Page 208

195 Doctrines: Science and Mathematics applied the term 'necessity' to all these forces, regarding them alike as irresistible. It must, however, be acknowledged first that the evidence for this theory is fragmentary, and secondly that, even if that evidence is accepted, we have no idea whether or how Democritus attempted to integrate those forces into a unified theory. Stated thus baldly, the theory has obvious difficulties, e.g., if two atoms of the same shape collide, do they rebound or stick together? If all atoms have both attractive and repulsive force there must be some yet more basic principles determining which force or combination of forces determines their motion. Our sources give no hint of whether Democritus had so much as considered these questions.

S C I E N C E A N D MATHEMATICS The catalogue of Democritus' works (40) includes an encyclopedic range of titles in what would now be called the natural sciences, and the doxography preserves reports of his views on a wide variety of questions in astronomy, meteorology, geography, biology, etc. The heterogeneous nature of this material makes it difficult to form a judgment of how systematic Democritus attempted to be in his 'scientific' work. Some reports - e.g., 100 (on wind), 158 (on why metal plates float on water), 160 (on magnets) and 162 (on why some things are more readily heated than others) attest the application of the atomic theory to the explanation of particular phenomena, while many show no trace of the theory whatever. Of the latter some merely record observations, while others offer speculative interpretations and explanations without overt atomistic content. In part this reflects the fragmentary character of the evidence; a random scattering of reports of Aristotle's works on nature would be, likely to present the same unsystematic appearance. It is, however, necessary to take seriously the possibility that Democritus' work in this area was less than totally systematic, in the sense of attempting to provide, via the postulates of atomism, a unified account of all the phenomena which he considered. The fundamentals of the theory might have had a looser relation to the detail, by way of setting limits on acceptable explanations, such as the refusal to countenance teleology, or to postulate immaterial substances. The astronomy of the atomists is best seen as descriptive of the world-order whose formation and basic structure is explained by the atomic theory. The outline is given in the reports of Diogenes Laertius, Hippolytus, and Aetius change is brought about ultimately by motion, which requires void. Eudemus will then have interpreted him unsympathetically in challenging him on whether the void is an Aristotelian efficient cause.

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...

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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