Modern Western though has been shaped by emphasis on scientific thinking and reasoning from the time of Copernicus, Galileo and Newton. The scientific revolution gave birth to a new era of thought, in which observations were made to support an idea. This involved what man could prove through sense, not religion or superstition. Notable ancient Greek historians, philosophers and scientists, such as Thucydides, Socrates, Aristotle, and Hippocrates, laid down the seeds of modern Western thought.
An ancient Greek writer who demonstrated modern scientific objectivity was Thucydides. Over time, this type of scientific objectivity has become a valuable tool of modern Western thought. The vividness and detail of Thucydides' description of the effects of the plague is striking. A doctor today would be very impressed by the accuracy and detailed description of the plague: "Externally the body was not very hot to the touch, nor was there any pallor: the skin was rather reddish and livid, breaking out into small pustules and ulcers." This precise description of the plague would be comparable to any description written today.
The scientific objectivity demonstrated by the ancient Greeks had a direct influence on our medical, and non-medical, description today. Many ancient Greeks such as Socrates used logic, another invaluable tool of modern Western thought. Socrates, by asking simple questions, was able to draw answers from people that supported his argument. By thinking a problem through, step-by-step, Socrates was able to formulate answers to a problem or question.
This laid down the foundation for modern logic. "Not at all, my dear Aga thon. It is truth that you find impossible to withstand; there is never the slightest difficulty in withstanding Socrates." This shows that Socrates merely saw himself as a guide to logic. Aristotle, one of the very first scientists, used evidence to support his claims. Today, any argument made must be supported by evidence. Any argument not supported by evidence is not accepted as fact.
Aristotle's use of evidence made his arguments strong and convincing, even if he was quite wrong. When Aristotle writes "Again, if the earth as a whole is capable of floating upon water, that must obviously be the case with any part of it. But observation shows that this is not the case. Any piece of earth goes to the bottom, the quicker the larger it is" he is able to prove his point by the use of evidence.
The method in which Aristotle supported his arguments is constantly used today as it shows that the point one is arguing is true. Hippocrates, another ancient Greek scientist and doctor, used deductive reasoning to come to conclusions. Through careful hypothesizing, observation, critical thinking, and supporting evidence, Hippocrates was able to determine that the "Sacred Disease" was not of divine origin, but was a hereditary disease like many others observed by doctors of the time. At the beginning of Hippocrates' writing, he states "I do not believe that the 'Sacred Disease' is any more divine or sacred than any other disease but, on the contrary, has specific characteristics and as definite cause", which is his thesis in which intends to prove. Such use of theses paved the way for the writing style of essays today.
When Hippocrates says "They also employ other pretexts so that, if the patient be cured, their reputation for cleverness in enhanced while, if he dies, they can excuse themselves by explaining that the gods are to blame while they themselves did nothing wrong; that they did not prescribe the taking of any medicine whether liquid or solid, nor any baths which might have been responsible... ." he shows a possible reason as to why the disease is called divine. This formulation of hypotheses is also a valuable skill in modern Western thought and modern science. Modern Western thought, the use of observations, critical thinking, logical thinking, and evidence to prove an argument or to demonstrate an idea, was influenced directly by the works of many notable ancient Greeks. Their contributions to the fields of medicine, science, history and philosophy are still valued today.
Their methods of solving problems, formulating responses and proving points were revolutionary and are still used, although slightly modified, today. This shows that the seeds of modern Western thought and intellectual endeavour are found in the ideas of the ancient Greeks.