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Equality and Justice in Early Greek Cosmologies: The Paradigm of the “Line of the Horizon”

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Salamone, Maria Antonietta/M.A. (2017) Equality and Justice in Early Greek Cosmologies: The Paradigm of the “Line of the Horizon”. Philosophy and Cosmology, 18 . pp. 22-31. ISSN 2518-1866

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Abstract

The founders of Greek scientific thought believed justice in terms of equality. Cosmic equality, in fact, was conceived as the guaranty of cosmic justice: the order of nature is maintained because it is an order of equals. That the main components of the universe are equal was an old tradition in popular cosmology. In Hesiod earth and sky are declared equal (Theog. 126); and the distance between sky and earth is equal to that between earth and Tartarus (ibid. 719-25). Anaximander’s own cosmology is designed with just such a sense of aesthetic symmetry, with equality as the main motif: the intervals between each of the infinite worlds are equal; the intervals between earth, fixed stars, moon, and sun are also equal; earth and sun are equal. This is exactly the sense in which equality figures in the whole development of early cosmological theory from Anaximander to Empedocles: powers are equal if they can hold another in check, in a way that no one of them is more powerful than any other. The objective of this paper is to propose a cosmological interpretation of the term díkē in ancient Greek according to Aristotle, who establishes synonymy between justice and equality through the use of the «dividing line» paradigm. Aristotle reveals, in effect, that the words diksastḗs «judge» and dikaion «just» come from the root díkē, «judgment or sentence», which in their turn are derived from the adverb dīksā, «division into two equal parts». Moreover, the adverb dīksā comes from the Greek root dís-, «divided into two parts, dichotomous», which in its turn is derived from the Sanskrit root *diś-(dik) whose meaning indicates the astronomical concept of the «horizon line», — i.e. the boundary line that divides apparently the cosmos in two equal parts, the Earth and the Sky. As said by Palmer and Gagarin, in effect, the meaning of the word Díkē is associated with making a «judgment or decision» between two contestants, that is, placing a «dividing line» (straight or crooked) between them. Furthermore, this original conception representing justice as a division of the cosmos into two equal parts, or cosmic dasmós, has its roots in ancient cosmogony not only Greek but also Indo-Iranian, Hindus, Old Persian, Egyptian, Babylonian and Chinese. To conclude, according to my research, also Plato could have used the paradigm of the «Line of the horizon» to explain his cosmological Doctrine of Ideas.


Item Type:Article
Subjects:Humanities > Philosophy > Ethics
Humanities > Philosophy > Philosophy of science
Humanities > Philosophy > Philosophy of nature
Humanities > Philosophy > Political philosophy
Humanities > Philosophy > Logic, symbolic and mathematical
Humanities > Philosophy > Metaphysics
Humanities > Philosophy > Ontology
Humanities > Philosophy > Theory of knowledge
ID Code:50471
Deposited On:18 Dec 2018 12:27
Last Modified:19 Dec 2018 09:05

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