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    Sharples, Robert W. 2012. A Companion to Ancient Philosophy. p. 430.

  • Print publication year: 1999
  • Online publication date: March 2008

16 - Epicurean psychology

Epicurus was committed to atomistic materialism; unlike that of most modern psychologists and philosophers, his commitment actually extended to arguing for the truth of that position. In the Letter to Herodotus, his own summary of his philosophy of natural science, Epicurus deals with the psuchē once he has outlined the nature of atomic motion. Given his claim that the psuchē is a body, there can be no quarrel with applying either of the labels of materialist and physicalist to him. Whilst Epicurus' psychological materialism may not itself commit him to physicalism, it is less obvious that his arguments for the material nature of the psuchē do not presuppose it. What encourages the view that Epicurus denies physicalism in On Nature Book 25 is that he draws a contrast between a person's atomic constitution and what he calls developments which happen to the person. We are responsible for actions when they come about because of such developments.
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The Cambridge History of Hellenistic Philosophy
  • Online ISBN: 9781139053617
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