Edith Hamilton, The Echo of Greece Plato and Aristotle live in a timeless world of philosophy without any local habitation, and are hardly thought of as Greeks but as intellectual forces... Zeus, who controlled rain and clouds and held in his hand the awful thunderbolt, was Lord of the Sky and greatest of the gods, but not the oldest. He and the eleven other Olympians--the gods and goddesses who dwelt in the heaven at the top of Mount Olympus, Greece's highest mountain--had been preceded in their reign by the elder gods, the Titans, whom they had overthrown. The Titans had been formed by Father Heaven and Mother Earth, which had existed before any of the gods, having emerged from the primordial Chaos, whose children, Darkness and Death, had given birth to Light and Love (for Night is the mother of Day), which made possible the appearance of Heaven and Earth... Thomas Cahill, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea
Socrates the “gadfly” argued his philosophy personally and publicly in the marketplace, with his fellow citizens. His student Plato first recorded, then elaborated, then embellished and transformed Socrates' words...
Plato's two-worlds philosophy... everyday experience is less real than “Ideas” and “Essences,” in contrast with Aristotle... The School of Athens , Raphael (1483-1520)
Which philosopher seems to you to be on the right track: Plato , gesturing heavenwards and supposing that reality can be discovered by means not of the senses but of the intellect, and that it is something transcendent, remote from the world of everyday experience... or Aristotle , gesturing earthwards and insisting that our search for truth must begin with a thorough investigation of the earth at our feet... that reality is all around us, to be found in the things and events of ordinary life? Do you think of yourself as more of a Rationalist or an Empiricist? Are ideas more real than things?
Timelines - Greece 45,000 BC to 440 BC: Heracles : Argonauts : Theban cycle : Trojan cycle : Homer : Hesiod : 'Homeric' hymns : Sappho : Aesop : [map] : Aeschylus : Pindar : Herodotus 440 BC to 322 BC: #Sophocles #Euripides #Thucydides #Aristophanes #Xenophon 427 BC to 322 BC: Plato and Aristotle 322 BC to present: Plutarch Rome 200,000 BC to 44 BC: Plautus : Ennius : Cato : Terence : Varro : Julius Caesar 106 BC to 43 BC: Cicero 44 BC to 17 AD: Nepos : Lucretius : Sallust : Catullus : Vitruvius : Virgil : Horace : Augustus : Livy : Priapea : Tibullus : Sulpicia : Seneca the Elder : Propertius : Ovid 19 BC to present: Velleius : Phaedrus : Valerius Maximus : Seneca the Younger : Petronius : Pliny the Elder : Silius Italicus : Frontinus : Persius : Lucan : Quintilian : Josephus : Martial : Valerius Flaccus : Statius : Rufus : Tacitus : Pliny the Younger : Suetonius : Juvenal : Marcus Aurelius : Apuleius : Gellius : Florus : Cassius Dio : Justin : Historia Augusta : Ammianus : Aurelius Victor : Eutropius : Augustine : Claudian
To convey the timescale we might 're-set' 399BC to be 1963AD : 1162: Trojan war (cf Wm the Conqueror) 1612: Homer and Hesiod (cf Shakespeare) 1768: Solon's lawcode, Sappho, Ionian philosophers (cf Revolutionary War) 1872: Athenian victory at Marathon 1878-1904: 80+ plays of Aeschylus (cf Ibsen) 1883: Persian forces expelled from Greece 1893: birth of Socrates (cf Mao Tse-Tung) 1893: 28yo Sophocles beats 57yo Aeschylus for tragedy 'Oscar' 1893-1956: 120+ plays of Sophocles (cf G Bernard Shaw) 1902-1916: 1st Peloponnesian war (cf WW1) 1922: Herodotus' Histories 1924-1957: 90+ plays of Euripides (cf Eugene O'Neill) 1931: Thucydides' History 1931-1958: 2nd Peloponnesian war (cf WW2) 1935: birth of Plato (cf Elvis, Ralph Nader) 1935-1980: 30+ comedies of Aristophanes (cf Groucho Marx) 1955: 20yo Plato meets 62yo Socrates 1963: death of 70yo Socrates (cf JFK assassination) 1977: 42yo Plato founds Academy (cf Apple Computer) (Academy survives 900+ years) (cf IBM) 1995: 17yo Aristotle begins 20yrs of studies under 60yo Plato 2020: 42yo Aristotle tutors 14yo Alexander 2026: 20yo Alexander becomes king 2040: death of 62yo Aristotle
SQUASHED PHILOSOPHERS PLATO "Until Philosophers are kings...cities will never have rest from their troubles". The Republic (c355BC) The Symposium (c355BC) The Apology (c355BC) ARISTOTLE "If it is in our power to act nobly, it is also in our power to do evil." Nicomachean Ethics (c300BC) The Politics (c300BC)
Philosopher of the Month - Plato Plato (427-347BC) is one of the founding fathers of philosophy and has had a massive impact on the history of Western thought. He was probably born in Athens or the nearby island of Aegina. He was given the name Aristocles, but was called Plato, which means 'broad' or 'flat', a possible reference to his broad shoulders (he used to wrestle). Although there were a number of outstanding Greek philosophers before Plato, none of their writings - if, indeed, they wrote anything at all - survive. However, for Plato, we are fortunate to possess a great deal of his work. What distinguishes Plato from earlier philosophers is his development of a more cogent and rational approach to philosophy that laid the foundations for all philosophers who came after him. This is why the British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) famously said that the history of philosophy is but "a series of footnotes to Plato"...
Plato has been criticised, most notably by Sir Karl Popper (1902-1994), for presenting us with a utopia, and utopias are always destined to fail because by their nature they are static and therefore unable to adjust to changing circumstances. Underlying all of Plato's philosophy is his belief in an eternal and unchanging truth, the realm of the 'Forms', and that it is possible to have access to these 'Forms'. Karl Popper is generally regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of science of the 20th century.
Behold! human beings living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets... and men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.
Myth of the Cave, Republic Bk VII ... ...a strange image, and they are strange prisoners. Like ourselves ...
At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision, -what will be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them, -will he not be perplexed? Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him?
And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take and take in the objects of vision which he can see, and which he will conceive to be in reality clearer than the things which are now being shown to him? And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he 's forced into the presence of the sun himself, is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are now called realities.
He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and the stars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day? Last of he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is...
...in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationally, either in public or private life must have his eye fixed... those who attain to this beatific vision are unwilling to descend to human affairs; for their souls are ever hastening into the upper world where they desire to dwell; which desire of theirs is very natural, if our allegory may be trusted.
On Plato's telling, Socrates was the cave-dweller who was willling to return to the cave, to “descend to human affairs,” and was persecuted for doing it. This is an allegory about the search for wisdom, the willingness to be unpopular in its pursuit, and the dangers that befall persons who – like Socrates – personify courage and intellectual integrity. It's a plea to tolerate and even encourage dissenting voices and different ways of thinking and living. It's also a symbol of Plato's “two world” metaphysics, about which Socrates typically was agnostic. And – in modern terms – it's a warning to resist the allure of the cave and its reassuring but shadowy unreality. Our caves take many forms...
Aristotle: reality is to be found in the things of everyday experience... One world, not two ... "Aristotle did not distrust the senses but used them" to observe, collect, and experiment... There is no place and no need for a theory of Forms, a theory of another world." (41) The form of something is in the thing.
Philosopher of the Month: Aristotle Rosalind Rawnsley Aristotle was one of the world’s greatest thinkers, whose profound influence on western philosophy and philosophical terminology continues to this day. Born in Stagira, at that time in Macedonia, in 384 BCE, the son of a doctor who was physician to the Royal Family, he studied for 20 years at Plato’s Academy in Athens, before being invited by King Philip II of Macedon to become tutor to his son Alexander (‘the Great’)... Aristotle was a meticulous observer of the natural world and some of his recorded observations of fish and other sea creatures were not subsequently rediscovered and proved until the middle of the 19th century. His taxonomy of plants and animals anticipates that of Linnaeus.
His two ethical treatises are fundamentally enquiries into how the individual may best achieve a good life. Such a life, Aristotle considers, cannot be lived in isolation, but only in the context of society or the polis. This being the case, the Politics considers what type of society or polis will best enable the individual to live a good or moral life, rather than what might be the duty of the individual towards the state as a discrete entity, as in modern political theory. Aristotle thinks of his political treatise as being of practical use to actual legislators, rather than simply as a blueprint for the ideal state. As a pragmatist he therefore considers what type of constitution would work best given the existing constraints of his place and time.
Aristotle (384-322 BCE) Aristotle was born in 384 BCE. at Stagirus, a Greek colony and seaport on the coast of Thrace. His father Nichomachus was court physician to King Amyntas of Macedonia, and from this began Aristotle's long association with the Macedonian Court, which considerably influenced his life. While he was still a boy his father died. At age 17 his guardian, Proxenus, sent him to Athens, the intellectual center of the world, to complete his education. He joined the Academy and studied under Plato, attending his lectures for a period of twenty years. In the later years of his association with Plato and the Academy he began to lecture on his own account, especially on the subject of rhetoric. At the death of Plato in 347, the pre-eminent ability of Aristotle would seem to have designated him to succeed to the leadership of the Academy. But his divergence from Plato's teaching was too great to make this possible...
For Aristotle, the form is not something outside the object, but rather in the varied phenomena of sense. Real substance, or true being, is not the abstract form, but rather the concrete individual thing... The actual vs. potential state of things is explained in terms of the causes which act on things. There are four causes: Material cause, or the elements out of which an object is created; Efficient cause, or the means by which it is created; Formal cause, or the expression of what it is; Final cause, or the end for which it is.
The core of Aristotle's account of moral virtue is his doctrine of the mean. According to this doctrine, moral virtues are desire-regulating character traits which are at a mean between more extreme character traits (or vices). For example, in response to the natural emotion of fear, we should develop the virtuous character trait of courage. ..
Vice of Deficiency Virtuous Mean Vice of Excess Cowardice Courage Rashness Insensibility Temperance Intemperance Illiberality Liberality Prodigality Pettiness Munificence Vulgarity Humble-mindedness High-mindedness Vaingloriness Want of Ambition Right Ambition Over-ambition Spiritlessness Good Temper Irascibility Surliness Friendly Civility Obsequiousness Ironical Depreciation Sincerity Boastfulness Boorishness Wittiness Buffoonery Shamelessness Modesty Bashfulness Callousness J Just Resentment Spitefulness Most moral virtues, and not just courage, are to be understood as falling at the mean between two accompanying vices. The prominent virtue of this list is high-mindedness, which, as being a kind of ideal self-respect, is regarded as the crown of all the other virtues...
Aristotle quotes Education is the best provision for the journey to old age. Happiness depends upon ourselves. It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen. A friend is a second self. The gods too are fond of a joke.
ARISTOTLE'S CLOSED COZY COSMOS - Robert Hatch This illustration of Aristotle's Cosmos appeared in Boulliau's Philolaus (Amsterdam 1639). The Aristotelian System was a geocentric (earth-centered) geostatic (earth-stationary) model of the finite Cosmos. Cosmos signaled something more than a planetary model but something quite different from a modern Universe. In the Cosmos there was no space (only place), time was eternal, matter was composed of elements (derived from real qualities in nature: hot, cold, wet, dry), change was based on the Four Causes (Material, Formal, Efficient, Final). The basic principles of things were Potentiality and Actuality, Generation and Corruption...
However alien to the modern mind, Aristotle's Cosmos was a brilliantly integrated whole. Here Matter and Form were never separate (substantiated form), here Being and Knowing were inseparably linked, here Aristotle combined the Microcosm (Theory of Matter, the parts of all things) and the Macrocosm (Cosmology, the structure of all things). Aristotle's Cosmos holistically linked Matter, Place, Motion, Cause, and Value. The relations between Man, Nature, and God were never in doubt. Everything was connected and reinforcing. All Becoming (Matter, Motion, Change) was explained by means of the Great Chain of Being and by Being itself (God, the Unmoved Mover). For all that, Aristotle's most important categories were not those of the 17th century. The extraordinary coherence of his Cosmos helps to explain why it dominated Western thinking for nearly 2000 years, why Copernicus' innocent suggestion raised such furor.
Aristotle emphasized that things have potential . Acorns become oaks, children become adults... they possess purpose, telos.. . their potential goes beyond what they are to what they might become.
Doing well, flourishing – happiness, the good life... not the life of pleasure, wealth, honor, power, success insofar as these depend on others. It is a life of virtuous activity in accordance with reason. Active, filled with friends & involved in the community, also contemplative or reflective.
The Futile Pursuit of Happiness nyt ( Stumbling on Happiness ) I f Daniel Gilbert is right, then you are wrong to believe that a new car will make you as happy as you imagine. You are wrong to believe that a new kitchen will make you happy for as long as you imagine. You are wrong to think that you will be more unhappy with a big single setback (a broken wrist, a broken heart) than with a lesser chronic one (a trick knee, a tense marriage). You are wrong to assume that job failure will be crushing. You are wrong to expect that a death in the family will leave you bereft for year upon year, forever and ever. You are even wrong to reckon that a cheeseburger you order in a restaurant -- this week, next week, a year from now, it doesn't really matter when -- will definitely hit the spot. That's because when it comes to predicting exactly how you will feel in the future, you are most likely wrong...
we overestimate the intensity and the duration of our emotional reactions -- our ''affect'' -- to future events. In other words, we might believe that a new BMW will make life perfect. But it will almost certainly be less exciting than we anticipated; nor will it excite us for as long as predicted. The vast majority of Gilbert's test participants through the years have consistently made just these sorts of errors both in the laboratory and in real-life situations. And whether Gilbert's subjects were trying to predict how they would feel in the future about a plate of spaghetti with meat sauce, the defeat of a preferred political candidate or romantic rejection seemed not to matter. On average, bad events proved less intense and more transient than test participants predicted. Good events proved less intense and briefer as well.