All you need to know about ancient Greek philosophy

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Date(s) - 13th May, 2018
19:00 - 21:00

Brighton Fringe Festival


Speaking at the Brighton Fringe Festival.

Socrates is arguably the most influential figure in western philosophy, though oddly he wrote not a word. Most of his ideas come to us via Plato, from the notion that the unexamined life is not worth living, to that of dying for a principled cause. But what are his great insights? Why is he so important? And can Plato be trusted, because he was a philosopher who had his own, powerful ideas about how to live – ideas we will explore too.

We’ll consider happiness as well, through the eyes of Aristotle, and why he thought friendship the greatest love, before coming to the Hellenistic schools: the Stoics, Epicureans, Sceptics and Cynics. The Stoics offered probably the most successful practical philosophy of life right up to the Christian period. Notions about ‘going with the flow’ and ‘keeping a stiff upper lip’ can be traced back to them.

They differed from the Epicureans, for whom pleasure was the central question, though the trick is to enjoy small pleasures rather than become addicted to ever bigger, unsustainable highs and kicks. The Sceptics, from the ancient Greek for ‘searcher’, argued that it is better to suspend what you know and see what mystery might emerge. The Cynics, after the word for ‘dog’ because they were accused of living like dogs, challenged the other philosophers by holding a finger to all social conventions.

Each promised life in all its fullness. Each has left it’s impact upon modern worldviews, from the thorough-going materialistic to the consciousness-shifting spiritual.