Top 10 Greatest Philosophers in History From Flamehorse, February 19, 2011, a countdown from 10 to 1. No, I won't give the surprise away as to who is the most influential; I will give you a hint--he was Greek!
Ancient Greek Philosophy From the site: "The Ancient Greek philosophical tradition broke away from a mythological approach to explaining the world, and it initiated an approach based on reason and evidence. Initially concerned with explaining the entire cosmos, the Presocratic philosophers strived to identify its single underlying principle."
Socrates Socrates, 469-399 B.C., established the foundations of modern Western philosophy. He created the Socratic method, a teaching practice, and was thanked by making him commit suicide. Since there is no evidence Socrates actually wrote anything, we must rely on the works of Xenophon, Plato, Aristotle, and Aristophanes for his thoughts.
Aristotle Aristotle, 384-322 B.C., shaped centuries of philosophy from Late Antiquity through the Renaissance, covering such topics as logic, metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics, and rhetoric, plus detailed plant and animal observations, and taxonomy. He tutored Alexander the Great for two or three years. He established a school in Athens, the Lyceum. After Alexander died, " Because of his connections to Macedon, Aristotle reasonably feared or his safety and left Athens, remarking, as an oft-repeated ancient tale would tell it, that he saw no reason to permit Athens to sin twice against philosophy", e.g., Socrates.
Epictetus Epictetus, 55-135, was born a slave and firmly believed all humans are free to control their own live and to live in harmony with nature, thus establishing the Stoic school. His pupil, Arrianus, collected lecture notes from Epictetus, who never actually published his material.
Epicurus & Epicurean Philosophy Epicurus, 341, 270 B.C., established yet another school in Athens, the Garden. Straight from this site is a summary of his philosophy: "Epicurus's philosophy combines a physics based on an atomistic materialism with a rational hedonistic ethics that emphasizes moderation of desires and cultivation of friendships. His world-view is an optimistic one that stresses that philosophy can liberate one from fears of death and the supernatural, and can teach us how to find happiness in almost any situation. His practical insights into human psychology, as well as his science-friendly world-view, gives Epicureanism great contemporary significance as well as a venerable role in the intellectual development of Western Civilization."
Pyrrho Pyrrho of Elis, 360-270 B.C., Travelled with Alexander the Great on the expedition to the East, where he studied under the Gymnosophists of India and the Magi of Persia. He decided to adopt a life of solitude upon his return to Elis, although he founded anew school (not in Athens) in which he taught every object of human knowledge involves uncertainty and it is impossible to arrive at the knowledge of truth. Kind of like trying to balance my checkbook.
Plotinus Plotinus, 204 or 205-370 C.E., born in Egypt, an adherent of Plato, who is considered the most important commentator and interpreter of Plato. and thus the founder of Neoplatonism.
Epicureans, Lucretius, Cicero, Seneca the Younger According to Frank E. Smitha, "Romans adopted Greek philosophies despite those Roman conservatives, among then Cato the Elder, who opposed the spread of Greek ideas. The conservative general, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, who took power as a dictator in 82 BCE, was intellectually aggressive. Affter retiring he took up gardening and became an Epicurean. Julius Caesar was also intellectually aggressive. A generation after Sulla he too became an Epicurean – while still involved in politics."
Marcus Aurelius (121-180 C.E.) This Roman emperor's philosophy can be found in his writings, Meditations, which reflect the influence of Stoicism and the philosophy of Epictetus.
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