What is philosophy according to Greek? Let’s look at Democritus, Pythagoras, Thales, and Plato and try to understand their contributions. They all have important insights to offer. But which was the most important one? Do they differ in their outlooks and approaches? And how do we know their work is worthwhile? This article is aimed at making the whole process more accessible. But it is not without its critics.
Democritus is a Greek philosopher, and was a proponent of spherical Earth theories. His theory of the origin of the universe and how it was made up of tiny atoms bears some similarities to the theories of the Big Bang and the Nebular Theory. Democritus also believed in the existence of many worlds and that they were subject to both growth and decay. In this way, his philosophy reflects the modern view of the origins of life, and is regarded as the father of evolutionary theory.
Born in Abdera, Democritus traveled extensively and became an accomplished philosopher. His father may have been a noble or upper-class Thracian, and he may have studied under Anaxagoras. While traveling, he became acquainted with many great minds. Some scholars think that his encounters with a multitude of masters helped him form his philosophy. Regardless, it’s likely that his enlightenment paved the way for the development of Western philosophy.
Despite his controversial theories, Democritus’ underlying concept of atoms remains one of the most profound and fascinating of all time. As a result of this idea, many modern scientists disagree with the views of Democritus. But in the end, Democritus’s ideas on atoms were fundamental to his philosophy, and still remain a valuable contribution. When discussing the origin of matter, he points out that atoms are the building blocks of all matter, and that they are in constant motion, but still composed of many small parts.
In terms of atoms, Democritus argued that everything is composed of small particles. In Greek, these particles are called atomos, which mean “uncuttable.” Democritus went on to say that atoms are the building blocks of all matter, and they are the foundation for all other matter. It’s important to remember that all matter is made up of atoms, as they are uncuttable.
There are various views on the origins of Greek philosophy. Some see Pythagoras as the originator of Greek philosophy, while others regard him as the product of a divine revelation. Both views recognize Pythagoras as the origin of Greek philosophy, but differ in how they interpret Pythagoras. For example, acusmatic Pythagoreanism holds that Pythagoras received the teachings of a higher power. Neopythagoreanism views Pythagoras as the exemplar of Greek philosophy and traces all subsequent Greek philosophy back to him.
The emphasis on order and measure is unique to Pythagoras. It is not common to find the same emphasis on geometrical equality in ancient Greek philosophy. The Pythagoreans advocated a central fire and counter-earth. In contrast to Aristotle, Pythagorean philosophy places emphasis on self-control and geometrical equality. The Pythagorean approach is a form of classical philosophy.
The Neopythagoreans, on the other hand, focused on the role of number in the cosmos. They regarded the One and the Indefinite Dyad as the ultimate principles of reality. Both theories originated with Plato, probably in the Academy in the 4th century BCE. Diogenes Laertius also mentions these two figures as Pythagoras’ teachers.
The Pseudo-Pythagorean treatises have a similar strategy. They are important for debates within later Platonism. Some historians think that the Pseudo-Pythagorean treatises have more significance. The ancient Greeks interpreted Pythagoras as a philosopher, and the pseudo-Pythagoreans tended to conflate Pythagoras and Eudorus as a philosopher.
The ancient Greek philosopher Thales is the father of material monism, a theory that the source of all nature is physical. Although he was not the first material monist, his views and beliefs continue to influence science and philosophy to this day. The belief that the world was created from primeval water is one of the most popular theories in Greek and Near Eastern mythology. Though this theory does not necessarily make sense, it does fit with the Greek and Near Eastern tradition.
The ancient Greek philosopher Thales was a multi-talented man who had a great knowledge of many subjects. He was an expert in mathematics and astronomy and was even thought to have discovered electricity by rubbing amber. Thales was fascinated with magnets and believed that all things have a soul. However, despite his numerous accomplishments, there is no evidence to suggest that he ever wrote a single line.
The philosophy of Thales was founded in the Hellenistic and post-Hellenistic periods, when a tendency to locate philosophy’s roots prior to Thales developed. Hellenized Jewish and Christian philosophers, as well as Platonist and Neoplatonist thinkers, shared the common goal of tracing the origins of philosophy to the Patriarchs. These thinkers, however, challenged Thales’ status as the first natural philosopher.
Thales was well-known for his involvement in local politics and impressed the Persians, Medes, and Lydians. He predicted a solar eclipse and helped the city of Miletus negotiate favourable terms with the Persians. His tragic story was a well-known one, and the rumour of his death is as old as the philosophy itself. It is hard to tell if Thales was a genius.
The earliest known example of Plato’s philosophy is his seventh letter, which contains a section on philosophy. However, the letter’s author was not Plato himself. The author of the letter claimed that he was not a philosopher and that he would only write about philosophical matters privately. It is unclear if the letter is authentic, since the author made clear that he did not want it to be treated as a philosophical book.
The dialogues are preserved substantially as Plato left them, but readers today must remember the causal chain linking them to ancient authors. Because ancient authors had to copy their writing by hand, they would have lost the originals long before printing became commonplace. Consequently, there was bound to be some corruption during the copying process. This is evident from the disagreement between rival manuscript traditions. However, there is no evidence of major corruption in the text.
The Republic advocates aristocracy, but not democracy. Instead, Plato argued for a republic, in which the ruler is a philosopher who seeks justice and learning. He also believes that the people should be motivated by virtue and not by public opinion or the “Great Beast.”
The dialogues also illustrate the importance of dialogues in philosophy. Plato does not present a system of doctrines, but rather presents key ideas, as well as suggestions on how to examine those ideas. Readers are drawn into philosophical discussion because the dialogues raise questions that they have yet to address. Furthermore, the dialogues are written with a strong sense of philosophy being unfinished. It’s also important to note that Plato’s dialogues do not present a system of doctrines, but rather serve as an example of how a philosopher might construct a theory or a belief.
In Aristotle’s philosophy according to the Greek tradition, truth and definition are syntactic concepts. Thought must have both a subject and a predicate to be valid. Thus, a simple thought, “horse is fast,” is not a true statement. To make this statement true, it must be coupled with an adjective, “fast.”
Aristotle was born in the Chalcidic peninsula of Macedonia. His father, Nicomachus, was a physician to the king of Macedonia. After his father’s death in 367, Aristotle moved to Athens and studied under Plato for twenty years. He absorbed a huge amount of the philosophical tradition during this time. Aristotle’s philosophy of justice is a prime example of this.
Aristotle also asserts that we are natural beings with inherent powers. We possess our own particular power to think, and we have the capacity to act upon our ergon. But, unlike animals, we cannot think without our psyche. Without it, we can only dream. Therefore, a human being’s soul is a form. The psyche is a composite of various capacities and dispositions.
Aristotle’s argument for emancipation is based on an analysis of the nature of “becoming” and “substantial change”. It is clear that transformation requires a common thing between the two terms, otherwise it is not a transformation. This common thing cannot be a strictly-existent being, a being that is not in an act, and an indeterminate potential principle.
Hence, acting well is similar to living well. The same is true of pleasure. According to Aristotle, living well means allowing oneself to experience the proper pleasures in one’s activity. He considers that this pleasure is derived from self-consciousness, which is the awareness of one’s own activity. He believes that the pleasure of a friend is equivalent to that of living well.