Greek Philosophy

Topics: Plato, Philosophy, Metaphysics Pages: 7 (1493 words) Published: January 27, 2013
Earliest Beginnings
Greek Philosophy
• Philosophy began when human beings tried to understand the world through the use of reason, rather than through religious myths or accepting the authority of others • The earliest philosophical questions were things like…. • “What is the world made of?” • “What holds the world up?”

A brief overview of persons and doctrines

• The first known philosopher was Thales, who lived in Miletus, in southern Asia Minor. • He thought that the world was all made out of a single element… • He believe it was all water, in one form or another

You can’t step in the same river twice!...

• Other early philosophers adopted different views, both on the number of the basic elements, and on its nature… • Heraclitus said “everything is flux”

The Pythagoreans
• • A school of thinkers founded by Pythagoras, 570 BC-497 BC. Studied mathematics and philosophy, which he tried to unite Thought to be the first person to apply the word “cosmos” to the universe—the insight that the universe had an order to it, which Pythagoras believed could be expressed by humans in terms of mathematics

Socrates 470-399 BC
The first great Greek philosopher Born and lived at Athens Turned away from the thinking of previous philosophers because –

they were all at odds with each other, and none proposed a method by which to decide between them they made little practical difference anyway, even if we could discover which was true


Socrates believed what we needed to know was how to conduct our lives and ourselves The urgent questions were – – –

Socrates believed that if we apply words like “just” to all sorts of different people, decisions, laws, and sets of arrangements, there was something common to them all, something called “justice” which they all shared. He believed that this “justice” is real, though it is not material, perhaps some sort of “essence.” He believed that we could discover the nature of this abstract reality through rigorous discussions and careful questioning of each other.

What is good? What is right? What is just?

Socrates’ two cherished beliefs:

If we preserve our integrity, no real, long-term harm could ever come to us. No one really knowingly does wrong—he believed that if we only knew the answer to questions like “what is justice,” we would be bound to behave justly. This is why he tried to involve as many people as possible in his discussions.

A follower of Socrates and initially a disseminator of his ideas First person to write philosophy—he wrote “Dialogues” in which Socrates is the protaganist Early dialogues were more or less accounts of Socrates’ and his conversations; later dialogues Plato began to include ideas of his own

His interests begin with the ethical interests of Socrates, but gradually move toward natural philosophy and mathematics—the sorts of things that Socrates scorned


Plato never denied Socrates beliefs that the only real harm that can come to a person is harm to the soul (integrity); that it is better to suffer wrong than to commit it; that we should think for ourselves, being ready to question whatever we believe is true However, he rejected the view that virtue is simply knowledge—according to Plato, virtue requires that reason rule the irrational parts of one’s soul


PLATO: The Theory of the Forms (Ideas)
Plato adopted the implied view of Socrates’ quest to know universal essences of things, and generalized it across the whole of reality Everything in our world was, for Plato, an ephemeral, decaying copy of something whose ideal form has a permanent and indestructible existence, outside of time and space. These Forms or Ideas were the realities underlying all existence. Accessible only to the mind; knowledge of these were what philosophers actually pursued.

All of reality then was divided two—a visible world, our ordinary everyday world, which is...
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