** A Tribute To Pre-Socratic Philosophers Poem by RAJ NANDY

** A Tribute To Pre-Socratic Philosophers

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Between 600 and 400 BC, there arose in the
ancient Greek colony of Ionia,
Now known as western Turkey, which was then
Asia Minor, -
A group of original thinkers, who tried to seek, -
A rational and natural explanation for all things!
They strongly felt that all past mythical and super-
natural explanations, -
Were both misleading and inadequate, and thereby
set in motion,
A new way of thinking more akin to the scientific
Thereby laying the edifice of Western Philosophy, -
As acknowledge now by scholars with hindsight!
These philosophers had all looked for a single
quintessential substance,
From which all things had derived, that original
reality and being;
And the Ionian Greeks called it the ‘arche’!
They also pondered about problems of change and
As we will subsequently see, they also thought
about appearance and reality!
They spoke about tiny unseen indivisible spatial
entities called atoms!
They were unaided by scientific instruments and
Yet all scholars generally agree and acknowledge, -
They were the great pioneers of modern knowledge!


THALES (624BC-546BC)

THALES was born in the Greek island of Miletus,
around 624 BC,
It was washed by the cool waters of the Aegean Sea, -
in our modern day Turkey!
He is said to have traveled to Egypt and Babylon, **
And armed with their mathematical and astrological
Had accurately predicted a solar eclipse on
26 of May, in 585 BC!
He was the first to philosophize the principle of
And declared that all things were made of ‘water’!
Water was the ‘arche’ from which all things derived,
And into which all things will one day subside!
I for one do fear, with prevailing global warming,
And with the ice caps melting, - of being swallowed
up by the sea!
Thales is considered to be one of the seven sages of
Credited with the five basic theorems of geometry;
And is regarded as the father of Western Philosophy! #


Anaximander a pupil of Thales had refuted him,
Saying that water cannot be the ‘arche’!
Since ‘water’ cannot give rise to its opposite – ‘Fire’!
And similarly all four elements; earth, fire, water and
air, - he had rejected entire!
He spoke of the ‘Aperion’ – the unlimited or the
boundless as the ‘arche’, -
Which was central to Greek cosmology!
But he never explained at length, as to what he had
actually meant!
Later, Aristotle had expressed that ‘aperion’ was a
sort of primal chaos,
And perhaps from that chaos that ‘womb of darkness’, -
Had emerged the cosmic egg!


The last of the Milesian School of Philosophers,
and he had said, -
That ‘Air’ was the most basic element and the source
of all existence!
Its density differed in heat and cold, and this rhythmic
expansion and contraction, -
Gave rise to several phases of existence in a gradual
process of evolution;
Which took place in opposite directions, -
Also known as rarefaction and condensation!
Through rarefaction the ultimate result was fire,
Whereas condensation led to the formation of stones,
and the crust of the earth entire!
Condensation also produced sun and the stars!
And with such speculations he had pre-empted our
modern day Astronomy by far!
Aristotle quotes Anaximenes as having said, -
“As our souls, being air, hold us together, so breath
and air embrace the entire universe! ”
Such were the profound thoughts of our Milesian
School of Philosophers, –
Those worthy forefathers of Western Philosophy;
And in their thoughts lay the seeds of future Science
and Astronomy! @

Thus I end my tribute to the Milesian trio of pioneers,
Known as the Milesian School of philosophers!
Let us not try to find faults with those thinkers,
For they were the first to free themselves -
From the shackles of superstition and mythology!
Chalking out an independent line of thought, - #
For later philosophers to improve and develop
(To Be Continued!)
-Raj Nandy
New Delhi
02 Sep 09

# = Aristotle and Sir Bertrand Russell regard Thales as the Father
of Philosophy! In Thales we see a transitory figure from the Greek
world of mythology to the deductive and scientific world of the Mind!
And this New direction of thought process, given by the Miletian School
of Philosophers, deserves to be applauded!
** = Summerian (Mesopotamian) Civilization is regarded as the oldest,
followed by the Indus Valley, the Minoan(Crete) , and the Egyptian.The
last three overlap! Nile Valley (Egyptian) lasted over two thousand years!
$ =Carl Segan tells us that Anaximander was the first to carry out an
experiment by planting a stick on the ground - to determine the length of the year and the seasons!
@=From Aristotle’s writings all branches of science gradually evolved!
Works of these Philosophers have not survived! We know about them
from Aristotle and other Philosophers and Historians like Herodotus!

Eyan Desir 07 September 2009

Well well is this a poem or a piece of history? hmmm anyway good write 10ss

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Ritty Patnaik 03 September 2009

dear raj.....it is a great write, and i enjoyed reading it.it is enlightening to know that the ancient philosophers nknew about the five elements.of course the hindu philosophy is based on that.however i liked what thales says about the water.i agree, with global warming water will play a major role in the destructions in times to come..thanks for sharing this poem.best wishes. ritty

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Bob Blackwell 02 September 2009

Raj, a enjoyable and interesting read, an education too. Thank you, I look forward to filing episode two. regards Bob

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Mehta Hasmukh Amathalal 02 September 2009

They were unaided by scientific instruments and laboratories! Yet all scholars generally agree and acknowledge, - They were the great pioneers of modern knowledge! due to the lack of available technoligies this canbetermed and acknowlede and marvelous achievent world can never gorget....10 i loved it most

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Beauty Philosophy 02 September 2009

A good tribute to this school of philosophers. Indeed the advance of philosophy through the ages bespeaks the power of the human brain and the necessity to maintain it as the engine of the human body. Even though being rational all the time and philosophising about the universe and its essence is really exhausting for the mind and for the body...

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Nivedita Bagchi SPC UK 10 March 2010

Scholastic and investigative write up no doubt … Our Veda mentions 5 Primordial Elements [PE] what you’ve mentioned the universe is made of … Now, how these came …where from and so on [origin of Universe] Sages Seers in Vedic age [more than 5000 years BC] tired to deep into it and found the Archie Euphony OM [AUM] … is Pre PE [element is not right connotation..I’m sorry] ... well the Sages thro’ deep contemplation and meditation found it... So Vedic sages were well ahead of western thoughts… Thanks for such a narrative [historical] high calorie prosetry… Ms. Nivedita UK PS 10++

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Samanyan Lakshminarayanan 17 October 2009

a great piece of wisdom sir in a lovely poetic form...thanks a lot 10

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Anand Madhukar 13 September 2009

Brilliant articulation of complex thoughts leading to a perfect marriage of philosophy with poetry.

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Sandra Fowler 09 September 2009

A splendid tribute. Your fine, articulate presentation held my interest and increased my knowledge. Thank you. Kind wishes, Sandra

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Mamta Agarwal 09 September 2009

great write Raj. as always you have done your research meticulously. 10 mamta

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