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From John Tyndall - http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?viewtype=text&itemID=A12&pageseq=1 He is said to have discovered and educated Protagoras the sophist, being struck as much by the manner in which he, being a hewer of wood, tied up his faggots as by the sagacity of his conversation. Democritus returned poor from his travels, was supported by his brother, and at length wrote his great work entitled DiaKosmos which he read publicly before the people of his native town. He was honoured by his countrymen in various ways, and died serenely at a great age.

The principles enunciated by Democritus reveal his uncompromising antagonism to those who deduced the phenomena of nature from the caprices of the gods. They are briefly these:

  • . From nothing comes nothing. Nothing that exists can be destroyed. All changes are due to the combination and separation of molecules.
  • . Nothing happens by chance. Every occurrence has its cause from which it follows by necessity.
  • . The only existing things are the atoms and empty space; all else is mere opinion.
  • . 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.
  • . The varieties of all things depend upon the varieties of their atoms, in number, size, and aggregation.
  • . 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 propositions are a fair general statement of the atomic philosophy, as now held. As regards the sixth, Democritus made his fine smooth atoms do duty for the nervous system, whose functions were then unknown. The atoms of Democritus are individually without sensation; they combine in obedience to mechanical laws; and not only organic forms, but the phenomena of sensation and thought are the result of their combination.

That great enigma, 'the exquisite adaptation of one part of an organism to another part, and to the conditions of life, more especially the construction of the human body, Democritus made no attempt to solve.

Empedocles, a man of more fiery and poetic nature, introduced the notion of love and hate among the atoms to account for, their combination and separation. Noticing this gap in the doctrine of Democritus, he struck in with the penetrating thought, linked, however, with some wild speculation, that it lay in the very nature of those combinations which were suited to their ends (in other words, in harmony with their environment) to maintain themselves, while unfit combinations, having no proper habitat, must rapidly disappear. Thus more than 2,000 years ago the doctrine of the 'survival of the fittest,' which in our day, not on the basis of vague conjecture, but of positive knowledge, has been raised to such extraordinary significance, had received at all events partial enunciation.3..."

rephrase "...Democritus struck with the penetrating thought ..... that it lay in the very nature of those combinations which were ...... in harmony with their environment... to maintain themselves, while unfit combinations disappear. Thus more than 2,000 years ago the doctrine of the 'survival of the fittest,'......... has been raised to significance...."
rephrase "...Democritus struck with the penetrating thought ..... that those in harmony with their environment maintained themselves, while the unfit combinations disappear. Thus more than 2,000 years ago the doctrine of the 'survival of the fittest was has been raised to significance.

...."

rephrase for tautological essence "...Those in harmony maintained themselves, while the unfit disappear. This proposition cannot be disputed hence is a logical fallacy. It reflects Aristotle philosophy : What happens, happens. See Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity - http://www.amazon.com/Creationism-Critics-Antiquity-Classical-Lectures/dp/0520260066/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1228971065&sr=1-1...."

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