Early Greek Philosophy by John Burnet, with Burnet's notes
12. The Life of Anaximander 14. The Primary Substance is Not One of the Elements

From Chapter I., The Milesian School

13. Theophrastus on Anaximander's Theory of the Primary Substance
Nearly all we know of Anaximander's system is derived in the last resort from Theophrastos, who certainly knew his book.52 He seems once at least to have quoted Anaximander's own words, and he criticised his style. Here are the remains of what he said of him in the First Book:

Anaximander of Miletos, son of Praxiades, a fellow-citizen and associate of Thales,53 said that the material cause and first element of things was the Infinite, he being the first to introduce this name of the material cause. He says it is neither water nor any other of the so-called54 elements, but a substance different from them which is infinite; from which arise all the heavens and the worlds within them.—Phys. Op. fr. 2 (Dox. p. 476; R. P. 16).
He says that this is "eternal and ageless," and that it "encompasses all the worlds."—Hipp. Ref. i. 6 (R. P. 17 a).
And into that from which things take their rise they pass away once more, "as is meet; for they make reparation and satisfaction to one another for their injustice according to the ordering of time," as he says55 in these somewhat poetical terms.—Phys. Op. fr. 2 (R. P. 16).
And besides this, there was an eternal motion, in which was brought about the origin of the worlds.—Hipp. Ref. i. 6 . (R. P. 17 a).
He did not ascribe the origin of things to any alteration in matter, but said that the oppositions in the substratum, which was a boundless body, were separated out —Simpl. Phys. p. 150, 20 (R. P. 18).

Burnet's Notes


52. In this and other cases, where the words of the original have been preserved by Simplicius, I have given them alone. On the various writers quoted, see Note on Sources, §§ 9 sqq.

53. Simplicius says "successor and disciple" (διάδοχος καὶ μαθητής) in his Commentary on the Physics; but see above, p. 50, n. 4.

54. For the expression τὰ καλούμενα στοιχεῖα, see Diels, Elementum, p. 25, n. 4.

55. Diels (Vors. 2, 9) begins the actual quotation with the words ἐξ ὧν δὲ ἡ γένεσις . . . The Greek practice of blending quotations with the text tells against this. Further, it is safer not to ascribe the terms γένεσις and φθορά in their technical Platonic sense to Anaximander, and it is not likely that Anaximander said anything about τὰ ὄντα.

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