Philosophy before *Plato comprises (a)*Socrates; (b) the *Sophists (roughly contemporary with Socrates); (c) two centuries of thinkers from *Thales (early 6th cent.
The classification makes sense because many problems relating to the sources and texts are common to all the thinkers up to the time of Socrates. Some of them wrote little or nothing. Those who did compose in verse or prose may also have delivered the same or other teaching orally. All the written texts are lost and have been reconstructed (where possible) using quotations from later writers (‘fragments’) and secondary reports in doxographical texts (‘testimonia’; see philosophy, history of). Occasionally finds of papyri, often from the Roman period, add new material. Much effort is expended in reconstructing the texts and theories of these thinkers.Less
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