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The authoritative collection of Pre-Socratic texts has been collected by Hermann Alexander Diels (1848 - 1922).

An English translation of the Diels collection is available by Kathleen Freeman. Ancilla to the Pre-Socratic Philosophers (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1978)

Map of Ancient Greeks:

For Background on the Pre-Socratics see Lecture Notes from Menahem Luz (Univ. of Haifa)

Milesian Philosophers (M Luz Presocratics 4)

  • Thales
  • Anaximandros
  • Anaximenes

Xenophanes of Colophon (M Luz Presocratics 5)

Heraclitus of Ephesus (M Luz Presocratics 6)

Pythagoras of Samos (M Luz Presocratics 7)

Eleatic Philosophy (M Luz Presocratics 8)

  • Parmenides
  • Zeno
  • Melissus

Pluralist Reply to Parmenides (M Luz Presocratics 9)

  • Empedocles
  • Anaxagoras
  • Leucippus
  • Democritus

Sophists, Protagoras, Gorgias etc. (M Luz Presocratics 10)

  • Protagoras of Abdera
  • Gorgias of Leontini
  • Hippias of Elis
  • Prodicus of Ceos

Nietzsche's Pre-Platonic Philosohers[edit]

Notes from Friedrich Nietzsche. The Pre-Platonic Philosophers. Trans. by Greg Whitlock. Urbana: U of Illinois Press, 2006.

From lectures given 1869-1876


"The Greeks produced archetypal philosophers" (Nietzsche 4).

"Plato is the first grand mixed character" [Socratic reflective dialectics; Pythagorean melancholy, secrets, and laws; Heraclitean regal pride] (Nietzsche 5).

"the true characteristic of the philosophical drive: wonderment at that which lies before everyone" (Nietzsche 6)

"Becoming, purpose, knowledge: the contents of Pre-Platonic philosophy" (Nietzsche 6)

WISE (love of wisdom)

"Thales overcomes (1) the mythic preliminary stage of philosophy, (2) the sporadic-proverbial form of philosophy, and (3) the various sciences . . . by creating one [unified] view of the world. Philosophy is therefore that art that presents an image of universal existence in concepts . . ." (Nietzsche 7 - 8)

"[wise] receives the character of the useless" (Nietzsche 8)

(recall who fell into the well)


"We may certainly assume that he sojourned in Egypt [where he found teachers and students]" (Nietzsche 24)

All is water: "To conceive the entirety of such a multifarious universe as the merely formal differentiation of one fundamental material belongs to an inconceivable freedom and boldness!" (Nieetzsche 28)


"all that becomes is not true. Water also becomes: he believes it to arise from contact with warmth and coldness . . . he needs a background unity . . . the Unlimited . . . something like the 'thing-in-itself' . . . to be described by us only negatively" (Nietzsche 33)

thus "countless worlds" (Nietzsche 37; ref. eternal recurrence)

"acceptance of a metaphysically true Being; a world in opposition to Becoming . . . and in contrast to it, all things qualitatively definite, individual, and particular as afflicted with injustice" (Nietzsche 37)

(Buddha's dukkha?)


not a student of Anaximander: his answer to becoming as process between dual principles of "thinning and thickening" belongs to a later age as rejection of Parmenides (Nietzsche 42)


important founder of a school with two distinct branches


"His vision has been locked onto two sorts of considerations: eternal motion and the negation of all duration and persistence in the world" (Nietzsche 60)

In support of Heraclitus, Nietzsche discusses the "heart-rate" theory of perception; rate of duration relative to heart-rate of perceiver (Nietzsche 60-62)

Yet, Justice and Law reign, but not as status quo, rather as war and strife (Nietzsche 64)

(Krsna speaking to Arjuna?)


"Becoming cannot be conceived [because it would require the ultimate deception of not-being]" (Nietzsche 87)

"an unnatural tearing apart of the intellect . . . void of content . . . least fruitful" (Nietzsche 86-87)