The Usefulness of Hellenistic Philosophy Today
Hellenistic philosophy suggests that life can be improved through the study and practice of knowledge. In this article, we’re going to explore the connection between this philosophy and the art of living. In effect, we’ll look at philosophical activity as a way of life.
This will give you a deeper understanding of the subject and teach you how you can use Hellenistic philosophy to your own advantage.
Hellenistic philosophy was a movement that arose during the time of Alexander the Great. It developed during the 2nd and 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C. in Greece. It was a way of thinking characterized by the pursuit of an individual’s happiness and well-being.
This philosophy arose during the loss of autonomy of the Greek cities. In their place, empires characterized by large tracts of land appeared. In this context, the citizen became isolated, overwhelmed by the immensity in which he was soon submerged.
For this reason, the appearance of the Hellenistic schools was extremely important. It brought about a new way of philosophizing for the individual. It was based on the way of life at the time, providing individuals with a way of coping with the world that surrounded them.
The main schools of Hellenistic philosophy were Epicureanism, Cynicism, and Stoicism. Each proposed a specific way of life. That said, they shared the idea that philosophy was a cure for the problems humans experienced.
The main exponent of Epicureanism was Epicurus of Samos. He maintained that philosophy was the means to achieve happiness. Moreover, he saw philosophizing as an urgent dynamic for eliminating specific fears that prevent a happy life. These fears were related to death, the gods, and suffering.
Epicurus viewed philosophy as medicine. In fact, he believed that speech could cure our ills. Undoubtedly, the clear and coherent arguments that it provides help us to overcome any fears founded on ignorance.
He who says either that the time for philosophy has not yet come or that it has passed is like someone who says that the time for happiness has not yet come or it has passed.”
Antisthenes created Cynicism, although the initiator of the movement was Diogenes de Sinope. This philosophy consisted of questioning customs and social rules. Instead, they sought to awaken people’s consciences through a way of life in accordance with nature and away from luxuries.
Cynicists also considered that a strong personality was essential for resisting moments of suffering. They proposed exercises to develop this kind of personality. For example, to better withstand the cold, they suggested the individual expose themselves to it, thus allowing their body to adapt quickly to the changes in temperature.
The founder of Stoicism was Zenón de Citio. However, this philosophical current was also recognized by philosophers such as Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus. It emphasized the importance of accepting things that can’t be changed. It viewed negative emotions as the result of irrational thoughts correctable through reflection and self-control.
Philosophy as the art of living
In ancient times, there was a really strong relationship between thinking and acting. In other words, thought-guided lifestyles. They saw philosophy as a lifestyle or the art of living. Philosophical discourse was adopted as a life choice and also as an existential option. Individuals chose to exist according to the dictates of the philosophical discipline.
Consequently, the Hellenistic schools considered philosophy to be a healing practice. They believed that, through clear, concise, and unambiguous argumentation, it was possible to find happiness or human well-being. In essence, they initiated the beginnings of therapy.
As is the case with psychological therapy today, Hellenistic philosophy involved solving the real and concrete problems that afflicted individuals in society. Today, we say that we experience feelings of anguish, sadness, and anxiety. But, in ancient Greece, not all of these terms existed.
In fact, they thought that fears caused mental illnesses due to bad, erroneous, and corrupt judgments.
Hellenistic philosophy and its teachings in everyday life
There are certain practices we can extract from Hellenistic philosophy to improve our lives. They’re closely related to the psychological technique that we know as therapy. We can also put it into practice in daily life.
Dialogue and self-reflection
In the first place, it means establishing dialogues, both with others and ourselves. When we put our thoughts into words, our interlocutors might recognize any erroneous reflections. In the same way, we can self-criticize to achieve the same result, but without the need for anyone else to listen.
By doing this, we become conscious of, understand, and criticize our own realities. For instance, do you sometimes feel as if you’re being held captive by your own thoughts and that you can’t see beyond them? Acquiring a critical attitude toward yourself will help you correct yourself and adopt more positive beliefs.
Use of argumentation
Secondly, using rational and logical argumentation serves to identify the fallacies found in certain discourses. You can find a new meaning that relieves your conscience. For example, if your problem is that you think a great deal about the future, try and focus on the present. Live one day at a time.
A prudent attitude
Thirdly, it means adopting a prudent attitude, both with regard to the social and material environment. This involves not accepting the speech of others as verified truth and moving away from luxuries. It can certainly make life simpler.
Although you have to engage in dialogue with others, you must be careful about the things they tell you. Make use of your capacity for discernment and argument and differentiate whether their words are correct or incorrect.
Philosophy isn’t only for academics
As you can see, philosophy isn’t just for academics. In fact, it’s an excellent discipline, recommended to all those seeking a better and fuller life.
Finally, Hellenistic philosophy teaches that we must listen critically to others and to ourselves. Speech has the power to heal every day worries. Finally, employing this philosophy marks a return to the origins of psychotherapy.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Fuentes Megías, Fernando. (2015). Una educación filosófica: arte de vivir, experiencia y educación. Recuperado de: https://eprints.ucm.es/id/eprint/34334/
- Restrepo, A. M. (2014). Filosofía terapéutica: el arte de vivir y la salud ética. Recuperado de: http://hdl.handle.net/10554/16420.