Greek Philosophy

"As long as Man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings, he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love." - Pythagoras


"No one is free who has not obtained the empire of himself. No man is free who cannot command himself." - Pythagoras


"As soon as laws are necessary for men, they are no longer fit for freedom." - Pythagoras


"Practice justice in word and deed, and do not get in the habit of acting thoughtlessly about anything." - Pythagoras

Greek Philosophy 4.1: The Presocratics: Sources, Myth, and Philosophy

Introduction to issues in approaching evidence in Greek Philosophy, with a focus on the Presocratics. Modern efforts to distinguish "myth" and "philosophy," and different ancient perspectives on divine and human wisdom.

  • Introduction
  • Approaching evidence: manuscripts, texts, and fragments
  • Social and philosophical perspective of authors; example of Aristotle's four causes
  • Perspectives on distinguishing "myth" and "philosophy": Introduction
  • Modern perspectives: myth, philosophy, science
  • Early ancient views: divine and human wisdom
  • Later ancient views: inspiration and investigation, with an explanation
  • Later ancient definitions of philosophy
  • Review
Greek Philosophy 4.2: The Milesians: Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes

Introduction to archaic Miletus and the major philosophical movements that developed there.

  • Introduction
  • The City of Miletus
  • 20th-century scholars on the novelty of Milesian philosophy
  • Aristotle's perspective on the Milesians, and influence on our history
  • Thales: Life and Ideas
  • Anaximander: Life and Ideas
  • Anaximenes: Life and Ideas
  • Review
Greek Philosophy 4.3: Pythagoras: Life's Music and Mathematics

Introducing Pythagoras and Pythagorean philosophy.

  • Introduction
  • The Island of Samos
  • Pythagoras' Life and Teaching in Ancient Memory
  • Pythagorean Community and Civic Philosophy
  • "Symbolic" Teaching
  • Pythagorean Philosophy: Key Ideas
  • Spiritual views: Metempsychosis (reincarnation of the soul)
  • Mathematical views: reality as number; the Tetraktys; music
  • Synthesis of Pythagoreanism
  • Aristotle's perspective on the Pythagoreans
  • Review of topics