Through criticism and analysis of ancient traditions, Kahn reconstructs the pattern of Anaximander’s thought using historical methods akin to the reconstructive. Anaximander and the Origins of Greek Cosmology. Front Cover. Charles H. Kahn . Columbia University Press, – Cosmology – pages. Anaximander and the Origins of Greek Cosmology has 5 ratings and 0 reviews. Through criticism and analysis of ancient traditions, Kahn reconstructs the p.

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Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet. Theophrastus as an Historian of Early Greek Philosophy, Abbreviations of Authors in the Doxography, Form of the Earth, Wind; Rain; Lightning and Thunder, Origin of the Sea, Origin of Animal Life; Descent of Man, The Earliest Doctrine of a Spherical Earth, 1 A Literal Interpretation, The Philosophic Sense of the Fragment, The Earlier Interpretations of the Fragment, Facing page 8g A.

Anaximander and the Origins of Greek Cosmology – Charles H. Kahn – Google Books

What I have tried to do here is to reconstruct this pre-Parmenidean view, proceeding on the assumption that its source must be located in sixth-century Miletus. This assumption is implicit in all the ancient accounts of the origins of Greek philosophy, and seems to be justified by the radical contrast between the physical ideas of Homer and Hesiod on the one hand, and those of Anaximander and Anaximenes on the other.

The view of the historical development presented here differs from the traditional scheme in only two respects. I have discounted the originality of Pythagoras as a figment — or at least an exaggeration — – of the Hellenistic imagination. In other words, so far as the study of nature is concerned, I have treated the Italian school as an offshoot of the Ionian philosophy and not as its rival.

Furthermore, the scale on which the three Milesians are depicted is not as uniform as it generally appears. In the monumental style of ancient historiography, the Milesians are presented as three statues of the same size and rank, standing at the head of a long gallery of peers. I have tried to adjust the magnitude of the figures to the importance of their role in the history of ideas. Thales and Anaximenes still have their respective places next to Anaximander, as his precursor and disciple.

But they are dwarfed by the comparison to the master.

Another deviation from the usual treatment is dictated by the scope of the essay. In dealing with Heraclitus and Parmenides and, even more, with their successors I have largely neglected the fundamentally new ideas which are their characteristic achievement.

Since this is not a history of early Greek philosophy but a study of the Milesian cos- mology, later thinkers must be regarded here primarily as the heirs and debtors of the Milesians. Raven Cambridge,which reached me too late for systematic reference in the notes. On several points the authors’ close analysis of the evidence has led me to re- formulate cosmoloy own position.

Their work provides an important state- ment on many of the questions discussed here, and should be compared in extenso. A number of other relevant studies have appeared since my manu- script was completed, while a few earlier ones have only recently come to my attention.

In one or two cases a new discussion would now be called for. Probably the most important example of this kind is Pro- fessor W. I think it is already implicit ocsmology Appendix II. I could scarcely be in more complete agree- ment with Professor Guthrie’s general thesis, that “a common picture of the nature of the Universe, of living creatures, and of divinity was shared by a surprising number of Greek philosophical and religious thinkers of the 6th and early 5th origina b.

But the quality which is lacking in the older world views is precisely what is most essential in the case of the philosophers: The recent tendency to assimilate Anaximander to Hesiod — which also underlies Cornford’s brilliant treatment of him in Principium Sapientiae — can only serve to blur the distinguishing features of each, by confounding the very different atti- tudes toward Nature that characterize the Greek epic poets and the early philosophers.


If these first philosophers had been able to take for granted a coherent, ready-made cosmology, then they would not have been the first after all. On the other hand, once the Milesians and orogins successors had worked out a consistent cosmic scheme, it naturally PREFACE XllI exerted a powerful influence on anaximandrr poets and on the educated public in general.

Hence when we find traces of such a scheme in Euripides or in the Potidaea epitaph of — or in the undated Orphic poems — wc must recognize this as evidence for the diffusion of the Ionian cosmology, not for its pre-existence in the popular imagination. I wish to thank Professors Otto J. Neugebauer, as well as Professor M. Borda of the Museo Nazionale in Rome and Mr.

Wiseman of the British Museum, for information concerning one or more of the monuments reproduced. Cosmologyy this book is the origijs of some ten years’ study, it has been in- fluenced by more teachers and scholars than I can mention here. Simon of the University of Chicago, who first introduced me to Greek anaximandwr and philosophy — and first impressions are lasting ones. In a more immediate way, I am indebted to Professor Moses Hadas and the other members of the examining committee who read and criticized the bulk of the manuscript in its original form as a doctoral dissertation for Columbia University.

The readability of the whole work has benefited in particular from the comments of Professor Gilbert Highet, who called my origind tion to many an opaque argument and many a clumsy phrase.

My friend Professor Martin Ostwald has often come to my assistance with excellent advice and has in addition read through a full set of proofs. Special thanks are due to the Stanwood Cockey Lodge Foundation, whose generous grant made this publication possible, and to the staff of Columbia University Press, who have given the author all the co-operation he could have wished for.

Finally, in dedicating the book to Professor Kurt von Fritz, now at the University of Munich, I wish to record my lasting gratitude both for his friendly guidance and for his unflagging interest in this work, despite the various interruptions of time and place.

Bonitz, Index Arislotelicus 2d ed. Burnet, Early Greek Philosophy 4th ed. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers; text and tr. Hicks, Loeb Classical Library 2 vols. Diels, Doxographi Graeci Berlin, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology. Jaeger, Paideia, 3 vols. Journal of Hellenic Studies. The Cosmic Fragments Cambridge, Raven, Presocratic Philosophers Cambridge, Reinhardt, Parmenides und die Geschichte der griechischen Philosophie Bonn, Rheinisches Museum fur Philologie.

Tannery, Pour I’histoire de la science hellene 2d ed. Diels-Kranz, Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker 7th ed. Titles of Hippocratic works cited as Hp. Works of the Hippocradc Corpus edited by W. Jones in the Loeb Classical Library are quoted from that edition abbreviated Jones ; otherwise the reference is to Littre.

Jones’ translation, too, has often been consulted in render- ing these texts. For the treatise De Hebdomadibus, see the edition of W. It is clear that this Greek philosopher of the sixth century b. Anaximander ap- pears to us less as an object for microscopic study than as a kind of venerable mountain peak looming up in the distance.

There, within the compass of a single generation, we find a number of fragments for Heraclitus and Parmenides, a sentence or two of Alcmaeon, and a few philosophic verses of Xenophanes. Because of their brevity or ambiguity, most of these remains offer at best a slip- pery basis for interpretation.

But in the case of Parmenides, the first few pages of his poem have been preserved as a continuous and almost integral text. It is here that the serious documentation of Greek philos- ophy may be said to begin, for it is this text which truly enables us to judge the quality and complexity of speculative thought at the threshold of the fifth century. Despite the difference of style and outlook which separates this period from the classical age, it is impossible to regard it as one of primitive beginnings.


Parmenides’ doctrine of the iov, his reason- ing to support it, and the physical system which is its complement, all presuppose a highly cultivated milieu of philosophical discussion. The other early fragments take on their fullest meaning precisely as rep- resentatives of this common intellectual background, this common climate of ideas, which may be said to constitute the archaic Greek view of the natural world.

This common body of ideas, attested for different thinkers of approxi- mately the same date, cannot be explained as the personal innovation of any one of them. Alcmaeon of Croton and Parmenides of Elea on the Tyr- rhenian Sea have not borrowed their ideas from Heraclitus of Ephesus ; nor can the wandering poet Xenophanes be responsible for this simul- taneous flowering of thought at both ends of the Greek world.

Anaximander and the Origins of Greek Cosmology

The resem- blance between these widely separated developments may be due in part to an active interchange of persons and ideas ; above all, however, it pre- supposes a common seed from which the regional types have arisen. The ancient histories of philosophy tell us that the seed was planted in Miletus, in the first half of the sixth century. The new science seems to have been imported into the West by the numerous settlers — such as Pythagoras of Samos — who left Ionia for Magna Graecia in the second half of that century.

This Milesian prototype of Greek philosophy has to a large extent disappeared ; in its place we have, on the one hand, its ‘ The word does not appear in Hesiod and but Farm, b i 9. The Scholiast interprets by to ti’Sos” ‘ Xenoph. For further discussion of ‘ Xenoph. B i ; ifivais, see below, pp.

B i ; Farm. B i, BBB ; Farm. B 27, BB 33; Heracl. B 31, and B In such ancient accounts of early Greek thought, and in the modern histories of philosophy which arc based directly upon them, very little attention is paid to the organic relation- ship between this first age of Ionian philosophy and the much better documented peiiod which stretches from Parmenides to the Hippo- cratic authors, and to the physical writings of Aristotle.

In principle, every student of the subject would be willing to recognize the intrinsic continuity in Greek thought concerning the natural world. In practice, the moderns have generally followed the ancients in treating these early philosophers as so many exalted individualists, whose relationship to one another must be largely a matter of polemic. Surely more can be done to throw light on the essential unity of early Greek natural speculation.

In virtue of such fundamental similarities as those just mentioned, it should be possible to put some semblance of flesh and blood on the dry skeleton of Milesian philosophy preserved for us by the ancient doxography.

The historical method should permit us to reconstruct the lost ancestor, as it were, on the basis of a family resemblance in the surviving descendants.

The task here may be com- pared to that of the paleontologist, who, from a fossil, can retrace the form of an extinct predecessor of preserved species ; or to that of the linguist, who reconstructs the parent irigins revealed by systematic cosmolofy between the early forms of sister languages.

The history of ideas naturally poses problems which are even more delicate, for philo- sophic systems are not handed on as regularly as are the morphological correspondences of words or bones.

The task of reconstitution here would no doubt be an impossible one, if we did not possess an outline sketch of the prototype in question.

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