The Greek Philosophy of Man Essay Sample

The Greek Philosophy of Man Pages
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Socrates was a classical GreekAthenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon andtheplaysofhis contemporary Aristophanes. Many would claim that Plato’s dialogues are the most comprehensive accounts of Socrates to survive from antiquity. Through his portrayal in Plato’s dialogues, Socrates has become renowned for his contribution to the field of ethics, and it is this Platonic Socrates who lends his name to the concepts of Socratic irony and the Socratic method, or elenchus. The latter remains a commonly used tool in a wide range of discussions, and is a type of pedagogy in which a series of questions are asked not only to draw individual answers, but also to encourage fundamental insight into the issue at hand. Plato’s Socrates also made important and lasting contributions to the fields of epistemology and logic, and the influence of his ideas and approach remains a strong foundation for much western philosophy that followed. The Socratic problem

As Socrates did not write philosophical texts, the knowledge of the man, his life, and his philosophy is entirely based on writings by his students and contemporaries. Foremost among them is Plato; however, works by Xenophon, Aristotle, and Aristophanes also provide important insights. Socratic method

To illustrate the use of the Socratic method; a series of questions are posed to help a person or group to determine their underlying beliefs and the extent of their knowledge. The Socratic method is a negative method of hypothesis elimination, in that better hypotheses are found by steadily identifying and eliminating those that lead to contradictions. It was designed to force one to examine one’s own beliefs and the validity of such beliefs. Philosophical beliefs

The beliefs of Socrates, as distinct from those of Plato, are difficult to discern. Little in the way of concrete evidence exists to demarcate the two. The lengthy presentation of ideas given in most of the dialogues may be deformed by Plato, and some scholars think Plato so adapted the Socratic style as to make the literary character and the philosopher himself impossible to distinguish. Others argue that he did have his own theories and beliefs, but there is much controversy over what these might have been, owing to the difficulty of separating Socrates from Plato and the difficulty of interpreting even the dramatic writings concerning Socrates. Consequently, distinguishing the philosophical beliefs of Socrates from those of Plato and Xenophon is not easy and it must be remembered that what is attributed to Socrates might more closely reflect the specific concerns of these thinkers.

Plato

was a philosopher in Classical Greece. He was also amathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the foundations of Western philosophy andscience. In the words of A. N. Whitehead. Plato’s sophistication as a writer is evident in his Socratic dialogues; thirtysix dialogues and thirteen letters have been ascribed to him. Plato’s writings have been published in several fashions; this has led to several conventions regarding the naming and referencing of Plato’s texts.Plato’s dialogues have been used to teach a range of subjects, including philosophy, logic, ethics, rhetoric, religion and mathematics. Plato is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy. Birth and family

The exact time and place of Plato’s birth are not known, but it is certain that he belonged to an aristocratic and influential family. Based on ancient sources, most modern scholars believe that he was born in Athens between 429 and 423 BC.His father was Ariston. Name

According to Diogenes Laërtius, the philosopher was named Aristocles after his grandfather, but his wrestling coach, Ariston of Argos, dubbed him Platon, meaning “broad,” on account of his robust figure.According to the sources mentioned by Diogenes (all dating from the Alexandrian period), Plato derived his name from the breadth (platytês) of his eloquence, or else because he was very wide (platýs) across the forehead.Recent scholars have argued that the legend about his name being Aristocles originated in the Hellenistic age.Plato was a common name, of which 31 instances are known at Athens alone.

Philosophy
Plato often discusses the fatherson relationship and the question of whether a father’s interest in his sons has much to do with how well his sons turn out. A boy in ancient Athens was socially located by his family identity, and Plato often refers to his characters in terms of their paternal and fraternal relationships. Socrates was not a family man, and saw himself as the son of his mother, who was apparently a midwife. Platonic scholarship

Although their popularity has fluctuated over the years, the works of Plato have never been without readers since the time they were written.Plato’s thought is often compared with that of his most famous student, Aristotle, whose reputation during the Western Middle Ages so completely eclipsed that of Plato that the Scholastic philosophers referred to Aristotle as “the Philosopher”. However, in the Byzantine Empire, the study of Plato continued. The Medieval scholastic philosophers did not have access to most of the works of Plato, nor the knowledge of Greek needed to read them. Plato’s original writings were essentially lost to Western civilization until they were brought from Constantinople in the century of its fall, by George Gemistos Plethon. It is believed that Plethon passed a copy of the Dialogues to Cosimo de’ Medici when in 1438 the Council of Ferrara, called to unify the Greek and Latin Churches, was adjourned to Florence, where Plethon then lectured on the relation and differences of Plato and Aristotle, and fired Cosimo with his enthusiasm.During the early Islamic era, Persian and Arab scholars translated much of Plato into Arabic and wrote commentaries and interpretations on Plato’s, Aristotle’s and other Platonist philosophers’ works (see AlFarabi, Avicenna, Averroes, Hunayn ibn Ishaq). Many of these comments on Plato were translated from Arabic into Latin and as such influenced Medieval scholastic philosophers.

Aristotle
was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Platoand teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric,linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology. Together with Plato and Socrates (Plato’s teacher), Aristotle is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy. Aristotle’s writings were the first to create a comprehensive system of Western philosophy, encompassing ethics, aesthetics, logic, science, politics, and metaphysics.

Life
Aristotle, whose name means “the best purpose,” was born in Stagira, Chalcidice, in 384 BC, about 55 km (34 mi) east of modernday Thessaloniki.His father Nicomachus was the personal physician to King Amyntas of Macedon. Although there is little information on Aristotle’ childhood, he probably did spend some time then in the Macedonian palace, making his first connections with the Macedonian monarchy. Aristotle’s scientific method

Like his teacher Plato, Aristotle’s philosophy aims at the universal. Aristotle, however, finds the universal in particular things, which he calls the essence of things, while Plato finds that the universal exists apart from particular things, and is related to them as their prototype or exemplar. For Aristotle, therefore, philosophic method implies the ascent from the study of particular phenomena to the knowledge of essences, while for Plato philosophic method means the descent from a knowledge of universal Forms (or ideas) to a contemplation of particular imitations of these. For Aristotle, “form” still refers to the unconditional basis of phenomena but is “instantiated” in a particular substance (see Universals and particulars, below). In a certain sense, Aristotle’s method is both inductive and deductive, while Plato’s is essentially deductive from a priori principles. Practical philosophy

Aristotle considered ethics to be a practical rather than theoretical study, i.e., one aimed at becoming good and doing good rather than knowing for its own sake. He wrote several treatises on ethics, including most notably, the Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle taught that virtue has to do with the proper function (ergon) of a thing. An eye is only a good eye in so much as it can see, because the proper function of an eye is sight. Aristotle reasoned that humans must have a function specific to humans, and that this function must be an activity of the psuchē (normally translated as soul) in accordance with reason (logos). Aristotle identified such an optimum activity of the soul as the aim of all human deliberate action, eudaimonia, generally translated as “happiness” or sometimes “well being”.

To have the potential of ever being happy in this way necessarily requires a good character (ēthikē aretē), often translated as moral (or ethical) virtue (or excellence).[46] Aristotle taught that to achieve a virtuous and potentially happy character requires a first stage of having the fortune to be habituated not deliberately, but by teachers, and experience, leading to a later stage in which one consciously chooses to do the best things. When the best people come to live life this way their practical wisdom (phronesis) and their intellect (nous) can develop with each other towards the highest possible human virtue, the wisdom of an accomplished theoretical or speculative thinker, or in other words, a philosopher.

Biology and medicine
In Aristotelian science, especially in biology, things he saw himself have stood the test of time better than his retelling of the reports of others, which contain error and superstition. He dissected animals but not humans; his ideas on how the human body works have been almost entirely superseded.

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