Thales regarded all the existing variety of things as a manifestation of this single, eternal beginning.
Thales regarded all the existing variety of things as a manifestation of this single, eternal beginning.
BC – usually defined as pre-Socratic, and philosophers who worked at this time – as pre-Socratic. about half of the V century. and a significant part of the IV century. BC – is defined as a classic. It is characterized by the influence and activity of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle. end of IV – II centuries. BC – in the vast majority of works is defined as Hellenistic. In contrast to the classical period, when there were significant philosophical systems, at this time the arena is a number of all sorts of philosophical trends and schools. I c. BC – V – VI centuries. AD – the so-called Roman period.
Next we will talk about the first stage of development of ancient Greek philosophy.
The achievements of pre-Socratic philosophers have survived only in fragments and only through citations and criticism of later ancient authors. From these fragments it is very difficult to deduce integral philosophical views.
Such quotations are found, for example, in the work of Diogenes Laertius “On the life, teachings and sayings of famous philosophers”, as well as the works of Plato, Plutarch, Sextus Imperius, Clement of Alexandria. However, modern science questions the accuracy of some quotations. In particular, Plato “quotes” very freely and often adds to the thoughts of other authors (Kratila, Parmenides) such a meaning that at least does not coincide with what other authors write.
As in previous mythology, almost all Greek authors can find tendencies to turn to nature, space. However, the approach of mythology and the first philosophers to this issue is fundamentally different.
According to Hegel, philosophy in its own sense arises together in the formulation of the question of essence, which is not only formulated but also solved outside the methodology and terminology of mythological thinking. The emergence of philosophy is associated with a certain level of abstract (rational thinking), which is able to reflect reality in a different way than with the help or allegory of mythological personification. Thus, the sources of Greek philosophy itself have a desire to rationally answer the question of what is the basic principle of the world (or space) and what or the principles of force determine its development.
The question of the primordial is central to the ontology of ancient Greek philosophers. And in this sense, philosophy resonates with mythology, inherits its ideological issues. But if mythology seeks to solve this question on the principle – who gave birth to the creature, the philosophers are looking for a substantial beginning – from which it all came. To simplify the following statement, it should be noted that to denote the first principle, the first principle from which everything else arises, in Greek philosophy used two terms: stoicheyon, meaning element, core, basis in the logical sense of the word, and arche, meaning primordial, the initial state of affairs, the oldest form in the historical meaning of the word.
In addition to the question of the first principle, almost all pre-Socratic philosophers turned to the problem of explaining natural phenomena, motion, and some – and the problem of cognition. Next it will be shown what views each of the most prominent philosophers of the first stage held on these issues.
Major philosophers and schools of pre-Socratic philosophy
The Miletus School is known as the first philosophical school. In it, for the first time, the question of the foundations of all things was consciously raised.
In the first place there is the question of the essence of the world. And although some representatives of the Miletus school solve this question differently, their views have a common denominator: they see the basis of the world in a certain material principle. We can say that this first Greek philosophical school spontaneously gravitated towards materialism.
Of course, the question of the relationship between material and spiritual principles has not yet been raised, it was formulated later. Representatives of the Miletus school intuitively understood the world as material. Along with spontaneous materialism, the thinking of these philosophers reveals a “naive” dialectic, by means of the conceptual means of which they seek to comprehend the world in the dynamics of its development and change. Unlike all mythological concepts, they gave a completely materialistic answer to the main question of the previous cosmogony about the original cause of the world, although it was also naive.
The first of the Ionian philosophers, Thales of Miletus, lived around 640-562 BC. Thales’s diverse knowledge (in the field of astronomy, geometry, arithmetic) had a definite influence on the development of his philosophical thinking. For example, geometry at that time was so developed by science that it was determined as the basis of scientific abstraction. This is what influenced Thales’ views aimed at understanding the essence of the world.
Thales considered water to be the basis of all things. This idea appears already in pre-philosophical cosmogony. However, Thales’ approach is quite different from hers. He understood water not as a concrete or form personification of mythological force, but as an amorphous, current concentration of matter. Thus “water” Thales means the basic principle both in the sense of “stoyheyon”, and in the sense of “arche”.
Aristotle, teaching the teachings of Thales, used two expressions: water as an element of matter, the element of nature and water as the basis, the general, the substrate of all things, the basis, modifications of which give different states. Everything else arises by “thickening” or “thinning” this primordial matter. Thales regarded all the existing variety of things as a manifestation of this single, eternal beginning. He claimed that all things arise from water and, destroying, turn back into water.
Another prominent philosopher of Miletus was Anaximander (611-546 BC).
Like Thales, he spontaneously gravitated toward materialism. Like Thales, Anaximander raised the question of the beginning of the world. He asserted that the primordial and the basis is the infinite (apeiron), and did not define it as air, nor as water, nor as anything buy essay online compare and contrast else. He taught that parts change, but the whole remains the same.
Thales attributed all the material diversity of the world to water, while Anaximander derives from this material certainty. His “apeiron” is characterized as something boundless, indefinite, which is not one of the so-called elements, but is “some other unlimited naturalness, from which arise all the celestial arches and worlds in them.” “Apeiron” Anaximander is boundless and unlimited not only in space but also in time.
Anaximander explained the origin of things not by the play of the elements, but by the fact that in the eternal movement are opposites. In this philosopher, we seem to meet for the first time with an awareness of the importance of opposites in relation to development.
In Anaximander there is a problem that Thales only denotes in the abstract – the problem of the origin and formation of life. The capacity for life is ascribed here directly to a definite kind of matter. In addition, Anaximander to the natural range of animal development includes humans.
The third prominent philosopher of Miletus is Anaximenes (585-524 BC).
In a sense, Anaximenes strengthened and completed the trend of spontaneous ancient Greek materialism in search of natural causes of phenomena and things. He thinks the basis of the world is a certain kind of matter. He considers such matter to be unlimited, infinite, having an indefinite form of air.
According to Anaximenes, the discharge of air leads to fire, and condensation causes winds – clouds – water – earth – stones. Thus condensation and discharge are understood here as the basic, mutually opposite processes participating in formation of various states of a matter. Anaximenes extends the natural explanation of the origin and development of the world to the explanation of the origin of the gods.
Anaximenes first introduces the concept of the relationship between protomatter and motion. Air as primordial matter, according to his views, “constantly oscillates, because if it did not move, it would not change as much as it changes.”
Heraclitus of Ephesus
The name of Heraclitus of Ephesus (540-480 BC) is associated with the emergence of another strong philosophical school of ancient Greece. There are about 130 fragments from the work of Heraclitus, which, according to some sources, was called “On Nature”, according to others – “Muses”.
Heraclitus naturally explained such natural phenomena as wind, lightning, thunder, lightning and others. Heraclitus considered fire to be the basis of everything. In his understanding, fire, on the one hand, is similar to the progenitor of the Miletus school and is both the basis of the world (“arche”) and the main element (“stoicheyron”).
On the other hand, fire is for him the most adequate symbol of the dynamics of development, the gradualness of constant change. This is evidenced, for example, by his saying that the world “arises from fire and burns again at certain periods throughout the century; this is done in accordance with fate. “
Along with emphasizing the material basis of all existence and stating the infinity of this material principle, researchers find in Heraclitus and thought. The infinity of the emphasizing matter in the historical sense of the word and the obvious explanation of its uncreatedness and indestructibility: “This world, which was not created for all by any of the gods, but is always and will be eternally living fire”.
In the intuitive understanding of development as unity and the struggle of opposites of all pre-Socratic thinkers, Heraclitus advanced the most. Of course, the dialectic is not taught here in clear and orderly terms, but rather some ingenious observations.
The central motive of Heraclitus’ teaching was the principle of all flowing (panta rei). He compared the constant course of development with the course of a river that cannot be entered twice. Heraclitus explains the variety of manifestations of the existing world by the changes that take place in the original “primordial matter”. One matter, according to his views, “lives the death” of another. Thus, Heraclitus is very close to understanding “creative negation”.
Very important in the views of Heraclitus is given, using the modern term, determinism, ie the general conditionality of all events and phenomena. Everything, according to him, is governed by fate or necessity (nike). The notion of necessity is very closely connected with the understanding of regularity – the law (logos). The Logos, according to Heraclitus, is as eternal as the uncreated and indestructible world. Both the world and the progenitor and the logos exist objectively, that is, independently of human consciousness.