Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

If by obscure, you mean that tens if not hundreds of thousands of high school and college students read all or part of them every year, and that their themes and motifs permeate our culture and still underly our understanding of governance, mathematics, and even Science, then yeah...they're obscure.



The writings of Plato and Aristotle, in particular, are still widely read among the "well-educated" and continue to exert enormous influence on the world. It is perhaps true that they are not now important of the "normally educated", but this is something that has happened only in last twenty or thirty years, as trend of college educations becomes more and more "vocational".

I don't know what a previous poster meant by mentioning Augustine and Aqunas and then saying "the morality developed during that period" (Augustine 4th century BC, Aquinas 13th century). The truth is that Augustine was especially heavily influenced by Plato and Aquinas' entire philosophy was mostly an attempt to synthesize Aristotle with Christianity. There is a tendency by some Christians to think morality somehow can't exist without God, but the truth is otherwise. The Greeks certainly had well-developed modern morality, along with brilliant moral theory. And the reality is that most of the important advancements in morality have come from "liberal", often secular, thinkers, while Christianity (and other religions) get pulled upward from old barbarisms only while kicking and screaming.


My point was that the whole period, starting with Augustine, was about Christianising the previous philosophy and government. The Greeks had well developed morality but universalism was not really a part, even the Romans firmly split between citizens and non-citizens, patricians and plebs. Greek philosophy is heavily responsible for the misogynistic aspects of Christianity for instance, but during this period women had more legal freedoms and ability to exist independently and their rights actually became worse later on. Everyone is influenced by what came before, but we very much live in a world in which their developments on previous philosophy are very welcome.


"Greek philosophy is heavily responsible for the misogynistic aspects of Christianity for instance, but during this period women had more legal freedoms and ability to exist independently and their rights actually became worse later on."

Any references for this? I find it highly doubtful.

The Greek philosophy was universal in that it applied to anyone who was a "person". I don't think that's different from any morality that's followed, it's just that the "universe" has always been limited, e.g., in U.S. rights were created universally for "all men", but that didn't originally include women or slaves.


>The truth is that Augustine was especially heavily influenced by Plato and Aquinas' entire philosophy was mostly an attempt to synthesize Aristotle with Christianity.

Pretty much every philosopher is influenced by the great philosophers who came before them. If you look at philosophical (or indeed scientific) work today, it is no less under the influence of previous work. Augustine and Aquinas were very original in many respects, but they quite rightly built on the best philosophical ideas that they knew of rather than starting from scratch just for the sake of it.


Augustine was a Western Christian philosophist, and he lived AD, not BC.

He died in 430 AD, 20 years after the sack of Rome by Visigoths. Pretty much what people call the beginning of medieval period.


Thanks, was thinking AD but for some reason BC came out.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: