Anaximenes of Miletus
The dates of the last philosopher of the Milesian school, Anaximenes are very uncertain. Of his life nothing is known. He was certainly subsequent to Anaximander, and he could not flourish after 494 B.C., since in that year Persians destroyed Miletus. But according to Apollodorus, quoted by Diogenes, Anaximenes flourished from about 585 to 524 B.C. According to Anaximenes, the air is the primal substance from which all other substances such as fire, water, earth etc., are derived. For him, states of substance (solid, liquid, gas) are merely the product of rarefaction and condensation process. The soul is air, fire is rarefied air; when condensed, condensed, and air becomes water, if further condensed water becomes earth and finally becomes stone. Anazimenes says that air is the first principle of all things, and that it is infinite in quantity but is defined by its qualities; and all things are gererated by a certain condesation or rarefaction of air. He thought that by the compression of the air the earth was formed and the shape of the earth is like a round table, and that air covers everything. He maintained that earth rests on air; and the sun and the moon and the rest of the starts were formed from earth. He said that the sun is earth beacause of its motion, and it has the proper amount of heat. Although he was not quite so interesting as compared to Anaximander, it is important to note he had an important influence on Pythagoras. Briefly, Anaximenes adopted a version of Thales hypothesis, but he changed the original principle principle from water to air.
Anaximenes of Miletus From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Anaximenes of Miletus
Anaximenes of Miletus
c. 585 BC
c. 528 BC
Ionian / Milesian Naturalism
Air is the arche
(/ˌænækˈsɪməˌniːz/ ; Greek: Ἀναξιμένης ὁ Μιλήσιος; c. 585 – c. 528 BCE) was an Ancient Greek Pre-Socratic philosopher active in the latter half of the 6th century BC. One of the three Milesian philosophers, he is identified as a younger friend or student of Anaximander . Anaximenes, like others in his school of thought, practicedmaterial monism. This tendency to identify one specific underlying reality made up of a material thing is what Anaximenes is principally known for today. Anaximenes of Miletus
1 Anaximenes and the Arche 2The origin of the Cosmos 3Other phenomena 4Legacy 5References 6Further reading 7External links
Anaximenes and the Arche 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 air was this primary substance of which all other things are made. The choice of air may seem arbitrary, but Anaximenes based his conclusion on naturally observable phenomena in the processes of rarefaction and condensation. When air condenses it becomes visible, as mist and then rain and other forms of precipitation. As the condensed air cools Anaximenes supposed that it went on to form earth and ultimately stones. In contrast, water evaporates into air, which ignites and produces flame when further rarefied. While other philosophers also recognized such transitions in states of matter, Anaximenes was the first to associate the quality pairs hot/dry and cold/wet with the density of a single material and add a quantitative dimension to the Milesian monistic system.
The origin of the Cosmos 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. 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.
Other phenomena  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.
Anaximenes (d. 528 B.C.E.) According to the surviving sources on his life, Anaximenes flourished in the mid 6th century B.C.E. and died about 528. He is the third philosopher of the Milesian School of philosophy, so named because like Thales and Anaximander, Anaximenes was an inhabitant of Miletus, in Ionia (ancient Greece). Theophrastus notes that Anaximenes was an associate, and possibly a student, of Anaximander's. Anaximenes is best known for his doctrine that air is the source of all things. In this way, he differed with his predecessors like Thales, who held that water is the source of all things, and Anaximander, who thought that all things came from an unspecified boundless stuff.
Table of Contents 1. Doctrine of Air 2. Doctrine of Change 3. Origin of the Cosmos 4. Influence on Later Philosophy 5. References and Further Reading
1. Doctrine of Air Anaximenes seems to have held that at one time everything was air. Air can be thought of as a kind of neutral stuff that is found everywhere, and is available to participate in physical processes. Natural forces constantly act on the air and transform it into other materials, which came together to form the organized world. In early Greek literature, air is associated with the soul (the breath of life) and Anaximenes may have thought of air as capable of directing its own development, as the soul controls the body (DK 13B2 in the Diels-Kranz collection of Presocratic sources) . Accordingly, he ascribed to air divine attributes.
2. Doctrine of Change Given his doctrine that all things are composed of air, Anaximenes suggested an interesting qualitative account of natural change: [Air] differs in essence in accordance with its rarity or density. When it is thinned it becomes fire, while when it is condensed it becomes wind, then cloud, when still more condensed it becomes water, then earth, then stones. Everything else comes from these. (DK13A5)
Using two contrary processes of rarefaction and condensation, Anaximenes explains how air is part of a series of changes. Fire turns to air, air to wind, wind to cloud, cloud to water, water to earth and earth to stone. Matter can travel this path by being condensed, or the reverse path from stones to fire by being successively more rarefied. Anaximenes provides a crude kind of empirical support by appealing to a simple experiment: if one blows on one's hand with the mouth relaxed, the air is hot; if one blows with pursed lips, the air is cold (DK13B1). Hence, according to Anaximenes we see that rarity is correlated with heat (as in fire), and density with coldness, (as in the denser stuffs). Anaximenes was the first recorded thinker who provided a theory of change and supported it with observation. Anaximander had described a sequence of changes that a portion of the boundless underwent to form the different stuffs of the world, but he gave no scientific reason for changes, nor did he describe any mechanism by which they might come about. By contrast, Anaximenes uses a process familiar from everyday experience to account for material change. He also seems to have referred to the process of felting, by which wool is compressed to make felt. This industrial process provides a model of how one stuff can take on new properties when it is compacted.
3. Origin of the Cosmos Anaximenes, like Anaximander, gives an account of how our world came to be out of previously existing matter. According to Anaximenes, earth was formed from air by a felting process. It began as a flat disk. From evaporations from the earth, fiery bodies arose which came to be the heavenly bodies. The earth floats on a cushion of air. The heavenly bodies, or at least the sun and the moon, seem also to be flat bodies that float on streams of air. On one account, the heavens are like a felt cap that turns around the head. The stars may be fixed to this surface like nails. In another account, the stars are like fiery leaves floating on air (DK13A14). The sun does not travel under the earth but circles around it, and is hidden by the higher parts of the earth at night. Like Anaximander, Anaximenes uses his principles to account for various natural phenomena. Lightning and thunder result from wind breaking out of clouds; rainbows are the result of the rays of the sun falling on clouds; earthquakes are caused by the cracking of the earth when it dries out after being moistened by rains. He gives an essentially correct account of hail as frozen rainwater. Most commentators, following Aristotle , understand Anaximenes’ theory of change as presupposing material monism. According to this theory, there is only one substance, (in this case air) from which all existing things are composed. The several stuffs: wind, cloud, water, etc., are only
modifications of the real substance that is always and everywhere present. There is no independent evidence to support this interpretation, which seems to require Aristotle’s metaphysical concepts of form and matter, substratum and accident that are too advanced for this period. Anaximenes may have supposed that the ‘stuffs’ simply change into one another in order.
4. Influence on Later Philosophy Anaximenes’ theory of successive change of matter by rarefaction and condensation was influential in later theories. It is developed by Heraclitus (DK22B31), and criticized by Parmenides (DK28B8.23-24, 4748). Anaximenes’ general theory of how the materials of the world arise is adopted by Anaxagoras (DK59B16), even though the latter has a very different theory of matter. Both Melissus (DK30B8.3) and Plato (Timaeus 49b-c) see Anaximenes’ theory as providing a common-sense explanation of change. Diogenes of Apollonia makes air the basis of his explicitly monistic theory. The Hippocratic treatise On Breaths uses air as the central concept in a theory of diseases. By providing cosmological accounts with a theory of change, Anaximenes separated them from the realm of mere speculation and made them, at least in conception, scientific theories capable of testing.
5. References and Further Reading There are no monographs on Anaximenes in English. Articles on him are sometimes rather specialized in nature. A number of chapters in books on the Presocratics are helpful.
Barnes, Jonathan. The Presocratic Philosophers. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul (1 vol. edn.), 1982. Ch. 3.
Bicknell, P. J. "Anaximenes' Astronomy." Acta Classica 12: 53-85.
Gives a philosophically rich defense of the standard interpretation of Anaximenes. An interesting reconstruction of the conflicting reports on Anaximenes' astronomy.
Classen, C. Joachim. "Anaximander and Anaximenes: The Earliest Greek Theories of Change?" Phronesis 22: 89-102. This contributions.
A good introduction to Anaximenes' thought.
Kirk, G. S., J. E. Raven and M. Schofield. The Presocratic Philosophers. 2nd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1983. Ch. 4.
Guthrie, W. K. C. A History of Greek Philosophy. Vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge U. Pr., 1962. 115-40.
A careful analysis of the texts of Anaximenes.
Wöhrle, Georg. Anaximenes aus Milet. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1993. This brief edition adds four new testimonies to the evidence about Anaximenes and challenges the standard interpretation. It is useful as a counterbalance to the received view, though I think particular criticisms it makes of that view are wrong.
Anaximenes: Air The third of the founding philosophers from Miletus was Anaximenes (c. 585-525 BCE), who held that condensed and expanded air is the source of everything. He was a student of Anaximander and, like his teacher, he wrote a book with only a sentence or two surviving. The most notable fragment is this, which stresses the central role of air in conception of reality: “Just as our soul, being air, holds us together, so do breath and air surround the whole world.” We find a more complete account of his view of air in the following summary from an early philosopher:
Anaximenes of Miletus, who had been an associate of Anaximander, said, like him, that the underlying substance was one and infinite. He did not, however, say it was indeterminate, like Anaximander, but determinate; for he said it was Air. It differs in different substances in virtue of its rarefaction and condensation. In its thinnest state it comes to be. Being condensed it becomes wind, then cloud, and when still further condensed it becomes water, then earth, then stones, and the rest of things comes to be out of these. [DK] On Anaximenes view, then, physical objects differ only in how condensed the air is in a given space: stuff is airy when less compressed and solid when more compressed. When air begins to be compressed, it condenses into wind, then cloud, then water, then earth, then stones, and everything else that we see comes from these. The importance of this is that Anaximenes was the first to suggest that reality could be measured. We could at least in theory say that a certain amount of pressure exerted on an area of air will result in it attaining a specific level of solidity. This provides a more scientific account of reality, particularly in comparison to Anaximandar’s theory which removed ultimate reality from the realm of what we can perceive.