A History of Ancient Philosophy: From the Beginning to Augustine
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A Quick History of Philosophy
Note that these references contain significant conceptualizations of philosophy and its history. In the following table, a philosopher, school or temperament—e. Pre Socratic Philosophy. Parmenides philosopher of permanence. Democritus atomism. Epicurus: Materialism. Skepticism to AD ; Stoicism.
Neo-Platonism; St. Augustine, Boethius. Medieval Philosophy; Johannes Scotus Erigena. Aquinas; Duns Scotus. William of Occam; Renaissance Platonism. Rationalism; Descartes; Spinoza. Empiricism; Bacon; Hobbes; Locke. Berkeley; Hume. Kant; Hegel. Late 19 th ,. Analytic and Linguistic Philosophy.
Anthropomorphic religion of the gods of Olympus—made familiar by the Homeric epics…Gods exhibit, on a most majestic scale, human passions and concern for the affairs of human beings.
The Homeric conception of the Gods as subject to fate may have contributed to the attitude of mind that produced the first Greek philosophy: the Milesian natural philosophy of the sixth century BCE. Religious revival of sixth century BCE—associated with mystery cults. Mystery cults—local forms of gods: symbolizing individualism…the Dionysian cults join with the Orphic: doctrine of the immortal soul and its transmigration…perhaps incline toward philosophy—especially metaphysics—and especially to religiously oriented philosophies of Pythagoreans, of Parmenides and of Heraclitus.
Thales c. Anaximander c. All return to the primal mass to be produced anew. Cosmology: physical: sphere of fire leads to eternal motion: separation: hot, cold leads to hot, surrounds cold on a sphere of flame: heat: cold leads to moisture leads to air: fire leads to rings with holes: heavenly bodies: sun farthest , moon, planets. Anaximines — BCE : first principle is definite: air; it is infinite. From air all things arise by rarefaction and condensation—a scientific observation.
These three philosophers—Thales, Anaximander and Anaximines, of Miletus, represent advance from qualitative-subjective to quantitative-scientific explanation of modes of emergence of being from a primary substance. Pythagorean School: Pythagoras of Samos c. The Pythagorean School was concerned less with substance than with the form and relation of things.
Greek Philosophy - Ancient History Encyclopedia
Numbers are the principles of things—number mysticism. Origin, in astronomy, of the dual: systematic, fixed stellar system and chaotic, dynamic—terrestrial—world. Ethics, too, rooted in number-mysticism. Metaphysics, cosmology, psychology, theory of knowledge, theology and ethics. Heraclitus — BCE born Ephesus: 1 Fire and universal flux, 2 opposites and their union, 3 harmony and the law.
Eleatic School: Xenophanes — BCE Colophon, precursor, first basis of skepticism in Greek thought, Parmenides—founder of philosophy of permanence—change is relative: combination and separation becoming …paradoxes of being and nonbeing, Zeno of the paradoxes — BCE and Melisus of Samos are defenders of the doctrine. Democritus: same concept in atomic form. Metaphysics, ontology: space: nonbeing exists; motion in space: atomic. Psychology, theory of knowledge: information from object to sentient: propagation of actions through toms in air, soul atoms: the finest in-between body atoms. The construction of philosophical systems ceases temporarily; the existing schools continue to be taught and some turn attention to natural-scientific investigation… The resulting individualism made an invaluable contribution to Greek thought but led, finally, to an exaggerated intellectual and ethical subjectivism.
The Sophists who were originally well-regarded came gradually to be a term of reproach partly owing to the radicalism of the later schools: their subjectivism, relativism and nihilism. The treatment to this point has been more detailed since 1 I am relatively ignorant of it, and 2 a detailed study of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle—a natural study of the tree supreme Greek philosophers—is left for later. The method of Socrates suggested: a system of thought to be worked out. Plato developed such a system.
Dialectic and Theory of Knowledge: Plato recognizes the importance of the problem of knowledge. Eros , the love of truth, is necessary for advance…it arouses the contemplation of beautiful ideas…dialectic is the art of thinking in concepts: the essential object of thought. Ideas do not have origin in experience…we approach the world with ideals: truth, beauty, the good; in addition to the value-concepts.
Plato also came to regard mathematical concepts and certain logical notions, or categories, such as being and nonbeing, identity and difference, unity and plurality, as inborn, or a priori. What guarantee, then, is there of the truth of conceptual knowledge?
For Plato, knowledge is correspondence of thought and reality or being —knowledge must have an object. If the concept is to have value as knowledge, something real must correspond to it—realities must exist corresponding to all our universal ideas: there must be, for instance, pure absolute beauty corresponding to the concept of beauty…conceptual knowledge presupposes the reality of a corresponding ideal or abstract objects…Or, in contrast to the transient world of the senses, which is mere appearance, illusion: true being is unchangeable, eternal.
Conceptual thought alone can grasp eternal and changeless being: it knows that which is, that which persists, that which remains one and the same in all diversity, namely the essential forms of things. Hierarchy of the Sciences: Arithmetic; geometry; astronomy; harmonies; dialectic—the coping stone of the sciences. Dialectic knowledge considers forms as constituting a systematic unity—as related to the form of the Good; rests on categorical first principles—not hypothesis.
According to Plato, universals exist. Corresponding to the concept of horse, as example, there is a universal or ideal entity; it is the idea that is known in conceptual knowledge, reason. The variety of ideas or forms is endless: there are ideas of things, relations, qualities, actions and values… these are some classes of ideas : of tables and chairs; of smallness, greatness, likeness; of colors and tones; of health, rest and motion; of beauty, truth and goodness…The ideas or archetypes constitute a well-ordered world or rational cosmos; arranged in a connected, organic unity, a logical order subsumed under the highest idea: the Good.
The Good, the supreme idea, the logos or cosmic purpose, the unity of pluralities, the source of all ideas…is also the truly real. The function of philosophy, by exercise of reason, is to understand this inner, interconnected order of the universe and to conceive its essence by logical thought. Outline of the doctrine: 1 The forms, or ideas defined as objects corresponding to abstract concepts are real entities. Matter the second principle, diametrically opposed to the idea is the raw material upon which the idea is impressed.
Matter is perishable, imperfect, unreal, nonbeing.
The Demiurge or Creator more an architect than a creator fashions the world out of matter in the patterns of the ideal world…The four factors in creation enumerated in Timmaeus are 1 the Demiurge or God: the active principle or dynamic cause of the world; 2 the pattern as archetype of the world; 3 the receptacle : the locus and matrix of creation; matter; brute fact; source of indeterminacy and evil; and 4 the form of the Good.
Because the soul possesses apprehension of ideas prior to its contact with the world: all knowledge is reminiscence and all learning is awakening. Arguments for Immortality: Epistemological: 1 The soul has contemplated eternal ideas and only like can know like: 2 from the doctrine of reminiscences. Metaphysical: 1 From the simplicity of the soul: it cannot be produced by composition or destroyed by disintegration, 2 from vitality: as the source of its own motion, the soul is eternal a survival of atomistic conceptions first cause argument, perhaps …and various other metaphysical arguments. There are hardly any arguments advanced in the literature on immortality which are not foreshadowed by Plato.
Ethical being is one in which the superior principles dominate: rationality. Wisdom: reason over other impulses of the soul; bravery: reason over emotion fear, pain ; temperance: reason over desire…Justice: wisdom with bravery and temperance. Social life is a means to perfection of individuals.
Laws result from imperfection of individuals which leads to the state. Classes in society result from functions of the soul; harmony among the classes results from functional relations of the healthy soul:. Agriculturists, workers, merchants, artisans: lower appetites. Their function: production. The ideal society is a family: Plato opposes monogamy, private property, recommends for the two upper castes—who are to be supported by workers—communism and common possession of wives and children…Plato recommends: eugenic supervision of marriages and births, exposure of weak children, compulsory state education, education of women for war and government, and censorship.
The state is an educational institution, the instrument of civilization; its foundation must be the highest kind of knowledge which is philosophy. The education of the children of higher classes will follow a definite plan: identical for the sexes during the first twenty years: myths selected for ethicality, gymnastics for body and spirit; poetry, music —harmony, beauty, proportion and philosophical thought; reading, writing; mathematics which tends to draw the mind from the concrete and sensuous to the abstract and real. At 20, superior young men will be selected and shall integrate their learning.
At 30, those who show greatest ability in studies, military officers, etc. Then they will be put to test as soldiers, militias and in subordinate civic offices.
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First, the problem of transcendent ideas and the degradation of the world of experience to mere appearance and, second, the concept of the secondary Platonic element matter and the gulf between form and matter provided difficulties. Other difficulties: changing forms, immortal souls in human bodies, makeshift nature of the Demiurge. Aristotle claims the changeless eternal forms but as inherent, immanent in things: form and matter are eternally together…Because of his realism, Aristotle studied science sympathetically, his theories always in close touch with it and he encouraged the natural sciences.
Logic: Organon includes: Categories, De Interpretationae, Prior and Posterior Analytics includes induction and the syllogism , Topics, Sophistic Fallacies Topics are largely concerned with dialectic reasoning. Politics: 8, apparently incomplete ; On the Constitution of Athens discovered the work on economics attributed to Aristotle is not authentic. The universe is an ideal world, an organic whole of interrelated parts, a system of eternal, unchangeable ideas or forms: these are the ultimate essences and causes…ideas are, in contrast to Plato, immanent in the world giving it form and life…experience is real—the basis of knowledge; starting from experience we rise to the science of ultimate principles.
Genuine knowledge is not merely factual but consists in knowing the reasons and causes of things. Philosophy or science in the broad sense is reasoned knowledge. Metaphysics is concerned with being qua being. Theme: analysis of form and content of thought. Scientific truth is characterized by strict necessity: to establish a scientific proposition it must be proved that it could not possibly be otherwise. Demonstration: the form of thought: propositions from propositions: the syllogism.
Intuition or induction: establishment of primary propositions. Intuition is the apprehension of the universal element in the particular: or induction.
Content: the doctrine of the categories also part of his metaphysics : categories are the fundamental, indivisible concepts of thought: the most fundamental and universal predicates that can be affirmed of anything, not mere forms of thought or language but also predicates of reality…the ten categories 1 what e. Substance that which exists , abstractly defined in metaphysics, is a key concept…and is in sharp contrast to the Platonic notion.