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The Pre-Socratics: Early Greek Philosophers

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Before the era of Socrates, one of the greatest philosophers, there were the pre-Socratics 600 BCE. They were philosophers known as Milesian or natural philosophers because they went against the common idea that gods are the reasoning to all that happens. These pre-Socratic philosophers had a more rational approach, that there has to be one permanent substance on which change could occur. They were the beginning of the paradigm shift, the change from the mythical explanation to the more rational explanation.

First was Thales, the father of western philosophy. The first to measure Egyptian pyramids, and derive accurate measurements, he believed water was the basic substance that all physical change could occur. He meant that life began and would end in water. Thales idea still lasts today. Water is in all living things, the earth is 72% water, humans are 80% water, and the cell is 75%.

His successor, Anaximander, agreed with Thales that water was a basic substance, but there were many other elements that were unlimited and boundless. So the boundless elements separate and can produce everything, but they do not contain the same elements as the object before. Anaximander was the first philosopher to propose the idea of evolution that all life started in water, human evolving from fish, which supports Thales idea that life began in water and ends in water.

Anaximenes, unlike the earlier philosophers believed that air was the element that holds everything together. Water could not be the element of substance because water is condensed air, and then the earth is condensed of water, etc. He believed that air was the breath, body, mind and soul.

The Milesian philosophy was called monistic materialism because these philosophers distinguished a single substance. However, Pythagoras, the first to call himself a philosopher, did not follow this monistic materialism but created a new realm based on mathematics. He believed all structures were based mathematically. He also believed in reincarnation, that the only way to escape the continuous cycle is by attaining wisdom. He stated there were 3 classes of people, those of gain (materialistic), honor (competitors), and knowledge (seekers of knowledge). Pythagoras proposed the Pythagorean Theorem, the idea that the earth rotates around a fire ball not the way around, and many more ideas still being used today.

Heraclitus another pre-Socratic philosopher proposed that fire holds everything together. And since fire is in a constant state of flux, all living things are in constant motion. Nothing stays the same, and no living thing is static. Heraclitus view on nothing stays the same applies to today's world. Our bodies are constantly moving, the weather and climate around us is constantly moving, and all living things never stop.

These pre-Socratic philosophers opened up the door to the new ideas, and pulled away from the central thoughts around gods all



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