HOME

TheInfoList



OR:

Atomism (from
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
, ''atomon'', i.e. "uncuttable, indivisible") is a
natural philosophy Natural philosophy or philosophy of nature (from Latin ''philosophia naturalis'') is the philosophy, philosophical study of Physics (Aristotle), physics, that is, nature and the physical universe. It was dominant before the development of mode ...
proposing that the physical universe is composed of fundamental indivisible components known as
atoms Every atom is composed of a atomic nucleus, nucleus and one or more electrons bound to the nucleus. The nucleus is made of one or more protons and a number of neutrons. Only the most common variety of hydrogen has no neutrons. Every solid, l ...

atoms
. References to the concept of atomism and its atoms appeared in both
ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Greek Dark ...
and ancient Indian philosophical traditions. Leucippus is the earliest figure whose commitment to atomism is well attested and he is usually credited with inventing atomism. He and other ancient Greek atomists theorized that nature consists of two fundamental
principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a Legal rule, rule that has to be or usually is to be followed. It can be desirably followed, or it can be an inevitable consequence of something, suc ...
: ''atom'' and ''void''. Clusters of different shapes, arrangements, and positions give rise to the various macroscopic substances in the world.Berryman, Sylvia, "Ancient Atomism", '' The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy'' (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
online
/ref> The particles of chemical matter for which chemists and other natural philosophers of the early 19th century found experimental evidence were thought to be indivisible, and therefore were given by
John Dalton John Dalton (; 5 or 6 September 1766 – 27 July 1844) was an English chemist, physicist and meteorologist. He is best known for introducing the atomic theory into chemistry, and for his research into Color blindness, colour blindness, which ...

John Dalton
the name "atom", long used by the atomist philosophy. Although the connection to historical atomism is at best tenuous,
elementary particle In particle physics, an elementary particle or fundamental particle is a subatomic particle that is not composed of other particles. Particles currently thought to be elementary include electrons, the fundamental fermions (quarks, leptons, antiqu ...
s have become a modern analogue of philosophical atoms.


Reductionism

Philosophical atomism is a reductive argument, proposing not only that everything is composed of atoms and void, but that nothing they compose really exists: the only things that really exist are atoms ricocheting off each other mechanistically in an otherwise empty void. Atomism stands in contrast to a
substance theory Substance theory, or substance–attribute theory, is an ontology, ontological theory positing that Object (philosophy), objects are constituted each by a ''substance'' and property (philosophy), properties borne by the substance but distinct from ...
wherein a prime material continuum remains qualitatively invariant under division (for example, the ratio of the four
classical elements Classical elements typically refer to Earth (classical element), earth, Water (classical element), water, Air (classical element), air, Fire (classical element), fire, and (later) Aether (classical element), aether which were proposed to exp ...
would be the same in any portion of a homogeneous material).
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...
n
Buddhist Buddhism ( , ), also known as Buddha Dharma and Dharmavinaya (), is an Indian religion or philosophical tradition based on teachings attributed to the Buddha Siddhartha Gautama, most commonly referred to as the Buddha, was a ...
s, such as
Dharmakirti Dharmakīrti (fl. c. 6th or 7th century; Classical Tibetan, Tibetan: ཆོས་ཀྱི་གྲགས་པ་; Wylie transliteration, Wylie: ''chos kyi grags pa''), was an influential Indian Buddhism, Buddhist philosopher who worked at ...
( 6th or 7th century) and others, developed distinctive theories of atomism, for example, involving momentary (instantaneous) atoms ( ''kalapa''s) that flash in and out of existence.


History


Antiquity


Greek atomism


= Democritus

= In the 5th century BC, Leucippus and his pupil
Democritus Democritus (; el, Δημόκριτος, ''Dēmókritos'', meaning "chosen of the people"; – ) was an Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient ...
proposed that all matter was composed of small indivisible particles which they called "atoms". Nothing whatsoever is known about Leucippus except that he was the teacher of Democritus. Democritus, by contrast, wrote prolifically, producing over eighty known treatises, none of which have survived to the present day complete. However, a massive number of fragments and quotations of his writings have survived. These are the main source of information on his teachings about atoms. Democritus's argument for the existence of atoms hinged on the idea that it is impossible to keep dividing matter infinitely - and that matter must therefore be made up of extremely tiny particles. The atomistic theory aimed to remove the "distinction which the
Eleatic school The Eleatics were a group of Pre-Socratic philosophy, pre-Socratic philosophers in the 5th century BC centered around the ancient Italian Colonies in antiquity#Greek colonies, Greek colony of Velia, Elea ( grc, Ἐλέα), located in present-day C ...
drew between the Absolute, or the only real existence, and the world of change around us." Democritus believed that atoms are too small for human senses to detect, that they are infinitely many, that they come in infinitely many varieties, and that they have always existed. They float in a vacuum, which Democritus called the "void", and they vary in form, order, and posture. Some atoms, he maintained, are convex, others concave, some shaped like hooks, and others like eyes. They are constantly moving and colliding into each other. Democritus wrote that atoms and void are the only things that exist and that all other things are merely said to exist by
social convention A convention is a set of agreed, stipulated, or generally accepted standards, norms, social norms, or criteria, often taking the form of a custom. In a social context, a convention may retain the character of an "unwritten law" of custom (for ex ...
. The objects humans see in everyday life are composed of many atoms united by random collisions and their forms and materials are determined by what kinds of atom make them up. Likewise, human perceptions are caused by atoms as well. Bitterness is caused by small, angular, jagged atoms passing across the tongue; whereas
sweetness Sweetness is a Taste#Basic tastes, basic taste most commonly Perception, perceived when eating foods rich in sugars. Sweet tastes are generally regarded as pleasure, pleasurable. In addition to sugars like sucrose, many other chemical compounds ...
is caused by larger, smoother, more rounded atoms passing across the tongue. Previously,
Parmenides Parmenides of Elea (; grc-gre, Παρμενίδης ὁ Ἐλεάτης; ) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher from Elea in Magna Graecia. Parmenides was born in the Greek colony of Elea, from a wealthy and illustrious family. His date ...
had denied the existence of motion, change and void. He believed all existence to be a single, all-encompassing and unchanging mass (a concept known as
monism Monism attributes oneness or singleness (Greek: μόνος) to a concept e.g., existence. Various kinds of monism can be distinguished: * Priority monism states that all existing things go back to a source that is distinct from them; e.g., i ...
), and that change and motion were mere illusions. He explicitly rejected sensory experience as the path to an understanding of the universe and instead used purely abstract reasoning. He believed there is no such thing as void, equating it with non-being. This in turn meant that motion is impossible, because there is no void to move into. Melsen (1952) Parmenides doesn't mention or explicitly deny the existence of the void, stating instead that what is not does not exist.http://philoctetes.free.fr/parmenides.pdf http://www.parmenides-of-elea.net/Parmenide's_poem.pdf He also wrote all that must be an indivisible unity, for if it were manifold, then there would have to be a void that could divide it. Finally, he stated that the all encompassing Unity is unchanging, for the Unity already encompasses all that is and can be. Democritus accepted most of Parmenides' arguments, except for the idea that change is an illusion. He believed change was real, and if it was not then at least the illusion had to be explained. He thus supported the concept of void, and stated that the universe is made up of many Parmenidean entities that move around in the void. The void is infinite and provides the space in which the atoms can pack or scatter differently. The different possible packings and scatterings within the void make up the shifting outlines and bulk of the objects that organisms feel, see, eat, hear, smell, and taste. While organisms may feel hot or cold, hot and cold actually have no real existence. They are simply sensations produced in organisms by the different packings and scatterings of the atoms in the void that compose the object that organisms sense as being "hot" or "cold". The work of Democritus survives only in secondhand reports, some of which are unreliable or conflicting. Much of the best evidence of Democritus' theory of atomism is reported by
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Peripatet ...
(384–322 BCE) in his discussions of Democritus' and
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, wikt:Πλάτων, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was a Greeks, Greek philosopher born in Athens during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. He founded the Platonist school of thou ...
's contrasting views on the types of indivisibles composing the natural world.


=Geometry and atoms

=
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, wikt:Πλάτων, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was a Greeks, Greek philosopher born in Athens during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. He founded the Platonist school of thou ...
( – BCE), if he had been familiar with the atomism of Democritus, would have objected to its mechanistic
materialism Materialism is a form of philosophical monism which holds matter to be the fundamental substance in nature, and all things, including mental states A mental state, or a mental property, is a state of mind of a person. Mental states compris ...
. He argued that atoms just crashing into other atoms could never produce the beauty and form of the world. In Plato's ''Timaeus'' (28b–29a) the character of Timeaus insisted that the
cosmos The cosmos (, ) is another name for the Universe. Using the word ''cosmos'' implies viewing the universe as a complex and orderly system or entity. The cosmos, and understandings of the reasons for its existence and significance, are studied in ...
was not eternal but was created, although its creator framed it after an eternal, unchanging model. One part of that creation were the four simple bodies of fire, air, water, and earth. But Plato did not consider these corpuscles to be the most basic level of reality, for in his view they were made up of an unchanging level of reality, which was mathematical. These simple bodies were geometric solids, the faces of which were, in turn, made up of triangles. The square faces of the cube were each made up of four isosceles right-angled triangles and the triangular faces of the tetrahedron, octahedron, and icosahedron were each made up of six right-angled triangles. Plato postulated the geometric structure of the simple bodies of the four elements as summarized in the adjacent table. The cube, with its flat base and stability, was assigned to earth; the tetrahedron was assigned to fire because its penetrating points and sharp edges made it mobile. The points and edges of the octahedron and icosahedron were blunter and so these less mobile bodies were assigned to air and water. Since the simple bodies could be decomposed into triangles, and the triangles reassembled into atoms of different elements, Plato's model offered a plausible account of changes among the primary substances.


=Rejection in Aristotelianism

= Sometime before 330 BC
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Peripatet ...
asserted that the elements of fire, air, earth, and water were not made of atoms, but were continuous. Aristotle considered the existence of a void, which was required by atomic theories, to violate physical principles. Change took place not by the rearrangement of atoms to make new structures, but by transformation of matter from what it was in potential to a new actuality. A piece of wet clay, when acted upon by a potter, takes on its potential to be an actual drinking mug. Aristotle has often been criticized for rejecting atomism, but in ancient Greece the atomic theories of Democritus remained "pure speculations, incapable of being put to any experimental test". Aristotle theorized '' minima naturalia'' as the smallest parts into which a homogeneous natural substance (e.g., flesh, bone, or wood) could be divided and still retain its essential character. Unlike the atomism of Democritus, these Aristotelian "natural minima" were not conceptualized as physically indivisible. Instead, Aristotle's concept was rooted in his hylomorphic worldview, which held that every physical thing is a compound of matter (Greek ''hyle'') and of an immaterial
substantial form Substantial form was an Aristotelian innovation designed to solve three problems. The first is how physical things can exist as certain types of intelligible things, e.g., Rover and Fido are both dogs because they have the same type of immaterial ...
(Greek ''morphe'') that imparts its essential nature and structure. For instance, a rubber ball - for a hylomorphist like Aristotle - would be rubber (matter) structured by spherical shape (form). Aristotle's intuition was that there is some smallest size beyond which matter could no longer be structured as flesh, or bone, or wood, or some other such organic substance that for Aristotle (living before the invention of the microscope) could be considered homogeneous. For instance, if flesh were divided beyond its natural minimum, what would be left might be a large amount of the element water, and smaller amounts of the other elements. But whatever water or other elements were left, they would no longer have the "nature" of flesh: in hylomorphic terms, they would no longer be matter structured by the form of flesh; instead the remaining water, e.g., would be matter structured by the form of water, not by the form of flesh.


=Later ancient atomism

=
Epicurus Epicurus (; grc-gre, wikt:Ἐπίκουρος, Ἐπίκουρος ; 341–270 BC) was an Greek philosophy, ancient Greek philosopher and sage (philosophy), sage who founded Epicureanism, a highly influential school of philosophy. He was born ...
(341–270 BCE) studied atomism with
Nausiphanes Nausiphanes ( el, Ναυσιφάνης; lived c. 325 BC), a native of Teos, was attached to the philosophy of Democritus. He was a pupil of Pyrrho and a teacher to Epicurus, who was dissatisfied with him.Diogenes Laertius, x.Cicero, ''de Natura De ...
who had been a student of Democritus. Although Epicurus was certain of the existence of atoms and the void, he was less sure we could adequately explain specific natural phenomena such as earthquakes, lightning, comets, or the phases of the Moon. Few of Epicurus' writings survive, and those that do reflect his interest in applying Democritus' theories to assist people in taking responsibility for themselves and for their own happiness—since he held there are no gods around that can help them. (Epicurus regarded the role of gods as exemplifying moral ideals.) Epicurus' ideas re-appear in the works of his
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *''Epistle to the Romans'', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter ...
follower
Lucretius Titus Lucretius Carus ( , ;  – ) was a Ancient Rome, Roman Roman literature, poet and Ancient Roman philosophy, philosopher. His only known work is the philosophical poem ''De rerum natura'', a didactic work about the tenets and philosoph ...
( 99 BC – 55 BC), who wrote ''
On the Nature of Things ''De rerum natura'' (; ''On the Nature of Things'') is a first-century BC Didacticism, didactic poem by the Roman Republic, Roman poet and Philosophy, philosopher Lucretius ( – c. 55 BC) with the goal of explaining Epicureanism, Epicurean phil ...
''. This
Classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Literary Latin recognized as a literary standard by writers of the late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων ...
scientific work in poetic form illustrates several segments of Epicurean theory on how the universe came into its current stage; it shows that the phenomena we perceive are actually composite forms. The atoms and the void are eternal and in constant motion. Atomic collisions create objects, which are still composed of the same eternal atoms whose motion for a while is incorporated into the created entity. Lucretius also explains human sensations and meteorological phenomena in terms of atomic motion.


=Atomism and ethics

= Some later philosophers attributed the idea that man created gods and that gods did not create man to Democritus. For example,
Sextus Empiricus Sextus Empiricus ( grc-gre, Σέξτος Ἐμπειρικός, ; ) was a Greek Pyrrhonist philosopher and Empiric school physician A physician (American English), medical practitioner (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Comm ...
noted: :Some people think that we arrived at the idea of gods from the remarkable things that happen in the world. Democritus ... says that the people of ancient times were frightened by happenings in the heavens such as thunder, lightning, ..., and thought that they were caused by gods. Three hundred years after Epicurus,
Lucretius Titus Lucretius Carus ( , ;  – ) was a Ancient Rome, Roman Roman literature, poet and Ancient Roman philosophy, philosopher. His only known work is the philosophical poem ''De rerum natura'', a didactic work about the tenets and philosoph ...
in his epic poem ''
On the Nature of Things ''De rerum natura'' (; ''On the Nature of Things'') is a first-century BC Didacticism, didactic poem by the Roman Republic, Roman poet and Philosophy, philosopher Lucretius ( – c. 55 BC) with the goal of explaining Epicureanism, Epicurean phil ...
'' would depict him as the hero who crushed the monster
Religion Religion is usually defined as a social- cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, beliefs, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or religious organization, organizations, that generally relates hu ...
through educating the people in what was possible in atoms and what was ''not'' possible in atoms. However, Epicurus expressed a non-aggressive attitude characterized by his statement: "The man who best knows how to meet external threats makes into one family all the creatures he can; and those he can not, he at any rate does not treat as aliens; and where he finds even this impossible, he avoids all dealings, and, so far as is advantageous, excludes them from his life."


Indian atomism

In ancient Indian philosophy, preliminary instances of atomism are found in the works of
Vedic FIle:Atharva-Veda samhita page 471 illustration.png, upright=1.2, The Vedas are ancient Sanskrit texts of Hinduism. Above: A page from the ''Atharvaveda''. The Vedas (, , ) are a large body of religious texts originating in ancient India. Co ...
sage Aruni, who lived in the 8th century BCE, especially his proposition that "particles too small to be seen mass together into the substances and objects of experience" known as ''kaṇa''. Although ''kana'' refers to "particles" not atoms ( paramanu), Some scholars such as Hermann Jacobi and
Randall Collins Randall Collins (born July 29, 1941) is an American sociologist who has been influential in both his teaching and writing. He has taught in many notable universities around the world and his academic works have been translated into various langua ...
have compared Aruni to
Thales of Miletus Thales of Miletus ( ; grc-gre, wikt:Θαλῆς, Θαλῆς; ) was a Greeks, Greek Greek Mathematics, mathematician, astronomer, statesman, and Pre-Socratic philosophy, pre-Socratic philosopher from Miletus in Ionia, Asia Minor. He was one of ...
in their scientific methodology, calling them both as "primitive physicists" or "proto-materialist thinkers". Later, the
Charvaka Charvaka ( sa, चार्वाक; IAST: ''Cārvāka''), also known as ''Lokāyata'', is an ancient school of Indian philosophy, Indian materialism. Charvaka holds direct perception, empiricism, and conditional inference as proper sources of ...
, and Ajivika schools of atomism originated as early as the 7th century BCE.John M. Koller (1977)
Skepticism in Early Indian Thought
''Philosophy East and West'', 27(2): 155-164
Bhattacharya posits that Charvaka may have been one of several atheistic, materialist schools that existed in ancient India. Kanada founded the
Vaisheshika Vaisheshika or Vaiśeṣika ( sa, वैशेषिक) is one of the six schools of Indian philosophy (Historical Vedic religion, Vedic systems) from ancient India. In its early stages, the Vaiśeṣika was an independent philosophy with its o ...
school of
Indian philosophy Indian philosophy refers to philosophical traditions of the Indian subcontinent. A traditional Hindu classification divides āstika and nāstika schools of philosophy, depending on one of three alternate criteria: whether it believes the Ve ...
that also represents the earliest Indian
natural philosophy Natural philosophy or philosophy of nature (from Latin ''philosophia naturalis'') is the philosophy, philosophical study of Physics (Aristotle), physics, that is, nature and the physical universe. It was dominant before the development of mode ...
. The
Nyaya (Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor languag ...
and
Vaisheshika Vaisheshika or Vaiśeṣika ( sa, वैशेषिक) is one of the six schools of Indian philosophy (Historical Vedic religion, Vedic systems) from ancient India. In its early stages, the Vaiśeṣika was an independent philosophy with its o ...
schools developed theories on how ''kaṇa''s combined into more complex objects. Several of these doctrines of atomism are, in some respects, "suggestively similar" to that of Democritus. McEvilley (2002) assumes that such similarities are due to extensive cultural contact and diffusion, probably in both directions. The
Nyaya (Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor languag ...
Vaisesika school developed one of the earliest forms of atomism; scholars date the Nyaya and Vaisesika texts from the 9th to 4th centuries BCE. Vaisesika atomists posited the four elemental atom types, but in Vaisesika physics atoms had 25 different possible qualities, divided between general extensive properties and specific (intensive) properties. The Nyaya–Vaisesika atomists had elaborate theories of how atoms combine. In Vaisesika atomism, atoms first combine in pairs (dyads), and then group into trios of pairs (triads), which are the smallest visible units of matter. The
Buddhist Buddhism ( , ), also known as Buddha Dharma and Dharmavinaya (), is an Indian religion or philosophical tradition based on teachings attributed to the Buddha Siddhartha Gautama, most commonly referred to as the Buddha, was a ...
atomists had very qualitative, Aristotelian-style atomic theory. According to ancient Buddhist atomism, which probably began developing before the 4th century BCE, there are four kinds of atoms, corresponding to the standard elements. Each of these elements has a specific property, such as solidity or motion, and performs a specific function in mixtures, such as providing support or causing growth. Like the Hindus, the Buddhists were able to integrate a theory of atomism with their theological presuppositions. Later Indian Buddhist philosophers, such as
Dharmakirti Dharmakīrti (fl. c. 6th or 7th century; Classical Tibetan, Tibetan: ཆོས་ཀྱི་གྲགས་པ་; Wylie transliteration, Wylie: ''chos kyi grags pa''), was an influential Indian Buddhism, Buddhist philosopher who worked at ...
and Dignāga, considered atoms to be point-sized, durationless, and made of energy. Some of the canonical texts make reference to matter and atoms (called ''paramāṇu'', a term already used in
Yajnavalkya Yajnavalkya or Yagyavalkya ( sa, याज्ञवल्क्य, ) is a Hindu Vedic sage figuring in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (c. 700 BCE)., Quote: "Yajnavalkya, a Vedic sage, taught..."Ben-Ami Scharfstein (1998), ''A comparative histor ...
, Lalitha Sahasranama and
Yoga Sutra The ''Yoga Sutras of Patañjali'' is a collection of Sanskrit sutra ''Sutra'' ( sa, सूत्र, translit=sūtra, translit-std=IAST, translation=string, thread)Monier Williams, ''Sanskrit English Dictionary'', Oxford University Press ...
), including '' Pancastikayasara'', '' Kalpasutra'' and '' Tattvarthasutra''. The
Jains Jainism ( ), also known as Jain Dharma, is an Indian religions, Indian religion. Jainism traces its spiritual ideas and history through the succession of twenty-four tirthankaras (supreme preachers of ''Dharma''), with the first in the current ...
envisioned the world as consisting wholly of atoms, except for souls. Atoms were considered as the basic building blocks of all matter. Each atom had "one kind of taste, one smell, one color, and two kinds of touch", though it is unclear what was meant by "kind of touch". Atoms can exist in one of two states: subtle, in which case they can fit in infinitesimally small spaces, and gross, in which case they have extension and occupy a finite space. The texts also give "detailed theories" of how atoms could combine, react, vibrate, move, and perform other actions, all of which were thoroughly deterministic.


Middle Ages


Medieval Hinduism

Ajivika is a " Nastika" school of thought whose metaphysics included a theory of atoms or atomism which was later adapted in the Vaiśeṣika school, which postulated that all objects in the physical universe are reducible to ''paramāṇu'' (
atom Every atom is composed of a atomic nucleus, nucleus and one or more electrons bound to the nucleus. The nucleus is made of one or more protons and a number of neutrons. Only the most common variety of hydrogen has no neutrons. Every solid, l ...
s), and one's experiences are derived from the interplay of substance (a function of atoms, their number and their spatial arrangements), quality, activity, commonness, particularity and inherence.Oliver Leaman, ''Key Concepts in Eastern Philosophy.'' Routledge, , 1999, page 269. Everything was composed of atoms, qualities emerged from aggregates of atoms, but the aggregation and nature of these atoms was predetermined by cosmic forces. The school founder's traditional name ''Kanada'' means 'atom eater', and he is known for developing the foundations of an atomistic approach to physics and philosophy in the Sanskrit text '' Vaiśeṣika Sūtra''. His text is also known as ''Kanada Sutras'', or Aphorisms of Kanada.Kak, S. 'Matter and Mind: The Vaisheshika Sutra of Kanada' (2016), Mount Meru Publishing, Mississauga, Ontario, .


Medieval Buddhism

Medieval Buddhist atomism, flourishing in ca. the 7th century, was very different from the atomist doctrines taught in early Buddhism. Medieval Buddhist philosophers
Dharmakirti Dharmakīrti (fl. c. 6th or 7th century; Classical Tibetan, Tibetan: ཆོས་ཀྱི་གྲགས་པ་; Wylie transliteration, Wylie: ''chos kyi grags pa''), was an influential Indian Buddhism, Buddhist philosopher who worked at ...
and Dignāga considered atoms to be point-sized, durationless, and made of energy. In discussing the two systems, Fyodor Shcherbatskoy (1930) stresses their commonality, the postulate of "absolute qualities" (''guna-dharma'') underlying all empirical phenomena. Still later, the Abhidhammattha-sangaha, a text dated to the 11th or 12th century, postulates the existence of '' rupa-kalapa'', imagined as the smallest units of the physical world, of varying elementary composition. Invisible under normal circumstances, the ''rupa-kalapa'' are said to become visible as a result of meditative
samadhi ''Samadhi'' ( Pali and sa, समाधि), in Buddhism Buddhism ( , ), also known as Buddha Dharma and Dharmavinaya (), is an Indian religions, Indian religion or Indian philosophy#Buddhist philosophy, philosophical tradition based ...
.


Medieval Islam

Atomistic philosophies are found very early in
Islamic philosophy Islamic philosophy is philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as pr ...
and was influenced by earlier Greek and to some extent Indian philosophy. Like both the Greek and Indian versions, Islamic atomism was a charged topic that had the potential for conflict with the prevalent religious orthodoxy, but it was instead more often favoured by orthodox Islamic theologians. It was such a fertile and flexible idea that, as in Greece and India, it flourished in some leading schools of Islamic thought. The most successful form of Islamic atomism was in the Asharite school of
Islamic theology Schools of Islamic theology are various Islamic schools and branches in different schools of thought regarding ''Aqidah, ʿaqīdah'' (creed). The main schools of Islamic Theology include the Qadariyah, Falasifa, Jahmiyya, Murji'ah, Muʿtazila, ...
, most notably in the work of the theologian
al-Ghazali Al-Ghazali ( – 19 December 1111; ), full name (), and known in Persian language, Persian-speaking countries as Imam Muhammad-i Ghazali (Persian: امام محمد غزالی) or in Medieval Europe by the Latinized as Algazelus or Algazel, was ...
(1058–1111). In Asharite atomism, atoms are the only perpetual, material things in existence, and all else in the world is "accidental" meaning something that lasts for only an instant. Nothing accidental can be the cause of anything else, except perception, as it exists for a moment. Contingent events are not subject to natural physical causes, but are the direct result of God's constant intervention, without which nothing could happen. Thus nature is completely dependent on God, which meshes with other Asharite Islamic ideas on causation, or the lack thereof (Gardet 2001). Al-Ghazali also used the theory to support his theory of occasionalism. In a sense, the Asharite theory of atomism has far more in common with Indian atomism than it does with Greek atomism. Other traditions in Islam rejected the atomism of the Asharites and expounded on many Greek texts, especially those of Aristotle. An active school of philosophers in Al-Andalus, including the noted commentator
Averroes Ibn Rushd ( ar, ; Arabic name, full name in ; 14 April 112611 December 1198), often Latinization of names, Latinized as Averroes ( ), was an Al-Andalus, Andalusian polymath and Faqīh, jurist who wrote about many subjects, including philosoph ...
(1126–1198 CE) explicitly rejected the thought of al-Ghazali and turned to an extensive evaluation of the thought of Aristotle. Averroes commented in detail on most of the works of Aristotle and his commentaries became very influential in Jewish and Christian scholastic thought.


Medieval Christendom

While Aristotelian philosophy eclipsed the importance of the atomists in late Roman and medieval Europe, their work was still preserved and exposited through commentaries on the works of Aristotle. In the 2nd century,
Galen Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus ( el, Κλαύδιος Γαληνός; September 129 – c. AD 216), often Anglicization, Anglicized as Galen () or Galen of Pergamon, was a Ancient Greeks, Greek physician, surgeon and Philosophy, philosopher i ...
(AD 129–216) presented extensive discussions of the Greek atomists, especially Epicurus, in his Aristotle commentaries. According to historian of atomism Joshua Gregory, there was no serious work done with atomism from the time of Galen until Isaac Beeckman, Gassendi and Descartes resurrected it in the 17th century; "the gap between these two 'modern naturalists' and the ancient Atomists marked "the exile of the atom" and "it is universally admitted that the Middle Ages had abandoned Atomism, and virtually lost it." However, although the ancient atomists' works were unavailable, Scholastic thinkers still had Aristotle's critiques of atomism. In
medieval universities A medieval university was a Corporation#History, corporation organized during the Middle Ages for the purposes of higher education. The first Western European institutions generally considered to be University, universities were established in ...
there were expressions of atomism. For example, in the 14th century Nicholas of Autrecourt considered that matter, space, and time were all made up of indivisible atoms, points, and instants and that all generation and corruption took place by the rearrangement of material atoms. The similarities of his ideas with those of
al-Ghazali Al-Ghazali ( – 19 December 1111; ), full name (), and known in Persian language, Persian-speaking countries as Imam Muhammad-i Ghazali (Persian: امام محمد غزالی) or in Medieval Europe by the Latinized as Algazelus or Algazel, was ...
suggest that Nicholas may have been familiar with Ghazali's work, perhaps through
Averroes Ibn Rushd ( ar, ; Arabic name, full name in ; 14 April 112611 December 1198), often Latinization of names, Latinized as Averroes ( ), was an Al-Andalus, Andalusian polymath and Faqīh, jurist who wrote about many subjects, including philosoph ...
' refutation of it (Marmara, 1973–74). Although the atomism of Epicurus had fallen out of favor in the centuries of
Scholasticism Scholasticism was a medieval school of philosophy that employed a Organon, critical organic method of philosophical analysis predicated upon the Aristotelianism, Aristotelian categories (Aristotle), 10 Categories. Christian scholasticism eme ...
, the '' minima naturalia'' of
Aristotelianism Aristotelianism ( ) is a philosophical tradition inspired by the work of Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical Greece, Cla ...
received extensive consideration. Speculation on ''minima naturalia'' provided philosophical background for the mechanistic philosophy of early modern thinkers such as Descartes, and for the alchemical works of Geber and Daniel Sennert, who in turn influenced the corpuscularian alchemist
Robert Boyle Robert Boyle (; 25 January 1627 – 31 December 1691) was an Anglo-Irish natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, Alchemy, alchemist and inventor. Boyle is largely regarded today as the first modern chemist, and therefore one of the foun ...
, one of the founders of modern chemistry. A chief theme in late Roman and Scholastic commentary on this concept is reconciling ''minima naturalia'' with the general Aristotelian principle of infinite divisibility. Commentators like
John Philoponus John Philoponus (Greek language, Greek: ; ; c. 490 – c. 570), also known as John the Grammarian or John of Alexandria, was a Byzantine Greek philologist, commentaries on Aristotle, Aristotelian commentator, Christian theology, Christian theologi ...
and
Thomas Aquinas Thomas Aquinas, Dominican Order, OP (; it, Tommaso d'Aquino, lit=Thomas of Aquino, Italy, Aquino; 1225 – 7 March 1274) was an Italian Dominican Order, Dominican friar and Catholic priest, priest who was an influential List of Catholic philo ...
reconciled these aspects of Aristotle's thought by distinguishing between mathematical and "natural" divisibility. With few exceptions, much of the curriculum in the universities of Europe was based on such Aristotelianism for most of the Middle Ages.


Atomist renaissance

In the 17th century, a renewed interest arose in
Epicurean Epicureanism is a system of philosophy founded around 307 BC based upon the teachings of the Hellenistic philosophy, ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus. Epicureanism was originally a challenge to Platonism. Later its main opponent became Stoici ...
atomism and
corpuscularianism Corpuscularianism (from the Latin ''corpusculum'' meaning "little body") is a set of theories that explain natural transformations as a result of the interaction of particles (''minima naturalia, partes exiles, partes parvae, particulae'', and ''sem ...
as a hybrid or an alternative to
Aristotelian physics Aristotelian physics is the form of natural science described in the works of the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384–322 BC). In his work '' Physics'', Aristotle intended to establish general principles of change that govern all natural bodies, ...
. The main figures in the rebirth of atomism were Isaac Beeckman,
René Descartes René Descartes ( or ; ; Latinisation of names, Latinized: Renatus Cartesius; 31 March 1596 – 11 February 1650) was a French people, French philosopher, scientist, and mathematician, widely considered a seminal figure in the emergence of m ...
,
Pierre Gassendi Pierre Gassendi (; also Pierre Gassend, Petrus Gassendi; 22 January 1592 – 24 October 1655) was a French philosopher A philosopher is a person who practices or investigates philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized stu ...
, and
Robert Boyle Robert Boyle (; 25 January 1627 – 31 December 1691) was an Anglo-Irish natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, Alchemy, alchemist and inventor. Boyle is largely regarded today as the first modern chemist, and therefore one of the foun ...
, as well as other notable figures. One of the first groups of atomists in England was a cadre of amateur scientists known as the Northumberland circle, led by
Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland, Order of the Garter, KG (27 April 1564 – 5 November 1632) was an England, English nobleman. He was a grandee and one of the wealthiest peers of the court of Elizabeth I. Under James I of England, J ...
(1564–1632). Although they published little of account, they helped to disseminate atomistic ideas among the burgeoning scientific culture of England, and may have been particularly influential to
Francis Bacon Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban (; 22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626), also known as Lord Verulam, was an English philosopher and statesman who served as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England England is a Countries of ...
, who became an atomist around 1605, though he later rejected some of the claims of atomism. Though they revived the classical form of atomism, this group was among the scientific avant-garde: the Northumberland circle contained nearly half of the confirmed Copernicans prior to 1610 (the year of Galileo's ''The Starry Messenger''). Other influential atomists of late 16th and early 17th centuries include
Giordano Bruno Giordano Bruno (; ; la, Iordanus Brunus Nolanus; born Filippo Bruno, January or February 1548 – 17 February 1600) was an Italian people, Italian philosopher, mathematician, poet, cosmological theorist, and Hermetica, Hermetic occultist. He i ...
,
Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes ( ; 5/15 April 1588 – 4/14 December 1679) was an English people, English philosopher, considered to be one of the founders of modern political philosophy. Hobbes is best known for his 1651 book ''Leviathan (Hobbes book), Levi ...
(who also changed his stance on atomism late in his career), and Thomas Hariot. A number of different atomistic theories were blossoming in France at this time, as well (Clericuzio 2000).
Galileo Galilei Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de' Galilei (15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642) was an Italian astronomer, physicist and engineer, sometimes described as a polymath. Commonly referred to as Galileo, his name was pronounced (, ). He was ...
(1564–1642) was an advocate of atomism in his 1612, ''Discourse on Floating Bodies'' (Redondi 1969). In '' The Assayer'', Galileo offered a more complete physical system based on a corpuscular theory of matter, in which all phenomena—with the exception of sound—are produced by "matter in motion". Galileo identified some basic problems with Aristotelian physics through his experiments. He utilized a theory of atomism as a partial replacement, but he was never unequivocally committed to it. For example, his experiments with falling bodies and inclined planes led him to the concepts of circular inertial motion and accelerating free-fall. The current Aristotelian theories of impetus and terrestrial motion were inadequate to explain these. While atomism did not explain the law of fall either, it was a more promising framework in which to develop an explanation because motion was conserved in ancient atomism (unlike Aristotelian physics).
René Descartes René Descartes ( or ; ; Latinisation of names, Latinized: Renatus Cartesius; 31 March 1596 – 11 February 1650) was a French people, French philosopher, scientist, and mathematician, widely considered a seminal figure in the emergence of m ...
' (1596–1650) "mechanical" philosophy of corpuscularism had much in common with atomism, and is considered, in some senses, to be a different version of it. Descartes thought everything physical in the universe to be made of tiny ''vortices'' of matter. Like the ancient atomists, Descartes claimed that sensations, such as taste or temperature, are caused by the shape and size of tiny pieces of matter. The main difference between atomism and Descartes' concept was the existence of the void. For him, there could be no vacuum, and all matter was constantly swirling to prevent a void as corpuscles moved through other matter. Another key distinction between Descartes' view and classical atomism is the mind/body duality of Descartes, which allowed for an independent realm of existence for thought, soul, and most importantly, God. Gassendi's concept was closer to classical atomism, but with no atheistic overtone.
Pierre Gassendi Pierre Gassendi (; also Pierre Gassend, Petrus Gassendi; 22 January 1592 – 24 October 1655) was a French philosopher A philosopher is a person who practices or investigates philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized stu ...
(1592–1655) was a Catholic priest from France who was also an avid natural philosopher. He was particularly intrigued by the Greek atomists, so he set out to "purify" atomism from its heretical and atheistic philosophical conclusions (Dijksterhius 1969). Gassendi formulated his atomistic conception of
mechanical philosophy The mechanical philosophy is a form of natural philosophy which compares the universe to a large-scale mechanism (i.e. a machine). The mechanical philosophy is associated with the scientific revolution of early modern Europe. One of the first expos ...
partly in response to Descartes; he particularly opposed Descartes' reductionist view that only purely mechanical explanations of physics are valid, as well as the application of geometry to the whole of physics (Clericuzio 2000). Johann Chrysostom Magnenus ( – ) published his ''Democritus reviviscens'' in 1646. Magnenus was the first to arrive at a scientific estimate of the size of an "atom" (i.e. of what would today be called a
molecule A molecule is a group of two or more atoms held together by attractive forces known as chemical bonds; depending on context, the term may or may not include ions which satisfy this criterion. In quantum physics, organic chemistry, and bioche ...
). Measuring how much
incense Incense is aromatic biotic material that releases fragrant smoke when burnt. The term is used for either the material or the aroma. Incense is used for aesthetic reasons, religious worship, aromatherapy, meditation, and ceremony. It may also be ...
had to be burned before it could be smelled everywhere in a large church, he calculated the number of molecules in a grain of incense to be of the order 1018, only about one order of magnitude below the actual figure.


Corpuscularianism

Corpuscularianism Corpuscularianism (from the Latin ''corpusculum'' meaning "little body") is a set of theories that explain natural transformations as a result of the interaction of particles (''minima naturalia, partes exiles, partes parvae, particulae'', and ''sem ...
is similar to atomism, except that where atoms were supposed to be indivisible, corpuscles could in principle be divided. In this manner, for example, it was theorized that mercury could penetrate into metals and modify their inner structure, a step on the way towards transmutative production of gold. Corpuscularianism was associated by its leading proponents with the idea that some of the properties that objects appear to have are artifacts of the perceiving mind: 'secondary' qualities as distinguished from 'primary' qualities. Not all corpuscularianism made use of the primary-secondary quality distinction, however. An influential tradition in medieval and early modern alchemy argued that chemical analysis revealed the existence of robust corpuscles that retained their identity in chemical compounds (to use the modern term). William R. Newman has dubbed this approach to matter theory "chymical atomism," and has argued for its significance to both the mechanical philosophy and to the chemical atomism that emerged in the early 19th century. Corpuscularianism stayed a dominant theory over the next several hundred years and retained its links with
alchemy Alchemy (from Arabic: ''al-kīmiyā''; from Ancient Greek: χυμεία, ''khumeía'') is an ancient branch of natural philosophy, a philosophical and protoscience, protoscientific tradition that was historically practiced in Chinese alchemy, C ...
in the work of scientists such as
Robert Boyle Robert Boyle (; 25 January 1627 – 31 December 1691) was an Anglo-Irish natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, Alchemy, alchemist and inventor. Boyle is largely regarded today as the first modern chemist, and therefore one of the foun ...
and
Isaac Newton Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726/27) was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, alchemist, Theology, theologian, and author (described in his time as a "natural philosophy, natural philosopher"), widely ...
in the 17th century. It was used by Newton, for instance, in his development of the
corpuscular theory of light In optics Optics is the branch of physics that studies the behaviour and properties of light, including its interactions with matter and the construction of optical instruments, instruments that use or Photodetector, detect it. Optics usually ...
. The form that came to be accepted by most English scientists after
Robert Boyle Robert Boyle (; 25 January 1627 – 31 December 1691) was an Anglo-Irish natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, Alchemy, alchemist and inventor. Boyle is largely regarded today as the first modern chemist, and therefore one of the foun ...
(1627–1692) was an amalgam of the systems of Descartes and Gassendi. In The Sceptical Chymist (1661), Boyle demonstrates problems that arise from chemistry, and offers up atomism as a possible explanation. The unifying principle that would eventually lead to the acceptance of a hybrid corpuscular–atomism was
mechanical philosophy The mechanical philosophy is a form of natural philosophy which compares the universe to a large-scale mechanism (i.e. a machine). The mechanical philosophy is associated with the scientific revolution of early modern Europe. One of the first expos ...
, which became widely accepted by
physical sciences Physical science is a branch of natural science that studies abiotic component, non-living systems, in contrast to life science. It in turn has many branches, each referred to as a "physical science", together called the "physical sciences". ...
.


Modern atomic theory

By the late 18th century, the useful practices of engineering and technology began to influence philosophical explanations for the composition of matter. Those who speculated on the ultimate nature of matter began to verify their "thought experiments" with some repeatable demonstrations, when they could. Roger Boscovich provided the first general mathematical theory of atomism, based on the ideas of Newton and Leibniz but transforming them so as to provide a programme for atomic physics. In 1808,
John Dalton John Dalton (; 5 or 6 September 1766 – 27 July 1844) was an English chemist, physicist and meteorologist. He is best known for introducing the atomic theory into chemistry, and for his research into Color blindness, colour blindness, which ...

John Dalton
assimilated the known experimental work of many people to summarize the
empirical evidence Empirical evidence for a proposition is evidence, i.e. what supports or counters this proposition, that is constituted by or accessible to sense experience or experimental procedure. Empirical evidence is of central importance to the sciences and ...
on the composition of matter. He noticed that distilled water everywhere analyzed to the same elements,
hydrogen Hydrogen is the chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol H and atomic number 1. Hydrogen is the lightest element. At standard temperature and pressure, standard conditions hydrogen is a gas of diatomic molecules having the chemical ...
and
oxygen Oxygen is the chemical element with the chemical symbol, symbol O and atomic number 8. It is a member of the chalcogen Group (periodic table), group in the periodic table, a highly Chemical reaction, reactive nonmetal, and an oxidizing a ...
. Similarly, other purified substances decomposed to the same elements in the same proportions by weight. :Therefore we may conclude that the ultimate particles of all homogeneous bodies are perfectly alike in weight, figure, etc. In other words, every particle of water is like every other particle of water; every particle of hydrogen is like every other particle of hydrogen, etc. Furthermore, he concluded that there was a unique atom for each element, using Lavoisier's definition of an element as a substance that could not be analyzed into something simpler. Thus, Dalton concluded the following. :Chemical
analysis Analysis (plural, : analyses) is the process of breaking a complexity, complex topic or Substance theory, substance into smaller parts in order to gain a better understanding of it. The technique has been applied in the study of mathematics a ...
and
synthesis Synthesis or synthesize may refer to: Science Chemistry and biochemistry *Chemical synthesis, the execution of chemical reactions to form a more complex molecule from chemical precursors **Organic synthesis, the chemical synthesis of organi ...
go no farther than to the separation of particles one from another, and to their reunion. No new creation or destruction of matter is within the reach of chemical agency. We might as well attempt to introduce a new planet into the solar system, or to annihilate one already in existence, as to create or destroy a particle of hydrogen. All the changes we can produce, consist in separating particles that are in a state of cohesion or combination, and joining those that were previously at a distance. And then he proceeded to give a list of relative weights in the compositions of several common compounds, summarizing: :1st. That
water Water (chemical formula ) is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of water, nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Earth's hydrosphere and the fluids of all known living ...
is a binary compound of hydrogen and oxygen, and the relative weights of the two elementary atoms are as 1:7, nearly; :2nd. That
ammonia Ammonia is an inorganic chemical compound, compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the chemical formula, formula . A Binary compounds of hydrogen, stable binary hydride, and the simplest pnictogen hydride, ammonia is a colourless gas with a dis ...
is a binary compound of hydrogen and azote
nitrogen Nitrogen is the chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol N and atomic number 7. Nitrogen is a nonmetal and the lightest member of pnictogen, group 15 of the periodic table, often called the pnictogens. It is a common element in the ...
, and the relative weights of the two atoms are as 1:5, nearly... Dalton concluded that the fixed proportions of elements by weight suggested that the atoms of one element combined with only a limited number of atoms of the other elements to form the substances that he listed. Dalton's
atomic theory Atomic theory is the scientific theory A scientific theory is an explanation of an aspect of the natural science, natural world and universe that has been reproducibility, repeatedly tested and corroborated in accordance with the scientifi ...
remained controversial throughout the 19th century. Whilst the Law of definite proportion was accepted, the hypothesis that this was due to atoms was not so widely accepted. For example, in 1826 when
Sir Humphry Davy Sir Humphry Davy, 1st Baronet, (17 December 177829 May 1829) was a British people, British chemist and inventor who invented the Davy lamp and a very early form of arc lamp. He is also remembered for isolating, by using electricity, several C ...
presented Dalton the
Royal Medal The Royal Medal, also known as The Queen's Medal and The King's Medal (depending on the gender of the monarch at the time of the award), is a silver-gilt medal, of which three are awarded each year by the Royal Society, two for "the most important ...
from the
Royal Society The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a learned society and the United Kingdom's national academy of sciences. The society fulfils a number of roles: promoting science and its benefits, ...
, Davy said that the theory only became useful when the atomic conjecture was ignored. Sir Benjamin Collins Brodie in 1866 published the first part of his Calculus of Chemical Operations as a non-atomic alternative to the Atomic Theory. He described atomic theory as a 'Thoroughly materialistic bit of joiners work'. Alexander Williamson used his Presidential Address to the London Chemical Society in 1869 to defend the Atomic Theory against its critics and doubters. This in turn led to further meetings at which the positivists again attacked the supposition that there were atoms. The matter was finally resolved in Dalton's favour in the early 20th century with the rise of
atomic physics Atomic physics is the field of physics that studies atoms as an isolated system of electrons and an atomic nucleus. Atomic physics typically refers to the study of atomic structure and the interaction between atoms. It is primarily concerned wit ...
. Atoms and molecules had long been theorized as the constituents of matter, and
Albert Einstein Albert Einstein ( ; ; 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born Theoretical physics, theoretical physicist, widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest and most influential physicists of all time. Einstein is best known for d ...
published a paper in 1905 that explained in precise detail how the motion that Brown had observed was a result of the pollen being moved by individual water molecules, making one of his first big contributions to science. This explanation of Brownian motion served as convincing evidence that atoms and molecules exist, and was further verified experimentally by
Jean Perrin Jean Baptiste Perrin (30 September 1870 – 17 April 1942) was a French physicist who, in his studies of the Brownian motion Brownian motion, or pedesis (from grc, πήδησις "leaping"), is the random motion of particles suspended i ...
in 1908. Perrin was awarded the
Nobel Prize in Physics ) , image = Nobel Prize.png , alt = A golden medallion with an embossed image of a bearded man facing left in profile. To the left of the man is the text "ALFR•" then "NOBEL", and on the right, the text (smaller) "NAT•" then " ...
in 1926 "for his work on the discontinuous structure of matter". The direction of the force of atomic bombardment is constantly changing, and at different times the particle is hit more on one side than another, leading to the seemingly random nature of the motion.


See also

* Eliminative materialism *
Mereological nihilism In philosophy, mereological nihilism (also called compositional nihilism) is the Metaphysics, metaphysical thesis that there are no objects with proper parts. Equivalently, mereological nihilism says that mereological Simple (philosophy), simples ...
*
Becoming (philosophy) In philosophy, becoming is a concept referring to constant change opposed to being In metaphysics, ontology is the philosophy, philosophical study of being, as well as related concepts such as existence, Becoming (philosophy), becoming, an ...
* First principle *
History of chemistry The history of chemistry represents a time span from ancient history Ancient history is a time period from the History of writing, beginning of writing and recorded human history to as far as late antiquity. The span of recorded history ...
* Infinite divisibility * Ontological pluralism *
Physical ontology In philosophy, physicalism is the metaphysical thesis that "everything is physics, physical", that there is "nothing over and above" the physical, or that everything supervenience, supervenes on the physical. Physicalism is a form of ontological mo ...
* Prima materia * Montonen–Olive duality#Philosophical implications


Notes


References

* Clericuzio, Antonio. ''Elements, Principles, and Corpuscles; a study of atomism and chemistry in the seventeenth century''. Dordrecht; Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000. * Cornford, Francis MacDonald. ''Plato's Cosmology: The ''Timaeus'' of Plato''. New York: Liberal Arts Press, 1957. * Dijksterhuis, E. ''The Mechanization of the World Picture''. Trans. by C. Dikshoorn. New York: Oxford University Press, 1969. * Firth, Raymond. ''Religion: A Humanist Interpretation''. Routledge, 1996. . * Gangopadhyaya, Mrinalkanti. ''Indian Atomism: history and sources''. Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1981. * Gardet, L. "djuz'" in ''Encyclopaedia of Islam CD-ROM Edition, v. 1.1''. Leiden: Brill, 2001. * Gregory, Joshua C. ''A Short History of Atomism''. London: A. and C. Black, Ltd, 1981. * Kargon, Robert Hugh. ''Atomism in England from Hariot to Newton''. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966. * Lloyd, G. E. R. ''Aristotle: The Growth and Structure of his Thought''. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968. * Lloyd, G. E. R. ''Greek Science After Aristotle''. New York: W. W. Norton, 1973. * Marmara, Michael E. "Causation in Islamic Thought." ''Dictionary of the History of Ideas''. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973–74. online at th
of Virginia Electronic Text Center
* McEvilley, Thomas (2002). ''The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies''. New York: Allworth Communications Inc. . * * Redondi, Pietro. ''Galileo Heretic''. Translated by Raymond Rosenthal. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987. * *


External links

*
''Dictionary of the History of Ideas'':
Atomism: Antiquity to the Seventeenth Century
''Dictionary of the History of Ideas'':
Atomism in the Seventeenth Century * Jonathan Schaffer, "Is There a Fundamental Level?" ''Nous'' 37 (2003): 498–51

Article by a philosopher who opposes atomism
Article on traditional Greek atomism

Atomism from the 17th to the 20th Century
a
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
{{Authority control Atomism, Metaphysical theories Presocratic philosophy