The PreSocratics

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Introduction 1
Pre-Socratic philosophy 1
Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks 4
Classical element 9
Ionian School (philosophy) 15
Paired opposites 18
Material monism 21
Diogenes Laërtius 21
Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers 23
The Milesians 27
Milesian school 27
Thales 29
Anaximander 40
Anaximenes of Miletus 51
Pythagoreanism 53
Pythagoreanism 53
Pythagoras 59
Philolaus 70
Alcmaeon of Croton 72
Archytas 75
Ephesian School 78
Heraclitus 78
Eleatic School 89
Eleatics 89
Xenophanes 90
Parmenides 93
Zeno of Elea 100
Zeno’s paradoxes 102
Melissus 109
Pluralists 110
Pluralist school 110
Empedocles 111
Anaxagoras 118
Atomists 122
Atomism 122
Leucippus 132
Democritus 134
The Sophists 144
Sophism 144
Protagoras 148
Gorgias 150
Hippias 155
Prodicus 156
The Seven Sages 160
Seven Sages of Greece 160
Solon 162
Chilon of Sparta 176
Bias of Priene 178
Cleobulus 180
Pittacus of Mytilene 181
Periander 182
Others 184
Diogenes of Apollonia 184
Aristeas 185
Pherecydes of Syros 187
Anacharsis 191
Article Sources and Contributors 194
Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors 199
Article Licenses
License 201
Pre-Socratic philosophy
Pre-Socratic philosophy is Greek philosophy before Socrates. In Classical antiquity, the Presocratic philosophers
were called physiologoi (in English, physical or natural philosophers).[1] Diogenes Laërtius divides the physiologoi
into two groups, Ionian and Italiote, led by Anaximander and Pythagoras, respectively.[2] Hermann Diels popularized the term pre-socratic in Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker (The Fragments of the
Pre-Socratics) in 1903. However, the term pre-Sokratic was in use as early as George Grote’s Plato and the Other
Companions of Sokrates in 1865. Major analyses of pre-Socratic thought have been made by Gregory Vlastos,
Jonathan Barnes, and Friedrich Nietzsche in his Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks.
It may sometimes be difficult to determine the actual line of argument some Presocratics used in supporting their
particular views. While most of them produced significant texts, none of the texts has survived in complete form. All
that is available are quotations by later philosophers (often biased) and historians, and the occasional textual
The Presocratic philosophers rejected traditional mythological explanations of the phenomena they saw around them
in favor of more rational explanations. These philosophers asked questions about “the essence of things”:[3] • From where does everything come?
• From what is everything created?
• How do we explain the plurality of things found in nature?
• How might we describe nature mathematically?
Others concentrated on defining problems and paradoxes that became the basis for later mathematical, scientific and
philosophic study.
Later philosophers rejected many of the answers the early Greek philosophers provided, but continued to place
importance on their questions. Furthermore, the cosmologies proposed by them have been updated by later
developments in science… free ebook