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Lecture 9

Clas 201: Lecture 9 Notes

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Classical Studies
CLAS 201
Nicholas Maes

 Philosophy = “love of wisdom” o Greek term  When they are looking at the world, they are looking at something that has order (“kosmos”) o Not a lack of order, but something you can actually decipher (with reason) o Starts with a group of people called the Pre-Socratics (all philosophers that wrote before Socrates)  The earliest of the Pre-Socratics belonged to the Milesian school o Came from Miletus st o The 1 of the phisosophers of the Milesian school is Thales o Thales asked “what does the kosmos consist of; what is the Arche of the kosmos; what is the foundational element of the kosmos” o People are not thinking that one element is primary (they’re thinking creation is coming from god, not a physical element) o Thales answer is water (it exists in 3 different states, you can’t have life without water) o Thales is not looking for are religious solution, but a physical solution o Thales is followed by Anaximenes: he decides Thales is wrong and the element must be air; water comes from air and not the other way around rd o Anaximander (3 member of the Milesian school)  He again wonders what the primary physical element is of the earth  He says it is to apeiron: the basic constituent must be without limit (since the universe is without limit, it itself must be without limit)  The physical element might be something you can’t see or experience  Map  Proposed there are infinite worlds (our world is just one of many)  He makes a bizarre statement: where do humans come from? Something can’t come from where do we come from? Forget about god; possibly human beings change over time (they evolve); at one point/stage, we might have been fish for example (humans related to other life forms) o The kosmos is to be understood STRICTLY in terms of physicality (not in terms of something divine)  Xenophanes (of Colophon): says we tend to see god in a way we see our physique, etc. (that’s wrong!; ex. diff peoples depiction of god are different  ex. black jesus, asian jesus, etc.) o This is wrong b/c ultimately god is one  Heraclitus: “the widower” o Logos = reason o Turmoil: the world is just in a state of constant motion b/c you have diff opposites constantly warring with each other o Through the use of senses and reason (logos), we bring these opposites (just enough of disease and health, for example) to have stability; resolving the tension of opposites  We can make sense of this turmoil o His symbol for the world is a strung bow (bow is in a state of tension, but of stability)  2 opposing forces balance each other out o His conclusion: ultimately i know i’m here because i’m thinking (i think, therefore i am)  Rationalist approach to the world o Other philosophers were endlessly sceptical  Parmenides: follower of Xenophanes (living in Elea) o Part of Elea school o Comes up with statement: there is reality, then there is the world of Doxa (opinion) o The world of opinion is the world you apprehend with your senses (you think the sun rises, that there is emotion, etc. but that is all based on sense perception, and is therefore not the absolute truth!) o True reality can be discerned by considering the fact that something either exists or does not exist (if something exists, it is always existing and it always had to have existed in the same form, otherwise it never really existed to begin with) o Something that exists is the same is in the same state in the same time o Everything else you see around you is just Doxa/opinion (almost an illusion) o Metaphor: the matrix; people are not using their minds to determine the real reality to determine things (it is all based on doxa/opinion) o If something is subject to change, it cannot exist o Zeno says Parmenides is right! (and he can prove it) o If what you think of as existing really existed, there is a possibility of motion o “do you really think things move” o It must be doxa (just our opinion) o Imagine a field that a man wants to walk across o If he wants to cross the field, he has to cross to the midpoint o There will always be a midpoint, so there is no motion o Achilles and Tortoise: tortoise has a headstart, but Achilles never actually catches up to the tortoise (even though you expect him to) b/c there is actually no movement  Ontology: the study of existence (what is real and what is not) o Maybe there is a bottomline to reality that never cahnges o Leucippus: o Democritus: o They agree with Parmenides o A point where you can’t cut something any further: atomos o The Atomists are arguing; there is an unchanging foundation to our world (the unchanging thing combines to greater objects, ex. buildings, humans, etc. and dissolve into their infinite lasting elements  therefore, comes and goes, etc.)  Parmenides: reality would be a sphere extending infinitely in all directions  In the greek world, there is an absence of public education  Milesian school: collection of philosophers that learned with/from each other in the place of Miletus  If you really want to learn, you have to hire ppl to teach you individually  Sophists: wisemen (teach people) o Teaching you to think on your feet o Ex. need to know how to speak well if you want a political career  Protagoras taught 1 student: Protagoras would receive his fee if his student won his first case o He has to argue why he shouldn’t pay Protagoras’ fee (if he loses, he has to pay b/c he couldn’t argue it, but if he wins, he has to pay the fee b/c he wins his first case!) o The truth is just a blunt instrument in your hand used to win an argument o He says Man is the measure of all things! o We determine what is right and wrong o Everyone is right b/c there is no one truth (we all just see it diff); ...made up of nomos (custom) and physis (nature)  Truth is all relevant; so don’t bother looking for the truth  Socrates: he studied all the physical philosophies o He was interested in ethics (how humans are supposed to behave), which will eventually morph with ontology (even though he turns his back on physical investigations) o Dialectic/elenchus: asking questions, coming up with potential answers, and asking further questions to test the answers that you came up with; and if your answers cant stand up against the further questions, you can keep them (if not, then you scrap them)  Similar to a hypothesis in an experiment o Socrates never actually wrote anything! o Plato is socrates’ student o Dialectic = “conversation” o Socrates has to come up with certain principles of logic o Arete = virtue  Plato – Dialogue (symposium, Apology, Republic, pratagoras) o Love, virtue, justice all defined differently by different philosophers based on culture o Republic: like a play, with characters speaking  Someone raises the question “what is justice”  Socrates says “maybe we should magnify everything and see it applied in a large context to see what justice is”  He is asking ppl around him what the ideal city state would be like (how it would be run)  Ex. should women exercise naked b/c men are?  He is trying to create a city state on ideal grounds  City state begins to look more and more like Sparta  There is a nazi-like side to Socrates  Epistemology: how is it that we know things?  He goes back to ontology  How do you know the green desk, metal desk, wooden desk, are all desks? How are we able t
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