I spent today reading some more of ‘The First Philosophers’ translated by Robin Waterfield. Currently, I am particularly fascinated by Anaxagoras and Empedocles.
Anaxagoras has been described as an ‘atheistic’ philosopher but that feels a touch too simplistic to me. The idea of infinite divisibility, and a dispersal of differentiation from a ‘source’ moment or point – initiated by mind (or Mind?) – is truly fascinating. He seems to describe this mind as the only pure, unmixed thing in the cosmos – because it has the power to guide and initiate. So, perhaps this searching quality exhibited by life, this movement towards dispersal and structured differentiation, is guided by a source intelligence.
You have to admit there is beauty and nobility in such a framework.
Empedocles, though totally different, is no less fascinating. I am quite taken with his idea (thoroughly poetic) that there are two original principles that sway the periodic cycles of the cosmos. These principles are “love” and “strife”. Love leads towards unity and immortality, strife leads towards disunity and mortality.
Therefore, our birth as human mortal beings in this particular cycle, is a pang of suffering strife, as the universe motions away from the immortal, allowing only glimpses to remain in the diminution of the all too mortal human heart.