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The Origins of Philosophy Essay

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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 b...


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...ales of Miletus, one of the seven wise men, was the first to undertake this study of physical philosophy. He said that the principle and the end of all things is water, and all things are movable and in a fluid state, the character of the compound being determined by the nature of the principle from which it springs". Nietzsche, in his publication "Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks", commented on this universality, where "Greek philosophy seems to begin with an absurd notion, with the proposition that water is the primal origin of all things. Is it really necessary for us to take serious notice of this proposition? It is for three reasons: first, because it tells us something about the primal origin of all things; second, because it does so in language devoid of fable, and finally, because contained in it is the primary thought that, 'all things are one.'"



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