Miletus (Miletos) School and Arche ProblemJune 27, 2021
Miletos School is a philosophy school that has been active in the city of Miletos, which is within the borders of Aydın. Thales, Anaximandros and Anaximenes, the representatives of this school, became the first philosophers of the history of philosophy with their intellectual activity and the problems they addressed.
The most basic concept of this new understanding of thinking that emerged with the Miletus School was undoubtedly arkhe. The concept of arkhe, which means beginning, first, main source in Greek, is also mentioned in Aristotle’s “Metaphysics” and is evaluated at two main levels.
The first of these is what is the thing (arkhe) from which everything is composed and derived? The second is how all this apparent multiplicity, that is, composite things (suntheta) in this single arkheden universe, came into being (genesis).
Two different approaches have been presented regarding the concept of arkhe, which Aristotle discussed in his Metaphysics. The first of these is the approach that the beings found in nature are arkhe. In accordance with this approach, arkhe; earth, water, air, and fire, or all of them.
The remarkable point here is that the element considered as arkhe is found in nature. This tradition was continued with Thales’ water, Anaximenes’ air and Empedocles’ understanding of the four elements (earth, water, air and fire).
According to the second approach, arkhe are abstract entities that cannot be grasped by the senses and are not found in nature.
Examples of these are; Anaximander’s apeiron (the indefinite one), Parmenides’ spherical One, Pythagoras’ geometric objects or numbers, Democritus’ concept of the atom that cannot be perceived by the senses. In the treatment and evaluation of thinkers representing ancient Greek thought, these thinkers can be evaluated and classified according to their answers to some or all of the following questions:
What is the source (arkhe) of everything?
How did all other things originate (genesis) from this source?
What is the shape of the earth (i.e. Earth) and its position in the universe?
What is the position of beings in the sky and their position in the universe?
How are natural phenomena explained?
What are his views on religious and divine issues?
The transformation from myth to logos is described by Aristotle (see Metaphysics, 1091b4-10): “But in reality, their world rules-world ruler are changing: Everything is not in a mythical vein, but the first generation that came out of the mixture among themselves did the best things, some say. i.e. Perecydes et al” (Barnes, 1982: 60).
First Cause (Arkhe)
All three philosophers of the Miletus School were named “Physicists” by Aristotle. Because these three thinkers were only interested in issues related to nature.
All three of them tried to explain natural events by adhering to natural causes. Undoubtedly, these philosophers also talked about Gods from time to time. They understood the Gods and the creative and constructive power in nature.
Anaximenes also spoke of the soul; but his understanding of the soul is none other than the “breath” that sustains life. Religion and moral problems do not take place much in these three philosophers. Their works are not poetic but prose.
With the Miletos School, a transformation from myth-based ways of thinking to logos-based, that is, philosophy-based ways of thinking, started in the Ancient Greek world. This understanding means the emergence of the understanding of explaining nature not with non-natural elements, but with nature itself.
What is Arche According to Which Philosopher?
One of the basic concepts of the understanding of thinking that emerged with the Miletos school is Arkhe.
Arkhe is mentioned in Aristotle’s Metaphysics and is evaluated at two main levels. The first of these is what is the thing (arkhe) from which everything is composed and derived? The second is how all multiplicity, that is, composite ones (suntheta) from this Arkhe, came into being (genesis). There are two different approaches to what the arche is.
The first of these is the approach that the beings found in nature are arkhe. In accordance with this approach, arkhe; water, air or earth, air, water or fire, or all of them were considered together. The remarkable point here is that the element considered as arkhe is found in nature.
This tradition was continued by Thales’ Water, Anaximenes’ Air and Empedocles’ understanding of the Four Elements. According to the second approach, arkhe are abstract entities that cannot be grasped by the senses and are not found in nature. Examples of these are; The apeiron of Anaximander (the indefinite one), the spherical One of Parmenides, the geometric objects-numbers of Pythagoras, the Atoma of Democritus, which cannot be perceived by the senses.
For Thales, arkhe is water.
What Is Arche According to Thales?
We see the example of the first handling of the arkhe problem in terms of philosophy in the Ancient Age Aegean Civilization in Thales, who is a member of the Miletus school and accepted as the founder of this school.
Thales, the first philosopher, thought that all things in the universe were made of water.