Explaining the Cosmos is a major reinterpretation of Greek scientific thought before Socrates. Focusing on the scientific tradition of philosophy, Daniel Graham argues that Presocratic philosophy is not a mere patchwork of different schools and styles of thought. Rather, there is a discernible and unified Ionian tradition that dominates Presocratic debates. Graham rejects the common interpretation of the early Ionians as "material monists" and also the view of the later Ionians as desperately trying to save scientific philosophy from Parmenides' criticisms. (...) In Graham's view, Parmenides plays a constructive role in shaping the scientific debates of the fifth century BC. Accordingly, the history of Presocratic philosophy can be seen not as a series of dialectical failures, but rather as a series of theoretical advances that led to empirical discoveries. Indeed, the Ionian tradition can be seen as the origin of the scientific conception of the world that we still hold today. (shrink)
Each of the two major approaches to Aristotle--the unitarian, which understands his work as forming a single, unified system, and the developmentalist, which seeks a sequence of developing ideas--has inherent limitations. This book proposes a synthetic view of Aristotle that sees development as a change between systematic theories. Setting theories of the so-called logical works beside theories of the physical and metaphysical treatises, Graham shows that Aristotle's doctrines fall into two distinct systems of philosophies that are genetically related. This study--the (...) first major alternative to the unitarian approach since Jaeger pioneered the developmentalist method in 1923--provides a sweeping reappraisal of Aristotle's science and metaphysics and a new approach to the problem of substance presented in the Metaphysics. (shrink)
This handbook brings together leading international scholars to study the diverse figures, movements, and approaches that constitute Presocratic philosophy. More than a survey of scholarship, this study presents new interpretations and evaluations of the Presocratics' accomplishments, from Thales to the sophists and from theology to science.
In Science before Socrates, Daniel W. Graham argues against the belief that the Presocratic philosophers did not produce any empirical science and that the first major Greek science, astronomy, did not develop until at least the time of Plato. Instead, Graham proposes that the advances made by Presocratic philosophers in the study of astronomy deserve to be considered as scientific contributions.
The founder of atomic theory, according to Aristotle and Theophrastus, is Leucippus. His very existence has been called into question. Three of the best minds of nineteenth-century scholarship were embroiled in a vehement debate on this question, which thereupon became a cause célèbre, with scholars weighing in on both sides for the next half century. Ultimately this debate seems to have ended in stalemate and exhaustion rather than in any clear-cut decision. After briefly reviewing the debate, this article argues that (...) there are indications of an atomic theory different from Democritus's that can plausibly be attributed to Leucippus. It considers indications that the atomic theory was known in the mid-fifth century, and then tentatively explores Leucippus's contributions to atomism in a way that will illuminate Democritus's contributions. (shrink)
According to the traditional view of Empedocles' cosmic cycle, there are two creations of plants and animals, one under the dominion of increasing Strife and one under the dominion of increasing Love. At the point at which Strife holds complete sway the four elements are completely separated and all life is destroyed; at the point at which Love is completely dominant there is also a destruction of the biological world, this time because the elements are blended into a perfectly homogeneous (...) mixture. This interpretation of the cosmic cycle, which has prevailed almost since it was developed by Friedrich Panzerbieter and seconded by authority of Eduard Zeller was challenged by Paul Tannery and then by H. von Arnim . Long after these essentially programmatic critiques, three independent studies published in 1965 by Jean Bollack, Uvo Hölscher and Friedrich Solmsen mounted a vigorous challenge to the received view. However, in a detailed monograph devoted to Empedocles' cosmic cycle, Denis O'Brien brought to bear an impressive array of scholarly evidence and critical acumen in support of the traditional view . Several challenges to the traditional view have appeared since O'Brien's book, of which the most significant is that of A. A. Long, who, while criticizing attempts of some opponents of the traditional view, produced some novel and interesting arguments against it. Although the traditional view continues to enjoy the support of authorities such as Jonathan Barnes and M. R. Wright, there is a decided shift in favour of revisionary views. Nevertheless recent advocates of a revisionary interpretation do not provide detailed refutations of the traditional view; Long's arguments remain the strongest objections to the traditional view, and they have never been refuted. Will they stand up to scrutiny? (shrink)
Por mucho tiempo se ha sostenido que, de entre los primeros presocráticos, Anaxímenes es quien poseía la teoría más detallada sobre el cambio. En efecto, su teoría del cambio fue una de sus contribuciones fundamentales a la historia de la filosofía. Hace treinta años esa opinión fue puesta en tela de juicio y el argumento fue recientemente repetido en una edición revisada de Anaxímenes. Hasta el momento, no tengo noticia de que tal cuestión haya sido respondida. En el presente ensayo (...) quisiera argumentar que, aunque hay algo erróneo en la interpretación tradicional de la teoría del cambio de Anaxímenes, no es lo que los objetores dicen que es: en verdad Anaxímenes posee una importante teoría del cambio, de la cual se tiene una significativa evidencia antigua. (shrink)
Gregory Vlastos was one of the twentieth century's most influential scholars of ancient philosophy. Over a span of more than fifty years, he published essays and book reviews that established his place as a leading authority on early Greek philosophy. The two volumes that comprise Studies in Greek Philosophy include nearly forty contributions by this acknowledged master of the philosophical essay. Many of these pieces are now considered to be classics in the field. Perhaps more than any other modern scholar, (...) Gregory Vlastos was responsible for raising standards of research, analysis, and exposition in classical philosophy to new levels of excellence. His essays have served as paradigms of scholarship for several generations. Available for the first time in a comprehensive collection, these contributions reveal the author's ability to combine the skills of a philosopher, philologist, and historian of ideas in addressing some of the most difficult problems of ancient philosophy. Volume I collects Vlastos's essays on Presocratic philosophy. Wide-ranging concept studies link Greek science, religion, and politics with philosophy. Individual studies illuminate the thought of major philosophers such as Heraclitus, Parmenides, Anaxagoras, and Democritus. A magisterial series of studies on Zeno of Elea reveals the author's power in source criticism and logical analysis. Volume II contains essays on the thought of Socrates, Plato, and later thinkers and essays dealing with ethical, social, and political issues as well as metaphysics, science, and the foundations of mathematics. (shrink)
In the sixth century BCE Ionian philosophers explained the sun as a mass of fire, sometimes as floating like a leaf or a cloud above the earth. It was thought to be fueled by moist vapors from the earth. In the f i f t h century philosophers typically envisaged the sun as a red-hot stone or a molten mass carried around by the force of a cosmic vortex. The decisive shift in explanations seems to result from the cosmology of (...) Parmenides, who recognized that the moon received its light from the sun, and hence inferred that the heavenly bodies were spherical solid bodies. The new theory required a new account of how the sun came to be hot. The sun was said to be heated either by being in a fiery region or by friction. The discovery of a large meteorite seemed to confirm the fifth-century theory. (shrink)