Springs

Mindspace explorer since 13 Aug 2020

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Have you ever dipped your toes into a river? And then tried to do it again? You can never step into the same river twice, says the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus. The river remains the same, but it constantly changes as its waters flow. 🌊

The cosmos, too, is like the river. There is constant change, but there is also an underlying unity to that change. This unity, Heraclitus called the Logos—an order to the world that controls its happenings.

How can one understand this? By using one’s reason to properly interpret the information one gets from the senses, says Heraclitus.

What is that single, most basic stuff out of which all things in nature are made? This is one of the most fundamental questions that has intrigued humankind since time immemorial.

Thales was one of the first to have attempted to answer this question. He lived in the ancient Greek city of Miletus around 625 BCE, way before Socrates.

Thales’s answer to the question: Water. Everything consists of water, first comes from water, and goes back to water when destroyed. Water is that on which the earth floats, the most fundamental material, the ultimate ground of all things, the only permanent entity. He may have arrived at this conclusion from observing that most things depend on moisture for their existence. 💧

Why is Thales significant even today? However absurd his conclusion may sound right now, Thales is perhaps the first to have pursued this question philosophically—by explaining natural phenomena without any reference to external, supernatural beings. And, hence, this wise man is considered one of the first philosophers and Western philosophy is said to have begun with him.

P.S.: As ancient philosophy also included what we call ‘Natural Science’ today, Thales can also be considered one of the first natural scientists in the Western tradition. He is known for his theory of magnetism and for successfully predicting the eclipse that occurred in 585 BCE. 🧲⭐

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