Consider Anaximanders apeiron, the indeterminate in the context of Platos theory of Forms; a form, an idea makes the indeterminate determinate in some particular way (In Anaximanders system - rotation ie generalised motion; in his system there is no linear motion - any motion being extended to infinity closes up or turns back)

In Kants system, identifying the noumena as apeiron; we have the Forms, time and space; they are pure intuitions being inseperable from us.

Is this then hylomorphic in Aristotles sense, as it appears inseperable from the apeiron (or noumena)?

Does this explain noumena as the ding-an-sich - the thing-in-itself, as it is the thing without the form and therefore indeterminate?

Does this solve the location of Forms? In Plato, a form exists in some intelligible realm; here we have a second hylomorphism where the pure intuitions of Time and Space are intrinsic to mind.

But then how does Kant solve the problem of universals for Time and Space?

Finally, is this consonance with Platos theory of Forms, and Anaximaders apeiron a figment of my imagination; or is there some corroborating literature that validates this view, implicitly or explicitly?


apeiron is etymologically limitless (from peirar - limit) or indefinite here and in Patricia Curds book on the Pre-Socratics.

It's also attested as arche (first principle) in Simplicius's commentary to Aristotles Physics.

  • On this reading, it seems like you're conflating the noumenal with thing-in-itself, and that your claim better applies to the latter (which may or may not be the former -- currently debated point in Kant scholarship), but maybe I am misreading you. – virmaior Jul 2 '15 at 22:47
  • @virmaior: ok, I didn't realise that they were distinct concepts; I was positing an identity with the apeiron, because of indeterminiteness; and with the thing-in-itself as something without a form; I suppose if I want to try to put some order into my thoughts here I'll have to look at some scholarship into how these two terms are theorised. – Mozibur Ullah Jul 2 '15 at 23:08
  • Any suggestions? – Mozibur Ullah Jul 2 '15 at 23:09
  • I'm not familiar enough with aperion to competently answer this. – virmaior Jul 2 '15 at 23:17

The question “Is the noumena in a sense apeiron?” addresses topics from four different philosopher: Anaximander, Plato, Aristotle and Kant.

  • Anaximander: Apeiron means “without boundary, infinite”. Speculating about the primordial matter Anaximander stands in the tradition of Ionian philosophers of nature. Unfortunately, we have only fragments from the work of Anaximander. Hence everybody is called on giving his own interpretation. Apparently, Anaximander does not vote for creation ex nihilo, because he does not vote for creation at all. Instead his primordial unbound matter generates the cosmos by spontaneous self-organization. Note: Apeiron does not mean “without form”. Nevertheless the primordial matter seems to be unstructured, i.e. formless.

  • Plato: Plato tries to reconcile his two forerunners Parmenides and Heraklit. They are considered antipodes. The first claims that insight can only be obtained from statements about immutable eternal objects, i.e. by detecting invariants. The latter is the proponent of a process based worldview. Heraklit claims that all objects change. Platon proposes a dualistic worldview: With our senses we experience the world of change. But on a deeper level, by our intellect we detect the blueprint of the world of change. This blueprint is the realm of the ideas. Already Platon struggles with problems resulting from his ansatz to design ideas as analogue to material objects. E.g. how can many objects participate on the same idea, where are ideas located?

  • Aristotle: The problems of Plato's theory of Forms have been expanded by Aristotle, e.g. Met. 990b ff.. Aristotle does not propose a solution to single problems because Aristotle rejects the whole theory of Forms. The best answer I know, if someone asks where ideas are located: Ideas are patterns flexibly wired into the synaptical weights of our neural networks within the cortex. Aristotle’s own contribution to explain the existence of objects is his theory of the four causes. One cause, the causa materialis, asks for the underlying matter (hyle) of the objects in question. In case of the universe, Anaximander probably would answer: The primordial matter is without form and bound, it is apeiron.

  • Kant: He coins the term thing-in-itself and identifies it with the term noumenon. The term denotes the objects of the physical world. We must assume that such objects exist. Otherwise we cannot explain where the input to our senses comes from. But we do not have direct access and cannot know anything about a thing-in-itself. What we call experience is an intellectual construct, built with the help of the two forms of perception, space and time, and the categories. Because we cannot know anything about the thing-in-itself, Kant consequently avoids any positive statement about the thing-in-itself. In particular, he does not link it to Platonic forms. The wording “noumenon” is misleading, because Plato considers the term in quite a different sense. Also the two forms of perception, space and time, do not belong to the domain of ideas considered by Plato. I do not see a link between Kant’s forms of perception and the problem of universals.

Summing up, I do not see a relation between Anaximander’s apeiron and Plato's Theory of forms. Even less, I consider the three concepts apeiron, idea and thing-in-itself three different concepts, incomparable, unlinked, each on a different conceptual level. At the most, I consider apeiron a kind of hyle.

  • See note above; apeiron is etymologically boundless, but it has been attested as indefinite too ie without form. – Mozibur Ullah Jul 4 '15 at 16:15
  • Which I think you say in your entry on Anaximander as 'unstructured ie formless'. – Mozibur Ullah Jul 4 '15 at 16:16

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