Not completely finished (still needs a conclusion) but here it is for the most part.
9 April 2007
Greek Philosophy: Through
When overcome by fear of gods, government, and society, it would be difficult to exercise the mind. Philosophy started smoothly, and paved the way for great philosophers to emerge. Their impacts caused changes not only in their time but also in modern times. Some popular beliefs were used by many, some beliefs even conflicted with other philosophers which caused anger. Other conflicts were much more serious. Philosophy must first be examined in its beginning stages to grasp the arcane knowledge that some claimed to possess.
The word Philosophy is Greek itself; it comes from philo meaning lover or loving and sophos meaning wisdom or knowledge. So a philosopher would be someone who is a lover of wisdom or knowledge. Philosophy was introduced in:
"...Ionia in Asia Minor was the cradle of Greek Philosophy." (Zeller 8). Ionia was part of the city-state Miletus. Philosophy started in a era that lasted 200 years. The Pre-Socratic period, which signified the earliest beginnings of philosophy, spanned a period from approximately 600-400 B.C. (J.V. Luce 9) Philosophers were in pursuit of knowledge and they were often referred to with mathematicians and physicists. These Pre-Socratic philosophers were asking "...questions of physics; indeed, Aristotle refers to them as "Investigators of Nature"." (hhh) Most philosophers were considered "...free men, subservient neither to king nor priest..." (J.V. Luce 17), which aroused desire to become part of the philosophical field. One of these philosophers was, "Thales of Miletus (about 640 BCE)..." (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy) Early Greek philosophers were deeply concerned with the cosmos, religious myths, and science. The first known Greek scientist believed that the architect of the world and all its inhabitants were somehow connected to science and the cosmos. According to J.V. Luce (19), Thales was supposedly the first philosopher linking scientific thought to the discovery of nature, around 585 B.C.
Philosophers of Greece include Thales, Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato. Thales was ideally the originator of Greek philosophy. He is reported by Aristotle to be the founder of natural philosophy for maintaining the belief that water was a primordial substance that made up all others. Thales also was able to calculate the arrival of an eclipse. It is not completely known on what method he used in order to predict the eclipse, and J.V. Luce (20) speculates that he used Babylonian data in order to create the prediction. Like Thales, Pythagoras lived in the Pre-Socratic era of philosophy. Although Pythagoras did not have any written works, many works are credited to him. His most famous work was discovering what is now known as the Pythagorean Theorem. He put great interest in right triangles and discovered that all were proportionally equal in lengths. Heraclitus says that Pythagoras was "assiduous in enquiry, and that he 'excerpted the treatises(a form of prose writing)'". Pythagoras taught that transmigration was part of life, and therefore beating an animal was the same as beating a man. Xenophanes provides a poem to portray an image of Pythagoras:
He was once passing by when a man was beating a dog, and they say that he took pity on the animal and said: 'Stop beating it. Indeed it is the soul of a friend of
mine. I recognized it when I heard its voice.'
Socrates was also a philosopher with no writings to leave behind. He left his wisdom with his pupils, Plato and Xenophon. (Zeller 99) The story of Socrates starts with and oracle saying that no other is as wise as Socrates. He took the answer seriously and sought out to test the response from the oracle by gathering the smartest men of Greece and questioning him. He felt their answers were muddled and opinionated. (J.V. Luce 86) Socrates claimed to know nothing and event made that claim at the age of seventy to the judges. Plato was a pupil of Socrates and followed his beliefs. Plato's most extraordinary work was The Republic (Steven Kreis), Which explores desires, wills, and feelings.(Zeller 135) Plato believed that there are different degrees or reality; a shadow would be less real than a tree that produces a shadow. (J.V. Luce 100) Not all philosopher got along, even though philosophy is primarily associated with gaining knowledge, they argued over which belief was the true belief. Other conflicts were between philosopher and government.
When there can only be one truth, two minds producing different answers cannot both be correct. Xenophanes (c. 570-480) criticized Greek polytheism, he is "regarded as the founder of natural theology." (J.V. Luce 49) "This revolt is based on a conviction that the tales of the poets are directly responsible for the moral corruption of the time. 'Homer and Hesiod have ascribed to the gods all things that are a shame and a disgrace among mortals, stealing and adulteries and deceiving of another'" (iep.com Xenophanes) An attack at another philosopher was given by Parmenides to Heraclitus. Parmenides mocked a phrase that Heraclitus had used and showed his complete rejection for finding truth through perception. (J.V. Luce 53-54) Another philosopher that directly attacks other philosophers is Zeno. It is said that he "devoted himself to refuting the views of the opponents of Parmenides" (IEP.com Zeno) He would show contradictions in the hypotheses by showing its absurdity through a series of hypothetical questions. (J.V. Luce 56) Greek philosophers made impacts on their culture along with western civilization. They were sculptors of our philosophy and also parts of our daily life.
The impact on Greek life was not as tremendous as that on modern life. Greek life was merely changed for those who chose to follow the paths of philosophers. Socrates changed the way that most teachers introduce new curriculum. He believed in asking questions in order for the students to give answers and learning happens at the same time. Plato believed that physical health was part of mental health; "he maintained that a sound mind can exist only in a sound body". (Chowk.com) Pythagoras even left an impact in every geometry book; the Pythagorean Theorem has been used in geometry to find right triangles.