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Plotinus and the Neoplatonists – Roman philosophy

By | 2017-09-04T11:34:58+00:00 September 4th, 2017|Philosophy, Romans|

Bust of Plotinus (Ostia, ca. 250 AD) Around the time of Jesus, philosophers (and regular people) in West Asia and the Roman Empire started to think a lot about what happened to you after you died. The afterlife was very important to the Christians and the Gnostics. But a little later on, Roman philosophers developed a new idea. They suggested that when [...]

Lucretius – On the Nature of Things – Epicureanism

By | 2017-09-04T11:29:36+00:00 September 4th, 2017|Philosophy, Romans, Science|

A medieval manuscript copy of Lucretius' De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things) Lucretius was born about 99 BC, in the later Roman Republic. Nobody knows anything about Lucretius' life. But he must have been an educated Roman from a very rich family. Otherwise, he wouldn't have been able to do the work he did. At some [...]

Roman philosophy – ancient Rome

By | 2017-09-04T10:49:06+00:00 September 4th, 2017|Philosophy, Romans|

Roman making a speech (Florence, about 50 BC) Thanks to VROMA for the image Roman men didn't begin studying philosophy until about 200 BC. At that time, the Romans were conquering Greece. So a lot of Roman soldiers and generals spent a lot of time in Greece, and got a chance to talk to Greek philosophers. The Romans found out [...]

Cicero – Stoicism – Roman philosophy

By | 2017-09-04T10:33:20+00:00 September 4th, 2017|Philosophy, Romans|

Bust of Cicero (Capitoline Museum, Rome) In the last years of the Roman Republic, great men like Julius Caesar and Pompey fought over which of them would rule Rome. Cicero was one of the last men to stand up for the old Republic. He tried to keep the republican government going. While you might think [...]

Stoics – Greek and Roman philosophy

By | 2017-08-16T15:25:13+00:00 August 16th, 2017|Greeks, Philosophy|

Cicero, a Roman philosopher The Stoics were a group of philosophers who first began teaching their ideas in the Hellenistic period. Stoicism was founded by a man named Zeno, who lived from 335-263 BC. He was friendly with the successors of Alexander who ruled Greece. Zeno lived in Athens, which was a great center of learning. He used to [...]

Skeptics – Greek philosophy

By | 2017-08-16T15:21:08+00:00 August 16th, 2017|Greeks, Philosophy|

This is supposed to be a bust of Pyrrhon, the founder of Skeptic philosophy We don't know as much as we might like to about the activities of Plato's Academy after the death of Aristotle. But between about 300 and 100 BC- almost up to the birth of Jesus - the Academy became known as the center of [...]

Ancient philosophy: ethics, fate, and science

By | 2017-08-16T15:14:40+00:00 August 16th, 2017|Philosophy|

Weighing the souls of the dead Philosophy means the love of wisdom. But what does that mean? It's hard to separate philosophy from religion. And it's also hard to draw a line between philosophy and science and mathematics. All of these are parts of people's search to make order out of nature. They're a way of [...]

Epicurean philosophy – ancient Greece

By | 2017-08-16T14:57:21+00:00 August 16th, 2017|Greeks, Philosophy|

A statue of the philosopher Epicurus, carved later, long after he died. Another philosophical group which developed in the Hellenistic period, around the same time as the Skeptics, was the Epicureans. Epicureans were named after their founder, Epicurus, who lived around 300 BC. Epicureans believed that the main reason for studying philosophy was practical: to make a happy [...]

Cynic philosophy – ancient Greece

By | 2017-08-16T13:57:45+00:00 August 16th, 2017|Greeks, Philosophy|

Diogenes the Cynic with his lamp (Roman sculpture, once in the Villa Albani) One of Socrates' students, Antisthenes, started his own group of philosophers called the Cynics in the late 400s BC, arguing - like Buddhists in India a little earlier - that a simple life without possessions was the path to happiness. Antisthenes' most famous successor [...]

Thomas Paine – American Philosophy

By | 2017-08-14T13:00:34+00:00 August 14th, 2017|North America, Philosophy|

Thomas Paine (by Matthew Pratt, about 1790) In the late 1700s AD, around the same time that Voltaire, du Chatelet, and Rousseau were writing philosophy in France, and Hume was writing in England, Thomas Paine was writing philosophy in America. Paine was born in England, and his father was a Quaker, and owned a small business. Young Paine didn't go to [...]