CLASSICAL GREEK PHILOSOPHY

 

Pre-Socratics (continued)

*Pythagoras (ca. 535-475 b.c.):  Mathematical nature of reality; found relationship between musical harmonies and math; systematic approach to studying math and ultimately science; founder of religious/philosophical group.

 

*Orphism:  Pagan mystery religion of Greece, different from public/civic Olympian religion.  Worshippers of Dionysus sacrifice living bull and eat it raw.

 

*Socrates (ca. 470-399 b.c.):  The teacher of Plato.  Did not write anything himself, but others (Plato, Xenophon) wrote down his discussions/arguments with others (dialogs).  Hard to know where Socrates' thought ends and Plato's begins.  Changed Greek philosophy from emphasis on the ultimate "stuff" of reality (ontology) to practical questions of daily living.  Executed by the city of Athens for impiety and corrupting the youth.

 

*The Apology:  Socrates' own defense.  Summarized the basic reasons for questioning what people assumed and did.  Gadfly of Athens.  "Life without this sort of examination is not worth living."

 

*Plato (ca. 427-347 b.c.):  The most influential Greek philosopher.  Brilliant writer/stylist, a major reason why he is still read.

 

Basic concepts of Plato's philosophy:

 

Epistemology:  "How do you know that you know."  The branch of philosophy that deals with how humans gain (certain) knowledge.

 

*Rationalism:  Knowledge gained by thinking.  Opposed to *empiricism, the belief that knowledge is gained by the senses.

 

The problem of universals:  How can one word/concept refer to many different particular objects which are all a bit different (have "accidents")?

 

*Forms/"Ideas":  Archetypes in a spiritual dimension separate from matter that 100% certain human knowledge should be based on.  Material objects and abstractions as represented by material objects mere pale reflections of unseen, unsensed ultimate realities.

 

The doctrine of recollection:  Based on belief in reincarnation/transmigration of souls.  Humans learn nothing by the senses directly, but remember concepts learned from before the present life when one had direct contact with the Forms.

 

*The Republic:  Plato's greatest dialog.  His theory of the ideal state/government explained:  Totalitarian.  Explains what the basis of morality is ("the Ring of Gyges") by making an analogy between individuals and the state.  "The Allegory of the Cave" explains his theory of epistemology based on rationalism.

 

*Aristotle (384-322 b.c.):  Plato's student in the Academy.  Discovered the basic laws of logic.  In epistemology, found a balance between rationalism and empiricism.  In ethics, emphasized the golden mean.  Laid the foundations for modern science in the Prior Analytics and Posterior Analytics.  Knowledge is of the universal, not the particular.  The error yet value in his Physics.  Founded the Lyceum.

 

*Teleology (enteleche):  All beings have an end or purpose they seek to fulfill by their inner nature.  Ultimately, a partial solution to explaining the basis for the law of cause and effect.  God as the "unmoved mover," all things seek greater perfection if accidents preventing its fulfillment don't occur.

 

*Syllogism:  Analyzes an argument's form, not content.  Validity of an argument different from its soundness.  Deductive logic's value and limitations.

 

Example:  First premise:  Fluffy is a cat.

           Second premise:  All cats have tails.

           Conclusion:  Fluffy has a tail.

 

First premise:  All humans are physical.

Second premise:  All physical beings are mortal.

Conclusion:  All humans are mortal.

 

Analyzing an argument's form (organization):

 

First premise:  All A is B.

Second premise:  All B is C.

Conclusion:  All A is C.