Pre-Socratic Greeks

Some landmarks from the Golden age of Greece and the East

Before Upanishads

1000 B.C. (Philosophical texts from India)

582-507 B.C. Pythagoras

563-483 B.C. Buddha

551-479 B.C. Confucious

469-399 B.C. Socrates

427-347 B.C. Plato

384-322 B.C. Aristotle

From Ancient Greece:

Some ideas relevant to psychology

Thales (fl. 585 B.C.)

-Things made of a single substance - Water

-Ideas of "physis," the single substance in the universe


-The critical method

Pythagoras (fl. 530 B.C.)

-Soul/body distinction

-importance of mathematical accounts

"everything has its number"

The origin of two rival viewpoints:

Emphasis on

Change vs. Permanence

Heraclitus Parmenides

(540-475 B.C.) (540-470 B.C.)

You cannot step Change is in

the same river twice appearance not in reality

Implication for Psychology

Becoming Being

study change study enduring patterns

(development) (patterns or traits or identity)

Values Values

Change: permanence

Self Actualization self-realization

Aristotle, Hume Plato, Kant


Democritus (460-370 B.C.)

- molecularism: things are made of atoms

- material monism:

denial of soul; mind made of highly mobile "fire atoms"

- Naturalism: no gods believed in

- Determinism as cause of all action



Copy theory of knowledge

atoms emanating from objects enter body through senses & create eidola (copies of objects) through highly mobile fire atoms in the brain

Note: > Confluence of these particular ideas

> similarity of these ideas with contemporary views

Protagoras (~490-420 B.C.):

"Man is the measure of all things; of those that they are they are; and of those that they are not they are not."

Justice and Laws need to relative to the circumstances that people find themselves in, and others cannot judge and measure what is foreign to them.

Early scholar of the Humanities (Human Science) perspective. No Universals only man-made relative truths.