Hellenistic (Hellenism) Philosophy History

Hellenistic (Hellenism) Philosophy History

Hellenistic philosophy , the end of the city state BC. In 323 BC, the last great empire of the Hellenistic Age was part of Rome. 30 is the name given to the philosophy of the period.

During this period, the four major schools of philosophy, respectively  Academy ,  Peripatetic school ,  Epicureans  and  Stoics ‘ t. From these four schools, Epicurus’s philosophy, with its hedonistic morality and the refusal of God’s intervention in the universe, has been the philosophy that predominates and dominates the period to a great extent. The belief in the right and proper activity of the mind as the highest human good with a purposeful universe understanding found its strongest expression in the Stoics. This purposeful view of the universe embodied in the views of the Stoics is in contradiction with Epicurus’s view of existence as a view inherited from Socrates in the final analysis.

Another school of philosophy that emerged in this period was skepticism, distinguished by the reaction to all philosophies, especially the Stoic philosophy, for being dogmatic. Finally, towards the end of the period,  Poseidonios ,  Panaetios  and Antiochus tried to combine the philosophy of Stoa with Plato and Aristotelian doctrines.

The second period of philosophy after the Hellenistic philosophy; politically, it consists of the philosophy of the period between 322 BC, when the city-state ended, and 30 BC, when the last great empire of the Hellenistic period was part of Rome, and the Roman philosophy, which lasted until the 5th century AD under the rule of Rome. . This period is also a period in which classical theories have undergone a major transformation due to the very basic social and political changes that have taken place.

The dominant philosophy in Hellenistic-Roman philosophy is, of course, Greek philosophy. This is because no separate school of philosophy was established in Rome, independent of Greek philosophy schools. Rather, there were philosophers of the Hellenistic philosophy schools such as  Marcus Aurelius ,  Epictetus ,  Cicero ,  Lukretius  and  Sextus Empiricus  . Therefore, it can be said that the most important feature of Hellenistic philosophy is the Hellenization of the Mediterranean and especially of the East. In a period of about seven centuries, Greek culture spread rapidly to the world surrounding the Mediterranean, and especially towards the recent periods, Alexandria became an important center of culture and philosophical culture.

During the Hellenistic-Roman philosophy in question, the four major schools of philosophy were Epicurianism, Stoicism, Septicism and Neo-Platonism , respectively.  emerged as the dominant philosophies of the era, and the first three of them were in serious competition among themselves. It can be said that the Epicurus School was distinguished as a philosophy that dominated the period and left its mark to a great extent on the period. The belief in the right and proper activity of the mind as the highest human good with a purposeful understanding of the universe found its strongest expression in the Stoics. This purposeful universe view embodied in the views of the Stoics is in stark contrast to Epicurus’s view of mechanistic existence as a view inherited from Socrates in the final analysis. Another school of philosophy that emerged during this period was distinguished by the reaction to all philosophies, especially the Stoic philosophy, on the grounds that they were dogmatic, Septicism. Finally, towards the end of the Roman era, starting from Plato philosophy While Plotinos represented a philosophy approaching to religion, it influenced the formation of the philosophical framework necessary for Christianity and Islam.

The most important characteristic of Hellenistic philosophy is that it organizes its subjects in the form of logic, physics and ethics. In other words, Skepticism, which defies philosophical knowledge or knowledge of reality, and the later neo-Platonicism, let alone a Hellenistic school of philosophy or a doctrinal philosophy, (i) a methodology of discovery, including a certain criterion of truth, (ii) an understanding of the origin of the world, its components, structure and order, and (iii) an explanation of what happiness is and how to achieve it. In other words, it can be said that ethics is more prominent in the Hellenistic period.

Indeed, logic,  with a legacy inherited from Aristotle , including the theory of knowledge, is seen as an indispensable means of philosophy and the method of access to the right information. As a result of this understanding, the Stoics in particular have made very important contributions to the field of logic. But physics remained relatively in the background, but rather fulfilled its function as a foundation and preparation for ethics. Therefore, philosophers in this period, instead of developing new theories in the field of physics or existence, adopted exactly the views of pre-Socrates philosophers of nature. According to this, Stoics  adopted Heraclitus ‘understanding of existence and Epicurus adopted  Democritus ‘ atomistic view without making any major changes.

As can be understood from this, the study area or discipline that came to the forefront in Hellenistic philosophy has been ethical. The reason for this is the collapse of the city-state in which the individual has achieved his purpose, leads a good life, and feels himself at home in every respect, the expansion of the borders of the known world and the inevitable alienation of individuals from the world, society and themselves with the empire that replaces the city-state. are staying. In other words, in the Hellenistic era, religion and politics seek the consolation of human beings in philosophy because the alienated person who believes that life cannot change anything can be replaced by an alien person who believes that life has collapsed and that the former has held its own destiny. Plato and in a much wider social order compared to the social order that Aristotle addresses and influences, the only thing that can be expected from philosophy is that it focuses its attention on the individual and fulfills the task that the individual expects from philosophy.

Prepared by:  Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source:  Ömer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Department of Sociology 1st Grade Giriş Introduction to Philosophy ”and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade Tarihi History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook, Tarihi History of Philosophy ”Ahmet Cevizci

Please also see:

–  definition of Epicürcülük

–  What are Akademia and Lykeum?

–  Stoans, what is Stoa School?

–  Who is Epicuros?

–  definition of Akademia

–  Who’s Philon?

–  Who’s Plotinos?

–  What is septicism, who are septic?

–  definition of Skepticism