Who is Xenophanes (Xenophanes)?June 26, 2021
Philosophy in the real sense begins with Xenophanes. Because philosophy in the real sense is “know yourself!”, “know your place!” is This is the basis of criticism. Criticism, krisis in Ancient Greek; It means separation. It is to distinguish between knowledge and non-knowledge.
A contemporary of Heraclitus, Xenophanes (lived roughly 569-477) was from Colophon. (between today’s Izmir and Ephesus).
He is a religious educator rather than a philosopher. From the fragments of his instructive run, we see that Xenophanes is fighting the folk religion’s designation of gods as human beings. This is the main work he sees. This humanization of the gods—anthropomorphism—had acquired a highly literary form in Homer and Hesiedus, and they had a very important place in Greek education.
Xenophanes says the following: “Homer and Hesiedos ascribed to the gods all the things that are considered a crime and shame among mortals (humans). The gods steal, lie, deceive their wives.”
Then: “The mortals think that the gods were born like themselves, they dress like themselves, they are in their own shape. As a matter of fact, the Abyssinians think their gods are black and flat-nosed, like themselves; the Thracians are blond and blue-eyed. When this is the case, if horses and lions had hands and could paint, horses would be They would draw their gods like horses and lions like lions. However, the gods are neither lion-like, nor negro-like, nor human-like as in Greek statues.”
Against the folk religion’s designation of gods in human form, Xenophanes puts his own representation of god. This is a purified god.
According to him: “There is a god, the most mighty of gods and men; neither in form nor in thought is like mortals; this one God is all hearing, all thinking; he rules all things effortlessly by his thoughts.”
This god design of Xenophanes is a step towards monotheism.
Philosophy in the real sense begins with Xenophanes. Because philosophy in the real sense is “know yourself!”, “know your place!” is This is the basis of criticism. Criticism, krisis in Ancient Greek; It means separation. It is to distinguish between knowledge and non-knowledge. Xenophanes’ philosophy can be considered in two main points. His critical aspect and his approaches to religious and divine issues. Xenophanes’ criticisms are directed towards the thinking and belief environment of the period in which he lived. Xenophanes primarily criticizes the understanding of the religious and divine issues of his time. According to him, people compared the gods to themselves. In this sense, he criticizes the anthropomorphic-anthropomorphic god understandings, which think that gods have hands, feet and various character traits like humans. One of the most important problems of philosophy is the distinction between knowledge and non-knowledge.
Without knowing what knowledge is, one cannot know what knowledge is not. First of all, he criticizes the anthropocentric understanding of the period and asks how people know that the gods look like them. This is a criticism made in line with a certain understanding of god, which can also be called monotheism. In researching this, he says: “People just make predictions about reality from their own world,” he says. That’s how they think of reality, he says. You cannot understand the gods from your own world. He says that you cannot talk about gods from the world of experience, you are trying to understand another field from the world of experience. You cannot find the answer to this question with the knowledge of experience, he says.
Xenophanes’ understanding of knowledge
Xenophanes’ conception of god
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook