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Introduction | History of Babylonian Philosophy | Basic Concepts
 
Introduction Back to Top

Babylonian Philosophy can be traced back to early Mesopotamian wisdom, which embodied certain philosophies of life, particularly ethics. These are reflected in Mesopotamian religion (much of which revolved around the identification of the gods and goddesses with heavenly bodies) and in a variety of Babylonian literature.

History of Babylonian Philosophy Back to Top

Their reasoning and rationality developed beyond empirical observation at a very early date. Esagil-kin-apli's medical "Diagnostic Handbook", dating back to the 11th Century B.C., was based on a logical set of axioms and assumptions, including the modern view that, through the examination and inspection of the symptoms of a patient, it is possible to determine the patient's disease, and the chances of the patient's recovery.

During the 8th and 7th Centuries B.C., Babylonian astronomers began studying philosophy dealing with the ideal nature of the early universe, and began employing an internal logic within their predictive planetary systems, an important contribution to the philosophy of science.

It is possible that Babylonian philosophy had an influence on Greek, particularly Hellenistic philosophy. The Babylonian text "Dialogue of Pessimism" contains similarities to sophism, Heraclitus' doctrine of contrasts, the dialogues of Plato and Socrates' dialectical method of inquiry.

Basic Concepts Back to Top

There are four prominent concepts in Babylonian philosophy which have carried over to many different philosophical schools and movements in different parts of the world:

  • All things are the result of organic evolution (so a Creator is not needed and the way is open for Man to think that he helped in his own creation and evolution and that he therefore has, in his own self, the power for his advancement).
  • The human intellect has pre-eminence (the educational systems of the day are enmeshed in this ideology).
  • Promiscuity and sexual abandonment permeates all of society (and is all but encouraged, even if it often results in the break-down of the home and marriage).
  • A total state or welfare society or, arguably, totalitarianism is the natural path to follow (thus, the State - or in some cases organized religion - will act for the people, think for the people, do everything for the people).
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