The Pre-Socratic Philosophers – the first western philosophers
All the writings of the Pre-Socratics are gone because they were in the Library at Alexandria, which
burned to the ground. Beginning of 20
century – two German scholars (Diels and Kranz) attempted to
reconstruct pre-Socratic philosophy
Die Fragmenta der ProSocrata
The first 7 are monists – there is one kind of material that makes up the Universe.
Thales of Miletus (fl. 600BC) DKA
Hails from the coast of Asia minor in a town called Miletus. He wrote two books:
. He made a living by drawing maps of the stars (constellations, etc.) and sold the maps to sea
Stuff of the Universe is water.
Anaximander of Miletus DK12b1 –
a student of Thales – interested most in the question of what is the basic stuff of the Universe – the fuses.
Rejected Thales’ theory that fuses was water, but held that the basic stuff of the cosmos was the apeiron (a –
not, peiron – limit: thus, without limit) – a stuff that is boundless and indeterminate. The apeiron whirls /
undergoes a vortex motion, and out of the whirling of the apeiron specificity comes forth. Out of the whirling
come pairs, which are opposites: hot/cold, odd/even, wet/dry, male/female, permanence/change. The world as
we know it is composed of opposites; these opposites are fighting one another according to Anaximander.
Thus, he says that conflict is the heart of the cosmos, and the cosmos is full of tragedy. The ideal state is one
of balance, of equilibrium, between the opposites. If one opposite succeeds and conquers the other, the
cosmos will punish that opposite – nemesis (it committed hubris, it stepped out of its proper place).
Geoff Krustov – “Highest Frontier of Animal Being” – Animals cannot use a tool to make a tool. Epoché –
the ability of humans to suspend the pull of practical needs, which the chimpanzee lacks.
Anaximines of Miletus
Rejected the view of Anaximander, and said that the fuses was air. Interesting air can be compressed to a
liquid or solid, and thus you can from 1 thing have many different states.
He introduces the philosopher’s task of criticism of popular beliefs. Xenophanes openly criticized the
Olympian Religion – saying it was anthropomorphic (that the Greek gods were projections of Greeks and that
the behavior of the gods and goddesses is often immoral [they lie to one another, they cheat, they steal, they
have at times uncontrollable anger]. Why would you worship anything that behaves in that kind of manner?)
Old Testament – the lesser gods around Yahweh have sex with the descendents of Adam and Eve – where? –
Sodom & Gomorrah how many required to keep it from being destroyed? – Jesus had a certain attitude