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Reality in “Philosophy: The Power of Ideas” by Moore and Bruder

Heraclitus on the Nature of Reality

Heraclitus argues that there is no reality. Nature is constantly changing. Consequently, he equates permanence to illusion. In addition, he argues that change is not random. On the contrary, it is controlled by a cosmic order (Moore & Bruder, 2011). He refers to this cosmic order as logos. His argument is solid. He uses illustrations to support his theories. For example, he describes ‘all as a fire,’ which is ever-changing. Individuals are also changing on a regular basis. However, his views give rise to an identity problem. With the ever-changing nature of reality, one wonders why an individual is regarded as one person throughout their existence.

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Empedocles and Reality

Empedocles views reality as stable and consistent (Moore & Bruder, 2011). He is opposed to the view that change is part of the human imagination. According to Empedocles, there are four basic material particles. They are earth, water, air, and fire. The particles do not change. However, the objects of experience formed as a result of these particles do change through collisions (Moore & Bruder, 2011). His arguments are valid. They form the basis of modern physics as they explain how changes in quality, quantity, and relationships are, in reality, those of basic particles. Reality must explain why and how change occurs. To illustrate this, he uses the idea of forces behind the change, which are both love and strife.

Anaximander’s Views

Anaximander argues that the primary substance used to make all things in the universe remains unknown (Moore & Bruder, 2011). It is ageless and cannot be bound in time. He describes this substance as more elementary compared to those things known to man. He explains reality in terms of processes and natural powers. His arguments are reliable, given that he uses illustrations. He illustrates how the world came into existence. He argues that it started as a nucleus of fire and mist. However, he fails to explain the initial origins of his basic substance.

Parmenides and Heraclitus: A Comparison

Parmenides came after Heraclitus. In his opinion, beings are eternal. His explanation is that something cannot be formed out of anything (Moore & Bruder, 2011). He also argues that there is no change. He uses illustrations to support his arguments. He states that after the change, a being becomes something different. Heraclitus, on the other hand, holds that everything changes with time. Change occurs in an orderly manner. It is controlled by logos, a cosmic order.

Heraclitus and Parmenides agree that there is no reality. To illustrate this, Parmenides states that ‘something’ cannot come out of anything. On his part, Heraclitus believes that reality is an illusion. However, the two scholars are in conflict with regard to change. Parmenides is of the view that there is no change, while Heraclitus believes that beings are always changing.

Protagoras’s Arguments

According to Protagoras, man is the measure of all things. He believes that everyone’s opinion about the world is valid (Moore & Bruder, 2011). However, his theory is criticized for its various shortcomings. For example, Plato opposes this premise by arguing that if the statement is true, then no one is wrong or right. As such, even the opinions of those who are opposed to Protagoras are valid.

Pythagoras on Reality

Pythagoras argues that fundamental reality is accessible only to reason. It is also constant and eternal (Moore & Bruder, 2011). In addition, there is a link between numbers and things. For example, everything has a role to play in maintaining order in the universe. As such, these things can be counted and ordered. His argument is credible, given that things can be sequenced in numerical order. Orderliness applies to all things, regardless of whether they are physical or not.

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Anaxagoras Views

Anaxagoras brought philosophy and metaphysics to Athens. He believes that everything can be separated. Every matter has its own resultant particles (Moore & Bruder, 2011). In addition, it has particles of other kinds. For example, compared to water, fire contains more ‘fire’ particles. He argues that motion is caused by reason or mind. For instance, the world was formed as a result of the mind. The mind does not create matter. It only acts on it. He expresses his ideas in a logical manner. For example, he states that particles are made of ‘smaller ones.’ As a result, there is no such thing as ‘the smallest’ particle.

Empedocles and His Reasonable Conception of Reality

Among the ancient Greek philosophers, I feel that Empedocles has the most reasonable conception of the nature of reality. He argues that this phenomenon is stable and consistent. At the same time, he acknowledges that change exists (Moore & Bruder, 2011). I believe his argument is reasonable, given that reality should be constant. However, I also feel that reality is bound to change. For example, individual changes physically as they age.

Plato’s Criticism of Protagoras

According to Protagoras, man is the measure of everything. Plato interpreted this to mean that knowledge is relative. As such, everyone’s view is valid. As such, no one can be said to right or wrong (Moore & Bruder, 2011). His criticism is valid since Protagoras himself makes his work questionable. In Plato’s opinion, everyone who thinks Protagoras is wrong may be justified.

Plato and the Forms

Plato introduced the theory of forms (Moore & Bruder, 2011). He believes that the objects encountered by man through sensory stimuli are not real. However, the forms of these objects are real. Individuals can understand forms from an intellectual perspective. His theory is clear. It is supported by illustrations. For example, he gives the example of beauty and circularity. According to him, it is not possible to encounter both. However, one can experience objects that exhibit some degree of these forms. In this case, one can brand things as circular or beautiful.

Aristotle’s Four Causes

Aristotle argues that things change to become new ones. However, this raises the question of what causes a change (Moore & Bruder, 2011). In his defense, Aristotle states that every change is directed towards something. He proposes the ‘four causes’ of change. They include formal, material, efficient, and final causes. His argument is valid since everything in the universe has its purpose.

Aristotle’s 10 Categories

According to Aristotle, man thinks of things in different ways (Moore & Bruder, 2011). He comes up with ten of these ways, which he refers to as categories of being. He stated that besides substance, people judge things in terms of quality, quantity, and place. Other factors include posture, time, relationships, and activity. Finally, there is passivity and constitution. His arguments are valid since all attributes of things can be summed up under the ten categories. As such, his work caters to every possibility.

Aristotle’s Third Man Argument and Theory of Forms

Aristotle introduces the ‘third man argument’ in his theory of forms. The argument is the most compelling view against the theory. He uses circular coins to illustrate the argument. He makes reference to Plato’s arguments that circularity (a form) is the only thing that can tie two circular coins together. He feels that the argument is erroneous. For example, if Plato’s suppositions are true, then a further form would be required to tie the circularity to the two coins (Moore & Bruder, 2011). His argument is justified given that if Plato’s theory is factual, then there would be an endless chain of forms.

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The Theory of Forms According to Plato and Aristotle

Plato and Aristotle agree that forms exist. In addition, two or more things can assume one form. For example, circularity, a form, can be found in a number of things (Moore & Bruder, 2011). However, the two disagree on some issues. To begin with, Plato is of the opinion that forms exist independently. To support his point, he asserts that these phenomena were in existence long before there were things to be tied to them. Aristotle, on the other hand, is of the opinion that forms are dependent on things (Moore & Bruder, 2011). Consequently, he states that circularity would not exist if there were no circular things.

Aristotle and Gorgias’ Paradox of Existence

According to Aristotle, everything that comes into being in the universe is brought about by something else (Moore & Bruder, 2011). However, a critical analysis of this statement reveals that it contradicts itself. The reason is that in his earlier writings, Aristotle had stated that some things are particular. He gave the example of humans. He believed such things exist in singularity. Consequently, they cannot be said to come from something else. However, if Aristotle’s statement is true, then existence would not be a paradox, as Gorgias states.


Moore, B., & Bruder, K. (2011). Philosophy: The power of ideas (8th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

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