2 Answers

  1. Interestingly, the first philosophers we know today didn't call themselves “philosophers” and didn't even know the word. Neither Thales nor Parmenides were so named. For Thales, at least, the tradition of using the word “philosopher” really looks rather strange – given that he is also the first of the “7 sages”, while “philosopher” was traditionally opposed to the sage.

    As for the origin of this word, I have come across two of the most common versions.

    1. Diogenes of Laertes attributes the first use of this word to Pythagoras: “Philosophy is philosophy, and Pythagoras first began to call himself a philosopher when he argued in Sycyon with Leon, the tyrant of Sycyon or Fliunt; the sage, according to him, can only be God, and not man. For it would be premature to call philosophy “wisdom,” and to call the practitioner of it “sage,” as if he had already sharpened his spirit to the limit; and a philosopher is simply one who is attracted to wisdom.” The same version is repeated by most authors of university textbooks on philosophy.

    2. However, the German philosopher Martin Heidegger attributed the invention of the word to Heraclitus. More precisely, Heraclitus used the word “philosophos “as a characteristic of a person -” a person philosophizing ” or philosophical. Interestingly, Heraclitus lived around the same time as Pythagoras, but on the opposite side of the Greek world: Pythagoras (570-490) lived in southern Italy, while Heraclitus (544-483) lived in Ephesus, in Asia Minor. Therefore, it is unlikely that they could interact in any way and hardly even knew about each other's existence, and therefore, they could have come up with this word independently, relying on the internal logic of the Greek language.

    But if you got this question in the university philosophy test, answer “Pythagoras”, as in the textbook 🙂

  2. The word has been attributed to several early philosophers, from Thales to Pythagoras. The meaning of the word is modesty, a refusal to call yourself a sage, but only a lover of wisdom. This modesty was necessary for the philosopher to enter society and become not a wise mentor from the outside, like the prophets, but a lover of wisdom, improving society from the inside.

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