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In existographies, Democritus (2415-2325 BE) (c.460-370 BCM) (IQ:205|#3) (ID:2.11|90) (Cattell 1000:751) (RGM:86|1,350+) (PR:285|65AE / philosopher:29) (Becker 139:79|4L) (Stokes 100:10) (FA:17) (ACR:5) (TR:291) (LH:26) (TL:317|#22), aka "Democritus of Abdera" (Aristotle, 350BC), was a Greek physicist, mathematician and philosopher, noted for []


Democritus' model of atoms with different shapes.

In c.420BC, Democritus, after studying under Leucippus, developed the theory that the entire world is made of atoms, of various shapes, as shown adjacent, moving in a void or empty space. This, which was the most successful theory in all of human history, was the basic start of "atomic theory".


In c.410BC, Democritus, in his The Cosmos (Diacosmos), introduced a universal model, based on the following principles:[1]

  1. From nothing comes nothing. Nothing that exists can be destroyed. All changes are due to the combination and separation of molecules.
  2. Nothing happens by chance. Every occurrence has its cause from which it follows by necessity.
  3. The only existing things are the atoms and empty space; all else is mere opinion.
  4. The atoms are infinite in number and infinitely various in form; they strike together, and the lateral motions and whirlings which thus arise are the beginnings of worlds.
  5. The varieties of all things depend upon the varieties of their atoms, in number, size, and aggregation.
  6. The soul consists of fine, smooth, round atoms, like those of fire. These are the most mobile of all. They interpenetrate the whole body, and in their motions the phenomena of life arise.

The first five principles, is a fair general statement of "atomic philosophy, now held" (Tyndall, 1874).

Atoms seen

In 1955 (0 AE), 2415-years after the formation (birth) of Democritus, atoms were "see" by the human eye, specifically by Erwin Muller.



Democritus was influenced by: Leucippus (teacher), Anaxagoras[2], Pythagoras[2].


Democritus was contemporaneous with: Socrates (469-399BC), who he was said to have met while visiting Athens, and Gorgias (c.485-380BC) , who studied under Empedocles (495-435BC).


Democritus influenced: Protagoras (student)[1], Diagoras, Metrodorus, Pyrrho, Nausiphanes, Naucydes[2], Epicurus, Lucretius.


Quotes | On

The following are quotes on Democritus:

“It is evident, indeed, that Bacon considered Democritus to be a man of weightier metal than either Plato or Aristotle, though their philosophy was ‘noised and celebrated in the schools, amid the din and pomp of philosophers.”
John Tyndall (1874), “Atheistic Materialism Address” (pg. 3)[1]

Quotes | Employed

The following are quotes employed by Democritus:

Atoms are always in motion in space [void].”
Leucippus (470BC), fragment #3; cited by Democritus (420BC) in Pay fragment #48[3]

Quotes | By

The following are quotes by Democritus:

“Many much-learned men have no intelligence; many know many things, yet are lacking in wisdom.”
— Democritus (c.410BC), Source [4]
“The material cause of all things that exist is the coming together of atoms and void. Atoms are too small to be perceived by the senses. They are eternal and have many different shapes, and they can cluster together to create things that are perceivable. Differences in shape, arrangement, and position of atoms produce different things. By aggregation they provide bulky objects that we can perceive with our sight and other senses.”
— Democritus (c.410BC), Pay fragment #47[3]

End matter

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Tyndall, John. (1874). “Atheistic Materialistism" (pgs. 3-5), British Association for the Advancement of Science (BAAS) Address, Belfast. Longmans.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Greek philosophy – Hmolpedia 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Democritus. (420BC). Fragments (editor: Rex Pay) (#:1-49) (txt),, 2005.
  4. Democritus – WikiQuote.

Further reading

  • Warren, J.I. (2002). “Democritus, the Epicureans, Death, and Dying” (Jst), The Classical Quarterly, 52(1):193-206.
  • MacFarlane, Katherine. (2009). The Father of the Atom: Democritus and the Nature of Matter. Enslow.


  • Anon. (2021). “Democritus and Leucippus: the Atomists of Presocratics Philosophy” (YT), The Living Philosophy, Mar 31.

External links

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