Dr. Ari Santas'

Presocratics Exercise

 

Background: The work of Plato and Aristotle drew on the theories and debates on those who came before them. In the tradition, they were called the "philosophers"[1] (literally, lovers/pursuers of wisdom). Today they are called "Presocratic Philosophers" because they were before Socrates, and he marks a significant development in the history of the enterprise. The following exercise is designed to get the uninitiated into the spirit of what they were up to.

 

A. Using only your own observations and reasonings about them (i.e., without using any body of scientific tradition), give an account which explains each of the following cycles:

 

1.   Day/Night

2.   Spring/Summer/Fall/Winter

3.   Life/ Death

 

Provide illustrations (draw a picture).

 

B. Using only your own observations of events in the world, human actions and interactions, and your reasonings about them (i.e., without using any moral or religious tradition), answer the following questions:

 

1.   Why do bad things happen to bad people?

2.   Why do bad things happen to good people?

3.   Why do good things happen to good people?

4.   Why do good things happen to bad people?

 

C. Combine with other group(s) and create a single model to account for both A and B and present to the class.  Use the board for your illustrations.

 

Out of Class Follow-Up Exercise (for make-up)

Now look up some of the Pre-Socratic Philosophers and explain

 

1.    Their divergence from mythological explanations

2.    their preoccupation with fundamental principles (the archē)

3.    their tendency to criticize (sometimes ferociously) their fellow inquirers

 



[1] 'Philosophy' derives from the Greek 'Φιλοσοφία.'