Philosophy- Professor Douglas
March 13th, 2012
Midterm Essay #1
The nature of inquiry is not one that is uncommon to the human race. From the very origin of philosophy, the term for the “love of wisdom”, individuals have spent countless hours contemplating the most essential and critical matters before them. These individuals have made substantial attempts to explain reasoning behind the functioning of earthly matters, and by virtue of their study, they have come to be known as philosophers. While various philosophers have contributed to significant revelations and theories, the main pre-socratic philosophical movements were of ancient Greek origin and are attributed to the following philosophers: Thales, Anaximander, Xenophanes, Heraclitus, and Parmenides.
Born in Miletus, Thales was discontent with the traditional stories of enchantment known as myths. Aristotle contributed the fact that he saw him as the very first philosopher, which a very common belief in the modern world. His major contributions were his beliefs that the cause and element of all things is water, and that all things are occupied with gods. The impressive matter is that Thales recognized that there is only one particular base for all things and that it was a naturally occurring substance that was very tangible and real. While there is not much information on Thales, it is speculated that he chose water because of its diversity and physical characteristics that allow for it to prevail in liquid, solid, and gaseous forms. As for his second contribution, the Greeks were firm believers of the immortality of the gods and their occupation in the lives of the humans and the natural world. Therefore, it would not be unusual for them to reside in all things present on the earth. Thales very truly was the very first philosopher as he began the search for the answer to why things happen as they do.
The Greek nature was not one to simply accept Thales propositions, but rather they focused on refuting it and providing other alternatives. Anaximander provided his own input on the matter with a theoretical proposition. He claims, that a system is in place, in which the Boundless is the infinite source of all, and it is the beginning- there was definitively nothing before it. The key feature of the Boundless is the immortality that it possesses, and further, it “encompasses all things” and “steers all things.” This concept of resolute envelopment is seen again in the New Testament, where it is reinforced that God is in all things. The Boundless is neither one thing, nor another, but rather, it maintains its own distinctive persona, and from it came all other things. Anaximander contributed many more developments, but they were all later proved incorrect. However, he does also state that existing things “make reparation to one another for their injustice according to the ordinance of time.” This suggests that a balance in nature must be properly observed. A hot summer must be counteracted with a cold winter, and so the seasons encroach on the “rights” as a result of the others and serve them injustice, but reparation is seen at the turn of the seasons. The developments made by Anaximander contradict what was then the Homeric tradition and essentially spurred a cultural crisis as the Greeks were unable to choose between the side of logic or that of myth and legend.
A man known as Xenophanes came to the scene of philosophical inquiry when he clearly stated the religious implications of the new ideas of philosophy- a concept strictly avoided by most before him. He begins to critique the very nature of the gods, with the belief that it is shameful to portray them as no better than humans. While Xenophanes was not a disbeliever, he firmly believed in the presence of one god that reigned above all and was very different from mortals in both body and mind. Xenophanes denies association with the gods through inspiration (i.e. muses) and any...
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