Early Greek Philosophy by John Burnet, with Burnet's notes
188. The Fragments 190. Animals and Plants

From Chapter X., Eclecticism and Reaction

189. Cosmology
Like Anaximenes, Diogenes regarded Air as the primary substance; but we see from his arguments that he lived at a time when other views had become prevalent.

He speaks clearly of the four Empedoklean elements (fr. 2), and he is careful to attribute to Air the attributes of Nous as taught by Anaxagoras (fr. 4.). The doxographical tradition as to his cosmological views is fairly preserved:

Diogenes of Apollonia makes air the element, and holds that all things are in motion, and that there are innumerable worlds. And he describes the origin of the world thus. When the All moves and becomes rare in one place and dense in another, where the dense met together it formed a mass, and then the other things arose in the same way, the lightest parts occupying the highest position and producing the sun. [Plut.] Strom. fr. 12 (R. P. 215).
Nothing arises from what is not nor passes away into what is not. The earth is round, poised in the middle, having received its shape through the revolution proceeding from the warm and its solidification from the cold. Diog. ix. 57 (R. P. 215).
The heavenly bodies were like pumice-stone. He thinks they are the breathing-holes of the world, and that they are red-hot. Aet. ii. 13, 5 = Stob. i. 508 (R. P. 215).
The sun was like pumice-stone, and into it the rays from the aether fix themselves. Aet. ii. 20, 10. The moon was a pumicelike conflagration. Ib. ii. 25, 10.
Along with the visible heavenly bodies revolve invisible stones, which for that very reason are nameless; but they often fall and are extinguished on the earth like the stone star which fell down flaming at Aigospotamos.22 Ib. ii. 13, 9.

We have here nothing more than the old Ionian doctrine with a few additions from more recent sources. Rarefaction and condensation still hold their place in the explanation of the opposites, warm and cold, dry and moist, stable and mobile (fr. 5). The differentiations into opposites which Air may undergo are, as Anaxagoras had taught, infinite in number; but all may be reduced to the primary opposition of rare and dense. We may gather, too, from Censorinus,23 that Diogenes did not, like Anaximenes, speak of earth and water as arising from Air by condensation, but rather of blood, flesh, and bones. In this he followed Anaxagoras (§130), as it was natural that he should. That portion of Air, on the other hand, which was rarefied became fiery, and produced the sun and heavenly bodies. The circular motion of the world is due to the intelligence of the Air, as is also the division of all things into different forms of body and the observance of the "measures" by these forms.24

Like Anaximander (§ 20), Diogenes regarded the sea as the remainder of the original moist state, which had been partially evaporated by the sun, so as to separate out the remaining earth.25 The earth itself is round, that is to say, it is a disc: for the language of the doxographers does not point to the spherical form.26 Its solidification by the cold is due to the fact that cold is a form of condensation.

Diogenes did not hold with the earlier cosmologists that the heavenly bodies were made of air or fire, nor yet with Anaxagoras, that they were stones. They were, he said, pumice-like, a view in which we may trace the influence of Leukippos. They were earthy, indeed, but not solid, and the celestial fire permeated their pores. And this explains why we do not see the dark bodies which, in common with Anaxagoras, he held to revolve along with the stars. They really are solid stones, and therefore cannot be penetrated by the fire. It was one of these that fell into the Aigospotamos. Like Anaxagoras, Diogenes affirmed that the inclination of the earth happened subsequently to the rise of animals.27

We are prepared to find that Diogenes held the doctrine of innumerable worlds; for it was the old Milesian belief, and had just been revived by Anaxagoras and Leukippos. He is mentioned with the rest in the Placita; and if Simplicius classes him and Anaximenes with Herakleitos as holding the Stoic doctrine of successive formations and destructions of a single world, he has probably been misled by the "accommodators."28

Burnet's Notes


22. See Chap. V1. p. 252, n. 6.

23. Censorinus, de die natati, 6, 1 (Dox. p. 190).

24. On the "measures" see Chap. III. § 72.

25. Theophr, ap. Alex. in Meteor. p. 67, 1 (Dox. p. 494).

26. Diog. ix. 57 (R. P. 215).

27. Aet. ii. 8, 1 (R. P. 215).

28. Simpl. Phys. p. 1121, 12. See Chap. I. p. 59.

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