RECONSTRUCTING ANAXIMANDER’S BIOLOGICAL MODEL UNVEILS A THEORY OF EVOLUTION AKIN TO DARWIN’S, THOUGH CENTURIES BEFORE THE BIRTH OF SCIENCE
Anaximander’s fragments on biology report a theory of evolution, which, unlike the development of other biological systems in the ancient Aegean, is naturalistic and is not based on metaphysics. According to Anaximander, evolution affected all living beings, including humans. The first biological systems formed in an aquatic environment, and were encased in a rugged and robust envelope. Evolution progressed with modifications that enabled the formation of more dynamic biological systems. For instance, after reaching land, the robust armors around aquatic beings dried up, and became brittle, This led to the loss of the armor and the development of more mobile life forms. Anaximander’s theory combines observations of animals with speculations, and as such mirrors the more famous theory of evolution by Charles Darwin expressed 24 centuries later. The poor reception received by Anaximander’s model in his time, illustrates a zeitgeist that would explain the contemporary lag phase in the development of biology and, as a result, medicine, in the ancient western world.
Key words: Anaximander; Darwin; Santorini eruption; theory of evolution.