ancient philosophy summary

Schools in the Imperial Period (chapter 8). Thus the study of physics is a spiritual exercise with a moral aim. Aristotle was born in 384 B.C. We possess only a tenth of Aristotle’s recorded works and none of his early ‘Platonic’ dialogues. Reviewed by Donald Zeyl , University of Rhode Island. In addition, Hadot shows convincingly that these various spiritual goals, differently described in the different schools—for example, for the Epicureans it was a life of stable pleasure achieved by the limitations of one’s appetites while for the Stoics it was a life of self-coherence, lived in conformity to Nature or Reason—all involved the goal of self-transformation. The four chapters that constitute its first part (entitled “The Platonic Definition of ’Philosopher’ and its Antecedents”) attempt to make the case for the author’s thesis by way of a survey of pre-Platonic philosophy. The program of training and research in the Academy from the various branches of mathematics to dialectic had primarily an ethical aim, which was to purify the mind and to “learn to live in a philosophical way … to ensure … a good life and thereby the ’salvation’ of the soul” (p. 65). The book is divided into three parts. This order is also the organizing principle of Plotinus’ Enneads, as edited by Porphyry. This is true not only of the “dogmatists” (Epicureans and Stoics as well as Platonists and Aristotelians, all of whom affirmed positive doctrines) but also of their opponents, the “skeptics,” who recommended the suspension of belief as the proper path to their spiritual goal. These assumptions are not supported by any evidence and seem to be derived from a widely shared tendency to read the mysticism of Plotinus back into the epistemologies of Plato and Aristotle. Our minds, then, are drawn to a contemplation of the divine, and in that contemplation we realize our transformation. Ancient and Modern Philosophy Anne Finch, Viscountess Conway 2: Creatures and time ‘person’ in this way: to them a ‘person’ is not an individual substance but merely a concept for representing a species or for considering a mode. The concluding chapter of the second part of the book (chapter 9: Philosophy and Philosophical Discourse) —by far its longest—considers the evidence of the prior chapters thematically. Article Summary Medieval philosophy is the philosophy of Western Europe from about ad 400–1400, roughly the period between the fall of Rome and the Renaissance. Chinese Philosophy refers to any of several schools of philosophical thought in the Chinese tradition, including Confucianism, Taoism, Legalism, Buddhism and Mohism (see below for brief introductions to these schools). Instead, I hope we can take a look back through the centuries of ancient philosophy and see what impact spirituality has had on the development of ancient thought and what type of relationship religion had with the study of philosophy. UNIT 1: The Genesis of Philosophy - Mythology vs. Reason The World Before Philosophy: An Overview of the Ancient World and the beginnings of Greece; The Poetic Traditions of Homer and Hesiod. Moreover, philosophy both as a way of life and as its justifying discourse is not the attainment and deployment of wisdom, but “merely a preparatory exercise for wisdom” which “tend[s] toward wisdom without ever achieving it” (p. 4). Ancient Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction introduces ancient debates and focuses on important and revealing features of the subject providing a sense of its freshness and liveliness, and of its wide variety of themes and styles. Reviewed in the United States on August 15, 2001. [Title Page] THE PRINCIPLES Of the most Ancient and Modern PHILOSOPHY CONCERNING God, Christ, and the Creatures, viz. One is startled to read that for Socrates (as depicted by Plato), the “will to do good” is of absolute value, and not the knowledge of the good. In addition, “professors did not merely teach, but played the role of genuine directors of conscience who cared for their students’ spiritual problems” (p. 156). Despite these caveats, it must be acknowledged that this very learned book is a tour de force, a welcome and much needed corrective to the prevailing view of ancient philosophy in our day. This is the initial volume of a four-book set in which Kenny will unfold a magisterial new history of Western philosophy, the first major single-author history of philosophy to appear in decades. We find proto-scientific explanations of the natural world in the Milesian thinkers, and we hear Democritus posit … Ancient philosophy wasn’t just individual self help. He assumes but fails to show, however, that Plato’s lofty descriptions of the philosophical life formed the basis or goal of a regimen of spiritual exercises, regularly practiced by members of the Academy and intended to enable them to achieve a particular state of the soul. Hadot’s answer: it is “the will to do good,” or “the absolute value of moral intent” (pp. way of life. About 600 BCE, the Greek cities of Ionia were the intellectual and cultural leaders of Greece and the number one sea-traders of the Mediterranean. Starting with a group of thinkers in ancient Greece, more than 2,500 years ago. The idea that Epicurus and Zeno (respectively the founders of Epicureanism and Stoicism) established their schools to create communities which pursued some shared way of life to attain a shared spiritual goal is not new, and Hadot demonstrates very effectively how the physical and epistemological theories of these schools were intended to support their spiritual goals. Now many people today would classify these thinkers as scientists rather than philosophers. Finally, they would proceed to texts that were metaphysical or theological (or “epoptical,” e.g., the Parmenides or Philebus), to ascend to the contemplation of God or the Ultimate (e.g., the Good or the One). Sir Anthony Kenny here tells the fascinating story of the birth of philosophy and its remarkable flourishing in the ancient Mediterranean world. “Each commentary was considered a spiritual exercise … because the reading of each philosophical text was supposed to produce a transformation in the person reading or listening to the commentary” (p. 155). Philosophy is a purely Greek invention. Accessibility Information. Unlike Plato, however, Aristotle rejects the coincidence between political transformation and the transformation of the self. Given that the bulk of the surviving texts from antiquity come from the hands of Plato and Aristotle, and given the historical importance of these two philosophers, this amounts to a serious reservation. Aristotle and His School (chapter 6). It is difficult to deny that the author has successfully established his main claim. Helpful. His parents died while he was young, and he was likely raised at his family’s home in Stagira. [This is the only chapter to which Lady Conway added Notes in this fashion. That transformation consists in attaining that super-human, god-like goal of theôria so eloquently embraced in Nicomachean Ethics Book X. Heraclitus and Pythagoras are influenced by Persian religious ideas. Ancient Philosophy spans over a tho. It is notable, however, that in his study of Aristotle’s Lyceum Hadot makes no mention of spiritual exercises—disciplines or practices engaged in for the sake of achieving self-transformation. The Archaic Period and the Beginning of Philosophy: The Art, Architecture, and Culture of the Archaic Period The Presocratic Philosophical Traditions All these exercises have as their aim the transformation of the self. The second is the eventual decline of Epicureanism and Stoicism and the ascendancy and development of Platonism (synthesized with Aristotelianism in the Neoplatonism of Plotinus) as the dominant philosophy of late antiquity. So I'd better start by saying something about what counts as philosophy for the purposes of this course. Western Philosophy - by which we usually mean everything apart from the Eastern Philosophy of China, India, Japan, Persia, etc - really began in Ancient Greece in about the 6th Century B.C. This subject matter indeed does constitute the “philosophical discourse” of the ancient philosophers. The role of humans and their place in society has always been the main focus of Chinese thinkers. Thus students would first be required to master texts in which the subject matter was primarily ethical (e.g., Plato’s Phaedo), to promote their souls’ initial purification. Both of his parents were members of traditional medical families, and his father, Nicomachus, served as court physician to King Amyntus III of Macedonia. ”—Michael Frede, Oxford University From its inception in Homer, the idea of sophia (wisdom) denoted practical skill, a “knowing how,” and thus when the notion of philosophia makes its appearance in the fifth century BCE, it initially denotes an interest in the practice of various such skills. What is ancient philosophy? Ancient Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BC, at a time when the ancient inhabitants of ancient Greece were struggling to repel devastating invasions from the east. The development of philosophy in the age of the Roman Empire is characterized by two outstanding phenomena. Apology (Paperback) Plato. Miletus, the southernmost Ionian city, was the wealthiest of Greek cities and the main focus of the “Ionian awakening”, a name for the initial phase of classical Greek civilization, coincidental with the birth of Greek philosophy.The first group of Greek philosophers is a triad of Milesian … According to his biographer Porphyry, “for Plotinus the goal and the end consisted of union with the supreme deity and the process of growing closer to him” (quoted on p. 160), and Porphyry reports several instances of Plotinus achieving this unity in non-discursive, mystical unitive experiences. Ancient philosophy was principally pagan, and was finally eclipsed by Christianity in the sixth century ad, but it was so comprehensively annexed by its conqueror that it came, through Christianity, to dominate medieval and Renaissance philosophy. It was very social and communal. Chinese philosophy, the thought of Chinese culture, from earliest times to the present.The keynote in Chinese philosophy is humanism: man and his society have occupied, if not monopolized, the attention of Chinese philosophers throughout the ages. From Plato to Foucault, we break down the main ideas in philosophical thought. Now, philosophy is a term that gets used in lots of different ways. Early Greek philosophers are influenced by Asian sources, and most likely by the metaphysics of early Persian (Iranian) texts. Hadot, Pierre, What is Ancient Philosophy?, translated by Michael Chase, Harvard University Press, 2002, 362pp, $29.95 (hbk), ISBN 0674007336. Hadot makes the connection as follows: research into mundane things reveals, however indirectly, divine causality, and it is that presence of the divine that attracts us to study them. Medieval philosophers are the historical successors of the philosophers of antiquity, but … The common aim of these exercises was to achieve both a concentration of the self (its separation from anything foreign to it and its separation from the past and the future through ongoing self-examination) and an expansion of the self (its “dilation” of itself to encompass the infinite totality of all that is). Readers familiar with Hadot’s Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault (Blackwell, 1995) will recognize in this work a reprise and elaboration of much of the argument of that earlier work. 2 people found this helpful. He spent 20 years as a student and teacher at the school, emerging … This eventual symbiosis between ancient philosophy and Christianity may reflect the fact that philosophical creeds in late antiquity fulfilled much the same role as religious movements, with which they shared many of their aims and practices. The prevailing modern view of limiting philosophy to philosophical discourse is rooted in this usurpation. Pierre Hadot makes very clear what he thinks it is not: it is not the deposit of philosophical concepts, theories and systems to be found in the surviving texts of Graeco-Roman antiquity, the subject matter of courses of study in the curricula of modern universities. The way to do philosophy, he was certain, was simply to follow one's own inborn faculty of reason. Philosophy. Pierre Hadot makes very clear what he thinks it is not: it is not the deposit of philosophical concepts, theories and systems to be found in the surviving texts of Graeco-Roman antiquity, the subject matter of courses of study in the curricula of modern universities. College of Arts and Letters Philosophy 320: History of Ancient Philosophy. of Spirit and Matter in general, whereby may be resolved all those Problems or Difficulties, which neither by the School nor Common Modern Philosophy, nor by the Cartesian, Hobbesian, or Spinosian, could be discussed. Any student of philosophy will want to be familiar with key figures like Plato, Kant, Descartes, Locke, Nietzsche, Marx, Confucius, Sartre; as well as great works such as The Republic, Beyond Good and Evil, Meditations, and more. To achieve this aim various “spiritual exercises” mentioned in several Platonic dialogues including, notably, the practice of death in the Phaedo (64a) and the (practice of?) This life is the life of intellectual pursuits, and Aristotle’s purpose in founding his school was to cultivate a community in which that ideal life was to be lived out to the fullest extent possible. Ancient Political Philosophy. An example of an important text o… Ancient Greek philosophy is traditionally divided into pre-Socratic and post-Socratic periods, thus indicating the centrality of an enigmatic, quasi- mystical figure who provided the catalytic presence for a mature burst of philosophical energy in Plato and Aristotle. Hadot recognizes that Plato’s explicit goal in founding the Academy was the transformation of the city, not self-transformation, but insists that for Plato these two coincide. Read more. If so, the concept of a “spiritual exercise” is stretched far too thin; if not, then the absence of a regimen of such exercises from the intellectual/spiritual life of the Lyceum constitutes a significant exception to Hadot’s main thesis. Its greatest figures are Socrates (fifth century bc) and Plato and Aristotle (fourth century bc). In about 500 B.C., (interestingly, around the same time as Greek philosophy was emerging), the classic period of Chinese philosophy (known as the Contention of a Hundred Schools of Thought) flourished, and the four most influential schools (Conf… What is that good? studying ancient philosophy and closes with an extremely useful (and illustrated) guide to the transmission, translation, and interpretation of ancient philosophical texts. Hadot’s association of Socrates with Kant in this respect (p. 36) is historically anachronistic and seriously misleading. In the second part (“Philosophy as a Way of Life”) Hadot surveys not just the philosophical discourse of Plato, Aristotle and the various post-Aristotelian schools and movements, but also—and particularly—the communities in which that discourse originated, the practices or “spiritual exercises” that were taught and practiced in these communities, and the “spiritual” goals these practices were intended to achieve. ISSN: 1538 - 1617 Christianity positioned itself as a “philosophy” (in Hadot’s sense) with its own regimen of spiritual exercises and spiritual goals, and as this religion came to eclipse the various pagan philosophies, it usurped their spiritual function. Aristotle, according to Hadot’s account, founded the Lyceum on the model of the Academy—at least with the same ethical goal in mind, if not the same intellectual practices. And his account of the practice of dialectic within the Academy as a “spiritual exercise which demanded that the interlocutors undergo … self-transformation” (p. 62) is hardly convincing. According to Hadot, Plato’s goal in founding the Academy was the creation of “an intellectual and spiritual community whose job it would be to train new human beings … (p. 59). What is ancient philosophy? We have lost a large proportion of the writings of the Ancients. The author also assumes that for both Plato and Aristotle the state in which the soul apprehends its highest object is supra-discursive (see pp. The final part of the book (“Interruption and Continuity: The Middle Ages and Modern Times”) may be summarized more briefly. Given that the research programs Aristotle assigned to his students were in large part empirical investigations, how is such research connected with theôria, which is the contemplative understanding of divinity? by an Athenian embassy, consisting of the Academic Carneades, the Stoic Diogenes, and the Peripatetic Critolaus. Start studying Summary of Ancient Philosophical Influences. This existential option, in turn, implies a certain vision of the world, and the task of philosophical discourse will therefore be to reveal and rationally to justify this existential option, as well as this representation of the world” (p. 3). Here the evidence is pressed into the Procrustean bed prescribed by the author’s demonstrandum. The philosophy of the Greco-Roman world from the sixth century bc to the sixth century ad laid the foundations for all subsequent Western philosophy. The book concludes with a more expansive discussion of what it means to live a philosophical life and a plea for a return to that ancient ideal (p. 275–281). Ancient philosophy was principally pagan, and was finally eclipsed by Christianity in the sixth century ad, but it was so comprehensively annexed by its conqueror that it came, through Christianity, to dominate medieval and Renaissance philosophy. © 2021 Informa UK Limited, an Informa Group Company, Egyptian philosophy: influence on ancient Greek thought, Greek philosophy: impact on Islamic philosophy. Philosophy classes began to be devoted to the reading and exegesis of the texts by the school’s founders, and instructors began in increasing measure to write commentaries on those texts to assist comprehension among their students. Eventually Christian interest in pagan philosophy was limited to its discourse, which was pressed into service as the “handmaiden to theology,” even as its spiritual practices were absorbed into, and substantially altered, Christian spirituality. It is the primary purpose of this book to establish these claims for ancient philosophy as a whole by demonstrating it to be true of each of its major parts. Thales of Miletus is usually considered the first proper philosopher, although he was just as concerned with natural philosophy (what we now call science) as with philosophy as we know it. Philosophy is not wisdom, but a way of life and discourse determined by the idea of wisdom” (p. 46, italics in original). Philosophical dialogue exists for the sake of spiritual guidance. Report abuse. “ Hadot’s What Is Ancient Philosophy? Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. The definition of love (erôs) in the Symposium situates the philosopher midway between the lack of wisdom and its possession: thus “the philosopher will never attain wisdom, but he can make progress in its direction … . Interest in the subject was first excited at Rome in 155 BCE. At age 17 he was sent to Athens to enroll in Plato's Academy. (shelved 6 times as ancient-greek-philosophy) avg rating 4.19 — 37,301 … What follows are some summary comments along with a few critical observations. It has a long history of several thousand years. Neoplatonism, the second development, raised the spiritual aspirations of its adherents to new heights. Only a small fraction of ancient philosophical writings have come down to us intact. Greek philosophy continued throughout the Hellenistic period and the period in which Greece and most Greek-inhabited lands were part of the Roman Empire. The art of politics aims at creating the conditions required for self-transformation. Vedic philosophy [ edit ] Indian philosophy begins with the Vedas wherein questions pertaining to laws of nature, the origin of the universe and the place of man in it are asked. I will use both “city” and “city-state” to refer to the polis, though neither of these nor any English word fully captures its meaning; unlike our “city,” the polis encompassed both an urban area and a rural hinterland, while unlike our “state,” its political identity was not conceived as distinct from the body of active citizens which comprised it. 75 and 76, and p. 88). Ancient philosophy, the author points, is better understanded as a conversation, one in with differents aspects of the same reality or concept are explained. Socrates is himself the very incarnation of philosophy thus understood. Starting from the simplest and most evident truths, Descartes sought to deduce all of knowledge from basic and indubitable principles. The remainder can be recovered, to a greater or lesser extent, by piecing together fragmentary evidence from sources which refer to them. Parmenides was a known follower of Pythagoras, another renowned figure in the philosophical paradigm of ancient Greece. BEING A little Treatise published since the Author's … As Hadot sketches the first of these developments, his focus is on the order in which the texts of the founders were taught to the students, as illustrative of the stages in their spiritual formation. Plato and the Academy (chapter 5). Alonzo. In the author’s own words, “Philosophical discourse … originates in a choice of life and an existential option—not vice-versa … . Roman Philosophy Roman philosophy is thoroughly grounded in the traditions of Greek philosophy. In that contemplation we realize our transformation particular version of that goal embedded in writings! Over all that is mundane described in the Academy dialogue exists for the life reason... 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