Anaximander in Context

New Studies in the Origins of Greek Philosophy

By Dirk L. Couprie, Robert Hahn, and Gerard Naddaf

Subjects: Ancient Greek Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Ancient Greek Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791455388, 304 pages, October 2002
Hardcover : 9780791455371, 304 pages, October 2002

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

List of Tables


Anthropogony and Politogony in Anaximander of Miletus
Gerard Naddaf

The Origin of Humanity in Traditional (or Mythical) Thought
The Origin of Animals and Humanity According to Anaximander
The Origin of Society According to Mythical Accounts
Some Reflections on the Evolution of the Polis before Anaximander
The Emergence of the Polis and the Invention of Politics
The Origin and Development of Society in Anaximander
The Legend of Danaus, the Danaides, and History
Danaus and the Alphabet
Anaximander's Map: The Canvas of the Oikoumene

Proportions and Numbers in Anaximander and Early Greek Thought
Robert Hahn

Proportionality in Anaximander's Cosmic Architecture
Proportionality and Numbers in Archaic ArchitectureThe Number "3" and Architectural Trisecting
The Idea of Organic Growth in Sacred Architecture
Metrological Studies of Ancient Buildings
Wesenberg's Case for the Canon of Ionic Proportions: 1:9 not 1:10
Schaber's Case Study of the Archaic Artemision: Proportion, Numbers, and Organic Growth
The Temple's Inner Built Structure is Usually 3:1—The Metrologies of the Archaic Temples in Samos and Didyma
Literary Formulas and Proportionalities
Sculptural Formulas and Polykleitos' Canon
Anaximander's Cosmic Formula Revisited


The Architect's Design Formula
The Architect's Design Formula and the Cosmic Meaning of the Roof



The Discovery of Space: Anaximander's Astronomy
Dirk L. Couprie

First Exercises in Early Greek Astronomy: The Anachronistic Fallacy
More Exercises in Early Greek Astronomy: Looking at the Heavens with the Naked Eye
A Further Exercise in Early Greek Astronomy: Looking at the Heavens with the Help of a Gnomon
A Last Exercise in Early Greek Astronomy: Anaximander's Map of the World
Anaximander's Big Achievement: The Discovery of Space


The Celestial Bodies Make Full Circles around the Earth
The Earth Floats Unsupported in Space
The Celestial Bodies Lie behind One Another


Anaximander's Numbers and a Map of His Universe
Wheels in Space: A Three-Dimensional Visualization of Anaximander's Universe
Anaximander and the Representation of the Heavens in Ptolemaic Egyptian Art




Index of Concepts and Proper Names

Index of Classical Passages Cited

Places the development of Anaximander's thought within social, political, cosmological, astronomical, and technological contexts.


Promoting a new, broadly interdisciplinary horizon for future studies in early Greek philosophy, Dirk L. Couprie, Robert Hahn, and Gerard Naddaf establish the cultural context in which Anaximander's thought developed and in which the origins of Greek philosophy unfolded in its earliest stages. In order to better understand Anaximander's achievement, the authors call our attention to the historical, social, political, technological, cosmological, astronomical, and observational contexts of his thought. Anaximander in Context brings to the forefront of modern debates the importance of cultural context, and the indispensability of images to clarify ancient ideologies.

Dirk L. Couprie is an independent researcher and former Associate Professor at the University of Leiden. Robert Hahn is Professor of Philosophy at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He is the author of several books, including Anaximander and the Architects: The Contributions of Egyptian and Greek Architectural Technologies to the Origins of Greek Philosophy, also published by SUNY Press. Gerard Naddaf is Professor of Philosophy at York University in Toronto and the author of The Greek Concept of Nature, also published by SUNY Press.