I am a self taught Philosophy student, without any formal training in Philosophy. So, please bear with me if my question seems to be pretty basic or meaningless.
In the book Looking at Philosophy by Donald Palmer, Thales argued that the basic element for the creation of everything in the universe is water. On page 17, there is a statement by Anaximander, while refuting the above Thales argument and talking about unity behind the apparent plurality of things and disguised Oneness,
...that if all things were water, then long ago everything would have returned to water.
How should I understand this argument? My confusion is that if above argument holds then can I say, "if all things were atoms, then long ago everything would have returned to atoms"?
My second question also refers to page 17, that Aristotle paraphrases the Anaximander's argument about observable objects were really just water in various states of agitation as below,
If ultimate reality were something specific like water, the other elements would be annihilated by it. For the different elements have contrariety with one another....If one of them were unlimited the others would have ceased to exist by now.
How the above statement can be inferred? I may argue that the process of annihilation might be still going on, who knows? Also as said in the statement ceased to exist by now cannot be defined to a particular time.