Philosophy in the Western world began in ancient Greece, most likely in Miletus on the Ionian seacoast of Asia Minor. Ionia was a crossroads of ideas where Eastern and Western influences merged. The first three “pre-Socratic” philosophers were Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes. They are often referred to as physicists because of their devotion to cosmology — that branch of physics that deals with the “cosmos,” or the nature of the orderly universe. In particular, these first philosophers wanted to know the nature of substance, or matter.