Thales was one of the philosophers predeceasing Socrates who served as one of the Seven Sages in Greece at the time. He was identified by Aristotle as the first person who investigated the basic principles questioning the originating substances of matter and hence the founder of natural philosophy.
Although most of his works were known only by report and not by hard evidence, a glimpse of his ideas is found in the works and writings of Aristotle. Aristotle had statements he sought to investigate that echoed and commented on the principles of Thales. Some of his four basic ideologies included tenets explaining that the world derives from and rests on water and is full of gods as well as the notion that the soul produces motion. Thales had a preoccupation on the problem of Physics, the source of origin of the world. Water according to Thales, was the thing from which everything is derived from and will return to and the source of origin from which everything else is a variation. Thales has rational arguments to support his water centric material monism and from physical evidence water is indeed a basic component of a large fraction of the entire cosmos, plants, animals, the heat from the sun and the moon all rely on water. Hippolytus added flesh to his reasoning through arguing that of all the elements only water can take the form of solid, liquid and gas. Thales essentially turned mythologies around through the evidence of chemistry and biology. He followed the viewpoint on the traditional Homeric world-image, more precisely the Oceanos which is the river source of the immortal and mortal life. He believed the world floated on water like a raft.
Pythagoras was another pre-Socrates thinker of Ionian origin who founded a religious following called the Pythagoreans. He contributed greatly to philosophy as he did to religion in the late sixth century. He is celebrated as a great mystic, mathematician and not forgetting scientist, his most famous innovation being the Pythagorean Theorem. Pythagoreanism played a significant role during the Pre-Socratic era of philosophy. They were seen as Plato’s followers on cosmology, ideas, the soul and numbers. Pythagoreanism had various schools of thoughts and an ancient interest in numbers.
They strongly held that numbers were the primary nature of things. Some even regarded humans as being products of numbers. A graphic model to prove their beliefs was modeled and demonstrated by one of the students Eurytus, through the use of small stone that were colored that were then stuck on a wall with plaster to show that mankind had the number 250 and plants, 360. Other subtle roles were given through the association of certain explanatory figures with different things. The square for instance was number four. They also postulated that numbers had a relationship with objects as well as the proportions in a recipe.
Apart from numbers they also performed rites of purification and were bound to the rules of the living, rules they believed would give them a higher status amongst the gods. Most of their beliefs on the soul are similar to those of the Orphic tradition whose practices were similar to those of the underworld. They similarly had links with Pherecydes, the Greek who coined the concept of soul transmigration explaining the soul in terms of pentemychos, the five books. Their use of the pentagram as a precognition symbol and as a symbol of inner health was probably one of their mystic practices.
Thales’s hypothesis of water is however an impractical speculation today. His views to begin with are not original. The belief that the universe emerged from water is a common religious myth in Greek and the Near Eastern. It is also argued that his attribution to the fact that the world rests on water was merely a misconception as a result of his confusion on the real claim. Whether or not water is the unifier in nature is an impossible fact to determine. Everything in the Cosmo is certainly not a variation of water. The water centric belief was not proven wrong not until A.D. 1769 after experiments by Antoine Lavoisier, spontaneous generation was similarly not disproved, but only after the nineteenth century from works Louis Pasteur.
The Pythagoras theory of the transmission of souls lacks explicit truth and is not original given that it was a byproduct of the Milesian science with facts that do not hold and are mythical. Metempsychosis is however currently a crucial doctrine in India. The soul transmission theory echoes their beliefs that the soul gains a new existence after death. That the sum of moral conduct in the past (karma) is the determinant of the soul’s condition. Pythagoras cosmological intuitions therefore still hold today considering that some religious believe in life after death. The significance of water in life is however inarguably a strong evidence of Thales’ material monism on water. The fact that life springs from water in the biological sphere explains the possible source of life even in the whole universe as the primal water.