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Philosophers Essay

1825 words - 8 pages

Kazakh Ablai Khan University of International Relations
and World Languages


Faculty of International Relations

Chair of International Relations


Independent work
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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 thought 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.
Pre-Socratic philosophy
The convention of terming those philosophers who were active prior to Socrates the pre-Socratics gained currency with the 1903 publication of Hermann Diels' Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, although the term did not originate with him. The term is considered philosophically useful because what came to be known as the "Athenian school" (composed of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle) signaled a profound shift in the subject matter and methods of philosophy; Friedrich Nietzsche's thesis that this shift began with Plato rather than with Socrates (hence his nomenclature of "pre-Platonic philosophy") has not prevented the predominance of the "pre-Socratic" distinction.

The pre-Socratics were primarily concerned with cosmology, ontology and mathematics. They were distinguished from "non-philosophers" insofar as they rejected mythological explanations in favor of reasoned discourse
Milesian school
Thales of Miletus, regarded by Aristotle as the first philosopher, held that all things arise from water. It is not because he gave a cosmogony that John Burnet calls him the "first man of science," but because he gave a naturalistic explanation of the cosmos and supported it with reasons. According to tradition, Thales was able to predict an eclipse and taught the Egyptians how to measure the height of the pyramids.

Thales inspired the Milesian school of philosophy and was followed by Anaximander, who argued that the substratum or arche could not be water or any of the classical elements but was instead something "unlimited" or "indefinite" (in Greek, the apeiron). He began...

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