the concept of feng liu (lit. wind and flow), a sort of romantic spirit which encouraged following the natural and instinctive impulse.

Buddhism arrived in China around the 1st century AD, but it was not until the Northern and Southern, Sui and Tang Dynasties that it gained considerable influence and acknowledgement. At the beginning, it was considered a sort of Taoist sect, and there was even a theory about Laozi, founder of Taoism, who went to India and taught his philosophy to Buddha. Mahayana Buddhism was far more successful in China than its rival Hinayana, and both Indian schools and local Chinese sects arose from the 5th century. Two chiefly important monk philosophers were Sengzhao and Daosheng. But probably the most influential and original of these schools was the Chan sect, which had an even stronger impact in Japan as the Zen sect.

Philosophers

Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy

Graphical relationship among the various pre-Socratic philosophers and thinkers; red arrows indicate a relationship of opposition. Presocratic graph.svg
Graphical relationship among the various pre-Socratic philosophers and thinkers; red arrows indicate a relationship of opposition.
Raphael's School of Athens, depicting an array of ancient Greek philosophers engaged in discussion. "The School of Athens" by Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino.jpg
Raphael's School of Athens, depicting an array of ancient Greek philosophers engaged in discussion.

Philosophers

Pre-Socratic philosophers

Thales (624 – c 546 BCE)
Anaximander (610 – 546 BCE)
Anaximenes of Miletus (c. 585 – c. 525 BCE)
Pythagoras (582 – 496 BCE)
Philolaus (470 – 380 BCE)
Alcmaeon of Croton
Archytas (428 – 347 BCE)
Xenophanes (570 – 470 BCE)
Parmenides (510 – 440 BCE)
Zeno of Elea (490 – 430 BCE)
Melissus of Samos (c. 470 BCE – ?)
Empedocles (490 – 430 BCE)
Anaxagoras (500 – 428 BCE)
Leucippus (first half of 5th century BCE)
Democritus (460 – 370 BCE)
Metrodorus of Chios (4th century BCE)
Protagoras (490 – 420 BCE)
Gorgias (487 – 376 BCE)
Antiphon (480 – 411 BCE)
Prodicus (465/450 – after 399 BCE)
Hippias (middle of the 5th century BCE)
Thrasymachus (459 – 400 BCE)
Callicles
Critias
Lycophron

Classical Greek philosophers

Hellenistic philosophy

Hellenistic schools of thought

Early Roman and Christian philosophy

See also: Christian philosophy

Philosophers during Roman times

Plotinus Plotinos.jpg
Plotinus

Ancient Indian philosophy

The ancient Indian philosophy is a fusion of two ancient traditions: the Vedic tradition and the Sramana tradition.

Vedic philosophy

Indian philosophy begins with the Vedas wherein questions pertaining to laws of nature, the origin of the universe and the place of man in it are asked. In the famous Rigvedic Hymn of Creation (Nasadiya Sukta) the poet asks:

Vyasa, at middle of the picture Sanjayas's Foreknowledge.jpg
Vyasa, at middle of the picture
"Whence all creation had its origin,
he, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not,
he, who surveys it all from highest heaven,
he knows—or maybe even he does not know."

In the Vedic view, creation is ascribed to the self-consciousness of the primeval being (Purusha). This leads to the inquiry into the one being that underlies the diversity of empirical phenomena and the origin of all things. Cosmic order is termed rta and causal law by karma. Nature (prakriti) is taken to have three qualities ( sattva , rajas , and tamas ).

Sramana philosophy

Jainism and Buddhism are continuation of the Sramana school of thought. The Sramanas cultivated a pessimistic worldview of the samsara as full of suffering and advocated renunciation and austerities. They laid stress on philosophical concepts like Ahimsa, Karma, Jnana, Samsara and Moksa. Cārvāka (Sanskrit: चार्वाक) (atheist) philosophy, also known as Lokāyata, it is a system of Hindu philosophy that assumes various forms of philosophical skepticism and religious indifference. It is named after its founder, Cārvāka, author of the Bārhaspatya-sūtras.

Classical Indian philosophy

In classical times, these inquiries were systematized in six schools of philosophy. Some of the questions asked were:

The six schools of Indian philosophy are:

Ancient Indian philosophers

1st millennium BCE

Philosophers of Vedic Age (c. 1500 – c. 600 BCE)

Philosophers of Axial Age (600–185 BCE)

Buddha. Sermon in the Deer Park depicted at Wat Chedi Liem-KayEss-1.jpeg
Buddha.

Philosophers of Golden Age (184 BCE – 600 CE)

Ancient Iranian philosophy

Zarathustra as depicted in Raphael's The School of Athens beside Raphael who appears as the ancient painter Apelles of Kos. Sanzio 01 Zoroaster Ptolmey.jpg
Zarathustra as depicted in Raphael's The School of Athens beside Raphael who appears as the ancient painter Apelles of Kos.

See also: Dualism, Dualism (philosophy of mind)

While there are ancient relations between the Indian Vedas and the Iranian Avesta, the two main families of the Indo-Iranian philosophical traditions were characterized by fundamental differences in their implications for the human being's position in society and their view of man's role in the universe. The first charter of human rights by Cyrus the Great as understood in the Cyrus cylinder is often seen as a reflection of the questions and thoughts expressed by Zarathustra and developed in Zoroastrian schools of thought of the Achaemenid Era of Iranian history. [7] [8]

Schools of thought

Ideas and tenets of Zoroastrian schools of Early Persian philosophy are part of many works written in Middle Persian and of the extant scriptures of the zoroastrian religion in Avestan language. Among these are treatises such as the Shikand-gumanic Vichar by Mardan-Farrux Ohrmazddadan, selections of Denkard, Wizidagīhā-ī Zātspram ("Selections of Zātspram") as well as older passages of the book Avesta, the Gathas which are attributed to Zarathustra himself and regarded as his "direct teachings". [9]

Zoroastrianism

Anacharsis

Pre-Manichaean thought

Manichaeism

Mazdakism

Zurvanism

Philosophy and the Empire

Literature

Ancient Jewish philosophy

See also: Jewish philosophy

First Temple (c. 900 BCE to 587 BCE)

Assyrian exile (587 BCE to 516 BCE)

Second Temple (516 BCE to 70 CE)

Early Roman exile (70 CE to c. 600 CE)

See also

Related Research Articles

Chinese philosophy philosophy in the Chinese cultural sphere

Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn period and Warring States period, during a period known as the "Hundred Schools of Thought", which was characterized by significant intellectual and cultural developments. Although much of Chinese philosophy begins in the Warring States period, elements of Chinese philosophy have existed for several thousand years; some can be found in the Yi Jing, an ancient compendium of divination, which dates back to at least 672 BCE. It was during the Warring States era that what Sima Tan termed the major philosophical schools of China: Confucianism, Legalism, and Taoism, arose, along with philosophies that later fell into obscurity, like Agriculturalism, Mohism, Chinese Naturalism, and the Logicians.

Indian religions The religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent

Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent; namely Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. These religions are also all classified as Eastern religions. Although Indian religions are connected through the history of India, they constitute a wide range of religious communities, and are not confined to the Indian subcontinent.

<i>Sutra</i> a text in Hinduism or Buddhism. Often a collection of aphorisms or formulae.

Sutra in Indian literary traditions refers to an aphorism or a collection of aphorisms in the form of a manual or, more broadly, a condensed manual or text. Sutras are a genre of ancient and medieval Indian texts found in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

Charvaka, also known as Lokāyata, is an ancient school of Indian materialism. Charvaka holds direct perception, empiricism, and conditional inference as proper sources of knowledge, embraces philosophical skepticism and rejects ritualism, and supernaturalism.

Eastern philosophy Philosophy of the Eastern World

Eastern philosophy or Asian philosophy includes the various philosophies that originated in East and South Asia including Chinese philosophy, Japanese philosophy, and Korean philosophy which are dominant in East Asia and Vietnam, and Indian philosophy which are dominant in South Asia, Southeast Asia, Tibet and Mongolia.

Historical Vedic religion Religious ideas and practices among most Indo-Aryan-speaking peoples of ancient India after about 1500 BCE

The historical Vedic religion refers to the religious ideas and practices among most Indo-Aryan-speaking peoples of ancient India after about 1500 BCE. These ideas and practices are found in the Vedic texts, and they were one of the major influences that shaped contemporary Hinduism.

Hindu philosophy various systems of thought in Hinduism

Hindu philosophy refers to philosophies, world views and teachings that emerged in ancient India. These include six systems (ṣaḍdarśana) – Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimamsa and Vedanta. These are also called the Astika (orthodox) philosophical traditions and are those that accept the Vedas as an authoritative, important source of knowledge. Ancient and medieval India was also the source of philosophies that share philosophical concepts but rejected the Vedas, and these have been called nāstika Indian philosophies. Nāstika Indian philosophies include Buddhism, Jainism, Cārvāka, Ājīvika, and others.

Samkhya or Sankhya is one of the six āstika schools of Hindu philosophy. It is most related to the Yoga school of Hinduism, and it was influential on other schools of Indian philosophy. Sāmkhya is an enumerationist philosophy whose epistemology accepts three of six pramanas (proofs) as the only reliable means of gaining knowledge. These include pratyakṣa (perception), anumāṇa (inference) and śabda. Sometimes described as one of the rationalist schools of Indian philosophy, this ancient school's reliance on reason was exclusive but strong.

Mīmāṃsā is a Sanskrit word that means "reflection" or "critical investigation" and thus refers to a tradition of contemplation which reflected on the meanings of certain Vedic texts. This tradition is also known as Pūrva-Mīmāṃsā because of its focus on the earlier (pūrva) Vedic texts dealing with ritual actions, and similarly as Karma-Mīmāṃsā due to its focus on ritual action (karma). It is one of six Vedic "affirming" (āstika) schools of Hinduism. This particular school is known for its philosophical theories on the nature of dharma, based on hermeneutics of the Vedas, especially the Brāḥmanas and Saṃhitas. The Mīmāṃsā school was foundational and influential for the vedāntic schools, which were also known as Uttara-Mīmāṃsā for their focus on the "later" (uttara) portions of the Vedas, the Upaniṣads. While both "earlier" and "later" Mīmāṃsā investigate the aim of human action, they do so with different attitudes towards the necessity of ritual praxis.

Indian philosophy Philosophical traditions of the Indian subcontinent

Indian philosophy refers to ancient philosophical traditions of the Indian subcontinent. The principal schools are classified as either orthodox or heterodox – āstika or nāstika – depending on one of three alternate criteria: whether it believes the Vedas as a valid source of knowledge; whether the school believes in the premises of Brahman and Atman; and whether the school believes in afterlife and Devas.

Kanada, also known as Kashyapa, Uluka, Kananda and Kanabhuk, was an ancient Indian natural scientist and philosopher who founded the Vaisheshika school of Indian philosophy that also represents the earliest Indian physics.

Kapila Vedic sage, of the Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy

Kapila is a given name of different individuals in ancient and medieval Indian texts, of which the most well known is the founder of the Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy. Kapila of Samkhya fame is considered a Vedic sage, estimated to have lived in the 6th-century BCE, or the 7th-century BCE.

Jaimini ancient Indian rishi (sage)

Jaimini was an ancient Indian scholar who founded the Mīmāṃsā school of Hindu philosophy. He was a disciple of sage Veda Vyasa, the son of Parashara. Traditionally attributed to be the author of the Mimamsa Sutras and Jaimini Sutras, he is estimated to have lived around the 4th-century BCE. His school is considered non-theistic, but one that emphasized rituals parts of the Vedas as essential to Dharma.

This is a wide-ranging alphabetical list of philosophers from the Eastern traditions of philosophy, with special interest in Indo-Chinese philosophy. The list stops at the year 1950, after which philosophers fall into the category of contemporary philosophy.

Āstika and nāstika

Āstika derives from the Sanskrit asti, "there is, there exists", and means “one who believes in the existence ” and Nāstika means "an unbeliever". These have been concepts used to classify Indian philosophies by modern scholars, and some Hindu, Buddhist and Jaina texts. Āstika has been defined in one of three ways; as those who accept the epistemic authority of the Vedas, as those who accept the existence of ātman, or as those who accept the existence of Ishvara. In contrast, nāstika are those who deny the respective definitions of āstika.

<i>Śramaṇa</i> Tradition in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism

Śramaṇa means "one who labours, toils, or exerts themselves " or "seeker, one who performs acts of austerity, ascetic". The term in early Vedic literature is predominantly used as an epithet for the Rishis with reference to Shrama associated with the ritualistic exertion. The term in these texts doesn't express non-Vedic connotations as it does in post-Vedic Buddhist and Jain canonical texts. During its later semantic development, the term came to refer to several non-Brahmanical ascetic movements parallel to but separate from the Vedic religion. The śramaṇa tradition includes Jainism, Buddhism, and others such as the Ājīvikas, Ajñanas and Cārvākas.

The Mimamsa Sutra or the Purva Mimamsa Sutras, written by Rishi Jaimini is one of the most important ancient Hindu philosophical texts. It forms the basis of Mimamsa, the earliest of the six orthodox schools (darshanas) of Indian philosophy. According to tradition, sage Jaimini was one of the disciples of sage Veda Vyasa, the author of the Mahabharata.

Atheism or disbelief in God or gods has been a historically propounded viewpoint in many of the orthodox and heterodox streams of Indian philosophy. There are six major orthodox (astika) schools of Hindu philosophy—Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Mīmāṃsā and Vedanta, and five major heterodox (nāstika) schools of Śramaṇa—Jain, Buddhist, Ajivika, Ajñana, and Cārvāka. The four most studied nāstika schools, those rejecting the doctrine of Vedas, are Jainism, Buddhism, Cārvāka, and Ājīvika.

Gautama Maharishi Vedic sage

Gautama Maharishi was a Rigvedic sage in Hinduism, and also finds mentions in Jainism and Buddhism.

Vaiśeṣika Sūtra,, also called Kanada sutra, is an ancient Sanskrit text at the foundation of the Vaisheshika school of Hindu philosophy. The sutra was authored by the Hindu sage Kanada, also known as Kashyapa. According to some scholars, he flourished before the advent of Buddhism because the Vaiśeṣika Sūtra makes no mention of Buddhism or Buddhist doctrines; however, the details of Kanada's life are uncertain, and the Vaiśeṣika Sūtra was likely compiled sometime between 6th and 2nd century BCE, and finalized in the currently existing version before the start of the common era.

References

  1. "Chinese philosophy", Encyclopædia Britannica, accessed 4/6/2014
  2. Lo, Ping-cheung (1999), Confucian Ethic of Death with Dignity and Its Contemporary Relevance (PDF), Society of Christian Ethics, archived from the original (PDF) on 16 July 2011
  3. "Zou Yan". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 1 March 2011.
  4. 1 2 Deutsch, Eliot; Ronald Bontekoei (1999). A companion to world philosophies. Wiley Blackwell. p. 183.
  5. The significance of Purusha Sukta in Daily Invocations by Swami Krishnananda
  6. P. 285 Indian sociology through Ghurye, a dictionary By S. Devadas Pillai
  7. Philip G. Kreyenbroek: "Morals and Society in Zoroastrian Philosophy" in "Persian Philosophy". Companion Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy: Brian Carr and Indira Mahalingam. Routledge, 2009.
  8. Mary Boyce: "The Origins of Zoroastrian Philosophy" in "Persian Philosophy". Companion Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy: Brian Carr and Indira Mahalingam. Routledge, 2009.
  9. An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia. From Zoroaster to 'Umar Khayyam. S. H. Nasr & M. Aminrazavi. I. B. Tauris Publishers, London & New York, 2008. ISBN   978-1845115418.
  10. Zurvan. A Zoroastrian Dilemma. Robert Charles Zaehner. Biblo and Tannen, 1972. ISBN   0-8196-0280-9.
  11. 1 2 Sasanian Iran - intellectual life. A. Tafazzoli and A. L. Khromov in: History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The Crossroads of Civilization. B. A. Litvinsky, Zhang Guand-Da, R. Shabani Samghabadi. Unesco, 1996. ISBN   9231032119.
  12. Mansour Shaki. Falsafa. Philosophy in the pre-Islamic period. Encyclopædia Iranica. Volume IX. 1999. ISBN   0-933273-35-5.
  13. Prods Oktor Skjaervo. Bardesanes. Encyclopædia Iranica. Volume III. Fasc. 7–8. ISBN   0-7100-9121-4.
  14. David A. Scott. Manichaean Views of Buddhism in: History of Religions. Vol. 25, No. 2, Nov. 1985. University of Chicago Press.
  15. Yarshater, Ehsan. 1983. The Cambridge history of Iran, volume 2. pp. 995–997

Further reading