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of all things is water. The harvests depended on it, and, Importance of through them, animals and man.
The governwater in Egypt. ment of the country was supported by it, for the financial system was founded on a tax paid by the proprietors of the land for the use of the public sluices and aqueducts. There was not a peasant to whom it was not apparent that water is the first principle of all things, even of taxation; and, since it was not only necessary to survey lands to ascertain the surface that had been irrigated, but to redetermine their boundaries after the subsidence of the flood, even the scribes and surveyors might concede that geometry itself was indebted for its origin to water.
If, therefore, in any part of the Old World, this doctrine had both a vulgar and a philosophical significance, that country was Egypt. We may picture to ourselves the inquisitive but ill-instructed Thales carried in some pirateship or trading-bark to the mysterious Nile, respecting which Ionia was full of legends and myths. He saw the aqueducts, canals, flood-gates, the great Lake Mæris, dug by the hand of man as many ages before his day as have elapsed from his day to ours; he saw on all sides the adoration paid to the river, for it had actually become
deified; he learned from the vulgar, with whom that water is alone he came in contact, their universal belief
that all things arise from water—from the vulgar principle.
alone, for, had he ever been taught by the priests, we should have found traces in his system of the doctrines of emanation, transmigration, and absorption, which were imported into (i reece in later times. interpret the story of Thales on the principles which would apply in the case of some intelligent Indian who should find his way to the outposts of a civilized country. Imperfectly acquainted with the language, and coming in contact with the lower class alone, he might learn their vulgar philosophy, and carry back the fancied treasure to his home.
As to the profound meaning which some have been disposed to extract from the dogma of Thales, we shall, perhaps, be warranted in rejecting it altogether. It has been affirmed that he attempted to concentrate all
supernatural powers in one; to reduce all possible agenta to unity; in short, out of polytheism to bring forth monotheism; to determine the invariable in the variable; and to ascertain the beginning of things : that he observed how infinite is the sea ; how necessary moisture is to growth; nay, even how essential it was to the well-being of himself; “that without moisture his own body would not have been what it was, but a dry husk falling to pieces.” Nor can we adopt the opinion that the intention of Thales was to establish a coincidence between philosophy and the popular theology as delivered by Hesiod, who affirms that Oceanus is one of the parent-gods of Nature. The imputation of irreligion made against him shows at what an early period the antagonism of polytheism and scientific inquiry was recognized. But it is possible to believe that all things are formed out of one primordial substance, without denying the existence of a creative power. Or, to use the Indian illustration, the clay may not be the potter.
Thales is said to have predicted the solar eclipse which terminated a battle between the Medes and Lydians, but it has been suggestively remarked that it is not stated that he predicted the day on which it should occur. Other doctrines He had an idea that warmth originates from or of Tuales. is nourished by humidity, and that even the sun and stars derived their aliment out of the sea at the time of th ir rising and setting. Inderd, he regarded them as living beings; obtaining an argument from the phenomena of amber and the magnet, supposed by him to possess a living soul, because they have a moving force. Moreover, he taught that the whole world is an insouled thing, and that it is full of dæmons. Thales hal, ih refore, not completely passed out of the stage of sorcery.
His system obtained importance not only from its own plausibility, but because it was introduced under favourable auspices and at a favourable time. It came into Asia Minor as a portion of the wisdom of Egypt, and therefore with a prestige sufficient to assure for it an attentive re. ception. But this would have been of little avail had not the mental culture of Ionia been advanced to a degreo suitable for offering to it conditions of development,
Under such circumstances the Egyptian dogma formed the starting-point for a special me: hod of philosophizing.
The manner in which that development took place illustrates the vigour of the Grecian mind. In Egypt a Thry consti- doctrine might exist for 1housands of years, protut- the start- tected by its mere antiquity from contri versi lonian philo- or even examination, and hence sink with the dophy.
lapse of time into an ineffectual and lifeless state; but the same doctrine brought into a young com munity full of activity would quickly be made productive and vield new results. As seeds taken from the coffins of mummies, wherein they have been shut up for thousands of years, when placed under circum-tances favourable for development in a rich soil, and supplied with moisture, have furthwith, even in our own times, germinated, horne flowers, and matured new seeds, so the rude philosophy of Thales passed through a like development. It-tendency is shown in the attempt it at once made to describe the universe, even before the parts thereof had been determined.
But it is not alone the water or ocean that seems to be infinite, and capable of furnishing a supply for the origin of all other things. The air, also, appea's to reach as far as the stars. On it, as Anaxinienes of Miletus remarks, the very earth itself flats like a broad leaf.” AC
cordingly, this Ionian, stimulated doubtless by
the hope of sharing in or succeeding to the air is the first celebrity that Thales had enjoyed for a century, principle.
proposed to substitute for water, as the primitive source of things, atmospheric air. And, in truth, there seem to be reasons for bestowing upon it such a preeminence. To those who have not looked closely into the matter, it would appear that water itself is generated from it, as when clouds are formed, and from them rain-drops, and springs, and fountains. and rivers, and even the sea. He also attributes infinity to it, a dogma scarcely requiring any exercise of the imagination, but being rather the expression of an ostensible fact; for who, when he looks upward, can discern the boundary of the atmosphere. It is also the
Anaximenes also held that even the human soul
itself is nothing but air, since life consists in inhaling and exhaling it, and ceases as soon as that
Anaximenes asserts that
process stops. He taught also that warmth and cold arise from mere rarefaction and condensation, and gave as a proof the fact that when we breathe with the lips drawn together the air is cold, but it becomes warm when we breathe through the widely-opened mouth. Hence ho concluded that, with a sufficient rarefaction, air might turn into fire, and that this probably was the origin of the sun and stars, blazing comets, and other meteors; but if by chance it should undergo condensation, it would turn into wind and clouds, or, if that operation should be still moro increased, into water, snow, hail, and, at last, even into earth itself. And since it is seen from the results of breathing that the air is a life-giving principle to man, nay, even is actually his soul, it would appear to the air is be a just inference that the infinite air is God God. and that the gods and goddesses have sprung from it.
Such was the philosophy of Anaximenes. It was the beginning of that stimulation of activity by rival schools which plizyed so distinguished a part in the Greek intel. lectual movement. Its superiority over the doctrine of T'hales evidently consists in this, that it not only assigns a primitive substance, but even undertakes to show by observation and experiment how others arise from it, and transformations occur. As to the discovery of the obliquity of the ecliptic by the aid of a gnomon attributed to Anaxi. menes, it was merely a boast of his vainglorious countrymen, and altogether beyond the scientific grasp of one who had no more exact idea of the nature of the earth than that it was “like a broad leaf floating in the air.”
The doctrines of Anaximenes received a very important development in the lands of Diogenes of Apollonia, who asserted that all things originate from one essence, which, indergoing continual changes, becoming different at different times, tuins back again to the same state. Ho ri garded the entire world as a living being, spon- .
Diogenes taneously evolving and transforming itself, and asserts that a Freed with Anaximenes that the soul of man air is the soul
of the world. is nothing but air, as is also the soul of the world. From this it follows that the air must be eternal, imperishable, and endowed with consciousness. “It knows much ; for without reason it would be impossible for all to
be arranged so duly and proportionately as that all should maintain its fitting measure, winter and summer, night and day, the rain, the wind, and fair weather; and whatever object we consider will be found to have been ordered in the best and most beautiful manner possible.” that which has knowledge is that which men call air; it is it that regulates and governs all, and hence it is the use of air to pervade all, and to dispose all, and to be in all, for there is nothing that has not part in it.” The early cultivator of philosophy emerges with diffi
culty from fetichism. The harmony observed Difficulty of rising above among the parts of the world is easily explained
on the hypothesis of a spiritual principle residing in things, and arranging them by its intelligent volition It is not at once that he rises to the conception that all this beauty and harmony are due to the operation of law. We are so prone to judge of the process of external things from the modes of our own personal experience, our acts being determined by the exercise of our wills, that it is with difficulty we disentangle ourselves from such notions in the explanation of natural phenomena. Fetichism may be observed in the infancy of many of the natural sciences. Thus the electrical power of amber was imputed to a soul residing in that substance, a similar explanation being also given of the control of the magnet over iron. The moveinents of the planetary bodies, Mercury, Venus, Mars, were attributed to an intelligent principle residing in each, guiding and controlling the motions, and ordering all things for the best. It was an epoch in the history of the human mind when astronomy set an example to all other sciences of shaking off its fetichism, and showing that Astronomy
the intricate movements of the heavenly bodies and chemistry are all capable not only of being explained, have passed beyond th but even foretold, if once was admitted the fetich stage.
existence of a simple, yet universal, invariable, and eternal law.
Not without difficulty do men perceive that there is nothing inconsistent between invariable law and endlessly varying phenomena, and that it is a more noble view of the government of this world to impute its order to 1 penetrating primitive wisdom, which could foresee