Cosmos of the Ancients
The Greek Philosophers on Myth and Cosmology
In this book I present the Greek philosophers and what they thought about cosmology, the myths, and the gods. Click the image to see the book at Amazon (paid link).
Aristotle's judgement on myth can be harsh, as expressed in relation to "the school of Hesiod" and similar "theologians", who have said that those who do not eat the nectar and ambrosia are mortal, but Aristotle questions how immortals can be of need of food. Then he plainly states: "about those who have invented clever mythologies it is not worthwhile to take a serious book."
From old — and indeed extremely ancient — times there has been handed down to our later age intimations of a mythical character to the effect that the stars are gods and that the divine embraces the whole of nature. The further details were subsequently added in the manner of myth. Their purpose was the persuasion of the masses and general legislative and political expediency. For instance, the myths tell us that these gods are anthropomorphic or resemble some of the other animals and give us other, comparable extrapolations of the basic picture.
His own supreme deity is the primal mover of the universe, someone so elevated as to be only thinking — the highest form of life — and thinking about thinking, at that. In this tautological fashion, this supreme being is untarnished, untouchable, closed within its own perfection. Were it to think about anything other than its own thinking, it would be vulnerable, in risk of losing its grandeur or its perfection. This being he calls god, and defines:
God is a supreme and eternal living being, so that to God belong life and continuous and eternal duration. For that is what God is.
LiteratureAristotle, Metaphysics, translated by Hugh Lawson-Tancred, London 1998.
© Stefan Stenudd 2000
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I'm a Swedish author of fiction and non-fiction books in both Swedish and English. I'm also an artist, an historian of ideas and a 7 dan Aikikai Shihan aikido instructor. Click the header to read my full bio.