1. The word “philosophy” means in Greek “the love/pursuit of wisdom” – considering the first Greek philosophers (the Pre-Socratics), what propelled them to pursue a new kind of “wisdom”? What were they unsatisfied with?
The pre-Socratic philosophers were referred to as physiologoi, meaning physical or natural philosophers. They sought to provide natural and rational justifications for various occurrences. The “essence of things” propelled them to pursue new king of wisdom by posing questions such as; where does everything come from? Can nature be explained mathematically? From what does everything emanate? As such, their concerns were ontology, mathematics, and cosmology. They were unsatisfied with the mythological explanations to the occurrences that were being experienced during their time and sought to provide reasoned explanations to natural occurrences.
2. How are the concepts of Lack (Poverty) and Resourcefulness (Resource) pertinent to Philosophy (and Love, according to Plato)? What does the philosopher lack, what resources does he/she have that enables him/her to attain what is lacking?
The concept of love depicts the fullness of a concept and its consequent underlying potentialities. Plato’s view of love philosophy emanate from the constant search for knowledge, which is triggered by lack of knowledge and determination. His explanation of love as arising from poverty and resourcefulness is his perception of love for knowledge as a multifaceted force that is dreary yet fruitful. According to Plato, it is this deadly but fruitful search for knowledge that eventually provides one with transcendental and immortal wisdom. A philosopher lacks wisdom and the resources that they have are their motive and desire to gain wisdom. As such, the concept of love based on lack and resource is an essential element of learning.
3. What is the function of Eros (desire) in the pursuit of wisdom? What does it mean to be a motivated scholar?
Desire is a person’s need to know what is unknown to them. The function of Eros (desire) is to stimulate philosophers to embark on a tough journey of learning and pursuit of candid wisdom. A motivated scholar is one that embarks on the tedious learning process determined to move from the comfort and idleness of a life that is subjugated by allusions of knowledge to an anxious and enthusiastic life characterized by the search for genuine knowledge.
4. What was the Pre-Socratic philosophers’ main field of study? What concepts and ideas of theirs influenced the Classical philosophers?
The main field of study for the pre-Socratic philosophers was the universal principles. They tried to explain nature, from the perspectives of the origin of universe and the place of man in it. As such, these philosophers sought to explain occurrences based on the origin of such happenings. The pre-Socratic philosophical study was also regarded as natural philosophy.
Like the pre-Socratic philosophers, the classical philosophers were not content with the mythological explanations of phenomena. Although the classical philosophers rejected the perspective of pre-Socratic philosophers regarding explaining phenomena based on their origin, classical philosophers continued to place importance to the questions posed by pre-Socratic philosophers. For instance, the theory of form by Plato is significantly influenced by the mathematical inferences of Pythagoras and the Parmenides idea of one.
5. What are the main characteristics of the Classical philosophers? Summarize their concept of Virtue (what are the Four Cardinal Virtues that Christianity inherited from Classical philosophy?) and how Virtue pertains to the leading of a Good Life. To what use did the Classical philosophers put Logic and Scientific Reasoning?
The main characteristics of the classical philosophers are that they rejected the natural philosophy of their predecessors; they tried to overcome the inadequacies of the contemporary culture, and characterized God as an absolutely metaphysically ultimate being. They perceive God as the ultimate truth, and perceive God as having various attributes such as transcendence, simplicity, and incorporeal.
The concept of virtue in the classical philosophy is based on four virtues namely; justice, temperance, courage, and prudence. These virtues are traced from Plato's work where he replaces prudence with wisdom. Aristotle defines virtue as the point between lack and the excess of an attribute. Aristotle's logic of virtue is the distinction between extremities of vanity and self-depreciation. As such, according to Aristotle, one needs to strike a balance between being the two extremes in order to find happiness, and this does not necessarily require high intelligence. To the classical philosophers, learning virtue is not easy but constant practice makes virtue a habit.
Classical philosophers disregarded the approaches of syllogisms and embraced a new form of mathematical logic. According to the, mathematical logic led to valid reasoning and encourage normative study of reasoning. Logic was used as part of classical trivium that also incorporated rhetoric and grammar. It comprises of abductive, inductive, and deductive reasoning. As such, logic and scientific reasoning help in the study of natural surroundings and the nature of the world in which men live.
6. What did Socrates do in the agora? What were the conditions of his death? Why was he not afraid to die, and what did he consider to be Immortal?
Socrates always went to Agora, the market place and the civic center of Athens. He questioned market-goers about their understanding of the meaning of life. He attracted crowds of Athenian youths who found his conversations interesting. He held conversations with any person who was interested and always began conversations by posing questions such as “What is beauty?” “what is virtue?”, “what is justice?” He used such questions to invite responses from other people. When people presented their answers, Plato would dissect the answers and show that they were insufficient. After long conversations, everyone including Socrates would admit that they really did not know what for instance justice, virtue, or beauty is.
Socrates was accused of corrupting the youth and not believing in the Athenian gods. Socrates did not present a defense that would exonerate him from the accusations. He considered his defense as a right course of action rather than what would save him from being found guilty. He presented his conditions to the jury if they free him and tell him not to repeat the ‘offense’, he would rather face death because he would neither stop to obey God and nor stop practicing and teaching philosophy.
Socrates was not afraid to die because he believed that he had done the right thing and if he were to be put to death, he would be for a good course. He believed that he had been living a just life hence death could be better reward than life. He was of the opinion that people are immoral because they consider immorality to be in their personal interests. He believes that it is a mistake to think that an immoral person is unhappy because being virtuous means having a controlled personality. That is, a personality that enables one to make sensible decisions and to implement them with a free conscience and audaciously.
7. What was the format of Plato’s writings, what was he trying to recreate in his writings?
Plato’s writings were in the form of dialogue. He did not try to create a fictional world with a view of telling a story but rather his writings recreate philosophical debates in the real world. Most of his characters are people who readers can relate to because they were genuine historical figures. The writings also recreate the surroundings of where the discussions were held such as outside the city wall or in a rich man’s house as well as dialogues with different non-fictional characters.
8. What was the main subject of Plato’s Republic? What is a Utopia? What was the meaning of a “Philosopher King”?
The main subject in Plato’s Republic was justice. The purpose of the Republic was to determine the nature of justice and its structures. Plato sought to prove that justice was valuable and that people should engage in just activities even when an activity does not confer immediate benefits.
Utopia is a society or community that exhibits desirable and impeccable qualities. It is a situation where individual members of a community complement their qualities in order to maximize the welfare of the community. As such, it is a society that is ideal. Plato defined philosophers as wisdom lovers. A philosopher king is a leader who is well-trained and enlightened whose knowledge enables the leader to rule genuinely and justly.
9. In the Allegory of the Cave, what is represented metaphorically by: a) Vision, b) the Eye, c) Light, d) Shadows, e) Real Objects, f) the Sun, d) Darkness?
The vision represents inevitability. The eye represents access and ability to see of the good. The Light represents the truth. The shadows represent an illusion of what people attempt to interpret without proper understanding of the truth. Real objects represent the real world. The sun is used as a metaphor for intellectual illumination. Darkness represents ignorance and limited understanding.
10. What does the Hellenistic period in Greek history refer to? What main idea from the East influenced the Hellenistic philosophers?
Hellenistic period in Greek history refers to a period after the conquest of alexander the great and the invasion of the classical Greece lands by Rome. This period was characterized by extensive Hellenistic culture in most of these territories, especially in Asia because of the Greek political presence.
The thinking of the Hellenistic philosophers was influenced by the mythical cosmogonies. The philosophers’ contact with the oriental theology and cosmology helped in liberating their imagination. The main idea from the East that influenced the Hellenistic philosophers was the idea of the logos as ancillary to natural law. This idea led to the growth of the notions of conscience and natural mysticism. Accordingly, platonic ideas can be traced from the logos, a place of realm of forms.
11. What are the main characteristics of Cynical, Stoic and Epicurean philosophy? How did the Cynics and the Stoics get their names, and what do their names tell us about them? Why did Diogenes carry a lantern around Athens? What kind of lifestyles did these three schools of Hellenistic philosophy advocate?
There are various ways in which Cynical, Stoic, and Epicurean can be compared. Epicurean philosophy believes that the nature of soul is material. Stoic philosophy proceeds on the idea that the spiritual nature of soul. Stoicism believes that upon death the soul departs from the body and continues being conscious in a different realm. The Epicurean philosophy believes that the soul ends is when the consciousness sleeps, hence the death of the soul. The foregoing shows that the Epicurean, Stoic, and Cynical philosophy concentrates on the soul.
Stoic philosophy got its name from Zeno’s teaching of philosophy at the Stoa Poikile, the painted porch. Consequently, stoics got their name from Zeno’s teaching philosophy and the stoic logic. The name suggests that they accept what happens without complaining. Regarding Cynics, they got their name from advancing the Socratic lineage. The name suggests that they believe that humans are only motivated by selfishness.
Diogenes carried a lantern around Athens in search of an honest man. He wanted to demonstrate the insincerity of men and rejected all forms of social conventions. The stoic, cynic, and Epicurean philosophy advocated for a virtuous lifestyle.
12. What are the different periods of Greek sculpture? How does Greek sculpture develop over time, and how is its development parallel to that of Greek philosophy?
The different periods of Greek sculpture are Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic. The Greek Sculpture developed over time in that the archaic sculpture was done using stone. The sculptures were commissioned by the state, aristocratic individuals, or/and used in the public memorials. The classical sculpture depicted the end of aristocratic culture and the establishment of the democracy. There was increased in dramatic and technical skills and also the inception of statues. The Hellenistic sculpture saw the diversification of sculpture influenced by different cultures. The development of the Greek sculpture is parallel to the Greek philosophy in that it was influenced by the rational expressions of philosophers.