Friday, January 23, 2015

Philosophy in Ealing (The course part 2), Homework -Some of 'The Pre Socratics'

Strangely 2 or 3 people missing from the Philosophy class but two new people too, they are able to bring a fresh perspective, one being French and the other Polish with interesting recollections of the Soviet/Communist  era in Poland.

In the second part of the Ealing Philosophy for everyone held at Perceval House we continued looking at the topic of Sartre and Imagination, for me the Philosophy Now article by Maria Perna  had made me think but I was not totally in agreement with the separation of  Imagination into two areas Imagination (like recall) and Creativity,
Back at Perceval House

As always I find that although illumination can come from  probing the subject in a group it also brings to light the room for interpretation  and reveals layers to a topic.

This week's homework is about the pre-Socratics and another Philosophy Now article (this one by Will Bouwman) has been signposted to us - Philosophy's Roots and Branches.

As I've discovered on my initial reading of The Story of Philosophy - there are real disputes about authorship and the part played by individuals it's now thought that often with the lack of any recorded writings what we have is interpretive and that one leading figure can take the credit for all work within the group (this seems to be the case with Pythagoras),

Anyway the guys we're looking at are

Thales - 624- 526 BC, cited as the first Philosopher - he was hugely influential as a teacher and thinker being an early rationalist explaining various phenomena without resorting to 'Gods'

Parmenides 515-460 BC most influential of all the pre Socratics and a  great reasoner - he suggested that our experience of the world is an illusion - no separate things - motionless and without change.
Our senses give us faulty information - we should instead use reason not our senses, he was an extreme rationalist and said there was only 'being'.

Zeno 490 -430 BC (of Elea) was a pupil of and followed Parmenides, he was famed for his paradoxes (- like the paradox of the arrow for example) he also used the idea of using infinitesimally small intervals of time to question the idea of change and motion - this method is commonly known as  reductio ad absurdum.

A few other important figures are:

Pythagoras (582 -496 BC)  was a big believer in the importance of  numbers (he started a fairly violent mathematics cult which served to build his reputation)
Pythagoras unfortunately didn't write anything down the written version of his work came into being after his death.


Heraclitus 535 -475 BC  (nickname The Weeping Philosopher) was someone who said that everything is change (which Parmenides took the opposite view on),  and he seems to be associated with the idea of not being able to stand in the same river twice, he also reckoned everything is made of fire.

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