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Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium

Anaximander of Miletus, a student of Thales, described a first principle (archē) as a sort of indefinite and unbounded moving element, the apeiron (ἄπειρον). Unlike the other presocratics, Anaximander did not name a known specific element as the origin of all matter, like water (Thales), fire (Heraclitus), or air (Anaximenes). Anaximander may have been the first natural scientist, describing principles about the creation and destruction of order as an arrangement of things in time, which are created and later perish.

We have only one major fragment of Anaximander, and a couple of important phrases. They come from Theophrastus (c. 370-290 BCE), the successor to Aristotle as head of the Peripatetic school, and Simplicius (c. 490-560 CE.), who is quoting from Theoprastus.

ἀρχὴ ... τῶν ὄντων τὸ ἄπειρον ... ἐξ ὧν δὲ ἡ γένεσίς ἐστι τοῖς οὖσι͵ καὶ τὴν φθορὰν εἰς ταῦτα γίνεσθαι κατὰ τὸ χρεών· διδόναι γὰρ αὐτὰ δίκην καὶ τίσιν ἀλλήλοις τῆς ἀδικίας κατὰ τὴν τοῦ χρόνου τάξιν.

Ἀθάνατον [...] καὶ ἀνώλεθρον.

Kathleen Freeman's translations are:
The Non-Limited is the original material of existing things; further, the source from which existing things derive their existence is also that to which they return at their destruction, according to necessity; for they give justice and make reparation to one another for their injustice, according to the arrangement of Time.

(The Non-Limited) is immortal [ἀ + θάνατον] and indestructible [ἀν + ὂλεθρον. N.B., φθορὰν is another word for destruction].

Kirk and Raven translate the version given by Theophrastus as

...some other apeiron nature, from which come into being all the heavens and the world in them. And the source of coming-to-be for existing things is that into which destruction, too, happens. 'according to necessity [translating κατὰ τὸ χρεών]; for they pay penalty [translating διδόναι δίκην] and retribution to each other for their injustice according to the assessment of Time [personified as Chronos].

Martin Heidegger cited this "Anaximander Fragment" as the introduction of Being (and perhaps Time?) into philosophy, after which he claims that Being (Existence itself or perhaps the noumenal Idea of Being outside space and time?) is forgotten as philosophical and scientific thought concentrates on the multitude of beings (existing things).

Friedrich Nietzsche had also cited this ancient fragment in his posthumous Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks. Much of Heidegger's work and even his terminology can be traced back to Nietzsche.

We can read ἀρχὴ as both beginning and principle, with its important relatives ἄρχω (of time, to begin) and ἄρχων (a ruler, king).

There is no "material" obvious at the beginning of the fragment, so it is better to read ἀρχὴ as a cosmological "origin" of existing things in general, of things (τῶν ὄντων) that have "being" (τὸ ὀν).

We can read ἄπειρον as without a limit (ἀ + πεῖρας), but even more deeply, see the relative πειρα as an attempt, an experiment, and as "experience." This is the root of our "empirical," from ἐν "in" + πειρα "experiment." So apeiron can mean "without experience," or, in the context of an origin, "before experience." This is then Immanuel Kant's distinction between onto-theology (discovering God from thinking about the concept alone) and cosmo-theology (discovering God based on our experiences).

Anaximander's mention of χρεών is etymologically related to χρῆματα, things for which man is the measure, according to Protagoras. These are material and useful things of value (χρῆματα, or πράγματα).

διδόναι δίκην ("giving justice") is a similar idiom "suffer punishment, make amends"

The German translation given in the first edition of the Fragmente der Vorsokratiker of Hermann Diels (1903) translates τῶν ὄντων as Dinge. A better translation would be simple "beings" or "things that exist." Diels translates κατὰ τὸ χρεών as nach der Notwendigkeit, which is too strong, implying the determinism of the later atomists and materialists.

Anfang der Dinge ist das Unendliche. Woraus aber ihnen die Geburt ist, dahin geht auch ihr Sterben nach der Notwendigkeit. Denn sie zahlen einander Strafe und Buße für ihre Ruchlosigkeit nach der Zeit Ordnung.

Notwendigkeit is the strong concept of necessity that implies determinism. It was introduced in Greek thought a century later by atomists such a Leucippus. Dinge implies material "things" and not "beings" - let alone the Being" that Martin Heidegger is looking for.

Leucippus said about necessity...

"Nothing occurs at random, but everything for a reason and by necessity." (Leucippus, Fragment 569 - from Fr. 2 Actius I, 25, 4)

οὐδὲν χρῆμα μάτην γίνεται, ἀλλὰ πάντα ἐκ λόγου τε καὶ ὑπ’ ἀνάγκης

A better translation for the idiom κατὰ τὸ χρεών· is "according to that which must be," according to what is due, or just "needed," and not the "necessity" = ἀν + ανκη of Leucippus. The χρῆμα of Leucippus and the plural χρῆματα of Protagoras are the everyday "things of which man is the measure," not Parmenides "things that exist," let alone "Being itself"

In Plato, Phaedrus (255a), του χρόνου ἣ τε ἡλικἰα και τὸ χρεών, is translated in the Loeb Plato as "in time, at an age, according to destiny."

In the sixth edition of the Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, now edited by Walther Kranz, we find a surprisingly different German translation, described as "in direct speech."

1. (In direkter Rede:) Anfang und Ursprung der seienden Dinge ist das Apeiron (das grenzenlos-Unbestimmbare). Woraus aber das Werden ist den seienden Dingen, in das hinein geschieht auch ihr Vergehen nach der Schuldigkeit; denn sie zahlen einander gerechte Strafe und Buße für ihre Ungerechtigkeit nach der Zeit Anordnung.

2. Das Apeiron ist ohne Alter.

3. Das Apeiron ist ohne Tod und ohne Verderben.

Here Kranz inserts "seienden Dinge, "things that are, "being things"" rather than just "things." And he replaces Diels' Notwendigkeit with Schuldigkeit or Duty.

The latest modern compilation of the Fragments, sixty years after the latest Diels-Kranz, is by Daniel W. Graham, a philosopher with classical training, but not a classicist. Here are full excerpts from ancient Anaximander quotations by Simplicius, via Theophrastus, by Hippolytus, and by Aristotle. Anaximander's own words are bolded.

9. Simplicius Physics 24.13-25, Theophrastus fr. 226A Fortenbaugh (A9, B1)

9 [report of the interpretation of Theophrastus:] Of those who say the source is one and in motion and boundless, Anaximander, the son of Praxiades, of Miletus, the successor and student of Thales, said the source and element of existing things was the boundless, being the first one to apply this term to the source. And he says it is neither water nor any other of the so-called elements, but some other boundless nature, from which come to be all the heavens and the world-orders in them:

Note that coming-to-be and destruction are now thought to be Simplicius' addition, as first suspected by John Burnet in the 1890's and as Heidegger knew. Even ἀρχὴ is a later term, and Graham drops it, γένεσίς, and φθορὰν
[F1] From what things existing objects come to be, into them too does their destruction take place, according to what must be: for they give recompense and pay restitution to each other for their injustice according to the ordering of time, expressing it in these rather poetic terms.

[comment by Simplicius:] It is clear that, observing the change of the four elements into each other, he did not think it appropriate to make one of them the substratum of the others, but something else besides them. And he did not derive generation from the alteration of some element, but from the separation of contraries due to everlasting motion. That is why Aristotle classified him with the followers of Anaxagoras.

10 Hippolytus Refutation 1.6.1-2 (A11, B2)

10 Anaximander, was the student of Thales. Anaximander, son of Praxiades, of Miletus. He said the source and element of existing things was a certain nature of the boundless, from which come to be the heavens and the world-order in them. [Fa] And this is everlasting and ageless [translating ἁίδιον (ἁείδιον) εῖναι καὶ ἀγήρω], and it also surrounds all the world- orders. He speaks of time as though there were a determinate period of coming to be and existing and perishing. (2) He has said the source and element of existing things is the boundless, being the first to call the source by term. Furthermore, motion is everlasting, as a result of which the heavens come to be.

16 Aristotle Physics 203b6-28 (A15+, B3)

16 Everything is either a source or derives from a source, but there is no source of the boundless or infinite, for then there would be a boundary of it. Furthermore, it would be without coming to be and perishing insofar as it is a source; for what comes to be must reach an end, and there is an end of every perishing. For that reason, as we say, there is no source of the infinite, but [F3] this seems to be a source of everything else and to contain all things and steer all things, as everyone claims who does not posit some cause beyond the boundless, as for instance mind or love. (B3) And this is the divine, for it is deathless and imperishable [translating ἁθάνατον γάρ καὶ ἀνώλεθρον], as Anaximander says, together with the majority of the natural philosophers.

The belief in some infinite principle would seem to arise especially from five considerations: [1] from the concept of time (for this is infinite), [2] from the division in magnitudes (for mathematicians employ the concept of infinity), [3] and again from the fact that only in this way will coming to be and perishing not cease: so long as there is something infinite from which what comes to be is subtracted. [4] And again from the fact that what is limited always meets some limit, so that there must be no limit if everything is limited by something else. [5] But the main and chief reason, is what causes a general problem for everyone: because we cannot imagine an end of the series, number seems infinite, and likewise mathematical magnitudes and also what is outside the heaven. And if what is outside the heavens is infinite, so, we tend to believe, are body and the world-orders themselves. For why should there be more void in one place than in another? So if there is body in one place it must be everywhere.

17 Aristotle Physics 204b22-29 (A16)

17 But it is not possible for the boundless body to be one and simple - neither as some say something besides the elements, from which they generate them, nor without qualification. For there are some who posit a boundless, not air or water, in order that other things may not be destroyed by the infinite amount of their opposite; for each of these has a character contrary to the others, for instance air is cold, water moist, fire hot. So if any one of these was infinite, the rest would already have been destroyed. But it is really something else, they say, from which these things arise.

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