The primary motivation of philosophers in the Pre-Socratic era was to bring knowledge and a since of reason to the world, despite the repercussions it brought to their personal lives such as how they were viewed by the religious orders and governing bodies of the communities in which they lived. As I read about the different philosophers from the Pre- Socratic era I found myself strangely drawn to Anaxagoras because I found him too be the most compelling and most interesting of all of the Pre-Socratic philosophers that we read about.
He was a teacher of metaphysics who lived during the era of (c. 500 – c. 428 B.C.E.), (Moore & Bruder, 2008, p. 29). I found his distinctions and views between matter and mind to be very interesting to say the least. Many of his ideas about change and particles still hold true to this day. Anaxagoras believed that every different type of mass consists of a make-up of its own particles and particles from all others (Moore & Bruder, 2008, p. 29). Even though the particles that he spoke of could not be considered “atoms”, his ideas are still closely related to modern-day science. Considering the era in which he lived in, the concepts that he communicated were definitely far advanced considering the time in which he lived in even to other philosophers. Although both Aristotle and Plato highly disapproved of Anaxagoras perceptions of the differences between mind and matter, Anaxagoras may have separated himself from the most brilliant philosophers of his time with his belief in the pure and infinite power of mind (Moore & Bruder, 2008, p. 30).
As I read of Anaxagoras’ theories, I found myself amazed and stunned with the fact that he seemed to have come up with such scientific ideas or as many of us would say today have the ability to “look and think outside the box” without the aide of all our modern day technology and without the use of any modern scientific tools. His legacy and way of thinking leaves us with many unanswered questions such as, how does one from such an ancient period in time come up with such a concept? And how does one understand or have an idea of the process involved in the make-up of the mind or that of matter? The philosophy and ideas of such a philosopher such as Anaxagoras may have been able to have realized that they were somehow setting the foundations of our modern science as we know it today. Much of the knowledge we have today has come from a single question, a statement or an idea that someone else at some point of time may have been thought of as nothing more than the absurd ranting is of a mad man.
Moore, B. N., & Bruder, K. (2008). The Power of Ideas (7th Ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.