During what philosopher Karl Jaspers termed the “axial age” (800–200 BCE), ancient Greece gave birth to a unique way of thinking. Rather than explaining the world in terms of mythos— poetic myths—thinkers began to examine the great questions through logos— rational investigation. This process was termed “philosophy,” from the Greek phileo (love) and sophia (knowledge, wisdom). In this lecture we will see how ancient Greek philosophers considered, among other questions, a fundamental inquiry that has underpinned Western thinking: what is more believable, mind or matter?
Note: Adapted from a class in Plato and Aristotle: A Beginner’s Guide, offered in fall 2018.