Skip to Main Content

Student Research Guide WQ23/ Greek Philosophy and Influence on Time

By Kalee Palmer

What is this Guide for?

This guide outlines Greek Philosophy’s influence on the value of time 

This is a student created research guide for English 102 & Library 201 Learning community


  • This guide will discuss the historical timeline of timekeeping devices
  • This guide will identify key contributors to the ideas and processes of timekeeping
  • The purpose of this guide is to explore concepts of time and how they have evolved over Western history. 
  • This guide will discuss the value of time and its impacts on Western Society.
  • This guide presents information about current and historical Societal views In regards to how ones time is spent, and how valuable it is.

The Thesis that this guide reflects is: With the influence of Greek Philosophy and the regulation of time with inventions such as the mechanical clock, time has become the most valued and traded commodity among western Civilization.

The research questions are...

  • How has the concept of time changed throughout history?
  • Who invented the clock
  • Why was the clock invented
  • How was time perceived with cosmology and astrology?
  • Who controls time across the globe?
  • How has the value of time changed?
  • What might happen if the clock did not exist?
  • Would currency be different without the clock?
  • Who decided what ‘time’ was? How?
  • How has the commodity of time affected western society?




It comes with no surprise that Greek Philosophy has impacted Western Civilization, especially in regards to timekeeping. The Greeks paved the way for the division of church and state. They began to ask questions as to how things work, where they came from, how they were formed, etc. and found ways to answer them through the learned knowledge of mathematics, physics, astronomy, cosmology and philosophy. With their many innovations in science, Several philosophers such as Plato and Anaximander brought timekeeping to a new level. The Greeks influenced mechanization, leading to the mechanical clock, as well as later clocks like the atomic clock. Greek philosophy has influenced communism and political agendas that have reinforced the value and sacredness of ones time. Once being a free resource, time has now become the most valuable resource with millions of dollars funding timekeeping devices alone. 

Background Information

Before Greek philosophy, People referenced time in regards to the celestial bodies and the sun. The belief was that various gods created the earth, one of them being the sun god, which was shared across various civilizations such as Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece. With the fall of the Roman Empire, Greek Philosophy and Christianity rose. Due to rise in urbanized civilizations, the society’s need for every day commodities rose, and Greek philosophers used their knowledge to understand the world on a broader basis, implementing new knowledge fields such as science, math, physics, etc., and found a way to regulate time more precisely, implement a political system and utilize time more efficiently with mechanical innovations such as the clock, once began as a sundial to measure the hours of sunlight, to the water clock to track the night hours, to the pendulum and finally the escapement, which is the mechanism that allowed the clock to move without assistance. With various philosophical theories and insights, the clock has become the most valuable asset among the world, once being controlled by the sun, now to bring controlled by the NIST using Caesium.

Video, Graph, or Image

This video is a resourceful animated documentary about how time was measured in the past, and how we measure it in present day.

All Content CC-BY.