Greek Philosophers

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Transcript Greek Philosophers

Greek Philosophers
On a piece of scrap paper, explain ONE of the
following quotes in your own words:
“Wisdom begins in wonder.”
“Be as you wish to seem.”
“To find yourself, think for yourself.”
What is Philosophy?
Why am I here?
Is this all a dream?
What is right and wrong? Good and bad?
Is there a god?
If you have ever asked yourself questions like these, then you have been
thinking like a philosopher.
Philo-= love of
sophy= wisdom
A philosopher is someone who is puzzled by the world, and asks questions
about it.
We are all philosophers here.
What is the difference between
science and philosophy?
Philosophy explores things we don’t know.
When answers are found, philosophy becomes
On your paper, write down as many
“philosophical” questions as you can in the next 3
When did it all begin?
Throughout history, people have asked questions
about the world they lived in. And probably, there
are many great thinkers who went unknown. Every
society has had its own philosophers.
Over 2000 years ago, Western philosophers lived
in Greece, Italy and Turkey. The trade brought an
exchange of ideas. These early thinkers were
influenced by the Egyptians, and Babylonians.
What is the purpose of philosophy?
In ancient times, mathematics, physics,
biology, chemistry used to be part of
As technology advanced, philosophy and
science became separate fields.
Philosophers can think about topics
in new ways.
They can argue and think clearly.
The Early Greeks
The history of Western Philosophy began in
Ancient Greece.
Before the Greeks began to look for scientific
explanations, everything was explained by myths,
legends or gods.
624-546 BCE
Thales lived in Miletus, a city-state on the coast of Asia
Minor (now called Turkey).
Thales was an astronomer and
an expert on navigation.
Noticing that water could be liquid, solid and vapor,
he wondered if that could explain how reality
Thales decided that water must be the basic ingredient
of the universe.
He said the world floated like a log on endless water.
610-546 BCE
Anaximander also came form Miletus. He shared
Thales’ opinion that there was something basic that
glued the universe together. But he did not think it was
as simple as water.
He called the substance “boundless”- something
beyond the physical universe. He thought the universe
was shaped like a drum and surrounded by this
He also came up with a theory that people
evolved from fish.
571-496 BCE
This thinker is still famous today for his mathematical theorem
about triangles. He thought reality could be explained by
He also discovered a relationship between music and
mathematics and the harmony of the universe.
Pythagoras started a society that followed a strict code. He said
reality was 10 sided.
He also banned the eating of beans for all his followers because
he believed it was cannibalism- when he cut open a bean, it
looked like the beginning of human life. In fact, when chased by
an angry crowd, he stopped by a bean field and refused to run
through it, and met an untimely death.
Pythagorean Theorem
469-399 BCE
Socrates was a familiar figure in the streets of Athens. Badly
dressed and always barefoot, he spent the days and nights
talking about all sorts of ideas. Socrates believed that:
“Ignorance is the only evil.”
Socrates thought that true happiness came from leading a
good life. But what is good and what is bad? That was the
big question.
“The only thing I know,” Socrates said, “is that I
know nothing!”
Socrates thought he would gain answers by asking
But this got him in trouble with the leading political
figures who felt like they had all the answers.
He was arrested for corrupting the youth of Athens and
for worshipping false gods. He was found guilty and
sentenced to death. His sentencers assumed he would
beg for his life- their real goal was to take him down a
few notches. But he refused to beg. Instead, he proposed
that the city should give him one free meal a day and
put up a statue of himself in town. He died by drinking
hemlock juice, a poisonous plant.
428-354 BCE
Plato was born as an aristocrat in Athens. Born into
a very wealthy family, he could have gone into
politics and power, but he was disgusted by the
murder of Socrates.
Plato believed that good leaders weren’t born, but
were built. So he opened up his own school.
His teachings focused on the question:
Is there a perfect world?
Socrates never wrote anything down, but Plato
wanted everything recorded in writing. So he
recorded Socrates’ ideas in the form of a discussion
between two people.
Plato thought there were unchanging truths about
all things- for example, there is a perfect model for
all things (“dogness”, “catness”, courage, justice…)
Plato believed it was a philosophers job to open
people’s eyes and help them strive for perfection.
•Plato believed that men and women had the same
intellectual powers and should receive the same education.
•At Plato’s Academy, students studied science, gymnastics
and philosophy.
•His ideal society would be one ruled by philosophers.
•He believed there was a unseen world with the perfect
models of all things on earth- -that our world was a world of
shadows, the reflections of an ideal worked.
People were trapped like prisoners who only see the
shadows- they mistake the shadows for what is real.
384-322 BCE
Aristotle studied with Plato for 20 years. But he thought
that Aristotle’s idea of the unseen world was crazy. The
natural world fascinated Aristotle- and he was often seen
examining nature.
He said:
“There is something marvelous in all natural things.”
After Plato died, Aristotle opened a school called the
Lyceum. There, students studied philosophy and the
natural world.
•Aristotle found that he could organize
everything on Earth into animal, vegetable or
•He catalogued over 500 species of sea life.
•He branded women as 2nd class citizens, unfit
or rights.
•He was Alexander the Great’s teacher- who will
grow up to conquer much of the known world.