Ancient philosophy

The philosophy is a kind of doctrine that uses logical reasoning and methodical to understand and explain the existence, ethics and truth based primarily on science, are the things that characterize the causes, the human being and the universe . This incredible doctrine is not new, on the contrary, it has existed for thousands of years and to define and explain it in its beginnings the term ancient philosophy is used .

What is ancient philosophy?

Ancient philosophy is the phase of its history that includes the period since it originated in the 6th century BC . until the fourth century AD A philosophy that covered many aspects but whose main purpose was to discover the foundation that existed behind things .

  • What does it consist of
  • Characteristics of ancient philosophy
  • History of ancient philosophy
  • Main topics
  • Ideas
  • Problems of ancient philosophy
  • Schools
  • Main philosophers
  • Other representatives
  • Importance

What does it consist of

Ancient philosophy consists of the period of science itself that includes a series of thoughts and contributions made by the great pre-Socratic thinkers such as Anaximander, Thales and Anaximenes from the 6th century BC until the work of Saint Augustine emerged in the 4th century AD. . It was a period of approximately 1000 years in which various philosophical doctrines were developed in ancient Greek and Roman society.

Characteristics of ancient philosophy

Among the most representative characteristics of this cycle of philosophy, the following are mentioned:

  • The type of language used at the time was based on criticism and reflection .
  • He sought to find the true foundation for why things existed .
  • It was believed that only through reason was it possible to achieve true knowledge of things.
  • Philosophers used the dialectical method with which they started from a certain proposition to make a large number of questions and analyzes based on it.
  • Maieutics was used with the aim of finding the truth within individuals.
  • The self – knowledge was very important and justice.
  • At this stage, love was considered the highest aspiration that human beings could have.
  • It is possible to identify and differentiate very well the knowledge related to the good and the bad related to the lack of knowledge.
  • He tried to establish general definitions as well as universal knowledge.
  • All the essences that existed in the world were considered general , necessary , immutable and also eternal .

History of ancient philosophy

The history of philosophy begins in the 6th century when a new type of reflection with respect to nature was born . Thanks to the Ionian philosophers the way to discover the reason was possible and thus they began to offer different models that explained reality . In Athens , almost a century later, Greek philosophy decided to change its main point and began to focus on the study of the human being and how it developed within society .

The first school of philosophy that existed was the School of Ionia founded by Thales of Miletus and in it, it was tried to replace the explanation that there was about the mythology of the world by a series of explanations that were more rational and based on observation and in experience . Later the Pythagorean School was created where a more esoteric , religious , philosophical and scientific movement was established .

The Eleatic School was also part of the history of ancient philosophy where Parmenides and Zeno of Elea considered movement and changes to be merely illusions. For their part, the Sophists were in charge of teaching wisdom in a more professional and practical way .

Main topics

Ancient philosophy covered a large number of topics, however, among the most important were the following:

  • The knowledge and virtue
  • The concept of truth and the difference between opinion and science.
  • The levels of knowledge .
  • The wisdom .
  • The concept of happiness .


There were many ideas that developed in ancient philosophy and they were different from each other. The main idea of ancient philosophy was to find the true foundation of things . They thought about the relative truth because for them there was no truth that was absolute and they considered that two different points of view could be true at the same time. They were somewhat skeptical of religion and the legal system . They thought that an eternal universe existed in which ideas, before they could take shape, were a reflection of eternal truth. In addition, they based their ideas on the fact that the work of thePhilosopher was based on the power to understand and find the eternal truth.

The knowledge and ethics were considered innate aspects and it was the duty of the human being to adapt actions and knowledge. There was also the idea that the main objective of life was to be able to achieve total tranquility through the search and encounter of some modest pleasures because being able to lead this type of life produced states of tranquility. They also thought that the origin of political institutions needs to ensure justice and equality, mixing ethics withconstitutional regimes .

Problems of ancient philosophy

The main problem that arose during the time of ancient philosophy was to be able to correctly establish the relationship that existed between human beings and thought and between spirit and nature , for this reason there were always two camps, the idealists. and the materialists . Another problem was that some philosophers considered that it was uncertain whether human beings had the optimal conditions to truly know the world around them.


Among the major schools of ancient philosophy are the following:

  • Ionia School : I had thoughts about the way the world was organized , it was a materialistic school and they started from the main idea that said that matter was the basis of all things.
  • Pythagorean School : created by Pythagoras of Samos . It was a type of sect composed of astronomers , philosophers and mathematicians who considered that the essence of all things were numbers . They saw the body as the prison of the soul and tried to explain material things.
  • Eleatic School: they opposed materialistic philosophy and the theory of universal flow. For them, the universe was an immutable unit where time did not exist. They had a more open version of reality and for them, the world was an illusion.
  • Sophist School : they applied materialism in daily life. For them, truth and morals were the main essence of all things and they focused on proving things.
  • Socratic School : they claimed that human beings did not have the ability to reach the truth through the use of reason , they saw morality as the essence of all things and gave importance to dialectics and rhetoric . For them, the soul was a combination of intelligence and character.
  • Aristotelian School : they focused on thinking that the world was a type of replica of ideas and that it had the ability to persuade man. For them, ideas had no life if they were not in objects , the physical world focused on fire, earth, water and air and they cared for the good of the world based on knowledge which had to be accurate and reliable.

Main philosophers

The main philosophers of ancient philosophy were:

  • Thales of Miletus
  • Pythagoras
  • Socrates
  • Plato
  • Aristotle
  • Heraclitus
  • Lucretius
  • Cicero
  • Seneca
  • Marcus Aurelius

Other representatives

There were also many other representatives who played a fundamental role in the development of ancient philosophy, these were:

  • Anaximenes
  • Parmenides
  • Democritus
  • Epicurus
  • San Agustin
  • Averroes
  • Thomas Aquinas


Ancient philosophy was a science and a time of great importance for the human being and the ancient age because it was the means by which a series of thoughts , reflections and behaviors related to science could be created with the aim of being able to understand better nature and everything that surrounded the human being . Thanks to ancient philosophy, many other important philosophers were born over time, who managed to found excellent bases for understanding the universe.

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