Discussion of the Pre-Socratics Essay

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Discussion of the Pre-Socratics

Socrates is easily one of the most well known names in the history of philosophy. He is even portrayed via the magic of Hollywood time travel in the popular movie “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and was more recently quoted inaccurately on a t-shirt as saying, “I drank what?” Despite his fame, Socrates was not the first philosopher by far, and certainly not the earliest to make meaningful contributions to the field of philosophy. Some of the great “Pre-Socratics” include Anaximenes, Parmenides, Xenophane, and Democritus. The philosophical issues of their days were significantly different from the popular discussions today, though no less relevant, and provide ample fodder for the
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Anaximenes professed the belief that the one was indeed the element air and that all of that which we view as the many is composed of air through a process of condensation or rarefaction.

“And all things are produced by a kind of condensation, and again rarefaction, of this air.” (Anaximenes, Fragment 2)

Parmenides believes that there is no many, only the one. He says that there may appear to be many but that they are really one, for a plurality is incoherent. His arguments try to illustrate that there is no possibility of change in the world. Parmenides states that what “is” by definition cannot possibly be what is not. Therefore, what is not does not exist and should not be considered. If in turn, there is nothing that is not, then nothing new can come into being or go out of being because that would involve that which is not. So all of being and all of existence is one and the same, unchangeable, infinite, and unable to be created or destroyed. Further, these are all one, for if something were to have an identity that would mean that it was not another thing; this of course involves an application of the incoherent concept of non-being.

Usually, when one says that two concepts contrast, it is assumed that those concepts have similarities. In the case of the beliefs of Anaximenes’ versus the beliefs of Parmenides in regards to the problem of the one and the many it is difficult to draw a clear contrast since the two can be
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