what's your philosophy of life? That's the question we often hear
people asking one another. What exactly is a philosophy then? It
can be, according to the Cambridge International Dictionary of English,
defined as the use of reason in understanding such things as the
nature of reality and existence, the use and limits of knowledge
and the principals that govern and influence moral judgement. To
the ancient Greeks, philosophy was a pursuit of truth and inquiry
into the nature of the universe. Its concerns were broad and wide-ranging:
the universe, eternity, man and his various relationships. It therefore
encompassed theology and science, as well as ethics and even politics.
Socrates was one of the most famous Greek philosophers. He placed
man at the centre of all philosophical inquiry and believed that
man's knowledge of himself was the true goal of life. Socrates said,
"An unexamined life is not worth living." He believed that knowledge
would lead to excellence in character and behaviour which, in turn,
would lead to happiness and that the search for wisdom should take
place in isolation from other people.
of our knowledge of Socrates comes to us through his follower, Plato,
who wrote down Socrates' dialogues. Plato himself was opposed to
democracy. He believed that men are morally unequal and that government
should be, therefore, placed in the hands of the morally superior
few: the philosophers. According to Plato, the authority of the
philosophers over the inferior majority should be total and complete.
Needless to say, with ideas such as these, philosophers were sometimes
viewed as rebels and were not always trusted by the people of Athens.
the teachings of Socrates were troublesome to many. His ideas were
constant reminders of the illogical foundations of some of the Athenians'
most basic beliefs. Socrates challenged individuals to rethink their
personal philosophies, and so uncomfortable did he make people that
eventually he was tried and put to death.
this didn't stop other philosophers from pursuing their work. For
the most part, they were tolerated because Athenians respected learned
teachers and orators. And, eventually, Plato's pupil, Aristotle,
even founded a school of philosophy in Athens.
we can study about Greek philosophy through the many books on classical
Greek literature that have been translated into various languages.
These books are easily available in any bookstores near us. Here
are some interesting quotes from the famous philosophers of the
Anger: "We praise a man who feels angry on the right grounds
and against the right persons and also in the right manner at the
right moment and for the right length of time."---Aristotle (384-322
B.C.), Greek philosopher. The Nicomachean Ethics, ch. 4, sct. 5
subsct. 3 (written c. 340 B.C.).
Education: "Let us describe the education of our meníK. What
then is the education to be? Perhaps we could hardly find a better
than that which the experience of the past has already discovered,
which consists, I believe, in gymnastic, for the body, and music
for the mind." Plato (c. 427-347 B.C.), Greek philosopher. Socrates,
in The Republic, bk. 2, sct. 376. : "Wars and revolutions and battles
are due simply and solely to the body and its desires. All wars
are undertaken for the acquisition of wealth; and the reason why
we have to acquire wealth is the body, because we are slaves in
its service." Socrates (469-399 B.C.), Greek philosopher. Quoted
in: Plato, Phaedo, sct. 65c-66e.
What are your opinions on these philosophies? Do you agree with
what they believe in? What could be your own philosophy then?
Raphael's 'The School of Athens', with Plato and Aristotle at the
center, is a symbolic painting suggesting the philosophical dominance
of Athens in the ancient world.
The final hours of the great philosopher's life were depicted in
'The Death of Socrates' by Jacques-Louis David, the leading painter
of the French Revolution, in 1787.