Book

Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity

David Sedley

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2008 | ISBN: 9780520253643
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520934368 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520253643.001.0001
Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity

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The world is configured in ways that seem systematically hospitable to life forms, especially the human race. Is this the outcome of divine planning or simply of the laws of physics? Ancient Greeks and Romans famously disagreed on whether the cosmos was the product of design or accident. This book examines this question and illuminates new historical perspectives on the pantheon of thinkers who laid the foundations of Western philosophy and science. Versions of what we call the “creationist” option were widely favored by the major thinkers of classical antiquity, including Plato, whose ideas on the subject prepared the ground for Aristotle's celebrated teleology. But Aristotle aligned himself with the anti-creationist lobby, whose most militant members—the atomists—sought to show how a world just like ours would form inevitably by sheer accident, given only the infinity of space and matter. This study explores seven major thinkers and philosophical movements enmeshed in the debate: Anaxagoras, Empedocles, Socrates, Plato, the atomists, Aristotle, and the Stoics.

Keywords: divine planning; laws of physics; Ancient Greeks; Ancient Romans; cosmos; classical antiquity; Plato; Aristotle's teleology; atomists; infinity of space

Book.  296 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical Philosophy

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Table of Contents

Anaxagoras in Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity

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Empedocles in Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity

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Socrates in Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity

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Plato in Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity

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The Atomists in Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity

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Aristotle in Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity

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The Stoics in Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity

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Epilogue: A Galenic Perspective in Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity

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