Milesian and Pythagorean
philosophical views were not perfect, as they seem to fail to explain a
connection between Being and becoming. The concepts of Being and becoming were introduced
with these philosophies. In which Being is the fundamental essence that the
world exists in and becoming is everything that passes in and out of this existence.
When Parmenides and Heraclitus offered an answer to these theories, they did so
in a way that is often seen as two ends of a spectrum. On one end of this
spectrum, Parmenides viewed the idea of being/becoming is contradictory in
nature. In this way, he would go on to say that they do not actually exist. He
believed that the universe is stable, and predictable. Heraclitus would answer this
with the opposite, saying Being does not exist. That everything is always
changing, and never quite staying the same.
The three philosophers that came
after them all made attempts to find a middle ground between the two. The
philosopher Democritus will be the focus of this. He theorized that we can
break everything in our world down to a single unit. This is what he views to
be the building blocks of our world. He then goes on to call this unit ‘atoms’.
This is the aspect that we see Anaxagoras similarly call seeds. Atoms seem to
be more materialistic though, more rooted in our physical world. Anaxagoras
describes seeds as holding the potential to be anything. These seeds, as he
describes, has no actuality. He then goes on to describe how there is a Mind, a
Noos. He attributes this as the force that arranges the seeds into existence,
and the world we exist in.
Democritus picks this up, or rather
has an answer to this in his own thinking. As atoms and seeds are similar in
that way, that they have the potential to be anything when organized in the
right way. He also disagrees with Anaxagoras that there is a “Mind”.
In that, he seems to be dismissing the idea of a possible higher power.
He also seems to explain away the
idea of Love and Strife, as Empedocles theorizes, as the factor behind the
union and separating of the being of our world. Democritus describes the idea
of atoms moving in void, in nothing, as matter needs the space to move. Atoms
are always moving, and when in combination with other atoms, create the world
we exist in.