Presocratic Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction
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Generations of philosophers, both ancient and modern, have traced their inspiration back to the Presocratics. Part of the fascination stems from the fact that little of what they wrote survives. Here Osborne invites her readers to dip their toes into the fragmentary remains of thinkers from Thales to Pythagoras, Heraclitus to Protagoras, and to try to reconstruct the moves that they were making, to support stories that Western philosophers and historians of philosophy like to tell about their past.
This book covers the invention of western philosophy: introducing to us the first thinkers to explore ideas about the nature of reality, time, and the origin of the universe.
About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.
patch in Box 1, since those seemed not to have wills or intentionality. Presocratic Philosophy Should we still believe those earlier scholars who thought we needed to make two separate patchwork garments? To follow them, we’d have to extract the patch in Box 3 from its context adjacent to fragment 17, and sew it in somewhere else instead. We’d have to imagine that the papyrus scraps were from more than one separate scroll, for instance. That seems a desperate move. Surely we should go with our
everything that we have now was already there from the very beginning: lots of things then, lots of things now. That way, Parmenides might be right that things never really change, but wrong that there’s only ever just one thing.’’ And so they set about devising accounts of how the world might have originated in the form of lots of kinds of matter: one said that there were four elements, another that there were inﬁnitely many, another that there were atomic particles of matter too small for us to
inﬁnite, then mathematically there will be no point that is the last point before reaching B, and no time at which Achilles changes from being behind the tortoise to being level with her. There is a time at which he is not yet there, and there is a time at which he is already there, but no time at which he exchanges the former description for the latter. This is a counter-intuitive observation. Mathematicians evade the difﬁculty by the use of the ﬁction of ‘inﬁnitesimal’ quantities, which treat
stuff of which the world was made? Or is he replying to Parmenides’s stable and uniﬁed world with an alternative picture of his own, one in which nothing but the sequencing is the same? His system bears some resemblance to Empedocles’s thesis of eternal recurrence, and what 95 Heraclitus We have a sense that Heraclitus thrills to the perpetual ﬂow of differences in the world: change is endemic, opposites ﬂip into one another depending on your point of view, ﬁre consumes what was there before
the issue is really more complicated, and a less partisan reading of Plato can help to open it up. For the Sophists may indeed be a threat, not just to an extreme rationalist or totalitarian political order, but also to the kind of enlightened democracy that values equality of opportunity. And that ideal, which may be our ideal, is itself closer to what Plato favoured than you might think. Some key themes in Sophistic thought Presocratic Philosophy 1. Nature and convention Human societies