Materialism and Idealism: Epicurus and Berkeley

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(Name) (Professor) (Subject) (Date) Epicurus’ Materialism and Berkeley’s Idealism It has always been a wonder whether what we can see, hear, feel, smell and touch is real or not. Sometimes, the sensations that we feel are so real, but that thing where one derives his sensations may be existent – or may not.


According to Epicurus, “The first principle is that nothing can be created from the nonexistent” (Author 108). This is rather a common sense view of things, for how can one thing arise from something that does not exist. However, this basic principle of materialism rejects the idea of creation, or making something out of nothing. It therefore rejects the possibility that there is a God who creates something out of nothing, and thus it rejects the possibility that something may actually exist from nothing. This possibility, however, is unscientific and more religious in nature, and thus it is but sensible for many people, including Epicurus, to reject it. The universe, according to Epicurus, “consists of material bodies and void” because the latter is the place where matter is to exist (109). Therefore, the existence of the “void” is considered necessary as it is the one that should contain the matter or the material substance. Epicurus also believes that “the universe as a whole is infinite,” although this may purely have been concluded based on the fact that Epicurus could not possibly comprehend a particular finiteness of the universe (109). It therefore also follows that the number of atoms is infinite, and since the number of atoms is infinite, then the void that holds them must also be infinite. ...
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