Parmenides and Heraclitus

Topics: Socrates, Stoicism, Plato Pages: 13 (5502 words) Published: October 12, 2010
This paper looks at two Greek philosophers, Heraclitus, and Parmenides. It examines their different theories as to how the universe was created, understanding of the universe, 'way of truth,' 'way of opinion' and the third way. The author explains that Parmenides, who came after Heraclitus, addressed part of his writings as a refutation of Heraclitus? views. He objected both to Heraclitus? view of the universe and how Heraclitus felt people could gain knowledge of it. From the Paper:

"While we have discussed what both men see as the make up of the material world, it is equally important to take up how each man felt he could know what he knows about the universe. Mimicking a bit the structure of Parmenides? own writings, this section covers the "way of truth," "the way of opinion," and then directly addresses Parmenides critique of Heraclitus. Heraclitus used "logos" in multiple ways. The first, discussed above, is as the ordering principle of the universe. However, the most common use of "logos" at the time of Heraclitus' writing was "Word." Heraclitus felt strongly that our ability to use and understand language is the same ability that allows us to understand and describe the world. So "logos" is both the actual order of the universe as well as the means of our ability to understand it."  

Socrates' views are analyzed by studying a conversation between Socrates, Cephalus, his son Polemarchus and his followers. The author explains how Socrates enters into a philosophical dialogue with several different individuals who attempt to set down a firm definition of justice. Socrates then sets out to test and challenge their definitions through his method of questioning and counter-examples in an attempt to arrive at a more secure definition of justice, that which cannot be refuted.

From the Paper
"Cephalus first raises the idea of justice with Socrates and then passes the debate on to his son, Polemarchus, to carry forward. In line with his father's arguments, Polemarchus develops the most basic definition of justice suggested in the Republic. He makes the claim that justice means simply to speak the truth and to give people their proper due; for example, old debts should be repaid. Justice also means treating people in accordance with their essential character. For example, Polemarchus concludes that if a certain individual is considered an enemy, that individual should meet with "something harmful" (26); if another individual is considered a friend, that individual should be treated well." "Socrates was the most important philosopher of the fifth century B.C. His dedication to the analysis of the world and human actions through careful reasoning transformed philosophy and resonates through the mists of antiquity to our modern day existence..." "Socrates was one of the most influential philosophers of all time. One of the most celebrated aspects of Socrates life was his trial and death. Socrates did not die a natural death he was executed for political crimes. In The Trial and Death of Socrates Socrates explains, that he is under indictment by one Meletus for corrupting the young and for not believing in the gods in whom the city believes. In essence Socrates was charged with teaching material that was perceived to be against the Athenian state." In "The Apology", the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates examined justice from a variety of philosophical perspectives and made the bold declaration that he could not be harmed by his fellow Athenians if he possessed the qualities of virtue and wisdom. His critics and enemies in Athens could punish him physically by sending him into exile or executing him, but they could not take away his virtue, his self-respect, or his soul, which are the most important things anyone possesses.   Compare Socrates with the Sophists. Many Athenians had mistaken Socrates for a Sophist. The fact is that Socrates was one of the Sophists keenest critics. That Socrates should have been...
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