This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Thales Essay

1003 words - 4 pages

Thales was a native of Miletus, in Asia Minor. He flourished in 585 BCE (the date of an eclipse he is reputed to have predicted). No fragments of his work have survived, only testimony. Aristotle attributes the following four views to Thales:1. The earth rests on water. (De Caelo 294a28)2. Water is the archê of all things. (Metaph. 983b18)3. The magnet has a soul. (De Anima 405a19)4. All things are full of gods. (De Anima 411a7)This seems like a very bizarre collection of very strange views. What makes these views philosophically or scientifically interesting? We will begin with (1). It seems very likely that Thales was offering an hypothesis to explain a puzzling phenomenon: why are there earthquakes? If the earth floats on water, then we can understand what happens: the earth is rocked by the wave action of the water on which it floats like a boat or a log. (At this point we are more interested in seeing that this is an attempt at explanation than in evaluating it.)To understand (2) we need to examine its source. Archê is Aristotle's word: it means beginning or source or principle (cf. "archaic," "archaeology," "architect"). Aristotle is here talking about what he called the material archê, which can be either the stuff from which something originated or the stuff of which it is composed. Thus, Thales thought (Aristotle tells us) that everything either originated in water (cosmogony) or is actually (now!) made of water (constituent analysis).So what is the scientific or philosophical interest of Thales' ruminations about water? He is attempting to provide a theory which is:1. General (it covers a whole range of similar cases, not just a single one).2. Based on observation (although it transcends all observations).3. Makes no appeal to supernatural causes.This last point is worth dwelling on. Many people before Thales had offered explanations of natural phenomena. These traditional (Homeric) religious accounts also went beyond the observable. For example, thunder was attributed to Zeus' throwing lightning bolts; storms at sea were thought to be due to the wrath of Poseidon.The difference is that Thales' explanations are natural. not supernatural. He does not appeal to anthropomorphic beings in attempting to explain natural phenomena.Guthrie (vol. I, pp. 44-5) puts it succinctly:The questions which excited [the Milesians] were of this kind: Can this apparently confused and disordered world be reduced to simpler principles so that our reason can grasp what it is and how it works? What is it made of? How does change take place? . . . They abandoned mythological and substituted intellectual solutions. . . . [It] was no longer satisfying to say that storms were roused by the wrath of Poseidon, or death caused by the arrows of Apollo or Artemis. A world ruled by anthropomorphic gods of the kind in which their contemporaries believed -- gods human in their passions as well as in their outward form -- was a world ruled by caprice....

Find Another Essay On Thales

Philosophy 130 Essay

663 words - 3 pages Thinkers within the realm of philosophy possessed a different train of thought that allowed them to make massive discoveries. Thales is regarded as the first recorded philosopher from Miletus. He believed reality was defined by water. Water rests on earth, reflects objects, and conforms to the shape of other objects. During what we call the ancient period, 600-300 BCE, communities lived by water supplies. Water is necessary to have the ability

Greek Philosophy Essay

987 words - 4 pages the motions of the planets; he also tried to discover the size of the sun, earth, and moon. Astronomy was the first attempt to learn in science, many philosophers discovered new tools that we use today. In 1609, Galileo, a famous philosopher, discovered a historic tool called the telescope. A telescope can see groups of stars, dust, and Milky Way’s (Kaler 16). Thales is believed to be the world’s first philosopher, scientist, and mathematician

Philosophy vs. Science

1245 words - 5 pages Enlightenment when the French philosophes brought about an alteration in the major world-view and brought it more or less to what it is today (Buckler, 605-608). As for science, it too cannot have an official beginning, but the Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus created it as “natural philosophy,” and the thinkers of the time considered it a part of philosophy (O’Grady, “Thales of Miletus”). Scientific advances in theories and objects like the astrolabe


800 words - 3 pages Like Thales, Anaximander was a monist. But he rejected Thales' supposition that water is the material archê. Instead, he proposed the apeiron (the indefinite, or the infinite). Why did he do this?There is only one extant fragment (6 = B1). It was recorded by the commentator Simplicius (6th C.), who was preserving an account of Anaximander given by Aristotle's student Theophrastus; it's possible that Simplicius may have gotten the quote

classical greek

1975 words - 8 pages throughout the Greek world. The center of this activity was the city Miletus, in what is now Southwestern Turkey, which gained a reputation not only for a commercial power but also as a source of inventions and ideas.Around 625 BC, a man was born in Miletus who was uniquely capable of taking advantage of the special opportunities afforded by his native city. Very little is known about Thales: he was revered, first by Greeks and then Romans; he was

A brief survey of Presocratic and Platonic metaphysics

1663 words - 7 pages dramatically. One philosopher says that matter is ultimately water, while another says that matter is actually fire, and another still claims that the arché is number.According to the writings of Aristotle, the Greek philosopher Thales (585 BCE) said that "the first principle and basic nature of all things is water" (Aristotle, Metaphysica 983b 7). He was also the first philosopher to ascribe being to an arché of any kind. He thought that

Theory of Opposition

660 words - 3 pages to this day, a generally clear understanding has been developed of his philosophies. In his criticizm of Thales' proposal of water as the singular source of the universe, Anaximander reasons that it cannot be a single element that is the source of all things nor responsible for the various differences and patterns that exist in nature. Rather, Anaximander believes, the universe is the result of four elements in opposition to eachother. He

From Mythos to Logos

1239 words - 5 pages to believe that the gods did not want the soldiers to fight in the war. The reasoning behind the event stopped the war, although, there was no message to decipher. The soldiers merely misunderstood this natural phenomenon. One person, along with others that had gained knowledge from a different worldview, did understand why the event occurred. Thales, who was from Miletus, had used scientific knowledge to predict the eclipse. He understood that

Sophie's World, by Jostein Gaarder

1102 words - 4 pages and their theories. Sophie’s first lesson in philosophy was, “What is philosophy?”. How I understood what was being affirmed was that philosophy is the inquiry for beliefs and an essay of the basic concepts said in the expression of such beliefs. It isn't hard “to know what is right and do it right” (Gaarder, Jostein 60). Next Sophie learned about was Thales. According to Thales, the original principle of all things is water, from which

The Development of Ancient Greece through Philosophic Evolution

773 words - 4 pages things, Socrates and his disciples established an influential analysis into philosophy as the modern world knows it today, which spurred into stoicism, epicureanism, skepticism, and Neoplatonism during the time. This analytic foundation provides the basis for today’s metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and logic. This revolution of thought began with the pre-Socratics. Initiated by Thales of Miletus, others who followed him (Anaximander

Pythagoras: The Foolish Genius

876 words - 4 pages that he met was his mentor, Thales. This man was Pythagoras’ tutor who taught him from the time he was twelve to the age of eighteen. The second philosopher was Pythagoras’ fellow student of Thales’, Anaximander. Both of these men helped to sculpt Pythagoras’ great mind during his teenage years. However, Pythagoras did not just learn from Thales and Anaximander. Sometime between the age of eighteen and twenty he traveled to Egypt to learn the

Similar Essays

Thales And Anaximander Essay

1022 words - 4 pages There is considerable agreement that Thales was born in Miletus in Greek Ionia in the 624 BCE and died in about 546 BCE. His parents are said by some to be from Miletus but others report that they were Phoenicians. It is reported that Thales predicted an eclipse of the Sun in 585 BC. .. Thales was much involved in the problems of astronomy and provided a number of explanations of cosmological events which traditionally involved supernatural

A Brief History Of Clocks: From Thales To Ptolemy

2909 words - 12 pages preceded the development of the astrolabe.The earliest example, in western culture, of a celestial sphere is attributed to the presocratic philosopher Thales. Unfortunately, little is known about Thales' sphere beyond Cicero's description in the De re publica:For Gallus told us that the other kind of celestial globe, which was solid and contained no hollow space, was a very early invention, the first one of that kind having been constructed by Thales

The Origins Of Philosophy Essay

817 words - 3 pages About 25 centuries ago, the first Greek Philosopher Thales of Miletus (624-560 B.C.) replaced mythology with a set of theories that constituted a more systematic and realistic view of nature. Empirical propositions based to some extent on observations about the world were characteristic of Thales' "Ionic Natural Philosophy", and provided the first clues to how a physical system might be modeled. This genesis of scientific conjecture was for

The Ancient Greeks That Made A Difference For Today

1192 words - 5 pages A majority of the mental and physical tools we use and apply today are founded in the work of the ancient Greeks. The mathematicians, engineers and scientists Pythagoras, Euclid, Archimedes, and Thales developed the knowledge, theories and ideas in which we live our lives today. Pythagoras plays a major part in modern day mathematics. Discovering a way to make “order out of chaos”, he was “often referred to as the first pure mathematician