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The being and becoming dilemma in early Greek philosophy

Define the difference between philosophy and common sense

Philosophy does not have a lot to do with common sense! Philosophy is based on asking questions. Common sense is a form of evidence that is based on conventional wisdom and tradition. It is an opinion of all ordinary people. Let's define a difference asking the question : " What exists"? - Common sense - everything everything that can be seen or touched or smelled. everything that can be sensually perceived.

Philosophy. "Is it really so? On premises do we assume that what I see is what really exists?"

Common sense.- conservative, lazy, popular. Philosophy - inquiring, critical, ironic, revolutionary.

Common sense - People cannot be trusted (what people? what is it trust?)
There is not justice(What is justice? how do we apply justice?)
I know , what I see( my knowledge is based on my reasoning)


2) Define the difference between philosophy and humanities/science

The basic and most fundamental difference between philosophy and science is the subject of their resourch:

while the subject of their sciences and humanities as well is limited and restricted, the subject of philosophy goes far beyond their main fields and frames of reference.

Thus philosophy is much more universal. the subject of sciences can not be discussed. For example:

a physicist does not question the idea of causation, physicist simply use this idea for the explanation of phisical phenomenon; philosopher may or may not trust this notion and may even rebut such a presumption. Philosophy and sciences: methodology.

the method of the sciences is and humanities is experimental(empirical).

The method of philosophy is neither simply experimental nor simply deductive. Philosophy questions our way of perceiving the world, it questions the sources of human knowledge and questions the veracity of human experience.


Define the difference between philosophy and ideology

Philosophy is not ideology. Philosophy is not ideology. Ideology is a set of doctrines or beliefs that form the basis of a political, economic or other system.

The body of ideas reflecting the social needs and aspirations of an individual, group, class or culture.

Philosophy and ideology.

Ideology may refer to philosophy but it never simply reflects or copy a given philosophical system, for the simple reason that that philosophers never give us simple answers for life and actions.

Ideology needs simplicity and reduction: it is usually based of few statements : complicated philosophy will be useless.

4) What are the three general branches of philosophy/what are the basic philosophical questions?


· Ontology

· Epistemology

· Pratical

· Axiology

· Ethics

· Aesthetics

· Political Philosophy



philosophical inquiry into the nature of being itself, a branch of metaphysics

· Branch of metaphysics concerned with identifying, in the most general terms, the kinds of things that actually exist Thus, the "ontological commitments" of a philosophical position include both its explicit assertions and its implicit presuppositions about the existence of entities, substances or beings of particular kinds.


· What is nature of the world?

What exists?



· Branch of philosophy that investigates the possibility, origins, nature, and extent of human knowledge


· What are the sources of human knowlege?

· What is the defintion of truth?

· How can I be certain?




· axiology -Branch of philosophy that studies judgments about value, including those of both aesthetics and ethics Thinking about value at this general level commonly emphasizes the diversity and incommensurability of the many sorts of things which have value for us.


· Axiology – what is a value? What is the nature of values?

· Ethics- Branch of philosophy concerned with the evaluation of human conduct.



5) Explain the meaning and significance of “the arché question”

Ionian school.



In fact the scientific investigation of the ionian school can be reduced to just one question, and question is : " What is the general principle of nature?" First phylosophers also were first physicists.

What is the general nature of everything?" - arche question.


Arche question!
The first principle of everything. The general principle of everything.

"Thales of Miletus"


Water constituted the principle of all things. the first philosophical sentence.


Ionian school.

Anaximenes: the principle of everything is air.

Anaximander: the principle of everything is Apeiron( or infinity)

Empedocle: the constitution of the nature could be explained by four elements.


The being and becoming dilemma in early Greek philosophy

Very soon the ancient philosophers noticed the difference between being and becoming. They assume that some things exist while others just happen to be, simply they become and then they vanish, and most importantly they change.

Eleatic school - being.

Heraclitus - becoming.

Therefore the most important question here is whether being is a unity or a plurality

Parmenides, founder of Eleatic school of Greek philosophy in the fifth century B.C. saw existance as a unitary whole time-less, unmoving and immutable.

The Eleatics stated that being and thought were identical and only the unchaining laws of thought could reveal the truth; sensory experience that is empirical data, being contradictory and changable was just an illusion.


· Nothing exists except atoms and empty space: everything else is opinion”


· Atomism: the theory that all matter is composed of indivisible and irreducible units

· Atom = uncuttable

· Atom is a tiny particle – eternal, changeless, identical, self-moving and indivisible

Atoms do not change

· Atomism offered a solution to the problems of motion and chaneg that vexed the ancients: how to reconcile being with becoming.

· Atoms are eternal: what is made of atoms seems to change

· Atomism =materialism



7)Explain Zeno’s paradoxes

Parmenides disciple Zeno constructed a series of paradoxes designed to prove the indivisibility of space and the impossibility of motion.

he did this with imaginary demonstrations that led to logical contradictions and absurdities.

Paradox - a seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true.


Zeno proved that assuming that motion exists and therefore change is a fact leads to paradoxes.


The Tortoise challenged Achilles to a race, claiming that he would win as long as Achilles gave him a small head start. Achilles laughed at this, for of course he was a mighty warrior and swift of foot, whereas the Tortoise was heavy and slow.

“How big a head start do you need?” he asked the Tortoise with a smile.

“Ten meters,” the latter replied.

Achilles laughed louder than ever. “You will surely lose, my friend, in that case,” he told the Tortoise, “but let us race, if you wish it.”

“On the contrary,” said the Tortoise, “I will win, and I can prove it to you by a simple argument.”

“Go on then,” Achilles replied, with less confidence than he felt before. He knew he was the superior athlete, but he also knew the Tortoise had the sharper wits, and he had lost many a bewildering argument with him before this.

“Suppose,” began the Tortoise, “that you give me a 10-meter head start. Would you say that you could cover that 10 meters between us very quickly?”

“Very quickly,” Achilles affirmed.

“And in that time, how far should I have gone, do you think?”

“Perhaps a meter—no more,” said Achilles after a moment’s thought.

“Very well,” replied the Tortoise, “so now there is a meter between us. And you would catch up that distance very quickly?”

“Very quickly indeed!”

“And yet, in that time I shall have gone a little way farther, so that now you must catch that distance up, yes?”

“Ye-es,” said Achilles slowly.

“And while you are doing so, I shall have gone a little way farther, so that you must then catch up the new distance,” the Tortoise continued smoothly.

Achilles said nothing.

“And so you see, in each moment you must be catching up the distance between us, and yet I—at the same time—will be adding a new distance, however small, for you to catch up again.”

“Indeed, it must be so,” said Achilles wearily.

“And so you can never catch up,” the Tortoise concluded sympathetically.

“You are right, as always,” said Achilles sadly—and conceded the race.

Zeno’s Paradox may be rephrased as follows. Suppose I wish to cross the room. First, of course, I must cover half the distance. Then, I must cover half the remaining distance. Then, I must cover half the remaining distance. Then I must cover half the remaining distance…and so on forever. The consequence is that I can never get to the other side of the room.

What this actually does is to make all motion impossible, for before I can cover half the distance I must cover half of half the distance, and before I can do that I must cover half of half of half of the distance, and so on, so that in reality I can never move any distance at all, because doing so involves moving an infinite number of small intermediate distances first.

Now, since motion obviously is possible, the question arises, what is wrong with Zeno? What is the "flaw in the logic?" If you are giving the matter your full attention, it should begin to make you squirm a bit, for on its face the logic of the situation seems unassailable. You shouldn’t be able to cross the room, and the Tortoise should win the race! Yet we know better. Hmm.

Rather than tackle Zeno head-on, let us pause to notice something remarkable. Suppose we take Zeno’s Paradox at face value for the moment, and agree with him that before I can walk a mile I must first walk a half-mile. And before I can walk the remaining half-mile I must first cover half of it, that is, a quarter-mile, and then an eighth-mile, and then a sixteenth-mile, and then a thirty-secondth-mile, and so on. Well, suppose I could cover all these infinite number of small distances, how far should I have walked? One mile! In other words,


At first this may seem impossible: adding up an infinite number of positive distances should give an infinite distance for the sum. But it doesn’t—in this case it gives a finite sum; indeed, all these distances add up to 1! A little reflection will reveal that this isn’t so strange after all: if I can divide up a finite distance into an infinite number of small distances, then adding all those distances together should just give me back the finite distance I started with. (An infinite sum such as the one above is known in mathematics as an infinite series, and when such a sum adds up to a finite number we say that the series is summable.)

Now the resolution to Zeno’s Paradox is easy. Obviously, it will take me some fixed time to cross half the distance to the other side of the room, say 2 seconds. How long will it take to cross half the remaining distance? Half as long—only 1 second. Covering half of the remaining distance (an eighth of the total) will take only half a second. And so one. And once I have covered all the infinitely many sub-distances and added up all the time it took to traverse them? Only 4 seconds, and here I am, on the other side of the room after all.

And poor old Achilles would have won his race.



There is only being and it is being itself - one, unchangeable, unmoving, immutable and timeless. Everything else is an illusion.



8)Is total flux chaotic? Explain the nature of change in the system of Heraclitus

· Heraclitus teaches that all things are flux or change; contrary to what sense data might indicate at times, nothing is permanent, but everything is constantly becoming something else or going out of existence.

Heraclitus uses the river as a metaphor to describe the nature of all things: superficially a river may appear to be a permanent and stable entity, but closer inspection reveals that it continually changes, not being the same river from one moment to the next.

You could not step twice into the same river, for other waters are ever flowing on to you. everything is in state of flux.


All things come out of the One and One out of all things. I see nothing but becoming. river in which your bathe second time is no longer the same river which you've entered before.


The endless and restless proccess of becoming may seem to be chaotic . But things are not what they seem - according to Heraclitus it makes sense for nature , as well as man governed by LOGOS.

Logos- Greek term meaning varously "word" "reason" "speech". A central concept in ancient greek philosophy and later religious thought.

Logos usually refers in some way to a power that brings the world into the order. Heraclitus, one of the first to use that term, associated logos, the active creative principle, ever moving or changing with the Element of Fire.


Define dialectic

· dialectic –from the Greek word “discourse”

originally the method of philosophical inquiry perfected by Socrates, later developed as the basis of the philosophies of Hegel and Marx. In all cases, dialectic works through contradiction.


10)Virtue in Greek philosophy. Explain the meaning of knowledge in Socrate’s ethics

· The highest state is arête (virtue) or excellence, a moral knowledge that sees clearly the best course of action in any situation.

· The way to arête is self-knowledge; as Socrates says in the Apology, “The unexamined life is not worth of living”.

· Socrates’ supposed impiety was based on his perception that the gods of mythology no longer provided the basis of a viable ethic; instead a morality based on knowledge was necessary.

Eutyphro is almost entirely devoted to that topic


Socrates is widely known as the father or the founder of ethics and definition .


For Socrates knowledge and virtue were identical.

virtue is a central notion of the ancient Greek ethics, for the critical ethical question than was how to be a good man, that is a man, who has been able to master certain virtues such as fortitude or jusitce.

According to Socrates, when one has knowledge, one acts wisely and thus virtuously. evil acts are only comitted from ignorance.

11) Explain “Eutyfro dilemma”

The ancient Greek philosopher Euthyphro developed a theory of moral correctness stating that, “what is pleasing to the gods is holy, and what is not pleasing to them is unholy.” In other words, “what God approves of is morally right, and what God disapproves of is morally wrong.” This form of thought, known as the Divine Command Theory, is perhaps among the most basic of theories relating morality and religion.


12) Plato’s theory of ideas: ideas and sensual objects – differences and similarities

In Plato's theory of ideas, Plato sought to resolve a problem that vexed a Greek mind, opposition between being and becoming.

He said that the world we experience, the world of change, the world of sense experience and impressions is only an imperfect outcropping, a shadow of the pristine, unchanging, universal world of forms, that is world of Ideas. That world, not this, is a real world. it contains the ideal forms of everything. The world of ideas is eternal, the world of sensual objects is temporary and illusory.

· A beatiful rose we admire is merely a flawed approximation of the ideal rose and of the ideal standard of beauty – an illusion in fact.

This illusion (which according to Plato is only a reflection of the real thing, that is the idea) “participates” only partially in its ideal form. Hence there are thousands and thousnads of roses which are different but somehow alike, yet there is only one ideal that is the ideal rose and all the roses in the world (past, present and future) participate in the one ideal

individual objects take on the characters of the Forms (Ideas)



13)Plato’s theory of ideas: the conception of participation

· This illusion (which according to Plato is only a reflection of the real thing, that is the idea) “participates” only partially in its ideal form. Hence there are thousands and thousnads of roses which are different but somehow alike, yet there is only one ideal that is the ideal rose and all the roses in the world (past, present and future) participate in the one ideal


· individual objects take on the characters of the Forms (Ideas)


14)Plato’s theory of ideas: the allegory of the cave


Plato's theory of knowledge, is exemplified by the allegory of the cave describes by Socrates. We are asked to imagine a group of people chained from birth inside the cave. All they call see is the wall in front of them and the flickering shadows are reality, even though they are merely illusions or imperfect copies of the real objects that exist outside the cave.

Our world is like this cave. We humans are shackled by our ignorance of the true nature of reality, which for Plato consists in his ideal forms. If we wish to see the world aright we must struggle out of the cave into the sunligh. IT will at first dazzle and blind us but if we are strong enough we will begin to see the real world instead of shadows. only the philosopher who is carefully educated as well as thoughtful and persistent will be able to attain anything close to this true knowledge. the rest will be content to stay in the cave and watch the shadows dance.


15)Plato’s theory of ideas: the ideal state

The Republic shows disillusionment not only with democratic Athens, but with political human nature; Plato believes there is a right science of human government, “a kingly science” which includes the whole art of living. Plato as well as his disciple Aristotle, believed that it is possible to avoid the conflict between individual and community. He was also convinced that there is no such conflict in a state which is designed and ruled in the right way.

Plato assume that the full development of personality coincides with the common good.

In other words: what’s good for me is good for the state but at the same time what’s good for the state is good for me.

Plato was convinced that the kingly science could be known and he was determined to construct a right science of politics of geometrical precision. The authority which he gives to his “guardians” and which he would assign to his philosopher king is given because they are experts; they stand in relation to the rest of the citizens as the physician to a patient; they know, and have a right to power. Hence the ruthlessness of Plato’s thought.


A very small band, he writes, is left of those who worthily associate with philosophy… those who have become members of it and can taste the blessedness of this prize can all discern the madness of the many and the almost universal rottenness of all political action. The philosopher is like a man in a den of wild beasts” (VI, 496)”

Only a small minority have any insight into government, and Plato compares the philosophic ruler to an artist. “A city will never know happiness unless its draftsmen who have the pattern of the divine. They must paint on a ‘clean canvas’. They will look at natural justice and beauty and temperance (self-control) and produce a human copy after their likeness of true manhood” (VI, 501)


16)Aristotle: syllogisms


Aristotle's logic was founded on the syllogism, in which given two premises a certain conclusion necessarily follows, for instance:

"All trees are made of wood, an oak is a tree, all oaks are made of wood (A is B, B is C, C is A )


17)Hylomorphism: substance and its components

In general matter is closely connected to potential or power; a potential or power to become some particular sort of things. Only by giving it form can it make actual. This portion Aristotle's metaphysics is called hylomorphism, because it is a claim that all objects are a combination of matter and form.

· Aristotle believed that his hylomorphic theory answered the problem of change posed by Parmenides.

· Parmenides believed change to be impossible because it implies that something passes into nothing, and something else passes out of nothing. Since the "nothing" was thought not to exist, Parmenides concluded that all change is impossible.

· Aristotle's reply is that the basic matter remains the same underneath all change. Only new forms are put in the place of old forms. For example, a block of stone becomes a statue of Pericles because the block-form is removed and replaced with a Pericles-form by the sculptor.




19)Aristotle: the theory of virtue (Golden Mean)

Aristotle ethics were rooted in his identification of reason as the prime human faculty and virtue as the highest root.

Therefore the virtue is the best man can achieve - it is the best proof of his rationality and moral integrity and it is what makes him happy, but not in the sense of simply being satisfied. When aristotle says happy, in this context he means "fulfilled as a human being" .

But how can we be sure what is the best for us that is , what is virtuous?

the answer to this one of Aristotle brightest ideas and it is known as the famous principle of the Golden Mean.

virtue, informed by reason lies in the middle between two extremes that is two opposite vices, one of excess and the other is deficiency.

For example : what does it mean to be brave, what is courage as a virtue- it lies right in the middle between cowardice and recklessness: being a coward is not enough, being a reckless person, showing too much courage is not only unnecessary but also too much.

Gentleness lies right in the middle between submission and quick temper(hastiness)

20)Aristotle: what does it mean to be a political animal?

No doubt Aristotle is the most influential political thinker of all times. Off all books on the subject, that is on political thought, his politics in the view of the present writer is the most influential and the most profound.

· At the very begging of his book Aristotle makes his famous definition that man is “a political animal”.

By the gift of speech and sense of moral values, man is distinguished from the other animals. The solitary man is “either a beast or a god”;



21)The existence of God: ontological argument as formulated by St. Anselm


The ontological argument runs as follows:

we understand by God a being greater than which nothing can be thought. This idea clearly exists in our minds: it is the idea of a being endowed with every positive attribute and every perfection (God is conceived in all sides as timeless, immutable, omnipotent, omniscient, supremely good and supremely just).

But if the object of this idea were to exist solely in our mind, and not in reality, there would be an idea of something superior to it , namely of the being that possessed not only all the perfections already conceived, but also the additional perfection of real existence( if we confront the idea of most perfect being that does not exist and the most perfect idea that does exist, we must agree that the idea of being that exists is greater that than idea that does not exist.


23)The existence of God: Pascal’s wager

Pascal simply stated that we do not have to proove the existence of God (since it is impossible within the framework of reason) – we can make a bet instead.

Pascal’s wager is an argument for belief in Godbased on probability theory

Pascal proposed that to believe in God or not constitutes a wager that he exists or does not exist. Being alive and human we cannot avoid making a bet on one side or the other.

If God exists then to believe in him is to receive eternal life, while to deny him is to suffer damnation. If he does not exist, than to either receive or refuse him is to lose nothing. Hence, the wise gambler will choose to accept God, since to win the wager is to win all, and to lose is to lose nothing.

24: Theodicy: how to explain suffering and injustice?

· The term theodicy was introduced by a German XVII century philosopher Gottfreid Wilhelm Leibniz.

· The word theodicy derives from Greek (theos – god, dike – justice) and can be translated as the God’s justice.

· Theodicy is a vindication of the divine attributes, particularly holiness and justice, in establishing or allowing the existence of physical and moral evil

Even if we find the existence of God believeable or we just believe in Him, or we think it is problabe that he exists, there is one more problem to be confronted, namely the problem of theodicy.

In other words, very often we are troubled by the same old question:If God is good and just why the world he had created is so full of evil and suffering?

Many empirical data, for example the experience of injustice and violance may contradict the idea of an almighty and just God.

Why has the God allowed Holocaust. would a perfectly good and just do that?

Theodicies usually claim that evil and suffering are a necessary condition for the achievement of God's greater plan that is even greater God.



25)Descartes: the Cartesian method – its main assumptions and functions

Descartes began from the premise “Doubt everything” – for, as he used to say, Descartes therefore intended, as many others, to make philosophy a science and as he was a very good mathematician himself he took the pattern of mathematics to create his famous new method

The Cartesian method had four primary rules:

· accept as as true only what is clear and insusceptible of doubt

· divide every problem into as very parts as necessary

· consider each part clearly and completely, building by accretion to knowledge as the whole

· omit nothing of consideration that might be a source of error

in other words: accept only what is clear and evident.

Date: 2015-12-17; view: 3640

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Find information about the latest multinational space missions and speak about them. | Largely because of this method which stressed how we know what we know rather than what it is possible to know modern philosophy is often said to have begun with Descartes.
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