Philosophy 3000c-Metaphysics Essay

8370 Words Sep 27th, 2014 34 Pages
Chapter I

Section 1

Philosophy in the West began, for the most part, in Ancient Greece. In the period of the Fifth Century BCE, particularly in Athens, an incredible number of remarkable thinkers, artists, politicians, etc., participated in the life of the city-state. Their accomplishments have guided and inspired the entire development of Western culture. It’s pretty obvious then, that we ought to know something of their philosopher’s ideas. The most famous are, of course, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Prior to these are the so-called Pre-Socratics. The Pre-Socratic philosophers include: the Ionians who attempted to formulate materialist explanations of reality, the Eleatics, who proposed various intellectual conundrums about
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What's important about Thales' theory is that it seems to assume that there is "a source of all" and it identifies this source as a perceptible element. The assumption here is actually more interesting and important than the theory. It points to a direction of investigation, namely the search for the source of all things.

Thales had a student named Anaximander. Anaximander is important because he criticizes and moves beyond his teacher's theory. Anaximander believed that the source of all was not unbounded water but simply the "Unbounded." By this he apparently meant something that was not only not bound in terms of its extent but neither was it bounded in terms of being one of the perceptible elements like water. The view was common, until fairly recently with the advent of chemistry, that the basic elements were earth, air, fire and water. Thales had simply chosen one of them as the primordial source of the others. This seems to be the reason that Anaximander disagreed. Presumably, Anaximander realized that if there were unbounded water, fire, another equally perceptible element could not be. The reason for this being that they are opposed: water puts out fire. Anaximander's solution was to make the Unbounded something beyond or before the other perceptible elements. This way it would not be opposed to any of them as they are to each other. The perceptible elements would then be precipitated out of the Unbounded much as rain is precipitated

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