Philosophy Questions and Answers

Start Your Free Trial

What was the major difference between ancient Greek and medieval philosophy?

Expert Answers info

JJ Botta, J.D. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Professor, Professional Writer

bookB.A. from Seton Hall University

bookM.A. from California State University

bookJ.D. from New York Law School

calendarEducator since 2020

write233 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

Western philosophical thought began in Ancient Greece. Loosely translated, the word philosophy means wisdom. How people should live, how they should think, and what they should believe was the focus of philosophy in ancient times.

In the Western world, philosophy might be broken down into three major branches: epistemology, or the study of knowledge; metaphysics, or the study of the nature of reality; and ethics, or the study of morality. Beginning in Ancient Greece, little is definitively known about the pre-Socratics. Records from the era around B.C.E 650 are scarce. What is evident is a trend in philosophy away from mythological explanations of the natural world and toward more rational approaches to the physical world.

For example, Thales and Anaximander examined the four major elements of earth, air, fire, and water to reach rational conclusions about the material world in which they lived. Early philosophers like Pythagoras developed theories on the reincarnation of souls. While their work...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 1,013 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

zzzmegzzz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write9 answers

starTop subjects are Social Sciences, Literature, and History

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Lynnette Wofford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write7,057 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Business

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

ealdrich89 | Student

Ancient Greek philosophy spanned the time period from the Pre-Socratic philosophers (around 6th Century BCE) in Ancient Greece all the way up through the Roman Empire. The transition from ancient to medieval times or the middle ages is commonly marked with the fall of the Western Roman Empire, around the 5th Century C.E. Although a big part of the rise of medieval philosophy was an attempt to revisit the questions of ancient Greek philosophy, philosophy had now changed in one big way: theology.

The main departure from ancient Greek philosophy into medieval philosophy is that philosophers are now trying to incorporate religious doctrine and theological concerns into their philosophical quandaries. Many of the religious ideas were rooted in Christianity. Proofs of the existence of God, such as St. Thomas Aquinas' Cosmological Argument and St. Anselm's Ontological Argument, were common during this time period. Questions of faith versus reason and the attributes of the divine were also common, although they were previously almost non-existent in ancient Greece. However, medieval philosophy also drew heavily on Aristotelian thought regarding metaphysics, logic, and philosophy of mind.

This image has been Flagged as inappropriate Click to unflag
Image (1 of 1)