Greek Philosophy: Socrates: A Timeless Influence

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Socrates: A Timeless Influence
Although Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle are known as the most influential philosophers in Greek history, this seeking of knowledge that categorized the ancient Greeks did not seize after their deaths. The Greek desire for knowledge carried on into the Hellenistic period: the period between the death of Alexander the Great and the Battle of Actium. The Hellenistic period marked the emergence of new schools of thought. The predominant philosophies of the time were known as the Epicureanism, Stoicism, and the Cynicism. One can argue that although new and different, these new philosophies were influenced by philosophical thinkers of the past. In particular, it is argued that Socrates was already implementing many
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This approach differs from Aristotle and Plato, who believed people’s well-being depended upon their relation to their state, but concurred with Socrates’s approach of focusing on the self. Socrates states this idea explicitly as he states, “the unexamined life is not worth living” (Plato 39). According to Maxwell and Melete, Socrates constantly examined his own life and the life of other individuals for the sole purpose of becoming a better person, of leading a good life. To Socrates, leading a good life depended on the lessons that derived from his own actions and decisions. One can see this same approach in some of the Hellenistic philosophies. The Cynics, in particular, believed that in order to lead a good and happy life one must reject all of society, encouraging the individual to focus on the self. The Epicureans believed that the good life consisted of fulfilling one’s own individual pleasure and avoiding pain by any means necessary. Lastly, Stoicism suggested that instead of trying to control events, people must learn to control themselves first in order to be happy (Goodman and Jimmy). Although different, all three ideas proposed the detachment of the individual from society and …show more content…
To Socrates, seeking justice, knowledge and questioning conventions in order to find the truth are the ingredients to a good and happy life. Hellenistic philosophies, however, presented different ways of achieving a happy life. The epicureans believed that pleasure and the avoidance of pain were the sources of happiness, while the cynics believed that living a life stripped from material goods and only fulfilling the bare necessities required for existence were the ingredients of living a good and happy life. The stoics also had a different approach: they believed that a good and happy life is achieved by accepting that the gods control everything and that people can be happy by solely focusing on the things they can

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