Musings On Atoms, Images, And Monads

Musings On Atoms, Images, And Monads

 

Democritus believed the soul is composed of globular atoms of fire. Referring to Democritus, Aristotle wrote,

Some say that what originates movement is both preeminently and primarily soul; believing that what is not itself moved cannot originate movement in another, they arrived at the view that soul belongs to the class of things in movement. This is what led Democritus to say that soul is a sort of fire or hot substance; his ‘forms’ or atoms are infinite in number; those which are spherical he calls fire and soul, and compares them to the motes in the air which we see in shafts of light coming through windows; the mixture of seeds of all sorts he calls the elements of the whole of Nature (Leucippus gives a similar account); the spherical atoms are identified with soul because atoms of that shape are most adapted to permeate everywhere, and to set all the others moving by being themselves in movement.

We usually think the idea of monads is a primitive version of our own atomic theory. But what if this is really a window into reality? I think this fits in well with the proposition that all things are reducible to images. Images are indivisible and non-reducible, just like the atoms of Democritus. Atoms are images.

As early as the Presocratic philosophers, the idea of non-reducible, indivisible units has also been expressed as monads. For Pythagoras, it was the “all-including ONE” (Manly P. Hall). The universe is also a monad, but all the individual parts are as well. For Plato, the monads were likened to the Ideas. So, it is directly in line with this tradition to suggest that monads are indeed images, and that everything derives from them.

I would equate the archetypes, as in Jung’s archetypes of the collective unconscious, with monads and atoms (not the physical balls of matter we are so familiar with, but atoms in the ancient sense, as being indivisible). These are the gods of Greek mythology.

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