Friday, March 24, 2017

Philosophy of science by Anaximander of Miletus

Anaximander (611-547 BC) was the student of Thales, a leader in the early development of the Ionian school of thought.

He continued his teacher’s search to discover the one source of all things, whether material or spiritual. Anaximander followed Thales in believing that everything in nature was composed of a single fundamental substance which he called the apeiron, the ‘boundless’, which is sometimes translated as ‘the infinite,’ meaning that it not defined or limited by having specific properties.

He was the first to have developed anything like cosmological system; he was also the first among the Greeks who draft a map and to construct a globe.

He offered a much more detailed picture of the world. Anaximander maintained that the earth was in the center of all things, suspended freely and without support, whereas Thales regarded it as resting on water.

According to Anaximander, there is no reason for earth to move in one direction or another, a concept known as the ‘principle of the lack of a sufficient reason’. The use of this principle by Anaximander is said to mark the boundary between mythology and science, which always requires an explanation in terms of a sufficient cause.

Diogenes Laertius recorded that Anaximander was the first to introduce to the Greeks the sundial or gnomon, with which to gauge time by day and to approximate the summer and winter solstices and the fall and spring equinoxes.

He contended that thunder and lightning were cause by blasts of wind, not by Zeus’s thunderbolts. Anaximander appears to have stated that the world is governed by the opposites like hot and cold, wet and dry. It is by the working of the opposites that the world goes on.
Philosophy of science by Anaximander of Miletus
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