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Ancient Greek Philosophy

Interestingly, Greek philosophy does not have its roots in ancient Greece. Research reveals that the movement, as we study and understand it today, developed along the western coast of Ionia or modern Turkey. The first philosopher was a Phoenician called Thales, who is also recognized as the world’s first materialist. Nevertheless, the word ‘philosophy’ has its roots in ancient Greece. Ancient Greeks were leaders in their understanding and advances in logic, geometry, and the natural sciences. They gave a lot of importance to every individual’s quest for knowledge and regularly documented observations made by theorists of early civilization. Ancient Greek philosophy incorporated a balance between practical and institutional knowledge, logically coherent systems and mythological explanations. The ontologists documented arguments that were supported by logical assertions that questioned and sought to answer the plurality of natural objects.

Ancient Greek Philosophy:

Ancient Greek philosophy questioned philosophical activities during the years between the 6th century BC to 6th century AD. Greek thinkers developed scientific and logical reasoning around the existent and futuristic values of cosmology, epistemology, logic and aesthetics. Most of the ancient Greek philosophers were pagans, who influenced western thought via skeptic reasoning. Greek philosophers created the scope to question reality, apparent reality or phenomenon and unseen reality, that which lies shrouded by the unreal. They defined the paradigms and influence of materialism, spiritual realms, idealism and the very philosophy of knowledge.

The ancient Greek masters outlined the importance of empiricism and rationalism in the quest for knowledge. They believed that while the former propounds the genius of practical knowledge, rationalism interrogated knowledge as a matter of reason. According to ancient Greek philosophers, ethics refers to the understanding of right and wrong through the self-explanatory adage: ‘I like what gives me pleasure and I don’t like that which gives me pain.’ They believed cynicism to be a necessary evil that provides the thrust to move towards the ultimate spiritual good, God. The philosophy of ancient Greece developed around the ideals of:

  • Neoplatonism
  • Academic Skepticism
  • Pyrrhonian Skepticism
  • Cynicism
  • Stoicism
  • Epicureanism
  • Eclecticism

The ancient Greek philosophers sought answers to the ultimate force that unifies the real world and the nature of the elements. They established philosophies that churned out religions in time. The philosophies were assimilated in a unified sphere that gave resultant gods human faculties, a part of the effort to establish anthropomorphism and pantheism. Greek philosophy thrived on the quest for the ‘ultimate reality’, illusionary nature of the material world and paradoxes in everyday life. Some of the popular ancient Greek philosophers, known to the modern world, include:

Heraclitus:

The declaration: ‘Panta rhei, ouden menei’, or ‘all things must pass, nothing abides’ was given to us by Heraclitus. He believed in the inherent interdependence between core dualities.

Socrates:

Socrates propounded theories that emphasized on the importance of a ‘method of inquiry’. Socrates gave to the ancient world the genius of Plato.

Plato:

Plato documented philosophical dialogs in the form of conversations. He questioned and wrote his observations with regards to methods of acquiring knowledge, social justice and civil ethics. He defined the paradigms of metaphysics and reason, to create a harmonious human existence.

Aristotle:

Aristotle was Plato’s student, who emphasized more on the assimilation of practical knowledge. He established the scientific method of reasoning through his treatises on physics, metaphysics, ethics and politics.

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