Reply To: What is philosophy?

  • Encyclios

    April 3, 2023 at 8:15 AM

    The search for the principle of things

    In the oldest manifestations of the Western tradition, philosophy presents itself as a science, or rather as the science par excellence, investigating the origin and structure of things. One aspect common to all philosophers is the search for the first principle of reality, for that which exists as the foundation of the variety of phenomena and makes them intelligible. According to the Aristotelian testament, for the majority of the first philosophers this principle is materialistic: for Thales, for example, water is the common principle of all things. But Anaximander goes beyond this understanding of a material principle and recognizes the “principle” in an indeterminable reality, which he calls the Boundless, and in which he sees the cause of the creation and destruction of beings, which happens on the basis of necessity.

    Thus is outlined the theme of cosmic legality, the unified meaning of the diversity of phenomena. This theme is found again in Heraclitus with the notion of logos as the law of existence and as the rule for the opposing conflicts that make up the flow of life. In Heraclitus we also find the distinction between vulgar knowledge and authentic knowledge, the former belonging to the many, the latter to the philosopher, or the sage, who knows the true nature of things beneath appearances. With Parmenides of Elea there is a clear distinction, or rather a juxtaposition, between truth and opinion, correlative to an evaluation of reality, of which the authentic and truly real substance is Being, which is opposed to the fickle and unstable world of becoming. This gave rise to the concept of a superior reality, transphenomenal, deducible from reality, in contrast to the world of ordinary experience, perceived through the senses.