Anaximander

This essay Anaximander has a total of 1401 words and 7 pages.


Anaximander
About 530 AD the Neoplatonist Simplicius wrote an extensive commentary on

Aristotle\'s Physics. In it he reproduced the Anaximander fragment, thus
preserving it for the western world. He copied it from Theophrastus. From the
time Anaximander pronounced his saying--we do not know where or when or to
whom--to the moment Simplicius jotted it down in his commentary more than a
millennium elapsed. Between the time of Simplicius\' jotting and the present
moment lies another millennium-and-a-half. Can the Anaximander fragment, from a
historical and chronological distance of two thousand five hundred years, still
say something to us? (Heidegger 16) Anaximander, it is widely believed, was
responsible for constructing one of philosophy\'s first complete sentences and,
coincidentally, one of the early world\'s most profound thoughts. The man was
reportedly born, the son of Praxiades, in the seaport of Miletus in 610 B.C. He
spent his life philosophizing on the Greek island of Samos until his death in

547 BC. Beyond this, little else is known about his life, except that he was a
pupil of the forerunning philosopher Thales. The vast majority of Anaximader\'s
thoughts were lost long ago; in fact, all that remains is a single fragment to
tell us of his theories and thought processes. However, the fragment that
remains is vast in scope and of incredible magnitude. This remaining utterance,
which deals with the essence and substance of being, the origin of life, and
life\'s cycle to death, all but forces one to believe that, with Anaximander\'s
life, there was a marked turn in the course of human existence. A distinction
was made that separated humans, most remarkably, from the other inhabitants of

Earth. The fragment marked the end of exclusively introvertial human thought.

This is to say that man was able to cease his focus on simple survival, and
begin wondering about the universe, about how things come into being and the
grand cycle of life and man\'s place in that cycle. Of all the people who have
pondered these questions, Anaximander\'s answers are surely among the most
boundless, and therefore the most thought provoking themselves. His is a theory
of everything great from something vast but simple, of a great unlimited
infinite and the tremendous flux of this said infinite, which he called the

Apeiron. To better understand this theory, we must analyse the fragment, both
literally and figuratively, and try and see if we may discover something about
which we ourselves may philosophize; we must try and see whether the words of

Anaximander still say something to us. The Fragment, as translated by Nietzsche,
reads as such: Whence things have their origin, there they must also pass away
according to necessity; for they must pay penalty and be judged for their
injustice, according to the ordinance of time. (Heidegger 13) Most literally
translated by the German Martin Heidegger, the same fragment is presented as
follows: But that from which things arise also gives rise to their passing away,
according to what is necessary; for things render justice and pay penalty to one
another for their injustice, according to the ordinance of time. (Heidegger\'s

Greek) As we can see, the two are nearly indistinguishable. However, for the
purposes of this paper, we will be examining Heidegger\'s translation; the reason
for this distinction is so that we may circumvent any ambiguity and see clearly

Anaximander\'s main points. Clearly, this passage tells of the growth and decay
of all things in the universe. Not only that however; Anaximander\'s terms --
justice, penalty, and retribution -- seem to show that he was also concerned
with natural laws; he is trying to tell why things flower and fall. It seems to
this writer as though Anaximander is attempting, in a way new to humans at the
time the fragment was written, to apply the strict rules of sciences to natural
systems. He is denying any and all demarcation between the lines of thought and
disciplines! It is most definitely fascinating that the man could think so
broadly on one topic, and show the continuity among all aspects of human life
and knowledge. Let us now look upon the mention of time in the fragment.

Anaximander here is very poetic; personifying time, giving it character. He
tells us that time has firmly established laws to deal with the processes of
everything. Time, says Anaximander, governs all things; time collects
retribution and payment when the natural laws are broken. Time runs the cycle
from which things arise and to which things fall. This fragment has suddenly
become an excellent commentary on the nature and passage of time, and its master
role in the universe. While there

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Topics Related to Anaximander

Philosophy, Ancient Greek philosophers, Natural philosophy, Anaximander, Apeiron, Presocratic philosophy, Martin Heidegger, Thales, Matter, Pre-Socratic philosophy, Universe, Arche

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