Hellenistic Schools of Philosophy



Walking Visit to Athens in late 3rd Century BCE

   West of walls of city, road to  Diplon Gate: Academy,   Garden

    In Agora,   Stoa

    East of walls of city, Lyceum


Philosophies attributed back to Founders.

What is the highest good? What leads to Eudaemonia, Happiness?


Aristotelian Lyeum      Balanced Life of virtue, pleasure, material goods, friendship; therefore aristocrats are better equipped for attaining the highest good.

Golden Mean-courage between recklessness and cowardice. Sexism in golden mean as

    different standards of virtue for male and female


Epicurean Garden   Highest good is Pleasure.  What kind of pleasures are best? Alternative portraits of Epicurus.  


Stoic School  Highest good is Virtue. Conform human will to universal natural moral law. Slaves and Aristocrats equally capable of attaining highest good.


Middle Academy of Carneades   Academic skeptics  say “I do not know.”  Too hard to attain knowledge of  Plato’s forms. One cannot know universal natural moral law. Carneades teaches probabilism—cast all in doubt, accept likely view tentatively.





Academy, founded by Plato, 387 BCE and continues until Justinian closes it in 529 CE

    Republic (Allegory of the Cave on reality of Forms or Ideas;  Tripartite Psyche: reason=Philosopher Kings, spirit = Guardians, appetites= Workers).

 Crito (on obeying unjust law or decree)


    Academy Sceptical under Carneades 213-129 BCE (influences Cicero 106-43 BCE)

       Plato’s Apology (Socrates speech at his trial on role as gadfly), dialectical method


    Academy Neoplatonistic under Plotinus (205-270 CE)

               influences mysticism of Augustine


Lyceum, founded by Aristotle, 335 BCE

     Politics (6 forms of government; deliberative faculty in men, women and slaves), Nicomachean Ethics (golden mean); also wrote biological works such as On the Generation of Animals

      Most influential school on Thomas Aquinas and 13th century universities


The Garden, founded by Epicurus, ca. 306 BCE

       Fragments of Epicurus

       Lucretius, On the Nature of Things



The Stoa, founded by Zeno, ca. 304 BCE

        Chryssipus (280-207 BCE)

        Influenced Romans Cicero and Seneca