Philosophy, as they say, is the study of life itself. It is the study that looks to answer the questions relating to our existence, our minds, knowledge, reasons and values. It is very different from other forms of reasoning as it involves a lot of critical thinking, analysis and is also highly systematic in its approach. Today philosophy has evolved into a discipline that is studied and taught at institutions of higher learning. The beginnings of philosophy can’t be traced to any particular place or person but there are many ancient philosophers who have given shape to what philosophy is today. Some names among those are very well known while others are not. However, their contributions have helped in better answering the questions about life in a simple way. Here are ten greatest philosophers of the ancient world.
10. Democritus: Democritus was an ancient Greek philosopher who lived between the years 460-370 BC. He laid a great emphasis on cheerfulness as an important aspect of life. Democritus is also known as one of the two founders of the atomist theory along with his teacher Leucippus and he worked to develop a system to study the world materialistically. Most of his arguments were all based on an approach to natural philosophy which was often the focus of his talks and writings.
9. Heraclitus: Heraclitus was an ancient Greek pre-Socratic philosopher who lived between 535-475 BC. He is most well known for his contribution to the thought that things are always changing. He also said that opposites attract and that fire was the base for all things in the world. Heraclitus was openly critical of Gods and said that the Universe itself was controlling everything that was happening in this world. One of his most famous sayings is, “No man steps in the same river twice”, which goes back to one of his most well known work, the flux that exists in the universe.
(img source: telasiado.suite101.com)
8. Laozi: Laozi also better known as Lao Tzu was one of the founding fathers of the philosophical aspects of the Chinese Taoism. He lived during the 6th century BC although some people also claim that he lived between 4th and 5th century BC. Most of his writings that have been passed on through years require a high amount of analysis and logic to truly understand. His works focus on the intermingling of mysticism, politics and philosophy. He is highly revered by followers of Taoism and is often placed on equal status as that of a God.
(img source: zeigua.com)
7. Thales: Thales was often regarded by even ancient philosophers as one of the fathers of Greek philosophy. He was a pre-Socratic philosopher, who lived between the years, 624-546BC. He has often been credited with being the pioneer of western philosophy. His major endeavor was to try and explain natural phenomena without the inclusion of myths. His works towards the explanation of life, change and the world were carried on by most of the ancient Greek philosophers who came after his time. He is also widely regarded by many scholars as the founding fathers of science and scientific reasoning.
(img source: iliofos.gr)
6. Pythagoras: Pythagoras is well known as a great mathematician and philosopher. He lived between 570-490 BC. His life was accompanied by much controversy as he immersed himself into religion, mysticism, science and mathematics. Although better known for his legendary contribution to mathematics, his philosophical works of Pythagoras are also considered as an influence on modern philosophy even today.
(img source: uyirmmai.com)
5. Epicurus: Epicurus (341-270 BC) had a very simple motive behind the pursuit of philosophy, to live a life free from fear, suffering and a life enriched with happiness and tranquility. His philosophical systems were designed to tend towards the completion of the explanation of life and the cosmos. He often said that fear of death was one of the main causes of human anxiety and it often led people to despair. Epicurus preached that death was an inescapable reality and that it was an end to the body with the soul as well. He also pondered upon subjects such as the dynamics of atoms through empty space in an infinite universe which he said were the basis for ongoing events in the world as we know it.
(img source: khodaiatanham.blogfa.com)
4. Confucius: Confucius is the most well known of all Chinese philosophers and lived between 551-479 BC. He is often put on a similar standing as Socrates by many Chinese thinkers and scholars. His work on the morality of governments and the making of an ideal human being is still considered as a great contribution to philosophical thinking. So much is his influence that an entire philosophical system has been built around the teachings of Confucius.
(img source: emersonkent.com)
3. Aristotle: Aristotle (384-322BC) was most well known as a student of Plato and the teacher of Alexander the Great. He is counted as one of the world’s greatest ancient philosophers and his writings are the base of the western philosophical doctrines even today along with Plato and Socrates. His contributions to fields like logic and mathematics are also well known even to this day. Aristotle also delved deep into metaphysics and his work is regarded highly even today in the study of this Avant-garde science.
(img source: triganome.wordpress.com)
2. Plato: One of the greatest students of the great ancient philosopher Socrates, Plato is one of the most enigmatic philosophers of all time. His works are even considered today by any educated reader. In ways more than one he laid the foundations for Western Philosophy and even science. So much has been his influence on philosophy that people and philosophers who follow his works are known as Platonists even today. He lived between 424-348 BC and was also an eminent mathematician of his time. Many of his concepts are still used in philosophy, mathematics, logic and ethics.
(img source: decodetransmission.blogspot.com)
1. Socrates: The most well known ancient Greek Philosopher of all time, Socrates (469-399 BC) was an enigma within himself in ways more than one. Known to be one of the greatest orators of his time, his influence stretches to even today’s age. He never wrote anything and most of his philosophical contributions come through his students. His legendary trial and death at the altar of the ancient Greek democratic system has changed the academic view of philosophy as a study of life itself.
(img source: atitudejb.com.br)