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L'Atomisme d'Épicure

Naturevolume 120pages150151 (1927) | Download Citation



DR. ATANASSIÉVITCH has written an interesting and well-documented study of the atomic theory of Epicurus, in which he maintains that, far from being a mere expounder of the theory of Leucippus and Demooritus, Epicurus was responsible for the introduction of many new features. The number of fragments of Epicurus accessible to us is very limited, consisting mainly of a few letters, preserved for us by Diogenes Laertius, of which the authenticity is not established beyond doubt, but fortunately we possess what is probably a very faithful account of his theories in Lucretius' “De Pverum Natura.” Leucippus, who is a mere name to us, and Democritus, whose work is also lost to us, supposed, according to their expounders, that atoms were indestructible and eternal, infinite in form and in number, and that everything arose from the collision of atoms in empty space. Epicurus denied that the atoms could have an infinite variety of forms, which agrees with our modern belief, and insisted that atoms had weight, which, according to Dr. Atanassiévitch, was a property foreign to the atoms of Democritus. For Epicurus, then, atoms had size, shape, weight, and velocity. Very interesting, in view of our modern theories, is the Epicurean doctrine, stressed by our present author, that, although atoms are physically indivisible, they have finite extension, and are to be considered as made up of small ultimate parts, minima. A chapter is consecrated to this doctrine of the minimum.

L'Atomisme d'Épicure.

Par Dr. Xénia Atanassiévitch. Pp. 11. (Paris: Les Presses universitaries de France, n.d.) n.p.

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