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Greek Philosophy
World History - Libertyville HS
What is philosophy?
• Literally means “Lover
of Wisdom”
• Attempt to explain &
describe world around
us rationally or logically
• Difference between
philosophy & religion:
religion involves notion
of God(s) and faith
Socrates (470-399 BC)
• Athenian philosopher
• Beliefs
– All people should try to do
– People who failed to do
good were either ignorant
or evil
– One has an obligation to
disobey a bad command
– Believed in virtue as a key
– Advocated republics led
by a philosopher-King
Life of Socrates
• Lived during Peloponnesian
War, in which he fought
• Traveled Greece as a
wandering philosopher
• Taught in exchange, for food
/ clothing
• Sentenced to death by
Athenian democracy
– “Corrupting Athenian youth”
– He had upset powerful people
– Sentenced to death by his own
hand – drank hemlock (poison)
Plato (428-347 BC)
• Devoted student of Socrates
• After his death, Plato traveled
the known world (Italy, Sicily,
Egypt) teaching in style of
• Returned to Athens and
founded school outside of city
– the Academy
– Taught there for rest of his life
– Academy continued until 529
AD, when it was closed by
Roman Emperor; considered a
threat to spread of Christianity
Plato’s Beliefs
• Wrote and expanded upon
Socrates’ teaching
• Wrote The Republic
– Showed an idealized form of
government led by
philosopher king
– Explicitly rejected Athenian
democracy, b/c so few were
fit to rule
• Also wrote about conflict
between nature and nurture
• His writings were treasured
by Eastern RE, Muslims
Aristotle (384-322 BC)
• Studied with Plato at the
• After Plato’s death, he taught
kids of several royal families
• Invited to teach Alexander of
– Taught him for 5 years
– Had great influence on
Alexander’s thinking
• Upon Alexander’s elevation to
throne, Aristotle returned to
Greece to found the Lyceum
Aristotle’s Teaching
• Wrote about everything from
logic / reasoning to physical
– Focused on balancing
between competing bad
impulses (vices) to find virtue
– Advocated continuous good
behavior rather than specific
good acts
– Also emphasized situational
ethics (what’s good at one
time might not be in another)
Influence of Aristotle
• Most influential ancient
Greek philosopher on
Western thought
– Considered “The
Philosopher” by medieval
western scholars
– Also had profound influence
on Muslim philosophers
• His ideas and methodology
were basis of Scientific
Arabic Aristotle teaching (R)