Archive for May 15th, 2013

Thales wet and dry

May 15, 2013

Thales, widely though somewhat arbitrarily designated the first western philosopher, was a walker.

And notorioiusly, a plunger. So caught up was he one day, lost in his ruminations about water being the font et origo of things, that he tripped and dipped.  “Drowning in the act of speculation,” John Lachs dryly notes.

The other side of the story, we always hasten to add, is that he was also sufficiently worldly-wise to corner the olive market when he wanted to.

Plato’s version had it that Thales fell into the drink because his gaze was fixed on the starry heavens. What exactly he was thinking is anyone’s guess.

What else do we know of Thales’ perambulations? Not much. But I think that’s enough, for my purposes. It’s good to contemplate the stars and the material nature of existence. It’s also good to keep our feet on terra firma.