Nature - Research Article from Encyclopedia of Religion

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Pre-Socratics, Stoicism, Hermetism, and the Early Middle Ages

The pre-Socratics hardly opposed matter to mind, soul to body, or subject to object, but they had a tendency to approach nature with a nondualistic, noncategorical attitude. In such a view, all being is concrete. Yet their thinking contained dynamic and creative contradictions. Cosmologies and anthropologies rested on pairs of opposites. The pre-Socratics had a sense of analogy and homology insofar as they did not think in purely Aristotelian categories. Their imaginary world was grounded in concrete nature, interpreting and molding it into living structures. Hence the importance of the elements (whose rich symbolism would later be taken up again by the alchemists): water for Thales, air for Anaximenes, fire for Heraclitus. For these physicist-metaphysicians, especially Heraclitus, the logic of antagonism was primordial. "Night and day," he said, "they are one." Hence the pre-Socratics' labyrinthine style, which seems...

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This section contains 6,097 words
(approx. 21 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Nature Encyclopedia Article
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Encyclopedia of Religion
Nature from Encyclopedia of Religion. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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