Category: Philosophy Essay
The Historical Aspects of Ancient Greece


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 views on the nature and destination of an individual. The thinking style of the philosophers of ancient Greece had a significant impact on the evolutionary development of the ideas of humanism, formulating an understanding of public relations, and socialist ideas.

The doctrine of Socrates gave the basis for the development of a new period in ancient Greek philosophy. Socrates is a unique character. The philosopher did not leave any written source. Socrates was mentioned as one of the participants of the philosophical debate in the works of Plato. According to him, the primary task of philosophy is a rational justification for the religious and moral outlook. The philosophy of Socrates is ethical anthropology. The philosopher rejected relativism and subjectivism of the Sophists. The sophists conducted research at the level of the unsteady sensuality, but Socrates opened the sphere of reason, where self-knowledge was the basis of wisdom and genuine theoretical and practical activities. The philosopher explored theoretical thinking as the scope of universal ideas. Socrates created the tradition of conceptual thinking, proclaiming the range of ideas as a subject of philosophy.

The features of the dialectics as the understanding of the world and way of thinking are the subjects of philosophical attention. Dialectics is a method of philosophy and way of reflexive theoretical thinking, which explores the category of development. This term came from ancient Greece through the dialog between Plato and Socrates. The development of ancient democracy contributed to the popularization of controversy as a way of convincing the interlocutor. Plato, Aristotle, Heraclitus, and Hegel made a significant contribution to the development of the dialectical method. The rational approach to the analysis of the object is characterized by three fundamental principles: historicism, inter-conditionality of the existence of phenomena, and contradictions.


Sophocles was a famous ancient Greek dramatist and tragic poet of classical Greece. He was born in Colonus. His father was a wealthy man, the owner of the armory. The poet received a good education, studied music, and won awards at the athletic competitions. The dramatist paid particular attention to the actions of people, pushing the divine will on the second plan. Sophocles interpreted the divine will as the prophecy. The author was a supporter of humanistic views. According to the biography of the poet, the deep religiosity was an integral aspect of his life. His characters faced the mystery of the universe, which inevitably caused them to defeat, sufferings, and death. Human ignorance was a constant theme of Sophocles. The hidden motive of the tragedies of Sophocles was humility before the unfathomable power that guided the destiny of the person in all its secrecy. The deity was an incomprehensible image of the perfect order of the human mind. Spiritualism was characteristic of the religious and ethical beliefs of Sophocles.


The tragedy "Antigone" was written by Sophocles on the mythological story of the Theban cycle in 441 BC. The Theban mythological cycle and one of the subjects of the myth of Oedipus were adopted by the playwright as a basis. Sophocles abandoned the principle of the trilogy. Sophocles chose an understandable episode of the mythological cycle for the clarity of the plot. The conflict of "Antigone" is multifaceted, and the participation of actors is ambiguous. Sophocles refused the descriptive part and introduced the third character, portraying the dynamics of action. All characters of the tragedy were involved in the central conflict. It was not a conflict of individuals; it was a conflict of principles and ideas. The analysis of characters and their positions allows revealing the central component of the conflict and finding out the underlying essence. Each of the main characters of the tragedy expressed his understanding and attitude to the events. In this drama, Sophocles showed the contradictions between the divine law and human arbitrariness. Sophocles revealed one of the deepest conflicts of society. It was a conflict between the unwritten patrimonial and state laws. Creon was a supporter of the idea of strict compliance with the state laws. On the other hand, the family and patrimonial laws were most important for Antigone. Creon did not take into consideration the traditional patrimonial law and condemned Antigone to death. Sophocles expressed condolences to Antigone, depicting him with the great warmth. Other characters of this tragedy were episodic and used for displaying the main features of the protagonists. The class state was far from ideal at the time of Sophocles, so the author described Creon as a despot and tyrant with the traits of legal formalism. The condemnation of tyranny was expressed at the end of the tragedy through the repentance of Creon.

In my opinion, the mythological story of the drama is not a dogma to Sophocles. The basic meaning of the tragedy is revealed in the conflict of forces that are meaningful for human existence. The playwright described this conflict in aesthetic form and, as a result, it had a multifaceted impact on the readers.


The ancient Greek philosophy was fundamental in the development of European and world philosophy. 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. This philosophy originated and developed in a close connection with specific knowledge about nature. The first ancient Greek philosophers were naturalists. Philosophers have suggested interesting ideas in the concept of human existence, intellectual knowledge, defining the main directions of the development of philosophy in the subsequent centuries. The phenomenon of ancient Greek philosophy is a synthesis of many unpredictable events and processes.

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