Cosmos of the Ancients
The Greek Philosophers on Myth and Cosmology
hat Leucippus thought about cosmology and its atomic structure is generally assumed to be identical with the views of his student Democritus (c. 460-357 BC), who elaborated further on the subject, being the one mostly quoted on it.
Diogenes Laertius gives a long list of books written by Democritus, dividing them into the groups ethics, virtue, physics, "no head", mathematics, literature and music, and the arts. Most famous were The Great Diacosmos (world order) and The Lesser Diacosmos, though Diogenes says the former is by some attributed to Leucippus.
Although Democritus made the theory of atoms a basis for all things in the world, including for example color as a difference in surface of the atoms and taste a difference in shape, he held, according to Aristotle, a modest view toward learning: "Either there is no truth or it is concealed from us." This may be a slight misinterpretation of his thoughts on perception:
We know nothing accurately in reality, but (only) as it changes according to the bodily condition, and the constitution of those things that flow upon (the body) and impinge upon it.
Since all the senses work on inflow of atoms carrying their respective characteristics, to Democritus it was obvious that one could not say to know reality as it was, but only as its fragments reached its observers. Regarding knowledge itself, he seems not to have been as modest as Aristotle has it.
No more than his teacher did Democritus involve the gods in his cosmos, and so also with him it can be said that we have no statement of his swearing to it, but at least in all cosmological matters he should be regarded as an atheist.
, 1009b, translated by Hugh Lawson-Tancred, London 1998.
Freeman, Kathleen, Ancilla to The Pre-Socratic Philosophers, Oxford 1952.
© Stefan Stenudd 2000
The Greek Philosophers
Cosmos of the Ancients - the Book
The material on this website about the Greek philosophers and what they thought about cosmology, myth, and the gods, is now a book. It can be ordered at the Internet bookstores - printed or as a Kindle ebook. Both contain the footnotes with additional explanations as well as literary sources. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
All about the peaceful Japanese martial art.
A system of jo (staff) and ken (sword) exercises for aikido students.
My paintings, drawings, photos and video art.
My writing - fiction as well as non-fiction.
What the Greek philosophers thought about the cosmos, the gods and the myths.
Myth, its psychology and archetypes.
My blog with random thoughts.
My Other Websites
Myths in general and myths of creation in particular.
Qi (also spelled chi or ki), what it is and exercises to increase it.
An encyclopedia of life energy concepts around the world.
The wisdom of Taoism and its classic text Tao Te Ching.
The complete horoscope and how to read it.
Zodiac sign astrology, explaining each sign and its meaning.
The ancient Chinese system of divination explained.
My Facebook page.
My Twitter account.
My Amazon Author page.
My YouTube account with aikido videos.
My YouTube account Aravadia, with art videos and poetry.
My Swedish website.
Click the header to get to the webpage where I present all my books in English. Click an image below to go to that book's page on Amazon.
I'm a Swedish writer
of fiction and non-fiction books in both Swedish and English. I'm also an artist
, an historian of ideas
and a 7 dan Aikikai Shihan aikido instructor
. Click the header to read my full bio.