Ideas of Democritus, by Theme

[Greek, 460 - 370 BCE, Born at Abdera in northern Greece. Probably taught by Leucippus.]

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1. Philosophy / A. Wisdom / 1. Nature of Wisdom
Wisdom creates a healthy passion-free soul
2. Reason / B. Laws of Thought / 2. Sufficient Reason
Everything happens necessarily, and for a reason
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 3. Being / a. Nature of Being
True Being only occurs when it is completely full, with atoms and no void [Aristotle]
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 3. Being / d. Non-being
Being does not exist more than non-being [Aristotle]
The non-existent exists as much as the existent, because it has causal powers
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 3. Being / g. Particular being
The only distinctions are Configuration (shape), Disposition (order) and Turning (position) [Aristotle]
7. Existence / B. Change in Existence / 1. Nature of Change
Nothing comes from non-existence, or passes into it [Diog. Laertius]
7. Existence / E. Categories / 5. Category Anti-Realism
It is not possible to know what sort each thing is
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 1. Unifying an Object / b. Unifying aggregates
Democritus denies reality to large objects, because atomic entities can't combine to produce new ones [Benardete,JA]
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 2. Substance / d. Substance defined
Democritus said that substances could never be mixed, so atoms are the substances [Aristotle]
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 2. Qualities in Perception / a. Qualities in perception
Sensible qualities can't be real if they appear different to different creatures [Theophrastus]
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 3. Representation
Man is separated from reality
12. Knowledge Sources / C. Rationalism / 1. Rationalism
All evidence comes from senses, so they are indispensable to the mind
13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 1. Scepticism
We in fact know nothing, but we each restructure our reality with beliefs
It is obviously impossible to understand the reality of each thing
We know nothing in reality; for truth lies in an abyss
Democritus says there is either no truth, or it is concealed from us [Aristotle]
We actually know nothing, and opinions are mere flux
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / g. Causal explanations
Democritus was devoted to discovering causal explanations [Eusebius]
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 2. Psuché
Democritus says soul consists of smooth round bodies brought together in accidental collision [Cicero]
Atomists say soul has a rational part in the chest, and a diffused non-rational part [Aetius]
The soul is the same as the mind [Aristotle]
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 7. Animal Minds
Animals have a share of reason [Porphyry]
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 8. Brain
The directive centre is located in the whole head [Ps-Plutarch]
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 6. Determinism / a. Determinism
Democritus said everything happens of necessity, by natural motion of atoms [Cicero]
Some say there is a determinate cause for every apparently spontaneous event [Aristotle]
17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 1. Physical Mind
Democritus says the soul is the body, and thinking is thus the mixture of the body [Theophrastus]
20. Action / C. Motives for Action / 1. Acting on Desires
Pleasure and pain guide our choices of good and bad
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / f. Good as pleasure
Happiness is identifying and separating the pleasures [Stobaeus]
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / f. The Mean
Contentment comes from moderation and proportion in life [Stobaeus]
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 4. External Goods / c. Wealth
Democritus says wealth is a burden to the virtuous mind [Seneca]
26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 6. Early Matter Theories / d. Atomism
'Full' and 'Void' secularised Parmenides's Being and Not-being [Heisenberg]
Atomists say there are only three differences - in shape, arrangement and position [Aristotle]
When atoms touch, why don't they coalesce, like water drops? [Aristotle]
Experiences are merely convention; only atoms and the void are real
Because appearance is infinitely varied, atomists assume infinitely many shapes of atom [Aristotle]
Atoms cling together, until a stronger necessity disperses them [Aristotle]
Atoms are irregular, hooked, concave, convex, and many other shapes [Aristotle]
There could be an atom the size of the world [Ps-Plutarch]
There must be atoms, to avoid the absurdity of infinite division down to nothing [Aristotle]
The basic atoms are without qualities - which only arise from encounters between atoms [Galen]
If a cone is horizontally sliced the surfaces can't be equal, so it goes up in steps
27. Natural Reality / C. Space-Time / 1. Space / a. Void
Movement is impossible in a void, because nothing can decide the direction of movement [Aristotle]
Growth and movement would not exist if there were no void to receive them
27. Natural Reality / C. Space-Time / 2. Time / d. Beginning of time
Democritus (unlike Plato alone) thinks that time must have been created [Aristotle]
27. Natural Reality / D. Cosmology / 1. Cosmology
There are unlimited worlds of varying sizes, some without life or water [Hippolytus]
28. God / B. Proving God / 3. Proofs of Evidence / c. Teleological Proof critique
Democritus said people imagined gods as the source of what awed or frightened them [Sext.Empiricus]
29. Religion / D. Religious Issues / 2. Immortality / a. Immortality
The soul is destroyed with the body [Ps-Plutarch]