Ancient Greek Philosophy

Ancient Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BCE and continued through the Hellenistic period, at which point Ancient Greece was incorporated in the Roman Empire. It dealt with a wide variety of subjects, including political philosophy, ethics, metaphysics, ontology, logic, biology, rhetoric, and aesthetics.

Many philosophers today maintain that Greek philosophy has influenced much of Western thought since its inception. Alfred Whitehead once noted: "The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato." Clear, unbroken lines of influence lead from ancient Greek and Hellenistic philosophers, to medieval Islamic philosophers, to the European Renaissance and Enlightenment.

Some claim that Greek philosophy, in turn, was influenced by the older wisdom literature and mythological cosmogonies of the ancient Near East. Martin Litchfield West gives qualified assent to this view, stating, "contact with oriental cosmology and theology helped to liberate the early Greek philosophers' imagination; it certainly gave them many suggestive ideas. But they taught themselves to reason. Philosophy as we understand it is a Greek creation."

Subsequent philosophic tradition was so influenced by Socrates as presented by Plato that it is conventional to refer to ancient Greek philosophy prior to Socrates as pre-Socratic philosophy. The period following this until the wars of Alexander the Great is referred to as classical Greek philosophy, followed by Hellenistic philosophy.

Read more about Ancient Greek Philosophy:  Pre-Socratic Philosophy, Hellenistic Philosophy, Transmission of Greek Philosophy Under Islam

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