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the parents of generation, and that by which the gods swore was water,—the poets themselves called it Styx ; for that which is most ancient is most highly esteemed, and that which is most highly esteemed is an object to swear by. Whether there is any such ancient and early opinion concerning nature would be an obscure question ; but Thales is said to have expressed this opinion in regard to the first cause.
Arist. de Coelo ii. 13; 294 a 28. Some say that the earth rests on water. We have ascertained that the oldest statement of this character is the one accredited to Thales the Milesian, to the effect that it rests on water, floating like a piece of wood or something else of that sort.
Arist. de Anima i. 2; 405 a 19. And Thales, according to what is related of him, seems to have regarded the soul as something endowed with the power of motion, if indeed he said that the loadstone has a soul because it moves iron. i. 5; 411 a 7. Some say that soul is diffused throughout the whole universe; and it may have been this which led Thales to think that all things are full of gods.
Simpl. in Arist. de Anima 8 r 32, 16.2_Thales posits
water as the element, but it is the element of
gods being blended with them; and this is strange. i Cf. Herm. I. G. P. 10 (Dox. 653).
2 In references to Simpl. in Arist. de Anima and Physica, the first numbers give folio and line, the second, page (and line) in the edition published by the Berlin Academy.
(6) PASSAGES RELATING TO THALES IN THE
DoxOGRAPHISTS. (Theophrastos, Dox. 475) Simpl. Phys. 6 r; 23, 21. Of those who say that the first principle [åpxń] is one and movable, to whom Aristotle applies the distinctive name of physicists, some say that it is limited; as, for instance, Thales of Miletos, son of Examyes, and Hippo who seems also to have lost belief in the gods. These say that the first principle is water, and they are led to this result by things that appear to sense; for warmth lives in moisture and dead things wither up and all germs are moist and all nutriment is moist. Now it is natural that things should be nourished by that from which each has come; and water is the first principle of moist nature ...; accordingly they assume that water is the first principle of all things, and they assert that the earth rests on water. Thales is the first to have set on foot the investigation of nature by the Greeks; although so many others preceded him, in Theophrastos's opinion he so far surpassed them as to cause them to be forgotten. It is said that he left nothing in writing except a book entitled “Nautical Astronomy.
Hipp. i.; Dox. 555. It is said that Thales of Miletos, one of the seven wise men, was the first to undertake the study of physical philosophy. He said that the beginning (the first principle) and the end of all things is water. All things acquire firmness as this solidifies, and again as it is melted their existence is threatened; to this are due earthquakes and whirlwinds and movements of the stars. 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. This principle is god, and it has neither beginning nor end.
Thales was the first of the Greeks to devote himself to the study and investigation of the stars, and was the originator of this branch of science; on one occasion he was looking up at the heavens, and was just saying he was intent on studying what was overhead, when he fell into a well ; whereupon a maidservant named Thratta laughed at him and said : In his zeal for things in the sky he does not see what is at his feet. And he lived in the time of Kroesos.
Plut. Strom. 1; Dox. 579. He says that Thales was the earliest thinker to regard water as the first principle of all things. For from this all things come, and to it they all return.
Aet. Plac. i. 2; Dox. 275. Thales of Miletos regards the first principle and the elements as the same thing. But there is a very great difference between them, for elements are composite, but we claim that first principles are neither composite nor the result of processes. So we call earth, water, air, fire, elements; and we call them first principles for the reason that there is nothing antecedent to them from which they are sprung, since this would not be a first principle, but rather that from which it is derived. Now there is something anterior to earth and water from which they are derived, namely the matter that is formless and invisible, and the form which we call entelechy, and privation. So Thales was in error when he called water an element and a first principle. i. 3 ; 276. Thales the Milesian declared that the first principle of things is water. [This man seems to have been the first philosopher, and the Ionic school derived its name from him; for there were very many successive leaders in philosophy. And Thales was a student of philosophy in
1 Cf. Plato, Theaet. 174 A; Diog. Laer. i. 34.
Egypt, but he came to Miletos in his old age.] For he says that all things come from water and all are resolved into water. The first basis for this conclusion is the fact that the seed of all animals is their first principle and it is moist; thus it is natural to conclude that all things come from water as their first principle. Secondly, the fact that all plants are nourished by moisture and bear fruit, and unless they get moisture they wither away. Thirdly, the fact that the very fire of the sun and the stars is fed by the exhalations from the waters, and so is the universe itself. 7; 301. Thales said that the mind in the universe is god, and the all is endowed with soul and is full of spirits; and its divine moving power pervades the elementary water. 8; 307. Thales et al. say that spirits are psychical beings; and that heroes are souls separated from bodies, good beroes are good souls, bad heroes are bad souls. 8; 307. The followers of Thales et al. assert that matter is turned about, varying, changing, and in a fluid state, the whole in every part of the whole. 12; 310. Thales and his successors declared that the first cause is immovable. 16; 314. The followers of Thales and Pythagoras hold that bodies can receive impressions and can be divided even to infinity; and so can all figures, lines, surfaces, solids, matter, place, and time. 18; 315. The physicists, followers of Thales, all recognise that the void is really a void. 21; 321. Thales : Necessity is most powerful, for it controls everything.
Aet. ii. 1; Dox. 327. Thales and his successors hold that the universe is one. 12; 340. Thales et al. hold that the sphere of the entire heaven is divided into five circles which they call zones ; and of these the first is called the arctic zone, and is always visible, the next is the summer solstice, the next is the equinoctial, the next the winter solstice, and the next the antarctic, which is invisible. And the ecliptic in the three middle ones is
called the zodiac and is projected to touch the three middle ones. All these are cut by the meridian at a right angle from the north to the opposite quarter. 13; 341. The stars consist of earth, but are on fire. 20; 349. The sun consists of earth. 24; 353. The eclipses of the sun take place when the moon passes across it in direct line, since the moon is earthy in character; and it seems to the eye to be laid on the disk of the sun. 28; 358. The moon is lighted from the sun. 29; 360. Thales et al. agree with the mathematicians that the monthly phases of the moon show that it travels along with the sun and is lighted by it, and eclipses show that it comes into the shadow of the earth, the earth coming between the two heavenly bodies and blocking the light of the moon.
Aet. iii. 9-10; 376. The earth is one and spherical in form. 11; 377. It is in the midst of the universe. 15; 379. Thales and Demokritos find in water the cause of earthquakes.
Aet. iv. 1; 384. Thales thinks that the Etesian winds blowing against Egypt raise the mass of the Nile, because its outflow is beaten back by the swelling of the sea which lies over against its mouth. 2; 386. Thales was the first to declare that the soul is by nature always moving or self-moving.
Aet. v. 26; 438. Plants are living animals; this is evident from the fact that they wave their branches and keep them extended, and they yield to attack and relax them freely again, so that weights also draw them down.
(Philodemos) Cic. de Nat. Deor. i. 10; Dox. 531. For Thales of Miletos, who first studied these matters, said that water is the first principle of things, while god is the mind which formed all things from water. If gods exist without sense and mind, why should god be connected with water, if mind itself can exist without a body?