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The quote from philosopher Democritus is:

[I would] rather discover one cause than gain the kingdom of Persia.

or

I would rather discover a single demonstration [in geometry] than become king of the Persians.

I cannot find more information and background on this. Could somebody give me more sources to read online or explain more the "cause" and the "demonstration"?

Thank you!

1 Answer 1

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See Democritus of Abdera (born about 460 BCE) and the complete English transaltion of Democritus' fragments.

In a nutshell, we may read it as [see Fr.113] :

love for wisdom is more important than power.

Democritus was an Atomist and one of central concerns of Presocratic Philosophy was the inquiry regarding nature.

See e.g. Aristotle about Thales :

In his account of his predecessors' searches for “causes and principles” of the natural world and natural phenomena, Aristotle says that Thales of Miletus (a city in Ionia, on the west coast of what is now Turkey) was the first to engage in such inquiry.

Thus, "discover one cause" is exactly to inquire about “causes and principles” of the natural world and natural phenomena.

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