Jun 2, 2020 in History

History of Philosophy

In the ancient periods, the people relied most on the mercies of events to understand some things. For example, the priests and the Shamans used magic, myth, and rituals to conduct the interpretations it was not until the 6th century that a small group of Greek thinkers (philosophers) came together and started making interpretations based on careful observations, systematic analysis, and reasons. At this point, these philosophers were referred to as natural philosophers. These philosophers included Thales, Heraclitus, Leucippus, and Pythagoras. Later on, there emerged a group of philosophers known as the humanistic philosophers whose agenda was largely concerned with issues of morality. Then, later on, came the Socratic era or the sophists. The paper will trace the history of philosophy, in brief, the Allegory of the cave, the tragedy of the Antigone and the Dialogue between Crito and Socrates

The history of philosophy falls into different phases. The first phase is the pre-Socratic phase. The second phase is composed of the classical philosophers. The third phase entails the other ancient philosophical schools. Later came the medieval philosophers. The early modern philosophers followed. The contemporary philosophers include the 19th and the 20th-century philosophers. The pre-Socratic philosophers are always referred to as the natural philosophers, and the founder is Thales. These philosophers believed in materialism and metaphysics as they believed everything has substance. The classical philosophers constituted of Socrates and Plato. These philosophers, unlike the previous ones, were more concerned about the behaviors of human beings and that’s why they focused majorly on ethics. Plato was Socrates student, and he is the one who brought to the light of Socrates writings. Socrates never wrote any book. Amongst other ancient philosophers, the Stoics, the sophism, cynism, Neoplatonism and skepticism. The medieval philosophers moved from ethics to the concern about the existence of God. They included among other St Thomas Aquinas and Machiavelli. The early modern philosophers were more concerned with reasoning and science. They include Descartes, Thomas Hobbes, and John Locke. The 19th and 20th-century philosophers were more analytical and applied logical techniques. These philosophers included Carl Marx.


The Dialogue between Crito and Socrates

The dialogue between Crito and Socrates involves a recording of Socrates talks while in prison awaiting execution. Crito came from Athena but was one of the greatest friends of Socrates who widely believed in the ethical teachings. The dialogue took place on the eve of Socrates death.  The conversation mirrors Socrates as a person of a strong character who refused to be overcome by any circumstances despite the difficulties. Crito for example questions why Socrates was so reluctant to fleeing from prison despite the conditions. The prison was not well guarded, and Socrates could have easily escaped. In the conversation, Socrates begins by stating why Crito has come to prison that early and Crito explains that he was there in prison only that Socrates was so much asleep. It was at this particular time that Critos was so astonished as to how Socrates could manage to have such a deep sleep in prison knowing that he was about to face execution. Crito tells Socrates that he cannot be executed until the ship was back the next day. Critos pleaded with Socrates to escape from prison as he could not do so, critos would be rebuked for not assisting his friend. He pleaded with Socrates to admit that the opinion of the majority of the people whom Critos would face after Socrates death cannot be ignored. According to Socrates however, the opinion of the majority never mattered because it had no power of either making one wise or foolish. 

Crito assured Socrates not to fear because he had enough money to aid him to run away but if Socrates refuses his aid, then his friends were more ready to assist. Crito uses another trick by telling Socrates that by him refusing to run out of prison; he was betraying justice and his family and children. Socrates, however, answers that his efforts and ideals that he fought for his entire life would go to waste if he stood by what is pleasing to his friends and family but it would have more value it he stood by what is right. From the conversation, we learn that committing a crime is, by all means, wrong. The both agree that a person should not pay a wrong with a wrong. Socrates says, escaping from prison would amount to the personification of the state which is against the law. He believes he has a responsibility as a citizen to respect the social contract theory. He says if he follows Crito and escapes, he would have broken the social contract which he made voluntarily. Further, he says that should he escape, his family and friends would face the confiscation of their property and banishment. For these reasons, therefore, Socrates was reluctant to follow Critos advice but rather follow God.

The Allegory of the Cave

The allegory of the cave is a kind of a theory seeking to teach the people about the power of human perception. He argues that without any philosophical reasoning, any knowledge gained through the senses is just but a mere opinion. In the allegory, therefore, Plato shows people who are interested in knowledge arising from senses and those who see the truth. He imagines the cave to have three prisoners tied to a rock that they can only see forward, and they have been in the cave from their time of birth. Behind all the prisoners, there is fire, and they are unable to look back. While they are in, there are people walking around the cave with food and meat. The fire is such that it creates shadows within the cave.

As people walk outside, the prisoners can only see their shadows. For those who have never set eyes on the real things, the shadows become real from the cave. Further, Plato says that as the prisoners stay together, they will start a game. In this game, when one prisoner ends up guessing he will be considered a hero. When one of the prisoners manages to escape from the prison, however, he starts seeing things from a real perspective and becomes a teacher to others. The person gets so embarrassed about the gassing games of the prison because he now understands the reality. Unfortunately, the other members of the cave will not listen to him. He, therefore, prefers to burn them. The Allegory teaches that sensory knowledge is to be treated as opinion. That the people want to know philosophical truths but they fear the philosophers. Having virtue is, therefore, a process of education which when one attains he blames himself why he was doing the other things

Lessons of the Greek Tragedy Antigone

From the Greek tragedy of Antigone several lessons are learned. First, all hero’s must be flexible. Otherwise, there is a price to pay for any act of inflexibility. Unlike Socrates who chose to die over compromising, Antigone on the other side chooses compromise over death which depicts her as a very inflexible person. Antigone chose to go against the values she had preached and therefore leading to destruction. Another lesson learned is the fact that morality is better than immorality and that justice must always prevail in all circumstances. In the play, for example, Antigone and Creon take totally differing opinions regarding a matter of very great importance. In this case, creon stood by the law in what he terms respect for the social contract while Antigone chose individual interests over the law. In the end, Antigone was destroyed. It, therefore, means there is more to gain for being moral and firm. However, Creon is also destroyed over the disobedience of the gods for choosing to respect the law and disrespect him while Antigone chose to respect the gods and bury his brother while disrespecting the law. It’s a tragedy because both were eventually destroyed.


In conclusion, the history of philosophy starts with the pre-Socratic philosophers such as Thales and grows through the phases, from natural philosophy to ethics, the proof of the existence of God and eventually reasoning. The dialogue between Crito and Socrates is concerned about the stand, and Socrates has over his escape from prison which he terms it’s against his principles. On the other hand, the allegory of the cave teaches about the need to rely on philosophy rather than senses. Lastly, the tragedy of the Antigone shows why it’s always necessary to remain firm as a hero.


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