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School of Miletus: main ideas and representatives

In this lesson from a TEACHER we offer you a brief exposition of the main ideas of the school of Miletus or Ionian, whose origin dates back to the 6th century BC. C. in Miletus, Ionia (Asia Minor). During this time, Miletus was enjoying a privileged economic, political and cultural level. In addition, its perfect location between Persia and Egypt, it favored the exchange of knowledge with other cultures. Thus, they rejected the mythological tradition that offered a vision of nature, as dependent on chance and the will of the gods.

With the Ionian school, they begin to look for objective arguments based on observable facts, from the data of the senses, from experience. It is possible to speak of the birth of the scientific method, which formulated hypotheses, to extract, from them, logical conclusions.

If you want to know more about main ideas of the school of Miletus and its representatives, keep reading this article that offers you a TEACHER.

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  1. Main ideas of Thales of Miletus, founder of the school of Miletus
  2. Anaximander of Miletus. Beyond the ideas of Tales
  3. Anaximenes, the third representative of the Miletus school

Main ideas of Thales of Miletus, founder of the school of Miletus.

Thales of Miletushe was the first of the Milesian philosophers, also called physical, who were trying to find the ultimate principle or basis of everything that exists. The substrate, which remains unalterable in front of the universe, always changing. The beginning and the end of the, the alpha and the omega, or arkhé / arjhé / arjé / arjé, being what gives unity to the multiplicity of the physical world.

This thinker initiates a new form of investigation about natural phenomena, far from explanations mythological of tradition. He is the founder of the Ionian school and the first philosopher in the history of the West. Furthermore, he was one of the Seven Sages of Antiquity him (the astronomer) and was a teacher of Pythagoras. What is known about his life today is a mix between reality and fiction, and many of the things that are said about him are probably a legend.

Three main ideas

He encompassed a wide field of study: geometry, linear algebra, geometry of space, physics (statics, dynamics, and optics). In the field of philosophy, main ideas of the School of Miletus were these 3:

  1. Water is the beginning of all things (Arche)
  2. Everything that exists in nature is animated: "everything is full of gods" (hylozoism)
  3. Every change, every generation, is explained by means of condensation and the rarefaction.

Anaximander of Miletus. Beyond the ideas of Thales.

Anaximander of Miletus he was a disciple of Thales and a follower of his ideas. Of his work, like that of the rest of the pre-Socratic philosophers, hardly anything is preserved, but his thought has survived to this day thanks to the comments of other authors, such as Diógenes Laercio.

He is credited with a book, "About nature”, Of which only a small fragment and the design of a map of the earth are preserved. In addition, he measured solstices and equinoxes using a gnomon, the distance and size of the stars and ensured that the earth occupies a central place in the universe and that it was shaped like a cylinder.

It goes beyond his master by stating that the apeiron, the indeterminate, the limitless, is the first principle of all there is. Because the real, the determined, must come from a abstraction. The apeiron is full of life, always in activity. Is what divine, the origin of all things.

The Earth is cylindrical, three times as wide as it is deep, and only the upper part is inhabited. But this Earth is isolated in space, and the sky is a complete sphere in the center of which is finds, without support, our cylinder, the Earth, located at an equal distance from all points of the Darling".

School of Miletus: main ideas and representatives - Anaximander of Miletus. Beyond the ideas of Tales

Image: SocialHizo

Anaximenes, the third representative of the Miletus school.

Anaximenes he was the third philosopher of the Miletus school and a disciple of Anaximander, with whom he shared the idea that the Arche was infinite, although not indeterminate. For Anaximenes the beginning of all things is air, which through the processes of condensation and rarefaction, changes substantially.

First, by rarefaction fire is formed, and condensation, the air, the clouds, the water, the earth and the stones. All these elements give rise to the universe and everything it contains. The hot is a consequence of rarefaction and the cold of condensation

When the air contracts or condenses, it first becomes wind, then cloud, rain, water, ice, land, and finally stone ".

In short, it can be said that Anaximenes explains the qualitative from the quantitative, unlike his predecessors, although he continues to think, like them, that the first original principle of all things is material. At the end of the day, it is about finding the beginning unifying of the multiplicity of nature, which is easily observable.

If you want to read more articles similar to School of Miletus: main ideas and representatives, we recommend that you enter our category of Philosophy.


  • Laercio, D. Life and sentences of illustrious philosophers. Ed. Omega. 2003
  • Presocratic Fragments: From Tales to Democritus. Ed. Alliance. 2008
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