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Tuesday, March 17, 2020

On The Metaphysics of Lucretius

Stephen Greenblatt describes the metaphysics of Lucretius in a single 108-word paragraph in which every line points towards the word “atoms,” which appears at the very end. Here’s the paragraph from Greenblatt’s book The Swerve: How the World Became Modern:

“That Lucretius and many others did more than simply associate themselves with Epicurus—that they celebrated him as godlike in his wisdom and courage—depended not on his social credentials but upon what they took to be the saving power of his vision. The core of his vision may be traced back to a single incandescent idea: that everything that has ever existed and everything that will ever exist is put together out of indestructible building blocks, irreducibly small in size, unimaginably vast in number. The Greeks had a word for these invisible building blocks, things that, as they conceived them, could not be divided any further: atoms.”

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