Anaximenes of Miletus (/ˌænækˈsɪməˌniːz/; 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.
Anaximenes of Miletus
Anaximenes of Miletus
|Born||c. 586 BC|
|Died||c. 526 BC|
|Region||Ancient Greek city of Miletus (present-day Turkey)
|School||Ionian / Milesian
|Air is the arche
The Universe is in constant motionMatter changes through rarefaction and condensation
While his predecessors Thales and Anaximander proposed that the archai (singular: arche, meaning the underlying material of the world) were water and the ambiguous substance apeiron, respectively, Anaximenes asserted that aer (“mist,” “vapor,” “air”) was this primary substance of which all natural things are made. By rejecting his teacher’s theory based on the concept of discontinuity, Anaximenes took a more empirical approach to understanding the underlying processes of genesis and change on two assumptions: (1) origination retains properties of the apeiron, but it has an actually tangible state of existence as air that can evolve other substances and (2) genesis and change depend on a cohesive, mechanistic process known as condensation and rarefaction. He believed that air was infinite and divine. Anaximenes was first to use the word Pneuma (“breath of life”) as a synonym with air. One of the only surviving quotes by Anaximenes reads, “Just as our soul...being air holds us together, so pneuma and air encompass [and guard] the whole world.” The analogy compared atmospheric air as the divine and human air as souls that animate people. This relation of the macroscopic and microscopic suggested Anaximenes believed there was an overarching principle that regulated all life and behavior. Essentially, he thought air was the primary substance that held the Universe together. Interestingly, The Old Testament features a similar analogy to the founding of the world and creation of man, but Anaximenes did not recognize a creator of the universe and did not think the pneuma as a creator to guide man. The choice of air may seem arbitrary, but Anaximenes based his conclusion on naturally observable phenomena in the processes of rarefaction and condensation. The primary difference in the forms of air as matter was the degree of condensation and density. When air condenses it becomes visible, and according to Anaximenes, the spread-out, invisible, infinite air was condensed to wind, then formed into clouds, which condensed further to produce mist, rain, and other forms of precipitation. As the condensed air cooled, Anaximenes supposed that Earth itself was an early condensate of air-- the process continued until the air was condensed enough to form solids like the Earth and ultimately stones. By contrast, Anaximenes was able to visually see how water evaporates into air and based his concept of rarefaction on this observation. According to him, any object that held light was made of fire, and fire was made from the rarefaction of air. While other philosophers also recognized such transitions in states of matter, Anaximenes was the first to associate the qualitative change in hot/dry and cold/wet pairings with the density of a single material, effectively adding a quantitative dimension to the Milesian monistic system. He attributed condensation to cold/wet air and rarefaction to the interaction of hot/dry air. This concept was the foundation for understanding the existence of different substances, materials, and elements due to their arrangement of atoms and number of subatomic particles.
Since language and communication were very limited in his time, Anaximenes’s analogies were key in explaining the uncertain through the certain. For example, he knew for certain that blowing air on his hand with his mouth wide open produced hot air, while blowing on his hand with half-closed lips produced cold air. These observations were key in his postulate that the hot air was due to rarefaction and expansion, whereas the cold air was due to condensation and compression. Although in modern times it is known that this is actually the opposite, Anaximenes was key in arriving at this conclusion. His analogies often connected parallels between man and the cosmos, insinuating that the same natural laws observable on earth applied to the heavens. Over 2000 years later, Isaac Newton proved this to be true. Throughout history, Anaximenes’s observations proved helpful to uncover powerful theories, such as quantum physics and chemical properties. By the end of the Milesian philosophy era, there were many questions left unanswered; this sparked the stimulation of Pre-socratic thought to continue through many other notable philosophers such as Pythagoras, Parmenides, Heraclitus, and Democritus.
Anaximenes greatest influence is not from his theories of matter, but instead it is from how he thought about these ideas. For instance, his theory of air being the underlying substance was disproved, but when looking at his idea from a fundamental aspect, in which a substance is capable of changing forms, his theory was the first of its kind. This concept of changing of forms is fundamental to scientific thought and shows how his ideas, although not correct, were helpful in the development of modern views. In the time of Anaximenes, phenomena were usually explained with reference to religion and mythology. Anaximenes explained events like rainbows with concrete ideas instead of saying they were the work of a goddess. The explanation Anaximenes gave helped in the transition of attributing the cause of phenomena to scientific events, rather than mythology.
Many similarities to Anaximenes’s theories are apparent in Plato’s theory. So much so, that some scholars have said Plato has based his theory of matter on Anaximenes’s theory. In Aristotle’s view on Anaximenes, he interprets the theory as the one substance being air, and all other states of matter are different condensations of air. In Plato’s interpretation of Anaximenes’s theory, he considers the seven states of matter: fire, air, wind, clouds, earth and stone as different densities. Acknowledging that these seven states of matter are different densities shows how the intrinsic properties of the matter have changed, and they are actually different substances. Anaximenes supports this conclusion by his explanation using the concept of felting. Felting is a technological model used to explain condensation, in which wool turns into felt and has new properties. Just as how wind is compressed into clouds in Anaximenes’s theory. Without recognizing Anaximenes’s influence on Plato, and simply focusing on Anaximenes’s influence on Aristotle, Anaximenes’s contributions to scientific thought are not fully recognized. Aristotle interpreted Anaximenes’s theory as all substance being different manifestations of air. It was Plato’s interpretation of Anaximenes’s theory that recognized the fundamental changes of air into other substances. And even though Anaximenes’s theory was not correct, his influence is apparent in shaping Plato’s theory, and it helped to shift the mindset of other thinkers into realizing that fundamental change of substances is possible.
Because Plato’s theory does not recognize Anaximenes’s by name, some scholars have doubted that Plato’s theory was actually influenced by Anaximenes. The proponents of the influence have written that the uniqueness of Anaximenes’s theory and obvious similarities to Plato's theory prove the connection. The opposing viewpoint attributes the similarities to mere coincidence. Because none of Anaximenes’s work exists today, there is controversy over the amount of influence Anaximenes’s had on Plato.
Having concluded that everything in the world is composed of air, Anaximenes used his theory to devise a scheme that explains the origins and nature of the earth and the surrounding celestial bodies. Air felted to create the flat disk of the earth, which he said was table-like and behaved like a leaf floating on air. Anaximenes did not think that stars were floating leaf-like bodies similar to the earth and sun; instead, he thought of stars being similar to nails that are stuck in a transparent shell. In keeping with the prevailing view of celestial bodies as balls of fire in the sky, Anaximenes proposed that the earth let out an exhalation of air that rarefied, ignited and became the stars. While the sun is similarly described as being aflame, it is not composed of rarefied air like the stars, but rather of earth like the moon; its burning comes not from its composition but rather from its rapid motion. Similarly, he considered the moon and sun to be flat and floating on streams of air. In his theory, when the sun sets it does not pass under the earth, but is merely obscured by higher parts of the earth as it circles around and becomes more distant. Anaximenes likens the motion of the sun and the other celestial bodies around the earth to the way that a cap may be turned around the head. Anaximenes believed that the sky was a dome, and day and night are caused by celestial bodies being carried North until they are no longer seen. There is evidence that suggests Anaximenes may have been the first person to distinguish between planets and fixed stars.
Anaximenes used his observations and reasoning to provide causes for other natural phenomena on the earth as well. Earthquakes, he asserted, were the result either of lack of moisture, which causes the earth to break apart because of how parched it is, or of superabundance of water, which also causes cracks in the earth. In either case the earth becomes weakened by its cracks, so that hills collapse and cause earthquakes. Lightning is similarly caused by the violent separation of clouds by the wind, creating a bright, fire-like flash. Rainbows, on the other hand, are formed when densely compressed air is touched by the rays of the sun. These examples show how Anaximenes, like the other Milesian philosophers, looked for the broader picture in nature. They sought unifying causes for diversely occurring events, rather than treating each one on a case-by-case basis, or attributing them to gods or to a personified nature.
This article concerns the period 529 BC – 520 BC.525 BC
The year 525 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. In the Roman Empire, it was known as year 229 Ab urbe condita. The denomination 525 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.580s BC
This article concerns the period 589 BC – 580 BC.585 BC
The year 585 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. In the Roman Empire, it was known as year 169 Ab urbe condita . The denomination 585 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.6th century BC
The 6th century BC started the first day of 600 BC and ended the last day of 501 BC.
This century represents the peak of a period in human history popularly known as Axial Age. This period saw the emergence of five major thought streams springing from five great thinkers in different parts of the world: Buddha and Mahavira in India, Zoroaster in Persia, Pythagoras in Greece and Confucius in China.
Pāṇini, in India, composed a grammar for Sanskrit, in this century or slightly later. This is the oldest still known grammar of any language.
In Western Asia, the first half of this century was dominated by the Neo-Babylonian or Chaldean empire, which had risen to power late in the previous century after successfully rebelling against Assyrian rule. The Kingdom of Judah came to an end in 586 BC when Babylonian forces under Nebuchadnezzar II captured Jerusalem, and removed most of its population to their own lands. Babylonian rule was ended in the 540s by Cyrus, who founded the Persian Empire in its place. The Persian Empire continued to expand and grew into the greatest empire the world had known at the time.
In Iron Age Europe, the Celtic expansion was in progress. China was in the Spring and Autumn period.
Mediterranean: Beginning of Greek philosophy, flourishes during the 5th century BC
The late Hallstatt culture period in Eastern and Central Europe, the late Bronze Age in Northern Europe
East Asia: the Spring and Autumn period. Confucianism, Legalism and Moism flourish. Laozi founds Taoism
West Asia: During the Persian empire, Zoroaster, a.k.a. Zarathustra, founded Zoroastrianism, a dualistic philosophy. This was also the time of the Babylonian captivity of the ancient Jews.
Ancient India: the Buddha and Mahavira found Buddhism and Jainism
The decline of the Olmec civilization in Central AmericaAnaximenes
Anaximenes may refer to:
Anaximenes of Lampsacus (4th century BC), Greek rhetorician and historian
Anaximenes of Miletus (6th century BC), Greek pre-Socratic philosopher
Anaximenes (crater), a lunar craterAncient philosophy
This page lists some links to ancient philosophy. In Western philosophy, the spread of Christianity in the Roman Empire marked the ending of Hellenistic philosophy and ushered in the beginnings of Medieval philosophy, whereas in Eastern philosophy, the spread of Islam through the Arab Empire marked the end of Old Iranian philosophy and ushered in the beginnings of early Islamic philosophy.Exhortation to the Greeks
The Exhortation to the Greeks (Latin: Cohortatio ad Graecos; alternative Latin: Cohortatio ad Gentiles; Ancient Greek: Λόγος παραινέτικος πρὸς Ἕλληνας) is an Ancient Greek Christian paraenetic or protreptic text in thirty-eight chapters.Index of ancient philosophy articles
This page is a list of topics in ancient philosophy.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.Limnae (Thrace)
Limnae or Limnai (Ancient Greek: Λίμναι), was an ancient Greek city dating back to 7th century B.C. on the Gallipoli peninsula. The city was founded by migrants coming from Ionia. The city was one of the richest and most busy seaports of the Gallipoli region in its time and maintained its existence until the Roman era.
Limnae is covered by several ancient authors. Strabo places Limnae between Drabus and Alopeconnesus. According to Anaximenes of Miletus, it was a colony of Miletus. It belonged to the Delian League as it appears in Athenian tribute lists from 447/6 to 429/8 BCE. Limnae also appears in Stephanus of Byzantium and Pseudo-Scymnus.Until 2018, the existence of the ancient city was known from ancient texts, but the exact location was not certain. In 2018, the city was discovered near the Beşyol plain. According to the archaeologists: "Only pieces of bowls, crockery and tiles can be seen on the surface since the architectural remnants of the city are underground. However, these pieces give us information about the field the city covered, as well as when the city was established and when it was desolated."List of ancient Greek philosophers
This list of ancient Greek philosophers contains philosophers who studied in ancient Greece or spoke Greek. Ancient Greek philosophy began in Miletus with the pre-Socratic philosopher Thales and lasted through Late Antiquity. Some of the most famous and influential Greek philosophers of all time were from the ancient Greek world, including Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.
Abbreviations used in this list:
c. = circa
fl. = flourishedList 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.
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)List of people with craters of the Moon named after them
The following is a list of people whose names were given to craters of the Moon. The list of approved names in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature maintained by the International Astronomical Union includes the person the crater is named for.Seismology
Seismology ( ; from Ancient Greek σεισμός (seismós) meaning "earthquake" and -λογία (-logía) meaning "study of") is the scientific study of earthquakes and the propagation of elastic waves through the Earth or through other planet-like bodies. The field also includes studies of earthquake environmental effects such as tsunamis as well as diverse seismic sources such as volcanic, tectonic, oceanic, atmospheric, and artificial processes such as explosions. A related field that uses geology to infer information regarding past earthquakes is paleoseismology. A recording of earth motion as a function of time is called a seismogram. A seismologist is a scientist who does research in seismology.Timeline of Western philosophers
This is a list of philosophers from the Western tradition of philosophy.Unity of opposites
The unity of opposites is the central category of dialectics, said to be related to the notion of non-duality in a deep sense. It defines a situation in which the existence or identity of a thing (or situation) depends on the co-existence of at least two conditions which are opposite to each other, yet dependent on each other and presupposing each other, within a field of tension.