The ontological naturalism of Presocratic philosophy: Substance as the foundation for the explanation of the world
This paper analyzes the development of Presocratic ontological naturalism. The naturalistic ontologies that are developed during the period of 600-400 B.C., from Thales to Democritus, are all attempts to account for the nature of existence in the natural world. They accomplish this by postulating substance (one or many) as the foundation for an explanation of the world as a single system. An adequate account would be one that links the permanence, unity, change, and diversity of the world with the postulated substance or substances. The Presocratic dialogue is a series of attempts to develop such a notion of substance. Each ontological strategy is a response to the preceding ontologies, and thus, from its retrospective vantage point, is better organized and more complete. The ontologies develop from notions of a single kind of complex substance to notions of plural substances that are simpler. What was merely assumed at a prior phase subsequently is made explicit and is accounted for by the postulation of substances that are ultimately basic. (Abstract shortened by UMI.).