Introduction to Philosophy

The Early Beginnings of Philosophical Thinking

The too-general question The Problem of the One and the Many

The practical side of talking about The Problem

Thales: Water is the essence of reality.

Anaximander and the activity of opposites

Anaximenes' Breath

Xenophanes quasi-religious views.

Heraclitus and Flux and Fire in the midst of order.

Anaximander (in Detail)
  1. Stuff of the World is indefinite
  2. From the indefinite stuff opposites arise
    1. Wet dry
    2. hot cold
  3. We are unsure what he meant by this opposite- birthing stuff
  4. Whole worlds come into being and passed away
    ( = "Doctrine of the Plurality of Worlds")
  5. Life
    1. Living creatures came from the moisture of the earth as evaporated by the sun
    2. Humans must have come from other animals
      1. Since other animals able to take care of themselves
      2. And humans require a long period of care before they can be on their own
        1. First humans were cast up on land when they were able to protect themselves
        2. Humans come from Sharks, originally.

Xenophanes (in Detail)
  1. Influenced by Anaximenes
  2. Did not advocate the luxury, partying and hero worship of his age
  3. Motivated by religious concerns, but not an advocate of theology
  4. On Homer and Hesiod
    1. Ascribed to the Gods just about everything that was a disgrace when done by mortals
    2. Anthropomorphizing of Gods is troublesome:
      "The Ethiopians make their gods black and snubnosed; the Thrascians say theirs have blue eyes and red hair."
    3. His proper view of God
      1. One being: "The greatest among Gods and men..."
      2. Not the way we think of God today
        1. Perhaps = to universe itself
        2. Not transcendent being apart from universe
    4. Life
      1. Everything arose from the earth somehow
      2. Life arose when all things were mud
        1. Evidence: imprints of fish and seaweed in sedimentary rock
        2. Basis: NOT Air + Vapor, BUT Earth + Water
        3. Coda: God ambiguous in relation to the Basis

The Early Beginnings of Philosophical Thinking

Author: Brint Montgomery


Copyright Information:
The Early Beginnings of Philosophy © Brint Montgomery and SNU

The Early Beginnings of Philosophical Thinking


All of Reality is One: Water


Anaximander: Life



Xenophanes’: Religious Concerns

Xenophanes: On Life



Parmenides: What is is uncreated

Parmenides: What is is indestructible

Parmenides: What is is unchangeable


Author: Webmaster (Chris Reighard)