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Thales of Miletos (635 – 543 BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek who Socrates considered the first philosopher. The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.

Thales of Miletos

Thales of Miletos –  Socrates called him the first Greek philosopher.

Quotations from Thales of Miletos sourced from – BrainyQuote, WikiQuote, Wisdom of the Wise,

Hope is the only good which is common to all men; those who have nothing more possess hope still.

Hope is the poor man’s bread.

The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.

The past is certain, the future obscure.

The wisest thing is Time, for it brings everything to light.

Take Time by the forelock.

[The previous quotes are usually associated with Thales the following quotes are less so.]

A generous heart should scorn a pleasure which gives others pain.

Suretyship is the precursor of ruin. Alternately – DEBT is the precursor to ruin.

Nothing is more active than thought, for it travels over the universe, and nothing is stronger than necessity for all must submit to it.

Conceal thy domestic ills.

Success colors all a man’s life; success makes fools admired, and makes villains appear honest.

Amid the roses fierce repentance rears her snaky crest.

Loveliness needs not the foreign aid of ornament, and when unadorned natural loveliness is the most lovely of all.

What is God? That what has neither a beginning nor an end!

A small spark is enough to burn down a whole forest.

Don’t come to a conclusion before listening to both sides.

The skillful man is superior to the strong man.

Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing.

A multitude of words is no proof of a prudent mind.

What is the most easy thing on earth? To give advice to other people!


Thales most famous quote is, Hope is the only good which is common to all men; those who have nothing more still possess hope. This was made even more famous when made into the myth of Pandora.

A picture of Pandora just opening a beautiful box.

Pandora opens the box. It is such a pretty box; everything escapes except Hope.

The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself. Pandora was told to never open the box, but she couldn’t resist her human curiosity, her need to know, and thus, in the myth, she let all of the evils escape into the world, except for Hope. She closed the lid just in time, and hope remained with man as the ultimate thing which brings him pain and yet soothes it too. We usually forget that we are primarily driven by hope, even though it varies with the attention of our moment.

Success colors all a man’s life; success makes fools admired, and makes villains appear honest. That simple observation, I have made myself many times, but never understood the implications. The real world application is clarified by relating it to the common saying, “Nothing breeds success like success.” I had been thinking the second saying was accurate because, success empowers the successful person to act more boldly with their adaptive behavior, but research has shown that successful authorities responses to problems, even within their field of expertise, is no better and usually worse, than informed non-authorities responses. The reason for the authorities continuing and increasing success is because of external factors; that cycles back to the first quote and its implications. It is because people give wholehearted support to successful people that there is a positive feedback effect given to them and success feeds back on itself because their crowd is helping them. The opposite is also true too; the person who fails, or doesn’t succeed very well is not supported by others and generally is undermined, and thus becomes even more prone to failure. Thus, it becomes critical to have the appearance of great success if one is to achieve great deeds.

DEBT is the precursor to ruin. An ancient form of debt was suretyship, with more emphasis on a person’s responsibility for other people’s actions, and more like the modern term cosigning. The problem lies in the fact that the payment of the debt is outside of the control of the cosigner until a penalty phase kicks in. Modern debt, especially credit cards, and now educational debt from which there is no escape by bankruptcy, becomes the fast track into individual slavery. But much worse, when a substantial portion of a democratic population is living in this condition of voluntary slavery their vote will swing elections. The whole society is no longer free but is controlled by the masters of the public debt. Nowadays with electronic surveillance and massive debt on all sides we are entering a new era of slavery.