The Pluralists

The Pluralists - Henderson 1 The Pluralists Anaxagorus and...

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Henderson 1 The Pluralists Anaxagorus and Empedocles Ian Henderson 9/12/2011
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Henderson 3 Parmenides was a pre-Socratic philosopher, who is known as one of “Greek philosophy’s most profound and challenging thinkers” (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/parmenides/). Throughout his lifetime, Parmenides introduced many influential and controversial theories, but for the basis of this discussion, we will focus mostly on his views of the cosmos and his beliefs on the basic entities from which everything being is created. Parmenides has been considered a “metaphysical monist,” but what type of monist he was, is still up for debate. Many pre-Socratic thinkers could not understand/explain some of Parmenides’ claims and it took two pluralists, to do so. Anaxagoras, a philosopher from Clazomenae, in Ionia, was an associate of Pericles and Empedocles, a philosopher and physician from Acragas, Sicily, was heavily influenced by Parmenides and Pythagoras. The first claim the Pluralists address, is “Parmenides’ rejection of generation and destruction.” They agree with this declaration because of the Eleatic theory that says “what-is- not cannot be” (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/anaxagoras/). Something that is cannot not-be, therefore something that is-not cannot be. Based on this assumption, there cannot be anything that is-not in our universe and everything “is.” Because of the fact that there is nothing in our universe that is-not, everything that is must be created (generated), or maybe simply changed, from something that already is in existence. And since they had come to the conclusion that there can be nothing that is-not, there is nothing in the universe that can truly be destroyed because there is no state of truly not-being. This explains why the Pluralists backed up Parmenides’ rejection of generation and destruction. “The Greeks are wrong to accept coming to be and perishing, for no thing comes to be, nor does it perish, but they are mixed together from things that are and they are separated apart. And so they would be correct to call coming to be being mixed together, and perishing being separated apart” (Simplicius, Commentary on Aristotle’s Physics 163.20- 24=59B17). As stated in this fragment, Anaxagoras and Empedocles described instead of generation and destruction, a process of mixing and separation. Based on the fact that nothing can be created from “nothing,” everything that is created must be created from things that already “are.” Therefore, instead of generation, they explain how all things are mixed together in order to
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The Pluralists - Henderson 1 The Pluralists Anaxagorus and...

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