Miletus School and Arkhe Problem

Miletus School and Arkhe Problem

December 26, 2019 0 By Felso

Miletos School is a philosophy school that has been active in Miletos city which is located within the borders of Aydın  province today  . Thales, Anaximandros and Anaximenes, who were the representatives of this school, became the first philosophers in the history of philosophy with their intellectual activity and problems.

Understanding of the basic concepts of this new thinking emerged together with Miletus School doubt  arkhe was. The concept of arkhe, which means meanings such as beginning, first and main sources in Greek, is also mentioned in Aristotle’s af Metaphysics eser and is evaluated at two main levels. First of all, what is (arkhe) from which everything is made up of itself? The second is how all these visible multiplicities in the universe from a single arkh, namely the compound (suntheta), have come into being (genesis). Two different approaches to the concept of arkhe (see Metaphysics, 983-985b), which Aristotle discusses in his Metaphysics, have been demonstrated. The first is the approach that the beings found in nature are arkhe. According to this approach, arkhe; soil, water, air and fire. The remarkable point here is that what is considered as arkhe is in nature.

According to the second approach, arkhe is an abstract entity that cannot be grasped by the senses and not found in nature. Examples of these are; The apeiron of Anaximandros, the spherical One of Parmenides, the geometric objects or numbers of Pythagoras, Democritus’s concept of atoma, which cannot be perceived by the senses. In the consideration and evaluation of thinkers representing ancient Greek thought, these thinkers may be evaluated and classified according to their answers to some or all of the following questions:

a.  What is the source of everything (arkhe)?
b.  How did all other things come from this source (genesis)?
c.  What is the shape of Earth (ie Earth) and its position in the universe?
D.  What is the position of the beings in the sky and their position in the universe?
to.  How are natural events explained?
f.  What are his views on religious and divine issues?

The transformation from the myth to the logo is described by Aristotle (see Metaphysics, 1091b4-10): “But in reality their world rules-world ruler is changing: the first generation who did everything in a mythical vein, but the first generation from the mixture between them did the best. that is, Perecydes et al. Bar (Barnes, 1982: 60).

All three philosophers of the Miletian School were  called “Physicists Ar by Aristotle  . Because all three thinkers were only interested in issues related to nature. All three tried to explain the natural phenomena again adhering to natural causes. Certainly, these philosophers also mentioned Gods from time to time. They understood the creative and constructive power in nature with the Gods. Anaximenes also spoke of the soul; but his spirit is nothing but the “breath tutan that keeps life alive  . The problems of religion and morality do not take place in all three philosophers. Their works are not poetic, but prose.

Together with the School of Miletus, a transformation has started in the Ancient Greek world from mythos-based thinking to logos-based philosophy. This understanding means the emergence of the understanding of explaining nature from nature itself, not from unnatural elements.

If we summarize Miletus School, we will see the following content:

The thinkers representing the Ancient Greek Thought answer to what is the source of everything (arkhe):

One of the basic concepts of thinking that emerged with Miletus school is Arkhe. Arkhe is mentioned in Aristotle’s Metaphysics and is evaluated on two main levels. First of all, what is (arkhe) from which everything is made up of itself? ‹The second one is how all the multiplicity of the Arkhe, namely the suntheta, came into being (genesis). Two different approaches have been demonstrated regarding what Arkhée is. The first is the approach that the beings found in nature are arkhe. According to this approach, arkhe; water, air, or earth, air, water, or fire. The remarkable point here is that what is considered as arkhe is in nature. This tradition is Thales’ Water, The air of Anaximenes and the Four Elements of Empedocles. According to the second approach, arkhe is an abstract entity that cannot be grasped by the senses and not found in nature. Examples of these are; The apeiron of Anaximandros (the uncertain), the spherical One of Parmenides, the geometric objects of Pythagoras, the Atoma of Democritus, which cannot be perceived by the senses.

The main points of the philosophical views of the first philosopher Thales

The example of the first consideration of the Arkhe problem in terms of philosophy in Ancient Aegean Civilization is seen in Thales, who is accepted as the founder and member of Miletus school. The first philosopher Thales thought that all things in the universe consisted of water, and that water was determined as arkhe. So he is the first to think that reduces the visible multiplicity in the universe to a single common origin. Moreover, this origin (arkhe), which is put forth as the origin of everything in the universe, is not a supernatural structure like the myths, but an element in nature itself. On the other hand, Thales proposed a more rational understanding of divinity than in myths by attributing some kind of divinity, vitality, spirituality to water. This idea is called living-materialism (hylozoism).

Philosophical views of Anaximandros

Thales’ student Anaximandros, instead of a material structure like water, called apeiron, an unrestricted quantitative / infinite, indefinite in quality, he argued that everything would come from him. It is clear that Anaximandros has achieved a metaphysical abstraction that is free of material features with the concept of apeiron and therefore does not appeal to the senses. Perhaps he thought that the first origin, from which everything came into being, should be immune from material properties. Apeiron was considered not only as a principle, but also as the general law of the inter-opposing struggle prevailing in the universe. For the first time, Anaximandros stated that a single law prevailed in the universe. In a sense, the law has replaced the blind fate (moira) of the myths.

Anaximenes’ philosophical views

Anaximenes thought that an indefinite structure such as apeiron would cause difficulties in explaining the material universe, but it was still influenced by the idea of ​​infinity contained in the concept of apeiron. For this reason, he defined the air, which he saw as a material and specific structure, and considered as infinite / infinite, as the arch of things. Thales’ water identified Anaximandros apeiron as arkhe, but did not make clear how everything came from water or apeiron. However, Anaximenes, for the first time, tried to explain how other things came from the arkh by attributing two types of motion to the air, expansion and condensation, thus clearly proposing the first solution to the problem of being. Accordingly, as the air expands and condenses on fire, it turns into fire, soil and water. Thales, Anaximandros and Anaximenes,

Prepared by:  Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source:  Ömer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Department of Sociology 1st Grade Giriş Introduction to Philosophy ”and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade Tarihi History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook