Miletus: The Invention of Science

Wallace Matson

in Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199812691
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919420 | DOI:
Miletus: The Invention of Science

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Science began only once in human history: in the city of Miletus in Ionia, early in the 6th century B.C., as the creation of one man, Thales, who invented both mathematical proof and natural science. Proof is the technique of combining hitherto disconnected facts into an integrated whole of statements that are necessary, that could not be otherwise. Natural science similarly combines isolated facts (low beliefs) into a theory consisting of beliefs tethered to each other. This was the first world view based on low beliefs. It, and its successors, exhibited three characteristics: Unity (the All is One), Immanence ( the energy of change is not pushing and pulling from outside but inherent in the things that change), and Reason (“Nothing happens at random but everything for a reason and by necessity”). Instead of good, evil, purpose, love, and hate, its categories of explanation were cause, effect, nature, regularity, necessity.

Keywords: science; necessity; tether; unity; immanence; reason; naturalism; monism; rationalism; proof

Chapter.  4451 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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