Early Greek Philosophy by John Burnet, with Burnet's notes
30. Innumerable Worlds 32. Ionia and the West

From Chapter I., The Milesian School

31. Influence of Anaximenes
It is not easy for us to realise that, in the eyes of his contemporaries, and for long after, Anaximenes was a much more important figure than Anaximander. And yet the fact is certain. We shall see that Pythagoras, though he followed Anaximander in his account of the heavenly bodies, was far more indebted to Anaximenes for his general theory of the world (§ 53). We shall see further that when, at a later date, science revived once more in Ionia, it was "the philosophy of Anaximenes" to which it attached itself (§ 122). Anaxagoras adopted many of his most characteristic views (§ 135), and so did the Atomists.129 Diogenes of Apollonia went back to the central doctrine of Anaximenes, and made Air the primary substance, though he also tried to combine it with the theories of Anaxagoras (§ 188). We shall come to all this later; but it seemed desirable to point out at once that Anaximenes marks the culminating point of the line of thought which started with Thales, and to show how the "philosophy of Anaximenes" came to mean the Milesian doctrine as a whole. This it can only have done because it was really the work of a school, of which Anaximenes was the last distinguished representative, and because his contribution to it was one that completed the system he had inherited from his predecessors. That the theory of rarefaction and condensation was really such a completion of the Milesian system, we have seen (§ 26), and it need only be added that a clear realisation of this fact will be the best clue at once to the understanding of the Milesian cosmology itself and to that of the systems which followed it. In the main, it is from Anaximenes they all start.

Burnet's Notes


129. In particular, both Leukippos and Demokritos adhered to his theory of a flat earth. Cf. Aet. iii. 10, 3-5 (Περὶ σχήματος γῆς), Ἀναξιμένης τραπεζοειδῆ (τὴν γῆν). Λεύκιππος τυμπανοειδῆ. Δημόκριτος δισκοειδῆ μὲν τῷ πλάτει, κοίλην δὲ τῷ μέσῳ. And yet the spherical form of the earth was already a commonplace in circles affected by Pythagoreanism.

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