Friday, June 17, 2011

Anixamander (Something Else Is Working Harder)


          "It is not easy, however, to see what manner of control could be exercised on all things by Anaximander's Indefinite.  The Greek does not necessarily mean that the steering is due to the enfolding -- both properties independently are natural ones for something conceived as divine -- but it probably implies it.  

                 Again, the metaphor of steering does not necessarily entail a conscious and intelligent agent, for the steering of a ship can be regarded as a purely mechanical process, with references to changes in direction imposed by the steering mechanism and not the intentions of the navigator.  


           Yet the archaic theomorphic, and thus to some extent anthropomorphic, conception of the primary stuff favours the assumption of purposeful action.  Possible methods of control are the following:  

               (1) by means of surrounding or unfolding; either 

                          (a) by preventing the further expansion of the differentiated world ('all things'), or 

                          (b) by making good the waste involved in change in the world; 

               (2) by being immanent in all things, or some things, and providing either 

                          (a) motive power or life-force, or 

                          (b) a principle or rule of law of change; 
                (3) by having initiated the world in such a way as to provide a continuing rule of law of change."

Excerpt from G.S.Kirk and J.E. Raven, The Pre-Socratic Philosophers, A Critical History With A Selection of Texts, Cambridge At The University Press, 1971

Top image:  Anaximander.  Detail from Raphael, The School of Athens, 1509-1510, Apostolic Palace, Vatican City.

Center image:  Anaximander's world map.

Lower image:  Perspectives of Anaximander's universe.

Something Else Is Working Harder (Peter Blegvad) (click to listen)

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