Chapter

Anaximander and Anaximenes

Wallace Matson

in Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199812691
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919420 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812691.003.0009
Anaximander and Anaximenes

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Anaximander, Thales’ “pupil and successor,” wrote a book, the first general account of the world in the new way. Evolution (cosmic and organic), survival of the fittest, postulated entities tethered to low beliefs, balance of nature, and even gravitation appeared in it. It was highly imaginative; but it had to be. Science could appear only after the imagination had been ‘fertilized’ by eons of high believing. Anaximander further introduced into science dialectic, criticism and (hopefully) improvement of the views of one's predecessors. Holding that water is too definite in its nature to be the source of everything, he made the original stuff to be The Boundless, something not particularly wet or dry or hot or cold but “capable of separating out” into these. The third Milesian, Anaximenes, made Air (or rather Mist) into the basic stuff, with thickening and thinning as the process by which change occurred.

Keywords: evolution; survival; gravitation; balance; dialectic; boundless; thick/thin; criticism

Chapter.  2540 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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