Famous Greek People: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle

Ancient Greek philosophy addressed an array of subjects, such as political philosophy or the study of liberty, justice, property, law, rights and law enforcement, metaphysics, ontology, rhetoric, aesthetics, ethics, logic and biology. Greek philosophy has roots stemming from the 6th century BCE and continuing its sphere of influence well into the reign of the Roman Empire. Some argue that ancient Greek philosophers, such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, had contact with the older roots of oriental cosmology and theology, which is often referred to as pre-Socratic philosophical school of thought. Classical Greek philosophy addresses all philosophical schools of thought up until Alexander the Great began his conquest. Hellenistic philosophy embodies many different schools of thought through the Hellenistic and Greco-Roman world.


Socrates, an Athens born-citizen from the 5th century BCE, introduced an influential philosophical school of thought that would send a ripple effect all throughout the Classical, Hellenistic and Greco-Roman periods. Athens was the ancient Grecian capital of learning, which attracted many different sophists and philosophers of many different backgrounds to engage in the teachings of rhetoric, cosmology, geometry, astronomy and much more. Political opposition struck against philosophical thought by making it a crime to probe deeper behind the mysteries of the heavens above and the Earth below them. The pre-Socratic philosophers, such as Pericles, Anaxagoras, and Protagoras were all forced to flee Athens to avoid persecution. In fact, Socrates was tried, convicted and sentenced to death under the law in 399 BCE in the infamous Trial of Socrates. Socrates was the first to introduce heavenly philosophy to the families residing in Athens with an encouragement to implement its morals for a balance between good and evil in everyday life.


Plato, an Athenian born-citizen, has roots in the post-Socratic and second generational school of thought in ancient Greece. There are many forms of authentic documentation detailing the emerging philosophical school of thought influenced by Plato, including thirty-six dialogues and thirteen letters. Plato, a student of Socrates, ascribes Socrates' life and beliefs. Plato's doctrines are concealed beneath the conversation formed between Socrates' reputation for irony and opinions; however, Aristotle would unveil these doctrines in his own studies. The political doctrine ascribed to Plato is derived from the Socratic dialogues: the Republic, the Laws and the Statesman. The Republic suggests that no justice shall exist in the cities unless governed by philosopher-kings, common folk and noble lies purported for the pursuit of the common good. The Statesman explores the character of the philosopher and the observance of a participant known as the Elactic Stranger. The dialogue suggests that a wise man's judgment would be more beneficial than the rule of law, except for the fact that the unwise holds the wise man under judgment, thus reinforcing the rule of law. Both dialogues reveal the limitations behind political ideologies and sought to provide a solution to those existing constraints.


Aristotle, a born-native of Stageira in 367 BCE, moved to Athens to study philosophy with Isocrates before enrolling into Plato's Academy. Aristotle left Athens twenty years after completing his studies at Plato's Academy to study botany and zoology and before tutoring Alexander the Great. Aristotle returned to Athens a decade later to open his own school, the Lyceum. Twenty-nine of Aristotle's treatises have survived under a wide array of subjects, including physics, optics, metaphysics, rhetoric, poetry, botany, zoology, logic and ethics. Aristotle, widely known to disagree with his mentor Plato, criticizes the political regimes described in the Republic and the Laws by calling it a theory of forms with no real substance. Aristotle shows a tendency to lean toward the empirical and practicality, rather than the abstract and unachievable. Aristotle's fame did not surface during the Hellenistic period due to its clash with Stoic logic; however, his philosophy formed the basis of Jewish, Christian and Medieval philosophies.

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