Presocratics_9_2 - Presocratics 7 Century BCE 4th Century...

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Presocratics 7 th Century BCE - 4 th Century BCE During the middle of the first millennium BCE, several ground-breaking views about reality appeared independently in different areas of the world. After building up relatively stable civilizations and within centuries of each other, humans across several continents started to recognize their own nature as thinking, rational beings. They started thinking about the world around them in terms that went beyond just mythos, storytelling or legend. The Presocratics basically asked two metaphysical questions (questions about reality): What is the true nature of the cosmos? How and why do things change? But why question what reality is? We can look around and see what reality looks like, hear what reality sounds like, feel reality, taste reality, and smell reality. Well the problem seems to be that if we had always relied on the macroscopic world of our senses, we would have missed out on quite a bit of what we think of as important parts of “reality” now. The desk you are sitting in doesn’t seem like it’s composed of mostly empty space and tiny electrically charged colorless particles moving at incredible speeds. It’s taken theories and investigation to learn that “solid” objects are actually empty space and particles. The point is that the world isn’t as it immediately seems…and the thinkers of the axial period were attempting to see beyond their “common sense” views in order to explore the reality behind them. They recognized that the world need not be at all like the way it seems to us and that it isn’t necessary to suppose that reality is anything like our sensory experience of it. In fact, besides thinking of them as philosophers, you can think of the Presocratics as proto-scientists or early theoretical scientists. Important Terms Cosmos : the world or universe conceived as a unified and orderly arrangement of parts, contrasted against chaos; cosmology – theories about the nature of the world Mythos : the myths or folklore that give supernatural explanations for the world and its origins Logos : a Greek word variously translated as logic, reason, account, statement, argument, arrangement, proportion, natural law or word Reductionism : a way of explaining an object or phenomenon that goes beneath its surface presentation and gives an account in terms of its more basic, fundamental parts Naturalism : the view that the world around us and our experience of it can be explained soley in terms of natural phenomena Monism : the view that ultimately, the cosmos is composed of one kind of stuff Pluralism : the view that the cosmos is composed of many different kinds primitive or basic things
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Materialism : the view that reality is ultimately composed of some kind of material (as in matter) or physical “stuff” Idealism : the view that ideas, thoughts, or mental events are ultimately the most real aspect of our existence Dualism
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This note was uploaded on 09/08/2010 for the course PHIL 10 at San Jose State.

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Presocratics_9_2 - Presocratics 7 Century BCE 4th Century...

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