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Essay about The Ancient Greek Philosophy - 488 Words
A sticking point for Epicurean ethics and politics is thejustification for a further dimension of communal life: thewillingness to sacrifice oneself for a friend, or to risk breaking thelaw for the greater good of one's fellow citizens (Sharples 1996:122). That it is difficult to construct a compelling theoreticaljustification for such actions from Epicurean premises, whichprivilege obedience to law in order to avoid civic strife (as seen forexample in Lucretius' poem De Rerum Natura,v.925–1157), did not prevent a number of Epicureans fromundertaking such risky public service, among them more than one of theassassins of Julius Caesar (Sedley 1997; Fowler 1989 discusses a widerange of Roman Epicurean attitudes). A more modest but still strikingexample of Epicurean public service is the huge portico inscribed withEpicurean sayings and exegesis in second-century Oenoanda (inmodern-day Turkey) by one Diogenes of that city (Smith 1992,2003). Whether or not his fellow citizens appreciated the instruction,modern archaeologists and philosophers are grateful for thisunparalleled source of knowledge of ancient philosophy.
The two Platonic themes of superior political knowledge and, expressedparticularly in his Laws, political participation, alsostructure the political thought of Aristotle (384–322 BCE), whostudied in Plato's Academy as a youth and researched there for manyyears thereafter. Living much of his life as a resident alien inAthens, with close familial ties to the extra-polisMacedonian court which would in his lifetime bring Athens under itssway, Aristotle at once thematized the fundamental perspective of theGreek citizenship of equals and at the same time acknowledged theclaim to rule of anyone of truly superior political knowledge. Whilebuilding on Plato's project of demarcating political expertise anddepicting ideal as well as imperfect cities, the advances and newdirections that Aristotle pioneered in political philosophy reflectdisagreements with Plato in their wider philosophies, though thesewere also marked by some deep commonalities.
Ancient Greek Philosophy - The Atlas Society
On a continuum of political rule stretching from the sheer dominationof some over others on one extreme, to a vision of collaborativedeliberation among equals for the sake of the good life on the other,many ancient Greek and Roman political philosophers clearly staked outthe latter ground. The very idea of the city and the civic bond asrooted in justice was common ground across the spectrum of ancientpolitical philosophy. Even the Epicureans saw society as rooted injustice, although understanding justice in turn as rooted inutility. (However, this generalization, like many about ancientphilosophy, leaves the ancient skeptics and Cynics aside.)Philosophers taking this approach were not however ignorant ofpossible objections to it. The diagnosis of politics as domination hasnever been more powerfully advanced than by Plato's characterThrasymachus, nor has the attack on justice as a good life for theindividual ever been as powerfully made as by Plato's characterCallicles or the skeptic Carneades. The nostalgic view of ancientpolitical philosophy as predicated on widely shared conceptions ofhuman nature and the human good, before the splintering and fracturingof modernity, is an oversimplification.
For Seneca, Stoic philosophy can be best squared with politics if theruler is supremely virtuous: in that case, the Stoic wise man is theking or prince. That still left a problem of squaring clemency ormercy, the distinctively Roman virtue (not corresponding exactly toany Greek word: Braund 2009, 33) that strict Stoic doctrine rejectedas an emotionally induced deviation from justice. Appealing to therelated Stoic virtue of philanthrôpia or love ofhumankind, Seneca refashioned the relationship between clemency andjustice, claiming that being clement goes beyond the letter of the lawbut is paradoxically the highest justice (iustissimum, 2.7.3,following Braund 2009, 66–70). Clemency or mercy is so crucial avirtue because the single ruler has power derived from, and akin to,that of the gods; it is of the utmost importance that this power notbe abused. In Seneca's hands, clemency constitutes a new expression ofthe Stoic conception of universal human fellowship while at the sametime embodying the ruler's distinctive virtue (it had been one of“the four virtues attributed to Augustus on an honorificshield,” as observed by Griffin 2000: 540). This clemency shouldalso extend to slaves: Seneca concerned himself with their welfare,but his cosmopolitanism stopped short of advocating their manumissionor the abolition of slavery (Griffin 1992: 256–85).
Formative Essays for Ancient Greek influences on religious philosophy
That engagement with political philosophy was dramaticallyintensified when Socrates was, at the age of seventy, arraigned, tried,and sentenced to death by an Athenian court. Brought in the usualAthenian way by a group of his fellow citizens who took it uponthemselves to prosecute him for the sake of the city, the chargesagainst him were three-fold: not acknowledging the city's gods;introducing new gods; and corrupting the young (Apol. 24b).Each of these had a political dimension, given the civic control ofcentral religious cults mentioned earlier, and the broad politicalimportance of educating the young to take their place in the civicorder. Timed a few years after a short-lived oligarchic coup in whichseveral of Socrates' sometime associates (Critias, Charmides)participated, and after the ignominious Athenian defeat in the warswith Sparta which saw another earlier follower of Socrates (Alcibiades)turn traitor to Athens, the trial must be suspected of having served asa substitute for the prohibited political trials of the oligarchicpartisans (such trials having been barred by a general amnesty passedin 403 BCE by the restored democracy; see Cartledge 2009, Ch.7).
The perfect balance of mind and body followed the ancient Greek belief in 'meden agan,' which means 'nothing in excess.' And 'Kalos k'agathos'--the 'beautiful and good'--was the touchstone and secret of the preeminence of ancient Greece for more than five hundred years."13
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Essay Hand | Ancient Greek Philosophy
This article therefore begins by surveying political practices andthe reflective accounts to which they gave rise in the classical Greekperiod of the independent polis. It then turns to the thinkerswho invented “political philosophy” par excellence:Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. It continues to Hellenistic Greekthinkers before considering the main currents and roles of politicalphilosophy in the Roman republic. While offering a survey of certaindevelopments in the Roman empire, it leaves aside the ChristianFathers, and in particular the great upheaval of thought effected byAugustine, who is the starting point for the SEP's treatment ofmedieval political philosophy. (See the entry on .) The article concludes with some reflections on how thenature of “ancient political philosophy” should, and shouldnot, be understood.
Essays in ancient greek philosophy
Most of the wise men (sophoi) and students of nature(physikoi) who appeared in this milieu thought within thesame broad terms as the poets and orators. Justice was widely, if notuniversally, treated as a fundamental constituent of cosmicorder. Some of the physikoi influenced political life,notably the Pythagoreans in southern Italy. Others held themselvesaloof from political action while still identifying commonalitiesbetween nature and politics. However, this picture of broad consonancewas rudely challenged in the mid to late fifth century BCE by a newkind of thinker and political agent, the professional teachers(“sophists”), who began to ask whether the laws andcustoms (nomos, singular; nomoi, plural) embodyingpolitical justice were truly a reflection of justice in nature(phusis), or merely an imposition of arbitrary humannorms. Most of the sophists argued the latter, though they did soalong a spectrum of interpretation (for which our evidence restsheavily on Plato, who portrays Socrates arguing with a considerablenumber of sophists): for Protagoras (as depicted in Plato'sProtagoras), the human creation of political life was a causeof celebration of human virtues and practical abilities; forThrasymachus (as depicted in Plato's Republic), it was acause of condemnation, the powerful in any city imposing laws to servetheir own interests. This nomos-phusis debate raiseda fundamental challenge to the ordering intellectual assumptions ofthe polis, even though the sophists advertised themselves asteaching skills for success within it, a number of them being employedas diplomats by cities eager to exploit their rhetoricalabilities. Socrates and Plato would respond to this challenge inshaping a new genre of “philosophy” which broke the mouldof their predecessors. If Greek political thinkers presupposedjustice, in the fifth and fourth centuries BCE many of them alsoincreasingly problematized it.
Ancient Greek Philosophy : What is Ancient Greek Philosophy
While many cultures have recognized the contributions of ancient Greece to law, politics, literature, art, and philosophy, not much has been recorded about early Greek advocacy of freedom from clothing when practical and appropriate.
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