Democritus’ Parmenidean Influence

Jason Dayley

Δημόκριτος free e book
Democritus is famous for a theory of atoms which heavily influenced later philosophical and scientific movements. Despite this
influence, there is debate over what Democritus intended in developing and explaining his theory. As with any theory, understanding
Democritus’ theoretical intentions is aided by a better understanding of Democritus’ influences. Besides Leucippus, whose atomism is too indistinguishable from Democritus’ to explain the origin of either theory,
Democritus’ clearest influences are Parmenides and the Eleatic philosophers who followed him.1 The debate over this Parmenidean influence seems to focus on which points Democritus is arguing against Parmenides and on which points he is merely adapting Parmenidean principles into atomism. Democritus accepted Parmenides’ ontology as the basis for his own, modifying the older theory only as was necessary to avoid contradictions arising from his own assumptions regarding plurality, motion, and
A discussion of the complex history of philosophy leading from Parmenides to Democritus will not be necessary. A series of responses to Parmenides were developed by some of the great early Greek philosophers, and it is likely that some such responders as Melissus and Zeno, closer contemporariesof Democritus than Parmenides, had a more direct influence… free e book