Ideas of Democritus, by Theme

[Greek, c.471 - 410 BCE, Born at Abdera in northern Greece. Probably taught by Leucippus.]

idea number gives full details    |    back to list of philosophers    |     expand these ideas
1. Philosophy / A. Wisdom / 1. Nature of Wisdom
Wisdom creates a healthy passion-free soul
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 7. Status of Reason
Reason is a more powerful persuader than gold
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
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 2. Substance / d. Substance defined
Democritus said that substances could never be mixed, so atoms are the substances
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 6. Essence as Unifier
One substance cannot be composed from two, nor two from one
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
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
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 2. Psuché
Atomists say soul has a rational part in the chest, and a diffused non-rational part
Democritus says soul consists of smooth round bodies brought together in accidental collision
16. Persons / G. Free Will / 2. Free Will Theories / b. Determinism
Democritus said everything happens of necessity, by natural motion of atoms
Some say there is a determinate cause for every apparently spontaneous event
20. Action / B. Motives for Action / 1. Acting on Desires
Pleasure and pain guide our choices of good and bad
21. Aesthetics / B. Aesthetic Experience / 1. Beauty
Beauty is merely animal without intelligence
22. Metaethics / A. Ethical Ends / 5. Happiness / d. Routes to happiness
Happiness is identifying and separating the pleasures
22. Metaethics / A. Ethical Ends / 6. Pleasure / b. Value of pleasure
Only accept beneficial pleasures
It is as brave to master pleasure as to overcome the enemy
22. Metaethics / A. Ethical Ends / 6. Pleasure / c. Types of pleasure
We should only choose pleasures which are concerned with the beautiful
Good and true are the same for everyone, but pleasures differ
22. Metaethics / A. Ethical Ends / 6. Pleasure / d. Sources of pleasure
Moderation brings more pleasures, and so increases pleasure
The great pleasures come from the contemplation of noble works
22. Metaethics / A. Ethical Ends / 6. Pleasure / e. Role of pleasure
Immoderate desire is the mark of a child, not an adult
22. Metaethics / A. Ethical Ends / 8. Love
Virtuous love consists of decorous desire for the beautiful
23. Ethics / A. Egoism / 1. Ethical Egoism
Behave well when alone, and feel shame in you own eyes
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / c. Motivation for virtue
Virtue doesn't just avoid evil, but also doesn't desire it
A bad life is just a drawn-out death
Be virtuous from duty, not from fear
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / d. Teaching virtue
Repentance of shameful deeds is salvation
Virtue comes more from practice than from nature
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / e. Character
Good breeding in men means having a good character
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / i. Absolute virtues
One must avoid even speaking of evil deeds
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / c. Justice
The wrongdoer is more unfortunate than the person wronged
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 4. External Goods / c. Wealth
Small appetite makes poverty equal to wealth
Democritus says wealth is a burden to the virtuous mind
The endless desire for money is a crueller slavery than poverty
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 4. External Goods / d. Friendship
It is better to have one intelligent friend than many unintelligent
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 2. Duty
It is a great thing, when one is in adversity, to think of duty
25. Society / C. Political Doctrines / 5. Democracy
It is better to be poor in a democracy than be rich without freedom
26. Natural Theory / B. Concepts of Nature / 4. Time / d. Beginning of time
Democritus (unlike Plato alone) thinks that time must have been created
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 1. Causation / a. Causation
I would rather discover one cause than gain the kingdom of Persia
27. Natural Reality / A. Physics / 1. Matter / c. Atoms
'Full' and 'Void' secularised Parmenides's Being and Not-being
Movement is impossible in a void, because nothing can decide the direction of movement
Atomists say there are only three differences - in shape, arrangement and position
Because appearance is infinitely varied, atomists assume infinitely many shapes of atom
When atoms touch, why don't they coalesce, like water drops?
If a cone is horizontally sliced the surfaces can't be equal, so it goes up in steps
Experiences are merely convention; only atoms and the void are real
There must be atoms, to avoid the absurdity of infinite division down to nothing
28. God / D. Proofs of Evidence / 3. Teleological Proof critique
Democritus said people imagined gods as the source of what awed or frightened them