So far, I've read the Ancient Egyptian philosophy article on wiki. Are there other sources where I can learn about this arcane and hazy subject?


2 Answers 2


Egyptian thought is very interesting.

The first people with a symbol for zero: Why was the zero not discovered long ago or in the beginning?

Originators of the alchemical tradition: Did alchemy originate from the ancient Greeks?

The first monotheistic tradition: Was the ancient Jewish concept of God utterly unique?

They developed the first true beer, drunk separated from the malt. A special red beer made with dates produced by the state, estimated to have been up to 6.5% ABV, is thought to have been crucial motivating currency to build the pyramids. It is notable that the Bronze Age is defined by the spread of Bell-Beaker culture - that is, the spread of brewing along with smithing.

Basically we lack primary texts though, so we have to look at indirect influences. In many ways Egypt broke new ground for humanity intellectually, and I'd say deserves special consideration and interest. The library and museum complex at Alexandria grew out of this culture and respect for knowledge.

  • 2
    Which of your statements refers to the OP's question on philosophy?
    – Jo Wehler
    Commented Apr 6, 2022 at 7:53
  • 1
    But if with "alchemy" you refer to Hermetic tradition this is not Ancient Egypt but Hellenistic, and thus is post-Greek. Commented Apr 6, 2022 at 8:40
  • @JoWehler: The one about not having primary texts.
    – CriglCragl
    Commented Apr 6, 2022 at 11:04
  • @CriglCragl Thanks. Then: Much Ado About Nothing :-)
    – Jo Wehler
    Commented Apr 6, 2022 at 11:06
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA: I don't think it's reasonable to picture an intellectual and cultural discontinuity in Egypt when the Hellenes arrived. Thoth was Egyptian, and I would describe hermeticism as the synchretism of Egyptian ideas with Greek forms.
    – CriglCragl
    Commented Apr 6, 2022 at 11:08

A brief note is all I have to offer (cobbled together from my random, haphazard readings):

Egyptian Philosophy

  1. Metaphysics: Their ontology was typical of the age (souls, gods, spirits, etc.) and I suspect this stems from lack of clarity about possibility vs. necessity . Their beliefs about causation seem to have encompassed astrology, again a very common feature of that era. As for identity & change, all I can say is the Nile broke its banks on a regular basis, in the process erasing land boundaries. This required Egyptians to develop geometry, specifically area calculations. So the identity of my land was a specific number of acres, it wasn't a particular plot, say, adjoining the temple to Aten; the Nile was an agent of change which the Egyptians (god bless them) had to deal with annually. Egyptian geometry boils down to understanding space. As for time, I'd point to the Pyramids (structures that were unbeaten in scale until the 1800s). The level of coordination required to build the Pyramids suggest, if not prove, that they had a sophisticated notion of time (level of precision would be about 1 hour I suppose).

  2. Epistemology, Logic: If I believes in spirits, what might that say about my epistemology and ... logic? If I can do math, what conclusion could you draw regarding my grasp of logic?

  3. Ethics: They knew about The Golden Rule, which is, Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. They had a legal system, but they kept slaves and actively enslaved conquered peoples.

  4. Aesthetics: The symbol for zero was a lotus flower. Their word for it was Nfr, which meant beautiful.

That's all folks ....

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