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Pre socratics


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Thoughts on the pre-Socratic philosophers of Greece

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Pre socratics

  1. 1. Taoists believe that to be wise is to realize one's unity with nature and to live in conjunction with nature's rhythm, the Tao. Life and death are merely aspects of this cyclical rhythm... 25 The personal self may die, but the Tao lives on. 26 The Taoist “soul” is like a drop of water in a stream ... 26 (Greek “Soul” - breath needs body...39. Judeo-Christian-Islamic “soul” = an intact bit of eternity in everyone)
  2. 2. Speaking of water... (“The Taoist “soul” is like a drop of water in a stream”) 'Thales says water'is 'the nature, the archê , the originating principle... . Thales of Miletus (62?-546) the first person to investigate the basic principles, the question of the originating substances of matter and, therefore, as the founder of the school of natural philosophy. Thales was interested in almost everything... IEP Thales' olive presses: Who says philosophers are unworldly? Pre-Socratics 28-33
  3. 3. The Greeks referred to all other peoples as barbarians (whose unintelligible speech sounded like bar-bar-bar), using it in the wider sense of foreigners. But their conscious cultural pride was unmistakable. Herodotus reveals his in saying, 'the Greeks have been from very ancient times distinguished from the barbarians by superior sagacity and freedom from foolish simpleness.'
  4. 4. This cultural chauvinism persists, apparently, and was delightfully exemplified by the proud Greek father in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding ” - ... explaining the uncredited Greek etymology of “ kimono,” for instance.
  5. 5. Hippocrates (c.460-377 B.C.E.) - “ Men think [a disease] divine merely because they do not understand it. But if they called everything divine which they do not understand, why, there would be no end of divine things.” 27
  6. 6. “ Do no harm.”
  7. 7. Solon the Law-giver modernized Athens and established democracy (until the Spartans invaded) against the backdrop of a violent history that gives special significance to the Greek passion for order and philosophic understanding.” 27
  8. 8. Anaximander (c. 610-546 BCE) ...the first speculative astronomer. He originated the world-picture of the open universe, which replaced the closed universe of the celestial vault. “ They say that when he sang, the children laughed; and that he, hearing of this, said, "We must then sing better for the sake of the children." Diogenes Laertius, Life of Anaximander
  9. 10. Earth, air, fire, and water - hot and cold, wet and dry... “ Opposition is often basic to Greek philosophy, whereas the Chinese would rather talk about 'harmony'...” 27 Apeiron , the unbounded, limitless “ basic stuff” of Anaximander's universe
  10. 11. Anaximenes (d. 528 BCE) As students so often do, Anaximenes criticized his teacher Anaximander's metaphysical speculations - he preferred air as the stuff of life. The Milesians (Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes) were naturalists, even if we wouldn't quite consider them full-fledged scientists or empiricists in the modern sense.
  11. 12. Pythagoras c. 570 - 490 BCE ...famous (1) as an alleged expert on the fate of the soul after death, who thought that the soul was immortal and went through a series of reincarnations; (2) as an expert on religious ritual; (3) as a wonder-worker who had a thigh of gold and who could be two places at the same time; (4) as the founder of a strict way of life that emphasized dietary restrictions, religious ritual and rigorous self discipline... SEP He defended eastern ideas of reincarnation, and he was the first to call himself a philosopher...
  12. 13. “ ...only a lover of wisdom” philo – to love sophia - wisdom - Be curious, be humble, be skeptical, seek truth...
  13. 14. The problem of the One and the Many : beneath the many things in our world, how can there be a fundamental Unity and order? Pythagoras' answer is that things aren't so important, nor is it best to think of the universe primarily in terms of the stuff or matter of which it is composed, but instead we should focus on form and relationship, or “order as such”... unlike his predecessors the Milesians, he was not a materialist.
  14. 16. Parmenides (b. 510 BCE) - Little more is known of his biography than that he stopped at Athens on a journey in his sixty-fifth year, and there became acquainted with the youthful Socrates. Like 20 th century German Martin Heidegger, Parmenides “ was interested in 'Being as such'... “ the world as we know it is not the true world... ” 30
  15. 17. The sun is new again, all day. The river where you set your foot just now is gone – those waters giving way to this, now this. OR: “Upon those who step into the same rivers, different and again different waters flow.” 30 Heraclitus 536-470 BCE – philosopher of flux, commonly credited with saying that you can't step in the same river twice. What he really said was:
  16. 18. There is nothing constant, nothing permanent, but change . AND: Soul is “fiery,” composed of star-stuff. 32 & change-agent
  17. 19. Zeno 's Paradoxes DICHOTOMY: It is impossible to cover any distance, because half the distance must be traversed first, then half the remaining distance, then again half of what remains, and so on. Some portion of the distance to be covered is ALWAYS left to cover. Therefore, motion is impossible. ACHILLES AND THE TORTOISE: Achilles runs to overtake the tortoise, but he must reach the point where the tortoise started, from which it has already departed. Repeating indefinitely, Achilles gets to each new point in the race, the tortoise having been there, has already left. Therefore, even though Achilles is much faster than the tortoise, he can NEVER even tie. THE ARROW: An arrow shot from a bow must be moving at every instant in its flight. But at every instant it must be somewhere in space. However, if it is always in some one place, it can't be in transit at every instant, for to be in transit is to be NOWHERE.
  18. 22. Democritus (460-370 BCE) Democritus has been commonly known as "The Laughing Philosopher," and it is gravely related by Seneca that he never appeared in public with out expressing his contempt of human follies while laughing. Accordingly, we find that among his fellow-citizens he had the name of "the mocker". He died at more than a hundred years of age... Democritus expanded the atomic theory of Leucippus . He maintained the impossibility of dividing things ad infinitum... (Pythagoras: "the Cosmos can be understood because it obeys certain laws that are the same everywhere in the universe." This proposition is the foundation of science.) - Cosmos 7- Ionia, birthplace of science "I'd rather understand one cause than be King of Persia."
  19. 23. “ With Democritus the attempt to deanimate and demythologize the world was complete...” Greek “soul” was insubstantial except when embodied, and then was a “mere breath”... Something like this view led the Egyptians to mummify their dead, and the early Christians to emphasize physical resurrection as necessary for salvation. The ancient Hebrews mostly restricted their concern to the concrete human being, not soul. Similarly, the Chinese related soul to social identity and not a “ metaphysical remainder. Buddhists thought soul was either an illusion or was one with the rest of the universe. Hindus affirmed reincarnation or rebirth. 32-3
  20. 24. Democritus' atoms -