The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Newsletter

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It is, I believe, clear that Epicurus adopted an interpretation of the impression which was alien to Democritus’ atomic theory and closer to that of Anaxagoras. Anaxagoras may have believed that the qualities of the impression accurately reproduced the attributes of the objects; and he certainly regarded the objects of sense perception as true. He held that that from which an entity emerges had predominant parts which were the same as the predominant parts of the entity. Anaxagoras' experiments suggest that he was aware in some degree of the principle of confirmatory evidence and evidence to the contrary. His form of argumentation was similar to that of Epicurus. What is more, Anaxagoras used the term doxa to denote an opinion for which there is no confirmatory evidence or evidence to the contrary. Anaxagoras made extensive use of material causes hut attached particular significance to the regularity of the movement of the heavenly bodies. When Epicurus read the writings of Anaxagoras, he must have found himself in agreement with many of his basic assumptions.


Margaret Reesor presented “Anaxagoras and Epicurus” to the Society at its meeting with the American Philological Association in Washington DC in 1975. A revised version was published in John P. Anton & Anthony Preus, eds.1983. Essays in Ancient Greek Philosophy, vol. 2. SUNY, 93-106.

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