Two Pre-Sophia Philosophers & Their Concept of God

I once asked my friend about what he thought of pre-Sophist period philosophers. He deliberately restrained himself from answering, for some good, and instead put forward this question to me that as to what I thought of them. I could not reply him at that time. Therefore, I do it now.

'Brave'. They were brave. That is my first reaction about them. They rebelled against the masses and rejected what they considered as wrong, especially about religious philosophies, which is the primary concern of this post. Popular religion in their period was of many gods. A long list of them - begotten gods, sons of god, images of gods, etc, etc. Whereas, their polytheistic notion about god was "countered with a more philosophic conception of one god, the source in some way of the entire universe and the power behind all the phenomena of the universe."

I can highlight two such philosophers, whom I consider to be brave thinkers. One is Xenophanes and the other was Heraclitus. Both had a great contempt for the religion of public. Heraclitus condemned their religions in this way, "And to these images they pray, just as if one were to converse with men's houses, for they know not what gods and heroes are." Whereas Xenophanes, belonging to the sixth century B.C., "proclaimed that God was one and unchangeable." He condemned the popular notions of god as beings like us. "Yes, and if oxen or lions had hands, and could paint with their hands and produce works of art as men do, horses would paint the forms of gods like horses and oxen like oxen. Each would represent them with bodies according to the form of each," he wrote. He thought that God was unlike us, the mortals. And that He is the First and the Last, or to say that He had neither any beginning nor any end, "an eternal unity." Although he rejected polytheism and believed in monotheism, he however has been called pantheist in the book Basic Teachings of the Great Philosophers*, because he thought that God is the world. "A belief that everything in the universe is God, and God is everything in the universe," the book says. This position, of pantheism, is not acceptable in all three great monotheistic religions of the world, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

* All the quotes in this article were taken from this book.

2 did criticisms:

Shaheryar Ali said...

Nice post, its so refreshing to see that young lads are taking interest in Philosophy. You mention Heraclitus.He could be one of the most influential thinkers of humanity. Its amazing that how much he contributed to modern thinking.Heraclitus you see is father of "non linear thinking". He is one of the earliest father of "Dialectics".He has contributed the to the idea that "Reality exist in a flux". This is a dynamic view of Cosmos one which challenges logic and mechanical materialism. "Every thing is in motion" will later be called the "First law of Dialectic". He is also amongst first thinker to propose "unity of opposites", that will also become one of the law of dialects. The greatest modern philosopher Hegel who proposed the most advanced "Dialects" as a critique of Logic as "New Logic" which was later given a "materialistic base" by none other than Karl Marx , have tribute Heraclitus by saying "There is no proposition of Heraclitus which I have not adopted in my Logic." (Hegel, History of Philosophy, Vol. one, p. 279."
Through Marxism , these old philosopher have influenced modernity, Marxism is one of the governing ideologies of Modernism whose influence has been on every subject from Physics to social sciences and all of it through "Dialectic".
Engels has wrote on him in his famous book Anti Dhuring. Both he and Marx were great admirers of these pre Aristotle philosophers.

You should also read about Xeno and his paradoxes some of which seem to be emerged again with Quantum Physics. He too was greatly admired by Hegel and Marx for his brilliant critique of empirical logic.

M. Umer Toor said...

Dear Sheri,

Thank you so much for writing at length about these exotic sciences. I'll surely read what you have advised to read.

Thanks for visiting.

Humble regards!

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