Ten Ancient Greek Philosophers you should definitely know

  1.  THALES (624-546 BC) Born in Miletus. One of the ‘Seven Sages’. He is considered to be no less than the father of Philosophy. He believed that all natural phenomena should be explained using scientific methods, and even managed -using astronomical observations- to predict a solar eclipse!
  2. PYTHAGORAS (570-496 BC) Born in Samos island. He believed that the only way to discover the secrets of the universe is to use mathematics. Famous for one of the most fundamental theorems of geometry, as we all know. All musicians in the world should thank him too: he laid down the basic principles of music theory including scales, modes and harmonies.
  3. DEMOCRITUS (460-370 BC) Nicknamed as the ‘laughing philosopher’, he is super-famous for introducing his incredible ATOMIC THEORY. ‘Different arrangements of atoms give rise to the various macroscopic substances in the world’. Not bad for someone that lived 24 centuries ago…
  4. SOCRATES (469-399 BC) Socrates is so important that all the philosophers that lived before him are just called ‘pre-Socratic’. On a day that will live in infamy, the Athenian Democracy put him to death. Famous for his Socratic Method of Teaching, he believed that “The un-examined life is not worth living.”
  5. PLATO (427-347 BC) Plato was one of Socrates’ students and after the execution of his teacher, he created the most famous institution of higher learning in History: the Academy. Alfred Whitehead wrote: “The safest general characterization of the philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”
  6. DIOGENES (404-323 BC) One of my favorites. Foul-mouthed, always ready to criticize hypocrites and show-offs he founded the famous Cynic school. Once he passed outside the house of an Athenian who was of  a notoriously bad character and had a sign installed over his porch: ‘NO EVIL MAY ENTER HERE’. Diogenes knocked on the door and asked that guy: “How did YOU get in?”
  7. ARISTOTLE (384-322 BC) The great G.Hegel once declared: “Since then no man like Aristotle has ever been born. Nor will ever be born. Aristotle was referred to as just ‘THE Philosopher’, the realization that a single mind created so much scientific work and ideas so influential, is still difficult to grasp. From the creation of logic to the method that we use to write essays in school it’s him that you should thank (or blame…)
  8. EPICURUS (341-270 BC) Born on Samos island his philosophical school and ideas became immensely popular in the Roman times. He believed that the aim of philosophy is not all these things that Plato and Aristotle told us. The important question that we should ask is how to achieve happiness. His answer was: by seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. And for the Epicureans, the highest pleasure was obtained by knowledge, friendship, and living a virtuous and temperate life.
  9. EPICTETUS (50-120 AD) The personification of Stoicism. Born as a slave, he was to become a saint-like figure for the Greeks and the Romans. Poor, homeless he struggled with super-human energy and dedication to ease the pain of the sufferings of humanity through his teachings, reminding us that “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”
  10.  HYPATIA (370-415 AD)  1000 years of Greek Philosophy end with a heroic woman from Alexandria. Head of the University and Library of Alexandria, Hypatia was a lone beacon of light to the fast approaching Dark Ages. Her areas of specialization, like conic sections and Diophantine equations, remain important for learning math, in applied mathematics, and as tools in physics and other disciplines in science.

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