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The Ancient Egyptian Origins of Greek Philosophy Mathew John April 19, 2013.

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1 The Ancient Egyptian Origins of Greek Philosophy Mathew John April 19, 2013

2 Abstract  According to the widely-accepted claims of world history, and of those who engage in it, philosophy and all of its theories, concepts, achievements and advancements have all been credited to the intellectual accomplishments of Ancient Greece and its great thinkers. In spite of this, the reality is that what is understood to be Ancient Greek Philosophy today originated with, and was influenced by, the philosophies of Ancient Egypt. This work will explore, explain and provide evidence for this statement, argue that Ancient Egypt was a Black civilization, and defend the idea that Black people have contributed abundantly to Western civilization and have influenced numerous accomplishments for which Europeans are given acknowledgment.

3 What Is Philosophy?  Philosophy is the intellectual and spiritual quest for a comprehensive understanding of human existence.  Philosophy is the investigation of causes and laws underlying reality; in other words, philosophy is an inquiry into the nature of things based on logical reasoning.  Source: “Philosophy." Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. 11 th Edition

4 Cheikh Anta Diop  Diop, as well as other African-centered scholars sought to bring to light the history and achievements of Africa, specifically the Kingdoms of Ancient Egypt.  African Philosophy is essentially intertwined with the African worldview as found in the Southern Cradle of Diop’s Two Cradle Theory.  Western Philosophy is reflective of the European Worldview as found within those who inhabited the Northern Cradle of Diop’s Two Cradle Theory.  Source: Diop, Cheikh Anta. The Cultural Unity of Black Africa: The Domains of Patriarchy and of Matriarchy in Classical Antiquity. Chicago: Third World, Print.

5 Is African Philosophy Possible?  Reason, which is utilized by human beings to know what is true and valid, is understood by many to constitute philosophical knowledge.  The question of whether or not there is an African philosophy, may lead to the profounder question of whether or not one can attribute reason to Black people.  Africans are not void of a history, culture or development, they therefore do not lack reason.  If African civilizations were more than capable of reason, then they were more than capable of creating their own philosophies and schools of thought.  Source: Obenga, Theophile. African Philosophy In World History. Princeton, N.J.: Sungai, Print.

6 The Egyptian Mystery System  Sought to explain the origin of the universe and the existence of everything that is.  Ancient Egyptians did not restrict themselves to only a single system of belief relating to cosmogony; they branched out and adhered to other major systems emanating from the religious centers of Hermopolis, Heliopolis and Memphis.  Egyptians had one doctrine of creation, and this one concept was articulated differently according to the different religious centers.  These systems developed long before Greece was formed as a nation, and before any Greeks had ventured into the lands of Africa.  Source: Onyewuenyi, Innocent C. The African Origin Of Greek Philosophy: An Exercise In Afrocentrism. Nsukka, Nigeria: University of Nigeria, Print.

7 Ancient Greek Philosophy  Egyptian cosmological concepts will prove to be influential for such Ancient Greek philosophers as Thales (635 – 545 B.C.), Anaximander (610 – 546 B.C.), Anaximenes (585 – 526 B.C.), Heraclitus (544 – 484 B.C.), Pythagoras (580 – 500 B.C.), Parmenides (540 – 470 B.C.), Socrates (470 – 399 B.C.), Plato (427 – 348 B.C.), Aristotle (384 – 322 B.C.), etc.  Source: Onyewuenyi, Innocent C. The African Origin Of Greek Philosophy: An Exercise In Afrocentrism. Nsukka, Nigeria: University of Nigeria, Print.  Source: Bakalis, Nikolaos. Handbook of Greek Philosophy: From Thales to the Stoics. Victoria, BC.: Trafford, Print.

8 Pythagoras  Born in Samos in Ionia (580 – 500 B.C.)  Founder of School of Pythagoreans, which combined numerology, mathematics, philosophy, and mysticism.  Pythagoreans also developed a calendar.  Views include the constitution of the universe, the transmigration and immortality of the soul, the doctrine of opposites (10 pairs), and the doctrine of the supreme.  Substance of beings were numbers which can only be grasped through intellect: “All things are numerable and can be counted. Moreover, it is impossible to conceive a universe in which number is not to be found…”  Odd and even numbers are not mutually exclusive, but rather they are complementary since they derive from same source (units).  Thus, two extremes are complementary and create harmony when united.  Source: James, George G. M. Stolen Legacy: The Egyptian Origins of Western Philosophy. United States: Feather Trail, Print.  Source: Bakalis, Nikolaos. Handbook of Greek Philosophy: From Thales to the Stoics. Victoria, BC.: Trafford, Print.

9 Pythagoras  Persuaded by Thales of Miletus to travel to Africa to study and become initiated into the Egyptian Mystery System. Spent twenty-two years in Egypt.  Doctrine of opposites identical to Egyptian prototype. Held that the virtue of harmony within the universe was a result of the unity between the two.  The Egyptian prototype of this doctrine can be identified within both the Hermopolitan and Heliopolitan systems which had opposites as partners in the creation process.  One obtains harmony through the union of positive and negative, male and female, body and soul, etc.  Pythagoras’ foreign practices and beliefs, such as geometry, incited fear and uncertainty in his home state of Greece.  Source: James, George G. M. Stolen Legacy: The Egyptian Origins of Western Philosophy. United States: Feather Trail, Print.  Source: Bakalis, Nikolaos. Handbook of Greek Philosophy: From Thales to the Stoics. Victoria, BC.: Trafford, Print.

10 Pythagoras  Plato, in his Laws, states the following: ATHENIAN: All freemen I conceive, should learn as much of these branches of knowledge as every child in Egypt is taught when he learns the alphabet. In that country arithmetical games have been invented for the use of mere children, which they learn as a pleasure and amusement. They have to distribute apples and garlands, using the same number sometimes for a larger and sometimes for a lesser number of persons; and they arrange pugilists and wrestlers as they pair together by lot or remain over, and show how their turns come in natural order. Another mode of amusing them is to distribute vessels, sometimes of gold, brass, silver, and the like, intermixed with one another, sometimes of one metal only; as I was saying they adapt to their amusement the numbers in common use, and in this way make more intelligible to their pupils the arrangements and movements of armies and expeditions, and in the management of a household they make people more useful to themselves, and more wide awake; and again in measurements of things which have length, and breadth, and depth, they free us from that natural ignorance of all these things which is so ludicrous and disgraceful. CLEINIAS: What kind of ignorance do you mean? ATHENIAN: O my dear Cleinias, I, like yourself, have late in life heard with amazement of our ignorance in these matters; to me we appear to be more like pigs than men, and I am quite ashamed, not only of myself, but for our whole Hellenic world.

11 Pythagoras  Plato, in his Laws, also states the following : For securing permanence no better method can be imagined than that of the Egyptians. 'What is their method?' They make a calendar for the year, arranging on what days the festivals of the various Gods shall be celebrated, and for each festival they consecrate an appropriate hymn and dance. In our state a similar arrangement shall in the first instance be framed by certain individuals, and afterwards solemnly ratified by all the citizens.

12 Conclusions & Implications  Human civilization began on the continent of Africa.  Ancient Egyptian Civilization was a Black society.  Ancient Egyptian civilization laid a philosophical foundation which allowed for Greek philosophy to develop more than 1,500 years later.  The correction of inaccuracies within Western philosophy, science, history and arts, which fail to resonate with the conceptual or spiritual framework of Black people as a result of worldview differences.  Black people will elevate their consciousness and ultimately become liberated.

13 Review of Literature  Ani, M. “Chapter 1, Utamawazo: The Cultural Structuring of Thought.” In Yurugu: An African-Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior, Trenton: Africa World Press,  Azibo, Daudi Ajani. “Articulating the Distinction Between Black Studies and the Study of Blacks: The Fundamental Role of Culture and the African-Centered Worldview,” The Afrocentric Scholar, 1, no. 1 (1992):  Bakalis, Nikolaos. Handbook of Greek Philosophy: From Thales to the Stoics. Victoria, BC.: Trafford, Print.  Carr, G. K. “The African-Centered Philosophy of History: An Exploratory Essay on the Genealogy of Foundationalist Historical Thought and African Nationalist Identity Construction.” In The African World History Project – The Preliminary Challenge ASCAC Foundation: Los Angeles,  Carroll, K. K. “Africana Studies & Research Methodology: Revisiting the Centrality of the Afrikan Worldview,” Journal of Pan African Studies 2, 2 (2008):  Carruthers, J. “Reflections on the History of the Afrocentric Worldview.” In Intellectual Warfare, Chicago: Third World Press,  Carruthers, J. “Thinking about European Thought.” In Intellectual Warfare, Chicago: Third World Press,  Diop, Cheik Anta., and Mercer Cook. The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality. Westport: Lawrence Hill, Print.  Diop, Cheikh Anta., Harold J. Salemson, and Jager Marjolijn. Civilization or Barbarism: An Authentic Anthropology. Brooklyn, NY: Lawrence Hill, Print.  Diop, Cheikh Anta. The Cultural Unity of Black Africa: The Domains of Patriarchy and of Matriarchy in Classical Antiquity. Chicago: Third World, Print.  James, George G. M. Stolen Legacy: The Egyptian Origins of Western Philosophy. United States: Feather Trail, Print.  Obenga, Theophile. African Philosophy In World History. Princeton, N.J.: Sungai, Print.  Olela, Henry. "The African Foundations of Greek Philosophy." African Philosophy: An Introduction. By Richard A. Wright. Washington, D.C.: University of America, Print.  Onyewuenyi, Innocent C. The African Origin Of Greek Philosophy: An Exercise In Afrocentrism. Nsukka, Nigeria: University of Nigeria, Print.


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