Xenophobia... Xenophanes...

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Xenophanes (born ancient Greece, about 500 yrs before Christ) was a wisdom seeker who questioned the origin and nature of the world. In this attempt, he initiated the Pluralist school of philosophical thought that gifted the world with Theistic (on God) and Epistemological (on Knowledge) contributions.

He pointed out that 'God is beyond all forms, mode or thought', because whenever societies ponder God, they give it forms resembling their own dominant racial characteristics (like African gods are dark skinned with broad noses, Indian gods are brown skinned with Aryan features). Similarly, the powers endowed upon Gods are forces that we see in nature. The human mind, with its finite intellect, can only impose anthropomorphic characteristics on God, hence God in true essence was above and beyond.

"How do we know?" was the path-breaking question he had posed which (grossly and subtly at the same time) slapped in the face of Homer and Hesiod's mythologies. He started a skeptic outlook which laid the foundation of an epistemological approach to Philosophy. At one point, he was highly respected and hailed as a significant personality in all of Greek dominion.

".. stare too long into the abyss, and the abyss stares back into you" - Neitzsche

His constant skepticism eventually turned its head back on him, and he got consumed with it in his later days. He started telling people not to take his ideas as the truth (and just as 'truth-like'). He cast aside the power of human belief and said that knowledge however true will not be acceptable unless it is supported by relevant evidence and justification. He started calling for caution over the soundness of one's own judgement and rational evidences. A measure of his skepticism can be seen in his quote, "Even if we land upon the Truth, we will not know that we have done so, for, belief reigns over all human inquiry."

Bibliography :
Copleston, Fredirick. A History of Philosophy, Vol 1. New York: Image Books, 1993.
Thilly, Frank. A History of Philosophy. Allahabad: Central Publishing House, 1993.

Image credit : Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy


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