Four philosophical ideas ancient Greek philosophers ‘borrowed’ from the Egyptians

Nii Ntreh Jan 26, 2020 at 04:00pm

January 26, 2020 at 04:00 pm | History

Nii Ntreh

Nii Ntreh | Staff Writer

January 26, 2020 at 04:00 pm | History

Image result for thales of miletus bust
An artist’s impression of Thales of Miletus.

Thales and the physical sciences

Reputed in Western history as the first philosopher and proto-scientist, Thales of Miletus is a name known to most first-year philosophy students across the world.

But apart from his most famous metaphysical thought – that water is the primordial substance – Thales is believed to have learned a fair bit of his scientific knowledge in ancient Egypt.

Writing for the Oxford University blog, classicist Ian Rutherford notes that “[B]y the 5th– 4th centuries BC Greek intellectuals had a pretty good idea of Egyptian culture. They knew it was ancient (in fact they greatly overestimated how old it was), and they saw it as a source of knowledge and esoteric wisdom.”

Thales is thought to have been one of those who went to study in the famous schools of Egypt where science, spirituality and philosophy were rolled into one.

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