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The Beginnings of Philosophy in Greece$
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Maria Michela Sassi

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691180502

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691180502.001.0001

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Thales, Father of Philosophy?

Thales, Father of Philosophy?

(p.1) Chapter One Thales, Father of Philosophy?
The Beginnings of Philosophy in Greece

Maria Michela Sassi

, Michele Asuni
Princeton University Press

This chapter examines whether Thales is indeed the “father of philosophy” as declared by Aristotle. It first considers the theories of two interpreters, Francis MacDonald Cornford and Walter Burkert, regarding the origin of Greek philosophy before discussing the concept of muthos. In particular, it explores the problem of the cognitive status of myth in Greek thought and Aristotle's position regarding myth as articulated in the first book of Metaphysics. In reflecting upon the origin of the philosophical enterprise, Aristotle ascribes to “those who first philosophized” an interest in the “principle” (archē) of things. The chapter explains how the search for the archē started by Thales contributed to an understanding of the nature of things. Finally, it analyzes the pluralism of knowledge and styles of reasoning that characterize the intellectual enterprise of the sixth and fifth centuries BCE.

Keywords:   myth, Thales, Aristotle, Francis MacDonald Cornford, Greek philosophy, muthos, Metaphysics, archē, knowledge

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