How did the transition from philosophy of nature to philosophy on human beings?

From the emergence of philosophy, he began to think about nature. This interest and curiosity of philosophy will turn to human after a while.

The reasons that led to this change in philosophy can be grouped under three headings: philosophical, political and social. The foremost of the philosophical reasons is the phenomenon of the bankruptcy of the philosophy of nature which took place in the 5th century BC. The phenomenon of bankruptcy of the philosophy of nature expresses that, on the one hand, the philosophy of nature consumes the possibilities of development after completing more or less everything that can be said, and on the other hand, the philosophers become inconclusive and unable to contribute to Greek due to their opposing and even contradictory views on the same subject. Greek philosophers have said everything that can be said, forcing philosophical speculation to an end, in an age where there are no concepts and distinctions necessary for philosophical thought. Plato  and  Aristotle have to wait.

On the other hand, the extreme abstract and speculative views that deny the reality of the sensory world, the different philosophers of nature, which reduce the real world of ordinary man to a world of pure appearances, and even contradictory views on almost every issue played a decisive role in the bankruptcy of this philosophy. For example, where the Ionian philosophers placed matter on the basis of existence, a material principle, the  Pythagoreans proposed a formal principle, number, as the arch of existence; While the Elea School  said  that change was nothing more than an illusion,  Heraclitus claimed that change was real; Thales ,  Anaximandros  and  Anaximenes As philosopher of existence where they derive from a single material,  Empedocles  and  Anaxagoras  pluralist philosophers have placed as many substances to the asset base. This contradictory process, which points to a development, the infrastructure necessary for a synthesis, has, however, led the average person to turn his back on the philosophy of nature.

The philosophical cause can be added to the fact that, as a social phenomenon, the conditions in Athens, which have now become the center of philosophy, are not conducive to non-self-interested intellectual activity. After a long period of prosperity, Athens was tired of the influence wars between Athens and Sparta. Again, the wars against the Persians and a severe plague epidemic almost depleted the power of the Athenian and Greek. Moreover, there was a real democracy in Athens; The Athenian Assembly, the adult male citizens who were able to attend a meeting, all represented the ultimate authority in the state. In this democracy, parliament had full sovereignty, even if only a small proportion of those qualified for election were convened. The Assembly was both a legislator, an executive and a judge. Athens democracy did not rule out the great differences in wealth and social status. However, during the first three quarters of the 5th century BC, the old aristocratic families retained the rule.

However, from the middle of the 5th century onwards, with the change of structure and transformation of Greek democracy into a trade democracy, the aristocrats lost their weight in power. The new emerging class of commerce needed a new perspective or philosophy to ensure their legitimacy in power, a new group of philosophers who would convey political knowledge to them. As a result of this need, the Sophists , who were the children of their age  , emerged. These wandering philosophy teachers , who have become the spokespersons of the new owners of political power They taught them the political knowledge and strategies they needed. Indeed, in the same democracy where power has changed hands and passed from the aristocrats to the class of merchants, where the knowledge of the art of politics and management in aristocrats has been transferred from the father to the son or gained in the family, a new and practical philosophy will be given to the people of the rising class of traders to base and legitimize their political positions. Given the need for intellectuals to advocate the perspective, the emergence of philosophy on human beings and the fact that the Sophists, the first and greatest representatives of this philosophy, are indeed children of their age.

Prepared by:  Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source:  Ömer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Department of Sociology 1st Grade Giriş Introduction to Philosophy ”and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade Tarihi History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook, MEB Philosophy Textbook, Tarihi History of Philosophy ”Ahmet Cevizci

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