Why did Ancient Greek philosophy die?

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Reply Wed 3 Jun, 2009 09:58 am
Ancient Greek philosophy was perhaps the greatest phenomenon in the history of thought. However, as we all know, it died, and my question is why it happened? To say that Christianity was more moral or philosophical I can't, but it won surprisingly. In the Soviet Marxist sources this fact was being explained as a consequence of decay economics slaveholding system, when people started seeking oblivion in mystical practices: Neoplatonism, Mitraism and Christianity....

And what do you, friends, think of the matter?
 
Krumple
 
Reply Wed 3 Jun, 2009 10:06 am
@Eudaimon,
Seems quite obvious to me, philosophy didn't use scare tactics to win over converts. The lies of Christianity and it's false promises lure in unsuspecting people who lacked education and reasoning skills.
 
Eudaimon
 
Reply Wed 3 Jun, 2009 10:21 am
@Krumple,
Krumple;66369 wrote:
The lies of Christianity and it's false promises lure in unsuspecting people who lacked education and reasoning skills.

I also thought like this, and this explains many things. Too easy, however. We have difficulty to explain why many well-educated people adopted it.
 
Krumple
 
Reply Wed 3 Jun, 2009 10:24 am
@Eudaimon,
Quote:
I also thought like this, and this explains many things. Too easy, however. We have difficulty to explain why many well-educated people adopted it.


I think most of the ones whom are educated were already indoctrinated prior to their formal education. It is so ingrained they do not question it, but just accept it without consideration.
 
Eudaimon
 
Reply Wed 3 Jun, 2009 10:40 am
@Krumple,
Krumple;66373 wrote:
I think most of the ones whom are educated were already indoctrinated prior to their formal education. It is so ingrained they do not question it, but just accept it without consideration.

Consider the situation. Philosophers in ancient Rome and Greece, beginning at least from Socrates, did not believe in hoi-poloi's gods. They had their own religion based on reasonable values and used pagan's images only as metaphor or as Buddhist believed in existence of gods without ascribing them so much importance. Thus it was almost throught 1000 years. Then come new religions, not only Christianity, but another eastern mystical practices. Actually that wasn't new: Pythagoras was also influenced by eastern mysticism, for example; however, that didn't end up in banning philosophy. But what we see in that moment? They changed Plato's writings, reinterpreted them in mystical sense, adopted intensively new doctrine's. Actually, it is obvious that they would in any case adopt new religion, if not Christianity, then Mitraism or an unknown one. This shows, I deem, the ancient world was ready to that.
 
Theages
 
Reply Wed 10 Jun, 2009 12:50 am
@Eudaimon,
Greek philosophy after Socrates is a long chain of degeneracy. You say that Christianity "won," but really Christianity was prefigured in Plato.

Periclean Athens was a time of strength. Plato was born on the day Pericles died. Who did Plato idolize? Not Aeschylus, not Sophocles, but Socrates, a lowlife who had nothing better to do than go around the city tormenting youths like me and doing his best to inscribe in all of us a bad conscience -- a Christian conscience.
 
avatar6v7
 
Reply Wed 10 Jun, 2009 04:57 am
@Theages,
Um greek philosophy didn't die, it evolved as part of later Christian and Islamic theology, and represents the foundation of philosophical and theological thought.
 
Victor Eremita
 
Reply Wed 10 Jun, 2009 05:47 am
@Eudaimon,
Why did it die? Well when the Roman Empires came to power, they forbad Greek philosophy. Justianian in 530 AD or thereabouts was one Roman Emperor that helped eradicate Greek philosophy in its old form.

Why was it resurrected and merged into theology? Islamic philosophers helped reintroduce Aristotle and the Greek line back into Western philosophy.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Wed 10 Jun, 2009 08:03 am
@Eudaimon,
Greco-Roman philosophy did not die; it is very much with us today if only in the suppositions of modern civilization. At its basis was the belief that reason was a far superior guide to life than myth or superstition and that truth was both a desired end and could be attained by each of us independently of priestly intervention and guidance.
The wise man was forever depicted in Plato's account of the life and thinking of Socrates, whose wisdom consisted in knowing that he did not know. Moreover, from this same period can be traced the beginnings of modern science. And it was in this period that the various branches of knowledge that so shaped our world were begun to be differentiated and defined.
The questions asked by the ancient philosophers are the same questions we ask today, and even though we ask and answer them in different terms and ways, they provided the groundwork (if for no other reason than we do not have to rethink various positions from a philosophical blank slate each generation) for our thinking about them.
 
Eudaimon
 
Reply Wed 10 Jun, 2009 08:38 am
@Eudaimon,
Well, saying 'died' I meant rather 'fainted' for about 1000 years. What was the reason of it, that's my question. Why did it happen that people started adopting mystical teachings like aforementioned to the extent that they forbade free, independent thinking - the main part of greek (every!)philosophy?
 
Theages
 
Reply Wed 10 Jun, 2009 11:25 am
@Eudaimon,
Don't generalize -- Plato was not interested in free and independent thought. He was a known consort of tyrants. He, like all of us, wanted to rule over all men and to be a god, but he lacked the courage to admit it.
 
avatar6v7
 
Reply Thu 11 Jun, 2009 03:31 am
@Theages,
Plato was not opposed to mysticism, at least not as you mean it, nor was Aristotle entirely. Plato objected to the nature of greek mysticism not mysticism itself. He felt that they had put up unworthy beings as the highest forces in the universe, and that there needed to be a better and purer understanding of the universe- and not a neccersarily unmystical one.
 
Fido
 
Reply Thu 11 Jun, 2009 09:32 am
@Eudaimon,
Eudaimon;66368 wrote:
Ancient Greek philosophy was perhaps the greatest phenomenon in the history of thought. However, as we all know, it died, and my question is why it happened? To say that Christianity was more moral or philosophical I can't, but it won surprisingly. In the Soviet Marxist sources this fact was being explained as a consequence of decay economics slaveholding system, when people started seeking oblivion in mystical practices: Neoplatonism, Mitraism and Christianity....
And what do you, friends, think of the matter?

I think it was stillborn... Plato tried to effect the perfect state through tyrants like Dianysius II; but Aristippus was more practical, accepting the money and spit of the tyrant because he had not enough of either...Plato came closest to success long after his death in the Catholic Church which replaced equality with hierarchy, much as in the republic..It was all form and formality...To me, the situation was obvious...The old form of democratic society could not stand against concentrated wealth in the hands of a few...Yet when all else fails, people form their own relationships; though these are not much hope against some new native force like the Macedonians, or the Romans... There is a strength in unity that allows people to conquer, but that unity is the first thing everyone trades for careless wealth, and so they are conquered in turn... Any philosophy that does not come to terms with the true origin of morals in gentile relationships will never reconstruct society on moral grounds...Knowledge may be virtue to the slightest degree...Virtue is a certain knowledge that preceeds all others, and without moral knowledge all knowledge is only aimed at vanity or wealth...
 
richrf
 
Reply Thu 11 Jun, 2009 10:30 am
@Fido,
Hi,

Greek philosophy is alive and well here. Love reading Heraclitus (and its counterparts in Eastern Philosophy), still perplexed by Zeno, and find more humor in The Apology, then I find in all of the situation comedies combined. Greek philosophers were a great bunch of writers, and I have enjoyed coming back to them, throughout my life. Much more so than any other age, that I can think of. Maybe because, I think things were simpler then.

Rich
 
avatar6v7
 
Reply Thu 11 Jun, 2009 04:12 pm
@richrf,
All human societys are hierarchical, as it is the only way to organise anything- organisation being inevitably an assertion of authority, and any asserstion of authority forming a hierarchy right there. There are no non-hierarchichal socities.
 
richrf
 
Reply Thu 11 Jun, 2009 04:48 pm
@avatar6v7,
avatar6v7;68391 wrote:
All human societys are hierarchical, as it is the only way to organise anything- organisation being inevitably an assertion of authority, and any asserstion of authority forming a hierarchy right there. There are no non-hierarchichal socities.


In my life, there are times when I am acting within a hierarchy (when I use to work in a corporation), and times when it is more circular where everyone is interacting as equals (e.g. when I get together with friends to play tennis or talk about economics and philosophy). I don't get involved in hierarchical struggles too much anymore, because playing King of the Hill is wearisome. I prefer to let others vie for the top spot, since it has very little meaning for me anymore. However, I do enjoy the interactions with my friends.

Rich
 
Fido
 
Reply Thu 11 Jun, 2009 04:54 pm
@avatar6v7,
avatar6v7;68391 wrote:
All human societys are hierarchical, as it is the only way to organise anything- organisation being inevitably an assertion of authority, and any asserstion of authority forming a hierarchy right there. There are no non-hierarchichal socities.

If you include sex as an unnatural division, then you might be right...Otherwise, for most of the life of mankind we were not consciously, or deliberately hiearchical... Society simply could not afford it....Having little and no way to store it, everything was parted out... To afford bosses, technology must support them..
 
Eudaimon
 
Reply Fri 12 Jun, 2009 07:47 am
@Fido,
Fido;68281 wrote:
I think it was stillborn... Plato tried to effect the perfect state through tyrants like Dianysius II; but Aristippus was more practical, accepting the money and spit of the tyrant because he had not enough of either...Plato came closest to success long after his death in the Catholic Church which replaced equality with hierarchy, much as in the republic..It was all form and formality...To me, the situation was obvious...The old form of democratic society could not stand against concentrated wealth in the hands of a few...Yet when all else fails, people form their own relationships; though these are not much hope against some new native force like the Macedonians, or the Romans...

Well, I see thou agreest with Marxists. Does it mean that philosophy is not independent from material conditions.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Fri 12 Jun, 2009 09:14 am
@Eudaimon,
Greece, exhausted by inter-city and inter-league fighting was absorbed politically into the Roman Empire. Greek culture and philosophy was spread throughout the Empire, especially in Rome where the philosophers Cicero, Seneca, and Epictetus continued the tradition. Neoplatonism was born in Egypt, and spread throughout the Empire, as Runes notes:

"As a school of Greek and Latin philosophers, Plotinism lasted until the fifth century. Porphyry, Apuleius, Jamblichus, Julian the Apostate, Themistius, Simplicius, Macrobius and Proclus are the most important representatives. Through St. Augustine, Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite, John Scotus Eriugena, and the Greek Fathers, Plotinian thought has been partly incorporated into Christian intellectualism. Nearly all prominent Arabian philosophers before Averroes are influenced by Plotinus..."

Even with the disruption of the Empire by barbarian invasions and internal conflicts, Greek philosophy was continued in the Eastern Empire and by the Arabic commentators until its writings were brought to Europe and initiated the Renaissance.
 
Extra Gravy
 
Reply Fri 12 Jun, 2009 09:18 am
@Eudaimon,
Christianity did not replace ancient Greek philosophy, but ancient Greek religion. Ancient Greek philosophy did not die, but evolved through many forms into modern western philosophy. We are its practicioners. We keep it alive.

-

I wonder what percentage of the population actually adhered to ancient Greek philosophy as we understand it. While training with Socrates was free there was clearly a thriving business in training the minds of the young. What percentage of the population could afford this education, or lived close enough to Socrates to benefit from his free training. I suggest that a minority of the population could have been said to have ancient Greek philosophy. I'm tempted to say that the numbers may have been analogous to modern distributions of philosophical training in our own societies.

-
Clarification:
I don't mean to say that ancient Greek philosophy did not affect Christianity. Philosophy has affected a host of religions. I mean, more specifically, to say that Philosophy and religion are of fundamentally different types. They can affect each other but they can not replace each other. In this way that I say Christianity did not replace ancient Greek philosophy.
 
 

 
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