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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

A History of Greek Philosophy / THE SCHOOL OF MILETUS / ANAXIMANDER


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Elpenor's note Anaximander : The limitless limits

Our information with respect to thinkers so remote as these men is too scanty and too fragmentary, to enable us to say in what manner or degree they influenced each other. We cannot say for certain that any one of them was pupil or antagonist of another. They appear each of them, one might say for a moment only, from amidst the darkness of antiquity; a few sayings of theirs we catch vaguely across the void, and then they disappear. There is not, consequently, any very distinct progression or continuity observable among them, and so far therefore one has to confess that the title ‘School of Miletus’ is a misnomer. We have already quoted the words of Aristotle in which he classes the Ionic philosophers together, as all of them giving a material aspect of some kind to the originative principle of the universe. But while this is a characteristic observable in some of them, it is not so obviously discoverable in the second of their number, Anaximander.
This philosopher is said to have been younger by one generation than Thales, but to have been intimate with him. He, like Thales, was a native of Miletus, and while we do not hear of him as a person, like Thales, of political eminence and activity, he was certainly the equal, if not the superior, of Thales in mathematical and scientific ability. He is said to have either invented or at least made known to Greece the construction of the sun-dial. He was associated with Hecataeus in the construction of the earliest geographical charts or maps; he devoted himself with some success to the science of astronomy. His familiarity with the abstractions of mathematics perhaps accounts for the more abstract form, in which he expressed his idea of the principle of all things.
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Cf. Anaximander Resources / Guthrie, The Early Presocratics and the Pythagoreans - A Synopsis of Greek Philosophy

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