A highly reductive theory of the structure of the world, in which all things
are made of an infinite number of randomly moving indivisible cells
is also known as mechanical philosophy, and was a philosophy of nature popular
during the seventeenth century. It sought to explain all natural phenomena in
terms of the configuration, motions and collisions of small unobservable
particles of matter, or atomies, later known as atoms.
philosophy has its roots in the writing of the ancient Epicurus and his Roman
disciple, Lucretius. These two men sought to explain
all phenomena in terms of the chance collisions of material atoms in empty
space. Epicurus believed that atoms have always existed and are infinite in
the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the atomism of Epicurus
seemed particularly compatible with the spirit of the new astronomy and physics,
rather than the doctrines of Platonism, Stoicism or Aristotelianism.
During this period some of its advocates included Sebastian Basso (1550-1600),
Walter Warner (1570-1642) and the Dutch schoolteacher Isaac Beeckman
(1588-1637), who was influential on later mechanists like Pierre Gassendi
(1592-1655) and Rene Descartes (1596-1650).
by: Richard P Whaite
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