I found the Introduction and theories of Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes most interesting. Not many people stop to think about were philosophizing really began and with whom. So I found it interesting to go back to the very beginning theories of philosophers. Even though Thales is considered the first of philosophers he was very much a well-rounded man and educated in many fields (astronomy and engineering for example) – as were Anaximander and Anaximenes. Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes consist of the Presocratics – they are considered to be the beginning of the intellectual line of thought later known as philosophy. Most interesting is that despite the fact that each were taught down the line by their predecessor- beginning with Thales who taught Anaximander who taught Anaximenes – each has vastly different options about how “things” came to be.
Thales, the first of philosophers, believed that all basic stuff was water. Thales theory is unclear because we do not know if he means everything comes from water or if everything really is water in another form. Thales also theorized that the earth floats on water.
Anaximander, despite being taught by Thales, had a different idea about how “stuff” began. To Anaximander the aperion (essentially the “stuff”) is something from hot and cold. Hot is in the form of fire and cold is in the form of mist/air. Anaximander theorizes that the opposites working on each other are what generate the “stuff”.
The last of the Presocrates, Anaximenes, thought separately from both Thales and Anaximander, and theorized that Aēr (“stuff”) is what gives rise to everything else. Anaximenes felt Anaximanders idea of aperion was too indefinite to be able to explain the job of creation of “stuff”. Anaximenes own theory that everything is made from aēr is more definite – and Anaximenes explicitly includes the ideas of condensation and rarefaction along with aēr to help create the “stuff”. Anaximenes explains that as aēr gets finer and more condensed it changes. From aēr to fire, to wind, to cloud, to stone and on until all the rest of the “stuff” has come from aēr.
I agree least with Anaximander’s assertion of hot and cold working against to make all the “stuff”. I wold think Anaximenes theory of all things from aēr to be most probable because he makes more definite the idea of aēr – which can be translated to air, however different from what we think of air – and essentially all things come from aēr.