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Encyclopedia > Greek philosophy

Ancient Greek philosophy focused on the role of reason and inquiry. In many ways, it had an important influence on modern philosophy, as well as modern science. Clear unbroken lines of influence lead from ancient Greek and Hellenistic philosophers, to medieval Muslim philosophers and scientists, to the European Renaissance and Enlightenment, to the secular sciences of the modern day. For other uses, see Reason (disambiguation). ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... For other uses, see Philosophy (disambiguation). ... A magnet levitating above a high-temperature superconductor demonstrates the Meissner effect. ... Hellenistic philosophy is the period of Western philosophy that was developed in the Hellenistic civilization following Aristotle and ending with Neo-Platonism. ... Early Muslim philosophy is considered influential in the rise of modern philosophy. ... In the history of science, Islamic science refers to the science developed under the Islamic civilisation between the 8th and 15th centuries (the Islamic Golden Age). ... For other uses, see Europe (disambiguation). ... This article is about the European Renaissance of the 14th-17th centuries. ... The Age of Enlightenment (French: ; Italian: ; German: ; Spanish: ; Swedish: ; Polish: ; Portuguese: ) was an eighteenth-century movement in Western philosophy. ... A magnet levitating above a high-temperature superconductor demonstrates the Meissner effect. ...

Neither reason nor inquiry began with the Ancient Greeks, but the Socratic method did, along with the idea of Forms, great advances in geometry, logic, and the natural sciences. Defining the difference between the Ancient Greek quest for knowledge and the quests of the elder civilizations, such as the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians, has long been a topic of study by theorists of civilization. Benjamin Farrington, former Professor of Classics at Swansea University wrote: Socratic Method (or Method of Elenchus or Socratic Debate) is a dialectic method of inquiry, largely applied to the examination of key moral concepts and first described by Plato in the Socratic Dialogues. ... Plato spoke of forms (sometimes capitalized: The Forms) in formulating his solution to the problem of universals. ... For other uses, see Geometry (disambiguation). ... Logic (from Classical Greek λόγος logos; meaning word, thought, idea, argument, account, reason, or principle) is the study of the principles and criteria of valid inference and demonstration. ... Central New York City. ... The pyramids are the most recognizable symbols of the civilization of ancient Egypt. ... Babylonia was a state in southern Mesopotamia, in modern Iraq, combining the territories of Sumer and Akkad. ... Benjamin Farrington (1891-1974) was an Irish scholar and professor of the Classics. ... For other uses, see Classics (disambiguation). ... Swansea University (Welsh: Prifysgol Abertawe) is located in Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom. ...

"Men were weighing for thousands of years before Archimedes worked out the laws of equilibrium; they must have had practical and intuitional knowledge of the principles involved. What Archimedes did was to sort out the theoretical implications of this practical knowledge and present the resulting body of knowledge as a logically coherent system."

and again: For other uses, see Archimedes (disambiguation). ...

"With astonishment we find ourselves on the threshold of modern science. Nor should it be supposed that by some trick of translation the extracts have been given a air of modernity. Far from it. The vocabulary of these writings and their style are the source from which our own vocabulary and style have been derived."[1]


Presocratic Philosophy

See also: Pre-Socratic Philosophy

The presocratics were primarily ontologists who rejected mythological explanations for reasoned discourse. Parmenides, for example, gave one of the first documented logical arguments: How could what is perish? How could it have come to be? For if it came into being, it is not; nor is it if ever it is going to be. Thus coming into being is extinguished, and destruction unknown. Heraclitus, in contrast to Parmenides immutable one, asserted that the only thing that doesn’t change and perish is change itself. As can be seen, then, the presocratics were concerned with what exists, where it comes from, what it comes from, how it exists and how the plurality of natural objects can be explained. The Pre-Socratic philosophers were active before Socrates or contemporaneously, but expounding knowledge developed earlier. ... Parmenides of Elea (5th century BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher born in Elea, a Greek city on the southern coast of Italy. ... Heraclitus of Ephesus (Ancient Greek - Herákleitos ho Ephésios (Herakleitos the Ephesian)) (about 535 - 475 BC), known as The Obscure (Ancient Greek - ho Skoteinós), was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, a native of Ephesus on the coast of Asia Minor. ...

Classic Greek philosophy


The philosopher Socrates (470 B.C. - 399 B.C.) of Athens
The philosopher Socrates (470 B.C. - 399 B.C.) of Athens

Socrates, an Athenian philosopher, believed that a person should always try to do well. He believed that one should "know thyself." This is evidenced by disobeying a bad command. He made his most important contribution to Western thought through his method of inquiry. In addition, he also taught many famous Greek philosophers. His most famous pupil was Plato. However, since Socrates discussed ideas that upset many people (some in high positions), he was given a choice to be banished from Athens, or to be sentenced to death by drinking a poison, hemlock (Conium maculatum). He was given a cup of hemlock by a guard. He chose to drink the poison, perhaps because he could not stand the thought of being banished from his home. The ironic thing about this is that during the reign of the Thirty Tyrants he was often threatened, but survived despite his continued protests for democracy. When democracy came, he was executed for corrupting their young children. Most of what we know about Socrates came from Plato as Socrates wrote nothing down. Image File history File links Socrates. ... Image File history File links Socrates. ... This page is about the Classical Greek philosopher. ... This page is about the Classical Greek philosopher. ... For other uses, see Plato (disambiguation). ... The Thirty Tyrants were a pro-Spartan oligarchy installed in Athens after Athens defeat in the Peloponnesian War in April 404 BC. Its two leading members were Tharamenes and Critias, a former acolyte of Socrates. ...

Plato and Aristotle

Aristotle, Aristoteles in Latin and many other languages (but Aristote in French and Aristotele in Italian), (384 BC - 322 BC) has, along with Plato, the reputation of one of the most influential philosophers in Western thought. Their works, although connected in many fundamental ways, differ considerably in both style and substance. Plato wrote several dozen philosophical dialogues—arguments in the form of conversations, usually with Socrates as a participant—and a few letters. Though the early dialogues deal mainly with methods of acquiring knowledge, and most of the last ones with justice and practical ethics, his most famous works expressed a synoptic view of ethics, metaphysics, reason, knowledge, and human life. Predominant ideas include the notion that knowledge gained through the senses always remains confused and impure, and that the contemplative soul that turns away from the world can acquire "true" knowledge. The soul alone can have knowledge of the Forms, the real essences of things, of which the world we see is but an imperfect copy. Such knowledge has ethical as well as scientific import. One can view Plato, with qualification, as an idealist and a rationalist. For other uses, see Aristotle (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Plato (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Ethics (disambiguation). ... Plato (Left) and Aristotle (right), by Raphael (Stanza della Segnatura, Rome) Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the ultimate nature of reality, being, and the world. ... For other uses, see Knowledge (disambiguation). ... Personal life (or everyday life or human existence) is an individual humans personal, private career (including, but not the same as, their employment career), and is a common notion in modern existence -- although more so in more prosperous parts of the world, such as Western Europe and North America... For other uses, see Essence (disambiguation). ... This section may require cleanup to meet Wikipedias quality standards. ... In epistemology and in its broadest sense, rationalism is any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification (Lacey 286). ...

Aristotle was one of Plato's students, but placed much more value on knowledge gained from the senses, and would correspondingly better earn the modern label of empiricist. Thus Aristotle set the stage for what would eventually develop into the scientific method centuries later. The works of Aristotle that still exist today appear in treatise form, mostly unpublished by their author. The most important include Physics, Metaphysics, (Nicomachean) Ethics, Politics, De Anima (On the Soul), Poetics, and many others. Empiricism is generally regarded as being at the heart of the modern scientific method, that our theories should be based on our observations of the world rather than on intuition or faith; that is, empirical research and a posteriori inductive reasoning rather than purely deductive logic. ... Scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. ... Nicomachean Ethics Nicomachean Ethics (sometimes spelled Nichomachean), or Ta Ethika, is a work by Aristotle on virtue and moral character which plays a prominent role in defining Aristotelian ethics. ...

Aristotle was a great thinker and philosopher, and was called 'the Master' by Avicenna in the following centuries and 'the Philosopher' by others, since his philosophy was crucial in governing intellectual thought in the Western world. His views and approaches dominated early Western science for almost 2000 years. As well as philosophy, Aristotle was a formidable inventor, and is credited with many significant inventions and observations.

Hellenistic philosophy

During the Hellenistic and Roman periods, many different schools of thought developed in the Hellenistic world, and there were Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Syrians who were responsible for the development of Hellenistic philosophy. Elements of Persian philosophy and Indian philosophy also had an influence. The most notable schools of Hellenistic philosophy were: Hellenistic philosophy is the period of Western philosophy that was developed in the Hellenistic civilization following Aristotle and ending with Neo-Platonism. ... The Hellenistic period (4th - 1st c. ... For other uses, see Roman Empire (disambiguation). ... The term Hellenistic (derived from Héllēn, the Greeks traditional self-described ethnic name) was established by the German historian Johann Gustav Droysen to refer to the spreading of Greek culture over the non-Greek people that were conquered by Alexander the Great. ... Ancient Rome was a civilization that grew from a small agricultural community founded on the Italian Peninsula circa the 9th century BC to a massive empire straddling the Mediterranean Sea. ... Iranian philosophy can be traced back as far as to Old Iranian philosophical traditions and thoughts which originated in ancient Indo-Iranian roots and were considerably influenced by Zarathustras teachings. ... The term Indian philosophy may refer to any of several traditions of philosophical thought, including: Hindu philosophy Buddhist philosophy Jain philosophy Sikh philosophy Carvaka atheist philosophy Lokayata materialist philosophy Tantric religious philosophy Bhakti religious philosophy Sufi religious philosophy Ahmadi religious philosophy Political and military philosophy such as that of Chanakya...

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: early Islamic philosophy, Jewish philosophy and Christian philosophy. Neoplatonism (also Neo-Platonism) is the modern term for a school of religious and mystical philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, founded by Plotinus and based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists. ... Plotinus (Greek: ) (ca. ... Ammonius Saccas (3rd century AD) was a Greek philosopher of Alexandria, often called the founder of the Neoplatonic school. ... Porphyry of Tyre (Greek: , c. ... Iamblichus, also known as Iamblichus Chalcidensis, (ca. ... This article is about Proclus Diadochus, the Neoplatonist philosopher. ... Philosophical scepticism (UK spelling, scepticism) is both a philosophical school of thought and a method that crosses disciplines and cultures. ... Arcesilaus (Ἀρκεσίλαος) (c. ... Carneades (c. ... For other uses, see Cicero (disambiguation). ... Pyrrhonism, or Pyrrhonian skepticism, was a school of skepticism founded by Aenesidemus in the first century BCE and recorded by Sextus Empiricus in the 3rd century. ... Pyrrho (c. ... Sextus Empiricus (fl. ... This article is about the ancient Greek school of philosophy. ... Portrait bust of Antisthenes Antisthenes (Greek: , c. ... Diogenes (Greek: Diogenes o Sinopeus) the Cynic, Greek philosopher, was born in Sinope (modern day Sinop, Turkey) about 412 BC (according to other sources 399 BC), and died in 323 BC at Corinth. ... Crates of Thebes, a Hellenistic philosopher, was one of the Cynics and the teacher of Zeno of Citium. ... Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy, founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early third century BC. It proved to be a popular and durable philosophy, with a following throughout Greece and the Roman Empire from its founding until all the schools of philosophy were ordered closed... Zeno of Citium Zeno of Citium (The Stoic) (sometime called Zeno Apathea) (333 BC-264 BC) was a Hellenistic philosopher from Citium, Cyprus. ... Cleanthes (c. ... Chrysippus of Soli (279-207 BC) was Cleanthess pupil and eventual successor to the head of the stoic philosophy (232-204 BC). ... Crates, of Mallus in Cilicia, a Greek grammarian and Stoic philosopher of the 2nd century BC, leader of the literary school and head of the library of Pergamum. ... Panaetius of Rhodes (c. ... The bust of Posidonius as an older man depicts his character as a Stoic philosopher. ... Bust, traditionally thought to be Seneca, now identified by some as Hesiod. ... Epictetus (Greek: Επίκτητος; ca. ... Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (called the Wise) (April 26, 121[2] – March 17, 180) was Roman Emperor from 161 to his death in 180. ... Epicureanism is a system of philosophy based upon the teachings of Epicurus (c. ... Epicure redirects here. ... Lucretius Titus Lucretius Carus (c. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... For other uses, see Cicero (disambiguation). ... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Relation to other religions Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Christianity Portal This box:      Christianity is a monotheistic[1] religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Islamization. ... Philosophy seated between the seven liberal arts – Picture from the Hortus deliciarum of Herrad von Landsberg (12th century) Medieval philosophy is the philosophy of Europe and the Middle East in the era now known as medieval or the Middle Ages, the period roughly extending from the fall of the Roman... map showing the prevalence of Abrahamic (purple) and Dharmic (yellow) religions in each country. ... Early Muslim philosophy is considered influential in the rise of modern philosophy. ... Jewish philosophy refers to the conjunction between serious study of philosophy and Jewish theology. ... It is proposed that this article be deleted, because of the following concern: Filled with OR and completely unsourced. ...

Arab influence

Further information: Transmission of Greek philosophical ideas in the Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, Greek ideas were largely forgotten in Europe. With the fall of Rome, very few people in the west were left who knew how to read Greek. Greek philosophies were kept alive at this time by Arabs, who hired Syriac Christians to translate from Greek into Arabic. Many Islamic rulers gathered the manuscripts and hired translators to increase their prestige. Arab philosophers, such as Al-Kindi and Al-Farabi, reinterpreted Greek philosophies in the context of their religion. Their interpretations were later transmitted to the Europeans in the High Middle Ages, when Greek philosophies re-entered the west through translations from Arabic to Latin. The re-introduction of these philosophies, combined with th new Arab commentary, had a great influence on philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas. The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ... The cathedral Notre Dame de Paris, a significant architectural contribution of the High Middle Ages. ... Aquinas redirects here. ...


  1. ^ Greek Science, many editions, such as the paperback by Penguin Books. Copyrights in 1944, 1949, 1953, 1961, 1963. The first quote above comes from Part 1, Chapter 1; the second, from Part 2, Chapter 4.

See also

This page lists some links to ancient philosophy, although for Western thinkers prior to Socrates, see Pre-Socratic philosophy. ... Aristotelianism is a tradition of philosophy that takes its defining inspiration from the work of Aristotle. ... To the ancient Greeks, Paideia (παιδεία) was the process of educating man into his true form, the real and genuine human nature. ... For other uses, see Philosophy (disambiguation). ...

Further reading

  • The London Philosophy Study Guide offers many suggestions on what to read, depending on the student's familiarity with the subject: Greek Philosophy


  • John Burnet, Early Greek Philosophy, 1930.
  • William Keith Chambers Guthrie, A History of Greek Philosophy: Volume 1, The Earlier Presocratics and the Pythagoreans, 1962.
  • Martin Litchfield West, Early Greek Philosophy and the Orient, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1971.
  • Martin Litchfield West, The East Face of Helicon: West Asiatic Elements in Greek Poetry and Myth, Oxford [England] ; New York: Clarendon Press, 1997.
  • Charles Freeman (1996). Egypt, Greece and Rome. Oxford University Press. 

Martin Litchfield West (born 23 September 1937, London, England) is an internationally recognised scholar in classics, classical antiquity and philology. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Greek Philosophy - MSN Encarta (693 words)
Greek Philosophy, body of philosophical concepts developed by the Greeks, particularly during the flowering of Greek civilization between 600 and 200 bc.
Greek philosophy may be divided between those philosophers who sought an explanation of the world in physical terms and those who stressed the importance of nonmaterial forms or ideas.
The beliefs of Pythagoras and Parmenides formed the basis of the idealism that was to characterize later Greek philosophy.
Greek Philosophy [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy] (3899 words)
Philosophy was first brought into connection with practical life by Pythagoras of Samos (about 582-504 BCE), from whom it received its name: "the love of wisdom".
Philosophy to him meant science, and its aim was the recognition of the purpose in all things.
The last home of philosophy was at Athens, where Proclus (411-485) sought to reduce to a kind of system the whole mass of philosophic tradition, until in 529 CE, the teaching of philosophy at Athens was forbidden by Justinian.
  More results at FactBites »



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