(about 569 BC-475 BC)

Pythagoras (of Samos) (about 569-475 B.C.) - was the most famous of the pre-Socratic Greek philosophers. Modern scholarship has shown that Pythagoras himself apparently wrote nothing. However, Plato refers to him only as the founder of a way of life and Aristotle only to the "so-called Pythagoreans". Worth mentioning is still the veneration to the tetractys (tetrad: the numbers 1-4, which add up to the sacred number 10):

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The doctrine of the harmony of the spheres - that the heavens move in accord with number and produce music - may go back to Pythagoras.


(C.460-C.370 B.C.)


(287 - 212 B.C.)


Review, Part #1

The problem of general concepts, which are corresponding to single (monadic) predicates (like "red", "raven"), was one of the most controversial questions in the medieval philosophy. (These general concepts are often call also as universals, properties, attributes or qualities). But before we continue to deal with them, lets return for a while to the times of antique.


Socrates (c.470-399 B.C.) wrote no philosophical treatises but his influence on the development of philosophy was so strong that all philosophy before him has come to be known as "Presocratic". One of his younger associates (most famous and brilliant) was Plato.

Concept-realists - following Plato (427-347 B.C.) - considered that e.g. a term "red" is naming one abstract being, an idea of red or a property of red which exists individual and timeless besides of red being's as well as not suspending from a human mind which is recognizing these beings.

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Plato first suggested that the organization of the natural world can be understood by comparing it to the behavior of an intentional agent - external teleology. For example, human beings can anticipate the future and behave calculated to realize their intentions. Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) invented nature itself with goals - internal teleology. Each kind has its own final cause, and entities are so constructed that they tend to realize this goal.

The Epicurean physical theory is atomistic, developed out of the fifth-century system of Democritus. Epicureanism, one of the three leading movements constituting Hellenistic philosophy, was founded by Epicurus (341-270 B.C.), together with his close colleagues Metrodorus (c.331-278 B.C.), Hermarchus (Epicurus' successor as head of the Athenian school), and Polyaenus (d.278 B.C.). According to Epicureanism, space is, or includes, absolute void, without which motion would be impossible, while body is constituted out of physically invisible particles, "atoms". Atoms themselves have only the primary properties of shape, size, and weight. All secondary properties, e.g. color, are generated out of atomic compounds; given their dependent status, they cannot be added to the list of per se existents, but it does not follow, as the skeptical tradition in atomism had held, that they are not real either. One significant Epicurean writer was also Lucretius (Titus Lucretius Carus, c.99-55 B.C.), who was a Roman poet and the author of the philosophical epic "De Rerum Natura" ("On the Nature of the Universe"), a comprehensive exposition of the Epicurean world-view.

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From Heraclitus to Hegel

Within the circle of other philosophical traditions (during the period of antique Heraclitus (c.540-480 B.C.), later among others, Hegel) and in modern physics, has been prevailing a view, which can be called occurrence ontology. According to that view, the world consists primarily, not of beings, but of private (singular) occurrences. E.g. Henri Bergson (1859-1941), who was supporting the dynamic occurrence ontology, thought that an "object-thinking", included to the being-ontology, belongs to the biology of human being, which does not correspond to the deepest character of reality. In his "Über den Begriff der Wissenschaftslehre" (Begriff=Concept) (1794) Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814) explained his conception of philosophy as "the science of science", to be presented in a deductive system based on a self-evident first principle. Fichte was strongly influenced by Kant while investigating the conditions under which religious belief is possible and he was presaging the absolute idealism of Hegel and of some later existentialism. Fichte's doctrine of the ego describes the autonomous experiencing active being in a system determined by Nature. The ego affirms itself as a primitive act of consciousness, constructing the objective world, or non-ego, from appearances.

G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831) agreed with Immanuel Kant (see later) that necessary truths must be mindimposed, but, like other critics of Kant, he rejected the idea of the thing-in-self as unintelligible. This led him to the view that all that exists must be mental. Hegel's philosophy is not only a form of idealism, it is also a form of monism. In his Encyklopädie (which has three parts, the first is called "Logic" or "The Lesser Logic", to distinguish it from the two volume "Wissenschaft der Logik" (1812-1813, 1816); the second is called "The Philosophy of Nature" and the third "The Philosophy of Mind"), Hegel gives a systematic account to what stages the mind "returns to itself". Hegel's "Logic" is not a treatise on formal logic. He calls logic "the science of thought"; and since, for him, thought is reality, the science of thought turns out to be a metaphysics. The most famous young or left Hegelian was Karl Marx (1818-1883), especially during his days in Paris as co-editor-in-chief, with Ruge, of the Deutsch-französischen Jahrbuch (1844) (= "German-French Yearbook").

Authors' calendar
Authors from Vergilius to latest Nobel Prize winners, great books etc.
Plato and his dialogues
Plato and his dialogues online including a list of Plato's works.
The computer revolution in philosophy
Aaron Sloman:
The Computer Revolution in Philosophy (1978).