Milesian school

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Milesian school:

see Ionian schoolIonian 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.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Milesian School


the first ancient Greek school of näive materialism, represented by Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes (sixth century B.C.). It received its name from the city of Miletus in Ionia, on the western coast of Asia Minor.

The Milesian school heralded the beginning of ancient Greek philosophy; the Milesian philosophers rose above the merely apparent and perceived a certain essence of things (a first principle) beyond and apart from the diversity of phenomena. For them, this essence consisted in something distinctly corporeal (see F. Engels, in K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 20, p. 502). For Thales, it is water; for Anaximander, it is an indefinite and limitless primal substance (apeiron); for Anaximenes, it is air.

Viewing the world as a living whole, the Milesian school made no fundamental distinction between animate and inanimate or between psychic and physical. It merely recognized a lesser degree of animateness (life) in inanimate objects, while animateness itself (soul) was regarded as a subtle and fluid form of primal matter.

The Milesian school greatly influenced the subsequent development of materialist thought in ancient Greece.


Fragments in H. Diels, Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, 9th ed., vol. 1. Edited by W. Kranz. Berlin, 1960.
In Russian in P. Tannery, Pervye shagi drevnegrecheskoi nauki. St. Petersburg, 1902. Pages 3–13, 20–24.
In Russian in A. Makovel’skii, Dosokratiki, part 1. Kazan, 1914. Pages 9–24, 35–47, 51–57.


Lur’e, S. la. Ocherki po istorii antichnoi nauki. Gretsiia epokhi rastsveta, Moscow-Leningrad, 1947. Pages 13–42.
Losev, A. F. Istoriia antichnoi estetiki. Moscow, 1963. Pages 339–44.
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 periodicals archive ?
In this article I will examine philosophy's first steps into its proper domain by turning to the origins of the Milesian school in the figures of Thales and Anaximander.
Later in the same book he says, 'The founder of the Milesian School and therefore the first man of science [!] was Thales.' Gomperz says ...
(c624 - c546 bc ) A Greek philosopher of the Milesian School. Regarded by some as the founder of Greek philosophy, Thales was considered one of the seven wise men of ancient Greece.