We are in 500 bc in Miletus which is an ancient city in the western coast of Anatolia . A man called Thales is a philosopher. Philosophy at these days is a very new area of knowledge. Every new knowledge area of these days has to be very practical. The practical impact of this new knowledge in the city-state was the main concern.
He was often walking in the city looking at the stars, at the planets and observing the sky in general because he was a mathematician interested in geometry and the movement of the stars and the planets.This habit sometimes had an undesirable result. He would often fall into potholes. These incidents became the anecdotes of his town and fellow citizens were thinking that philosophy was only good for reflection, thinking, contemplation and had no practical outcome.
Thales wanted to show to his fellow citizens that philosophy can change the way somebody lives. Philosophy is the way we choose to live our everyday life, philosophy is another level of consciousness. A consciousness that can help us live happier in the society. It was easy for Thales to find a practical solution to the problem.
Thales was a good meteorologist and was able to forecast the weather. Taking advantage of this skill, he managed to gain some considerable profit. He invested in olive presses at low-cost when olive presses were out of season . However this was part of his plan, he forecast excellent weather and better than expected production. When the time came and the peasants needed to use the olive presses, they paid much more that Thales had paid for them, due to increased demand. His intention was to show to others that philosophy was as useful as any other skill and a good profit was the best way to have people’s attention.
Aristotle explains that Thales purpose by doing this was not to get rich but to prove to his fellow citizens that philosophy could be useful, contrary to what they believed. Thales proved that it was easy for philosophers to get rich if they chose so but this was not the point.
What can we learn from Thales?
As an entrepreneur I find this story very inspiring. I consider Thales to have a very creative and flexible mind. Not only he was a philosopher but also a brilliant mathematician, astronomer and generally a man who proved that circumstances don’t matter. The only thing that matters is state of being. This is the essence of philosophy for me. Life is meaningless, this means that every situation, every material, every second does not have any meaning, we provide it’s meaning. We used to borrow the meaning from our culture, society, family, friends, education etc. This is not our own life, this is not our own meaning of life, this is not our own way of life. So philosophy teach us to create our own meaning, our own way of looking life, our own way of experiencing and finally to become just ourselves and one with the rest of the universe. So Thales is a big inspiration because he was the example of man who has one foot in the sky but the other on earth and this is a practical example for everyone.