Anaximander (/æˌnæksɪˈmændər/; Greek: Ἀναξίμανδρος Anaximandros; c. 610 – c. 546 BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher who lived in Miletus,[4] a city of Ionia (in modern-day Turkey). He belonged to the Milesian school and learned the teachings of his master Thales. He succeeded Thales and became the second master of that school where he counted Anaximenes and, arguably, Pythagoras amongst his pupils.[5]

Little of his life and work is known today. According to available historical documents, he is the first philosopher known to have written down his studies,[6] although only one fragment of his work remains. Fragmentary testimonies found in documents after his death provide a portrait of the man.

He 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.[7] Like many thinkers of his time, Anaximander's philosophy included contributions to many disciplines. In astronomy, he attempted to describe the mechanics of celestial bodies in relation to the Earth. In physics, his postulation that the indefinite (or apeiron) was the source of all things led Greek philosophy to a new level of conceptual abstraction. His knowledge of geometry allowed him to introduce the gnomon in Greece. He created a map of the world that contributed greatly to the advancement of geography. He was also involved in the politics of Miletus and was sent as a leader to one of its colonies.

Anaximander Mosaic (cropped, with sundial)
Ancient Roman mosaic from Johannisstraße, Trier, dating to the early third century AD, showing Anaximander holding a sundial[1]
Bornc. 610 BC
Diedc. 546 BC
EraPre-Socratic philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
Main interests
Metaphysics, astronomy, geometry, geography
Notable ideas
The apeiron is the arche
Evolutionary view of living things[2][3]
Earth floats unsupported
Mechanical model of the sky
Water of rain from evaporation


Detail of Raphael's painting The School of Athens, 1510–1511. This could be a representation of Anaximander leaning towards Pythagoras on his left.[8]

Anaximander, son of Praxiades, was born in the third year of the 42nd Olympiad (610 BC).[9] According to Apollodorus of Athens, Greek grammarian of the 2nd century BC, he was sixty-four years old during the second year of the 58th Olympiad (547–546 BC), and died shortly afterwards.[10]

Establishing a timeline of his work is now impossible, since no document provides chronological references. Themistius, a 4th-century Byzantine rhetorician, mentions that he was the "first of the known Greeks to publish a written document on nature." Therefore, his texts would be amongst the earliest written in prose, at least in the Western world. By the time of Plato, his philosophy was almost forgotten, and Aristotle, his successor Theophrastus and a few doxographers provide us with the little information that remains. However, we know from Aristotle that Thales, also from Miletus, precedes Anaximander. It is debatable whether Thales actually was the teacher of Anaximander, but there is no doubt that Anaximander was influenced by Thales' theory that everything is derived from water. 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 finished with Anaximenes.[11] 3rd-century Roman rhetorician Aelian depicts him as leader of the Milesian colony to Apollonia on the Black Sea coast, and hence some have inferred that he was a prominent citizen.[12] Indeed, Various History (III, 17) explains that philosophers sometimes also dealt with political matters. It is very likely that leaders of Miletus sent him there as a legislator to create a constitution or simply to maintain the colony's allegiance.

Anaximander lived the final few years of his life as a subject of the Persian Achaemenid Empire.[13]


Anaximander's theories were influenced by the Greek mythical tradition, and by some ideas of Thales – the father of philosophy – as well as by observations made by older civilizations in the East (especially by the Babylonian astrologers).[14] All these were elaborated rationally. In his desire to find some universal principle, he assumed, like traditional religion, the existence of a cosmic order; and in elaborating his ideas on this he used the old mythical language which ascribed divine control to various spheres of reality. This was a common practice for the Greek philosophers in a society which saw gods everywhere, and therefore could fit their ideas into a tolerably elastic system.[15]

Some scholars see a gap between the existing mythical and the new rational way of thought which is the main characteristic of the archaic period (8th to 6th century BC) in the Greek city-states.[16] This has given rise to the phrase "Greek miracle". But if we follow carefully the course of Anaximander's ideas, we will notice that there was not such an abrupt break as initially appears. The basic elements of nature (water, air, fire, earth) which the first Greek philosophers believed constituted the universe represent in fact the primordial forces of previous thought. Their collision produced what the mythical tradition had called cosmic harmony. In the old cosmogonies – Hesiod (8th – 7th century BC) and Pherecydes (6th century BC) – Zeus establishes his order in the world by destroying the powers which were threatening this harmony (the Titans). 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. This is the projection on nature of a new political order and a new space organized around a centre which is the static point of the system in the society as in nature.[17] In this space there is isonomy (equal rights) and all the forces are symmetrical and transferrable. The decisions are now taken by the assembly of demos in the agora which is lying in the middle of the city.[18]

The same rational way of thought led him to introduce the abstract apeiron (indefinite, infinite, boundless, unlimited[19]) as an origin of the universe, a concept that is probably influenced by the original Chaos (gaping void, abyss, formless state) of the mythical Greek cosmogony from which everything else appeared.[20] It also takes notice of the mutual changes between the four elements. Origin, then, must be something else unlimited in its source, that could create without experiencing decay, so that genesis would never stop.[21]


The Refutation attributed to Hippolytus of Rome (I, 5), and the later 6th century Byzantine philosopher Simplicius of Cilicia, attribute to Anaximander the earliest use of the word apeiron (ἄπειρον "infinite" or "limitless") to designate the original principle. He was the first philosopher to employ, in a philosophical context, the term archē (ἀρχή), which until then had meant beginning or origin. For him, it became no longer a mere point in time, but a source that could perpetually give birth to whatever will be. The indefiniteness is spatial in early usages as in Homer (indefinite sea) and as in Xenophanes (6th century BC) who said that the earth went down indefinitely (to apeiron) i.e. beyond the imagination or concept of men.[22]

Aristotle writes (Metaphysics, I.III 3–4) that the Pre-Socratics were searching for the element that constitutes all things. While each pre-Socratic philosopher gave a different answer as to the identity of this element (water for Thales and air for Anaximenes), Anaximander understood the beginning or first principle to be an endless, unlimited primordial mass (apeiron), subject to neither old age nor decay, that perpetually yielded fresh materials from which everything we perceive is derived.[23] He 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. 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. This archē is called "eternal and ageless". (Hippolytus (?), Refutation, I,6,I;DK B2)[24]

For Anaximander, the principle of things, the constituent of all substances, is nothing determined and not an element such as water in Thales' view. Neither is it something halfway between air and water, or between air and fire, thicker than air and fire, or more subtle than water and earth.[25] 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. He postulated the apeiron as a substance that, although not directly perceptible to us, could explain the opposites he saw around him.

Anaximander explains how the four elements of ancient physics (air, earth, water and fire) are formed, and how Earth and terrestrial beings are formed through their interactions. Unlike other Pre-Socratics, he never defines this principle precisely, and it has generally been understood (e.g., by Aristotle and by Saint Augustine) as a sort of primal chaos. According to him, the Universe originates in the separation of opposites in the primordial matter. It embraces the opposites of hot and cold, wet and dry, and directs the movement of things; an entire host of shapes and differences then grow that are found in "all the worlds" (for he believed there were many).[12]

Anaximander maintains that all dying things are returning to the element from which they came (apeiron). The one surviving fragment of Anaximander's writing deals with this matter. Simplicius transmitted it as a quotation, which describes the balanced and mutual changes of the elements:[26][27]

Whence things have their origin,
Thence also their destruction happens,
According to necessity;
For they give to each other justice and recompense
For their injustice
In conformity with the ordinance of Time.

Simplicius mentions that Anaximander said all these "in poetic terms", meaning that he used the old mythical language. The goddess Justice (Dike) keeps the cosmic order. This concept of returning to the element of origin was often revisited afterwards, notably by Aristotle,[28] and by the Greek tragedian Euripides: "what comes from earth must return to earth."[29] Friedrich Nietzsche, in his Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks, stated that Anaximander viewed "... all coming-to-be as though it were an illegitimate emancipation from eternal being, a wrong for which destruction is the only penance."[30] Physicist Max Born, in commenting upon Werner Heisenberg's arriving at the idea that the elementary particles of quantum mechanics are to be seen as different manifestations, different quantum states, of one and the same “primordial substance,”' proposed that this primordial substance be called apeiron.[31]


Anaximander cosmology-en
Map of Anaximander's universe

Anaximander's bold use of non-mythological explanatory hypotheses considerably distinguishes him from previous cosmology writers such as Hesiod. It confirms that pre-Socratic philosophers were making an early effort to demystify physical processes. His major contribution to history was writing the oldest prose document about the Universe and the origins of life; for this he is often called the "Father of Cosmology" and founder of astronomy. However, pseudo-Plutarch states that he still viewed celestial bodies as deities.[32]

Anaximander was the first to conceive a mechanical model of the world. In his model, the Earth floats very still in the centre of the infinite, not supported by anything. It remains "in the same place because of its indifference", a point of view that Aristotle considered ingenious, but false, in On the Heavens.[33] Its curious shape is that of a cylinder[34] with a height one-third of its diameter. The flat top forms the inhabited world, which is surrounded by a circular oceanic mass.

Anaximander's realization that the Earth floats free without falling and does not need to be resting on something has been indicated by many as the first cosmological revolution and the starting point of scientific thinking.[35][36] Karl Popper calls this idea "one of the boldest, most revolutionary, and most portentous ideas in the whole history of human thinking."[37] Such a model allowed the concept that celestial bodies could pass under the Earth, opening the way to Greek astronomy.

Persectives of Anaximander's universe
Illustration of Anaximander's models of the universe. On the left, daytime in summer; on the right, nighttime in winter. However, Anaximander pictured the earth as a truncated cylinder, not as a sphere as shown.

At the origin, after the separation of hot and cold, a ball of flame appeared that surrounded Earth like bark on a tree. This ball broke apart to form the rest of the Universe. It resembled a system of hollow concentric wheels, filled with fire, with the rims pierced by holes like those of a flute. Consequently, the Sun was the fire that one could see through a hole the same size as the Earth on the farthest wheel, and an eclipse corresponded with the occlusion of that hole. The diameter of the solar wheel was twenty-seven times that of the Earth (or twenty-eight, depending on the sources)[38] and the lunar wheel, whose fire was less intense, eighteen (or nineteen) times. Its hole could change shape, thus explaining lunar phases. The stars and the planets, located closer,[39] followed the same model.[40]

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. Furthermore, according to Diogenes Laertius (II, 2), he built a celestial sphere. This invention undoubtedly made him the first to realize the obliquity of the Zodiac as the Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder reports in Natural History (II, 8). It is a little early to use the term ecliptic, but his knowledge and work on astronomy confirm that he must have observed the inclination of the celestial sphere in relation to the plane of the Earth to explain the seasons. The doxographer and theologian Aetius attributes to Pythagoras the exact measurement of the obliquity.

Multiple worlds

According to Simplicius, Anaximander already speculated on the plurality of worlds, similar to atomists Leucippus and Democritus, and later philosopher Epicurus. These thinkers supposed that worlds appeared and disappeared for a while, and that some were born when others perished. They claimed that this movement was eternal, "for without movement, there can be no generation, no destruction".[41]

In addition to Simplicius, Hippolytus[42] reports Anaximander's claim that from the infinite comes the principle of beings, which themselves come from the heavens and the worlds (several doxographers use the plural when this philosopher is referring to the worlds within,[43] which are often infinite in quantity). Cicero writes that he attributes different gods to the countless worlds.[44]

This theory places Anaximander close to the Atomists and the Epicureans who, more than a century later, also claimed that an infinity of worlds appeared and disappeared. In the timeline of the Greek history of thought, some thinkers conceptualized a single world (Plato, Aristotle, Anaxagoras and Archelaus), while others instead speculated on the existence of a series of worlds, continuous or non-continuous (Anaximenes, Heraclitus, Empedocles and Diogenes).

Meteorological phenomena

Anaximander attributed some phenomena, such as thunder and lightning, to the intervention of elements, rather than to divine causes.[45] In his system, thunder results from the shock of clouds hitting each other; the loudness of the sound is proportionate with that of the shock. Thunder without lightning is the result of the wind being too weak to emit any flame, but strong enough to produce a sound. A flash of lightning without thunder is a jolt of the air that disperses and falls, allowing a less active fire to break free. Thunderbolts are the result of a thicker and more violent air flow.[46]

He saw the sea as a remnant of the mass of humidity that once surrounded Earth.[47] A part of that mass evaporated under the sun's action, thus causing the winds and even the rotation of the celestial bodies, which he believed were attracted to places where water is more abundant.[48] He explained rain as a product of the humidity pumped up from Earth by the sun.[9] For him, the Earth was slowly drying up and water only remained in the deepest regions, which someday would go dry as well. According to Aristotle's Meteorology (II, 3), Democritus also shared this opinion.

Origin of humankind

Anaximander speculated about the beginnings and origin of animal life. Taking into account the existence of fossils, he claimed that animals sprang out of the sea long ago. The first animals were born trapped in a spiny bark, but as they got older, the bark would dry up and break.[49] As the early humidity evaporated, dry land emerged and, in time, humankind had to adapt. The 3rd century Roman writer Censorinus reports:

Anaximander of Miletus considered that from warmed up water and earth emerged either fish or entirely fishlike animals. Inside these animals, men took form and embryos were held prisoners until puberty; only then, after these animals burst open, could men and women come out, now able to feed themselves.[50]

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

Other accomplishments


Anaximander world map-en
Possible rendering of Anaximander's world map[52]

Both Strabo and Agathemerus (later Greek geographers) claim that, according to the geographer Eratosthenes, Anaximander was the first to publish a map of the world. The map probably inspired the Greek historian Hecataeus of Miletus to draw a more accurate version. Strabo viewed both as the first geographers after Homer.

Maps were produced in ancient times, also notably in Egypt, Lydia, the Middle East, and Babylon. Only some small examples survived until today. The unique example of a world map comes from late Babylonian tablet BM 92687 later than 9th century BC but is based probably on a much older map. These maps indicated directions, roads, towns, borders, and geological features. Anaximander's innovation was to represent the entire inhabited land known to the ancient Greeks.

Such an accomplishment is more significant than it at first appears. Anaximander most likely drew this map for three reasons.[53] First, it could be used to improve navigation and trade between Miletus's colonies and other colonies around the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea. Second, Thales would probably have found it easier to convince the Ionian city-states to join in a federation in order to push the Median threat away if he possessed such a tool. Finally, the philosophical idea of a global representation of the world simply for the sake of knowledge was reason enough to design one.

Surely aware of the sea's convexity, he may have designed his map on a slightly rounded metal surface. The centre or “navel” of the world (ὀμφαλός γῆς omphalós gẽs) could have been Delphi, but is more likely in Anaximander's time to have been located near Miletus. The Aegean Sea was near the map's centre and enclosed by three continents, themselves located in the middle of the ocean and isolated like islands by sea and rivers. Europe was bordered on the south by the Mediterranean Sea and was separated from Asia by the Black Sea, the Lake Maeotis, and, further east, either by the Phasis River (now called the Rioni) or the Tanais. The Nile flowed south into the ocean, separating Libya (which was the name for the part of the then-known African continent) from Asia.


The Suda relates that Anaximander explained some basic notions of geometry. It also mentions his interest in the measurement of time and associates him with the introduction in Greece of the gnomon. In Lacedaemon, he participated in the construction, or at least in the adjustment, of sundials to indicate solstices and equinoxes.[54] Indeed, a gnomon required adjustments from a place to another because of the difference in latitude.

In his time, the gnomon was simply a vertical pillar or rod mounted on a horizontal plane. The position of its shadow on the plane indicated the time of day. As it moves through its apparent course, the Sun draws a curve with the tip of the projected shadow, which is shortest at noon, when pointing due south. The variation in the tip's position at noon indicates the solar time and the seasons; the shadow is longest on the winter solstice and shortest on the summer solstice.

The invention of the gnomon itself cannot be attributed to Anaximander because its use, as well as the division of days into twelve parts, came from the Babylonians. It is they, according to Herodotus' Histories (II, 109), who gave the Greeks the art of time measurement. It is likely that he was not the first to determine the solstices, because no calculation is necessary. On the other hand, equinoxes do not correspond to the middle point between the positions during solstices, as the Babylonians thought. As the Suda seems to suggest, it is very likely that with his knowledge of geometry, he became the first Greek to accurately determine the equinoxes.

Prediction of an earthquake

In his philosophical work De Divinatione (I, 50, 112), Cicero states that Anaximander convinced the inhabitants of Lacedaemon to abandon their city and spend the night in the country with their weapons because an earthquake was near.[55] The city collapsed when the top of the Taygetus split like the stern of a ship. Pliny the Elder also mentions this anecdote (II, 81), suggesting that it came from an "admirable inspiration", as opposed to Cicero, who did not associate the prediction with divination.


Bertrand Russell in the History of Western Philosophy interprets Anaximander's theories as an assertion of the necessity of an appropriate balance between earth, fire, and water, all of which may be independently seeking to aggrandize their proportions relative to the others. Anaximander seems to express his belief that a natural order ensures balance between these elements, that where there was fire, ashes (earth) now exist.[56] His Greek peers echoed this sentiment with their belief in natural boundaries beyond which not even the gods could operate.

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. In accordance with this, anything definite has to eventually pass back into indefiniteness. In other words, Anaximander viewed "...all coming-to-be as though it were an illegitimate emancipation from eternal being, a wrong for which destruction is the only penance". (Ibid., § 4) The world of individual objects, in this way of thinking, has no worth and should perish.[57]

Martin Heidegger lectured extensively on Anaximander, and delivered a lecture entitled "Anaximander's Saying" which was subsequently included in Off the Beaten Track. The lecture examines the ontological difference and the oblivion of Being or Dasein in the context of the Anaximander fragment.[58] Heidegger's lecture is, in turn, an important influence on the French philosopher Jacques Derrida.[59]


According to the Suda:[60]

  • On Nature (Περὶ φύσεως / Perì phúseôs)
  • Rotation of the Earth (Γῆς περίοδος / Gễs períodos)
  • On Fixed stars (Περὶ τῶν ἀπλανῶν / Perì tỗn aplanỗn)
  • The [Celestial] Sphere (Σφαῖρα / Sphaĩra)

See also


  1. ^ Zühmer, T. H. "Roman Mosaic Depicting Anaximander with Sundial". Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. New York University.
  2. ^ DK fragments A 11 and A 30
  3. ^ "Anaximander". Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
  4. ^ "Anaximander" in Chambers's Encyclopædia. London: George Newnes, 1961, Vol. 1, p. 403.
  5. ^ Porphyry, Life of Pythagoras Anaximander.
  6. ^ Themistius, Oratio 26, §317
  7. ^ Park, David (2005) The Grand Contraption, Princeton University Press ISBN 0-691-12133-8
  8. ^ This character is traditionally associated with Boethius, however his face offering similarities with the relief of Anaximander (image in the box above), it could be a representation of the philosopher. See "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-02-14. Retrieved 2007-02-14.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) for a description of the characters in this painting.
  9. ^ a b Hippolytus (?), Refutation of All Heresies (I, 5)
  10. ^ In his Chronicles, as reported by Diogenes Laërtius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers (II, 2).
  11. ^ Richard D. McKirahan, Philosophy before Socrates, Ch 5, 32–34
  12. ^ a b  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Anaximander" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 944.
  13. ^ Dandamaev, M. A. (1989). A Political History of the Achaemenid Empire. BRILL. p. 153. ISBN 978-9004091726. During the period of Achaemenid rule in Miletus, which was the most important city of Ionia, there lived the eminent philosopher Anaximander and the geographer and historian Hecataeus.
  14. ^ C. Mosse (1984) La Grèce archaïque d' Homere à Eschyle. Édition du Seuil. p236
  15. ^ C. M. Bowra (1957) The Greek experience. World publishing Company. Cleveland and New York. p168,169.
  16. ^ Herbert Ernest Cushman claims Anaximander has "the first European philosophical conception of god", A beginner's history of philosophy, Volume 1 pg. 24
  17. ^ C. Mosse (1984) La Grece archaique d'Homere a Eschyle. Edition du Seuil. p 235
  18. ^ J. P. Vernart (1982) Les origins de la pensee grecque. PUF Pariw. p 128, J. P. Vernart (1982) The origins of the Greek thought. Cornell University Press.
  19. ^ ἀπείρων, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  20. ^ The Theogony of Hesiod, Transl. H. G. Evelyn White, 736–740
  21. ^ Aetios, I 3,3 [ Pseudo-Plutarch; DK 12 A 14.]; Aristotle, Phys. Γ5,204b 23sq. [DK 12 A 16.]
  22. ^ Kirk, G. S.; Raven, J. E. & Schofield, M. (2003). The Presocratic Philosophers. Cambridge University Press. p. 110. ISBN 978-0-521-27455-5.
  23. ^ Pseudo-Plutarch, The Doctrines of the Philosophers (I, 3).
  24. ^ Guthrie, William Keith Chambers (2000). A History of Greek Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-521-29420-1.
  25. ^ Aristotle, On Generation and Corruption (II, 5)
  26. ^ Simplicius, Comments on Aristotle's Physics (24, 13):
    "Ἀναξίμανδρος [...] λέγει δ' αὐτὴν μήτε ὕδωρ μήτε ἄλλο τι τῶν καλουμένων εἶναι στοιχείων, ἀλλ' ἑτέραν τινὰ φύσιν ἄπειρον, ἐξ ἧς ἅπαντας γίνεσθαι τοὺς οὐρανοὺς καὶ τοὺς ἐν αὐτοῖς κόσμους· ἐξ ὧν δὲ ἡ γένεσίς ἐστι τοῖς οὖσι, καὶ τὴν φθορὰν εἰς ταῦτα γίνεσθαι κατὰ τὸ χρεών· διδόναι γὰρ αὐτὰ δίκην καὶ τίσιν ἀλλήλοις τῆς ἀδικίας κατὰ τὴν τοῦ χρόνου τάξιν, ποιητικωτέροις οὕτως ὀνόμασιν αὐτὰ λέγων. δῆλον δὲ ὅτι τὴν εἰς ἄλληλα μεταβολὴν τῶν τεττάρων στοιχείων οὗτος θεασάμενος οὐκ ἠξίωσεν ἕν τι τούτων ὑποκείμενον ποιῆσαι, ἀλλά τι ἄλλο παρὰ ταῦτα· οὗτος δὲ οὐκ ἀλλοιουμένου τοῦ στοιχείου τὴν γένεσιν ποιεῖ, ἀλλ' ἀποκρινομένων τῶν ἐναντίων διὰ τῆς αἰδίου κινήσεως."
    In Ancient Greek quotes usually blend with surrounding text. Consequently, deciding where they start and where they end is often difficult. However, it is generally accepted that this quote is not Simplicius' own interpretation, but Anaximander's writing, in "somewhat poetic terms" as it is mentioned by Simplicius.
  27. ^ Curd, Patricia, A Presocratics Reader: Selected Fragments and Testimonia (Hackett Publishing, 1996), p. 12.
  28. ^ Aristotle, Metaphysics, I, 3, 983 b 8–11; Physics, III, 5, 204 b 33–34
  29. ^ EuripidesSupplices, v. 532
  30. ^ Friedrich Nietzsche, Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks (1873) § 4.
  31. ^ Károly, Simonyi (April 7, 2012). "A Cultural History of Physics". Chapter 5.5.10 Back to the Apeiron?. googlebooks. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  32. ^ Pseudo-Plutarch, Doctrines of the Philosophers, i. 7
  33. ^ Aristotle, On the Heavens, ii, 13
  34. ^ "A column of stone", Aetius reports in De Fide (III, 7, 1), or "similar to a pillar-shaped stone", pseudo-Plutarch (III, 10).
  35. ^ Carlo Rovelli, "The First Scientist, Anaximander and his Legacy" (Yardley: Westholme, 2011).
  36. ^ Daniel W. Graham, "Explaining the Cosmos: The Ionian Tradition of Scientific Philosophy" (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006).
  37. ^ Karl Popper, "Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge" (New York: Routledge, 1998), pg 186.
  38. ^ In Refutation, it is reported that the circle of the Sun is twenty-seven times bigger than the Moon.
  39. ^ Aetius, De Fide (II, 15, 6)
  40. ^ Most of Anaximander's model of the Universe comes from pseudo-Plutarch (II, 20–28):
    "[The Sun] is a circle twenty-eight times as big as the Earth, with the outline similar to that of a fire-filled chariot wheel, on which appears a mouth in certain places and through which it exposes its fire, as through the hole on a flute. [...] the Sun is equal to the Earth, but the circle on which it breathes and on which it's borne is twenty-seven times as big as the whole earth. [...] [The eclipse] is when the mouth from which comes the fire heat is closed. [...] [The Moon] is a circle nineteen times as big as the whole earth, all filled with fire, like that of the Sun".
  41. ^ Simplicius, Commentary on Aristotle's Physics, 1121, 5–9
  42. ^ Hippolytus (?), Refutation I, 6
  43. ^ Notably pseudo-Plutarch (III, 2) and Aetius, (I, 3, 3; I, 7, 12; II, 1, 3; II, 1, 8).
  44. ^ On the Nature of the Gods (I, 10, 25):
    "Anaximandri autem opinio est nativos esse deos longis intervallis orientis occidentisque, eosque innumerabiles esse mundos."
    "For Anaximander, gods were born, but the time is long between their birth and their death; and the worlds are countless."
  45. ^ Pseudo-Plutarch (III, 3):
    "Anaximander claims that all this is done by the wind, for when it happens to be enclosed in a thick cloud, then by its subtlety and lightness, the rupture produces the sound; and the scattering, because of the darkness of the cloud, creates the light."
  46. ^ According to Seneca, Naturales quaestiones (II, 18).
  47. ^ Pseudo-Plutarch (III, 16)
  48. ^ It is then very likely that by observing the moon and the tides, Anaximander thought the latter were the cause, and not the effect of the satellite's movement.
  49. ^ Pseudo-Plutarch (V, 19)
  50. ^ Censorinus, De Die Natali, IV, 7
  51. ^ Plutarch also mentions Anaximander's theory that humans were born inside fish, feeding like sharks, and that when they could defend themselves, they were thrown ashore to live on dry land.
  52. ^ According to John Mansley Robinson, An Introduction to Early Greek Philosophy, Houghton and Mifflin, 1968.
  53. ^ As established by Marcel Conche, Anaximandre. Fragments et témoignages, introduction (p. 43–47).
  54. ^ These accomplishments are often attributed to him, notably by Diogenes Laertius (II, 1) and by the Roman historian Eusebius of Caesarea, Preparation for the Gospel (X, 14, 11).
  55. ^ Da Divinatione (in Latin)
  56. ^ Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy and Its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1946).
  57. ^ Friedrich Nietzsche, Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Gateway, 1962).
  58. ^ Martin Heidegger, Off the Beaten Track (Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002).
  59. ^ Cf. Jacques Derrida, Margins of Philosophy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), pp. 66–7; Derrida, "Geschlecht II: Heidegger's Hand," in John Sallis (ed.), Deconstruction and Philosophy (Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 1987), pp. 181–2; Derrida, Given Time: I. Counterfeit Money (Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 1992), p. 159, n. 28.
  60. ^ Themistius and Simplicius also mention some work "on nature". The list could refer to book titles or simply their topics. Again, no one can tell because there is no punctuation sign in Ancient Greek. Furthermore, this list is incomplete since the Suda ends it with ἄλλα τινά, thus implying "other works".


Primary sources

Secondary sources

  • Brumbaugh, Robert S. (1964). The Philosopher's of Greece. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell.
  • Burnet, John (1920). Early Greek Philosophy (3rd ed.). London: Black.
  • Conche, Marcel (1991). Anaximandre: Fragments et témoignages (in French). Paris: Presses universitaires de France. ISBN 2-13-043785-0. The default source; anything not otherwise attributed should be in Conche.
  • Couprie, Dirk L.; Robert Hahn; Gerard Naddaf (2003). Anaximander in Context: New Studies in the Origins of Greek Philosophy. Albany: State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-5538-6.
  • Furley, David J.; Reginald E. Allen (1970). Studies in Presocratic Philosophy. 1. London: Routledge. OCLC 79496039.
  • Guthrie, W.K.C. (1962). The Earlier Presocratics and the Pythagoreans. A History of Greek Philosophy. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Hahn, Robert (2001). Anaximander and the Architects. The Contribution of Egyptian and Greek Architectural Technologies to the Origins of Greek Philosophy. Albany: State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0791447949.
  • Heidegger, Martin (2002). Off the Beaten Track. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-80114-1.
  • Kahn, Charles H. (1960). Anaximander and the Origins of Greek Cosmology. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Kirk, Geoffrey S.; Raven, John E. (1983). The Presocratic Philosophers (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Luchte, James (2011). Early Greek Thought: Before the Dawn. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-0567353313.
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich (1962). Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks. Chicago: Regnery. ISBN 0-89526-944-9.
  • Robinson, John Mansley (1968). An Introduction to Early Greek Philosophy. Houghton and Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-05316-1.
  • Ross, Stephen David (1993). Injustice and Restitution: The Ordinance of Time. Albany: State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-1670-4.
  • Rovelli, Carlo (2011). The First Scientist, Anaximander and his Legacy. Yardley: Westholme. ISBN 978-1-59416-131-5.
  • Sandywell, Barry (1996). Presocratic Reflexivity: The Construction of Philosophical Discourse, c. 600–450 BC. 3. London: Routledge.
  • Seligman, Paul (1962). The "Apeiron" of Anaximander. London: Athlone Press.
  • Vernant, Jean-Pierre (1982). The Origins of Greek Thought. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-9293-9.
  • Wheelwright, Philip, ed. (1966). The Presocratics. New York: Macmillan.
  • Wright, M.R. (1995). Cosmology in Antiquity. London: Routledge.

External links

Anaximander (crater)

Anaximander is a lunar impact crater that is located near the northwest limb of the Moon. It is joined at the northern rim by the crater Carpenter, a younger and better-defined formation. To the southeast is the much larger J. Herschel, a formation of the variety known as a walled plain.

The outer wall of Anaximander is heavily worn and eroded, with multiple notches and breaks. There is no central peak, but the floor contains several small craterlets and a multitude of tiny pits from minor impacts. This crater has merged with the larger Anaximander D to the south, and there is a wide break in their common rims where they have joined. To the northwest a low rise in the surface is all that separated Anaximander from the much larger satellite crater Anaximander B.

The crater is named for the 6th century BCE Greek philosopher and astronomer Anaximander.

Anaximander (disambiguation)

Anaximander can mean:-

Anaximander was a Greek philosopher.

The Anaximander crater on the Moon was named in his honour.

Anaximander, a trilobite genus

The Anaximander Mountains are a submerged mountain range south of the west part of the south coast of Turkey [1] [2].

Anaximenes of Miletus

Anaximenes of Miletus (; Greek: Ἀναξιμένης ὁ Μιλήσιος; c. 586 – c. 526 BC) was an Ancient Greek Pre-Socratic philosopher active in the latter half of the 6th century BC. The details of his life are obscure and undocumented because none of his work has been preserved. Anaximenes’s ideas and philosophies are known today because of comments made by Aristotle and other writers on the history of Greek Philosophy. Apollodurus noted the dates Anaximander was alive in relation to defining historical events, and estimated Anaximenes’s lifespan to occur in same time period that Cyrus beat Croesus in the Battle of Thymbra in 546 BCE. Some of his writings survived the Hellenistic Age, but no record of these documents currently exist. As one of the three Milesian philosophers that were considered the first revolutionary thinkers of the Western world, he is best known and identified as a younger friend or student of Anaximander. Much of his astronomical thought was based on Anaximander’s, but he altered Anaximander’s astrological ideas to better fit his own philosophical views on physics and the natural world. The Ionian school was the first school on record that encouraged their pupils to constructively criticize their master’s teachings, which aptly demonstrated a tolerance toward new ideas and logic for their time. Thales taught Anaximander, and Anaximander taught Anaximenes. Each philosopher developed a distinct system of cosmology without completely rejecting their teacher’s view of universe or creating major disagreement between them. Anaximenes, like others in his school of thought, practiced material monism. This tendency to identify one specific underlying reality made up of a material thing is what Anaximenes is principally known for today. Anaximenes was the last known Milesian philosopher, as Miletus was taken over by the Persian army in 494 BC. Because none of his works contain theological references, there is no evidence as to whether or not he practiced religion or if he was an atheist.


Apeiron (; ἄπειρον) is a Greek word meaning "(that which is) unlimited," "boundless", "infinite", or "indefinite" from ἀ- a-, "without" and πεῖραρ peirar, "end, limit", "boundary", the Ionic Greek form of πέρας peras, "end, limit, boundary". It is akin to Persian piramon, meaning "boundary, circumference, surrounding".


Arche (; Ancient Greek: ἀρχή) is a Greek word with primary senses "beginning", "origin" or "source of action" (εξ’ ἀρχής: from the beginning, οr εξ’ ἀρχής λόγος: the original argument), and later "first principle" or "element", first so used by Anaximander (Simplicius in Ph. 150.23). By extension, it may mean "first place, power", "method of government", "empire, realm", "authorities" (in plural: ἀρχαί), "command". The first principle or element corresponds to the "ultimate underlying substance" and "ultimate undemonstrable principle". In the philosophical language of the archaic period (8th to 6th century BC), arche (or archai) designates the source, origin or root of things that exist. In ancient Greek philosophy, Aristotle foregrounded the meaning of arche as the element or principle of a thing, which although undemonstrable and intangible in itself, provides the conditions of the possibility of that thing.

Carpenter (crater)

Carpenter is a lunar impact crater in the northern part of the Moon, relatively close to the limb (as viewed from earth). At this position the crater is foreshortened and appears oval in shape. It is, however, very nearly circular in outline. The outer rampart to the south is adjoined to the old crater Anaximander, and the satellite formation Anaximander B lies along the western rim. To the northeast is Anaximenes.

In geological terms Carpenter is a somewhat young lunar crater, with features that have not been significantly eroded by subsequent impacts. Certainly it is much younger than the surrounding crater formations. The inner wall displays an appearance of slumping, particularly along the eastern face, and there is some development of terraces. The outer rim is unmarked by craterlets of note, but there is a small crater along the south-southeastern inner wall. The crater has a ray system, and is consequently mapped as part of the Copernican System.The interior floor within the sloping inner walls is generally level, but irregular with many small bumps and hills. Near the midpoint is an unusual double central peak formation, with a smaller peak offset to the west and a larger ridge offset to the east. The latter ridge runs southward to the edge of the inner wall.

Conan the Outcast

Conan the Outcast is a fantasy novel written by Leonard Carpenter featuring Robert E. Howard's sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian. It was first published in paperback by Tor Books in April 1991, and was reprinted in February 1998.

Cosmic pluralism

Cosmic pluralism, the plurality of worlds, or simply pluralism, describes the philosophical belief in numerous "worlds" (planets, dwarf planets or natural satellites) in addition to Earth (possibly an infinite number), which may harbour extraterrestrial life.

The debate over pluralism began as early as the time of Anaximander (c. 610 – c. 546 BC) as a metaphysical argument, long predating the scientific Copernican conception that the Earth is one of numerous planets. It has continued, in a variety of forms, until the modern era.

Genesis (novel)

Genesis (2006) is a philosophical science fiction novel by New Zealand author Bernard Beckett. It won the 2007 Esther Glen Award for children's literature, and the 2007 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. As of 2008 it has been published in 22 countries.

Genesis looks at questions such as the origins of life (hence Genesis), ideas about human consciousness, and the nature of a soul which separates humans from other animals or machines.Genesis also has been nominated for the 2018 Inaugural Daniel Lim award for best philosophical novel.

Infinity (philosophy)

In philosophy and theology, infinity is explored in articles under headings such as the Ultimate, the Absolute, God, and Zeno's paradoxes. In Greek philosophy, for example in Anaximander, 'the Boundless' is the origin of all that is. He took the beginning or first principle to be an endless, unlimited primordial mass (ἄπειρον, apeiron). The Jain metaphysics and mathematics were the first to define and delineate different "types" of infinities. The work of the mathematician Georg Cantor first placed infinity into a coherent mathematical framework. Keenly aware of his departure from traditional wisdom, Cantor also presented a comprehensive historical and philosophical discussion of infinity. In Judeo-Christian theology, for example in the work of Duns Scotus, the infinite nature of God invokes a sense of being without constraint, rather than a sense of being unlimited in quantity. In ethics infinity plays an important role in designating that which cannot be defined or reduced to knowledge or power.

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 Graeco-Roman geographers

Pre-Hellenistic Classical Greece



Hecataeus of Miletus

Massaliote Periplus (?)

Scylax of Caryanda (6th century BC)

HerodotusHellenistic periodPytheas (died c. 310 BC)

Periplus of Pseudo-Scylax (4th or 3rd century BC)

Megasthenes (died c. 290 BC)

Autolycus of Pitane (died c. 290 BC)

Dicaearchus (died c. 285 BC)

Deimakos (3rd century BC)

Timosthenes (fl. 270s BC)

Eratosthenes (c. 276-194 BC)

Scymnus (fl. 180s BC)

Hipparchus (c. 190-120 BC)

Agatharchides (2nd century BC)

Posidonius (c. 135-51 BC)

Pseudo-Scymnus (c. 90 BC)

Diodorus Siculus (c. 90-30 BC)

Alexander Polyhistor (1st century BC)Roman Empire period

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea

Strabo (64 BC - 24 AD)

Pomponius Mela (fl. 40s AD)

Isidore of Charax (1st century AD)

Mucianus (1st century AD)

Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD), Natural History

Marinus of Tyre (c. 70-130)

Ptolemy (90-168), Geography

Pausanias (2nd century)

Agathedaemon of Alexandria (2nd century)

Dionysius of Byzantium (2nd century)

Agathemerus (3rd century)

Tabula Peutingeriana (4th century)

Alypius of Antioch (4th century)

Marcian of Heraclea (4th century)

Expositio totius mundi et gentium (AD 350-362)

Julius Honorius (very uncertain: 4th, 5th or 6th century)Byzantine EmpireHierocles (author of Synecdemus) (6th century)

Cosmas Indicopleustes (6th century)

Stephanus of Byzantium (6th century)

List of ancient Milesians

The Milesians were the inhabitants of Miletus, an ancient Greek city in Anatolia, modern-day Turkey, near the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and at the mouth of the Meander River. Settlers from Crete moved to Miletus sometime in 16th century BC. By the 6th century BC, Miletus had become a maritime empire, and the Milesians spread out across Anatolia and even as far as the Crimea and Olbia, Ukraine, founding new colonies.

Noted Milesians:

Miletus, the mythological founder of the city

Cadmus of Miletus, a historian, perhaps mythical

Arctinus of Miletus, 8th century BC Greek epic poet

Thales (c. 624–c. 546 BC), considered by many the "first" Greek natural philosopher; "the father of science"

Anaximander (c. 610–c. 546 BC), philosopher; pupil of Thales

Anaximenes of Miletus (c. 585–c. 528 BC), philosopher; friend or pupil of Anaximander

Hecataeus of Miletus (c. 550–c. 476 BC), historian

Hippodamus of Miletus (498–408 BC), Greek architect, urban planner, physician, mathematician, meteorologist and philosopher, considered the "father of European urban planning"

Aspasia (c. 470-c. 400 BC), wife or courtesan of Pericles

Timotheus of Miletus (c. 446–357 BC), Greek musician and poet

Theopompus, pirate captain who served under Lysander in the Battle of Aegospotami (405 BC)

Eubulides (fl. 4th century BC), philosopher; formulated the "liar paradox"

Aristides of Miletus (fl. 2nd century BC), writer of shameless and amusing Milesian tales

Alexander Polyhistor or Alexander of Miletus (fl. first half of the 1st century BC), Greek historian and geographer

Aeschines of Miletus (fl. 1st century BC), Greek orator, a contemporary of Cicero

Hesychius of Miletus or Hesychius Illustrius, 6th century chronicler and biographer

Isidore of Miletus, 6th century Byzantine Greek architectMilesian tyrants:

Aristagoras (fl. late 6th century-early 5th century BC)

Histiaeus (died 493 BC)

Timarchus of Miletus (fl. 3rd century BC)

Material monism

Material monism is a Presocratic belief which provides an explanation of the physical world by saying that all of the world's objects are composed of a single element. Among the material monists were the three Milesian philosophers: Thales, who believed that everything was composed of water; Anaximander, who believed it was apeiron; and Anaximenes, who believed it was air. For the first and last of these thinkers, however, that element was infused by mind, so it would be a mistake to call them material monists.

Although their theories were primitive, these philosophers were the first to give an explanation of the physical world without referencing the supernatural; this opened the way for much of modern science (and philosophy), which has the same goal of explaining the world without dependence on the supernatural.

Matter (philosophy)

Matter is the substrate from which physical existence is derived, remaining more or less constant amid changes. The word "matter" is derived from the Latin word māteria, meaning "wood", or “timber”, in the sense "material", as distinct from "mind" or "form". The image of wood came to Latin as a calque from the Greek philosophical usage of hyle (ὕλη).

Milesian school

The Milesian school () was a school of thought founded in the 6th century BC. The ideas associated with it are exemplified by three philosophers from the Ionian town of Miletus, on the Aegean coast of Asia Minor: Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes. They introduced new opinions contrary to the prevailing belief of how the world was organized, in which natural phenomena were explained solely by the will of anthropomorphized gods. The Milesians conceived of nature in terms of methodologically observable entities, and as such was one of the first truly scientific philosophies.

The Milesian school is not synonymous with the Ionian, which includes the philosophies of the Milesians plus distinctly different Ionian thinkers such as Heraclitus. The Ionian School contains the three philosophers that form the Milesian School as well as a few more who were added on during the 5th Century, but the Ionian School looked more into the thought behind everything while the Milesian School was more focused on nature.

On Nature (Anaximander)

For other philosophical literature by the same name see On Nature (disambiguation).On Nature was a philosophical poem which details Anaximander's theories about the evolution of the Earth, plants, animals and humankind. Anaximander described his theory that humans and other animals descended from fish once the world's oceans began to dry up. Also he described a theory of abiogenesis in his book in the way that he believed that the first life forms formed from mist. We know little about his book because it has been lost or destroyed, however it still remains important today because it describes one of the world's earliest theories of evolution.

Parides lysander

Parides lysander, the Lysander cattleheart, is a species of butterfly in the family Papilionidae. It is found in the Neotropical ecozone.

The larvae feed on Aristolochia species including A. huberiana, A. sprucei, A. littoralis, A. ruiziana, and A. leuconeura.

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.


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.