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Pre-Socratics

Post  Valencia2014 on Tue Dec 16, 2014 3:21 am

How did pre-Socratic philosophies influence the development of Greco-Roman theology and cosmology? What was their relationship towards Orphism? Was their conflict with Orphic theology/cosmology? It has been said on this forum that Platonism, Pythagoreanism, and Orphism form a sort triangle; where do pre-Socratic philosophies fit into this trianlge? It seems like the pre-Socratics disagreed with the concept of the First Principle or the One, instead it looks like they get rid of it(or maybe the concept has not developed?) and just posit Chaos. Which seems like it just leads to Rationalism and some sort of Atheism/Agnosticism? I could be wrong though. Hopefully someone can clarify this for me.
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Re: Pre-Socratics

Post  Erodius on Tue Dec 16, 2014 8:24 pm

Valencia2014 wrote:How did pre-Socratic philosophies influence the development of Greco-Roman theology and cosmology? What was their relationship towards Orphism? Was their conflict with Orphic theology/cosmology? It has been said on this forum that Platonism, Pythagoreanism, and Orphism form a sort triangle; where do pre-Socratic philosophies fit into this trianlge? It seems like the pre-Socratics disagreed with the concept of the First Principle or the One, instead it looks like they get rid of it(or maybe the concept has not developed?) and just posit Chaos. Which seems like it just leads to Rationalism and some sort of Atheism/Agnosticism? I could be wrong though. Hopefully someone can clarify this for me.

Well, their influence on theology was slim to none. Many of the pre-Socratic philosophical traditions seem to have actively avoided incorporating theology into their thinking. Although, in terms of literal cosmology, their influence was arguably fairly significant, in that they, in many ways, gave rise to the earliest 'rationalist' understanding of reality. 

In terms of relationship with the Orphic-Pythagorean line (which, although literally 'pre-Socratic', is often not included in the 'pre-Socratic' label, which is often used to mean only the Ionian pre-Socratic lines, I'm not aware of much of anything to go on. However, one could guess that the relationship would probably not have been especially warm. Although, by the 3rd-4th century AD, Orpheo-Pythagorean theology, united with Platonic philosophy came to be widely considered a kind of pinnacle of Classical religion, receiving imperial patronage – in its earliest times, the movement seems to have suffered some real persecution. Orpheus himself was, traditionally, murdered for his teaching, while Pythagoras' school in Croton was destroyed by a mob, and, by most accounts, Pythagoras himself was killed. About a century later, by Socrates' and Euripides' day, we have reason to believe, from references in Socrates' and Euripides' works and words, that followers of Orphic movements were seen as somewhat zealous, puritanical and fringey:

These words, for instance, in Euripides' Hippolytus (who was known as a bit of an irreverent rationalist):

"Go on, then, by all means, spout out all you want about your vegetarian diet like a fraud! By all means, let Orpheus be your master! Enjoy, no, revere, if you so wish, all his idle musings, all of his many books . . .  citizens, I warn you all!
Have nothing to do with such men! They will trick you with their holy-sounding words, only so that they can conjure up against you deeds of shame!"

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Pre-Socratics

Post  Valencia2014 on Tue Dec 16, 2014 8:45 pm

So were they, the Ionian philosophers, the Dawkin-Hitchen types of their day? What made Orpheo-Pythagoreanism merge with Platonism? Plato seems to be a more religious minded rationalist, so perhaps that was a factor for union between the two?
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Re: Pre-Socratics

Post  Erodius on Tue Dec 16, 2014 9:56 pm

Valencia2014 wrote:So were they, the Ionian philosophers, the Dawkin-Hitchen types of their day? 

Not a perfect analogy, but yes, that would be a general equivalent. 



What made Orpheo-Pythagoreanism merge with Platonism? Plato seems to be a more religious minded rationalist, so perhaps that was a factor for union between the two?



The fusion of Platonism with the Orpheo-Pythagorean theological/religious mystical movement happened in the second half of the 3rd century, resulting in a system that, to 19th-century scholars, was different enough in flavor and character from earlier Early and Middle Platonism to warrant the name 'Neoplatonism'. As to why? There are any number of possible reasons for the fusion. Platonism, from its inception, was considered to draw many parts of its system from Mystery-cult theology. 


From a biased, internal perspective, I would personally say that I consider the fusion as a perfect marriage of the greatest refinements of religion with the analogous greatest refinements of philosophy. 

_________________
"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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The Orphic Way: www.hellenicgods.org
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Re: Pre-Socratics

Post  Valencia2014 on Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:12 pm

Lol yeah I think the pre-Socratics would've took it as an insult, I was just trying to get a clear picture by comparing it to our times.
I agree with your last statement. Smile
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