May 11, 2021

Anaximander Biography

Anaximander was born in 610 BCE and died around 546 BCE when he was about 64 years old. He lived in Miletus, a city in Ionia, which is now known as modern day Turkey. Anaximander was a pre-Socratic philosopher who inspired the minds of people like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. A pupil of Thales himself, the “Father of Philosophy,” Anaximander later became a master of his trade and soon taught many of his own pupils. Some of them were Anaximenes and Pythagoras, who would later philosophize about the famous Pythagorean Theorem. Anaximander’s main interests of study were in philosophy, geography, metaphysics and geometry. He was one of the earliest minds to use science and math to observe and explain the different aspects of the universe and life around us. Although only a few, if not only one, of his works actually survives, there is enough character description of him by firsthand accounts of other philosophers and historians that make up enough information regarding his life. Anaximander’s scientific perspective toward the universe gave him the idea that celestial bodies exist in the universe like that of Earths. Although he still regarded celestial bodies as deities, he was one of the first to attempt an explanation of the beginning of life using a non-mythical approach. And in the perspective of physics, he was one of the first minds to come up with the idea of apeiron. He claimed that an “indefinite” principle gives rise to all natural phenomena. That this was a beginning element that was not susceptible to age or decay and was not constricted to just fire or water. To him, the apeiron was an endless substance like that of water but the primordial element of everything that is physical around us. He was also very interested in geography and cartography. He went on to not only make maps of his native land and parts of Greece, but also the world in a completely spherical shape.

Sources:

Anaximander’s Biography. By Charles H. Kahn