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Greek Philosopher: Anaximander

Updated on April 2, 2009

The son of Praxiades. He was the first discoverer of the gnomon (the part of a sundial that casts the shadow) and he placed some in Lacadaemon on the sundials there. He was the first person to draw a map of the earth and sea.

A celebrated Greek philosopher. He is said to have been the first to note the obliquity of the ecliptic, and laid down the theory that the moon shone with light borrowed from the sun.

Anaximander believed that the earth was cylinder in form, and that its depth was one-third of its breadth.

610-547 BC

Greek philosopher credited with introducing the sundial into Greece, and inventing Cartography (map making). Born in Miletus in what is now Turkey.

Like other early Greek philosophers, he believed that all things come from one underlying substance. He called this substance the indefinite. probably to distinguish it from such relatively well-defined substances such as air, fire, water and earth.

Anaximander thought these substances emerged from the indefinite in accordance with laws that "punished" too much heat and dryness with quantities of cold and moisture, and too much cold and moisture with heat and dryness.

Anaximander was one of the first to give a naturalistic rather than a mythological explanation of natural processes. He anticipated the theory of evolution by stating that animals came originally from a moist environment, and man evolved from a fish.

He was a pupil and successor of Thales.


  • Pears Cyclopaedia, Twenty-Ninth Edition, 1926
  • New Encyclopedia, Volume 2, 1971, Funk & Wagnalls
  • Early Greek Philosophy, 4th Edition, 1964, Milton C. Nahm
  • The World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 1, World Book Inc, 1979


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    • Lilymag profile image

      Lilymag 9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you for a great hub! I loved learning about Greek Philosophers in school, and kind of miss it!