Thursday, 2 February 2012

What's your philosophy type?

Found this on the Big Ideas site (

Do a simple test and find out which of the six major schools of Greek philosophy which emerged in the 4th century BCE you would belong to.  The result is presented as the name of the leader of your school, who is described as your 'ancient Athenian guru'!  Watch a short video about your 'guru'!  They should make it a TV programme.....

My guru, according to Mark Vernon's site, is Zeno of Citium, usually accredited as the founder of Stoicism. 

I think I'm happy with this: I think Montaigne would have described himself as a Stoic.  I'm certainly glad to find that my guru isn't Plato.  I was observing a trainee teacher this afternoon, teaching the ideas of conservatism as part of an Access Course, and as one of the students pointed out, Plato was certainly some sort of conservative!  I found out from Mark Vernon's video that the name Stoicism comes from the ancient Greek word for 'shop'.  This is either because Zeno's gang met in a shop, and/or because they were a down-to-earth bunch and thought that philosophers should discuss down to earth subjects.  This relates well to the Big Ideas site's commitment to 'pub philosophy': see
Here, according to wikipaedia, is something of Zeno's epistemology.  He suggests that there are four stages of the apprehension of knowledge: perception (symbolised by an open hand), assent (an open hand with the fingers closed a little), comprehension (the hand closed like a fist) and finally knowledge, possessed only by wise people (the second hand closed tightly round the fist of the first hand).  This sounds suspiciously similar to the image of knowledge as birds in a cage that need to be caught, and wisdom consisting of having caught many of them, demolished comprehensively by Socrates in one of Plato's dialogues.  Presumably Zeno's ethics are more sophisticated, as Stoicism was among the most important Greek influences on the Romans and through them, on Western European culture after the Renaissance.

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