Translate

Philosophy and the History of Ancient Greek Philosophy

Name and concept of philosophy
The word philosophy appears in the written Greek tradition sporadically during the 5th century BC. It is derived from the verb philosopho and means "love of wisdom" (friend + wisdom). The word wisdom appears for the first time in Homer and Hesiod and means skill in any profession or any art, such as that of a shipbuilder or a poet. The sage or sophist precedes the philosopher and is a symbol of ingenuity, a man of political action or lawgiver (Seven Sages). More generally, wisdom meant an interest in knowledge but also prudence, sound judgment about various things in life or even the ability to make practical decisions. It is said that Herodotus was the first to use the verb φιλοσοφεῖν in reference to Solon's travels in search of knowledge to satisfy his curiosity. Pythagoras was the first to call himself a philosopher, in the sense of a man who loves knowledge. Philosophy is born in Ionia during the 6th century BC, when a new rational way of explaining the world is used by a group of thinkers, the Presocratics. Aristotle will give the title of philosopher to the pre-Socratic philosophers Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes and will connect philosophy with the rational way of explaining reality.
Sophia

Principle of philosophy
Philosophy according to Plato and Aristotle is an attitude of wonder and admiration towards the world and its phenomena. It is identified with theory, i.e. the disinterested study of the nature of things (theoriis ἕneken) and has nothing to do with practical knowledge. Philosophy, as a technical term for a certain intellectual activity, denotes the methodical work of the mind for theoretical knowledge, but also the teaching of the right way of life. The philosopher is the man who seeks the essence of things, but also the one who establishes an art of life, that is, a way of life.

Definitions of philosophy
During antiquity, several definitions of philosophy have been given, describing its essence, that is, what philosophy is. Thus philosophy has been defined as the knowledge of beings, the investigation of the principles and first causes of phenomena, the study of death, the knowledge of divine and human things. Philosophy has been defined as both the art of the arts and the science of the sciences. From ancient times to the present, many attempts have been made to give a clear and satisfactory definition of philosophy, which shows that it is difficult to define.

The importance of philosophy in human life
In everyday language, philosophy means the personal attitude of people towards everyday problems, but also the difficulties of life. Questions such as "Where do we come from?", "What are we?", "Where are we going?" they are constantly preoccupying people from ancient times to the present day and philosophers try to answer them. Philosophy also deals with questions such as 'What can I know?', 'What can I hope for?', 'What ought I to do?' Philosophers attempt to answer these questions by moving from the concrete and the particular to the general and the abstract, in an attempt to grasp the meaning of the world as a whole and to formulate a theory of man and life.
Philosophy is based on dialogue, critical thinking and intellectual freedom. It is an incessant reflection and teaches man to ask questions, to love the truth, to try to shape his character and behavior. This reflection is shaped by the philosophers, whose different perceptions and theories are part of the history of philosophy, which is the history of ideas, the history of philosophical arguments and systems.

Problems and branches of philosophy
The examination of the history of ancient Greek philosophy, as it evolved from the 6th century BC. until late antiquity, i.e. until the 6th century AD, shows that the ancient philosophers thought about various problems, connected with metaphysics, physics, logic and language, epistemology, ethics, politics and social philosophy. These problems can be divided into theoretical and practical ones.
We call theoretical problems those connected with theory, i.e. philosophical research, and with the investigation of problems concerning the world, man and God.
Metaphysics or ontology deals with the principles and interpretation of the world and being. The problems posed by the knowledge of nature are called cosmological or physical. The problems arising from questions about the limits of knowledge and its relationship with reality are examined by the theory of knowledge, epistemology. Logic elaborates suitable methods so that one can discern what is right, using logical thought, and specifies the laws, principles and rules that must be followed by anyone who seeks the truth.
Practical problems are what you call tied to the intentional act or activity of man. Practical problems are examined by moral philosophy, with which social philosophy is connected, since every human action is connected with society, as well as political philosophy.
Ethics, in the common usage of the term, is associated with mores, that is, established patterns of behavior that have prevailed in a society, either by tradition or by tacit agreement among its members. Ethics, as a branch of philosophy, is the thoughtful study of certain values concerning human behavior and the rules that govern it in a social group. It attempts to define the criterion of right action, examine the nature of moral judgments, and attempts to solve practical moral problems.
Political and social philosophy examines the rules that should govern an organized political society, and deals with the political organization of the state, the legitimacy of political power, the liberties and rights of citizens, property, the organization of the state, the polities, laws and institutions, as well as with the political behavior of individuals and social groups.
Philosophy and its branches

Division of the history of ancient Greek philosophy
Usually, the history of ancient philosophy for methodological and didactic reasons is divided into three periods:

1) Archaic period. Pre-Socratic philosophy (6th-5th centuries BC)
It begins with Thales of Miletus and ends with the appearance of Socrates. Philosophy in this first phase is "cosmological", i.e. it seeks to explain the cosmic problem, to find the beginning and essence of the world, but also "ontological", i.e. it tries to examine "being", the cosmic reality that the pre-Socratics philosophers imagine it material. The Presocratics try to give a rational interpretation of the world, but they are also interested in the moral behavior of man as well as in the political organization of the society of their time.

2) Classical or Attic period (5th-4th century BC)
This period begins with Socrates, includes the Sophists and Plato, and ends with the death of Aristotle (322 BC). It is considered the heyday of ancient Greek philosophy and is manifested in the Athens of the time of Pericles. Also included here are the so-called Socratic schools (Cynic, Megarian, Cyrenaic), which were founded by students and friends of Socrates who sought, like him, the conditions and criteria for the foundation of a virtuous life.
The creation of free institutions enables the Sophists, possessors of extraordinary wisdom and knowledge, such as Protagoras, Prodicus, Hippias, Gorgias, to come from the Greek colonies to Athens and practice the sophistic art, that is, rhetoric and dialectic , teaching virtue and political art. Some Sophists are contemporary with the younger representatives of pre-Socratic philosophy as well as with Socrates. Philosophy from cosmological now becomes anthropological, that is, it turns towards man. This shift is particularly evident in Socrates, who set as the goal of philosophy the moral and spiritual improvement of man. Philosophy is systematized during this period mainly in the schools of Athens, the Academy and the Lyceum, founded, respectively, by Plato and Aristotle, the most important philosophers of antiquity.

3) Postclassic period. Hellenistic-Roman philosophy. Late Antiquity. (3rd century BC - 6th century AD)
This period lasts from the death of Aristotle, in the year 322 BC, until the end of Neoplatonism, in the 6th century AD, when the emperor Justinian closed the philosophical schools of Athens by decree (529 AD ).
Hellenistic philosophy is a creation of the new conditions brought about by the death of Alexander the Great (323 BC) and is related to the establishment of the Greek states in various regions of Asia and Egypt. Hellenistic philosophy also flourished in the flourishing Greek cities of Lower Italy and spread through the Greek language. Athens remains the great intellectual center, while philosophical schools are also established in Asian and African cities. The teachings of Socrates are continued by the so-called Socratic schools. At the same time, Epicurism, Stoicism and Skepticism developed, philosophical currents that dominated Hellenistic times and dealt mainly with physics, logic and ethics.
The theories of the philosophers of this time, especially the moral ones, put as their basis the individual happiness of man and urge the establishment of a certain way of behavior and a certain choice of life. They also survive in the Roman years, when Hellenistic philosophy ends in the year 31 BC, with the collapse of the Roman Republic and the rise of Octavian Augustus, who subdues the Hellenistic kingdom of Alexandria. Hellenism ceases to have its own political entity, but Greek philosophy dominates the Roman empire. In the first Christian centuries, Platonism and interest in Aristotle was revived. In the 1st century m.X. Neoplatonism develops in Alexandria, a philosophy that is distinguished by eclecticism and brings up to date the writings of Plato and Aristotle. The main representative of this philosophy, which will dominate in late antiquity, an era in which Christian thought is formed, is Plotinus, who lived in the 3rd century AD.
Hellenistic philosophy

The tradition of Greek philosophy
The texts of the philosophers of antiquity, testimonies of the written word, gather today, as in the past, our interest. The sources are direct, i.e. the writings of the philosophers themselves, and indirect, i.e. the doxographic literature, the Biographies, the Anthologies, the Apanthismas.
Direct sources
These sources have suffered significant losses. The whole of pre-Socratic and Hellenistic philosophy, with a few exceptions, has been lost. However, many works, such as those of Plato and Aristotle or the Stoics and the Neoplatonic school, have survived.
Indirect sources
Later antiquity dealt with the history of ancient philosophy and gave us a series of works known as doxographies, biographies, treatises.
1. Doxographic secretariat
The doxographical literature saved the opinions (doxai or doctrines) of the philosophers of early antiquity. The beginning was made by Aristotle, who in his writings reviews the views of previous philosophers; then his student Theophrastus gives us information about the Prosocratics in his book Physiques doxai. Later, Aetius (6th century AD) made a Synagogue of the Philosophers, a collection of natural doctrines, from which came epitomes with anthologized texts of the philosophers of antiquity, such as the Anthologion of John Stovaios (5th century AD). ).
2. Biographies of philosophers
This type of literature includes attempts to record anecdotal material, archival information about the life and works of Greek philosophers. The Memoirs e.g. of Xenophon give us information about the life and philosophy of Socrates. Aristoxenus Tarantinos, student of Aristotle, Callimachus of Cyrene, Diogenes Laertius, etc. they dealt with archival and anecdotal material about the lives of philosophers.
3. Other sources
Another group of writings, which are indirect sources, include the Histories of the philosophical schools, the Philosophical Anthologies and the Apanthisma, such as the Dinner Sophists of Athens and the Miscellaneous History of Aelianus, the Chronographies, such as the Chronicles of Apollodorus, as well as the Memoirs, that is, the commentaries on the works of Plato and Aristotle by commentators who belong to the Neoplatonic school.

The importance and relevance of ancient Greek philosophy
But what is the importance of ancient Greek philosophy? Why do we still care about what the ancient Greeks said so many years ago? And how can they serve us today, in our own age, which has its own problems and is so different from that of antiquity?
Ancient Greek philosophy is important not only for the history of philosophy, but also because it deals with issues that are still relevant and continue to trouble today's philosophers, as well as inspire them. The ancient Greek philosophers were the ones who first laid the bases and foundations of science and philosophy and systematically dealt with most of the issues that philosophers deal with today. Their philosophical theories have shaped our way of thinking and laid the foundations of the philosophical reflection of the Western world. Although philosophical reflection has inevitably in our time moved on to other kinds of concerns and has developed new and different theories, since it also deals with problems that had not been formulated in the past, but many of the topics of philosophy remain the same, mainly in the fields of moral and political philosophy. At the same time, in our time, many of the ideas of antiquity, especially those concerning ethics, politics and social life, return to the forefront of philosophical reflection, because modern philosophers consider that ancient philosophy can still help today in solving key problems of man and society.