Ancient Greek Philosophy started in the 6th Century BC and continued till the Ancient Greek period which later vastly affected the Hellenistic period, Classical Islamic Philosophy and European Renaissance. There are two main periods of Greek Philosophy. The first one is pre-Socratic Philosophy while the other is Classical Greek Philosophy. Famous Greek Philosophers and their philosophies are mentioned below according to these two periods.
Pre-Socratic Philosophy is the Greek Philosophy before famous Greek philosopher Socrates. These philosophers were the first ones who asked rational questions about things like the creation of this universe and reality of everything while refusing the previous mythological definitions. They were also the pioneers of scientific and mathematical study by introducing paradoxes and problems.
Thales (624-546 BC) was the first Greek philosopher, according to Aristotle. He was born in Miletus which is on the western coast of Anatolia (Turkey). He founded the Milesian School. He was of the opinion that water is the base of every living thing. He used geometry to solve different problems including the distance of ships from the shore, height of Egyptian pyramids etc.
Pythagoras (570-495 BC) was the founder of the Pythagoreanism movement. He was born in Samos (Greece). He was a great mathematician, scientist and musician. The famous Pythagorean theorem (a2 + b2 = c2 ) is named after him as he popularized this geometric theory. In his religious philosophy, he was a believer of incarnation i.e. the soul of a dead person will start new life after his/her death until it became immortal.
Xenophanes (570-475 BC) was born in Ionia (western Anatolia). He was a Greek philosopher, poet and theologian. Xenophanes was against the polytheism of the Ancient Greek religion and he believed that there is only one God who is greatest, eternal, absolutely different from the mortal humans and controls the whole universe. He is known as one of the first monotheists in the Greek world.
Heraclitus (535-475 BC) was another famous Ancient Greek Philosopher, born in Ephesus (west coast of Turkey). His main interests were Ethics, Metaphysics, Cosmology and Politics. He was of the opinion that every thing in the universe is in motion and fire is the base of everything. He is known as The Obscure due to difficulty in understanding his major works.
Parmenides (around 515-460 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher who founded the Eleatic School of Philosophy. He was born in Elea (Italy). According to Parmenides, reality is absolute and it can not be changed while existence is necessary, eternal and changeless. He also thought that sensory conceptions are untrustworthy and false. His ideas strongly affected Plato and the Western philosophy.
Anaxagoras (510-428 BC) was the founder of Pluralist School. According to his philosophy, Nous (mind) is the force behind of arranging everything of cosmos in an order.
Empedocles (490-430 BC), another Pluralist philosopher, was of the view that all structures in the world are made by four basic elements including water, fire, air and earth.
Democritus (460-370 BC) was one of the founders of Atomism. His works also include mathematics, cosmology, anthropology and biology. He is much known for his scientific work than philosophy and many regarded him as the “founder of modern science”.
Classical Greek Philosophers
The most famous period in the Greek knowledge and philosophy is known as the period of ‘Classical Greek Philosophers’. There are three most famous and renowned philosophers of that time whose philosophies and ideas had affected the world in past and also in the modern world. These great philosophers are; Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.
Socrates was born in Athens around 470 BC. Most of his works and ideas are known through the writings of his students Xenophon and Plato. His most famous idea is the Socratic Method. In this scientific method, the reality of a matter is approached through a discussion between persons who questions about different point of views and reach on an answer after discovering every aspect of a topic. He died in 399 BC when he was enforced to drink a poisonous mixture after being found guilty of disbelieving the gods of state and distorting the minds of youth with his ideology. His ideas greatly influenced the modern scientific method.
Plato was born in Athens around 425 BC. He was a great philosopher and mathematician, and also the student of Socrates. He is especially known for his ideas of realism and idealism. He presented his political philosophy in his book The Republic where he advocated a Utopian city-state under the leadership of a Philosopher king. He is regarded as one of the founders of modern science and philosophy.
Aristotle, born in 384 BC in Stagira (Greece), was a great ancient philosopher and scientist. He is renowned as the first real scientist in the history. He was also the teacher of Alexander the Great. His works and ideas influenced the Western Philosophy, Christian Philosophy and also many Muslim and Jewish philosophers. He was interested in many subjects including ethics, metaphysics, biology, zoology, physics, politics etc.
All of these Greek Ancient Philosophers played very important role in different branches of philosophy, education and science as they were the pioneers of rational thinking. From ancient times till today, they influenced the whole world with their knowledge and wisdom.