Title

Plato and Anaximenes

Keywords

Anaximenes, Plato, matter, natural philosophy, process

Abstract

In Timaeus 49, Plato sympathetically describes Anaximenes’ theory of matter, with its seven states of matter, its contrary mechanisms of rarefaction and condensation, and notion that the birth of one elements is the death of another. Plato treats Anaximenes as a kind of philosopher of process rather than a material monist, as Aristotle portrays him. From this perspective, Anaximenes can be seen as a forerunner of Heraclitus rather than of Diogenes of Apollonia. Plato seems to introduce Anaximenes’ theory as an approximation of his own theory of matter. Plato’s interpretation may be inspired by the readings of Cratylus and other Heracliteans and have its roots in a pre-Parmenidean world-view. Although it conflicts with Aristotle’s better-known and more Eleatic interpretation, Plato’s interpretation is at least as old, and deserves serious consideration as the only other early understanding of Anaximenes.

Original Publication Citation

“Plato and Anaximenes.” Études Platoniciennes 12 (2015) [published 2016]https://etudesplatoniciennes.revues.org/706

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

2015

Publisher

Etudes Platoniciennes

Language

English

College

Humanities

Department

Philosophy

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor

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