Anaximander Essay Research Paper AnaximanderAbout 530 AD

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Anaximander Essay, Research Paper Anaximander About 530 AD the Neoplatonist Simplicius wrote an extensive commentary on Aristotle’s Physics. In it he reproduced the Anaximander fragment, thus preserving it for the western world. He copied it from Theophrastus. From the time Anaximander pronounced his saying–we do not know where or when or to whom–to the moment Simplicius jotted it down in his commentary more than a millennium elapsed. Between the time of Simplicius’ jotting and the present moment lies another millennium-and-a-half. Can the Anaximander fragment, from a historical and chronological distance of two thousand five hundred years, still say something to us? (Heidegger 16) Anaximander, it is widely believed, was responsible for constructing one of

philosophy’s first complete sentences and, coincidentally, one of the early world’s most profound thoughts. The man was reportedly born, the son of Praxiades, in the seaport of Miletus in 610 B.C. He spent his life philosophizing on the Greek island of Samos until his death in 547 BC. Beyond this, little else is known about his life, except that he was a pupil of the forerunning philosopher Thales. The vast majority of Anaximader’s thoughts were lost long ago; in fact, all that remains is a single fragment to tell us of his theories and thought processes. However, the fragment that remains is vast in scope and of incredible magnitude. This remaining utterance, which deals with the essence and substance of being, the origin of life, and life’s cycle to death, all but

forces one to believe that, with Anaximander’s life, there was a marked turn in the course of human existence. A distinction was made that separated humans, most remarkably, from the other inhabitants of Earth. The fragment marked the end of exclusively introvertial human thought. This is to say that man was able to cease his focus on simple survival, and begin wondering about the universe, about how things come into being and the grand cycle of life and man’s place in that cycle. Of all the people who have pondered these questions, Anaximander’s answers are surely among the most boundless, and therefore the most thought provoking themselves. His is a theory of everything great from something vast but simple, of a great unlimited infinite and the tremendous flux of this

said infinite, which he called the Apeiron. To better understand this theory, we must analyse the fragment, both literally and figuratively, and try and see if we may discover something about which we ourselves may philosophize; we must try and see whether the words of Anaximander still say something to us. The Fragment, as translated by Nietzsche, reads as such: Whence things have their origin, there they must also pass away according to necessity; for they must pay penalty and be judged for their injustice, according to the ordinance of time. (Heidegger 13) Most literally translated by the German Martin Heidegger, the same fragment is presented as follows: But that from which things arise also gives rise to their passing away, according to what is necessary; for things render

justice and pay penalty to one another for their injustice, according to the ordinance of time. (Heidegger’s Greek) As we can see, the two are nearly indistinguishable. However, for the purposes of this paper, we will be examining Heidegger’s translation; the reason for this distinction is so that we may circumvent any ambiguity and see clearly Anaximander’s main points. Clearly, this passage tells of the growth and decay of all things in the universe. Not only that however; Anaximander’s terms — justice, penalty, and retribution — seem to show that he was also concerned with natural laws; he is trying to tell why things flower and fall. It seems to this writer as though Anaximander is attempting, in a way new to humans at the time the fragment was written, to apply