Lesson 4ª






Anaximenes of Miletus (585-628 BC)

His thought is as follows:

The INFINITE AIR, the beginning of things


Heraclitus of Ephesus: Fragments

(John Burnet translation)

Though this Word is true evermore, yet men are as unable to understand it when they hear it for the first time as before they have heard it at all. For, though all things come to pass in accordance with this Word, men seem as if they had no experience of them, when they make trial of words and deeds such as I set forth, dividing each thing according to its kind and showing how it is what it is. But other men know not what they are doing when awake, even as they forget what they do in sleep.
(Frag. 1)

Though the logos is common, the many live as if they had a wisdom of their own.
(Frag. 2)

If happiness consisted in the pleasures of the body, we should call oxen happy whenever they come across bitter vetch to eat.
(Frag. 4)

What opposes unites, and the finest attunement stems from things bearing in opposite directions, and all things come about by strife.
(Frag, 8)

Graspings: things whole and not whole, what is drawn together and what is drawn asunder, the harmonious and the discordant. The one is made up of all things, and all things issue from the one.
(Frag. 10)

On those who enter the same rivers, ever different waters flow.
(Frag. 12)

If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it; for it is hard to be sought out and difficult.
(Frag. 18)

Those who seek for gold dig up much earth and find a little.
(Frag. 22)

They would not have known the name of justice if these things were not.
(Frag. 23)

There awaits men when they die such things as they look not for nor dream of.
(Frag. 27)

This world, which is the same for all, no one of gods or men has made. But it always was, is, and will be: an ever-living Fire, with measures of it kindling, and measures going out.
(Frag, 30)

And it is law, too, to obey the counsel of one.
(Frag, 33)

For it is death to souls to become water, and death to water to become earth. But water comes from earth; and from water, soul.
(Frag. 36)

Wisdom is one thing. It is to know the thought by which all things are steered through all things.
(Frag. 41)

Traveling on every path, you will not find the boundaries of soul by going -- so deep is its measure.
(Frag, 45)

One is ten thousand to me, if he be the best.
(Frag. 49)

It is wise to hearken, not to me, but to my Word, and to confess that all things are one.
(Frag. 50)

Men do not know how what is at variance agrees with itself. It is an attunement of opposite tensions, like that of the bow and the lyre.
(Frag. 51)

War is the father of all and the king of all; and some he has made gods and some men, some bond [that is, slaves] and some free.
(Frag. 53)

The hidden attunement is better than the open.
(Frag. 54)

The straight and the crooked path of the fuller's comb is one and the same.
(Frag, 59)

The way up and the way down is one and the same.
(Frag, 60)

The sea is the purest and the impurest water. Fish can drink it, and it is good for them; to men it is undrinkable and destructive.
(Frag. 61)

Mortals are immortals and immortals are mortals, the one living the others' death and dying the others' life.
(Frag. 62)

God is day and night, winter and summer, war and peace, surfeit and hunger; but he takes various shapes, just as fire, when it is mingled with spices, is named according to the savor of each.
(Frag, 67)

It is pleasure to souls to become moist.
(Frag, 77)

We must know that war is common to all and strife is justice, and that all things come into being and pass away (?) through strife.
(Frag, 80)

... (The wise man) is not known because of men's want of belief.
(Frag, 86)

And it is the same thine in us that is quick and dead, awake and asleep, young and old; the former are shifted and become the latter, and the latter in turn are shifted and become the former.
(Frag. 88)

All things are an exchange for Fire, and Fire for all things, even as wares for gold and gold for wares.
(Frag, 90)

You cannot step twice into the same rivers; for fresh waters are ever flowing in upon you.
(Frag, 91)

I have sought for myself.
(Frag, 101)

In the circumference of a circle the beginning and end are common.
(Frag, 103)

Of all whose discourses I have heard, there is not one who attains to understanding that wisdom is apart from all.
(Frag, 108)

It is not good for men to get all they wish to get. It is sickness that makes health pleasant; evil, good; hunger, plenty; weariness, rest.
(Frag. 111)

Thinking well is the greatest excellence; and wisdom is to act and speak what is true, perceiving things according to their nature.
(Frag. 112)

Those who speak with understanding must hold fast to what is common to all as a city holds fast to its law, and even more strongly. For all human laws are fed by the one divine law. It prevails as much as it will, and suffices for all things with something to spare.
(Frag. 114)

The logos of the soul is increasing itself.
(Frag, 115)

Recognizing oneself and being of a sound mind are for all men.
(Frag. 116)

Cold things become warm, and what is warm cools; what is wet dries, and the parched is moistened.
(Frag. 126)


Anaximenes probably referred to the same principle (‘apeiron’) as Anaximander.

However, we can probably appreciate a more conscious desire to adapt to a religious explanation, giving ‘arche’ a more physical character.

(the Greeks referred to Ionians as ‘physics‘)

  • Double process of transformation:

As you can see, the struggle between ‘CHAOS’ and ‘ORDER’ has been transformed here, thanks to Anaxímnes, in a curious ‘physics theory’, probably the first in history.