In his book: History of Western Philosophy, Bertrand Russell writes: Nothing is so difficult to account for as the sudden rise of civilisation in Greece. Is that really so? What if the Greeks inherited it from the Minoans?

After all Philosophy started in what was once Minoan colonies... And the Liar Paradox one of the most difficult logical problems in history seems to have come from Crete through Epimenides.

At Crete we have the first Laws written on stones in Greece. "Crete pioneered the idea of the 'city-state' and developed it for longer than anywhere else in the ancient Greek world." From where came Crete's astonishing creativity?


(Edited) Wikipedia is free and books are expensive: It appears that Crete being an ISLAND in the Mediterranean may have had the longest continuous civilisation in the Middle east since the earliest human traces (stone tools) dates back as early as 130,000 years ago, evidence for the first anatomically-modern human presence dates to 10,000–12,000 YBP.

A comparative study of DNA haplogroups of modern Cretan men showed that a male founder group, from Anatolia or the Levant, is shared with the Greeks. Its the genetics from the first Anatolian farmers 12000 years ago that still is showing up in the modern population. Its no wonder the Minoans worshipped bulls. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/archaeology-and-history/magazine/2017/09-10/Minoan_Crete/

They reached/colonised Etruria , Basque , Brittain AND NORWAY! They wanted the fine silver where Oslo lies today!

Their priests had horns from bulls so VIKING PRIESTS took up the custom. They Probably also traded with the Eastcoast of Sweden but stopped coming when the Thera Eruption seriously weakened the Minoans! So we Swedes made pictures of boats at the former trade harbours hoping the gods would send the Minoans back!

Seriously weakened the Minoans could not stop their former colony THE MYCAENEANS from taking over Crete and stealing some of their high culture. For example: The god DIONYSOS a Minoan god.

  • 1
    See Minoan civilization : "The Minoan civilization was an Aegean Bronze Age civilization on the island of Crete and other Aegean islands which flourished from about 2600 to 1100 BC. It preceded the Mycenaean civilization of Ancient Greece. Although the Minoan language and writing systems (Linear A) remain undeciphered, and are the subject of academic dispute, they apparently conveyed a language entirely different from the later Greek." May 19, 2018 at 17:17
  • Thus, we have no extant records of Minoan philosophers or other text that can be transmitted to the Mycenean world that in turn spanned the period from approximately 1600–1100 BC, which in turn are not the "Classical" Greece. May 19, 2018 at 17:19
  • You can see e.g. Thomas Martin, Ancient Greece : From prehistoric to hellenistic times, Yale UP (2000) for an overview of the history of Greece and Crete during the Bronze Age. May 19, 2018 at 17:31
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    Plato himself wanted to throw the origin of philosophy backward in time, to Egypt, in the Timaeus. It is the kind of thing that one cannot imagine becoming, once one has it. But large tracts of what underlies Greek philosophy seems to have come from the Far East, and to have been brought back by men who took part in wars in Asia Minor. So local to Greece seems to be the last place to look.
    – user9166
    May 19, 2018 at 18:31
  • But the issue is not whether Cretan being in contact with "continental" Greeks: this is sure. But the issue is about the speculation regarding a Minoan philosophy being transmitted to "classical" Greece: we simply have no testimony about anything that can be considerd "philosophy". May 20, 2018 at 7:38

4 Answers 4


No. This is the short answer but there is also a longer story. As things stay the burden of proof would be on the side asserting a Minoan origin. There should be evidence and arguments because minoan culture does not seem to have been different from other palatial cultures.

If one tends to see philosophy as set of separable puzzles to be solved by various means then one could believe it to be transportable. Actually much depends about how one conceives both philosophy and history. The debate about the origin was the great affair of the 19th c, and there is rather good recent book From Hegel to Windelband,Historiography of Philosophy in the 19th Century, ed G. Hartung and V. Pluder, De Gruyter 2015. ( includes M. Forster Does Western Philosophy Have Non-Western Roots?, p.141-58 ). In the 20th c. the value of 'origin' has plumeted but nothing significant seems to have been said against the historicist stance that makes philosophy not just a Greek invention but an inherent part of its culture. It was after Homer, the myths and the sages that philosophers appeared.

  • Homer, who Sand1 happen to mention, wrote the Odyssey somewhere around 800 BC. In which he tells a story about the cyclop Polyphemus with the sense moral that one should not believe NOBODY TO BE SOMEBODY. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyphemus Homer was a Mycaenean author and maybe his literary brilliance has blinded the world from recognizing him as being the first logician and philosopher in History ... The philosopher Parmenides some 200 years later got his deserved fame for claiming that one should not believe NOTHING TO BE SOMETHING! Just remember who told you first. May 19, 2018 at 23:32
  • Well, greeks have taken at least some words from minoans. This opens a possibility that they took some ideas with those words as well.
    – rus9384
    May 20, 2018 at 19:20

There is absolutely no verifiable historical, archeological, artistic or textual evidence that Greek Philosophy "was inherited from the Minoans"...NONE.

While Minoan Crete was an impressive civilization dating back AT LEAST 4000 years, our contemporary knowledge of Ancient Crete is only about 100-150 years old dating back to British Archeological expeditions led by Sir Arthur Evans. Crete's Linear A tablets remain indecipherable and as of now, we only have architectural ruins and frescoes, as well as some skeletal remains-(which interestingly, closely correspond with the DNA of many contemporary Cretans).

We know that Minoan Crete was probably the First major Maritime Power of the greater Mediterranean sea region for AT LEAST 300 years-(1900-1600 BC/BCE). Although DNA tests do show a close genetic match between Modern Cretans and Ancient Cretans, we still do not know the exact ethnic or ethno-linguistic origins of the Minoans-(except for the fact that the Minoan tablets do not appear to be Semitic or Egyptian Hieroglyphics....though they don't seem to have any linguistic connection with Mycenean Greek either). In other words, the Ancient Cretan language continues to remain a mystery. However, to make a HUGE historical leap and say that indecipherable Cretan tablets served as the influence or basis for Greek Philosophy-(which doesn't come on the chronological scene until 1000 years AFTER the destruction of Minoan Crete in 1600 BC/BCE), is intellectually irresponsible and such a theory needs to be reexamined within the proper historical (and even archeological) context.

Greek Philosophy began with Thales of Miletus in 600 BC/BCE, on the Anatolian, West Asian coast-(present-day Turkey), 1000 years AFTER the destruction of Minoan Crete and approximately 175 years BEFORE Socrates. Unfortunately, we do not have any extant writings from Thales or his students-(their legacy was preserved in the lectures of Aristotle, who lived 250 years after Thales). And to the best of my knowledge Aristotle rarely, if ever, discussed the culture of Minoan Crete-(Even Crete's native son, Epimenides-(and his Liar Paradox..."I am lying, trust me!"), came on the philosophical scene over 1000 years AFTER Minoan Crete).

It should also be noted that the Greco-Mycenaeans, did NOT "steal high culture" from the Minoans...there is no evidence to prove this, except for random legends and conjectures. It is true that Zeus was born on the island of Crete, though Dionysus, to the best of my knowledge, originally came from the East and not from Crete. As for the so-called Minoan City-State, this is historically incorrect. The concept of the City-State, (specifically, the Athenian City-State), came from and originated with, the Hellenic mainland centuries AFTER the destruction of Ancient Crete. The political landscape of Ancient Crete, was a Monarchy-(perhaps even an imperial Monarchy) that was based in the city of Knossos. However, Minoan Crete did not have an early version of a Parliament, a Ministerial Bureaucracy or Juridical institutions. As far as we know, Minoan Crete, was a Sea Power largely governed and administered by a King who ruled from a city, though presided over a mostly rural landscape and population.

It is certainly tempting to discredit or historically contextualize Greek Philosophy and Philosophers. Traditional views of Greek Philosophy and Philosophers were often portrayed as truly creative Originalists, who had very little or no external influences. Conversely, since the early years of Political Correctness, it was common to belittle the creativity and originality of the Greek Philosophers, while extoling their so-called Egyptian, Persian, Babylonian (and even Indian) influences. The real answer, is that it was a little of both. The myriad of Greek Philosophy does show us a series of Thinkers who were as diverse in their thought, as they were in their geographical origins. Yet, at the same time, each of the Greek Philosophers were quite original in their views and justifications for such views. The History of Greek Philosophy cannot be oversimplified as a compilation of "stolen" texts and ideas; rather, it was a compilation of texts and ideas that had some external influencing and subsequent incorporation into a newer and more refined system of ideas and thoughts. This was true for the Greek Philosophers and their legacy, but, it was also true for their Mycenaean Forefathers and their legacy.

(NOTE: "The Minoans traveled to Britain and Norway and traded with the Swedes"....Really?...Where is your historical and archeological proof?)

  • The Crete-Norway link is based on a few squiggles, dubiously interpreted and dated, by an amateur araenil.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/… Pseudohistory, basically
    – CriglCragl
    Jun 25, 2021 at 12:18
  • Crete-Norway link....."Pseudohistory", indeed. Thanks for the comment.
    – Alex
    Jun 25, 2021 at 15:32

According to Plato the Greeks inherited wisdom from the Egyptians; as he was a prominent early philosopher it might be worth taking this into account.

There again, perhaps as early as then, there was such a thing as Greek or Hellenic chauvinism, and perhaps he was simply his riposte to philosophy couched in chauvinistic terms and not in universal terms.

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    The subject I bring up is extremely wide and at present I think its more a matter of collecting facts that can bring light to the matter. So thanx for the tip of plato. May 20, 2018 at 21:15

Im opening a second window on Minoan affairs... Since I dont want to expand my first post. It can stay as my opening move! Nor do I want to ask questions elsewhere... interested readers shouldnt have to go looking for information all around the place.

An example on cultural diffusion from minoans into greeks is the God Dionysos who dont fit well im with the other Olympic gods and once were believed to be an import from Thracia ... but modern scholars has shown that "Dionysius" is a minoan word ... Dont ask me how, I cant remember everything I read. And with him came the mystery cults long believed to have a middle eastern origin. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greco-Roman_mysteries

We have not known about the Minoan culture for long so we all naturally believed there WAS NO HIGH DEVELOPED MINOAN CULTURE that (also through the myceneans) could have kickstarted the Famous Greek Culture!

Plato has been brought up ... In his last work (which I havent read):The Laws

Plato discusses the origin of law and where does he place the discussion?

The dialogue takes place on the island of Crete, The conversation is led by an Athenian Stranger , the ordinary Spartan citizen Megillos and the Cretan politician and lawgiver Clinias from Knossos. Are there three different sources of Greek Law?

Sparta https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sparta Athen https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Greek_law
CRETE https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gortyn_code#Bringing_suit

Ill leave it there for the moment...

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