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Who Was Anaximenes And anaximenes theory

 Anaximenes of Miletus philosopher (585 - 525)

Anaximenes was a Pre-Socratic philosopher who lived in 6th Century BC Greece and whose teachings were key to the development of philosophy. He proposed that all matter is comprised of air that can be transformed into different forms; his ideas set the foundations for Western philosophical thinking. His observations of how different types of matter can change states - such as water changing to vapor (and vice versa) - has helped shape the understanding of the nature of matter and gravity, used in theories such as the Big Bang Theory in cosmology.

Who Was Anaximenes And anaximenes theory


Who is Anaximander in philosophy 

Anaximenes, the last of the Milesian triad, is not quite so interesting as Anaximander, but makes some important advances. His dates are very uncertain. He was certainly subsequent to Anaximander, and he certainly flourished before 494 B.C. maybe 585-525 BCE. since in that year Miletus was destroyed by the Persians in the course of their suppression of the Ionian revolt. 
Anaximenes was a Pre-Socratic philosopher who flourished in the 6th century BC in Miletus, now part of modern day Turkey, which had at the time been one of the leading Greek cities. His teachings have been credited as pivotal to Western philosophical thinking and greatly influenced later thinkers, including Plato, Aristotle and Zeno of Citium. He was an early champion of monism – the belief that all matter is comprised of a single element which can assume different forms. This concept has remained influential until the present day.

 He wrote a treatise of which a small fragment still remains. He agreed with Thales and Anaximander that the first principle of the universe is material. With Thales too, he looked upon it as a particular kind of matter, not indeterminate matter as taught by Anaximander.
Thales had declared it to be water. Anaximenes named air as first principle. 

Anaximenes contribution to philosophy

"The origin of the air theory of Anaximenes seems to have been suggested to him by the fact that air in the form of breath is the principle of life."

As one might expect from a pupil or younger colleague of Anaximander, Anaximenes learned from both his predecessors. He agreed with Anaximander that the arche is apeiron, infinite; but he did not agree that it was indeterminate. Rather, he agreed with Thales in thinking that it was material, but he identified a different material candidate, with what he took to be greater metamorphic capacities than water and therefore better able to be the source of the variety of things in the world. 

His candidate was aer, somewhat loosely translated as ‘air’, but meaning a sort of dense moist air or vapour.

The fundamental substance, he said, is air. The soul is air; fire is rarefied air; when condensed, air becomes first water, then, if further condensed, earth, and finally stone. This theory has the merit of making all the differences between different substances quantitative, depending entirely upon the degree of condensation. Air is life. His theory allowed him to say that cloud is ‘thickened’ moist air, that when it is squeezed rain falls from it, which becomes hail when the water freezes, or snow when there is an admixture of wind in the moisture. 

Earthquakes occur when the earth is either too dry or too wet, for when too dry it cracks, when too wet it falls apart.

He makes motion eternal, and says that change also comes to be through the eternal motion of the air.’ Note that this last point provides a basis for motion and change without the need to suppose that things have little souls in them.

According to me why was Anaximenes thought like that because when humans, animals and birds die the main mark is breath. Anaximenes states that death occurs when breathing stops. 

He thought that the earth is shaped like a round table, and that air encompasses everything: "Just as our soul, being air, holds us together, so do breath and air encompass the whole world." It seems that the world breathes. 

According to Anaximenes the sun and moon were made of earth.

Anaximenes theory cosmology

 Anaximenes said if the world is cosmos then Human beings are a microcosm version of the cosmos. A significant point of interest is Anaximenes’ concept of condensation and rarefaction as the mechanism of the transformations aer undergoes. Thales had not offered a suggestion about how his arche could change from liquid to solid and gas, but Anaximenes does. Moreover Anaximenes regarded heat and cold as properties of air, not as substances in their own right. 

The observation that air blown through pressed together lips is cool, but warm when exhaled from an open mouth, is verifiable: one can do the simple experiment and feel the proof on the back of one’s hand. This shows that Anaximenes’ views were attempts to make sense of observation, and  this is the significant point.

Anaximenes astronomy 

 The stars are too distant for us to feel their heat. The sun does not circle underneath the earth to reappear at dawn, but instead rides round the circumference of the flat earth rather as one can make one’s hat revolve on one’s head. It is hidden from us by distance and mountains as it makes its passage back to the starting point, which is why the night is dark.

Anaximenes philosophy summary

Anaximenes was more admired in antiquity than Anaximander, though almost any modern world would make the opposite valuation. He had an important influence on Pythagoras and on much subsequent speculation. The Pythagoras  discovered that the earth is spherical, the   atomists adhered to the view of Anaximenes, that it is shaped like a disc. 

This air, like the matter of Anaximander, stretches illimitably through space. Air is constantly in motion and has the power of motion inherent in it and this motion brought about the development of the universe from air. As operating process of this development Anaximenes named the two opposite processes of (1) Rarefaction, (2) Condensation. Rarefaction is the same thing as heat or growing hot, and condensation is identified with growing cold. The air by rarefaction becomes fire, and fire borne aloft upon the air becomes the stars. Either these qualities must be originally in the primal air, or not. If the qualities existed in it then it was not really one homogeneous matter like air, but must have been simply a mixture of different kinds of matter. If not, how do these properties arise? How can this air which has not in it the qualities of things we see, develop them? 

The simplest way of getting out of the difficulty is to found quality upon quantity, and to explain the former by the amount or quantity, more or less, of matter existent in the same volume. This is precisely what is meant by rarefaction and condensation. Condensation would result in compressing more matter into the same volume. Rarefaction would give rise to the opposite process. Great compression of air, a great amount of it in a small space, might account for the qualities, say, of earth and stones, for example, their heaviness, hardness, colour, etc.

Hence Anaximenes was to some extent a more logical and definite thinker than Anaximander, but cannot  compare with him in audacity and originality of thought.

Anaximenes had a huge influence on Ancient Greek thought and philosophy. His views were picked up by subsequent thinkers such as Aristotle, who utilised some of his key points as well as developed upon them. As a result, the foundation of modern scientific theories are rooted in Anaximenes’ observations. Even today, these ideas still have an impact in areas such as cosmology and astronomy.

The next stage in Greek philosophy, which is associated with the Greek cities in southern Italy, is more religious, and, in particular, more Orphic in some ways more interesting, admirable in achievement, but in spirit less scientific than that of the Milesians. 


A History of Western Philosophy Book by Bertrand Russell
Graham, D. W. (ed.), The Texts of Early Greek Philosophy: The Complete Fragments and Selected Testimonies of the Major Presocratics, 2 vols., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010
Barnes, J., The Presocratic Philosophers, 2nd edn, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982
Hussey, E., The Presocratics, London: Duckworth, 1995 Kirk, G. S., J. E. Raven and M. Schofield, The Presocratic Philosophers,
2nd edn, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984 Osborne, C., Presocratic Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004

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