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A History of Greek Philosophy / THE ATOMISTS / ANAXAGORAS

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Anaxagoras and the cosmos—Mind in nature—The seeds of existence—Empedocles at Etna—Brief life and scanty vision—The four elements—The philosophy of contradiction—Philosophy a form of poesy—The philosopher a prophet—Sensation through kinship—The whole creation groaneth—The laughing philosopher—Atoms and void—No god and no truth

I - ANAXAGORAS


Anaxagoras was born at Clazomenae, a city of Ionia, about the year 500 B.C. At the age of twenty he removed to Athens, of which city Clazomenae was for some time a dependency. This step on his part may have been connected with the circumstances attending the great invasion of Greece by Xerxes in the year 480. For Xerxes drew a large contingent of his army from the Ionian cities which he had subdued, and many who were unwilling to serve against their mother-country may have taken refuge about that time in Athens. At Athens he resided for nearly fifty years, and during that period became the friend and teacher of many eminent men, among the rest of Pericles, the great Athenian statesman, and of Euripides, the dramatist. Like most of the Ionian philosophers he had a taste for mathematics and astronomy, as well as for certain practical applications of mathematics. Among other books he is said to have written a treatise on the art of scene-designing for the stage, possibly to oblige his friend and pupil Euripides. In his case, as in that of his predecessors, only fragments of his philosophic writings have been preserved, and the connection of certain portions of his teaching as they have come down to us remains somewhat uncertain.


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