34 Facts About Anaximander


Anaximander was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher who lived in Miletus, a city of Ionia (in modern-day Turkey).

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Anaximander belonged to the Milesian school and learned the teachings of his master Thales.

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Anaximander succeeded Thales and became the second master of that school where he counted Anaximenes and, arguably, Pythagoras amongst his pupils.

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Anaximander was an early proponent of science and tried to observe and explain different aspects of the universe, with a particular interest in its origins, claiming that nature is ruled by laws, just like human societies, and anything that disturbs the balance of nature does not last long.

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Anaximander created a map of the world that contributed greatly to the advancement of geography.

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Anaximander was involved in the politics of Miletus and was sent as a leader to one of its colonies.

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Anaximander, son of Praxiades, was born in the third year of the 42nd Olympiad.

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One thing that is not debatable is that even the ancient Greeks considered Anaximander to be from the Monist school which began in Miletus, with Thales followed by Anaximander and which ended with Anaximenes.

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Anaximander lived the final few years of his life as a subject of the Persian Achaemenid Empire.

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Anaximander claimed that the cosmic order is not monarchic but geometric, and that this causes the equilibrium of the earth, which is lying in the centre of the universe.

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Anaximander was the first philosopher to employ, in a philosophical context, the term arche, which until then had meant beginning or origin.

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Anaximander seems once at least to have quoted Anaximander's own words, and he criticised his style.

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Anaximander says it is neither water nor any other of the so-called elements, but a substance different from them which is infinite" [apeiron, or ] "from which arise all the heavens and the worlds within them.

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Anaximander proposed the theory of the apeiron in direct response to the earlier theory of his teacher, Thales, who had claimed that the primary substance was water.

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The notion of temporal infinity was familiar to the Greek mind from remote antiquity in the religious concept of immortality, and Anaximander's description was in terms appropriate to this conception.

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Anaximander argues that water cannot embrace all of the opposites found in nature — for example, water can only be wet, never dry — and therefore cannot be the one primary substance; nor could any of the other candidates.

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Anaximander postulated the apeiron as a substance that, although not directly perceptible to us, could explain the opposites he saw around him.

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Anaximander explains how the four elements of ancient physics are formed, and how Earth and terrestrial beings are formed through their interactions.

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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.

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Anaximander's 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.

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Anaximander maintains that all dying things are returning to the element from which they came.

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Simplicius mentions that Anaximander said all these "in poetic terms", meaning that he used the old mythical language.

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Anaximander was the first to conceive a mechanical model of the world.

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Anaximander was the first astronomer to consider the Sun as a huge mass, and consequently, to realize how far from Earth it might be, and the first to present a system where the celestial bodies turned at different distances.

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Anaximander attributed some phenomena, such as thunder and lightning, to the intervention of elements, rather than to divine causes.

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Anaximander saw the sea as a remnant of the mass of humidity that once surrounded Earth.

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Anaximander explained rain as a product of the humidity pumped up from Earth by the sun.

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Anaximander speculated about the beginnings and origin of animal life, and that humans came from other animals in waters.

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Anaximander put forward the idea that humans had to spend part of this transition inside the mouths of big fish to protect themselves from the Earth's climate until they could come out in open air and lose their scales.

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Anaximander thought that, considering humans' extended infancy, we could not have survived in the primeval world in the same manner we do presently.

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Anaximander's innovation was to represent the entire inhabited land known to the ancient Greeks.

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Anaximander seems to express his belief that a natural order ensures balance among these elements, that where there was fire, ashes now exist.

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Friedrich Nietzsche, in Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks, claimed that Anaximander was a pessimist who asserted that the primal being of the world was a state of indefiniteness.

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Martin Heidegger lectured extensively on Anaximander, and delivered a lecture entitled "Anaximander's Saying" which was included in Off the Beaten Track.

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