EARLY ANCIENT GREEK PHILOSOPHERS

EARLY ANCIENT GREEK PHILOSOPHERS


Ionia (present-day Western Turkey), birthplace of Greek philosophy

Early philosophers of the Archaic Age such as Thales of Miletus (624-546? B.C.) and Herakleitos (540?-475 “) began investigating things like the nature of the universe, the origin of life and the nature of life. Among other things, Thales believed that all things developed from water not the gods. Herakleitos argued that change was the guiding force in the universe and permanence was impossible.

Parmenides (5th century B.C.) and Zeno of Elea (5th century B.C.) , sometimes considered the founding fathers of philosophy, were the first people to be recorded as questioning the nature of being. Parmenides had the opposite view as Herakleitos. He argued that permanence was the guiding force in the universe and change was impossible. Some scholars have suggested that Zeno of Elea was gay.

Categories with related articles in this website: Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy and Science (33articles) factsanddetails.com; Ancient Greek and Roman Religion and Myths (35 articles) factsanddetails.com; Ancient Greek History (48 articles) factsanddetails.com; Ancient Greek Art and Culture (21 articles) factsanddetails.com; Ancient Greek Life, Government and Infrastructure (29 articles) factsanddetails.com; Early Ancient Roman History (34 articles) factsanddetails.com; Later Ancient Roman History (33 articles) factsanddetails.com; Ancient Roman Life (39 articles) factsanddetails.com; Ancient Roman Art and Culture (33 articles) factsanddetails.com; Ancient Roman Government, Military, Infrastructure and Economics (42 articles) factsanddetails.com;

Websites on Ancient Greece and Rome: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy iep.utm.edu; Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy plato.stanford.edu; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Greece sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Hellenistic World sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; BBC Ancient Greeks bbc.co.uk/history/; Canadian Museum of History historymuseum.ca; Perseus Project - Tufts University; perseus.tufts.edu ; ; Gutenberg.org gutenberg.org; British Museum ancientgreece.co.uk; Illustrated Greek History, Dr. Janice Siegel, Department of Classics, Hampden–Sydney College, Virginia hsc.edu/drjclassics ; The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization pbs.org/empires/thegreeks ; Oxford Classical Art Research Center: The Beazley Archive beazley.ox.ac.uk ; Ancient-Greek.org ancientgreece.com; Metropolitan Museum of Art metmuseum.org/about-the-met/curatorial-departments/greek-and-roman-art; The Ancient City of Athens stoa.org/athens; The Internet Classics Archive kchanson.com ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Rome sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Late Antiquity sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Forum Romanum forumromanum.org ; “Outlines of Roman History” forumromanum.org; “The Private Life of the Romans” forumromanum.org|; BBC Ancient Rome bbc.co.uk/history; The Roman Empire in the 1st Century pbs.org/empires/romans; The Internet Classics Archive classics.mit.edu ; Bryn Mawr Classical Review bmcr.brynmawr.edu; De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors roman-emperors.org; Cambridge Classics External Gateway to Humanities Resources web.archive.org/web; Ancient Rome resources for students from the Courtenay Middle School Library web.archive.org ; History of ancient Rome OpenCourseWare from the University of Notre Dame /web.archive.org ; United Nations of Roma Victrix (UNRV) History unrv.com

Origin of Greek Philosophy in Asia Minor

Greek philosophy appears to have got it start in Miletus and Lydia — two places in Asia Minor in present-day western Turkey. “It was at Miletus that the earliest school of scientific cosmology had its home, and it is not, perhaps, without significance that Miletus is just the place where the continuity of Aegean and Ionian civilization is most clearly marked. The Milesians had come into conflict more than once with the Lydians, whose rulers were bent on extending their dominion to the coast; but, towards the end of the seventh century B.C., the tyrant Thrasybulus succeeded in making terms with King Alyattes, and an alliance was concluded which secured Miletus against molestation for the future. Even half a century later, when Croesus, resuming his father's forward policy, made war upon and conquered Ephesus, Miletus was able to maintain the old treaty-relation, and never, strictly speaking, became subject to the Lydians at all. [Source: John Burnet (1863-1928), “Early Greek Philosophy” London and Edinburgh: A. and C. Black, 1892, 3rd edition, 1920, Evansville University <|>]

The Lydian connection, moreover, favored the growth of science at Miletus. What was called at a later date Hellenism seems to have been traditional in the dynasty of the Mermnadae, and Herodotus says that all the "sophists" of the time flocked to the court of Sardis. The tradition which represents Croesus as the "patron" of Greek wisdom was fully developed in the fifth century; and, however unhistorical its details may be, it must clearly have some foundation in fact. Particularly noteworthy is "the common tale among the Greeks," that Thales accompanied Croesus on his luckless campaign against Pteria, apparently in the capacity of military engineer. Herodotus disbelieves the story that he diverted the course of the Halys, but only because he knew there were bridges there already. It is clear that the Ionians were great engineers, and that they were employed as such by the eastern kings. <|>

“It should be added that the Lydian alliance would facilitate intercourse with Babylon and Egypt. Lydia was an advanced post of Babylonian culture, and Croesus was on friendly terms with the kings of Egypt and Babylon. Amasis of Egypt had the same Hellenic sympathies as Croesus, and the Milesians possessed a temple of their own at Naucratis. <|>

Thales (624-546 B.C.): Philosophy Founder and Eclipse Predictor


Thales

“The founder of the Milesian school, and therefore the first man of science, was Thales (624-546 B.C.); but all we can really be said to know of him comes from Herodotus, and the Tale of the Seven Wise Men was already in existence when he wrote. He says that Thales was of Phoenician descent, a statement which other writers explained by saying he belonged to a noble house descended from Cadmus and Agenor. Herodotus probably mentions the supposed descent of Thales simply because he was believed to have introduced certain improvements in navigation from Phoenicia. At any rate, his father's name, Examyes, lends no support to the view that he was a Semite. It is Carian, and the Carians had been almost completely assimilated by the Ionians. On the monuments we find Greek and Carian names alternating in the same families, while the name Thales is otherwise known as Cretan. There is therefore no reason to doubt that Thales was of pure Milesian descent, though he probably had Carian blood in his veins. [Source: John Burnet (1863-1928), “Early Greek Philosophy” London and Edinburgh: A. and C. Black, 1892, 3rd edition, 1920, Evansville University <|>]

“The most remarkable statement Herodotus makes about Thales is that he foretold the eclipse of the sun which put an end to the war between the Lydians and the Medes. Now, he was quite ignorant of the cause of eclipses. Anaximander and his successors certainly were so, and it is incredible that the explanation should have been given and forgotten so soon. Even supposing Thales had known the cause of eclipses, such scraps of elementary geometry as he picked up in Egypt would never have enabled him to calculate one. Yet the evidence for the prediction is too strong to be rejected off-hand. The testimony of Herodotus is said to have been confirmed by Xenophanes, and according to Theophrastus Xenophanes was a disciple of Anaximander. In any case, he must have known scores of people who were able to remember what happened. The prediction of the eclipse is therefore better attested than any other fact about Thales whatsoever. <|>

“Now it is possible to predict eclipses of the moon approximately without knowing their true cause, and there is no doubt that the Babylonians actually did so. It is generally stated, further, that they had made out a cycle of 223 lunar months, within which eclipses of the sun and moon recurred at equal intervals of time. This, however, would not have enabled them to predict eclipses of the sun for a given spot on the earth's surface; for these phenomena are not visible at all places where the sun is above the horizon at the time. We do not occupy a position at the center of the earth, and the geocentric parallax has to be taken into account. It would only, therefore, be possible to tell by means of the cycle that an eclipse of the sun would be visible somewhere, and that it might be worth while to look out for it, though an observer at a given place might be disappointed five times out of six. Now, if we may judge from reports by Chaldaean astronomers which have been preserved, this was just the position of the Babylonians in the eighth century B.C. They watched for eclipses at the proper dates; and, if they did not occur, they announced the fact as a good omen. To explain what we are told about Thales no more is required. He said there would be an eclipse by a certain date; and luckily it was visible in Asia Minor, and on a striking occasion. <|>


Thales eclipse on May 28, 585 BC

“The prediction of the eclipse does not, then, throw any light on the scientific attainments of Thales; but, if we can fix its date, it will give us an indication of the time at which he lived. Astronomers have calculated that there was an eclipse of the sun, probably visible in Asia Minor, on May 28 (O.S.), 585 B.C., while Pliny gives the date of the eclipse foretold by Thales as O1. XLVIII. 4 (585/4 B.C.). This does not exactly tally; for May 585 belongs to the year 586/5 B.C. It is near enough, however, to justify us in identifying the eclipse as that of Thales, and this is confirmed by Apollodorus, who fixed his floruit in the same year. The further statement in Diogenes that, according to Demetrius Phalereus, Thales "received the name of wise" in the archonship of Damasias at Athens, really refers to the Tale of the Seven Wise Men, as is shown by the words which follow, and is doubtless based on the story of the Delphic tripod; for the archonship of Damasias is the era of the restoration of the Pythian Games. <|>

“The introduction of Egyptian geometry into Hellas is ascribed to Thales, and it is probable that he did visit Egypt; for he had a theory of the inundations of the Nile. Herodotus gives three explanations of the fact that this alone of all rivers rises in summer and falls in winter; but, as his custom is, he does not name their authors. The first, however, which attributes the rise of the Nile to the Etesian winds, is ascribed to Thales in the Placita, and by many later writers. Now, this comes from a treatise on the Rise of the Nile attributed to Aristotle and known to the Greek commentators, but extant only in a Latin epitome of the thirteenth century. In this the first of the theories mentioned by Herodotus is ascribed to Thales, the second to Euthymenes of Massalia, and the third to Anaxagoras. Where did Aristotle, or whoever wrote the book, get these names? We think naturally of Hecataeus; and this conjecture is strengthened when we find that Hecataeus mentioned Euthymenes. We may conclude that Thales really was in Egypt; and, perhaps, that Hecataeus, in describing the Nile, took account, as was natural, of his fellow-citizen's views. <|>

Thales Cosmology and Uncertainty About His Philosophy

“So far as we know, Thales wrote nothing, and no writer earlier than Aristotle knows anything of him as a scientific man and a philosopher; in the older tradition he is simply an engineer and an inventor. It is obvious, however, that the requirements of Milesian enterprise and commerce would necessarily turn his attention to problems which we should call astronomical. He was said, we saw, to have introduced the practice of steering a ship's course by Ursa minor; and there is a remarkable persistence in the tradition that he tried to do something for the calendar, though the details are not sufficiently well attested to find a place here. No doubt he constructed a parapêgma like those of much later date which have been discovered at Miletus. The parapêgma was the oldest form of almanac, and gave, for a series of years, the equinoxes and solstices, the phases of the moon, the heliacal risings and settings of certain stars, and also weather predictions. Even Aristotle does not pretend to know how Thales arrived at the views he ascribes to him or by what arguments they were supported. This very reserve, however, makes it hard to doubt that he was correctly informed with regard to the few points about them he mentions, so we may venture on a conjectural restoration of his cosmology. This, of course, must be taken for just what it is worth. <|>


Thales as the absent-minded astronomer that fell into a well

“The statements of Aristotle may be reduced to three: 1) The earth floats on the water. 2) Water is the material cause of all things. 3) All things are full of gods. The magnet is alive; for it has the power of moving iron. The first of these statements must be understood in the light of the second, which is expressed in Aristotelian terminology, but would undoubtedly mean that Thales had said water was the stuff of which all other things were transient forms. We have seen that this was the great question of the day. [Source: John Burnet (1863-1928), “Early Greek Philosophy” London and Edinburgh: A. and C. Black, 1892, 3rd edition, 1920, Evansville University <|>]

“Now it is not hard to see how meteorological considerations may have led Thales to adopt the view he did. Of all the things we know, water seems to take the most various shapes. It is familiar to us in a solid, a liquid, and a vaporous form, and so Thales may well have thought he saw the world-process from water and back to water again going on before his eyes. The phenomenon of evaporation naturally suggests that the fire of the heavenly bodies is kept up by the moisture they draw from the sea. Even at the present day people speak of "the sun drawing water." Water comes down again in rain; and lastly, so the early cosmologists thought, it turns to earth. This may have seemed natural enough to men familiar with the river of Egypt which had formed the Delta, and the torrents of Asia Minor which bring down large alluvial deposits. At the present day the Gulf of Latmos, on which Miletus used to stand, is filled up. Lastly, they thought, earth turns once more to water -- an idea derived from the observation of dew, night-mists, and subterranean springs. For these last were not in early times supposed to have anything to do with the rain. The "waters under the earth" were regarded as an independent source of moisture. <|>

“The third of the statements mentioned above is supposed by Aristotle to imply that Thales believed in a "soul of the world," though he is careful to mark this as no more than an inference. The doctrine of the world-soul is then attributed quite positively to Thales by Aetius, who gives it in the Stoic phraseology which he found in his immediate source, and identifies the world-intellect with God. Cicero found a similar statement in the Epicurean manual which he followed, but he goes a step further. Eliminating the Stoic pantheism, he turns the world-intellect into a Platonic demiourgos, and says that Thales held there was a divine mind which formed all things out of water. All this is derived from Aristotle's cautious statement, and can have no greater authority than its source. We need not enter, then, on the old controversy whether Thales was an atheist or not. If we may judge from his successors, he may very possibly have called water a "god"; but that would not imply any definite religious belief . <|>

“Nor must we make too much of the saying that "all things are full of gods." It is not safe to regard an apophthegm as evidence, and the chances are that it belongs to Thales as one of the Seven Wise Men, rather than as founder of the Milesian school. Further, such sayings are, as a rule, anonymous to begin with, and are attributed now to one sage and now to another. On the other hand, it is probable that Thales did say the magnet and amber had souls. That is no apophthegm, but more on the level of the statement that the earth floats on the water. It is just the sort of thing we should expect Hecataeus to record about Thales. It would be wrong, however, to draw any inference from it as to his view of the world; for to say the magnet and amber are alive is to imply, if anything, that other things are not. <|>

Anaximander (C. 610—546 B.C): Beginning of Written Greek Philosophy


Anaximander mosaic

The history of written Greek philosophy begins with Anaximander (c. 610-546 B.C.). Theophrastus described him as an "associate" of Thales. Both were citizens of Miletus in Asia Minor. According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Anaximander was the author of the first surviving lines of Western philosophy. He speculated and argued about "the Boundless" as the origin of all that is. He also worked on the fields of what we now call geography and biology. Moreover, Anaximander was the first speculative astronomer. He originated the world-picture of the open universe, which replaced the closed universe of the celestial vault. [Source: Dirk L. Couprie, The Netherlands, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP) <^>]

“His work will always remain truncated, like the mutilated and decapitated statue that has been found at the market-place of Miletus and that bears his name. Nevertheless, by what we know of him, we may say that he was one of the greatest minds that ever lived. By speculating and arguing about the "Boundless" he was the first metaphysician. By drawing a map of the world he was the first geographer. But above all, by boldly speculating about the universe he broke with the ancient image of the celestial vault and became the discoverer of the Western world-picture.” <^>

Anaximander' “was the first who dared to write a treatise in prose, which has been called traditionally On Nature. This book has been lost, although it probably was available in the library of the Lyceum at the times of Aristotle and his successor Theophrastus. It is said that Apollodorus, in th B.C., stumbled upon a copy of it, perhaps in the famous library of Alexandria. Recently, evidence has appeared that it was part of the collection of the library of Taormina in Sicily, where a fragment of a catalogue has been found, on which Anaximander's name can be read. Only one fragment of the book has come down to us, quoted by Simplicius (after Theophrastus), in the sixth century AD. It is perhaps the most famous and most discussed phrase in the history of philosophy. <^>

“We also know very little of Anaximander's life. He is said to have led a mission that founded a colony called Apollonia on the coast of the Black Sea. He also probably introduced the gnomon (a perpendicular sun-dial) into Greece and erected one in Sparta. So he seems to have been a much-traveled man, which is not astonishing, as the Milesians were known to be audacious sailors. It is also reported that he displayed solemn manners and wore pompous garments. Most of the information on Anaximander comes from Aristotle and his pupil Theophrastus, whose book on the history of philosophy was used, excerpted, and quoted by many other authors, the so-called doxographers, before it was lost. Sometimes, in these texts words or expressions appear that can with some certainty be ascribed to Anaximander himself. Relatively many testimonies, approximately one third of them, have to do with astronomical and cosmological questions.” <^>

Anaximander’s Boundless Philosophy


Ananximander in Raphael's School of Athens

According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “According to Aristotle and Theophrastus, the first Greek philosophers were looking for the "origin" or "principle" (the Greek word "archê" has both meanings) of all things. Anaximander is said to have identified it with "the Boundless" or "the Unlimited" (Greek: "apeiron," that is, "that which has no boundaries"). Already in ancient times, it is complained that Anaximander did not explain what he meant by "the Boundless." More recently, authors have disputed whether the Boundless should be interpreted as spatially or temporarily without limits, or perhaps as that which has no qualifications, or as that which is inexhaustible. Some scholars have even defended the meaning "that which is not experienced," by relating the Greek word "apeiron" not to "peras" ("boundary," "limit"), but to "perao" ("to experience," "to apperceive"). The suggestion, however, is almost irresistible that Greek philosophy, by making the Boundless into the principle of all things, has started on a high level of abstraction. On the other hand, some have pointed out that this use of "apeiron" is atypical for Greek thought, which was occupied with limit, symmetry and harmony. The Pythagoreans placed the boundless (the "apeiron") on the list of negative things, and for Aristotle, too, perfection became aligned with limit (Greek: "peras"), and thus "apeiron" with imperfection. Therefore, some authors suspect eastern (Iranian) influence on Anaximander's ideas.[Source: Dirk L. Couprie, The Netherlands, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP) <^>]

“It seems that Anaximander not only put forward the thesis that the Boundless is the principle, but also tried to argue for it. We might say that he was the first who made use of philosophical arguments. Anaximander's arguments have come down to us in the disguise of Aristotelian jargon. Therefore, any reconstruction of the arguments used by the Milesian must remain conjectural. Verbatim reconstruction is of course impossible. Nevertheless, the data, provided they are handled with care, allow us to catch glimpses of what the arguments of Anaximander must have looked like. The important thing is, however, that he did not just utter apodictic statements, but also tried to give arguments. This is what makes him the first philosopher. <^>

“Aristotle reports a curious argument, which probably goes back to Anaximander, in which it is argued that the Boundless has no origin, because it is itself the origin. We would say that it looks more like a string of associations and word-plays than like a formal argument. It runs as follows: "Everything has an origin or is an origin. The Boundless has no origin. For then it would have a limit. Moreover, it is both unborn and immortal, being a kind of origin. For that which has become has also, necessarily, an end, and there is a termination to every process of destruction" (Physics 203b6-10, DK 12A15). The Greeks were familiar with the idea of the immortal Homeric gods. Anaximander added two distinctive features to the concept of divinity: his Boundless is an impersonal something (or "nature," the Greek word is "phusis"), and it is not only immortal but also unborn. However, perhaps not Anaximander, but Thales should be credited with this new idea. Diogenes Laërtius ascribes to Thales the aphorism: "What is the divine? That which has no origin and no end"” <^>

“The only existing fragment of Anaximander's book (DK 12B1) is surrounded by all kinds of questions. The ancient Greeks did not use quotation marks, so that we cannot be sure where Simplicius, who has handed down the text to us, is still paraphrasing Anaximander and where he begins to quote him. The text is cast in indirect speech, even the part which most authors agree is a real quotation. One important word of the text ("allêlois," here translated by "upon one another") is missing in some manuscripts. As regards the interpretation of the fragment, it is heavily disputed whether it means to refer to Anaximander's principle, the Boundless, or not. The Greek original has relative pronouns in the plural (here rendered by "whence" and "thence"), which makes it difficult to relate them to the Boundless. However, Simplicius' impression that it is written in rather poetic words has been repeated in several ways by many authors.

Therefore, we offer a translation, in which some poetic features of the original, such as chiasmus and alliteration have been imitated:
“Whence things have their origin,
Thence also their destruction happens,
As is the order of things;
For they execute the sentence upon one another
- The condemnation for the crime -
In conformity with the ordinance of Time.

Anaximander's Cosmology and Theory of the Primary Substance


Anaximander's universe


Daniel W. Graham of Brigham Young University wrote: “According to Anaximenes, earth was formed from air by a felting process. It began as a flat disk. From evaporations from the earth, fiery bodies arose which came to be the heavenly bodies. The earth floats on a cushion of air. The heavenly bodies, or at least the sun and the moon, seem also to be flat bodies that float on streams of air. On one account, the heavens are like a felt cap that turns around the head. The stars may be fixed to this surface like nails. In another account, the stars are like fiery leaves floating on air (DK13A14). The sun does not travel under the earth but circles around it, and is hidden by the higher parts of the earth at night. [Source:Daniel W. Graham, Brigham Young University, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP) <^>]

“Nearly all we know of Anaximander's system is derived in the last resort from Theophrastus, who certainly knew his book. He seems once at least to have quoted Anaximander's own words, and he criticized his style. Here are the remains of what he said of him in the First Book: “Anaximander of Miletus, son of Praxiades, a fellow-citizen and associate of Thales, said that the material cause and first element of things was the Infinite, he being the first to introduce this name of the material cause. He says it is neither water nor any other of the so-called elements, but a substance different from them which is infinite, from which arise all the heavens and the worlds within them. -- Phys. Op. fr. 2 (Dox. p. 476; R. P. 16). [Source: John Burnet (1863-1928), “Early Greek Philosophy” London and Edinburgh: A. and C. Black, 1892, 3rd edition, 1920, Evansville University <|>]

“He says that this is "eternal and ageless," and that it "encompasses all the worlds." “And into that from which things take their rise they pass away once more, "as is meet; for they make reparation and satisfaction to one another for their injustice according to the ordering of time," as he says in these somewhat poetical terms. And besides this, there was an eternal motion, in which was brought about the origin of the worlds. “He did not ascribe the origin of things to any alteration in matter, but said that the oppositions in the substratum, which was a boundless body, were separated out” [Hipp. Ref. i. 6 (R. P. I7 a), Phys. Op. fr. 2 (R. P. 16), Hipp. Ref. i. 6 (R. P. I7 a), Simpl. Phys. p. 150, 20 (R. P. 18)]

“Anaximander taught, then, that there was an eternal, indestructible something out of which everything arises, and into which everything returns; a boundless stock from which the waste of existence is continually made good. That is only the natural development of the thought we have ascribed to Thales, and there can be no doubt that Anaximander at least formulated it distinctly. Indeed, we can still follow to some extent the reasoning which led him to do so. Thales had regarded water as the most likely thing to be that of which all others are forms; Anaximander appears to have asked how the primary substance could be one of these particular things. [Source: John Burnet (1863-1928), “Early Greek Philosophy” London and Edinburgh: A. and C. Black, 1892, 3rd edition, 1920, Evansville University <|>]

“His argument seems to be preserved by Aristotle, who has the following passage in his discussion of the Infinite: “Further, there cannot be a single, simple body which is infinite, either, as some hold, one distinct from the elements, which they then derive from it, or without this qualification. For there are some who make this (i.e. a body distinct from the elements) the infinite, and not air or water, in order that the other things may not be destroyed by their infinity. They are in opposition one to another -- air is cold, water moist, and fire hot -- and therefore, if any one of them were infinite, the rest would have ceased to be by this time. Accordingly they say that what is infinite is something other than the elements, and from it the elements arise. -- Arist. Phys. G, 5. 204 b 22 (R. P. 16 b). <|>

Anaximenes (d. 528 B.C.E.) and the Doctrine of Air

Anaximenes, who lived in the mid 6th century B.C. and died about 528 B.C., was the third philosopher of the Milesian School of philosophy as he, Thales and Anaximander all hailed from Miletus. Theophrastus noted that Anaximenes was an associate, and possibly a student, of Anaximander's. Anaximenes is best known for his doctrine that air is the source of all things. On this score, he differed from Thales, who believed that water was the source of all things, and Anaximander, who held that all things came from an unspecified boundless stuff. [Source: Daniel W. Graham, Brigham Young University, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP) <^>]

Daniel W. Graham of Brigham Young University wrote in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “Anaximenes seems to have held that at one time everything was air. Air can be thought of as a kind of neutral stuff that is found everywhere, and is available to participate in physical processes. Natural forces constantly act on the air and transform it into other materials, which came together to form the organized world. In early Greek literature, air is associated with the soul (the breath of life) and Anaximenes may have thought of air as capable of directing its own development, as the soul controls the body (DK13B2 in the Diels-Kranz collection of Presocratic sources). Accordingly, he ascribed to air divine attributes.


Anaximander's cylindrical earth

“Given his doctrine that all things are composed of air, Anaximenes suggested an interesting qualitative account of natural change: Air ‘differs in essence in accordance with its rarity or density. When it is thinned it becomes fire, while when it is condensed it becomes wind, then cloud, when still more condensed it becomes water, then earth, then stones. Everything else comes from these. (DK13A5) <^>

“Using two contrary processes of rarefaction and condensation, Anaximenes explains how air is part of a series of changes. Fire turns to air, air to wind, wind to cloud, cloud to water, water to earth and earth to stone. Matter can travel this path by being condensed, or the reverse path from stones to fire by being successively more rarefied. Anaximenes provides a crude kind of empirical support by appealing to a simple experiment: if one blows on one's hand with the mouth relaxed, the air is hot; if one blows with pursed lips, the air is cold (DK13B1). Hence, according to Anaximenes we see that rarity is correlated with heat (as in fire), and density with coldness, (as in the denser stuffs). <^>

“Anaximenes was the first recorded thinker who provided a theory of change and supported it with observation. Anaximander had described a sequence of changes that a portion of the boundless underwent to form the different stuffs of the world, but he gave no scientific reason for changes, nor did he describe any mechanism by which they might come about. By contrast, Anaximenes uses a process familiar from everyday experience to account for material change. He also seems to have referred to the process of felting, by which wool is compressed to make felt. This industrial process provides a model of how one stuff can take on new properties when it is compacted.

“Anaximenes, like Anaximander, gives an account of how our world came to be out of previously existing matter.According to Anaximenes, earth was formed from air by a felting process. It began as a flat disk. From evaporations from the earth, fiery bodies arose which came to be the heavenly bodies. The earth floats on a cushion of air. The heavenly bodies, or at least the sun and the moon, seem also to be flat bodies that float on streams of air. On one account, the heavens are like a felt cap that turns around the head. The stars may be fixed to this surface like nails. In another account, the stars are like fiery leaves floating on air (DK13A14). The sun does not travel under the earth but circles around it, and is hidden by the higher parts of the earth at night. <^>

“Like Anaximander, Anaximenes uses his principles to account for various natural phenomena. Lightning and thunder result from wind breaking out of clouds; rainbows are the result of the rays of the sun falling on clouds; earthquakes are caused by the cracking of the earth when it dries out after being moistened by rains. He gives an essentially correct account of hail as frozen rainwater.” <^>

Heraclitus of Ephesus


crying Heraclitus

Dr. Anthony F. Beavers of the Evansville wrote: “Heraclitus of Ephesus (fl. 500-480 B.C.), also known as "the Riddler" and "the Obscure," was the eldest son of a leading aristocratic family. He was a loner with a general distaste for mobs. Consequently, he had no pupils, though a small book that he wrote had a rich tradition of its own and attracted many followers; the Stoics recognized it as the source of their doctrines. All that survives of this book is a series of quotations that scholars have been able to extract from other sources -- see the Fragments of Heraclitus -- and that reveal an enigmatic and oracular style, perhaps adopted by Heraclitus to protect its true contents from commoners. Owing to its obscurity, the book engendered many anecdotes about its author, most of them intending to malign him, and so it is difficult to know much about his life and character that is reliable. It is equally difficult to discern the details of his true thought. [Source: Anthony F. Beavers, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, University of Evansville]

According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “Heraclitus lived in Ephesus, an important city on the Ionian coast of Asia Minor, not far from Miletus, the birthplace of philosophy. We know nothing about his life other than what can be gleaned from his own statements, for all ancient biographies of him consist of nothing more than inferences or imaginary constructions based on his sayings. Although Plato thought he wrote after Parmenides, it is more likely he wrote before Parmenides. For he criticizes by name important thinkers and writers with whom he disagrees, and he does not mention Parmenides. On the other hand, Parmenides in his poem arguably echoes the words of Heraclitus. Heraclitus criticizes the mythographers Homer and Hesiod, as well as the philosophers Pythagoras and Xenophanes and the historian Hecataeus. All of these figures flourished in B.C. or earlier, suggesting a date for Heraclitus in the late 6th century. Although he does not speak in detail of his political views in the extant fragments, Heraclitus seems to reflect an aristocratic disdain for the masses and favor the rule of a few wise men, for instance when he recommends that his fellow-citizens hang themselves because they have banished their most prominent leader. [Source: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP) <^>]

Dr. Beavers wrote: “Scholars do not know much about Heraclitus' political views; he seems to have been profoundly anti-democratic, yet he was unwilling to engage in politics. In one anecdote, his refusual to accept the rule of Ephesus, leaving it to his younger brother, is used as proof of his arrogance. (See Diogenes Laetius IX, 6.) Charles Kahn aptly summarizes what we do know about Heraclitus' politics: ‘Heraclitus, who discovered in what is shared or common to all (to xynon) the essential principle of order in the universe, recognized within the city the unifying role of the nomos, the structure of civic law and moral custom which protects the demos as the city wall protects all the inhabitants of the city [Fragment 100]. The only political attitude which we can safely extrapolate from the fragments is a lucid, almost Hobbesian appreciation of the fact that civilized life and communal survival depend upon loyalty to the nomos, the law in which all citizens have a share [Fragment 91b], but which may be realized in the leadership of a single outstanding man.’ These themes appear thoughout Plato's Republic, though it is difficult to determine the extent to which they are adopted from Heraclitus.

Heraclitus’s Philosophy

According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “Heraclitus criticizes his predecessors and contemporaries for their failure to see the unity in experience. He claims to announce an everlasting Word (Logos) according to which all things are one, in some sense. Opposites are necessary for life, but they are unified in a system of balanced exchanges. The world itself consists of a law-like interchange of elements, symbolized by fire. Thus the world is not to be identified with any particular substance, but rather with an ongoing process governed by a law of change. The underlying law of nature also manifests itself as a moral law for human beings. Heraclitus is the first Western philosopher to go beyond physical theory in search of metaphysical foundations and moral applications. [Source: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP)]

Dr. Anthony F. Beavers of the Evansville wrote: “Aristotle tells us about three of Heraclitus' ideas; the first is that, like earlier Milesian philosophers, he located the first principle of all things in a natural element, in this case, fire. (See Metaphysics 984a and 1067a.) Secondly, Heraclitus affirmed the notion that the same thing may both be and not be, thereby violating the law of non-contradiction. Aristotle writes, "The doctrine of Heraclitus, which says that everything is and is not, seems to make all things true" (1012a) and "Perhaps even Heraclitus himself ... would have been compelled to admit that opposite statements can never be true of the same subjects; as it is, he adopted this theory through ignorance of what his doctrine implied" (1062a). In these passages, Aristotle is referring to Heraclitus' doctrine of the identity of opposites, which gets a more charitable reading from Guthrie, who recognizes three distinct ways that Heraclitus identifies opposites. The first is "reciprocal succession and change, as of qualities or things which are at opposite ends of the same continuum like day and night, summer and winter, hunger and satiety" (445).

Fragment 39 seems to be meant in this sense: "Cold things become warm, and what is warm cools; what is wet dries, and the parched is moisted." Furthermore, Fragment 69, "The way up and the way down is one and the same," calls attention to the continuum (the way) that unifies the opposite poles of up and down. Secondly, Guthrie indicates some opposites that are relative "to the experiencing subject" (445) as in Fragment 52: "The sea is the purest and the impurest water. Fish can drink it, and it is good for them; to men it is undrinkable and destructive." Thirdly, "In the sphere of values, opposites are only appreciated in relation to their opposites" as in Fragment 104: "It is not good for men to get all they wish to get. It is sickness that makes health pleasant; evil, good; hunger, plenty; weariness, rest." [Source: Anthony F. Beavers, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, University of Evansville]


Heraclitu's cosmology in Germany


“Plato makes positive use of the first of these modes of identifying opposites in the "Cycle of Opposites" argument for the immortality of the soul. Heraclitus writes, "And it is the same thing in us that is quick [that is, alive] and dead, awake and asleep, young and old; the former are shifted and become the latter, and the latter in turn are shifted and become the former" (Fragment 78). Plato identifies this "same thing" as the soul, preserving Heraclitus' analogy between the two opponent pairs being awake and being asleep, and being alive and being dead.

“The third idea that Aristotle attributes to Heraclitus is a doctrine of radical flux that renders it impossible to have knowledge of the sensible world and that caused others (namely, Plato and his friends) to develop a "theory of forms" to justify the possibility of knowledge in an otherwise Heraclitian world:

“The theory of Forms occurred to those who enunciated it because they were convinced as to the true nature of reality by the doctrine of Heraclitus, that all sensible things are always in a state of flux; so that if there is to be any knowledge or thought about anything, there must be certain other entities, besides sensible ones, which persist. For there can be no knowledge of that which is in flux. (1078b)

“According to the traditional view, Plato was aware of this doctrine of flux, but because he tended to oppose the views of Heraclitus to those of Parmenides, he confused the flux doctrine of Heraclitus with the more radical doctrine of Cratylus. Though in the passage above, Aristotle makes this mistake -- elsewhere he manages to avoid it -- Plato, quite plausibly, recognized that while Heraclitus affirmed the ever-changing nature of the cosmos, he also believed in the identity of processes. A river is a process, indeed the same process, though the river is different now than it was a moment ago. At least Plato wrote a similar view into Socrates' speech on love in the Symposium: ‘[E]ven in the life of the same individual there is succession and not absolute unity: a man is called the same, and yet in the short interval which elapses between youth and age, and in which every animal is said to have life and identity, he is under going a perpetual process of loss and reparation -- hair, flesh, bones, blood, and the whole body are always changing. Which is true not only of the body, but also of the soul, whose habits, tempers, opinions, desires, pleasures, pains, fears, never remain the same in any one of us." (207d-207e)

“Unlike his follower, Cratylus, Heraclitus recognized some stablity in an ever-changing cosmos that permitted him to say that "It is wise to hearken, not to me, but to my Word [Logos], and to confess that all things are one" (Fragment 1); this is a rather explicit claim of identity.

Empedocles


Empedocles

“Empedocles (c. 492—432 B.C.E.), of Acagras in Sicily, was one of the most important pre-Socratic philosopherses and a poet of outstanding ability that influence poets that followed him, particularly Lucretius. His works “On Nature” and “Purifications” (maybe one, maybe two poems) exist in more than 150 fragments. “He has been regarded variously as a materialist physicist, a shamanic magician, a mystical theologian, a healer, a democratic politician, a living god, and a fraud.” [Source: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP) <^>]

According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “To him is attributed the invention of the four-element theory of matter (earth, air, fire, and water), one of the earliest theories of particle physics, put forward seemingly to rescue the phenomenal world from the static monism of Parmenides. Empedocles’ world-view is of a cosmic cycle of eternal change, growth and decay, in which two personified cosmic forces, Love and Strife, engage in an eternal battle for supremacy. In psychology and ethics Empedocles was a follower of Pythagoras, hence a believer in the transmigration of souls, and hence also a vegetarian. He claims to be a daimôn, a divine or potentially divine being, who, having been banished from the immortals gods for ‘three times countless years’ for committing the sin of meat-eating and forced to suffer successive reincarnations in an purificatory journey through the different orders of nature and elements of the cosmos, has now achieved the most perfect of human states and will be reborn as an immortal. He also claims seemingly magical powers including the ability to revive the dead and to control the winds and rains. <^>

“The most detailed source for Empedocles' life is Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers 8.51-75. Perhaps because of his claims to divine status and magical powers a remarkable number of apocryphal stories gathered around the life of Empedocles in antiquity. His death in particular attracted attention and is reported to have occurred in several, clearly bathetic, ways: that he fell overboard from a ship and drowned; that he fell from his carriage, broke his leg and died; that he hanged himself; or the most famous account that, when he felt he was shortly to die and because he wished to appear to have been apotheosized, he leapt into the crater of Etna. In this story the ruse was unfortunately discovered when one of his trademark bronze sandals was thrown up by the volcano.” <^>

Empedocles’ Life


Empedocles

“Empedocles was a citizen of Acragas in Sicily. He was the only native citizen of a Dorian state who plays an important part in the history of philosophy. His father's name, according to the best accounts, was Meton. His grandfather, also called Empedocles, had won a victory in the horse-race at Olympia in 496-95 B.C., and Apollodorus fixed the floruit of Empedocles himself in 444-43 B.C.. [Source: John Burnet (1863-1928), “Early Greek Philosophy” London and Edinburgh: A. and C. Black, 1892, 3rd edition, 1920, Evansville University <|>]

According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “It is not known where or with whom he studied philosophy, but various teachers are assigned to him by ancient sources, among them Parmenides, Pythagoras, Xenophanes, Anaxagoras and Anaximander (from whom he is said to have inherited his extravagant mode of dress). Whether or not he was his pupil, Empedocles was certainly very familiar with the work of Parmenides from whom he took the inspiration to write in hexameter verse, and whose physical system he adopts in part, and partly seeks to rectify. [Source: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP) <^>]

“He is reported to have been wealthy and to have kept a train of boy attendants and also to have provided dowries for many girls of Acragas. In dress he affected a purple robe with a golden girdle, bronze sandals, and a Delphic laurel-wreath, and in his manner he was grave and cultivated a regal public persona. These attributes contrast with his political outlook which is uniformly reported to have been actively pro-democratic.” <^>

Empedocles’ Life as a Politician and Religious Leader

“Empedocles certainly played an important part in the political events which followed the death of Theron. The Sicilian historian Timaeus seems to have treated these fully, and tells some stories which are obviously genuine traditions picked up about a hundred and fifty years afterwards. Like all popular traditions, however, they are a little confused. The picturesque incidents are remembered, but the essential parts of the story are dropped. Still, we may be thankful that the "collector of old wives' tales," as his critics called him, has enabled us to measure the historical importance of Empedocles for ourselves by showing us how he was pictured by the great-grandchildren of his contemporaries. All the tales are intended to show the strength of his democratic convictions, and we are told, in particular, that he broke up the assembly of the Thousand -- perhaps some oligarchical association or club. It may have been for this that he was offered the kingship, which Aristotle tells us he refused. At any rate, we see that Empedocles was the great democratic leader at Acragas in those days, though we have no clear knowledge of what he did. [Source: John Burnet (1863-1928), “Early Greek Philosophy” London and Edinburgh: A. and C. Black, 1892, 3rd edition, 1920, Evansville University <|>]

According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “As well as a being a philosopher, poet and politician, Empedocles was famous for his medical skills and healing powers. In his works he presents himself as a wandering healer offering to thousands of eager followers 'prophecies' and ‘words of healing for all kinds of illnesses' (fr. 112 (Fragment numbers are those of Diels-Kranz)). He also promises his addressee Pausanias 'you will learn remedies (pharmaka) for ills and help against old age' and even ‘you will lead from Hades the life-force of a dead man'. To what degree this represents the real Empedocles is not known, but a tradition grew up of him as both a renowned physician and a practitioner of more magical cures, or as a charlatan. [Source: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP) <^>]

“But there is another side to his public character which Timaeus found it hard to reconcile with his political views. He claimed to be a god, and to receive the homage of his fellow-citizens in that capacity. The truth is, Empedocles was not a mere statesman; he had a good deal of the "medicine-man" about him. According to Satyrus, Gorgias affirmed that he had been present when his master was performing sorceries. We can see what this means from the fragments of the Purifications. Empedocles was a preacher of the new religion which sought to secure release from the "wheel of birth" by purity and abstinence. Orphicism seems to have been strong at Acragas in the days of Theron, and there are even some verbal coincidences between the poems of Empedocles and the Orphicising Odes which Pindar addressed to that prince. On the other hand, there is no reason to doubt the statement of Ammonius that fr. 134 refers to Apollo; and, if that is so, it points to his having been an adherent of the Ionic form of the mystic doctrine, as we have seen (§ 39) Pythagoras was. Further, Timaeus already knew the story that Empedocles had been expelled from the Pythagorean Order for "stealing discourses," and it is probable on the whole that fr. 129 refers to Pythagoras. It seems most likely, then, that Empedocles preached a form of Pythagoreanism which was not considered orthodox by the heads of the Society. The actual marvels related of him seem to be mere developments of hints in his poems. <|>


Empedocles cosmic cycle concept map


Empedocles Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Transmigration

According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “The foundations of Empedocles' physics lie in the assumption that there are four 'elements’ of matter, or ‘roots’ as he calls them, using a botanical metaphor that stresses their creative potential: earth, air, fire and water. These are able to create all things, including all living creatures, by being 'mixed' in different combinations and proportions. Each of the elements however, retains its own characteristics in the mixture, and each is eternal and unchanging. The positing of these four roots of matter forms part of a tradition of opposite material creative principles in Presocratic philosophy, but it also has its origins in an attempt to counter the theories of Parmenides who had argued that the world is single and unchanging since nothing can come from nothing and nothing can be destroyed into nothing: the theory known as Eleatic monism. [Source: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP) <^>]

“Empedocles' response was to appropriate Parmenides’ ideas and to use them against themselves. Nothing can come from nothing nor be destroyed into nothing (fr. 12), and therefore, in order to rescue the reality of the phenomenal world, there must be assumed to exist something eternal and unchanging beneath the constant change, growth and decay of the visible world. Empedocles then, transfers the changelessness that Parmenides attributes to the entire world to his four elements, and replaces the static singularity Parmenides' world with a dynamic plurality. The four elements correspond closely to their expression at the macroscopic level of nature, with the traditional quadripartite division of the cosmos into earth, sea, air, and the fiery aether of the heavenly bodies: these four naturally occurring 'elements' of the cosmos clearly represent a fundamental natural division of matter at the largest scale. <^>

“This division at the macroscopic level of reality is applied reductively at the microscopic level to produce a parallelism between the constituents of matter and the fundamental constituents of the cosmos, but the reduction of the world into four types of material particles does not deny the reality of the world we see, but instead validates it. Empedocles stresses this parallel between the elements at the different levels of reality by using the terms 'sun' ‘sea’ and ‘Earth’ interchangeably with ‘fire’, ‘water’ and ‘earth’. Of the four elements, although Empedocles stresses their equality of powers, fire is also granted a special role both in its hardening effect on mixtures of the other elements and also as the fundamental principle of living things.” <^>

On the transmigration of the soul, Empedocles (c. 490- 430 B.C.) wrote: “I wept and wailed when I saw the unfamiliar place. (Fragment 118)...For already have I once been a boy and a girl, a fish and a bird and a dumb sea fish. (Fragment 117)....There is an oracle of Necessity, ancient decree of the gods, eternal and sealed with broad oaths: whenever one of those demi-gods, whose lot is long-lasting life, has sinfully defiled his dear limbs ' with bloodshed, or following strife has sworn a false oath, thrice ten thousand seasons does he wander far from the blessed, being born throughout that time in the forms of all manner of mortal things and changing one baleful path of life for another. The might of the air pursues him into the sea, the sea spews him forth on to the dry land, the earth casts him into the rays of the burning sun, and the sun into the eddies of air. one takes him from the other, but all alike abhor him. Of these I too am now one, a fugitive from the gods and a wanderer, who put my trust in raving strife. (Fragment 115). [Source: Empedodes texts in “The Presocratic Philosophers”, translated by G. S. Kirk and J. E. Raven, Cambridge, Eng., 1957]

Anaxagoras


Anaxagoras (c. 510 – c. 428 BC) was a Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher credited with being the one who brought philosophy to Athens. Born in Clazomenae in Asia Minor at a time when it was under the control of the Persian Empire, Anaxagoras described the world as a mixture of primary imperishable ingredients, where material variation was never caused by an absolute presence of a particular ingredient, but rather by its relative preponderance over the other ingredients. Responding to the claims of Parmenides on the impossibility of change he said "each one is... most manifestly those things of which there are the most in it". Anaxagoras introduced the concept of Nous (Cosmic Mind) as an ordering force, which moved and separated out the original mixture, which was homogeneous, or nearly so. He also gave a number of novel scientific accounts of natural phenomena. He produced a correct explanation for eclipses and described the sun as a fiery mass larger than the Peloponnese, as well as attempting to explain rainbows and meteors. According to Diogenes Laertius and Plutarch, in later life Anaxagoras was charged with impiety and went into exile in Lampsacus. The charges may have been political, owing to his association with Pericles, or they may have been fabricated by later ancient biographers. [Source: Wikipedia]

According to tradition Anaxagoras neglected his possessions to follow science. By the fourth century B.C. he was regarded as the type of the man who leads the "theoretic life" and has contempt for worldly goods While he was a young man Anaxagoras is recorded as having predicted the fall of a meteor into the Aegospotami in 468-67 B.C. Some philosophers described Anaxagoras as being a pupil of Anaximenes but this is untrue as Anaximenes most probably died before Anaxagoras was born. [Source: John Burnet (1863-1928), “Early Greek Philosophy” London and Edinburgh: A. and C. Black, 1892, 3rd edition, 1920, Evansville University <|>]

Anaxagoras moved to Athens during the year of the Battle of Salamis (480 B.C.) . It is not known what brought him there, however, Clazomenae was claimed by the Persians and had been reduced after the suppression of the Ionian Revolt, and it seems likely enough that he was in the Persian army. Anaxagoras is said to have been the teacher of Pericles, and the fact is placed beyond the reach of doubt by the testimony of Plato. In the Phaedrus he makes Socrates say: "For all arts that are great, there is need of talk and discussion on the parts of natural science that deal with things on high; for that seems to be the source which inspires high-mindedness and effectiveness in every direction. Pericles added this very acquirement to his original gifts. He fell in, it seems, with Anaxagoras, who was a scientific man; and, satiating himself with the theory of things on high, and having attained to a knowledge of the true nature of mind and intellect, which was just what the discourses of Anaxagoras were mainly about, he drew from that source whatever was of a nature to further him in the art of speech." This clearly means that Pericles associated with Anaxagoras before he became a prominent politician. <|>

The trial of Anaxagoras likely took place during the early political career of Pericles. According to Satyrus, his accuser was Thucydides, son of Melesias, and that the charge was impiety and Medism. As Thucydides was ostracized in 443 B.C., that would make it probable that the trial of Anaxagoras took place about 450 B.C., and would bring it into connection with the ostracism of the other teacher of Pericles, Damon. We learn from Plato that the charge of impiety was based on Anaxagoras’s teaching that the sun was a red-hot metal. According to Laertius, Pericles spoke in defense of Anaxagoras at his trial. He likely did some prison time and was sent away by Pericles. Driven from his adopted home, Anaxagoras naturally went back to Asia Minor, where at least he would be free to teach what he pleased. He settled at Lampsacus, a colony of Miletus, and we shall see reason to believe that he founded a school there. If so, he must have lived at Lampsacus for some time before his death. The Lampsacenes erected an altar to his memory in their market-place, dedicated to Mind and Truth; and the anniversary of his death was long kept as a holiday for school-children, it was said at his own request. <|>

Anaxagoras’ Philosophy, Cosmology and Scientific Beliefs


Anaxaagoras and Pericles

Anaxagoras brought philosophy and the spirit of scientific inquiry from Ionia to Athens. His observations of the celestial bodies and the fall of meteorites led him to form new theories of the universal order. He attempted to give a scientific account of eclipses, meteors, rainbows, and the sun, which he described as a mass of blazing metal, larger than the Peloponnese. The heavenly bodies, he asserted, were masses of stone torn from the earth and ignited by rapid rotation. He was the first to give a correct explanation of eclipses, and was both famous and notorious for his scientific theories, including claims that the moon is earthy, and that the stars are fiery stones. He thought the earth was flat and floated supported by 'strong' air under it and disturbances in this air sometimes caused earthquakes [Source: Wikipedia +]

Anaxagoras wrote a book of philosophy, but only fragments of the first part of this have survived, through preservation in work of Simplicius of Cilicia in the 6th century AD. According to Anaxagoras all things have existed in some way from the beginning, but originally they existed in infinitesimally small fragments of themselves, endless in number and inextricably combined throughout the universe. All things existed in this mass, but in a confused and indistinguishable form. There was an infinite number of homogeneous parts, as well as heterogeneous ones. +

The work of arrangement, the segregation of like from unlike and the summation of the whole into totals of the same name, was the work of Mind or Reason. Mind is no less unlimited than the chaotic mass, but it stood pure and independent, a thing of finer texture, alike in all its manifestations and everywhere the same. This subtle agent, possessed of all knowledge and power, is especially seen ruling in all the forms of life. Its first appearance, and the only manifestation of it which Anaxagoras describes, is Motion. It gave distinctness and reality to the aggregates of like parts. Decease and growth represent a new aggregation and disruption. However, the original intermixture of things is never wholly overcome. Each thing contains in itself parts of other things or heterogeneous elements, and is what it is, only on account of the preponderance of certain homogeneous parts which constitute its character. Out of this process arises the things we see in this world. +

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy /plato.stanford.edu, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy iep.utm.edu;Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Greece sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Hellenistic World sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; BBC Ancient Greeks bbc.co.uk/history/ ; Canadian Museum of History historymuseum.ca ; Perseus Project - Tufts University; perseus.tufts.edu ; MIT, Online Library of Liberty, oll.libertyfund.org ; Gutenberg.org gutenberg.org Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Live Science, Discover magazine, Times of London, Natural History magazine, Archaeology magazine, The New Yorker, Encyclopædia Britannica, "The Discoverers" [∞] and "The Creators" [μ]" by Daniel Boorstin. "Greek and Roman Life" by Ian Jenkins from the British Museum.Time, Newsweek, Wikipedia, Reuters, Associated Press, The Guardian, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, World Religions edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); History of Warfare by John Keegan (Vintage Books); History of Art by H.W. Janson Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.), Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated October 2018

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