Study Notes

This evening I continued briefly with Copleston’s History of Philosophy, and with Anaximenes, the final member of the Melitian School. He abandoned Anaximander’s notion of the Indeterminate Boundless, claiming instead that the primary element is air, and that all other matter is generated from air by rarefaction (producing fire) or condensation (producing water, and then solids). Copleston notes that this is essentially a reduction of all quality to quantity: all matter is one kind of thing, varying as it is proportionally more or less dense. He also points out that while the Miletians were in some sense materialists, insofar as they conceived of nothing beyond the physical world, they were not materialists in the modern sense—that would require a rejection of the distinction between matter and spirit, a distinction that hadn’t as yet even been clearly formulated.

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