Democritus (Demokritos) c. 460-370 BC, is considered the forefather of modern atomic theory. He was born in Abdera, Thrace, and mentored by Lefkippos. His extensive travels in Ionia brought him into contact with the teachings of the great Ionian philosophers (Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Herakleitos). A truly universal spirit, he was erudite in almost all fields of human knowledge, as evidenced by the diversity of his writings on ethics, physics, mathematics, music, cosmology and technology, and visited many places of the then known world. According to his atomic theory, all material bodies consist of invisible, indestructible, unalterable and indivisible particles, which he called atoma (“atoms”), the Greek word for “indivisible”. In reaction to Parmenides’s static philosophy, Democritus saw the world as being in constant motion and change. He also refuted the concept of teleology, i.e. that there is an underlying purpose to everything. Democritus was the last of the great pre-Socratic philosophers, who were to have a profound influence on modern philosophy.
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