1. Basic atomistic principles of nature
Letter to Herodotus
§§38-45, 54-57, 60-62,
Nothing comes from nothing.
Evidence is perceived orderliness of the world
(p.24, Humphries translation).
Hence L. adds ‘from nothing
by the gods’ will’,
Nothing is destroyed into nothing (p.26).
Everything would have vanished by now,
The universe (as opposed to the earth on which we live, see §1.7) always has been
and always will be the way it is now; laws of nature are invariant (p. 60).
Nowhere for matter
to go and leave altered universe behind; no outside source for change.
All that exists are bodies (material particles) and void (Epicurean materialism)
Bodies evinced by direct sense-perception; void evinced by indirect argument from
sense-perception: bodies could not move otherwise.
Ultimate bodies are atoms, indivisible and invisible; visible bodies are compounds
(Theory originated by Democritus, Gk. philosopher of 5C B.C.)
Argument: All visible
bodies change and are destroyed, so that if nothing remained through the change, the
principle of §1.2 would be violated (p.28-9, 34-8).
(a) Infinite number of atoms, of an unimaginable but not infinite variety of shapes,
move eternally and continuously through infinite void (p.47-51, 54-8, 61-2, 65-7); (b) Atoms
differ only in shape, weight, and size; all other qualities belong to compounds (p.72-80); (c)
Compounds created by collision of atoms; collision comes about by virtue of atomic 'swerve'
Objection (by the Stoics): swerve violates principle that nothing comes from nothing?