Atomism of Leucippus and Democritus - History of Ancient Philosophy

Atomism of Leucippus and Democritus

Ancient atomism is represented by the actual atomism and physics of epicureanism.

Atomism is a philosophical theory that arose in Greece in V-IV cc. BC , according to which there are two origins at the base of existence - atoms and emptiness.

The founder of atomism is Leucippus . Little is known about its origin: it was born either from Abdera (a city in the northeast of Greece, located on the Aegean coast), or from Miletus. Years of life are not exactly established - it is only known that it is V in. BC Who was studying Leucippus is for certain unknown, but some suggest that he could have been a pupil of Zeno. However, it is obvious that the philosophy of Parmenides influenced the formation of Leucippus atomism. At the base of the cosmological theory of Leucippus lie two bases - emptiness and completeness. Apparently, it was Leucippus who for the first time called the completeness of the atom - atomos , "undivided", more precisely - "indivisible nature", since atomos - is an adjective referring to the implied word physis (nature, nature).

Behind Leucippus is recognized the authorship of two works - "The Great World Order" and "About the mind". Only a few sentences remained from both texts. In particular, from the work "The Great World Order we have reached a number of key terms: atomoi - atoms, nasta - completeness, mega kenon - great emptiness, apotome - separation, rhysmos - rhythm, form, diathige - location, trope - rotation, dims - vortex. The same set of terms we meet in the texts of Democritus. In the essay "On the mind" Leucippus asserts that not a single thing has arisen by accident - everything that has arisen is expedient and subject to necessity.

The pupil of Leucippus was Democritus. According to some testimonies, Democritus studied also in Anaxagoras, on the other - Anaxagoras did not take Democritus as his disciple. It is said that once Democritus arrived in Athens, where he listened to Socrates. It is interesting that neither Plato nor Aristotle pay any attention to the philosophy of Democritus in their writings. It was said that Plato wanted to collect all the works of Democritus and burn them. Diogenes Laertius suggested that such a disregard for Democritus on the part of Plato indicates that he understood that he was dealing with the best of philosophers.

The catalog of works of Democritus, compiled by Diogenes Laertius, has about seventy titles. Most of these works either did not survive, or, as usual, came to us in the form of fragments. Here are a few titles to outline the circle of Democritus's interests: "On the Soul's Soul's Arrangement," On Virtue, "On the Mind," "Medical Science," "About the Diet," "About the Planets," " Causes of celestial phenomena "," On rhythms and harmony "," On poetry "," On the military system ". In his writings, Democritus urged people to use the mind, saying that "one must strive for multifariousness, and not for the knowledge of many" .

The beginnings of all things Democritus believed atoms - atomoi/atoma and emptiness - to kenon. Only atoms and emptiness exist in reality, everything else exists by virtue of what is atoms and emptiness. Nothing arises from the nonexistent, nothing is destroyed, turning into a nonexistent. Atoms are the smallest particles, each of which is one and has the same amount of being. Atoms themselves are not perceivable - they are only intelligible. Their number is infinitely large, and the number of possible combinations of atoms is infinitely large. Atoms have the form ( rhysmos or schema). When interacting, they touch each other in different ways, resulting in some kind of intertwining ( diathige ), or the (taxis) method. The method of touching and the order of the location depends on the rotation of the (trope), (thesis).

For clarity, we draw the following analogy. The number of letters of the alphabet is limited, but their combinations, although their number is also limited, are very numerous and considerably exceed the number of initial elements, letters, in quantitative terms. Letters form syllables, syllables - words, words, in turn, add to sentences, sentences - to more significant phraseological unity, etc. However, letters do not merge into any syllables, and syllables are added to words not somehow, but according to a certain order that is actualized, becoming noticeable and perceivable only when it is realized in one or another set of letters and syllables. Let's say we have the following set of letters : A, A, K, O, R, C, T . From them we can make, for example, such words: growth, mole, sor. But if we are faced with the task of composing a word, using the entire set of letters, we will get beauty . But a word is not just a set of letters arranged in any order, the order (diathige or taxis ) should be such that the word makes sense. Hence, the unity of the sense lies in the basis of order. But the meaning arises not because we order letters, on the contrary, we order letters for the sake of the meaning that should appear in their order. However, the letters are conditional: in itself, no letter makes sense. In the same way, the sentence is constructed according to the syntactic rules: an arbitrary word order nt forms sentences, i.e. finished thought. In other words, a free expression of thought requires an ordering syntactic structure.

That's right, in the opinion of Democritus, space is arranged. Atoms, while in motion and constantly moving, are connected arbitrarily, but - and in this paradox - their connection is subject to the need to express the order of the cosmos. Moreover, all those forms of things that a person encounters in their experience need to be interpreted, and the meaning derived from the experience of mastering the world can not be guaranteed definitive. Explaining this, Democritus gives an example with honey: one it seems sweet, the other bitter. From this philosopher concludes that honey is not sweet and not bitter in itself. Sweet or bitter, he is in the view of people. Which of the representations are true, and which ones are not, is unclear. Therefore, if we follow Aristotle's interpretation, Democritus asserts that nothing can be recognized as true; the truth we do not know. On the other hand, in the fragments of Democritus, we see the distinction of the correct cognition, which, in his opinion, is an understanding, and the "dark" cognition - the sensual. It is the mind that testifies to the existence of atoms, while in sense we are given only those bodies possessing these or those qualities. However, the feeling pushes us to know the true causes of everything, which are the atoms.

So, the atoms are moving. The possibility of the motion of atoms is provided by the presence of emptiness. Emptiness is not nothing - rather, it is something , for something not formally defined. Its role is to ensure the possibility of movement. To denote emptiness, Democritus introduces a neologism (itself comes up with a word) that forms from the word (nothing), rejecting the negation it . The result is den , not nothing, but something.

The followers of Democritus were the skeptics and the Epicureans, in addition, the thought of Democritus on close examination proves to be close to sophistic thought.

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