The Origin and Evolution of Philosophy: A Historical Overview

Classified in Philosophy and ethics

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  1. The Origin of Philosophy

Philosophy as a way of thinking is a human way of interacting with the world. It involves asking questions about the world around us in order to find meaning. This way of thinking, asking questions about the world, is deeply rooted in humans and has always existed.

However, its existence doesn't give rise to philosophy as a discipline. Philosophy as a discipline has a historical origin in the Greek colonies of Asia Minor during the 6th century B.C. One of these colonies was Miletus where Thales was born. Thales is considered to be one of the first philosophers. He used observation and reasoning to offer an explanation of the existence of natural things and phenomena. Thales' fundamental features:

  • It begins with the recognition of ignorance.
  • It's a theoretical type of knowledge that aims to transform reality.
  • It's universal: it aims to answer all questions.
  • It uses reason as an instrument of knowledge.
  • It's a type of knowledge that doesn't stop until it gets to the root of the problem.
  1. Rational Explanation

The birth of philosophy meant using reason as an instrument to reach true knowledge about reality. Only rational explanations were accepted because they addressed and clarified issues that were previously not understood.

  • Theoretical rationality is responsible for understanding how things are. Its objective is to find the truth about reality.
  • Practical rationality is responsible for studying how our behavior should be. Its objective is to guide our actions appropriately.
  1. Arche

Thales of Miletus formulated the first philosophical question related to nature when he was trying to find the original substance that makes up everything in the natural world. Ancient Greeks named that substance 'Arche'.



Main Characteristics

Important Philosophers

Pre-socratic philosophy

6th B.C to first half of 5th B.C.

Rational explanations of reality of nature.

Thales, Heraclitus, Paramenides and Democritus.

Classical philosophy

Second half 5 to 322 B.C

Philosophy shifted from natural world to human beings and life in society.

Sophists, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.

Hellenistic philosophy

322 B.C to the end of the 2 B.C

Divided into 2: moral philosophy and investigation of the natural world.

Epicurus, Zeno, Euclid and Archimedes.

Christian philosophy

2 B.C to 476 A.D

Attempts to create a synthesis between philosophy and Christianity.

Plotinus, Porphyry and Augustine of Hippo.

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