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Will Heward

Philosophy 1000-10
Professor Israelsen
21 September 2016
The Philosophical Revolution
In Ancient Greece the way of life was very different in many aspects than what we know
and love today. Back then the Gods ruled everything; everything was god willed if you will. If
it rained it was because one of the gods was mad, if a family member died, you must have done
something to offend one of the gods, etc. Thats just the way it was, until the philosophical
revolution.
As a result of the philosophical revolution we have become the society we are today. We
believe that knowledge is real and possible for the common man, we believe in scientific
reasoning and the majority of us believe in being morally straight. These are a few of the main
points that the Ancient Greek philosophers stressed and dedicated their entire lives to, shaping
Western civilization.
Everything started with the Sophos. There was Thales who believed everything was
water, Heraclitus who was a powerful social critic, loved by famous philosophers Plato and
Aristotle. Another one of the great Sophos was Parmenides who believed everything was one
whole and any change or variety was simply an illusion. They were the first group to question
the gods, use scientific reason and actually believe that knowledge is possible. They were the
first to investigate, question and attempt to understand the world. For example, they were curious

about the nature of matter and the material world. They asked questions such as: what is fire,
water, earth, and air? Although mythology and religion continued to play important roles in the
lives of most people for centuries, these first philosophers were noted for their attempts to use
reason and observation to figure out for themselves how the world works. (Soccio, pg 59).
The main difference between this group and the famous philosophers such as Xenophanes,
Parmenides, Socrates and Plato that followed was that the Sophos tended to be stuck up and
charged unreasonable amounts of money to the public to share their knowledge. Ultimately,
the Sophos paved the way for these great philosophers to go on and accomplish many great
works.
It is important to understand that Xenophanes, Parmenides, Socrates and Plato are what I
like to consider the founding fathers of western civilization. If these men had not done what
they did, our society would be much different today. We might still believe in the Ancient Greek
Gods like Zeus, Hades, Apollo, etc. These men allowed the world to develop and flourish.
Basically what all four of these famous philosophers had in common was the desire to explain
the world and everything in it through science, knowledge and reasoning. They also believed in a
better society and government, ruled by knowledgeable people, not the common man. Now, what
exactly did they do to accomplish this? Each played a unique and different, yet vital role.
Lets start with Xenophanes. Xenophanes believed that the gods were human
inventions. He did not believe in the Greek Gods but did believe in an all-powerful thing. The
state felt challenged by him and his ideas of what was divine and what wasnt, of what was pious
and what wasnt. Parmenides had the idea that everything was one. Basically that everything as
we know it is one and whatever is different is simply an illusion. Socrates, perhaps the most
influential philosopher and my personal favorite. one of the most powerful, intriguing,

annoying, inspiring, widely known, and yet misunderstood figures in the history of philosophy.
(Soccio pg 95) Socrates believed so strongly in being morally straight and technically correct
that it literally bothered and frustrated many people. Socrates challenged the so called know it
all. He would pick people apart using the Socratic Method. The Socratic Method is the ability
to ask questions so strategically as to draw and suck as much knowledge out of someone as
possible. This method helped Socrates to stay humble and learn as much as he possibly could
from other people. Socrates constantly challenged people and their knowledge because he
believed that most people really had no idea what they were talking about. If they did, it only
took Socrates a matter of time before he had them spinning their wheels to the point of partial or
total confusion. Socrates challenged what was morally correct, what was considered right and
wrong. He pushed and challenged people so much that it led to his martyrdom. Socrates was
tried and convicted of impiety. In other words, he was convicted of inventing Gods and
corrupting the youth. The so-called fair and free democracy failed in a big way and fired up an
up and coming philosopher and prized pupil of Socrates named Plato. Plato developed many of
the same ideas as Socrates and many of the philosophers before him dealing with questions of
metaphysics as well as moral and political concerns. Plato believed in a very interesting theory of
Forms. He believed that what was tangible or something you could see was less real than an idea
or something you couldnt see. He believed that ideas are real, ideas have substance in a sense,
ideas are what is really real or the most real things. According to Plato, each Form actually
exists-pure and unchanging-regardless of continuous shifts in human opinions and alterations in
the physical world of sensibles. (Soccio pg 134) Plato said that universal truths are Forms and
we can know them through reason. As we can see, all four of these philosophers had similar but
different methods to accomplish the goals mentioned at the end of the previous paragraph.

There lies a distinct connection between the thoughts of these four philosophers and their
viewpoints and beliefs of ultimate reality and morality. Mostly on a personal level but on a
political level as well. Each of them questioned what was accepted to be divine at that time in
Ancient Greece, the Greek gods. They all believed at least to a certain extent that something
wasnt quite right there. They believed in an all-powerful being or thing, in the case of
Xenophanes, that controlled and governed all. They refused to believe something just because
their parents or elders had said that that was the way it was.
They literally questioned everything, usually using one form or another of the Socratic
method. The perfect strategy to proving others wrong and learning in the process. The
dialectical process as Socrates practiced it was dynamic and hopeful. (Soccio pg 104). Thats
why they were so wise and could acquire so much knowledge. They believed in a better place
and an ideal life. They believed that the way we could obtain this better place or ideal life was
to live worthily of it. One could live worthily or earn it by having dignity, doing what was just,
being morally straight. Where they differed although, was in their beliefs about what was
morally correct and what wasnt.
To conclude, as a result of the philosophical revolution we have become the society we
are today, thanks to Xenophanes, Parmenides, Socrates and Plato. They did the unthinkable,
unimaginable and challenged the Ancient Greek society. They dedicated their whole lives to
obtaining knowledge, asking questions and daring to move forward even unto death as was the
case of Socrates. in the ancient world, a true philosopher was usually viewed as someone out of
the step with daily life. To be a philosopher was to be different. (Soccio pg 61) These men
were brave, a little odd, but brave. Because of their accomplishments and hard work we know
that knowledge is real and possible for the common man, we know that through scientific

reasoning we can unlock the truths and understand many of lifes mysteries. Because of these
men the majority of us know that having morals and being virtuous will lead us to a richer
current life and some sort of paradise in the world to come. Each and every one of these
philosophers have had a hand and taken part in shaping our great although not perfect, society
today.

Works Cited
Soccio, Douglas J. Archetypes of Wisdom 9e.