I am reading History of Western philosophy by Bertrand Russell and, when talking about the Atomists, he says:

he [Leucippus] conceded the monists that there could be no motion without a void.

And then, the position of Parmenides:

you say there is the void; therefore the void is not nothing, therefore is not the void.


As far as I know the monists believed in the void (that is on the first quote). Parmenides was a monist. So, does he argues against the void? Maybe in place of "Parmenides" there should be "Empedocles", but am not sure...

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    You can see T.Knight, Parmenides and the Void (1959): "Unless Parmenides' One Being is considered a corporeal unit, he cannot be said to have denied the existence of a void. And whether or not his monism can be regarded as materialistic is a matter of dispute." It is not clear if a strict" physical" interpretation of Parmenides' point of view is the correct one. Mar 1 '18 at 8:18
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    If we map Being with matter, thus if Being is the only existing entity and Non-Being is "nothing", then void (i.e. non-matter) is non existing, because it is nothing. Mar 1 '18 at 8:20
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    The Void is forced on us if we are a dualist or monist, I suspect that Parmenides was not a monist but a nondualist - for whom the Void is a conceptual phenomenon unextended in space-time and not a real 'thing'.
    – user20253
    Mar 1 '18 at 13:19

Check out Aristotles Physics where there is a discussion of this and which I found quite clear. The monists did not believe in the void they believed in a single thing/being the world could be reduced to - so monist. If I recall rightly, Russell points out Thales as the first monist for thinking everything is made of water.

But Parmenides pointed out that if being is actual this means that there could be no change. This pushed the atomists to invent the notion of the void and atoms but Aristotle argues against the void and posits his notion of potentiality/actuality as the explanation of motion. Heisenberg used this notion of Aristotle to interpret QM. This returns as Thales: when you see a body of water water what do you see? Waves. So waves of potentiality and actuality in the body of being.

  • wow, I didn't understand very much what you say, but seems good. Thanks. The first paragraph I wrote is quoted from the BR book. Do you see the problem? BTW, you are right about Thales & what monists refer to, but that's why I quoted the book directly. And lastly..the notion of Aristotle was wrong, I can't see why Heisenberg pay attention to that notion. Would you copy any link of the information?
    – user29573
    Feb 28 '18 at 22:45
  • @santimirandarp: Thanks. Leucippus conceded to Parmenides there couldn't be motion without a void; but Aristotle pointed out what this void is not a true void but space or as he calls it place; well, I think we would have to disagree here - I would go along with Heisenberg; potentiality is already important to physics without going to QM, look at the notion of potential energy and its implicit in Rovellis Relational QM to which Berbard D'Espagnat said it seems to lead to a loss of reality ie potentiality, though I don't think they use this language. Mar 1 '18 at 15:54
  • I'm not sure which links to point at but you can try Shimon Malins Nature Loves to Hide. Mar 1 '18 at 15:55
  • You agree with " Leucippus conceded to Parmenides there couldn't be motion without a void". But look at the quotes in the OP. What BR says is that Parmenides argues against the void, that's what confuses me.
    – user29573
    Mar 1 '18 at 16:10
  • @santimirandarp: Sure, Paremenides also argued there could be no void. Hence he argued there could be no motion. Evidently there is motion the question is to take account of it. Like I've already pointed out, Leucippus considered the void as a place where atoms could move in. Aristotle doesn't consider this void as the true void of Parmenides but as space which has a kind of being. Compare this to Einsteins insight where the spacetime becomes dynamic and so has the appearance of being. Mar 1 '18 at 16:26

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