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In terms, swerve (LH:#), aka “Epicurean swerve” (TR:48) or “Lucretian swerve”, refers to the hypothesis, conjectured by Epicurus (300BC), that certain "atoms", particularity those related to humans, have a "special" property called "clinamen", from the Latin clinare meaning "to incline", which gives human freedom of will or free will.


The following are quotes:

Man's life is a line that nature commands him to describe upon the surface of the earth, without his ever being able to ‘swerve[1] from it, even for an instant. He is born without his own consent; his organization does in nowise depend upon himself; his ideas come to him involuntarily; his habits are in the power of those who cause him to contract them; he is unceasingly modified by causes, whether visible or concealed, over which he has no control, which necessarily regulate his mode of existence, give the hue to his way of thinking, and determine his manner of acting. He is good or bad, happy or miserable, wise or foolish, reasonable or irrational, without his ‘will’ being for any thing in these various states. Nevertheless, in despite of the shackles by which he is bound, it is ‘pretended’ he is a free agent, or that independent of the causes by which he is moved, he determines his own will, and regulates his own condition.”
Baron Holbach (1770), System of Nature (pg. 88); cited by Gordon Pettit (2020) in: “Holbach on Hard Determinism” (1:11-)[2]

End matter


  1. Note: Holbach translated a "whole shelf full" of scientific and philosophical books, including Lucretius' De Rerum Natura (Blum, 2010); the term "swerve" here is code for NO Epicurean swerve, meaning certain atoms do NOT swerve (Epicurus, 300BC) to yield the property of "free will" to humans.
  2. Pettit, Gordon. (2020). “Baron d’Holbach on Hard Determinism: There is No Free Will” (YT), Gordon Pettit, May 6.

External links

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