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According to Bertrand Russell, "Philosophy begins with Thales."

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Presentation on theme: "According to Bertrand Russell, "Philosophy begins with Thales.""— Presentation transcript:

1 According to Bertrand Russell, "Philosophy begins with Thales."

2 Themes of Presocratics Search for essence of all things – materialist All that exists is matter. Difficulty of kinesis – ‘movement’ or ‘change’ Whether matter is single (monism) or many Efforts to rationalize, to comprehend the structure of things and to systematize them

3 Start in Miletus

4 Ionian Thinkers Thales of Miletus (late 7 th -early 6 th BC) – 585 BC Predicted an eclipse an astronomer and physicist ‘World originates from and returns to water.’ Anaximander of Miletus (ca BC) astronomer and map-maker ‘First principle and element is the Infinite or Indefinite.’ Anaximenes of Miletus (a little younger than Anaximander) ‘Air is the originative substance and basic form of matter; it changes by condensation and rarefaction.’

5 Heraclitus (o kryptos, of Ephesus), ca 550-? Obscure thinker, even to ancients All things change; nothing remains (the same) ‘Men should try to comprehend the underlying coherence of things: it is expressed in the Logos, the element of arrangement common to all things ‘The path up and down is one and the same.’ ‘the weeping philosopher’

6 Italian Schools Pythagoras of Samos (then of S. Italy, c.531) ‘Universe is based on number.’ Interested in mathematics & music Students lived monkish, mystic lives. P. believed in transmigration of the soul, influenced by Orphics. Parmenides of Elea (c. 475) ‘World of senses is illusion.’ Doctrine of complete skepticism. If all that exists is matter with no empty space—all ‘movement’ is illusion and we are deceived. Zeno of Elea – fond of mathematical/spacial paradoxes e.g. Achilles & the tortise in a race. Pythagoras

7 Parmenidean Canons Nothing comes from nothing. Nothing passes away into nothing. Plurality cannot come from unity. Motion/Change must be explained

8 Post-Parmenides – end of monism, start of pluralism. Empedocles of Acragas – Elements are 4: earth, air, fire, water (there never was a unity) Change is explained by re-arrangements of these elements – two motive forces are Love and Strife (attraction & repulsion) Nothing is lost – elements are unchanging Empedocles was a teacher of Gorgias.

9 Anaxagoras of Clazomenae, c BC Universe is a mixture of all things – ‘seeds’—from which the world evolved. Motivating force is ‘nous’ or ‘mind’ Friend of Pericles & Euripides Brought up on charges in Athens and forced to leave

10 Atomists – monism, materialism, & movement! Leucippus of Miletus, c 450 Studied in Elea – atomic theory to answer Eleatic dilemma All that exists is void & atoms. Democritus of Abdera (Thracian) c 440 added an ethical spin – ‘harmony of atoms’ Democritus

11 Diogenes, the Cynic – c late 5 th -4th century BC

12 Diogenes Lifestyle better known than philosophy He rejected conventions (lived in a jar) and searched for an honest man Back to unity…all things must be modifications of one basic substance – AIR World and its parts are arranged by a divine intelligence in the best possible way. Made a virtue of extreme poverty, studied in Athens under a pupil of Socrates

13 Rationalism & Relativism 1.Litigious nature of polis life and significance of assembly of male citizens made speech-making a high skill 2.Philosophical trends were rational, analytic, systematizing – questioned traditional views 3.Gorgias of Leontini arrived in Athens (427 BC) from Italy and set up a school of rhetoric with a doctrine of complete skepticism – taught alliteration, assonance, matching sound & sense, antithesis

14 Sophists – Professional teachers Protagoras of Abdera – ‘Man is the measure of all things. Of the things that are, that they are. Of the things that are not, that they are not.’ Accused of impiety in 415 BC in Athens. Prodicus of Ceos – made a fortune in Athens with conceits like ‘The Choice of Heracles’, between difficult virtue or easy vice.

15 Athens Pericles had met Protagoras – story is that the two spend a day arguing about a theory of punishment Socrates had met Pythagoras and knew his school in Thebes

16 "The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato." Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality, 1929


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