Early Greek Philosophy by John Burnet, with Burnet's notes
126. The Fragments 128. "Everything in Everything"

From Chapter VI., Anaxagoras of Klazomenai

127. Anaxagoras and His Predecessors
The system of Anaxagoras, like that of Empedokles, aimed at reconciling the Eleatic doctrine that corporeal substance is unchangeable with the existence of a world which everywhere presents the appearance of coming into being and passing away. The conclusions of Parmenides are frankly accepted and restated. Nothing can be added to all things; for there cannot be more than all, and all is always equal (fr. 5). Nor can anything pass away. What men commonly call coming into being and passing away is really mixture and separation (fr. 17).

It is in every way probable that Anaxagoras derived his theory of mixture from his younger contemporary; whose poem may have been published before his own treatise.39 In any case, we have seen that the opinions of the latter were known at Athens before the middle of the fifth century. We have seen how Empedokles sought to save the world of appearance by maintaining that the opposites--hot and cold, moist and dry--were things, each one of which was real in the Parmenidean sense. Anaxagoras regarded this as inadequate. Everything changes into everything else,40 the things of which the world is made are not "cut off with a hatchet" (fr. 8) in this way. On the contrary, the true formula must be: There is a portion of everything in everything (fr. 11).

Burnet's Notes


39. I do not now think, however, that this is the meaning of the words τοῖς ἔργοις ὕστερος in Arist. Met. A, 3. 984 a 12 (R. P. 150 a). At any rate Theophrastos did not take them so; for he imitates the passage in speaking of Plato (Dox. 484, 19), of whom he says Τούτοις ἐπιγενόμενος Πλάτων τῇ μὲν δόξῃ καὶ τῇ δυνάμει πρότερος, τοῖς δὲ χρόνοις ὕστερος. It seems that he understood the Aristotelian formula as "inferior in his achievements."

40. Arist. Phys. A, 4. 187 b 1 (R. P. 155 a).

Created for Peithô's Web from Early Greek Philosophy by John Burnet, 3rd edition (1920). London: A & C Black Ltd. Burnet's footnotes have been converted to chapter endnotes. Greek unicode text entered with Peithô's Younicoder.
Web design by Larry Clark and RSBoyes (Agathon). Peithô's Web gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Anthony Beavers in the creation of this web edition of Burnet. Please send comments to:
agathon at classicpersuasion