Pre-Socratic: The Origins of Western Philosophy

The roots of Western philosophy can be found in the work of Greek philosophers during the fifth and sixth centuries. These philosophers, later referred to as pre-Socratic, started to question the world around them. Rather than attributing their surroundings to the Greek gods, these philosophers searched for more rational explanations that could explain the world. the universe, and their existence.

This was a philosophy of nature. Pre-Socratic philosophers questioned where everything came from. When everything was created from, how nature could be described mathematically, and how one could explain the existence of plurality in nature. They sought to find a primary principle, known as arch& which was the basic material of the universe. Due to the fact that not everything in the universe looks the same or remains in the same exact state, pre-Socratic philosophers determined that there must be principles of change that the write contained.

The term pre-Socratic, meaning “before Socrates,” was popularized in 1903 by German scholar Hermann Did, Socrates was actually alive during the same time as many of the pre-Socratic philosophers, and therefore the term does not imply that these philosophies existed prior to those of Socrates. Rather, the term pre-Socratic relates to the difference in ideology and principles. While many pre-Socratic philosophers produced texts, none have fully survived and most of what we understand about the pre-Socratic philosophers is based on the fragments of text that remain and the quotes of later historians and philosophers which were usually biased.