The Birth of Greek PhilosophyJune 26, 2021
500-600 years ago, the Iranian state tried to spread its influence by dominating Europe as well.
These attempts met with resistance from the Greeks, a small freedom-loving nation. The Greeks succeeded in destroying the very powerful navy of the Persians and pouring their army into the sea. Thus, the Greeks appeared on the scene as a new nation in the history of our cultural circle.
The Greek defeat of Persia remained the only image to document their national unity. Because, unlike Babylonians, Egyptians and Iranians, this nation with a special character has always led a dispersed life. The Greeks have never been able to establish a systematic and holistic state in any period of their history. They constantly clashed with one another and wore themselves out with civil wars.
It is noteworthy that the word “polis” in Greek means both the city and the state. In Greece, each city was an independent state. The conflicts were not only between these independent city-states, but also between classes and individuals within the same city. The ancient Greeks were people who literally lived in a you-me conflict. One of the important reasons why they could not establish an organized and systematic state stems from this personality structure.
These features, which have great political drawbacks, have also prepared positive results in a way. Namely, the formation of the priests class in the Greeks should be considered as a result of these character structures. In time, the class of priests was replaced by the community of thinkers in Greece.
The Greek religion was created by poets, not priests. We can say that the father of this religion is Homer. Opinion criticisms were started against this art-like religion, even at the foundation of religion.
Ancient Greeks consisted of three great tribes: Eolians formed by village origins, Dorians formed by those living in the south and with military origins (Ispartans are from this tribe), and Ionians formed by merchants and sailors.
Like all sailors and merchants, the Ionians were curious and inquisitive. As Aristotle said, science is based on the spirit of curiosity and research, and the amazement at something new. The creators of true philosophy are the Greeks. However, it would be more accurate to say that philosophy was created by the Ionian Greeks.
Ionians established colonies in various places and especially on the Anatolian coasts. The high-level products of Greek culture were first created by these Ionian colonies around 600 BC. This development did not last long, half a century after their establishment, the colonies were occupied by the Iranians. After that, the attacks of the Iranians on the European side of Greece begin.
As it is known, this attack was inconclusive with the unification of the Greeks. The Iranian wars, which ended in victory, led to the rise of Greece both in terms of politics and culture.
For example, BC. We witness two great thinkers living in Athens, such as Plato and Aristotle, between 400-300 BC. But Athens’ political supremacy did not last long. It caused the destruction of the distance between Athens and Isparta.
Alexander’s Asian expeditions had important cultural consequences. Cultural history has progressed thanks to these expeditions and a mutual dialogue has been established between Eastern and Western cultures. In the encounter of these two cultures, a movement under the name of “Hellenism” was formed.
The characteristic feature of Hellenism is, on the one hand, the spread of Greek culture and thought to the east, and on the other hand, the penetration of eastern religious ideas into the west. Hellenism was formed by the mixing and merging of currents from these opposite directions.
The biggest political event of the Hellenistic era was the establishment of the Roman Empire. Rome succeeded in establishing a strong state system in the west. Rome is the creator of “Roman Law”, which is very important for our cultural environment.
At the end of the growth of Rome, Greece, BC. In 146, it lost its political independence and became a Roman province. However, Greece preserved its cultural guidance, and the Romans could not get rid of being the students of the Greeks in terms of culture.
With regard to religious influences, the East has been both a guide and a dominion. As a matter of fact, in this Hellenistic period, great monotheistic religions were born with various religious influences from the East, first Christianity and then Islam.
Thus, we have determined the outlines of the history of the first period of our cultural circle. Greek philosophy also took its place within this historical framework and continued its formation by taking the name of Hellenistic philosophy later on.
From what sources do we learn about Greek philosophy and its history? We learn about Greek philosophy primarily from the numerous texts that have come down to us. For example, today we have almost all of Plato’s works and most of Aristotle’s works.
Much information has reached us from the philosophers before and after Plato. The synthesis of this information is almost done.
The Greeks, especially since Aristotle, have been interested in the history of philosophy. Greek historians of philosophy