The Alkistis Method® was inspired by all schools of Greek philosophy, the totality of which would take several thousands of books to fill. Over two millennia have passed since the ‘Golden Age’ of Greece, (480-320 BCE), yet the legacy of the Greek philosophers still motivates us to strive for ‘Eudaimonia’.
If we travel back in time…at the beginning of the sixth century BCE, we could observe that people’s general belief was that happiness and flourishing is something to be experienced after death. The world was full of mysticism and superstitions and so human fate and happiness was believed to be largely controlled by the whims of the gods and spirits, who required rituals and sacrifices. The governing regimes were usually oppressive, dogmatic theocracies and military ‘regimes’ which terrorized the people into slavery and submission. Ancient people took these types of oppressive regimes as a given; this was the norm. From birth, ordinary people were ‘programmed’ into believing that life on Earth was all about suffering, and serving the ‘Great King or Leader’ and that happiness would only come later, after death..If they behaved and bowed to their oppressive rulers…
When Plato founded his Academy in Athens, he based its program on the methods of his teacher Socrates and his infamous "Socratic Method" also called “Dialectic”; a series of questions fired in quick succession that were designed not to impose, but to lead the student towards the truth through calculated steps of deductive reasoning. The Greek philosophers believed that we can, and have every right to pursue our happiness, here in this world, while we are alive, and it doesn’t depend on the gods, but on ourselves. As Aristotle taught, ‘Happiness depends on ourselves.’
Although to us, today, these ideas may seem obvious, this was a radical paradigm shift at the time. The Classical Greek philosophers dared to question the old world worldviews of superstition and magic. To Classical Greek philosophers, if there is a God, it is nearest to what we today call a Pantheistic God, which they referred to as “Physis”, which means “Nature” in Greek. The unceasing change of the universe is driven by the Logos, a Greek word meaning “Reason or Logic” which has set certain laws in motion like ‘The Law of Gravity’.
The Greek philosophers thought something like this: “The Logos has set in motion the Universal Laws, it is not a personal God; Nature is not occupied with our personal prayers or desires…This life is the only life we have, the universe is a natural phenomenon with no supernatural side, and we can live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. We trust the scientific method, evidence, and reason to discover truths about the universe. We have placed human welfare and happiness at the center of our ethical decision making. Our reason and imagination is what differentiates us from animals. We have critical thinking, logic and imagination to create a fair and civilized society and to pursue our happiness…”
They believed that citizens are capable of making their ethical decisions based on reason, empathy, and a concern for human beings and other sentient animals, without the need for a belief in God, which is optional. The ideal way of living well, therefore, is up to us, to lead a life of “Areté”. (Gr. Aρετή). No English word or phrase adequately captures the exact meaning of Areté. The nearest equivalents are 'Excellence' and 'Virtue'. Areté is the pinnacle of their value-system. Especially excellence of character.
Their motto, pronounced “Ain Aristevin”, means ‘Ever To Excel’. It is derived from the sixth book of Homer's Iliad, (Iliad 6. 208), going back over ten thousand years. One isn’t expected to reach excellence ever, but it is in a human being’s heroic effort and striving to excel (to be a ‘Prokopton’) that the nobility of one’s soul is revealed and is achieved by practicing the Four Cardinal Virtues (Wisdom, Justice, Courage,Temperance)... And other ‘humanist’ virtues like these, that you will see under the Aristotle section in this chapter.
Thus logic was developed in ancient Greece as a means of reaching the objective truth rather than relying on faith or dogma. This led to the development of the “The Scientific Method” that we adhere to today..
By the first century AD, in the Hellenistic world, which was still dominated by Roman law and Greek culture, Christianity emerged as a sect of Judaism in Roman Palestine,
There is a beautiful passage in the Christian Bible that lies mostly forgotten. One that happened during Christ's interrogation by Pontius Pilate,the Roman prefect in charge of his case.
According to John [18:38] at the crucial moment of his verdict Pilate turned to Jesus and asked the most important question in Philosophy. "Ti Estin Aletheia?"-"What is Truth?"
We are told that the Roman received no answer in return. Something that didn't bother many Christians, but could not pass unnoticed, by those last of the Greeks, who carried the dying flames of their logic-based philosophy into the twilight years of Rome. The logic of the Greeks goes like this:
"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then from whence comes evil?"
The logical argument about evil is as follows:
P1. If an omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient God exists, then evil does not.
P2. There is evil in the world.
C1. Therefore, an omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient God does not exist.
Of course defenders of theism argue that God could exist and allow evil if there were good reasons….(OK, then, you try to explain that to the parents of the millions of starving children, or sexually abused children or victims of war and anybody else who is suffering needlessly in the most horrific ways…)
The Greek philosophers would eventually lose, of course, as their books were burned by fanatic Christians, who for the next thousand years succeeded in keeping Europe in perpetual dusk.
Scholars and thinkers, tried to defend Greek philosophy. One such example is Hypatia, a (female) neoplatonist philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, then part of the Eastern Roman Empire. Another is Porphyrios, a philosopher of the "twilight", when the Roman Empire was fading into the Dark Ages. His book was called "Kata Christianon" ("Against the Christians") written on the dying breath of the Greek culture. Being a philosopher worthy of this name, Porphyry had reasons enough to protest against a system that was moving away from Reason, as Christianity was based on the acceptance of "revealed truths" requiring no further proof, just blind faith…The world that gave birth to Socrates, Plato and Aristotle faded in the rear-view of history. The death-blow to the original Greek world came in 312 A.D. when Emperor Constantine chose Christianity to be the official religion.
Christianity, as a religion, has been influenced by Greek philosophy in many ways. Here are some of the major ideas or concepts that Christianity borrowed from Greek philosophy:
Fast-forward to today’s secular, scientific-based world; there is a rise in the Humanist Movement, which is, “A progressive philosophy of life that, without the need of theism (meaning ‘the belief in God) or other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good.” This approach was no doubt inspired by the values held by the ancient Greek philosophers and other wisdom cultures of the world.
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