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cla203 lecture 2.docx

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Jonathan Tracy

-different variations of answers to the question of the ‘theory of everything’ -Monism vs. Dualism/Pluralism -every major philosopher has a different answer and reasons why they came to this answer -observing the world and forming an intelligent theory from this observation -Pre-Socratic achievement was the scientific method -also were extremely critical of different peers’ theories as well as those of their predecessors -Greece was a very free and open society -had freedom to inquire about things -didn’t have to compete with the same hierarchy as other societies -increased social mobility in Greece; able to make a name for yourself based on merit -upsetting of accepted social norms therefore led to questioning of these norms and others -‘celebrity’ philosophizing was a way to move up in society by succeeding in competitive debate The Open Society: -vigorous debate over public policies, public-speaking as skill was taught -good speakers could gain more influence over decision-making in polis -Thales was involved in debate over the political organization for the whole of Ionia, saying the Ionians should have own political council to govern themselves -there was no institutionalized priestly cast that governed policy (as there was with Babylonians) -no feudal system (as in Persia) that fixed parameters, limit scope of inquiry into natural and other phenomena -no one in Greece claimed the “divine right to rule” as in other societies of the time Why Ionia -the Ionians were exposed to the world empire of the Persians; get a sense of just how diverse the world really is with the number of different peoples under Persian rule -Herodotus was fascinated by the Near Eastern world -First interest in Geography comes from exposure to the Near Eastern world and the massive empires they had -Greeks brought into contact with the Nile (especially those in Miletus) which has lots of wildlife not native to Greece Herodotus: what is truly universal is the law of nature, customs differ between cultures Thales: th -early 6 c. BCE -father of Western science -what we know of his ideas probably come from his pupil Anaximander -theory of the Nile flood -took interest in practical applications of scientific observation (celestial navigation, should be using Ursa Minor for navigation not Major) -said to have predicted eclipse, perhaps from Babylonian charts -Oxyrynchus Papyri (not in Thales’ own words though but theory laid out on why eclipses happen is right) -is said to have helped Croesus’ army cross a river that had no bridge diverting the river behind the army -first to develop a ‘theory of everything’ -first substance that everything comes from was Water -said that the earth floated on water (problem: what holds up the water then, this sparked much debate between philosophers) -Aristotle: could’ve got this theory from observing that everything derives it nourishment from moisture -from water all things come and into water all things decompose (Placita 1.3.1) -earth rests on water and stays where it is because it is buoyant like wood -connection to Near Eastern traditions -Egyptians: earth=flat dish resting on water -Babylonians: the original deities Apsu and Tiamat are both forms of water (sweet and bitter) -Thales’ leaves gods out of his account of cosmic structure; didn’t need gods to explain how universe works -Seneca: believes Thales’ to be silly, believes in Aristotle’s theory of earthquakes as being celestial flatulence Anaximander: -draws up first map of whole, shows influence great Near Eastern empires -composed treatise on nature Peri Phuseos -father of scientific literature -we do not have copy of treatise complete and intact -does question h
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