Talk:Anaxagoras

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First Cause or Final Purpose?[edit]

"However, his enunciation of the order that comes from reason suggested the theory that nature is the work of design." Was Mind (Nous) merely a mechanical, efficient cause? Or was it a teleological, purposive, rational, final cause? Anaxagoras wrote that "Mind took command of the universal revolution, so as to make (things) revolve at the outset." This means that Mind only had an effect at the beginning or start. But, then he wrote: "...whatever they were going to be, and whatever things were then in existence that are not now, and all things that now exist and whatever shall exist --- all were arranged by Mind...." These words may possibly indicate that Mind knew what things "were going to be" and so had a purpose. There is a huge difference between a mover that has no final goal and a mover that has a purpose. This article should specify whether Mind (Nous) was mechanical or anthropomorphic.152.163.101.10 13:48, 17 January 2006 (UTC)Lestrade

As the fragments themslves do not give a clear indication either way, as you point out yourself, but Aristole and most of his interpreters suggested that he was talking about efficent cause, I would go with that. --Lacatosias 17:25, 17 January 2006 (UTC) Hector

Hume & Anaxagoras's Atheism[edit]

Hume derived his description of Anaxagoras's atheism from Plato:

Socrates:You surprise me, Meletus; what is your object in saying that? Do you suggest that I do not believe that the sun and moon are gods, like other men do?

Meletus:He certainly does not, gentlemen of the jury, since he says that the sun is a stone and the moon a mass of earth.

Socrates:Do you imagine that you are prosecuting Anaxagoras, my dear Meletus? Have you so poor an opinion of these gentlemen, and do you assume them to be so illiterate as not to know that the writings of Anaxagoras of Clazomenae are full of theories like these?
— Apology, 26d

...when you and I argue for the existence of the Gods, and produce the sun, moon, stars, and earth, claiming for them a divine being, if we would listen to the aforesaid philosophers (Anaxagoras, Democritus, and their followers) we should say that they are earth and stones only, which can have no care at all of human affairs, and that all religion is a working up of words and a make-believe.

— Laws, X, 886D

Lestrade 14:09, 4 June 2006 (UTC)Lestrade

Year of Birth[edit]

The article says Anaxagoras was born in 500 BC, but one of the External Links says he was born in 499 BC. Which is it? Red Alien War Is Over! (If You Want It.) 16:49, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

The article says "ca. 500 BC". "ca" is short for "circa", meaning "approximately". 91.105.5.207 20:28, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one WikiProject had rated the article as start, and the rating on other projects was brought up to start class. BetacommandBot 14:48, 9 November 2007 (UTC)


Why is there no mention of "everything is in everything" and discussion of the blending/powder theories as explanations? There is also no discussion of his fragment about least amounts and pure isolated constituent extractions from mixtures. moomoo2u —Preceding unsigned comment added by 69.157.227.183 (talk) 00:15, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

"NO" rational laws of nature and Intelligent Design[edit]

The introduction says that Anaxagoras introduced "the cosmological concept of Nous (mind), the ordering force, i.e., that there were no rational laws of nature." Why does it say that his concept of Nous implied that there were NO rational laws of nature? Doesn't the entirety of the article actually strongly imply the exact opposite - that nature is rationally ordered by the cosmic Nous or mind? Either this is a truly random mistake in the introduction or the rest of the article is way off the mark. Everything else seems to suggest that Anaxagoras believed that nature was rationally ordered by the actions of Nous and that human beings could contemplate, investigate, and understand this rational order. How, then, can it be implied that he believed that there were NO rational laws of nature?

On another important note, the article subtly suggests at the very bottom that he may have thought that nature was "intelligently designed". We have to be careful here, because this notion of "intelligent design" is essentially a modern concept of the last twenty years or so. This is a very loaded term nowadays, and we should be extremely cautious if we are applying it to previous thinkers (especially ancient ones). It should be noted that for Anaxagoras, Nous always acts through the exact same methods (that is, Nous activates and guides the motion, division, and mixture of the cosmos that is described earlier in the article). Anaxagoras is NOT saying (at least, as I understand the evidence that the article presents) that Nous simply acts with omnipotent power whenever it decides to change the world, as in a miracle or something. Nous is therefore, different from the mainstream Abrahamic belief in an omnipotent, omniscient God who can act at personal will to do essentially anything and everything; rather, Nous is more akin to the mechanical, clockwork deity of the later Enlightenment-era Deists. Since the term "intelligent design" is so tightly connected with the movement of modern Christian creationism in the United States of America, I think that it should be avoided when discussing pre-Christian, pre-modern science philosophers. We should just leave it up to the reader to decide wherever Anaxagoras's concept of Nous implies or necessitates that nature be "designed", intelligently or otherwise. In this way, we can avoid conjuring up any false associations through the words "design" or "intelligent design". Maybe if Anaxagoras was alive today he would be an ardent proponent of intelligent design - but he is, in point of fact, NOT alive today, and he is actually very far removed in time and space from our modern debate over design, evolution, religion, science, etc.; therefore, we should refrain from speculating as to which side of this fierce debate he might have been on. IonNerd (talk) 10:55, 12 August 2009 (UTC)IonNerd

I rewrote the introduction somewhat, removing the half-line about there being no rational laws of nature. As to the final line of the page, that's from the Encyclopedia Britannica 1911: [1]. I think all the writer was trying to do was make a contrast between Anaxagoras and the purely materialistic doctrines of Democritus. You can delete the line if you want, in fact the EB 1911 article has an extra sub-clause saying that "he seems not to have stated [this] explicitly". Singinglemon (talk) 17:54, 14 August 2009 (UTC)
Okay, thanks for clarifying that! Keep up the good work! You seem to be quite informed on this subject.IonNerd (talk) 03:34, 17 August 2009 (UTC)IonNerd

Picture of Anaxagoras[edit]

I reverted the deletion of the picture of Anaxagoras File:Anaxagoras_Explains_the_Sun.jpg, because it seemed to me to be a perfectly reasonable addition to the page. I won't edit-war over this, so if anyone really does feel passionate about this, I won't fight it. What's wrong with having a picture of Anaxagoras explaining his view of the Sun on this page? It is true that one has to accept the artist's word that it is a picture of Anaxagoras, but that's true for every image of Anaxagoras in existence. I didn't add the picture to the page originally, so I have no personal stake in the matter, I'm just baffled as to why it's an unacceptable image of Anaxagoras, whereas the Nuremberg Chronicle picture (which I did add to the page) is considered fine. Singinglemon (talk) 19:03, 7 October 2009 (UTC)

Sounds good to me. Mijelliott (talk) 14:52, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

Massive plagiarism[edit]

This entire article is largely copied verbatim from Encyclopedia Brittanica. Does Brittanica allow/encourage use of its text? Or is this just massive outrageous plagiarism? Rep07 (talk) 19:43, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

A wee bit of an exaggeration? You didn't notice Anaxagoras#References:
I see only a few parts that are nearly verbatim... but it does seem it was most likely based on that article, (originally).—Machine Elf 1735 (talk) 22:12, 15 September 2010 (UTC)