1987 / 2007
Hellenic Philosophy- History-Language.
The Continuum: Past- Present:
The Pillar to Europe`s Identity
Prof. Dr Socrates Kaplanis
Patra 29.08.2007
Institutional Coordinator
Map of ancient Greece
 General Issues
• The forerunner of the European civilization
both in its diversity and unity is to be found
in the Hellenic world.
1. Theodor Gomperz in “ Griechische Denker” Liepsig,
“..Almost all our intellectual culture has a
Greek descent.
• The deep understanding of its philosophical
streams is a prerequisite to get free from its
• In this case, to ignore the past, is not only
unwanted, is merely impossible….the whole
of our thinking reflections, the notional order
are to an outstanding degree outcomes of
the great thinkers of this past….”
2. Paul Valery:
• “We owe to Greece the very feature
which perhaps distinguishes us the
most profoundly from the rest of
• We owe Greece the spiritual discipline
the extraordinary example of perfection
in all areas.
• We owe a way of thinking which refers
things to man the whole man…”
 Ancient Greece is a period in the
Greek history, like a continuous
evolution, which for around 1000
years, was considered to be the
seminal culture which provided the
foundation of Western Civilisation.
 The Greek culture had a direct
influence to the Roman Empire
which carried a version of it to the
other parts of Europe, if not the
The civilisation of the ancient Greeks
has been immensely influential on the
language, politics, educational
systems, philosophy, science and arts
giving rise to Renaissance, while
again resurgent during various neoclassical periods, in the 18th and 19th
century in Europe and America,
contributes to the modern societies…
 Highlighting the Hellenic philosophy
cultivation, evolution & trans-plant
during the Centuries;
 towards the identity of the W. World
• The identity of the W. World was
gradually established and forged, using
primarily the Greek philosophical
analysis, during 3 important periods:
1st Period:
Renaissance, [15th -16th cent.],
influenced by scholars who left, (fled),
Byzantium/ Constantinopole/
Instanbul, passed to Italy transplanted, cultivated and taught
the Greek Letters, Art, Sciences and
2nd Period:
• The Age of Reason and the Age of
Enlightenment, [1600-1800 A.D.]:
• disclosing, re-approaching the scripts
and the teaching of the ancient Greek
• re-elaborating the Hellenic approach to
Life, to Genesis, to Existence, to the
To mention few of those personalities:
• Francis Bacon,[ 1561-1621],first to
introduce the experimental Philosophy, was
taught Aristotelic analysis .
• Descartes, [1596 La Haye- 1650 Stockholm]
He was much interested in the traditional
Aristotelian Philosophy.
• Voltaire a pseudonyme of Francois
Marie Arouet, [1694-1778], Paris
• Emmanuel Kant, [1724-1804],
3rd Period
A new philosophical era closely associated
with the scientific revolution of the 19th20th century with direct impact nowadays
 Erwin Schroedinger, [1887-1961] a
Nobel Laureate, “Nature`s dualism”
in his book “ Nature and the Greeks”
highlights, enlightens, discloses, pinpoints
the Greek Philosophers ideas, axioms,
the Questioning to Gen(n)esis, the
Reason….., that is:
their Cosmology and Cosmo-theory, as
a model
 Conclusively:
• Philosophers, mysts, scholars, thinkers
of various philosophical schools,
[ Diels, Burnet, Gomperz, Mendel, Russel,
Heidegger, Hume, Hegel, Berkeley, Nietzche
and so many others…]
explore the Reason, Cause- Causality,
Certainty and Uncertainty, Absolute and
Relative, Deterministic and Stochastic,
towards the Truth
tools :
the Greek Philosophical Questioning,
the Dispute: the Socratic dialogues, the
Aristotelic analysis
( to be by virtue, under action and by
A deep insight into the Man…a tool to
think, to search…to develop.
 The early historic period.
• Cosmogony & Cosmology, Cosmo-theory,
Theogony, Theology, ( Metaphysica)
• They are not a collection of myths, ….they do
not constitute mythology.
• A logic interpretation through a systematic
effort for rationally convincing answers to:
“where I am”, “What it is” “What it is for”,
“What was for”
“τι ην είναι ?”
Aristotle`s question
• Herodotus, [5th century B.C.], from the
Greek city of Halicarnassus, ( modern
Bodrum) in S.W. Turkey now, and
• Thucydides, [460-395 B.C.], Athens,
general and historian
both give quite a lot of information of the
events historical and others that happened
in this known part of the world.
 Orpheus – Orphic Philosophy, and
Isiodos Cosmogony, too.
• Both come from the innumerable depths in
• The Cosmic egg stands for Genesis in the
It erupts and… the Light…Fanis
 In fact, this is the Bing- Bang theory of
our scientific models.
Greek ancient Cosmogony, Theogony
The duality of the Man.
a. Titanic property…the mortal
b. The devine property …which comes
from Dionysos God, see Orphic myth.
 In Isiodos Theogony,
• first was Chaos, then the Earth and
Tartar and Eros ( Fanis)
From Chaos were born Night ( Nychta)
and Erevos.
From Nychta were born Ether and Day.
 In Ieronymos rhapsodies:
Chronos, (=Time), was the first.
Then , Ether was born along with Chaos
and Erevos.
 Pre-Socratic philosophers:
Thales, [624-546 B.C.] from Militos, the Greek
city in Minor Asia, the Ionian coast, is the first of
the 7 sages of Greece.
• He is considered as the father of Science and he
is credited with 5 theorems in Geometry.
• He measured the height of pyramids from their
shadow, exactly when the time the shadow of a
man is equal to his height.
• That is, he used the similarity of Triangles.
Pythagoras,[ 582-497 B.C.] from Samos
• His Tetractis and his theorems,
• like a2 + b2 = c2
• the geometric mean,
• x2 = p*q
• if p=2q , and q=1 , then x= √2 !!!!
• The Golden ratio, number φ
are the basic tools for mathematical logic
and proof. Philosophical Theory of
• He, also, taught the heliocentric system
Pythagora`s Tetraktys
 The original
Tetraktys was a
figure like this:
 and represented
the number ten as
the triangle of four.
It showed at a
glance that
• This symbolic geometry also exists in the Greek
tradition. The Tetraktys of Pythagoras reminds
us of that. Pythagoras’s disciples swore by this
figure, saying:
• I swear by the one who revealed to our soul
the Tetratkys, which has in itself the source
and the root of eternal nature.
Herakleitos, [545- 497 B.C.] from
Efessos, Minor Asia coast, now in Turkey,
with his axiom
“Ta Panta Rheei” = “all flow”…so, nothing
remains the same.
• All lectures on the 2nd Law of
Thermodynamics, start with his axiom
( axioma= αξίωμα)=postulate
Democritus,[ 460-370 B.C.] from Thrace,
the city of Avdira, with the atomic theory.
“ Matter is made by atoms and free
• … atoms cannot be divided.
Lucretius,[ 99-55 B.C. Rome] Roman poet and
philosopher, influenced by Democritus said:
“ I will reveal these atoms from which nature
creates all things”
• Later, Aristotle argued on the perfect division
of the Infinity down to an infinite set of
points…(the Theory of Continuity: Aristotle
and Zinon). It is the opposite!!!
This mathematical formulation is still a riddle
for mathematicians till our days, ( Cantor,
19th cent., T. Fanney, 20th cent., Robinson
21st cent.)
Empedocles, [ 490-430 B.C.] from
Acragas, a Greek city in Cicily.
• In his poetic work “ on the Narure”
combined Herakleitos and Parmenides
principles,( the Being is motionless).
• He taught that “no absolute genesis
and wear exist; only, continuous
change of the 4 sustances- tetrackysand Love and Hatred which work upon
them ( the 4 ones)
Parmenides, [around 505 B.C] from Elea,
Magna Graecia, in Italy now.
• “it is the same-identical or equivalent(?)someone to ponder on something and this to
be.. the esse”
 The Dualism : Spirit and Senses….
 their unification, ( according to Plotinos, ) or
their interaction,
 discretisation or inter-exchangeability
 or transformation ?
 These are new conceptual
configuration modes based on the
mastery of the linguistic expression
and/or the power of mind expression.
This led, also, Ilya Prigogine,
[ 25.01.1917 Moscow- May 28 2005], a
Nobel Prize Laureate, ( 1977), to develop
his theory on
• “ the auto- (self)- organization of
 Socrates, in Athens,( 470-399) B.C. and
his method:
Definition, Analysis and Synthesis.
 Plato, Athens, (428-348), the Soul, the
existence through senses and the true
pragmatic environment, the level of
Ideas…(the 4th Dimension ???),
do lead to the dualism in all aspects of the
inquiry. He is influenced by Phythagora,
too, in some of his beliefs.
 Plato in his great work,
“on the Democracy” [ Demos and
• highlights- discusses the politician and
the political ethos and justice,
associated to the polis(=city)
• It illuminates and broadens our mind
horizons even today.
• The 4 Socratic Dialogues in which the aretaic
issues are investigated:
• 1. Harmidis….
about the Judicious
• 2. Lachis………………about Bravery
• 3. Phaedon ……….
about the Prudency
• 4. on the Democracy…about the Politician
and Justice
Those 4 Dialogues are the properties of virtue
( Areti ),
or in other words the aretaic characteristics,
like the aretaic turn ( a Phil. Stream last cent.)
The impact of his Academy, the first
University in the world, is invaluable
 In addition, the stream of neo-Platonic
philosophers contributed in
Renaissance and later to the
development of the societies.
 In Plato`s work Kratylos, Socrates
exemplifies the structure –meaning of
the words and their synthesis.
• A challenge for everybody to underpin
the perception, conception of an idea
and transfer of thoughts-meanings
down to senses….to speech.
This is the Golden Age where the
values received prime importance and
Democratic cities achieved the Ariston.
 The citizens all over the Greek land
practised, sponsored by Demos, in
many cases in:
Arts: Theatre, ( Epidavros with its best
acoustic in the world), Poetry, Poems
and Poets Music, ( Pythagora: the
music tones) and Moussae
• Sculpture, Painting and Architecture.
Logic, ( it was an Epos of Logic) and
Ethos- ethics/morals,
• to cultivate the Talent and the Character
of the citizens.
( mind, soul, spirit), and
a health body to host a health mind.
Therefore, concern for:
• Athletics, athletism, gymnastics and
Gymnasium…the Olympic
 Health:
Therapy, Medicine , Doctors, Hygiene,
• Asklepios, a hero and a great doctor as
Homer and Isiodos refer to; also,
Sophocles and Socrates
• Hippocrates( ic) Oath, 460 BC, in Kos
• Claudius Galenos, [131-201] in Rome
The City,( Demos) participates in:
Intellectual and Arts competitions,
in critics and dispute to all.
It is the Life Long Learning in Theatres.
• With such a policy free mind leaders
with Rhetoric talent, writers and
lawyers; great city speakers flourished.
The Greek cities are managed with a
Democratic ethos that is centered
around the citizens and their prosperity.
Concern for:
• Harmony, Symmetry, Order, Ontology,
(the inquiry into the meaning of
existence itself)
• Deontology, Epistemology,
• Teleo-logy ……telos, and teleios
The teleologic approach, the Metaphysica, builds the Theology frame,
while Plato makes, in addition, the
frame of the organisation and
management of the city.
 Philosophy (philos= friend, and Sophia
=wisdome, this is the answer Pythagora gave
when people said he was wise) :
• It is a discipline concerned with questions on
how one should live,( Ethics),
• what sort of things exist(ed), what is their
essence, the kind…(metaphysica),
• what is the genuine knowledge?
• what are the principles of reasoning ( Logic).
To achieve all these a n exact dynamic
tool had to be developed. That was the
Greek language; a superb tool not just
for effective communication, but also to
• “ Laconizein ( to speak like the
Spartians) esti (is the same as to)
Philosopheen ( Philosophise).
• It is a superb logic structure, (a Domus
of Logic) with causa and….the
reasoning inbuilt.
• The meaningful- LOGIC- structure of
words, their synthesis-composition, the
inter-changeability of letters.
• The roots of many words are still found
in many languages and also the
composite parts of the words have a
Greek structure which grants the exact
meaning in short wording.
• -ism, -ist. –istic, -ic
• DisEu- A- In- Meta- Pro- Premacro- , micro-,
• telemetry, tele-vision, tele-scope, telescopy….
• Philo- , cosmo-, homo- , hetero- Hyper, pan- , para-, cyclo-, photo-, poly- etc
and so many other examples one may
across reading the Greek language.
• All these concepts, ideas, beliefs and
principles highlighted before, were
passed as a heritage to the new
societies, as tools to disclose those
truths and progress further.
• This is what really happened after the
Age of Renaissance
The philosophical achievements and
development of the centuries of the
Golden Age are reflected in the works
of a great Mathematicians, Phycisists
and engineers.
• One remarkable feature is Archimides,
[287-212 B.C.],from the Greek city of
Syracuse, in Cicily, Italy now.
• His works in the Theory of numbers, in
Geometry ;
• in Physics, ( levers; he said : give me
a stand point and I may move Gaia =the
• in Hydrostatics,
• in Optics (concentrating solar
• in engineering ( the wormscrew, still in
use in many hydro plants, or even
water pumping etc).
• The famous irrational number π =
3.14... , or can be estimated to any
accuracy using the expression which is
supremely regular:
• π = 4( 1/1 -1/3 + 1/5 - 1/7 + 1/9 - 1/11 +
1/13 -1/15 +....)
• Aristotle, Stageira city in Macedonia, (384322 B.C.)
• “τι ην είναι ?”
• is the basic question in Metaphysica,
[ meta= μετά= after and Physics= Φυσική ,
Φύση= Nature from Φύω= fyo= grow, the
plant grows, and Φως=fos=Light],
• Aristotle called this work, “Theology” or
the “ First Science”
• In Meta-Physica :
Time ( Chronos) and Space
are the same, are identical, are of the same
 Meta ta Physica Biblio Λ 1071b
• “Neither genesis nor wear of Chronos is
possible. As then it would not be possible
that Before and After might be, if Chronos
did not exist.
• It is therefore the motion continuous to the
same degree as Chronos is. As Chronos is
the same thing with motion or it is a mode
of its existence.
• No motion can be continuous but only
within the space, and then this motion will
be cyclic….”
• Note, also, that Albert Einstein said:”
Space and Time are nodes in which we
think, not conditions in which we live”
Aristotle`s works were for centuries
the source of knowledge and the point
of departure for intellectual inquiry in
the fields of letters and sciences.
• The editio princeps of Aristotle`s complete
works in the original was issued by Aldo
press, in Italy, in 5 volumes (1495-1498
AD), during Renaissance
 In general,
• Greek philosophers argued upon two
opposite theories about nature and
This created a dualistic approach .
This dualism ( see Schroedinger)
became the source for the big breakthroughs, along centuries.
 A great example of the dilemma:
• “who is right Herakleitos or
• The latter attracted the philosophical
efforts of Ilya Prigogine, [ 25.01.1917
Moscow- May 28 2005]
• Parmenidis: nothing is new. All exist
and will exist for ever.
• Think about…it is esse.
• Herakleitos: the opposite attitude.
“ta panta rheei, nothing remains the
• This opposition re-appears for 2500
years in the Western world cultural
• Newton`s Dynamic theory conforms
with the Parmenides one.
Both do accept causality and that
Time= Chronos is absolute and
reversible. ( Determinismus)
• Philosophers split.
• Many like Hegel, Bergson, Heidegger
believe that Time is unidirectional, the
arrow of Time has a unique flow…goes
 To repudiate Time-Chronos is the
same as to believe that Life is a utopia,
chimera, of a ghost type or better to be
false pretences.
 Both intellectual approaches are true
under certain conditions.
1. the Cosmo-theory of Dynamics and
2. the Cosmo-theory of Thermodynamics.
In the first, events do not happen in
reality, as they are pre-determined.
• On the other hand, according to
“all flow towards the thermal Death”.
Therefore, the appearance of
structures away from the equilibrium
is very important, as Time appears to
be Creative.
Post-Aristotle Philosophers.
• Then , the Byzantine: the Religious era,
epoch ,
the Re-naissance ( re-Gennesis)…
…after 5th century AD till the 15th
 Especially, the Medieval Philosophy, (
from St. Augustine 354-430 A.D till 1500
A.D.), which is,
defined partly by the process of rediscovering the ancient culture
developed by the Greeks and
Romans and partly by the need to
address theological problems and
to integrate sacred doctrine ( in
Christianity and Judaism) and
secular learning…
• 15 hundred years later, St Tomas
Aquinas (1225-1274 A.D.)…”a pupil” of
Aristotle(!), is an example of the
importance and role the Greek scholars
and philosophy played for the Western
World development.
• The Greek scholars transfer the ancient spirit
, the Philosophical scripts to the West:
• Roma, Pisa, Venice, Florence, Bologna,
Pandova, Ferrara etc.
• Italy hosts the majority of the Greek
scholars who left Constantinopole.
• They convey the philosophical spirit of the
Period of Classical Hellenism; also, before
and after it.
All these should be re-co-llected ( Co= syn ,
and lego ), for building the pillars of the
Western world.
 The Age of Reason and the Enlightenment,
[1600-1800 A.D.] – Illumination- and the
modern philosophers,
eg Gomperz, Burnet, Heidegger, Kant etc
who were perfect users of the Hellenic
intellectual and Linguistic heritage dug deep
into the Greek philosophy
to analyse, ( ana- lyo ) systematically
values, principles associated to the human
• The systematic cultivation passed into
universities which appeared everywhere
since then..
 Critical thought was stimulated by
Cartesian philosophy
( demolished later by Em. Kant) and by
progress of the exact human sciences.
• This phenomenon was European.
 A passion for Mathematics, Physics,
Chemistry, Medicine , Astronomy, and
natural history developed in all
At the same time, new historical,
economical, political and social
thought made headway.
New philosophers pushing back the
shadows of the past forged a path to
Enlightenment and joined forces in
various structures and groups building
networks which covered the whole W.
• The ideas of Enlightenment aged along
with their advocates. The new
generations looked to new horizons.
• The message of Em. Kant demolished
the Cartesian and showed , argued
about the limits of Reason.
Conclusively, a methexis to Hellenic Paedeia.
• The last centuries, 19th-21th, new trends and
versions of the Philosophical streams
appeared and argued on the basis of ethics,
morals, consequencies, rationalism, mind
and soul.
• There appeared movements like:
• Rationalism and Empiricism
• Skepticism
• Idealism
• Pragmatism
• Phenomenogy
• Consequentialism, deontology and the
aretaic turn
Conclusions- Discussion
• Would European thought have been
able to reach such heights without the
initial push and re-push from Socrates,
Plato, Aristotle , Epicurus,[ 341-270
B.C.], Athens, etc?
• The sciences were, also, inherited by the
• In all the European languages the various
scientific disciplines have Greek
• Hellenic civilization gave Europe the
complete range in Arts along with a taste in
Harmony and Beauty ( eumorphia)
• Centuries ago Greeks provided rational
interpretation for the creation of Nature and
the Man.
• Ancient Greece created the forms of
social and political life which later
became characteristics of the European
civilization, namely the polis
• That was the breeding ground for the
types of governments which appeared
throughout Europe`s history.
• The democratic, socialisation ethos
which brings people together is
Language and Culture.
The Initiative of yours to go for learning
Greek might drive you to paths of
Science and Philosophy that you have
never thought of.
You must go on trying for the Best,
the Ariston.
 The Greek philosophers and their
language might be a very useful tool in
your adventures in Life.

Slide 1