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What is the Fabric of the Cosmos?
The Immaterial Edition
What if reality is not made up of Material
Objects (stuff), but immaterial objects
(thoughts, minds, ideas, numbers, etc.)?
The Immaterial Branch
Some pre-Socratics believed the ultimate
nature of reality was not physical at all
Matter as we know it is often associated
with different atoms organized in different
ways, which created different physical
effects (color, smell, texture, etc.)
However, due to the changing nature of
these entities, some philosophers argued
there were more basic elements of reality
“underneath” these changes
Pythagoras of Samos
(571 – 497bce):
The High Priest of Numbers
Believed numbers were the ultimate nature of reality; they’re eternal
and indestructible; numbers do not change
He created a secret order of mathematicians who worshipped
sacred numbers/shapes.
[Possibly] vegetarian due to religious beliefs/practices
There is a numerical basis for all things (Musical scales), thus reality
may have a numerical basis (Arithmetic  Geometry  Reality).
Argued that the Primary Matter (most basic substance) is FORM
(limit, numbers provide a limit). Plato adopts idea of Form.
Evidence = Music
Evidence = Medicine
Believed in a Wheel of Reincarnation
“The whole of heaven is a musical scale and a number.” Pythagoras
Parmenides Founder of Eleatic
School of Philosophy
(539 -492bce): An early Solipsist
Therefore, reality is unknown to us; all that we
experience is a false reality
 Criticisms of Heraclitus: If all of existence is made from
one substance, then the concept of change is false.
Change is an illusion.
 How can change exist? How can something that is not
become something that is? Something either is or is not.
 Only one path is available for us to speak of “The path
that is.”
 Change is the confusion of appearance with reality.
 Reality is eternal, changeless, motionless…unreal
Parmenides Continued
“One cannot say that anything ever had ‘non-being’
 Let’s try this quote: “It is impossible to think of
change in any clear way since the only thing one
can think about is being, or what actually is. It
follows, therefore, that being is absolute, that being
is not divisible, since all being is alike, and,
[Parmenides says] all is full of being. The
assumption of change, or of becoming, is just this,
that something changes from non-being to being or
from being to being. But for Parmenides this
assumption made no sense for the following
reason: If one says that something arises out of
being, as Thales and other Milesians did, there
cannot be any coming-into-being, for if it arises out
of being, it already is. Similarly, if something is
said to arise out of non-being, one assumes that
non-being is something.”
Zeno of Elea (400s bce): Parmenides’
Student Motion doesn’t exist either!
Bane of the Pythagoreans
Compiled a host of paradoxes that come up when obeying laws of
nature [i.e., motion, divisibility of space] (Zeno’s Paradoxes).
 Attempted to argue against Pythagoreans that existence is not divisible,
it is all One substance. Proof was to be found in his paradoxes
(Racecourse, Achilles Shooting an arrow, etc). His argument was: With
a plurality of the world, motion cannot exist.
 Agreed with Parmenides that what reality is must be unchanging
 Would debate often in markets with anyone
 Believed our senses only gave us the appearance of reality; one needs
to apply reason/logic to find reliable knowledge.
(Millet Seed Example)
Challenge: See pg. 21 Achilles shooting an arrow; how does one solve this
The Return of Heraclitus –
Change & Logos
In response to those who sought unchanging reality,
Heraclitus said, “The only thing that is constant is
change.” The world is in flux; the world is ever-living fire
“Change is unity as diversity” (from his writings)
Can a person step into the same river twice?
“The ultimate reality is change!”
But wait…what about Logos (the principle underlying the
changes we experience)
All things change but the laws of nature…