Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Anaximander’s Theory of Evolution

A 3rd century mosaic showing
Anaximander holding a sundial
2500 years before Charles Darwin, people were wondering where human beings came from. Anaximander, the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher who lived in Miletus, a city of Ionia, was the first to come up with the idea that living organisms evolve through time from other living organisms.

He claimed that life sprang from the sea, and that human beings were initially hatched from a race of fish-people. He talks about the fish-people rearing human babies.

Censorinus, the 3rd century Roman thinker, says in his De Die Natali: “Anaximander of Miletus considered that from warmed up water and earth emerged either fish or entirely fishlike animals. Inside these animals, men took form and embryos were held prisoners until puberty; only then, after these animals burst open, could men and women come out, now able to feed themselves.”

Anaximander probably had some kind of an experience with human fetuses in early stages of development. To him, the earliest stage of the fetus must have seemed like a fish and this could have led him to conjecture that the fish-people were the ancestors of the human race in the evolutionary chain.

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