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Tradition reports that Thales was the teacher of Anaximander, who in turn taught Anaximenes. Aristotle begins his account of the history of philosophy as the search for causes and principles in Metaphysics I with these three. Thales Thales appears on lists of the seven sages of Greece, a traditional catalog of wise men.

The chronicler Apollodorus suggests that he was born around BCE. Thus, Apollodorus arrives at the date by assuming that Thales indeed predicted an eclipse in BCE, and was forty at the time. Plato and Aristotle tell stories about Thales that show that even in ancient times philosophers had a mixed reputation for practicality. Plato, Theaetetus a 2. When the time came, suddenly many requested the presses all at once, and he rented them out on whatever terms he wished, and so he made a great deal of money.

In this way he proved that philosophers can easily be wealthy if they wish, but this is not what they are interested in. Aristotle, Politics 1. In his account of the cosmos, Thales reportedly said that the basic stuff was water: This could mean that everything comes from water as the originating source, or that everything really is water in one form or another. Aristotle, the source of the reports, seems unsure about which of these propositions Thales adopted. According to the tradition that Aristotle follows, Thales also said that the earth rests or floats on water.

Aristotle also reports that Thales thought that soul produces motion and that a magnetic lodestone has soul because it causes iron to move.

Thales said that the sun suffers eclipse when the moon comes to be in front of it, the day in which the moon produces the eclipse being marked by its concealment. Causes are spoken of in four ways, of which. Let us take as associates in our task our predecessors who consid- ered the things that are and philosophized about the truth, for it is clear that they too speak of certain principles and causes, and so it will be useful to our present inquiry to survey them: either we will find some other kind of cause or we will be more confident about the ones now being discussed.

Aristotle, Metaphysics 1. For that of which all existing things are composed and that from which they originally come to be and that into which they finally perish—the substance persisting but changing in its attributes—this they state is the element and principle of the things that are. For there must be one or more natures from which the rest come to be, while it is preserved. However, they do not all agree about how many or what kinds of such principles there are, but Thales, the founder of this kind of philosophy, stated it to be water.

This is why he declared that the earth rests on water. He may have gotten this idea from seeing that the nourishment of all things is moist, and that even the hot itself comes to be from this and lives on this the principle of all things is that from which they come to be —getting this idea from this consideration and also because the seeds of all things have a moist nature; and water is the principle of the nature of moist things.

This is the oldest account that we have inherited, and they say that Thales of Miletus said this. It rests because it floats like wood or some other such thing for nothing is by nature such as to rest on air, but on water. He says this just as though the same argument did not apply to the water supporting the earth as to the earth itself! Aristotle, On the Heavens 2. Aristotle, On the Soul 1.

He was said to have been the first person to construct a map of the world, to have set up a gnomon at Sparta, and to have predicted an earthquake. This indefinite stuff is moving, directive of other things, and eternal; thus it qualifies as divine.

The hot takes the form of fire, the origin of the sun and the other heavenly bodies; while the cold is a dark mist that can be transformed into air and earth. Both air and earth are originally moist, but become drier because of the fire. In the first changes from the originating apeiron, Anaximander postulates substantial opposites the hot, the cold that act on one another and that are in turn the generating stuffs for the sensible world.

The reciprocal action of the opposites is the subject of B1, the only direct quotation we have from Anaximander and the extent of the quotation is disputed by scholars. Here he stresses that changes in the world are not capricious, but are ordered; with the mention of justice and retribution he affirms that there are lawlike forces guaranteeing the orderly processes of change between opposites.

Anaximander also had theories about the natures of the heavenly bodies and why the earth remains fixed where it is. He made claims about meteorological phenomena, and about the origins of living things, including human beings. In addition he said that motion is eternal, in which it occurs that the heavens come to be.

The things that are perish into the things from which they come to be, according to necessity, for they pay penalty and retribution to each other for their injustice in accordance with the ordering of time, as he says in rather poetical language. This is eternal and ageless and surrounds all the worlds. Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 1. For it is deathless and indestructible, as Anaximander and most of the natural philosophers say.

Aristotle, Physics 3. When it was broken off and enclosed in certain circles, the sun, moon, and stars came to be. Pseudo-Plutarch, Miscellanies 2 It stays at rest because its distance from all things is equal.

We walk on one of the surfaces and the other one is set opposite. The stars come to be as a circle of fire separated off from the fire in the kosmos and enclosed by dark mist. There are vents, certain tube-like passages at which the stars appear.

For this reason, eclipses occur when the vents are blocked. The moon appears sometimes waxing, some- times waning as the passages are blocked or opened. Winds occur when the finest vapors of dark mist are separated off and collect together and then are set in motion. Rain results from the vapor arising from the earth under the influence of the sun.

Lightning occurs whenever wind escapes and splits the clouds apart. For whenever it [wind] is enclosed in a thick cloud and forcibly escapes because it is so fine and light, then the bursting [of the cloud] cre- ates the noise and the splitting creates the flash against the black- ness of the cloud.

For it is no more fitting for what is situ- ated at the center and is equally far from the extremes to move up rather than down or sideways. And it is impossible for it to move in opposite directions at the same time. Therefore, it stays at rest of necessity. When their age advanced they came out onto the drier part, their bark broke off, and they lived a different mode of life for a short time. For this reason they would not have survived if they had been like this at the beginning.

Pseudo-Plutarch, Opinions 2 In these, humans grew and were kept inside as embryos up to puberty. Then finally they burst, and men and women came forth already able to nourish themselves.

Censorinus, On the Day of Birth 4. Anaximenes Ancient sources say that Anaximenes was a younger associate or pupil of Anaximander. Like Anaximander he agrees with Thales that there is a single originative stuff, but he disagrees with both Thales and Anaximander about what it is. Anaximander seems to have left it unclear just what it is that comes from the apeiron and then produces the hot and the cold, and Anaximenes could well have argued that the apeiron was simply too indefinite to do the cosmic job Anaximander intended for it.

Like the other Presocratics, Anaximenes gave explanations of all sorts of meteorological and other natural phenomena. He too makes motion eternal and says that change also comes to be through it. Pseudo-Plutarch, Opinions AB Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods 1. The rest come to be out of the products of this. The form of air is the following: when it is most even, it is invisible, but it is revealed by the cold and the hot and the wet, and by its motion.

It is always moving, for all the things that undergo change would not change if it were not moving. For when it becomes con- densed or finer, it appears different. For when it is dissolved into a finer condition it becomes fire, and on the other hand air being condensed becomes winds. Cloud comes from air through felting,2 and water comes to be when this happens to a greater degree.

When condensed still more it becomes earth, and when it reaches the absolutely densest stage it becomes stones. The term here is extended to describe any other process in which the product is denser than and so has different properties from the ingredients.

As a result he claimed that it is not said unreasonably that a person releases both hot and cold from his mouth. For the breath becomes cold when compressed and condensed by the lips, and when the mouth is relaxed, the escaping breath becomes warm because of rareness.

Plutarch, The Principle of Cold 7 F This is why it rides upon the air, as is reasonable. Pseudo-Plutarch, Miscellanies 3 For it does not cut the air below but covers it like a lid, as bodies with flatness apparently do; they are difficult for winds to move because of their resistance.

They say that the earth does this same thing with respect to the air beneath because of its flatness. And the air, lacking sufficient room to move aside, stays at rest in a mass because of the air beneath. The stars came into being from the earth because moisture rises up out of it. When the moisture becomes fine, fire comes to be and the stars are formed of fire rising aloft.

There are also earthen bod- ies in the region of the stars carried around together with them. He says that the stars do not move under the earth as others have supposed, but around it, as a felt cap turns around our head. The sun is hidden not because it is under the earth but because it is covered by the higher parts of the earth and on account of the greater distance it comes to be from us.

Because of their distance the stars do not give heat. When it is condensed still more, rain is squeezed out. Hail occurs when the falling water freezes, and snow when some wind is caught up in the moisture. This is why earthquakes occur in droughts and also in heavy rains.

For in the droughts, as was said, the earth is broken while being dried out, and when it becomes excessively wet from the waters, it falls apart. Aristotle, Meteorology 2. Complete bibliographical information for collections may be found in the bibliography in the Introduction, pp.


A Presocratics Reader

Nov 04, Sarah rated it really liked it. Amazon Rapids Fun stories for kids on the go. Philolaus — — Presocratjcs University Press. Hackett PublishingMar 11, — Philosophy — pages. With revised introductions, annotations, suggestions for further reading, and more, the second edition draws on the wealth of new scholarship published on these fascinating thinkers over the past decade or more, a remarkably rich period in Presocratic studies. Ships from and sold by Amazon. Cugd of my favorite books from college.


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