Ancient Greek Philosophy

Ancient Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BCE and continued through the Hellenistic period, at which point Ancient Greece was incorporated in the Roman Empire. It dealt with a wide variety of subjects, including political philosophy, ethics, metaphysics, ontology, logic, biology, rhetoric, and aesthetics.

Many philosophers today maintain that Greek philosophy has influenced much of Western thought since its inception. Alfred Whitehead once noted: "The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato." Clear, unbroken lines of influence lead from ancient Greek and Hellenistic philosophers, to medieval Islamic philosophers, to the European Renaissance and Enlightenment.

Some claim that Greek philosophy, in turn, was influenced by the older wisdom literature and mythological cosmogonies of the ancient Near East. Martin Litchfield West gives qualified assent to this view, stating, "contact with oriental cosmology and theology helped to liberate the early Greek philosophers' imagination; it certainly gave them many suggestive ideas. But they taught themselves to reason. Philosophy as we understand it is a Greek creation."

Subsequent philosophic tradition was so influenced by Socrates as presented by Plato that it is conventional to refer to ancient Greek philosophy prior to Socrates as pre-Socratic philosophy. The period following this until the wars of Alexander the Great is referred to as classical Greek philosophy, followed by Hellenistic philosophy.

Read more about Ancient Greek PhilosophyPre-Socratic Philosophy, Hellenistic Philosophy, Transmission of Greek Philosophy Under Islam

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Famous quotes containing the words philosophy, ancient and/or greek:

    At the very moment when someone is beginning to take philosophy seriously, the whole world believes the opposite.
    Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900)

    A written word is the choicest of relics. It is something at once more intimate with us and more universal than any other work of art. It is the work of art nearest to life itself. It may be translated into every language, and not only be read but actually breathed from all human lips;Mnot be represented on canvas or in marble only, but be carved out of the breath of life itself. The symbol of an ancient man’s thought becomes a modern man’s speech.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    I lately met with an old volume from a London bookshop, containing the Greek Minor Poets, and it was a pleasure to read once more only the words Orpheus, Linus, Musæus,—those faint poetic sounds and echoes of a name, dying away on the ears of us modern men; and those hardly more substantial sounds, Mimnermus, Ibycus, Alcæus, Stesichorus, Menander. They lived not in vain. We can converse with these bodiless fames without reserve or personality.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)