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From Epicurus to EpictetusStudies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy$
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A. A. Long

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199279128

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199279128.001.0001

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Chance and Laws of Nature in Epicureanism

Chance and Laws of Nature in Epicureanism

(p.157) 8 Chance and Laws of Nature in Epicureanism
From Epicurus to Epictetus

A. A. Long (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

When Epicurus discharged the gods from running the world, he gave new fuel to a controversy which had been raging off and on for the past hundred years, and which would continue not only through the Hellenistic and early Christian centuries but even up to the present day, as 21st-century evolutionists lock horns with proponents of Intelligent Design. In nominating atoms and void as the basic principles of natural phenomena, Epicurus knew that he was entering an arena where Plato and Aristotle had already done battle against the mechanistic explanations of earlier thinkers. The first question of this study is whether Epicurus did envision a random or chance element in nature. It is argued that if the answer to this question is negative, there is no reason to give the swerve a larger role than that explicitly accorded it by Lucretius.

Keywords:   Lucretius, chance element, natural phenomena

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