Anaximander (ca 610 - 546 BCE) was a younger contemporary of Thales and, chronologically, the second of the three principal philosophers of the Milesian (Ionian) school. (The other two being Anaxagoras and Anaximenes[1].) He wrote the first surviving lines of western philosophy, and offered philosophical speculations in the fields of astronomy, geography and biology.

As far as historians can tell, he was the first scientist who tried to explain the origin of human race without the mention of a creator instead speculating that the cosmos was derived from one primordial substance separated out by opposites.[2] He believed that all life began in the sea, and at one time or another, humans were some kind of fish. Later, scientists took his ideas, (most notably Charles Darwin), and turned it into what is now known as the "theory of evolution."

Anaximander was also the first known Greek to attempt to create a map of the world. He thought of the earth as a stubby cylinder situated in the center of all things.[3]


  • Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Anaximander
  • Barnes, J., Early Greek Philosophy (London, 1987)
  • Copleston, F.C., History of Philosophy, Vol 1: Greece and Rome (Part 1 is a section on Pre-Socratic Philosophers)
  • Kahn, C.H., Anaximander and the Origins of Greek Cosmology (New York, 1960)
  • Kirk, G.S., Raven, J.E., and Schofield, M., The Presocratic Philosophers (Cambridge, 1990)
  1. The New American Desk Encyclopedia, Penguin Group, 1989
  2. The New American Desk Encyclopedia, Penguin Group, 1989
  3. The New American Desk Encyclopedia, Penguin Group, 1989
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