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Epicureanism at the Origins of Modernity$
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Catherine Wilson

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199238811

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199238811.001.0001

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Some Rival Systems

Some Rival Systems

(p.156) 6 Some Rival Systems
Epicureanism at the Origins of Modernity

Catherine Wilson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

While some 17th-century critics of Epicureanism, including Margaret Cavendish, focused on the impossibility of a structured and orderly world emerging from the purposeless collision of atoms, other critics challenged the coherence of the notion of a material particle as a fundamental building block, hoping to extirpate atheism and materialism at their source. Leibniz evolved an unusual scheme of immaterial atoms, which he termed ‘monads’. Monads were mind-like entities, dimensionless, devoid of physical properties such as shape, impenetrability, and location in absolute space, and differentiated by their experiences. Berkeley went further in proclaiming matter an incoherent idea and insisting that only ideas, God, and the human will really existed, and that the ‘external’ world was in fact in the mind.

Keywords:   atomism, Berkeley, Cavendish, hedonism, idealism, Leibniz, materialism, monad, sensory qualities

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