Critical Thinking Essay

1959 words - 8 pages

Growing up in Arkansas there were many things we were certain we knew and understood such as automotive body and engine work, fast cars, and small town politics to name a few. Just as the earliest philosophers found their intellectual foundations in the works of the pre-Socratics collective, we too, found our ways of thinking influenced by the work of older men in our families, other folk in the neighborhood, and those no longer with us. Their labor-intensive road map provided us the basic knowledge from which to begin developing our own methods and skill sets to answer new types of questions related to daily life in Arkansas. However different the scope of questions we began to ask ...view middle of the document...

Although the pre-Socratic collective is sometimes referred to as the nature thinkers, this reference is not entirely accurate until Leucippus and Democritus began to ask questions based in the physical world (Chaffee 236). Prior to Leucippus and Democritus many within the collective assumed the existence of a deeper reality that was not evident on the level of a lived sense of experience (Chaffee 236). Leucippus and Democritus concerned themselves more with drawing a distinction between appearance and reality, focusing mainly on developing methods to identify the “real” world and gaining knowledge of it, believing reality to be more deeply hidden than a mere sensory experience (Chaffee 236). They believed reality to be entirely physical, however, too small for humans to measure with their senses. Rather than consider knowledge of the real world to be passed down from an intelligent governing principle, knowledge of the human experience and reality were based in the physical world and thus the truth about reality was deduced to exist as atoms and the voids atoms move around in.
By nature of moving away from answers based in the supernatural and focusing on appearance and physical material observed in the real world, Leucippus and Democritus mark an important paradigm shift in ways of thinking and methodological reasoning to arrive at knowing and acquiring knowledge. With this shift came a new set of diverse interests, including the nature of human knowing and understanding. The pre-Socratic collective led the transition from one type of consciousness to another embraced by Fifth-Century philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle. Plato, deeply invested in the teachings of his mentors, contributed immensely to the principles of metaphysics and epistemology. Conflicted with the concept of reality as both changing and eternal, Plato imagined the existence of two worlds – the physical world of changing sensations (Becoming) and the timeless world of reality (Being). Plato described the world as continually changing, evolving and disappearing, and reality is only taken in through our senses. Plato professed that it is impossible to develop any genuine knowledge about reality because humans can only describe the changing nature of reality as it appears to us. However, Plato also believed the other word of reality, an eternal, unchanging realm is populated with ideal forms, or archetypes of everything that exists in the physical world (Chaffee 239). In other words, these forms are the perfect ideals of every meaningful object and idea as experienced in the physical world (Chaffee 239). According to Plato these forms include aesthetic qualities such as physical beauty, functional qualities such as strength and endurance, and other physical attributes that constitute the perfect idea of a physical object (Chaffee 239).
According to Plato, these forms do not exist in a material sense; rather they exist independent from the minds of...

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