Combining Philosophers

Ideas for Friedrich Schlegel, Epicurus and Horsten,L/Pettigrew,R

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10 ideas

26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 2. Natural Purpose / c. Purpose denied
Only Epicurus denied purpose in nature, for the whole world, or for its parts [Epicurus, by Annas]
     Full Idea: Epicurus alone among the ancient schools denies that in nature we find any teleological explanations. Nothing in nature is for anything, neither the world as a whole nor anything in it.
     From: report of Epicurus (fragments/reports [c.289 BCE]) by Julia Annas - Ancient Philosophy: very short introduction
     A reaction: This may explain the controversial position that epicureanism held in the seventeenth century, as well as its incipient atheism.
26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 5. Infinite in Nature
Totality has no edge; an edge implies a contrast beyond the edge, and there can't be one [Epicurus]
     Full Idea: The totality is unlimited. For what is limited has an extreme; but an extreme is seen in contrast to something else, so that since it has no extreme it has no limit.
     From: Epicurus (Letter to Herodotus [c.293 BCE], 41)
     A reaction: I presume that the 'limit' is the edge, and the 'extreme' is what is beyond the edge. Why could not the extreme be nothingness, which then contrast dramatically with what exists?
Bodies are unlimited as well as void, since the two necessarily go together [Epicurus]
     Full Idea: The number of bodies and the magnitude of the void are unlimited. If void were unlimited, and bodies limited, bodies move in scattered fashion with no support of checking collisions; in limited void, unlimited bodies would not have a place to be in.
     From: Epicurus (Letter to Herodotus [c.293 BCE], 42)
     A reaction: Seems good. The point is that without collisions, bodies would not stop relative to one another, and combine to form the objects we perceive. Of course if the started off (anathema!) stuck together, they may not have dispersed yet.
26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 6. Early Matter Theories / g. Atomism
There exists an infinity of each shape of atom, but the number of shapes is beyond our knowledge [Epicurus]
     Full Idea: For each type of shape there is an unlimited number of similar atoms, but with respect to the differences they are not simply unlimited but ungraspable.
     From: Epicurus (Letter to Herodotus [c.293 BCE], 42)
     A reaction: Epicurus's view of the nature of atoms rests on his empiricism, so while he can reason from experience to how they must be, he admits (impressively) his ignorance of the full facts. He has arguments for the unlimited number.
Atoms just have shape, size and weight; colour results from their arrangement [Epicurus]
     Full Idea: There are not even any qualities in atoms, except shape and size and weight; their colour changes according to the arrangement of the atoms.
     From: Epicurus (Letter to Herodotus [c.293 BCE], 44 schol)
     A reaction: [This is quoted by a 'scholiast' - an early writer quoting from Epicurus's '12 Basic Principles'] He appears to have got this one wrong, as it is evidently the type of atom, as well as the arrangement, which contributes to the colour.
There cannot be unlimited division, because it would reduce things to non-existence [Epicurus]
     Full Idea: One must eliminate unlimited division into smaller pieces (to avoid making everything weak and being forced in our comprehensive grasps of compound things to exhaust the things which exist by reducing them to non-existence).
     From: Epicurus (Letter to Herodotus [c.293 BCE], 56)
     A reaction: A basic argument for atoms, but it seems to rest on Zenonian paradoxes about infinite subdivision. An infinite subdivision of a unit doesn't seem to turn it into zero.
Democritus says atoms have size and shape, and Epicurus added weight [Epicurus, by Ps-Plutarch]
     Full Idea: Democritus said that the properties of the atoms are in number two, magnitude and shape, but Epicurus added to these a third one, weight.
     From: report of Epicurus (fragments/reports [c.289 BCE]) by Pseudo-Plutarch - On the Doctrine of the Philosophers 1.3.18
     A reaction: The addition of Epicurus seems very sensible, and an odd omission by Democritus. He seems to think that atoms have a uniform density, so that volume indicates weight.
Atoms don't swerve by being struck, because they move in parallel, so the swerve is uncaused [Cicero on Epicurus]
     Full Idea: The swerve of Epicurus takes place without a cause; it does not take place in consequence of being struck by another atom, since how can that take place if they are indivisible bodies travelling perpendicularly in straight lines by the force of gravity?
     From: comment on Epicurus (fragments/reports [c.289 BCE]) by M. Tullius Cicero - On Fate ('De fato') 10.22
     A reaction: The swerve is the most ad hoc proposal in the history of theoretical physics. This is interesting for spelling out that the travel in vertical parallels. What's that all about, then?
What causes atomic swerves? Do they draw lots? What decides the size or number of swerves? [Cicero on Epicurus]
     Full Idea: What fresh cause exists in nature to make the atom swerve (or do the atoms cast lots among them which is to swerve and which not?), or to serve as the reason for making a very small swerve and not a large one, or one swerve, and not two or three swerves?
     From: comment on Epicurus (fragments/reports [c.289 BCE]) by M. Tullius Cicero - On Fate ('De fato') 20.46
     A reaction: This is an appeal to the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which seems to be the main ground for rejecting the swerve. The only reason to accept the swerve is reluctance to accept determinism or fatalism.
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 8. Scientific Essentialism / a. Scientific essentialism
We aim to know the natures which are observed in natural phenomena [Epicurus]
     Full Idea: Blessedness lies in knowing the natures which are observed in meteorological phenomena.
     From: Epicurus (Letter to Herodotus [c.293 BCE], 78)
     A reaction: This pursuit of 'natures' seems to be at the heart of scientific essentialism. Epicurus demonstrates his proposal, by offering speculations about the natures of all sorts of phenomena (esp. in 'Letter to Pythocles').