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Why Philosophy Emerged in Greece in the 6th Century BC Essay

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Updated: Jun 8th, 2021

Introduction

Philosophy is an essential area of knowledge because it tries to explain such concepts as existence, values, mind, love, and other abstract aspects. Even though it does not offer any direct benefits as, for example, engineering and medicine, this study is still beneficial because it discusses two critical aspects. They are the universe structure and explanations for people how to understand their feelings and other abstract phenomena. It is generally accepted that philosophy emerged in Greece in the 6th century BC. The precise place and limited timeframe mean that there were particular reasons for this area of knowledge to arise. Thus, they include an economic factor, technological advancements, alphabetic writing and literal tradition, encounters with other societies, egotism, innovation, and democracy.

An Economic Factor

One of the oldest hypotheses used to explain the birth of philosophy was one offered by Aristotle. The ancient philosopher states that people can consider philosophical concepts when they live in a wealthy community where they do not need to think much of how to find means of subsistence. Greece of the 6th century, especially city-states, managed to achieve a significant level of wealth due to commerce. In addition to that, the appearance of coinage in Greece at that time also contributed to the birth of this study. It can be explained by the fact that money provided goods with a universal value, which was an excellent incentive for people to develop the basics of philosophy. Thus, economic development was one of the main factors that resulted in the appearance of this abstract study.

Technological Advancements

Various scholars believe that numerous technological advancements that appeared in Ancient Greece resulted in the birth of philosophy. New mechanisms in the spheres of architecture, engineering, metallurgy, and others made the Greeks reconsider their perception of the world. The advancements showed that people could control the world, and a rational set of minds could lead to significant benefits. The impact of this reason can be supported by the fact that many Greek thinkers used technological analogies in their works to explain some philosophical concepts. Even though that approach had been used by Homer long before the 6th century BC, the Greeks managed to reveal the evident proximity between various mechanisms and abstract phenomena. This fact denotes a distinct connection between the birth of philosophy and the technological advancement of Greek society.

Alphabetic Writing and Literal Tradition

According to another opinion, the development and higher popularity of alphabetic writing contributed to the appearance of philosophy. Thus, the possibility to fix and distribute thoughts in a material form encouraged Ancient Greeks to become a literate culture. This transition resulted in the necessity to draw more attention to developing thoughts and ideas because once any of them could be written down, it was possible to note some clashes between them. That is why philosophy emerged to assess these differences and state which idea was more valid. In addition to that, alphabetic writing made it possible to accumulate the existing knowledge that had been produced by previous thinkers and use it as a base for further development of philosophical categories.

Encounters with Other Societies

The 6th century BC was the time when Greece established colonies in Southern Italy and Asia Minor, which allowed them to come into contact with different cultures. That collision of various civilizations resulted in the necessity to assess the values and beliefs of numerous peoples. However, the hypothesis can be questioned because various nations were into contact, but philosophy emerged in Greece. It is explained by the fact that this ancient state could impress with a particular type of encounter. It refers to the situation that Greek colonies were centers of authentic ideas, traditions, and habits, rather than simple trade settlements. These colonies were in close contact with other cultures, which made them compare and assess various thoughts and beliefs. Thus, philosophy was an ideal way to deal with that task and identify those ideas that were more convincing.

Egotism and Innovation

In the 6th century BC, Greece witnessed an essential revolution, according to which human beings were considered fully-fledged creations by their own rather than representatives of a social class or particular profession. That change resulted in a significant number of prominent individuals who wanted to make their nation more developed due to their personal contributions. Consequently, many people did their best to bring something innovative to their culture. It was a significant event for philosophy because prominent thinkers were free to develop their ideas to explain everything in the world. The most successful scholars of Ancient Greece were chosen heads of schools of thought. Furthermore, the emphasis on a personal contribution created healthy competition that was productive for various areas of knowledge, and philosophy was among them.

Democracy

Apart from giving birth to philosophy, Greece of the 6th century BC is also famous for democracy. It was a new political and social order that influenced many aspects of life. As for philosophy, the new way of organizing society was significant because of the following phenomena. Firstly, the emergence of determinate and impartial law made some thinkers suppose that precise rules controlled everything in the world. Secondly, the law courts created the necessity for Ancient Greeks to persuade others. The most effective way to cope with that task was to use reasoned arguments and explain them from a philosophical point of view. Finally, the appearance of superior law also made thinkers believe that numerous natural phenomena were consequences of particular events rather than decisions of capricious gods.

Conclusion

Philosophy is a useful area of knowledge that tries to comprehend and explain significant concepts, including love, wisdom, values, and others. Even though this study is now universal, it appeared in a particular place and at a specific time, which refers to Greece of the 6th century BC. It can be explained by the fact that this ancient state was characterized by some phenomena that resulted in the birth of the science under consideration. These phenomena included an economic factor, technological advancements, alphabetic writing and literal tradition, encounters with other societies, egotism, innovation, and democracy. It is impossible to state which of them was more decisive for this area of knowledge. That is why many scholars tend to believe that their combination resulted in the emergence of philosophy.

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IvyPanda. "Why Philosophy Emerged in Greece in the 6th Century BC." June 8, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/why-philosophy-emerged-in-greece-in-the-6th-century-bc/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Why Philosophy Emerged in Greece in the 6th Century BC." June 8, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/why-philosophy-emerged-in-greece-in-the-6th-century-bc/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Why Philosophy Emerged in Greece in the 6th Century BC'. 8 June.

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