Thales of Miletus was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher from Miletus in Asia Minor, and one of the Seven Sages of Greece. He is regarded as the first philosopher in the Greek tradition, as the founder of Milesian school and as the father of Western philosophy.
Prior to Thales, mythology had been used to explain the nature of the physical world.
He was the first philosopher to investigate the basic principles, the question of the originating substances of matter and, therefore, as the founder of the school of natural philosophy. Thales involved himself in many activities, taking the role of an innovator.
Water is the basic principle. He proposed that water was the fundamental principle of the universe, the primary substance from which all things were derived. This first principle, governing everything can be regarded as the first exposition of a universal law.
Pantheism. «All things are full of gods».
Thales’ monistic view of water leads him to animistic pantheism. Since water is the divine source of all living things and so all animate and inanimate things can be alive, then the whole world is full of gods.
Simultaneously he proposed a scientific approach, seeking natural rather than divine causes for natural events.
He proposed a scientific approach, seeking natural rather than divine causes for natural events.
Astronomy. Thales proposed answers to a number of questions about the nature: earth’ shape; its size; and the cause of earthquakes; the dates of the solstices; the size of the sun and moon. Once he predicted a solar eclipse which has been determined by modern methods to have been on May 28, 585 BC.
Thales was the first who asserted that the moon shines with reflected light.
He believed that an eclipse of the Sun occur when between it and the Earth is the Moon.
It is believed that Thales “Invented the globe”.
Mathematics. He is famous for his three theorems: If A, B and C are points on a circle where the line AC is a diameter of the circle(1), then the angle ABC is a right angle(2). The line drawn parallel to a side of a triangle intersecting other two sides at distinct points divides them in same ratio(3).
Thales, in order to facilitate the crossing of troops, designed the dam and let the river Halis on the new channel.
It is reported that Thales was a merchant and traveled a lot. Consequently he brought to Greece Eastern knowledge.
He never married, telling his mother as a young man that it was too early to marry, and as an older man that it was too late. Thales told that he did not like the idea of having to worry about children. Nevertheless probably he anxious for family adopted his nephew Cybisthus.
At the end of his life Thales became so famous for his practical shrewdness and theoretical wisdom.
Thales was reproached because of his poverty, as though philosophy were no use. Somehow, through observation of the heavenly bodies, Thales concluded that there would be a large olive-crop.
He raised a little capital while it was still winter, and paid deposits on all the olive presses in Miletus and Chios. When the appropriate time came there was a sudden rush of requests for the presses, he then hired them out on his own terms and so made a large profit, thus demonstrating that it is easy for philosophers to be rich, if they wish.
Sosicrates as reporting that he was 90 at his death.