A Flummox of Philosophers: #2 The Presocratics

An ongoing series of short posts about schools of philosophy and individual thinkers through the ages. Some of them I briefly studied during my psychology degree, others I have considered more recently in retirement and old age. This is NOT a rigorous or academic treatise ….. but it might make you think! And remember, philosophy needs comment ….. not merely “like”! And why not help a fellow blogger by reblogging this post as a guest blog on your own site, just press the Reblog button below and write your own introduction.

2. The Presocratics

A short post but about the original philosophers who influenced Western philosophy greatly. Simply, the school of philosophy BEFORE Socrates and from around 600BC with a focus on external “things” that needed explaining in ways that were not mythological or created by “the will of the gods”. The keyword here is external.

Amongst this group of Philosophers was Thales of Miletus who declared that “water is the basis of all things” followed later by Anaximenes who declared that air not water was the base, stating it was modified, by thickening and thinning, into fire, wind, clouds, water, and earth. Pythagoras is also a Presocratic and as the whole planet knows pondered the philosophy of triangles (!) but more seriously, had a focus on mathematics. A fourth Presocratic is Heraclitus who believed that fire was the primary elemental force rather than water or air, and that everything was in a state of flux, constantly changing and that nothing was permanent. This assertion about impermanence is a feature of Buddhist thinking too and many thought Heraclitus a mystic with the Stoics calling him a “riddler”!

The lasting legacy of the philosophers from this period however can be attributed to Thales; it was his critical reasoning and methodology applied to the natural world that was later picked up by Socrates and applied to the world of individual and human behaviour. This certainly influenced my own learning and education as I made a career change from scientist to psychologist in the 1980s and took my critical reasoning skills from natural science into the arena of organisational psychology and eventually the corporate world.

Next up, The Academics ….. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle ….

Previous posts in this series:

A Flummox of Philosophers: #1 Philosophy Through The Ages

Categories: Philosophy & Psychology

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14 replies

  1. Here’s a link to get you going https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Paper_Chase_(TV_series)
    The professor uses the method of Socrates when he says to the law students “you will teach yourselves about the law, I will teach you how to think about the law” as all of his lectures are questioning sessions. Just like Socrates


  2. So…do tell, which career did you feel the most content in? “I made a career change from scientist to psychologist in the 1980s and took my critical reasoning skills from natural science into the arena of organisational psychology and eventually the corporate world.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Without a doubt, as a psychologist. I could talk with people rather than staring at test tubes all day. 😂 Though seriously, I travelled the world with it, influenced large corporations with it, and ….. made a fortune. My daughter now works for GE, spends lots of time in New York and is mirroring my own career. Everyone goes glassy eyed when we start talking business over a glass of wine together. But ….. my science education at such a high level made me a VERY different psychologist. My next philosophy post on Monday will reveal how I benefited from Socrates and Aristotle. In advance, check out a movie and tv series about Harvard Law students called The Paperchase.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Somewhere about the house I have an old textbook from University days on the history of western philosophy, I shall have to go and look for it now!

    Liked by 1 person


  1. A Flummox of Philosophers: #3 The Academics – Tales From Mindful Travels

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