21 votes
Accepted

Where does Herodotus discuss judging the wisdom of decisions by the evidence at hand vs. the consequences?

Macaulay, 1890 the counsel which has been taken is no less good, though it has been defeated by fortune; while he who took counsel badly at first, if good fortune should go with him has lighted on a ...
18 votes
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What was the personal philosophy of Alexander the Great in his youth?

— My memory is all Greek to me too. — But it seems that here we see mainly a slight slip-up in letters with a bit of retroactive reasoning, or perhaps a certain conflation of concepts? The concept of ...
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16 votes

What is the name of the theory opposite to the Great Man theory?

Not every thesis has a single antithesis or opposite. However, we can highlight a few trends or schools of thought in historiography (the study of history) that contrast most sharply with the Great ...
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16 votes
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Why did Athenian philosophers praise Spartan culture and laws, which would preclude philosophers like themselves?

This question probably can't produce anything but opinion-based answers, but I'll take my shot. I would say two factors are at play here: First, the lauding of extravagant praise on an "alien" ...
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  • 1,158
15 votes
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Why did Mozi's philosophy die out in China?

I think there are these reasons: Around the time of its decline, Chinese philosophy was quasi-religious, and exclusionary. That is, Mohism was actively suppressed by regimes that adopted other ...
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15 votes
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What was the primary motivation for a historical figure like Xenophon to create an extensive collection of written material?

Xenophon gave specific reasons for some of his works but for others he did not. Xenophon (about 431 BC to 354 BC) produced a very wide range of work during his lifetime: historical, biographical, ...
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14 votes
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In what sense is Socrates considered as the father of Western philosophy?

Socrates changed how philosophy itself was to be conceived. Rather than a "sophist" ("wise one" - the tag often used for earlier Greek philosophers), Socrates described himself simply as a "philo-...
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11 votes
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Is it true that Plato travelled till Ganges river?

You are taking the quote out of context. Here is the complete text from the Story of Civilization: Twelve years he wandered, imbibing wisdom from every source, sitting at every shrine, tasting ...
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10 votes

When did people start saying about the US that "it's a free country"?

Google suggests as early as 1848 Stray Subjects, arrested and bound over, That chap as went in fust thar ain t nobuddy ef he has got a swaller tailed coat on My money's as good as his n and it's a ...
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10 votes
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In Classical Athens, what did the portico of the archon basileus look like?

There's a model of the Stoa Basileios (or Royal Stoa), seat of the archon basileus, at the end of 5th century BC on the site of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA). This is ...
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9 votes

Why did non-monarchic rule meet with so little success in ancient China?

I think you are not giving the Chinese their due credit. First, interestingly enough, there was a democratic (even anarchist) social movement that tried to create egalitarian communities in ...
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8 votes
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Why was 17th Century England a particularly supportive place for groundbreaking thought?

It was clearly a remarkable period for English scientific thought, but historians of science bicker about why. One very good reason might be the work of Sir Francis Bacon, essentialy the founding ...
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  • 149
8 votes

Is history always written by the victors?

The Spanish Civil War is an example of loser-dominated historiography. That the Rebels won is beyond doubt, but the Loyalists wrote all the history... it's hard to think of a history of the war which ...
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  • 12.9k
8 votes
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What is the name of the theory opposite to the Great Man theory?

The opposite view holds that extra-human dynamics govern the courses of events. This is a recurring theme of Tolstoy's War and Peace, a fundamental principle of Marx's dialectical materialism; it is ...
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8 votes

What was the primary motivation for a historical figure like Xenophon to create an extensive collection of written material?

In a specific case, his work was clearly intended as instructional manual for others: His work On Horsemanship addresses cavalry officers and others either involved with the training of horses or the ...
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  • 2,445
7 votes

Is history always written by the victors?

If you are looking for examples: The history of most major invasions of Europe is written or significantly influenced by the Europeans (who happened to be on the loosing end). The Huns and Attila, the ...
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  • 1,209
6 votes

Which ancient text claims that everything has been said before?

After some searching, I cannot find an older succinct expression of the concept than that in the book Ecclesiastes from the Hebrew Tanakh, which has become the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. ...
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6 votes
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Was late-medieval French education recalcitrant to math?

Medieval scholarship was essentially a "great books" endeavor, where paragons of intellect were held to have the last word on many subjects (consider Aristotle for natural science or Galen for ...
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  • 1,734
6 votes

What is the source for this Leonardo Da Vinci quote?

According to The Da Vinci Globe (info here) the comment was made during reflection on Leonardo's study of how to accurately render surveyed maps onto a (nearly) spherical surface as a globe. If we ...
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6 votes

What is the source for this Leonardo Da Vinci quote?

This is most probably a made up quote. Checking later editions was unfruitful, but Leonardo is so long out of these filthy copyright laws, we might as well look at J.P. Richter: "Leonardo. The ...
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6 votes

What was the primary motivation for a historical figure like Xenophon to create an extensive collection of written material?

Of course we can only conjecture (as we cannot know exactly what was in Xenophon's mind), so I conjecture that motivation was the same as for many modern writers: it is the desire to spread one's ...
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6 votes
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Which philosopher said that taking notes is good?

I wonder whether you mean John Locke's treatise on commonplace books? As for Aristotle: The following adage is often attributed to him (put it into a search engine to see how many quotation websites ...
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5 votes

What made Cicero so fascinating to Petrarch?

Ancient literature was not widely known and not read before Petrarch's time. He had a luck of discovering Cicero's letters. Apparently he personally discovered them in some storage. He read them and ...
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5 votes

how did the Cynics of Greece and Rome eat

The earliest Cynics like Diogenes were mendicants; though Diogenes Laertius also mentions foraging as a means of nourishment. I'm not sure it's possible to conflate the Cynics of Greece and Rome ...
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  • 51
5 votes

How much of what we know about ancient philosophers comes from oral literature?

I think you want to start by reading a little Dante. Here I saw Socrates and Plato, who in front of the others stands nearest to him; Democritus, who ascribes the world to chance; Diogenes, ...
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  • 1,753
5 votes

What is the name of the theory opposite to the Great Man theory?

It's called "History from Below". I justify this by quoting Herbert Spencer: You must admit that the genesis of a great man depends on the long series of complex influences which has produced the ...
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5 votes
Accepted

What does Deng Xiaoping mean by "Hide your capacities, bide your time '?

Deng was paraphrasing a well-known Chinese proverb. Context change in the Chinese foreign policy, and avoidance of conflict with the great powers (mostly the US, USSR collapsed soon after) . Before ...
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  • 10.9k
5 votes

What were the neoplatonists' attitude towards Christianity (or religion in general)?

There were Christian Neo-Platonists like John Philoponus and pagan Neo-Platonists like Proclus, who lived in Alexandria and Athens respectively. Philoponus wrote a famous refutation of Proclus' (and ...
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  • 9,473
4 votes

Is it true that Plato travelled till Ganges river?

There is no mention in any Greek source of Plato travelling to India, or to any place in Asia. He did however sail to Sicily.
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  • 9,473
4 votes

Is it true that Plato travelled till Ganges river?

I don't know yet, but there is some indirect evidence that an Indian Yogi met Socrates. Travelling far and wide was not uncommon. Shankaracharya travelled all over India on foot. So did Ramanuja. Fa ...
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