Presocratic Thought An analysis of Presocratic thought presents some difficulties. Even these purportedly verbatim words often come to us in quotation from other sources, so it is difficult, if not impossible, to attribute with certainty a definite position to any one thinker. Presocratic thought marks a decisive turn away from mythological accounts towards rational explanations of the cosmos. Indeed, some Presocratics openly criticize and ridicule traditional Greek mythology, while others simply explain the world and its causes in material terms.
Specifically, he recommended gaining rational control over your desires and harmonizing the different parts of your soul. Doing so would produce a divine-like state of inner tranquility that the external would could not effect.
True to his word, he cheerfully faced his own death, discussing philosophy right up to the moments before he took the lethal hemlock. Through his influence on Plato and Aristotle, a new era of philosophy was inaugurated and the course of western civilization was decisively shaped.
A Little Background Socrates has a unique place in the history of happiness, as he is the first known figure in the West to argue that happiness is actually obtainable through human effort. He was born in Athens, Greece in BC; like most ancient peoples, the Greeks had a rather pessimistic view of human existence.
Happiness was deemed a rare occurrence and reserved only for those whom the gods favored. The idea that one could obtain happiness for oneself was considered hubris, a kind of overreaching pride, and was to be met with harsh punishment. Against this bleak backdrop the optimistic Socrates enters the picture.
The key to happiness, he argues, is to turn attention away from the body and towards the soul. By harmonizing our desires we can learn to pacify the mind and achieve a divine-like state of tranquility.
A moral life is to be preferred to an immoral one, primarily because it leads to a happier life. We see right here at the beginning of western philosophy that happiness is at the forefront, linked to other concepts such as virtue, justice, and the ultimate meaning of human existence.
Is the world composed of one substance or many substances? But living amidst the horrors of the Peloponnesian War, Socrates was more interested in ethical and social issues: Why be moral when immoral people seem to benefit more? Famously Socrates was more adept at asking such questions than spoon-feeding us the answers.
Socrates himself admits that he is ignorant, and yet he became the wisest of all men through this self-knowledge. Like an empty cup Socrates is open to receive the waters of knowledge wherever he may find them; yet through his cross examinations he finds only people who claim to be wise but really know nothing.
Most of our cups are too filled with pride, conceit, and beliefs we cling to in order to give us a sense of identity and security. Socrates represents the challenge to all our preconceived opinions, most of which are based on hearsay and faulty logic. Needless to say, many people resented Socrates when he pointed this out to them in the agon or public square.
The price Socrates paid for his honest search for truth was death: But here we see the life of Socrates testifies to the truth of his teachings. Instead of bemoaning his fate or blaming the gods, Socrates faces his death with equanimity, even cheerfully discussing philosophy with his friends in the moments before he takes the lethal cup.
As someone who trusted in the eternal value of the soul, he was unafraid to meet death, for he believed it was the ultimate release of the soul from the limitations of the body. In contrast to the prevailing Greek belief that death is being condemned to Hades, a place of punishment or wandering aimless ghost-like existence, Socrates looks forward to a place where he can continue his questionings and gain more knowledge.
Three Dialogues on Happiness: The Euthydemus This is the first piece of philosophy in the West to discuss the concept of happiness, but it is not merely of historical interest. Rather, Socrates presents an argument as to what happiness is that is as powerful today as when he first discussed it over years ago.
Basically, Socrates is concerned to establish two main points: A wise person will use money in the right way in order to make his life better; an ignorant person will be wasteful and use money poorly, ending up even worse than before.
Hence we cannot say that money by itself will make one happy. Money is a conditional good, only good when it is in the hands of a wise person. This same argument can be redeployed for any external good: A handsome person, for example, can become vain and manipulative and hence misuse his physical gifts.
Similarly, an intelligent person can be an even worse criminal than an unintelligent one. Socrates then presents the following stunning conclusion:It was one of the rules which, above all others, made Doctor Franklin the most amiable of men in society, "never to contradict anybody." If he was urged to announce an opinion, he did it rather by asking questions, as if for information, or by suggesting doubts.
When we separate the word philosophy we get “phil-”, meaning love, and “-sophy”, meaning wisdom. The word philosophy simply means the “love of wisdom”. Some of the great philosophers are Plato, Alexander the Great, Aristotle and of course Socrates.
The “wisdom” Euthyphro receives from the gods through the poetry of Hesiod and Homer is challenged by the wisdom available to the “natural” reason, as manifested in the probing questions of Socrates. Ancient Greek Philosophy.
From Thales, who is often considered the first Western philosopher, to the Stoics and Skeptics, ancient Greek philosophy opened the doors to a particular way of thinking that provided the roots for the Western intellectual tradition.
The son of wealthy and influential Athenian parents, Plato began his philosophical career as a student of timberdesignmag.com the master died, Plato travelled to Egypt and Italy, studied with students of Pythagoras, and spent several years advising the ruling family of timberdesignmag.comally, he returned to Athens and established his own school of philosophy at the Academy.
Part of a series on: Socrates "I know that I know nothing" "The unexamined life is not worth living" Social gadfly · Trial of Socrates: Eponymous concepts; Socratic dialogue · Socratic intellectualism Socratic irony · Socratic method Socratic paradox · Socratic questioning Socratic problem · Socratici viri: Disciples; Plato · Xenophon Antisthenes · Aristippus.