The Greek Triumvirate 1.

Socrates was a Greek philosopher, born in Athens in 469 B.C., whose beliefs were a great influence on philosophy. He started his early life as an apprentice for his father, a sculptor, and practiced it for several years, prior to giving nearly all of his time to intellectual pursuits. Socrates, himself, wrote nothing, and our knowledge of his ideas is reliant on the writings of Xenophon, Aristophanes, and most of all, Plato. His relentless dedication to philosophy profoundly affected his contemporaries, and, because of what we have learned through Plato, on resultant philosophy. Plato's interpretation of Socrates, however, is partially his own formation. However, it is feasible to determine certain ideas that are truly from Socrates. He searched for definitions of words, wondering, "What is justice?" and, "What is courage?" for example. Without them, he believed, true wisdom would not be achievable. He had his own formula of questions and answers to grasp the definitions. Socrates wondered if goodness, like the sophists thought, would be learned. He felt that there was a connection between goodness and knowledge of what is good, and so, he thought that anyone who achieved that knowledge could not purposely act badly. All of Socrates' intellectual study was precisely for attaining happiness in life by living the right way. Not surprisingly, Socrates' ideas made him quite unpopular with other townspeople. He made the conclusion that intellect embodied the knowledge of one's own ignorance and believed that others simply were not aware of their own. What we now refer to as the "Socratic method" of philosophical questioning included questioning people on their affirmed positions and helping them to question themselves to the point of outright contradictions, which would prove each one's own ignorance. The Socratic method gave birth to dialectic, the belief that truth must be approached by changing one's position by questioning and exposing them to contrary beliefs. One thing that Socrates affirmed to have knowledge of was "the art of love." He connected this concept with that of the "love of wisdom," or philosophy. He never straight out declared to be wise, he just claimed to understand the way a lover of wisdom must go to aspire to it. Although he claimed extreme loyalty to Athens, Socrates' obligation to the truth and the quest of virtue conflicted with the current policies and society of the city. His offenses were that he was a moral and social critic and tried to weaken the common concept of "might makes right" there at the time. he was found guilty of corrupting Athens' youth, and his sentence was to drink a poisonous mix. Plato and Xenophon both claimed that Socrates would have had a chance to escape by fleeing from Athens after his followers bribed the prison guards. Although, he chose not to do so because he believed it would show he had a fear of death, which he believed no philosopher has and that even if he chose to leave, his thought teachings would not fare better in a different country. He also may have subjected himself to being accused of crimes by the citizens and

turns the soul away from the sensible world. "I know you won't believe me. Aristotle was probably influenced by his father's medical knowledge. he was left an orphan and placed under the guardianship of his uncle. and thus go against Socratic principle. in Aristotle's tenth year. rhetoric. "Furthermore. In fact. Philosopher Karl Popper describes the dialectic as "the art of intellectual intuition. Aristotle's early education would probably have consisted of instruction in medicine and biology from his father. the answers to which gradually distill the answer a person would seek. This would have caused him to break "contract" with the state. and is a key factor in earning his mantle as the father of political philosophy. ethics or moral philosophy. Proxenus of Atarneus. he was likely ." writes Hadot. It is known that she died early in Aristotle's life. The Socratic method is a negative method of hypothesis elimination. when he went to Athens at the age of 18. Phaestis. Nicomachus. To illustrate the use of the Socratic method. He taught Aristotle Greek. To solve a problem. in which hypothesis is the first stage. "in Plato's view. of visualising the divine originals. Socrates’ Contribution to Philosophy Perhaps his most important contribution to Western thought is his dialectic method of inquiry. and poetry (O'Connor et al. 2004). little is known. It was designed to force one to examine one's own beliefs and the validity of such beliefs. subject to the demands of the Logos. His father. was court physician to King Amyntas III of Macedon. When Nicomachus also died. The development and practice of this method is one of Socrates' most enduring contributions. and as a figurehead of all the central themes in Western philosophy. As such. but the highest form of Human Excellence is to question oneself and others. of unveiling the Great Mystery behind the common man's everyday world of appearances. and allows it to convert itself towards the Good." 2. every dialectical exercise. It is believed that Aristotle's ancestors held this position under various kings of Macedonia. a series of questions are posed to help a person or group to determine their underlying beliefs and the extent of their knowledge.proven guilty by a jury. a colony of Andros on the Macedonian peninsula Chalcidice in 384 BC. which he largely applied to the examination of key moral concepts such as the Good and Justice. It was first described by Plato in the Socratic Dialogues. it would be broken down into a series of questions." In a similar vein French philosopher Pierre Hadot suggests that the dialogues are a type of spiritual exercise. Aristotle Aristotle was born at Stageira. in that better hypotheses are found by steadily identifying and eliminating those that lead to contradictions." An alternative interpretation of the dialectic is that it is a method for direct perception of the Form of the Good. About his mother. known as the Socratic method or method of "elenchus". The influence of this approach is most strongly felt today in the use of the scientific method. Socrates once said. precisely because it is an exercise of pure thought. the Forms or Ideas..

Aristotle was considered as the next head of the Academe. Plutarch wrote that Aristotle not only imparted to Alexander a knowledge of ethics and politics. there was no lack of cordial appreciation or mutual forbearance. but also of the most profound secrets of philosophy. Aristotle then went with Xenocrates to the court of Hermias. Alexander departed for his Asiatic campaign. and married his niece and adopted daughter. Alexander provided Aristotle with ample means for the acquisition of books and the pursuit of his scientific investigation. Founder and master of the Lyceum In about 335 BC. During his tutorship of Alexander.already trained in the investigation of natural phenomena. It is also probable that Plato suggested that Aristotle needed restraining rather than encouragement. It is also reported that he stopped on Lesbos and briefly conducted biological research. who were known as slanderers. According to sources such as Plutarch and Diogenes. not in any well-grounded historical tradition. who even at that time showed a preference for the investigation of the facts and laws of the physical world. and Aristotle. he was summoned to his native Stageira by King Philip II of Macedon to become the tutor of Alexander the Great. and Aristotle successfully requested that Alexander rebuild it. No doubt there were divergences of opinion between Plato. In fact. and Aristotle. ruler of Atarneus in Asia Minor. many of which depict Aristotle unfavourably. and Aristotle went with his family to Mytilene. Aristotle was reportedly considered a second time for leadership of the Academy. In 344 BC. From the ages of 18 to 37 Aristotle remained in Athens as a pupil of Plato and distinguished himself at the Academe. a post that was eventually awarded to Plato's nephew. who was then 13. Hermias was murdered in a rebellion (or a Persian attack?). Philip had Aristotle's hometown of Stageira burned during the 340s BC. his continued association with Xenocrates and other Platonists. who had served as an informal adviser (more or less) since Alexander ascended . We have much proof that Alexander profited by contact with the philosopher. one or two years later. Besides this. his companion Xenocrates was selected instead. idealistic principles. the reason lies in the exaggerated esteem Aristotle was held in by the early Christian heretics. and that Aristotle made prudent and beneficial use of his influence over the young prince (although Bertrand Russell disputes this). The relations between Plato and Aristotle have formed the subject of various legends. who took his stand on sublime. Aristotle's conduct after the death of Plato. the legends that reflect Aristotle unfavourably are traceable to the Epicureans. Aristotle as philosopher and tutor After the death of Plato (347 BC). Due to this influence. Pythia. but not that there was an open breach of friendship. If such legends were circulated widely by patristic writers such as Justin Martyr and Gregory Nazianzen. and his allusions in his writings to Plato's doctrines prove that while there were conflicts of opinion between Plato and Aristotle. Then.

either personally or through others.around the gymnasium. Consequently. fair to his enemies and rivals. Aristotle shared in the general unpopularity of the Macedonians. Imitating Plato. but now.) During the thirteen years (335 BC–322 BC) which he spent as teacher of the Lyceum. his will (which is undoubtedly genuine). fragments of his letters and the allusions of his unprejudiced contemporaries—was that of a high-minded. was now. The charge of impiety. he wrote "Dialogues" in which his doctrines were expounded in somewhat popular language. when Alexander's death became known in Athens. represent him as sharp and keen of countenance. Aristotle composed most of his writings. Nevertheless.peripatoi -. ponds and cattle-ranges. He left the city. kind-hearted man. reportedly 'of the stomach'. metaphysics. His character—as revealed by his writings. in Euboea. Very little is known about Aristotle's personal appearance except from hostile sources. During the last years of Aristotle's life the relations between him and Alexander the Great became very strained. saying (according to many ancient authorities) that he would not give the Athenians a chance to sin a third time against philosophy. and somewhat below the average height. and the outbreak occurred which led to the Lamian war. he gave regular instruction in philosophy in a gymnasium dedicated to Apollo Lyceios. with even less reason. possibly from the first years of the Peripatetic School. his investigations in the realm of natural phenomena. They show particularly how he succeeded in bringing together the works of his predecessors in Greek philosophy. 322 BC. and so forth. fishermen. and Aristotle's works on zoology make this statement more believeable. Aristotle was fully informed about the doctrines of his predecessors. as well as the legend that he threw himself into the sea "because he could not explain the tides. from which he had long suffered." is without historical foundation. These writings show to what good use he put the resources Alexander had provided for him. from which his school has come to be known as the Lyceum. grateful towards his . brought against Aristotle.the shaded walks -. Aristotle continued to be regarded at Athens as a friend of Alexander and a representative of Macedonia. and how he pursued. following Plato's example. He also composed the several treatises (which will be mentioned below) on physics. lakes. (It was also called the Peripatetic School because Aristotle preferred to discuss problems of philosophy with his pupils while walking up and down -peripateo -. and there he died the following year. devoted to his family and his friends. The statues and busts of Aristotle. Pliny claimed that Alexander placed under Aristotle's orders all the hunters. The story that his death was due to hemlock poisoning. owing to the disgrace and punishment of Callisthenes whom Aristotle had recommended to Alexander. He took up residence at his country house at Chalcis. returned to Athens and opened his own school of philosophy. which had been brought against Anaxagoras and Socrates.the Macedonian throne. in which the exposition is more didactic and the language more technical than in the "Dialogues". and fowlers of the royal kingdom and all the overseers of the royal forests. His death was due to a disease. and Strabo asserted that he was the first to accumulate a great library. He may. as Aulus Gellius says. have conducted a school of rhetoric during his former residence in Athens. kind to his slaves.

and the works of Aristotle began to be studied without fear and prejudice. as it had to the unprejudiced pagan writers of his own day. the personality of Aristotle appeared to the Christian writers of the 13th century.benefactors. and undimmed by any great moral defects. When Platonism ceased to dominate the world of Christian speculation. "the master of those who know". majestic. as calm. untroubled by passion. .

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