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Sorin Sabou

Letter to the Romans, Nicomachean Ethics, and more

Epicurus' Metaphysics

This is a reconstruct mainly from a poem (De rerum natura) by the disciple Lucretius in the last days of Roman republic (Clark, 1994).
The reality is seen in terms of ‘atoms and the void’ (Clark 1994). At this point Epicurus follows Democritus. These atoms are moving in the void (O’Keefe 2005). This movement, because of the weight of atoms, is mainly downward but randomly, also, sideways (O’Keefe 2005). These aspects of ‘weight’ and ‘swerve’ are modifications of Democritus understanding of atoms. Movement is possible because of the ‘void’ (the empty space).
These atoms have always existed, and that is why, the universe has no beginning (O’Keefe 2005). We have an unlimited number of atoms and an unlimited number of voids; that is why, the universe is unlimited in size (against Aristotle; cf. O’Keefe 2005).
The natural phenomena are not explained in teleological terms (like Aristotle and others), but as the result of a process of natural selection (O’Keefe, 2005). That is why, there is no destiny, no fear of divine wrath (Clark, 1994); the gods have no concern of us, they are ‘rational hedonists’ (Russell, 2009).
Our bodies are conglomerations of atoms, ‘the soul is material’ (Russell, 2009), and survives death. The mind is identified as an organ which affects the body and is affected by the body (O’Keefe, 2005).

Clark Stephen R.L. ‘Ancient Philosophy’ in Kenny A. ed. The Oxford Illustrated History of Western Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.
Lucretius. tr. William Ellery Leonard. On the Nature of Things. http://classics.mit.edu/carus/nature_things.html.
O’Keefe, Tim. Epicurus. www.iep.utm.edu/epicur/, 2005.
Russell, Bertrand. History of Western Philosophy. London and New York, Routlege. 2009.
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