Classical Western Thought 4. The Naturalist Movement 1 1.Summary of the Homeric World View The moral ideal An ideal life partly depends on the heredity and social status. Preserving their own honor and status is their first concern. The natural order Natural order is the product of the steady purposes of the gods. Nature is sometimes unpredictable, because the gods are fickle.
Conflicts within Homers picture Order v.s randomness Moral order v.s amoral order (the Fates) 2 2. The naturalist outlook Between the age of Homer (mid-eighth century) and the age of Socrates (late fifth century), the Greeks began sy stematic rational study of the natural order and the moral order. Aristotle distinguishes those who talk about gods and off er poetic or mythological accounts from those who offer r ational accounts that can seriously studied:
3 All the theologians considered only what was persuasive to themselves, and thought little of usBut it is not worth seriously examining the sophistries of mythology, whereas we must interrogate those who present a rational demonstration. -- Aristotle MYTHOLOGIST S
things seem random divine intervention NATURALISTS nature of things Rational investigation 4 3. Nature as matter The naturalists identify the nature with matter or basic subject of things. Most of the first philosophers thought the only origins of
everything were material. For, they say, there is some subject that all beings come from, the first thing they come to be from and the last thing they perish into, the substance remaining throughout and changing in its attributes; and this is the elementary basis and the origin of beings. And for this reason they think nothing either comes to be or perishes, since they assume that in every change this nature persists. -- Aristotle, Meteorology 5 We can recognize a continuing subject in changes. The very same lump of bronze is the continuing subject, even tho ugh its shape has been changed.
bronze coin The continuing subject may not be continuously observable as e asily as the bronze is. oats porridge 6
If we find the continuing subject of change, we seem to fi nd the nature of things. If we take an ordinary subject, we can ask what its nature is; and a reasonable answer will tell us what its basic, underlying subjec t is. 1.How the porridge came into being. 2. Properties and behavior of the porridge. 7
The naturalists want to find the nature of things by findin g their basic matter. Naturalists criticism: Homeric view is mistaken. Things seem random, or to require divine intervention, only because we do not know enough about the constituent stuffs and processes . 8 Naturalists as the first philosophers Attempted to create general theories of the cosmos. MythosLogos There must be a good explanation to the appearances of the wo
rld beyond the tales of how the gods had created everything. Important for grasping the origins of Western philosophy and science. What is Philosophy? Philein = To Love Sophia = Wisdom Philosopher = Lover of Wisdom Philosophy is the attempt to think rationally and critically about lif es most important questions in order to obtain knowledge and wi sdom about them. J.P.Moreland 9
Group discussion 1. According to Thales, what element is basic? What reaso ns might he have had to support his answer? 2. How does Thales explain change? 3. According to Anaximander, what element is basic? What does he mean by the Apeiron? 4. How does Anaximander explain change? 5. Why did Heraclitus say its not possible to step twice int o the same river? Do you agree with him? 6. What does the image of fire symbolize for Heraclitus? 10
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