The Pre-Socratics

The Pre-Socratics: A Collection of Critical Essays

Edited by ALEXANDER P. D. MOURELATOS
Copyright Date: 1993
Pages: 606
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7ztsx7
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    The Pre-Socratics
    Book Description:

    This collection introduces readers to some of the most respected Pre-Socratic scholarship of the twentieth century. It includes translations of important works from European scholars that were previously unavailable in English and incorporates the major topics and approaches of contemporary scholarship. Here is an essential book for students and scholars alike. "Students of the Pre-Socratics must be grateful to Mourelatos and his publishers for making these essays available to a wider public."--T. H. Irwin, American Journal of Philology "Mourelatos is a superb editor, and teaching Pre-Socratics in the future with this collection on the reading list will not only be easier but also better."--Jorgen Mejer, The Classical World "The editor has done his work judiciously. It would be difficult to devise a better balance between different parts of the subject."--Edward Hussey, Archives internationales d'histoire des sciences "[This book] will undoubtedly become an indispensable aid for beginning and advanced students of the Pre-Socratics."--David E. Hahm, Isis

    Originally published in 1994.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6320-4
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. PREFACE (1974)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    A. P. D. M.
  4. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. EDITOR’S SUPPLEMENT TO THE PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS EDITION
    (pp. xvii-xxviii)
  6. ADDENDA TO THE SELECTIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY: 1973–1993
    (pp. xxix-xlvii)
  7. EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-20)

    “Secondary literature” is virtually a term of derision among teachers and students of philosophy in today’s university. Since there is so much of the original works of Plato and Aristotle, alone, to read—not to mention Plotinus, Augustine, Aquinas, or other “greats” in the Western tradition—and when these works are now available in good translations, more easily and widely than ever before, it seems pedagogically distracting or even stultifying to encourage the study of commentaries and interpretations. The policy is, on the face of it, sound: We certainly want to nurture independent thinkers, not scholasticfamuliwho parrot the...

  8. I. Concept Studies
    • 1 NOUS, NOEIN, AND THEIR DERIVATIVES IN PRE-SOCRATIC PHILOSOPHY (EXCLUDING ANAXAGORAS)
      (pp. 23-85)
      Kurt von Fritz

      In an earlier article¹ I tried to analyze the meaning or meanings of the wordsnoosandnoeinin the Homeric poems, in preparation for an analysis of the importance of these terms in early Greek philosophy. The present article will attempt to cope with this second and somewhat more difficult problem, but to the exclusion of thenousof Anaxagoras, since this very complicated concept requires a separate investigation.aBy way of an introduction it is perhaps expedient to repeat briefly the main results of the preceding article.

      The fundamental meaning of the wordnoeinin Homer is “to...

    • 2 QUALITATIVE CHANGE IN PRE-SOCRATIC PHILOSOPHY
      (pp. 86-96)
      W. A. Heidel

      Strange as it may seem, this important theme appears never to have been treated fully, though the literature of Greek philosophy, ancient and modern, abounds in definite references or vague allusions to it. The Greek terms applied to such change are the nounsalloiōsisorheteroiōsisand their cognates. The latter, though occurring only once in Aristotle,¹ is probably the older term. In general,alloiōsisis the word that stands for a definite conception; and hence in the following discussion it will be used alone, though the two nouns are essentially synonymous.

      Broadly speaking,alloiōsissignifies change; more specifically, change...

  9. II. Ionian Beginnings
    • 3 ANAXIMANDER’S FRAGMENT: THE UNIVERSE GOVERNED BY LAW
      (pp. 99-117)
      Charles H. Kahn

      Anaximander . . . declared the Boundless to be principle and element of existing things, having been the first to introduce this very term of “principle”; he says that it is neither water nor any other of the so-called elements, but some different, boundless nature, from which all the heavens arise and thekosmoiwithin them; “out of those things whence is the generation for existing things, into these again does their destruction take place, according to what must needs be; for they make amends and give reparation to one another for their offense, according to the ordinance of time,”...

    • 4 XENOPHANES’ EMPIRICISM AND HIS CRITIQUE OF KNOWLEDGE (B₃₄)
      (pp. 118-132)
      Hermann Fränkel

      If we take the word “philosophy” in its strictest sense, then of all that Xenophanes said and was concerned with (at least from what we know), only his doctrine of God and his critique of knowledge can be included under this heading. In all other aspects, this remarkable man appears expressly unphilosophical.¹

      Of course, Xenophanes, like the Ionian natural philosophers, did construct a world view, and in doing so he too bypassed the gods of popular belief. But thephysikoihad gone beyond this; they wanted to see through the surface of nature, and believed they had discerned, behind the...

  10. III. Pythagoras and Pythagoreanism
    • 5 MYSTICISM AND SCIENCE IN THE PYTHAGOREAN TRADITION
      (pp. 135-160)
      F. M. Cornford

      The object of this paper is to show that, in the sixth and fifth centuries B.C., two different and radically opposed systems of thought were elaborated within the Pythagorean school. They may be called respectively the mystical system and the scientific. All current accounts of Pythagoreanism known to me attempt to combine the traits of both systems in one composite picture, which naturally fails to hold together. The confusion goes back to Aristotle, who usually speaks indiscriminately of “the Pythagoreans,” though now and then the phrase “some Pythagoreans” indicates that he was aware of different currents within the school.

      I...

    • 6 PYTHAGOREAN PHILOSOPHY BEFORE PLATO
      (pp. 161-186)
      Charles H. Kahn

      The name of Pythagoras is not only the most famous, it is also the most controversial in the history of Greek thought before Socrates and Plato. Since antiquity it has been a name to conjure with: There is such a wealth of conflicting evidence concerning Pythagoras’ teaching, but so much of this evidence is unreliable. In 1925 A. N. Whitehead could write, in reference to the function of mathematical ideas in abstract thought: “Pythagoras was the first man who had any grasp of the full sweep of this general principle. . . . He insisted on the importance of the...

  11. IV. Heraclitus
    • 7 NATURAL CHANGE IN HERACLITUS
      (pp. 189-196)
      G. S. Kirk

      The thought of Heraclitus of Ephesus is still often summarized as “All things are flowing,”panta rhei;by which it is inferred that everything is inconstantchange. This summary goes back ultimately to Plato, who atCratylus402a wrote as follows: “Heraclitus says somewhere that everything is moving and nothing stays still, and likening things to the flow of a river he says that you could not step twice into the same river.” Plato’s interpretation was adopted by Aristotle, and through him by Theophrastus, whose “Opinions of the Physicists” became the basis of all later ancient accounts. In recent...

    • 8 FLUX AND LOGOS IN HERACLITUS
      (pp. 197-213)
      W. K. C. Guthrie

      “War is father of all and king of all, and some he reveals as gods, others as men, some he makes slaves, others free” (B53). By calling War “father and king of all,” Heraclitus deliberately recalls Homer’s titles for Zeus, and so suggests that War, not Zeus, is the supreme god. It has been thought that here he has only in mind the limited, literal sense of war, though of course using it as an illustration of the universal conflict which for him constitutes the universe. This fits well with the statement that it makes some slaves and others free,...

    • 9 A THOUGHT PATTERN IN HERACLITUS
      (pp. 214-228)
      Hermann Fränkel

      The pattern is obvious in this saying:

      Man is stamped as infantile by divinity, just as the child is by man. (fr. 79)

      For the sake of convenience, we call this pattern by the name of the geometrical mean and transcribe it by formulae such asGod/man=man/boy,or elseA/B=B/C,using mathematical language rather loosely and disclaiming mathematical strictness. To ascertain the actual meaning and function of the pattern, we shall have to analyze the instances in which Heraclitus uses the scheme, starting from fr. 79.

      There are three planes: the levels of God, man, and...

    • 10 PARADOX, SIMILE, AND GNOMIC UTTERANCE IN HERACLITUS
      (pp. 229-238)
      Uvo Hölscher

      Heraclitus fragment 93 seems to hint of a connection between thelogosand paradox: “The lord whose oracle is at Delphi neither speaks nor conceals but gives a sign.” In antiquity this sentence was taken to refer to the riddling style of Heraclitus;¹ his own method, it would seem, is explained here in terms of an implicit simile. The sense, accordingly, would be: “as the Delphic oracle, so I also . . . .” Heraclitus himself would have characterized his manner of speech as the style of an oracle.

      The oracular character of Heraclitus’ style has often been remarked upon....

  12. V. Parmenides
    • 11 ELEMENTS OF ELEATIC ONTOLOGY
      (pp. 241-270)
      Montgomery Furth

      The task of an interpreter of Parmenides is to find the simplest, historically most plausible, and philosophically most comprehensible set of assumptions that imply (in a suitably loose sense) the doctrine of ‘being’ set out in Parmenides’ poem.¹ In what follows I offer an interpretation that certainly is simple and that I think should be found comprehensible. Historically, only more cautious claims are possible, for several portions of the general view from which I ‘deduce the poem’ are not clearly stated in the poem itself; my explanation of this is that they are operating astacitassumptions, and indeed that...

    • 12 PLATO AND PARMENIDES ON THE TIMELESS PRESENT
      (pp. 271-292)
      G. E. L. Owen

      Some statements couched in the present tense have no reference to time. They are, if you like, grammatically tensed but logically tenseless. Mathematical statements such as “twice two is four” or “there is a prime number between 125 and 128” are of this sort. So is the statement I have just made.¹ To ask in good faith whether there is still the prime number there used to be between 125 and 128 would be to show that one did not understand the use of such statements, and so would any attempt to answer the question. It is tempting to take...

    • 13 THE RELATION BETWEEN THE TWO PARTS OF PARMENIDES’ POEM
      (pp. 293-311)
      Karl Reinhardt

      Parmenides is by no means one of thephysikoi;the core of his cosmogony is not at all what a first glance at its conventional shell might make one expect. He often gives the appearance of aphysikos;but it ultimately was not his purpose to explain the structure of the world in a system which, while free from objections as much as possible, would still be couched in terms of Ionian physics—rarefaction and condensation, the rising and ebbing of material constituents. He may have relied upon this or that predecessor for physical details, but that was incidental. What...

    • 14 THE DECEPTIVE WORDS OF PARMENIDES’ “DOXA”
      (pp. 312-350)
      Alexander P. D. Mourelatos

      It has long been noticed that the two parts of Parmenides’ poem are connected both in contrast and by similarity. The contrast is clear: In the first part a monism, a tenseless a-historical account, a conception resulting from a radical krisis between “to be” and “not to be”; in the second part a dualism, a cosmogony, a doctrine ofkrasis,“mixture.” But the similarities are also clear: The language of explanation and proof is heard in both parts;Anankē,“Constraint,” has a role in both parts; there is akrisis,“decision, separation,” in the “Doxa” as well; and there is...

  13. VI. Zeno of Elea
    • 15 ZENO AND INDIVISIBLE MAGNITUDES
      (pp. 353-367)
      David J. Furley

      Zeno’s purpose¹ is explained to us by Plato. In theParmenides² it is said that Zeno’s writings were intended to support Parmenides against ridicule by showing that the consequences of believing in the existence of Many were still more ridiculous than those of believing only in One.

      It is not always clear how the paradoxes that we hear of were supposed to serve this purpose; but in the following argument (Zeno B2 and 1) this is clear enough.

      The argument (which for convenience I will call “Argument A”) is preserved in disconnected pieces by Simplicius; it was reassembled convincingly by...

    • 16 THE TRADITION ABOUT ZENO OF ELEA RE-EXAMINED
      (pp. 368-394)
      Friedrich Solmsen

      This paper makes no attempt to compete with the brilliant studies through which in the last thirty years several scholars have advanced our understanding of the evidence for Zeno of Elea and in particular of the verbatim preserved fragments. In fact my intention is not to replace theories by other theories but to create doubt about matters that for some time have been taken for granted and to change confident assumptions into hypotheses that would tolerate others besides them.

      Accounts of Zeno’s philosophy generally take as their starting point some well known statements at the beginning of Plato’sParmenides.¹ Given...

  14. VII. Empedocles
    • 17 EMPEDOCLES’ COSMIC CYCLE IN THE ’SIXTIES
      (pp. 397-425)
      A. A. Long

      InThe Presocratic Philosophers(Cambridge, 1957) J. E. Raven wrote: “Empedocles, by his introduction of the cosmic cycle, has set himself a task which might well overtax even the most fertile imagination: he has imposed upon himself the necessity of describing a cosmogony and a world that are the exact reverse of the world we know and of the cosmogony that brought it into being. It cannot even be said that the cosmic cycle was unavoidable: it would surely have been a simpler undertaking to describe the emergence from the Sphere of a world in which the two motive forces,...

    • 18 RELIGION AND NATURAL PHILOSOPHY IN EMPEDOCLES’ DOCTRINE OF THE SOUL
      (pp. 426-456)
      Charles H. Kahn

      Since Zeller’s classic work, all students of Greek philosophy have recognized that the thought of Empedocles presents two quite distinct aspects. On the one hand, Empedocles is the author of a rational cosmology which explains all processes of the natural world in terms of the combination and separation of four elements under the opposing influence of the forces of Love and Hate. Yet in his poem ofPurificationsthe same author appears like a figure from another world, an inspired seer who proclaims himself a god and exhorts all mankind to purify themselves by abstaining from meat, beans, and laurel...

  15. VIII. Anaxagoras and the Atomists
    • 19 THE PHYSICAL THEORY OF ANAXAGORAS
      (pp. 459-488)
      Gregory Vlastos

      No Pre-Socratic system has been studied more intensively than that of Anaxagoras, and none with better reason since by common consent it is one of the most brilliant products of the great age of Greek speculation. Tannery, Burnet, Giussani, Bailey, Cornford, Peck, and many others have labored to reconstruct it.¹ Many of the details have been clarified by their researches. But no consensus of belief has yet been reached on the main lines of the system. The extent of the disagreement is wider and sharper than one would ever guess from the complacent simplifications of the schoolbooks.² Cyril Bailey, who...

    • 20 ANAXAGORAS AND THE CONCEPT OF MATTER BEFORE ARISTOTLE
      (pp. 489-503)
      G. B. Kerferd

      The major difficulty which confronts us¹ in any attempt to reconstruct Anaxagoras’ views about the nature of the material world lies not so much in the absence of information as in the problem of reconciling the various doctrines attributed to him by ancient writers. In particular it has been widely held during the present century that Anaxagoras could not possibly have held all of the major views thus attributed to him because their logical relationship to each other is such that the result would be self-contradictory, and self-contradictory in a way that would have been obvious to Anaxagoras himself and...

    • 21 THE ATOMISTS’ REPLY TO THE ELEATICS
      (pp. 504-526)
      David J. Furley

      Aristotle discusses the composition of material substance in hisDe Generatione et Corruptione.In chapter 8 of the first book, he studies the views of earlier philosophers on the subject of the interaction of such substances (τό ποιεȋν καί πάσχην). He mentions first those who believed that all interaction takes place through “pores,” and then compares the pore theory with that of Leucippus and Democritus:

      Some, then, like Empedocles, held this theory with regard tosomesubstances—not only those which interact with each other, but also they say that substances mix with each other if and only if their...

  16. SELECTIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY (1974)
    (pp. 527-542)
  17. INDEXES
    (pp. 543-559)