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Anaxagoras (Greek: Ἀναξαγόρας, fl.[1] 480 BC – 450 BC) was a Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. Anaxagoras was an Ionian Greek. He was born in Asia Minor, in Clazomenae. This was a town in what is now Turkey.

Anaxagoras was the first known atheist. He also introduced the concept of νούσ (nous, or mind), the ordering force behind the Universe. But he did not take this idea any further.[2]

He held that the Sun was not a god, but just material. It was a "red-hot mass many times larger than the Peloponnese". The Moon was a solid body with geographical features, and made of the same substance as the Earth.[3]

Anaxagoras was eventually arrested and prosecuted for freethought. He was banished from Athens for impiety in 450 BC. However, his works were available in Socrates' day for a drachma.[4]

References[change | change source]

  1. "Flourished", meaning his exact dates of birth and death are not known.
  2. Thrower J. 1985. The alternative tradition: religion and the rejection of religion in the Ancient World. The Hague: Mouton, p156/7.
  3. Robertson J.M. 1969. History of freethought in the West, volume II. London: Dawsons, p166, 181, 395/6.
  4. Watson, Peter 2009. Ideas: a history: from fire to Freud, volume II. Chapter 25: The 'Atheist Scare' and the advent of doubt. p120 et seq, London: Folio Society.