Thales of Miletus (c.624–545 BC)
What we know of Thales and his works comes through the commentaries of others, since none of his original writings has survived. He asked: what is the raw material from which all the Universe is made? He thought the answer was "water." But the crucial point is that he broke new ground by suggesting that the Earth and everything beyond it had a common physical basis and was subject to natural, rather than supernatural, laws. Thales is said to have proposed that the stars were other worlds – an important departure from the view that they were simply lights suspended from a celestial vault. Following his lead, other philosophers began to rally behind rationalism and put forward their own views as to the fundamental essence of matter and the nature of objects in the sky. This led quickly to speculation about extraterrestrial life. He also supposedly predicted a solar eclipse in 585 BC.
Thales was succeeded in the Milesian school of philosophy by Anaximander and Anaximenes.
Related entries Anaximander of Miletus
ancient philosophy related to the possibility of extraterrestrial life
Related categories• PHILOSOPHY
• ASTRONOMERS AND ASTROPHYSICISTS
Home • About • Copyright © The Worlds of David Darling • Encyclopedia of Alternative Energy • Contact