Sunday, March 15, 2015

Q: Who Was the First Philosopher?

That's a question you should know the answer to and, you should know why he's the first philosopher.  If you said Plato or Aristotle, you missed by 250-300 years; there was an awful lot of really important philosophy going on before those two giants hit the scene.

Anyway, the answer is Thales and in this superb, and superbly short piece, philosopher Stephen Hicks explains why it is Thales and why he was the first. Here's his opening section:
The standard claim is that philosophy begins with Thales.When I teach this to my students, it’s a hard sell, for here are the founding texts in philosophy — ascribed to Thales by Aristotle:thales-bust-50x60“The first principle and basic nature of all things is water.”and“All things are full of gods.”You can imagine how impressed my students are.Clearly, some interpretation is necessary. Why do historians of philosophy get worked up over these lines?hi
If you have any interest in the history of philosophy -- or think you might -- this post is for you!