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Encyclopedia > Xenophanes

Xenophanes of Colophon (Greek: Ξενοφάνης, 570 BC-480 BC) was a Greek philosopher, poet, and social and religious critic. Our knowledge of his views comes from his surviving poetry, all of which are fragments passed down as quotations by later Greek writers. His poetry criticized and satirized a wide range of ideas, including the belief in the pantheon of anthropomorphic gods and the Greeks' veneration of athleticism. Centuries: 7th century BC - 6th century BC - 5th century BC Decades: 620s BC 610s BC 600s BC 590s BC 580s BC - 570s BC - 560s BC 550s BC 540s BC 530s BC 520s BC Events and Trends 579 BC - Servius Tullius succeeds the assassinated Lucius Tarquinius Priscus as king of Rome. ... Events King Xerxes I of Persia sets out to conquer Greece. ... A philosopher is a person who thinks deeply regarding people, society, the world, and/or the universe. ... A poet exists within a cultural and intellectual tradition and usually writes in a specific language, but the qualities of good poetry are to some extent timeless and address issues common to all humanity. ... A critic (from Greek κριτικός, kritikós - one who discerns, from Ancient Greek κριτής, krités, a judge) is a person who offers judgement or analysis, value judgement, interpretation, or observation. ... Satire is a literary technique of writing or art which exposes the follies of its subject (for example, individuals, organizations, or states) to ridicule, often as an intended means of provoking or preventing change. ... A Pantheon (Greek: παν, pan, all + Θεός, Theos, God), is a set of all the gods of a particular religion or mythology, such as the gods of Hinduism, Greek mythology, Norse mythology, and Egyptian mythology. ... Anthropomorphism, also referred to as personification or prosopopeia, is the attribution of human characteristics to inanimate objects, animals, forces of nature, and others. ... This article is about deities or gods from a non-monotheistic perspective. ... Athletics, also known, especially in American English, as track and field or track and field athletics, is a collection of sport events, which can roughly be divided into running, throwing, and jumping. ...

Xenophanes rejected the idea that the gods resembled humans in form. One famous passage ridiculed the idea by claiming that, if oxen were able to imagine gods, then those gods would be in the image of oxen. Because of his development of the concept of a "one god greatest among gods and men" that is abstract, universal, unchanging, immobile and always present, Xenophanes is often seen as one of the first monotheists, in the Western philosophy of religion. This vision is not undisputed; while it seems clear that Xenophanes differed markedly from the commonly held cosmology of his contemporaries, it is less clear that his ideas were congruent with monotheism per se. Final resolution of this question is unlikely barring new texts coming to light. Binomial name Bos taurus Linnaeus, 1758 Cattle are domesticated ungulates, a member of the subfamily Bovinae of the family Bovidae. ... Monotheism (in Greek μόνος = single and θεός = God), in contrast with polytheism, is the belief in one god, simply put it is the belief in a single deity. ... The term Western world or the West can have multiple meanings depending on its context. ... Cosmology, from the Greek: κοσμολογία (cosmologia, κόσμος (cosmos) world + λογια (logia) discourse) is the study of the universe in its totality and by extension mans place in it. ...

He also wrote that poets should only tell stories about the gods which were socially uplifting, one of many views which foreshadowed the work of Plato. Xenophanes also concluded from his examination of fossils that water once must have covered all of the Earth's surface. His epistemology, which is still influential today, held that there actually exists a truth of reality, but that humans as mortals are unable to know it. Therefore, it is possible to act only on the basis of working hypotheses - we may act as if we knew the truth, as long as we know that this is extremely unlikely. This aspect of Xenophanes was brought out again by the late Sir Karl Popper and is a basis of Critical rationalism. Plato Plato (Greek: Πλάτων, Plátōn) (c. ... A fossil Ammonite Fossils (from Latin fossus, literally having been dug up) are the mineralized or otherwise preserved remains or traces (such as footprints) of animals, plants, and other organisms. ... A girl in a swimming pool Water (from the Old English waeter; c. ... Earth is the third planet in the Solar system. ... Epistemology is an analytic branch of philosophy which studies the nature, origin, and scope of knowledge. ... Truth is an important concept in philosophy, logic, mathematics, science, law, religion, and linguistics, and is also a frequent topic for poets. ... Reality in everyday usage means everything that exists. ... A hypothesis (= assumption in ancient Greek) is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. ... Sir Karl Raimund Popper, CH, FRS (July 28, 1902 – September 17, 1994), was an Austrian and British philosopher and a professor at the London School of Economics. ... Critical rationalism is an epistemological philosophy advanced by Karl Raimund Popper, which is a logical generalization of his approach to science, falsificationism. ...

Until the 1950s, there was some controversy over many aspects of Xenophanes, including whether or not he could be properly characterized as a philosopher. In today's philosophical and classics discourse, Xenophanes is seen as one of the most important presocratic philosophers. It had also been common to see him as the teacher of Zeno of Elea, the colleague of Parmenides, and generally associated with the Eleatic school, but common opinion today is likewise that this is false. // Events and trends This map shows two essential global spheres during the Cold War in 1959. ... Pre-Socratic philosophers are often very hard to pin down, and it is sometimes very difficult to determine the actual line of argument they used in supporting their particular views. ... Zeno of Elea (IPA:zɛnoʊ, ɛlɛɑː)(circa 490 BC? – circa 430 BC?) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher of southern Italy and a member of the Eleatic School founded by Parmenides. ... Parmenides of Elea (early 5th century BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher born in Elea, a Greek city on the southern coast of Italy. ... The Eleatics were a school of pre-Socratic philosophers at Elea, a Greek colony in Lucania, Italy. ...




  • H. Diels and W. Kranz (eds.), Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, 6th edn. Zurich 1968 (standard work; much superior to Kirk/Raven)
  • B. Gentili and C. Prato (eds.), Poetarum Elegiacorum Testimonia et Fragmenta 1, Leipzig 1988 (best Greek text available)
  • J.H. Lesher (ed.), Xenophanes. Fragments, Toronto 1992 (best English edition and translation)

Secondary Literature

  • U. De Young, "The Homeric Gods and Xenophanes' Opposing Theory of the Divine", 2000
  • W. Drechsler and R. Kattel, "Mensch und Gott bei Xenophanes", in: M. Witte, ed., Gott und Mensch im Dialog. Festschrift für Otto Kaiser zum 80. Geburtstag, Berlin – New York 2004, 111-129
  • H. Fränkel, "Xenophanesstudien", Hermes 60 (1925), 174-192
  • E. Heitsch, Xenophanes und die Anfänge kritischen Denkens. Mainzer Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, Abh. d. Geistes- und Sozialwiss. Kl., 1994, H. 7
  • W. Jaeger, The Theology of the Early Greek Philosophers, Gifford Lectures 1936, repr. Westport, Ct. 1980
  • K. Jaspers, The Great Philosophers 3, New York etc. 1993
  • R. Kattel, "The Political Philosophy of Xenophanes of Colophon", Trames 1(51/46) (1997), 125-142
  • O. Kaiser, "Der eine Gott und die Götter der Welt", in: Zwischen Athen und Jerursalem. Studien zur griechischen und biblischen Theologie, ihrer Eigenart und ihrem Verhältnis, Berlin - New York 2003, 135-152
  • K. Ziegler, "Xenophanes von Kolophon, ein Revolutionär des Geistes", Gymmasium 72 (1965), 289-302

External links

This article is part of The Presocratic Philosophers series
Thales | Anaximander | Anaximenes of Miletus | Pythagoras | Philolaus | Archytas | Empedocles | Heraclitus | Parmenides | Zeno of Elea | Melissus of Samos | Xenophanes | Anaxagoras | Leucippus | Democritus | Protagoras | Gorgias | Prodicus | Hippias | Pherecydes

  Results from FactBites:
Xenophanes - definition of Xenophanes in Encyclopedia (546 words)
Xenophanes (570 BC - 470 BC) was a Greek philosopher, poet, and social and religious critic.
Xenophanes rejected the then standard belief in many gods, as well as the idea that the gods resembled humans in form.
Because of his development of the concept of One God that is abstract, universal, unchanging, immobile and always present, Xenophanes is often seen as one of the first monotheists in occidental philosophy of religion.
Xenophanes [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy] (765 words)
Xenophanes early left his own country and took refuge in Sicily, where he supported himself by reciting, at the court of Hiero, elegiac and iambic verses, which he had written in criticism of the Theogony of Hesiod and Homer.
Xenophanes was an elegiac and satirical poet who approached the question of science from the standpoint of the reformer rather than of the scientific investigator.
Xenophanes found the weapons he required for his attack on polytheism in the science of the time.
  More results at FactBites »



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