The arche consists of an emerging philosophy of ancient Greece, which means the beginning of the whole universe or as the first component of all things.


What is the arche?

In philosophy, it is the concept that tries to account for what creates the universe. In his concept, the idea that the universe had an origin is contained. The universe is seen as the replication of an element first. This element is the one that is originally present in all material reality. Thought began among the philosophers of Ancient Greece.

  • Definition of arjé
  • Characteristics of the arjé
  • Source
  • Importance
  • Arjé of Anaximander
  • Arche of Aristotle
  • Arche of Pythagoras
  • Arche of Thales of Miletus
  • Arjé of Leucippus
  • Arjé de Zeno

Definition of arjé

The universe is a vast phenomenon. Like any phenomenon, this becomes a question for the philosopher. The philosopher’s job is, many times, to ask questions. These questions in themselves not only call into question the concepts that we have so far of something and about something, but they catalyze the development of thought. Asking is, in turn, stimulating to know.


The universe is, as already said, a source of questions for the thinker for a long time. Where do we come from? What created the universe? Does the universe have an end? If we understand the universe as a whole, as the whole in which we inhabit here and now and since then, how did it all begin?

It is to this question that the concept of the arche comes to help us. By Arjé, we understand that first element that started everything. It is the element that served as a model for the universe. The starting point from which things began to take shape. His concept was extremely popular with ancient philosophers; in Greece of that time it was not unusual for it to be debated. Next, we will get a little closer to it. We will elucidate its characteristics. We will identify its origin as a concept. We will see what its significance is and the role that each philosopher has given to the concept within their system of thoughts.

Characteristics of the arjé

  • It was first created in Ancient Greece, by the philosophers of the time.
  • Its meaning is related to the beginning of things. It cannot be understood without connecting it to the genesis of the universe.
  • Aristotle perceived it as a self-sufficient something. That is, unlike all the others, this something does not need another for its mere existence.
  • He was untouchable and his existence could not be proved. However, it was not for that reason less powerful, nor was its influence left noticeable in other demonstrable things.


Like many classical philosophical concepts , its etymology can be found in Greek. In essence, we can say that it comes from a word in this language that refers us to the meaning of origin, principle , primary reason or original reason . One could say that the concept was born from the contributions of Thales de Mileto , about whom we will delve a little more adequately later on.


It can be thought that this concept is one of the precursors that motivated the existing investigations on the origin of the universe. Currently, it can be said that many branches of physics are entirely dedicated to this concept, and studying it, it has also allowed the approach to other phenomena of the universe such as Black Holes. One can emphasize its importance starting precisely from its catalytic power. Catalyzes thought and interest in knowing.

Arjé of Anaximander

It could be said that Anaximander is a philosopher who distinguishes himself from his pre-Socratic contemporaries . Like contemporary sayings, Anaximander also thought about this philosophical concept However, he distinguished himself by the treatment he gave him. One might think that it was previously considered as a concept linked to the concrete, such as water or air. Anaximander linked it to something more abstract. According to this, the arche was something that was difficult to capture, an energy that united the universe and that was the beginning and end of all things.

Arche of Aristotle

The way in which Aristotle s  shapes this concept is extremely interesting. He does not treat it, like  Anaximander,  as something concrete. On the contrary, it is something linked to the abstract. Aristotle is very eloquent in saying that it would be something impossible to demonstrate and to touch, and yet that it is what gives shape to everything else. It would be that which does not depend on another to exist, which uses only itself to be.

Arche of Pythagoras

Pythagoras was somewhat different from the other pre-Socratics . Unlike his contemporaries, his school found the arche in the numerical and not in something else. The Pythagorean school gave numbers a quasi-divine treatment This implied that all the elements of nature were to be understood on the basis of mathematics and the ways in which they manifested themselves.

Arche of Thales of Miletus

It could be said that it is the most rudimentary among the philosophers who dealt with the concept. Thales of Miletus thought that water was the origin of everything. From the water things came, and to the water they would return. This position, usually thought as something archaic, nevertheless has its bases in the reality that science has revealed. A large part of living organisms, it is known, are of aqueous origin, and it is thanks to water that life exists on planet earth .

Arjé of Leucippus

Considered one of the main precursors of the physical and chemical sciences, he was one of the founders of concepts such as atoms . The atom is seen here as a very small invisible object, which when agglomerated with others, generate the great structures of the universe. According to Leucippus , the atom is the arche of the known universe.

Arjé de Zeno

One might think that Zeno is the exception to the norm among all the philosophers so far named. Zeno followed, in a way, the tradition of Parmenides, who did not perceive a single source in the universe. Parmenides, and by extension Zeno, thought the opposite: that the universe had no beginning and no end.

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