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The pre-Socratic Philosophers

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1 The pre-Socratic Philosophers
Pythagoras Heraclitus Thales

2 Although these philosophers were called pre – Socratic, they hadn’t lived before Socrates. On the contrary, they were contemporary with Socrates, or even younger than him. The adjective «pre – Socratic» come from the classification Aristoteles did. It meant that they weren’t under the Socrates’ influence.

3 These philosophers tried to discover principles that could uniformly, consistently, and comprehensively explain all natural phenomena and the events in human life without resorting to mythology. The pre-Socratic style of thought is often called natural philosophy, but their concept of nature was much broader than ours.

4 They initiated a new method of explanation known as philosophy which has continued in use until the present day, and developed their thoughts primarily within the framework of cosmology and cosmogony encompassing spiritual and mythical as well as aesthetic and physical elements.

5 They brought human thought to a new level of abstraction; raised a number of central questions of ontology, and cultivated the human spirit so as to open our eyes to the eternal truth.

6 The Pre-socratic thinkers present a discourse concerned with key areas of philosophical inquiry such as being and the cosmos, the primary stuff of the universe, the structure and function of the human soul, and the underlying principles governing perceptible phenomena, human knowledge and morality.

7 They sought the material principle (αρχή - arché) of things, and the method of their origin and disappearance. Pre-Socratics approached the question of being primarily using two sets of questions: first, whether the ultimate reality can be conceived of through a model based upon sensible element(s) or intelligible element(s); second, whether the ultimate reality is immutable or ever changing.

8 In a few words, those philosophers had brought attention to the question of the being.
We can find some orientations about this theme, and determinate the following groups of philosophers:

9 The Milesians: Inquiry into the Principles of Being Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes are grouped together as “the Milesians.” These thinkers sought the ultimate principle which governs all phenomena in the element or elements of nature.

10 Thales of Miletus (c. 624 - 546 B. C. E
Thales of Miletus (c B.C.E.) is known as the first philosopher. This view was established by Aristotle who called Thales the “father of philosophy”. Thales identified the ultimate reality (ousia) with “water.”

11 Next came Anaximander (610-546 BCE), the first writer on philosophy
Next came Anaximander ( BCE), the first writer on philosophy. He assumed as the first principle an undefined, unlimited substance without qualities, out of which the primary opposites, hot and cold, moist and dry, became differentiated. He identified it with the “boundless” or “undefined”(to Apeiron). 

12 Anaximenes(c. 585 - 528 B. C. E. ) of Miletus equated it with “air
Anaximenes(c B.C.E.) of Miletus equated it with “air.” The choice of air may seem arbitrary, but Anaximenes based his conclusion on naturally observable phenomena in the processes of rarefaction and condensation. It conceiving it as modified, by thickening and thinning, into fire, wind, clouds, water, and earth.

13 As noted earlier, these material elements should not be understood within the context of modern science. Philosophers of antiquity thought within more mystic frameworks. Characteristics common to these material elements such as water, undefined matter, and air are flexibility, a lack of specific forms and shapes, and the potential of taking various forms and shapes.

14 Pythagoras and Pythagoreans
Pythagoras was born in Ionia, moved to southern Italy, and formed a religious group. His followers were called Pythagoreans and lived an ascetic life. Pythagoreans believed in the transmigration of souls, probably through the influence of Orphism. While the Milesians defined the ultimate reality as something to de determined or understood, Pythagoreans used determining principles to define reality.

15 For Pythagoreans, the principle of being is seen in what gives form and shape rather than what is formed and shaped. According to the terminology of Aristotle, Pythagoreans equated the principle with form as opposed to matter. Pythagoreans identified numbers as the unchanging, determining principle and found numerical harmony both in the cosmos and healthy human life.

16 Ephesian school Heraclitus of Ephesus posited that all things in nature are in a state of perpetual flux, connected by logical structure or pattern, which he termed Logos. To Heraclitus, fire, one of the four classical elements, motivates and substantiates this eternal pattern. From fire all things originate, and return to it again in a process of eternal cycles.

17 Eleatics Xenophanes of Colophon ( BCE) declared God to be the eternal unity, permeating the universe, and governing it by his thought. Parmenides of Elea ( BCE) affirmed the one unchanging existence to be alone true and capable of being conceived, and multitude and change to be an appearance without reality. This doctrine was defended by his younger countryman Zeno of Elea ( BCE) in a polemic against the common opinion which sees in things multitude, becoming, and change. 

18 Pluralist school Empedocles of Agrigentum  ( BCE). He appears to have been partly in agreement with the Eleatic School, partly in opposition to it. On the one hand, he maintained the unchangeable nature of substance; on the other, he supposes a plurality of such substances - i.e. four classical elements: earth, water, air, and fire. Of these the world is built up, by the agency of two ideal motive forces - love as the cause of union, strife as the cause of separation.

19 Anaxagoras of Clazomenae ( BCE) in Asia Minor also maintained the existence of an ordering principle as well as a material substance, and while regarding the latter as an infinite multitude of imperishable primary elements, he conceived divine reason or Mind (nous) as ordering them. He referred all generation and disappearance to mixture and resolution respectively.

20 Atomist school The first explicitly materialistic system was formed by Leucippus (5th century BCE) and his pupil Democritus of Abdera ( BCE) from Thrace. This was the doctrine of atoms (ancient Greek – indivisible). - small primary bodies infinite in number, indivisible and imperishable, qualitatively similar, but distinguished by their shapes. Moving eternally through the infinite void, they collide and unite, thus generating objects which differ in accordance with the varieties, in number, size, shape, and arrangement, of the atoms which compose them.

21 Sophism The Sophists held that all thought rests solely on the apprehensions of the senses and on subjective impression, and that therefore we have no other standards of action than convention for the individual. Specializing in rhetoric, the Sophists were more professional educators than philosophers. They flourished as a result of a special need at that time for Greek education. Prominent Sophists include Protagoras ( BCE) Gorgias ( BCE) Hippias ( BCE) Prodicus ( BCE) from the island of Ceos.

22 There were the most important philosophical currents, which were in the Ancient Time. Some principles such as elements, atoms, numbers, mind, rethoric, apprehension of the sense, subjective impression became the ground of our way of thinking and milestones for the philosophers, physicists, phychologs and more. Today we have seen how has born the European culture.

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