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Thus, unlike the human soul, the world soul, that is, cosmic aer, is outside cosmic body, but it plays the same role as the human soul. As humans live due to their inner souls, so does the cosmos due to the world soul which is also the principle of being, the matrix of the universe, the life giver and maintainer.41 In his view of the world soul outside the cosmic body, Anaximenes is a forerunner of Plato for whom world soul covers the body of the world on the outside and all that is corporeal is inside it (Timaeus 34b, 36de).

Can any mental attributes be ascribed to aer? Because the soul is aer, it is hardly conceivable that if the soul could have mental life, such life could be absent from cosmic aer. Intelligibility can be seen in aer also from the existence of the cosmos. The cosmos is a result of transformations of parts of aer through condensation and rarefaction, but it is hardly credible that Anaximenes would have seen the chain of such transformations to be the result of accidental condensations and rarefactions. The reliance on accidental changes comes with the atomists who claim not to rely on any overseeing principle.42 However, Anaximander already said that the Apeiron governs all things and Anaximenes could very easily have stated that the particular sequence of condensations and rarefactions is due to aer. Aer is the infinite arche, the source of everything, including life; it surrounds and holds everything together, eternal and eternally in motion. With such attributes, aer has a divine character and Anaximenes himself considered aer to be God (Aetius 1.7.13 = A10; Minucius Felix, Octavius 19.5) and God to be aer (Cicero, ND 1.26 = A10).43

For Anaximenes, the soul and thus life is Aer. As such, Aer is not only the seat of life, but also – and primarily – the seat of intelligibility. The soul is the seat of life, but not just of any life, but human life, that is, the center of a being that is able to reason. This attribute, which is implicit in the Apeiron but does not seem to constitute Apeiron’s divinity, becomes a defining attribute of Aer. What is divine in humans is life, and to a larger extent, their mind, their mental faculties. This will become more explicit in Anaxagoras with his divine Nous, Diogenes of Apollonia with his divine


41 The problem can also be solved by stating that the alleged quotation in B2 is a major reinterpretation of the original view that “in its original state his arche was coextensive with the developed universe” and that “the περɩέχον is internal and acts from inside the universe,” Peter J. Bicknell, ‘Tòἄπεɩρον, ἄπεɩρος ἀήρ, and τòπερɩέχον’, Acta Classica 9 (1966), pp. 33, 37.

42 The law of necessity is, in fact, such a principle in Democritus and the isonomia principle, in Epicurus.

43 In Cicero’s statement, “Anaximenes proposed that God is aer, that he is created (gigni) and immeasurable and infinite and always in motion” (Cicero, De natura deorum (ND) 1.26 = A10), gigni is an obvious mistake. It can be attributed to malicious insertion by Velleius the Epicurean who gives this statement in a very strongly polemical context (Wyttenbach) or as the result of confusing the created gods with God-Aer (Krische). To consider God as created “and namely from that what he himself already was in his uncreated essence is the most absurd thing that could be imposed on Greek philosophy,” Krische, Die theologischen Lehren der griechischen Denker, p. 55. The claim that gigni refers only to “the air substance that fills the cosmos,” as asserted by Otto Gilbert, Griechische Religionsphilosophie (Leipzig: Engelmann, 1911; reprint, Hildesheim: Olms, 1973), p. 27 note 1, is indefensible.


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