Atomism (from Greek ἄτομον, atomon, i.e. "uncuttable",
"indivisible") is a natural philosophy that developed in
several ancient traditions. The atomists theorized that nature
consists of two fundamental principles: atom and void. Unlike their
modern scientific namesake in atomic theory, philosophical atoms come
in an infinite variety of shapes and sizes, each indestructible,
immutable and surrounded by a void where they collide with the others
or hook together forming a cluster. Clusters of different shapes,
arrangements, and positions give rise to the various macroscopic
substances in the world.
References to the concept of atomism and its atoms are found in both
Greek and Indian antiquity: In Greek philosophy, atomism emerged in
the 5th century BCE with
Leucippus and Democritus. In
Carvaka schools of atomism may date back to
the 4th century BCE. The
Vaisheshika schools later
developed theories on how atoms combined into more complex
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 the name
"atom", long used by the atomist philosophy. Although the connection
to historical atomism is at best tenuous, elementary particles have
become a modern analog of philosophical atoms.
2.1 Greek atomism
2.1.1 Geometry and atoms
2.1.2 Rejection in Aristotelianism
2.1.3 Later ancient atomism
Atomism and ethics
2.2 Indian atomism
3 Middle Ages
3.1 Medieval Buddhism
3.2 Medieval Islam
3.3 Medieval Christendom
4 Atomist renaissance
5 Modern atomic theory
6 See also
9 External links
Philosophical atomism is a reductive argument: 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 wherein a prime
material continuum remains qualitatively invariant under division (for
example, the ratio of the four classical elements would be the same in
any portion of a homogeneous material).
Indian Buddhists, such as
Dharmakirti and others, also developed
distinctive theories of atomism, for example, involving momentary
(instantaneous) atoms, that flash in and out of existence (Kalapas).
In the 5th century BCE,
Leucippus and his pupil
that all matter was composed of small indivisible particles called
atoms, in order to reconcile two conflicting schools of thought on the
nature of reality. On one side was Heraclitus, who believed
that the nature of all existence is change. On the other side was
Parmenides, who believed instead that all change is illusion.
Parmenides 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), and that change and motion were mere
illusions. This conclusion, as well as the reasoning that led to it,
may indeed seem baffling to the modern empirical mind, but Parmenides
explicitly rejected sensory experience as the path to an understanding
of the universe, and instead used purely abstract reasoning. Firstly,
he believed there is no such thing as void, equating it with non-being
(i.e. "if the void is, then it is not nothing; therefore it is not the
void"). This in turn meant that motion is impossible, because there is
no void to move into.  He also wrote all that is must be an
indivisible unity, for if it were manifold, then there would have to
be a void that could divide it (and he did not believe the void
exists). Finally, he stated that the all encompassing Unity is
unchanging, for the Unity already encompasses all that is and can
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 only survives in secondhand reports, some of
which are unreliable or conflicting. Much of the best evidence of
Democritus' theory of atomism is reported by
Aristotle in his
discussions of Democritus' and Plato's contrasting views on the types
of indivisibles composing the natural world.
Geometry and atoms
Number of Faces
Number of Triangles
Geometrical Simple Bodies According to Plato
Plato (c. 427 — c. 347 BCE), if he had been familiar with the
atomism of Democritus, would have objected to its mechanistic
materialism. 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 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
He 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
Rejection in Aristotelianism
Sometime before 330 BCE
Aristotle 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
Democritus remained "pure speculations, incapable of being
put to any experimental test. Granted that atomism was, in the long
run, to prove far more fruitful than any qualitative theory of matter,
in the short run the theory that
Aristotle proposed must have seemed
in some respects more promising".[unbalanced opinion?]
Minima naturalia were theorized by
Aristotle 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 and Epicurus, the Aristotelian
"natural minimum" was not conceptualized as physically indivisible.
Instead, the concept was rooted in Aristotle's hylomorphic worldview,
which held that every physical thing is a compound of matter (Greek
hyle) and an immaterial substantial form (Greek morphe) that imparts
its essential nature and structure. For instance, a rubber ball for a
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 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 the form of flesh.
Later ancient atomism
Epicurus (341–270 BCE) studied atomism with
Nausiphanes 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 (Lloyd 1973, 25–6). 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. He understood gods'
role as moral ideals.
His ideas are also represented in the works of his follower Lucretius,
who wrote On the Nature of Things. This scientific work in poetic form
illustrates several segments of
Epicurean theory on how the universe
came into its current stage and 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. Human sensations and
meteorological phenomena are also explained by
Lucretius in terms of
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
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 in his epic poem On the
Nature of Things would depict him as the hero who crushed the monster
Religion through educating the people in what was possible in the
atoms and what was not possible in the 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." 
In Indian antiquity, both the
Vaisheshika school of philosophy and
Jainism held doctrines of atomism, 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 either direction.
Vaisesika school developed one of the earliest forms of
atomism; scholars[who?] date the
Vaisesika texts from the
6th to 1st centuries BC. Like the
Vaisesika had a "pseudo-Aristotelian"[clarification needed] theory
of atomism. They posited the four elemental atom types, but in
Vaisesika physics atoms had 24 different possible qualities, divided
between general extensive properties and specific (intensive)
properties. Like the Jaina school, the Nyaya–
Vaisesika atomists had
elaborate theories of how atoms combine. In both Jaina and Vaisesika
atomism, atoms first combine in pairs (dyads), and then group into
trios of pairs (triads), which are the smallest visible units of
Buddhist 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 Hindu Jains, the Buddhists were able to integrate a theory of
atomism with their theological presuppositions. Later Indian Buddhist
philosophers, such as
Dharmakirti and Dignāga, considered atoms to be
point-sized, durationless, and made of energy.
Some of canonical texts of
Jainism make reference to matter and atoms
(called paramāṇu, a term already used in
Yajnavalkya and Yoga
Sutra), including Pancastikayasara, Kalpasutra and
Tattvarthasutra. The Jains 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".[citation
needed][clarification needed] 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.
Buddhist atomism, flourishing in ca. the 7th century, was
very different from the atomist doctrines taught in early Samkhya
Dharmakirti 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.
See also: Early Islamic philosophy:
Alchemy and chemistry
in medieval Islam
Atomistic philosophies are found very early in
Islamic philosophy 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
of Islamic theology, most notably in the work of the theologian
al-Ghazali (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
ideas on causation, or the lack thereof (Gardet 2001).
used the theory to support his theory of occasionalism. In a sense,
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
Averroes (1126–1198 CE) explicitly rejected the thought
of al-Ghazali and turned to an extensive evaluation of the thought of
Averroes commented in detail on most of the works of
Aristotle and his commentaries became very influential in Jewish and
Christian scholastic thought.
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
Galen (AD 129–216) presented extensive discussions of the
Greek atomists, especially Epicurus, in his
According to historian of atomism Joshua Gregory, there was no serious
work done with atomism from the time of
Galen until 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 the
medieval universities 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 suggest that Nicholas may have been familiar with
Ghazali's work, perhaps through Averroes' refutation of it (Marmara,
Although the atomism of
Epicurus had fallen out of favor in the
centuries of Scholasticism, the minima naturalia of Aristotelianism
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, one of the founders of modern
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
Thomas Aquinas 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.
In the 17th century, a renewed interest arose in
Epicurean atomism and
corpuscularianism as a hybrid or an alternative to Aristotelian
physics. The main figures in the rebirth of atomism were René
Descartes, Pierre Gassendi, and Robert Boyle, as well as other notable
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 (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, 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, Thomas Hobbes
(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 (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
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' (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.
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 (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
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
Johann Chrysostom Magnenus (c. 1590 – c. 1679) 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). Measuring how much incense 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.
Main article: Corpuscularianism
Corpuscularianism 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.
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
Corpuscularianism stayed a dominant theory over the next
several hundred years and retained its links with alchemy in the work
of scientists such as
Robert Boyle and
Isaac Newton in the 17th
century. It was used by Newton, for instance, in his
development of the corpuscular theory of light. The form that came to
be accepted by most English scientists after Robert Boyle
(1627–1692) was an amalgam of the systems of
Descartes and Gassendi.
The Sceptical Chymist
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, which became
widely accepted by physical sciences.
Modern atomic theory
Main article: 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.
John Dalton assimilated the known experimental work of many
people to summarize the empirical evidence on the composition of
matter. He noticed that distilled water everywhere analyzed to the
same elements, hydrogen and oxygen. Similarly, other purified
substances decomposed to the same elements in the same proportions by
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
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 and synthesis 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 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 is a binary compound of hydrogen and azote nitrogen,
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
Dalton's atomic theory 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 presented Dalton the Royal
Medal from the Royal Society, 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
Moral nihilism#Error theory
History of chemistry
Montonen–Olive duality#Philosophical implications
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^ "atom". Online Etymology Dictionary.
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^ Lloyd, Geoffrey (1968). Aristotle: The Growth and Structure of his
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Will Durant wrote in Our Oriental Heritage: "Two systems of Indian
thought propound physical theories suggestively similar to those of
Greece. Kanada, founder of the
Vaisheshika philosophy, held that the
world was composed of atoms as many in kind as the various elements.
The Jains more nearly approximated to
Democritus by teaching that all
atoms were of the same kind, producing different effects by diverse
modes of combinations. The Vaisheshika]] believed light and heat to be
varieties of the same substance;
Udayana taught that all heat comes
from the sun; and Vachaspati, like Newton, interpreted light as
composed of minute particles emitted by substances and striking the
eye."[page needed] The Georgia Review - Volume 5 - Page 62 1951
"One important philosophic influence of the Greek theory of "atoma"
was that it led to the doctrine of "materialism," or the idea that the
only realities behind nature are these hard material particles and
that all natural processes, including life ..."
^ Jeremy D. Popkin (ed.), The Legacies of Richard Popkin (2008), p.
^ Teresi, Dick (2003). Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern
Science. Simon & Schuster. pp. 213–214.
^ "The Buddhists denied the existence of substantial matter
altogether. Movement consists for them of moments, it is a staccato
movement, momentary flashes of a stream of energy... "Everything is
evanescent," ... says the Buddhist, because there is no stuff ... Both
systems [Sānkhya and later Indian Buddhism] share in common a
tendency to push the analysis of Existence up to its minutest, last
elements which are imagined as absolute qualities, or things
possessing only one unique quality. They are called "qualities"
(guna-dharma) in both systems in the sense of absolute qualities, a
kind of atomic, or intra-atomic, energies of which the empirical
things are composed. Both systems, therefore, agree in denying the
objective reality of the categories of Substance and Quality, ... and
of the relation of Inference uniting them. There is in Sānkhya
philosophy no separate existence of qualities. What we call quality is
but a particular manifestation of a subtle entity. To every new unit
of quality corresponds a subtle quantum of matter which is called guna
"quality", but represents a subtle substantive entity. The same
applies to early
Buddhism where all qualities are substantive ... or,
more precisely, dynamic entities, although they are also called
dharmas ("qualities")." Stcherbatsky (1962 ). Vol. 1. p. 19.
^ Abhidhammattha-sangaha, Britannica Online (1998, 2005).
^ Shankman, Richard (2008), The Experience of Samadhi: An In-depth
Buddhist Meditation, Shambhala, p. 178
^ Saeed, Abdullah (2006). Islamic Thought: An Introduction. Routledge.
p. 95. ISBN 978-0415364096.
^ Michael Marmura (1976). "God and his creation:Two medieval Islamic
views". In R. M. Savory. Introduction to Islamic Civilization.
Cambridge University Press. p. 49.
Shlomo Pines (1986). Studies in Arabic versions of Greek texts and
in mediaeval science. 2. Brill Publishers. pp. 355–6.
^ John Emery Murdoch; Christoph Herbert Lüthy; William Royall Newman
(1 January 2001). "The Medieval and Renaissance Tradition of Minima
Naturalia". Late Medieval and Early Modern Corpuscular Matter
Theories. BRILL. pp. 91–133. ISBN 90-04-11516-1.
^ Alan Chalmers (4 June 2009). The Scientist's Atom and the
Philosopher's Stone: How Science Succeeded and Philosophy Failed to
Gain Knowledge of Atoms. Springer. pp. 75–96.
^ Kargon 1966[page needed]
^ Three Klaus Ruedenberg, W. H. Eugen Schwarz, Millennia of Atoms and
Molecules (2013), Chapter 1, pp. 1–45, DOI:
^ The Mechanical Philosophy Archived June 11, 2008, at the Wayback
Machine. - Early modern 'atomism' ("corpuscularianism" as it was
^ William R. Newman, “The Significance of ‘Chymical Atomism’,”
in Edith Sylla and W. R. Newman, eds., Evidence and Interpretation:
Studies on Early Science and Medicine in Honor of John E. Murdoch
(Leiden: Brill, 2009), pp. 248-264 and Newman, Atoms and Alchemy:
Chymistry and the Experimental Origins of the Scientific Revolution
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006)
^ Levere, Trevor, H. (2001). Transforming Matter – A History of
Alchemy to the Buckyball. The Johns Hopkins University
Press. ISBN 0-8018-6610-3.
Corpuscularianism - Philosophical Dictionary
Lancelot Law Whyte Essay on Atomism, 1961, p 54.
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2003-08-02. Retrieved
^ Brock(ed), W.H. (1967). The Atomic Debates. Leicester University
Press. p. 1. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
^ Davy(ed), J. Collected Works of Sir Humphrey Davy. Bart. p. 93
vol 8. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
^ Brodie, Sir Benjamin Collins (1866). Philosophical Transactions of
the Royal Society. pp. 781–859 vol I56.
^ Brock(ed), W.H. (1967). The Atomic Debates. Leicester University
Press. p. 12. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
^ Brock(ed), W.H. (1967). The Atomic Debates. Leicester University
Press. p. 15. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
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. ISBN 0-521-09456-9
Lloyd, G. E. R. Greek Science After Aristotle. New York: W. W. Norton,
1973. ISBN 0-393-00780-4
Marmara, Michael E. "Causation in Islamic Thought." Dictionary of the
History of Ideas. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973-74. online
at the 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. ISBN 1-58115-203-5.
Redondi, Pietro. Galileo Heretic. Translated by Raymond Rosenthal.
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987.
The dictionary definition of atomism at Wiktionary
Dictionary of the History of Ideas: Atomism: Antiquity to the
Dictionary of the History of Ideas:
Atomism in the Seventeenth Century
Jonathan Schaffer, "Is There a Fundamental Level?" Nous 37 (2003):
498–517. Article by a philosopher who opposes atomism
Article on traditional Greek atomism
Atomism from the 17th to the 20th Century at Stanford Encyclopedia of
Ancient Greek schools of philosophy
Zeno of Elea
Diogenes of Sinope
Euclid of Megara
Phaedo of Elis
Apollonius of Tyana
Zeno of Citium
Pre-Socratic philosophers by school
Acintya bheda abheda
Buddhist philosophy and Early
All 108 texts
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
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