of Miletus c.585 B.C.E
Thales of Miletus was a statesman, engineer, astronomer,
mathematician and a philosopher. Such activity in varied
fields was not uncommon among academics in ancient Greece.
However, according to Plutarch, "Thales was the only wise
man of the time who carried his speculations beyond the realm
of the practical (Solon 3.4)." Because Thales did
not always seek answers to practical questions, he was seen by
some people as "wise
but not prudent." One tale by Plato describes Thales
falling into a well
because he was too busy examining the stars above.
seemingly imprudent observation of the stars did lead to
practical applications in navigation. Thales "measured
out the little stars of the Wain, by which the Phoenicians
sail (Callimachus Iambus I, 52 in Kirk, Raven and