Concepts of time in Presocratics

Tonći Kokić
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Split

Abstract The first question of the nature of time remains inaccessible somewhere in deep and shady past of human history. On the West, ancient Greek philosophy in Presocratics period and in the closest previous pre-philosophical thoughts, already offers the possibility of insight in the continuous tradition of investigation of time problem. Based on three selected points: (1) Hesiod consideration on time in Theogony; (2) reports about Thales studies in astronomy; and (3) Parmenides theoretical consideration in On nature; it is possible to speak about three very different ideas and swift ‘development’ of time concepts. One interpretation can find three stages in 'development' of time concept in Presocratics, as follows: (1) the mythical concept of Hesiod’s time marked by indirect connection with χάος; (2) Thales measurement of astronomical phenomena (kρόνος) marked by practical or technological (τέχνη) purpose; and (3) Parmenides highly theoretical notion of time narrowly links time with being, so it is necessary to speak 'Now being in time' ˗ because being had no beginning in time and will no end in time. When focusing on ‘development’ of time concepts through these three stages, it is possible to loosely interpret change in meaning of time concepts as a shift from χάος and κρόνος to κόσμος, from irregular world in which it is impossible to orient towards highly defined and regularly ordered world.