Wednesday, December 2, 2009
One of the solutions to the problem postulated by
Parmenides of Elea, was the hypothesis of Democritus of Abdera: matter is made up from atoms.
There was no real evidence for this idea (which was not completely new), but it explained why change was possible.
The atoms were always moving and clustering in various, temporary combinations.
Therefore, things seemed to change, but 'not being' never
changed into 'being'. (It was assumed that 'not being' was a vacuum, which means that it is in fact not a 'not being' because a vacuum exists in four dimensions.)
The consequence of this idea is that we are allowed to
use our senses, although Democritus warns us to be careful.
Parmenides of Elea was a younger contemporary of Heraclitus of Ephesus, but he lived at the opposite end of the Greek world: in Italy.
Both men were intrigued by the immense variety of phenomena, but where Heraclitus discerned order in the chaos, Parmenides pointed out that the endless
variety and eternal changes were just an illusion.
In a long poem, which partially survives, he opposed 'being' to 'not being', and pointed out that change was impossible, because it would mean that something that was 'not being' changed into 'being', which is absurd.
In other words, we had to distrust our senses and rely solely on our intellect.
The result was a distinction between two worlds: the unreal world which we experience every day, and the reality, which we can reach by thinking.
This idea was to prove one of the most influential in western culture.
Heraclitus was a rich man from Ephesus and lived c.500, during the Persian occupation
of his home town.
His philosophical work consists of a series of cryptical pronouncements that force a reader to think. Unfortunately, a great part of his work is lost, which makes it very difficult to reconstruct Heraclitus' ideas.
It seems certain, however, that he thought that the basic principle of the universe was the logos, i.e. the fact that it was rationally organized and therefore understandable.
Bipolar oppositions are one form of organization, but the sage understands
that these oppositions are just aspects of one reality.
Fire is the physical aspect of the perfect logos.
Thales was not the only one who was looking for a first cause.
Pythagoras of Samos (c.570-c.495) did the same.
According to legend, he left his country and studied with the wise men of Egypt, but was taken captive when the Persian king Cambyses invaded the country of the Nile (525).
He now became a student of the Chaldaeans of Babylon and the Magians of Persia.
Some even say that he visited the Indian Brahmans, because
Pythagoras believed in reincarnation. At the end of the sixth century, he lived in southern Italy, where he founded
a community of philosophers.
In his view, our world was governed by numbers, and therefore essentially harmonious.
We know almost nothing about Thales of Miletus.
Later generations told many anecdotes about this wise man, but it is difficult to verify the reliability of these stories.
What seems certain, however, is that he predicted the solar eclipse of 28 May 585, which was remembered because the Lydian king Alyattes and the Median leader Cyaxares were fighting a battle on that day. Another reliable bit of information is that he did geometrical research, which enabled him to measure the pyramids.
However, his most important contribution to European civilization is his attempt to give rational explanations for physical phenomena.
Behind the phenomena was not a catalogue of deities, but one single, first principle.
Although his identification of this principle with water is rather unfortunate, his idea to look for deeper causes was the true beginning of philosophy and science. Thales died after 547.
Epicurius lived from approx 341 - 270 BC was an ancient Greek philosopher and
the founder of the school of philosophy
Minerva, known also as Pallas Athena
in Greek mythology, was the Roman name of Greek goddess Athena.
She was considered to be the virgin goddess of warriors, poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, crafts, and the inventor of music
In Greek and Roman mythology, Apollo is one of the most important of all the deities.
Apollo has been variously recognized as a god of light and the
sun; truth and prophecy; archery; medicine and healing; music, poetry, and the arts; and
Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis.
The Three Graces is a sculpture of the mythological three charites, daughters of Zeus – identified on some engravings of the statue as Euphrosyne
Aglaea and Thalia - who were said to represent beauty, charm and joy.
The Graces presided over banquets and gatherings
primarily to entertain and delight the guests of the Gods.
The Pyramid Entrance to the Louvre
The Louvre Pyramid is a large glass and metal pyramid
surrounded by three smaller ones
in the courtyard of the Musée du Louvre Museum in Paris