Plato and Anaximenes
Anaximenes, Plato, matter, natural philosophy, process
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
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Graham, Daniel, "Plato and Anaximenes" (2015). Faculty Publications. 3768.