Why did Heraclitus disagree with Pythagoras about the essence of life?

Heraclitus (c. 540—480 b.c.e.) thought that the essence of life was an inconclusive battle of opposites. The logos, or rational ruling principle of the cosmos, which takes on the form of fire and is equal to soul or life, is a constant; within the logos, the strife of individual beings brings constant change.

For what is Heraclitus still famous?

Heraclitus is the author of the saying, "You cannot step into the same river twice." He meant that human life and circumstances are in constant flux, like a river.

What did Parmenides and his Eleatic school believe?

Parmenides of Elea (c. 515-450 b.c.e.), together with his two pupils, Zeno (c. 490—c. 430 b.c.e.) and Mellisus of Samos (fl. 440 b.c.e.), formed the Eleatic school. Parmenides had the compelling idea of uniting the ultimate primary substance of everything with our perceived reality that seems to be composed of many different things. He argued forcefully that reality is an undifferentiated whole that is unmoving and unchanging. Parmenides dismissed change and the many different things that human beings ordinarily experience as mere appearance and illusion.

Why did the Pythagorians avoid fava beans?

Many reasons have been given for why the Pythagorians avoided fava beans: a belief that fava beans contain the souls of the dead; the resemblance of the seed in the bean to a human embryo, so that eating them would be like cannibalism; fava beans seem to have the shape of testicles or the gates of hell; they evoke oligarchy or rule by wealth because they were commonly used to draw lots; and they allow part of the soul to escape in causing "wind" or gas

Fava beans were the only beans available in Europe before the discovery of the Americas. Modern research has shown that some Mediterranean populations are deficient in G6PD enzyme, and one-fifth of those with the deficiency suffer kidney damage if they eat fava beans. On the other hand, young fava beans contain Levadopa, which in controlled doses can be an effective treatment for Parkinson's disease.

What exactly was Parmendides reasoning in his claims about the One?

Parmenides first assumed that reality, or what does not change, is One thing only. Given this, anything that is not that one thing is not real. Because something that is not real cannot have an effect on what is real, nothing can divide the One. The One, by definition, cannot move or change. Since the One is the only thing that is real, what we perceive as moving and changing is not real.

Parmenides' student Zeno of Elea (c 490-c. 430 b.c.e.) defended the idea that reality is One and immobile and unchanging by showing how positing its movement and change results in absurdities. He is famous for his paradoxes. Mellisus of Samos (fl. 440 b.c.e.) added that the One is unbounded, or in our terms, infinite, and insisted that there could not be empty space.

What did philosophers after Parmenides assert about the nature of appearance?

Before Plato, there were several attempts by philosophers to rescue the reality of changing, moving components of our ordinary experience from Parmenides' claim that the only thing that is real is the One, which does not change. These philosophers who came after Parmenides tried to establish the reality of things that move or change, or in other words, they wanted to reassert common sense against Parmenides' mysterious claim that the world we think is real is not real, because it is not the One. Plato returned to Parmenides' ideas as a foundation for a more elaborate distinction between appearance and unperceived reality, although for Plato the unperceived One

What are Zeno's Paradoxes?

Zeno's paradoxes continue to occupy mathematicians and philosophers, today. His paradox of motion applies to any distance. The paradox states that, before you can walk across a room, you have to travel half of the distance (1/2), but before that, you must traverse half of that half-distance (1/4), and before that, half of that distance (1/8), and so on. Because there are an infinite number of divisions of any given distance traveled, it is impossible to go anywhere from anywhere else.

Zeno's paradox of Achilles and the tortoise applies a slightly different principle to a race. Suppose that Achilles, in a race with a tortoise, gives the tortoise a head start. Before Achilles can pass the tortoise, he must get to the place where the tortoise has been. But because the tortoise will always have moved on from that place, Achilles will never be able to pass the tortoise!

was in fact many. Aristotle provided the most successful defense of common sense and of the reality of appearance by insisting that the world of appearance was real.

What was the reaction of Pre-Socratic philosophers to Parmenides' monism?

Several philosophers after Parmenides felt he was oversimplifying things and offered more complex explanations of the nature of reality. Although these attempts did not always convince their contemporary audiences, they were greatly appreciated later on in the history of philosophy.

What was Empedocles' idea about the four elements

The Sicilian poet-philosopher Empedocles (c. 495—435 b.c.e.) posited the four-element theory: fire, air, water, and earth are the four things from which everything else is made. Ordinary things like cats and rivers are but temporary recombinations of these elements. Also, the source of motion for these elements is love and strife, love bringing them together, strife separating them.

What was Anaxagoras' idea about the Mind?

Anaxagoras of Clazoenae (c. 500—428 b.c.e.) believed that the first cause of motion was Mind, which is separate from everything else. Mind created the things in the world by starting a vortex in which different kinds of matter separated out.

Empedocles as depicted by Italian artist Luca Signorelli (Art Archive).

Empedocles as depicted by Italian artist Luca Signorelli (Art Archive).

Democratus appears on a 1967 Greek drachma note (BigStock).

Democratus appears on a 1967 Greek drachma note (BigStock).

Who first came up with the concept of atoms?

Democratus (c. 460-371 b.c.e.)—a student of Leucippus (fl. 450-420) who opposed Parmenides and Zeno (c. 490-c. 430 b.c.e.) by saying that empty space is real—said that existence is made up of a very large number of things that cannot be cut apart. He called these things atomos or atoms. Atoms are in motion within infinite space. They collide, and their movement creates a vortex; out of that, different kinds of things result. The only real qualities that we can perceive are size and shape, because the atoms have that, but everything else available to the senses is an illusion. Democratus was the originator of what became the modern theory of atoms.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >