Volume 19, Issue 2, Spring 2015
Special Issue: The Ancient Philosophy Society
Jean De Groot
Why Epistemology Is Not Ancient
From Device and Drama into Philosophy
This paper traces the significance of first principles (archai) in Greek philosophy to cognitive developments in colonial Greek Italy in the late fifth century BC. Conviction concerning principles comes from the power to make something true by action. Pairing and opposition, the forerunners of metonymy, are shown to structure disparate cultural phenomena—the making of figured numbers, the sundial, and the production, with the aid of device, of fear or panic in the spectators of Greek tragedy. From these starting points, the function of the gnômôn in knowledge is explored.