Being all deep and stuff: The Pluralists

posted by Dr. James G. Hood
Friday, May 28, 2010

Anaxagoras offers a more scientific metaphysical explanation of the universe than his predecessors, which could be considered progressive. Anaxagoras, however, seeks to explain the nature of things in abstract terms, and by doing so he experiences the same problem that past thinkers and future thinkers still try to address. The problem comes with Anaxagoras’ conception of the Mind. The Mind seems to be an organizing principle or god-like entity that is unlimited and stands alone. The Mind literally set things into motion, so that the combined elements rotated and eventually spun out becoming individual elements. Paramenides would clearly find fault with the Mind because the Mind cannot be observed, and Anaxagoras does not provide sufficient reasons to explain away that problem. Furthermore, Anaxagoras seems to be conceptualizing a Cartesian-esque world view that encompasses both the physical world and the ethereal world. Like Descartes who tried to claim that the pineal gland somehow manages this extraordinary phenomenon, Anaxagoras does not provide sufficient reasoning that explains how two different dimensions of existence could interact.

            Empedocles provides a metaphysical conception of the universe that describes the basic elements of the universe that combine and are torn apart by the respective forces of Love and Strife. Besides later inspiring a righteous Captain Planet cartoon, Empedocles’ work brings new moral issues to focus. In fragment 62, Empedocles discusses a concept similar to the concept of reincarnation. According to this idea, anyone that commits murder will experience “difficult paths” throughout many lifetimes. Later in fragment 66, Empedocles states explicitly: “Fast from evil”. In this way, Empedocles has taken a progressive step in philosophy by expanding the metaphysical and epistemological discussion to include issues of morality.

 Works Cited

Cohen, S. Marc., Patricia Curd, and C. Reeve. Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy: from Thales to Aristotle. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Pub., 2005. Print.


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