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Title: Greek Cosmology and Its Bronze Age Background
Authors: Davies, Thomas Hercules
Advisors: Holmes, Brooke
Katz, Joshua T
Contributors: Classics Department
Keywords: Anaximander
Cultural exchange
Greece and the Near East
Presocratic philosophy
Subjects: Classical studies
Near Eastern studies
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Traditional histories of philosophy place its origins in 6th-century BC Greek Ionia, with the Milesian thinkers Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes. This dissertation argues that this is a mistake. Centuries before the Milesians, cultures in contact with Greece offered their own answers to the central questions of Presocratic philosophy. They did not merely anticipate the Greek naturalizing approach to explaining the cosmos: specific ideas attributed to the Milesians are found in extant texts from ancient India, Iran, Egypt, and Mesopotamia. Milesian philosophy developed in dialogue with these non-Greek philosophical traditions. The picture of early Greek philosophy that emerges is exciting: its achievements were novel and real, but they were not an evolution from myth to reason (since they built on antecedent naturalistic ideas), and they were not an isolated Greek miracle, but implicated in a much larger complex of intellectual developments. This context both helps us better reconstruct the arguments of the Milesians, and helps us understand the birth of philosophy in Greece as part of a general phenomenon in the Eurasian macro-region.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Classics

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