A History of Ancient Philosophy: From the Beginnings to Augustine

By Karsten Friis Johansen | Go to book overview

26

SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY

In late Antiquity the word hellēnismos signals the essence of Greek culture, more especially the effort to cleanse and protect the 'pure' Greek language-it is not until post-classical times that a common Greek literary language (koinē) was formed on the basis of the Attic tongue. Towards the end of the ancient world the word can simply be used about paganism as opposed to Christianity. 'Hellenistic' did not come to designate the period from the death of Alexander the Great to the Roman Empire (Augustus) until one century ago.

In the course of only eleven years (334-23) Alexander had turned the world upside-down. With his lightening campaign he had created a monarchy, a world empire extending from Greece and Egypt in the west to the borders of India in the east. This not only caused the fall of the Persian Empire but also the demise of the Greek city state; it brought about a cultural assimilation between west and east which perhaps would have come about in any case, but which now followed a sudden and violent course. New metropoles-most importantly Alexandria in Egypt-were founded as administrative and trading centres; a Greek upper class, Greek military, and Greek merchants settled throughout the Near East. The new common market led to increased prosperity, and in cultural fields the borders were opened as well; there was a larger reading public than before; several authors not of Greek origin now appear in Greek literature-a famous example is the founder of Stoicism, the Phoenician Zeno.

The political history in the era after Alexander is monotonous. His generals and successors-the Diadochi-divided the vast realm among themselves and were constantly at war with each other. They established dynastic monarchies, first and foremost the Ptolemaic Realm in Egypt and the Seleucid Realm in the east. The political unit was not a city with its surrounding lands as in the Greece of yore, nor a national state in the modern sense, but a state that solely was held together by the absolute ruler and his bureaucracy and military. In Egypt and the Seleucid Realm the rulers could simply continue an ancient tradition of despotism, and to the average inhabitant it probably meant little that the ruler and his administrative apparatus were now Greek. Formally, constitutions were introduced for the individual cities according to the Greek model, but the real political power was not there. Still, in the old Greek region relative independence might be achieved from time to time, and

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A History of Ancient Philosophy: From the Beginnings to Augustine
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Presocratic Philosophy 9
  • 1 - Myth, Poetry and Philosophy 11
  • 2 - Ionian Natural Philosophy 20
  • 3 - Heraclitus 29
  • 4 - The Pythagoreans 36
  • 5 - The Eleatics 45
  • 6 - Post-Parmenidean Natural Philosophy 59
  • 7 - Medical Science 79
  • Part II - The Great Century of Athens 83
  • 8 - Pericles' Athens 85
  • 9 - Tragedy and View of History 88
  • 10 - The Sophists 99
  • 11 - Socrates 118
  • Part III - Plato 137
  • 12 - Life, Works and Position 139
  • 13 - What is Virtue? Can Virtue Be Taught? 160
  • 14 - Idea and Man 173
  • 15 - The Good Constitution of State and Man 198
  • 16 - The Late Dialogues: Knowledge and Being 213
  • 17 - The Late Dialogues: Nature, Man and Society 236
  • 18 - Plato and the Early Academy 254
  • Part IV - Aristotle 267
  • 19 - Life, Works and Position 269
  • 20 - Logic and Theory of Science 293
  • 21 - Natural Philosophy and Psychology 316
  • 22 - Metaphysics and Theology 343
  • 23 - Ethics and Politics 366
  • 24 - Rhetoric and Poetics 392
  • 25 - The Early Peripatetics 400
  • Part V - Hellenistic Philosophy 405
  • 26 - Science and Philosophy 407
  • 27 - Epicurus 423
  • 28 - Early Stoicism 442
  • 29 - Scepticism 471
  • 30 - Greece and Rome 484
  • Part VI - Late Antiquity 499
  • 31 - Imperial Rome 501
  • 32 - Plotinus 532
  • 33 - Late Neoplatonism 556
  • 34 - Early Christian Thought 569
  • 35 - Augustine 588
  • Abbreviations General 625
  • Bibliography 639
  • Index 663
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