Anaxagoras (of Clazomenae)

Greek natural philosopher believed that there were an infinite number of elements

Background

He came from a wealthy family and move to Athens at the age of 20. He devoted his life to philosophy and was one of a first philosopher in Athens. According to the writing of Plato, he taught Pericles the founder of the democratic system and even Socrates, the great questioner.

The Elements

Anaxagoras believed that there are an infinite number of elements, which went against the thinking of the time, which held that there were only four basic elements. He believed that “there was a portion of everything in everything”. A good example of this is the fact that snow is black as well as white, but we call it white because the white so far exceeds the black

The Sun and Moon

He thought that the sun was a hot stone and that the moon reflected light from the sun. He also gave the modern explanation for eclipses of the Sun and Moon. The power behind all motion, he though was “Nous” or simply reason. This idea was controversial because it did away with a need for God. Anaxagoras was arrested and was only released after his friend Pericles intervened. He had to leave Athens for good and move to Asia Minor, now Turkey.

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