Sie sind auf Seite 1von 7


PAGE ONE: “Greek Philosophy, Beginnings”

1st Greek Philosopher according to tradition: Thales (Ionian) from Miletus

NOTE First six Greek philosophers studies are Ionians

Anaximander (Ionian) from Miletus

Anaximenes (Ionian) from Miletus

Xenophanes (Ionian) from Colophon

Pythagoras (Ionian) from Samos

Heraclitus (Ionian) from Ephesus

About the Ionians: Migrated from western Anatolia, Attica, & other Greek
territories; post-Dorian immigration of mainland Greece (~1,000BCE) **AKA-Dorians
moved into Greece first from the north while Ionians moved in just 2nd from Asia

PAGE TWO: “Fragments & Doxographies”

*Presocrates texts are referred to by their “DK” numbers. DK stands for German
scholars Diels & Kranz. Most presocratic philosophy comes from Diels though. Every
thinker (philosopher) has: “A” texts which are biographical and other accounts of
the philosopher. “B” texts are surviving, primary fragments of the work (most
reliable). And “C” texts which are dubious, spurious, unsubstantiated portions which
still raise questions. EX: DK13B1 = Diels&Kranz, 13=Anaximenes, B=Fragment, and
1=Fragment number.*

Doxography = “record of tenets” Most are testimony about presocratic thinkers

compiled by Diels in Doxographi Graeci (Berlin, 1879). When reading primary
sources, the fragments are divided into DK fragments and the doxographical works
(which are not always reliable).

SUMMARY: Primary works read come from 2 sources:

DK Fragments (Varying Reliability, depends on DK Number, see above)

Doxographies (Less reliable)

PAGE THREE: “Thales” (DK11)

DK11B1=One of the most important resources about Presocratic philosophers.

ASIDE: Most of this comes from Simpicus’ comments on Aristotle’s Physics. Though many
of Sim’s thoughts are indebted to Theophrastus’ Physical Opinions which is now lost to us.
Theophrastus was Aristotle’s star pupil, taking over the Peripatetic school after Aristotle’s
death. Aristotle’s original followers called themselves “peripatetics” which meant those who
“walked around.” A lot, if not most, of our Presocratic information comes filtered through
this peripatetic lens because Aristotle set the precedent on how Presocratic thought was
interpreted in his books Metaphysics and in a lesser extent Physics. A good idea of how
Aristotle viewed his predicessors and their thoughts is exemplified in Metaphysics, I.993a12-
23: “For the earlier philosophy is, on all subjects, like one who lisps, since it is young and in
its beginnings.” Theophrastus and (800 years later) Simpicus have thankfully varied
somewhat from their teacher in their own interpretations.

DK11B1(First B fragment) claims Thales was the first to attempt “the investigation
of nature.”

NOTE: There is only on B fragment on Thales. There is very little evidence ANY of
the sources include Thales’ own words (some scholars contend it’s because he
never wrote any down).

“physeōs” means physics, but the word means more like Nature
“historia[n]” means history, but the word means more like Investigation
Thus, Thales work being titles Physeōs historian would mean something like “the
investigation of nature.”

Thales thoughts survive on only a few topics, Nautical Astronomy. We get this
info from A fragments. DK11A13 is again Simpicus’ paraphrasing and adding onto
Thephanese’s own works on Thales. Basically Thales says water is the “first
principle” or “arche” (Greek word we learned in the Theogony) of all things. AKA, all
things come from water, or are made up of it. Water is “seminal” (I can’t find a
definition in lectures thus far of this word, but I believe it means ‘beginnings of’ or
‘starts’, so water is necessary for all life) to all other ways of being in physis
(remember, physics or physis in this case is nature). Another view attributed to
Thales and discussed is that the earth actually floats on water. (Hydo-fettish

Aet. (=Aëtius) describes the argument of Thales better (according to Coker) than
Aristotle or Simpicus. Honestly it’s the same point and doesn’t really matter exactly
what he said; just remember Aet. backed up Thales. Further more, Plut. (of ps-Plut.
as Coker puts it because it Plut. stands for Plutarch, but not the famous 1st century
middle Platonist philosopher) states, “Water… is the first principle of all things. For
from this all things come, and to it they all return.” There are a lot of translations of
this phrase in Greek. Just know Aet. and ps-Plut. backed up Thales in farther
defining his argument and in the end, “from which” is the only phrase that can be
attributed directly to Thales in “full confidence.”

Aristotle’s Book I of Metaphysics gives support to Simpicus’ words on Thales.

DK11A12((b)-apparently for this number, DK11A12, there needed to be a “b” part
attached at the end) supports Simpicus’ words we know and gives explanations as
to why Thales and his contemporaries would have believed water was the arche of
all things.

DK11A14, from Aristotle’s De Caelo, attempts to reason why (basically

agreeing) the earth should be believed to float on water as Thales thought.
There are some other various texts from Aet. which support Simpicus’ and
Aristotle’s thought on this theory only.

Another view held by Thales-reported to us by Aristotle (corroborated by Aet.) in

DK11A22-concerns the “nature of the soul.”

“psychē” translates into soul.

Aristotle says “the soul is a motive force” or it could also be translated as the soul is
a force of movement.” We get a valid argument for this view: Premise 1-“The
magnet moves the iron.” Premise 2-“Something has a psychē if and only if it moves
(itself of other things).” Conclusion-“The magnet has a soul.” Simpicus and Aet. go
beyond this, Aet. surpassing even Simpicus’ theory and all 3 attributing what they
say to Thales. Thus (and this is IMO) substantiating that Thales at least began
people pondering on the subject matter of the psychē.

Types of Philosophers

Aristotle makes a claim in DK11A22(b) saying “Certain thinkers say that the soul is
intermingled in the whole universe, and it is perhaps for this reason that Thales
came to the opinion that all things are full of gods.” Aristotle doesn’t say Thales
believes the soul is intermingled with the universe.

Now, one who has that view (that the soul is intermingled with the universe) is
described as a philosophical animist, specifically a panpsychist. Panpsychism
claims there is psychē in everything. Another way to put it is that everything IS or
HAS a psychē.

“panta” is Greek for the “all” sort of like our universe.

Many writers attribute some animistic theory to Thales; this would place him at
odds with other writers of his time such as Hessiod who wrote the Theogony.
Aristotle’s claim that Thales said (paraphrasing) “all things have gods” is supported
by Aet. and Cicero in DK11A23 and by Simpicus in another text. Simpicus links
Aristotle’s argument by saying “…Thales… thought all things to be full of gods, the
gods being blended with them.” The argument being: Premise 1-“The gods are
blended (mixed, intermingled) with all things (the all). Unstated Premise-“The gods
are beings with psychē. Conclusion-The psyche is blended (mixed, intermingled)
with all things (the all).

Simpicus’ argument reverses the “order of proof” in Aristotle’s. And in fact it’s a
first shot at a theory of panpsychism. The statement that “all things are full of gods”
is even more weakly supported by the above argument from Simpicus; however, a
lot depends on how the phrase “full of” is construed. What does it mean?
It’s safe to assume it implies a pantheism philosophy.

PAGE FOUR: “Anaximander”(DK12)

More B roll exists on Anaximander than Thales. Though only 1 long fragment,
DK12B1. The rest are more quips and phrases. Again, many of the B roll comes from
Simpicus and his commentaries on Aristotle’s Physics.

The lengthy fragment is coming, I’m going to list out some key Greek words used
in it now:

Didomai – Ordained/ Given

Dikēn – Reparation/ Justice
Tisin – Satisfaction
Adikias – Injustice
Chronou taxin – Appointed time
Poiētikōterois – Poetical
Ta onta – Beings
Nomoi - Laws

Simpicus thus quotes from Anaximander, “… as is didomai for they make dikēn
and tisin to one another for their adikias according to the chronou taxin.” This is
substantiated by his own words following this quote (or perhaps Theophrastus’): “as
he says in these somewhat poiētikōterois words.”

Thus, much of our study of Anaximander will be on this quote…

The opening quote, “…as is didomai” can be dissected one of two ways: as “what
is ordained”, aka what is passed down like a judgment from someone or
something (god? group of gods?). IMO, this interpretation would seem to mean
something is changing to me. If the following “judgment” were being passed down,
it would not be what was common and therefore against the norm, ie changing
things. The other way would be “what is given”, sort of “this is the way things
are.” This is the translation Coker favors.

The rest of the passage reads (not with Greek words): “for they make reparation
and satisfaction to one another for their injustice according to the appointed time.”
Coker’s first question, what does “they” refer to? Because we don’t have the
context of Anaximander’s own words, only Simpicus’, Coker instructs us to replace
“they” with “beings.” Attributing this to beings is less misleading because of the
words broad nature. Simpicus attributes the “they” to the “four elements”.

Now, Coker tries to use some Sherlock Holmes tactics to narrow down the context of
our “beings/ ta onta.” They are in relation of justice and injustice to each other.
Using this and excerpts from Aristotle and Simpicus on this subject, Coker begins to
reason that justice/injustice means our ta onta are existing opposites, meaning the
elements themselves. “Air is cold, water is moist, and fire hot [and earth dry].” This
is mostly from DK12A9. Though in the end Coker admits this interpretation of “they”
is at best “speculative.”

Because of the Justice/Injustice relation, we can extract there is some order

presented here, namely a rational order. This order applies to “they”’s
relationship. Because of this view of the world as having a rational order,
Anaximander can be said to be Greece’s first cosmologist, as opposed to Hesiod
being a cosmogonist. Something like “scientific theory” may be being
discussed by Anaximander; this is extrapolated from his use of Justice and
Injustice once again. On this train of thought, he could be attempting to
discover nomoi which may govern relations in the cosmos.

The rest of what we know of Anaximander is from testimony (A roll) instead of his
own words. Though they are well attested –mostly from Aristotle and “peripatetic”
sources –and may be taken as genuine.

BTW: “Peripatetic” in this sense means of or pertaining to Aristotle or his school in

Athens. AKA-Most A roll sources are from him.


DK12A10: “Anaximandros, the companion of Thales, says that the infinite (to
apeiron) is the sole cause (aitia(n)) of all generation (geneseōs) and destruction
(phthoras), and from it the heavens were separated, and similarly all the worlds,
which are infinite in number. And he declared that destruction (phthoras(n)) and, far
earlier, generation (genesin) have taken place since an indefinite time (ex apierou
aiōnos), since all things are involved in a cycle.

About ^^that^^: Because we cannot know for certain if words like “generation and
destruction” are Anaxim.’s own, we can only hypothesize. However, we may
suppose they are because they are indeed opposites of each other who do justice
and injustice to one another. “Apeiron” on the other hand is apparently
“unprecedented” and therefore may actually be Anaxim.’s own word for what later
philosophers would call “archē”.

Dissection of Apeiron

The “a” comes from the English privative negative, like in apathy. And “peras”
means termination. Latinate translation of peras would be something like limes (the
borders between Rome and the uncivilized world), finis (boundary, limit), or
terminus (boundary-marker, limit, end). So these Latin translations put a spotlight
onto all the possible translations of apeiron: unlimited, infinite, indefinite, undefined,

In the end, there’s not enough data to know what this translation should be. Coker
says leave it be and use all 5 English words as a general guide for it. Ps-Plutarch
says it could mean “infinite time.” This would play in well to what we believe
Anaxim. was talking about. This is substantiated by a B roll from Diels which says,
“this is eternal and ageless” (Greek: aidion einai kai agēro). With this view, apeiron
becomes something which everything finite originates from as well as is
sustained by. This would make apeiron godlike or divine, which is what Aristotle
supports when he claims Anaxim. said this and when he comments on it: “it itself is
divine, for it is immortal and indestructible” (DK12A15&B3). Aet. and Cicero also
support this.
Simpicius and Aet. both mention “innumerable worlds” which with Anaxim.’s
philosophy here, we understand he believed in infinite kosmoi where each had its
own unique world-order.

Basically, apeiron is genius on the part of Anaximander. It is a infinite

“metaphysical abstraction,” most likely the first one in philosophy. And Coker says
it’s the “first great ontological notion” in philosophical history.

Coker finishes up by quickly running over the fact that Anaximander believed the
earth was shaped like a cylinder, backed up by a few authors.

PAGE FIVE: “Anaximenes” (DK13)

DK13B2: “air (aera) is the first principle (archē) of things (tōn ontōn, beings), for
from this all things (panta) arise (gignesthai) and into this they are all resolved
(analuesthai) again.”

One might ask, Why make air the archē? Well, it’s more of an obvious element than
Thales’ water theory. And it includes a characteristic of Anaximander’s apeiron.
DK13B3: “air is the one movable, infinite (apeiron), first principle (archē) of all
things.”Basically here he combines the “virtues” of both Thales and
Anaximander’s theories.

Anaximenes notes are incomplete. I got tired and wanted to move on. The
section is short. Read it yourself ;-)

Discussion submission on Week Two readings:

“Alright, I'll jump in here with you Gary. *Splash* I'm going to be honest though, and
I'm sure I could be completely off my rocker a little here.

Thales discussed water being the archē of all things (not his word I know, but bare
with me). That they are from it and return to it. He also had the animistic outlook
that all things had gods within them-in one interpretation. Anaximandros gave us
apeiron, our infinite “metaphysical abstraction” and the first philosophical
“ontological notion” saying-again in one interpretation-all finite things (including the
gods) come from and are thus sustained by this notion. And in the end, Anaximenes
gives us a notion similar to Thales’ on water, however with air.

What I’m getting at is this: What if all three philosophical thoughts could be linked in
some way? Thales’ notion of there being gods in us all, which perhaps should be
meant to say what makes up the gods is in us all, or what creates them. This along
with his notion of an element, a tangible, definite something making up everything.
Then Anaximandros who gives us “the all” which everything comes from. This idea
of apeiron that is indefinite, not personified, but still is perhaps the “where”
everything comes from and also what sustains it. In my mind, this could easily be
said to be where water archē Thales is talking about comes from. But the idea of
water and air being two elements (which if you ask me, I would argue all elements
are opposites, or at odds with each other. Too much air, water, or earth will put out
fire and so on) opposite one another fits in well with Anaximandros’ philosophy also.
Finally Anaximenes gives us this final idea that maybe his air is the archē that is
definite while Anaximandros’ is the indefinite source.

This is what I got out of it. Did anyone follow that at all?”