Zeno of Elea

Zeno of Elea (c. 490 – c. 430 BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher of Magna Graecia and a member of the Eleatic School founded by Parmenides. Aristotle called him the inventor of the dialectic.

Zeno is also regarded as the first philosopher who dealt with the earliest attestable accounts of mathematical infinity.

Zeno’s Dichotomy paradox

Suppose Homer wishes to walk to the end of a path. Before he can get there, he must get halfway there. Before he can get halfway there, he must get a quarter of the way there. Before traveling a quarter, he must travel one-eighth; before an eighth, one-sixteenth; and so on.

This description requires one to complete an infinite number of tasks, which Zeno maintains is an impossibility.

Epicurus

Epicurus (341–270 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher who founded a school of philosophy now called Epicureanism.

Epicurus is a key figure in the development of science and scientific methodology because of his insistence that nothing should be believed, except that which was tested through direct observation and logical deduction. Like Democritus, he was an atomist, believing that the fundamental constituents of the world were indivisible little bits of matter (atoms; Greek: ἄτομος atom os, “indivisible”) flying through empty space (Greek: κενόν kenon). Everything that occurs is the result of the atoms colliding, rebounding, and becoming entangled with one another.

For Epicurus, the purpose of philosophy was to attain the happy, tranquil life, characterized by ataraxia—peace and freedom from fear—and aponia—the absence of pain—and by living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends.

According to Epicurus, death is the end of both the body and the soul and therefore should not be feared. He also taught that the gods neither reward nor punish humans; that the universe is infinite and eternal.

Epicurus’ philosophy is based on the theory that all good and bad derive from the sensations of what he defined as pleasure and pain: What is good is what is pleasurable, and what is bad is what is painful. His teachings were more about striving for an absence of pain and suffering, both physical and mental, and a state of satiation and tranquillity that was free of the fear of death and the retribution of the gods. Epicurus argued that when we do not suffer pain, we are no longer in need of pleasure, and we enter a state of ataraxia, “tranquillity of soul” or “imperturbability”.

Epicurus distinguishes between two different types of pleasure: “moving” pleasures and “static” pleasures. “Moving” pleasures occur when one is in the process of satisfying a desire and involve an active titillation of the senses. After one’s desires have been satisfied, (e.g., when one is full after eating), the state of satiety is a “static” pleasure.

When a man dies, he does not feel the pain of death because he no longer is and therefore feels nothing. Therefore, as Epicurus famously said, “death is nothing to us.” When we exist, death is not; and when death exists, we are not.

 

Protagoras

Protagoras ( c. 490 – c. 420 BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher and is numbered as one of the sophists by Plato.

Protagoras is credited with the philosophy of relativism. Protagoras meant that each individual is the measure of how things are perceived by that individual. According to the philosophy of Protagoras, there is no absolute evaluation of the nature of a temperature because the evaluation will be relative to who is perceiving it.

The famous sophist Protagoras took on a pupil, Euathlus, on the understanding that the student pay Protagoras for his instruction after he wins his first court case.

Protagoras argued that if he won the case he would be paid his money. If Euathlus won the case, Protagoras would still be paid according to the original contract, because Euathlus would have won his first case.

Euathlus, however, claimed that if he won, then by the court’s decision he would not have to pay Protagoras. If, on the other hand, Protagoras won, then Euathlus would still not have won a case and would therefore not be obliged to pay.

Democritus

Democritus (c.460 — c.370 BC) was an Ancient Greek pre-Socratic philosopher primarily remembered today for his formulation of an atomic theory of the universe. Many consider Democritus to be the “father of modern science”. None of his writings have survived; only fragments are known from his vast body of work.

The theory of Democritus held that everything is composed of “atoms”, which are physically, but not geometrically, indivisible; that between atoms, there lies empty space; that atoms are indestructible, and have always been and always will be in motion; that there is an infinite number of atoms and of kinds of atoms, which differ in shape and size.

The atomists agreed that motion required a void, but simply ignored the argument of Parmenides on the grounds that motion was an observable fact. Therefore, they asserted, there must be a void.

Democritus held that originally the universe was composed of nothing but tiny atoms churning in chaos, until they collided together to form larger units—including the earth and everything on it. He surmised that there are many worlds, some growing, some decaying; some with no sun or moon, some with several. He held that every world has a beginning and an end and that a world could be destroyed by collision with another world.

Empedocles

Empedocles (c. 490 – c. 430 BC) was a Greek pre-Socratic philosopher.

Empedocles established four ultimate elements which make all the structures in the world—fire, air, water, earth— in other words, the several states of matter are represented, being energies, gasses, liquids, and solids. Empedocles called these four elements “roots“. According to the different proportions in which these four indestructible and unchangeable elements are combined with each other the difference of the structure is produced.

The four elements are both eternally brought into union and parted from one another by two divine powers, Love and Strife. Love is responsible for the attraction of different forms of matter, and Strife is the cause of their separation.

If the four elements make up the universe, then Love and Strife explain their variation and harmony. Love and Strife are attractive and repulsive forces, respectively, which are plainly observable in human behavior, but also pervade the universe.

Like Pythagoras, Empedocles believed in the transmigration of the soul, that souls can be reincarnated between humans, animals and even plants. Empedocles was a vegetarian and advocated vegetarianism, since the bodies of animals are the dwelling places of punished souls.

Parmenides of Elea

Parmenides of Elea (c. 515 – 450 BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher from Elea. He was the founder of the Eleatic school of philosophy.

For him and his pupils, the phenomena of movement and change are simply appearances of a changeless, eternal reality. This interpretation could settle because of various wrong translations of the fragments.

Reality is one ‘thing’ (Monism) It never moves or changes. It has and will remain the same for eternity.

Reality is one ‘thing’ (Monism) It never moves or changes. It has and will remain the same for eternity. “It needs must be that what can be thought and spoken of is; for it is possible for it to be, and it is not possible for, what is nothing to be. ” It is impossible to form a concept of “nothingness” or non being.

Heraclitus of Ephesus

Heraclitus of Ephesus (c. 535 – c. 475 BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. Little is known about his early life and education, but he regarded himself as self-taught and a pioneer of wisdom.

Ever-newer waters flow on those who step into the same rivers. Everything changes and nothing remains still … and … you cannot step twice into the same stream. 

Heraclitus considered fire as the most fundamental element. He believed fire gave rise to the other elements and thus to all things. He regarded the soul as being a mixture of fire and water, with fire being the noble part of the soul, and water the ignoble part. A soul should therefore aim toward becoming more full of fire and less full of water: a “dry” soul was best. According to Heraclitus, worldly pleasures made the soul “moist”, and he considered mastering one’s worldly desires to be a noble pursuit which purified the soul’s fire.

Pythagoras of Samos

Pythagoras of Samos (c. 570 – c. 495 BC) was an Ionian Greek philosopher and the eponymous founder of the Pythagoreanism movement. His political and religious teachings influenced the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, and, through them, Western philosophy.

It was said that he was the first man to call himself a philosopher (“lover of wisdom”)

One of the best known mathematical formulas is Pythagorean Theorem, which provides us with the relationship between the sides in a right triangle. It states that the square of the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides.

His teaching most securely identified with Pythagoras is metempsychosis, or the “transmigration of souls”, which holds that every soul is immortal and, upon death, enters into a new body. Pythagoras may have claimed to possess the ability to recall his former incarnations.

Another belief attributed to Pythagoras was that of the “harmony of the spheres”, which maintained that the planets and stars move according to mathematical equations, which correspond to musical notes and thus produce an inaudible symphony. The Pythagoreans believed that music was a purification for the soul, just as medicine was a purification for the body.

Thales of Miletus

Thales of Miletus (c. 624 – c. 546 BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, mathematician, and astronomer from Miletus.

Thales is recognized for breaking from the use of mythology to explain the world and the universe, and instead explaining natural objects and phenomena by theories and hypotheses, in a precursor to modern science.

Thales predicted the solar eclipse of May 28, 585 BC. It is not known how Thales was able to predict the Eclipse,but it is known that Thales of Miletus was one of the famous “Seven Sages of Greece.”

Thales found the height of pyramids by comparison between the lengths of the shadows cast by a person and by the pyramids.

Thales aimed to explain natural phenomena via rational hypotheses that referenced natural processes themselves. For example, rather than assuming that earthquakes were the result of supernatural whims Thales explained them by hypothesizing that the Earth floats on water and that earthquakes occur when the Earth is rocked by waves.

Thales thought all things are full of gods. Aristotle posits the origin of Thales thought on matter generally containing souls, to Thales thinking initially on the fact of, because magnets move iron, the presence of movement of matter indicated this matter contained life.

Thales’ hypothesis about the nature of all matter – that the originating principle of nature was a single material substance: water.

Thales’ hypothesis about the nature of all matter – that the originating principle of nature was a single material substance: water. Thales thought the Earth must be a flat disk which is floating in an expanse of water.

 

 

老子之道

 

老庄所说的“道”,尽管一个说“非常道”,一个说“不称”,但是他们都道了出来,都称了出来。他们口中的“道”有五个属性:1. 客观,2. 永恒,3. 万物起始,4. 独一且没有属性,5. 可得不可知

前三点都很好理解,第四点——没有属性怎么理解?什么是属性,高矮,胖瘦,大小,长短,生死,祸福,这都是属性。而道是独一的,其它的一切都是道的产物,道是没有并存没有对立的,如果没有比较,人是无法描述道的,无法描述则没有属性。想像一个人,从出生睁眼起一辈子只能在一个完全封闭的屋子里看到一个杯子,没有其它任何东西,他可以评价这杯子是美是丑吗?他可以评价这杯子是大杯子是小杯子吗?他可以评价这杯子是什么材料吗?他能知道这是一个杯子吗?显然不能。

于是老子说:“道这个名称是我为了描述它勉强冠上的名称。”虽然这个道不可知,但是因为我们是它的产物,所以顺藤摸瓜,在我们内心仍然可以找到这个道。 这就是老庄的“道”,基于这个道,针对先秦的人生和社会问题,他们提出:完美的人生完美的社会就是应当像这个道似的,消除属性的区分,没有贵贱,没有善恶。

道家是如何解释万物成因的?其实老庄的意思是:不知。但是他们又做了比喻:如母亲生子那样。老子更是说:“道生一,一生二,二生三,三生万物。”这句话的解释可谓众说纷纭。个人的倾向:“道”生出统一,但是有了统一就有了对立,于是就有了二,二者既有对立又有统一,于是就有了交叉的状态,就是三。于是万物有三个状态:正,反,或有正有反,唯独“道”和他们都不一样,“道”既没有正,也没有反,它没有属性。