Philosophy: love of knowledge and wisdom; the systematic treatment of a subject - scientific investigation.


1. Possibly an Ideal which is as elusive as our own humanity.

2. Through the acquisition of truth (knowledge) - to attempt to find meaning in life.

3. Thoreau: "To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live, according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust."

4. Bacon: "Seek ye first the good things of the mind, and the rest will either be supplied or its loss will not be felt."

Truth will not make us rich, but it will make us free.

5. Is Philosophy practical? Is it stagnant? Does it lack common sense?

Science seems always to advance, while philosophy seems always to lose ground.


a. Possibly because Philosophy accepts the hard and hazardous tasks of dealing with problems not yet open to methods of science. Problems - like good and evil, beauty and ugliness, order and freedom, life and death.

b. When a field of inquiry yields knowledge that can be formulated in exact terms, it becomes science.

Suggestion: science begins as philosophy and ends as art; it begins as a hypothesis and ends an achieved state of knowledge.

c. Philosophy is a hypothetical interpretation of the unknown or the exactly known.

d. Science is captured territory that contains secure regions of knowledge upon which our world is built.

In a technical sense: Science is an analytical description, while philosophy is synthetic interpretation.

Science gives us knowledge, but only philosophy can give us wisdom.

6. Philosophy includes five fields of study: logic, esthetics, ethics, politics, and metaphysics.

a. Logic: is the study of the ideal method in thought and research - ie. observation and introspection, deduction and induction, hypothesis and experiment, analysis and synthesis. Logic attempts to understand and guide human activity.

b. Esthetics: is the study of ideal form or beauty; it is philosophy of art.

c. Ethics: is the study of ideal conduct; the highest knowledge, said Socrates, is the knowledge of the wisdom of life.

d. Politics: is the study of ideal social organization (not the science of capturing and holding office). ie. monarchy, aristocracy, democracy, socialism, anarchism, and feminism.

e. Metaphysics: is the study of the "ultimate reality" of all things: of the real and Final nature of "matter", of "mind", and of the interrelation of "mind" and "matter" in the process of perception and knowledge.


1. Philosophy, as distinct from theology, began in Greece in the Sixth Century B.C.

It was submerged by theology as Christianity rose and Rome fell.

The second great period, from the 11th to the 14th Centuries, was dominated by the Catholic Church.

This period ended with the Renaissance and Reformation.

The third great period, from the 17th Century to the present day is dominated by Science and the secular state is more important than the Church.

2. Social cohesion and individual liberty are in a state of conflict or uneasy compromise throughout the whole period

a. In Greece, social cohesion was secured by loyalty to the city state.

b. Greek thought down to Aristotle was dominated by religious and patriotic devotion.

Its ethical system was adapted to the lives of citizens and had a large political element inherent in it.

3. The subjugation of Greece by Macedonia and then by Rome:

a. A more individual and less social ethic arose. The Stoics thought of the virtuous life as relation of the soul to God, rather than as a relation of the citizen to the State.

b. Social Cohesion, six and half centuries from Alexander to Constantine, was secured by force (first by armies and then by civil administration. ie. Roman armies, law, officials created and then preserved by a highly centralized state.

c. Influenced by the Stoics and popularized by the Christians, the idea emerged that man's duty to God is more important than his duty to the State.

This opinion that "we ought to obey God rather than Man" as Socrates and the Apostles said - survived the conversion of Constantine.

This was primarily because early Christian emperors were Arians or inclined to Arianism.

d. Barbarian Conquests in Western Europe displaced Catholic emperors thus survived the superiority of religious institutions to political institutions.

4. Transformation of the Western Roman World from end of the 5th to the middle of th 11th Century.

a. The conflict between Church and State was not only a conflict between clergy and laity; it was also a renewal of the conflict between the Mediterranean world and northern barbarians.

b. The Unity of the Church: its liturgy was Latin, its education was classical, its conception of law and government was Roman.

ie. The Church represented a continuity with the past and what was most civilized in the present.

c. Secular Power: was in the hands of kings and barons of Teutonic descent who attempted to preserve what they could of institutions they had brought from Germany.

1. Absolute power was alien to them and the king had to share his power with feudal aristocracy.

2. Warrior Concept: what was the use of conquering the world if they could not drink and murder and love as the spirit moved them?

3. In spite of ecclesiastical disapproval, they preserved the duel and trial by battle, and they developed tournaments and courtly love.

d. The Victory of the Church:

1. The Church had almost a complete monopoly of education, partially because the kings were constantly at war with each other, but primarily because rulers and people believed the Church possessed the Keys.

2. The Church could decide whether a king would gain salvation or not; it could absolve subjects from the duty of allegiance and thus stimulate rebellion.

ie. The Church represented order in place of anarchy and, consequently, won the support of the rising middle class. (mercantile class)

5. The Great Schism, the councilor movement, and the Renaissance Papacy that led up to the Reformation destroyed the unity of Christendom and the Scholastic theory of government.

a. The national state, largely owing to gun powder, acquired an influence over man's thoughts and feelings which it not had before, and which progressively destroyed what remained of the Roman belief in the unity of civilization.

b. Machiavelli's Prince: politics became a marked struggle for power -- traditional moral restraints disappeared since they were associated with superstition thus such liberation made one energetic and creative.

6. The Reformation dominated European thought from the 16th Century onward.

a. National, economic, and moral motives all combined to strengthened the revolt against Rome.

b. Protestant Theory: there should be no earthly intermediary between the soul and God.

7. Modern Philosophy begins with Descartes whose fundamental certainty is the existence of himself and his thoughts.

a. There was an emphasis on the individual and his own conscious.

b. Doctrine of "Liberalism": a half-way compromise attempting to assign respective spheres of government and the individual.

c. Doctrine of State Worship: Hobbes, Rousseau, and Hegel represent different phases of this theory through people such as Cromwell, Napoleon and Nazi Germany.

8. Throughout the development of Philosophy (from 600 B.C. to the present), Philosophers have been divided into those who have wanted to tighten social bonds and those who wished to relax them.


1. "Pre-Socratic" is the term used to cover those Greek thinkers from ca. 600 - 400 B.C. that attempted to find universal principles to explain the whole of nature, from the origin of the universe to Man's place in it.

2. 400 B.C. is not a chronological limit; it was also the last year of Socrates' life.

a. Socrates condemned `natural philosophy' as worthless compared with the search for a good life, the discussion of social and political questions, and individual morality.

b. Natural Philosophy attempted to explain all things in terms of their origin.

3. Natural Philosophers did not exclude human nature from their investigations, but they saw man and society in a larger framework. ( ie. man as a late stage in cosmic development.)

4. The Milesian School (ie. city of Miletus in Asia Minor)

a. Miletus - birthplace of Greek Philosophy.

1. Southern most of the great Ionian cities of Asia Minor- original inhabitants believed to be of Minoan descent.

2. Homer says the people of Miletus were Carians who fought against the Acheans at Troy.

3. ca. 1,000 B.C. - Ionians from Attica.

a. The Ionians overcame the native population marrying their women.

b. Developed a rich textile industry, and also establishing colonies as trading posts.

c. This environment allowed the development of two of Greece's most characteristic gifts to the world.

4. Trading opened Miletus to other Civilizations.

a. Contact with Lydia, Babylonia, Phoenicia, and Egypt.

b. They were introduced to Egyptian geometry and Babylonian astronomy.

b. Characteristics of the Milesian School.

1. It differs from all other philosophy in that it had no predecessors.

2. It rejected the mythical and religious traditions of their ancestors and belief in the agency of anthropo morphic gods.

PHILOSOPHERS: the Melesian School

1. Thales (born ca. 640 B.C.)

a. Regarded as the founder of the Ionian school of natural philosophy.

b. He applied deductive thinking to geometry and removed astronomy from Oriental astrology.

c. May 28, 585 B.C.: he successfully predicted a solar eclipse probably based on Egyptian records and Babylonian calculations.

d. Thales asserted that the world originated in water and was sustained by water and the earth floated on water.

1. He thought the world was a hemisphere resting on an endless expanse of water, and the earth was a flat disk floating on the flat side of the interior of this hemisphere.

2. Aristotle: says that he was of the opinion that the nutrient of everything is moist, and that the seeds of everything have a moist nature from which everything is generated.

e. Thales believed every particle of the world is alive, that matter and life are inseparable and one, that there is an immortal "soul" in plants and metals as well as in animals and men.

f. Thales was given the title sophos, and when Greece came to name its SEVEN WISE MEN it placed Thales first.

2. Anaximander (ca. 610-546 B.C.)

a. He held that all things come from a single primal substance - it is Boundless or Infinite (Apeiron) from which all the various substance with which we are familiar are transformed.

b. The original substance of the universe could not be anything definitely qualified like water -- How could cold and wet produce their opposites, the hot and dry?

c. Anaximander: "Into that from which things take their rise they pass away once more, as is ordained, for they reparation and satisfaction for their injustice according to the ordering of time."

1. There should be a certain proportion of fire, of earth, and of water in the world. (each element, conceived as gods, is constantly attempting to enlarge its empire.)

2. Reparation: to pay the penalty; there is a necessity or natural law which establishes balance.

3. Ordering of Time: regularity in seasonal variations of heat, moisture, daylight and the like.

d. Evaluation: all things have been separated out of the "apeiron".

1. The earth was a fluid state; external heat dried some of it into land, and evaporated some into clouds.

2. Living organisms arose from the original moisture -- land animals were at first fish, and only with the drying of the earth did they acquire their present shape.

3. Man was once a fish -- he could not have at his earliest appearance been formed as he is now -- he would have been helpless to secure food.

3. Anaximenes (died ca. 528/526 B.C.

a. The last of the Melesian School (triad) probably flourishing ca. 545 B.C.

b. He said that the primary substance was air. The soul is air; fire is rarefied air; when condensed, air becomes first water, then if further condensed, earth and finally stone.

c. He thought that the earth was shaped like a round table, and that air encompassed everything: "Just as our soul, being air, holds us together, so do breath and air encompass the whole world."

4. Importance of the Milesian School

a. Lies in what it attempted to do and not for what it achieved.

b. Its existence was the result of contact between the Greek mind with Babylonia and Egypt.

c. The speculations of Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes should be regarded as scientific hypotheses which inspired subsequent investigations.

5. The next state of Greek Philosophy is associated with Greek cities of Southern Italy.

6. Pythagoras (ca. 570-490 B.C.)

a. He was an eastern Greek from Samos who migrated to Croton in Southern Italy.

b. Italian Greek Philosophers became known for a characteristic outlook very different from the Milesians.

c. Pythagoras founded a brotherhood dedicated to philosophia (the word was believed to be his invention) as a way of life, with a strong religious, and also a political element.

7. Pythagoreans: Man and the Cosmos

a. For Pythagoras, philosophy was the basis of a way of life, leading to salvation of the soul.

b. Central Point: To understand man and his relation to other forms of life and to the cosmos.

c. Purity could be achieved through silence, self-examination, abstention from flesh and beans.

d. Of the recognized gods they worshiped Apollo, the guardian of the ideal of moderation (nothing too much).

e. They also held a belief in the essential unity of all life which made possible their belief in the transmigration of the soul.

f. The Cosmos itself was a living, breathing creature.

1. Men were divided and mortal, but their souls were immortal.

2. The immortal soul of man was a fragment of the divine, eternal universe which had been cut off and imprisoned in man's mortal body.

3. Thus man needed to purify his soul in preparation for a return to the universal soul.

g. Philosophy, for Pythagoras, meant the use of reason and observation to gain an understanding of the Universe.

1. An understanding of the divine universe would bring man's nature closer to its own.

2. This resulted in the Pythagorean conception of the Cosmos = the notion of orderly arrangement or structural perfection with that of beauty.

3. Peras meaning limit is closely associated to Cosmos since anything that lives forever such as the Universe must exhibit both limit and order.

4. The World (to the Greek mind) is a perfect whole, a model of regularity and order.

8. Pythagorean: Doctrine that all things are numbers.

a. Pythagoras regarded numbers spatially -- one is the point, two is the line, three is the surface, four is the solid.

b. The belief that "all bodies consist of points or units in space, which taken together constitute a number.

c. The fact that the Pythagoreans regarded numbers in this way is indicated by the "tetrarktys".

d. Several points produce a line, several lines produce a sur- face, several surfaces produce a body.

e. Aristotle: "the elements of numbers are the even and the odd = the even is unlimited and the odd is limited."

11. Heraclitus (active ca. 500 B.C.)

a. Objected to the Pythagorean emphasis on harmony, maintaining,that, on the contrary, strife and opposition were the life ofthe world.

b. Life was maintained by a tension of opposites fighting a continuous battle in which neither side could win final victory.

1. Movement and flux of change were unceasing forindividuals, but the structure of the cosmos remained constant.

2. This law of individual flux within a permanent universe framework was guaranteed by the Logos, an intelligent governing principle materially embodied as fire, the most subtle element and identified with soul or life.

c. Philosophy thus far had been a search for a simpler reality underlying the confusion of appearances.

1. The answers fell into two broad categories: matter and form.

2. Reality was a single material substance (the Milesians) or an integral principle of structure which could be expressed in terms of numbers (the Pythagoreans).

d. Heraclitus: "You cannot step twice into the same river."

e. The logical conclusion of form philosophy is the oppositeof flux -- namely, a belief in an absolute, unchanging reality of which the world of change and movement is only a phantom and not real.

The Elatic School: Unity of Reality

1. The direction of philosophy was changed by the logic of Parmenides of Elea.

2. For the first time deductive reasoning was applied and preferred to evidence of the senses.

3. Conclusions Concerning Reality:

a. If there is any reality (if it is), it must be one only (for if more than one, its units could be separated only by "what it is not").

      1. It is eternal and unchanging (for to speak of change or perishing is to say that reality at some time "is not" what it was, but to say of "what is" "it is not" is contradictory and impossible.

c. It is immovable (this follows from his statement that "all is full of what it is".

4. To Parmenides, reality remains one - a timeless, changeless, motionless, homogeneous mass, which he compared to a sphere.

a. The multiple, changing world of appearances is an illusion of our senses.

b. Cosmogony (origin of the universe) from a single origin was no longer possible, yet he warned his listeners that reality is in truth a unity and that the cosmos in only a deceitful appearance to mortals.

5. Paramenides was the first philosopher to distinguish between the sensible and the intelligible and to condemn the sensible as unreal.

Zeno and Melissus

1. Parmenides had two followers, who, with him, are know as the Elatic School.

2. Zeno of Elea (born ca. 490 B.C.) concentrated on a defense of the proposition that reality is one and immovable by pointing out the absurdities in the contrary view.

3. Melissus of Samos (active in 440 B.C.) modified Parmenides' ideas to the extent of saying that reality is infinite.

a. He denied the possibility of empty space and that if there were many things, each would have to have the characteristics of the Parmenidean One.

b. These Elatic Qualities being indivisibility, homogeneity, and unalterability.

4. Parmenides' logic has been attacked and criticized as naivete, but at the time his questions appeared unanswerable.

5. Two Alternatives seemed to be the only solution.

a. To abandon monism and admit the ultimate plurality of the real.

b. Simply to admit the unreality of the natural world.

6. The remainder of Pre-Socratic Philosophy was occupied by the adoption of some form of pluralism.

The Pluralists: Empedocles

1. Empedocles (ca. 490-430 B.C.) was the first of the pluralists, a Sicilian poet-philosopher whose thinking reflected a combination of rationalism and mystical religion (completely different from the purely scientific outlook of the Ionians).

2. His theory was the first clear presentation of the "four element theory".

a. Fire, water, air, and earth are the ultimate roots (substances) of all things -- they are ungenerated and indestructible.

b. Everything in nature comes into being and perishes by the mixture and separation of these substances.

c. Trees and animals, clouds and rocks, are not mere illusions-- yet, since they are only temporary combinations of the four "realities" - they cannot be identi-fied as real.

3. The blend of the mystic and rationalist in Empedocles can be seen in his motive causes (* an animal drive or desire which consciously or unconsciously operates as determinant of an act of volition).

The motive causes being Love and Strife.

a. Love bringing these elements together and Strife drawing them apart.

b. They are in endless opposition and each prevail in turn, bringing about a double evolutionary cycle.

c. Under Love all four elements are indistinguishably fused in a sphere; under Strife the same sphere contains them in layers.

d. When neither Love nor Strife is in complete control and when the elements are partly joined and partly separated, a world like our own is formed.

4. Everything has its share of consciousness (nothing is purely inanimate) -- Empedocles' religious view can be seen under Love and Strife (in which moral character is emphasized).

a. Love is good and Strife is bad -- in the present world Strife is gaining.

b. Men have fallen from a previous blessed state by giving themselves to Strife and Sin.


1. Anaxagoras of Clazomenae (ca. 500-428 B.C.) was an Ionian whose thinking was based on rationalism without a preoccupation with religion.

2. He lived in Athens under Pericles (5th Century B.C.) until he was exiled for atheism.

3. He put forth a first cause of motion theory which he called "Mind".

a. He described it as knowing all things and having the greatest power.

b. In order to control the material world, it is entirely outside the mixture of which the material world is formed.

4. Creation (Cosmogony)

a. In the beginning "all things were together", a stationary mass in which nothing could be distinguished.

b. Mind is the agent that produced an ordered cosmos from it.

c. This was achieved by starting a rotary movement or vortex-- by its own increasing speed it brought the gradual separation of different forms of matter.

5. Anxagoras believed that there is a portion of everything in everything.

The Atomists

1. The founder of the Atomist School was Leucippus of Miletus (ca. 430 B.C.) and further developed by his student Democritus (born ca. 460 B.C.).

2. The Atomist Theory (Philosophy) arose in direct response to Parmenides.

3. They maintained that there are an infinite number of individual units which are called atoms (a-tomos = uncutable).

4. Everyone had believed that anything that did exist ("what is") must have some form of body.

a. Parmenides: maintained that space since it had no form of body must be nonexistent ("what is not").

b. Democritus: Reality consists of innumerable microscopic and indivisible bodies in motion in infinite space.

5. Their continued motion sets up a vortex in which the larger and heavier fall in the center and the smaller and lighter are moved to the circumference -- in this way a cosmos is formed.

a. Only atoms or the void exist, sensible qualities other than size and shape are subjective caused by interaction between the atoms of external objects and those in our own bodies.

b. ie. Hard objects have their atoms more closely packed than do soft objects.

Sweet flavors are caused by smooth atoms, bitter flavors by sharp or hooked atoms.

Colors vary according to the positions of surface atoms, which cause them to reflect in different ways the light that falls upon them.

6. The soul or life principle:

a. It is composed of smooth, round atoms that are more mobile than the rest that impart to the body the power of motion and cognition.

b. The Soul is dispersed through the body, alternating with body atoms, but the mind appears to have been a collection of the finest of these probably located in the breast.

c. The direct object of sight, hearing, taste and smell are unreal -- they lead the mind to the truth about reality.

Pre-Socratic Philosophy: Conclusions

1. The idea of unity is evident: things change into one another -- therefore there must be some ultimate principle, some unity, underlying diversity

2. Thales declares that water is that common principle, Anaximenes air, Heraclitus fire: they all three believe in one ultimate principle.

a. The source changed, but all three believed in one primal source for the cosmos.

b. Their real glory and contribution to philosophy is their intuition of universal unity within the cosmos.

3. At the same time they were not content with any mythological assumption behind the universe, and attempted to define some real principle of unity within it.

4. Early Cosmologists were inspired by the idea of cosmic unity -- yet, they were faced with a world of multiplicity and diversity.

5. Pre-Socratics struggled with the problem of the One and the Many,but they were not able to succeed in solving it.

6. Early Greek philosophers are rightly called Cosmologists because their primary concern was with the "nature of the Cosmos".

a. Man is considered only as one item in the cosmos rather than as the subject of knowledge or as the morally willing and acting subject.

b. The lack of any final conclusion led to a shift of interest from the Cosmos to Man himself.

7. One problem with man as the knowing subject was raised by Pre-Socratic philosophy --that of the relation between sense experience and reason.

8. Later philosophical tendencies and schools can be seen in Pre-Socratic Philosophy.

a. The Parmenidean doctrine of the One, coupled with the emphasis on reason instead of sense perception, we can see the germs of later idealism.

b. Anaxagoras' first cause of motion, "Mind" -- we may see the germs of later theism.

c. In the atomism of Leucippus and Democritus, we may see an anticipation of later materialist and mechanistic philosophies which attempted to explain all quality by quantity and to reduce everything in the universe to matter and its products.

9. Pre-Socratic philosophy is not simply a pre-philosophic stage which can be discounted in the study of Greek thought.

a. It deserves to be studied as the first Greek attempt to attain a rational understanding of the world.

b. It is not self contained and shut off from the later philosophic thought -- they raised problems which were to occupy later Greek philosophers.


1. Refers to Greeks in the fifth and early fourth Centuries B.C. who became famous as itinerant teachers.

2. Plato portrays the Sophists not as seekers of real truth, but as men concerned only with making money and securing success in argument by any means whatsoever and teaching likewise.

3. Sophists attempted to explain the universe in terms of its phenomenal aspects alone, without any appeal to outside principles or to a real world other than phenomena.

4. Their revolt was against the Elatic Tradition, which not only found true reality outside phenomena, but refused the claim that the phenomenal world was real.

5. For Plato the phenomenal world of the Sophists was a sham world, and anyone who spoke about it without going beyond it for its ground and explanation could not be seeking the truth.

6. During the 5th Century B.C., there was a belief in a golden age in the past when all things were better than in the present (sometimes called primitivism).

a. The only common alternative view was that of a cyclical pattern in human history.

b. A belief in continuing progress was exceptional or non-existant before the Sophists.

7. Protagoras saw human history in terms of the progressive development of arts and crafts for supplying human needs, with government in settled communities.

8. Critias (Plato's cousin), who became one of the Thirty Tyrants of Athens at the end of the Peloponnesian War but ranked as a Sophist.

9. The belief that virtue could be taught was universal among the sophists.

a. This doctrine had a revolutionary impact upon Athenian society.

b. It implied that anyone, after instruction, might become qualified for the exercise of power, and it left no special place for privilege by birth or the inheritance of a special family or class.

ie. theoretical basis for democracy.

c. Sophists believed that the teaching of virtue involved explanation -- then, if what is virtuous can be explained, then what cannot be explained may not deserve to rank as virtue.

1. Traditionalists believed such arguments were directed only at victory in debate.

2. Plato called such arguments "eristic".

10. At other times sophists would use a technique called "antilogic" -- which consisted in drawing out the latent contradictions in popular or other beliefs.

11. A great importance in sophistic arguments on morality has been placed on their opposition (antithesis) between nature and convention.