Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Cause and Explanation in Ancient Greek Thought$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

R. J. Hankinson

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199246564

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199246564.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 October 2021

The Atomists

The Atomists

(p.201) VI The Atomists
Cause and Explanation in Ancient Greek Thought

R. J. Hankinson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

In this chapter, Hankinson discusses the theory of Atomism, from Leucippus and Democritus to Epicurus and his followers. The early Atomists were concerned with the circumvention of the Eleatic denial of motion; they did so by positing unchanging atoms and the existence of the void in which the atoms move. Democritean Atomism is thoroughly mechanistic and reductionist; Epicurean Atomism is ontologically more generous, accepting, for instance, the reality of properties and guaranteeing, by virtue of the controversial notion of the ‘swerve’, the exercise of free will. Thus, although strictly speaking it denies uncaused events, Epicureanism nevertheless holds that human action is not subject to determinism. The later Epicureans also reject the Stoic view that fundamental physical principles are logically necessary truths.

Keywords:   Atomism, Democritus, determinism, Epicurus, free will, mechanistic, properties, reductionist, the ‘swerve’, void

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .