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191 Doctrines: Basic Principles but an unfathomable one (the position mentioned by Aristotle without attribution at Physics 196b5-7). A passage from Epicurus' On Nature (208), which one might hope to be our most authoritative source, is similarly ambiguous. There Epicurus describes the atomists as 'making necessity and chance responsible for everything/ a formulation which is ambiguous between two positions, (i) 'necessity' and 'chance' are two names for a single universal cause, (ii) necessity and chance arc distinct but jointly exhaustive causes of everything. 2^ 73 is of little weight; Lactantius states that the fundamental question is whether the world is governed by providence or whether everything happens by chance, and says that Epicurus and Democritus held the latter view. It is plausible that he took their denial of providence to commit them to that view, since he himself took those alternatives to be exhaustive. This passage, then, gives no independent ground for the attribution to either philosopher of the thesis that literally everything happens by chance. We are still, however, left with those passages attesting Democritus' belief that every cosmic swirl, and therefore every cosmos, comes into being by chance. That might be thought to be confirmed by the statement in Diogenes Laertius' summary of Democritus' cosmology that he identified the cosmic swirl itself with necessity (6.44; cf. 74f). On this interpretation the statement that everything happens by necessity is confined to events within a cosmos, and states that all such events are determined by the atomic motions constituting the swirl. The swirl itself, however, is not determined by itself, or by anything; it just happens. Dionysius ap. Eusebius (63a) also reports Democritus as ascribing the formation of worlds to chance, and goes further by reporting him as holding that the precosmic motion of the atoms was also random ('these atoms travel in the void hos ctuchen [lit. 'as it chanced']'; cf. 79a, from ps-Plutarch's epitome). On this view necessity governs, but is local to, a world order, which itself arises by chance from a precosmic state where there is no necessity. The recognition of pure chance is, however, inconsistent with the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which we know the atomists accepted. It therefore seems preferable to look for some interpretation of the evidence which is consistent with that principle. That interpretation is provided by the first reading of the Theodoretus passage (72), viz. that the ascription of events to chance is a confession of ignorance of their causes, not a 21 In Epicurus' own theory, chance and necessity are distinct causes (Letter to Mcnoecens 133 [= Diogenes Laertius X.133]), so if he is assuming that the atomists share his view, the position he ascribes to them is ii. But that assumption is not required by the text, which leaves open the possibility that the view ascribed is i.

The Atomists -- Leucippus and Democritus  

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The Atomists -- Leucippus and Democritus  

MACEDONIA is GREECE and will always be GREECE- (if they are desperate to steal a name, Monkeydonkeys suits them just fine) ΦΕΚ,ΚΚΕ,ΚΝΕ,ΚΟΜΜ...

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