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Grand Theories and Everyday BeliefsScience, Philosophy, and their Histories$
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Wallace Matson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199812691

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812691.001.0001

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Anaximander and Anaximenes

Anaximander and Anaximenes

(p.75) Chapter 9 Anaximander and Anaximenes
Grand Theories and Everyday Beliefs

Wallace Matson

Oxford University Press

Anaximander, Thales’ “pupil and successor,” wrote a book, the first general account of the world in the new way. Evolution (cosmic and organic), survival of the fittest, postulated entities tethered to low beliefs, balance of nature, and even gravitation appeared in it. It was highly imaginative; but it had to be. Science could appear only after the imagination had been ‘fertilized’ by eons of high believing. Anaximander further introduced into science dialectic, criticism and (hopefully) improvement of the views of one's predecessors. Holding that water is too definite in its nature to be the source of everything, he made the original stuff to be The Boundless, something not particularly wet or dry or hot or cold but “capable of separating out” into these. The third Milesian, Anaximenes, made Air (or rather Mist) into the basic stuff, with thickening and thinning as the process by which change occurred.

Keywords:   evolution, survival, gravitation, balance, dialectic, boundless, thick/thin, criticism

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