This conception of matter, as infinitely divisible and continuous, was taught by Anaxagoras more than four centuries before the Christian era, and in the philosophy of Aristotle the same ideas are found.
Anaxagoras was threatened with a law against atheists, and felt compelled to leave Athens.
From the manner, however, in which he seeks to distinguish between matter and cause or reason, and from the earnestness with which he advises men to examine all the impressions on their minds, it may be inferred that he held the view of Anaxagoras - that God and matter exist independently, but that God governs matter.
In fact, he belonged to the old Ionian school, whose doctrines he modified by the theories of his contemporary Anaxagoras, although he avoided his dualism.
They owed their position to Anaxagoras Chaumette, procureur of the Commune, and to the fact that Simon had prevented one of the attempts of the baron de Batz.
Another METRODORUS1 of Lampsacus was a pupil of Anaxagoras, and one of the earliest to attempt' to interpret Homer allegorically.
Foremost among these were the writings of Epicurus; but he had also an intimate knowledge of the philosophical poem of Empedocles, and at least an acquaintance with the works of Democritus, Anaxagoras, Heraclitus, Plato and the Stoical writers.
He owed something to Lucretius, something to the Stoic nature-pantheism, something to Anaxagoras, to Heraclitus, to the Pythagoreans, and to the Neoplatonists, who were partially known to him; above all, he was a profound student of Nicolas of Cusa, who was indeed a speculative Copernicus.
" In ancient times Democritus was the founder of the atomic theory, while Anaxagoras propounded that of continuity, under the name of the doctrine of homoeomeria ('OAotop.pia), or of the similarity of the parts of a body to the whole.
The arguments of the atomists, and their replies to the objections of Anaxagoras, are to be found in Lucretius.
" The opposite extreme, that of Anaxagoras - the theory that bodies apparently homogeneous and continuous are so in reality - is, in its extreme form, a theory incapable of development.
The first attempts to solve the purely geometrical problem appear to have been made by the Greeks (Anaxagoras, &c.) 2, one of whom, Hippocrates, doubtless raised hopes of a solution by his quadrature of the so-called meniscoi or lune.3 [The Greeks were in possession of several relations pertaining to the quadrature of the lune.
At first, prudence appears as the operation of the philosophical life and connected with the speculative philosophy of Anaxagoras (E.E.
The assertion preserved by Stobaeus that Thales recognized, together with the material element " water," " mind," which penetrates it and sets it in motion, is refuted by the precise testimony of Aristotle, who declares that the early physicists did not distinguish the moving cause from the material cause, and that before Hermotimus and Anaxagoras no one postulated a creative intelligence.
On the one hand Empedocles and Anaxagoras, abandoning the pursuit of the One, gave themselves to the scientific study of the Many; on the other Zeno, abandoning the pursuit of the Many, gave himself to the dialectical study of the One.
But he had read Democritus, and, it is said, Anaxagoras and Archelaus.
Lastly, the philosophers of the second physical succession - Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Leucippus - not directly attacking the great mystery of the One and the Many, but in virtue of a scientific instinct approaching it through the investigation of phenomena, were brought by their study of sensation to perceive and to proclaim the inadequacy of the organs of sense.
Thus the suggestion preserved by Stobaeus that he conceived water to be endowed with mind is discredited by the specific statement of Aristotle that the earlier physicists (physiologi) did not distinguish the material from the moving cause, and that before Anaxagoras no one postulated creative intelligence.
It will be sufficient here to deal with Anaxagoras, Diogenes of Apollonia, Archelaus and Hippo, leaving Empedocles, Leucippus and Democritus to special articles (q.v.).
Anaxagoras (q.v.) elaborated a quasi-dualistic theory according to which all things have existed from the beginning.
But by isolating Reason from all other growths, by representing it as the motor-energy of the Cosmos, in popularizing a term which suggested personality and will, Anaxagoras gave an impetus to ideas which were the basis of Aristotelian philosophy in Greece and in Europe at large.
Another pupil of Anaxagoras was Archelaus of Miletus.
He endeavoured to overcome the dualism of Anaxagoras, and in so doing approached more nearly to the older Ionians.
He was a pupil of Anaxagoras, and is said by Ion of Chios (ap. Diog.
In general, he followed Anaxagoras, but in his cosmology he went back to the earlier Ionians.
The first name is that of Theagenes of Rhegium, contemporary of Cambyses (525 B.C.), who is said to have founded the " new grammar " (the older " grammar " being the art of reading and writing), and to have been the inventor of the allegorical interpretations by which it was sought to reconcile the Homeric mythology with the morality and speculative ideas of the 6th century B.C. The same attitude in the " ancient quarrel of poetry and philosophy " was soon afterwards taken by Anaxagoras; and after him by his pupil Metrodorus of Lampsacus, who explained away all the gods, and even the heroes, as elementary substances and forces (Agamemnon as the upper air, &c.).
Anaxagoras was the first to postulate the existence of Reason (vows) as the source of change and progress.
This was not the first time that approaches had been made to such a doctrine, and Diogenes of Apollonia in particular was led to oppose Anaxagoras, who distinguished Nous or Thought from every other agent within the cosmos which is its work by postulating as his first principle something which should be at once physical substratum and thinking being.
But long before this the peculiar character of air had been recognized as something intermediate to the corporeal and the incorporeal: when Diogenes of Apollonia revived the old Ionian hylozoism in opposition to the dualism of Anaxagoras, he made this, the typical example of matter in the gaseous state, his one element.
For the Love and Hate of Empedocles and the Nous (Intelligence) of Anaxagoras, Democritus substituted fixed and necessary laws (not chance; that is a misrepresentation due chiefly to Cicero).
This caused various lateral and contrary movements, resulting in a whirling movement (Slvn) resembling the rotation of Anaxagoras, whereby similar atoms were brought together (as in the winnowing of grain) and united to form larger bodies and worlds.
With Anaxagoras a conception entered which gradually triumphed over that of Heraclitus, namely, the conception of a supreme, intellectual principle, not identified with the world but independent of it.
According to Diogenes Laertius he was " in his prime " 504-500 B.C., and would thus seem to have been born about 539 Plato indeed (Parmenides, 127 B) makes Socrates see and hear Parmenides when the latter was about sixty-five years of age, in which case he cannot have been born before 519; but in the absence of evidence that any such meeting took place this may be regarded as one of Plato's anachronisms. However this may be, Parmenides was a contemporary, probably a younger contemporary, of Heraclitus, with whom the first succession of physicists ended, while Empedocles and Anaxagoras, with whom the second succession of physicists began, were very much his juniors.
The doctrine of the deceitfulness of " the undiscerning eye and the echoing ear " soon established itself, though the grounds upon which Empedocles, Anaxagoras and Democritus maintained it were not those which were alleged by Parmenides.