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Philosophical thought of Anaxagoras

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Anaxagoras: philosophical thought

He Anaxagoras' philosophical thought is pluralistic, that is, all things are made up of a multiplicity of elements united and organized by a fundamental element, the nous (noûs). This plurality of immutable material particles (homeomerisms) would be the arché or constitutive principle of reality, going from the original chaos to forming all objects, both animated and inert. At unPROFESOR.com we tell you more about the philosophical thought of Anaxagoras.

Anaxagoras (500 - 428 BC) C.) was a pre-Socratic philosopher who is considered the first renowned philosopher established in Athens and one of the last pre-Socratic philosophers of the 4th century BC. c. In this lesson from unPROFESOR.com we offer you a summary of the life of Anaxagoras and his philosophical thought.

Anaxagoras was born in Clazomenas, in modern-day Türkiye. being the first foreign philosopher to settle in Athens. Among his main disciples are Protagoras, Pericles, Archelaus, Thucydides, Euripides, Democritus and, surely, the same Socrates.

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He stood out for his great interest in naturealways investigating from experience, technique and memory. It is assumed that his research and rational explanations about eclipses, the functioning and anatomy of the brain, and how fish breathe were his.

His entire philosophy was captured in his work. “Periphyseos”. And although only a few fragments of his works are preserved, his thoughts have reached us thanks to his disciples and the importance that Plato and Aristotle gave to his figure.

For more or less 30 years He dedicated himself to being a teacher in Athens, but being accused of impiety for expounding his studies on the nature of the sun and the moon, Anaxagoras he had to flee to Ionia. There he died in the year 427 BC.

Here we discover the different stages of ancient philosophy and its representativess.

Anaxagoras: philosophical thought - Who was Anaxagoras?

Anaxagoras, like the rest of the pre-socratic philosophers, made an attempt to explain the origin of things, of nature and of the human being. His thinking considers that everything and everyone is part of an infinite number of elements without the gods being the origin of everything. Instead, Anaxagoras resorted to observation of nature and establishing scientific theories. This attitude led him to have numerous detractors and to be accused of being impious and an atheist.

His conception of the world is theistic, that is, a vision of the world from the philosophical perspective that there is something higher that maintains the order of all things and that, in its case, is the pure intelligence or noûs.

Likewise, to carry out his conclusions about nature, Anaxagoras resorted to observation of what surrounds him and not to give an explanation of everything by resorting to divine will. This perspective leads this philosopher to be considered one of the first thinkers to propose a scientific origin of things.

To understand the philosophical thought of Anaxagoras, we have to know the characteristics most notable:

  • Anaxagoras is pluralistic and considers that matter has infinite and diverse elements called “seeds” or “hemeomerias”. The different combinations of these seeds shape everything that exists in the universe.
  • All beings are permanent because matter is neither born nor destroyed, changing only by mixing or dividing.
  • The seeds or particles that make up objects and beings take a shape and consistency because They have a number of predominant particles that define them. For example, in a piece of gold there are a variety of different seeds, but to be made of gold, the predominant seeds are gold.
  • The primary cause of the separation and combination of seeds is the intelligence or noûs. For Anaxagoras, noûs is a pure, light substance, without any mixtures. A kind of initial whirlwind that constituted all things and that continues mechanically.
  • The nous is infinite, autonomous and powerful, being the superior and infinite force and engine that created the Universe. The arché or beginning of everything is the noûs and orders all the chaos of the origin.
  • The noûs is very subtle and manages to filter through the matter, animating it and penetrating some things and not others, thus explaining how animate and inanimate objects exist.
  • For Anaxagoras nothing is born or dies, Cosmic intelligence mixes and separates everything that exists and thus birth responds to a mixture and death to a separation. Non-being cannot exist.
Anaxagoras: philosophical thought - What are the characteristics of Anaxagoras' thought?
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