Ancient Greek Philosophy


The motherland of western philosophy.

Milesian School of Philosophy

  • Come from the town of Miletus
  • 1st philosopher : Presocratics.
  • Finding primary matter principles of all things.
  • Rational explanation of the world must start with identification of primary matter.
  • 3 most famous philosophers – Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes.

Primary Matter

  • Thales: Water
  • Anaximander: Apeiron – “limitless, formless substance without qualities”
  • Anaximenes: Air

Milesian Philosophers

Heraclitus of Ephesus

  • Main idea: Orde Logos governing all things.
  • Meaning of ‘logos’ = word, reason, principle/law.
  • Logos:
    • Cosmic principle that gives order and rationality to the world.
    • Associated with fire.
  • Work out the theory about constant of potential flux.
  • Famous quotes:
    • “You can step into the same river twice”
    • “All things forever change”
  • The 1st philosopher with the idea of Dialectic – doctrine/teaching about dynamic development of the world.
  • Basic law of Dialectic by him – “Unity and Struggle of Opposites”
  • Keyword: “War” – the father & king.
  • Cosmic history arranges in cycles which beginning & ending in fire.
  • To strive, all things arise & passed away. Only one is constant – logos.

Empedocles of Agrigentum

  • Believes in 4 Primary Matters:
    • Earth
    • Air
    • Fire
    • Water
  • Proposed idea of 2 multiforces:
    • Love (Union)
    • Strive (Separation)

Eleatic School of Philosophy

  • 3 most famous philosophers of Eleatic – Parmenidas, Xenophanes, Zeno.
  • Search of relationship between unity and multiplicity.
  • Only one real existence, multiplicity is illusion.
  • According to Parmenidas – Real being must be ungenerated in pair shape, indivisible, perfect, motionless, unchangeable.

Eleatic Philosophers

Pythagoras of Samos

  • 1st philosopher to use term “Philosophy”
  • “Philo” – “love”, “Sophy” – “wisdom”
  • Believes in religious society as a member of self-discipline and silence.
  • Way of life
    • Practice of moral values
    • Training of the memory
    • Ritual taboos/prohibitions, for example – prohibit eating flesh & beans.
  • Has 2 students
    • Philolaus – 1st scientist who understood that earth is a moving planet.
    • Archytas – mathematician, speciality in musical mathematic theory.
  • Doctrine = Cycle of Reincarnation
    • Postulated the existence of world-soul.
    • Universe – Perfect harmony, dependance on ‘numbers’.
  • Numbers
    • Can have different meaning. Example: 2 is man, 3 is woman, 2+3=5 : 5 is marriage.
    • Can have geometrical meaning. 1 is one. 2 is a line. 3 is a plane. 4 is space.
    • Mystical “Tetractys” = 1,2,3,4. 1+2+3+4=10, 10 is perfect.

Atomism School of Philosophy

  • From the word ‘Atomos’ = Indivisible.
  • Founder is Leusippus.
  • Famous philosopher – Democritus.
  • Atomism = materialist theory according to which nothing exists except atoms and void.
  • Atoms = indivisible small particle of matter, exist in empty spaces (void) which it moves.
  • Differences in atom (size, shape, speed etc) are used to explain the fact that there are all kinds of things in the world.

One Response to “Ancient Greek Philosophy”

  1. 1 Dr Raj Nandy

    A very nice and simple method – ueseful both for school and senior level(as a
    summary) ! Kindly cover both Ancient and Medieval Philosophy by this unique
    method . Thank You .

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