Category: Philosophy Essay


The history of philosophy has a special place among the philosophical disciplines. The historical approach to the subject, the study of the formation and development of philosophy is one way of researching many vital issues. The historical examples of the interpretation of certain philosophical problems provide an opportunity to understand and evaluate the particular philosophical concept, knowing the history of the formation of the idea. The current state of the historical and philosophical science and the desire to substantiate specific objects and methods determine the relevance of the investigated problem. Philosophy is an element of the culture and system knowledge, which is affecting all the components of the spiritual culture such as religion, art, science, law, etc. The knowledge in the history of philosophy contributes to the formation of the ideological pluralism and ideological tolerance by freeing from dogmatism and spiritual emancipation of an individual. The paper describes the ancient Greek philosophy as the most differentiated view of the ancient world, highlighting the features and basic patterns of the development and general characteristics of the main philosophical trends in the historical context. The philosophy of ancient Greece has a special place in the history of philosophical thought in terms of the diversity of trends, schools, ideas, creative people, wealth, style, and language. The development of the ancient Greek philosophy had a considerable influence on the subsequent development of the philosophical culture of humankind.

Keywords: periodization, Pre-Socratics, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, Antigone

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The philosophy began to form in ancient Greece in the sixth century BC as a new rationalist way of seeing the world as opposed to the mythological worldview of the previous centuries. The polis democracy, as well as social and cultural aspects, contributed to the formation of the Greek philosophy. The emergence of a free person as a subject of philosophical thinking, intellectual freedom, a high level of social relationships and activities were the prerequisites for the formation of the Greek philosophy. The inter-conditionality of the general and individual, polis and citizens in the sphere of social life described a scheme of the philosophical thinking of the world in the ancient Greek philosophy. Scientists identify three stages of Greek philosophy development.

The first phase (VI-V century BC) was the period of the formation of a slaveholding polis democracy. The philosophers of this period are known as the pre-Socratics. The natural philosophy, Milesian, and Eleatic school are essential achievements of this period. The second period was the establishment of a democracy of the ancient Greek philosophy (V – IV century BC). The consequence of these changes was the transition of thinkers from the outside world to the inner world of the person. It was the period of classical philosophy. The era of Hellenism and the Roman Empire was the third step in the development of philosophy (III century BC – I century AD). The characteristic features of this philosophy were the ethical and religious domination, epistemological and religious issues.

The first historical form of philosophy is Natural philosophy. The natural philosophy is a system of speculative ideas about nature, which combined the scientific guesses and philosophical generalizations. The Milesian school was the first school of natural philosophy (VI century BC). Thales was the founder of the school. The philosopher had a significant impact on the development of philosophical thought in the period of natural philosophy. Thales believed that water is the foundation of everything. Anaximenes, Anaximander, and Heraclitus are the representatives of the Milesian School. Anaximenes strengthened and completed the trend of the Greek materialism in search of natural causes. Anaximander was a supporter of materialism and raised the question of the beginning of the world. Heraclitus was an example of the early dialectic ideas in ancient Greek philosophy. The philosopher developed the doctrine of the eternal flame as a universal primary source of the world. The natural philosophers considered the main problems such as determining the substance of the world through the ratio of total and individual, single and multiple, a combination of things and variability of movement.

The evolutionary transformation of the humanistic ideas is the natural aspect. The concept of humanism had been forming for centuries in an era of despotism and domination of the authorities. During the following centuries, the humanistic ideas began to correlate with the principles of democracy. The historical processes confirm this thesis in Ancient Greece. The ancient humanism is present in the philosophical systems of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Democritus, Epicurus, Lucretius, and Pericles. Humanism did not become the leading ideology of the social development in ancient society, but philosophers discussed the problem of personality and humanity. The traditional society had a significant influence on the development of humanity. Scientists believe that the sophists attracted the attention to the problems of a person and society. However, previously, the representatives of other philosophical schools paid attention to the question of human existence to a minor extent. Anaximander suggested a hypothesis about the origin of a person, drawing a parallel with the wildlife. Democritus regarded a person an atom of public space, but he was interested in the challenge of being human.

The sophists were the ideologues of ancient Greek democracy. For the first time, sophists realized the contrast between a person and the world as subjective and objective factors. Protagoras proclaimed a person the measure of all things. The rationalized explanation of the natural phenomena, social and ethical relativism, and rejection of religion were the main characteristic features of the Sophists. In gnoseology, the Sophists considered the questions about the process of thinking as a means of knowledge of the world. Protagoras, Hippias, Gorgias, and Kyd laid the foundation for the perception of a person as an individual and community representative. The works of Aristotle are an example of the humanistic