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Introduction to early philosophy

Updated on September 9, 2012
Lisawilliamsj profile image

Lisa is a substitute teacher who studies English Literature. She lives to write and is following her dream of becoming a professor.


Pre-Socratic Philosophy

The Pre-Socratic philosopher who this writer finds the most compelling is Empedocles. He was so brilliant that he declared himself a God and people believed him. His philosophy on reality, which combines the philosophies of Parmenides and Heraclitus, makes quite a bit of sense.

Parmenides believed that reality was unable to change or it would no longer be reality. Heraclitus believed that reality was ever-changing.

Empedocles believed that the objects of reality change however, the particles that these objects are made up of do not change. He believed that the particles in which the objects are made of consist of, earth, wind, fire and/or water. He then goes on to assert that the reason these particles change is due to a sort of Yin and yang type force i.e. Love versus strife.

A practical example of Empedocles idea would be something as simple as ice. When ice is frozen it is a solid however when the ice gets warm it turns into a liquid form. In either of these forms the ice is still made of water. However, due to two opposite forces, cold (love) and hot (strife), the particle water has become two different objects….a solid as well as a liquid.


Socrates possessed a love of knowledge that ran so deep that when told by the Delphi oracle that he was the wisest of people he felt compelled to search for someone wiser. This action condemned Socrates to his death. As he met other people whom he believed held infinite wisdom he was disappointed to find out that they were mostly full of hot air. Since he felt as if the was on a mission from God he, was compelled to let these scholars know that they were not as knowledgeable as they thought they were, this created many enemies. Socrates was the creator of the dialectic method of obtaining knowledge; this was basically finding faults in a statement until no more faults can be found. He believed only then could the truth be found.


Plato‘s logic was that objects exist only in forms. Examples of these forms would be beauty, or roundness. His belief was that without these forms an object would not exist. Plato created a two realm concept that was illustrated by a story about a cave. In this cave some prisoners were bound and the wall in front of them was their own visualization. A fire roared behind them and they were only able to see shadows. In these prisoners mind the shadows were the conceived objects. When a prisoner escaped he realized the vast difference in the world as he perceived it and as the world as it really was. In addition, Plato believed that love is the process of seeking higher being and once the highest stage of love is met one may be able to possess absolute beauty.


Aristotle believed that the essence of being, relied on the combination of matter and form. For example a table would be composed of wood and matter. Aristotle was the first person to theorize that an objects existence is only a first step. One must go on to ask about an objects substance and characteristics. Aristotle held the belief that humans have three souls; the vegetative soul, the animal soul, and the nous. The vegetative soul is the source of reproduction as well as nourishment. The animal soul controls feeling pain and love. Finally, the nous soul is the intelligent soul connecting one to the spirits.

In conclusion, all four of these philosophers were brilliants men, and all had similar knowledge. All four men had a deep love of knowledge and Plato actually believed that love played a major role in finding the ultimate goal. Logic started by Socrates only grew and flourished with his pupils. Existence in each of these peoples mind consist of objects and matter in one way or another. When one examines these four philosophers they see brilliance nurturing brilliance, the search of knowledge at its finest. Unfortunately, in Socrates case the search of knowledge with the cost of his life.


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    • Lisawilliamsj profile image

      Lisa Chronister 5 years ago from Florida

      Tolstoytherapy, Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment!

    • tolstoytherapy profile image

      Lucy 5 years ago

      This was really useful and easy to follow - thank you for sharing!

    • Lisawilliamsj profile image

      Lisa Chronister 5 years ago from Florida

      Thank you again!! you are always so kind =)

    • CrazedNovelist profile image

      A.E. Williams 5 years ago from Hampton, GA

      Thanks for sharing this Lisa! It's definitely news to me. Nice to read your work and look forward to seeing you around the hubs. :)

    • Lisawilliamsj profile image

      Lisa Chronister 5 years ago from Florida

      Mama Kim, Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting, and for voting!!

    • Lisawilliamsj profile image

      Lisa Chronister 5 years ago from Florida

      Whonunuwho, Thank you for your kind comment!

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 5 years ago

      I love how you gave a quick overview of the biggest three. Very interesting hub! Voted a bunch!

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 5 years ago from United States

      A very interesting written presentation of the great philosophers and what each believed. After refreshing my mind in your work and years spent in colleges, I remember how my own theories and philosophy was much alike as these and of how in their times they were able to conceive of the subjects and concepts that they so revealed. Thank you for this fine work and please write more.