ARCHELAUSAthens, 5th century B.C.
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Pre-Socratic philosopher, known as student of Anaxagoras and teacher of Socrates. With this role, Archelaus was presented by the doxographical tradition as the connecting link between Ionian physics and Attic anthropology. It was widely believed that Archelaus was the first to bring Ionian physics to Athens, that he was the last physicist and at the same time the first to deal with ethical problems as well as that he was Socrates' teacher.
Archelaus elaborated the physical system of Anaxagoras, giving special importance to the question of the genesis of the world and life. The whole world, according to Archelaus, began from a primordial matter, a mixed and compact material mass, a part of which was one with mind. The mind, that is, is not considered here, as in Anaxagoras, unmixable and pure. Furthermore, while Anaxagoras thought of the mind as the original motive force, Archelaus accepted separation as the moving principle, the automatic and mechanical function of separating hot and cold elements. Hot and cold are opposites - and also in the sense that hot is that which moves and cold that which rests. The hot acts on the cold and causes the ice to melt and become water. Water becomes, with the effect of heat, partly air (water vapor) and partly earth. Earth balances in the middle and air holds everything and controls the universe as it rises through the cosmic combustion. Originally, before the earth became dry, a huge lake stretched from end to end. And the first organisms were born right in the mud, as the earth beneath it warmed, where hot and cold mixed. So the original cradle of all living organisms, animals and humans, is the mud which was also the common food of all. Life continued, then, self-sustaining by the generation of one animal from another. The eventual separation of humans from other animals was a process of development, which explains the beginning of civilization and the state.
According to Archelaus, the mind is evenly distributed throughout all animals, only that each of them uses the mind with different intensity. Thus, some animals develop greater speed of mind and others less. Intelligence in animals is determined by the measure of mind speed inherent in each animal.
It seems that his theory of the beginning of civilization was a result of his cosmogony and zoology. Trying to reconstruct the original state of collective human life and the constitution of political society, he formulated philosophical insights about laws, justice, morals, generally about the state and culture. In this direction, in fact, it seems that he received the influence of the sophist Protagoras, who was his contemporary and had thought specifically about such issues. Archelaus explained, describing the origin of morals, law and the state, that the law was formed gradually and in individual peoples differently, that judicial systems depend on the prevailing opinions, and the law that has not developed equally everywhere.
- THE JUST AND THE HIDEOUS DO NOT ORIGINATE IN NATURE, BUT IN THE LAW