Characteristics of Greek Philosophy
The term Greek philosophy, to begin with is a misnomer, for there is no such philosophy inexistence. The ancient Egyptians had developed a very complex religious system, called the Mysteries, which was also the first system of salvation. As such, it regarded the human body as a prison house of the soul, which could be liberated from its bodily impediments, through the disciplines of the Arts and Sciences, and advanced from the level of a mortal to that of a God. This was the notion of the summum bonum or greatest good, to which all men must aspire, and it also became the basis of all ethical concepts. The Egyptian Mystery System was also a Secret Order, and membership was gained by initiation and a pledge to secrecy. The teaching was graded and delivered orally to the Neophyte; and under these
circumstances of secrecy, the Egyptians developed secret systems of writing and teaching, and forbade their Initiates from writing what they had learnt.
After nearly five thousand years of prohibition against the Greeks, they were permitted to enter Egypt for the purpose of their education. First through the Persian invasion and secondly through the invasion of Alexander the Great. From the sixth century B.C. therefore to the death of Aristotle (322 B.C.) the Greeks made the best of their chance to learn all they could about Egyptian culture; most students received instructions directly from the Egyptian Priests, but after the invasion by Alexander the Great, the Royal temples and libraries were plundered and pillaged, and Aristotle’s school converted the library at Alexandria into a research centre. There is no wonder then, that the production of the unusually large number of books ascribed to Aristotle has proved a physical impossibility, for any single man within a life time.
The history of Aristotle’s life, has done him far more harm than good, since it carefully avoids any statement relating to his visit to Egypt, either on his own account or in company with Alexander the Great, when he invaded Egypt. This silence of history at once throws doubt upon the life and achievements of Aristotle. He is said to have spent twenty years under the tutorship of Plato, who is regarded as a Philosopher, yet he graduated as the greatest of Scientists of Antiquity. Two questions might be asked: (a) how could Plato teach Aristotle what he himself did not know?; and (b) why should Aristotle spend twenty years under a teacher from whom he
could learn nothing? This bit of history sounds incredible. Again, in order to avoid suspicion over the extraordinary number of books ascribed to Aristotle, history tells us that Alexander the Great, gave him a large sum of money to get the books. Here again the history sounds incredible,
and three statements must here be made.
(a) In order to purchase books on science, they must have been in circulation so as to enable Aristotle to secure them. (b) If the books were in circulation before Aristotle purchased them, and since he is not supposed to have visited Egypt at all, then the books in question must have been circulated among Greek philosophers. (c) If circulated among Greek philosophers, then we would expect the subject matter of such books to have been known before Aristotle’s time, and consequently he could not be credited either with producing them or introducing new ideas of science. Another point of considerable interest to be accounted for was the attitude of the Athenian government towards this so-called Greek philosophy, which it regarded as foreign in origin and treated it accordingly. Only a brief study of history is necessary to show that Greek philosophers were undesirable citizens, who throughout the period of their investigations were victims of relentless persecution, at the hands of the Athenian government. Anaxagoras was imprisoned and exiled; Socrates was executed; Plato was sold into slavery and Aristotle was indicted and exiled; while the earliest of them all, Pythagoras, was expelled from Croton in Italy.
Can we imagine the Greeks making such an about turn, as to claim the very teachings which they had at first persecuted and openly rejected? Certainly, they knew they were usurping what they had never produced, and as we enter step by step into our study the greater do we discover evidence which leads us to the conclusion that Greek philosophers were not the authors of Greek philosophy, but the Egyptian Priests and Hierophants. Aristotle died in 322 B.C. not many years after he had been aided by Alexander the Great to secure the largest quantity of scientific books from the Royal Libraries and Temples of Egypt. In spite however of such great intellectual treasure, the death of Aristotle marked the death of philosophy among the Greeks, who did not seem to possess the natural ability to advance these sciences. Consequently history informs us that the Greeks were forced to make a study of Ethics, which they also borrowed from the Egyptian “summum bonum” or greatest good.
The two other Athenian Philosophers must be mentioned here, I mean Socrates and Plato; who also became famous in history as philosophers and great thinkers. Every school boy believes that when he hears or reads the command “know thyself”, he is hearing or reading words which were uttered by Socrates. But the truth is that the Egyptian temples carried inscriptions on the outside addressed to Neophytes and among them was the injunction “know thyself”. Socrates copied these words from the Egyptian Temples, and was not the author. All mystery temples, inside and outside of Egypt carried such inscriptions, just like the weekly bulletins of our modern Churches.
Similarly, every school boy believes that when he hears or reads the names of the four cardinal virtues, he is hearing or reading names of virtues determined by Plato.
Nothing has been more misleading, for the Egyptian Mystery System contained ten virtues, and from this source Plato
copied what have been called the four cardinal virtues, justice, wisdom, temperance, and courage. It is indeed surprising how, for centuries, the Greeks have been praised by the Western World for intellectual accomplishments which belong without a doubt to the Egyptians or the peoples of North Africa.
Another noticeable characteristic of Greek philosophy is the fact that most of the Greek philosophers used the teachings of Pythagoras as their model; and consequently they have introduced nothing new in the field of philosophy. Included in the Pythagorean system we find the doctrines of (a) opposites (b) Harmony (c) Fire (d) Mind, since it is composed of fire atoms, (e) Immortality, expressed as transmigration of Souls, (f) The summum bonum or the purpose of philosophy. And these of course are reflected in the systems of Heraclitus, Parmenides, Democritus, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.
The next thing that is peculiar about Greek philosophy is its use in literature. The Egyptian Mystery System was the first secret Order of History and the publication of its teachings was strictly prohibited. This explains why Initiates like Socrates did not commit to writing their philosophy, and why the Babylonians and Chaldaeans who were very closely associated with them also refrained from publishing those teachings. We can at once see how easy it was for an ambitious and even envious nation to claim a body of unwritten knowledge which would make them great in the eyes of the primitive world. The absurdity however, is easily recognized when we remember that the Greek language was used to translate several systems of teachings which the Greeks could not succeed in claiming. Such were the translation of Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, called the Septuagint; and the translation of the Christian Gospels, Acts and the Epistles in Greek, still called the Greek New Testament. It is only the unwritten philosophy of the Egyptians translated into Greek that has met with such an unhappy fate: a legacy stolen by the Greeks.
On account of reasons already given, I have been compelled to handle the subject matter of this book, in the way it has been handled: namely (a) with a frequency of repetition, because it is the method of Greek philosophy, to use a common principle to explain several different doctrines, and (b) the quotation and analysis of doctrines, because it is the object of this book to establish the Egyptian Origin and this cannot be so satisfactorily done if the doctrines are not presented.
Greek philosophy is somewhat of a drama, whose chief actors were Alexander the Great, Aristotle and his successors in the peripatetic school, and the Roman Emperor Justinian. Alexander invaded Egypt and captured the Royal Library at Alexandria and plundered it. Aristotle made a library of his own with plundered books, while his school occupied the building and used it as a research centre. Finally, Justinian the Roman Emperor abolished the Temples and schools of philosophy i.e. another name for the Egyptian Mysteries which the Greeks claimed as their product, and on account of which, they have been falsely praised and honoured
for centuries by the world, as its greatest philosophers and thinkers.
This contribution to civilization was really and truly made by the Egyptians and the African continent, but not by the Greeks or the European continent. We sometimes wonder why the people of African descent find themselves in such a social plight as they do, but the answer is plain enough. Had it not been for this drama of Greek philosophy and its actors, the African continent would have had a different reputation, and would have enjoyed a status of respect among the nations of the world.
This unfortunate position of the African continent and its peoples appears to be the result of misrepresentation upon which the structure of race prejudice has been built, i.e. the historical world opinion that the African continent is backward, that its people are backward, and that their civilization is also backward.
Finally, the dishonesty in the movement of the publication of a Greek philosophy, becomes very glaring, when we refer to the fact, purposely that by calling the theorem of the Square on the Hypotenuse, the Pythagorean theorem, it has concealed the truth for centuries from the world, who ought to know that the Egyptians taught Pythagoras and the Greeks, what mathematics they knew.
I want to mention here that among the many books which I found helpful in my present work are “The Intellectual Adventure of Man” and “The Egyptian Religion” by Professor Henri Frankfort and “The Mediterranean World in Ancient Times” by Professor Eva Sandford.
George G. M. James
(click the title of the book to get the full pdf version)