What is the most fundamental unit in our Universe? A Disagreement between Heraclitus and Democritus, two PreSocratics


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What is more fundamental - the atom or the fact that the atom is subject to constant change?

The crux of the disagreement between Heraclitus and Democritus with respect to the fundamental unit of the universe is as follows: Heraclitus insists on the unchangeability of change; Democritus insists on the stability of change.

From a Heraclitean point of view, if there is change in the world around us, if there is *flux and flux means a fundamental and irreducible unit, and if that unit, which is the universe as a whole, is the same from beginning to end, then it is only change without a substance that moves. (wait...is time change without substance?)

*Flux means constant change

Heraclitus says that all things change and nothing remains the same.

For example, we can look at a tree and say that it was in its original state, but when we see that tree change into a tree, that tree has changed from the original state. Likewise, when we say that an object such as a man was in his original state, when we see him change into something new and different we say that he has changed. In this sense change is a real thing and it takes place. The tree and the man can be said to change from one state to the next.

This change is a fundamental and irreducible unit. So, this unit has been changing forever, but the same unit is the same. It is not a new and different unit that came into existence; the same unit has always existed and always will exist, but we cannot see it. To see it, we have to go out of the world and into the void. So, we don't know anything about it. It cannot be spoken of.

Did you know that fluxion is the term for derivative in Newton's Calculus?

In a similar way, Democritus said that, while change is real, what we can only see change into is a real unit.

When we see the tree change into a tree, we can say that that tree is the same as the tree that existed before it was changed into a tree. That is the reality. The tree is the same, so the tree is not different from itself. Likewise, the man, when we see him change into a man, we can say that the man is the same as the man that existed before the man changed into a man. That man is the same, and the same is that man. So, it is not a different thing that came into existence; it is the same man. Therefore, Democritus is not saying that things are changing all the time. They are the same and it is not a new thing that comes into existence.

A conversation with EleutherAI & @attractfunding

This will make sense now.

 

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