12 - 12. Mythos vs. Logos: Rather than uncritically...

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12. Mythos vs. Logos : Rather than uncritically accepting things because of the traditions or stories (myths) told about how they came to be, thinkers in the West began in the sixth century BC to try to explain why things are the way they are. They tried to give the logos or rationale of things, a rational (vs. mythic) explanation of nature. They did this by proposing that there is something constant in nature beneath or behind the appearance of change. That is, they suggested that reality should be understood primarily in terms of an unchanging principle in nature, and that things in nature change as a result not of supernatural or divine intervention but as a result of internal forces. Furthermore, our senses are unreliable in discerning what is fundamentally real: reality and appearance are different. These thinkers lives before the fourth century BC philosopher Socrates, so they are called "pre- Socratics": Thales of Miletos (c. 580 BC) was the first thinker in the West to provide a rational explanation of things. By claiming that everything can be explained in terms of water, he proposes that there is a way to make sense of our experience of changes in the world. Behind the appearance of change, he suggests, is something constant (a one behind the
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12 - 12. Mythos vs. Logos: Rather than uncritically...

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