The Greek Concept of Nature (SUNY series in Ancient Greek Philosophy)

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In The Greek Concept of Nature, Gerard Naddaf utilizes historical, mythological, and linguistic perspectives to reconstruct the origin and evolution of the Greek concept of phusis. Usually translated as nature, phusis has been decisive both for the early history of philosophy and for its subsequent development. However, there is a considerable amount of controversy on what the earliest philosophers--Anaximander, Xenophanes, Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Leucippus, and Democritus--actually had in mind when they spoke of phusis or nature.

Naddaf demonstrates that the fundamental and etymological meaning of the word refers to the whole process of birth to maturity. He argues that the use of phusis in the famous expression Peri phuseos or historia peri phuseos refers to the origin and the growth of the universe from beginning to end. Naddaf's bold and original theory for the genesis of Greek philosophy demonstrates that archaic and mythological schemes were at the origin of the philosophical representations, but also that cosmogony, anthropogony, and politogony were never totally separated in early Greek philosophy.

He is the coauthor with Dirk L. Convert currency. In fact, it is unclear if Thales wrote anything. Anaximander and Thales resided in the same city and lived during the same period for more details, see Guthrie ,. In sum, what we have here are two series of numbers: 9, 18, 27 and 10, 19, But why two series of numbers? According to Tannery and a host of others,37 the smaller numbers 9, 18, 27 represent the inner diameters of the rings and the larger numbers 10, 19, 28 the outer diameters of the rings.

However, according to Kirk and his group of followers,38 this involves an error in computation. For if diameters are. In this regard, I attempt to show that Egypt, or, more precisely, the Nile Delta, was seen as the cradle of civilization and, in certain respects, as the center of the universe.

I argue that there is a good deal of circumstantial evidence for this, but the argument must be read as a whole. Some of the evidence will corroborate Martin Bernals claims regard- ing the relation between Greece and Egypt, albeit for different reasons. It is all part of what one author has called the Egyptian mirage in ancient Greece. I examine them in more or less the conventional chronological order: Xenophanes, Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans, Heracli- tus, Parmenides, Empedocles, Anaxagoras and the Atomists: Leucippus and Democritus.

In each instance, I begin with a synopsis of the historical and political milieu in which the philosopher resided. I attempt to show that each philosopher was an active participant in the social and political milieu in which they resided and often well beyond its confines, contrary to what most contemporary scholars seem to suggest. More- over, they all saw a reciprocal relation between microcosm and macrocosm and, in various degrees, they all argued that political theory and practise indeed the general structure of the state should be grounded in cosmology. I also attempt to connect the philosophers with one another since it is abundantly clear that they were all well aware of their respective works which was prompted to a large degree through the written word and the facility of travel by sea.

Despite references to theos, their universal systems are explained in terms of natural causes as is the origin of human beings. It is the fact that human beings are given a real beginning in time that drives, in my view, their respec- tive views on the origin of civilization. However, I also attempt, within the lim- its of space, to account for a number of specific features in their respective his- toria, including views on the nature of the soul, knowledge, wealth, morality, harmony, justice, virtue, law, and divinity.

This will be addressed in the second volume. There is no doubt the Greek notion of phusis usually translated as nature from the latin natura , has been decisive both for the early history of philos- phy and for its subsequent development. In fact, it is often said the Greeks dis- covered nature. There is a great deal of discussion on the subject.

The aim here is to help us understand not only what the earliest thinkers understood by phusis, but also how they conceived nature and why they developed the distinctive cosmologies we are familar with. In ancient Greek, an action noun and its result can be derived from every type of verb by means of the suffix -sis Holt , According to Benveniste , 80 , the general meaning of words ending in -sis is the abstract notion of the process conceived as an objective realization, that is to say one expresses by -sis the notion as being outside the subject, and in this sense objective and established as accomplished from the fact that it is objective , In other words, contrary to action nouns ending in -tus, when the.

The verb takes the word ending in -sis for its object. Thus, the verb indicates Benveniste , 82 the concrete actualization of the notion conceived on the noetic plan as effective and objective i. As an action noun ending in -sis, Benveniste defines phusis as the com- pleted realization of a becomingthat is to say, the nature [of a thing] as it is realized, with all its properties. Burger ,1; Chantraine , Again, although the group composed of the old aorist ephun skr.

In book 10 of the Odyssey, the wily hero Odysseus relates the adventures of his wanderings to the Phaeacians, an idealized human community. However, Odysseus adventures have nothing to do with the heroic antagonists of the Iliad but rather with giants, witches, sea-monsters, and the likesupernatural beings which inhabit the world of the irrational and the magical. Odysseus begins his tale by describing how he just barely escaped from the island of the Laestrygonians with his own ship and comrades while the other eleven ships in the fleet were destroyed and their crews killed and devoured by man-eating giants.

He then finds himself and his crew on the island of Aeaea, the isle of the fair-tressed goddess Circe, aunt of the infamous enchantress Medea and of the Minotaur, daughter of Helios and Perse and granddaughter of Oceanus, one of the primordial entities in Greek cosmogonical myth. While on a recon- naissance mission, they arrive at Circes enchanted palace in a forest. They are invited in and offered a potion mixed with what is described as baneful drugs pharmaka lugra, They drink the potion and forget their native land. Subsequently, they are struck with a rhabdos Upon hearing of their disappearance but not yet aware of their fate, Odysseus sets out in pursuit of his companions.

The god tells Odysseus what he must do when Circe tries to bewitch him. Hermes gives Odysseus a plant, a pharmakon esthlon The plant is an effective antidote to Circes pharmakon lugron. But for the plant to work, Odysseus must in some sense understand its phusis. The plant is described as having a black root and a white flower This is the one and only occurrence of the word phu- sis in the Homeric corpus. Indeed, it is the first occurrence of the term prior to its use by a pre-Socratic philosopher.

As already indicated, Emile Benveniste, as part of his analysis of nouns in -sis, suggests that in its appearance in Homer phusis can be defined as the completed realization of a becoming and thus as the nature [of the thing] as it is real- ized, with all its properties. Many commentators claim Hermes only shows the natural form of the plant to Odysseus and there is no reference to growth or process in this exam- ple.

This would mean Hermes reveals both the external black root,13 milk white flower, etc. This notion of hiddenness will be fundamental to Heraclitus idea of phusis. In order to be able to ward off magic, Odysseus needs more than simple possession of the moly plant when he confronts Circe. Is there a relation between the etymology and the proposed Homeric meaning of the term phusis and the way it is used by the pre-Socratics?

In my view, there is real semantic continuity here. Consider the first appearance of the term in a pre-Socratic work. Heraclitus states that to explain or reveal phrazein 20 the present state of a thing perhaps to name it correctly! This is the meaning one finds nearly every time the term phusis is employed in the writ- ings of the pre-Socratics. All three, of course, are comprised in the orig- inal meaning of the word phusis.

Although phusis is absent from the writings of early Ionians, that is, the first philosophic writings, it is unanimously accepted today, as it was in antiquity, that the concept of phusis was a creation of Ionian science. It was a creation to the extent the word permitted the Ionians to present a new conception of the world in which natural causes were substituted for mythical ones. Indeed, some argue that although the early Ionians may be said to have invented the concept of nature phusis , they had no single word for nature, that is, nature as an all-inclusive system ordered by immanent law.

What matters is that already in Homer, phusis designates the whole process of growth of a thing from its birth to its maturity. West , 9 appears no less convinced. This also appears to be Burnets position when he states that the ancient philosophers themselves did not use titles I assume, as we now employ them , but that the name of the writer and the title of the text com- posed the first sentence of the work, as one can observe in the work of Herodotus.

These interpret phusis:. The first interpretation was proposed by John Burnet. According to Burnet , ; see also , 21 , from the outset phusis meant the permanent and primary substance out of which something was made and the early Ioni- ans were seeking the one phusis of all things. The notion of becoming or process inherent to the substance is secondary for Burnet.

He bases his interpretation on a passage from Plato and on another passage from Aristotle. The passage from Plato to which Burnet refers is found at Laws For Burnet, the word genesis in this passage signifies: to ex hou, that from which. This also appears to be A.

Serie: SUNY series in Ancient Greek Philosophy

Taylors interpretation. Now in Laws However, Plato understands by genesis and thus phusis here the productive force connected with the first elements that is, what commands or directs them. The soul commands and the body obeys. The text from Aristotle is found in Physics 2.

And this is why some have said that it was earth that constituted the nature of things, some fire, some air, some water, and some several and some all of these elemental substances. Never- theless, it is not a secret to anyone that Aristotle interpreted the Milesians from the point of view of his own theory of four causes: material, efficient, formal, and final. This is strange if one considers that what immediately follows this sentence defines this cause, or material principal, both as the constituent prin- ciple and the primary generator.

The second interpretation of the meaning of phusis belongs to O. Gigon , who argues, Ich mchte phusis im primitivisten Sinn Synonym mit genesis verstehen und interpretieren. In this interpretation, pre-Socrat- ics put the emphasis on the process, and its the primordial substance which becomes secondary. The position that genesis is a synonym for phusis is not without founda- tion even if the two terms are derived from different roots. Indeed, this is not the crux of the problem, since no one would deny that the notion of growth for the Greeks implied both life and motion.

Collingwood , 43 can be included as adhering to this interpretation when he writes: Nature, for them [the Ionian philosophers], never meant the world or the things which go to make up the world, but something inhering in these things which made them behave as they did. The third interpretation is upheld by W. Jaeger , In these passages, according to Jaeger, gene- sis encompasses the same double meaning as phusis, and, as a result, To say Ocean is the genesis of everything is virtually the same as calling it the phu- sis of everything Jaeger , What he understands by this double meaning is, on the one hand, the process of growth and emergence and on the other, that from which they ta onta have grown, and from which their growth is constantly renewed, in other words, its source or origin.

The interpretation of L. Lachier , blends well with Jaegers when he writes, le sens fondamental [of the word phusis] est lide dune existence qui se produit ou du moins se dtermine elle-mme, en tout ou en partie, sans avoir besoin dune cause trangre. In this way, the double meaning is possible. Nevertheless, in the passages of Homer cited above, genesis implies a meaning Jaeger seems to have missed, namely, the result of this productive power. Indeed, as Benveniste , 76 cor- rectly notes, Ocean gave birth to all beings, that is, to a completed, accom- plished birth une naissance effective, ralise.

From this perspective, the word genesis would cover the same triple meaning as the word phusis in Homers works. Jaeger also states genesis is a synonym of phusis. However, since the term phusis is absent from the first philosophical writings, how can it be argued with any certainty that phusis is synonymous with genesis? The answer is found in Aristotles Metaphysics 1. In brief, it means the whole process of the growth of a thing, from its birth or commencement, to its maturity. Indeed, the pre-Socratics, with whom this expression originated, were interested at least initially in a cosmogony in the literal sense of the word.

In this regard, it is interesting to note such a cosmogony involves not one, but two departure points: a chronological and a logical. The chronological or temporal starting point is called chaos in the modern sense of the term: to wit, the state of confusion existing before creation. The logical starting point, on the other hand, is the kosmos itself, that is, the natural world conceived as a structured whole in which each constituent part has a place. Indeed, people have always sought to know how the present order of things originated from the primordial chaos. An example which provides a good illustration of the first notion is found in Hippocratic works which focus on embryology.

Thus, in the treatise The Seed, which forms a whole with the treatise The Nature of the Child, the author begins by informing us that the sperm or seed 44 comes from the entire body ch. Lonie In chapter 29, the author explains that his method is based both on the observation of facts and on analogy. When it comes to enquiring into the phusis of something, it is the whole process from beginning to end which is understood. In the case of the embryo, the author is not concerned with the way it is but how did it come into existence and of what basic elements is it composed.

This is why he criticizes Empedocles directly after this passage because Empedocles argues that the characteristics proper to each animal are the result of accidental events, which occurred during their development. For Empedocles, the essence or form is not in the beginning, as it is for Aristotle. Indeed, for both Hippocratic physicians and pre-Socratic philosophers the process is some- thing real, that is, it has a real history and is defined in relation to its material source.

The reason for this is that once a being is born it must create a being similar to itself to participate in the eternal and the divine as much as possible. To define the relation between the notion of phusis and the method in vogue with the pre-Socratics, it is necessary to examine the texts which deal with the relation between medicine and the philosophy of nature. Medicine studies the composition of the body to better analyze the causes of sickness and their remedies. Since the composition of the body is contiguous with the problem of growth, this in turn raises those of generation and of production.

Consider- ing the period in question it is not surprising the primary concerns of the physicians overlapped those of the physicists. On the one hand, both claim the phusis of man and the phusis of the kosmos are the same. On the other hand, both look for the causes of life and death and by extension of health and sick- ness.


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Consider the two following texts, which illustrate what we have just said. The first text is from the author of Regimen I, who writes:. Regimen I. Later the author adds that the physician should also know what occurs in the whole universe holos kosmos such as the seasons of the year, the changes in the winds, and even the rising and setting of the stars in order to guard against the changes and excesses from which diseases come to men Regimen I. It is my opinion that all which has been written by physicians and philosophers on nature peri phu- sios has more to do with painting than medicine.

I do not believe that any clear knowledge of nature peri phusios can be obtained from any source other than a study of medicine and then only through a thorough mastery of the science. Chadwick and W. Mann with minor changes. Lets examine the two texts more closely while placing them in the con- text of their respective treatise. In sum, its author argues that to treat effectively the regimen of man, a knowl- edge of the nature phusis of man in general is necessary.

This entails two things: 1 a knowledge of the fundamental constituents from which man was composed at creation, in order to know of their effects; 2 a discernment of the elements which predominate in order to furnish an effective treatment to the patient.

As such, the author of Regimen I claims first that the constituents of all things, including man, are water and fire I. In fact, an inter- est in embryology can be discerned among all the philosophers to whom this author frequently alludes. According to the doxographical tradition, Anaximander seems to have con- ceived his cosmogony along similiar lines when he makes an analogy between the seed of animals and the development of the embryoalbeit his descrip- tion is purely natural.

This is also the case for certain Pythagorean authors, which is not surprising if one considers the meaning and importance of the term kosmos in their philosophy see Huffman , ; In fact, the mythical image of a universal egg from which the world emerged establishes to what degree such a notion could be primitive. According to the author of the treatise Regimen I, an anthropology entails an anthropogony, just as a cosmology entails a cosmogony. The reason the author of Regimen I wants to know the fundamental constituents from which the phu- sis of man and the universe are made implies a form of mysticism common to all people since the beginning of time.

If one knows the primordial state of things, it is possible to penetrate their secrets. As for the capacity to discern the elements that predominate, and in order to furnish an effective treatment according to the author , of the two elements our body is composed of, fire always has the power dunamis to move everything, whereas water always has the power dunamis to nourish everything I.

In turn, each one dominates and is dominated although neither ever gains complete control I. Moreover, each of these two elements is composed of two attributes. Fire is composed of hot and dry, and water of cold and wet. But each element also has an attribute of the other; fire has the attribute of wetness and water has the attribute of dryness. In this way, an element is never locked in the same state and many substances become possible I. Since the human body is composed of a mixture of several types of fire and of water, health and sickness must therefore exist in relation to certain mixtures.

Thus, the most healthy constitution is a composition of a mixture of the lightest water and the most subtle fire whatever our age or the season of the year. This is obviously not the case for the other mixtures and conse- quently precautions with respect to age and season must be taken into account.

The author of Regimen I understands this by discerning elements that predominate in order to furnish a effective treatment Regimen I. The author of Ancient Medicine, on the other hand, is radically opposed to the use of the philosophers method for medical ends. What are these hupothemenoi? In sum, contrary to his colleague, neither the seasons of the year, nor the changes in the winds, nor the rising and setting of the stars would have influenced the treatment of this physician.

This is also the case for the ori- gin and the formation of man, that is, an anthropogony. The aim of this evo- lutionary description is to explain the causes behind mans continual exis- tence. However, the hostility of this author necessi- tates a closer examination of the influence of Empedocles on the methods of certain physicians. The influence of this doctrine is particularly impor- tant to the author of the treatise, The Nature of Man. Like most of his con- temporaries, he rejected all the physical and physiological theories which were based on a single element for generation.

Aristotle (SUNY Series in Ancient Greek Philosophy)

It would be impossible, he argues, if it originated from a single substance ch. The physical bodies, the author continues, are constituted of four substances, namely hot, cold, dry, and wet. Like Empedocles, he contends none of the substances have priority over another. Moreover, each of the substances is considered a power or dunamis and when these powers are in harmony, each thing in the present case the human body , has its proper form. This reminds one of his predeces- sor, Alcmaeon of Croton, for whom health is the result of the balance isono- mia and proportionate mixture krasis of the powers duamis , which according to a general law, are opposed pair to pair wet and dry, hot and cold, bitter and sweet , whereas sickness is the supremacy monarchia of one of the terms of such a couple.

The body can be seen as a composite of the four humours: blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile, the balance or inbalance of which is responsible for health or sickness respectively ch. There is similar correlation between the four primary opposites hot, cold, wet, and dry , the four humours and the four seasons. Each of the four humours is associated with one of the four sea- sons and two of the primary opposites, with each group predominating in turn ch.

Blood like spring is hot and wet. Yellow Bile Black Bile like summer like autumn is hot and dry is cold and dry. Phlegm like winter is cold and wet. This excessively systematic and speculative theory appears to find support in certain empirical evidence. For example, when it states that the quantity of phlegm in the body increases in winter because it is the bodily substance most in keeping with the winter, seeing that it is coldest.

You can verify its coldness by touching phlegm, bile and blood; you will find that phlegm is the coldest. The Nature of Man 7. Nevertheless, the author of the treatise, Ancient Medicine, attacks the theory for its lack of an empirical foundation just as he castigates the theories of Empedocles. Indeed, his theory, just like that of Empedocles, remains essentially speculative and for this reason the author of Ancient Medi- cine challenges, from the outset, anyone who attempts to treat diseases not from empirical investigations that is, from reality , but from hypotheses that simply reduce every cause of disease to the four primary opposites: hot, cold, dry, and wet.

In chapter 15 he continues, I am utterly at a loss to know how those who prefer these hypothetical arguments and reduce the science to a simple matter of postulates ever cure anyone on the basis of their assumptions. In fact, if the constitution of man was so simple, he tells us in chapter 20, an edible like cheese, so harmful for one person, must be harmful for all oth- ers.

But this is evidently not the case. They attrib- uted disease to some factor dunamei stronger and more powerful than the human body which the body could not master. It was such factors that they sought to remove. There exists in man saltness, bitterness, sweetness, sharpness, astringency, flabbiness, and countless other qualities dunameis having every kind of influence, number and strength. When these are properly mixed and com- pounded with one another, they can neither be observed nor are they harm- ful.

But when one is separated out and stands alone it becomes both appar- ent and harmful. This last passage merits attention for two reasons. First, although the author of the treatise, Ancient Medicine, severely criticizes the doctrine of the four elements and their derivatives as a base for medicine because they employ postulates he considers as arbitrary, the fact remains that his own assumptions albeit more numerous are no less hypothetical. More important, what we see here is, as Lloyd notes, a growing interest not just of medical, but of general scientific, method. The term dunamis, the most general meaning of which is that of power is an action noun derived from the verb dunamis the fundamental meanings of which are to be able, capable.

Chantraine , 1. The term itself envelops a capacity that is both active and passive. As an active power or force, dunamis is the capacity or aptitude to act or to give. As a passive power or force, dunamis is the capacity or aptitude to be acted upon or to receive. Thus, as a body or substance composed of both active and passive properties, it is capable of causing or receiving certain modifications. Since it was the duty of the physician to find the substances capable of mod- ifying our physical states, this explains why the word dunamis was so fre- quently employed by the Hippocratic physicians.

The technical or special meaning that the term dunamis had for Hippocratic doctors and was so influ- encial in Greek philosophy is excellently summarized by J. Souilh follow- ing his analysis of the use of the term dunamis by the author of the treatise Ancient Medicine:. The term dunamis comprises two ideas which are mutually complemen- tary.


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The substances manifest themselves by their qualities. Things are ren- dered sensible by these properties, such as the cold, the hot, the bitter, the salt. These are the dunameis, distinct entities which constitute the exteriorization of the substance. But these entities themselves can only be known when in action: action is their raison dtre, and action characterises and individu- alises them. It can be combined with the other qualities, but will not be confound with them, because its action is not identical to theirs.

And this action of qualities is once again their dunamis. The term thus designates both their essence and their proper manner of manifesting themselves. Souilh , 36 Later, when Souilh terminates the group of Hippocratic treatises, he observes that in the treatises where the influence of cosmological ideas is evident:.

Thanks to dunamis, the mysterious phusis, the substantial eidos or primordial element, makes itself known by its action. This explains why it was later possible to pass from the known to the unknown, from appearance to reality, and how easy it was to establish a perfect equation between phu- sis and dunamis. Souilh , The terms phusis and dunamis are sometimes almost synonymous, but there is normally a perceptible distinction as illustrated in the following pas- sage from Menons Iatrica:.

Each of these has its dunamis [the quality which characterizes it and makes it known]: fire has the hot, air the cold, water the wet, and earth the dry. Souilh next demonstrates how the Sophists adopted and transposed this terminology, and finally facilitated its introduction into philosophy. Thus, for Plato, dunamis can be defined as the property or the quality, which reveals the nature of a thing. The dunamis enables us to give a name to each thing that conforms to its constitution, and to place things in separate groups Souilh , Indeed, if the phusis designates the substantial foundation of a thing, it is thanks to its dunamis that this thing can reveal itself to us.

This history most certainly includes the origin of mankind. However, I will conjecture with the fifth text that it is probably that the logical starting point was the form of the society in which the philosopher resided. Let us examine these texts. Such men would never take part in shame- ful deeds. In this fragment, we see that Euripides holds in high regard a certain type of doctrine or physical philosophy probably that of Anaxagoras ,64 namely, the study or contemplation of the ageless order of immortal nature, whence and how it was composed or constituted.

Mean- while, several observations are in order. Moreover, the adjectives employed to describe kosmos and phusis are the same as those that appear in Homers works in the form of formulas to describe the gods and their attributes. Thus, in Odyssey 5. These common opinions are provided in the form of a cosmogony and anthro- pogony respectively:.

This text could not be clearer. It exemplifies without equivocation the common assumption at the time among the phusiologoi. According to this assumption, the constitution of all living things is analogous to that of the uni- verse insofar as they originated from the same primordial stuff and are part of the same kosmos. There is doxographical evidence for this assumption in all of the pre-Socratics beginning with the early Ionians. I will return to this observation later. Indeed, he showed the folly of those who dealt with such prob- lems. Nor were these the only questions he asked about such theorists.

Students of human nature, he said, think that they will apply their knowledge in due course for the good of themselves and any others they choose. Do those who pry into heavenly phenomena ta theia imagine that, once they have discovered the laws by which these are produced hais anankais hekasta gignetai , they will create at their will winds, waters, seasons and such things to their need?

Or have they no such expectation, and are they satisfied with knowing the causes of these various phenomena?

The Greek Concept of Nature (SUNY series in Ancient Greek Philosophy) - Bookdl

Marchant with major revisions. This text includes several new elements for our thesis. I stress continue to occur for if there is indeed something that distinguishes speculative thought from mythi- cal thought, it is the notion that the natural causes behind the initial forma- tion of the universe continue to account for the current natural phenomena. In fact, according to W. To which Aristotle immediately adds: And they explain the development of plants and animals in a similar way 1.

In Gen- eration of Animals 5. Initially, he is alluding only to the Monists, but further on he explicitly mentions the efficient causes of Empe- docles, Anaxagoras and Democritus. To holon refers to the result. Therefore, the historia alludes to the entire development from beginning to end.

Plato and Aristotle (Introduction to Greek Philosophy)

Moreover, to holon concerns the com- pleted whole; in brief, the universe kosmos in which nothing is lacking from its whole by nature holon phusei. The importance of this resides in its location. Aristotle states that if Anaxagoras postulated nous as the separate cause of movement, it is precisely because the onta in question the universe and its entire contents exhibit goodness and beauty b11 , and order and arrangement b The works of nature, they say, are grand and primary, and constitute a ready-made source for all the minor works constructed and fashioned by artartefacts technika , as theyre generally called.

Ill put it more precisely. I mean for instance the productions of the arts of painting and music, and all their ancillary skills. But if there are in fact some techniques that produce worthwhile results, they are those that cooperate with nature, like medicine and farming and physical training. This school of thought maintains that government, in particular, has very little to do with nature, and it is largely a matter of art; similarly legislation is never a natural process but is based on technique, and its enactments are quite artificial.

Saunders with minor revisions. Indeed, according to this theory, nature generates everything through its own power. Each stage is only a stage in their proper evolution. Let us briefly examine the contents.

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According to this theory, the kosmos appears in the following manner: the four elements which are due to nature and chance in this case, the same thing , impelled by their respective tendencies dunameis , generate the entire universe to holon. Then the seasons originate from the movement of the celestial bodies.

The effect of the seasons on the earth this is still the result of nature and chance , then leads to the appearance of animals and plants. The greatest and finest works of this cosmogony are thus accomplished. This explains why the creations of art are said to be minor and secondary. He begins with a description of the first men. They are the survivors of one in a series of natural cataclysm a that periodically destroy all but a remnant of mankind.

The progress of time is thus indissociable from the discovery of diverse technai. In Homer, phusis designates the whole process of growth of a thing from its birth to its maturity. This characterization of phusis clearly corresponds with the attempt to describe the process through which the present world order comes about which we see expressed in the earliest philo- sophical cosmogonies. What differentiates the term in its pre-Socratic use from its Homeric ancestor is the reference to the gods.

Within the context of the early history of philosophy the term phusis, with its primary meaning of growth, arose to express not merely the result of a process or the form of a thing but the process, from origin to end, through which all that is came into being and continues to behave as it does. A number of texts strongly suggest that the phusis of all that is refers not only to what we call cosmol- ogy, but also to the origins and development of human beings and their social organizations or politics.

What is a myth? The word myth is notoriously difficult to define, and no one definition has been universally accepted. But a myth is not simply a message in the form of an orally trans- mitted story.