Why We Should Not Forget The Ancient Philosophers Of Days Gone Past

Row (Busts) of Ancient Greek Philosophers: Socrates; Antisthenes; Chrysippus; Epicurus (Picture taken at the British Museum by Lawrence OP)

I hereby issue a plea for everyone to embrace the wise thinkers of ancient times, and for posterity not to ever forget these men we like to call philosophers.

Let’s pay homage to these ancient philosophers who are inexplicably forgotten by the modern generations who live in a realm of superficiality, conflict, celebrity worship, technological dependency and general ignorance of themselves.

The wisdom to be found from reading the philosophical works of these men could, if we wished, serve an important function in guiding us all towards peace, unity and common sense which can make this world a paradise of joy and reason – but as things stand today, maybe that is a dream only Utopia can conjure up.

Most importantly, we must not forget the teachings that these philosophers provided, as they dived head first into the deep oceans of thought and attentiveness towards observing themselves,  humanity and nature.  Through their own self-learning they ceaselessly sought Truth so to provide us with the foundations to build a impregnable wall of wisdom for ourselves.

However, we choose to neglect these past thinkers and their teachings at our peril (collectively and individually), instead of making their thoughts compulsory reading within the school curriculum.

If you were ever touched in some way by these beneficent men the following names, and more, should roll off the tongue with ease:

  • Socrates
  • Marcus Aurelius
  • Epicurus
  • Epictetus
  • Confucius
  • Lao Tzu
  • Seneca
  • Plutarch
  • Plato

But alas!  I can hazard a guess that most (young) people wouldn’t have any knowledge of most, if not all the aforementioned sages.

Some people may very well ask, “why should we remember these men who are long since past?”  Well, these ancient philosophers all taught the invaluable lessons on the art of living – imparting their knowledge and wisdom in the form of, in my opinion, the greatest self-help books known to man. Despite there being a million and one books written by “Gurus” available today on the subject, none can touch the integrity and truth that can be found in these ancient teachings.

However, one must aim to learn from these men and not worship them.  In fact, they actually encourage us to remain independent and to develop knowledge of ourselves, as well as challenging us to partake in the greatest challenge of them all – and that is to achieve self-mastery.

And as far as I know, the past philosophers of yesteryear did not teach so to make a quick buck or to gather a huge following as what’s been shown to be the case with certain individuals and organisations in the 21st century.

They (philosophers) seemed to live with authenticity and integrity whilst remaining  indifferent to materialistic pursuits.  So why not follow their example of cultivating inner richness and ridding oneself of ignorance in the process?  You will find that it would provide one to live a more tranquil and happier life.  What more would one wish to achieve in this apparent short and brutal life?

Before I take my leave, let me reiterate for you to never forget the ancient philosophers nor their enlightening lessons that can help elevate our souls and minds to the very heights of heaven – something which we are all desperately in need of on this most ignorant and misguided of planets – this, I think, is what it means to find “God”.

So let us be as gods by living simply and becoming as wise as they no doubt were.

Why not visit Wisdom Books containing many books written by these men of wisdom.

6 Comments

  1. Jason,

    I must say, I have not read too much ancient philosophy. I know millions, if not billions of people have been directly touched by such great minds. I’ve seen your library before and I really need to try to read some of it. I really appreciate all that you do to birth knowledge and plant seeds and wish you the best in whatever you are doing.

    Peace my friend!

  2. Self-mastery-that’s what the ancients taught. Control your actions, take responsibility for your life. Peace and happiness begin with you. But this message is lost in our culture of greed obsessed with bigger and faster ways of killing ourselves off.

  3. Jason Cooper says:

    @ Ali,

    Start here : http://www.knowledgereform.com/2009/08/27/practical-wisdom-meditations-by-marcus-aurelius/

    If you didn’t know by now, I consider ‘Meditations’ my holy bible, as it is filled with stoic wisdom and practical philsosphy to help you understand yourself and the universal laws.

    My friend, Marcus (who was an actual Philosopher King) is a highly recommended read – please find the time.

  4. Jason Cooper says:

    @NP,

    Agreed.

    Self-mastery is the key toward wisdom and living a joyful and tranquil life. Once you become master of yourself nothing external to you can ever again master your emotions and peace of mind for the worst.

    That’s why I love the ancient teachings, and I feel blessed to have come by them – helped me immensly to view the world with a simpler perspective, as well as pointed the way towards self-knowledge.

    Thank you, my dear Marcus.

  5. timethief says:

    Yours is a compelling essay that’s beautifully written.The key to self knowledge and self mastery is between or ears and you are quite right about the wisdom of the ancients. The ability to master our thoughts and direct them so we do live simple, authentic and happy lives is clearly expressed in their writings.

  6. Jason Cooper says:

    Hi TT,

    Thank you for the kind words, my friend.

    It’s very refreshing to know that I’m not alone in having the awareness and knowledge of these old wise guys of antiquity.

    If people could find the time to read only a few books written by these ancient philosophers, they may find that they can learn to change themselves and lives for the better.

    Nothing complicated in trying to be happy – stop pursuing external wealth, position and possessions, and instead look within.

    Yes. It’s as simple as that.