All Reality Is Water Philosophy Essay





SPO # 81



February 8, 2013

The philosophical study and investigation of nature, constitution, and structure of reality is defined as metaphysics (ed. 1995, 563). Questions regarding the ultimate underlying element of reality have been asked for years. Heraclitus, one of the most creative philosophers, before Socrates, argued that fire is the ultimate material substance for reality in this world (Long 2005). Another pre-Socratic metaphysician, Anaximenes, held to the theory that all existence was composed of air. Anaximenes believed whether air was condensed or evaporated, it was all defined as air and that was the basic reality behind anything and everything (Martin 2002, 25). A Greek philosopher who studied metaphysics and believed that reality is a material substance was Xenophanes, held the theory that earth was the main substance of reality (ed. 1995, 984). However, Thales "said that water is the archē," the beginning or first principle (ed. 1995, 910) (n.a 2013). Water, and not fire, is the element necessary for all living things and water, not air, is present in almost everything. There is more of this element than there is of anything else, especially more than earth.

Water, and not fire, is the element necessary for all living things. It is common knowledge that human beings and animals need water to survive. Plants or any food that grows from the ground will be considered a living thing because it grows and turns to a main substance to live. Water is a necessity for plants to grow so that they may feed people. It is a continuous cycle: water is needed to keep people alive, and people are needed to plant seeds, and water is needed to grow the seeds into food to feed the people, therefore without water there would be no people to plant the seeds to grow the plantation to feed people.

One cannot go more than three days without the intake of water or food. However, an objection to this theory is that water kills things as well; an argument is that water can come in the forms of floods and drown people and bring destruction to things. Therefore to say life depends on water would defeat its own statement and be ironic.

This objection can be refuted because while it is true that water has the potential to destroy, it is still true that water is necessary for life. The need for this element is just as necessary in the lives of those people who have experienced its destruction as those who have not.

Another objection to Thales’ philosophy about water being the main substance in all reality is that it cannot possibly be existent in fire. The argument the author uses for this is that there is oxygen in fire and water is a component of oxygen. The argument is not that air or fire are non-existent. However, it is that water is in fire because it is a part of oxygen. The philosopher Heraclitus, made mention that "fire is one stage in a sequence of changes that occur in the world, a stage that recurs periodically over time either when the whole world is consumed by fire or when parts of it are kindled and cease to be what they formerly were" (Osborne 2004, 89). Two of the many different levels of reality are being and becoming. The belief that people, objects and elements are to be is held more firm by certain philosophers than the thought or belief that people and objects are becoming. The author holds to the theory that people and other things are to be and are not becoming. Therefore it simply is not possible for there to be a fire that comes and goes in stages and in levels of changes that happen in the world because people, objects and elements are there to be and are not changing or becoming. This defeats Heraclitus’ theory of fire being the main substance of reality.

Water and not air is present in almost everything. It is common knowledge that human beings are made up of more water than other components. This is true for plants and anything generally considered as plantation; water is the base for majority of things. An objection to this would be that water simply cannot exist in a table; it cannot be physically seen. An argument against this is that if a carpenter would be making a table a few things he would need are glue and wood. The glue would have water as the main ingredient, and a seed in the ground would have the need for water to grow into a good tree to cut down to be used for different parts of the table. The carpenter would know, as a part of his basic learning that only by the element of water could both components of a table exist. The main component that holds things together and the one substance above many, making up reality, is water.

An objection for this statement is the reality of air and its presence. Air is present in almost every place. Although it is not visible it is present and it is separating people and objects, therefore whatever is not is. An argument could be made that: yes, there is a lot of stuff that is separating things, objects and people. There are more objects than not in the world, and in each object water is the main substance that underlies each thing. Therefore there is still more of water; making it the main substance of reality.

There is more of the water element than there is of earth or of anything else. For this argument’s sake, earth shall be called dirt. Before people walked on the earth, there was only water present. Therefore, when Thales defined water as the archē, the beginning or first principle, he was right (Long 2005, 910) (n.a 2013). Water was the first principle that existed and when considering the size of the earth, the capacity of water than can fit on earth is immensely large. There being more water than there is anything else.

One could argue that the earth is everything and is the main substance of reality because the earth was in existence before humans, animals or vegetation. However this statement is incorrect because there is still more water than there is of earth or any of the other elements. The human body alone is made up of water components and the earth contains more water than not, therefore water over populates anything in existence.

As stated above water and not fire, is a necessity for someone or something to live, water and not air, is in most everything and there is more of water than there is of earth or anything else. Thales philosophy and the one the author is holding to is correct, that water is the one element above the many, and is the main substance behind all reality.