Saturday, September 12, 2009

Blog #19 - Natural Philosophers

You should read the chapters, "Natural Philosophers" and "Democritus", pgs. 30-48 in order to do a great job answering the blog question.

The natural philosophers discussed in these two chapters sought the answers as to what substance makes up our world and how to account for perceptible changes in life.

What was the substance of life?

- Was everything made of water as Thales stated? Or air in different combinations like Anaximenes commented? Or something called the"boundless"? Empedocles went further and felt that everything in life was a combo of 4 roots - earth, air, wind and fire - and that all things that have ever been and will ever be come from infinte variations of those roots. Anaxagoras was ahead of his time by envisioning material items being made up of tiny particles called "seeds."

- Or, as Democritus hypothesized, is life made up of immutable, tiny particles that are much like Lego pieces? The pieces are not all uniform in size and shape, and so that's what accounts for the infinite possibilities of these pieces he called "atoms".

What makes things change?

- Parmenides believed like all Greeks that nothing could come from nothing, and so things really didn't change. If he saw that the leaves were changing colors but his reason told him that nothing could really change, so what gives? Parmenides says that you can't trust your senses.

- Well, Heraclitus says Baloney! Everything's in flux, he says, but the thing that keeps everything whole is the logos or universal reason.

- Empedocles blended them both together with his 4 roots theory. Things change, but the roots are immutable and you can trust your senses.

So, with this info and more out of the book (and stuff we've talked about in class), you have alternative questions:
1. Which of these natural philosophers best reflects your personal views of life / universe? Why?


2. Which of these natural philosophers is the most opposite of your personal views of life / universe? Why?

200 words minimum - Due Tuesday, Sept. 15.


  1. In my opinion, I think that Democritus philosophies best reflects my personal views of the universe. I think that Democritus philosophy on legos is completely true. I believe that the universe is made up of many different things. In Democritus philosophy, he states that “legos are not all uniform in size and shape, and that’s what accounts for the infinite possibilities of these pieces he called “atoms”. I think that legos are a great way to compare the universe and life to reality. Earth is not just made up of air and water. Earth is nature, water, fire, air, particles, chemicals and many more. Every lego piece can represent each element and when they all come together, they can form life. Democritus also believes that everything in nature comes and goes. I agree with this philosophy as well. For example, humans on earth do not stay forever, they come and go. Animals, trees, grass, and all of nature does not stay the same for centuries of time, most things die and new forms of life come back. In conclusion, I think that Democritus views best reflects my view on the universe because of the lego theory, and that everything comes and goes.

  2. Democritus is the philosopher for me. Out of all of the natural philosophers, his work most closely resembles the present day idea of what everything is made up of. He reasoned that there must be some unit that everything is made up of, and we just can’t see it. He then named them atoms, meaning un-cuttable. He figured all of this out through reasoning without the use of any microscope, and as the years went on, science provided evidence. Though we have now realized that smaller than an atom are protons, neutrons and electrons, he was still on the right track.
    I also liked that Democritus believed that all of these atoms hook onto each other to create something then unhook to make other things. He thought that these things never went away, that they were always there. This reminded me of the Law of Conservation of mass. This law states that the mass of a closed system will remain constant. Democritus thought that the same amount of atoms are always present, therefore the mass in the closed system, which would be earth in this case, remains the same. As a science lover, Democritus was the best match for me. Everything he said was extremely logical, even in hindsight, which few other philosophers’ ideas are.


  3. The philosopher who's theory that I find the most interesting is Parmenides. However, his theory is far from what I believe. First he says "everything that exist, had always existed". That's not true! Does he mean like since birds evolutionized from from dinosaurs, that they are dinosaurs? So they are something that already existed they just LOOK different?(but he doesn't trust his senses so that wouldn't be a possiblity unless he's contradicting himself.) No, birds are birds a NEW animal and they evolutionized and adapted to a different enviroment and thats what makes them different. Is a gully a river until it has rain and it has overflowed into other rivers and is connected to other tributaries? No. That's what makes it a river! Was there a cure for the flu before there actually was the flu? No. Because there used to be no flu! That theory does not apply to everything( or barely anything at all ). So how can he say, "There is no such thing as change, nothing can become another thing than what it already is." ? The world is constantly changing! A river is not the same river if you step into it 5 seconds later. I mean its still a river but Something is different! Right? I have some rationalist views and as a rationalist I thought you were supposed to accept ration as the answers to all questions? He's clearly not thinking if he doesn't see change, but then again He doesn't trust his senses so what does he see? Maybe he should have trusted his senses and came up with a better theory. His theory is very interesting but just not something I agree with.
    - Shar

  4. Many philosophers provide interesting insights on the world and life itself. They have many views on everything such as the creation of mankind, what people are made of, and where one goes after death. The philosopher that has the most similar views as me is Empedocles. Empedocles believes in a mixture of a couple other philosophers’ theories: he believes that things are constantly changing, including humans and environment, but our roots are all the same. He also believes, unlike other philosophers, that we can trust our senses. I agree with most of the things he says, however one disagreement that I have with Empedocles is that I don’t think we can always trust our senses. Sometimes our brains trick us into thinking we have sensed something, but what we have seen or heard or felt could be entirely different. However, I do believe that our senses are right most of the time; it’s not as if they would purposely lie to us. And it is very true that the world is constantly changing; for without change, history would repeat itself and we would not have any technological or medical advancement. Empedocles was an intelligent philosopher who thought logically, yet didn’t completely block out everything that wasn’t logical.

  5. I would say that the philosopher who best describes my view points on life and the universe would be Thales. I consider myself more of a logical thinker, a math and science person. When Thales traveled to Egypt he reasonably calculated (or at least he said he calculated) the height of a pyramid by measuring its shadow at the same time when the measurement of his shadow was exactly his height. His presumption was that all life derived from water. He also theorized that the crops started to grow when the Nile Delta would receive water from the Nile floods. Although I know now that the source of life isn’t just water, his theory is understandable for the given time period. He learned and studied by observations, which is how I think most people learn, more than through experiences.
    The thinker I feel I am most opposite from would be Parmenides. He was a strong rationalist who didn’t believe everything his senses told him to. He also thought that nothing changed, that change was an illusion. I can’t see myself believing that everything I heard, smelt, felt, touched or tasted was an illusion. That the daily conversations I have I imagined. To me, things change every day. Trees, bugs, animals, people, we all die eventually.


  6. I like Heraclitus' ideas the best and they coincide with mine the most. I agree with him that everything is in constant "flux" and that as time progresses one kind of energy moves us along. I think that the logos is also an extremely plausible theory because really all we, as humans, have is our sense of logic. I think that the presence of this energy source could explain how a wife and husband, mother and child, or friend and friend could feel so linked. In my opinion (especially after conducting further research on Heraclitus) his philosophy was the most modern and adhesive. I think that it is clear that things do change all of the time. I think that the only major thing that Heraclitus was incorrect about is that everything could only come from one thing which obviously isn’t the case. However, in his defense, that was the adopted way of thinking back then so I can understand why he was under that impression. I also like him because of the quote in Sophie’s World about other people’s stupid opinions which I found humorous.

  7. I believe that my favorite natural philosopher is Democritus. I say this because his thinking, along my thought process, sort of blends all the previous philosophers’ ideas on a core, universal substance. I find that with Sophie’s philosopher’s reference to Lego particularly interesting. As being a child raised woefully without video games, I had to do something creative with my time, and by chance I happened upon Lego. Now, at the time, I certainly did not see the correlation between the toy and the building blocks of the universe. I also now see how the decomposing and recomposing of atoms, or rather objects that we can touch and see, for simplicity, can be applied to assembling and reassembling Lego. Now, this “flow of things” that Democritus mentioned, ricocheting off of what Heraclitus said, I find, personally, and you may be inclined to agree, ingenious. Simply, marvelously, ingenious. By merging Democritus’ hypothesis about atoms and Heraclitus’ idea about the flow of everything; you get atoms, the substance of the universe switches “hooks and barbs” to create new objects from the old. All this and the fact that he denied the social norm by rejecting the idea that the soul and consciousness were separated. These are all attributes of why I like Democritus best among the natural philosophers. Adam Sadler

  8. Empedocles is the philosopher that is most opposite of my personal views of life and universe. His views says that the common substances of everything is earth, air ,wind, water and fire.I don't think that life can originate form fire. To have life you need breath which comes form air. I am christian and I believe God is the creator of eve4rything including the universe. There is no certain answer to how something came about . No one was there when the universe was created so how can anyone no exactly what happen. No one knows but God because he was before everything.Its very hard to find a complete solution and no one can can come up with one. If we don't see then most of us don't believe. People go off there thoughts and no ones thoughts are a 100 percent rite. In conclusion i believe that the common substance of life and the universe is God.

    Jasmine Cain

  9. My favorite philosopher would have to be Aristotle or Copernicus because I think it is so interesting how they observed and studied space and gave us the basics on astronomy. They did not have any of the technology we have today to study space but they used instruments that they made to measure distance and altitude and made most of their hypothesis by just using their eyes. But those aren’t on the list so the philosopher that I have the closest beliefs with is Democritus. He believed that everything is made up of atoms, which is true, and it is proven and that is what I believe as well. He did not believe in a force or soul that could intervene in the natural process, which I believe, but I also believe that there was a higher power that started everything and made it work like a clock. The natural processes and the different sciences is the study of how the higher powers clockwork works by itself. I also believe that humans can influence the natural processes by their actions. That humans can create change in nature which Democritus did not believe in. So I don’t completely agree with everything Democritus stated, but it is the closest to my views.

    Jason S.
    2nd hour

  10. The natural philosopher Parmenides best represents my views on life. Parmenides believed that everything that existed already existed. My opinion is that nothing is new under sun, of course there are changes within techonology but in things simplest form I feel they have already been there. The feelings and thoughts of people I believe our past generation have encountered them already. It’s just the fact that everything comes around in a circle and so it already existed just hadnt been explored. Parmenides also believes thatyou cannot trust your senses. I think senses arent realiable they can play on our mind and cannot be an actual truth of the situation we are in. Rationalist should be the primary source of our knowledge since you need reasoning for certain situations. I believe humans should have faith in things but to totally rely on your senses can cause you to make mistakes. Senses alter from person to person; some are keener to their hearing others might not be able to see. Tell me how you can rely on something that everybody might not have and some may have better uses of their senses. As a philosopher I agree with his studied that perception can be an illusion. I notice that in my everyday to day life that I why I agree with Parmenides so much.
    Alanna Albritton

  11. Heraclitus best reflects my personal views of life and the universe. Heraclitus believed that the world is in constant change and that everything is in constant flux. I also think that everything in this world is constantly in a state of change. I believe that any occurrence, minute or colossal can influence a human being and in turn will change them in some way. It has been proven that matter changes states. For example when water is put in an environment where the temperature is 0 degrees Celsius or less, the water freezes and turns into ice; this is change. Technology is always changing. In our world of constant innovation, someone is working to change the way we do things to make it easier, or more environment friendly, or simply better. The constant flux shows up everywhere in the world and in our lives. Also, Heraclitus declared that in some sense, all things are one which is the reasoning of logos. I believe that logos or God is the source of everything. I am catholic and I believe in God and his creation of the world and mankind. God is the creator and for this he is the source of everything, for nothing could exist without his creation. “Couples are wholes and not wholes, what agrees disagrees, the concordant is discordant. From all things one and from one all things.” (Heraclitus)
    Nawar Dimitry 2nd Period

  12. In my opinion I believe that my views in life reflect those of Heraclitus’. In my life I do believe that god is the source of everything. I believe that the earth was created by god in six days and rested on the seventh day. I believe that all things change constantly. And I also believe that it is important to trust all of our senses. I believe that god is the source of everything because of my upbringing as a child, and the teachings that I’ve had. In time, I believed in what was being taught and am now a believer of god’s teaching. I also believe that all things are in constant change. As a part of life, all things adapt to certain changes. Humans have changed countless things, advancing technology, changing appearances and countless other things. I also believe that it is important to trust your sense and follow them. Your senses are all you have to get around and to survive in the world. If you begin not to trust your senses then eventually you won’t be able to complete ordinary tasks essential for us to survive. If there was any philosopher that I disagree with it has to be Thales. Although sight is an important sense, it is important to trust all your senses instead of relying on only one.

    Collin Parson

  13. The natural philosopher that best reflects my personal view of life would have to be Heraclitus. He said that “God (different from the Greek gods) or logos (universal law) was the source of everything.” And I believe that too, God is the source of everything because he created the Earth and everything inside it. He also believed that there is constant change; everything is in constant ‘flux’ and movement. This is true because change is a part of life. We change every day in one way or another, like for example, girls are constantly changing their outfits because that’s what we do. We change our minds and views on certain things because as we get older, we mature and learn more with the experiences that we have gone through and the different kinds of people we meet on the way. I know for a fact that I have changed and as I get older, I will still be changing no matter what environment I am in. Heraclitus also pointed out that “the world is characterized by opposite and without the constant interplay of opposites, the world would cease to exist.” I am a true believer in this because opposites attract and if people were the exact same, than we would know what the other side to things. I, personally, would get bored of someone who was like me and it would seem as if I am talking to myself. Heraclitus, in my opinion, was the best natural philosopher.

  14. Of all the natural philosophers, I think I most identify in my personal view of the world with Heraclitus. I strongly believe in both of the things that Heraclitus states, that everything is in a constant state of change and that we can depend on our senses. I think that it’s trivial to extend reason and logic to the point that what we decide that our senses are manipulative and untrustworthy. Our senses create our world as we know it, and thus without trusting them to a certain, unquestionable extent there is no world around us for us to use logic within. From using our senses, like Heraclitus did, it is clear to see that everything is changing. Weather differs from day to day. Over time, one season flows into the next. Animals die and plants wither away while new animals are born and seeds begin to grow. We each start off as a small child in this world and then grow into adulthood, eventually fading away into old age. Since I most agree with Heraclitus, it is logical that I see Parmenides’ theories as groundless. To say that nothing changes is ignoring nearly everything that matters in this world, life, nature, and human relationships.
    -Alex Aginian

  15. My favorite natural philosopher is Heraclitus. He basically believe most of the things that I’ve been raised to believe. For example I also believe that God is the source of everything. That God created the universe and all living organisms on the planet. That he created animals, plants, and anything. And his belief that there is a constant flux and movement, I also agree with this belief. In my opinion, that helps explain natural disasters, for example global warming or hurricane Katrina. That things are always changing and altering. Also, I believe that you have to trust your sense, and that you shouldn’t use reasoning. He also believed in the “universal law”.

    -jasmine smith

  16. I think that Anaximenes has views that are the closest to mine. He thought that the source of all things must be air or vapor. This makes sense to me because all living things need air to live. His theory on water being condensed air also makes sense to me. Air is partly made up of oxygen, there are also oxygen parts in water. I do not really agree with his theory that when water is pressed even more, it becomes Earth. I understand Anaximenes’ theory on the theory that fire is rarefied air. That makes sense to me because you need air to make fire burn. It would also make sense to me if Anaximenes thought that Earth, fire and air were all necessary to the creation of life. All of those things are necessary for people to live. Earth is the place that we live. It can create shelter and there are other things living on Earth that humans can eat. Fire keeps us warm. The sun is also made of fire and the sun is the source of all Earth’s energy. Air is also essential to life. It is what we humans use to breathe. Air is also essential to the food that we eat.


  17. The natural philosophers that best reflect what I think are Democritus and Heraclitus. Democritus hypothesized that life is made up of tiny, immutable particles. I believe in my reason, and science has without a doubt proven that we are made up of cells, arms, legs; parts of our body that are not uniform in shape, but when put together, forms the physical entities of our lives. Democritus also states how these tiny, immutable particles possess limitless possibilities. I also believe this with our bodies, as our bodies can be the source of disease, stem cells can re-grow body parts, women can give birth to babies, and much more. There are still many things that are mysteries to us when in comes to our bodies. In addition to that, I believe not only the physical body, but life itself has limitless possibilities. I believe all life has the infinite potential to cause great change in the world, which for human beings, is determined by our thoughts, words and deeds. As long as we are ignorant of the fact that the capacity of our lives is very small, people will not be able to create much change and see the unlimited possibilities in our lives. As Gandhi says “Be the Change you wish to see in the world”. As for Heraclitus, he believes that the universe is in constant flux, and what keeps everything whole is this deity named “Logos” or “the universal reason”. I definitely believe that the universe and all phenomena are in constant flux or change. It is seen through the expansion of the universe, the seasons, the life cycle, and the experiences of mankind, physical and emotional. As for what keeps everything whole, I don’t believe it is a deity outside us, but actually an eternal cycle known as the law of cause and effect. It is a law that we can control or controls us, and cause and effect are in constant flux. The law is constantly working to put our bodies in equilibrium of health, and our own thoughts, words, and deeds decide if we are kept together. The law also works in ways the human mind cannot comprehend. I believe that it is this law that binds all of us together.
    John Cassetta/2nd Hour

  18. Chelsea Rosenbaum

    Out of all of the natural philosophers, Empedocles best reflect my personal views of the universe. Empedocles classified all matter into 4 types of substances in the same way that we do today. In chemistry we learn about solids, liquids, and gas. Empedocles did the same thing, only he accounted for fire. Solids=earth, Liquids=water, Gas=air, and fire to describe sunlight, heat, and fires.
    Empedocles believed that there where to types of forces in nature “love” and “strife”. I completely agree with him. Though scientist have given them all other names, the world seems to work with 2 opposite forces working together: positive and negative electrical force, the north and south poles of magnets, up or down, push or pull, as well as love and hate. The pair of forces can all be classified into a positive and negative, love or strife.
    I Like how Empedocles does not focus on the idea of god. I am jewish, so I believe in a god. I am taught that I should only believe in one god, and is the creator and ruler of earth. But I am also taught that the world works on its own, not because of gods decisions. Therefore I like that he focuses on what is happening instead of why it all started.

  19. Much like my fellow classmates, I think Democritus’s theory most agrees with what I believe. He says, “Life is made up of immutable, tiny particles that are much like Lego pieces. The pieces are not all uniform in size and shape, and so that's what accounts for the infinite possibilities of these pieces he called ‘atoms’.” I believe we are all composed of remnants, tied together with loose ends. Therefore we are all made up of the same reoccurring themes; the only difference between us lies in the way the pieces are structured. This means we are all connected.
    I’m not sure I agree with his idea that there is no immortal soul. I think our soul is the only thing that’s not recycled to create something else. Our bodies, in the end, ultimately revert back to the dust from whence it came and all of our “atoms” are just rearranged to create someone different, someone more beautiful. But that new creation is no longer ‘us’, because our souls have gone on somewhere else, somewhere where they will forever stay untouched.
    The universe and everything around us are also made of these ‘atoms’. Ergo, we are connected to each other, to the universe, through these unchangeable, irrefutable, pieces.


  20. The natural philosopher that best reflects my personal view of life and the universe is Parmenides because he had said that everything that exists had always existed. I agree with him completely because I think that when the Earth was made everything was already here. The Earth cannot just be here with nothing, I feel as if it had to have something on it to start out with and like Parmenides said, “Nothing can come out of nothing”, and to me that’s true because something needs to start from something. I do disagree with the statement “ill believe it when I see it”, because once I have seen something, well, most things, then I have a better chance at believing it. Even though that nature is in a constant state of change I still believe that it was started from something and it has stayed the same our senses have just tricked us and its not based more off of reason like Parmenides believes in. Even though there is the example how the leaves change color I think that our senses can be incorrect and that nothing really does change in the first place. And in the universe everything is the same and nothing actually changes because it has not changed since the beginning of time.

    Chelsea Kozlowski


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