Democritus on appearances and perception: the early sources

Mi-Kyoung Lee

in Epistemology after Protagoras

Published in print February 2005 | ISBN: 9780199262229
Published online October 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602924 | DOI:
 Democritus on appearances and perception: the early sources

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Democritus rejects the thesis that all beliefs are true, but accepts the idea that things are for each as one’s senses tell one. Thus, he gives some sense of what a more and nuanced developed version of Protagorean ideas about perception would look like, one that anticipates Epicurus’ slogan that ‘all perceptions are true.’ This chapter examines the early sources for Democritus’ epistemological views, especially Theophrastus, who preserves for us Democritus’ theory of perception and sensible properties.

Keywords: sensible qualities; perception; senses; relativity; subjective; appearances; explanation; aitiologia; vision

Chapter.  21044 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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