Greece After Alexander


Greece After Alexander Essay, Research Paper

Q.3 Write a comprehensive essay on the Greeks socio-political philosophical development after the death of Alexander the Great.

After the death of Alexander the Great, the Greek city-states began to decay as they became part of the power struggle for the Hellenistic kings who tried to fill Alexander’s shoes. Life during this time was often troubled and chaotic. It was during this time when new types of philosophical ideas began to develop. The philosophical schools which arose out of this troubled era were the Cynic, Epicurean, Stoic, and Skeptic. These schools supported the type of morality that was less directly associated to the government and society. The schools focused more closely on how an individual when unconnected to the tie of traditional society and state should deal with the whim of fate.

The basis for the Cynic school was that over attachment to the possessions of ones life was the root of evil and unhappiness. The Cynics taught that the more one has, the more one is susceptible to the hands of fate. The Cynics encouraged that one must reduce their possessions, connections, and pleasure to the absolute minimum. The school taught that ones freedom comes from the abandonment of material objects and possessions, society and pleasure.

The Stoic school was created by a Syrian named Zeno of Citium. Zeno went to Athens as a wealthy merchant but lost his fortune at sea. Zeno was consoled by the philosopher Crates who taught Zeno that material possessions were not important to a man s happiness. Zeno stayed in Athens were he heard various lectures from different philosophers. After gaining knowledge from the speakers he began to teach in a public hall named Stoa Poikile, hence the name Stoic. The foundation of his teachings was that the only way for a man to achieve happiness was to live in harmony with nature. Passions, are the cause of all evil, and are caused by the lack of judgment of what is real good and what is not. Unlike the Epicureans which taught that one should retreat from public life the Stoics encouraged the participation in public life. Zeno taught that every person has a role in the universe and all of these roles have an equal value. Absolute happiness could be achieved only after one accepted their role no matter what it may be. The Stoic virtues consisted of applying reason to ones life so that one lives to the unity and laws of nature.

The school of Epicureans was founded by Epicurus who was a contemporary of Zeno Epicurus taught that pleasure must be controlled and kept to a minimum. This was not to say that one could not indulge in pleasure but it was the simpler pleasures that made life enjoyable. Their main idea was to reduce desires to an attainable goal. The Epicureans encouraged retirement from politics, retreat from public competition and concentration instead of friendship and private enjoyment. Epicurus also stated that the gods did not pay attention to human beings but humans should however, look at gods as perfect beings since that was the only way to perfection. Today s pleasure, it was taught, could mean tomorrows suffering.

Another school of Hellenistic philosophy was the Skeptic school. The school was established by yet another one of Zenos s contemporaries named Pyrrhon. This school was of great significance, preserving detailed knowledge of Hellenistic philosophy. Pyrrhon came to the conclusion that no man can know anything for certain nor could he be certain that the things he views and feels with his senses are real and not illusionary. To demonstrate his faith in his convictions Pyrrhon would often walk down the street paying no attention to the vehicles and other obstacles, so that his students could see that no harm came of him. Pyrrhon s importance in philosophical history lies in the fact that he wrote a large doctrine, Pros dogmatikous, in which he tried to go against all of the philosophers of the time and while doing this he quoted them extensively.

As the power struggle after Alexander the Great s death dissolved the Greek city-states, new types of philosophies and thought began emerge. Mostly appealing to callous Greeks of the Hellenistic east who were no longer restrained by the bond of religion and patriotism to their city-states. All of these philosophies do have some common factors and that is that they all stressed the bond one must have with nature and ones environment and the importance of reason. In this new troubled and insecure world two dogmatic philosophical systems began to take place, the Stoic and Epicurean, giving their adherents something to grasp and making them independent from the outside world. Accompanying the Stoic and Epicurean philosophies was the Cynic and Skeptic which slowly faded away with the vast Empire that Alexander created.

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