Ancient Philosophy

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Transcript Ancient Philosophy

Ancient Philosophers
James Van Slyke
The beginning of philosophy…
Ancient Greeks were the first philosophers
6th century BC
Attempted to use reason to construct arguments about
the nature of the universe
Moved beyond mythology and religion (ancient Greek
gods) seeking knowledge for its own sake
The Milesians
Earliest forms of geometry and math
Predicted a solar eclipse using reason
Asked first metaphysical questions about the structure
of the universe
Political and Military advisor
Pupil of Thales
Metaphysics based on the Infinite
Founder of Geometry as a Systematic study
Metaphysics based on souls inhabiting different forms
of life
Transmigration of the soul – souls migrates through
different material forms of life – human souls are
Morality was based on the harmony of the soul
Metaphysics of becoming rather than being
Universe held together through the Great Logos
Universe constructed through paradox
divisible and indivisible
Mortal and immortal
Word and Eternity
Universe in constant flux
One of the first to use logical forms
Constructed a series of paradoxes
Paradox of Motion
Argued that it was impossible to measure motion
Legend claims that Zeno met Socrates at a festival in
Athens ushering in the golden age of philosophy
Theory of Atomism
Matter is not infinitely divisible
Smallest part of an object must have magnitude
Matter is composed of tiny bodies (called atoms)
Early form of Materialism
Material substances are the only forms of existence
Different objects are merely the aggregates of different
combinations of atoms
Rise of Greek Culture
In 5th century BC, Athens becomes cultural
Rise in secularism
Rise in Political theory and discussion
Pragmatic use of philosophy
Moved away from metaphysics to political and logical
The Sophists
Against the use of religion as persuasion
Experts in the Art of Rhetoric
Used logical arguments
Offered education for a fee
Philosophy became a commodity
The Sophists
Not interested in metaphysical speculation
Skeptical about explanations of ultimate reality
Life should be lived in the service of one’s own selfinterest
This was the natural state of humanity
Each person understands truth according to their own
subjective understanding
Reason is not objective
Birth of the Golden Age of Philosophy
First major figure associated with
Rejected the extremes of speculative
philosophy of the pre-Socratics and the
cynical pragmaticism of the sophists
Provided free instruction
Developed the Socratic method of
Virtue is obtained through knowledge
The Crito
Plato recorded the words of Socrates in several
It is difficult to know how much is fact and
how much is idealization
Socrates refuses to let his friends help him to
The only life worthy living is a good life
A life purchased through disobedience to the
law is not a life worth living
‘Think not of life and children first, but think
of justice’
‘Let us fulfill the will of God and follow
whither he leads’
The Phaedo
Provides an account of Socrates last days and
the nature of immortality and death
A true philosopher does not fear death, nor
will they seek to take their own life to avoid
life’s hardships
The body is a hindrance for the soul and the
contemplation of knowledge, death frees the
soul from its cage
Various arguments for the existence of the soul
The soul brings life
Life is the opposite of death
Therefore, death cannot overtake that which is
The Two Schools of
Socrates’ student Plato and Plato’s student Aristotle
formed two divergent schools of thought after the time
of Socrates
Plato set up his academy as an educational institution
that taught both academics and political leaders
In 367 B.C Aristotle at the age of 17 moved to Athens
and studied at Plato’s academy for 20 years
Aristotle later set up his own school, the Lyceum, which
had many free lectures
Theory or Common sense?
 Plato
towards the sky
Clothed in red
the volatile
element of fire
 Aristotle
Feet firmly on
the ground
Clothed in the
colors of green
(earth) and blue
the empirical,
what can be
and observed
Theory of Ideas
Detailed treatment in the Timaeus
The allegory of the cave
Something must exist (the forms) that has a reality
independent of the physical manifestation of things
Forms –
similar to a ratio or mathematical formula
Concept or Essence of something
Philosophy is concerned with the contemplation of
Cosmology based on a hierarchy forms
Plato’s Cosmology
Form of the Good
stars/planets = divinities
inorganic material
more order, goodness, beauty, less corruptibility as we go up the hierarchy
More interested in the empirical
Classification of animal behavior
Theories of causation
Efficient causation – sculptor
Material cause - stone
Formal cause – forms
Final cause – function something serves
Expanded and reformed Plato’s thought
Hylomorphic view of matter
Form and matter work together; interdependent
Understanding of the soul
Hierarchy of the soul
Different types of souls provide different functions
plants have vegetative/nutrition – about nutrient,
reproductive, grow
animals have animal/sensitive – sensation, locomotion,
humans rational soul – intellect