Chapter 2: Most important freedom: philosophy
As one may infer from the previous chapter, the most important freedom that Ancient Greeks permitted on themselves, and pursued with vigor and rigor, was the freedom to reason or the freedom to philosophize; they developed philosophy as a way of understanding the world around them, without resorting to religion, myth, or magic.
Volumes have been written about philosophy since its birth in Ancient Greece. Based on my limited from reading the work of others, this chapter, undoubtedly, does not do justice at offering a comprehensive picture; the bibliography at the end of the chapter reflects my incomplete knowledge. However, selectively and non-exhaustively, I would like to make an attempt to show how philosophy has evolved through time by laconically describing contributions made by some pre-Socratic and post-Socratic philosophers extending from ancient to modern times.
Philosophy, as we understand it in the West, is an Ancient Greek conception that emphasizes reason instead of sense/emotion or dogma. In Ancient Greece real philosophers (as opposed to pseudo-philosophers such as the sophists) were preaching how to get to the 'truth' through rational thinking. More formally, Philosophy was conceived as an engine to help us discover temporal and/or perpetual truth; a method to verify directly or indirectly positive and/or normative assertions derived from experience. As pointed out by Meinwald (2019), Philosophy aims not so much at discovering facts or establishing dogmas as at achieving wisdom or understanding (the Greek term philosophia means love of wisdom). This wisdom or understanding is an extremely hard-won possession; it is no exaggeration to say that it is the result of a lifetime's effort, if it is achieved at all. Moreover, it is a possession that each person must win for himself. The writing or conversation of others may aid philosophical progress but cannot guarantee it.
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