This conception of the grained structure of matter is very ancient; traces of it are to be found in Indian philosophy, perhaps twelve centuries before the Christian era, and the Greek philosophers Democritus and Epicurus, in the 3rd and 4th centuries B.C., taught it very definitely.
- Two sets of writers have been considered: - first, the greater philosophers, who have incidentally furthered theism (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, Descartes, Locke, Kant, Hegel, Mill, Lotze), or opposed it (Epicurus, Spinoza, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Mill, Spencer); and, secondly, the deliberate champions of theism - Cicero (especially in the De Natura Deorum), Philo, Raymond of Sabunde (in a sense), Wolff, Butler (in a sense), Paley, and a host of English and German 18th-century authors, who chiefly handle the Design argument; then recent writers like R.
It is true that the philosophy of Epicurus put great stress on these, as affording the explanation of the origin of supernatural beliefs.
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.
His devotion to Epicurus seems at first sight more difficult to explain than his enthusiasm for Empedocles or Ennius.
The combative energy, the sense of superiority, the spirit of satire, characteristic of him as a Roman, unite with his loyalty to Epicurus to render him not only polemical but intolerant and contemptuous in his tone toward the great antagonists of his system, the Stoics, whom, while constantly referring to them, he does not condescend even to name.
Following Epicurus he sets before himself the aim of finally crushing that fear of the gods and that fear of death resulting from it which he regards as the source of all the human ills.
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.
Thus, in the end, Aristippus, the founder of ' the purest hedonism in the history of thought, comes very near not only to the Cynics, but to the more cultured hedonism of Epicurus and modern thinkers.
It is true that pleasure is the summum bonum of Epicurus, but his conception of that pleasure is profoundly modified by the Socratic doctrine of prudence and the eudaemonism of Aristotle.
See also, beside works quoted under Cyrenaics, Epicurus, &c., and the general histories of philosophy, J.
Aristotle from the first profited by having a father who, being physician to Amyntas II., king of Macedon, and one of the Asclepiads who, according to Galen, practised their sons in dissection, both prepared the way for his son's influence at the Macedonian court, and gave him a bias to medicine and biology, which certainly led to his belief in nature and natural science, and perhaps induced him to practise medicine, as he did, according to his enemies, Timaeus and Epicurus, when he first went to Athens.
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.
EPICURUS (342-270 B.C.), Greek philosopher, was born in Samos in the end of 342 or the beginning of 341 B.C., seven years after the death of Plato.
A year later, however, Antipater banished some 12,000 of the poorer citizens, and Epicurus joined his father, who was now living at Colophon.
277), his brother Timocrates, and his wife Leontion (formerly a hetaera), Polyaenus, Hermarchus, who succeeded Epicurus as chief of the school, Leonteus and his wife Themista, and Idomeneus, whose wife was a sister of Metrodorus.
The stories of the Stoics, who sought to refute the views of Epicurus by an appeal to his alleged antecedents and habits, were no doubt in the main, as Diogenes Laertius says, the stories of maniacs.
" Send me," says Epicurus to a correspondent, " send me some Cythnian cheese, so that, should I choose, I may fare sumptuously."
There was no community of property, which, as Epicurus said, would imply distrust of their own and others' good resolutions.
Epicurus died of stone in 270 B.C. He left his property, consisting of the garden (Ki iroc 'E7rLKoupov), a house in Melite (the south-west quarter of Athens), and apparently some funds besides, to two trustees on behalf of his society, and for the special interest of some youthful members.
Epicurus himself had not apparently shared in any large or liberal culture, and his influence was certainly thrown on the side of those who depreciated purely scientific pursuits as onesided and misleading.
But experience had in the time of Epicurus shown the temporary and artificial character of the civic form of social life.
It was necessary, therefore, for Epicurus to go back to nature to find a more enduring and a wider foundation for ethical doctrine, to go back from words to realities, to give up reasonings and get at feelings, to test conceptions and arguments by a final reference to the only touchstone of truth - to sensation.
But in what that vividness (ivap-yaaa) consists is a question which Epicurus does not raise, and which he would no doubt have deemed superfluous quibbling over a matter sufficiently settled by common sense.
The method of Epicurus is the argument of analogy.
This is what Epicurus calls explaining what we do not see by what we do see.
In physics Epicurus founded upon Democritus, and his chief object was to abolish the dualism between mind and matter which is so essential a point in the systems of Plato and Aristotle.
All that exists, says Epicurus, is corporeal (TO irav iaTC v wµa); the intangible is non-existent, or empty space.
Epicurus in this way explains vision by substituting for the apparent action of a body at a distance a direct contact of image and organ.
That there are gods Epicurus never dreams of denying.
To prevent all reference of the more potent phenomena of nature to divine action Epicurus rationalizes the processes of the cosmos.
When two or more modes of accounting for a phenomena are equally admissible as not directly contradicted by known phenomena, it seems to Epicurus almost a return to the old mythological habit of mind when a savant asserts that the real cause is one and only one.
Thus, if Epicurus objects to the doctrine of mythology, he objects no less to the doctrine of an inevitable fate, a necessary order of things unchangeable and supreme over the human will.
The Stoic doctrine of Fatalism seemed to Epicurus no less deadly a foe of man's true welfare than popular superstition.
So, in the sphere of human action, Epicurus would allow of no absolutely controlling necessity.
The attitude of Epicurus in this whole matter is antagonistic to science.
So little was the scientific conception of the solar system familiar to Epicurus that he could reproach the astronomers, because their account of an eclipse represented things otherwise than as they appear to the senses, and could declare that the sun and stars were just as large as they seemed to us.
The moral philosophy of Epicurus is a qualified hedonism, the heir of the Cyrenaic doctrine that pleasure is the good thing in life.
By pleasure Epicurus meant both more and less than the Cyrenaics.
To the Cyrenaics pleasure was of moments; to Epicurus it extended as a habit of mind through life.
To the Cyrenaics pleasure was something active and positive; to Epicurus it was rather negative - tranquillity more than vigorous enjoyment.
The test of true pleasure, according to Epicurus, is the removal and absorption of all that gives pain; it implies freedom from pain of body and from trouble of mind.
It is, in fact, says Epicurus - in language which contrasts strongly with that of Aristotle on the same topic - " a more precious power than philosophy."
Feeling, which Epicurus declared to be the means of determining what is good, is subordinated to a reason which adjudicates between competing pleasures with the view of securing tranquillity of mind and body.
- Even in the lifetime of Epicurus we hear of the vast numbers of his friends, not merely in Greece, but in Asia and Egypt.
The dogmas of Epicurus became to his followers a creed embodying the truths on which salvation depended; and they passed on from one generation to another with scarcely a change or addition.
The immediate disciples of Epicurus have been already mentioned, with the exception of Colotes of Lampsacus, a great favourite of Epicurus, who wrote a work arguing " that it was impossible even to live according to the doctrines of the other philosophers."
But the greatest of its Roman names was Lucretius, whose De rerum natura embodies the main teaching of Epicurus with great exactness, and with a beauty which the subject seemed scarcely to allow.
All those whose ethical theory is in any degree hedonistic are to some extent the intellectual descendants of Epicurus (see Hedonism).