The Presocratics

The Ancient Greek foundations of Philosophy

Lesson Objectives

Explain the origins of philosophy in Iron-Age Greece

Understand the diff. between ad hoc stories and Presocratic Metaphysics

Understand the diff. between Heraclitus' & Parmenides' Metaphysics

Understand the basic ethical argument for Cultural Relativism

Appreciate the positive and negative effects of Cultural Relativism

Understand the metaethics of Absolutism and the ethics of Subjectivism

Key Terms

Ad Hoc Stories

Presocratic Philosophy


Property Dualism


Pythagorean Theorem

Cultural Relativism

Moral Absolutism

Ethical Subjectivism

Ad Hoc Stories

Before Philosophy

• Philosophy begins 2,500 years ago in Ancient Greece

• Before this, the world is explained through superstition and ad hoc stories

          • Ad hoc: "just so." A simple explaination for something that "just is"

          • Sicknesses and death are results of the gods’ will or bad spirits

Sources of Ancient Greek Values

• Hesiod’s Theogony and Homer’s Iliad & Odyssey

     • Illustrate moral lessons from the gods

     • Some of the values stressed line up with values in philosophy

Pre-philosophical Greek Values

• Independence of thought

• Strength of character

• Developing the intellect

• Living honorably