Brill’s New Pauly


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(602 words)

Author(s): Laks, André
[German version] Since the influential edition by H. Diels [1], the term 'Presocratics' usually refers to a very diverse group of Greek thinkers. Not all of them lived before Socrates [2] (some of them - such as the Sophists, Democritus [1] and Philolaus [2] - were his contemporaries), but they were all not (yet) influenced by his thought (cf. [2. VIII]). The popularity of the term arose under the influence of Nietzsche, who had stopped using the term 'Preplatonic philosophers' [3]. Although the term 'Presocratic philosophers' (from which the shorter 'Presocratics' is deriv…


(4,594 words)

Author(s): Hühn, Helmut
Hühn, Helmut [German version] A. Regarding the Questionable Reception Schema of the Presocratics (CT) Introduced only in the 19th cent., the term ‘Presocratics’ became a fixed category in the 20th cent. in structuring the history of philosophy. It is a collective term used to refer to all the thinkers of the 6th and 5th cents. BC who preceded Socrates in contributing to the discipline subsequently referred to as ‘philosophy’. Through Hermann Diels's Fragmente der Vorsokratiker (1903), still the standard collection of fragments of early Greek thought, the term Vorsokratiker became …

Perception, theories of

(2,153 words)

Author(s): H.BA.
[German version] I. Definition Sensory perception can be defined as non-cognitive reception of stimuli by the senses. A theory of perception attempts to explain the origin and nature of sensory perception and its role in the cognitive process. Ancient theories already treated core questions such as the mechanism of sensory perception, their reliability (or susceptibility to illusion and error) and their relationship to thought, knowledge and memory, all of which are still questions of undiminished r…


(1,865 words)

Author(s): Halfwassen, Jens (Cologne)
[German version] A. Introduction Since the commentators on Aristotle from Late Antiquity, the word metaphysics designates the most prominent and fundamental part of philosophy. It concerns itself with the highest and ultimate principles and the cohesion of reality as a whole. It derives from the book title - controversial both in origin and original meaning - Τὰ μετὰ τὰ φυσικά (‘What comes after physics , that is, probably, in the course of philosophical education in the Aristotelian school) from Ar…


(1,818 words)

Author(s): Berti, Enrico (Padua)
[German version] A. General remarks The English word 'principle' is derived from the Latin principium, in turn a translation of the Greek ἀρχή ( archḗ); in a general sense, this means 'beginning', both in the spatial and temporal senses. In the language of Greek science, it can mean 'foundation' or 'source', i.e. the cause of being and becoming of a thing or, finally, that which allows a thing to be known, e.g. its basic principle. All these meanings were described by Aristoteles [6], who distinguished between them as …


(6 words)

Eleatism see Pre-Socratics

Milesian School

(519 words)

Author(s): Bodnár, István (Budapest)
[German version] Although we do not know in what manner the first three natural philosopher - Thales, Anaximandros and Anaximenes [1] (end of the 7/6 cent. BC.) - interacted and collaborated with each other, it is remarkable that they originated from and were active in the same town, Miletus [2], on the coast of Asia Minor. However, they do not constitute a ‘school proper (despite [4], cf. [2]). Each of them specified a basic stuff or ἀρχή ( archḗ), of which all the phenomena of the natural world are modifications only. The three archaí - water, the ‘unlimited (ἄπειρον/ ápeiron) and air respe…


(321 words)

Author(s): Holzhausen, Jens (Bamberg)
[German version] The Gnostic collection of Hippolytus [2] contains a piece of writing by the Naassenes (Hippolytus, Refutatio 5,6-11), who are elsewhere known only to us from Theodoretus; he identifies them with the Ophites (PG 80, 784) and Barbelo-Gnostics (PG 83, 361). It is not certain that the name was used by the group itself; according to Hippolytus, its members referred to themselves as ‘Gnostics’. The name derives from the Hebrew naḥaš, ‘serpent’: to the Naassenes, the source of gnosis was the serpent of Eden. The serpent, however, does not play a revelator…


(782 words)

Author(s): Betegh, Gábor (Budapest)
[German version] (Θαλῆς; Thalês). One of the Seven Sages, philosopher, astronomer and mathematician, said to be the founder of the Milesian School, 1st half of 6th cent. BC. Some anecdotes about T. survive, but no reliable biographical information. He is said to have travelled in Egypt. To what extent his erudition was influenced by the Near East is unknown. The ancient sources disagree as to whether T. recorded his theories in writing. Those who argue for it name the titles of three works: Ναυτικὴ ἀστρολογία ( Nautikḕ astrología, 'Nautical Astronomy', in hexameters), Περὶ τροπῆς ( Perì t…


(405 words)

Author(s): Dräger, Paul (Trier)
[German version] (Ἀνάγκη; Anánkē). The word attested in Homer as an abstract term (‘compulsion’) develops significance as a philosophical term from the pre-Socratics onwards [1. 5 ff.; 2. 147 ff.; 3. 103 ff.]: Thales (A 1, DK 71, 12 f.) preserves the oldest Greek speculation, ‘to bring to expression with ananke, i.e. natural necessity, the power which is active mechanically behind all phenomena and which compels the divine primal principle to appear in its multitudinous forms’ [1. 6]; ananke is frequently equated with εἱμαρμένη ( heimarménē) (e.g. Heraclid. A 5). The pe…


(919 words)

Author(s): Detel, Wolfgang (Frankfurt/Main)
[German version] A. Concept The concept of necessity (ἀνάγκη/ anánkē, Latin necessitas) is documented as early as pre-Socratic texts, where it refers both to normative bonds and to physical regularities. In the philosophy of the classical and Hellenistic periods, as well as of Late Antiquity, it was limited to physical, logical and to some degree metaphysical necessity. Detel, Wolfgang (Frankfurt/Main) [German version] B. Pre-Socratics In pre-Socratic texts, the concept of necessity is used without distinction for cosmic regularities and for normative bonds …


(3,635 words)

Author(s): Graßhoff, Gerd (Hamburg)
[German version] A. Meaning of the word Teachings regarding the order of the world, from Greek kósmos (κόσμος) and lógos (λόγος). Kósmos: the alignment, the regulated interrelationship of things in a whole, order. Originally the word was used for a military, institutional or governmental order (Homer, Hesiod). Herodotes and Thucydides used kósmos for the constitution of a state, Democritus and Aristotle for the type of state, and the Pre-Socratics for the world order. Plato frequently used kósmos as a synonym for the firmament, the universe and the ‘whole’. Lógos: ‘word, speech, li…


(1,624 words)

Author(s): Bodnár, István (Budapest)
(Παρμενίδης; Parmeníd ēs). [German version] A. Life P. from Elea, philosopher of the late 6th and early 5th cent. BC, akmḗ c. 500 BC (28 A 1 DK), key figure of the Eleatic School. Plato's dialogue Parmenides (127a = 28 A 11 DK) represents a fictitious meeting between P., aged c. 65,  Zeno [1] of Elea, c. 40 years of age and a very young Socrates, in Athens in c. 455 BC. That would mean that P. was born in in 520 or even later. According to Speusippus (28 A 1 DK), Strabo and Plutarch (28 A 12 DK), P. was active as a legislator as well. Bodnár, István (Budapest) [German version] B. The didactic poem P. wrote …


(1,451 words)

Author(s): Narcy, Michel (Paris)
(from ἡ σοφιστική, sc. τέχνη/ hē sophistikḗ, sc. téchnē, 'the sophistic, sc. art/method', e.g. Pl. Soph. 231b 8). [German version] I. Terminology The use of the word 'sophistic' as a noun, as has been adopted into modern languages, seems not to predate Philostratus [5] (VS 481, AD 237/8). His distinction between an 'ancient' ( archaía) and a Second Sophistic ( deutéra) was taken up in 1903 by Hermann Diels, who gave the title Ältere Sophistik ('Elder Sophistic') to the final section of his Fragmente der Vorsokratiker ('Fragments of the Presocratics'). Most of the authors collect…


(1,497 words)

Author(s): Detel, Wolfgang (Frankfurt/Main)
[German version] A. Concept The concept of causality does not begin to take shape until the Middle Ages (Lat. causalitas), and is not attested in ancient literature. But, from the beginning, the philosophers and scientists of antiquity reflected on the forms that can be taken by the chain of events (causality in its broadest sense). A particular topic of discussion was the extent to which events in the cosmos are causally linked (principle of causality). Detel, Wolfgang (Frankfurt/Main) [German version] B. Pre-Socratics In early Greek thought, material objects and things are …

Soul, theory of the

(1,503 words)

Author(s): Frede, Michael (Oxford)
[German version] A. Concept of the soul In order to understand the concept and the theory of the soul ('psychology': λόγος/ lógos, 'theory', from ψυχή/ psychḗ, 'soul') in Graeco-Roman Antiquity, it is important to distinguish between two ways of perceiving the soul: the soul as an essential component of a human being, as the subject of thinking and feeling, which controls one's behaviour, and the soul as the general quality that infuses a living thing with life. The first view is based on the perception of the soul ( psychḗ) as an individual's shadowy doppelgänger, which separates itself…

Time, concepts of

(3,691 words)

Author(s): Cancik-Kirschbaum, Eva (Berlin) | H.WE.
[German version] I. Ancient Orient The concept of time in cuneiform cultures is characterized by cyclic and linear rhythms, ideas of beginning and end, before and after, repetition and change, progress, past, present, future, and 'eternity'/perpetuity. All these aspects can be grasped both notionally and conceptually in the transmitted sources, but are not the subject of a systematic, theoretical discourse. The languages of the cuneiform cultures had several means available to describe events, circum…

Protos heuretes

(768 words)

Author(s): Baumbach, Manuel (Zürich)
[German version] (πρῶτος εὑρετής/ prôtos heuretḗs, Lat. primus inventor). Term widely used as a topos from the 5th cent. BC on for one or more 'inventors' ( heuretḗs, pl. heuretaí) of particular objects or techniques, considered, by the connection of heurḗmata ('inventions') with his name , as their first ( prôtos) originator. The earliest witness to this usage can be found in the 7th-6th cent. BC Phoronis (fr. 2 Bernabé): οἳ πρῶτοι τέχνην πολυμήτιος Ἡφαίστοιο εὗρον ( hoì prôtoi téchn ēn polymḗtios Hēphaístoio heûron ("they <the Idaean Dactyls> were the first to invent the art…


(949 words)

Author(s): Tieleman, Teun (Leeuwarden) | Büchli, Jörg (Zürich)
(πνεῦμα/ pneûma; Lat. spiritus). [German version] A. General The primary meaning of pneuma (< πνέω/ pnéō, 'blow, waft ') is wind or breath. In scientific and philosophical literature, the term gradually acquired a more technical meaning. In the Hellenistic and subsequent periods, pneuma is a central idea in a number of important medical and natural-philosophical (including theological) systems. Tieleman, Teun (Leeuwarden) [German version] B. Historical overview As early as the 5th and 4th cents. BC, pneuma is used as an explanatory principle for physiological processes…


(945 words)

Author(s): D.RO. | Di Marco, Massimo (Fondi Latina)
(Τίμων/ Tímōn). [German version] [1] T. of Athens Epitome of the misanthropist. Son of a certain Echecratidas, from the demos of Collytus, 5th cent. BC. T., whose historicity is uncertain, withdrew from society, probably after suffering disappointments, and died because he did not want to see a doctor. His tomb, which lay on a shore ledge, is said to have been washed off by the sea (Phrynichus, Monótropos, fr. 18 CAF; Aristoph. Av. 1549; Aristoph. Lys. 805-815; Neanthes FGrH 84 F 35; among others: [1]). Legendary interpretations of his figure and confusion with…
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