Karl Marx
The Difference Between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature

Difficulties Concerning the Identity Of the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature


Apart from historical testimony, there is much other evidence for the identity of Democritean and Epicurean physics. The principles — atoms and the void — are indisputably the same. Only in isolated cases does there seem to be arbitrary, hence unessential, difference.

However, a curious and insoluble riddle remains. Two philosophers teach exactly the same science, in exactly the same way, but — how inconsistent! — they stand diametrically opposed in all that concerns truth, certainty, application of this science, and all that refers to the relationship between thought and reality in general. I say that they stand diametrically opposed, and I shall now try to prove it.

A. The opinion of Democritus concerning the truth and certainty of human knowledge seems hard to ascertain. Contradictory passages are to be found, or rather it is not the passages, but Democritus' views that contradict each other. For Trendelenburg's assertion in his commentary to Aristotelean psychology, that only later authors, but not Aristotle, knew of such contradictions, is factually incorrect. Indeed, in Aristotle's Psychology it is stated: “Democritus posits soul and mind [Verstand] as one and the same, since the phenomenon is the true thing.” (1) But in his Metaphysics he writes: “Democritus asserts that nothing is true or it is concealed from us.” (2) Are not these passages of Aristotle contradictory? If the phenomenon is the true thing, how can the true thing be concealed? The concealment begins only when phenomenon and truth separate. But Diogenes Laertius reports that Democritus was counted among the Sceptics. His saying is quoted: “In reality we know nothing, for truth lies at the deep bottom of the well.” (3) Similar statements are found in Sextus Empiricus. (4)

This sceptical, uncertain and internally self-contradictory view held by Democritus is only further developed in the way in which the relationship between the atom and the world which is apparent to the senses is determined.

Sensuous appearance, on the one hand, does not belong to the atoms themselves. It is not objective appearance, but subjective semblance [Schein]. “The true principles are the atoms and the void, everything else is opinion, semblance.” (5) “Cold exists only according to opinion, heat exists only according to opinion, but in reality there are only the atoms and the void.” (6) Unity therefore does not truly result from the many atoms, but rather “through the combination of atoms each thing appears to become a unity". (7) The principles can therefore be perceived only through reason, since they are inaccessible to the sensuous eye if only because of their smallness. For this reason they are even called ideas. (8) The sensuous appearance is, on the other hand, the only true object, and the aisthesis [sensuous perception] is the phronesis [that which is rational]; this true thing however is the changing, the unstable, the phenomenon. But to say that the phenomenon is the true thing is contradictory. (9) Thus now the one, now the other side is made the subjective and the objective. The contradiction therefore seems to be held apart, being divided between two worlds. Consequently, Democritus makes sensuous reality into subjective semblance; but the antinomy, banned from the world of objects, now exists in his own self-consciousness, where the concept of the atom and sensuous perception face each other as enemies.

Thus Democritus does not escape the antinomy. This is not yet the place to explain it. It is enough that we cannot deny its existence.

Now let us listen to Epicurus.

The wise man, he says, takes a dogmatic, not a sceptical position. (10) Yes, exactly this makes him superior to all the others, that he knows with conviction. (11) “All senses are heralds of the true.” (12)Nor is there anything which can refute sensations, neither like can refute like, because of their equal validity, nor can unlike refute unlike, because they do not pass judgment on the same thing, nor the concept, because the concept depends on the sensuous perceptions,” (13) as it says in the Canon. But while Democritus turns the sensuous world into subjective semblance, Epicurus turns it into objective appearance. And here he differs quite consciously, since he claims that he shares the same principles but that he does not reduce the sensuous qualities to things of mere opinion. (14)

Since therefore sensation was in fact Epicurus' standard, since objective appearance corresponds to it: then we can only regard as a correct. conclusion that at which Cicero shrugs his shoulder:

“The sun seems large to Democritus, because he is a man of science well versed in geometry; to Epicurus it seems to be about two feet large, for he pronounces it as large as it seems.” (15)

B. This difference in the theoretical judgments of Democritus and Epicurus concerning the certainty of science and the truth of its objects manifests itself in the disparate scientific energy and practice of these men.

Democritus, for whom the principle does not enter into the appearance, remains without reality and existence, is faced on the other hand with the world of sensation as the real world, full of content. True, this world is subjective semblance, but just because of this it is torn away from the principle, left in its own independent reality. At the same time it is the unique real object and as such has value and significance. Democritus is therefore driven into empirical observation. Dissatisfied with philosophy, he throws himself into the arms of positive knowledge. We have already seen that Cicero calls him a vir eruditus [Man of Science]. He is versed in physics, ethics, mathematics, in the encyclopedic disciplines, in every art. (16) The catalogue alone of his books given by Diogenes Laertius bears witness to his erudition. (17) But since it is the characteristic trait of erudition to expand in breadth and to collect and to search on the outside, we see Democritus wandering through half the world in order to acquire experiences, knowledge and observations.

“I have among my contemporaries,” he prides himself, “wandered through the largest part of the earth, investigating the remotest things. I have seen most climates and lands, and I have heard most learned men, and in linear composition with demonstration no one surpassed me, not even the so-called Arsipedonapts of the Egyptians;” (18)

Demetrius in the Homonymois [Men of the Same Name] and Antisthenes in the Diadochais [Successions of Philosophers] report that he travelled to Egypt to the priests in order to learn geometry, and to the Chaldeans in Persia, and that he reached the Red Sea. Some maintain that he also met the gymnosophists [20] in India and set foot in Ethiopia. (19) On the one hand it is the lust for knowledge that leaves him no rest; but it is at the same time dissatisfaction with true, i. e., philosophical, knowledge that drives him far abroad. The knowledge which he considers true is without content, the knowledge that gives him content is without truth. It could he a fable, but a true fable, that anecdote of the ancients, since it gives a picture of the contradictory elements in his being. Democritus is supposed to have blinded himself so that the sensuous light of the eye would not darken the sharpness of intellect. (20) This is the same man who, according to Cicero, wandered through half the world. But he did not find what he was looking for.

An opposite figure appears to us in Epicurus.

Epicurus is satisfied and blissful in philosophy.

“You must,” he says, “serve philosophy so that true freedom will he your lot. He who has subordinated and surrendered himself to it does not need to wait, he is emancipated at once. For to serve philosophy is freedom itself. (21) Consequently he teaches: “Let no one when young delay to study philosophy, nor when he is old grow weary of his study. For no one can come too early or too late to secure the health of his soul. And the man who says that the age for philosophy has either not yet come or has gone by is like the man who savs that the age for happiness is not yet come to him, or has passed away.” (22)

While Democritus, dissatisfied with philosophy, throws himself into the arms of empirical knowledge, Epicurus has nothing but contempt for the positive sciences, since in his opinion they contribute nothing to true perfection. (23) He is called an enemy of science, a scorner of grammar. (24) He is even accused of ignorance. “But,” says an Epicurean in Cicero, “it was not Epicurus who was without erudition, but those are ignorant who believe that what is shameful for a boy not to know ought still to be recited by the old man. (25)

But while Democritus seeks to learn from Egyptian priests, Persian Chaldeans and Indian gymnosophists, Epicurus prides himself on not having had a teacher, on being self-taught. (26) There are some people, he says according to Seneca, who struggle for truth without any assistance. Among these people he has himself traced out his path. And it is they, the self-taught, whom he praises most. The others, according to him, are second-rate minds. (27) While Democritus is driven into all parts of the world, Epicurus leaves his garden in Athens scarcely two or three times and travels to Ionia, not to engage in studies, but to visit friends. (28) Finally, while Democritus, despairing of acquiring knowledge, blinds himself, Epicurus, feeling the hour of death approaching, takes a warm bath, calls for pure wine and recommends to his friends that they be faithful to philosophy. (29)

C. The differences that we have just set forth should not be attributed to the accidental individuality of the two philosophers; they embody two opposite tendencies. We see as a difference of practical energy that which is expressed in the passages above as a difference of theoretical consciousness.

We consider finally the form of reflection which expresses the relation of thought to being, their mutual relationship. In the general relationship which the philosopher sees between the world and thought, he merely makes objective for himself the relation of his own particular consciousness to the real world.

Now Democritus uses necessity as a form of reflection of reality. (30) Aristotle says of him that he traces everything back to necessity. (31) Diogenes Laertius reports that the vortex of atoms, the origin of all, is the Democritean necessity. (32) More satisfactory explanations are given by the author of De placitis philosophorum:

Necessity is, according to Democritus, fate and law, providence and the creator of the world. But the substance of this necessity is the antitype and the movement and impulse of matter. (33)

A similar passage is to be found in the Physical Selections of Stobaeus (34) and in the sixth book of the Praeparatio evangelica of Eusebius. (35) In the Ethical Selections of Stobaeus the following aphorism of Democritus is preserved (36) — it is almost exactly repeated in the 14th book of Eusebius (37): human beings like to create for themselves the illusion of chance — a manifestation of their own perplexity, since chance [Zufall] is incompatible with sound thinking. Simplicius similarly attributes to Democritus a passage in which Aristotle speaks of the ancient doctrine that does away with chance. (38)

Contrast this with Epicurus:

“Necessity, introduced b by some as the absolute ruler, does not exist, but some things are accidental, others depend on our arbitrary will. Necessity cannot be persuaded, but chance is unstable. It would be better to follow the myth about the gods than to be a slave to the heimarinene [what has been decreed, destiny] of the physicists. For the former leaves hope for mercy if we do honour to the gods, while the latter is inexorable necessity. But it is chance, which must be accepted, not God, as the multitude believe.” (39) “It is a misfortune to live in necessity, but to live in necessity is not a necessity. On all sides many short and easy paths to freedom are open. Let us therefore thank God that no man can he kept in life. It is permitted to subdue necessity itself.” (40)

The Epicurean Velleius in Cicero says something similar about Stoic philosophy:

"What are we to think of a philosophy in which, as to ignorant old women, everything seems to occur through fate? ... by Epicurus we have been redeemed, set free.” (41)

Thus Epicurus even denies disjunctive judgment so as not to have to acknowledge any concept of necessity. (42)

True, it is claimed that Democritus also used the concept of chance, but of the two passages on this matter which can be found in Simplicius (43) the one renders the other suspect, because it shows clearly that it was not Democritus who used the category of chance, but Simplicius who ascribed it to him as a consequence. For he says: Democritus assigns, generally speaking, no cause for the creation of the world, he seems therefore to make chance the cause. Here, however, we are concerned not with the determination of the content, but with the form used consciously by Democritus. The situation is similar in regard to the report by Eusebius that Democritus made chance the ruler of the universal and divine and claimed that here it is through chance that everything happens, whereas he excluded chance from human life and empirical nature and called its supporters foolish. (44)

In part, we see in these statements only a desire of the Christian bishop Dionysius for conclusion-forcing. In part, where the universal and divine begin, the Democritean concept of necessity ceases to differ from chance.

Hence, this much is historically certain: Democritus makes use of necessity, Epicurus of chance. And each of them rejects the opposite view with polemical irritation.

The principal consequence of this difference appears in the way individual physical phenomena are explained.

Necessity appears in finite nature as relative necessity, as determinism. Relative necessity can only be deduced from real possibility, i.e., it is a network of conditions, reasons, causes, etc., by means of which this necessity reveals itself. Real possibility is the explication of relative necessity. And we find it used by Democritus. We cite some passages from Simplicius.

If somebody is thirsty and drinks and feels better, Democritus will not assign chance as the cause, but thirst. For, even though he seems to use chance in regard to the creation of the world, yet he maintains that chance is not the cause of any particular event, but on the contrary leads back to other causes. Thus, for example, digging is the cause of a treasure being found, or growing the cause of the olive tree. (45)

The enthusiasm and the seriousness with which Democritus .introduces this manner of explanation into the observation of nature, the importance he attaches to the striving to ascertain causes, are naively ] expressed in his avowal:

“I would rather discover a new aetiology than acquire the Persian crown.” (46)

Once again Epicurus stands directly opposed to Democritus. Chance, for him, is a reality which has only the value of possibility. Abstract possibility, however, is the direct antipode of real possibility. The latter is restricted within sharp boundaries, as is the intellect; the former is unbounded, as is the imagination. Real possibility seeks to explain the necessity and reality of its object; abstract possibility is not interested in the object which is explained, but in the subject which does the explaining. The object need only be possible, conceivable. That which is abstractly possible, which can be conceived, constitutes no obstacle to the thinking subject, no limit, no stumbling-block. Whether this possibility is also real is irrelevant, since here the interest does not extend to the object as object.

Epicurus therefore proceeds with a boundless nonchalance in the explanation of separate physical phenomena.

More light will be thrown upon this fact by the letter to Pythocles, later to be considered. Suffice it here to draw attention to Epicurus' attitude to the opinions of earlier physicists. Where the author of De Placitis philosophorum and Stobaeus quote the different views of the philosophers concerning the substance of the stars, the size and shape of the sun and similar matters, it is always said of Epicurus: He rejects none of these opinions, all could be right, he adheres to the possible. (47) Yes, Epicurus polemicises even against the rationally determining, and for precisely this reason one-sided, method of explanation by real possibility.

Thus Seneca says in his Quaestiones naturales: Epicurus maintains that all these causes are possible, and then attempts in addition still other explanations. He blames those who claim that any particular one of them occurs, because it is rash to judge apodictically about that which can only be deduced from conjectures. (48)

One can see that there is no interest in investigating the real causes of objects. All that matters is the tranquillity of the explaining subject. Since everything possible is admitted as possible, which corresponds to the character of abstract possibility, the chance of being is clearly transferred only into the chance of thought. The only rule which Epicurus prescribes, namely, that “the explanation should not contradict sensation", is self-evident; for to be abstractly possible consists precisely in being free from contradiction, which therefore must be avoided. (49) And Epicurus confesses finally that his method of explaining aims only at the ataraxy [21] of self-consciousness, not at knowledge of nature in and for itself. (50) it requires no further clarification to show how in this matter, too, Epicurus differs from Democritus.

We thus see that the two men are opposed to each other at every single step. The one is a sceptic, the other a dogmatist; the one considers the sensuous world as subjective semblance, the other as objective appearance. He who considers the sensuous world as subjective semblance applies himself to empirical natural science and to positive knowledge, and represents the unrest of observation, experimenting, learning everywhere. ranging over the wide, wide world. The other, who considers the phenomenal world to be real, scorns empiricism; embodied in him are the serenity of thought satisfied in itself, the self-sufficiency that draws its knowledge ex principio interno. But the contradiction goes still farther. The sceptic and empiricist, who holds sensuous nature to be subjective semblance, considers it from the point of view of necessity and endeavours to explain and to understand the real existence of things. The philosopher and dogmatist, on the other hand, who considers appearance to be real, sees everywhere only chance, and his method of explanation tends rather to negate all objective reality of nature. There seems to be a certain absurdity in these contradictions.

It hardly seems still possible to presume that these men, who contradict each other on all points, will adhere to one and the same doctrine. And yet they seem to be chained to each other.

The task of the next section is to comprehend their relationship in general. [22]


Part II, Chapter One: The Declination of the Atom from the Straight Line


(1) Aristotle, On the Soul, 1, p. 8 (published by Trendelenburg) [2, 404 (Homer, Iliad I, 469), 27-291. Democritus roundly identifies soul and mind, for he identifies what appears with what is true.

(2) Id., Metaphysics, IV, 5 [1009, (Homer Iliad XXIV, 54) 11-181. And this is why Democritus, at any rate, says that either there is no truth or to us at least it is not evident. And in general it is because they [i.e., these thinkers] suppose knowledge to he sensation, and this to be a physical alteration, that they say that what appears to our senses must be true; for it is for these reasons that both Empedocles and Democritus and, one may almost say, all the others have fallen victims to opinions of this sort. For Empedocles says that when men change their condition they change their knowledge.

By the way, the contradiction is expressed in this passage of the Metaphysics itself.

(3) Diogenes Laertius, IX, 72. Furthermore, they find Xenophanes, Zeno of Elea, and Democritus to be sceptics.... Democritus [says:] “Of a truth we know nothing, for truth is in a well."

(4) Comp. Ritter, History of Ancient Philosophy [in German], Part I, pp. 579 seqq. [2nd improved edition, 1836, pp. 619 seqq.]

(5) Diogenes Laertius. IX, 44. His (Democritus') opinions are these: The first principles of the universe are atoms and empty space; everything else is merely thought to exist.

(6) Ibid., IX, 72. Democritus rejects qualities, saying: “Opinion says hot or cold, but the reality is atoms and empty space."

(7) Simplicius, Scholia to Aristotle (collected by Brandis), p. 488. ... yet he (Democritus) does not really allow one being to be formed out of them, for it is quite foolish, he says, that two or more become one.

P. 5 14. [...] and therefore they (Democritus and Leucippus) said that neither the one becomes many nor do the many become the truly inseparable one but through the combination of atoms each thing appears to become a unity.

(8) Plutarch, Reply to Colotes, 1111. The atoms, which he (Democritus) calls "ideas".

(9) Comp. Aristotle, 1. c.

(10) Diogenes Laertius, X, 121. He [the wise man] will be a dogmatist but not a mere sceptic.

(11) Plutarch, Reply to Colotes, 1117. For it is one of Epicurus' tenets that none but the sage is unalterably convinced of anything.

(12) Cicero, One the Nature of the Gods, I, xxv [701. He (Epicurus) therefore said that all the semes give a true report.

Comp. id., On the Highest Goods and Evils, I, vii.

(Plutarch,) On the Sentiments of the Philosophers, IV, p. 287 [81. Epicurus holds that every impression and every phantasy is true.

(13) Diogenes Laertius, X, 31. Now in The Canon Epicurus affirms that our sensations and preconceptions and our feelings are the standards of truth.... 32. Nor is there anything which can refute sensations or convict them of error: one sensation cannot convict another and kindred sensation, for they are equally valid; nor can one sensation refute another which is not kindred but heterogeneous, for the objects which the two senses judge are not the same; nor again can reason refute them, for reason is wholly dependent on sensation.

(14) Plutarch, Reply to Colotes, 1. c. [1110-11111. He [Colotes] says that Democritus' words “colour is by convention, sweet by convention, a compound by convention", and so the rest, “what is real are the void and the atoms", are an attack on the senses.... I cannot deny the truth of this, but 1 can affirm that this view is as inseparable from Epicurus' theories as shape and weight are by their own assertion inseparable from the atom. For what does Demacritus say? That entities infinite in number, indivisible and indestructible, destitute moreover of quality, and incapable of modification, move scattered about in the void; that when they draw near one another or collide or become entangled the resulting aggregate appears in the one case to be water, in others fire, a plant, or a man, but that everything really is the indivisible “forms", as he calls them [or: atoms, “ideas", as he calls them], and nothing else. For there is no generation from the non-existent, and again nothing can be generated from the existent, as the atoms are too solid to be affected and changed. From this it follows that there is no colour, since it would have to come from things colourless, and no natural entity or mind, since they would have to come from things without qualities.... Democritus is therefore to he censured, not for admitting the consequences that flow from his principles, but for setting up principles that lead to these consequences.... Epicurus claims to lay down the same first principles, but nevertheless does not say that "colour is by convention", and so with the qualities [sweet, bitter] and the rest.

(15) Cicero, On the Highest Goods and Evils, 1, vi. Democritus, being an educated man and well versed in geometry, thinks the sun is of vast size; Epicurus considers it perhaps two feet in diameter, for he pronounces it to be exactly as large as it appears. Comp. (Plutarch,) On the Sentiments of the Philosophers, II, p. 265.

(16) Diogenes Laertius, IX, 37. [And truly Democritus] had trained himself both in physics and in ethics, nay more, in mathematics and the routine subjects of education, and was quite an expert in the arts.

(17) Comp. Diogenes Laertius, [IX,] 46[-49].

(18) Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel, X, p. 472. And somewhere he (Democritus) says proudly about himself: “I have wandered through a larger part of the earth than any of my contemporaries, investigating the remotest things, and I have seen most climates and lands, and I have heard the most learned men, and in linear composition with demonstration no one surpassed me, not even the so-called Arsipedonapts of the Egyptians, whose guest I was when already turning eighty.” For he went as far as Babylon and Persia and Egypt, where he also studied with the Egyptian priests.

(19) Diogenes Laertius, IX, 35. According to Demetrius in his book on Men of the Same Name and Antisthenes in his Successions of Philosophers he (Democritus) travelled into Egypt to learn geometry from the priests, and he also went into Persia to visit the Chaidaeans as well as to the Red Sea. Some say that he associated with the gymnosophists in India and went to Aethiopia.

(20) Cicero, Tusculan Disputations, V, 39. When Democritus lost his sight.... And this man believed that the sight of the eyes was an obstacle to the piercing vision of the soul, and whilst others often failed to see what lay at their feet, he ranged freely into the infinite without finding any boundary that brought him to a halt.

Id, On the Highest Goods and Evils, V, xxix [87]. It is related of Democidtus that he deprived himself of eyesight; and it is certain that [he did so] in order that his mind should be distracted as little as Possible from reflection.

(21) Luc. Ann. Seneca, Works, II, p. 24, Amsterdam, 1672, Epistle VIII. I am still conning Epicurus ... If you would enjoy real freedom, you must be the slave of Philosophy.” The man who submits and surrenders himself to her is not kept waiting; he is emancipated on the spot. For the very service of Philosophy is freedom.

(22) Diogenes Laertius, X, 122. Let no one he slow to seek wisdom when he is young nor weary in the search thereof when he is grown old. For no age is too early or too late for the health of the soul. And to say that the season for studying philosophy has not yet come, or that it is past and gone, is like saying that the season for happiness is not yet or that it is now no more. Therefore, both old and young ought to seek wisdom, the former in order that, as age comes over him, he may be young in good things because of the grace of what has been, and the latter in order that, while he is young, he may at the same time be old, because he has no fear of the things which are to come. Comp. Clement of Alexandria, IV, 501.

(23) Sextus Empiricus, Against the Professors, I, 1. The case against the mathematici [or: Professors of Arts and Sciences] has been set forth in a general way, it would seem, both by Epicurus and by the School of Pyrrho, although the standpoints they adopt are different. Epicurus took the ground that the subjects taught are of no help in perfecting wisdom....

(24) Ibid., p. 11 [I, 491. And amongst them we must place Epicurus, although he seems to be bitterly hostile to the Professors of Arts and Sciences.

Ibid., p. 54 [I, 2721. ... those accusers of grammar, Pyrrho, and Epicurus....

Comp. Plutarch, That Epicurus Actually Makes a Pleasant Life Impossible, 1094.

(25) Cicero, On the Highest Goods and Evils, I, xxi [721. No! Epicurus was not uneducated: the real ignoramuses are those who ask us to go on studying till old age the subjects that we ought to be ashamed not to have learnt in boyhood.

(26) Diogenes Laertius, X, 13. Apollodorus in his Chronology tens us that our philosopher (i.e., Epicurus) was a pupil of Nausiphanes and Praxiphanes; but in his letter to Eurydicus, Epicurus himself denies it and says that he was self-taught.

Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods, I, xxvi [72]. For he (Epicurus) boasted that. he had never had a teacher. This I for my part could well believe, even if he did not proclaim it....

(27) Seneca, Epistle LII, p. 177. Epicurus remarks that certain men have worked their way to the truth without any one's assistance, carving out their own passage. And he gives special praise to these, for their impulse has come from within, and they have forged to the front by themselves. Again, he says, there are others who need outside help, who will not proceed unless someone leads the way, but who win follow faithfully. Of these, he says, Metrodorus was one; this type of man is also excellent, but belongs to the second grade.

(28) Diogenes Laertius, X, 10. He spent all his life in Greece, notwithstanding the calamities which had befallen her in that age; when he did once or twice take a trip to lonia, it was to visit his friends there. Friends indeed came to him from all parts and lived with him in his garden. This is stated by Apollodorus, who also says that he purchased the garden for eighty minae.

(29) Ibid., X, 15, 16. Hermippus relates that he entered a bronze bath of lukewarm water and asked for unmixed wine, which he swallowed, and then, having bidden his friends remember his doctrines, breathed his last.

(30) Cicero, On Fate, x [22, 23]. Epicurus [thinks] that the necessity of fate can be avoided.... Democritus preferred to accept the view that all events are caused by necessity.

Id., On the Nature of the Gods, I, xxv [69]. He [Epkurus] therefore invented a device to escape from determinism (the point had apparently escaped the notice of Democritus)....

Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel, I, pp. 23 seqq. Democritus of Abdera [assumed] ... that all, the past as well as the present and the future, has been determined always, since time immemorial, by necessity.

(31) Aristotle, On the Generation of Animals, V, 8 [7 Sgb , 2-3]. Democritus ... reduces to necessity all the operations of Nature.

(32) Diogenes Laertius, IX, 45. All things happen by virtue of necessity, the vortex being the cause of the creation of all things, and this he (Democritus) calls necessity.

(33) (Plutarch) On the Sentiments of the Philosophers, p. 252 [I, 251. Parmenides and Democritus [say] that there is nothing in the world but what is necessary, and that this same necessity is otherwise called fate, right, providence and the creator of the world.

(34) Stobaeus, Physical Selections, I, 8. Parmenides and Democlitus [say] that everything occurs by necessity, this being fate, justice, providence [and the architect of the world]. Leudppus [says] that everything [occurs] by necessity, this being fate. For he says ... nothing originates without cause, but everything because of a cause and of necessity.

(35) Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel, VI, p. 257. ... fate, that ... for the others (i.e., Democritus) depends on these small bodies, which are carried downward and then ascend again, that conglomerate and again dissipate, that run away from each other and then come together again by necessity,

(36) Stobaeus, Ethical Selections, II 14]. Men like to create for themselves the illusion of chance-an excuse for their own perplexity; since chance is incompatible with sound thinking.

(37) Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel, XIV, p. 782. ... and he (i.e., Democritus) has made chance the master and ruler of the universal and divine, and has claimed that everything happens through chance. At the same time he keeps it away from human life and has decried as stupid those who proclaim it. Indeed, at the beginning of his teachings he says: “Men like to create for themselves the illusion of chance-an excuse for their own folly; since it is natural that sound thinking is incompatible with chance; and they have said that this worst enemy of thinking rules; or rather, they accept chance instead of thinking by totally removing and abolishing sound thinking. For they do not appreciate thinking as blissful, but chance as the most reasonable."

(38) Simplicius, 1. c., p. 351. The expression “like the ardent doctrine that removes chance” seems to refer to Democritus....

(39) Diogenes Laertius, X, 133, 134. ... Destiny,' which some introduce as sovereign over all things, he laughs to scorn, affirming rather that some things happen of necessity, others by chance, others through our own agency. For he sees that necessity destroys responsibility and that chance or fortune is inconstant; whereas our own actions are free, and it is to them that praise and blame naturally attach. It were better, indeed, to accept the legends of the gods than to bow beneath the yoke of destiny which the natural philosophers have imposed. The one holds out some faint hope that we may escape if we honour the gods, while the necessity of the naturalists is deaf to all entreaties. But he holds to chance, not to a god, as the world in general [hoi polloi] does ...

(40) Seneca, Epistle XII, p. 42. “It is wrong to live under necessity; but no man is constrained to live under necessity.... On all sides lie many short and simple paths to freedom; and let us thank God that no man can he kept in life. We may spurn the very constraints that hold us.” Epicurus ... uttered these words....

(41) Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods, 1, xx [55-561. But what value can be assigned to a philosophy (i. c., the Stoic) which thinks that everything happens by fate? It is a belief for old women, and ignorant old women at that.... But Epicurus has set us free [from superstitious terrors] and delivered us out of captivity....

(42) Ibid., I, xxv [70]. He (i.e., Epicurus) does the same in his battle with the logicians. Their accepted doctrine is that in every disjunctive proposition of the form "so-and-so either is or not, one of the two alternatives must be true. Epicurus took alarm; if such a proposition as “Epicurus either will or will not be alive tomorrow” were granted, one or the other alternative would be necessary. Accordingly he denied the necessity of a disjunctive proposition altogether.

(43) Simplicius, 1. c., p. 351. But also Democritus states, where he brings it up, that the different kinds must separate themselves from the totality, but not how and because of what reason, and seems to let them originate automatically and by chance.

Ibid., p. 351. ... and since this man (i. e., Democritus) has apparently applied chance in the creation of the world....

(44) Comp. Eusebius, 1. c., XIV, [plp. [781-1782. ... and this [said] one (i. e., Democritus), who had sought vainly and without reason for a cause, since he started from an empty principle and a faulty hypothesis, and has taken as the greatest wisdom the understanding of unreasonable [and foolish] happenings, without seeing the root and general necessity of things....

(45) Simplicius, 1. c., p. 351. ... indeed, when somebody is thirsty, he drinks cold water and feels fine again; but Democritus will probably not accept chance as the cause, but the thirst.

Ibid, p. 351. ... for, even though he (Democritus) seems to use chance in regard to the creation of the world, yet he maintains that in individual cases chance is not the cause of anything, but refers us back to other causes. For instance: the cause of treasure trove is the digging or the planting of the olive tree....

Comp. ibid, p. 351. ... but in individual cases, he (Democritus) says, [chance] is not the cause.

(46) Eusebius, 1. c., XIV, 781. Indeed, Democritus himself is supposed to have said that he would rather discover a new causal explanation than acquire the Persian crown.

(47) (Plutarch) On the Sentiments of the Philosophers, II, p. 261 [13]. Epicurus rejects none of these opinions, [Marx added here: “(i.e., opinions of the philosophers on the substance of the stars)".] [for he keeps to] what is possible.

Ibid., II, p. 265 [21]. Epicurus says again that all the foregoing is possible.

Ibid. [II, 22] Epicurus believes that all the foregoing is possible.

Stobaeus, Physical Selections, I, p. 54. Epicurus rejects none of these opinions, for he keeps to what is possible.

(48) Seneca, Questions of Nature, [VI,] XX, [5,] p. 802. Epicurus asserts that all the foregoing may be causes, but he tries to introduce some additional ones. He criticises other authors for affirming too positively that some particular one of the causes is responsible, as it is difficult to pronounce anything as certain in matters in which conjecture must be resorted to.

(49) Comp. Part II, Chapter 5.

Diogenes Laertius, X, 88. However, we must observe each fact as presented, and further separate from it all the facts presented along with it, the occurrence of which from various causes is not contradicted by facts within our experience.... All these alternatives are possible; they are contradicted by none of the facts....

(50) Diogenes Laertius, X, 80. We must not suppose that our treatment of these matters fails of accuracy, so far as it is needful to ensure our tranquillity [ataraxy] and happiness.