(circa 611-c. 547 BC)
Home: Miletus, Asia Minor.
School: Ionian, student of Thales.
Proposed Physis: "boundless"
Rational/Empirical Viewpoint?: Empiricist
Influence: minor, limited
Influences on Anaximander: Thales
Greatest achievement: Introduction (invention?) of sundial, and an early stab at an evolutionary theory.
Surviving works: Fragments - earliest prose on the cosmos/origins of life.
Anaximander continued the search for a physis, critiquing Thales by (correctly) claiming that water was a compound (assuming that Thales really only meant water and not "liquidity"). Feeling the physis must be more elemental, he labeled it "boundless". (again, correct) By critiquing Thales, the scientific tradition of open debate was born. Anaximander also created a Theory of evolution wherein man originally formed in the ocean, however, since these primitive men would drown, they were fostered inside of fish - accordingly, he called on people to stop eating their "parents".
Assessment - why is Anaximander important?: Anaximander could have chosen to follow his devotion to Thales by refusing to contradict or criticize him. While Anaximander's achievements are not of great historical importance, we should not underestimate the value of his obeying his teacher by rejecting dogmatic acceptance of Thales' works.
Whatever else we may say of Anaximander, Anaximander created a philosphy that was consistent - evidenced by his call for man to stop eating fish.