Jakob Fortunat Stagl
David K. Glidden
Ancient philosophy’s modern reception reflects methods of transmission and dissemination of ancient philosophic texts. Ancient Greco-Roman philosophy impacted modernity via six means of influence: printed books, libraries, critical scholarship, vernacular translations, eclectic borrowing, and thematic resonance.
The beginnings of the Italian and Northern European Renaissance awakened interest in ancient Greco-Roman authors. The increased wealth of a propertied class and the leisure time afforded by that prosperity stimulated literacy both for business and pleasure and provided fertile ground for philosophic reflection. The philosophical writings of antiquity were transformed as ancient authors became heralds and guides for the future, rather than relics of the past. All of the following modern philosophic discussions have classical roots: the concepts of virtue, human thriving, equality before the law, the centrality of hypothetical reasoning for scientific inquiry, the foundations of semiotics, the mathematically fathomable structures of physical reality, the existence of natural kinds and the identities they confer on particulars, as well as predicate and propositional logic and their impacts upon computing code. The ways we variously view reality and truth and how we gain confidence in fashioning a comforting reality owes everything to ancient insights. The same is true of the dichotomies that organize conceptual discrimination: being/nonbeing, permanence/impermanence, motion/rest—building blocks used in constructing varied understandings of the world, continually subject to revision and refinement. The impact of ancient philosophy on the modern era is broad and deep.