Greek Philosophy Introduction to Greek philosophy, including early scientists and their beliefs and pre-scientific cosmogony.
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The Early Scientists
o Engaging in philosophy before Socrates (469-399BCE)
Philosophy, Greek philo sophia
o Love of wisdom/knowledge
o Pursuit of knowledge of any kind, not what we traditionally think of as philosophy
Science, Latin scientia
o Means 'knowledge'.
o Means knowledge of anything, very broad
Physis, means nature. Where we get our word for physics
o Would also be botany and biology in ancient times. Means 'to grow'
Cosmos, the universe.
o Concept of universe in antiquity not as broad as ours
o Root of word means order and beauty. Greeks thought of their world/universe as having some
kind of order and structure.
o Where we get cosmology: modern branch of physics and astronomy that is the study of the
o Cosmogony: theories and ideas about the birth of the universe; the origins
Ancient world would not have distinctions between modern divisions of science, philosophy. Early
scientists trying to understand universe and humans place in it
Pre Scientific Greek Cosmogony
Theogony: origins of gods. Written by Hesiod.
o Origin of gods=origins of universe
o In the beginning was chaos (means opening or gap.)
o Chaos gives rise to Gaia (earth/earth goddess), Eros (love, desire), and various dark powers
o Gaia gives birth to sea, mountains and ouranos (sky). Ouranos and Gaia birth the titan gods
(elder generation of gods)
Scientists would observe of natural world and the attempt to explain it. Would notice permanence
o Wanted to resolve tension of permanence and change.
o Wanted to know matter and material that makes up the universe
o How does the universe maintain eternity and allow for constant change
o Why does the universe exist, why do people exist
Miletos in Ionia. Flourishing place of intellectual curiosity: Monists
o Monist: world is make up of just one thing. Looking for one kind of matter
o Thales: all made of water, the one element that makes up the whole universe.
Water is vital for life, for people and plants, water is vapour liquid and solid naturally,
o Anaximander: believed everything was made of apeiron. Means unlimited, infinite, no
boundaries. Did not try to qualify the element that makes up the universe. Might also have
been thinking of an infinite universe. Came up with idea that life originated in the sea
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