Thales of Miletus was considered one of the Seven Wise Men of
ancient Greece. Thales was the first of the Greek natural philosophers
and founder of the Ionian school of ancient Greek thinkers.
His is said to have measured the Egyptian pyramids and to have calculated the distance from shore of ships at sea using his knowledge of geometry.
He also predicted an eclipse of the sun. In geometry Thales has been credited with the discovery of five theorems like the one that a triangle inscribed in a semicircle has a right angle. He tried to discover the substance from which everything in nature is made off and suggested water.
Thales is important in bridging the worlds of myth and reason. He initiated the revolutionary notion that to understand the world one needed to know its nature ('physis', hence the modern 'physics') and that there was an explanation for all phenomena in natural terms. That was a giant step from the assumptions of the old world that supernatural forces determined almost everything.
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Encyclopedia of Philosophy