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Leucippus
Leucippus
(/luːˈsɪpəs/; Greek: Λεύκιππος, Leúkippos; fl. 5th cent. BCE) is reported in some ancient sources to have been a philosopher who was the earliest Greek to develop the theory of atomism—the idea that everything is composed entirely of various imperishable, indivisible elements called atoms. Leucippus
Leucippus
often appears as the master to his pupil Democritus, a philosopher also touted as the originator of the atomic theory. However, a brief notice in Diogenes
Diogenes
Laertius’s life of Epicurus
Epicurus
says that on the testimony of Epicurus, Leucippus
Leucippus
never existed. As the philosophical heir of Democritus, Epicurus's word has some weight, and indeed a controversy over this matter raged in German scholarship for many years at the close of the 19th century. Furthermore, in his Corpus Democriteum,[1] Thrasyllus of Alexandria, an astrologer and writer living under the emperor Tiberius
Tiberius
(14–37 CE), compiled a list of writings on atomism that he attributed to Democritus
Democritus
to the exclusion of Leucippus. The present consensus among the world's historians of philosophy is that this Leucippus
Leucippus
is historical. The matter must remain moot unless more information is forthcoming from the record. Leucippus
Leucippus
was most likely born in Miletus,[2] although Abdera and Elea are also mentioned as possible birthplaces.[3]

Contents

1 Biography 2 See also 3 Notes 4 References 5 External links

Biography[edit]

Bearded head with Corinthian helmet, thought to be of Leucippus, sitting dog (Molossian hound?) on the reverse.

Leucippus
Leucippus
was indeed a shadowy figure, as his dates are not recorded and he is often mentioned in conjunction with his more well-known pupil Democritus. It is therefore difficult to determine which contributions to an atomic theory come from Democritus
Democritus
and which come from Leucippus.[4][5] The Leucippus
Leucippus
of record was an Ionian Greek (Ionia, being the Asiatic Greece or "Asia Minor", forms western Turkey today). And he was a contemporary of Zeno of Elea
Zeno of Elea
and Empedocles
Empedocles
(Magna Graecia, now part of southern Italy). He belonged to the same Ionian School of naturalistic philosophy as Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes, and he was interested in reality and not idealism as the Italic Eleatics were. Aristotle
Aristotle
and his student Theophrastus, however, explicitly credit Leucippus
Leucippus
with the invention of Atomism. In Aristotelian terms Leucippus
Leucippus
agreed with the Eleatic argument that "true being does not admit of vacuum" and there can be no movement in the absence of vacuum. Leucippus
Leucippus
contended that since movement exists, there must be empty space. However, he concludes that vacuum is identified with nonbeing, since "nothing" cannot really be. According to Aristotle Leucippus
Leucippus
differed from the Eleatics in not being encumbered by the "conceptual intermingling" of being and non-being, and Plato
Plato
made the necessary distinction between "grades of being and types of negation".[6] The title most attributed to Leucippus' is the lost work Megas Diakosmos (Big World-System, but this title was also attributed to Democritus
Democritus
whose companion work was Micros Diakosmos, (Little World-System)).[7][8] Fragments and doxographical reports about Leucippus
Leucippus
were collected by Hermann Diels (1848–1922), firstly in Doxographi Graeci (Berlin, 1879, reprint Berlin: de Gruyter, 1929) and then in Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, Berlin, 1903, 6th ed., rev. by Walther Kranz (Berlin: Weidmann, 1952; the editions after the 6th are mainly reprints with little or no change.) Diels was the leading proponent for a historical Leucippus. Some sources claim that around 440 or 430 BCE Leucippus
Leucippus
founded a school at Abdera, with which his pupil, Democritus, was closely associated.[6][9] And there is mention that a Leucippus
Leucippus
founded the city of Metapontum, which honored this Leucippus
Leucippus
with a coin. See also[edit]

Atomism Democritus Epicurus Indeterminism

Notes[edit]

^ Jonathan Barnes, Early Greek Philosophy, 1987 ^ The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy, p. xxiii. Note that Democritus
Democritus
was a resident of Abdera. Some said Leucippus
Leucippus
from Elea, perhaps since he was unsuitably associated with the Eleatic philosophers. ^ Diogenes Laërtius
Diogenes Laërtius
says " Leucippus
Leucippus
was born at Elea, but some say at Abdera and others at Miletus," Diogenes Laërtius
Diogenes Laërtius
9.30. Simplicius refers to him as " Leucippus
Leucippus
of Elea or Miletus," Simplicius, Physica 28.4. ^ Ancientlibrary.com Archived 2011-06-05 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Plato.stanford.eu ^ a b "Leucippus", in The Presocratics, Philip Wheelwright ed., The Odyssey Press, 1966, p. 177. ^ The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy, p. xxiii ^ Stobaeus
Stobaeus
1.4.7c ^ Diogenes Laërtius
Diogenes Laërtius
10.7

References[edit]

A. A. Long (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy (pgs. xxiii, 185) Diels-Kranz, Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker [I] 67A  Laërtius, Diogenes
Diogenes
(1925). "Others: Leucippus". Lives of the Eminent Philosophers. 2:9. Translated by Hicks, Robert Drew (Two volume ed.). Loeb Classical Library. § 30-33. 

External links[edit]

Berryman, Sylvia. "Leucippus". In Zalta, Edward N. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  Leucippus
Leucippus
and Democritus
Democritus
Fragments at demonax.info

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