Faith and Reason: Is There a Sharp Divide? (Part 2)
The birth of the discipline known as philosophy resulted in the utter rejection of mythology as an explanation for the world of our experience. Many of the ancient philosophers did not want to outright proclaim their disbelief in the Olympic/Greek gods, because they didn’t want to offend the people. More importantly they didn’t want to get in trouble with the governments that used mythology and superstition to keep the people in check (an oversimplification, but nonetheless true).
First philosophers were called the Pre-Socratics. They asked some pretty important questions like: (1) where does everything come from? (2) What is reality made of? (3) How do we explain the plurality of things found in nature?
So they were trying to find an underlying/foundational unity that would enable us to make sense of all the particular/individual elements of reality as we know it. While they came up with fails to impress us: all is water (Thales), all is fire (Heraclitus), etc, what strikes us as worthwhile in the long run are: (1) their questions. It is these questions that early on set the direction of philosophy and (2) their strong belief that must be a unifying principle, some unity, to provide categories that are necessary to identify any particular thing. (Categories that actually tell us about the world and are not merely constructs. We’ll talk more about this in upcoming posts).