Essay on Ancient Philosophy Text Notes

Submitted By kcampos1
Words: 1197
Pages: 5

1. Milesian Monists
Earliest traces of Greek philosophy come from Miletus. Focused on openness/ speculative matters.
Became acquainted with their ideas about the gods, the cosmos, and the stars.
Three great thinkers emerged: Thales, Anazimander, and Anaximenes.

1.a. Thales
Lived in the late seventh and early sixth centuries BCE.
Greeks esteemed him as one of their Seven Sages, since he began a tradition of critical inquiry into many subjects (geometry, astronomy and cosmology).
Famous achievement: prediction of a solar eclipse in 585.
Viewed water as the basic stuff of the cosmos.
“All things are full of gods.”

1b. Anaximander
Student of Thales.
Like Thales, he reduced the complexity of the cosmos to one thing, which he called the indefinite.
Introduced the notion of a supersensible reality – treating this reality as divine.
Characterized it as steering all things in a lawlike way and as exacting retribution for their injustice to one another.
The indefinite addressed a problem of explaining how opposite natures could give rise to one another.

1c. Anaximenes
Made air the basic stuff of his cosmos.
Noting that moist air when condensed, became clouds and that clouds when condensed further, became rainwater.
Specified a process by which things might be converted into one another – condensation and rarefaction. – Marked an important departure from Anaximander’s use of divine justice to explain change.
He believed, “Air is a god.”

2b. Xenophanes
Born in Colophon.
A poet and philosopher. He wrote about drink, love, war, nature, the divine, and knowledge.
He deduced that water had once covered the earth.
He projected a cosmic cycle of generation and destruction in which sometimes water, sometimes earth prevailed.
His theological verses criticized Olympian religion and introduced a new sort of divinity into Greece.
His one god was all-seeing, all-thinking, all-powerful. His god resembles those of Middle Eastern monotheisms. But neither creates the world nor reveals himself.
First Greek philosopher to distinguish between knowledge and mere belief.

2c. Heraclitus
Born c.540 BCE in Ephesus.
Heraclitus was very critical of other philosophers. Although, he proposed a notion of cosmic harmony rather like Pythagoras’, and a notion of intellectual divinity like Xenophanes’.
Known as the “the riddler”.
In his aphorisms, everyday objects and events are used to reveal the hidden nature of the cosmos.
Heraclitus imagines the whole cosmos as an eternal fire. He says that other elements are exchanged for fire in a cosmic cycle.
Heraclitus claimed that humans are unable to understand the logos (“law”, “account”, “reason” – humans misunderstand both the law of the cosmos and his own efforts to speak about it.

3. Eleatic Monism
Elea was on the western coast of Southern Italy.
Parmenides developed an argument for monism. Rejecting the evidence of the senses, Parmenides deduced the unity of all that is, using thought alone.

3a. Parmenides
Born c.515 BCE.
Wrote in the epic meter of Homer and Hesiod and, like them, invokes a goddess, he did not resort to mythological explanations.
His goddess seems to symbolize divinity of pure thought.
“That it is, and that is not possible for it not to be.”
He criticizes everything contaminated with nonbeing, including change, motion, division, difference, and time.
He forbids the existence of what-is-not as contradictory, unthinkable and unspeakable.
In his mind, what-is must be unchangeable, immovable, indivisible, homogeneous and eternally present.
Once he has deduced his extreme monism, his goddess warns him against the deceptive dualism of mortal opinions.

3b. Melissus
From the island of Samos.
A follower of Parmenides.
There is only one real thing, he argued, and it is ungenerated, indestructible, indivisible, unchangeable, motionless, and homogeneous.
Melissus contradicts Parmenides in two ways. Parmenides’ One was a spatially limited…