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Democritus Essay

1177 words - 5 pages

One of the first and greatest Greek philosophers was a man named Democritus. He is not as well-known as other great philosophers like Socrates, Plato, or Aristotle but he contributed greatly on the development of philosophy up until today. He, along with all pre-socratic philosophers, was a natural or physical philosopher. He is sometimes referred to as the father of modern sciences after his major discoveries and works. He was born in the city of Abdera, Greece, although some reports called him a Milesian, on c. 460 BCE and died at the age of about 90 years on c. 370 BCE. He was born to a wealthy family and enjoyed traveling. He was known as the laughing philosopher because of he emphasized the importance of the value of cheerfulness. Democritus is said to have written more than 70 books but none of them survived. Most of his works were unreliable because they, along with the works of most ancient Greek philosophers, were only in secondhand reports. Most of his works were told secondhand by another great philosopher named Aristotle because he considered Democritus as his biggest rival in the natural sciences. He seems to have taken over the works of his mentor, Leucippus. Both of them were very accomplished. His knowledge was vast for he worked on different fields such as cosmology, music, mathematics, ethics and physics (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2004).
Democritus, along with his teacher Leucippus, was an atomist. Atomists believed that nature is composed of two fundamental principles, atoms and void. Atoms came from the Greek word atomos which means indivisible or something that cannot be broken down further. Parmenides, another well-known pre-socratic philosopher, believed that everything in existence has always been and will always be in existence and that changed is merely an illusion. He believed that all being as the ‘one’ and did not focus on the ‘many’. Democritus and Leucippus focused more on the ‘many’ rather than the ‘one’. They responded to Parmenides’ challenged by saying that change can be possible and argued that there are infinite numbers of indivisible, vary in shapes and sizes, and unchanging material principles, called the atoms, which merely alter themselves to form a different appearance. He believed that the solidness of a material object was dependent to the shapes of those atoms. Atomists believed in the void or nothingness before reality exists, but both Democritus and Leucippus believed that there are atoms in the void. Reality existed due to atoms colliding and attaching to each other and that all changed in appearance are due to the relocation of these infinite number of atoms. .Parmenides and the atomists disagreed on the nature of reality but both showed great ideas and began to answer more difficult and challenging questions, contributing in the development of philosophy (Ancient Encyclopedia History, 2011).
For Democritus, atoms did not just make up the material objects, but it also influenced his...

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