Notes - Foundation stones of Western Civilization: Greco...

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Foundation stones of Western Civilization: Greco Roman Tradition Around the time of Roman Emperor Constantine Judeo-Christian tradition Rationalization Rational inquiry discovery Conflict God Religion Faith Humanistic Reinforce Humanistic Pre-Socratic Cosmologists Questioned: fundamental nature of things The underlying substance in everything Belief in the orderliness of the universe and our human ability to understand it is their most important contribution Arche Milesian monist Thales Water (milk – cow story) Anaximande r The boundless No characteristics of their own, able to become many things. Anaximenes Air First to use reason by analogy: if it is true in the microcosm, it must be true in the macrocosm and vice versa Monist Pythagoras Numbers Heraclitus Change (fire) – Everything is change but it is not chaotic there is a rational, ordering principle called Logos Parmemide s Being Pluralist Democritus Atoms and the void Thales 6 th century Greek pre-Socratic philosopher From Miletus (Greek colony in Asia Minor, now Turkey) o Trading colony depended on foreigners o No full time clergy, so no one was threatened by new ideas Studied astronomy and math from Babylonians and Math and engineering from Egyptians Used reason and observation to predict 585 eclipse o World changing event because until then all cosmic and minor events were attributed to the gods. Thales postulated an ordered and predictable cosmos which reasoning humans could unravel Thales saw the cosmos as an independent objective cosmos separate from us the observers. To this day we have valued objective knowledge that is obtained by rational means Thales attracted students and they went on to develop their own ideas Pythagoras Understanding mathematical relationships was the key to unlocking the mystery of the universe.
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o Wrote Euclidean geometry o Put theorems in rational order Devised Greek music theory – first person to study music formally Studied with the Egyptians Was a spiritual person and a mystic, lived a monistic life, meditated and was a vegetarian cosmologist – Harmony of the Spheres - planets and stars moved according to mathematical equations set up a monastery and school in southern Italy for men and women lasted 900 years
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Heraclitus Thought reality was characterized by change – felt best example was fire Also thought the universe could be understood by understanding opposites and complements . OPPOSITION vs UNITY (Unity of Opposites) Things are paradoxical Deeply committed to quest for knowledge Also on a spiritual quest, ascetic, he had no family Very eastern in philosophy: Tao and Buddhism – lived at the same time as Buddha Never wrote anything down – oral history – we get aphorisms, riddles and metaphors o You can never step into the same river twice o The path going up the mountain is also the path going down the mountain His greatest contribution is the idea that although everything is change, it is not chaotic
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Notes - Foundation stones of Western Civilization: Greco...

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