Lives of the Eminent Philosophers: Thales
To the promotions committee:
This is my evaluation of Thales’ case for tenure. First a word about our connection. I have talked with him several times, but always in a professional capacity. I do not know him well. I believe, therefore, that I can be objective in my assessment.
To cut to the chase, Thales is widely regarded as the wisest man of his age, and the case for tenuring him is strong. Your department is lucky to have him. His most significant contribution is his argument that everything is ultimately made of water. It has made a big splash; in the most recent issue of Miletian Metaphysics well over half the articles are devoted to discussing it. Also worth mentioning is his treatment of that age-old conundrum: which is older, night or day? Thales has argued, and I quote, “Night is older, by one day.” Now I myself received tenure for arguing the opposite, in a treatise that so far has over 200 citations on Google Scholar. I have long thought that the “night is older” view was completely indefensible. Thales, to his credit, has convinced me that it needs to be taken seriously. His arguments are certainly the best I’ve seen, though I still think they suffer from serious flaws. (Note to administrators: philosophers always disagree, so this should not be taken as indicating doubts about his case.) His contributions are all the more impressive given that Thales came to philosophy late, after a career in politics.
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