ARISTOTLE ON HIS PREDECESSORS

BEING THE FIRST BOOK OF HIS METAPHYSICS

Translated with introduction and notes by A.E. Taylor

Summary of Metaphysics I← TOC→Books of Reference

CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF THE PRE-ARISTOTELIAN PHILOSOPHERS REFERRED TO IN METAPHYSICS A.

B.C.

Thales floruit c. 585 (he foretold the solar eclipse of this year)
Anaximander born c. 610
Anaximenes floruit c. 546
Xenophanes floruit c. 536
Pythagoras floruit c. 532 (is said to have left Samos from disapproval of the tyranny of Polycrates)
Heraclitus floruit c. 500
Parmenides floruit c. 470 (accepting the statements of Plato in his Parmenides)
Empedocles floruit c.455
Anaxagoras born  c. 500 d. c. 428
Melissus defeated an Athenian navy 441
Diogenes of Apollonia floruit c. 423 (he is satirized in the Clouds of Aristophanes produced that year)
Democritus born c. 460 floruit c. 420
Socrates born c. 470 died 399
Plato born 427 died 347

Where a floruit is given without any further explanation it is taken from the notices of the Alexandrian chronologists as preserved to us by such writers as Diogenes Laertius and Suidas. A man was conventionally assumed to be forty years old at the date of his "flourishing."

Of philosophers mentioned in the present book but not inserted in the foregoing list Hippo is known to have been a contemporary of Pericles; the physician Alcmaeon was, as Aristotle tells us, "contemporary with the old age of Pythagoras," i. e., approximately contemporary with Heraclitus. Of Hippasus nothing can be said but that he was a member of the Pythagorean order, and therefore junior to Pythagoras. Of Leucippus we can only say that he was a predecessor of Democritus and pretty certainly younger than Melissus.

As for the "Pythagoreans" mentioned by Aristotle, in the absence of names, we cannot date them precisely. The Pythagorean "Order" was violently destroyed at a date somewhere between 450 and 410, but the survivors continued to exist as a band of scientific students for some time longer. Among its later members were Philolaus of Thebes, a contemporary of Socrates, and Plato's friend Archytas, the engineer and statesman of Tarentum, probably about a generation later. See on the history of these proceedings Burnet, op. cit. p. 96 ff.








Created for Peithô's Web from Aristotle on his predecessors; being the first book of his Metaphysics; tr. from the text edition of W. Christ, with introd. and notes by A. E. Taylor. Chicago, Open Court, 1907.Taylor's footnotes have been converted to endnotes. Greek unicode text entered with Peithô's Younicoder.
Split-column page design by Larry Clark, with inspiration from Ethan Clark.