7. Sophism: Praktiké-Theoretiké, Práxis-Theoría

 

 

Towards the Sophists, the Professors of Wisdom

There exists an immense, quintexistential difference between sophistry and sophism, between a lecturer or a professor per se and a professor of philosophy in spe; but, still wider is the transcendental gap, if it concerns a true, real philosopher in res. Furthermore, a mainly descriptive, encyclopaedic, global text-book delineating the "history of philosophy", for conscientious students, is a "good" thing, nonetheless, it is another case to write the "Phenomenology of the Mind", to rewrite it, revise it over and over again, that is, if a self-thinking philosopher -- liberated from all the "rights" and "wrongs" of academic "correctness" -- her/himself illuminates the transhistory of human wisdom.

The most difficult thing for a philosopher is to think, is to philosophize. The most arduous thing for a reader, via language, is to study philosophic works, when, like in Ancient Sparta, (s)he never ever was taught to think, to reason; in Ancient Periclean Athens, that had produced only two philosophers of high class, Socrates and Plato -- and worse, giving him the benefit of doubt, it is not even scientifically certain that Socrates really ever had lived --, this ontic democratic gift, endowed by Minerva, was mainly reserved for double-standard male "citizens" and their admirable, precious "sweetwomen".

Nowadays, in this information age of intellectual inflation, where every nincompoop, foot-baller, film star, president or CEO has a "philosophy"; more than ever before, very seldom a professor of philosophy is a philosopher in veritas -- just imagine a shoe-maker who never by himself has produced a single shoe, but who gives artisanal classes in professional shoe-making, and we have hundreds of thousands of such professional entrepeneur-professors, whose manuals sell like hot do'nuts -- simply because it is imperative for controlled intellectual labour production, for socialization and education, that (s)he does not have an independent philosophy of her/his own.

Very few still know what is philosophy, who is a philosopher. As we have seen already, ab ovo, a philosopher is a praxical thinker, a thinking praxician, a theoretical teacher, a social historian, a lover of truth, knowledge, wisdom and emancipation, favourably endowed with philía and sophía, thus, a philósophos par excellence, all in one, and one in all. What (s)he does, thinks and says is not petrified in putrefied, empiricist, positivist "facts"; they all always renew themselves, because the philosopher, her/his natural environment, her/his social panorama and her/his patrian-historic context always change, are in motion, are all transhistorically inter-twined, inter-related.

Many excellent patrian philosophers, like Aristotle or Kant, preferred to teach their own philosophy only to those few pupils who had a real interest in thinking and thought at all. Hegel complained that none of his pupils, except one, had understood his philosophy, and that this one, Schopenhauer, had completely misunderstood him. Without knowing the philosophy and logical method of any transhistoric thinker, for example, of Hegel, it is completely impossible to understand any of his works.

Similarly, if one cannot think, does not think, never ever has learned to think, then it is completely nonsensical to read Plato, Aristotle, Averroes, Avicenna, Descartes, Leibniz, Kant, Hegel or Bloch. Imagine how many thousands of millions of philosophy (or social science) students are really completely overtaxed and overstrained in all global universities, not even to mention those in or coming from the so-called "under-developed" countries, who, for example, are still enjoying Bantu Education or are being taught Bantu Philosophy or Negritude.

In that case, it is far more practical to read Fukuyama, the Holy Bible, the Koran, the horoscope, the daily newspaper, or the eminent works of any official, popular, world-renowned, erudite, modern demagogue, ideologue or think-tank, who, as pragmatists, positivists or empiricists, always have the social order and privilege to affirm and confirm the reigning global system and to "inform" the "demos" about the status quo, about the establishment, about the world order. In this case, one simply agrees with everything, says: Yes and Amen.

The exceptions that prove the "golden" rule are precisely the philosophers that we are talking about here. Nonetheless, in the good, old "Presocratic" days, nearly all professors of philosophy, even most Sophists, were still philosophers themselves. Now, as usual, we will continue to express plain praxical things in a simple, concrete way, complex theoretical thoughts in a complicated ontic manner, and opaque emancipatory processes in their corresponding vague, crimson-gold, fiery, auroralike contours. Mixing up these methods will just lead to scientific confusion and philosophic frustration.

To understand philosophy you must be able to think, to theorize, to philosophize, that is, you must be a philosopher yourself, no matter on which degree of intellectual reflection you may find yourself, that is, on which degree of real, true thinking you are desperately struggling along. Of course, thinking and thought are real nightmares for factory-made morons or zombies -- although they could never be blamed for their blissful ignorance --, that never would ever know what really happened to them on earth.

And, surely, as many magnificent thinkers like Proudhon, Weitling, Einstein or Bloch could witness, kindergarten, schools and universities are not exactly the most appropriate social institutions to teach one how to think, how to reason, how to excel, how to emancipate oneself. You may enter with a healthy, young mind and with fiery stamina, but, generally, you may graduate summa cum laude, but remain maimed, damaged, brainless and spineless for the rest of your life.

 

Ancient Greek Education

Knowledge about everyday life in Ancient Greece cannot be acquired by just studying the complex writings of the early philosophers; au contraire, most citizens were mainly occupied with more down-to-earth issues and problems; they communicated with less awesome gods, who were endowed with typical human vices, emotions, joys and sorrows. These divinities presented aspects of the physical surroundings, the sun, moon, stars and the sea. Not having been dominated by a ruling priesthood, the common folks simply sought for solace in ordinary, everyday things. They did not bother about searching for the arché or even for the Ark of Noah. Hence, the aim of official education, like elsewhere in Hellas, was to prepare the child for future adult activities in her/his specific city-state.

Just like America is the best for all true Americans, so Athens was the "aristos" for its polis-citizens; however, elsewhere, the other poleis highly admired Sparta, simply because, like Corporate America, Sparta was tough, strong, bellicose and belligerent, a real typical authoritarian military-state, like the majority of ruling states that were born in patrian history; it educated soldier-citizens, and thus produced the appropriate teachers, who had to create a well-drilled, highly-disciplined marching "Prussian" army. In self-denial, every citizen, male or female, had to have "flex appeal", had to do regularly her/his daily physical exercises, was required to have a perfect, muscular body. On the other hand, also like in contemporary America, in the supposedly "democratic" Athens, the goal of education was to produce citizens well-trained in the arts, sciences and humanities of both peace and war. In this case, really "war was the father of all things".

Already then, the fascist law -- only the fittest survive -- ruled in Sparta; whenever a baby was born, the soldiers came to check its "fitness"; if it was weak or sickly, then, they simply grabbed it away from its mother, dropped it somewhere on a hillside to die; some lucky, weak ones were taken to be trained as helots or slaves. Really, ab ovo, sonorous "Western Civilization" cared about life, cared for human life; and then, cynically the eminent, idealist philosophers in their classic works would permanently speak highly about human morals and virtues. Of course, in Sparta, the strong babies, especially the boys, -- at the age of seven -- were assigned to some local fraternity to be equally and freely trained for their future master or servant roles in society.

In education, the arts, literature, reading or writing were not imperative, only warfare mattered; however, for military reasons, music and dancing were fostered. The youngsters were taught all the tricks and vices of politics, how to become perfect statesmen, for example, they were taught how to tell lies to the masses, how to steal food as long as they did not get caught stealing. Only in Sparta, girls also received a similar military training; they learned to run, throw the javelin and discus, even to wrestle and to be able to strangle a bull. At 20, male youths joined the state militia, where they served until the age of 60. Around the age of 20, Spartan males had to pass a military and leadership fitness test to become ruling class citizens; those who failed fell into the perioikos, into the business, property-owning middle class; void of political rights and citizenship.

In Athens exactly the opposite happened; for boys and girls things happened more in a "go-lucky" style. There, generally girls, the later house-wives, received domestic education; as explained in the previous chapter, the most educated women, who received special education, were the hetaerae, the courtesans, the concubines of the upper class sexmaniacs, of the wealthy "great men". The boys did some military training, but also learned to play the lyre, to sing, to read and write; however, literature, especially studying the epic poems of Homer and Hesiod, was at the centre of their schooling. The wealthy ones received education under the tutelage of philosopher-teachers. Until 390 B. C., in a modern sense, there were practically no schools for higher education in Hellas; these came into existence around the time of Plato, Isocrates and Aristotle. And therewith, we arrive at the epoch of the philosophy teachers, of the era of Sophism.

In any case, in the superstructure, in education, labour, that is, physical, manual slave labour, was not reflected philosophically; at best, labourers or workers -- the slaves, who bore the brunt of Periclean wealth -- appeared as "speaking-tools" (Aristotle). However, especially in Athens, in the wealthy, slave-owning, democratic and aristocratic ruling upper classes, although not yet fully developed, and not yet considered as a quintessential philosophic concept, nonetheless, already the spores of future intellectual labour were already falling in fertile, patrian soil, in primitive Hellenic mainland and Croesusean colonial accumulation of capital.

 

Sophists: Teachers of Philosophy

Sophism gradually moved away from scientific-philosophic explanations of the world out-of-itself; its exponents concentrated themselves more in the realm of thinking, of thought itself, in noeín, nóesis and nóema. Thus a detrimental, alienating gulf between scientific praxis and philosophic theory progressively deepened; which at the same time reflected a crass contradiction between physical and intellectual labour -- the modern fatherland, the "Home, Sweet Home", the Heimat, the Patria, was in the making, in production. Within sophía, and therewith within philosophía, a dangerous contradiction developed, which even split up thinking and thought themselves.

Later we will note, how science itself within philosophy was ripped apart by Plato and Aristotle into praktiké and theoretiké, and "Western" man was destined to lead a formal-logical, schizophrenic, dualistic life -- thus acquiring the two Goethean conflicting souls in his breast --: a bíos praktikós and a bíos theoretikós.

Below, we will deal with the prominent figures of Sophism; as far as the fragmentary historical data allow us to elucidate the essence of this philosophic movement. In any case, as indicated in the previous chapter, in the Periclean Age, novarum rerum cupidus, inquisitive eros, was in the air; and the upper and middle classes of Hellenic Society, especially the youth, were yearning for paideía (education).

 

Sophistaí - Professors of Wisdom

Gorgias (or Georgias) of Leontinoi

Gorgias of Leontinoi (485 - 375 B. C.) was a pupil of the ancient Greek hylozoist, Empedocles (with whom we will deal in the next chapter); as wandering Sophist teacher, he gave various philosophic speeches in numerous Greek poleis. Very early he learned, in contradistinction to "crime", that "education" pays, pays very well. In a wealthy society, this was no problem at all; what was truly problematic was to be a poor helot, slaving for his master. Gorgias' favourite place of oratory remained Olympia itself; he was financially so successful, that with his grand remuneration he could erect a gorgeous, gold statue of himself in Delphi. Even this is not unusual; till today, "great men", also "professors" erect their "historic" Taj Mahal while still alive.

Professor Gorgias taught sophía as a famous sophistes, but this did not imply that he was a „wise man“ like Thales, or even like the „wisest“ of them all, Socrates. As paedagoge, he inculcated the minds of the aristocratic and democratic youth with that what they wanted to hear, to know; of course, only of those youngsters whose rich parents could afford to pay for an expensive education with the appropriate slave-owning ruling class bias. As we have seen before, in Gorgias’ own youth, Athenian democracy was still flourishing, and for its intellectual, creative and artistic production (yes, production - the process of labour, of work) the „Golden Age" necessitated excellent Sophist teachers.

However, Gorgias was not only a sophos, he was also a philósophos, and a tremendous one for all that. Very freely, he developed the art of contradiction-making; the dialektiké; also, he introduced cadence into prose for the first time. The creme de la creme flooded towards his classes, bringing with them their gold and silver coins, and soon he advanced as a prominent wealthy agogós (leader) of the Hellenic youth, and had no fear to be accused -- by the polis-guardians of "correct" paideía -- of asebeia, as had been the case of rebellious thinkers like Anaxagoras, Socrates, some hetaira, like Phryne, Protagoras or even Aristotle.

As mentioned elsewhere already, as philosopher, Gorgias developed his own ontology of Nothing, of which two versions are preserved. Its essence is contained in the threefold Negation of Being; it cannot be, it cannot be known, it cannot be mediated. Although he was attacked by all ancient and modern philosophers - idealists and materialists alike - including the Marxist philosopher, Ernst Bloch, as a "nihilist", yet, this was the first, if not only, serious philosophic attempt to surpass, to transcend the formal-logical barriers of a single, universal arché.

 

Antisthenes

Because of its "nihilistic" world out-look, Gorgean Sophism had a decisive influence on Cynicism, especially by way of a devoted disciple, Antisthenes (440 – 366 B. C.) who, in his mechanical naturalism, had taught that only individuals exist; in other words, that only non-relationality "exists" in earthly human life and production. It logically follows that an individual is a one, an atom, is not related to any other thing, it is in-itself, not in-and-for-itself.

But he identified this One, this Individual, this Being, with a material corporeal body and sustained that only a thing, identified, for example, by the sense of touch, is an étymon, a real phenomenon.

 

Lykophron

Lykophron continued the "nihilism" of his teacher, of Gorgias – about his personal life practically nothing is known. We learn from Plato, that, in 364 B. C., he had visited the Court of Dionysus II in Syracuse. The Gorgean Negation of Being he drove to such an extreme, that he refused to use the verb „to be“ in his works (Frag. 2, Diels, p. 127). He should have used "to be" for Cosmos, for Essence, "to exist" for Einai, for Existence, and "to excel", for Gorgias' Nothing, for Transcendence -- however, he was already on the transhistoric road to challenge the petrified concepts of patrian philosophy.

 

Prodicus of Keos

Prodicus of Keos (465 - 399? B. C.) was a contemporary of Protagoras, Democritus and Socrates. According to Plato (in Menon, Protagoras and Charmides), he was the teacher of Socrates, a Sophist, and was engaged in Hellenic ta politiká, acting as political adviser on Greek diplomatic missions. He became famous as a „professor of synonyms", and he defined the sophistaí as „hybrid forms between philosophers and politicians“ (Frag. 6). Those were the days when a politician, at least, still had a sound, true philosophic training.

 

Thrasymachus of Chalkedon

Another later Sophist, contemporary of Socrates, was Thrasymachus of Chalkedon (second half of the 5th Century B. C.). In 427 B. C., however, unfortunately, in his Daitaleis, Aristophanes began to ridicule him, to slander Sophism. Philosophically, Thrasymachus definitely introduced the concept of Power into State affairs:

„Justice is nothing else than the advantage of the powerful“ (Frag. 6a, Diels, p. 130).

Now we understand what Bush meant with the "infinite justice" of the present, powerful United States of America. One should just read one's classics consciously and conscientiously to understand any seemingly new concept of the "Information Age". Know thy Machiavelli, Hobbes, Orwell and Huxley, and there is nothing exceptionally more that ye needest to know about Globalization. There is nothing obsolete about these authors, au contraire, transhistorically, like it was the case of Plato and Aristotle, their starry hour is coming now. This is also the very reason why this "History of Wisdom" is being written now.

Q.E.D., Thrasymachus anticipated the Machiavellian principle: Might is Right. Hence „right“ (Law), the US "Patriot Act", is the advantage of the mightiful, of Corporate America; of course, teaching the ancient Greek upper class youth, this dialektiké turned out to be nothing less than ruling, slave-owning, democratic class ideology: in other words, the powerful Sophist was the one who masters the art of being mighty in rhetorics and demagoguery. This was already a sure symptom of how far away sophistry had deviated and degenerated from original sophía and philosophía, that were rooted in feminine, natural mythology; the perverted, social cancer was already taking its toll. It was also an indicator of what Hellenic pedagogics, the paideía of the ancient Greek pais (child) really meant; also of what the cradle of Western education would eventually produce.

 

Hippias of Elia

Hippias of Elia was another contemporary of Prodicus - a political adviser in state affairs of his home-polis. As far as academic pomp and money-accumulation were concerned, he drove Sophist education to another extreme, to produce wandering, "well-educated", encyclopaedic entrepeneurs with their corresponding followers, intellectual student-zombies, who knew everything, and left and right "disagreed" with everybody else, who did not belong to their eminent, erudite, academically "correct" clan.

Hippias himself was well-versed in Ancient Greek arts and sciences. He conscientiously studied Orpheus, Musaios, Hesiod, Homer and non-Hellenic works, and boasted that out of this enkýkios paideía, „I have extracted the best and most relevant“, and that he would soon publish „ a new, omniscient work (Frag. 6, Diels, p. 131); unfortunately for mankind, this book is lost, and we do not have any extant fragments of his héterodóxa.

 

Antiphon of Athens

Another contemporary of Hippias was his colleague, Antiphon of Athens, and, "believe" it or not, he was mainly a pre-Freudian dream-interpreter. This ancient psychologist, however, emphasized an existing contradiction between nómos (law, custom) and anánke, in the phýsis, in matter, in the Cosmos.

This he expounded in a large fragment (See: Diels, Frag. 44, pp. 133 - 135). He argued that only the laws of the phýsis, of Nature, exist; that human or divine morals are simply fake, are only ethical inhibitions. Of course, ruling class ideology was not exactly fascinated by such "reactionary" views.

Thus, according to him, all social, national and legal barriers should fall before the laws of the phýsis, of Nature. Besides, he wrote two books concerning this objective truth, of which some fragments are preserved. In them, he contrasts sense-perception and cognitive-perception, which reminds us of Heracleitus’ doctrine of the lógos, of Objective Truth.

 

Critias of Athens

Critias of Athens (460 - 403 B. C.), born of wealthy aristocratic parentage, and whose cousin was Plato’s mother, had a direct lineage to the “wise man“ of Athens, to Solon. Here we see that philosophy had become very aristocratic, very upper class; at least, it still was the "queen" of sciences. Critias was an extreme critical opponent of Athenian democracy and very Spartanic in his political outlook. Fragment 25 (Diels, pp. 143 - 144) contains the essence of his Sophist doctrine; it is an extant part of his satire on Sisyphus.

From it, we can gather that he was an arch-conservative, aristocratic statesman, but also a well-cultured writer, who saw sophistic education as a means to achieve political power. Here we note the goal of upper class education, and why the dregs and drones of society receive a special education for powerless, castrated barbarism. In short, Critias was a „layman among philosophers“, but, at the same time, a „philosopher among laymen“. His anti-poor attitude, his abhorrence for the masses, for the lower classes, is at best expressed by himself: „Not to live is better than to live in misery“, (Frag. 23, Diels, P. 143).

Similarly, our modern CEO's -- our Bill Gates -- would rather prefer to die, to commit hara-kiri, than to live in the favelas, barrios and ghettoes of this world; to avoid that, that's why we have a Third Millennium of permanent "New Wars". Nevertheless, he still had fiery lightning, he anticipated Ludwig Feuerbach, and like Epicurus later, he attacked religion, which according to him inculcates fear into men, to keep them law-abiding. Truly, from everybody one could learn something!

 

Protagoras of Abdera

Finally, let us consider the leader of the Sophist movement, Protagoras of Abdera (483 - 411? B. C.). From Democritus’ place of birth, he directed the great sceptic movement, which followed the great hylozoistic philosophic systems of the Greek colonial world, especially those which originated in Miletus, Ephesus, Elea and Abdera.

As we will see later, he formed the direct contradiction to Democritus, the ancient atomist. In 444 - 443 B. C., he prepared a code of laws for the city of Thurii. While engaged in his perpetual lecturing tours, several times he visited Athens, the seat of Hellenic arts. Of special philosophic interest to us is the heathen philosophic homocentrism which he has introduced in Greek philosophy.

Protagoras’ homo-mensura statement is well-known in philosophic circles: omnium rerum homo mensura est - man is the measure of all things(Frag. 1, Diels, p. 122). But, take note, especially the spiritually and religiously inclined, Protagoras was a Greek pagan, an atheist: „whether there are gods, and what they are, I cannot say“ (Frag. 4). Obviously, the dialectics in his homo-mensura statement denied absolute truth, consequently, later he was aggressively attacked by his idealist opponents, especially by Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.

Moreover, he directly referred to dialectics in things and in their subject matter:

„Concerning anything, there are two directly opposed opinions“, and, it is important „to make the weaker opinion to the stronger one.“ (Fragments 6a/6b).

Those that abhor dialectics, and who declare it as Marxist "gibberish" should really study the ancient philosophers of the cradle of Western Civilization; only then they could replace their arrogance and ignorance with knowledge and wisdom.

However, ever since, in spite of Protagoras' contribution to ancient dialectical materialism, in Sophism and Socratism, hylozoism was cooling down; therafter, thinking about the arché or about its material ousía (Essence) or to tí en eínai (Essence a n d Existence) played second fiddle in post-hylozoism -- except, of course, in ancient Greek atomism, from Leucippus to Democritus, and further to Epicurus and Lucretius; and, surely, except in Aristotle’s "leftist" doctrine of Form-Substance.

 

Lógos as Objective Truth

Heracleitus: Concerning Práxis a n d Theoría

Before terminating this chapter, let us return to Heracleitus’ conception of universal lógos, to see what is scientific práxis a n d philosophic theoría. The concept lógos had acquired various connotations in the scientific endeavours of Ancient Greece. Originally, it was based on legein, and meant „the spoken word“, on that what is actually stated. Idealism, ideology, as we will see later, took over this concept from grammar and concentrated on the „judgement“, which the spoken word suggests. (See: Plato, Soph., 261, C ff.). Of course, we can imagine who became the Judge of that "what was actually spoken or stated" -- nowadays it is either the Supreme Court of Justice or CNN. Consequently, the Platonic Dialogues are also called Sokratikoí logoí.

However, Heracleitus (in Fragments 1 - 4) had elevated lógos to the universal subject, to the cosmic psyché, which is the arché in macrocosmic fiery dimensions. (For further information see: Sextus Empiricus, Adversus mathematicos, VII, 132, i - iv; Hippolytus, Refutatio omnium haeresium, IX, 9, 3, i - iii)

This single, universal principle, in short, Objective Truth, because it is omnipresent, is empirically accessible; in other words, it is within the reach of human sense-perception and cognition. (Fragments 5 - 7; See: Hippolytus, Refutatio ..., IX, 9, 5 et 10, 1; Polybius, XII, 27, 1; Clemens, Stromateis, V, 148, 6..)

However, Man cannot perceive objective truth directly through his senses alone, he needs a psyché, an intelligence, which has to penetrate and interpenetrate things, in order to encounter their lógos. (Frag. 9 - 15, Also see: Philo, Quaestiones in Genesin, IV, 1; De Somniis, 1,6; Themistius, Orationes, V, 69 B; Julianus, Orationes, VII, 216 C.)

Thus, although Heracleitus gave sense perception and human experience preference over mythological superstitions and beliefs, nevertheless, he did not neglect human cognitive endeavour (theoría) in its capacity to understand objective, fluent Truth and its relation to social affairs (práxis). (Frag. 12 - 15, See: Plutarchus, Coriolanus, 38; De Pythiae Oraculis, 404 D, et al.; Adversus Colotem, 1118 C; Plotinus, V, 9, 5.)

Thus, Heracleitus, as we have noted earlier, attacked Homer, Hesiod, Hecateus, Pythagoras and Xenophanes, for not having comprehended the lógos in Things and in the „everlasting Fire“, in the Cosmos. (See: Fragments 16 - 22, but, also 8 -9, and 13 - 14; Diogenes Laertius, IX, 1; VIII, 6; Athenaeus, XIII, 610 B; Philodemus, Rhetorica, I, coll. 57 et 62; Scholium in Euripidis, Hecubam, 131; Plutarchus, An seni sit res Publica gerenda, 787 C.)

Therefore, they only have developed dóxa and fantasía of things and processes. (See: Aristotle, De anima, III, 3, 427 b 14.)

The Heracleitean lógos, in the field of logics, as dialectics, is universally (not multi-versally) valid; in the ontological realm, anticipating Aristotle’s hýle, the Fire-lógos is the substratum of Being-Becoming; in social práxis-theoría, it is, gnotologically, the sine qua non for true cognition and operation in universal-historical reality; and, finally, ethically, the lógos is the guide for correct, moral, social actions. (See: M. Marcovich, Heraclitus, Talleres Grapicos Universitarios, Merida, Venezuela, 1968, p. 39.)

Socrates and the „post-Socratic“ idealists would change the hylozoistic lógos into idealist Divine Truth, but, within Heracleitean ancient materialism it certainly did not have counter-panvitalistic and contra-panpsychic elements. For Heracleitus, the lógos, the objective Truth, Reason, was in the arché, in the pánta rhei of Matter itself. That later the lógos was converted into bourgeois Reason, into Capital, that was not intended by the early patrian philosopher, Heracleitus.

 

Summing Up: The Perspective Terrain

From Ionian naturalism, to Eleatic static monism, to Heracleitean primitive dialectical materialism, to Pythagorean Odd-Regular number harmony and Sophist ideology, did the ancient philosophic spectrum of patrian intellectual evolution span.

In the coming chapters, we will note how ancient Greek Thought developed and deepened itself with Empedoclean and Anaxagorean crypto-atomism, but, at the same time, it conceptualized itself in Socratism and Platonism.

Diverse philosophic opinions - dóxa, orthódóxa, héterodóxa - generated dilemmas, trilemmas and polylemmas. All these resulted in multifarious cosmovisions about Being, Not-Being, Becoming, Being-Becoming, Becoming-Being, Being-At-Rest, Nothing, etc. However, all these seemingly chaotic tendencies became more and more concentrated, became crystallized and clarified under the socio-economic pressures of the forward march of wealth and capital accumulation. Consequently, philosophy itself became consolidated into major intellectual streams.

In the slave-owning superstructure, which had its own dynamics and synergism, but also its own dynamism and syncretism, philosophic thought tried to approximate and synchronise itself to the multiplex forms and multiveloce movements of human production, developing from the ancient Greek poleis to Hellenism; from Athenian metropolitanism and Macedonian cosmopolitanism to Pan Hellenism, and further to Alexandrian world imperialism.

Certainly, these did not imply, that ancient Greek social consciousness, as reflected in the compendious ensemble of mythology, hylozoism and primitive idealism, increasingly, was approximating antiquous social reality, or vice versa. In fact, in a transhistorical sense, this subjective-objective dialectical process was still in its revolutionary capitalist infancy.

Within this tremendous, intellectual exodus of the ruling classes from ancient Dark Age ignorance and mental slavery, materialist philosophic aporias developed, which essentially questioned the scientific validity of generally accepted sense-perception, common sense, absolute truths and the various ethical tenets of ruling class ideologies. To defend the status quo, the hen kai pan, conservatism, reaction and obscurantism, even dialectics was confronted with dialectics.

However, Zeno’s dialectical Eleatism, at least, warned us that dialectics, and the dialectical method, are themselves valid for ever-changing Truth; permanently, it is pertinent to verify, validate, revise and enrich philosophy by elucidating, eliciting and elating its own affirmations, negations, syntheses and transtheses.

Consequently, ancient Greek Thought not only generated its negations - nihilism, scepticism, cynicism, agnosticism, idealism, etc. --, but, as a total, patrian-real, concrete process, also its affirmations -- naturalism, panvitalism, atheism, hylozoism, etc. --, with their respective multidimensional, multidynamical syntheses.

Later, Alexander the Great would carry this Greek human philosophic ingenuitas to its real birthplace, to the banks of the Nile and the Indus, to the eternally snow-capped Himalayas. Item, the universal principle, the arché, changed its essential-substantial contents from water and air, from earth and fire, to apeiron, arithmós and nous, to idéa, quinta essentia, lógos, hýle and morphé. It became spherical and triangular, ideal and numerical, gained a form and a substratum.

Matter or substance mysteriously disappeared from the realm of sense-perception, and philosophic nous began to search for its ousía, the essence of subjective and objective reality. With Socrates, the conceptualization and universalization of patrian human knowledge would begin. Aristotle would commence to develop categories, predicaments or universals, to give hýle expression, to give the Subject a Predicate.

In the following chapters, we will pursue the materialist trails of ancient Greek crypto- and mechanical atomism, which will lead from Empedocles and Anaxagoras towards Leucippus, Democritus, Epicurus and Lucretius.

Thereafter, we will expound ancient idealism with all its metaphysics, theology, spiritualism, metempsychosis, anamnesis, hylomantism, hylotheism, and even hyloatheism. All these, in the emancipatory service to comprehend History, to learn to act, to think, to excel, to know the History of Wisdom.

 

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