Philosophy is a Greek word that comes the word "philosophia", love of wisdom. The concepts of philosophy developed in ancient Greece between 600 and 200 BC. Greek philosophy became the basis of all later philosophy in the Western world. The political ideas from Greek thinkers have influenced political leaders of the past and present. Before the Classical period in ancient Greece, people had simple thoughts and beliefs. Philosophers changed the way people looked at the world. They encouraged people to think and reason.
Socrates was a famous Greek philosopher born in 469 BC as the son of a sculptor and a midwife. He received regular elementary schooling. He was obedient to laws, but stayed clear of politics. He devoted himself to convincing the Athenians to think for themselves rather than teaching them new things. Socrates didn't accept money for his teachings and told everyone that all he had to offer was the awareness for more knowledge. He did not keep written records of his thoughts, but works from his student Plato and Xenophon tells about Socrates' views and personality.
This shows the death scene of Socrates, painted by David Jacques-Louis, from 1787.
Socrates made himself unpopular by asking "What is true justice?" and "What does 'knowledge' mean?" Although he was a religious and patriotic man, many people were suspicious of him. In 399 BC, he was charged with neglecting the gods and leading the young away from the principles of democracy. Once he angered the jury and was sentenced with the death penalty. The last day of Socrates' life was spent with his friends and admirers. In the evening, he drank a glass of hemlock and died.
|Plato, a student of Socrates, was more of a positive
thinker than his teacher. In 387 BC, Plato founded the
first European university. Its curriculum included
astronomy, mathematics, political theory, biology and
philosophy. Aristotle, son of an aristocrat, studied at
Plato's academy at age 17 and was the most prominent
student there. Aristotle later became the tutor of
Alexander the Great. He founded the Lyceum, a school like
Plato's, which remained a major learning center for a
Plato and Aristotle are shown
in this picture by Raffaello Sanzio.