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Cause and Explanation in Ancient Greek Thought$
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R. J. Hankinson

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199246564

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199246564.001.0001

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The Presocratics

The Presocratics

Chapter:
(p.7) I The Presocratics
Source:
Cause and Explanation in Ancient Greek Thought
Author(s):

R. J. Hankinson (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199246564.003.0002

In this chapter, Hankinson considers the contributions to the explanation of nature of each of the major Presocratic figures. Following a brief sketch of the cosmogonies of Homer and Hesiod, Hankinson discusses the Milesian thinkers Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes, focussing on the presence in their thought of notions such as material monism, the principle of sufficient reason, the Unlimited (apeiron), and the reduction of properties. Hankinson then discusses Xenophanes of Colophon, Heraclitus, Alcmaeon, Parmenides and his followers Zeno and Melissus, as well as the movement of Pythagoreanism. The Eleatics checked the confidence of Presocratic speculation by offering powerful a priori theses on causation, and the attempt to bypass these conclusions characterize the more sophisticated theories of causation of the succeeding thinkers Anaxagoras, Empedocles, and the Atomists.

Keywords:   Anaxagoras, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Empedocles, material monism, Parmenides, principle of sufficient reason, Pythagoreanism, Thales, the Unlimited, Xenophanes

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