atomism

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Related to Atomists: atomism, Sophists, Pythagoreans

at·om·ism

(at'ŏm-izm),
The approach to the study of a psychological phenomenon through analysis of the elementary parts of which it is assumed to be composed. Compare: holism.

atomism

A term of uncertain utility for the analysis of the individual components of psychological phenomena.
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(76) Morales (2004, 132-135) convincingly identifies the atomists as Achilles' most important source, against Goldhill (2001, 168-169, 177-179) who links them more closely with Stoic theory.
(23) On the closeness of the terms chance and necessity in the usage of atomists see Gadamer 1999: 273-276, Guthrie 1965:414-419.
Ancient atomist philosophers such as Epicurus (see Acts 17:18), Lucretius (whose poem Stenger devotes considerable attention to), Leucippus, and Democritus are discussed with respect to both their science and their religious worldviews.
Consequently, no-one in this Companion does much with the point, surely quite central to understanding Aristotle's works on nature, that it is the atomists Leucippus and Democritus who are the primary targets of much of his fundamental physics and cosmology.
The earlier philosophers known as Atomists were preoccupied with the incessant change in the universe; the Pythogoreans, on the other hand, developed a teleological view-point which postulated the existence of a Grand Designer behind all the apparent flux and change.
Rather than speculate about the unknown shapes and surfaces of organic atomic particles--as Descartes, the alchemists, and, earlier, the atomists would have done--Boerhaave considered the directly observable phenomena of solids dissolving in organic solutions, and, with Newton's newly discovered laws, looked for the causes of solutions in the forces that gave solid solutes greater affinity for liquid solvents than they had for themselves.
The Stoics, Epicureans and other Hellenistic Schools have roots in the insights of Heraclitus, the Atomists, and early Pluralists like Empedocles, and even owe something to Gorgias and Protagoras.
He taught us that we too were animals, and had a natural origin as the other animals did." (4) Singer claims that modern science's acceptance of our animality has freed us from "the constraints of religious conformity" and has given us a new, superior--because more accurate--worldview, "a new vision of who we are, to whom we are related, the limited nature of the differences between us and other species, and the more or less accidental manner in which the boundary between 'us' and 'them' has been, formed." (5) He seems unaware that, in its basic assumptions, this is actually a very old worldview, dating back at least to the Atomists and Epicurus in the fifth to the third centuries B.C.
Nearly a century separated Darwin from Watson and Crick; more than two centuries elapsed from the time of Galileo and Newton to Einstein; millennia passed from the Greek atomists to the atom's splitting.
As Cornford argues, it is the invention of geometers and atomists which eventually led to the counter-intuitive concept of infinite space:
He illustrates this claim by stating that even if the atomists were correct that the heavens were due to accidental causes (II 4, 196a25-b5), nonetheless there would be prior [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] causes (nature and mind) of many things as well as the universe itself (198a11-14).
Al-Razi points out that this is the view of the philosophers, especially Aristotle and Ibn Sina, but that he will argue the case for the atomists. One of his arguments is taken from a separate treatise on the problem of the indivisible atom (fi mas'alah al-jawhar al-fard) which he has written specifically on the problem of the indivisible atom, and so he refers his readers to that work for further details.