This study focuses on the origin of life as presented in the thought of Anaximander of Miletus but also points to some parallel motifs found in much later conceptions of both the pre-Darwinian German romantic science and post-Darwinian biology. According to Anaximander, life originated in the moisture associated with earth (mud). This moist environment hosted the first living creatures that later populated the dry land. In these descriptions, one can trace the earliest hints of the notion of environmental (...) adaptation. The origin of humans was seen as connected in some way with fish: ancient humans were supposed to have developed inside fish-like animals. Anaximander took into account changes in the development of living creatures (adaptations) and speculated on the origins of humans. Similar ideas are found also in the writings of much later, eighteenth and nineteenth century authors who were close to the tradition of German romantic science. We do not argue that these later concepts are in any way directly linked with those of the pre-Socratics, but they show surprising parallels in, e.g., the hypothesis that life originated in a moist environment or the supposition that human developed from fish-like ancestors. These transformations are seen as a consequence of timeless logic rather than as evolution in historical terms. Despite the accent on the origin of living things, both Anaximander and the later Naturphilosophen lack in their notions the element most characteristic of Darwin’s thought, that is, the emphasis on historicity and uniqueness of all that comes into being. (shrink)
This paper focuses on Anaximander's pinax, the first map according to Western tradition. Its aim is to demonstrate that it is only after the realization of the pinax that it was possible to distinguish between Being and beings in a Heideggerian sense, that is to pose the question of the ontological difference. Consequently, all the history of Western thought is nothing but the history of the raising of cartographical representation, and of reason here embodied, from the dark rigidity of (...) death to the rarefied splendours of Pure Reason. (shrink)
The famous early fragment (B1 D-K) of Anaximander, Greek thinker of the sixth century B.C.E., was transmitted to us by Byzantine Alexandrian authors of the sixth century C.E.: the pagan Simplicius in his commentary on Aristotle’s Physics, and the Monophysite Christian to whose earlier Physics commentary Simplicius was replying, John Philoponus. When these commentators were writing, the Mediterranean world was polarized by the Monophysite-Chalcedonian theological controversy. First Philoponus adduced some of Anaximander’s words in his argument for a single (...) principle of the universe, in keeping with his own theological position. Then Simplicius gave a fuller form of the text, reproving Philoponus for what he considered “uncultured” Christian views. This transmission tells us something about Byzantine theological attitudes as well as preserving archaic philosophical formulations. (shrink)
The sixth century -- Anaximander's contributions -- Atmospheric phenomena -- Earth floats in space, suspended in the void -- Invisible entities and natural laws -- Rebellion becomes virtue -- Writing, democracy, and cultural crossbreeding -- What is science? -- Between cultural relativism and absolute thought -- Can we understand the world without Gods? -- Prescientific thought.