This article will explore the contributions of Pythagoras, Socrates, Diogenes the Cynic, and other ancient Greek philosophers. The tenets of these philosophers still shape our world today. In addition, ancient Greek philosophy shook the cultural foundations of its time. It was the first philosophical movement to examine the underlying causes of human behavior and how to solve them.
Socrates is widely known as the founder of Greek philosophy, but what is his real significance? Plato described Socrates as a superior being to ordinary humans. This is ironic, since he proclaimed that he didn’t know anything. He tried to convey that the first step to philosophizing was to acknowledge our ignorance. However, this is difficult to do, given the fact that Plato is regarded as the most important philosopher in the history of philosophy.
Socrates was accused of impiety in 399 BCE by three men, namely the poet Meletus, a tanner, and an orator called Lycon. The accusation read: “Socrates corrupts the youth of Athens, and is a peril to democracy.” At the time, Athens was undergoing a purge that included the Thirty Tyrants, and Socrates had been charged with impiety.
It is believed that Pythagoras is the first Greek philosopher, and the first man to call himself a philosopher. He was a student of wisdom, and his ideas influenced the work of Plato and other later Greek philosophers. Pythagoras is the origin of Greek philosophy, and his ideas have influenced Western philosophy ever since. Here are some interesting facts about him.
Pythagoras was known for his ascetic practices, and it’s thought that he had influenced the Orphic cult. The Pythagoreans adhered to a strict code of conduct, and their lives included religious study, exercises, and poetry recitation. Some of his followers even adhered to vegetarianism, and they were forbidden to eat meat or beans, although he did allow rams and the flesh of oxen used for plowing. Other followers believed in temperance and urged people to avoid overindulgence, so they avoided animal products like meat.
Although there’s little evidence supporting Pythagoras’ existence, his followers wrote works in his name, and his secret society had a profound influence on later esoteric traditions. In his early life, Pythagoras lived on the Greek island of Samos, and his father was a Phoenician merchant from Tyre. He spent his early years in Samos, and was often traveling with his father.
One of the most important early philosophers, Xenophanes, developed the idea of the cosmos. According to his theory, everything in the world was created from two fundamental elements – earth and water. The two elements, together with air and water, form the basis of all phenomena in the natural world. Interestingly, Xenophanes was the first to make use of empirical evidence to prove his theory.
While most early intellectuals adopted literary prose, Xenophanes of Colophon continued to voice new ideas in verse. This was not because he had to use the literary form for his work or because he was reliant on the Muses. His poems, however, were aimed at correcting Greek beliefs and practices. Moreover, verse remained more effective for mass audiences than prose because of its age-old performative nature.
Xenophanes used the word “gods” throughout the fragments he left. In his philosophies, he alluded to ‘gods’ hidden in things. While he didn’t explicitly abandon polytheism, he is still considered a monotheist. He would have been the first Greek philosopher to advocate a revolutionary theological perspective.
Diogenes the Cynic
The idea that the “good life” can be achieved without being a slave to the material world has fascinated philosophers for centuries. Diogenes, who claimed to know the “good life,” did not write philosophical treatises or elaborate ethical systems, but instead expressed his ideas through actions and conversations with fellow citizens. These actions embody the Greek ideal of philosophy as a way of life.
The original philosopher of the Stoics, Diogenes the Cynic was a notorious satirist, who ridiculed everyone. His reputation was shaped by his behavior – he defecated in the theater, urinated on those who insulted him, and lifted his robe to pee on a guest. He was ridiculed by Athenian elite, who insulted him by comparing him to a dog. Diogenes responded by lifting one leg up and peeing on them.
The Cynics believed that a life based on reason is the most noble. According to Cynicism, it is worth living if it is in accordance with nature and reason. Diogenes was penniless and homeless, yet he claimed to lead a “good” life. He wrote about it in his book Lives of Eminent Philosophers, book six, chapter 38. Diogenes argued against convention nature and fortune. His views on piety and virtue were later criticized by modern scholars such as Williamerbeck.
In ancient Greece, a philosopher named Parmenides was born in the city of Elea, now part of Southern Italy. Parmenides is considered a pre-Socratic philosopher and lived before Socrates. He developed a school of philosophy that he called eleatics. Parmenides’ followers included Zeno, Melissus, and others. Parmenides died before Socrates, but many of his followers remained in his school. Although the exact date of Parmenides’ birth is not known, it is believed that he was born around 540 B.C.
While the eleatics are often categorized as pre-Socratic philosophy, it actually began before Socrates. Eleatics believed that truth is obtained through logic and clarity, and that the five senses should be left out of philosophical musings. They were also believed to have been the first philosophers to discuss the nature of the mind, and had developed a system of thought known as the “Platoon” during the fifth century B.C.
Platonic metaphysics is a major philosophical concept in Greek philosophy. In this system, the Forms have essences, which means that they are separate and distinct from other things. For example, an animal or a white bird has an elemental property of roundness. This idea of ‘flux’ influenced Plato’s thought on ordinary material objects. But there are some major differences between Platonic and neoplatonism.
Platonic metaphysics is based on the view that there is an eternal realm of truth beyond the world of observable reality. Observable reality is only a reflection of this realm. In addition, Plato argued that human beings were limited in their understanding by a “true lie” (also known as the Lie in the Soul), which causes them to think wrongly about the most fundamental aspects of life.
While the appeal to mathematical perfection is a fine strategy, it is not the best. While Plato certainly had an admirable appreciation for mathematical perfection, he seems to have had a problem with approximationist thinking. In this way, he is forced to compose Timaeus and account for the individuation of particulars. However, Plato’s philosophical legacy is undoubtedly a significant contribution to Western philosophy.
The earliest version of skepticism in Western philosophy is Pyrrhonism, which is the polar opposite of dogmatism. The underlying principle of Pyrrhonism is that knowledge and truth are relative. The ultimate goal of the skeptic is ataraxia, or the attainment of happiness through the suspension of judgment on non-evident propositions. Ultimately, Pyrrhonists seek to reach ataraxia by abandoning the quest for absolute truth and final answers.
The skepticism of Pyrrhonism dates back to the first century B.C.E. It was founded by the Democritean philosopher Pyrrho, who traveled to India with Alexander the Great’s army and studied with the magi, gymnosophists, and Buddhists. Pyrrhonism evolved into a new school of philosophy that became influential in the early years of the modern scientific worldview.
The most prominent Pyrrhonist is Carneades, who advocated a form of skepticism known as “academic” skepticism. The Pyrrhonists tended to withhold assent to propositions that they did not believe were true, because they believed that a lack of evidence could not be disproved. They also recognized that new evidence could be discovered in the future.
The term “Sophist” derives from the Greek word meaning “wise,” and originally referred to poets or those who had special knowledge in a particular area. The term eventually came to describe more general wisdom, and to denote a class of itinerant intellectuals who charged high fees to teach their philosophies. These philosophers also employed rhetoric to serve their purposes. Some sophists even claimed to be gods.
The early Sophists claimed to know the answers to all questions, and took their fees from their listeners. Some of them also questioned the deities and traditional gods. These early Sophists are often regarded as fascinating, suspicious, and dangerous. Plato’s criticism of the Sophists results in negative connotations of the word. However, despite the negative connotations, Sophists made important contributions to many fields.
The word “Sophist” is now used pejoratively to refer to a person who abuses logic. However, in the fifth century BCE, sophist meant “expert” or “wise” person. The word sophist came to denote a group of Greek intellectuals, philosophers, teachers, and educators. It is difficult to distinguish the Sophists from the Sophists, as some of their ideas have been attributed to the philosophers.