Ancient Greek philosophers

Published on 31 January 2023 at 12:27

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.” - Plato

The first article of SOTE will describe the ideas of the ancient Greek philosophers and their impact on contemporary times.

Greek philosophy has left an indelible mark on the modern world. It was a time of discovery and exploration of the human mind and the world around us. Many famous philosophers from this time, such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, still have influence on our modern way of thinking and living. In this article, we will describe the ideas of various Greek philosophers and try to find out why these Greek philosophers continue to play a significant role to this day.

Socrates (ca. 470-399 BCE)

Socrates was a Greek philosopher who lived in Athens. He is one of the most influential philosophers of the ancient world. Socrates was known for his questions and dialogues and for his critical thinking. He did not believe in religious dogma and used dialectics to find answers to his questions.

For example, Socrates taught that ethics is the foundation of philosophy. He taught that people should lead their own lives in accordance with their own character and knowledge. According to Socrates, the goal of life is to be happy. To achieve this, people must lead a balanced life and learn to live well. Socrates also believed in the importance of critical thinking. He believed that people should learn to form their own opinions and draw their own conclusions. He also believed in the importance of dialogue and discussion to address problems.

Lastly, Socrates believed in the freedom of people. He believed that people should be allowed to make their own choices and follow their own path. This is his method of philosophy, known as the "Socratic method," in which he used questions to get to the heart of the matter. This method is still an important part of our modern philosophy and educational systems. 


Socrates had a great impact on the modern world. His philosophy was based on the fact that knowledge and critical thinking are the key to a good life, points central to the person of the 21st century and an attitude that forms the basis of contemporary education. He also believed in the power of dialogue and discussion to address problems, characteristics that shape modern politics and the modern democracy.


Furthermore, he had a deep knowledge of the Greek classical texts. His thoughts have influenced many later philosophers, including Plato, Aristotle, and Descartes. His ideas are still used in philosophy and politics today. Socrates taught us to develop our knowledge by thinking critically and seeking debate. Although he lived thousands of years ago, his thinking still has an impact on our society.

Socrates would ultimately die from poisoning after being found guilty of blasphemy and corrupting the youth in Athens.


Socrates 469-399 BCE

Plato (427-347 BCE)

Plato was an Ancient Greek philosopher who lived from 427-347 BCE. He believed in the existence of a spiritual world, independent of the material world, which he referred to as "Ideal Forms". In this, he believed that things such as truth, beauty, and justice are real and unchanging concepts that exist in this spiritual world. Plato believed that knowledge of these Ideal Forms is necessary for a meaningful and fulfilling human existence.


His philosophy still influences contemporary times. His ideas about philosophy as a means of knowledge and personal enlightenment are still relevant and are used in modern philosophy and spiritual traditions. His idea of Ideal Forms, for example, has influenced modern concepts of universals and abstract objects. His imagery of the "cave allegory" is also well-known and continues to influence modern philosophy, including political philosophy and ethics.


Plato's political philosophy, in which he describes an ideal state, has also had an impact on Western political theory. For example, he believed in a class division in society, where philosophers should be the leaders and other citizens should focus on tasks that fit their class. This idea of a philosophical elite leading has influenced modern political ideologies, including conservatism and communism.


In general, Plato's philosophy has had a lasting impact on modern philosophy and cultural traditions. His ideas about the nature of reality, knowledge, politics, and ethics remain relevant and are still studied and discussed.



Aristotle (384-322 BCE)

Aristotle was an Ancient Greek philosopher who lived from 384-322 BCE. He was a student of Plato and is known for his work in various fields, including logic, ethics, politics, biology and metaphysics. His philosophy focused on obtaining practical knowledge and insight through observation and reasoning.


Aristotle believed in the understanding of the nature of things by looking at their specific qualities and functions. He stated that everything in the world has a purpose and that this purpose is the object's ability to act or be in accordance with its nature. He also proposed the ethical theory that a fulfilling life is achieved by finding balance between conflicting human desires.


Aristotle's political philosophy was also influential. He believed that the state was necessary to ensure a just and fulfilling life for its citizens. He proposed that the state should be led by the middle class, which would ensure a balance between the rich and poor. He also believed in a constitutional government in which power was shared between the legislative, executive and judicial branches.


Aristotle's philosophy has had a lasting impact to this day. His ideas about obtaining practical knowledge and insight are still relevant and are still used in modern sciences and philosophies. His ethical theory of finding balance between conflicting desires is still influential and is still studied and discussed. His political philosophy has also had an impact on modern forms of government and political theories.


In general, Aristotle's philosophy has had a lasting impact on the modern day. His ideas about nature, ethics, politics and methodology are still relevant and are still studied and discussed. His approach to philosophy as practical knowledge for gaining insight and fulfillment remains an important influence on modern philosophy and cultural traditions.


If you are interested in the philosophy of the ancient Greeks, the following books are recommended to read:


  1. "The Republic" by Plato - This book is one of Plato's most well-known works and is considered a foundational text of Western philosophy. It discusses the ideal state, justice and the nature of reality

  2. "Nicomachean Ethics" by Aristotle - This work is one of Aristotle's most famous and is considered a cornerstone of Western ethical thought. It explores the concept of happiness, moral virtues and the good life.

  3. "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius - This book is a collection of reflections by the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius and provides insight into Stoic philosophy, which was heavily influenced by Greek thought.

  4. "The Symposium" by Plato - This book is a philosophical dialogue that explores the nature of love and beauty and features speeches by some of the most well-known figures in Greek philosophy.

  5. "Phaedo" by Plato - This book is a dialogue between Socrates and his friends and is considered one of Plato's most important works. It explores the nature of the soul, immortality, and the afterlife.

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