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Anaximenes ( ancient Greek Ἀναξιμένης Anaximénēs ; * approx. 585 BC in Miletus ; † between 528 and 524 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher and astronomer . He is counted among the pre-Socratics .

Anaximenes followed up on the teachings of Anaximander and, with him and Thales, formed the group of the first representatives of Ionic philosophy , the oldest branch of Greek philosophy.

About nature

In his work On Nature , he sees air ( aer ) as primary material ( arché ) and unlimited ( ápeiros ). Everything arises from it: water and rock through compression , fire through dilution . The divine either comes from the air or is the air. He is the first to introduce the concept of the metamorphosis of a substance which later played an important role in Plato , Aristotle and still in modern physics . With this he raises the concept of the primal force, which can only process the primal material. The animating principle lies in the material itself, which is why we are also talking about the doctrine of material animation ( hylozoism ).

The idea of ​​the cosmos as a harmonious, well-ordered whole of the world, which is always changing, but whose substance is eternal, goes back to Anaximenes. In his cosmogony the stars arise from the earth and are all flat and wide and float in the air. The sky is a hemisphere or crystal bowl lying above the earth, which orbits the stars on orbits that are located in the hemisphere. According to Anaximenes, darkness at night is due to the fact that the edge of the earth's disk in the north is bounded by high mountains, behind which the sun remains hidden during the night.

In 1935 the lunar crater Anaximenes was named after him by the IAU . The asteroid (6051) Anaximenes also bears his name.

Source collections

  • Hermann Diels , Walther Kranz (ed.): The fragments of the pre-Socratics. 4th edition, Vol. 1, Berlin 1922
  • Jaap Mansfeld (Ed.): Die Vorsokratiker I. Reclam, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 3-15-007965-9 (Greek and German)
  • Laura Gemelli Marciano (Ed.): The pre-Socratics . Volume 1, Artemis & Winkler, Düsseldorf 2007, ISBN 978-3-7608-1735-4 , pp. 70–99 (Greek source texts with German translation, explanations and introduction to life and work)


Overview representations in manuals



  • Carmela Baffioni : Anaximène dans l'Islam. In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques. Volume supplément. CNRS Editions, Paris 2003, ISBN 2-271-06175-X , pp. 761-765

Web links

Commons : Anaximenes  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Mansfeld, p. 82; in fragment DK 13 A 5 ( Simplikios ), hetairos is misleadingly translated as pupil .
  2. cf. Hippolytos (DK 13 A 7) and Augustine (DK 13 A 10).
  3. DK 13 A7 (Hippolytos)
  4. Ekschmitt, p. 31.