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Weber and the Greeks Max Weber opens the Preface to his collected papers in the sociology

of religion with the following famous sentence:

A product of modern European civilization, studying any problem of universal history, is bound to ask himself to what combination of circumstances the fact should be attributed that in Western civilization, and in Western civilization only, cultural phenomena have appeared which ________________________

. / . .. // . 1970. 1-3; .. . , 1986. . 281 .


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(as we like to think) lie in a line of development having universal significance and value1.

In the next paragraphs Weber gives a minute, although somewhat uneven catalogue of sociocultural innovations. He tries to prove the specific uniquely rationalcharacter of Western (Occidental) development in the spheres of science, art, technology, printed literacy, higher education, especially the training of officials, state organization and economy2. For our present purpose, his thesis concerning the history of science is of interest, namely his statement that [o]nly in the West does science exist at a stage of development which we recognize to-day as valid3.

The first response that the reading of his train of thought evokes from usfrom us, we can add with a crumb of self-irony, products of [post]modern European civilizationmay well be that Weber is speaking here as an unreflected spokesman of some out-of-fashion ethnocentrism.

On closer inspection, however, one might discover with Habermas that Webers text shows, instead, a certain wavering between two opposing positions: absolutism or universalism (which can be unveiled as ethnocentrism, more specifically as Eurocentrism), on the one hand, and cultural relativism, on the other 4. First, we read about any problem of universal history, concerning which we are inevitably and legitimately bound to ask a question. But precisely who is bound that way? We the products of modern European civilization That is, the question seems to be inevitable and legitimate in our particular culture only. Similarly, the question is directed towards the causes of a line of development having universal significance and valuebut Weber modifies its meaning at once with an insertion: it is instead a line of development that we like to think of as having universal significance and value. Thirdly and finally, only in ________________________

Weber 1930/2005. P.XXVIII, the German original: Weber 1947. . 1.

(Universalgeschichtliche Probleme wird der Sohn der modernen europischen Kulturwelt unvermeidlicher- und berechtigterweise unter der Fragestellung behandeln: welche Verkettung von Umstanden hat dazu gefhrt, dass gerade auf dem Boden des Okzidents, und nur hier, Kulturerscheinungen auftraten, welche doch wie wenigstens wir uns vorstellen in einer Entwicklungsrichtung von universeller Bedeutung und Gltigkeit lagen?).

Jrgen Habermas (1983. P. 157ff, esp. 167) arranges the items of Webers enumeration along the Parsonsian societyculturepersonality schema as belonging to social modernization, cultural rationalization, and systematic conduct of life, respectively.

Weber, ibidem. (Nur im Okzident gibt esWissenshaft in dem Entwicklungsstadium, welches wir heute als gltiganerkennen).

Habermas 1983. P. 179ff. Habermas (ibid.) nevertheless thinks that, in the final analysis, a universalist position follows from Webers conceptual approach.

the West does science exist, we readbut a qualification comes again:

science in the form we recognize as valid. Webers frequent use of quotation marks throughout the text also seems to speak in favour of a relativistic interpretation (see, e. g., the German text in footnote 3).

In fact, it is exactly the use of quotation marks that can lead us to an alternative interpretation. According to this, we have to regard Webers approach as similar to Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmanns methodological principle in their book The Social Construction of Reality. As they warn in their Introduction, whenever they write about the social construction of reality or about knowledge, these words: reality and knowledge should be put in quotation marks, signifying that they as sociologists of knowledge are not in the position to differentiate between valid and invalid assertions about the world (this is, instead, the task of the philosopher) 5. The sociologist of knowledge is only dealing with knowledge-claims (or reality-assertions) and asks whether the difference between [] two realities [taken for granted by the members of two societies, respectively] may not be understood in relation to various differences between the two societies. I think we have to see the same methodological selfrestriction at work implicitly in Webers text6.

This does not mean, of course, that he might not have taken sides in the universalismrelativism controversy, but makes his stance, or his ambiguity, irrelevant to his research program in historical sociology steered by the above question. The goal of this program is to work out and to explain genetically the special peculiarity of Occidental rationalism, and within this field that of the modern Occidental form7. As can be seen, the research proceeds in two directions or, rather, in two dimensions. On the one hand, it seeks to understand the peculiarities of Western rationalizing processes by comparative-typificatory analyses of the world religions (primarily, the characteristics of Western capitalist rationalization by analyzing the economic ethics of the world religions). Explanation here consists in identifying those factors and characteristics of other civilizations that are in contradiction with Occidental development, in other words, that prevented these civilizations from developing along the line Western civilization did. On the other hand, Weber wants to give causal explanations both to the appearance ________________________

Berger and Luckmann 1966. . 14.

It is easy to recognize the phenomenological method of bracketing (or epokhe) behind this use of quotation marks. The difference is only that the philosopher uses the method of epokh in order to finally reach valid results whereas the sociologist of knowledge, in order to look for the social determinants of the view in question.

Weber. p. cit. P. XXXIX.

of these impeding factors and to Western development itself. The method of causal imputation [kauzale Zurechnung] Weber here resorts to comes from his 1904 paper on the objectivity of knowledge in social science and social policy. According to this methodological essay, causal explanation in the social and cultural sciences consists in imputing particular causes to those sides or features [Bestandteile] of particular historical phenomena that have general cultural importance8. At the same time, Weber emphasizes that we have to explore the causal relations both ways. We have to investigate, that is, the effects of religious and other ideas on the practical conducts of life and through them on the social and economic reality (ideas as explanantia). But we also have to inquire, reversely, into the effects of social, economic etc. factors on ideas (ideas as explananda)9.

Obviously, it follows from his interest in the first type of causal relationships, ideas as explanantia, that Webers ambitious comparative and explanatory research program takes as its aim the world religions, the five religions or religiously determined systems of life-regulation which have known how to gather multitudes of confessors around them 10, Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, supplemented because of its foundational historical importance for the last twoby Judaism. The philosophical-scientific culture of the ancient Greeks, in turn, becomes pushed into the background for Weber 11 for two partly interconnected reasons. First, because it was unable to become a mass movement and secondly, because Webers interest is directed primarily on ethical rationalization and the achievements of cognitive rationalization are of lesser importance to him12. Although the peculiarities of the Greek philosophical culture appear regularly in comparative remarks throughout Webers analyses of Chinese, Indian, and Jewish religions, it is easy to see, however, that this contrastive role is out of all proportion to Webers own analysis of the role of Hellenic spirit in the development of European ________________________

Weber 1949. . 7879.

Weber 1930/2005. P. XXXIXXI.


Schluchter (1981. . 148) cites a 1919 letter from Weber to his publisher J. C. B.

Mohr, which delineates the following plan: a brief treatment of the Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Zoroastrian ethics, but also a sketch of the development of the Western Brgertum in Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Evidently, the analysis of Greek philosophical culture was planned to take place in the part consecrated to the ancient Western Bourgeoisie.

For the former, see Weber 1967. . 320, for the latter, Habermas. Op. cit. . 197

and 209.

sciences and the role of the latter in the development of Western capitalism13.

Given his aims and methodological presuppositions, Weber should have analysed the combination of circumstances that resulted in the birth and development of Greek intellectual (philosophical and scientific) culture, too, as a concrete historical phenomenon having universal significance for the birth of Occidental rationalism, even though this (sub)culture was unable to gather directly multitudes around itself.

The problem of the origin of philosophy Now, as for the question of the origins of Greek philosophy and science, so many different, often incompatible, answers have been suggested that they cannot even be attempted to enumerate here. G. E. R. Lloyd (1979, pp. 234ff.) considers five different factors offered earlier as stimulating or

permitting the emergence of these intellectual activities:

1) technological progress, mastery led to the development of critical inquiry;

2) economic surplus made possible the leisure necessary for such activities;

3) intercultural exchange (the knowledge of other societies and beliefsystems) resulted in an open an critical attitude towards the fundamental assumptions of ones own society;

4) the development of literacy had, instead, this effect; and finally;

5) social and political developments, most importantly the rise of the polis played this role.

In discussing the first four hypotheses, Lloyd argues each time that the factor in question can at best be necessary but not sufficient for the emergence of Greek philosophy and science, all the more because Greek society was not exceptionally developed (or differently developed) in regard to any of these factors, as compared to other contemporary Near Eastern societies.

The polis. Lloyd himself favours the fifth hypothesis. Besides the fact that the period from the seventh to the fifth centuries was one of a high level of political activity and involvement in Greece, he emphasizes that the constitutional framework of the Greek city-states differs markedly, in

certain ways, from that of the great ancient Near Eastern river civilizations:


Weber (1930/2005. P. XXVIIIXIX) attributes the following peculiar forms and features of Western science to the Greeks: the mathematical foundation of astronomy, rational demonstration in geometry, the Thucydidean pragma in historiography and the systematic method of Aristotle in political thought.

indeed some of the institutions of the democracies, such as ostracism, are unprecedented and unparalleled outside Greece14.

Here, however, two suggestions can be distinguished. According to the simpler one the spheres of law and justice provide important models of cosmic order as can perfectly be seen in the case of the early natural philosophers and medical writers15. The more complex second suggestion

proposed earlier by French historians and anthropologists of ancient Greece:

Louis Gernet, Jean-Pierre Vernant, Pierre Vidal-Naquet and Marcel Detienne and adopted by Lloydclaims that Greek rationality is the product of the city-state16. In more details, four aspects of Greek political experience may be held to have influenced directly key features of the intellectual developments: First there is the possibility of radical innovation, second the openness of access to the forum of debate, third the habit of scrutiny, and fourth the expectation of justificationof giving an accountand the premium set on rational methods of doing so17.

Architecture as politics. Robert Hahn (2001) gives a detailed critique of Lloyds positions (both the one in the 1979 book and its subsequent reformulations and refinements), based partly on earlier criticisms by Frischer (1982) and Hurwit (1985). Lloyds theory of the political and legal causation of philosophical and scientific rationality cannot be maintained, they argue, not the least because the appearance of philosophical and scientific activity antedates the emergence of the political and legal institutions that is supposed to function as its cause. [T]he argument that participatory government was central to the initial stages of the innovations of Thales and Anaximander could not find much support from the political realities of archaic Miletus18. This does not mean, however, that we have to give up entirely the fifth hypothesis. Hahn puts forward an even more sophisticated explanatory theory separating three tiers (as if in a wedding cake).

He identifies Lloyds approach as one of the first-tier accounts that focus upon the systematic programs of Plato and Aristotle in order to identify the essential characteristics of philosophy (epistemological and ontological concerns) and the historical narratives they suggest tend to look backward in time [...] to determine who should and who should not be included in the story that leads up to them. Second-tier accounts, on ________________________

Lloyd. Op. cit. . 246.


the other hand, see the rationalizing activity of the Presocratics as characteristic of philosophical thought and the historical narratives they offer try to account for their rejection of myth and their proposal of rational explanations. Finally, the third-tier account Hahn claims to elaborate seeks an explanation of precisely what fuelled the rationalizing19 in the cultural, social and political circumstances of the age. To sum up, the first (= uppermost) tier concerns philosophical activity at its purest form, the second one is related to a more general thing: rationalizing mentality, whereas the third tier refers to the basis of all these intellectual activities and attitudes.

Hahn thus tries to locate Anaximander, and Thales, in the cultural context from which their innovations emerge, to see the emergence of philosophical thought, of a rational and prosaic presentation, against the background of ongoing activities in which their enterprises embeddedtechnological, religious, social, political20. His specific hypothesis is that Greek philosophy emerged from, and was embedded within, the social and political complexities that motivated temple building21. Building monumental temples during the Archaic Age was one of the attempts of Greek aristocracy to secure its eroding authority both internally and externallythis is the socio-political side of the story. And building monumental temples led to the appearance of a new social group within archaic society, the artchitects who provided the first philosophers with intellectual models (e. g. imagining in aerial view, model making)this is the cultural or intellectual side.

Hypolepsis. Jan Assmann (1992) answers our question concerning the origin of Western scientific culture (in Assmanns wording, die Entwicklung eines logischen Regeln der Wahrheitssuche verpflichteten Diskurses22) by coining the term hypolepsis. This term signifies a specific form of intertextuality which has developed in the Greek literary culture and which made possible a new form of sociocultural coherence.

To summarize Assmanns theory of culture very briefly, he sets out from the thesis that the cultural identity of a society, and through it social order, can be maintainedin fact, reproduced permanentlyby two means: rituals and texts. In case of ritual coherence identity is secured by (what is thought to be) the unchanging repetition of rites. In case of textual coherence, in turn, this role is played by controlled variations produced through the interpretation ________________________

Idid. . 1617.


of the foundational texts of the culture in question. Three versions of textual coherence are exemplified by the commentary of canonical text, the imitation of classical texts, and the critique of the foundational texts of scientific discourse. This last type of intertextuality is termed by Assmann hypoleptic and he regards Greek philosophy as a paradigm for it.

The term hypolepsis can best be understood as contribution to a debate or picking up the line of conversation. However, the emergence of science and philosophy requires the widening of the hypoleptic horizon, the possibility that one can join in a conversation dispersed in space and time. Following Niklas Luhmann, Assmann identifies three cultural and technical innovations that made this hypoleptic intertextuality possible.

One is, obviously, writing and literacy without which the preservation of messages is very difficult and of low efficiency. Another condition is a newfallibilistic and intersubjectiveconcept of truth according to which we all are born into a discourse already running and the best we can do is to learn how to respond authentically and critically to our predecessors. Finally, hypoleptic intertextuality also needs an institutionalized frame that can replace the situative frame of living speech. Such social institutions for dialogues with texts were, Assmann notes, the Platonic Academy and Aristotles Peripatos.

Complex accounts. Lloyd, as we have seen, argues that the first four factors in his listtechnological progress, economic surplus, intercultural exchange, and literacyare at best necessary but not sufficient causes, or conditions, of the birth of philosophy. His main argument is that in these fields there was nothing exceptional in the Greek development as compared to the neighboring societies.

The specificity of Greece lies in its sociopolitical institutions, primarily in the rise of the polis. Hahn in turn shows a specific set of technological innovations (in the field of architecture) that, pace Lloyd, can be regarded as exceptional.

Similarly, Assmann shows that in the field of communication technologies there was an exceptional development in ancient Greece, the emergence of hypoleptic intertextuality based partly on the development of literacy.

However, Assmann does not investigate how the conditions of hypolepsis writing, a specific truth-conception, and framecame into being historically and Lloyd states only in vague generality that the different factors might have combined in bringing into existence philosophy and science. The account Hahn offers is superior to theirs in three respects. He reflects methodologically on the structure of explanation (the three tiers), he tries to elaborate the way how different factorssocial, political, economic, and intellectualmight have conjoined, and finally, he moves from the macro-level approach characteristic of both Lloyds and Assmanns account towards a more micro-level analysis of the local society of Archaic Ionia, and Miletus, of the interest groups and social roles within that narrower society.

Earlier (Molnr 2000 and 2001) I suggested a schema for providing a sufficiently complex account of the origins of Greek philosophy. The schema is based on the methodological principle (a version of methodological individualism) that every explanation of this kind has to be capable of being interpreted at the micro-social level as well (that is, from the points of view of the individual actors). This by no means excludes explanations operating with supra- and infraindividual factors (such as unconscious structural cultural patterns, socioeconomic mechanisms, unconscious desires, interests or false consciousness), only requires that these factors be capable of being formulated from the subjective angle (at worst as subjectively incomprehensible conditions regarded by the actors as given once and for all). To put the principle negatively, if a macro-sociological explanation cannot be translated (transliterated) into the micro-level of the individuals, it is a serious argument against it. One of the advantages of this requirement, I think, is that it makes possible to appraise the role of contingent vs. necessary factors in the emergence of a phenomena acquiring general significance23.

Now, I think that the factors contributing to the emergence of a new kind of intellectual activity (in the present case, to that of Greek philosophy and science) can be arranged in three categories: objective possibilities, motivations and models. Among objective possibilities (always in the sense of possibilities supposed by the actors to be objectively given) we have to count the free time, the knowledge, the abilities, the tools, and the social permission necessary for pursuing the activity in question. As for motivations, they can be either external ones (such as social requirements or reward, economic profit etc.) or internal to intellectual field (Platos and Aristotles wonder or Max Webers meaning of life). Finally, the models adopted can also be either behavioural (social rolemodels) or intellectual ones (as in Hahns hypothesis).

In what follows I will make an attempt at the temptative reconstruction of the social genesis of early Greek philosophy along the above lines by investigating what kind of particular social institutions and social organizations existing in the society of its birth might have made possible the emergence of philosophical-scientific practice, what institutionalized system, or systems, of non philosophical and non scientific activities might have harboured the nascent philosophizing-scientific ones. This task naturally belongs within the sociology of knowledge.


For methodological individualism and the micro-macro problem see Alexander et al.

1987 and Coleman 1990.

Miletus, the mother city of philosophy As it is familiar even to the beginner student of the history of philosophy, the first three Greek philosophers we know by name, Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes alike came from the same Ionian city, Miletus. The beginning of Greek philosophy and science is traditionally tied to an astronomically exactly datable event: the eclipse of the sun on 28 May 585 BC, which is said to have been predicted by Thales (Herodotus I 74)24. In spite of the uncertainties accompanying this and practically every other piece of information about the life and work of the early Greek philosophers, on the basis of evidence one thing seems hardly questionable: that in the first half of the sixth century BC it was in Miletus, and almost exclusively in Miletus, where intellectual activities of this kind were carried out. Activities, namely, in which the western philosophical-scientific culture originated. The traditional term for this earliest stage of philosophy is Milesian School whereas Hurwit (1985: 203) talks of the Milesian monopoly of philosophy and science in this period.

The most probable dating of the Milesian philosophers is as follows (Table 1)25.

Table 1.

The chronology of the Milesian philosophers year of birth year of active years (BC) death Thales 624 546 before 585 before 546 Anaximander 610 546 after 580 ? before 546 Anaximenes 585 528/5 after 546 ? 528/5 The traditional accounts about the relationship between these three thinkers (Anaximander was a kinsman, pupil and successor of ThalesSuida s. v.;

Anaximenes was a pupil of AnaximanderDiogenes Laertius II.3) are most probably late speculations. But if this is the case, can we legitimately speak of a Milesian Schooland if we can, in precisely what sense? Hermann Diels in an 1887 paper answers the first question definitely affirmatively.

[T]he development of Greek philosophy took place from the onset in the same form of a guild or school which we find in its flowering and which ________________________

Historians of science usually point to the high improbability that Thales did, and could, have at his disposal either the appropriate astronomical theory to understand the true nature of solar eclipses, or the appropriate mathematical tools to predict their occurrence. Several suggestions have been made to find a plausible way how, in spite of this, he could at least hit upon the date by accident; most recently see Couprie 2011.

For the calculations and concerning their highly hypothetical character see e. g.

Kirk, Raven and Schofield 1983. . 76, 100101, and 143144.

endured persistently to the end of the pagan era. After all, in every craft and science it is the corporation, and not the individual, that we came across first in an historically concrete form even though later the tradition places an inventor or founder on its head26.

Diels points to the guild of Homerids in epic poetry, the Asclepids in medicine and the Daedalids in architecture and he notes: The existence of these schools transmitting technical skills explains the specific character of Greek art and science and also its rapid development which was not hindered again and again by autodidactic experimentation27. Regarding philosophy we should not think of as late formations as the Platonic Academy or the Aristotelian Lyceum. (Remember, these were Assmanns examples!) Already Pythagoreanism was a well established social organizationeven if its nature cannot be reconstructed with precision. Therefore the question whether the Milesians worked within some institutionalized social organization is far from being anachronistic. Diels supports his hypothesis with the following argument.

In all probability, Thales did not leave writings. Still, [] later thinkers, first of all, members of the Peripatetic School, Aristotle, Theophrastus and Eudemus, possessed certain knowledge about his teachings. How could these doctrines be handed down to them? Perhaps similarly to the way how certain facts of his external life have been preserved in the memory of his fellowcountrymen? Definitely not. We have to seek the possibility of this transmission much more in the existence of a permanently functioning school, which piously bequeathed to posterity, along with his teachings, the memory of the inventor and along with the organization of the school, the celebration of its founding herosimilarly as the doctrines of Pythagoras, Socrates, Pyrrho, and Carneades came down to us through the piety of their pupils28.

John Burnet (1920) adds another argument for the existence of a Milesian


The doxographers speak of Anaxagoras as the pupil of Anaximenes. This can hardly be correct; Anaximenes most probably died before Anaxagoras was born. But it is not enough to say that the statement arose from the fact that the name of Anaxagoras followed that of Anaximenes in the Successions. We have its original source in a fragment of Theophrastos himself, which states that Anaxagoras had been an associate of the philosophy of Anaximenes. Now this expression has a very distinct meaning if we accept the view as to schools


Diels 1887. . 243. [My translation. G. M.].


differences between the individuals due to their respective research interests and other contingent factors. Some concentrate on cosmogony, others specialize in local historiography, still others in city-planningand all of them publish writings in their own special fields. As for knowledge transfer (teaching), however, they all transmit to the next generation the same common stock of knowledge, which they enrich and expand by their writings. Posterityof coursecategorizes the individuals according to their specific contributions, whereby Thales becomes a sage and natural philosopher, Anaximander a natural philosopher and geographer, Anaximenes only a natural philosopher, Hecataeus a logographer and geographer, and Hippodamus a city-planner and political thinker. Meanwhileof course, againthe basic unity of their activities and thoughts as well as the social ties connecting them sink into oblivion. That is: everything that made them the members of a common social organization, a school.

I think the sheer possibility of the picture outlined above justifies two important methodological requirements. If we want to reconstruct the origins, maintenance, and diffusion of early Greek philosophical culture, we have, first, to disregard our (value)-judgements about the philosophical importance of individual thinkers, and second, to take into account those individuals whom traditional (ancient or modern) intellectual historiography reckons among other occupational categories and neglects.

These methodological principles might render possible for us to catch, in the extant material, sight of patterns concerning early Greek intellectual life (most importantly, networks of social ties, routes of knowledge transmission) that the ancient philologists (biographers, doxographers etc.) were unaware of and therefore they could not falsify or distort them either consciously or unconsciously, which is a recurring problem for source critique.

I think I can offer two further arguments for the above hypothetic description of the circumstances of Milesian philosophy. First, not only, as Burnet thinks, the preservation of information concerning Thales philosophical teachings can be explained by the existence of an intellectual community keeping its traditions. Anecdotes such as the ones about the two untaken pieces of advice Thales and Bias of Priene gave to the Ionians (Herodotus I.170), and even more the story of Hecataeus two similarly untaken pieces of advice given to Milesian tyrant Aristagoras in his (obviously exclusive) meetings with his followers during the Ionian Revolt (Hdt V.36 and 125126) may also be preserved this way. Who and why would have otherwise wanted to keep alive the memory of a privy councillors failed attempts to influence the events. It might even be that most of Herodotus rather Miletus-centered (although not really pro-Milesian) account of the Ionian Revolt and its antecedents originates from the collective memory of such a community. (Remember that Herodotus and Hippodamus of Miletus were not only contemporaries but they in all probability got in contact with each other during their stays at Athens and/or at Thurii).

Second, the occupational roles that the biographical tradition attributes to the early philosophers, roles which at first sight seem to be rather heterogeneous, may still be arranged in a reasonable pattern if we take into account the social milieu these individuals lived in. The milieu of Miletus divided by considerable economic inequalities, afflicted by social conflicts, exposed to outer threats (first by the Lydians, then by the Persians), subsequently conquered de facto by the latter people, on the other hand showing an unparalleled achievement in colonization and, in the meantime, ruled alternately by oligarchic, tyrannical, and democratic regimes. In the leading circles of this city the social roles of the innovative problem-solving engineer, the logographer engaged in preserving the past, the geographer stockpiling empirica l knowledge, the apoikist (colonizer) leading aprobably discontentedpart of the population to a new home, and the philosopher providing ideology for this or that social group may very well met either in one person, or in the division of labour of a small, closely-knit group29.

The question precisely is what institutionalized connections existed between these roles, at one level, and, at another level, between the individuals performing these roles. Further, what relation the development of these specific social roles bore to the characteristics of Milesian life listed rather sketchily above? And finally, how did these institutionalized social relations contribute to the development of the philosophical and scientific revolution in Miletus?

Let me touch upon just one moment in the history of Miletus, a moment, let us add, that makes the city rather exceptional even within its narrower social environment. This is colonization30. Although we cannot confirm by historical evidence Plinys statement (NH 5.122) that Miletus alone founded ninety colonies, the number of the foundations that can be identified (localized and dated) with considerable certainty is still impressive (Table 3).


For the social history of archaic Miletus, see Gorman 2001 and Graeves 2002.

As for the problems of the modern term colony and its derivatives and a suggestion for using the autochthonous terms apoikia and kleroukhia as bases for a new terminology (to apoikize, apoikization, to kleroukhize etc.), see de Angelis 2009, 4954.


As can be seen, Miletus started colonizing some one hundred years before the appearance of philosophical activity and most of her known 6th century foundations can be dated to the time of the first Milesian philosophers32.


For the details, see Hansen and Nielsen 2004.

Of particular interest is Apollonia, for two reasons. According to an ancient source, Aelian (VH 3.17), the founder of this apoikia was the Milesian philosopher Anaximander.

Although this is most likely false since its most probable year of foundation coincides with his most probable year of birth, the very fact of this coincidence may well be a telling sign of some dimmed and corrupted piece or pieces of information about the connection between the man and the city. According to Aristotle (1303a3638) the people of Apollonia on the Euxine after bringing in additional settlers fell into faction. Anaximander might have had some role (not necessarily that of the apoikistes) in this second wave of apoikism. Furthermore, Apollonia was the city of birth of Diogenes, one of the latest, and rather conservative, representatives of Presocratic philosophy, who was active in the second half of the fifth century. Another Diogenes, the more famous Cynic philosopher, born at the end of the fifth century, came from Sinope founded by Milesians the same year as Apollonia. These facts, I

am convinced, fit into a general pattern of the spread of early Greek philosophical activity:

most of the cities from where philosophers came in one generation can be shown to stand in some relation with one or another city of birth of philosophers of the previous generation.

Without claiming to give a complete survey of the intellectual tasks colonization requires (either in a leaders or in an advisers position), we can enumerate several one. An extensive (and possibly politically directed) colonizing activity needs the acquisition, and continuous accumulation, of practical knowledge and abilities in the fields of e. g. navigation, intercultural communication and city-planning. All these can be backed by more theoretical fields such as geography, astronomy and ethnography. (We should not think of distinct disciplines, of course; even the practical and the theoretical domains of knowledge might have been merged for a long time in the practice as well as in the mind of their practitioners). It also needs practical intellectual (mostly organizing) abilities such as structuring social life in time (preparing a calendar, fixing the dates of holidays etc.), in physical space (the architectural side of city-planning) and in social space (making a constitution, dividing the population into groups, creating social, political and military institutions and institutional roles etc.). It requires activities for maintaining social, cultural and economic connections with the mother-city and with strategically important neighbouring cities, possibly of common origin33 and also for maintaining continuity with the past, both with the time of the foundation and with time of the Milesian ancestors (Assmanns cultural coherence). This multiple set of activities can easily be matched with the activities of the Milesian philosophers and scientists of the day, which makes probable their participation in the colonizing process although we know almost nothing about the concrete form of this participation.

Nevertheless, my hypothesis that colonization, primarily Milesian colonization, had a prominent role to play in the birth of philosophical and scientific activities in Greece does contradict neither Hahns thesis about the role of architecture, nor Assmanns theory of hypoleptic intertextuality, nor the more general (and macro-level) hypothesis that the specificities of the Greek political sphere played the decisive role in the complex causal nexus of this old Milesian tale.


1. Alexander J.C. et al., szerk. The Micro-Macro Link. Berkeley: The University of California Press, 1987.

2. Assmann J. Das kulturelle Gedchtnis. Schrift, Erinnerung und politische Identitt in frhen Hochkulturen. Mnchen: Beck, 1992.


The fact that the overwhelming majority of the Milesian colonies were situated (concentrated) along the shores of the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea must have something to do with this.

3. Burnet J. Early Greek Philosophy. London: A&C Black, 1920.

4. Coleman J. S. Foundations of Social Theory. Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press, 1990.

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J. Tzsr


1. The Phenomenology of mind By phenomenology of mind I mean an investigation of the mind which explores its phenomena from the point of view of how is it like for the subject to experience it. Thus I mean by phenomenology of mind the analysis of the experiences of the subject from a first person or subjective perspective;

the investigation of how things appear for the subject, from the point of view of the subject, from the perspective of the subject.

From this standard definition of phenomenology follows a particular methodological principle which is called phenomenological reduction in the phenomenological literature. This principle was defined by Edmund Husserl

in one place as follows:

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