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Ancient Cultures & Philosophy



Philosophy is an essential source of understanding as we explore Ancient Civilizations.

All Civilizations have developed forms of "philosophy". A science of Thinking which asks some of the core questions for each civilization or culture.

We will look at 3 big questions that are always part of "Philosophy":

Ethics:
Is there such a thing as Right and Wrong? How do you know? What is right and what is wrong?

Fate or Predestination:

Can people choose their actions and make their own destiny, or is it all decided beforehand by fate? Is there any way to know the future?

Natural World:
How did the world get here? Did God make it? Why? Is there any pattern or sense to the natural world, or is it just a bunch of random stuff?

Here are some more specific suggestions for each of the three questions:

Ethics:
Imagine you live in an Ancient Civilization in a time when trade and farming have made great wealth and prosperity for the people. If you were a wealthy merchant how would you deal with selling your grain to the poor?

You might move on to see what Socrates had to say about ethics, and what the Buddha had to say about it, and Judaism. How about Mithraism? The Koran?

Fate:
Do people control their own actions and determine their future?

Discuss horoscopes and the signs of the Zodiac.
There may be some whose religion tells them that God predestines everybody's future too.

The Greeks had a lot to say on this subject, and so did Augustine, and of course Hinduism.

Natural world:
This is your chance to take a field trip. Out to the school yard or back yard.

Gather and tell about the value or lack of value of some "natural objects" like a pinecone or acorn or a rock.
Try to explain why you have decided the object is of value or not and then discuss whether there is a grander purpose to all of this including simple "natural objects".

The Babylonians were great observers of the natural world, but Aristotle was the first to try to organize and systematize the information. Buddhism has an answer to this question, and the Islamic philosophers had a different one, and so did the medieval philosophers like Abelard and Aquinas.