About this topic
Summary Pre-Socratic philosophy is the period of Greek philosophy up to the time of Socrates. It conventionally begins with the work of Thales (sixth century BC). Many discussions of the early period also consider the pre-philosophical background (religion, myth, epic poetry, popular ethical thought) and investigate the origins of philosophy and possible causes for its emergence in Greece at this time, as well as the question "what is philosophy?" and "Did they think of themselves as doing philosophy, and if so what kind?". The distinction between philosophy and science is an issue. All the texts are fragmentary (preserved mainly as quotations in later writers). Much of the literature is concerned with the task of reconstructing the lost views of these obscure philosophers from the fragments and using the third person testimonies of later writers. The Sophists (active around the time of Socrates) are generally included as Pre-Socratic in that their work is not influenced by Socrates.
Key works The standard edition of the Greek texts is known as Diels Kranz (DK) which refers to the edition by Hermann Diels (revised by W. Kranz) Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker (sixth edition 1951). Fragments are cited by their numbers in that collection (which includes a German translation). But many of the texts have been revised and corrected in later collections, and there have also been some further discoveries and revisions to which fragments are widely accepted as genuine. The best recent editions are usually collections of just one author (see the bibliographies for individual Presocratics). Handy recent collections with all the latest material included, but conservative editing and interpretation, are  Die Vorsokratiker edited by Jaap Mansfeld and Oliver Primavesi (Greek and facing German with brief introductions, one small pocket volume) and Graham 2010 (Greek and facing English, with brief introductions, two substantial volumes). Recommended editions in English include  Barnes 2001 (which helpfully integrates the texts into their quoting authorities to show context of the fragment), Waterfield 2000 and Richard McKirahan's philosophy before Socrates. General introductions to the Presocratics include Osborne 2004 and James Warren Presocratics.
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  1. E. F. A. (1962). Parmenides, Melissus, Gorgias: A Reinterpretation of Eleatic Philosophy. [REVIEW] Review of Metaphysics 15 (3):526-526.
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  2. Ramón Román Alcalá (2012). Evidencias del excepticismo de Diógenes Laercio en el libro IX de sus Vidas. Estudios Filosóficos 61 (176):69-82.
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  3. Martin Andic (1985). Commentary on Kahn. Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium of Ancient Philosophy 1 (1):259-270.
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  4. Thomas Archytas & Taylor (1822). Political Fragments of Archytas, Charondas, Zaleucus, and Other Ancient Pythagoreans, Preserved by Stobæs; and Also, Ethical Fragments of Hierocles, Preserved by the Same Author. Tr. By T. Taylor. [REVIEW]
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  5. A. H. Armstrong (1949). FREEMAN, K. -Ancilla to the Pre-Socratic Philosophers. A Complete Translation of the Fragments in Diels, Fragmente der Vorsokratiker. [REVIEW] Mind 58:123.
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  6. D. J. B. (1966). The Giants of Pre-Sophistic Greek Philosophy. Review of Metaphysics 19 (4):807-807.
  7. Ion Banu (1972). Platon Heracliticul. Contributie la Istoria Dialecticii. [Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste România].
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  8. Andrew Barker (1985). KIRK, G. S., RAVEN, J. E. And SCHOFIELD, M.: "The Presocratic Philosophers". Second Edition. [REVIEW] British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 36:465.
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  9. Jonathan Barnes (1981). The Presocratic Philosophers. Volume 1: Thales to Zeno. Volume 2: Empedocles to Democritus. Journal of Philosophy 78 (5):279-287.
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  10. Jonathan Barnes (1980). The Presocratic Philosophers. Vol. I Thales to Zeno. Mind 89 (355):439-441.
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  11. W. S. Barrett (1973). Pindar's Twelfth Olympian and the Fall of the Deinomenidai. Journal of Hellenic Studies 93:23-.
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  12. P. J. Bicknell (1968). Parmenides, Fragment 10. Hermes 96 (4):629-631.
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  13. J. Bidez (1896). Observations sur quelques fragments d'Empédocle et de Parménide. Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 9 (3):298-309.
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  14. M. István Bodnár (1999). Die Vorsokratiker: Ein philosophisches Porträt (review). Journal of the History of Philosophy 37 (3):521-522.
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  15. M. Bonazzi (2003). Aristocles of Messene. Testimonia and Fragments. [REVIEW] Elenchos 24 (1).
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  16. Nathaniel Booth (1975). Aristotle on Empedokles B 100. Hermes 103 (3):373-375.
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  17. Christopher G. Brown (2006). Pindar on Archilochus and the Gluttony of Blame (Pyth. 2.52-6). Journal of Hellenic Studies 126:36-46.
    In Pyth. 2.52-5 Pindar describes Archilochus as 'growing fat on dire words of hatred'. This article argues that Pindar portrays Archilochus as a glutton in the manner of iambic invective. A glutton is seen as a person who grows fat at the expense of others, and so fails in the matter of "kháris". In this light, Archilochus, the poet of blame, stands with Ixion in the poem as a negative paradigm, serving as a foil to Pindar's praise of Hieron. Praise (...)
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  18. Jean Brun (1958). The Contemporary Pre-Socratics. Philosophy Today 2 (1):3.
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  19. D. C. (1962). Fragments Philosophiques, 1909-1914. [REVIEW] Review of Metaphysics 16 (2):396-397.
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  20. F. B. C. (1973). The Older Sophists. A Complete Translation by Several Hands of the Fragments in "Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker" Edited by Diels-Kranz with a New Edition of Antiphon and of Euthydemus. [REVIEW] Review of Metaphysics 26 (4):767-767.
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  21. Ava Chitwood (2004). Death by Philosophy the Biographical Tradition in the Life and Death of the Archaic Philosophers Empedocles, Heraclitus, and Democritus.
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  22. Theodoros Christidis (2012). Heraclitus and Parmenides, Philosophers of Becoming and Being. Philosophical Inquiry 36 (1-2):18-41.
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  23. Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1818). Prospectus of a Course of Lectures, Historical and Biographical, on the Rise and Progress, the Changes and Fortunes, of Philosophy, From Thales and Pythagoras to the Present Times. --. S.N.
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  24. Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1818). Prospectus of a Course of Lectures, Historical and Biographical, on ... Philosophy From Thales and Pythagoras to the Present Times by S.T. Coleridge. [REVIEW]
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  25. Nestor-Luis Cordero, Livio Rossetti & Flavia Marcacci (eds.) (2008). Eleatica 2006: Parmenide Scienziato? Academia Verlag.
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  26. Patricia Curd (2004). The Legacy of Parmenides: Eleatic Monism and Later Presocratic Thought. Parmenides Publishing.
    Parmenides of Elea was the most important and influential philosopher before Plato. He rejected as impossible the scientific inquiry practiced by the earlier Presocratic philosophers and held that generation, destruction, and change are unreal and that only one thing exists. In this book, Patricia Curd argues that Parmenides sought to reform rather than to reject scientific inquiry, and she offers a more coherent account of his influence on later philosophers._ _The Legacy of Parmenides_ examines Parmenides' arguments, considering his connection to (...)
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  27. Klaus Döring (1978). Les Cyniques Grecs. Fragments et témoignages. Journal of the History of Philosophy 16 (3):347-349.
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  28. W. G. E. (1966). Martin Heidegger and the Pre-Socratics. Review of Metaphysics 20 (2):378-378.
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  29. Arthur Fairbanks (1898). The First Philosophers of Greece, an Ed. And Tr. Of the Remaining Fragments of the Pre-Sokratic Philosophers, by A. Fairbanks. [REVIEW]
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  30. Mary Fitt & Hermann Diels (1962). Ancilla to the Pre-Socratic Philosophers a Complete Translation of the Fragments in Diels, Fragmente der Vorsokratiker. Blackwell.
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  31. Beeretz Fl (1975). Im Denken der Vorsokratiker. Ein Beitrag Zum Lexikon der Vorsokratiker. Filosofia 5:157-176.
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  32. Steven Fleming, Louis Kahn's Situated Platonism.
    Sarah Williams Goldhagen dismisses as a myth the view that Kahn was “[a] latter-day neo-Platonist… [who] believed it was the architect’s job to ‘discover’ ideal forms and then re-embody these archetypes in a new architectural language.” Goldhagen makes a valuable contribution to Kahn scholarship, but she trivialises Kahn’s approach to form generation, which bares less resemblance to the preoccupations of the Neoplatonists than it does to Plato’s theory of Forms. The paper examines claims by various scholars including Jencks, Norberg- Schulz, (...)
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  33. Kathleen Freeman & Hermann Diels (1966). Ancilla to the Pre-Scratic Philosophers a Complete Translation of the Fragment in Diels Fragmente der Vorsokratiker. Harvard Univ. Press.
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  34. Jorge Gaete Lagos (2013). María Angélica Illanes O., Nuestra historia violeta. Feminismo social y vidas de mujeres en el siglo XX: una revolución permanente, LOM Ediciones, Santiago, Chile, 2012, 163 p. [REVIEW] Polis 35.
    Para un historiador, el contar, escribir o investigar le implica un viaje por el tiempo hacia el pasado, para el cual utiliza como medios de transporte diversos tipos de fuentes que le ayudan a aproximarse a diversos episodios de épocas pretéritas. Aunque esto se lea como algo bastante obvio, una buena parte de ellos optan por privilegiar los documentos para su travesía, siendo pocos los que acuden a la memoria y a las experiencias personales de otras personas con la idea (...)
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  35. Eugenio Gattinara (1974). Eros and the Atom: Or, the Birth of the Concept of Force. Editorial Dos Continentes.
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  36. A. Gercke (1888). XXI. Ein angebliches Fragment des Theophrast. Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 1 (3):357-358.
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  37. Simon Goldhill (2005). (M.O.) Lee Athena Sings. Wagner and the Greeks. U. Of Toronto P., 2003. Pp. X + 110. £20 (Hbk); £8.50 (Pbk). 0802087957 (Hbk); 0802085806 (Pbk). [REVIEW] Journal of Hellenic Studies 125:203-.
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  38. Jacob Graham (2015). Presocratics.
    Presocratics Presocratic philosophers are the Western thinkers preceding Socrates but including some thinkers who were roughly contemporary with Socrates, such as Protagoras. The application of the term “philosophy” to the Presocratics is somewhat anachronistic, but is certainly different from how many people currently think of philosophy. The … Continue reading Presocratics →.
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  39. Diana Scesny Greene (1975). 'Peri Phiseos': On Being and the World. The Development of Metaphysics From Thales to Parmenides. Dissertation, University of Colorado at Boulder
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  40. Sharon Mindel Helsel (1993). The Comic Reason of Herman Kahn: Conceiving the Limits to Uncertainty in 1960. Dissertation, University of California, Santa Cruz
    The subject of the dissertation is the futurological problem of the containment and structure of uncertainty by means of systems analysis and related techniques in a book written by the nuclear strategist Herman Kahn entitled On Thermonuclear War published in 1960. The dissertation closely examines how Kahn articulated specific contents for fighting and and surviving a hypothetical and uncertain future war. Kahn considered his mode of systems analyses, scenarios, war-games, and analogies to comprise a scientific method which was both more (...)
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  41. Otto Kern (1888). XXVII. Empedokles und die Orphiker. Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 1 (4):498-508.
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  42. Radim Kočandrle & Karel Kleisner (2013). Evolution Born of Moisture: Analogies and Parallels Between Anaximander's Ideas on Origin of Life and Man and Later Pre-Darwinian and Darwinian Evolutionary Concepts. [REVIEW] Journal of the History of Biology 46 (1):103-124.
    This study focuses on the origin of life as presented in the thought of Anaximander of Miletus but also points to some parallel motifs found in much later conceptions of both the pre-Darwinian German romantic science and post-Darwinian biology. According to Anaximander, life originated in the moisture associated with earth (mud). This moist environment hosted the first living creatures that later populated the dry land. In these descriptions, one can trace the earliest hints of the notion of environmental adaptation. The (...)
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  43. H. Diels-W. Kranz (2006). Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker (1910), Trad. It. In Hermann Diels, Walther Kranz, Giovanni Reale, Diego Fusaro & Vincenzo Cicero (eds.), I Presocratici. Bompiani
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  44. A. Lacey (1980). BARNES, J. "The Presocratic Philosophers. Vol. I Thales to Zeno. Vol. 2 Empedocles to Democritus". [REVIEW] Mind 89:439.
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  45. Andre Laks (1990). 'The More'and 'the Full'. On the Reconstruction of Parmenides' Theory of Sensation in Theophrastus, De Sensibus, 3–4. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 8:1-18.
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  46. Max J. Latona (2008). Reining in the Passions: The Allegorical Interpretation of Parmenides B Fragment 1. American Journal of Philology 129 (2):199-230.
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  47. James Longrigg (1990). Posidonius Volume II, The Commentary: Testimonia and Fragments 1–149 & Fragments 150–293). [REVIEW] British Journal for the History of Science 23 (4):467-468.
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  48. Miroslav Marcovich (1994). Heresiography in Context: Hippolytus' Elenchos as a Source for Greek Philosophy. Journal of the History of Philosophy 32 (3):487-488.
    A new assessment of the philosophical traditions Hippolytus depends on and of his method of presentation. This book deals with the reception of the Presocratics, Plato and Aristotle in the first centuries CE, and is a major contribution to our knowledge of the various currents in Pre-Neoplatonic Greek philosophy.
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  49. Christopher Alan Mclaren (2003). Clarifying Obscurity: Heraclitean Darkness in Plato and Aristotle. Dissertation, Stanford University
    This dissertation analyzes the language of clarity and obscurity in Plato and Aristotle. For each of them Heraclitus serves as a paradigm of obscurity. Against this foil, a strictly philosophical notion of clarity comes to be defined. ;Chapter One frames the topic by examining Lucretius' critique of Heraclitus in the first book of De Rerum Natura. In it I take Lucretius' condemnation of Heraclitus' obscura lingua as exemplifying the dominant conception of what philosophical language must be after Plato and Aristotle. (...)
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  50. Brian Leon Merrill (1998). Melissus of Samos: A Commentary on the Sources and Fragments. Dissertation, The University of Texas at Austin
    Until recently, Melissus of Samos has been undeservedly neglected by scholars, largely because of Aristotle's harsh criticism and because, as a result, Melissus has been perceived as a second-rate philosopher clinging to the coattail of Parmenides. In the last half-century, however, several scholars have been re-examining Melissus' arguments and his role in the development of ancient philosophy. They have discovered that Melissus' influence upon later thinkers such as Plato has been far greater than Aristotle's assessment would lead us to believe (...)
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