Explaining the cosmos: The Ionian traditIon of scientific philosophy (review)

Journal of the History of Philosophy 46 (3):pp. 475-476 (2008)

Robert Hahn
Southern Illinois University - Carbondale
We can trace to archaic Greek times detailed accounts of the origins of the cosmos. Anaximander and Hesiod provide different kinds of narrative, but both assume that the cosmos as we find it now was not the way it was at the beginning, and seek to explain how things got this way. According to the conventional view provided by Aristotle in Metaphysics A, the Ionians proposed that everything is derived from a primordial substance and that, despite differences in the world we now experience, all these things reduce ultimately to just one basic stuff, whether it be Thales' water, Anaximander's boundless, or Anaximenes' air . But Graham thinks Aristotle has it wrong and proposes a different story: the Ionians held that in the beginning there was a primordial substance, but it gave rise in turn to other, new substances, the original stuff perishing in the process . Graham's book sets out to challenge MM and to champion instead GST. He aims to show that GST is historically appropriate, philosophically coherent, and dialectically relevant. Ultimately, this is not just to urge a revision of Ionian beginnings but also to trace out the implications of GST in order to produce a new narrative of Presocratic philosophy, one that sees these Ionian beginnings as a clear precursor to
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DOI 10.1353/hph.0.0054
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