Plato, as a lot of people know created the Platonic Academy, which focused on teaching many subjects, but didn't any pre-Socratic philosophers think of making an academy/school for teaching subjects such as philosophy or math etc.

Because after all, a philosopher needs to share his knowledge with people (well in my opinion).

My question is: Were any philosophers in the pre-Socratic era interested in creating academies/schools. If not, why weren't they interested?

  • Schools, not to be confused with an ideology that has philosophers following it. IE. An actual school – captindfru Aug 7 '18 at 10:51

Plato and Pythagoras

There is evidence that the Platonic Academy was modelled on Pythagoras's school in Sicily :

The Academy (probably modeled after Pythagoras's school in Sicily) was established as a quasi-religious association (or thiasos), a "brotherhood dedicated to the muses" and charac- terized by reciprocity, equality, and friendship (Marrou 67-68; see also Republic 547a-b). The Pythagorean brotherhood formalized and turned toward political, religious, and educational goals the social relations that, ideally, held between elite men who were, by virtue of their high birth, characterized by mutual equality, friendship, and concord (political like-mindedness or homonoia: Nicomachean Ethics 1167b, Eudemian Ethics 1241a). (James Fredal, 'Why Shouldn't the Sophists Charge Fees?', Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Vol. 38, No. 2 (Spring, 2008), pp. 148-170 : 153.)

If we accept this, then there was at least one presocratic 'school' with a programme of instruction and a distinct location. Aristoxenus suggests that presocratic Pythagorean teaching circles persisted in Italy and mainland Greece before the Academy was established. (Edward Watts, 'Creating the Academy: Historical Discourse and the Shape of Community in the Old Academy', The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 127 (2007), pp. 106-122 : 107.)

  • Great answer, But was Pythagoras the only philosopher interested in schools? were there any other notable philosophers who 'wanted' to make a school but failed? – captindfru Aug 8 '18 at 6:21
  • @captindfru. Hi - thanks indeed for comment. I did think about this - naturally. I suspect there were some Sophist schools that pre-dated the Academy.There's a question whether the Sophists were philosophers; I think some of them were and in any case 'philosophy' has never had very tight borders. But give me a few days to check things out. Best - Geoff – Geoffrey Thomas Aug 8 '18 at 7:25
  • Uh, I understand although by school, i meant an actual place, not just an ideology with followers, But since you answered with Pythagoras's schools which historically was built before Plato's Academy, I will accept your answer .Thank you. – captindfru Aug 8 '18 at 9:25
  • Thanks - I too had in mind an actual place. I realise that's the whole point of your question. So be reassured ! GT – Geoffrey Thomas Aug 8 '18 at 11:27

Basic answer, we don't know!

First, the main problem is sources.

See IEP on Pre-socratics:

We have no complete writings from any of the Presocratics, and from some, nothing at all. Our sources, then, are primarily twofold: fragments and testimonia.

Mostly what we have are things from either Plato or Aristotle quoting them (to show they are wrong or incomplete) or doxography (see SEP entry).

Second, the category is an 18th century category (see SEP).

Assuming we can trust our sources, it's possible some particular pre-socratic had this goal (but this is far enough outside of my area of expertise that I don't know).

Several of them probably did what the sophists did -- travel and earn money by giving lectures.

  • I don't think that is fair. There were clearly other schools of philosophy around Athens at the time, or Socrates would not have 'the sophists' to denounce so roundly. We don't know anything about them other than that Plato disapproved of their quality. But we know they were there. – jobermark Aug 7 '18 at 20:17
  • 1
    I took school here to mean make a building rather than have followers. Clearly, the sophists had followers. But it's also not clear if the sophists fall under the standard definition of pre-socratic (which again is a term that did not exist at the time of Plato). I'd be interested in citations to the effect that other groups had something like the academy. – virmaior Aug 7 '18 at 22:33

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