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In terms, principle (TR:347) (LH:6) (TL:353|#92), from Greek arche (αρχή) (NE:709), meaning "origin of all things" or "cause" (Anaximander, 570BC)[1], deriving from an older term meaning "govern or begin"[2], is general statement, unproved, but justified a posteriori by verification of its consequences (Perrot, 1998).[3] Axiom is a close synonym.


In 600BC, Greeks, after studying in Egypt, began to develop theories and models to explain the cause and origin of all things, during which time the term "principle" was coined, by Anaximander, who, after studying under Thales, the champion of the "water" is behind all things, introduced the term Greek arche (αρχή) (NE:709), to mean origin or source of all things.[4] Diogenes Laertius (c.240) credits Anaximander as coining this term. The term was later used by Parmenides.[2] In the various models, to follows, there were first principles, e.g. the first principles of Democritus were atoms and void. From the first principles, there were various second principles.


The following are quotes:

“Of those who hold that the first principle is one, moving, and infinite, Anaximander, son of Praxiades, a Milesian, who was a successor and pupil of Thales, said that the infinite [apeiron] (απείρων) (NE:1046) is principle and element of the things that exist. He was the first to introduce this word ‘principle’ [arche] (αρχή). He says that it is neither water nor any other of the so-called elements but some different infinite nature, from which all the heavens and the worlds in them come into being.”
Simplicius (c.550), Commentary on Aristotle’s Physics (24.13) [5]
“The term ‘principle’ [arche] is certainly not to be attributed to Thales, it was first coined, it would seem, by his follower Anaximander, but it is nonetheless clear that this term better than any other points to the notion that water is the ‘origin of all things’. Moreover, the water-principle has absolutely nothing in common with the Hesiodianchaos’, nor with any other mythological notion of principle. It is, as Aristotle says, ‘that from which all things have their origin and that into which all things are dissolved?’ It is ‘a reality that remains identically the same throughout the changes in its characteristics’, that is, a reality ‘that continues to exist unchanged’ throughout the process of the generation of everything. Hence, it is a) the source or origin of all things, b) the focus and final goal of all things, c) the permanent sustainer (substrate, we can say with a term of later usage) of all things. In short, the ‘principle’ is that from which all things come, that through which they exist, that into which they are resolved. Such a principle was denominated by these first philosophers (if not previously by Thales himself) as ‘physis’, a word that means, not ‘nature’, in the modern sense of the term, but rather the primary, original, and fundamental reality. It means, as has been well stated, ‘that which is primary, fundamental, and persistent, in opposition to that which is secondary, derivative, and transitory’.”
— Giovanni Reale (1987), A History of Ancient Greek Philosophy (pg. 35)[6]

End matter

See also


  1. Jaspers, Karl. (1974). Anaximander, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Plotinus, Lao-tzu, Nagarjuna (pg. 25). Publisher.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Hankinson, Robert. (2001). Cause and Explanation in Ancient Greek Thought (pg. 16). Oxford.
  3. Perrot, Pierre. (1998). A to Z of Thermodynamics (pgs. 247-48). Oxford.
  4. Gralher, Selma. (2018). Megalithic Science’s General Quantum Theory (pg. 23). Publisher.
  5. Simplicius. (c.550). Commentary on Aristotle’s Physics (24.13) (Ѻ). Publisher.
  6. Reale, Giovanni. (1987). A History of Ancient Greek Philosophy, Volume One: from the Origins to Socrates (pg. 35). SUNY.

External links

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