Ionian school

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Ionian school,

pre-Socratic group of Greek philosophers of the 6th and 5th cent. B.C.; most of them were born in Ionia. Its members were primarily concerned with the origins of the universe—the forces that shaped it and the materials of which it is composed. ThalesThales
, c.636–c.546 B.C., pre-Socratic Greek philosopher of Miletus and reputed founder of the Milesian school of philosophy. He is the first recorded Western philosopher. Thales taught that everything in nature is composed of one basic stuff, which he thought to be water.
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, his successor AnaximanderAnaximander
, c.611–c.547 B.C., Greek philosopher, b. Miletus; pupil of Thales. He made the first attempt to offer a detailed explanation of all aspects of nature.
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, and AnaximenesAnaximenes
, Greek philosopher, 6th cent. B.C., last of the Milesian school founded by Thales. With Thales he held that a single element lay behind the diversity of nature, and with Anaximander he sought a principle to account for diversity.
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 were all from Miletus. Other prominent members included AnaxagorasAnaxagoras
, c.500–428 B.C., Greek philosopher of Clazomenae. He is credited with having transferred the seat of philosophy to Athens. He was closely associated with many famous Athenians and is thought to have been the teacher of Socrates.
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, Diogenes of ApolloniaDiogenes of Apollonia
, 5th cent. B.C., Greek philosopher. An eclectic, he reverted to the Milesian tradition of a century earlier in seeking to explain the constitution of all matter in terms of a single basic stuff.
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, and Archelaus. It is also known as the Milesian school.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ionian School


a spontaneously materialistic trend in ancient Greek philosophy that arose and developed in the Ionian colonies in the sixth through fourth centuries B.C. The school originated in the city of Miletus and was represented by the philosophers Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes (the Milesian school), and Heraclitus of Ephesus. It is customary to contrast the Ionian school to the Pythagorean, Eleatic, and Athenian schools. Among the fundamental ideas first advanced by the Ionian philosophers was that of the unity of everything that exists, the origin of all things from a single prime principle, which was understood as one or another material element (water in Thales, air in Anaximenes, and fire in Heraclitus) or as the “unlimited,” from which the fundamental opposites warm and cold emerged (the apeiron of Anaximander). The works of the Ionian philosophers were written in the Ionian dialect, in contrast to the Athenian dialect of the works of Plato and Aristotle.


Mikhailova, E. N., and A. N. Chanyshev. Ioniiskaia filosofiia. Moscow, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
In continental Greece (1), on the other hand, but especially in Boeotia, a new form of epic sprang up, which for the romance and PATHOS of the Ionian School substituted the practical and matter-of-fact.
Particles and the Universe: From the Ionian School to the Higgs Boson and Beyond
Paper, FF 149--This voluminous manual of Greek philosophy takes the reader on a long and passionate voyage which begins at the Ionian School and ends with Byzantine thought.