Thales of Miletus

Quick Facts

Full NameThales of Miletus
Birth Datec. 626/623 BC
Birth PlaceMiletus, Ionian League (modern-day Balat, Didim, Aydın, Turkey)
Death Datec. 548/545 BC (aged c. 78)
EraPre-Socratic philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
Philosophical SchoolIonian / Milesian
Main InterestsMetaphysics, mathematics, astronomy
Notable IdeasPhilosophical inquiry, water as the arche, Thales’s theorem, intercept theorem, “Know thyself,” static electricity
Contribution to PhilosophyRegarded as the first philosopher in the Greek tradition, breaking from mythology to explain the world through natural philosophy.
Contribution to MathematicsThales’s theorem, intercept theorem, calculated the heights of pyramids and the distance of ships from shore
Contribution to AstronomyPredicted a solar eclipse, discovery of the position of Ursa Major, timings of solstices and equinoxes
Engineering FeatDiverted the Halys River
Historical SourceMain source is Diogenes Laërtius’s “Lives and Opinions of the Eminent Philosophers”
Notable AchievementPredicted a solar eclipse in 585 BC
LegacyOne of the Seven Sages of Ancient Greece

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