Reader's Encyclopedia

Democritus (c460 - c370 BC)

A philosopher, also called the Abderite and, from his cheerful disposition, the Laughing Philosopher. Democritus was born in ABDERA and traveled widely. He adopted the atomistic theory of LEUCIPPUS, holding that the universe is composed of atoms that move about in space and form themselves into bodies. Atoms are eternal, while bodies perish; the soul is a form of fire, which animates the human body. Democritus also held that pleasure, along with self-control, was the goal of life. He is supposed to have put out his eyes in order that he might think without outside disturbances.

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