Democritus - supposing it to be of a complex shape (say...

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Democritus’s idea that atoms have shape : a. Democritus did not just think that atoms had magnitude. He thought that they had different sizes, and shapes . And this seems to conflict with the idea that there are atomic sizes. For how could one atom be larger than another unless one of them were either larger than (or smaller than) the atomic size. b. Perhaps Democritus thought that there was a smallest size atom, and the size of that atom was the atomic unit of measurement. But if that atom has a shape , the view seems to unravel. Cf. Furley (p. 521 ): Democritus’ atoms had many variations in shape and size. There seems to be an inescapable contradiction here. If we take together a smaller atom and a larger one, we can always distinguish in the larger one that part which is covered by the smaller and that which is not. Even within the limits of a single atom,
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Unformatted text preview: supposing it to be of a complex shape (say hook-shaped), we can always distinguish one part of the shape from another (say the hook from the shaft). c. Furley concludes that Democritus did, indeed, think of his atoms as being both theoretically indivisible and differing in shape, and that his view was therefore internally inconsistent. d. For more on this interpretation, see Guthrie , vol. 2 , Appendix, pp. 503-7 . For an opposing view, cf. Barnes , Presocratics , 352-360 . Barnes considers the idea that Democritean atoms are theoretically indivisible, in three different senses: conceptually, geometrically, and logically indivisible. He argues that the available texts do not adequately support the idea that atoms are theoretically indivisible, and concludes that the case has not been proven either way....
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This note was uploaded on 11/14/2011 for the course PHI PHI2010 taught by Professor Jorgerigol during the Fall '09 term at Broward College.

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