Greek Philosophy Introduction PPT

Greek Philosophy Introduction PPT
Greek Philosophy Introduction PPT
Greek Philosophy Introduction PPT
Greek Philosophy Introduction PPT
Greek Philosophy Introduction PPT
Greek Philosophy Introduction PPT
Greek Philosophy Introduction PPT
Greek Philosophy Introduction PPT
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Greek Philosophy
The Greeks had begun to speculate very early on such metaphysical questions as the origin and nature of the universe
As evidenced by the poems of Homer
But Homer relied on mythology to provide the answers

Others would ultimately discard religious mythology as a means to answer these questions and develop a secular methodology based on observation, logic, and semantics
With this development came the birth of philosophy
Philosophy originated in the Greek city states along the coast of Asia Minor around 600 BC
Because they were not as bound by tradition as city-states on mainland Greece
Because they were also constantly in touch with the ancient science and speculation of the Middle East
They were, in short, more open to intellectual innovation and speculation than counterparts on the mainland
Born around 625 BC
Became a well-known astronomer and correctly predicted a solar eclipse
Also developed theories about size and orbits of the sun and moon
Learned geometry and engineering in Egypt
Divided all matter in the universe into two categories
Material objects
Which had their origin in water
Animate spirits
Had the ability to move on their own

We all know that his theory was wrong but he nonetheless did something important
Saw universe as tangible, finite, and knowable
Not a mysterious and nebulous entity that only the gods could understand
The Four Elements of Air, Fire, Water and Earth describe the four unique personality types associated with the zodiac signs.
Earth: melancholic--disposed to or affected with melancholy; gloomy.
Air: choleric--extremely irritable or easily angered; irascible
Fire: sanguine--enthusiastic, buoyant, animated, lively, spirited
Water: phlegmatic--not easily excited to action or display of emotion
Asserted that the universe could be known by men
He rejected theological and mythological interpretations of the universe and instead sought rational explanations
Opened the door for a whole new series of questions once the age-old obstacle of relying on the gods for all answers had been overcome
What is man and what is the best society for man?
What is truth and how can one recognize it?
What is virtue and how can one acquire it?

Greeks quickly commercialized spirit of intellectual liberation
Men trained in philosophy set themselves up as teachers of various fields
Their basic premise was that men were capable of self-improvement through education and education would make men more successful
Offered idea of human progress through one’s own efforts
Became very popular and were concentrated in Athens
Most popular sophists taught rhetoric
They promised that the most humble man on the street could speak in the Assembly and law courts, confound their opponents, and reap all the financial benefits of public life if they knew rhetoric
Offered to teach people how to win any arguments, regardless of the side they took
Argued that no truth is universally valid
Good and evil, truth and falsehood were matters of individual judgment
Were no universal standards

Sophists also attacked the traditional religious and moral values of Athenian society
Some argued that religion was useless and others asserted that religion was a human invention

Even argued that the law did not come from the gods, nor were they based on any objective or universal standard of justice and good
Argued that the law was something made by the most powerful citizens for their own benefit
Dangerous implications
Law did not need to be obeyed since it rested on no higher principle than might
Disruptive of community life because it stressed the selfish interests of the individual over the general welfare of the city

Some sophists attacked Athenian emphasis on moderation and self-discipline
Urged that people should maximize pleasure and destroy traditions that restricted them
Traditions were only invented by the weak to enslave nobler nations

Radical sophists triggered intellectual and spiritual crisis in Athens
Their doctrines encouraged disrespect and disobedience to the law, neglect of civic duty, and selfish individualism
Dangerously weakened community bonds in Athens during Peloponnesian War
Worried conservative Athenians
Wanted to restore authority of law and respect for moral values by renewing allegiance to traditions that sophists attacked
Employed intellectual methodology that sophists had created to address questions that they had either neglected or ignored
469-399 BC
Born into middle class family and began adult life as a stone mason
Soon gave this up to devote life to finding out what was the right way to conduct one’s life
Felt that sophists had taught skills but had no insight into the questions that really mattered
What is the purpose of life?
What are the values by which man should live?
How does man perfect his character?
Felt sophists had attacked old system of beliefs but had not provided a constructive replacement

Central concern was the perfection of individual human character
Believed moral values were attained when the individual regulated his life according to objective standards arrived at through rational reflection

An individual would be able to ascertain the values necessary to live a good and just life when reason became the formative, guiding, and ruling agency of the soul

True education meant the shaping of character according to values discovered through the active and critical use of reason

Wanted to subject all human beliefs and behavior to the clear light of reason
And thereby remove ethics from the realm of authority, tradition, dogma, superstition, and myth
Believed reason was the only proper guide to the most critical problem of human existence
The question of good and evil

Socrates taught that rational inquiry was a priceless took that allowed one to test opinions, weigh the merit of ideas, and alter beliefs on the basis of knowledge

Believed that when people engaged in critical self-examination and strove to perfect their characters, they liberated themselves from accumulated opinions and traditions and based their conduct instead on convictions they could rationally defend

Believed that knowledge was innate in the human mind
To extract it out into the conscious, he developed a question-and-answer method
Attracted loyal audience of young men
Mostly from well-off families
Encouraged them to debate the most fundamental concepts of human behavior in an attempt to define the guidelines of ethical conduct

Would begin debates with students with searching questions into traditional assumptions that everyone took for granted and then proceed to show that these assumptions were rooted more in custom and prejudice than they were in logic
Would then lead students (with more questions) into developing more precise definitions of such concepts as piety, justice, good, and evil
Socrates never formulated rules of conduct
Instead he believed that by giving his followers the habits of rigorous questioning and logical though processes, he was creating a mentality that could perceive correct conduct under all conditions

Most in Athens dismissed Socrates as a eccentric sophist
But his students developed a fanatical loyalty to him
Political leaders, whose ability and judgment he continually questioned, hated his guts
It was this conflict that ultimately did him in
Many of his students were enchanted by his criticism of their elders and the establishment but they did not follow him in the more difficult job of inquiring into creative alternatives
They also affected an ill-disguised admiration for Sparta during the Peloponnesian War
After war was over, some enemies brought Socrates to trial on charges of “corrupting the youth of Athens”
Socrates denied charges but refused to grovel and beg forgiveness
Instead he boldly spelled out what he stood for
Was found guilty and ordered to kill himself by drinking hemlock
If he had tried to appeased jurors, he probably would have received light sentence
But he refused to alter his principles, even under the threat of death
In 387, Plato founded the Academy in Athens
Intended to be a training ground for young men from all over Greece
Where they would learn the Socratic Method
Plato had more ambitious goal than Socrates’ moral regeneration of the individual
Also wanted arrange political life according to rational rules
Argued that quest for personal morality could not succeed unless the community was also transformed on the basis of reason
Socrates had taught that universal standards of right and justice exist and could be found through the application of reason
Plato insisted on the existence of a higher world of reality
One that was independent from the world of things that we experience everyday
Called this the “World of Ideas” (or “Forms”)
Unchanging, eternal, absolute, and universal standards of beauty, justice, and truth
One had to live according to these standards in order to live the good life
To know these forms was to know truth
Truth resides in the World of Ideas
Not in the world made known through the senses
People form opinions of beauty or justice from observing what they think is beautiful or just in the material world
But since nothing is perfect in the material world, this opinion is distorted and imperfect
One who aspires to true knowledge must go beyond sensory perception and try to grasp with their mind the Idea of Beauty or Justice in the World of Ideas
Plato saw the material world as unstable, transitory, and imperfect while the World of Ideas was eternal and universally valid
True wisdom is obtained through knowledge of the Ideas, not the imperfect reflection of these Ideas that we perceive with the senses

Plato was a champion of reason who aspired to study and arrange human life according to universally valid standards
Maintained that such standards did exist
But his writings also included a religious/mystical side
Appears at times to be a mystic seeking escape from this world to a higher reality
Studied in Plato’s Academy for 20 years
Left to become tutor to Alexander the Great
Returned after Alexander became ruler and founded Lyceum
Ranges of interests and intellect was extraordinary
Leading expert of his time in all subjects except mathematics
Wrote large number of books on various topics
Renewed confidence in sense perception
Which Plato had dismissed as an erroneous way to obtain knowledge
Respected knowledge obtained through the senses
Retained stress on universal principles
But wanted them to be derived from human experience with the material world
Thought Plato’s notion of an independent and separate World of Ideas beyond space and time was contrary to common sense
To comprehend reality, one should not try to escape to another world
Believed Plato had undervalued the world of facts and objects revealed through the senses

Perfect models existed within material things themselves
Through human experience with such things as men, horses, and red objects, the essence of man, horse, and red could be discovered through reason
For Plato, perfect models existed independently of particular objects
For Aristotle, universal ideas could not be determined without examination of particular things through the senses

Believed knowledge of ethics was possible and that it had to be based on reason
Ethical thought derived from a realistic appraisal of human nature and a common sense attitude towards life
The “good life” meant making intelligent decisions when confronted with specific problems
People could achieve happiness when they applied knowledge relevantly to life and when their behavior was governed by intelligence
Not by whim, tradition, or authority
Realized that passionate element within the human personality could not be completely eradicated
To surrender to one’s passions was to sink to the level of animals
But to deny the passions was foolish and an unreasonable rejection of human nature
Argued that people could regulate their passions through rigorous training
Could achieve virtue when they avoided extremes of behavior and rationally chose moderation
Believed that contemplative life of the philosopher would yield perfect happiness
But he did not demand more from a person than human nature would allow
Did not set impossible standards but recognized that all persons cannot pursue life of contemplation
But all persons could experience a good life by applying reason to human affairs
Philosophy came down to earth with Aristotle and spoke to needs and concerns of all people
Not just a highly educated elite
Set the stage for the individualistic philosophies of the Hellenistic Age

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14 pages
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