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Summary. The distinction between what I know and what I think I know (but do not) belongs to Socrates and "Know thyself". Discovering that I have thought myself wise when I am not is the self-humiliation from which I may learn humility (self-knowledge). And what applies to me applies to everyone else as well.

What follows are logic of language (in my jargon) remarks for a Commonplace Book: Logic is about meaning, not about form (or at least not about form alone).

Humiliation and Humility

... you will be gentler and more agreeable to your companions, having the good sense not to fancy you know what you don't know. (Plato, Theaetetus 210b-c, tr. Cornford)

From being refuted -- either by one's own thinking ("holding discourse with oneself") or by one's companions in discussion -- one comes to know oneself better, because one no longer thinks one knows what one doesn't know (Gorgias 457e-458b). And such self-knowledge is essential to living the life that is the good for man, if (1) moral virtue is knowledge of good and evil (the beneficial and harmful), and (2) all men aim for what they believe to be the (real, not hypocritical) good, and (3) therefore it is impossible to do what is good if one thinks one knows the wrong thing to be good.

Well, but that isn't the end of it, because it seems that knowledge is not all that is necessary for a virtuous life. But Socratic self-control (watchfulness of the rational soul over the irrational soul) is also needed.

Outline of this page ...

What else then is necessary?

Strike a coin from every mistake. (CV p. 69, a remark from 1948)

If living a good (an ethical) life has anything to do with philosophy, it seems that presuming you know what you don't know isn't the only mistake in philosophy, for how can you "strike a coin" -- (i.e. an error is not worthless or nothing worthwhile could be made from it, but just as coins are made from lumps of silver and gold, knowledge can be formed out of the discovery of error) -- from mistakes that seem more or less forced on us by instinct and habit -- i.e. by bad habits acquired in the time of ignorance of the good and instincts towards viciousness rather than virtue?

Those seem the greatest obstacle to the life that is the good for man. This is what made Socrates' self-control remarkable (pace a remark attributed to Antisthenes, if I understand it aright, for it is not a question of having a "strong will", but of keeping watch over oneself).

Keeping watch over oneself, not presuming to speak or act without first taking counsel with oneself (not responding like a beast wanting discourse of counsel presuming e.g. "but I have the right!"). And maybe man's roots in the irrational (presumption, habit, instinct) can never be pulled out of the soul, however much reason may try. One needs the self-watchfulness -- ('self-control' in that sense) -- of a Socrates ... and maybe what is needed for that is to be a peace with oneself, life and the world. As Socrates was.

Query: having reason for everything you say.

This is what you cannot do if you do not keep watchfulness over yourself, stopping to think before speaking or acting; you will be overwhelmed by bad habits and base instincts otherwise.

Note: we can't cite absence of knowledge in the particular case (Is this harmful or beneficial?) as a separate source of wrong-doing, not if virtue is knowledge. Absence of knowledge DEF.= ignorance, and it is only culpable if it is presumption ("conceited ignorance" DEF.= thinking you know what you don't know).

Query: what is happiness in the Euthydemus of Plato?

If 'happiness' = 'the good for man' (and what else would it mean), then wisdom, which is knowledge of the good (although Greek wisdom also includes "discourse of reason", which is a natural rather than a moral good) is happiness for man. In other words, to be happy man must know that wisdom is the only good, ignorance the only evil. (Euthydemus 281e)

Query: Socrates, that no man is wise until he realizes how foolish he is.

Realizes again and again and again. And no matter how many times he realizes he is a fool, he will still return to thinking himself wise: "If you're born a fool, you'll die a fool," the proverb says. And the query's "until" is mistaken: because no man is wise; the wisest man recognizes that he is a fool (Apology 23b) -- and does not forget this. As Socrates did not.

Does presumption also belong to the limits of human nature as an innate impulse or disposition to vice -- a laziness towards self-knowledge? It's very easy to overestimate one's own competence, over-reaching oneself again and again. Coinage has a value only in circulation -- i.e. only when one makes mistakes. Humiliation, either through refutation or shame at thoughtless deeds or words or inaction, then may bring one back to modesty, for a time at least.

The seven deadly sins and Aristotle (exploratory)

Aristotle's three-part scheme for ethics: the good for man is positioned between two extremes, both extremes being the bad or evil for man (the first under-reaches, and the second over-reaches). As for example --

cowardice - courage - foolhardiness
prudery - love - lust
atheism - religion - superstition

Contrast that with the two-part scheme (adapted here) of Pope Gregory I (r. 590 - c. 604 A.D.) of evil (cardinal sins) and good (cardinal virtues) for man.

Vices Virtues
Vanity (overestimating one's own ability or worth. Pride (superbia), vainglory. Conceited or "hubristic ignorance" is an instance of this) Humility (modesty. Self-knowledge or meekness)
Avarice (greed for earthly things. Worldliness) "Being in the world without being of the world" ("Blessed are the poor in spirit")
Lust Chasteness
Anger (irritation. Wrath which returns evil for evil) Patience (forbearance)
Gluttony (and drunkenness) Temperance (self-control)
Envy (jealousy) Charity (loving one's neighbor as oneself)
Sloth (laziness or carelessness) Diligence (alacrity or conscientiousness in doing God's will)

Both the three-part and two-part schemes may be helpful to those seeking to live a "devout life" -- i.e., in philosophical terms, to live the life that is the good for man -- but Pope Gregory's seems to me more useful to anyone seeking to amend his life, Aristotle always tending towards a scientific rather than practical account of ethics. (To the Christian mind, the vices belong to "this world and all it loves", the virtues to the kingdom of God, and one cannot serve both masters, belong to both worlds.)

Apropos of Know thyself

Query: how does knowing you don't know anything help virtue?

Someone who knows himself will not under-reach or over-reach himself through presumption, not if moral virtue is knowledge of the good, as Socrates reasons that it is. But also someone who knows that he does not know himself -- i.e. who knows that he is not wise because he has put his wisdom to the test and found it hollow, someone who doesn't think he knows what he doesn't know because he has been refuted in argument -- is not arrogant, but modest and gentle towards his companions (Theaetetus 187c and 210a-c); arrogance is a vice, whereas modesty is a virtue.

This is, I think, knowledge of oneself as an individual more than knowledge of oneself as man(kind) (man as a species, man as such). Man as an individual must learn that he himself is not wise (the query's "doesn't know anything") -- and therefore that he must seek to become wise, i.e. to know the thing it is most important for man to know, namely what the good for man is.

Query: is philosophy speculation? Is philosophy an armchair theory?

If "we are discussing no small matter, but how to live" (as for Socrates and the post-Socratics, e.g. Antisthenes, Plato, Diogenes the Cynic, Crates, and the Stoics), then ethics is not "armchair", i.e. without practical application. Although for Thales and the other pre-Socratic metaphysicians philosophy is indeed speculative and indeterminate, i.e. "armchair" -- does that make metaphysics unworthy of man (because that is what the word 'armchair' often suggests, something idle and rather detached from life)?

[When writing to Malcolm, Wittgenstein dismissed as worthless studying philosophy "if all that it does for you is to enable you to talk with some plausibility about some abstruse questions of logic" (Memoir, Letter No. 9).]

Wittgenstein said of the Rationalists, that "They endeavoured to settle everything by reason, by sitting in arm-chairs ..." But that is the nature of philosophy (which, however, is not the "concept analysis" Wittgenstein goes on to criticize), namely, to discuss, and through discussion to discover the truth, above all for Socrates, about how man should live his life. The Greek view was that the good for man is to live in accord with the specific excellence ("virtue") that is proper to man -- but what is that specific excellence? for men presume it to be various things, contradicting one another.

Query: one who does not know but knows he doesn't know needs help. Teach him. Aristotle.

I think that was Epictetus, and that Aristotle, more scientist than philosopher wouldn't, I imagine (although I don't know this), have been concerned with helping, only with observing.

Query: philosopher and questioning.

If that's not what the philosopher does, then what does he do? whether the philosopher is Socrates or Thales. (But again, philosophy is questioning in logic, ethics, or metaphysics only, and even when questions about the philosophy of science or the foundations of mathematics are asked, it is in that context.)

Query: the pre-Socratic philosophy begins with wonder.

By 'wonder' here would seem to be meant 'curiosity', of Aristotle's kind? (The original query has "wonders", but I can't assign a meaning to that, unless it is as in Wordsworth's poem that "... the earth and every common sight to me did seem apparelled in celestial light, the freshness and the glory of a dream", for Thales saw, indeed was allowed to see the world as a child, uncrippled by the doctrine that "There is nothing to wonder at: natural science has explained everything.") But to say that philosophy, or some philosophy, begins in curiosity doesn't go far enough, because the pre-Socratic "wonder" was wonder in the context of "the natural light of reason" alone -- human reason both unaided by the revelations of gods or God and without invoking gods or God as a "working hypothesis", i.e. as the explanation of natural phenomena (Bonhoeffer).

Query: what does "human as a knowing being" mean?

Of course that combination of words might be assigned many meanings. But I would say this: human beings can put what we think we know into words (into language) and therefore discuss what we think we know among ourselves to see what we really do know -- in contrast to what we just think we know, and therefore do not know by the standard Socrates set philosophy: if a man knows anything, he can explain what he knows to others, i.e. state a proposition to be cross-questioned in discussion, where it may either be agreed to or refuted.

Query: how Socrates demonstrates unexamined life is not worth living.

Does he demonstrate it? I don't think he does. And when whether the proposition 'The unexamined life is not worth living' is true is questioned, I use geometry's method of attempting to prove its contradiction -- namely 'The unexamined life is worth living' -- to be true. (The method of a geometric proof: assume the proposition's contrary to be true rather than the proposition itself.) Plato's Apology [37e-38a] does not demonstrate that unexamined life is not worth living; it simply states it as such to the jurors.

If I say that I cannot hold my peace [tongue] because that would be to disobey the god, you will think that I am not in earnest and will not believe me. And if I tell you that no greater good can happen to a man than to discuss human excellence [virtue] every day and the other matters about which you have heard me arguing and examining myself and others, and that an unexamined life is not worth living, then you will believe me still less. [And yet what I say is true, although a thing of which it is] not easy [a thing of which it is hard] for me to persuade you. (tr. Church, rev. Cumming; [tr. Jowett])

Form and meaning and logic

Query: state with examples some concepts logic cannot do without.

I think, 'meaning' and 'form', but not e.g. 'true' and 'false' because those are an aspect of the meaning of propositions (criteria, measurement) only, although propositions are the principal concern of philosophy -- if philosophy has anything to do with wisdom as knowledge of the truth, i.e. of things that can be stated in true or false propositions (as Socrates held).

But before a proposition can be either true or false, that proposition must be sense rather than nonsense. And 'sense' means (in Wittgenstein's logic) 'defined language'. And whether or not combinations of words are defined (i.e. have a use in the language) is the concern of logic (and philosophy's first question and foundation).

As to the need for the concepts 'form' and 'meaning' in logic, examples of this fill the Synopsis of Wittgenstein's Logic of Language, in which meaning is a function of use in the language, not of form; and this is why Wittgenstein revised the concepts 'grammar' and 'logic'. (Of course the word 'logic' has historically sometimes been defined differently.)

Query: Socrates' logical method to find truth.

That is Socrates' method, to use logic to find the truth (and to refute falsehood [ignorance]), but 'logic' in Socrates' sense is about the meaning of language rather than the form of language (Wittgenstein's sense of 'logic' after the TLP, [although maybe not as soon as he had returned to Cambridge, which Russell's notes may (or may not) show], has this in common with Socrates.)

Query: Wittgenstein, propositions and their interrelation.

And so there are the TLP's "truth tables" of mathematical logic [4.31], but in those tables, (P and not-P) is "logically necessarily false" [ 4.442], but if the combination of words 'This is a table and this is not a table' has a use in the language, then (P and not-P) may be either true or false [For TLP 4.442, let Q = not-P], depending on what the words 'this' are used to point to. And so, not just meaning -- but logic itself is not a matter of form but of use in the language, as is shown by Wittgenstein's example of contradictions that are neither meaningless (i.e. without a use in the language) or "necessarily" false (i.e. falsified by their form).

Not only must a proposition of logic be incapable of being contradicted by any possible experience, but it must also be incapable of being confirmed by any such. (TLP 6.1222 tr. Ogden)

But unless we use the words 'true', 'false' and 'confirmed by experience' eccentrically, then Wittgenstein's remark here is clearly false. Because the truth or falsity of the proposition (P and not-P) is not incapable of confirmation by experience. Indeed other than by experience it is impossible to know whether that proposition is true or false.

With tautology as with contradiction?

Query: according to Socrates what is virtue?

The word 'is' -- what does it mean here? It does not mean a verbal definition: it does not say that 'virtue' = 'knowledge': i.e. it does not mean a sign-for-sign substitution rule.

Then does the word 'is' here mean a statement of fact? as e.g. 'The sky today is gray' does? Is it a fact that virtue is knowledge? If Socrates' reasoning in Xenophon is sound, then 'Virtue is knowledge' is a true statement, and if it is a statement about reality -- (in contrast to only about the "grammatical" interconnections of the words of our language) -- then mustn't it be a statement of fact?

"All men are mortal, Socrates is a man, and therefore Socrates is mortal." Isn't that syllogism's conclusion, namely the proposition 'Socrates is mortal', a statement of fact (i.e. an example of what we call a 'statement of fact')? Then the word 'is' in 'Virtue is knowledge' means a statement of fact, not a verbal definition .... but yet, it is not a real definition in the sense 'an hypothesis verified by experience', such as 'All men are mortal' is (is it?), but a deduction -- which I called a tautology (i.e. the syllogism and the reasoning it are the tautologies, not the propositions 'Socrates is mortal' and 'Virtue is knowledge'): The line of reasoning 'If their perceived good is what all living things aim for, then if they misperceive the good they will aim at what is bad' does nothing more than point out the interrelationships of concepts, e.g. that 'good' and 'bad' are antitheses, that 'to aim' means 'to aim at a target', and that in this context, aiming for a wrong target is directing oneself towards wrong-doing rather than good-doing.

Can the method of tautological reasoning result in knowledge? At least in bringing knowledge to light, it seems it can.

But can a tautology be a true-false statement of fact? No, only a true statement -- i.e. or it is not what we call by the name 'tautology'. And so, but how can a tautology be a guide to how we should live our life -- namely not presuming that we know what the good is for man, but seeking to know what that good is so that we can aim to live in accord with it rather than in discord? (How can it be even a mere description of our life?) And yet it seems that it does.

Thus I am puzzled as I was when I wrote about Plato's method of tautology in ethics. Note that 'Either it's raining or it isn't raining' [4.461] isn't the only kind of thing we call a tautology -- because if we reason to the conclusion, as Plato says in Republic 335e, that 'It is not the function of the good man to harm anyone', that conclusion that tells us how to live our life, whereas the TLP's example does not tell us whether or not to take an umbrella with us.

Question: can 'tautology' (e.g. P or not-P) be defined by form alone, if a tautology must always be true? as 'contradiction' cannot be defined by form alone, if a contradiction must always be false.

Wittgenstein's use of the word 'grammar', which he called "his jargon", which I would say is a revision-extension of our normal concept 'grammar' to include all the rules of language meaning (sense and nonsense) -- the general rule is: Don't use jargon -- because, it can be confusing for those unfamiliar with it, but even more so because its meaning may not be clear even to those who are familiar with it. And so, stop using that jargon; find some other way to express your thought. But in the case of my jargon's 'logic of language', that phrase is shorthand. But sometimes shorthand can be too short -- maybe that is what needs to be watched for: In some cases where you say that a particular proposition is a rule of grammar, it may not be clear -- even to you yourself -- what you (might) mean by that.

Questions that falsely presume Answers

"What is a geometric point?" "What is the meaning of the three undefined terms?" A parrot is not a philosopher, and the Philosophy of Geometry is not rote learning, and roangelo.net is certainly not reliable for that.

Imagine the poor child whose only concern is to qualify for university to get a good-paying job to help its parents and younger sisters and brothers. That child cannot risk getting poor marks for its own or someone else's original thinking. "And so," as Plato would say, "because of these impediments, the child has no time to give to philosophy" (Phaedo 66c-d).

The words 'reliable' and 'useful' are not synonyms in philosophy

Query: definition of philosophy according to Thales. Is roangelo.net reliable?

But well, is that query itself reliable -- because should it not instead be: did Thales define -- or even use -- the word 'philosophy'? (The answer comes at the end, not at the beginning of a question.)

Could we say maybe that in practice according to Thales philosophy seeks to discover by the natural light of reason and natural causes alone the physis ("stuff") underlying all things? That this and only this is philosophy's first question: "What is the essence of reality?" According to Aristotle (Metaphysics 983b20), Thales' answer was that the stuff of reality is water.

That is a question belonging to one of philosophy's three parts: metaphysics. But that is not "according to Thales"; that is only an example of trying to fit the little that is known about Thales' thinking into a classification scheme that we ourselves have brought to the investigation.

And was that Thales only question in "philosophy"? And now we need a definition of the word 'philosophy' as it was used by the early Greeks (not as it was later to be used). If 'philosophy' was a general term meaning 'all learning', then Thales' philosophical interests included much more than what we now call 'metaphysics', because he worked in geometry and astronomy as well. And also, Thales was counted as one of the Seven Wise Men of Greece, and to him was attributed the precept "Know thyself".

Does that saying attributed to Thales belong to ethics rather than to metaphysics? But according to Socrates to "know thyself" means to know reality: What am I really: what manner of being is man? and what manner of being am I as an individual man (cf. Phaedrus 230a)? Would that be metaphysics -- in contrast to the question ethics asks: "we are discussing no small matter, but how to live" (which is answered by the "metaphysical" question of what manner of being man is)?

Query: who's the blacksmith in philosophy? Differentiate conceited ignorance of Plato and Socratic ignorance.

These queries seem to be based on my writings (I hope I am mistaken) ... which I find disturbing if it is true. If my site were about theology (my own rather than reports of other people's, as e.g. I quote Guthrie and Copleston about Socrates although not uncritically) rather than philosophy, it would most certainly not be orthodox theology. My ideas about philosophy -- unless I have explicitly credited someone else as their source -- are self-born (cf. the Italian word nostrano, "made our way"). They should not be used as an authority. I'm a mostly self-educated fellow of middling intelligence (In my case "I wanted to be an intellectual too, but I didn't make it" happens to be true).

If you find something in my pages useful to you, I'm glad, and you are welcome to use it as you like. But the words 'reliable' and 'useful' are not synonyms in philosophy: useful things in philosophy are things to think about -- even if they are ahistorical or mistaken, or in other words, unreliable. As to pages like Socratic Ignorance, the putting-together and particular view of their ideas is I think mine, but the ideas belong to Plato and Xenophon (and indirectly I think to Socrates himself), and to Wittgenstein, Kant, and so on, not to me.

Query: in philosophy, what word is used to mean the life of wisdom?

Either the word 'philosophy' itself (the Socratic way of life), or I don't know -- is there such a word in English? In philosophy, the good life is the life of wisdom, and vice versa; but that does not answer the query.

["Nothing too much", or, "Nothing in excess", either in one direction or in the other, neither over- nor under-estimating one's own abilities, neither over-reaching nor less-than-reaching oneself. That is knowing oneself as an individual human being, in contrast to knowing oneself according to the general characteristics of the human species.]

Query: definition of philosophy by Xenophanes.

Do we know very much about Xenophanes? (Does Xenophon in his Memories of Socrates ever define 'philosophy' -- does he even use that word? in contrast to our trying to deduce how Xenophon would "define philosophy".) Did Xenophanes ever use the word 'philosophy'? Maybe we could say that, because he questions what mankind claims to know about the gods, that philosophy according to Xenophanes tests, by the natural light of reason and natural experience alone, whether mankind's common beliefs are solid or made of air (like Falstaff's honour).

Query: Plato classified philosophy into how many parts?

It must be there (teacher said so); we only have to find it. Preconception. Why "must" it be there? Because it isn't: philosophy was, like virtue, in Plato's thinking a unity not a diversity.

When the query above asks whether roangelo.net is reliable, it does not say 'reliable' in which sense. Reliable as my own thinking-about-it-for-oneself account of philosophy which may or may not be sound, much less in accord with the professors of philosophy (sophists)? As that roangelo.net/logwitt is reliable. I don't know if it is reliable for anything else, not beyond a shadow.

In any case, philosophy is thinking about things for yourself; cf. Wittgenstein's remark that "Working in philosophy ... is really more a working on oneself. On one's own interpretation. On one's way of seeing things..." (CV p. 16 (1931)). It is the opposite of rote learning (which presumes that there is such a thing as a reliable source in philosophy. Seeking authority in philosophy is looking in a bare cupboard: "and so her poor dog had none").

On the other hand, if we are asking about the history of philosophy, we of course want a source we judge to be reliable ... meaning what? For of historians there are many, and not all are in agreement. Am I myself good historian? For many years my page "The Origins of Philosophy" mistranslated the Greek word 'meta' as 'before' rather than 'after'. [-- But in which sense of 'after'? The title 'Metaphysics' meant "The book that is listed after the books about the natural sciences" in an early catalog that was assembled of Aristotle's work. But that was not Aristotle's own name for metaphysics, which he calls "First philosophy" and says that it logically comes before other subjects (Metaphysics 1026a6-33). --] So I would not trust what I say about history without comparing what I say with other sources. It may be that often -- or very often -- I am mistaken, or at least at variance, in what I say. I also often change my mind, seeing things differently, sometimes just the opposite way. And sometimes my thinking is just philosophically stupid, as e.g. what I originally wrote apropos of "philosophers who reject logic" was.

[There is also this, that since the very beginning of this site, in 1998, I had wrongly spelled the mapmaker Berit Lie's name and that was only corrected sixteen years later. Is any source in historical studies so reliable that what it says should be accepted without verification by other sources ... just as reliable as itself? (The rat chasing its tail: the standard of consensus: taking a vote to decide the truth.)]

Query: in philosophy 'physics' means what?

The Stoics meant by 'physics' what we now call 'metaphysics', but this is only of historical interest: we do not now use the word 'physics' as the Stoics did. Aristotle's use of that word is closer to ours, but different too (e.g. Aristotle's distinction between sub-lunar and supra-lunar is not ours); Aristotle meant: the study of things that are moved, i.e. not of God who is the unmoved Mover and uncaused Cause (Natural Theology). Our word 'physics' comes from the Greek word physis (phusis) = natural world (but not the natural world as conceived by our natural sciences; Thales may have said "there are gods in everything", but that notion is foreign to our way of thinking about nature (cf. souls)). As far as I can tell.

Metaphysics in contrast to Natural Science

Note: there is a further, more acute discussion of metaphysics versus natural science elsewhere in these pages.

The pictures metaphysics conjures up float free of falsification by experience; e.g. Thales' proposition that reality is essentially water is contrary to "the appearances" which show reality to be composed of many diverse things. Metaphysics is thus contrary to the model of natural science (Newton's "natural philosophy" which "makes no hypotheses", for an "hypothesis" in Newton's jargon is what Thales' proposition is), where "the appearances" must be proved to be mere appearance, not by reason alone, but by experience which verifies the reality behind the appearance by revealing it. (Thus Plato's shadow world is metaphysics, not natural philosophy, because Plato speaks of "appearances" but does not reveal the reality that his reasoning concludes "must" be false appearances of.)

Query: why metaphysics is simply the investigation of the reality behind the appearance of things?

It is not "simply" that, because natural science might in many cases be characterized with the same words: the investigation of the reality behind appearances. [Is there such a reality?] But how then should metaphysics be characterized [i.e. the word 'metaphysics' defined]? How are natural science and metaphysics to be distinguished (that is, if we don't regard natural science as being itself one kind of metaphysics, or, philosophy in rivalry with others)?

One thing to see is that the questions that metaphysicians ask aren't answerable by using the methods of natural science. Wittgenstein's "astonishment that anything exists"; or Heraclitus' question "What is the unchanging reality behind the fluctuating appearances?" -- can it be answered by a scientific theory (Is there anything that is not in flux in physics? or about which one cannot say: Yes, but what is the reality behind that? Cf. Drury's remarks about the relationship between the "recession of the galaxies" and the Doppler Effect theory); and the question I attributed to Fr. Copleston.

Metaphysics is on a different level from natural science; in the respect I have pointed to in this remark, it is more akin to a religious view of things than to natural science's view.

Is that is an example of trying to define a word by saying what its meaning is not rather than by saying what it is? No, it is a refutation of the query's thesis, which was a proposed definition for the word 'metaphysics'.

Query: why ancient philosophers are called philosopher-scientist.

To the scientist a comparison can be made, i.e. alike in some respect, different in others (the logic of comparison). The pre-Socratics made theories about what is real (the reality behind the appearances of things), and that theory- or model-making is akin to natural science. Thus Thales: all things are really [only] water; cf. Arthur Eddington: reality is ultimately [i.e. really only] atoms in space, despite "its apparent [i.e. appearance of] solidity". The scientific project of reductionism: "the essence of all things is water" reduces all things to water, by abstracting away what is inessential to them ("mere appearances"). Differences, however, there are. There is no experimental science, no verification/testing of hypotheses; rather, in place of this there was speculative insight.

Query: in what sense can the early Greek philosophers be regarded as philosophizing physicists?
Query: what is someone who seeks a reason for everything called?

That is said often, but it seems mistaken, because the early Greek philosophers were instead simply metaphysicians: there is no aspect of verification by experience to their speculations: what they were doing is not our natural science named 'physics' (not every theory about ultimate reality, if there is such a thing as reality, is our physics).

If the second query's "everything" = "all things" = "the world and everything in it", then the metaphysician is that someone. But if "seeking reasons for everything" means "applying reason to every aspect of our life", or, "the thoroughgoing use of reason", then that someone is the Socratic philosopher.

Query: first question in philosophy.

This query may concern, not logically first (Of which, see my account above), but historically first. Thales maybe asked: what is the physis ("stuff") of all things? if, that is, there is a single physis rather than a multiplicity (as other thinkers were to say). And Thales may have answered: water or moisture. But rocks are not moist, and this seems to show that Thales was talking about the underlying, not the necessarily perceptible, reality of all things -- i.e. what reasoning or insight might say that reality's essence is despite any appearances to the contrary. That way of thinking is what we now call 'metaphysics'; it is speculative. And that early metaphysics may be what we now call 'philosophy' originally was, and largely, still is.

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