Anaximandre de Milet (in Greek old Ἀναξίμανδρος / Anaxímandros ) (610 av. J. - C. - towards 546 av. J. - C.) is a Greek Philosophe presocratic. It succeeded Thalès as Master of the school milésienne, and counted Anaximène and Pythagore among its pupils.
Anaximandre passes for first philosopher to have consigned his written work. Only a fragment arrived to us, but ancient testimonys make it possible to have an idea of their nature and their extent, which covers the Philosophie, the Astronomie, the Physique, the Géométrie but also the Géographie.
The lunar crater Anaximandre was named in its honor.
Anaximandre, wire of Praxiadès, were born with Milet during the third year from the 42e Olympiade (610 av. J. - C.). According to Apollodore of Athens, it was old sixty-four years in the second year of the 58e Olympiad (547 -546 front J. - C.) and it died little of time afterwards. He would have thus known his apogee around the time of Polycrate, tyrant of Samos. Raise of Thalès, it also seems that he was one of his parents (according to the Souda ).
In its Speech (36), Thémistius mentions that Anaximandre would have been “the first of the Greeks known to publish a work written on nature” and by this fact even, its documents would have been among the first Greek texts written in Prose. Time of Plato, his philosophy had fallen into the lapse of memory, and it is with Aristote, Théophraste and some Doxographe S which one owes the fragments which remain us.
The Lives, doctrines and sentences of the famous philosophers (II, 2) of Diogène Laërce bring back an amusing anecdote about it: having learned that the children made fun of him when he sang, he would have answered that it would then be necessary for him to learn with better singing for the children.
According to Élien, Milésiens would have charged it with directing a colony towards Apollonie, on the coast Thrace of the Black Sea, which lets think that he was a citizen of a certain notoriety. Indeed, the varied Histoires (III, 17) explain why the philosophers left sometimes the comfort of their thoughts to deal with political matters. It is thus extremely probable that it was sent there as legislator to bring a constitution there or to maintain the capacity by Milet there.
The apeiron , original principle
Hippolyte (I, 5), and later Simplicius allots to Anaximandre the paternity of the use of the word ἀπείρων / apeírôn (“infinite” or “unlimited”) to indicate the original principle. He would have also been the first philosopher to be used in a philosophical direction the term ἀρχή / arkhế . This one hitherto meant the “beginning”, the “origin”; starting from Anaximandre, it is not only any more of one point in time, but about a perpetual origin, which can continuously give rise to what will be. Anaximandre placed the apeiron thus, like substance original or principle, source, receptacle of all, eternal and indestructible, the complete cause of the generation and the destruction of all. For Anaximandre, the principle of the things anything of is not thus determined, it is not one of the elements, as it was the case at Thalès. Not more than it is not about something of intermediary between the air and water, or the air and fire, more dense than the air and fire and more subtle than water and the ground.
According to Anaximandre, the Universe draws its origin from the separation of the opposites of the paramount matter. Thus, the heat moved upwards, separating from the cold, and then dryness separated from the wet one. It also supported that any thing which dies turns over to the element from which it is resulting ( apeiron ). The only quotation of Anaximandre which reached us relates to this subject. It was brought back by Simplicius and described the balanced and reciprocal changes of the elements:
“This from where there is generation of the entities, in that also occurs their destruction, according to the need, because they go the ones to other justice and repair of their injustice, according to the assignment of Time. ”
The punctuation does not exist in Greek old and the quotations are usually based with the text. It is thus often difficult to determine the beginning and the end of it. It is generally considered nevertheless that it is not a question there of the interpretation of Simplicius, but well, like he writes it, of the “somewhat poetic terms” of Anaximandre.
This idea of return to the element of origin was often taken up thereafter, in particular at Aristote ( Métaphysique , I, 3,983 B 8-11; Physique , III, 5,204 B 33-34) or at Euripide (“what comes from the ground must turn over to the ground”, Begging Them , v. 532). She points out even the expression Judeo-Christian: “You were born dust and you will turn over to dust. ”
Its daring use of explanatory assumptions not mythological radically distinguished it from the former authors of cosmologies. He testifies to the demythification of the genealogical step. The composition of the oldest work in prose on the Universe and the origins of the Vie, which constitutes the major contribution of Anaximandre, was worth to him to be sometimes indicated like the father of the Cosmologie or founder of the Astronomie. However, the Pseudoone (I, 7) specifies that he considers that “the stars are celestial gods”.
Anaximandre was the first to design a model Mécanique world. The Ground fleet in balance, motionless in the center of infinite, without being constant by anything of which the height is the third of its diameter. The plane part of the top forms the livable world surrounded by a circular oceanic mass.
Such a cylindrical model made it possible to conceive that the stars could pass in lower part. This representation is innovative compared to the explanation of Thalès of a world which floats on water. Thalès was confronted with the problem of knowing what then would support its ocean, whereas Anaximandre managed to solve this problem by introducing the concept of infinite ( apeiron ).
In the beginning, after the separation of the heat and the cold, a ball of flame was formed which surrounded the Earth like the bark of a tree. This ball tore to form the remainder of the Universe. This one resembled a system of filled up concentric hollow wheels fire and the bored walls of a mouth, like the hole of a flute. Same size as the ground, the Sun was thus the fire which one saw through a hole on the wheel most moved away and an eclipse corresponded to the closing of this hole. The diameter of the solar wheel equalized twenty-seven time that of the Earth (or twenty-eight, according to the sources) and that of the the Moon whose fire was less intense, eighteen times (or nineteen). Its hole had the capacity to change its form thus explaining the lunar phases. The star S and the Planet S, more brought closer, were based on the same pattern.
He was thus the first astronomer to regard the Sun as an enormous mass and consequently, to realize at which point this one could be far away from the Earth. He was also the first to present a system where the stars turned at different distances. Moreover according to Diogène Laërce (II, 2), it built a celestial Sphère. This realization undoubtedly enabled him to be the first to establish the obliqueness of the Zodiaque as Pline affirms it Old the in the Natural history (II, 8). It is too much early to speak here about the ecliptic , but knowledge and work of Anaximandre on astronomy confirm that it was to have observed the slope of the celestial sphere compared to the terrestrial plan to explain the seasons. The exact measurement of the obliqueness, according to Aetius (II, 12,2), would return in Pythagore.
Plurality of the worlds
According to Simplicius, Anaximandre suggested already, like Leucippe, Démocrite and later Épicure, the plurality of the worlds. These thinkers supposed that they appeared and disappeared during a time, that some were born when perished of others. And they affirmed that this movement was eternal, “because without movement, there can be neither generation nor destruction. ”
Independently of Simplicius, Hippolyte ( Réfutation , I, 6) reported that Anaximandre said that the principle of the beings emanates from the infinite one, whose come the skies and the worlds (many are the doxographes which gave a report on the use of plural when this philosopher refers to the worlds in them which are often in infinite quantity). Cicéron specifies moreover that the philosopher associates different gods with the innumerable worlds which follow one another.
This theory would bring Anaximandre to the nuclear physicists and the epicureans which, more than one century later, also affirmed that an infinity of worlds appeared and disappeared. There was during the Greek intellectual history of the thinkers who supported the idea of a single world (Plato, Aristote, Anaxagore and Archélaos), but of others rather conceived the existence of a series continues or not successive worlds (Anaximène, Héraclite, Empédocle and Diogène). Without drawing from conclusion on the line of thought of Anaximandre which one knows too little, one can suppose a relation between his concept of the apeiron, indefinite in time, and the infinity of the worlds. Already, it posed assumptions which are still today the subject of innumerable speculations.
Anaximandre explained phenomena, such as the Tonnerre and the flashes, by the intervention of the elements and not by divine causes. The thunder would be its product by the shock of clouds under the action of the wind, the force of the sound being proportional to that of the shock. If it thunders without it lighting, it is because the wind is too weak to produce a flame, but rather extremely to produce a sound. The flash, as for him, would be a jolt of air which disperses and fall while allowing an active fire not very to get clear and the lightning, the result of a more violent and dense draft.
He considered that the sea was what remained original moisture. According to him, the ground had formerly been surrounded by a wet mass whose evaporation of a part under the effect of the sun caused the winds and even the rotation of the stars, as if those had with the vapors and marine exhalations their movement while trying to follow the places where they are more abundant. For him, the ground was drained slowly and water remained only in the major areas, which they also would be one day dry. If one trusts the Météorologiques (II, 3) of Aristote, Démocrite shared also this opinion. In a similar way, Anaximandre explained the rain like a product of the pumped moisture of the ground by the sun. By the action of the Sun on moisture, of the grounds appeared and the man had with time to adapt to it. Censorinus pays:
It advanced also the idea according to which the men had had to pass part of this transition in the mouth from large fish to protect itself from the climate until it can regain the free air and lose its scales.
These pre-darwiniennes designs can appear strange taking into consideration knowledge and of the modern scientific methods because they propose very complete systems of explanation of the universe by means of assumptions daring and difficult to check. They testify however to the birth of a phenomenon which one sometimes called the “Greek miracle”: certain men start to try to explain the nature of the world not by the recourse to the myth or the religion, but by “material” principles. One could say that it is already the basic principle of the scientific thought, even if the methods of research since then changed considerably.
Strabon and Agathémère, two very posterior Greek geographers with Anaximandre, affirms at the beginning of their works on the geography that, according to Ératosthène, Anaximandre nobody to publish had been the first a chart of the world. Hécatée would have taken as a starting point its drawing to produce some more precise. Strabon regards Anaximandre and Hécatée as the first two geographers after Homère.
The weather is certain that at that time, of the local charts had already been their appearance, in particular in Egypt, Lydie, with the the Middle East and Babylon. They showed the geological ways, cities, borders or formations. The innovation of Anaximandre is to have drawn a representative the whole of the ground inhabited such as the Greeks knew it at that time of it.
Such a realization appears completely coherent in the context of the time. Anaximandre probably drew this chart for three reasons:
- For navigation and the trade. Millet had several colonies and also made the trade with others that them his, both around the Mediterranean and of the Black Sea.
- For the policy issues. Thalès would have surely had the easier task to convince the city-States Ionie born to gather of federation to push back the threat of the Mèdes if it had had such a tool.
- By philosophical interest. The only fact of being able to offer a representation of the Earth for the benefit of the knowledge justifies the step of it.
Anaximandre, being surely conscious of the convexity of the sea, would have perhaps reproduced its chart on a slightly convex metal surface. The center or “navel” of the world ( ὀμφαλός γῆς / omphalós gẽs ) could have been Delphes, at least was it at a certain time. But at the time of Anaximandre, it is extremely probable that this one is located close to Millet. In all the cases, the Aegean Sea was close to this center, bordered by three continents themselves in the middle of the ocean and isolated such from the islands by the sea and the rivers. The Europe was limited to the south by the the Mediterranean and separated from the Asia by the Euxine Sea (Black Sea), by the lake Méotide (sea of Azov) and further in the East, by the Phase today Rioni or the Tanais which could well have been thrown in the ocean. The the Nile, as for him, was thrown to it to the south thus separating the Libya (which it time indicated the African continent ) from Asia.
The Souda reports that he explained certain basic concepts of geometry. It also makes mention its interest for the measurement of time and the introduction in Greece Gnomon allots to him. It took part in Lacédémone with construction, or at least with the development, of sundials to indicate to it the Solstice S and the equinox S.
These achievements are often allotted to him, in particular by Diogène Laërce (II, 1) and by Eusèbe de Césarée, evangelic Préparation (X, 14,11). The only fact that Anaximandre goes in another city to establish sundials there leaves suppose either that they were there already, or that one had simply intended some to speak. The first assumption remains in the field of the possible one, since even if the dials there had been already built, those require adjustments from one city to another because of the variation of latitude.
At that time, the gnomon was simply a vertical stem emerging from a horizontal plane. The shadow was used on the one hand to measure the passage of the hours. In its movement, the sun then draws a curve with the end of the stem whose shade is with its shorter at midday, when it points directly towards the south. In addition, the variation in the length of the shade at midday was used to mark the passage of the Saison S, the solstices being the days when the shade was longest (in winter) or shortest (in summer).
However, its creation does not return to Anaximandre since its use, just like the division of the days in twelve parts, came from the Egyptiens, principle and use taken again then by the Babylonian . It is well with these last, according to Hérodote in the Investigation (II, 109), that the Greeks were art to measure time. It would be surprising that they then could not determine the solstices before Anaximandre since no calculation is really necessary. What is not the case of the equinoxes. Those are not calculated simply by finding the point median between the positions of the shades to the solstices, such as believed the Babylonians. As the Souda seems it to suggest, it is probable that it was Anaximandre which was the first Greek to determine them by calculation since its knowledge in geometry allowed it.
Prediction of a seism
In its philosophical work Of the divination (I, 50,112), Cicéron tells that Anaximandre would have hastened the inhabitants of Lacédémone to give up their city and their houses to spend the night to shift with their weapons because a seism prepared. The city actually crumbled whereas a top of the Taygète was split like the poop of a ship. Pline the Old fact him also mention of this anecdote (II, 81) by suggesting that it was about a “admirable inspiration”, unlike Cicéron which took care well not to allot this prediction to divination.
Bertrand Russell, in History of Western philosophy , interprets the famous quotation like an assertion of the need for an adequate balance between the ground, fire and water as elements, each one of them being able independently to seek to increase their proportion relative to the others. Anaximandre seems to express its belief that a natural order maintains balance between these elements, that where there was fire, exist now ashes (ground). The Greek pars of Anaximandre reproduced this feeling by their belief in natural constraints that even their gods could not exceed.
Nietzsche, in Philosophy at the time of the Greek tragedy , regards Anaximandre as a pessimist. By its concept of the apeiron, Anaximandre affirmed that the paramount state of the world was an indefinite state. According to this principle, all that is defined must possibly turn over to the indefinite one. In other words, Anaximandre perceived all that was to be like an illegitimate emancipation of the state eternal, a fault for which the destruction remained only penitence. By this way of thinking, the world of the individual objects was not worth anything and was to perish.
Martin Heidegger made many presentations on Anaximandre (just as on Parménide and Héraclite) and wrote a section of Chemins which do not carry out nowhere entitled the word of Anaximandre in which it examines the ontological difference and the lapse of memory Être (or Dasein) among first Greek philosophers.
According to the Welded :
- On nature ( Περὶ φύσεως / Perì phúseôs );
- the Tower of the Earth ( Γῆς περίοδος / Gễs períodos );
- On the fixed bodies ( Περὶ τῶν ἀπλανῶν / Perì tỗn aplanỗn );
- the Sphere ( Σφαῖρα / Sphaĩra ).
- Anaximandre, Fragments and testimonys , Greek text, translation, introduction and comment by Marcel Conche, university Presses of France, Paris, 1991.
- (II, 109).
- Aristote :
- (II, 5),
- (III, 5,204 B 33-34),
- Treated sky (II, 13),
- (II, 3).
- Cicéron :
- (I, 10,25),
- (I, 50,112).
- (I, 1).
- Agathémère, Geography (I, 1).
- (II, 18).
- (II, 8).
- Aetius, Doctrines (I-III; V).
- (I, 3; I, 7; II, 20-28; III, 2-16; V, 19).
- (III, 17).
- Hippolyte, Refutation of all the heresies (I, 5).
- (II, 1-2).
- (IV, 7).
- Eusèbe de Césarée, evangelic Preparation (X, 14,11)
- Thémistius, Speech (36, 317).
- Simplicius, Comment on the physics of Aristote (24, 13-25; 1121,5-9).
- , s.v. Ἀναξίμανδρος .
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