- from Greek, by way of Latin, philosophia, “love of wisdom” – love is an unconditioned feeling, it has no aim out of itself, it is very strong, it cannot be ignored; philosophers are not the wise, they love wisdom, seek it,
- the critical examination of the grounds for fundamental beliefs
- analysis of the basic concepts employed in the expression of such beliefs.
- philosophical inquiry is a central element in the intellectual history of many historical civilizations.
It would be difficult if not impossible to find two philosophers who would define philosophy in exactly the same way. Throughout its long and varied history in the West, philosophy has meant many different things. Some of these have been:
- a search for wisdom;
- an attempt to understand the universe as a whole;
- an examination of humankind’s moral responsibilities and social obligations;
- an effort to fathom the divine intentions and the place of human beings with reference to them;
- an effort to ground the enterprise of natural science;
- a rigorous examination of the origin, extent, and validity of human ideas;
- an exploration of the place of will or consciousness in the universe;
- an examination of the values of truth, goodness, and beauty;
- and an effort to codify the rules of human thought in order to promote rationality and the extension of clear thinking.
Even these do not exhaust the meanings that have been attached to the philosophical enterprise, but they give some idea of its extreme complexity and many-sidedness.
The same truth is expressed in different ways (science, religion, myth, art and philosophy).
Philosophy originates from the doubt and the sense of wonder.
Philosophical problems and disciplines
Philosophical problems evolved over centuries, from ancient Greek questions about the origin and nature of cosmos, validity of sensual impressions, possibility to obtain certain knowledge; over eternal questions about beauty, art, science, politics, values; to contemporary issues, such as finding a new basis for common values, new basis for social identification, mind-body problem, freedom of the will in the era of highly developed science, distinguishing good from bad information, intellectual property, collective decision-making and collective rationality, what exactly is a human person when its every aspect can be manipulated at will, humans and environment and global justice.
Main philosophical disciplines are: ethics, logic, aesthetics (is beauty objective or subjective), philosophy of science, political philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology (nature and grounds of knowledge and its limits and validity) and the history of philosophy.
There are three main eras of Philosophy:
Ancient, Medieval and Modern
Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy can be divided into:
- The pre-Socratic period
- The seminal thinkers (influential, formative, ground-breaking, pioneering, original, innovative; major, important)
- Hellenistic and Roman philosophy
The pre-Socratic period can be divided into:
- Cosmology and the metaphysics of matter
- Epistemology of appearance
- Metaphysics of number
- Antropology and relativism
Cosmology and the metaphysics of matter can be divided into:
- Monistic cosmologies (Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Xenophanes, Parmenides and Heracleitus)
- Pluralistic cosmologies (Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Leucippus and Democritus)
1. ἀθάνατος ἡ ψυχή – athanatos he psuche – deathless the soul – The soul (is) deathless/immortal.
ἀθάνατος deathless (adj; singular nominative masculine)
ἡ the (article; feminine singular nominative)
ψυχή soul (singular feminine nominative)
2. χαλεπὰ τὰ καλά – chalepa ta kala – difficult/harsh the beautiful (things) – Beauty is difficult.
χαλεπὰ difficult, harsh (adj.; plural nominative neuter)
τὰ καλά the beautiful things/beauty (neuter plural nominative: preceded by an article, this often forms a substantive: beautiful things, beauty)
3. μέτρον ἄριστον – metron ariston – measure/the golden mean best – Measure is best.
Best is the golden mean.
μέτρον measure (neuter singular nominative)
ἄριστον best (adj; neuter singular nominative)
4. τῷ σοφῷ ξένον οὐδέν – to̅ sopho̅ ksenon ouden – to the wise one nothing/not one thing strange. – Not one thing is strange to the wise (man).
τῷ σοφῷ to the wise (man, thing–but can a thing be wise)
ξένον foreign, strange (adjective; singular nominative neuter)
οὐδέν nothing/not one thing
5. κοινὰ τὰ τῶν φίλων – koina ta to̅n philo̅n – common (pl.) the (pl.) of the friends – common things the things of the friends – The things of the friends are shared things.
The property of friends is shared.
κοινὰ common (adjective; plural nominative neuter)
τὰ the (plural neuter article, used as a substantive: the things = the property)
τῶν φίλων of the friends
6. ὁ χρόνος ἰατρὸς τῶν πόνων – ho̅ chronos iatros to̅n pono̅n – the time physician/healer of the pains – Of pains time is the healer.
Time is the physician of pains.
ὁ χρόνος the time/time (singular nominative masculine)
ἰατρὸς physician/healer (singular nominative masculine)
τῶν πόνων of the pains/of the toils (plural genitive masculine)
In Thales’ (Θαλῆς, Thalēs 624 – 546) oppinion the world originated from water. Thales (624-545), traditionally considered to be the “first philosopher,” proposed a first principle (arche) of the cosmos: water. Aristotle offers some conjectures as to why Thales might have believed this. First, all things seem to derive nourishment from moisture. Next, heat seems to come from or carry with it some sort of moisture. Finally, the seeds of all things have a moist nature, and water is the source of growth for many moist and living things. Some assert that Thales held water to be a component of all things, but there is no evidence in the testimony for this interpretation. It is much more likely, rather, that Thales held water to be a primal source for all things – perhaps the sine qua non of the world.
Anaximander (Ἀναξίμανδρος, Anaxίmandros 610 – 546) argued that the substratum or arche could not be water or any of the classical elements but was instead something boundless, “unlimited” or “indefinite” (in Greek, the apeiron). He noticed that the world seems to consist of opposites (hot and cold). A thing can become its opposite (a hot thing cold). Therefore, they cannot truly be opposites but rather must both be manifestations of some underlying unity that is neither. This underlying unity (substratum, arche) could not be any of the classical elements, since they were one extreme or another. This endless, unlimited mass (apeiron), is subject to neither old age nor decay; it perpetually yields fresh materials from which everything we can perceive is derived. The universe is a continual play of elements separating and combining. Anaximander says that the boundless is the source of beings, and that into which they perish, “according to what must be: for they give recompense and pay restitution to each other for their injustice according to the ordering of time”. Anaximander’s fragment („А оно из чега ствари настају у то и пропадају, плаћајући једна другој казну у одмазду за своју неправичност по реду времена”):
Whence things have their origin,
Thence also their destruction happens,
According to necessity;
For they give to each other justice and recompense
For their injustice
In conformity with the ordinance of Time.
Anaximenes (Ἀναξιμένης, Anaximénes 585 – 528) asserted that air was this primary substance of which all other things are made. Rarefied air becomes fire. When it is condensed, it becomes water, and when it is condensed further, it becomes earth and other earthy things, like stones. This then gives rise to all other life forms. When air condenses it becomes visible, as mist and then rain and other forms of precipitation. As the condensed air cools Anaximenes supposed that it went on to form earth and ultimately stones. In contrast, water evaporates into air, which ignites and produces flame when further rarefied. In early Greek literature, air is associated with the soul (the breath of life) and Anaximenes may have thought of air as capable of directing its own development, as the soul controls the body. Accordingly, he ascribed to air divine attributes. Anaximenes was the first recorded thinker who provided a theory of change and supported it with observation. Furthermore, air itself is divine. For Anaximenes, air is God. Air, then, changes into the basic elements, and from these we get all other natural phenomena.
Heraclitus of Ephesus (Ἡράκλειτος ὁ Ἐφέσιος, Hērákleitos ho Ephésios 535 – 475) stands out in ancient Greek philosophy not only with respect to his ideas, but also with respect to how those ideas were expressed. His aphoristic style is rife with wordplay and conceptual ambiguities. Heraclitus saw reality as composed of contraries – a reality whose continual process of change is precisely what keeps it at rest.
Fire plays a significant role in his picture of the cosmos. No God or man created the cosmos, but it always was, is, and will be fire. At times it seems as though fire, for Heraclitus, is a primary element from which all things come and to which they return. At others, his comments on fire could easily be seen metaphorically. What is fire? It is at once “need and satiety.” This back and forth, or better yet, this tension and distension is characteristic of life and reality – a reality that cannot function without contraries, such as war and peace. “A road up and down is one and the same”. Whether one travels up the road or down it, the road is the same road. “On those stepping into rivers staying the same other and other waters flow”. In his Cratylus, Plato quotes Heraclitus, via the mouthpiece of Cratylus, as saying that “you could not step twice into the same river,” comparing this to the way everything in life is in constant flux. So, the cosmos and all things that make it up are what they are through the tension and distention of time and becoming. The river is what it is by being what it is not. Fire, or the ever-burning cosmos, is at war with itself, and yet at peace – it is constantly wanting fuel to keep burning, and yet it burns and is satisfied.
Ηθος Ανθρωπος Δαιμων