First Cause and First Change Thoughts in Philosophy

First Cause and First Change Thoughts in Philosophy

June 28, 2021 Off By Felso

Perhaps the first subject of philosophy, that is, the first issue that preoccupies philosophers, appears as the problem of the first cause that constitutes existence. What is the first substance or the first cause of existence? This question is generally called the arkhe problem. The arkhe, or first cause, considered in this context, is that from which everything comes and determines the basis of everything. Ancient schools of philosophy, such as the Eleans, Pythagoreans, and Miletus, are schools of philosophy that speculate on the ideas of the first cause and the first change in the history of philosophy.

In ancient Greek philosophy, the Ionian School, which developed a metaphysics of matter, and the Pythagorean School, which developed a number metaphysics, are followed by the Elea School with Heraclitus, which focuses more on the problem of change, both historically and problematically or systematically.

In other words, this third term, which is based on a problem rather than a classification based on a school, is based on Heraclitus, who emerged as an individual philosopher, not as a representative of a school, and Zeno, in addition to the philosophers of the Elea School who opposed him, namely the famous Parmenides. consists of philosophers such as Melissos and Xenophanes. Accordingly, both the Ionians and the Pythagoreans could not explain the phenomenon of change in reality, and could not give due account of this phenomenon, since they were rather oriented towards the unity behind the multitude. They could in no way reconcile the permanent and unchanging element from which reality is composed, and the phenomenon of change in being.

Heraclitus and Parmenides, who have to be evaluated within this framework, focused on the problem of change and tried to explain the phenomenon of change in the universe and to reconcile the reality of change with the reality of permanence and continuity. This is the first and most important point that unites these two philosophers or schools, whose views are diametrically opposed to each other, under the same title. For example, Heraclitus, who thinks that it seems impossible for the world to be many at the same time as long as it is one, and that the philosophers before him could not answer the questions of “how the one can turn into many” and “how the world can be one if it corresponds to a multiplicity”, thinks that the problem is “unity” He argued that as long as it is taken as a material thing or a permanent, unchangeable structure, it cannot be solved.

As a matter of fact, in order to solve the problem, he abandoned the classical understanding of arkhe, replaced it with the process of becoming, the concept of regular change, and interpreted unity as the unity of the model. Likewise, Parmenides saw much more clearly than any philosopher before him that the main problem emerging from Thales’ original formula is the problem of change. How can that basic “one”, the existence of which every philosopher asserts, transform into the multiplicity encountered in everyday experience? Trying to solve this problem, Parmenides, therefore, did not deal with anything else and only concerned about the concept of change itself. The 6th century BC is the period when the emergence of philosophy became evident. The idea of ​​getting the answers of the early philosophers from nature made them known as natural philosophers.

The main problem of the philosophy of this period is the idea of ​​what the first cause of existence is. The problem of the first cause that constitutes the being has also been seen as the problem of what the first substance of the being is. The first reason for existence; It is also called fundamental, first principle and arkhe. The first reason is that everything comes from it and determines the basis of everything. First cause problem; On the one hand, it has turned into discussions of essence (nature) and on the other hand, discussions of the change of being. Thales, Anaximandros, Anaximenes, Empedocles and Democritus, who are among the natural philosophers, came to the fore with the understanding of the first cause in the discussions of the essence of existence. In the discussion of the change of existence, the views of Heraclitus and Parmenides, the owners of the first opposing ideas in the history of philosophy, and Lao Tse, an influential philosopher apart from the Greek philosophers, are important. In order to better understand this period, it is necessary to briefly explain the views of the mentioned philosophers.

Four Elements

He is considered the first philosopher in the history of thought. Apart from philosophy, he revealed information in the fields of mathematics and astronomy. According to him, the first cause (arkhesi) of the universe is water. That; The cause of all beings is the first matter. It is the one that remains unchanged in everything that changes. It is the unity at the root of the multitude in the universe. The fact that water is ice when it cools and steam when it warms up shows that water exists in different forms in all beings. Thales first voiced the problem of the arche of the universe and gave the answer from nature. He opened discussion topics such as change, unity and multiplicity for the thinkers after him.


He is a student of Thales. Along with philosophy, he was interested in astronomy, mathematics, cartography (cartography) and politics. Like his teacher Thales, he asks what is the main substance of the universe. According to him, arkhe is quantitatively unlimited and qualitatively indefinite.