Under the research section, I’ve posted a link to my new article on Thales and Anaximander’s place relative to Hesiod and Heraclitus. It was just published in The Review of Metaphysics 70: 3-31.
Praised for its reliance on observation rather than myth, the Milesian school signals the dawn of science in the West. Whereas Hesiod appeals to the long ago and far away to explain the here and now, Thales and his cohorts do the reverse. In this reversal, we are their thankful, even faithful heirs. But with Hesiod not everything is myth and hearsay. Indeed, Hesiod singles himself out by name as the bearer of a powerfully poetic and distinctly human wisdom that he consistently contrasts with Zeus’ divine wisdom. In this article, the author argues that the Milesians attempt to gain access to divine wisdom, and thus disregard the ambiguities characteristic of human wisdom. One sees this especially in a tension between Thales’ political wisdom and natural philosophy, and later between Anaximander’s cosmology and cosmogony. The author concludes that Heraclitus appears to have been the first thinker to confront the Hesiodic worldview on its own terms, inasmuch as his attempt to bridge the divide between divine and human wisdom always keeps one eye on the ambiguities that pervade human experience.