Anaxagoras (/ˌænækˈsæɡərəs/; Greek: Ἀναξαγόρας, Anaxagoras, "lord of the assembly"; c. 510 – c. 428 BC) was a Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. Born in Clazomenae at a time when Asia Minor was under the control of the Persian Empire, Anaxagoras came to Athens. According to Diogenes Laërtius and Plutarch, in later life he was charged with impiety and went into exile in Lampsacus; the charges may have been political, owing to his association with Pericles, if they were not fabricated by later ancient biographers.[2]

Responding to the claims of Parmenides on the impossibility of change, 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; in his words, "each one is... most manifestly those things of which there are the most in it".[3] He 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.

Anaxagoras Lebiedzki Rahl
Anaxagoras; part of a fresco in the portico of the National University of Athens.
Bornc. 510 BC
Diedc. 428 BC
EraAncient philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolPluralist school
Main interests
Natural philosophy
Notable ideas
Cosmic Mind (Nous) ordering all things
The Milky Way (Via Lactea) as a concentration of distant stars[1]


Anaxagoras is believed to have enjoyed some wealth and political influence in his native town of Clazomenae. However, he supposedly surrendered this out of a fear that they would hinder his search for knowledge.[4] The Roman author Valerius Maximus preserves a different tradition: Anaxagoras, coming home from a long voyage, found his property in ruin, and said: "If this had not perished, I would have"—a sentence described by Valerius as being "possessed of sought-after wisdom!"[5][6]

Anaxagoras was a Greek citizen of the Persian Empire and had served in the Persian army; he may have been a member of the Persian regiments that entered mainland Greece during the Greco-Persian Wars.[7] Though this remains uncertain, "it would certainly explain why he came to Athens in the year of Salamis, 480/79 B.C."[7] Anaxagoras is said to have remained in Athens for thirty years. Pericles learned to love and admire him, and the poet Euripides derived from him an enthusiasm for science and humanity.[4]

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, and to a putative prediction of the impact of a meteorite in 467.[8] 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. He was the first to explain that the moon shines due to reflected light from the sun. He also said that the moon had mountains and believed that it was inhabited. The heavenly bodies, he asserted, were masses of stone torn from the earth and ignited by rapid rotation.[4] He was the first to give a correct explanation of eclipses, and was both famous and notorious for his scientific theories, including the claims that the sun is a mass of red-hot metal, that the moon is earthy, and that the stars are fiery stones.[9] He thought the earth was flat and floated supported by 'strong' air under it and disturbances in this air sometimes caused earthquakes.[10] These speculations made him vulnerable in Athens to a charge of impiety. Diogenes Laërtius reports the story that he was prosecuted by Cleon for impiety, but Plutarch says that Pericles sent his former tutor, Anaxagoras, to Lampsacus for his own safety after the Athenians began to blame him for the Peloponnesian war.[11]

According to Laërtius, Pericles spoke in defense of Anaxagoras at his trial, c. 450.[12] Even so, Anaxagoras was forced to retire from Athens to Lampsacus in Troad (c. 434 – 433). He died there in around the year 428. Citizens of Lampsacus erected an altar to Mind and Truth in his memory, and observed the anniversary of his death for many years.

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.


Anaxagoras Nuremberg Chronicle
Anaxagoras, depicted as a medieval scholar in the Nuremberg Chronicle

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.[4] There was an infinite number of homogeneous parts (ὁμοιομερῆ) as well as heterogeneous ones.[13]

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 (νοῦς). 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.[14] 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.[4]

Decease and growth represent a new aggregation (σὐγκρισις) and disruption (διάκρισις). However, the original intermixture of things is never wholly overcome.[4] 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.[13] Out of this process arise the things we see in this world.[13]

Literary references

Anaxagoras is mentioned by Socrates during his trial in Plato's "Apology". In the Phaedo, Plato portrays Socrates saying of Anaxagoras that as a young man: 'I eagerly acquired his books and read them as quickly as I could' [15].

In a quote chosen to begin Nathanael West's first book "The Dream Life of Balso Snell", Marcel Proust's character Bergotte says, "After all, my dear fellow, life, Anaxagoras has said, is a journey."

Anaxagoras appears as a character in Faust, Part II by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Anaxagoras appears as a character in The Ionia Sanction, by Gary Corby.

Anaxagoras is referred to and admired by Cyrus Spitama, the hero and narrator of Creation, by Gore Vidal. The book contains this passage, explaining how Anaxagoras became influential:

[According to Anaxagoras] One of the largest things is a hot stone that we call the sun. When Anaxagoras was very young, he predicted that sooner or later a piece of the sun would break off and fall to earth. Twenty years ago, he was proved right. The whole world saw a fragment of the sun fall in a fiery arc through the sky, landing near Aegospotami in Thrace. When the fiery fragment cooled, it proved to be nothing more than a chunk of brown rock. Overnight Anaxagoras was famous. Today his book is read everywhere. You can buy a secondhand copy in the Agora for a drachma.[16]

William H. Gass begins his novel, The Tunnel (1995), with a quote from Anaxagoras: "The descent to hell is the same from every place."

He is also mentioned in Seneca's Natural Questions (Book 4B, originally Book 3: On Clouds, Hail, Snow) It reads: "Why should I too allow myself the same liberty as Anaxagoras allowed himself?"

Dante Alighieri places Anaxagoras in the First Circle of Hell (Limbo) in his Divine Comedy (Inferno, Canto IV, line 118).

See also


  1. ^ DK 59 A80: Aristotle, Meteorologica 342b.
  2. ^ Filonik, Jakub (2013). "Athenian impiety trials: a reappraisal". Dike (16): 26–33. doi:10.13130/1128-8221/4290.
  3. ^ Anaxagoras. "Anaxagoras of Clazomenae". In Curd, Patricia (ed.). A Presocratics Reader. Hackett. ISBN 978-1-60384-305-8. B12
  4. ^ a b c d e f  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWallace, William; Mitchell, John Malcolm (1911). "Anaxagoras" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 943.
  5. ^ Anaxagoras of Clazomenae: Fragments and Testimonia : a text and translation with notes and essays. University of Toronto Press. 2007.
  6. ^ Val. Max., VIII, 7, ext., 5: Qui, cum e diutina peregrinatione patriam repetisset possessionesque desertas vidisset, "non essem – inquit "ego salvus, nisi istae perissent." Vocem petitae sapientiae compotem!
  7. ^ a b Copleston 2003, p. 66.
  8. ^ Couprie, Dirk L. "How Thales Was Able to" Predict" a Solar Eclipse Without the Help of Alleged Mesopotamian Wisdom." Early Science and Medicine 9.4 (2004): 321–337
  9. ^ Anaxagoras biography
  10. ^ Burnet J. (1892) Early Greek Philosophy A. & C. Black, London, OCLC 4365382, and subsequent editions, 2003 edition published by Kessinger, Whitefish, Montana, ISBN 0-7661-2826-1
  11. ^ Plutarch, Pericles
  12. ^ Taylor, A.E. (1917). "On the date of the trial of Anaxagoras". Classical Quarterly. 11: 81–87. doi:10.1017/s0009838800013094.
  13. ^ a b c  Schmitz, Leonhard (1870). "Anaxagoras". In Smith, William (ed.). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 1.
  14. ^ Diels, Hermann (ed.). Die fragmente der Vorsokratiker griechisch und deutsch. B12
  15. ^ Plato, Phaedo, 85b
  16. ^ Vidal, Gore, Creation: restored edition, chapter 2, Vintage Books (2002)


  • Copleston, Frederick Charles (2003). "IX: The Advance of Anaxagoras". A History of Philosophy: Volume 1 Greece and Rome (reprint). Continuum. ISBN 978-0826468956.

Editions of the Fragments

  • Curd, Patricia (ed.), Anaxagoras of Clazomenae. Fragments and Testimonia: A Text and Translation with Notes and Essays, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007.
  • Sider, David (ed.), The Fragments of Anaxagoras, with introduction, text, and commentary, Sankt Augustin: Academia Verlag, 2005.
  • Kirk G. S.; Raven, J. E. and Schofield, M. (1983) The Presocratic Philosophers: a critical history with a selection of texts (2nd ed.) Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, ISBN 0-521-25444-2; originally authored by Kirk and Raven and published in 1957 OCLC 870519


  • Bakalis Nikolaos (2005). Handbook of Greek Philosophy: From Thales to the Stoics Analysis and Fragments, Trafford Publishing, Victoria, BC., ISBN 1-4120-4843-5
  • Barnes J. (1979). The Presocratic Philosophers, Routledge, London, ISBN 0-7100-8860-4, and editions of 1982, 1996 and 2006
  • Burnet J. (1892). Early Greek Philosophy A. & C. Black, London, OCLC 4365382, and subsequent editions, 2003 edition published by Kessinger, Whitefish, Montana, ISBN 0-7661-2826-1
  • Cleve, Felix M. (1949). The Philosophy of Anaxagoras: An attempt at reconstruction King's Crown Press, New York OCLC 2692674; republished in 1973 by Nijhoff, The Hague, as The Philosophy of Anaxagoras: As reconstructed ISBN 90-247-1573-3
  • Davison, J. A. (1953). "Protagoras, Democtitus, and Anaxagoras". Classical Quarterly. 3 (n.s): 33–45. doi:10.1017/s0009838800002585.
  • Filonik, Jakub. (2013). "Athenian impiety trials: a reappraisal". Dike: rivista di storia del diritto greco ed ellenistico 16. doi:10.13130/1128-8221/4290
  • Gershenson, Daniel E. and Greenberg, Daniel A. (1964) Anaxagoras and the birth of physics, Blaisdell Publishing Co., New York, OCLC 899834
  • Graham, Daniel W. (1999). "Empedocles and Anaxagoras: Responses to Parmenides" Chapter 8 of Long, A. A. (1999) The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 159–180, ISBN 0-521-44667-8
  • Guthrie, W. K. C. (1965). "The Presocratic tradition from Parmenides to Democritus" volume 2 of A History of Greek Philosophy Cambridge University Press, Cambridge OCLC 4679552; 1978 edition ISBN 0-521-29421-5
  • Guthrie, W. K. C. (1962). A History of Greek Philosophy. 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Luchte, James (2011). Early Greek Thought: Before the Dawn. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-0567353313.
  • Mansfield, J. (1980). "The Chronology of Anaxagoras' Athenian Period and the Date of His Trial". Mnemosyne. 33: 17–95. doi:10.1163/156852580X00271.
  • Sandywell, Barry (1996). Presocratic Reflexivity: The Construction of Philosophical Discourse, c. 600–450 BC. 3. London: Routledge.
  • Schofield, Malcolm (1980). An Essay on Anaxagoras. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Taylor, A.E. (1917). "On the Date of the Trial of Anaxagoras". Classical Quarterly. 11 (2): 81–87. doi:10.1017/S0009838800013094.
  • Taylor, C. C. W. (ed.) (1997). Routledge History of Philosophy: From the Beginning to Plato, Vol. I, pp. 192–225, ISBN 0-415-06272-1
  • Teodorsson, Sven-Tage (1982). Anaxagoras' Theory of Matter. Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis, Göteborg, Sweden, ISBN 91-7346-111-3
  • Torrijos-Castrillejo, David (2014) Anaxágoras y su recepción en Aristóteles. Romae: EDUSC, ISBN 978-88-8333-325-5 ‹See Tfd›(in Spanish)
  • Wright, M.R. (1995). Cosmology in Antiquity. London: Routledge.
  • Zeller, A. (1881). A History of Greek Philosophy: From the Earliest Period to the Time of Socrates, Vol. II, translated by S. F. Alleyne, pp. 321–394

External links

Agrias amydon

Agrias amydon, the Amydon agrias or white-spotted agrias, is a butterfly of the family Nymphalidae. It is found from Mexico, south through Central America to South America.

The larvae feed on Erythroxylum species including E. havanense.

Anaxagoras (crater)

Anaxagoras is a young lunar impact crater that is located near the north pole of the Moon. It lies across the larger and more heavily worn crater Goldschmidt. To the south-southeast is Epigenes, and due south is the worn remains of Birmingham.

Anaxagoras is a relatively recent impact crater that is young enough to still possess a ray system that has not been eroded by space weathering. The rays from the site reach a distance of over 900 kilometers from the rim, reaching Plato to the south. It is consequently mapped as part of the Copernican System.The crater interior has a relatively high albedo, making it a prominent feature when the Moon is nearly full. (The high latitude of the crater means that the Sun always remains close to the horizon even at maximum elevation less than a day after Full Moon.) The interior walls are steep and possess a system of terraces. The central peak is offset from the crater midpoint, and joins a low range across the crater floor. In fact, it appears that some of the central peak material has landed outside the crater rim.

Anaxagoras (disambiguation)

Anaxagoras may refer to:

Anaxagoras,a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher

Anaxagoras of Aegina, a sculptor

4180 Anaxagoras, a main-belt asteroid

Anaxagoras (crater), a young lunar impact crater

Anaxagoras (mythology), a king of Argos in Greek mythology

Anaxagoras (mythology)

In Greek mythology, Anaxagoras (Greek: Αναξαγόρας) was a king of Argos and son of either Megapenthes or his son Argeus. The prince, Anaxagoras' son, suffered from a strange malady and the king offered a reward for anybody that could heal him. Melampus, a local seer, killed an ox and talked to the vultures that came to eat the corpse. They said that the last time they had had such a feast was when the king made a sacrifice. They told Melampus that the prince had been frightened of the big, bloody knife and the king tossed it aside to calm the child. It had hit a tree and injured a hamadryad, who cursed the prince with the sickness. The hamadryad told Melampus that the boy would be healed if the knife was taken out of the trunk of the tree and boiled, then the rusty water that resulted drunk by the prince. Melampus followed her directions and demanded two thirds of the kingdom for himself, and one third for his brother, Bias. The king ultimately agreed. When the women of Argos were driven mad by Dionysus, in the reign of Anaxagoras, Melampus was brought in to cure them, but demanded a third of the kingdom as payment. The king refused, but the women became wilder than ever, and he was forced to seek out Melampus again, who this time demanded both a third for himself and another third for his brother Bias. Sometimes, this story is told not of Anaxagoras, but of his grandfather, Proetus. Anaxagoras was succeeded by his son Alector. His house lasted longer than those of Bias and Melampus, and eventually the kingdom was reunited under its last member, Cyanippus.

Anaxagoras of Aegina

Anaxagoras (Ancient Greek: Ἀναξαγόρας) of Aegina was a sculptor who lived around 480 BCE, and created the statue of Zeus in bronze set up at Olympia by the states which had united in repelling the invasion of Xerxes I of Persia. He is supposed to be the same person as the sculptor mentioned in an epigram by Anacreon, but not the same as the writer on scene-painting mentioned by Vitruvius.

Archelaus (philosopher)

Archelaus (; Greek: Ἀρχέλαος; fl. 5th century BC) was an Ancient Greek philosopher, a pupil of Anaxagoras, and may have been a teacher of Socrates. He asserted that the principle of motion was the separation of hot from cold, from which he endeavoured to explain the formation of the Earth and the creation of animals and humans.

Aristarchus of Samos

Aristarchus of Samos (; Greek: Ἀρίσταρχος ὁ Σάμιος, Aristarkhos ho Samios; c. 310 – c. 230 BC) was an ancient Greek astronomer and mathematician who presented the first known heliocentric model that placed the Sun at the center of the known universe with the Earth revolving around it. He was influenced by Philolaus of Croton, but Aristarchus identified the "central fire" with the Sun, and he put the other planets in their correct order of distance around the Sun. Like Anaxagoras before him, he suspected that the stars were just other bodies like the Sun, albeit further away from Earth. His astronomical ideas were often rejected in favor of the geocentric theories of Aristotle and Ptolemy. Nicolaus Copernicus attributed the heliocentric theory to Aristarchus.

Barrow (crater)

Barrow is an old lunar impact crater that is located near the northern limb of the Moon. It lies between the crater Goldschmidt to the northwest and the irregular formation Meton to the northeast. To the southwest is W. Bond.

The outer wall of Barrow has been heavily eroded by subsequent impacts, and reshaped by intruding craters. As a result, the rim now resembles a ring of rounded hills and peaks surrounding the flat interior. The younger satellite crater Barrow A lies across the southwest rim. At the eastern end of the crater is a narrow gap in the rim that joins the floor to the adjacent crater Meton. The rim achieves its maximum height and extend in the northwest, where it is joined to Goldschmidt.

The interior of Barrow has been resurfaced by lava flows, leaving a flat surface that is marked by many tiny craterlets. Faint traces of ray material from Anaxagoras to the west forms streaks across the floor of Barrow.


Cylarabes, or Cylarabos, or Cylasabos, son of Sthenelus, was a mythological king of Argos.

He succeeded to the throne upon the death of his father. During his reign Argos was finally reunited after having been divided into three parts since the reign of Anaxagoras. Anaxagoras has given one third of his kingdom to Melampus and the other to Bias while Anaxagoras and his line continued to rule the central region. Cylarabes regained the portion of the kingdom given to Bias upon the death of Cyanippus. (The portion belonging to the line of Melampus had been regained by his father Sthenelus, upon the death of Amphilocus). Cylarabes died without an heir and his vacant throne was seized by Orestes, the king of Mycenae.

Goldschmidt (crater)

Goldschmidt is a large lunar impact crater of the variety commonly termed a walled plain. It lies in the northern part of the Moon's near side, and appears oval in shape due to foreshortening. The rim is actually relatively circular, although the western rim is overlain by the prominent crater Anaxagoras. Nearly attached to the southeast rim is Barrow, and the two formations are separated by a rugged rise about 30 kilometers across. Further to the south is Epigenes.

The heavily eroded outer rim of Goldschmidt is rugged and irregular, with an inner wall that is incised in several locations by small impacts. Much of the western rim no longer exists, due to the overlapping Anaxagoras and the smaller Anaxagoras A, and the ejecta from these formations covers the western third of the interior floor. The remaining floor is nearly level and flat, most likely having been resurfaced by lava flows. However the surface is now pock-marked by a multitude of tiny craterlets, the most prominent being the small Goldschmidt A.

Gortimer Gibbon's Life on Normal Street

Gortimer Gibbon's Life on Normal Street is an American live action family television series created by David Anaxagoras. The series is presented on Amazon Video. The series follows Gortimer Gibbon and his two best friends, Mel and Ranger, as they navigate Normal Street, a seemingly ordinary suburb with hints of something magical just below the surface. As of June 2018, the series airs on the Universal Kids cable network in the US.

On February 25, 2015, Amazon renewed Gortimer Gibbon's Life on Normal Street for a second season. Filming began on May 4, 2015. Season 2 premiered on October 30, 2015 and concluded on July 15, 2016.

Hermotimus of Clazomenae

Hermotimus of Clazomenae (Greek: Ἑρμότιμος; c. 6th century BCE), called by Lucian a Pythagorean, was a philosopher who first proposed, before Anaxagoras (according to Aristotle) the idea of mind being fundamental in the cause of change. He proposed that physical entities are static, while reason causes the change. Sextus Empiricus places him with Hesiod, Parmenides, and Empedocles, as belonging to the class of philosophers who held a dualistic theory of a material and an active principle being together the origin of the universe.Tertullian relates a story about Hermotimus (which he does not appear to believe). According to this story, Hermotimus' soul would depart his body during sleep, as if on a trip. His wife betrayed the oddity and his enemies came and burned his body while he was asleep, his soul returning too late. The people of Clazomenae erected a temple for Hermotimus, disallowing women because of his wife's betrayal. This story and others about Hermotimus are found in Pliny The Elder, Lucian, Apollonius, and Plutarch.

Diogenes Laërtius records a story that Pythagoras remembered his earlier lives, one being Hermotimus, who had validated his own claim to recall earlier lives by recognizing the decaying shield of Menelaus in the temple of Apollo at Branchidae.

Ionian School (philosophy)

The Ionian school of Pre-Socratic philosophy was centred in Miletus, Ionia in the 6th century BC. Miletus and its environs was a thriving mercantile melting pot of current ideas of the time. The Ionian School included such thinkers as Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Heraclitus, Anaxagoras, and Archelaus. The collective affinity of this group was first acknowledged by Aristotle who called them physiologoi (φυσιολόγοι), meaning 'those who discoursed on nature'. The classification can be traced to the second-century historian of philosophy Sotion. They are sometimes referred to as cosmologists, since they were largely physicalists who tried to explain the nature of matter.

While some of these scholars are included in the Milesian school of philosophy, others are more difficult to categorize.

Most cosmologists thought that, although matter could change from one form to another, all matter had something in common which did not change. They did not agree on what all things had in common, and did not experiment to find out, but used abstract reasoning rather than religion or mythology to explain themselves, thus becoming the first philosophers in the Western tradition.

Later philosophers widened their studies to include other areas of thought. The Eleatic school, for example, also studied epistemology, or how people come to know what exists. But the Ionians were the first group of philosophers that we know of, and so remain historically important.

List of kings of Argos

Before the establishment of a democracy, the Ancient Greek city-state of Argos was ruled by kings. Most of them are probably mythical or only semi-historical. This list is based on that given by Eusebius of Caesarea.

An alternative version supplied by Tatian of the original 17 consecutive kings of Argos includes Apis and Argios between Argos and Triopas.

Metrodorus of Lampsacus (the elder)

Metrodorus of Lampsacus (Greek: Μητρόδωρος Λαμψακηνός, romanized: Mētrodōros Lampsakēnos; 5th century BC) was a Presocratic philosopher from the Greek town of Lampsacus on the eastern shore of the Hellespont. He was a contemporary and friend of Anaxagoras. He wrote on Homer, the leading feature of his system of interpretation being that the deities and stories in Homer were to be understood as allegorical modes of representing physical powers and phenomena. He is mentioned in Plato's dialogue Ion. He died in 464 BC.


Nous (UK: , US: ), sometimes equated to intellect or intelligence, is a term from classical philosophy for the faculty of the human mind necessary for understanding what is true or real. English words such as "understanding" are sometimes used, but three commonly used philosophical terms come directly from classical languages: νοῦς or νόος (from Ancient Greek), intellēctus and intellegentia (from Latin). To describe the activity of this faculty, the word "intellection" is sometimes used in philosophical contexts, as well as the Greek words noēsis and noeîn (νόησις, νοεῖν). This activity is understood in a similar way (at least in some contexts) to the modern concept of intuition.

In philosophy, common English translations include "understanding" and "mind"; or sometimes "thought" or "reason" (in the sense of that which reasons, not the activity of reasoning). It is also often described as something equivalent to perception except that it works within the mind ("the mind's eye"). It has been suggested that the basic meaning is something like "awareness". In colloquial British English, nous also denotes "good sense", which is close to one everyday meaning it had in Ancient Greece.

In Aristotle's influential works, the term was carefully distinguished from sense perception, imagination, and reason, although these terms are closely inter-related. The term was apparently already singled out by earlier philosophers such as Parmenides, whose works are largely lost. In post-Aristotelian discussions, the exact boundaries between perception, understanding of perception, and reasoning have not always agreed with the definitions of Aristotle, even though his terminology remains influential.

In the Aristotelian scheme, nous is the basic understanding or awareness that allows human beings to think rationally. For Aristotle, this was distinct from the processing of sensory perception, including the use of imagination and memory, which other animals can do. This therefore connects discussion of nous to discussion of how the human mind sets definitions in a consistent and communicable way, and whether people must be born with some innate potential to understand the same universal categories in the same logical ways. Deriving from this it was also sometimes argued, especially in classical and medieval philosophy, that the individual nous must require help of a spiritual and divine type. By this type of account, it came to be argued that the human understanding (nous) somehow stems from this cosmic nous, which is however not just a recipient of order, but a creator of it. Such explanations were influential in the development of medieval accounts of God, the immortality of the soul, and even the motions of the stars, in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, amongst both eclectic philosophers and authors representing all the major faiths of their times.

Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks

Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks (German: Philosophie im tragischen Zeitalter der Griechen) is an incomplete book by Friedrich Nietzsche. He had a clean copy made from his notes with the intention of publication. The notes were written around 1873. In it he discussed five Greek philosophers from the sixth and fifth centuries BC. They are Thales, Anaximander, Heraclitus, Parmenides, and Anaxagoras. He had, at one time, intended to include Democritus, Empedocles, and Socrates. The book ends abruptly after the discussion of Anaxagoras's cosmogony.

Pluralist school

The Pluralist school was a school of pre-Socratic philosophers who attempted to reconcile Parmenides' rejection of change with the apparently changing world of sense experience. The school consisted of Anaxagoras, Archelaus, and Empedocles. It can also be said to have included the Atomists, Leucippus and Democritus. The Pluralists rejected the idea that the diversity of nature can be reduced to a single principle (monism). Anaxagoras posited that nature contained an innumerable number of principles, while Empedocles reduced nature to four elements (fire, air, earth, and water) which could not be reduced to one another and which would be sufficient to explain change and diversity.

Satyrus the Peripatetic

Satyrus (Greek: Σάτυρος) of Callatis was a distinguished peripatetic philosopher and historian, whose biographies (Lives) of famous people are frequently referred to by Diogenes Laërtius and Athenaeus. He came from Callatis Pontica, as we learn from a Herculaneum papyrus. He lived earlier than the reign of Ptolemy VI Philometor (181–146 BC) when his Lives were epitomized by Heraclides Lembus, probably during the 3rd century BC. Athenaeus frequently refers to him as a Peripatetic, but his connection to the Peripatetic school is otherwise unknown. His biographies dealt with many eminent people including kings (Dionysius the Younger, Philip), statesmen (Alcibiades), orators (Demosthenes), poets (Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides), and philosophers (Bias of Priene, Chilon of Sparta, Pythagoras, Empedocles, Zeno of Elea, Anaxagoras, Socrates, Diogenes, Anaxarchus, Stilpo). He also wrote on the population of Alexandria, and a work On Characters (Περὶ χαρακτήρων). Fragments of his biography of the Athenian dramatist Euripides were found at the end of a papyrus scroll discovered at Oxyrhynchus in the early twentieth century.


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