Atomism Philosophy Versus Scientific Atomic Theory Assessment Answer
Since ancient times the composition of universe has intrigued the philosophers. The philosophy of atomism is the ancient concept which was perceived in India and Greece in an attempt to define the composition of physical world. These philosophers coined that there are some basic substances which combine to make different objects on earth. They named these basic substances as “atoms” which is derived from the Ancient Greek word “atomos” which means indivisible or uncuttable (Nuclear-power.net, 2020). The philosophers believed that the materials on earth had different properties due to the different arrangements of the eternal atoms. They also agreed the presence of void and it is the infinite void where the atoms form different combinations and shapes. The theory did not believe in the concept of GOD and composite objects (Mastin, L., 2009)
Atomism Philosophy Vs scientific Atomic Theory
The atomism philosophy started taking its shape in ancient India between the 6th century and 1st century B.C. in the Hindu Nyaya-Vaisesika school. Their theory speculated that the atoms have the intensive and extensive properties which helps them to combine in pairs and then further group themselves into trios of pairs, thus increasing the size of the object. They proposed that the atoms are of four types and can have 24 different types of qualities (Mastin, L., 2009).
Ancient Greeks were among the first ones to propose the theory that all the mater in the universe is made up of four elements namely, water, air, earth and fire. They also believed that matter is everywhere and continuous. There is no space without matter (Vallabhajosula, S., 2009). The philosophy of atomism was founded by Greek Pre-Socratic Leucippus and his student Democritis. Democirits was born in 460 B.C. and is believed to be responsible for the detailed philosophy of atomism. As defined by Guthrie (1969, vol. II, p. 389), “Atomism is the final, and most successful, attempt to rescue the reality of the physical world from the fatal effects of Eleatic logic by means of a pluralistic theory”, as it believed in existence of void and its integration with the atoms.
Democritus philosophy of atom became the most acceptable and reasonable theory as the theory was able to explain the systematic origin and development of everything from the interaction of the indivisible atoms. The philosophy coined that:
- Each atom is a complete unit and is indivisible. The parts of atom cannot be differentiated and there is no empty space within the atom. The atoms are continuously in motion and are indestructible.
- The earlier theories of Anaxagoras and Empedocles argued qualitative pluralism while atomism theory forwarded the quantitative pluralism.
- The atoms are homogeneous, uniform, colourless and tasteless
- There exists the void/empty space and the atoms move about in the void, collide with each other and form the compounds.
The theory of atomism was challenged by Plato and Aristole and cpmpletely rejected. The theory was further developed in next century by Epicurean philosopher Titus Lucretius Carus though his poem “De Rerun Natura” (On natural Things). The poem later became the major source of the theory of atomism.
In 1808 the modern scientific Atomic Theory was developed by Dalton as a quantitative theory. Dalton researched and concluded that every element is made of small identical parts called atoms. He defined the structure of atom and also prepared the table to atomic weights and proved the relativity between the weights atoms of individual elements. Through the modern atomic theory Dalton explained the combining of atoms of different elements to form the compounds. Like the atoms of hydrogen combining with oxygen to for water. Though the atomic weights were later proved to be incorrect but it laid down the concept of table of atomic weights (Vallabhajosula, S., 2009).
Scientific theory succeeded and Philosophy failed!
Democritus philosophy of atomism was based on the idea that the world is made of innumerable small atoms which are moving in void and colliding to form macroscopic bodies. However, the theory could not explain what the atoms are made up of. According to the atomism theory all atoms are similar, unchangeable and due to lack of any inner structure, they are like small inert stones. The theory is incapable of explaining why and how some atoms combine to form some substances. The theory did not approve to the existence of the fields and assumes that the atoms reacts only when they come in contact with each other. The biggest drawback of the atomism theory is that the atoms were considered to be the only constituents of the universe. The atomism theory contradicted itself by assuming that the atoms are changeless themselves but forms the basis of change in the universe (Chalmers, A., 2009, p.2 ).
The structured quantum atoms theory given by modern physics on the other hand have a well-defined structure and is capable of explaining the change in them when they react with each other though the fields. The modern theory also leaves some open ends for further study. The study does not define any particles to be the only constituents of the world and keeps it open for further studies to reveal the internal structure electrons by the use of next generation particle accelerators. The deflection of cathode rays in the presence of electric and magnetic field helps the modern physics to calculate the ratio of charge to mass of the particles, thus providing quantities to the theories (Chalmers, A., 2009, p.2 ).
In addition to the explanation to the structure and behavior of the atoms, the use of modern atomic theory to build technologies like the lasers, microchips and hydrogen bombs proves that validity of modern science which is missing in philosophy. The use of lasers proves the quantum theory of physics and supports the stimulated emissions.
Ontological arguments that “abstract from all experience and infer the existence of a highest cause entirely a priori from mere concepts” (Grøgaard, 2018). The ontological arguments for the existence of God can be traced to the age of philosophy itself. The argument lays that there cannot be anything greater than God. God is the greatest conceivable thing and nothing greater than the greatest conceivable being is possible. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz’s claims that God is the necessary being and attempts that is possible the existence of this being. Leibniz argues that “Since Possible necessity implies necessity, a proof of divine possibility is sufficient”.
“The passage from possibility to actuality that is necessary in the sole case of God is the “principe des existences” – the principle of all existing things (GP VI, 402)”, in (Grøgaard, 2018).
Leibnizs metaphysics is fundamentally based upon the existence and forms the reason for his onto theology. His theory states “if the existence of noting further can be determined there still exists as much as is possible in accordance with the capacity of the order of possible existence”, (Grøgaard, 2018). Through his arguments Leibniz’s insists on the existence of God. Thus he gives the philosophy that the final reason for the existence of everything is God. There should be no reason for the basic unit and constituents of the universe and their inception.
Further Leibniz distinguished the ontological reals into two realms, one of well-founded phenomena like bodies and their properties and other of purely ideal things like space and time. The ideal things according to him are abstract and imaginary. They are indeterminate and continuous while the well-founded ones are determinate and discrete. In his metaphysical writings he conceived that space and time are not purely ideal but are a well-founded phenomenon just like the bodies and their properties. Though his philosophy was not appreciated much on time as space because it lacked evidence and was not able to differentiate between ideal entities and well-founded phenomenon.
Leibnize claims like the bodies and their properties, space and time are “in realm of everyday experience, the phenomenal world and this forms the object of study of the sciences…” (Crockrtt, T., 2008). This philosophy gives the interpretation that space and time are the objects which are actual and can be experienced and that they are well-founded like bodies. However there very less textual evidence that space-time are well founded phenomenon.
It can be concluded that considering the individual mind and body as the two phenomenon and experiencing the union of one’s own mind and body, no one but only God can explain why and how they came into existence and how they interact (Shim, M.K., 2005). Thus Leibniz in the philosophy emphasizes on ‘dominating monad’ of mind-body union without any explanation and attributing it to existence of God.