What Was Science in Ancient Greece?

In ancient Greece, science was a subject of great interest and study. It was part of the larger framework of philosophy and knowledge-seeking that characterized this era. Greek thinkers sought to understand the natural world and the forces that governed it.

The Roots of Science in Ancient Greece

The roots of science in ancient Greece can be traced back to the pre-Socratic philosophers who lived in the 6th and 5th centuries BCE. These thinkers were interested in understanding the fundamental nature of reality, including the origins of matter and the underlying principles that governed the universe.

One of the most famous pre-Socratic philosophers was Thales, who is often credited with being one of the first people to use observation and reasoning to explain natural phenomena. He believed that water was the fundamental substance from which all other things were derived.

The Emergence of Empirical Science

As Greek thought evolved, so too did scientific inquiry. The development of empirical science is often associated with Aristotle, who lived in the 4th century BCE. Aristotle believed that knowledge should be based on observation and experience rather than abstract reasoning alone.

Aristotle’s work encompassed a wide range of subjects, including biology, physics, metaphysics, ethics, politics, and more. He emphasized careful observation and classification as important tools for understanding natural phenomena.

Other Important Figures in Ancient Greek Science

In addition to Thales and Aristotle, many other important figures contributed to ancient Greek science. These include:

  • Pythagoras – famous for his contributions to mathematics
  • Hippocrates – known as “the father of medicine”
  • Euclid – developed geometry into a formal system
  • Archimedes – made important contributions to mathematics and physics

The Legacy of Ancient Greek Science

The legacy of ancient Greek science is profound. The rigorous inquiry and emphasis on observation and experimentation laid the foundation for modern scientific methods. Many of the concepts and ideas developed by ancient Greek thinkers continue to influence our understanding of the natural world today.


In conclusion, science played an important role in ancient Greek thought and philosophy. From the earliest pre-Socratic philosophers to the great minds of Aristotle, Pythagoras, and others, Greek thinkers sought to understand the natural world through careful observation and reasoning. Their legacy continues to inform modern scientific inquiry and shape our understanding of the universe around us.