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History of Ancient and Medieval Philosophy

The explanation of the origin of the world in ancient philosophy had the natural background. For example, ancient Greeks believed that the universe was limited in size. They did not know about many galaxies in the universe, but believed that the world is what surrounds us: the earth, oceans and seas, and the arches of Heaven. They believed that below deep in earth is the kingdom of dead, Tartars, where the souls of dead ancestors live, and where none can get without permission. Therefore, ancient Greeks believed that the world is limited in size. The Greek cosmological system is well-known due to the works of Parmenides who introduced the way of truth in the frames of the cosmological system, according to which "whatever is (i.e., being), is and cannot not-be" (p.22). The philosopher considered the Being as the One and unchanging whole that cannot be modified in any case. The development of natural sciences matched this sententia, and the passion of getting knowledge moved the natural science to its development. Philosophy and theology were developing along with science. However, the origins of both can be traced back to the ancient Greeks, the founders of the contemporary Western philosophy. Pre-Socratic philosophers developed the main principles of natural philosophical thought to help them develop up to the modern science. The philosophers considered metaphysical principles as "concepts of natural law - the idea that all growing things in the natural world develop according to the identical pattern" (p.10). Later, after Thales who considered the water as the origin of life and the created world, Anaximander "introduced the concept of the "aperion" - the unlimited, boundless, infinite, or indefinite - as the fundamental principle of the world." (p.10). It was the step to find the origins of the universe, clarifying its limits. His endeavors were valuable even as he was the first who generated the idea of models - the first prototypes of the geographical map.

In the frames of metaphysics, the principles inherent in mythos and logos can be considered as irrational and rational explanation of what happens and happened in the past. The word "logos" has different meanings in the Greek language, but the most suitable, in our opinion, is the one related to the "rational discourse", to something that is ready to be understood in the cognitive way, by means of knowledge and proved facts. Greek mythology is a valuable background for studying this type of world order explanation, origin of the universe, and the upcoming events. In this case, the cosmological structure was regarded as a unity that is ruled by the superpower, the Creator, the God/gods. However, as the time passed, the philosophy of mythos was substituted by the philosophy of logos, namely logically structured way of thinking, empowered by scientific and empiric facts, clarified objectives, deductive proofs, and planned experiments. The transition was traced in the medieval period when natural science developed into the modern science that tends to be rational. However, the purpose of the modern science tends to be the same, which is the search for the truth that lies beyond one's minds, being valuable to one's cognition:

If truth were equal to our minds, it would be subject to change. Our minds sometimes see more and sometimes less, and because of this we acknowledge that they are mutable. Truth, remaining in itself, does not gain anything when we see it, or lose anything when we do not see it. It is whole and uncorrupted. With its light, truth gives joy to be the men who turn to it, and punishes with blindness those who turn away from it. (Philosophic Classics 66)

Being in search of truth and having passion for knowledge, natural philosophers, medieval thinkers and theologists played key roles in the development of science and its transition from mythical (irrational) to logical (rational) up to the modern times. However, the traces of mythical are still visible in the modern science as many things and many features of the world order are not explained or can be still explained by the existence of the Creator, almighty and powerful. The fact of having mythical ideas in mind gives people all explanations and hopes to be an essential part of the universe, the part of the world that has the beginning. In fact, mythical way of thinking gives the feeling of inspiration for poets and writers. For example, seeing a caterpillar getting out of a cocoon on the sunset before the rise of the fool moon may inspire one to write a poem. However, for a biologist, such transformation can be explained logically and rationally since they know laws of nature perfectly.

The science developed in a logic way in works of Anaximander and Anaximenes, who were in search of the first cause of everything in this world. However, their teachings about the first cause vary. For instance, Anaximander gives no scientific explanation for changes in the universe and nature, nor he delivers explanations for a mechanism of changes. On the other hand, Anaximenes regards natural forces and physical process in the context of the evident theory of change. In his opinion, air is the first cause of changes in the universe, and it plays the key role in natural transformations. According to Anaximenes, even earth is created of air as a result of the process of density: "Air differs in essence in accordance with its rarity or density. When it is thinned it becomes fire, while when it is condensed it becomes wind, then cloud, when still more condensed it becomes water, then earth, then stones" (Ring 175). The process of rarefication and condensation, according to the researcher, can be proved with the help of the following experiment: if one is blowing to the other's hand with his mouth relaxed, the air will be hot, and when the blowing is performed through pursed lips, the air will be cold because of condensation. Therefore, air rarefication creates fire, and condensed air creates wind, clouds and water. Moreover, when the air is extra condensed, it creates earth and stones as more complex substances. Thus, via simple experiments, Anaximenes' point of view is correlated with ancient Greek philosophy, particularly with Aristotle's teaching about metaphysics. For instance, in the Greek literature, the word "air" means "soul", and every living creature that has motion is granted for "the breath of life". Hereby, Anaximenes perceives the origin of universe as a qualitative account of the world order in the theory of changes, while Anaximander places the first cause of the universe in the frames of the quantitative account, where there is no evident law of originating things and living creatures.

Anaximenes treats even physical laws known to the modern science in accordance to the theory of change. He stated that natural phenomena originated from air, namely lightning and thunder are caused by the wind breaking out of clouds, the rainbow is the result of sun rays dispensing through clouds, and earthquakes are caused by cracks in earth, when it is dried. According to the philosopher, earth is a flat disk, and cosmos was created by evaporation from earth. Moreover, the stars are fixed on some surfaces like with nails, similar to leaves moving, sparkling bright. Although such theory seems to be primitive from the perspective of the modern science, it was very popular in the West where Greek philosophy formed the background of science.

The science has never been regarded apart from the truth, as researches in every field predetermine the belief and proves of facts by experiments. On the contrary to a traditional science, philosophy is not possible without any critical discussion. Pre-Socratic period is an example of such discussion that was a very good way to move forward. For instance, unlike his predecessors, Parmenides developed the doctrine of Being as a static substance that is present in an unchanged form in all living subjects and objects. Being is immobile, unborn, permanent, timeless, and imperishable. According to Parmenides, it is One and cannot be divided from perception and senses. Furthermore, it is reasonable. The philosopher presented Being in a form of sphere, the symbol of perfection in ancient Greece. The main criterion of Being is its existing out of time and space. Parmenides rejected the idea of becoming as everything that becomes is non-existent in the end. For example, according to this philosopher, real things can be divided into positive and negative, and every object or subject of Being comprises both groups. Thus, when the desire of calling something to the real Being is satisfied, positive and negative things meet and oppose each other, and they finally crash this subject or object into non-existence. The teaching of Parmenides opened new horizons to philosophy, moving it forward from the Pre-Socratic period to the new one.

In addition, the reality in his philosophy joins the way of truth as the way of knowledge that is rather concrete than abstract. The way of truth is different from the way of becoming because when opposite and negative qualities meet and destruct something, the desire of being is already satisfied. On the contrary, the way of truth is first of all the way of justice. It can be illustrated well with an example of the Greek Goddess of Justice (Thames). Unlike the mixed way of becoming that according to Parmenides comprises negative and positive, truth always stands on the one side that is justified. For example, one sees Thames with scales and closed. Apparently, she guarantees that all considerations will be taken into account and weighed fairly, irrespective of any other qualities apart from the truth. Thus, all parts of the judicial case should be considered equally without any prejudices.

Therefore, the nature of justice should be regarded in the cosmological context, as it is an equivalent of transforming the truth into reality. In spite of Protagoras' thought as if "man is the measure of all things" (Thomas Aquinas 155), truth is the aim, the way and the will in the reality. Where there is the truth, there is justice, peace, love, faith, friendship, and the world order is much improved with the desire of seeking the truth. Thus, justice is an attempt to reach the truth, and its primary aim is rather to find and to seek than to punish those who are guilty. Philosophy is similar to justice in its desire to find the truth. However, this is not that simple as philosophers by criticizing each other do not find the unified concept of the truth theoretically. Justice is applied practically, and there is the hope that the way of justice will move in the right direction to the truth where philosophy fails.

Works Cited

Aquinas, Thomas. Selected Writings. Trans. Robert P. Goodwin. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merril, 1965. Print.

Philosophic Classics, Volume I: Ancient Philosophy. Eds. Forest E. Baird and Walter Arnold Kaufmann. Upper Saddle River: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2007. Print.

Ring, Merrill. Beginning with Presocratics. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 1999. Print.