The Greeks were weird but smart. An incredible civilisation. They are still renowned for their achievements, which formed the basis for the life we have today. So I’m about to explain, not in depth because that would take too long, the basics of the great classical philosophers: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.
Socrates never wrote down a single line of his philosophy, which is an entire mood. He believed steadfastly in people being unhappy if they act against their judgement. Therefore, people who know what is right will do right because why would they choose to be unhappy? Personally, I think there’s a lot of flaws with that argument but I admire Socrates for actively encouraging philosophical discussion. He spent a lot of time in the market place, questioning complete strangers with philosophical questions Often, he pretended to be dumber than he is just to prompt the stranger to defend their views. This eventually led to his violent death. The state forced him to drink hemlock. Despite the fact that he could’ve probably appealed for a more lenient sentence, he valued his conscience so instead he died and left behind a legacy as the most influential western philosopher for millennia.
As Plato’s disciple, most of what we know of philosophy is from Plato’s writings. His ideas centre around the concept of there being a second world where everything has a perfect mould. He called this world full of an immortal, unchanging soul the world of ideas whereas we live in the imperfect world of our unreliable senses. He compared our world to shadows inside a cave, merely mimicking the real thing. Most people are content with simply watching the shadows but philosophers are more interested in seeing what caused the shadows. I appreciate how he sees the flaws that exist in the world, especially with government and society. However, I disagree with some of his thoughts, such as philosophers should rule in the government. Although I understand that perhaps in Plato’s time, philosophers might’ve been more learned than the average population, there’s no way every philosopher was morally correct or even wished for the well-being of the state, let alone knowing anything about how to run a government. Then again, I supposed that’s a very cynic view to take.
He was Plato’s disciple, though he seemed to disagree with a lot of Plato’s principles, such as he believed in trusting your senses as the highest reality. He was the founding father of science, spending a lot of time classifying different classes of nature. Also, he thought everything belonged to a category and had a cause, such as material cause or efficient cause. He taught that you needed to live a balance life to be happy, which I find much more believable than Socrates’ idea that people who don’t act morally are unhappy. Interestingly, Aristotle still had a strong belief in God. He believed that everything you see in nature, like trees and rivers, existed to provide man and beast with food and water. In this way, everything we see around us has an innate purpose that they are born with. It rains so that plants can grow, grapes and oranges grow so that people can eat them. That is not the nature of scientific reasoning today, but nevertheless religions such as Christianity believe in God’s purpose, in Him creating everything that exists in this world.
So that was a brief summary of classical philosophy! Even thought it did not seem brief to me writing it or probably anyone reading it. Still, I don’t feel particularly expanding on these philosophers, so either I’ll move on to the Hellenistic world (not as cool as it sounds but still pretty cool) or maybe I’ll talk about Diogenes. Had a part-time job as a Cynic and a full-time job as a crazy hobo. Hellenism or Hobo?