'What is the basic building block of the universe?' Thales of Miletus was the first to ask this fundamental, yet to be answered, question in the sixth century B.C. This book offers an in-depth account of the answers he gave and of his adventure into many areas of learning: philosophy, science, mathematics and astronomy. Thales proved that the events of nature were comprehensible to man and could be explained without the intervention of mythological beings. Henceforth they became subject to investigation, experiment, questioning and discussion. Presenting for the first time in the English language a comprehensive study of Thales of Miletus, Patricia O'Grady brings Thales out of pre-Socratic shadows into historical illumination and explores why this historical figure has proved to be of lasting significance.
'… a substantial achievement… a compelling case for Thales to be regarded as a worthy founding father of Western philosophy.' Analytic Teaching 'The strength of O'Grady's book is its comprehensiveness; nothing relevant to Thales and his legend is left out, and much that is arcane is included… It is the only book-length treatment of Thales, and will likely remain so. It contains flashes of new information and interpretations of familiar material. The bibliography is weighted toward English, but is catholic in subject matter, and itself is an impressive contribution. For such solid reasons scholars should welcome this book.' Journal of the History of Philosophy 'Chapter Eight, New Ideas about the Cosmos, is outstanding. Here the author paints an inspiring portrait of Thales as the first astronomical scientist… Thales' achievements, which come alive through O'Grady's comprehensive and sympathetic presentation, are ample justification for calling him the first ancient Greek scientist and philosopher'. Prudentia '… interesting to anyone studying the emergence of scientific thought.' Isis
Contents: Preface; Introduction; The writings of Thales and Aristotle’s possible sources for Thales; Thales … says ’APX H’ is water; Aristotle on the ’APX H’ of Thales and some traditional explanations of phenomena; Thales and mythology; New ideas about the earth; ’All things are full of gods’; New ideas about the cosmos; Crossing the Halys; Thales the mathematician; Scientificity and rationality; Conclusion; Appendices; Bibliography; Indexes.