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LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS.
Dox. = Diels, Doxographi Graeci, Berlin 1879.
Diels, Dox. Herm. = Hermiae irrisio gentilium philosophorum.)
Simp. Phys. = Simplicii in Aristotelis physicorum libros quattuor priores edidit H. Diels, Berlin 1882.
Simp. Cael. = Simplicius, Commentary on Aristotle's De caelo.
For other abbreviations, see list of authors in the Index of sources.
FIRST PHILOSOPHERS OF GREECE
ACCORDING to Aristotle the founder of the Ionic physical philosophy, and therefore the founder of Greek philosophy, was Thales of Miletos. According to Diogenes Laertios, Thales was born in the first year of the thirtyfifth Olympiad (640 B.c.), and his death occurred in the fifty-eighth Olympiad (548–545 B.c.). He attained note as a scientific thinker and was regarded as the founder of Greek philosophy because he discarded mythical explanations of things, and asserted that a physical element, water, was the first principle of all things. There are various stories of his travels, and in connection with accounts of his travels in Egypt he is credited with introducing into Greece the knowledge of geometry. Tradition also claims that he was a statesman, and as a practical thinker he is classed as one of the seven wise men. A work entitled Nautical Astronomy' was ascribed to him, but it was recognised as spurious even in antiquity.
Literature: F. Decker, De Thalete Milesio, Diss. Halle,
1865 ; Krische, Forsch. auf d. Gebiet d. alt. Phil. i. pp. 34-42; V. also Acta Phil. iv. Lips. 1875, pp. 328-330; Revue Philos. Mar. 1880; Archiv f. d. Geschichte d. Phil. ii. 165, 515.
(a) PASSAGES RELATING TO THALES IN PLATO AND
Plato, de Legg. X. 899 B. And as for all the stars and the moon and the years and the months and all the seasons, can we hold any other opinion about them than this same one that inasmuch as soul or souls appear to be the cause of all these things, and good souls the cause of every excellence, we are to call them gods, whether they order the whole heavens as living beings in bodies, or whether they accomplish this in some other form and manner? Is there any one who acknowledges this, and yet holds that all things are not full of gods ?
Arist. Met. i. 3 ; 983 b 6. Most of the early students of philosophy thought that first principles in the form of matter, and only these, are the sources of all things; for that of which all things consist, the antecedent from which they have sprung, and into which they are finally resolved (in so far as being underlies them and is changed with their changes), this they say is the element and first principle of things. 983 b 18. As to the quantity and form of this first principle, there is a difference of opinion; but Thales, the founder of this sort of philosophy, says that it is water (accordingly he declares that the earth rests on water), getting the idea, I suppose, because he saw that the nourishment of all beings is moist, and that warmth itself is generated from moisture and persists in it (for that from which all things spring is the first principle of them); and getting the idea also from the fact that the germs of all beings are of a moist nature, while water is the first principle of the nature of what is moist. And there are some who think that the ancients, and they who lived long before the present generation, and the first students of the gods, had a similar idea in regard to nature; for in their poems Okeanos and Tethys were