The word philosophy comes from the Greek philo (love) and sophia (wisdom) and so is literally defined as “the love of wisdom”. More broadly understood, it is the study of the most basic and profound matters of human existence. Philosophical schools frequently develop in response to some perceived failure of religion to provide answers to fundamental questions.

More about: Philosophy


  • c. 1500 BCE - 1100 BCE
    The Rig Veda written, mentioning the god Rudra (Shiva) and goddess Tara (among others) for the first time.
  • c. 1500 BCE - c. 500 BCE
    Indian scholars of the so-called Vedic Period commit the Vedas to written form; basic tenets of Hinduism are established.
  • c. 610 BCE - c. 546 BCE
    Dates of Anaximander who develops the cosmic theory of the apeiron as the First Cause of existence.
  • c. 600 BCE
    Development of the Charvaka school of philosophy in India.
  • c. 599 BCE - c. 527 BCE
    Traditional dating of the life of Vardhamana, according to Jain tradition.
  • c. 585 BCE
    Time in which Thales of Miletus lived.
  • c. 570 BCE - c. 478 BCE
    Life of Xenophanes of Colophon; claim of One God as the First Cause of existence.
  • c. 563 BCE - c. 483 BCE
    The life of Siddhartha Gautama according to modern scholarly consensus.
  • c. 546 BCE
    Date of Anaximenes' work; air is claimed as the First Cause of existence.
  • c. 500 BCE
    Life of the Chinese Relativist Philosopher Teng Shih (probable date of death 522 or 502 BCE).
  • c. 500 BCE
    Probable life of the Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu, founder of Taoism and author of the Tao-Te-Ching.
  • c. 500 BCE
    Probable life of Sun-Tzu, Military Strategist, author of The Art of War.
  • 492 BCE - 432 BCE
    Life of the philosopher Empidocles of Agrigento.
  • c. 485 BCE - c. 415 BCE
    Life of the Sophist Protagoras of Abdera; claim that "man is the measure of all things".
  • 470 BCE - 391 BCE
    Life of the Chinese pacifist philosopher Mo Ti, founder of Mohism.
  • c. 469 BCE - 399 BCE
    Life of Socrates.
  • c. 460 BCE - c. 370 BCE
    Life of Democritus, pupil of Leucippus; development of the concept of the atomic universe.
  • c. 450 BCE - c. 370 BCE
    Life of Antisthenes, found of the Cynic school of philosophy.
  • 440 BCE - 360 BCE
    Life of Chinese Hedonist Philosopher Yang Zhu.
  • 430 BCE - c. 354 BCE
    Life of Xenophon of Athens.
  • 427 BCE - 347 BCE
    Life of Plato.
  • c. 424 BCE - 423 BCE
    Plato is born at Athens, Greece.
  • 407 BCE
    Plato meets Socrates, abandons aspiration to be playwright.
  • c. 404 BCE - 323 BCE
    Life of Greek philosopher Diogenes of Sinope.
  • 403 BCE
    Plato turns away from politics toward philosophy.
  • 399 BCE
    Trial and death of the philosopher Socrates, who taught in the court of the Agora.
  • 384 BCE - 322 BCE
    Life of Aristotle.
  • 380 BCE
    Plato founds his Academy outside of Athens.
  • 372 BCE - 289 BCE
    Life of the Confucian philosopher Mencius (Mang-Tze).
  • 361 BCE - 360 BCE
    Plato's second trip to Syracuse.
  • 343 BCE
    King Philip II of Macedon summons Aristotle to tutor his young son Alexander (later 'The Great').
  • c. 336 BCE - 265 BCE
    Life of the philosopher Zeno of Citium.
  • c. 314 BCE
    Zeno of Citium is shipwrecked and stranded in Athens.
  • 213 BCE
    The Burning of the Books and the Burying of Philosophers Period in China.
  • c. 1 CE - c. 100 CE
    The Mahayana movement begins in India with its belief in bodhisattva - saintly souls who helped the living.
  • c. 204 CE - 270 CE
    Life of Plotinus.
  • c. 380 CE - c. 418 CE
    Life time of Paulus Orosius.
  • c. 470 CE - c. 385 CE
    Life of the philosopher Philolaus, active in Magna Graecia.
  • c. 500 CE - c. 600 CE
    In India the Tantric expands the number of deities to include helpful demons, contactable through ritual.
  • c. 524 CE - c. 525 CE
    Boethius writes The Consolation of Philosophy while imprisoned by Theodoric in Pavia.
  • 617 CE - 686 CE
    Life of the Korean Buddhist philosopher Wonhyo.
  • 1651 CE
    Thomas Hobbes publishes his Leviathan.
  • 1689 CE
    John Locke publishes his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Two Treatises on Government, and Letters on Toleration.
  • 1726 CE
    Francis Hutcheson coins the term "the greatest happiness of the greatest number" in his Inquiry Concerning Moral Good and Evil.
  • 1776 CE
    Jeremy Bentham publishes his A Fragment on Government.
  • 1789 CE
    Jeremy Bentham publishes his thoughts on utilitarianism in his Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation.
  • 1859 CE
    John Stuart Mill publishes his On Liberty.
  • 1863 CE
    John Stuart Mill publishes his Utilitarianism.