Natural Philosophy By The Greeks Luma aldwiri

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it" -Aristotle

How the concept of natural philosophy was originated by the Greek:

The quote above was quoted by the Aristotle who was a Greek philosopher and writer of various knowledge including science, agriculture, poetry, linguistics, and politics. He’s best known for his writings on empiricism and his formalized system for reasoning. However, Natural philosophers were best known as Pre-Socratics because they were the Greek thinkers who introduced a new way of inquiring into the world and the place of human beings in it.

Before philosophy, the Greeks believed in Mythology. The Greeks believed that the gods and godesses lived together on the top of Mount Olympus. These gods, according to Greek mythology, controlled different aspects of their lives. Gods like Zeus, god of the sky, or Poseidon, god of the sea revolved around a civilians everyday life. "The Greeks arrayed the gods in order, according to their importance and their various ascribed responsibilities" (Fernandez-Armesto, 5.2.1).

The Greeks were motivated with wisdom and created different ways to obtain more knowledge on the world that revolved around them. Eventually, they began to merge this concept with other areas such as mathematics, and science; which ultimately became known as natural philosophy. Similarly, physical science also another term that referenced natural philosophy and was defined as the study of natural bodies as such and the phenomena connected with them.

The subjects that the Natural philosophers explored and the questions they asked along the way:

Natural philosophers studied many subjects such as mathematics, astronomy,music, and ancient history however, their area of specialty lies within the connections between humans and nature; namely science, math, and any other fields parallel to environmental ethics.

Moreover, since Greeks thought the world was eternal, they did not question its existence but did question that constant changes around them. Such questions included: “Who are we? How can we be happy? And Does the universe have a purpose?”Some other questions that philosophers might ask are: "What is the difference between right and wrong" and "What should we teach the young" (YouTube, 2017). With these questions, Natural philosophers came up with a theory that all things were made of either water or air.

This video gives a very detailed description of the Greeks and how philosophy came to exist through their discoveries and innovations. (Sorryboat, youtube, 2009)

Emergence of natural philosophy in the Greek society:

The initial phase of classical Greek civilization was called the Ionian Awakening, is coincidental with the birth of Greek philosophy (Gaarder, 2007). Through this phase emerged the first group of Greek philosophers which included Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes. Each philosopher had their own idea on a “primal substance” that created all things: Thales created water , Anaximander created a substance from other substances, and Anaximenes created the air. Natural philosophy ultimately divided the Greek city-states or poleis between the sophists and Socrates, but it also offered a new way of thinking that inspired a lot of innovations and discoveries (Fernandez-Armesto, 2016).

Natural philosophy's affect on the spread of Hellenism throughout Afro Eurasia:

The Hellenistic Period is a part of the Ancient Period for the European and Near Asian space. The use of this period is justified by the extent of the Hellenic culture in most of these areas, due to the Greek political presence especially in Asia after Alexander's conquests, but also to a new wave of Greek colonization. Politically, the Hellenistic Period is characterized by a division and a split from Alexander's former empire, with endless wars between the Diadochi and their successors. Through this method, Alexander the great introduced Hellenism and proceeded to spread it through his conquests and victories until it was all throughout Afro-Eurasia.

Current uses of the ancient Greek natural philosophy:

We still see elements of the ancient Greek natural philosophy in today's society. Pythagoras, who explored mathematics, developed an advanced system of geometry that we still use today. The ancient Greeks used stories of gods and myths to interpret the world around them. In science we still recognize and refer to Aristotle's observation methods and his theories in physics are still respected by our current education system. In conclusion, these elements are still taught in educational programs and courses worldwide, and their contributions have clarified many questions pertaining to the concept of nature and life as we know it.


Fernandez-Armesto, Felipe The World Vol II, 3rd edition. Pearson Education, 2016.

Philosophy, I. E. of. Internet encyclopedia of philosophy. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from <>

Sorryboat. (2009Jun19). Discovery Education. youtube video. Retrieved from:

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Luma Aldwiri

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