What is Democritus and Atomist Concept of Matter?

What is Democritus and Atomist Concept of Matter?

June 26, 2021 Off By Felso

In the Greek world, Democritus is the representative of the atomist understanding of matter. After Democritus, Lucretius and Gassendi continued the same thought.

According to Democritus, the last building blocks of the real world are atoms, which are indivisible physical realities from which everything originates and is separated into itself.

Atoms come in different sizes and shapes. For example, some atoms are cube-shaped, some atoms are pyramid-shaped, and some atoms are ball-shaped; some are hooked, some are recessed and protruding. The common features of these atoms are; They are indivisible, indivisible, impenetrable, occupying space and constantly in motion.

All objects in the universe arise due to the merging of atoms scattered in space and are nothing more than that. A stone, a table, and even the human mind are made up of these atoms. Things that are thought of as immaterial, such as emotion, mind, and spirit, are actually material and can be reduced to atoms.

For Democritus, motion is the fundamental property of atoms. Atoms fall at different speeds in vacuum. In this fall, the larger ones crash into the smaller ones, deflecting them. Thus begins an endless series of knocks and bumps. As a result, everything in the world of existence emerges as a product of these collisions. This means that “there is no coincidence in the universe”. In other words, Democritus rejected chance. According to Democritus, everything is necessarily interconnected.

According to Democritus, atoms do indeed have size, shape, and motion; but they do not have the qualities of being hot or cold, sour or sweet. Such qualities emerge as a result of the effect of atoms coming together and creating on the sense organs of man. Democritus explains this situation as follows: “Sweet, bitter, hot, cold and color exist only in the mind. In reality, there is nothing but atoms and space.”

In the light of all this, it is possible to summarize Democritus’s understanding of materialism as follows: Everything that exists is matter; things that seem immaterial (thought, mind, spirit, sensation, feelings) can also be reduced to matter; there is no room for coincidence in the universe, everything is determined and necessarily occurs; there is no purpose in the universe; Everything happens as a result of mechanical causation.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer Yıldırım