Talk abstract details

Presocratic Cosmology
Peter Chapman-Rietschi


The talk aims at presenting in a short but deep way the different aspects of Presocratic philosophical cosmology. Attention is on metaphor as well as rational and scientific thoughts and ideas that gave rise to atomism and modern-day atomic theory. Presocratic cosmological thinkers, who tried to explain the cosmic reality we live in, include Thales and Anaximander, as well as Pythagoras, Xenophanes, Anaxagoras, and Democritus. Underlying their ideas is a cosmogony that borders between philosophy, science, and religion.
Ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian cosmogony and cosmology appear to have inspired Thales' and Anaximander's Cosmic- and World picture. The evidence for this rests upon Egyptian Nun (watery sheath around the Cosmos) and the Babylonian Map of the World, which in turn reminds of an Ancient Chinese equivalent. Anaximander, an associate of Thales, believed in the existence of many worlds ~ an assumption championed also by other important materialist philosophers, among whom: Archelaus, Diogenes of Apollonia, Democritus, and Leucippus. According to the Pythagorean Petron of Himera, there exist one hundred and eighty-three worlds in all! In the presentation will be discussed the Pythagorean governing principle of the Cosmos. The Pythagoreans upheld tenets centred on monistic reality. Their ideas, closely related to Orphic mysteries and dualism of sensible and intelligible worlds, led to mathematical philosophy, "central fire," and number forms and matter. The talk also focuses on the principle of cosmotheology as advanced by Steven J. Dick. The principle concentrates on cosmic design and the role of all life-forms in the visible Universe.