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Greek Philosophers. Key ideas about Greek Philosophy. Some Greek thinkers believed events were caused by something other than the gods Looked for reasons through observation and logic “Philosopher” means “lovers of wisdom”

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Key ideas about greek philosophy
Key ideas about Greek Philosophy

  • Some Greek thinkers believed events were caused by something other than the gods

  • Looked for reasons through observation and logic

  • “Philosopher” means “lovers of wisdom”

  • The modern scientific style of thought has its roots in the way the Greeks used logic (rational thinking)

  • Some philosophers debated ethics and morality

    • What is the best kind of government?

    • What standards should rule human behavior?

  • Main philosophers: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle


  • Philosophers in Athens that questioned accepted ideas

  • Believed success was more important than moral truth

  • Were paid to teach the sons of the rich families in Athens

  • Developed skills in rhetoric (the art of skillful speaking)

  • Did not believe there was one absolute/universal truth

  • Some in Athens accused Sophists of undermining Athenian values

  • Protagoras’ wager


  • Athenian that didn’t like the Sophists

  • Teacher that stood in the town square asking people about their beliefs

  • Socratic method: ask questions and challenge those answering to examine their answers to help them seek truth and self-knowledge

  • Felt “the unexamined life is not worth living”

  • Many Athenians saw this as a threat to traditional values

  • Socrates put on trial when he was 70 for corrupting the youth and for not respecting the gods

  • The Athenian jury (501 citizens) found him guilty after Socrates defended himself

  • Socrates was found guilty and drank poison as his penalty


  • Greek philosophers

    Protagoras: Truth is relative. It is only a matter of opinion.Socrates: You mean that truth is mere subjective opinion?Protagoras: Exactly. What is true for you is true for you, and what is true for me, is true for me. Truth is subjective.Socrates: Do you really mean that? That my opinion is true by virtue of its being my opinion?Protagoras: Indeed I do.Socrates: My opinion is: Truth is absolute, not opinion, and that you, Mr. Protagoras, are absolutely in error. Since this is my opinion, then you must grant that it is true according to your philosophy.Protagoras: You are quite correct, Socrates.

    Quotes attributed to socrates
    Quotes Attributed to Socrates opinion.

    I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.

    As to marriage or celibacy, let a man take which course he will, he will be sure to repent. Be as you wish to seem. Be slow to fall into friendship; but when thou art in, continue firm and constant. By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you'll become happy; if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher.

    Plato opinion.

    • Plato was Socrates’ student

    • He didn’t trust democracy because of the way Socrates was treated and left Athens for 10 years after Socrates’ execution

    • He set up a school when he came back called the Academy where he taught about reason, rational thought, organization of society, the recognition of perfect beauty, and that people could discover unchanging ethical values

    The republic
    The Republic opinion.

    • Plato’sbook in which he wrote about the

      ideal government

      • a state that regulates citizens lives to provide for them

      • 3 classes of people

        • Workers to produce

        • Soldiers to defend

        • Philosophers to rule (with a philosopher-king ultimately in charge)

      • Thought that men in general were superior to women, but that some women were superior to some men and therefore those exceptions should be educated to the top of their potential to serve the state

      • The ruling class should take military training together and raise their children in communal centers

    Quotes attributed to plato
    Quotes Attributed to Plato opinion.

    All things will be produced in superior quantity and quality, and with greater ease, when each man works at a single occupation, in accordance with his natural gifts, and at the right moment, without meddling with anything else.

    And what, Socrates, is the food of the soul? Surely, I said, knowledge is the food of the soul.

    Any man may easily do harm, but not every man can do good to another.

    As the builders say, the larger stones do not lie well without the lesser.

    Death is not the worst that can happen to men.

    Democracy passes into despotism.

    Democracy... is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder; and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike.

    Aristotle opinion.

    • Aristotle was Plato’s student

    • Analyzed all ideas of government and found positive and negatives in each

    • Also was suspicious of democracy and thought one strong and virtuous leader ruling a country was the best

    • Thought people should pursue “the golden mean,” or a moderate course between the extremes

    • His school, The Lyceum, promoted reason as the guiding force for learning

    • Was personal tutor to a young Alexander the Great at one point

    • Aristotle studied and wrote about politics, ethics, logic, biology, literature, and a lot more, which formed the basis for many European universities 1,500 years later

    Quotes attributed to aristotle
    Quotes Attributed to Aristotle opinion.

    A true friend is one soul in two bodies. A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side. All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsions, habit, reason, passion, desire. All men by nature desire knowledge. Anybody can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way - that is not within everybody's power and is not easy. At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst. Bring your desires down to your present means. Increase them only when your increased means permit. Change in all things is sweet.

    Greek philosophers