Greek Philosophy

>>Respond to each of the prompts with carefully developed answers
>>Must include evidence from the reading to support your decisions.
>>Minimum depth is 4-6 complete, detailed sentences each.
#1 Referring to c. 1000-750 B.C.E. as the Greek
Dark Age is inaccurate. pp.52-56
#2 Describe the Homeric Ideal in your own
words. pp. 53-54 & 56-57
#3 Capture the *essence of Homer’s vision of
Justice in the Polis. pg. 57 What do you think?
What would you ask him for clarification?
* essence definition: significance
Synonyms: attribute, basis, core, form, nature, structure, substance
#1 Philosophy of Life
#2 Beauty
#3 Polis
Describe the ideals of one (or more) of the themes
above in either a/an
Two (2) complete pages typed (Times New Roman
12), double-spaced, proofread.
Minimum of 12 four-line stanzas, typed (Times New
Roman 12), single-spaced, with double-space
between stanzas. proofread.
Western Civilization
Greek Philosophy
Ancient Greek Philosophy
• In ancient Greece (c. 5th c. B. C.) physics
and astronomy were included as parts of
“philosophy”— “the love of wisdom.”
• deals with the universe as a whole
• seeks to view the entire universe
• seeks to trace everything back to its
“ultimate grounds.”
Ancient Greek Philosophy
• What is the origin of the universe?
• e.g. the science of geometry deals
with the law of space, but it takes
space for granted (no geometrician
asks what space is), BUT, “space” is a
problem for philosophy.
• e.g. “universe”
Philosophy and the Universe
• Philosophy seeks to know why there
is a universe at all
• e.g. the law of “causation”
• everything which has a beginning has
a cause
• [Plato: “the unmoved mover, the
uncaused cause” — the prime mover]
• Philosophy deals with the universe as
a whole; and it seeks to take nothing
for granted.
The Earliest Greek Philosophy
• The Ionic School
– Thales,
– Anaximander
– Anaximenes
• = men of Ionia, coast of Asia Minor
• Thales (c. 624-550B.C.)
– founder or father of the Ionic School of
philosophy, famous for his
mathematical &astronomical learning &
for his practical wisdom
Thales’s Philosophy
1. the principle of all things is water, that
all comes from water & to water all
2. the earth is a flat disc which floats
upon water
• The significance of Thales is not that
this “water” philosophy has any value
in itself, but that this was the first
recorded attempt to explain the
universe on naturalistic and scientific
principles (not by myths & gods).
• Anaximander, c. 611-547 B.C.
• Anaximander agreed with Thales that the
ultimate principle of things is material, but
he did not name it water. Anaximander
believed that it is any particular kind of
• “it is rather a formless, indefinite &
absolutely featureless matter in general”
– a marked advance philosophically showing the
operation of thought & abstraction
• Anaximenes (c. 588-524B.C.)
• ”Air” is constantly in motion & has
the power of motion inherent in it, &
this motion brought about the
universe from “Air.”
• Pythagoras, (b. 580B.C.-507B.C.)
• ”all things are numerable & can be
• e.g. in geometry, angles are measured
by the number of degrees
– number is a very vital aspect of the
universe & is fundamental in it.
opposites of which the universe
is “composed”
Ancient Greek Philosophers:
2nd Period
• 2nd period: the sophists &
– Socrates  Plato  Aristotle
– the maturity of Greek philosophy.
• ↓ Socrates/ Plato:
“the problem of the mind & the
problem of the nature”
Socrates 469-399 B.C.
• born in Athens 469
• mind =
• Since the city is good, it must have, Socrates says, the
virtues of wisdom, courage, discipline and justice.
• Socrates divine mission:
– “was to expose the ignorance of those who
thought themselves wise”
• What does Socrates really knows?
– “Socrates does not claim to know anything.”
• Socrates set the standard for Western
philosophy as we know it today.
• Since we have no writings by his own hand,
we look to his contemporaries (Xenophon,
Aristophanes) for information about his life
and work.
• Interest in philosophy began with physical
science, but moved into morality and ethics.
• Served in army during the Peloponnesian War
• Dabbled in politics after the war
• Eventually retired to a private life.
• Devoted time to philosophical dialogue.
•Socrates’ method of discussion was a
question/answer system in which he
claimed ignorance and questioned the
aristocratic youths of Athens.
•Very influential among the young men of
the city, but unlike the Sophists, a groups of
philosophers who charged a fee for
education, Socrates despised material
wealth and thus won the loyalty of his
•Wealthy parents of these young men were
not happy with the new ideas their sons were
espousing, and, since many of them were
involved in politics, they managed to make
Socrates a controversial political figure.
•An Athenian jury brought Socrates up on
charges of corruption of youth and
interfering with religion in the city. He was
Socrates on Trial
• 399 B.C.
• 3 Athenian citizens:
– Meletus
– Anytus
– Lycon
• Accused Socrates of
1. “heresy” (“impiety”)
2. did not believe/ or observe the gods of the
3. “corrupted the minds of the youth”
• Vested Interests
•In 399 B.C., Socrates drank hemlock and
died in the company of family and friends.
•Socrates survives as a character in the
dialogues of Plato, bringing enlightenment
to the men of Athens by asking leading
questions and applying reason.
Hemlock: flowering plant native to Europe,
Mediterranean, South Africa
Plato described Socrates' death in the Phaedo:
"The man … laid his hands on him and after a while
examined his feet and legs, then pinched his foot hard and
asked if he felt it. He said ‘No’; then after that, his thighs;
and passing upwards in this way he showed us that he was
growing cold and rigid. And then again he touched him and
said that when it reached his heart, he would be gone. The
chill had now reached the region about the groin, and
uncovering his face, which had been covered, he said — and
these were his last words — 'Crito, we owe a cock to
Asclepius. Pay it and do not neglect it.' 'That,' said Crito,
'shall be done; but see if you have anything else to say.' To
this question he made no reply, but after a little while he
moved; the attendant uncovered him; his eyes were fixed.
And Crito when he saw it, closed his mouth and eyes."
• Socrates was first interested in natural
science: whether the earth is flat or not, etc.
but was not satisfied with the result of his
• He abandoned the study of natural science
and turned to the study of human life
• In teaching method, he did not use “spoonfeeding” method, but “dialogue – questions
& answers.” Socrates liked using examples
of daily affairs to enlighten his students
• “educare” (Latin) = to lead
• “Socrates did not think he knew a lot.”
• Socrates knew that he was ignorant
(but the others did not know that we
were ignorant)
• Socrates belittled his own knowledge
• really honest thinkers are seldom
impressed by their own ability
• the companies by whom Socrates
was constantly surrounded were not
so much as disciples but were as
friends who loved him and drew
inspiration from him.
• Students like to presume that there must
be an absolute answer to all questions.
Actually, NO!
• By systematic question:
– What (define)
– Where
Logical Thinking
– When
– Why
– How
• via dialogues in careful definition &
logical thinking
– ”The greatest power on earth is the power of
What is an argument?
An argument is, to quote the Monty
Python sketch, "a connected series of
statements to establish a definite
There are three stages to an
Premises, Inference, and Conclusion.
Stage one: Premises
One or more propositions will be are necessary for the
argument to continue. They must be stated explicitly. They
are called the premises of the argument. They are the
evidence (or reasons) for accepting the argument and its
Premises (or assertions) are often indicated by phrases
such as "because", "since", "obviously" and so on.
(The phrase "obviously" is often viewed with suspicion, as it
can be used to intimidate others into accepting dubious
If something doesn't seem obvious to you, don't be afraid to
question it. You can always say "Oh, yes, you're right, it is
obvious" when you've heard the explanation.)
Stage two: Inference
The premises of the argument are used to obtain further
propositions. This process is known as inference.
In inference, we start with one or more propositions
which have been accepted. We then derive a new
There are various forms of valid inference. The
propositions arrived at by inference may then be used in
further inference.
Inference is often denoted by phrases such as "implies
that" or "therefore."
Stage three: Conclusion
Finally, we arrive at the conclusion of the argument,
another proposition.
The conclusion is often stated as the final stage of
It is affirmed on the basis the original premises, and
the inference from them.
Conclusions are often indicated by phrases such as
"therefore," "it follows that," "we conclude" and so
Types of argument
There are two traditional types of
argument, deductive and inductive.
A deductive argument provides
conclusive proof of its conclusions; if the
premises are true, the conclusion must
also be true.
A deductive argument is either valid or
invalid. A valid argument is defined as
one where if the premises are true, then
the conclusion is true.
Types of argument
An inductive argument is one where the
premises provide some evidence for the truth of
the conclusion.
Inductive arguments are not valid or invalid, but
we can talk about whether they are better or
worse than other arguments. We can also
discuss how probable their premises are.
There are forms of argument in ordinary
language which are neither deductive nor
However, deductive arguments are often viewed
as the most rigorous and convincing.
Here is an example of a deductive argument:
•Every event has a cause (premise)
•The universe has a beginning (premise)
•All beginnings involve an event (premise)
•This implies that the beginning of the universe
involved an event (inference)
•Therefore the universe has a cause (inference
and conclusion)
Note that the conclusion of one argument might
be a premise in another argument. A proposition
can only be called a premise or a conclusion with
respect to a particular argument; the terms do
not make sense in isolation.
Plato 428-348 B.C.
• Born Athens
• Saw the decline & fall of power
(404 B.C. Sparta defeated Athens)
• One of the best authors among the philosophers.
• Served in the military from 409-404 B.C., the end
of the Peloponnesian War.
• Opted for a political career at the end of the war,
joined the oligarchy of the Thirty Tyrants, but
their violent acts disillusioned him and he left.
• In 403 B.C. democracy returned to Athens, but
Plato seemed little interested in politics.
• The death of Socrates in 399 B.C. had a profound
effect upon him.
•Plato left Athens and traveled to Egypt,
Sicily, and Italy.
•Returned 387 B.C.
•Founded the Academy.
•Presided institution, which encouraged
research and instruction in philosophy and
science, until he died.
•Plato’s main contributions are in
mathematics, philosophy and science.
•Following footsteps of Socrates,
Plato wrote his works as dialogues.
• Plato:”If you don’t know that you are
ignorant, you are really ignorant”
• Plato loved & respected Socrates, his
teacher & friend.
• In his later years, Plato is reported to have
said, “I thank God that I was born Greek and
not barbarian, free and not slave, male and not
female, but above all that I was born in the age
of Socrates.”
Plato:questions & answers are still valid today
“The Prince of Philosophy”
1. Plato asked many of the fundamental
philosophical questions that philosophers still
ask today
2. Many of Plato’s answers have been continuously
meaningful & are still meaningful for us today
“modern Western philosophy is only footnotes to Plato”
•The Republic discusses an ideal state
and includes the allegory of the cave and
the ages of man.
•The Apology discusses the death of
•the Symposium, takes place at a dinner
party, at which each guest (drunken or not)
was required to expound upon the nature
of love.
1. Not his intention to answer specific question or to
propose final & dogmatic solutions to any of the
problem that were being discussed
2. Plato preferred instead to do something that would
stimulate original thinking on the part of the reader.
3. This method of presentation enabled him to present
contrasting points of views as they would likely to occur
in a series of conversations taking place among
individuals having different points of views.
4. Finally, by using conversational method, it would be
possible to illustrate the way in which current issues of
the day were related to one another.
Plato’s Republic
• Theory of government
• The ideal
• In a later & considerably longer dialogue
called The Laws, Plato proposed a less
idealistic but more practical alternative for the
organization of state government.
Timarchy (Sparta)
Democracy (Athens)
• Democracy
• Plato:control by the ignorant
• No order/discipline
• Political struggle, disorder, wars
Plato’s Republic
perfect polis
→to curb desires
Rulers (gold)
Auxiliaries (silver)
Citizen (iron)
Plato’s Republic
1. The Ideal Ruler:
– Search for ideal, truth & perfection
– soul > body
– “philosopher” --- king
– Plato believed that only those
persons who possessed intellectual
as well as moral qualities should be
entrusted with the power to ruler
over others
Plato’s Republic
2. Auxiliaries
– Bravery
– Obedient to the philosopher – king
– Warrior
– Little desire
Plato’s Republic
3. Citizens (farmers & workers)
– A lot of desires
– Duty = to obey
– to produce accordingly
|A| Democracy
|S| Timarchy
×Selfish individualism,
×civic irresponsibility
×No individualism
×Growing dislike of authority
×No respect for authority
/Respect for law
×Class war % rich & poor
(“have” & “have not”)
×Exploitation of the lower
×Lack of cohesion
×Intellectual Limitation
Plato’s Republic
• ideal state [utopia] “perfect polis”
• the world of phenomenon is not the
real world BUT pale, imperfect
reflections of ideal models.
Plato’s Republic
• VII: “The Allegory of the Cave”
– Cave --- shadows
• Philosopher --- sense of duty
• “Objects that we perceive through our senses
are merely pale, imperfect reflections of ideal
models that exist in a world invisible to us.”
• Reality – not by observing experiments, etc.
(Aristotle’s science)
BUT by thinking contemplating
Books influenced by The Republic
• Plato, The Republic
• St. Augustine, City of God
• Thomas More, 1478-1535, Utopia
• Francis Bacon, The New Atlantis
• James Hilton, The Lost Horizon
Literature Criticizing Plato’s Utopia:
• Aristophanes, Birds
• Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels
• Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
• George Orwell, 1984
Aristotle 384-322 B.C.
• Aristotle, born in Stagirus, sent to Athens
age 17 to Academy of Plato.
• Attended lectures at Academy for 20 yrs
• Eventually lectured himself.
• Supposed to have succeeded Plato as the
head of the Academy at his death, but
differed in views.
• Philip of Macedonia invited him to tutor
his 13 year-old son Alexander.
• He remained in Macedonia for 5 years.
•Aristotle returned to Athens and founded
his own school, the Lyceum.
•“Peripatetic” (“to walk around”)
described Aristotle’s habits while lecturing.
•Lectured & wrote in Athens for the next
13 years,
•usually to a small groups in the
morning, then publicly in the evening.
•After the fall of Macedonian rule in 323
B.C., a charge of impiety was brought
up against Aristotle.
•To avoid execution, he fled to Chalcis in
•He died in 322 B.C. as result of stomach
•Aristotle’s works generally fall under 3
•dialogues, collections of scientific material,
and systematic works.
•A few of note:
•On the Heavens constructed a system of the
•On the Soul discusses mind and imagination
•Nicomachean Ethics were written for his
>>Respond to each of the prompts with carefully developed answers
>>Must include evidence from the reading to support your decisions.
>>Minimum depth is 4-6 complete, detailed sentences each.
#1 Referring to c. 1000-750 B.C.E. as the Greek
Dark Age is inaccurate. pp.52-56
#2 Describe the Homeric Ideal in your own
words. pp. 53-54 & 56-57
#3 Capture the *essence of Homer’s vision of
Justice in the Polis. pg. 57 What do you think?
What would you ask him for clarification?
* essence definition: significance
Synonyms: attribute, basis, core, form, nature, structure, substance