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KD McMahon


The Atomists:  Leucippus & Democritus

•  The founder of the Atomist School was Leucippus of Miletus.  However, one of the Schools later disciples, Democritus, wrote extensively and it is not known who is the primary author of atomist ideas.

•  The Atomist philosophy is really the logical development of the philosophy of Empedocles.  But they would reject the doctrine that the four elements were the fundamental particles and the metaphorical powers of Love-Strife.  Instead they sought a purely mechanistic philosophy.

•  According to Leucippus/Democritus there are an infinite number of indivisible units, which are called atoms.  Atoms differ in size and shape, but have no quality save that of solidity and impenetrability.  Infinite in number, they move in the void.

The void, itself, is an interesting concept.  Parmenides denied the reality of space.  The Pythagoreans had admitted a void to keep their units apart, but they identified it was the atmospheric air.

Leucippus, however, affirmed at the same time the non-reality of space and its existence, meaning by non-reality, non-corporeity.  This position is expressed by saying that “what is not” is just as much real as “what is.”  Space/void is not corporeal, but it is as real as body.

•  Atoms moved eternally in the void, but at some point of time collisions between atoms occurred, those of irregular shape becoming entangled with one another and forming groups of atoms.  In this way the vortex is set up, and a world is in process of formation.

Philosophy:  Atomist School1KD McMahon

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