Ancient Philosophy.

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3 Sept 2002

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Pre-Socratics – dated according to greatest accomplishment; Greeks believed that the peak of intellectual superiority was at age 40, and everything was dated accordingly -None of the pre-Socratics explicitly accept that anything can be real without being physical – anything that is real must have a physical aspect – if the soul is real, then the soul must be composed of some sort of physical “stuff”

Thales – the most important philosopher because he answered the question “What are you going to do with philosophy?” -The first philosopher – tried to answer questions – looked around him, gathered information, and then tried to make deductions based on the world around him – also the first scientist -All of his writings have been lost – the only knowledge we have of his thinking is through the writings of later philosophers -Claimed to believe the following:

-Reality came from water (Greeks believed there were four fundamental elements: Air, earth, fire, and water) – Earth is supported by water – Water is fundamental to life -Everything is full of gods / Everything is full of demons / Everything is full of souls – When things change or move, there must be something that causes them to change or move – This cause is an inner spiritual force -Does not attempt to fit his explanation of reality into the traditional Greek religious framework

Anaxamander – perhaps a student of Thales
-Fundamental substance – the indefinite – it could not be any of the four fundamental elements because its opposite could not exist – Reality is composed of opposite powers – Reality cannot be fundamentally any of the things we see around us -Definite things separated out of the indefinite – the indefinite is an enormous cosmic mixture of everything -There exists a process that turns the indefinite into definite stuff -Eternal motion of the indefinite – the indefinite is in constant motion, and as a result, it spits things out -Process of change is the war between opposites – cosmic justice required that none of the opposites could ever win in their war, and an opposite would be punished if it tipped the scales -Human beings evolved from fish – the world was originally covered by slime, and the heat generated fish from the slime; human beings then came from fish

Anaxcimenes
-Fundamental substance – Air – everything can come from air – condensation and rarefaction (Fire Water –> Earth) -Associated air with the soul – the soul exists but is invisible – may have thought that this is another reason for holding that air is the fundamental element – Air is some sort of intelligent force

Heraclitus – called the Obscurer or the Riddler – the things he said were virtually impossible for most people to understand – believed that most people are stupid, that most people don’t want to learn, and that most people fail when trying to learn, so it didn’t matter that his writings were obscure -Fundamental substance – Fire – but he doesn’t mean that everything is made up of fire, rather that Fire is the most important elements – everything in the world is in a constant uninterrupted state of change (fire is symbolic) – “You can never step into the same river twice” – logos: an underlying principle which governs the constant change that everything is undergoing (change is governed by rules) – philosophy is merely a quest for understanding of logos – our souls are naturally related to the logos and can therefore understand the nature of reality – equated fire with divinity – the more fiery our souls are, the better we’ll be able to think better -Emphasized the idea that all the opposites are in some way the same – rejects the idea that opposites are fundamentally opposite -Humans ought to devote life to reason, philosophy, and logos -Admits the possibility of a kind of immortality – for people who are killed in battle, because during battle the soul is at its most fiery -Thought that ordinary...
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