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 Thales the search for knowledge; the development of the scientific method; the adoption of practical methods, and their development into general utilitarian principles. Thales had a conjectural approach to defining the reality of natural phenomena. As such, he conceived the principle of explaining the multitude of phenomena by a small number of hypotheses for all manifestations of matter.
There was no distinction between the natural sciences and philosophy at Thales' Milesian school of thought. The man who sought the material principle of things would also hold tentative insights into the natural world. Thales introduced generalizations about a set of facts or principles (such as the connection between celestial movements with certain geometric laws), that formed the basis for future experiments to confirm their viability. Proclus proclaimed that "Thales first went to Egypt and thence introduced geometry into Greece. He discovered many propositions himself, and instructed his successors in the principles underlying many others, his method of attacking problems had greater generality in some cases and was more in the nature of simple inspection and observation in other cases."

This "deductive science", or the process of deriving suppositions and mathematical statements from observation by means of logic, was first developed by Thales. In addition, the appearance of such words as "philosophy", "theory", and "physics" during this pre-socratic period provide further clues towards an understanding of emerging metaphysics among the early Greeks. We can surmise from second-hand accounts of Thales' theories that "bodies can receive impressions and can be divided even to infinity, and so can all figures, lines, surfaces, solids, matter, place, and time." With this rational inquiry into reality, the early Greeks were introduced to the concepts of logical proof for abstract propositions.

In particular, we refer to Thales' hypothesis of the universe consistent with a static, finely-tuned cosmological constant, where "the stars were fixed on a celestial sphere which rotated about the spherical...

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