In the introduction to A Presocratics Reader the author lists many different fields that the Presocratics were interested in, one of them being epistemology. While reading this passage I was at first surprised that this part of philosophy would make a reappearance while discussing metaphysics. However, after reading on I was less surprised and had a better understanding of what philosophy is.
The introduction of this book aims to inform the reader of the general concepts and ideas covered by the Presocratics. The passage began by introducing the first philosopher, and the first member of the Presocratics, Thales of Miletus. Thales, along with his successors, was concerned with pin pointing the origin of everything. He believed everything is from water and therefore he could define what it was to exist (metaphysics) – to be something that was from water. However, the passage then continues and states that the Presocratics were not only concerned with what it was to be but also relied on evidence to back their claims. They were concerned with “what separates sure and certain knowledge from opinion and belief” (Curd 5). Therefore, the Presocratics were the first epistemologists as well.
I was at first surprised to encounter epistemology since we had changed units and were now studying metaphysics. I naively believed that metaphysics was a whole category on its own, completely different than epistemology. What I did not understand, and what this reading taught me, was that you cannot separate one from the other. Since the three main questions of philosophy are epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics, when you study one field you study the others to a certain degree. We can see this through the Presocratics’ writings and philosophies incorporating not just one but all of these concepts.