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 Philosophical Interpreters of the Universe, of the Creation and Constitution of the World.

PHILOSOPHY.--The aim of philosophy is to seek the explanation of all things: the quest is for the first causes of everything, and also how all things are, and finally why, with what design, with a view to what, things are. That is why, taking "principle" in all the senses of the word, it has been called the science of first principles.

Philosophy has always existed. Religions--all religions--are philosophies. They are indeed the most complete. But, apart from religions, men have sought the causes and principles of everything and endeavoured to acquire general ideas. These researches apart from religious dogmas in pagan antiquity are the only ones with which we are here to be concerned.

THE IONIAN SCHOOL: THALES.--The Ionian School is the most ancient school of philosophy known. It dates back to the seventh century before Christ. Thales of Miletus, a natural philosopher and astronomer, as we should describe him, believed matter--namely, that of which all things and all beings are made--to be in perpetual transformation, and that these transformations are produced by powerful beings attached to every portion of matter. These powerful beings were gods. Everything, therefore, was full of gods. His philosophy was a mythology. He also thought that the essential element of matter was water, and that it was water, under the influence of the gods, which transformed itself into earth, air, and fire, whilst from water, earth, air, and fire came everything that is in nature....
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