The Primitive Anaximander

Κατὰ τὸ χρεών [kata to chreōn] is a phrase attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher Anaximander (Ἀναξίμανδρος Anaximandros; c. 610 – c. 546 BC) handed down to us in a written form by the Aristotelian commentator Simplicius of Cicilia (Greek: Σιμπλίκιος; c. 490–c. 560). The phrase simply means ‘According to that which must be’ or ‘concerning [the things] that must be’, ‘according to [that] which is necessary’, ‘according to the inevitable’, ‘according to the destiny’ [these are some of the translations offered by the Italian philosopher Emanuele Severino in his book ‘Destino della necessità’].

It is interesting to just have in mind what viewpoints these ancients had on reality. It may be that it differs a lot from our current viewpoints on the reality. I watched a TV debate in my country the other day where two groups were debating on this topic. The discussion was basically on whether the Religion is contributing to the development of the society or is contributing to the deteriorating of the society. Those who were against religion, against God, or simply put atheists, were also against the concept of some Providence, Fate or destiny of any kind. Their viewpoint is that the world is just chaos of events not necessarily connected to one another. It seems out that in our modern society it is a bit old-fashioned to speak about some predestined Fate, this is for the primitive people, for our ancestors who knew very little about science, about the world around us, and the things that they feared they contributed to some transcendental entity in form of God or Demiurg or any other Causal force out there. It is also interesting to note how these people are a bit hostile in their approach to criticizing the ‘primitive ones’, that is, those who believe in such Causality of any kind. They posses some kind of patronizing, superior attitude toward the people who believe in metaphysical concepts, in astrology, religion too.

‘Poor and primitive’ Anaximander.


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