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Pre-Socratic

The Pre-Socratic period of the Ancient era of philosophy refers to Greek philosophers active before Socrates, or contemporaries of Socrates who expounded on earlier knowledge.

They include the following major philosophers:

Thales of Miletos (c. 624 - 546 B.C.) Greek
Anaximander (c. 610 - 546 B.C.) Greek
Anaximenes (c. 585 - 525 B.C.) Greek
Pythagoras (c. 570 - 490 B.C.) Greek
Heraclitus (c. 535 - 475 B.C.) Greek
Parmenides of Elea (c. 515 - 450 B.C.) Greek
Anaxagoras (c. 500 - 428 B.C.) Greek
Empedocles (c. 490 - 430 B.C.) Greek
Zeno of Elea (c. 490 - 430 B.C.) Greek
Protagoras (c. 490 - 420 B.C.) Greek
Gorgias (c. 487 - 376 B.C.) Greek
Democritus (c. 460 - 370 B.C.) Greek

Generally speaking, all that remains of their works are a few textual fragments and the quotations of later philosophers and historians.

The Pre-Socratic philosophers rejected traditional mythological explanations for the phenomena they saw around them in favor of more rational explanations. They started to ask questions like where did everything come from, and why is there such variety, and how can nature be described mathematically? They tended to look for universal principles to explain the whole of Nature. Although they are arguably more important for the questions they asked than the answers they arrived at, the problems and paradoxes they identified became the basis for later mathematical, scientific and philosophic study.

Important movements of the period include the Milesian School, the Eleatic School, the Ephesian School, Pluralism, Pythagoreanism, Sophism and Atomism.


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