Thales and the Birth of Philosophy in Ancient Greece (MP3 download)
By Robert Mayhew
Religion is as old as man; but philosophy - as an actual discipline, a unique approach to understanding the world - first emerged in the 6th century BC, in the ancient Aegean. This lecture will begin by examining the thought of the first philosopher, Thales of Miletus, and contrast his views - and especially his approach to knowing the universe - with those held by his contemporaries. It should become clear why Thales is great, despite his errors and the peculiar nature of what he held. Dr. Mayhew will then turn to answering the question: What made Thales possible? That is, what made the rise of philosophy possible? What conditions were necessary for the appearance of philosophy, and how were these conditions met in the ancient Greek world? Dr. Mayhew will end by discussing what the origins of philosophy tell us about the role that philosophy alone can play in human life and in a culture.
This lecture was recorded at the 2008 Objectivist Summer Conference in Newport Beach, CA.