The Greek mind strove to discover a natural explanation for the cosmos by means of observation and reasoning, and these explanations soon began to shift their residual mythological components (Tarnas, 20). The Melisians (Thales, Anaximader, and Anaximonies) were the first scientists, they studied biology, the study of life (bios), zoology, the study of animals (zoa), anthropology, the study of humans (anthropoid), and astronomy. All of these modern day sciences that are available to us today were the byproduct of scientific investigations by the Melisians.
In elementary, we were taught that planets are celestial body moving in an elliptical orbit around a star, this I think were influenced by Anaxagoras by declaring that the Sun was not the god Helios but was rather an incandescent stone and that the Moon was composed of an earthly substance which received its light from the Sun. Democritus considered that human belief in gods was no more than an attempt to explain extraordinary events like thunderstorms and earthquakes. That paved the way to pursue an exploration of once conceived as supernatural phenomena by creating instruments such as siesmograph, weather and doplar radar. Our present educational system implements methodical and emprical science through laboratory work were derived from the Sophist who believe in rational and intelligent strategy. We are indebted to Thales for many discoveries specially in geometry. Barnes (12) noted that Thales was the first to prove that a circle is bisected by its diameter, that in every isosceles triangle the angles at the base are equal.
Our a school system separated science into many different branches (medicine, astronomy, botany, zoology, etc.), the same with math (pure and applied), literature, arts, music and philosophy. Though I may not yet fully grasp all the contents of the Secret Teaching of All Ages by Manly P Hall, I can see how they make sense because it explains the interconnectedness of science, math, philosophy, music, and spirituality. This should be taught as one holistic course in college rather than a separate bachelors degree.
The 3 Presocratics sought to identify a single most basic stuff out of which the natural world is made. Thales claimed that this basic material principle is water. Anixamenes proposed the the basic material is air. Anaximenes explained how air is the most basic principle along the following lines. If air is compressed it becomes water. And if further compressed it becomes earth. In the opposite direction, if air expands or is rarefied, it becomes fire. My inner child is smiling because it seems like they were the original Earth, Wind, and Fire. Spirit Mercurius is at work here.
One of the democratic freedom we enjoy today were also from the Sophist, they recognized that each person had his own experience, and therefor his own reality. In the end they argued, all understanding is subjective opinion (27). I think that kills the doctrine of monetheistic religion that one rule applies to all disregarding the uniqueness of each individual being. But there is a danger in the misuse of this freedom, a good example are the neo-marxists and compelled speech movement in universities today that produces generation of snowflakes, a neologistic term used to characterize the young adults of the 2010s as being more prone to taking offence and having less psychological resilience than previous generations, or as being too emotionally vulnerable to cope with views that challenge their own. They have an inflated sense of uniqueness, an unwarranted sense of entitlement, or are over-emotional, easily offended, and unable to deal with opposing opinions. This is why I encourage my younger siblings and cousins to read Stoicism and Existentialism because this is not being taught in school unless you major in Philosophy/Psychology. I also provide examples of it’s practical use to everyday dealings of life.
If Pythagoras school still exist today, I will study there because it was dedicated to the pursuit of moral purification, spiritual salvation, and the intellectual penetration of nature–all of which were understood as intimately interconnected. Tarnas (23) explained that for Pythagoras, the forms of mathematics, the harmonies of music, the motions of the planets, and the gods of the mysteries all essentially related and the meaning of that relation was revealed in an education that culminated the human soul’s assimilation to the world soul, and thence to the divine creative mind of the universe.
A beautiful post. I especially like the ending in which you bring together several earlier points thanks to Pythagoras, regarding the understanding that there is a unity of knowledge between science nature and the gods that may not be apparent to everyone but that upon further study, with the required depth, one can reach. This unity of knowledge apparently flies in the face of the Sophists’ argument that everyone has their own experience and therefore reality itself is a subjective experience. A statement that is reminiscent of quantum mechanics. The truth perhaps lie in holding the tension between opposites, a rather Jungian solution, but rather appropriate in this case.
It is interesting that Plato was the first to establish the academy or universities with the belief that by studying these different areas of knowledge and through reasoning, which he seems to see is the highest good, perhaps even as “god”, people can learn about greater truth and know themselves better, and thus live accordingly to greater Good, Truth, and Beauty. It would seem that the purpose of the establishment of the academy was to learn about our transcendent self and our relationship with the world around us. But somehow, the education system as we see it today tends towards external learning and have bypassed or set aside the transcendent element of learning the academics.
As an elementary school teacher, there is tremendous pressure of having the students meet the quota and grades. Honestly and unfortunately, this is the focus. I share the same vision as to having curriculums that help students see the interconnectedness of what they are learning, and help them to convert what they learn to be more life-approach practices. This approach need not be just at the university level, but at all level.
The un-examined life is not worth living — Socrates
Barnes, J., Early Greek Philosophy., Penguin Books, NewYork, 1987.
Tarnas, R., The Passion of the Western Mind, Ballantine Books, New York, 1991.