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Birthplace
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Democritus was a renowned Ancient Greek philosopher who is regarded as the most accurate early atomic hypothesis of the universe by many current scientists and scholars. One of the most well-known pre-Socratic philosophers, he was influenced by Leucippus of Miletus and advocated revolutionary views that clashed with those proposed by Socratic philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle. What set him apart from his contemporaries was his early life travels to many different places and exchanges of ideas with scholars all over the world, which may explain his rationality, humanism, and love of liberty. Because so much of his work has been lost or is only available in bits, the full extent of his expertise may never be known. For the same reason, it’s sometimes difficult to tell his work apart from that of his tutor Leucippus, whose very existence Epicurus, Democritus’ intellectual heir, denies. The theories and doctrines he covered, on the other hand, may be traced through numerous citations of his writings by succeeding researchers, indicating that he produced over seventy books on natural philosophy. Many consider him the “father of contemporary science” due to the clarity of many of his philosophical views.

Early Years and Travels

Democritus was born in 470 BC, but some academics claim he was born in the 80th Olympiad (460–457 BC). His birthplace is also a source of debate; while he is thought to have been born in the city of Abdera in Thrace, some say he was born in Milesia.

His father was thought to be from a wealthy noble family who had received Xerxes during the Second Persian War as he marched through Abdera.

According to some stories, the Persian ruler left the Abderites various presents, including a number of Magi who are claimed to have taught him astronomy and theology.

Following his father’s death, he resolved to invest his riches in the quest of knowledge and wisdom, and set out on a voyage to far-flung lands. He supposedly traveled as far as India and visited Egypt, Persia, Ethiopia, and other countries of Asia.

He resided in Egypt for around five years, according to Greek historian Diodorus Siculus. He himself highlighted and complimented Egyptian mathematicians for their vast understanding in his writings.

Given the fact that he wrote about Babylon and Meroe, it’s safe to infer he visited those locations. He is also claimed to have met with Chaldean magi, one of them, Ostanes, is said to have tutored him.

Even after his return to Greece, he continued to travel around the country to learn more about the various cultures. During this period, he spent a large portion of his income on acquiring the books of renowned Greek philosophers, which he studied in order to deepen his understanding of natural philosophy.Natural Philosophy piques your interest.

Democritus later returned to Abdera after his fortune ran out, where he was taken in by his brother Damosis. In order to evade the legislation of Abdera which punished individuals who spent their inheritance by depriving them of the rites of burial, he started giving public lectures to earn the favor of the people.

He was able to successfully foresee events such as weather change thanks to his extensive understanding of diverse natural phenomena, earning him a reputation among the locals. While he was well-liked by the general public, he avoided getting involved in politics and lived a peaceful and modest life dedicated to his studies.

He was nicknamed as ‘The Laughing Philosopher’ because of his amazing sense of humour. Because of his capacity to chuckle at human follies, he was dubbed “The Mocker” by his neighbors.

The Atomic Doctrine

It is widely assumed that he continued his ancestor Leucippus’ atomism theory, which states that everything is made up of numerous invisible, imperishable, and indivisible particles known as atoms. However, because Leucippus’ historical legitimacy is disputed, many people credit Democritus with inventing the notion.

The atomists were more interested in the material and mechanistic causes of events, inquiring as to what caused the event to occur. They did so in stark contrast to other well-known Greek philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato, who attempted to explain the meaning of an occurrence.

According to him, the atom is an inert solid that interacts mechanically with other atoms via material links attached to single atoms as attachments. He went on to explain the shape and size of atoms, claiming that different materials have varied shaped atoms and that atoms are always in motion, together with his follower Epicurus.

When compared to other popular theories at the time, the atomist hypothesis is strikingly comparable to modern scientific conceptions, but it is more akin to the present concept of’molecules’ than ‘atoms.’

Rather than being founded on empirical evidence, it arose from the observation that because everything eventually decays and is occasionally recreated, there must be some invisible building blocks of materials that never decay.

The atomistic hypothesis states that there must be a significant amount of empty space between atoms, referred to as “the void,” in order for the atoms to move indefinitely. The existence of liquid and gas, which can flow and change shape, as well as the fact that metals may be forged into any shape without losing their properties, requires the void.

In his model of the early cosmos, atoms were in a state of chaos before merging to produce larger things like the ones we see around us. He realized that there are countless worlds that are constantly growing or decaying, and that a collision between two of them may annihilate them.

Work in a Different Field

Democritus is also credited with founding aesthetics as a discipline through his theoretical writings on poetry and beautiful arts before Aristotle popularized it. At least six of Thrasyllus’ works are said to be about aesthetics as a discipline, but many of them are simply fragments, leaving much of his views on the subject unclear.

His writings in mathematics, such as ‘On Numbers,’ ‘On Geometrics,’ ‘On Tangencies,’ and ‘On Irrationals,’ have been cited by many early scholars, indicating that he was a pioneer in mathematics and geometry.

He is known for observing that a cone or pyramid with the same base and height has one-third the volume of a cylinder or prism.

By experimenting on natural bodies, he eventually gained a vast knowledge of herbs, plants, and minerals, which he documented in a number of books. ‘On the Nature of Man,’ ‘On Flesh,’ ‘On the Senses,’ ‘Causes Concerning Seeds, Plants, and Fruits,’ and ‘Causes Concerning Animals’ are some of his works that have been quoted by other scholars.

He compared early humans to animals, saying they lacked language and had no sense of community. According to him, they created language and learned about many things through trial and error after being compelled to join groups to ward off predators.

Knowledge perception, ethics, and politics

Democritus defined two types of knowledge of truth: ‘legitimate’ and ‘bastard’, based on the notion that awareness through the senses is subjective. According to him, knowledge gained by the senses is insufficient and so ‘bastard,’ but knowledge gained through the mind is ‘legitimate’ knowledge.

Regarding his political and ethical ideas, it is known that he embraced the ancient Greek concept of democracy, arguing that the powerful should assist the poor and treat them with compassion.

It is important to remember, however, that his definition of equality did not include women or slaves, despite his assertion that liberty is superior to slavery.

While he did not condemn making money for the sake of making money, he was opposed to storing money for one’s children and detested those who made money in an unethical manner. Although he was opposed to violence, he believed that war or the execution of a criminal or enemy were necessary.

Goodness, he claimed, took practice and discipline and was not always innate in humans. He felt that one should be content with what one has and that envy will drive society down because society can only advance as a whole.

His Major Projects

Despite the fact that most of Democritus’ work has only survived because of later academics’ citations, it is commonly known that he had amassed a vast knowledge of the natural order of things. Many twentieth-century academics hold him in high regard for his groundbreaking views, which were free of many of the flaws that plagued contemporary Greek philosophy.

His idea of atomism, which established small invisible and indivisible atoms as the building blocks for all the elements in existence, is his most well-known work. Many academics, including British historian Bertrand Russell, applauded his theories for being strikingly similar to those of modern science.

Aside from his concept of atoms, following historians have appreciated his concept of cosmology for its clarity. Karl R. Popper was admired for his rationalistic theory on human evolution as social creatures, which asserted that languages, traditions, and laws are all man-made institutions.

Personal History and Legacy

Democritus lived his entire life without marrying, devoting himself to the study of numerous philosophical systems. Certain sources claim he lived for over a century, despite the fact that Diodorus Siculus claims he died at the age of 90 in around 370 BC.

Democritus lived his entire life without marrying, devoting himself to the study of numerous philosophical systems. Certain sources claim he lived for over a century, despite the fact that Diodorus Siculus claims he died at the age of 90 in around 370 BC.

While twentieth-century historians have renewed interest in his work because of his precise explanation of atoms, he was well-liked by most of his contemporaries. Plato, one of the most famous ancient Greek philosophers, is supposed to have despised him so much that he had all of his works destroyed.

While twentieth-century historians have renewed interest in his work because of his precise explanation of atoms, he was well-liked by most of his contemporaries. Plato, one of the most famous ancient Greek philosophers, is supposed to have despised him so much that he had all of his works destroyed.

Estimated Net Worth

The net worth of Democritus is unknown.

Trivia

One of the legends about him is that he blinded himself with blazing glass in order to prevent distractions in his studies and master his mental abilities. While some believe he may have had trouble seeing in his later years, the narrative is widely dismissed due to his abilities to write books, conduct experiments, and dissect animals throughout his life.