I enjoyed this reading because the new topic of Metaphysics is a refreshing change after Logic. The early philosophers’ thoughts on the principles of the world and early concepts of topics like astronomy were interesting. I was curious to see how different the ideas of Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes were. Although I understood Thales’s and Anaximenes’s idea of the first principle of the world, I couldn’t grasp what Anaximander’s idea was.

“The element and principle of the things that are” (15) must exist in the form of matter, according to most early philosophers. Yet the number and make-up of these principles is a viewpoint that varied between philosophers. Thales says that this principle is water. Aristotle reasoned that he could have arrived at this answer because “the seeds of all things have a moist nature; and water is the principle of the nature of moist things” (15). Anaximander’s concept is a little more complicated because he doesn’t suggest a straightforward answer like air. Instead, he says that the principles are indefinite and that they are always moving and eternal. The fact that this is so difficult for me to imagine makes me wonder how Anaximander even discovered this idea, especially after Thales’s concrete answer. Anaximenes says that the principle is air. His idea is fascinating because it describes how the different forms of air are connected and lead to the creation of other things. He says that when air is made finer it becomes fire. When air is continuously condensed it transforms from wind, to clouds, to water, to earth, to stones, and then the rest follows.

This reading stood out to me because I find the subject interesting. It’s amazing that these people devoted so much time to figuring out what the source of everything is and just trying to understand the world. It’s something curious to read about the early ideas of the Milesians since their knowledge base was so different.