Explaining the Cosmos: The Ionian Tradition of Scientific Philosophy

Princeton University Press
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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.

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About the author

Daniel W. Graham is A. O. Smoot Professor of Philosophy at Brigham Young University. He is the author of Aristotle's Two Systems; editor of the two-volume collected papers of Gregory Vlastos, Studies in Greek Philosophy (Princeton); and translator of and commentator on Aristotle: Physics, Book VIII. He is a member of the editorial boards of Apeiron and History of Philosophy Quarterly.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Nov 20, 2009
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Pages
368
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ISBN
9781400827459
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / History & Surveys / Ancient & Classical
Science / Cosmology
Science / History
Science / Philosophy & Social Aspects
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Patricia Curd
In the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. a new kind of thinker appeared in Greek city-states, dedicated to finding the origins of the world and everything in it, using observation and reason rather than tradition and myth. We call these thinkers Presocratic philosophers, and recognize them as the first philosophers of the Western tradition, as well as the originators of scientific thinking. New textual discoveries and new approaches make a reconsideration of the Presocratics at the beginning of the twenty-first century especially timely. 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, from theology to science, and from pre-philosophical background to their influence on later thinkers. Many positions presented here challenge accepted wisdom and offer alternative accounts of Presocratic theories. This handbook includes chapters on the Milesians (Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes), Xenophanes, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Anaxagoras, Empedocles, the Pythagoreans, the atomists, and the sophists. Special studies are devoted to the sources of Presocratic philosophy, oriental influences, Hippocratic medicine, cosmology, explanation, epistemology, theology, and the reception of Presocratic thought in Aristotle and other ancient authors.
Patricia Curd
In the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. a new kind of thinker appeared in Greek city-states, dedicated to finding the origins of the world and everything in it, using observation and reason rather than tradition and myth. We call these thinkers Presocratic philosophers, and recognize them as the first philosophers of the Western tradition, as well as the originators of scientific thinking. New textual discoveries and new approaches make a reconsideration of the Presocratics at the beginning of the twenty-first century especially timely. 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, from theology to science, and from pre-philosophical background to their influence on later thinkers. Many positions presented here challenge accepted wisdom and offer alternative accounts of Presocratic theories. This handbook includes chapters on the Milesians (Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes), Xenophanes, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Anaxagoras, Empedocles, the Pythagoreans, the atomists, and the sophists. Special studies are devoted to the sources of Presocratic philosophy, oriental influences, Hippocratic medicine, cosmology, explanation, epistemology, theology, and the reception of Presocratic thought in Aristotle and other ancient authors.
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