** A TRIBUTE TO PRE-SOCRATIC PHILOSOPHERS Poem by RAJ NANDY
A TRIBUTE TO PRE-SOCRATIC
Between 600 and 400 BC, there arose in the
ancient Greek colony of Ionia,
Now known as western Turkey, which was then
Asia Minor, -
A group of original thinkers, who tried to seek, -
A rational and natural explanation for all things!
They strongly felt that all past mythical and super-
natural explanations, -
Were both misleading and inadequate, and thereby
set in motion,
A new way of thinking more akin to the scientific
Thereby laying the edifice of Western Philosophy, -
As acknowledge now by scholars with hindsight!
These philosophers had all looked for a single
From which all things had derived, that original
reality and being;
And the Ionian Greeks called it the ‘arche’!
They also pondered about problems of change and
As we will subsequently see, they also thought
about appearance and reality!
They spoke about tiny unseen indivisible spatial
entities called atoms!
They were unaided by scientific instruments and
Yet all scholars generally agree and acknowledge, -
They were the great pioneers of modern knowledge!
THE MILESIAN SCHOOL OF PHILOSOPHERS: -
THALES was born in the Greek island of Miletus,
around 624 BC,
It was washed by the cool waters of the Aegean Sea, -
in our modern day Turkey!
He is said to have traveled to Egypt and Babylon, **
And armed with their mathematical and astrological
Had accurately predicted a solar eclipse on
26 of May, in 585 BC!
He was the first to philosophize the principle of
And declared that all things were made of ‘water’!
Water was the ‘arche’ from which all things derived,
And into which all things will one day subside!
I for one do fear, with prevailing global warming,
And with the ice caps melting, - of being swallowed
up by the sea!
Thales is considered to be one of the seven sages of
Credited with the five basic theorems of geometry;
And is regarded as the father of Western Philosophy! #
ANAXIMANDER (500-426BC) $
Anaximander a pupil of Thales had refuted him,
Saying that water cannot be the ‘arche’!
Since ‘water’ cannot give rise to its opposite – ‘Fire’!
And similarly all four elements; earth, fire, water and
air, - he had rejected entire!
He spoke of the ‘Aperion’ – the unlimited or the
boundless as the ‘arche’, -
Which was central to Greek cosmology!
But he never explained at length, as to what he had
Later, Aristotle had expressed that ‘aperion’ was a
sort of primal chaos,
And perhaps from that chaos that ‘womb of darkness’, -
Had emerged the cosmic egg!
The last of the Milesian School of Philosophers,
and he had said, -
That ‘Air’ was the most basic element and the source
of all existence!
Its density differed in heat and cold, and this rhythmic
expansion and contraction, -
Gave rise to several phases of existence in a gradual
process of evolution;
Which took place in opposite directions, -
Also known as rarefaction and condensation!
Through rarefaction the ultimate result was fire,
Whereas condensation led to the formation of stones,
and the crust of the earth entire!
Condensation also produced sun and the stars!
And with such speculations he had pre-empted our
modern day Astronomy by far!
Aristotle quotes Anaximenes as having said, -
“As our souls, being air, hold us together, so breath
and air embrace the entire universe! ”
Such were the profound thoughts of our Milesian
School of Philosophers, –
Those worthy forefathers of Western Philosophy;
And in their thoughts lay the seeds of future Science
and Astronomy! @
Thus I end my tribute to the Milesian trio of pioneers,
Known as the Milesian School of philosophers!
Let us not try to find faults with those thinkers,
For they were the first to free themselves -
From the shackles of superstition and mythology!
Chalking out an independent line of thought, - #
For later philosophers to improve and develop
(To Be Continued!)
02 Sep 09
FOOT NOTES: -
# = Aristotle and Sir Bertrand Russell regard Thales as the Father
of Philosophy! In Thales we see a transitory figure from the Greek
world of mythology to the deductive and scientific world of the Mind!
And this New direction of thought process, given by the Miletian School
of Philosophers, deserves to be applauded!
** = Summerian (Mesopotamian) Civilization is regarded as the oldest,
followed by the Indus Valley, the Minoan(Crete) , and the Egyptian.The
last three overlap! Nile Valley (Egyptian) lasted over two thousand years!
$ =Carl Segan tells us that Anaximander was the first to carry out an
experiment by planting a stick on the ground - to determine the length of the year and the seasons!
@=From Aristotle’s writings all branches of science gradually evolved!
Works of these Philosophers have not survived! We know about them
from Aristotle and other Philosophers and Historians like Herodotus!
**** ALL COPYRIGHTS ARE RESERVED BY RAJ NANDY ****
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