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Full name Democritus
Era Pre-Socratic philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Pre-Socratic philosophy
Main interests metaphysics / mathematics / astronomy
Notable ideas Atomism, Distant Star Theory

Democritus (Greek: Δημόκριτος) was a Greek philosopher (born at Abdera in Thrace ca. 460 BC - died ca 370 BC). Democritus was a student of Leucippus and both believed that all matter is made up of tiny, indestructible bits which he called atoma or "indivisible units", from which we get the English word atom.

Atomic theory

Democritus is well known for his atomic theory. Democritus said that:

  1. Everything is made of tiny bits he called atoms (indivisible units).
  2. These atoms are indestructible.
  3. Different shapes of atoms give them different properties. He guessed that things that tasted sweet were made of round atoma, while things that tasted bitter were made of sharp atoma.
  4. Changes we see are caused by the movement of the very tiny atoma.

Democritus had no hard evidence. He came to these ideas simply by thinking about them. However, his ideas turned out to be somewhat close to what was discovered over 2000 years after his death.