In the theory of Atomism taught by Leucippus and Democritus we have the basis of the modern mechanical conceptions of cosmic evolution.
The fragments that remain of the moral treatises of Democritus are sufficient, perhaps, to convince us that the turn of Greek philosophy in the direction of conduct, which was actually due to Socrates, would have taken place without him, though in a less decided manner; but when we compare the Democritean ethics with the post-Socratic system to which it has most affinity, Epicureanism, we find that it exhibits a very rudimentary apprehension of the formal conditions which moral teaching must fulfil before it can lay claim to be treated as scientific.
Thus the pseudo-Democritus, who was reputed the author of the Physica et Mystica, which itself concludes each of its receipts with a magical formula, was believed to have travelled in Chaldaea, and to have had as his master Ostanes l the Mede, a name mentioned several times in the Leiden papyrus, and often by early Christian writers such as Tertullian, St Cyprian and St Augustine.
The treatises are nearly all anterior to the 7th century, and most appear to belong to the 3rd and 4th centuries; some are the work of authentic authors like Zosimus and Synesius, while of others, such as profess to be written by Moses, Democritus, Ostanes, &c., the authorship is clearly fictitious.
Thus, because Democritus announced that the Milky Way is composed of vast multitudes of stars, it has been maintained that he could only have been led to.
Yet, in falling back, with a difference, upon the atomism of Democritus, Epicurus had to face some questions of logic. In the inference from phenomena to further phenomena positive verification must be insisted on.
He was at issue, however, with the atomistic materialism of Democritus in regard to its twin assumptions of absolute atoms and infinite space.
Their fundamental conception is that of Democritus; they seek to account for the formation of the cosmos, with its order and regularity, by setting out with the idea of an original (vertical) motion of the atoms, which somehow or other results in movements towards and from one another.
A pupil of Nessus, or, as some accounts prefer, of Democritus himself, he was a complete sceptic. He accepted the Democritean theory of atoms and void and the plurality of worlds, but held a theory of his own that the stars are formed from day to day by the moisture in the air under the heat of the sun.
In his Belfast address (1874), while admitting that matter as understood by Democritus is insufficient, because atoms without sensation cannot be imagined to produce sensation, he contended, nevertheless, that matter properly understood is " the promise and potency of all terrestrial life."
Hart, Zur Seelenand Erkenntnislehre des Democritus (Leipzig, 1886); P. Natorp, Die Ethika des Demokritos (Marburg, 1893); A.
While Empedocles and Democritus are careful to emphasize their dissent from " Truth," it is obvious that " Opinion " is the basis of their cosmologies.
From the lonely life he led, and still more from the extreme profundity of his philosophy and his contempt for mankind in general, he was called the "Dark Philosopher" (6 o-Komewos), or the "Weeping Philosopher," in contrast to Democritus, the "Laughing Philosopher."
Thus, in the treatise known as Physica et Mystica and falsely ascribed to Democritus (such false attributions are a constant feature of the literature of alchemy), various receipts are given for colouring and gilding metals, but the conception of transmutation does not occur.
ANAXARCHUS (c. 340 B.C.), a Greek philosopher of the school of Democritus, was born at Abdera.
It appears to be traceable in its Greek dress in writings of the philosopher Democritus and the dramatist Menander; it was certainly known to the author of Tobit and perhaps to the author of Daniel; some would trace its influence in the New Testament, in the parable of the wicked servant and elsewhere; it was known to Mahomet and is referred to in the Koran; it has been included among the tales in the Arabian Nights; and it survives in a good many versions ancient and modern.
Foremost among these were the writings of Epicurus; but he had also an intimate knowledge of the philosophical poem of Empedocles, and at least an acquaintance with the works of Democritus, Anaxagoras, Heraclitus, Plato and the Stoical writers.
The inhabitants of Ethiopia, partly perhaps owing to their honourable mention in the Homeric poems, attracted the attention of many Greek researchers, from Democritus onwards.
He learned philosophy in the Ionian school, and was perhaps a pupil of Democritus, though this is doubtful on chronological grounds.
In addition to persons of high rank, poets, legendary and others (Linus, Orpheus, Homer, Aeschylus and Sophocles), legislators and physicians (Lycurgus, Hippocrates), the patrons of various trades or handicrafts (artists, cooks, bakers, potters), the heads of philosophical schools (Plato, Democritus, Epicurus) received the honours of a cult.
He had a great master in Democritus, the originator of the doctrine of atoms, and there is every reason to believe that the various " asclepia " were very carefully conducted hospitals for the sick, possessing a curious system of case-books, in the form of votive tablets, left by the patients, on which were recorded the symptoms, treatment and result of each case.
His fame was so completely overshadowed by that of Democritus, who subsequently developed the theory into a system, that his very existence was denied by Epicurus (Diog.
Epicurus, however, distinguishes Leucippus from Democritus, and Aristotle and Theophrastus expressly credit him with the invention of Atomism.
Between Leucippus and Democritus there is an interval of at least forty years; accordingly, while the beginnings of Atomism are closely connected with the doctrines of the Eleatics, the system as developed by Democritus is conditioned by the sophistical views of his time, especially those of Protagoras.
He was said to have been intimate with Democritus, and was probably one of his teachers.
He was a contemporary of Socrates and Democritus, but senior to them, and was probably somewhat junior to Empedocles, so that his birth may be placed at about 480.
Stimulated, however, by the perusal of some writings of Democritus, he began to formulate a doctrine of his own; and at Mitylene, Colophon and Lampsacus, he gradually gathered round him several enthusiastic disciples.
But he had read Democritus, and, it is said, Anaxagoras and Archelaus.
C. i is on the earliest dwellings of man; C. 2 on systems of Thales, Heraclitus, Democritus, &c.; c. 3 on bricks; c. 4 on sand; c. 5 on lime; c. 6 on pozzolana; c. 7 on kinds of stone for building; c. 8 on methods of constructing walls in stone, brick, concrete and marble, and on the materials for stucco; c. 9 on timber, time for felling it, seasoning, &c.; and c. to on the fir trees of the Apennines.
From the mention in the letters of towns (Phintia, Alaesa and Tauromenium) which did not exist in the time of Phalaris, from the imitations of authors (Herodotus, Democritus, Euripides, Callimachus) who wrote long after he was dead, from the reference to tragedies, though tragedy was not yet invented in the lifetime of Phalaris, from the dialect, which is not Dorian but Attic, nay, New or Late Attic, as well as from absurdities in the matter, and the entire absence of any reference to them by any writer before Stobaeus (c. A.D.
Cudworth criticizes two main forms of materialistic atheism, the atomic, adopted by Democritus, Epicurus and Hobbes; and the hylozoic, attributed to Strato, which explains everything by the supposition of an inward self-organizing life in matter.
Later he was diverted to philosophy by the works of Democritus, and became acquainted with the Megarian dialectic through Bryson, pupil of Stilpo.
It is only when we come to Democritus, a contemporary of Socrates, the last of the original thinkers whom we distinguish as pre-Socratic, that we find anything which we can call an ethical system.
The doctrine of the deceitfulness of " the undiscerning eye and the echoing ear " soon established itself, though the grounds upon which Empedocles, Anaxagoras and Democritus maintained it were not those which were alleged by Parmenides.
While agreeing with the Eleatics as to the eternal sameness of Being (nothing can arise out of nothing; nothing can be reduced to nothing), Democritus followed the physicists in denying its oneness and immobility.
- Democritus devoted considerable attention to the structure of the human body, the noblest portion of which he considered to be the soul, which everywhere pervades it, a psychic atom being intercalated between two corporeal atoms. Although, in accordance with his principles, Democritus was bound to regard the soul as material (composed of round, smooth, specially mobile atoms, identified with the fire-atoms floating in the air), he admitted a distinction between it and the body, and is even said to have looked upon it as something divine.
At the same time Democritus distinguished between obscure (UKOTG1j) cognition, resting on sensation alone, and genuine (yvrjoL), which is the result of inquiry by reason, and is concerned with atoms and void, the only real existences.
It is in Democritus first that we find a real attempt to explain colour.
The system of Democritus was altogether antitheistic. But, although he rejected the notion of a deity taking part in the creation or government of the universe, he yielded to popular prejudice so far as to admit the existence of a class of beings, of the same form as men, grander, composed of very subtle atoms, less liable to dissolution, but still mortal, dwelling in the upper regions of air.
According to Plutarch, Democritus recognized one god under the form of a fiery sphere, the soul of the world, but this idea is probably of later origin.
The popular belief in gods was attributed by Democritus to the desire to explain extraordinary phenomena (thunder, lightning, earthquakes) by reference to superhuman agency.
The search for a deeper hidden meaning beside the literal one had been begun by Democritus, Empedocles, the Sophists.