Деконструируя досократиков. Рецензия на книгу: Laks, André. The Concept of Presocratic Philosophy: Its Origin, Development, and Significance. Translated by Glenn W. Most. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018.
The chapter presents an analiticall review of the evidence on Thales' contribution to philosophy, astronomy and geometry as well as a critical review of scholarly interpretations of his achievement and legacy.
This text is a Russian translation of Hermann Diels’s Introduction to his edition of Parmenides’ poem (Diels, Hermann. Parmenides: Lehrgedicht. Mit einem Anhang über Griechische Thüren und Schlösser. Berlin, 1897. S. 3–27). First, Diels claims (against earlier critics) that Parmenides is a poor poet, and so the editors strive in vain to make his poem look artistically impeccable. If so, and the artistic design of the proem is alien to Parmenides, then we are justified in looking for precedents of this form in the previous tradition: Homer, Hesiod, orphics and what Diels calls “shamanistic” epic. This latter suggestion is then elaborated at length. In conclusion, Diels explains why he did not “normalize” the transmitted text according to the Homeric dialect.
According to a standard idea of Greek science and philosophy, the shape of the sun is spherical. Such an idea appears already in Aristotle who offers, however, no good account for it, and only Stobaeus cites an authority, or rather collective authority, the Pythagoreans, for an early recognition of the idea in question. The ancient tradition left no direct evidence of how the sphericity of the sun was recognized, and the issue attracted very little attention in modern scholarship. I propose that in the late sixth century new empirical knowledge about the sun reached the Aegean. Some people who crossed the northern tropic repeatedly observed the sun from its ‘other’ side, for in the height of the summer an observer located south of the northern tropic saw the midday sun in the north. This made impossible Anaximander’s idea of the sun as a body containing fire and having one aperture and triggered a search for a better version. Since the sun invariably displayed a circular outline at any time, at any place and on all sides of the horizon, one had to consider the possibility that its shape was either spherical or ‘bowl-like’. The study of lunar light that led to the discovery of the sphericity of the moon was also helpful. The doctrine of a spherical sun was firmly established by the consensus of professional astronomers rather than due to an initiative by an outstanding thinker; however, one may think that Parmenides contributed to it. A spherical sun cannot be a sphere of fire – without a container, fire would have dispersed. This problem brought about a number of theories that treated the sun as a kind of mirror, etc. Further, a spherical sun that issues a reflected light was recognized to have been a solid and hence a heavy body, which contributed to approaching the spheres of the Sun, Moon and Earth in a similar way and making the Earth a planet.
The question of the “beginnings” of philosophy in Greece is inseparable from that of the nature of philosophy itself and its relation to wisdom, science, and even religion. When it comes to the so-called “Presocratics”, a clear demarcation of these notions is not possible. M.M. Sassi depicts the multidimensional process of knowledge differentiation, doing justice to its complexity and non-linear character. However, the reviewer believes that this task is somewhat hindered by the author’s reliance on Aristotle’s doxography. For instance, although the reviewer agrees with Sassi’s construal of Metaph. Α.3, 984a1-3, it is argued that this passage is not a sufficient ground for naming Thales “the father of philosophy” alongside Aristotle. Of course, whether we do so or not depends on whether we decide to apply the anachronistic term “philosophy” to the early Greek thinkers, which many scholars now believe we are justified in doing. It is argued, however, that such a move inevitably leads to an aprioristic definition of philosophy in terms of either “rationalism” or “naturalism” (or both). Within such a perspective, other aspects of the early Greek thought, even if expertly and benevolently presented by Sassi in connection with Parmenides and Empedocles, turn out to be philosophically irrelevant.
Empedocles is one of the main representatives of Early Greek philosophy in Magna Graecia, as well as Parmenides. While speaking about the early period of the history of Greek philosophy we must make a strict division between the Western tradition and the other ones (for instance, Milesian school). One of the grounds for this division is the language of Greek epic as a form of expression of philosophical doctrines. The poems of Parmenides and Empedocles may be considered as a part of Early Greek epic tradition. There is no strict terminology in the philosophical poetry of Empedocles, sometimes he uses poetical images in order to describe the world physical processes. That is why the main aim of the research of the Empedocles’ language is to analyze his word usage and his style in each fragment.