Greek Philosopher: Anaximenes
Anaximenes was an early Greek philosopher who lived in the 500's B.C.
Like other philosophers of his time, he believed that there is a single substance underlying all things.
Unlike the others, Anaximenes believed that air being the principle of life, is the primary material, and becomes different things by condensation and rarefaction. He probably believed that people could more easily explain change in the world if the basic substance were something which could be regarded as the breath of the world.
Anaximenes' notion of air suggests (a) that the primary material, though invisible itself, can give rise to visible things, and (b) that ultimately things are all the same and differ only in their shape or extension, ie: that there are only quantitative differences between them. The importance of the Ionian's lies in the fact that they raised the primarily philosophical question, "What is the ultimate nature of things?" and not so much in their attempted solutions of that question.
Anaximenes' views about the origin and nature of the universe apparently came from his observations of rain coming from clouds, earth apparently condensing from water, and water changing into air by evaporation. Anaximenes believed the density of air determines its transformations into the natural substances fire, wind, cloud, earth, water and stone.
- The World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 1, World Book Inc, 1985. Page 425.
- The New International Illustrated Encyclopaedia, Volume 1, 1954. Page 129.