Was Greek rationalism dead in ancient Rome?
CitationUysal, C. (September, 2018). Was Greek rationalism dead in ancient Rome?. SIHDA 2018.
It is no secret that Western culture owes a great deal to Greek philosophers when it comes to rationalistic thought. Greek philosophy has had a heavy emphasis on subjects such as “ethics” and “virtue”; and always had a strong tradition at cosmology, metaphysics and all fields of science. Some authors from the 19th and 20th centuries suggest that the Roman state was unsuccessful at keeping this tradition alive: Maybe it was this decline of rationalism that turned the Roman Republic into an Empire, or maybe the absence of rationalism was the reason all along for Roman imperialism. Some authors even claim that accepting Christianity was a clear sign of Rome’s willingness to deny the “natural order of things”. While it is true that the Roman philosophy was less significant than Greek during middle ages, according to some other authors, it may be considered inaccurate to think of Roman philosophy as limited to its appropriation (and limitation) of the Hellenistic schools. Even when Stoics were the dominant thinkers of a certain period, other philosophical currents such as Neoaristotelianism, Neopythagoreanism, and Middle Platonism have been prominent. And in the political climate of the third century, the tide turned in favour of Neoplatonism; which also has as noteworthy an interest in all sciences and virtues as ancient Greek philosophers. The fact that a shift such as this one could happen contradicts the supposed negative correlation between rationalism and Roman imperialism.
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