As my English-speaking readers probably want challenging intellectual posts too, here is a brief little introduction to Hellenistic philosophy. More to follow, if you’re lucky (and if I have the patience – the fact this is part of my exam subject might give me some, though).
Hellenistic philosophers mainly include the Sceptics (Pyrrho in particular), the Epicureans (Epicurus), and the Stoics (Zeno, Chrysippus). The Hellenistic period spans approximately 231-29 BC, which means these guys come after Plato and Aristotle – but before Christianity.
During this period, the inhabited world seems unified under Greek culture. For the citizen of Athens, the world has become large, unstable, and abrupt changes like wars and social revolution are a looming threat. Life has changed a lot: the City’s rule is not in the hands of the citizens anymore (who only occupy administrative positions) – they feel more like the victims of political life.
One could say the common concern of philosophers during this period is the question of man’s happiness. Let’s have a closer look to some common streaks of these different philosophies:
- diagnosis: they are living in a world of trouble and anguish
- the aim of philosophy is to be a practical therapy
- happiness is defined as the absence of trouble (a negative term in greek: apatheia, ataraxia)
- the only remedy for the troubled man is philosophy (reason and rational thought)
- help man on the path to autonomy (excluding the outside world as a possible source of happiness)
- trust in human reason
Philosophy as a therapy for the soul.