by Pat Duffy Hutcheon
P erhaps the Buddha was the first to recognize that humankind emerged from out the stream of life; was part of one organic pool with nature's order structured in; that human selves were always more than isolated spirits floating free, created out of nothing by some engineering god.
Nothing at all is ever born of nothing by the will of gods, Lucretius said. And long before the poet wrote, there was a flowering of thought on Asia Minor's coast. led by descendants of that great Ionian people who had formed the very heart of Greece, the physical philosophers. For they it was who pondered long and deep and free from godly fear upon the nature and beginnings of the world.
T'was Anaximander who maintained that all the early forms of life emerged from out of earthly moisture and that higher species grew from out of low in everlasting spirals of increasingly complex. Then Alcmaeon of Croton made the claim that humans with the other species needs must share their basic nature -- even learning through the senses is the same -- to differ only in the power of thought, which that great man exemplified so well.
Protagoras the sophist taught that nature's laws are everywhere the same. with consequences unavoidable; nor gods nor humans can escape their working out. The atomist, Leucippus, he it was, they say, who thought that all reality is matter, ongoing, indivisible, unwrought --