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Sedley, David

Atomism in Ancient Greek Philosophy


ISBN: 978-3-88405-571-7

Price: €14.80 (including 19 % tax)


Philosophy Parmenides (early to mid 5th century BC) argued that belief in a physical world which varies over space and time is untenable: since not-being is a self-eliminating concept, that only leaves being, which without the addition of not-being can admit of neither differentiation nor division. “‘Nor is it divisible, since it is all alike”, Parmenides wrote (B8.22). Atomism arose in the mid to late 5th century largely as a response to this, its proponents being the obscure Leucippus and his pupil, the celebrated polymath Democritus. Not-being, these atomists maintained against Parmenides, is a coherent notion, and the familiar physical world is precisely a combination of being and not-being, or – translated from metaphysical into physical terms – a combination of body and void. Parmenides, they implicitly  acknowledged, was in a way right about the indivisibility of being, because division occurs not within being, but at the interstices, which consist of not-being. That is, a pure portion of body cannot be divided, but compound bodies, consisting of body plus void, can be divided at the void gaps. The portions of pure body are “atoms”, ‘atoms’, literally ...


 


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