Emptiness and Appearance


History of Western Philosophy

Thales of Miletus

Pre-socratic philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, statesman.

From imagination (mythology) towards intellect (science). Thales is considered the ‘First Philosopher” of Western civilisation.

First western individual to have engaged in scientific philosophy. The first individual to overcome mythology restrictions by offering naturalistic theories and hypotheses. Used geometry to calculate heights and distances. Applied deductive reasoning to solve practical problems. Thales’s theorem.
Saw water as the originating principle of matter; the origin of all things. God is the mind that shapes and creates from water. The soul animates the matter, giving it the power to act. What is the nature of things and the nature of the world? What is the composition of all things? How do things change? Can things be different and similar at the same time?


Aristotle: “Thales thought that the commonality of all things is moisture and water is the origin of all moist things.”

Influenced these:

Anaximander (pupil), Aristotle and many others.

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Thales of Miletus

BCE c. 620 - c. 545

6th century BCE

Probably born in the city of Miletus, Asia Minor. Possibly of noble birth and certainly a Greek. May have visited Egypt where he learned about geometry. Thales left no writings.