Religion & Philosophy in Ancient Greece 12:58:00

10/10/2007

Philosophy: criticism of epic gods Significance of epic poetry • Education: memorization, recitation, discussion • Medium of earliest philosophers • Example: Parmenides (6th century; from Elis in southern Italy) The gods in epic • Early cosmogonic, cosmological, theological thought o Ex: Hesiodic Theogony, Works and Days; Homeric Hymns • Anthropomorphic: consume, copulate, fight, lie, kill o Ex: Zeus & Hera in the Iliad • Pan-Hellenic abstractions o Ex: Apollo, but no Delphi in early epic • Theodicy: explanation of divine justice o Ex: Zeus in the Odyssey (stupidity causes suffering) • Manifestations of psychological states (double motivation) o Ex: Agamemnon, Achilles and Athena in the Iliad Pre-Socratic philosophy Origins of philosophy: edges of the Greek world, 600-500 BCE • Ionia: leading edge of Greek culture (until Persia) • Sicily-south Italy: fastest-growing part of Greece

o Parmenides of Elea: way of truth vs. way of opinion o Theagenes of Rhegion: traditional religion as allegory  Zeus = thunder, Hera = Air, Apollo = fire, etc. He “Ionian Enlightenment” (6th century) • Thales, anaximander, etc. • Xenophanes of Kolophon o Wanders after Persians control Ionia o Medium: lyric poetry o Critical of received wisdom o Relativism • Heraklitos of Ephesos o Writes riddling prose o Focuses on impermanence and change  “one cannot step in the same river twice” criticisms of traditional conceptions of deity (poetry, art, myth) • anthropomorphism o moral: gods display human weaknesses o physical: gods in human form, interacting like people • cultural relativism o each culture makes gods like themselves principles

the divine is transcendent (beyond human grasp) o not simply super-human: remote, effortless, harmonious o search for unifying element: water, fire, etc.

the divine is pervasive o all things linked by common creator  study world to know humanity (> natural philosophy) • philosophy as revelation o precedent for idea of religious conversion o analogy of mysteries: ex. Of Pythagorean “mysteriosophy” challenges/alternatives to traditional religion sophists (5th c.): from sophos, “wise” • popularize of philosophy, mathematics • teach persuasive speech • radical relativism o mutability of nomos (custom, law) o good/bad, pious/impious, etc. culturally determined agnosticism: Protagoras of Abdera o “man is the measure of all things” • cultural evolution: Prodikos of Keos o gods shrink with human achievement pattern: progress in arts follows culture generally •

Ionia-Sicily > Athens Socrates-Plato (Athens, 5th-4th centuries) • No writings by Socrates o Accounts y Plato, Xenophon, etc. • Stance of skepticism • Assertion of absolutes • Aim of just polis: o Recreate the moral superiority of the gods • Daimon (“spirit”): internal voice of reason o Element of divine present in humans • Becomes embroiled in politics o Executed in 399 on charge of sacrilege Socrates-Plato (Athens 5th-4th centuries) • State censorship of religious expression • Preservation of ritual o Benefit to individual and polis • Immorality of soul (psyche) Natural philosophy: application of reason • Lacking: experiments, diffusion of knowledge • Branch of “love of knowledge” o Thales of Miletos: predicts eclipse in 582

o Demokritos of Abdera: atomic theory  Soul atomic and perishable  Immortal gods impossible • Aristotle (4th century, works in Athens) o Student of Plato, more practical o Theoretician, compiler, teacher th Aristotle (4 century, works in Athens) • Naturalist/rationalistic explanations o Biology: taxonomy; evolution o Medicine: physical diagnosis (not moral) o Astronomy: planets, stars natural o Government: institutions evolve • Not intended to supplant traditional religion o Aristotle’s will: 

Set up statues of Zeus and Athena in repayment for vow History: application of reason to human affairs • Herdotos, Thucydides (Athenians, 5th century) o Reject gods as historical agents  Look to material, psychological causes Philosphy’s challenges to traditional religion: indirect • Most philosophers support traditional religion for society o Result: “going throught the motions” • Reaises issue of what “ture” deity is and how to worship it o If polis, oikos relgion is fod the good of community,  What do the gods themselves realy want? • Diminishes role of gods o Offers alternative explanations (nature, huan behavior) • Undermines popular ways of thinking about the gods o Emphasis on shortcomings of religios art, epic, drama

10/10/2007 12:58:00

10/10/2007 12:58:00