These were the questions the presocratic philosophers sought to answer. We have only fragments of their thought, most of it gleamed from later philosophers who referred to their conclusions but sadly not to the reasoning leading to those conclusions. We know for example that the presocratics philosophers believed in a basic substance that everything came from and returned to. They sought to explain what this basic substance was and what force drove this transformation. In the post below I outline some of their answers to this question.
|Thales of Miletus|
He was wrong said Anaximenes, himself a friend or student of Anaximander, because the source of all things is clearly air. Water returns to air when heated and fire turns to smoke which becomes air and when air is 'pressed' the rains come which form earth and plants.
Absolute nonsense said Heraclitus. "We cannot step twice into the same river" because of constant change in nature. How can we ignore our own senses? Everything is clearly in constant flow guided by universal reason and everything is an interplay of opposites.
How can air, fire, water or water be transformed into bone and human life? asked Anaxagoras of Athens. Through love? No, rather nature is made up of tiny invisible seeds that must exist in all things and then grow to become what we see before us. A God like mind or intelligence is the force uniting these particles into animals.