What were the Ancient Greeks' contributions to Western Civilization?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The contributions of ancient Greece to Western civilization are numerous and varied. Indeed, it's no exaggeration to say that without the ancient Greeks there would've been no Western civilization as we know it. One of the most important contributions they made was to the study of philosophy. The Greeks were the first to understand the importance of understanding the world around us using rational argument and investigation. Although the Greeks held on to many superstitions, they still understood how important it was to use the human capacity for reason to be able to get at the truth of things.

Socrates, one of the most famous of all Greek philosophers, stated that "The unexamined life is not worth living." What he meant by this was a life devoted to contemplation, to thinking rationally about life's big questions. Later on, another great Greek philosopher named Aristotle laid the foundations for what we know today as natural science. He advocated the use of reasoning and close observation in understanding nature, setting the basic standard for modern scientific method.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Ancient Greeks' contributions to Western Civilization are so numerous that we can only really talk about a very few of them here.,

In mathematics, the Greeks contriubted to us the work of people like Eucild and Archimedes and Pythagoras in geometry and other forms of math.  In the area of social sciences, Herodotus is known as the father of history as an academic discipline because he introduced the idea of a rational study of history (as opposed to a more mythological approach).  Thucydides carried his work farther and is one of the most important historians ever.  Ancient Athens, of course, is generally seen as the birthplace of democracy.  We still look back to Plato and Aristotle as important thinkers on ethics and social issues.

All of these, and many more, are contributions to Western Civilization that have come from the Ancient Greeks.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial