Here's a mnemonic means of recalling the three main Greek philosophers of the past in their correct order of birth and therefore influence. Just imagine all three discussing philosophy together in a health spa (or mineral water spring bath):

" Greek   S P A"

Socrates, b. 469 B.C.
Plato, b. 428 B.C. (41 yrs on)
Aristotle, b. 384 B.C. (45 yrs on)

Aristotle was a pupil of Plato, who in turn had been a pupil of Socrates. Philosophy was originally a Greek word meaning 'love of wisdom' and by coincidence Philo was another Greek philosopher in the first century A.D., though his influence was less great.

Socrates (469-399 B.C.) lived in Athens and wrote nothing himself, yet through his pupil Plato he has influenced the entire history of Western thought, culture and morality because of the way he spent his time just searching for truth by simple questions and answers. He was condemned to death at 70 years of age for "corrupting the youth of Athens" with his teachings, and his execution was administered in the form of a cup of hemlock to drink in his cell.

Plato (428-347 B.C.) was one of Socrates' pupils and many of his writings (called 'dialogues') contained conversations with Socrates and conveyed Socrates' systematic thoughts, teachings and methods, extending them also into new areas of philosophy such as the principles of politics and personal conduct. Plato's most famous work, the Republic, was chiefly concerned with the best form of life for men and States. He died aged 81 and was buried in Athens at the Academy, a school which he founded and which existed for another 8 centuries until A.D.529.

Aristotle (385-322 B.C.) was a Greek born in Thracia (now mostly Bulgaria) who joined Plato's Academy at the age of 18 and spend the next 20 years studying and writing. After Plato's death Aristotle left Athens and was afterwards invited by Philip of Macedonia to be tutor to his son Alexander (who became Alexander the Great). Years later Aristotle returned to Athens to found a rival school, the Lyceum, where he laid the foundations of various sciences including biology and zoology. Aristotle's works include Metaphysics and Ethics, and in his books on logic he invented many of the terms that are now everyday thought, such as quantity, quality, conclusion and theory and practice. It has been said that every thinker is his pupil, even when he does not know it.


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