Ancient Greek philosophy

"Philosophy as we understand it is a Greek creation." - Martin Litchfield West

ancient greek philosophers, ancient greek philosophy

Ancient Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BCE and continued throughout the Hellenistic period and the period in which Ancient Greece was part of 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 concede that Greek philosophy has influenced much of Western culture since its inception. Alfred North 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 Early Islamic philosophy, the European Renaissance and the Age of 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 philosophy developed prior to Socrates as pre-Socratic philosophy. The periods following this until the wars of Alexander the Great are those of "classical Greek" and "Hellenistic" philosophy.

For more information on Xenophon please check Wikipedia, Ancient Greek philosophy

AncientGreek philosophers quotes


"There are two things a person should never be angry at, what they can help, and what they cannot." - Plato

"Only the educated are free." - Epictetus

"The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best." - Epictetus

"Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws." - Plato

"Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet." - Plato

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle

"Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something." - Plato

"Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens." - Plato

"You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation." - Plato

"As for me, all I know is that I know nothing." - Socrates

"My advice to you is get married: if you find a good wife you'll be happy; if not, you'll become a philosopher." - Socrates

"Ignorance, the root and stem of all evil." - Plato

"Those that know, do. Those that understand, teach." - Aristotle

"We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less." - Diogenes

The most beautiful thing in the world is freedom of speech. - Diogenes

Important Greek philosophers