Religion Past and Present

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[German Version]

I. Antiquity


Western philosophy is usually held to begin with the Ionian philosophers of nature (Thales, Anaximander, Heraclitus, Natural philosophy), even if they described their activity less as philosophy than as “history.” The first to refer to himself specifically as a philosopher is said to have been Pythagoras, but this may have been a retrospective reference. The word ϕιλοσοϕεῖν/philosopheín, “to philosophize,” occurs first in the 5th century bce. Initially, like sophia, it denoted a no…

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Erler, Michael, Schönberger, Rolf, Puster, Rolf W. and Figal, Günter, “Philosophy”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 19 July 2024 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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