Reference address :

ELPENOR - Home of the Greek Word

Three Millennia of Greek Literature



The Original Greek New Testament
Page 2

What Democritus hoped to get by this double or correlative system was a means of accounting for or conceiving of change in nature. The difficulty with the Eleatics was, as we have seen, how to understand whence or why the transition from that which absolutely is, to this strange, at least apparent, system of eternal flux and transformation. Democritus hoped to get over this difficulty by starting as fully with that which is not, in other words, with that which wants change in order to have any recognisable being at all, as with that which is, and which therefore might be conceived as seeking and requiring only to be what it is.

Having got his principle of stability and his principle of change on an equal footing, Democritus next laid it down that all the differences visible in things were differences either of shape, of arrangement, or of position; practically, that is, he considered that what seem, to us to be qualitative differences in things, e.g. hot or cold, sweet or sour, green or yellow, are only resulting impressions from different shapes, or different arrangements, or different modes of presentation, among the atoms of which things are composed.

Coming now to that which is, Democritus, as against the Eleatics, maintained that this was not a unity, some one immovable, unchangeable existence, but an innumerable number of atoms, invisible by reason of their smallness, which career through empty space (that which is not), and by their union bring objects into being, by their separation bring these to destruction. The action of these atoms on each other depended on the manner in which they were brought into contact; but in any case the unity of any object was only an apparent unity, it being really constituted of a multitude of interlaced and mutually related particles, and all growth or increase of the object being conditioned by the introduction into the structure of additional atoms from without.

First / Next Page of this chapter

Next Chapter : PROTAGORAS / Previous Chapter : EMPEDOCLES

A History of Greek Philosophy : Table of Contents

Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Greek Literature - Ancient, Medieval, Modern

Learned Freeware

Reference address :