Biyernes, Agosto 31, 2012

The Quiz

Click the link to take the quiz: Which philosopher are you?

Huwebes, Agosto 30, 2012

The Philosopher


Thales of Miletus was a prominent and popular Greek philosopher of pre- Socratic times. He belonged to Miletus in Asia Minor and was among the Seven Sages of Greece. Furthermore, Aristotle considered him as the very first philosopher in the tradition of Greek. With his works, Thales tried to describe and explain the natural phenomena, without taking help of mythology and was extremely influential in this regard. Most of the other pre-Socratic philosophers also followed the foot-steps of Thales and got engaged in explaining an ultimate substance, change, and the existence of the world without referring to mythology. Subsequently, the denial of mythological explanation by Thales brought a necessary idea for the revolution of science. Thales also became the first person to describe general principles and put forward hypotheses. For the same he had been considered as the "Father of Science". In order to solve mathematics problems, Thales took the help of geometry like calculating the pyramid's height and distance between shore and ship. Thales is also recognized with the first usage of deductive reasoning application to geometry. For the same, he derived four corollaries to Thales' Theorem. He is greatly addressed as the first true mathematician. Thales was also the first person to study electricity.


According to numerous stories, Thales was not just a mere thinker, but was also engaged in business and politics. A story suggests that he purchased all the olive presses in Miletus, when he forecasted the weather and an excellent harvest for that specific year. Another story recites that he purchased options to use the presses not to gain money but to solely show his peer Milesians that he could very easily elevate his status using his intelligence. This particular incident is also cited as the first ever example of options trading.


The political life of Thales was chiefly connected with the involvement of the Ionians in the defense of Anatolia, opposing the increasing power of the Persians. At that time Persians were new in the town. A king of the neighboring Lydia, Croesus had obtained many states of coastal Anatolia, which included the cities of Ionians too. This marked the beginning of

Description: Picture of Thales

the war between Lydians and Medes which continued for five years but when the war was in its sixth year, a sun eclipse immediately interrupted the battle going on. Most likely Thales had forecasted this solar eclipse. It seems that the Seven Sages existed then, as Croesus was immensely impressed by Solon of Athens who was another sage. The actual presence of Thales in the war is uncertain but on the basis of the same, both Lydians and Medes instantly declared peace, taking a blood oath.


The Philosopher


Aristotle produced a large number of writings, but few have survived. His earliest writings, consisting for the most part of dialogues (writings in the form of conversation), were produced under the influence of Plato and the Academy. Most of these are lost, although the titles are known from the writings of Diogenes Laertius and from others. Among these important works are Rhetoric, Eudemus (On the Soul), On Philosophy, Alexander, Sophistes, On Justice, Wealth, On Prayer, and On Education. They were a wide variety of works written for the public, and they dealt with popular philosophical themes. The dialogues of Plato were undoubtedly the inspiration for some of them, although the fall out between Plato and Aristotle reveals itself to a certain extent in these works, too.

Aristotle's work was often misunderstood in later times. The scientific and philosophical systems set forth in his writings are not conclusions that must be taken as the final answer, but rather experimental positions arrived at through careful observation and analysis. During the slow intellectual climate of the Roman Empire, which ruled over much of Europe for hundreds of years after Aristotle died, and the totally unscientific Christian Middle Ages (476–1453), Aristotle's views on nature and science were taken as a complete system. As a result, his influence was enormous but not for any reason that would have pleased him.

Aristotle shares with his master, Plato, the role of stimulating human thought. Plato had a more direct influence on the development of that great spiritual movement in late antiquity (years before the Middle Ages), and Aristotle had a greater effect on science. Antiquity produced no greater minds than those of Plato and Aristotle. The intellectual history of the West would be extremely different without them.

The Philosopher


Plato is the classical Greek philosopher who laid the foundations for modern Western Culture. He was a great man that studied mathematics and wrote philosophical dialogs, he was even the founder of the academy of Athens which was, by the way, the very first institution of higher learning. He was quite a personality and his merits are significant. Plato was brilliant, astute, charming, amusing, profound, practical, sensible, logical, enquiring, seeking, exploring by considering the simple and obvious. He also had a good understanding of human nature and our tendency for tribal belief in customs. Both Socrates and Plato knew that a good society must be founded on wisdom derived from truth and reality.

Plato was born in Athens, Greece, the son of Ariston and Perictione, both of Athenian noble backgrounds. He lived his whole life in Athens, although he traveled to Sicily and southern Italy on several occasions. One story says he traveled to Egypt. Little is known of his early years, but he was given the finest education Athens had to offer noble families, and he devoted his considerable talents to politics and the writing of tragedy (works that end with death and sadness) and other forms of poetry. His acquaintance with Socrates (c. 469–c. 399 B.C.E. ) altered the course of his life. The power that Socrates's methods and arguments had over the minds of the youth of Athens gripped Plato as firmly as it did many others, and he became a close associate of Socrates.

Plato is best known for his dialogs, but the one event that brings all of his many dialogs together is the trial of Socrates. Socrates is accused of not believing in the gods and of corrupting the youth so he defends himself saying that slander will be the cause of his demise and that it was the oracle at Delphi that sent him on a quest. It was Socrates on this quest attempting to solve the riddle that put him at odds with his fellow man, Socrates went on to say that the legal charges were false. Plato used his dialog to teach people and to let the world know what his views were and I think that everybody can say that he did succeed in that respect. He lived in a difficult time that had a lot of things about it that were false and a lot of things that were believed that were simply pagan. In one way or another, we are all products of the time that we live in, society molds us and tries to turn us into something that is not always good or right.


The Philosopher


A mathematician and philosopher, Hypatia was educated in Athens and Italy. During 400 A.D., she became the head of the Platonist school at Alexandria. She imparted knowledge equally to all students including Christians, pagans and foreigners.

She was the daughter of Theon of Alexandria who was a teacher of mathematics with the Museum of Alexandria in Egypt. A center of Greek intellectual and cultural life, the Museum included many independent schools and the great library of Alexandria where Hypatia was the last librarian.

Hypatia studied with her father, and with many others including Plutarch the Younger. She taught philosophy based on Neoplatonism, which based on the teachings of Plato. She wrote on mathematics, astronomy and philosophy, including about the motions of the planets, about number theory and about conic sections.

Hypatia corresponded with and hosted scholars from others cities. Synesius, Bishop of Ptolemais, was one of her correspondents and he visited her frequently. Hypatia was a popular lecturer, drawing students from many parts of the empire.

From the little historical information about Hypatia that survives, it appears that she invented the plane astrolabe, the graduated brass hydrometer and the hydroscope, with Synesius of Greece, who was her student and later colleague.

Hypatia dressed in the clothing of a scholar or teacher, rather than in women's clothing. She moved about freely, driving her own chariot, contrary to the norm for women's public behavior. She exerted considerable political influence in the city.

Orestes, the governor of Alexandria, like Hypatia, was a pagan (non-Christian). Orestes was an adversary of the new Christian bishop, Cyril, a future saint. Orestes, according to the contemporary accounts, objected to Cyril expelling the Jews from the city, and was murdered by Christian monks for his opposition.

Cyril probably objected to Hypatia on a number of counts: She represented heretical teachings, including experimental science and pagan religion. She was an associate of Orestes. And she was a woman who didn't know her place. Cyril's preaching against Hypatia is said to have been what incited a mob led by fanatical Christian monks in 415 to attack Hypatia as she drove her chariot through Alexandria. They dragged her from her chariot and, according to accounts from that time, stripped her, killed her, stripped her flesh from her bones, scattered her body parts through the streets, and burned some remaining parts of her body in the library of Caesareum. She was accused of witchcraft and godlessness and of causing religious turmoil.
Hypatia's students fled to Athens, where the study of mathematics flourished after that. The Neoplatonic school she headed continued in Alexandria until the Arabs invaded in 642.

When the library of Alexandria was burned by the Arab conquerors, used as fuel for baths, the works of Hypatia were destroyed. We know her writings today through the works of others who quoted her -- even if unfavorably -- and a few letters written to her by contemporaries.


The Philosopher


Socrates became very influential in the development of Greek philosophy and, thus, Western philosophy in general. The most extensive knowledge we have of him comes from Plato's many dialogues, but there is a little information about him in the historian Xenophon's Memorabilia, Apology and Symposium, and in Aristophanes' The Clouds and The Wasps. Socrates is best known for the dictum that only the examined life is worth living.

He thought that people should never stop looking for knowledge, and that's why he taught by asking questions. He was later sentenced to death because he was influencing the young people of Greece, or so they said. He questioned laws, customs, and even religion. When he drank the poison given to him, his students cried, but he appeared calm, cool, and collected. He thought that men should die in peace.

He is considered to be the father of democracy and a pivotal character of Western civilisation, but it may equally be that he was largely an invention by Plato. Practically everything that we give Socrates credit for, comes to us via Plato. Greek literature usually featured a dialogue (a question and answer session), which is known to have been a literary device, to aide comprehension with the reader. Plato wrote dialogues, which often cast Socrates in the role of the wise man who initiated his direct audience and the reader in whatever subject that he tackled. Did these dialogues reflect actual conversations from Socrates, or did Plato merely use Socrates as a literary device to put over his own thinking? If Plato did indeed do just that, then Socrates is one of the biggest myths of the Greek world – and we should give even more reverence to the genius of Plato.

Who was the historical Socrates? Most of what is now known about Socrates is derived from information that recurs across various contemporary sources, specifically the dialogues written by Plato, who is seen as one of Socrates’ students, though he is known to have studied elsewhere too (including Egypt). Apart from Plato, there are the works of Xenophon, one of his contemporaries, and writings by Aristophanes and Aristotle. Anything Socrates wrote himself – if he ever did – has not survived. It is very little source material, further complicated by the fact that Aristophanes’ account of Socrates, though contemporaneous, is in fact a satirical attack on philosophers and does not purport to be a factual account of events in the life of Socrates.