In Greece, before VI BC, where it is believed that philosophical thinking began to develop, the scene was similar: religious speculation was blooming in a similar manner as in eastern civilizations.
However, some analysts believe there are some differential aspects within Greek religion which foretell what would in later centuries be called 'philosophy'. There are 2 main aspect:
- Reflection and investigation (Greeks, even in their religion, seem to be more CONCIOUS OF PROBLEMS AT AN ABSTRACT LEVEL)
- Immediate prime union between human problems and cosmic problems, as reflected in their MYTHS.
Myths in Greek religion have been studied, most of all, through the literary work of 2 great authors of epic poetry: Homer and Hesiod.
Homer highlights, most of all, the cosmic origins of humanity. As a matter of fact, both the 'Iliad' and the 'Odyssey' present the gods as the true main characters, not men. Every thing that happens to the humans in these 2 epic poems involve some event which took place in heaven.
With Hesiod, we find 3 aspects which we already know from eastern religion: a prime being (CHAOS), a motive and generating power (EROS) and in infinite succession of generations.
Moreover, in his work, we find a concept named for the first time which is still used today: the EARTH is in the middle, with HEAVEN above and TARTARUS (now referred to as ‘hell’) below.
To close our study on Greek religious thought, let's quote ORPHICS (or Orphism) religion, extremely popular in that time.
According to Orphism, time (CHRONOS) is the source of beings: there is divine unity (‘Pantheism’), the domain of the cosmos is conferred at the beginning of order and there is a universal justice law. Consequently, it is similar to ancient religions.
The first philosophers appeared, as we previously stated, in Greece around VI BC. They were called ‘Ionians’, because they emerged form the Greek colonies of Ionia, in the coast of Asia Minor (see map).