Official 37 Passage 1


Thales and the Milesians


Why does the author discuss the question "What is the world made of?" posed by Thales?

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  • A
    To help explain how Thales differed from earlier Greek thinkers
  • B
    To trace the origin of the question through ancient history
  • C
    To emphasize that the answer to the question proposed by Thales was the first correct solution
  • D
    To suggest why the question remained unanswered for so long
正确答案: A

我的笔记 编辑笔记

  • 原文
  • 译文
  • While many other observers and thinkers had laid the groundwork for science, Thales (circa 624 B.C.E.-ca 547 B.C.E.), the best known of the earliest Greek philosophers, made the first steps toward a new, more objective approach to finding out about the world. He posed a very basic question: "What is the world made of?" Many others had asked the same question before him, but Thales based his answer strictly on what he had observed and what he could reason out-not on imaginative stories about the gods or the supernatural. He proposed water as the single substance from which everything in the world was made and developed a model of the universe with Earth as a flat disk floating in water.

    Like most of the great Greek philosophers, Thales had an influence on others around him. His two best-known followers, though there were undoubtedly others who attained less renown, were Anaximander and Anaximenes. Both were also from Miletus(located on the southern coast of present-day Turkey) and so, like Thales, were members of the Milesian School. Much more is known about Anaximander than about Anaximenes, probably because Anaximander, who was born sometime around 610 BCE, ambitiously attempted to write a comprehensive history of the universe. As would later happen between another teacher-student pair of philosophers, Plato and Aristotle, Anaximander disagreed with his teacher despite his respect for him. He doubted that the world and all its contents could be made of water and proposed instead a formless and unobservable substance he called "apeiron" that was the source of all matter.

    Anaximander's most important contributions, though, were in other areas. Although he did not accept that water was the prime element, he did believe that all life originated in the sea, and he was thus one of the first to conceive of this important idea. Anaximander is credited with drawing up the first world map of the Greeks and also with recognizing that Earth's surface was curved. He believed, though, that the shape of Earth was that of a cylinder rather than the sphere that later Greek philosophers would conjecture. Anaximander, observing the motions of the heavens around the polestar, was probably the first of the Greek philosophers to picture the sky as a sphere completely surrounding Earth-an idea that, elaborated upon later, would prevail until the advent of the Scientific Revolution in the seventeenth century.

    Unfortunately, most of Anaximander's written history of the universe was lost, and only a few fragments survive today. Little is known about his other ideas. Unfortunately, too, most of the written work of Anaximenes, who may have been Anaximander's pupil, has also been lost. All we can say for certain about Anaximenes, who was probably born around 560 BCE, is that following in the tradition of Anaximander, he also disagreed with his mentor. The world, according to Anaximenes, was not composed of either water or apeiron, but air itself was the fundamental element of the universe. Compressed, it became water and earth, and when rarefied or thinned out, it heated up to become fire. Anaximenes may have also been the first to study rainbows and speculate upon their natural rather than supernatural cause.

    With the door opened by Thales and the other early philosophers of Miletus, Greek thinkers began to speculate about the nature of the universe. This exciting burst of intellectual activity was for the most part purely creative. The Greeks, from Thales to Plato and Aristotle, were philosophers and not scientists in today's sense. It is possible for anyone to create "ideas" about the nature and structure of the universe, for instance, and many times these ideas can be so consistent and elaborately structured, or just so apparently obvious, that they can be persuasive to many people. A scientific theory about the universe, however, demands much more than the various observations and analogies that were woven together to form systems of reasoning, carefully constructed as they were, that would eventually culminate in Aristotle's model of the world and the universe. Without experimentation and objective, critical testing of their theories, the best these thinkers could hope to achieve was some internally consistent speculation that covered all the bases and satisfied the demands of reason.

  • 尽管很多其他的观察者和思想家已经为科学打下了基础,泰利斯(约公元前624年-公元前547年),最有名最早期的古希腊哲学家,在探索世界方面迈出了新的、更加客观的第一步。 他提出了一个很基础的问题:世界的本源是什么?其他人在他之前也提出过一样的问题,但是泰勒斯把他的答案严格建立在他观察到的现象和推理上——而不是基于想象中关于神或者超自然的故事。 他提出,水是世界上一切物质形成的唯一基础,并且提出了一个宇宙的模型,在这个模型里,地球是一个平的盘子,飘在水上。

    就像是大多数的伟大希腊哲学家一样,泰勒斯对于自己身边的人影响很大。 他最著名的两个徒弟是Anaximander和Anaximenes,当然他还有很多不那么出名的土地。 这两个徒弟都是来自米力都(位于现在土耳其南海岸),他们和泰勒斯一样都是米力都学校毕业的。 Anaximander比Anaximenes更为世人所知,也许是因为生于公元前610年的Anaximander雄心勃勃地要写一部宇宙全史。 就像是发生在另一对师生柏拉图和亚里士多德之间的故事一样,Anaximander尽管崇拜自己的老师,但却与他意见相左。 他不相信世界和世界上的东西都是由水构成的,并提出了物质的本源是一种被他称为apeiron的无形状的、难以察觉的物质。

    然而,Anaximander的最重要的贡献是在别的领域。 尽管他不接受水是物质本源的说法,他还是相信生命是发源于大海的,并且他是最先提出这个观点的几位先驱之一。 他绘制了第一幅希腊人的世界地图,并且认识到地球表面是弯曲的。 他相信地球的形状是更类似于圆筒而不是后来的希腊哲学家推测出来的球形。 Anaximander发现了天空围绕北极星转动,他可能是第一位把天空描绘成完全包裹住地球的球形的希腊哲学家,这个观点后来被精细化了,直到十七世纪的科学革命到来之前一直都是流行的观点。

    不幸的是,大多数Anaximander写的宇宙的故事已经遗失了,只有一点片段留下。 他的其他观点也没有留存下来。 同样不幸的是,Anaximander的徒弟Anaximenes的大多数作品也已经遗失了。 关于Anaximenes我们可以确信的是,他大约出生于公元前560年,他继承了Anaximander的传统,也与自己的老师意见相左。 根据Anaximenes的观点,世界既不是水做的,也不是apeiron做的,而是空气做的。 空气被压缩变成水和土地,空气被稀薄化,加热变成火焰。 Anaximenes可能也是第一个研究彩虹,推测其本质的人,而不是相信彩虹是来源于超自然现象的。

    泰勒斯和其他米力都的哲学家开启了探索之门后,希腊思想家们开始推测宇宙的本源。 这场激动人心的头脑大爆发在很多方面都是创新的。 从泰勒斯到柏拉图再到亚里士多德的希腊人,在今天看来,他们不是科学家,而是哲学家。 任何一个人都可以对自然或者宇宙组成的本源提出自己的想法,很多时候这些想法是一致的且精心架构的,或者只是太明显以至于对于很多人都有说服力。 一个精心构建的关于宇宙的科学理论,不论它需要多少多于各种各样观察和类比来形成推理的系统,最终会在亚里士多德的世界宇宙模型里达到成熟。 没有实验和客观的、批判性的对于理论的测试,这些思想家可以期待做到最好的是一些内部一致的推测,这些推测涵盖了所有的基础,并满足了推理的要求。
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    题干分析:根据题干“What is the world made of”定位到第一段第二句,以及后面一句相关句子。

    原文定位:He posed a very basic question: "What is the world made of ? " Many others had asked the same question before him, but Thales based his answer strictly on what he had observed and what he could reason out-not on imaginative stories about the gods or the supernatural.