Philosopher - History

Philosopher - History


Greece was famed for it philosophers, the most renowned being Socrates, Plato (Socrates' student, who established the Athenian school called The Academy), and Aristotle, who studied at The Academy.

Socrates developed the "Socratic method," a means of teaching that uses the question and answer method to lead a student to the correct answers.
It was Socrates' questioning of authority that led him to be condemned to death by an Athenian jury.

Plato's most famous work was The Republic. In it, Plate 'constructs' his ideal state. Plato is considered one of the greatest philosophers of western civilization and his works are studied to the present day.

Plato's student, Aristotle, wrote his treatise of government called ‘Politics’ In it, he divided governments into monarchies that could easily turn into tyrannies; aristocracies that could turn into oligarchies; and constitutional government that could become radical democracies.


Philip Goff is a philosopher and consciousness researcher at Durham University.

Because of this, philosopher s who argue against objective value, such as Bart Streumer from the University of Groningen, cannot consistently believe their own view.

Some philosopher s deny that there can be facts about values.

Immanuel Kant and Niccolò Machiavelli are, of course, renowned moral and political philosopher s who, in Kant’s case, emphasized the ethical strictures of duty and, in Machiavelli’s case, made a virtue of being conniving and clever.

In 1987 the philosopher Allan Bloom published his treatise on the parlous state of American society and the country’s misguided universities.

But few of us would recognize the name of Dietrich von Hildebrand, a German philosopher -turned-outspoken Nazi antagonist.

“He was specifically interested in finding a philoso­pher to lead the project,” Sanger recalled.

The Greek philosopher did ethics and tragedy, sure—but he also invented science as we know it.

To paraphrase the renegade philosopher Hannibal, I love it when science comes together.

I asked Honig whether he agrees with the most well-known philosopher on animal welfare, Peter Singer.

He was the friend of Descartes, and a philosopher distinguished for his eloquence and as an author.

Andrew Michael Ramsay, a Scottish historian and philosopher , died.

Let the young philosopher avoid such practice, and give a wide berth to those who follow them.

My dear, country life is making you a philosopher : and here comes our girl as ready for her dinner as I am.

Edward Holyoke, president of Harvard college, died an excellent mathematician and natural philosopher .


The word philosophy comes from the Greek philo (love) and sophia (wisdom) and so is literally defined as “the love of wisdom”. More broadly understood, it is the study of the most basic and profound matters of human existence. Philosophical schools frequently develop in response to some perceived failure of religion to provide answers to fundamental questions.

The topic of exactly when and where philosophy first began to develop is still debated, but the simplest answer is that it would have begun – at any place in the distant past – the first time someone asked why they were born, what their purpose was, and how they were supposed to understand their lives. The term philosophy may apply to a formalized secular or religious system of thought, a personal construct, or a communal understanding of proper attitude and conduct, but in each case, the purpose of the system is to answer such questions.


Philosophical systems are thought to have developed first in the East, and a working outline proceeds from Mesopotamia to Rome and on to the present:

    by c. 4000 BCE: depictions of gods and the afterlife appear on tomb walls
  • Mesopotamia by c. 2150 BCE: written form of the philosophical narrative of The Epic of Gilgamesh c. 1500 - c. 500 BCE: the Vedic Period by c. 1500 BCE: development of Zoroastrianism c. 1046-256 BCE: the Zhou Dynasty c. 585-322 BCE: Time of Thales of Miletus to the death of Aristotle of Stagira
  • Rome c. 155 BCE onwards: Beginning with the arrival of Stoicism in Rome.

Philosophical systems would continue in Europe during the Middle Ages (c. 476-1500 CE), primarily focused on Christian teachings, and would develop further during the Renaissance in the West. In the East, Islamic scholars after the 7th century CE as well as those of other faiths continued to develop their own systems. Philosophical schools have continued on this same trajectory up through the modern day as people continue to ask the same fundamental questions as their ancient ancestors and work to develop systems of thought to answer them.


Historical Overview

A philosophical system may develop independently but usually is a response to religion when religion fails to fully answer a people's questions or address their needs, the people turn to philosophy. People's existential questions traditionally have been answered by the development of religious systems which assured them of the existence of supernatural entities (gods, divine spirits, one's departed ancestors) who created them, cared for them, and watched over them. These belief structures, institutionalized as part of a culture, work to form a cohesive cultural understanding of one's place in the world and the philosophies which developed in response to that understanding either sought to explain it more clearly or replace it with a new paradigm.

Although it is impossible to determine, it seems probable that philosophy was already established in Egypt by c. 4000 BCE, the date depictions of gods and the afterlife of the Field of Reeds first begin appearing on tomb walls. It developed in Mesopotamia at some point before the time The Epic of Gilgamesh was committed to writing between c. 2150-1400 BCE. In India, philosophy develops during the Vedic Period between c. 1500 - c. 500 BCE with the Upanishads. At about the same time, Zoroaster (c. 1500-1000 BCE) was developing his philosophic vision in ancient Persia while, in China, philosophy is first committed to writing during the time of the Zhou Dynasty (1046-256 BCE) and later developed during the Spring and Autumn Period (c. 772-476 BCE) and the Warring States Period (c. 481-221 BCE) in the time associated with the Hundred Schools of Thought.

Sign up for our free weekly email newsletter!

Philosophy in the West begins in the Ionian Greek colonies of Asia Minor with Thales of Miletus (l. c. 585 BCE) who inspired the later writers known as the Pre-Socratic philosophers whose ideas would then inform and influence the iconic works of Plato (l. 428/427-348/347 BCE) and his student Aristotle of Stagira (l. 384-322 BCE) which form the foundation of Western philosophical thought. Roman philosophy developed from the Greek after the arrival in the city of Diogenes of Babylon (l. c. 230 - c. 140 BCE) in 155 BCE, a stoic philosopher from the Athenian school founded by Zeno of Citium (l. c. 336-265 BCE) whose system was inspired by Socrates. Stoicism would afterwards become the most popular philosophical system in Rome and inform aspects of Christian philosophical systems which came later.

Philosophy in Egypt & Mesopotamia

The earliest philosophical system seems to have developed in Egypt as a response to the religious vision of a paradise after death known as the Field of Reeds, a mirror image of one's life on earth, where the souls of the justified dead would live eternally. The question which seems to have inspired Egyptian philosophy is how one should live in order to ensure a place in this paradise. Evidence of the development of an answer to this question comes from tomb paintings c. 4000 BCE instructing people on where they came from, why they existed, and how to live well and attain paradise.


Egyptian philosophy developed the concept of ma'at (harmony and balance) as the central value by which one could live the best life and be assured of paradise but then addressed itself to the aspects of the soul, the concept of immortality, the possibility of reincarnation, and the nature of the divine.

In Mesopotamia, the people understood themselves as co-workers with the gods. As in Egypt, the gods had created humanity and humans owed them a debt of gratitude which was paid through worship and proper behavior. In keeping with other ancient religious systems, the Mesopotamians understood their gods as operating on a quid pro quo (“this for that”) basis, which worked well as long as the individual felt the agreement was being honored, but when it seemed to fail, one naturally questioned its validity, and this sort of existential crisis inspires philosophical inquiry.

This situation is illustrated in The Epic of Gilgamesh in which Gilgamesh, King of Uruk, loses his best friend, Enkidu and embarks on a quest to find an escape from inevitable death. His story has been interpreted as a parable of philosophical development in that there is no evidence that Gilgamesh questions his relationship with the gods until the death of Enkidu which requires answers his religious beliefs cannot provide.


Indian Philosophy

In India, philosophy developed in response to the Vedas, the scriptures of Hinduism (known as Sanatan Dharma, “Eternal Order”, to adherents), in the form of the Upanishads (the earliest written c. 800-500 BCE). The Vedas were understood as the emanations of the Universe, the literal words of God, and the Upanishads were composed to clarify and explain aspects of this message.

Around 600 BCE, a social and religious reform movement in the region resulted in the development of other philosophical systems which rejected orthodox Hinduism. These included the materialist school of Charvaka (c. 600 BCE), the system of Jainism (formulated by Mahavira/Vardhamana, l. c. 599-527 BCE), and Buddhism (founded by Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, l. c. 563 - c. 483 BCE). Although Jainism and Buddhism would later take on religious dimensions, they were originally philosophical schools of thought, although it should be noted there was no distinction between “religious” and “philosophical” thought in Asia at that time nor is there in the present.

Persian Philosophy

Persian philosophy was almost certainly already developed before c. 1500 BCE as evidenced by the Avesta (Zoroastrian scriptures) which draws on concepts from the polytheistic Early Iranian Religion. Zoroaster conceived of a new religious paradigm of a single god, Ahura Mazda, creator and sustainer of the universe, whose supernatural adversary was Angra Mainyu (also known as Ahriman), the lord of darkness and chaos.


The question left unanswered by Zoroaster's construct, however, was the source of evil and suffering in the world since Ahriman was understood as a created being and Ahura Mazda, who had no evil in him, as the source of all creation. This problem encouraged the development of the philosophical school of Zorvanism, sometime in the late Achaemenid Empire (c. 550-330 BCE) which claimed Zorvan, god of Infinite Time, created both Ahura Mazda and Ahriman and these two brother-deities were locked in an eternal struggle which human beings had no choice but to take sides in. One's purpose in life was the exercise of free will in deciding to devote one's self to the cause of good or evil.

Chinese Philosophy

The Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period in China were times of chaos as the Zhou Dynasty was declining, and Chinese philosophy was developed in response to this disorder. The early texts of Confucianism are thought to have been composed during the Zhou Dynasty and later developed by the sage Confucius (l. 551-479 BCE). Confucianism was only one belief structure of many which developed during this time referred to as the Hundred Schools of Thought and which included many others including Taoism (founded by Lao Tzu c. 500 BCE) and Legalism (founded by Han Feizi, l. c. 280-233 BCE).

These schools, and the many others, differed from each other significantly but were all an attempt to establish order in a time of chaos. The traditional understanding of Tian (heaven) as maintaining order through a mandate which legitimized a monarch's rule could no longer be sustained as the monarchs of different states fought each other for supremacy. Chinese philosophy, then, was initially a response to social disorder as well as the failure of religious belief to explain the world and reassure people of a divine plan.

Greek Philosophy

Greek philosophy began in the 6th century BCE with Thales of Miletus who initiated it with the question “What is the basic 'stuff' of the universe?” (Ancient Philosophy, 8). Thales' inquiry seems an anomaly because of the religious beliefs of his time which seem to have been meeting the needs of the people. Ancient Greek religion held that the gods had created the world and human beings and, as with other world religions of the time, questioning this basic premise was not appreciated nor encouraged. Thales seems to have avoided problems with the religious authorities by never denying the existence of gods, but this does not explain his initial impulse. Scholars suggest that, since he studied at Babylon, he most likely drew on Mesopotamian and Egyptian philosophies in formulating his own.

Thales established the Milesian School, considered the first philosophical school in the West, and was followed by Anaximander (l. c. 610 - c. 546 BCE) and Anaximenes (l. c. 546 BCE) who rejected Thales' claim that the First Cause was water and suggested their own. Philosophical thought then developed through the efforts of the other Pre-Socratic philosophers, finally culminating in the works of Plato and then of Aristotle. Later thinkers, notably Plotinus (l. c. 202-274 CE), would develop these concepts further in establishing the foundation of Western Philosophy.

Branches of Philosophy

The areas of interest of modern-day philosophy apply equally to the East and West but the names by which they are known were developed by the Greeks. Although various schools may break some into sub-sections, the branches of study are:

Metaphysics – The Study of Existence, so named for Aristotle's work on the subject. Far from being a definitive term in Aristotle's day to denote the study of philosophy or religion, the term 'metaphysics' was given to Aristotle's book on the subject by his editor who placed it after his work 'Physics'. In Greek, meta simply means 'after', and the title was originally only meant to clarify that the one piece came after the first. However that may be, the term has since been applied to the study of first causes, underlying form of existence, and definitions concerning the meaning of time and even the meaning of “meaning”.

Epistemology – The Study of Knowledge (from the Greek episteme, knowledge, and logos, word). Epistemology asks how one knows what one knows, what exactly is 'knowledge', how can it be defined, and how can one know that the meaning one defines a word by will be the meaning another person will understand. Epistemological questions do not seem to have concerned the ancients until the subject is addressed by the Pre-Socratic philosophers of Greece and Plato after them.

Ethics – The Study of Behavior/Action (from the Greek ta ethika, on character), a term popularized by Aristotle in his Nichomachean Ethics, which he wrote for his son, Nichomachus, as a guide to living well. Ethics is concerned with morality, how one should live and upon what basis to make decisions. Ethics was a central concern of all ancient philosophies from Mesopotamia onwards in trying to determine the best way for people to live, not only for their own self-interest but the interests of the wider community and, finally, in accordance with the will of the gods.

Politics – The Study of Governance (from the Greek polis, city, and politikos, meaning 'that which has to do with the city'). Far from simply being concerned with running a government, however, politikos also has to do with how to be a good citizen and neighbor and what one should contribute to one's community. This branch, like all the others, was first definitively examined and popularized in the works of Aristotle in the West but questions concerning how one should best live with one's neighbors and what is owed to the community go back thousands of years to Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Persian, and Indian texts.

Aesthetics – The Study of Art (from the Greek aisthetikos, sense/sentience, or aisthanomai, to perceive or feel). Aesthetics concerns itself with the study of beauty, perception of beauty, culture, and even nature, asking the fundamental question, “What makes something that is beautiful or meaningful 'beautiful' or 'meaningful'?” Both Plato and Aristotle give answers to this question attempting to standardize objectively what is 'beautiful' while the famous Greek Sophist Protagoras (l. c. 485-415 BCE) argued that if one believes something to be 'beautiful' then it is beautiful and that all judgments are and must be subjective because any experience is relative to the one experiencing it.

These branches were not defined in this way until the time of the Greeks, but the questions they ask and seek to address were voiced by peoples throughout the Near East, South Asia, and all over the ancient world.


Plato attributed the vision of his philosophy to his teacher, Socrates, who wrote nothing himself. Almost all of what is known of Socrates' life and teaching comes from Plato and another of Socrates' students, Xenophon (l. 430 - c. 354 BCE). Whether Plato's work accurately reflects Socrates' teachings is unknown and will never be known, but scholars generally believe that it does, more or less, and that Socrates is the foundational figure of Western Philosophy. Following his martyrdom in 399 BCE, his followers established their own schools, and the works of Plato and Xenophon were copied and spread throughout the Mediterranean. One copy of Xenophon's Memorabilia was acquired by Zeno of Citium who would go on to establish the Stoic School in Athens based on Socrates' vision.

Stoicism would travel to Rome via the philosopher Diogenes of Babylon and would influence the thought of Epictetus (l. c. 50 - c. 130 CE), the most famous Stoic philosopher, whose works would establish Stoicism as the most popular philosophy of ancient Rome, even to the point of informing the reign of Marcus Aurelius (161-180 CE). Stoicism's claim that there was a natural force (the logos) which was the First Cause and which maintained the universe would contribute to the philosophical concepts of Saint Paul the Apostle (l. c. 5-64 CE) in formulating his vision of Christianity which informs the epistles and gospels of the Christian New Testament.

Philosophy continued to develop, hand in hand, with religion through the Middle Ages and on into the present day. Medieval philosophy sought to explain the world, in the West, according to the Jewish and Christian belief systems and, in the East, in accordance with the Hindu, Buddhist, and Islamic visions. In the present day, philosophical schools and movements continue to develop in response to religious beliefs, accepted knowledge, or traditional understanding in any area when these authorities fail to fully address the higher needs of the people.

9 Epicurus

Epicurus has gotten a bit of an unfair reputation over the centuries as a teacher of self-indulgence and excess delight. He was soundly criticized by many Christian polemicists (those who make war against all thought but Christian thought). This occurred especially during the Middle Ages because he was thought to be an atheist, whose principles for a happy life were passed down through his famous set of statements: &ldquoDon&rsquot fear god don&rsquot worry about death what is good is easy to get what is terrible is easy to endure.&rdquo

He advocated the principle of refusing belief in anything that was not tangible, including any god. Such intangible things he considered preconceived notions, which could be manipulated. You may think of Epicureanism as &ldquono matter what happens, enjoy life because you only get one and it doesn&rsquot last long.&rdquo Epicurus&rsquos idea of living happily centered on the just treatment of others, avoidance of pain, and living in such a way as to please oneself, but not to overindulge in anything.

He also advocated a version of the Golden Rule, &ldquoIt is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly (agreeing &lsquoneither to harm nor be harmed&rsquo), and it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life. &ldquoWisely,&rdquo at least for Epicurus, would be avoidance of pain, danger, disease, etc. &ldquowell&rdquo would be proper diet and exercise and &ldquojustly,&rdquo in the Golden Rule&rsquos sense of not harming others because you do not want to be harmed. [2]


Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Diogenes, (born, Sinope, Paphlygonia—died c. 320 bce , probably at Corinth, Greece), archetype of the Cynics, a Greek philosophical sect that stressed stoic self-sufficiency and the rejection of luxury. He is credited by some with originating the Cynic way of life, but he himself acknowledges an indebtedness to Antisthenes, by whose numerous writings he was probably influenced. It was by personal example rather than any coherent system of thought that Diogenes conveyed the Cynic philosophy. His followers positioned themselves as watchdogs of morality.

Diogenes is the subject of numerous apocryphal stories, one of which depicts his behaviour upon being sold into slavery. He declared that his trade was that of governing men and was appointed tutor to his master’s sons. Tradition ascribes to him the famous search for an honest man conducted in broad daylight with a lighted lantern. Almost certainly forced into exile from Sinope with his father, he had probably already adopted his life of asceticism (Greek askesis, “training”) when he reached Athens. Referred to by Aristotle as a familiar figure there, Diogenes began practicing extreme anti-conventionalism. He made it his mission to “deface the currency,” perhaps meaning “to put false coin out of circulation.” That is, he sought to expose the falsity of most conventional standards and beliefs and to call men back to a simple, natural life.

For Diogenes the simple life meant not only disregard of luxury but also disregard of laws and customs of organized, and therefore “conventional,” communities. The family was viewed as an unnatural institution to be replaced by a natural state in which men and women would be promiscuous and children would be the common concern of all. Though Diogenes himself lived in poverty, slept in public buildings, and begged his food, he did not insist that all men should live in the same way but merely intended to show that happiness and independence were possible even under reduced circumstances.

The program for life advocated by Diogenes began with self-sufficiency, or the ability to possess within oneself all that one needs for happiness. A second principle, “shamelessness,” signified the necessary disregard for those conventions holding that actions harmless in themselves may not be performed in every situation. To these Diogenes added “outspokenness,” an uncompromising zeal for exposing vice and conceit and stirring men to reform. Finally, moral excellence is to be obtained by methodical training, or asceticism.

Among Diogenes’ lost writings are dialogues, plays, and the Republic, which described an anarchist utopia in which men lived “natural” lives.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn, Managing Editor, Reference Content.

The Organon

“The Organon” (Latin for “instrument”) is a series of Aristotle’s works on logic (what he himself would call analytics) put together around 40 B.C. by Andronicus of Rhodes and his followers. The set of six books includes �tegories,” “On Interpretation,” “Prior Analytics,” “Posterior Analytics,” “Topics,” and “On Sophistical Refutations.” The Organon contains Aristotle’s worth on syllogisms (from the Greek syllogismos, or 𠇌onclusions”), a form of reasoning in which a conclusion is drawn from two assumed premises. For example, all men are mortal, all Greeks are men, therefore all Greeks are mortal.

5 Peregrinus Proteus

Thousands of years before Johnny Rotten, Peregrinus Proteus understood how to work a crowd with a theatricality that makes punk rock look decidedly pedestrian. Proteus began his adult life by possibly murdering his father, then joined a community of early Christians, before becoming an itinerant philosopher. While wandering, Proteus likened himself to Hercules and wore lion&rsquos furs&mdashgathering a devoted following in the process. Yet he might have faded from history if not for his climactic finale.

At the Olympic Games in A.D. 168, Proteus publicly announced that he would throw himself onto a funeral pyre to mark the end of the games. As he said: &ldquoWhat other end had Heracles?&rdquo

Lucian of Samosata, who witnessed the whole event, reported that Proteus approached the pyre dressed as Hercules and hurled himself into the flames, shouting: &ldquoGods of my mother, Gods of my father, receive me with favor!&rdquo Now that&rsquos a closing ceremony.

History of Philosophy

Philosophy has been around since the dawn of western civilization. The golden age of Greek philosophy took place in Athens in the 5th century BC. The works of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle informed thousands of years of thought, becoming central to thought in the Roman world, the Middle Ages, and then resurfacing in the renaissance and later.

Starting at the height of the Roman republic, Christian thought was central to philosophy at least until the enlightenment. In the 18th century, questions of how we come to know what we believe we know (epistemology), and new ethical schools began to form. By the late 1800’s, questions of language, logic, and meaning took center stage, and the 20th century played host to one of the largest bursts of philosophical work ever seen. Today philosophical thought is applied to almost every component of life, from science to warfare, politics to artificial intelligence.

Want to learn about Eastern Philosophy? You may also enjoy: A History of Eastern Philosophy

Hegel's concept of 'zeitgeist'

However, it is generally agreed that Hegel was the first philosopher to recognize and address the dimension of change, which he termed "becoming" ("Werden"), in all its fullness. He believed everything in the world was in constant motion: every individual life, nature, history, society. This results in each epoch having its own particular zeitgeist, or general spirit. One historic epoch is not randomly followed by another instead, there is a principle of logical evolution.

As a metaphor for this, Hegel used the growth cycle of a plant, whose stages occur according to an inner principle. Hegel saw history as following a predetermined logic that repeatedly led to contradictions and revolutions. He was convinced it was dialectic processes of change that consistently brought humanity, and thus history, one step further.



The cultural father of the Jewish people (and ultimately Christian and Muslim). His writings stand as the basis for Jewish culture, history and spirituality - comprised as the Torah.

Thales of Miletus

Studied the earth and it's processes. He asked: "What is the basic substance of the cosmos?" He reasoned: "It must be a few things: essential to life, capable of motion, and capable of change." He thus concluded water was the basic element.

Siddhārtha Gautama

Also known as the Buddha, Siddhārtha offered enlightenment by freeing oneself from the desire which will ultimately leads to suffering. The Buddha also uniquely challenged authority in demanding the fallibility of scriptures. Truth was determined by experience and praise from the wise - which was a step away from mythology.


Heraclitus trusted his senses and used reason to explain why things change when they come from a common root. He determined that "everything flows" or is in a constant state of change.


Parmenides realized that his reason can come in conflict with his senses. He was the earliest to choose his reason over the senses. Thus he determines that they world is not in change - our sense are deceiving.


Empedocles solves the dilemma created by Heraclitus and Parmenides: The world is made of something, yet the world changes. How can something randomly change? Empedocles determines that there must be more than one (four) root elements.


Socrates takes speculative reasoning to new levels. He determines that he is the wisest man because he knows what everyone else does not, that we (he) know(s) nothing. At the core of his contribution is his belief that all people have common ability to apply reason to discover truth. Thus, he spent his life asking questions and allowing this common reasoning to discover truths through conversation. Socrates ultimately dies for his ideas which were deemed dangerous by the politicians of Athens. His legacy lived on through his students, including Plato and the early Cynics and Stoics.


Democritus takes Empedocles one step further. He determines that the universe is made up of small, indivisible building blocks - like legos. These building blocks come together to create material things. This is the early birth of the "atom" (Greek for "uncuttable").


Plato was the greatest philosopher-student of Socrates. His impact was vast and was one of the main authors of Socrates' ideas. He started the greatest school of philosophy in Athens, the Academy. In addition to his scholastic contributions, he answered the question of what is temporal and what is eternal. To Plato, all material is finite and thus "flows" or changes (i.e. dies, decomposes, etc). What we sense then "flows". He determined that material things must come from "something" that reminds material to compose in one way and not another (e.g. a horse and not a crocodile). This "something" must be eternal and Plato called it the form. Thus, a pine cone is finite/temporary while the concept of the circle that it mimics is eternal. We sense such concepts with our reason, making reason eternal. The eternal was more important to Plato than the things that "flow" or change. Reason is how we access the eternal. Thus, reason is more important sense perception - this belief is the core of "rationalism". Plato's legacy was continued by the advancements of his student, Aristotle.

Diogenes of Sinope

Diogenes is probably the most apparent example of Cynic philosophy. Stories recall that Diogenes lived in a ceramic bin on the side of the road with very few material possessions. Cynics held that happiness is not found in power, materials or wealth. This stance caused cynics to become calloused to the pains and pleasures of life. It was Diogenes who was offered anything he desired from Alexander the Great, he replied with the request the Alexander steps to the right so the sun would shine on him.


Alexander the Great

The Macedonian king and student of Aristotle known for expanding the Greek kingdom to it's greatest reach. His death signals the beginning of Hellenism.


Father of the Epicureans (or hedonists) and focused on how to achieve true happiness. Epicurus agreed with Democritus that we are made of atoms that will be returned to the earth when we die. Thus, he decide that living for pleasure was the meaning of life. This is concisely summed in the statement, "The gods aren’t to be feared. Death is nothing to worry about. Good is easy to attain. The fearful is easy to endure."

Zeno of Citium

Jesus of Nazareth

Jewish teacher who claimed deity. Transformed the Jewish belief in a king that would restore the Jewish state into a distinctly spiritual message. Political restoration or salvation was exchanged for a spiritual restoration. The teaching of Jesus would be combined with a set of Greek philosophers to develop Christian theology in the Medieval years and beyond.

Watch the video: The Story of Western Philosophy