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197 Doctrines: Science and Mathematics A notable feature of atomistic cosmology is the absence of any privileged status for the human race or the world which it inhabits. Though the earth is at the centre of our world, that world is merely one of an infinite number of worlds (80) which come into and go out of existence in endless sequence throughout a universe infinite in space and time (80b-c). There are worlds of a great many different kinds, only some of which contain living beings (78). Given that the atomists appealed to the Principle of Sufficient Reason for the thesis that there are infinitely many worlds (80c), it is at least plausible that they also argued that on the same ground there must be worlds of every possible kind (with the implication that human or human-like beings exist only in a tiny proportion of them). Worlds are described in biological terms as growing, coming to maturity, and decaying (77a, 78), the process of decay being explained by loss of the ability to assimilate external material (78), an obvious analogue of the process of nourishment. Another feature suggestive of a biological conception of cosmogony is the growth round the developing cosmos of a skin or membrane (humen) similar to that surrounding an embryo (77a-b). The use of these terms indicates not so much a vitalistic conception of cosmogony as the continuity in atomistic theory between the organic and the inorganic. Worlds can literally be thought of as large-scale organisms, since organisms are nothing but highly complex arrangements of atoms, whose pattern of development and decay is ultimately attributable to the necessity constituted by the behaviour of the atoms (see above). The evidence about Democritus' writings on biology itself (testimony relating to Leucippus in this area is particularly sparse, see 138d, Aetius V.4.1 (cited in 135)) testifies to their diversity. He was clearly interested in a very wide variety of plants and animals, including insects (142), grubs and caterpillars (151), and spiders (144), where he gave the correct account of how they spin their webs, in opposition to Aristotle's. (It would be pleasing to attribute this to better observation, but for all we know it might have been a lucky guess.) Once again, some of the explanatory passages show some traces of atomic theory; the growth of horns in some animals and lack of them in others is explained by a hydraulic theory in which material absorbed in food flows to the head and thence outwards to a degree determined by the dimensions of the channels carrying the liquid and by the relative density or porosity of the skull, all features which ultimately depend on the atomic constitution of the part of the body concerned (145 (18), (20)). A similar hydraulic explanation was given of the growth of plants (156). But most of the views attributed are not specific to atomism, though not incompatible with it. The belief that animal (including human) life was originally generated from primeval slime (154a-c) is common to many early cosmologies, including those of Anaximander (DK 12 All, A30), Archelaus

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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