197 The Theory of the Opposites and an Ordered Universe: Physics and Metaphysics in Anaximander GAD FREUDENTHAL* In a bold and suggestive paper published in 1947, Professor Gregory Vlastos has given an incisive and intriguing account of Anaximander's cosmogony and cosmology. The "hard core" of Vlastos' reconstruction amounts to the statement that Anaximander held, indeed invented, a "philosophical concept of nature as a self-regulative equilibrium, whose order was strictly immanent, guaranteed through the fixed proportions of its main constituents".' This thesis, I will argue, is false. Regrettably so, because, as Vlastos justly notes, such a view of nature is of greater signifi- cance and import than Anaximander's strictly physical hypotheses. Much is at stake here: our analysis will suggest that Anaximander's physical theory - the theory of the opposites - which (in a modified form) was to be embraced by Aristotle and the Peripatetic school, could not found the notion of a self- regulative, immanent, natural order. Consequently, in Anaximander as well as in Aristotelian philosophy of nature, natural order had to be sustained and upheld by external factors: in particular, what was to become the sublunary world was not a closed system. As long as the theory
Phronesis – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1986
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