Prehistory of Presocratic Philosophy in an Orientalizing Context

Walter Burkert

in The Oxford Handbook of Presocratic Philosophy

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780195146875
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199892112 | DOI:


Prehistory of Presocratic Philosophy in an Orientalizing Context

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Philosophy up to now is bound to a chain of tradition that starts with Greek texts about 2,400 years ago: the works of Plato and Aristotle have been studied continuously since then; they were transmitted to Persians and Arabs and back to Europe and are still found in every philosophical library. Plato, in turn, was not an absolute beginning; he read and criticized Heraclitus, Parmenides, Anaxagoras, Empedocles, Protagoras, and other sophists; Aristotle read and criticized Plato and everything else he could find, up to Anaximander. Even if philosophy is anything but certain about its own identity, the definition of philosophy is inseparably bound to the Greek fundaments. Nobody has been able to reinvent philosophy because it has always been there.

Keywords: philosophy; Plato; Aristotle; Persians; Arabs; Heraclitus; Parmenides; Protagoras

Article.  14649 words. 

Subjects: Classical Philosophy

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