Ancient Greek Philosophy: Impact on The Modern World There’s no doubt that ancient philosophy has provided many, if not all of the modern moral values. Socrates was a Greek philosopher who lived in Athens from 469 to 399 B.
C. He was well known for his philosophical ideas; many of which he passed down to his pupils: Plato and Aristotle. They then formulated their own doctrines and principles, that were then spread throughout history in the western world. These ideas consisted mainly of religious, political, and intellectual ideas. Eventually, the three Philosophers’ ideas and beliefs survived until the modern day, where many of them thrive in society and impact people’s everyday lives.
Socrates and his followers were the most important group of philosophers in the western world because their writings provided the basis for political, religious, and intellectual order in the modern world. Plato’s writing, the Republic, contains many of Socrates’ political ideas that are still used in the modern world. In the second book, Socrates argues that people enter the political world only because they have the natural abilities to do so.
Also, he says that someone (in politics in the western world) who is really good at one thing should focus on that to help the citizens. In the Republic, Socrates, is written to be creating a city, called the Kallipolis, that represented a perfect world. In it, he describes that the city should only be governed by people who are superior: older, wise, strong, and willing to do only beneficial deeds for the city. This corresponds to the United States, as our President must be over 35 years old, and is generally seen as wise and sensible. Socrates argued against Adeimantus, saying that rulers should not be comfortable, but should focus on making the population as happy as possible, even if it means going out of their comfort zone. This is parallel to many modern leaders, as they usually don’t have much leisure time (president, etc). Lastly, Socrates emphasized the importance of the rulers’ education, even though others disagreed (find quote of a person who disagreed). This is just like our modern world, where the demand for highly-educated officials in growing.
To conclude, many of Socrates’ political beliefs from Plato’s Republic have influenced modern politics. Along with Socrates’ political arguments in his “perfect” city, the Kallipolis, Plato explains his definition of justice through writing about Socrates. Unlike the unjust government that was present back then, Plato makes the claim (through writing about Socrates’ claim) that the perfect justice system is courageous, wise, moderate, and just. This laid the foundation for the modern judicial branch, where there is a huge emphasis on having a fair trial if accused (cite the a Constitution). Similar to America’s employment system (where people are persuaded to do one job, and only focus on that one job), Socrates’ definition of justice is of each level of officials doing their jobs efficiently, which keeps the whole system of society working smoothly and fairly. To conclude, Plato and Socrates define justice in the Republic, relating to the modern world.
Socrates and Plato created the basis for religious order in the modern world. Christianity was first developing during the time of the strong tradition of Platonism. During this time period, Plato believed that life was split up into two different realms: the material realm and the inner realm.
His idea of the material realm consisted of the human body and materials, while the inner realm represented one’s indestructible soul^5. This idea was absorbed by many of the first followers of Christianity, which is why Christianity is so similar to the previous Platonic thought. The two belief systems were so similar, that Christians commonly believed that Plato, Socrates, and the other Greek philosophers had made it their mission to “prepare the theoretical foundations for some important aspects of Christianity”^6. Socrates denied the Athenian’s polytheistic beliefs. Although it was one of the main factors in the decision of his execution, Socrates stayed confident on his idea of the existence of a single, divine being, which he named “daimon”. This belief set the basis for modern Christianity, as both God and daimon were monotheistic and internal (soulistic? Maybe) beliefs. The belief of daimon was spread to Socrates’ followers, who then spread it around the area, greatly influencing Christianity.
Daimon was believed to be an inner force of instruction^7, just like God in Christianity, as it’s written in the Bible that “…The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing the division of soul and of spirit…and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart”^8.
This describes the instruction that God has on people in Christianity. In Plato’s Apology, Socrates states that he thinks that it’s reasonable to believe in an afterlife, where the wicked souls are punished and the righteous souls are rewarded^9. Without a doubt, this idea created the basis for the Christian beliefs of Heaven and Hell. To conclude, Socrates and Plato laid the foundation for contemporary Christianity in the modern world The Socratic Method, named the “elenchus” by scholars, was the first way of questioning the knowledge of people, while also being one of the greatest influences on modern education.
Although he never called in a “Method”, the Socratic method was named after Socrates and his ongoing mission to find the truth about wisdom. His goal was to find out if people really knew what they said they knew, using questions to do so (find examples of questions he asked). The Socratic method was a philosophy of questioning ideas that weren’t usually questioned, such as common sense, life, and religious beliefs. This process of leaving one’s comfort zone and questioning ideas is still apparent in modern education.
For example, many schools (cite school examples) have discussions in the form of “Socratic seminars”. In the seminars, students are required to questions each other’s opinions and knowledge. Another example of people using the Socratic method is in writing.
Throughout one’s educational career, they will learn to write great thesis statements that argue a position on a certain topic. The beginning of a thesis statement consists of asking an open ended, how/why question (add question examples), similar to ones that Socrates and his followers would ask. Then, an answer to the question is formulated. This way of finding answers to questions is evident in the “elenchus” and our everyday lives.
Without Socrates’ process, no one would know how to ask questions, halting people’s (including students in schools) growth of understanding for ideas. Not only is it an examination, but it’s a process that reveals the true credibility in one’s opinions, allowing for one’s human nature (add in how the Socratic method was the basis for this human nature) of searching for answers to flourish. The Socratic method made it easier for other philosophers to spark debate (find examples of these philosophers), which created a chain reaction, as those philosophers all, without directly teaching them, passed on the method to their descendants, who then passed it to their descendants, eventually leading to society’s nature of doubting and questioning everything.
To conclude, Socrates’ “elenchus” was one of the greatest intellectual influences on the western and modern world. Although he commonly disagreed with Plato, Aristotle’s literary works provided many moral and logical philosophies that are still used in our society today. For example, Aristotle’s book, Nicomachean Ethics, includes his understanding of happiness and what it takes to be happy. He developed his own principle, called “the golden mean”, which describes the mean (midpoint) between two extremes of personalities, such as obnoxiousness and shyness. He believed that a balanced personality leads to true happiness.^1 This is evident in our modern world, as a balanced life and personality is highly encouraged because, as commonly believed, it leads to happiness. Also, Aristotle’s book, the Poetics, which is still studied in drama schools today, consists of writings of drama and literature that laid the foundation for modern visual arts. For example, he came up with the modern format of plot, where there’s “a beginning, a middle, and an end”^2.
Aristotle also created the basis for logic in science, as he was one of the first to search for information using a logical process that was similar to the current scientific method. He used this process to produce literary works on topics such as astronomy, animal behavior, and dreams.^3 These literary works influenced the development of these categories of science by causing others to become interested in the subjects.
Aristotle laid the foundation for many parts of the modern intellect.Along with his political doctrines, many of Plato’s ideas are still used in our world today. Similar to Aristotle, Plato regarded the study of physics quite highly. As he pursued physics, he realize the importance of mathematics in the material world, saying that math mathematics are in the relationships of everything.
Also, Plato believed that everything in life can be expressed as a mathematical equation^4. This is parallel to modern education, where math is regarded as one of the most, if not the most, important subjects in school. Math is known for its notable presence in life, especially in professions such as engineering and mechanics.
In the 4th century, Plato taught the importance of math in his school, the Academy, developing into the common thought/opinion of math in the modern world^5. Plato heavily believed in the importance of mathematics in the world, laying the foundation for modern mathematical thought. If Socrates and his followers were not present in Ancient Greece, the modern world would lack proper political, religious, and intellectual order, illustrating the importance of Socrates and his followers. If Socrates and his followers never existed, it’s reasonable to believe that the modern society would be hundreds, or even thousands of years behind what it is now.
Through Plato’s book, the Republic, Socrates shares his political principles, which are very similar to the modern world. Also, Plato defined his perfect system of “justice”, saying that fairness is key, parallel to the modern judicial branch. Socrates provided the basis for many of contemporary intellectual ideas, including his Socratic method, which provided the system of logic and skepticism that we have today.
Although he is the grand-pupil of Socrates, Aristotle indoctrinated our society with just as many ideas from many of his writings, including Nicomachean Ethics and Poetics. Also, Socrates and Plato set the foundation for modern religious structure. Their ideas were so influential to Christianity, that Christians believed that they purposely created ideas for a Christianity. There’s no doubt that the modern world’s ethics were mainly influenced by Ancient Greek philosophy..