1
THE PRE-SOCRATICS

INTRODUCTION

Philosophy begins with wonder, and even now it is wonder that causes
philosophers to philosophize. At first they wondered about the obvious
difficulties and then they gradually progressed to puzzle about the greater
ones, for example, the behavior of the moon and sun and stars and the
coming to be of the universe. Whoever is puzzled and in a state of won-
der believes he is ignorant (this is why the lover of myths is also in a way
a philosopher, since myths are made up of wonders). And so, if indeed
they pursued philosophy to escape ignorance, they were obviously pur-
suing scientific knowledge in order to know and not for the sake of any
practical need.1

(ARISTOTLE)

They looked into the heavens and wondered how the universe had come about. They pondered the structure of the world. Is there one fundamental substance that underlies all of reality or are there many substances? What is the really real, and not just a matter of appearance?

The first philosophers were Greeks of the sixth century B.C. living on the Ionian coast of the Aegean Sea, in Miletus, Colophon, Samos, and Ephesus. Other people in other cultures had wondered about these questions, but usually religious authority or myth had imposed an answer. Typically, as in the Hebrews' Genesis 1 or the Greek Hesiod's Theogony the world order was said to have arisen from God or the gods. Now a break occurred. Here for the first time a pure philosophical and scientific inquiry was allowed to flourish. The Great Civilizations of Egypt, China, Assyria, Babylon, Israel, and Persia, not to mention those of the Incas, Mayans, and Africans, had produced art and artifacts and government of advanced sorts, but nowhere, with the possible exception of India, was anything like philosophy or science developed. Ancient India was the closest civilization to produce philosophy, but it was always connected with religion, with the question of salvation or the escape from suffering. Ancient Chinese thought, led by Confucius (551–475 B.C.), had a deep ethical dimension. But no epistemology or formulated logic. Now Greek philosophy, especially from Socrates on, also had a practical bent and was concerned with ethics, but it went deeper and further than ethics, asking for the nature of all things, aiming at knowledge and understanding for its own sake, seeking systematic understanding of metaphysics,

1 Aristotle, Metaphysics 1.2 982b.

-3-

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Classics of Philosophy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Time Line xi
  • Part One - The Ancient Period 1
  • 1: The Pre-Socratics 3
  • 2: Plato 20
  • 3: Aristotle 240
  • 4: Epicurus 357
  • 5: Epictetus 363
  • 6: Sextus Empiricus 374
  • 7: Plotinus 391
  • Part Two - The Medieval Period 405
  • 8: Augustine 407
  • 9: Boethius 447
  • 10: Avicenna 455
  • 11: Anselm and Gaunilo 458
  • 12: Thomas Aquinas 462
  • 13: William of Ockham 486
  • Part Three - The Modern Period 493
  • 14: RenÉ Descartes 495
  • 15: Thomas Hobbes 525
  • 16: Blaise Pascal 566
  • 17: Baruch Spinoza 570
  • 18: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz 618
  • 19: John Locke 652
  • 20: George Berkeley 690
  • 21: William Paley 723
  • 22: David Hume 726
  • 23: Immanuel Kant 819
  • 24: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel 914
  • 25: SØren Kierkegaard 922
  • 26: Mary Wollstonecraft 935
  • 27: John Stuart Mill 942
  • 28: Friedrich Nietzsche 1030
  • Part Four - The Contemporary Period 1059
  • 29: W. K. Clifford 1061
  • 30: Charles Sanders Peirce 1066
  • 31: William James 1076
  • 32: Bertrand Russell 1100
  • 33: G. E. Moore 1142
  • 34: Ludwig Wittgenstein 1150
  • 35: Edmund Husserl 1168
  • 36: Martin Heidegger 1185
  • 37: Jean-Paul Sartre 1207
  • 38: A. J. Ayer 1225
  • 39: Thomas Nagel 1234
  • 40: Philippa Foot 1242
  • 41: Nelson Goodman 1249
  • 42: John Rawls 1254
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