The nature of matter and the idea of indivisible parts has fascinated philosophers, historians, scientists and physicists from antiquity to the present day. This collection covers the richness of its history, starting with how the Ancient Greeks came to assume the existence of atoms and concluding with contemporary metaphysical debates about structure, time and reality. Focusing on important moments in the history of human thought when the debate about atomism was particularly flourishing and transformative for the scientific and philosophical (...) spirit of the time, this collection covers: - The discovery of atomism in ancient philosophy - Ancient non-Western, Arabic and late Medieval thought - The Renaissance, when along with the re-discovery of ancient thought, atomism became once again an important doctrine to be fully debated - Logical atomism in early analytic philosophy, with Russell and Wittgenstein - Atomism in Liberalism and Marxism - Atomism and the philosophy of time - Atomism in contemporary metaphysics - Atomism and the sciences Featuring 28 chapters by leading and younger scholars, this valuable collection reveals the development of one of philosophy's central doctrines across 2,500 years and within a broad range of philosophical traditions. (shrink)
Biological atomism postulates that all life is composed of elementary and indivisible vital units. The activity of a living organism is thus conceived as the result of the activities and interactions of its elementary constituents, each of which individually already exhibits all the attributes proper to life. This paper surveys some of the key episodes in the history of biological atomism, and situates cell theory within this tradition. The atomistic foundations of cell theory are subsequently dissected and discussed, (...) together with the theory’s conceptual development and eventual consolidation. This paper then examines the major criticisms that have been waged against cell theory, and argues that these too can be interpreted through the prism of biological atomism as attempts to relocate the true biological atom away from the cell to a level of organization above or below it. Overall, biological atomism provides a useful perspective through which to examine the history and philosophy of cell theory, and it also opens up a new way of thinking about the epistemic decomposition of living organisms that significantly departs from the physicochemical reductionism of mechanistic biology. (shrink)
Contemporary metaphysicians have been drawn to a certain attractive picture of the structure of the world. This picture consists in classical mereology, the priority of parts over wholes, and the well-foundedness of metaphysical priority. In this short note, I show that this combination of theses entails superatomism, which is a significant strengthening of mereological atomism. This commitment has been missed in the literature due to certain sorts of models of mereology being overlooked. But the entailment is an important one: (...) we must either accept superatomism or reject one (or other) of the most widespread theses of contemporary metaphysics. (shrink)
Between 1653 and 1655 Margaret Cavendish makes a radical transition in her theory of matter, rejecting her earlier atomism in favour of an infinitely-extended and infinitely-divisible material plenum, with matter being ubiquitously self-moving, sensing, and rational. It is unclear, however, if Cavendish can actually dispense of atomism. One of her arguments against atomism, for example, depends upon the created world being harmonious and orderly, a premise Cavendish herself repeatedly undermines by noting nature’s many disorders. I argue that (...) her supposed difficulties with atomism expose a deeper tension in her work between two fundamental metaphysical commitments each of which has substantial philosophical support: her monist theory of the material world (which maintains that there exists just one natural substance which is the single principal cause) and her occasional theory of causation (which requires multiple finite principal causes in nature -- causes that might be considered individual substances). Her monism undermines atomism while her theory of occasional cause seems to rest on a conception of nature that would be especially friendly to atomism. I argue further that we can solve this tension within a Cavendishian framework in such a way as to preserve her theory of causation and her monism, but that this solution depends upon our taking her monism in a particular (and weak) form. I finally note that we can best make sense of her unique and interesting form of monism by acknowledging her social-political motivations in addition to her motivations in natural philosophy. (shrink)
Atomism is the thesis that every object is composed of atoms. This principle is generally regimented by means of an atomicity axiom according to which every object has atomic parts. But there appears to be a sense that something is amiss with atomistic mereology. We look at three concerns, which, while importantly different, involve infinite descending chains of proper parts and have led some to question standard formalizations of atomism and composition in mereology.
Jerrold J. Katz often explained his semantic theory by way of an analogy with physical atomism and an attendant analogy with chemistry. In this chapter, I track the origin and uses of these analogies by Katz, both in explaining and defending his decompositional semantic theory, through the various phases of his work throughout his career.
There are at least three vaguely atomistic principles that have come up in the literature, two explicitly and one implicitly. First, standard atomism is the claim that everything is composed of atoms, and is very often how atomism is characterized in the literature. Second, superatomism is the claim that parthood is well-founded, which implies that every proper parthood chain terminates, and has been discussed as a stronger alternative to standard atomism. Third, there is a principle that lies (...) between these two theses in terms of its relative strength: strong atomism, the claim that every maximal proper parthood chain terminates. Although strong atomism is equivalent to superatomism in classical extensional mereology, it is strictly weaker than it in strictly weaker systems in which parthood is a partial order. And it is strictly stronger than standard atomism in classical extensional mereology and, given the axiom of choice, in such strictly weaker systems as well. Though strong atomism has not, to my knowledge, been explicitly identified, Shiver appears to have it in mind, though it is unclear whether he recognizes that it is not equivalent to standard atomism in each of the mereologies he considers. I prove these logical relationships which hold amongst these three atomistic principles, and argue that, whether one adopts classical extensional mereology or a system strictly weaker than it in which parthood is a partial order, standard atomism is a more defensible addition to one’s mereology than either of the other two principles, and it should be regarded as the best formulation of the atomistic thesis. (shrink)
Conceptual atomists argue that most of our concepts are primitive. I take up three arguments that have been thought to support atomism and show that they are inconclusive. The evidence that allegedly backs atomism is equally compatible with a localist position on which concepts are structured representations with complex semantic content. I lay out such a localist position and argue that the appropriate position for a non-atomist to adopt is a pluralist view of conceptual structure. I show several (...) ways in which conceptual pluralism provides an advantage in satisfying the empirical and philosophical demands on a theory of conceptual structure and content. (shrink)
Logical Atomism is a philosophy that sought to account for the world in all its various aspects by relating it to the structure of the language in which we articulate information. In _The Philosophy of Logical Atomism,_ Bertrand Russell, with input from his young student Ludwig Wittgenstein, developed the concept and argues for a reformed language based on pure logic. Despite Russell’s own future doubts surrounding the concept, this founding and definitive work in analytical philosophy by one of (...) the world’s most significant philosophers is a remarkable attempt to establish a novel way of thinking. (shrink)
The principles governing elemental composition, variation, and change in Plato’s Timaeus appear to be incompatible, which has led commentators to prioritize some of the principles to the exclusion of others. Call this seeming incompatibility the problem of isomorphic variants. In this paper, I develop the theory of proportionate atomism as a solution to this problem. Proportionate atomism retains the advantages of rival interpretations but allows the principles of material composition, variation, and change to combine into an internally coherent (...) and explanatorily powerful atomic physics. (shrink)
A substantial and in-depth study of the history of the atomic theory of matter between the time of Democritus and that of Newton. It is the first to emphasize the continuity of the atomic debate and the debt owed by the seventeenth-century "moderns" to the medieval critique of Aristotle.
Value is either additive or else it is subject to organic unity. In general we have organic unity where a complex whole is not simply the sum of its parts. Value exhibits organic unity if the value of a complex, whether a complex state or complex quality, is greater or less than the sum of the values of its components or parts. Whether or not value is additive might be thought to be of purely metaphysical interest, but it is also (...) connected with important aspects of evaluative reasoning. Additivity is closely connected with principles of bare difference and separability which are often tacitly assumed in value theory. The author spells out these principles and trace their connections with additivity and organic unity. The author then develops an unpleasant paradox of additivity. Additivity apparently entails nihilism: that nothing is more valuable than anything else. Additivity involves a kind of axiological atomism -- that complexes decompose into components or factors; that these factors possess value independently of their role in valuable complexes; and that the factors do not interact in their production of overall value. In order to avoid the paradox it seems as though the factors have to be akin to the metaphysically privileged states of logical atomism -- a doctrine that does not enjoy widespread support. The paradox poses a problem not only for the notions of organic unity and additivity, but also for the closely related bare-difference principles which lie at the heart of value theory and of its application. The author proposes a way of eliminating the paradox, and thereby saving additivity and separability, without presupposing an unpalatable variant of logical atomism. The author closes with the proposal to treat principles of additivity as regulative ideals in our search for intrinsic values. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to examine the theoretical architecture of semantic atomism and its consequences with respect to natural language. In particular, it looks to explore the notion of possible concepts using the fundamental distinction between simple and complex concepts and expressions in Jerry Fodor’s atomism. The distinction is exploited to produce an unusual type of concept referred to as a correlate, which effectively mirrors complex concepts while maintaining a distinct underlying structure. Though harmless in and (...) of themselves, their presence in the context of polymorphemic expressions suggests that atomism harbors a tacit and unintuitive form of polysemy that is problematic in its own right and that leads to other complications, some of which may be demonstrated on the example of communication. These issues are tied to the way atomism is structured, and although they seem to have gone largely unnoticed, they appear to bear negatively on the adequacy of atomism where natural language is concerned. (shrink)
According to anti-atomism, we represent color properties (e.g., red) in virtue of representing color relations (e.g., redder than). I motivate anti-atomism with a puzzle involving a series of pairwise indistinguishable chips. I then develop two versions of anti-atomism.
A summary of Russell’s logical atomism, understood to include both a metaphysical view and a certain methodology for doing philosophy. The metaphysical view amounts to the claim that the world consists of a plurality of independently existing things exhibiting qualities and standing in relations. The methodological view recommends a process of analysis, whereby one attempts to define or reconstruct more complex notions or vocabularies in terms of simpler ones. The origins of this theory, and its influence and reception are (...) also discussed. (shrink)
The paper focusses on two claims about metaphysical structure: Atomism and Fundamentalism. The first of these claims says that there are mereological atoms, i.e. minimal elements in the mereological structure of reality. The second says that there are fundamental truths, i.e. minimal elements in the grounding structure of reality. A philosopher who defended both of these claims was Bernard Bolzano; the present paper is an exploration of his views on the matter.
The popular metaphysical view that concrete objects are grounded in their ultimate parts is often motivated by appeals to realist interpretations of contemporary physics. This paper argues that an examination of mainstream interpretations of quantum mechanics undercuts such atomist claims. First, mereological atomism is only plausible in conjunction with Bohmian mechanics. Second, on either an endurantist or perdurantist theory of time, atomism exacerbates Bohmianism’s existing tensions with serious Lorentz invariance in a way that undermines the realist appeal of (...) both views. Bohmians should therefore resist atomism, leaving atomists somewhat physically homeless. (shrink)
In this paper, I will try to look at Leibniz from the topos of Indian philosophy. François Jullien called such a strategy “dépayser la pensée” – to withdraw an idea from its familiar environment and to see it through the lens of a different culture. “Read Confucius to better understand Plato.” I am referring to Indian philosophy, especially to some Buddhist systems, in order to highlight certain aspects of Leibniz’s mode of thinking, that I define as “atomistic approach”.
THE PHILOSOPHY which I advocate is generally regarded as a species of realism, and accused of inconsistency because of the elements in it which seem contrary to that doctrine. For my part, I do not regard the issue between realists and their opponents as a funda- mental one; I could alter my view on this issue without changing my mind as to any of the doctrines upon which I wish to lay stress. I hold that logic is what is fundamental (...) in philosophy, and that schools should be characterized rather by their logic than by their metaphysic. My own logic is atomic, and it is this aspect upon which I should wish to lay stress. Therefore I prefer to describe my philosophy as "logical atomism," rather than as "realism," whether with or without some prefixed adjective. (shrink)
In the late 1970s and the 1980s, a number of radical left political theorists focused their philosophical attention on the relevance of ancient atomism, revitalizing a tradition that went back to Karl Marx's work on his dissertation. This essay looks at the uses of atomism by two thinkers in particular, Jacques Rancière and Alain Badiou, in order to see how their discussions of and references to ancient materialism help to shed light on their fundamental disagreements about the nature (...) of community and equality. First, this paper argues that what Badiou and Rancière most obviously share in their assessments of atomism is a negative judgment regarding the post-swerve constitution of the world, while what most obviously distinguishes their positions is their differing judgments regarding the preswerve rain of the atoms in the void. Becoming clear both about how Badiou and Rancière respond to what comes before and after the atomistic swerve helps to clarify an implicit response on Rancière’s part to what has become Badiou’s chief objection to Rancière’s political theory. Second, this paper argues that the fact that Badiou assesses both what comes before and what comes after the swerve as negative, while Rancière assesses only what comes after the swerve as negative, makes clear that their most essential point of difference concerns the status of the swerve that mediates between before and after. Working through the complexities of Badiou’s analysis of the swerve and uncovering Rancière’s extremely subtle analysis of the swerve helps to clarify a major aspect of what has become Rancière’s chief criticism of Badiou’s conception of philosophy. (shrink)
Atomism is defined as the view that the moral value of any object is ultimately determined by simple features whose contribution to the value of an object is always the same, independently of context. A morally fundamental feature, in a given context, is defined as one whose contribution in that context is determined by no other value fact. Three theses are defended, which together entail atomism: (1) All objects have their moral value ultimately in virtue of morally fundamental (...) features; (2) If a feature is morally fundamental, then its contribution is always the same; (3) Morally fundamental features are simple. (shrink)
A study of the history of the atomic theory of matter between the time of Democritus and that of Newton. The classical atomic theory, we are told, consisted of four central doctrines: a firm commitment to indivisible units of matter; a belief in the reality of the vacuum; a reductionist conception of forms and qualities and a mechanistic account of natural agency. The work provides a critical account of the arguments used for and against these four theses during three time-periods: (...) Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the 17th century. Atomism was a minority position in Antiquity, rejected by most natural philosophers on the strength of Aristotelian objections. But Aristotle's own disciples gradually took his system apart in the Middle Ages, thus developing - albeit in a piecemeal manner - positions strikingly akin in some respects to classical atomism. So when Gassendi and others sought to revive atomism in the 17th century, the way was already prepared for them. This study is the first to emphasise the continuity of this process and the debt owed by the 17th-century moderns to the medieval critique of Aristotle. (shrink)
This paper argues that tthe detailed critique of a variety of atomistic doctrines found in the Galenic corpus, especially On the Elements according to Hippocrates, was a major source for the atomism of the early kalam.
Presocratic atomism was one of the most influential of the early theories: both Plato and Aristotle thought of it as a major competing theory, and it was an important source for post-Aristotelian Hellenistic theories. It has been commonplace that the atomism developed first by Leucippus of Abdera and then by Democritus of Abdera was a reaction to the Eleatic arguments of Zeno and Melissus, but the details of that influence have sometimes seemed rather hazy. This article brings them (...) into sharper focus. This article considers the Eleatic foundations of atomism, especially the question of the importance of Zeno and Melissus for Democritus. By concentrating on some of the less-studied aspects of atomism and especially of the development of the concept of the unlimited into the notion of the infinite, it furthers the understanding of not only the development of early atomism but also the Eleatics Zeno and Melissus. (shrink)
Atomism is the programme explaining all changes in terms of invariant units. The development of physics during the 20th century may be treated as a spectacular triumph of atomism. However, paradoxically, changes and conceptual difficulties brought about by quantum mechanics lead to the conclusion that the ontological model provided by classical atomism has become inadequate. Atoms (and elementary particles) are not atomos—indivisible, perfectly solid, unchangeable, ungenerated and indestructible (eternal), and the void is not simply an empty space. (...) According to quantum mechanics and quantum field theory, there is no unchanging substance at all. If we want to understand contemporary notions of matter and develop an ontological model of the world, consistent with contemporary natural sciences, we should probably go beyond the conceptual framework of atomic philosophy. (shrink)
While operators for logical necessity and possibility represent "internal" conditions of propositions (or of their corresponding states of affairs), These conditions will be "formal", As is required by logical atomism, And not "material" in content if from the (pseudo) semantical point of view the modal operators range over "all the possible worlds" of a logical space rather than over arbitrary non-Empty sets of worlds (as is usually done in modal logic). Some of the implications of this requirement are noted (...) and though several variants of realist logical atomism are distinguished and discussed, The theory of logical form developed is nominalist. Many of nominalism's difficulties and inadequacies become transparent in the context of logical atomism and are so noted. (shrink)
Diachronic perceptual atomism is the view that the contents of experience do not involve temporal relations between non-simultaneous events, such as motion, succession, or duration, but only 'snapshots' of the world. Traditionally, atomism has not been a very popular view. Indeed, many philosophers think that it is obviously false and that the main debate about time consciousness takes place between models which reject atomistic commitments. This antiatomistic sentiment can be traced back to William James's slogan that 'a succession (...) of feelings, in and of itself, is not a feeling of succession'. In this paper I argue, first, that the arguments typically launched against atomism in the spirit of James's slogan fail; and second, that the viability of atomism depends on what the conditions for a mental event's being an experience are. In particular, I argue that if a mental event is an experience only if it fulfils certain downstream conditions, which concern the role of the event in the subject's cognitive life, then atomism fails. Otherwise, it is in fact a viable and in many ways attractive view. It follows from my discussion that, contrary to popular belief, atomism is by no means obviously false. Rather, its viability depends on one's further views about the relationship between experience and cognition. (shrink)
In the Tractatus Logico‐Philosophicus, Wittgenstein adopts a version of logical atomism. This chapter offers an exposition of the Tractarian version of logical atomism. Wittgenstein argues that the constituents of the end products of complete analysis are simple signs, and that there are necessarily existent objects. The chapter explains Wittgenstein's main argument for the possibility of complete analysis. It comments on three recent interpretations of the substance argument and offers an exposition of the substance argument. According to the Tractatus, (...) propositions show the logical form of reality, which is constituted by the logical forms of states of affairs. The substance argument is a reductio ad absurdum. The reductio is the premise that the world had no substance, which is equivalent to the claim that there were no necessarily existent simple objects. The world has substance constituted by necessarily existent simple objects. (shrink)
The strong opposition of nineteenth-century French chemists to atomism is usually described as a national attitude due to the overarching influence of positivism in France. The explanation sounds plausible, at first glance. However, the idea that a philosophy of science acted as an obstacle to the advancement of science needs further investigation. What is meant exactly by a philosophical influence on a scientific community? In analysing the alleged influence of positivism on the chemists' community it is argued that the (...) common connection established between philosophical views and scientific attitudes leads to a misunderstanding of both philosophy and scientific activity. This paper first stresses the misreading of Auguste Comte's works; then the misunderstanding of scientific debates about atomism in chemistry. Finally it suggests an alternative view: that the atomic debates generated a variety of positivisms. (shrink)
Conceptual atomism is a doctrine deeply rooted in the tradition of western thought. It originated with Aristotle, was present in the entire Aristotelian tradition and came to its most pure expression in the work of Leibniz. However, ab initio this doctrine suffered from certain difficulty labelled traditionally “aporia generis”, namely the problem of how it is possible to reconcile the absolute simplicity of the primitive concepts (or ultimate differentiae) with the existence of transcendental concepts, that is, concepts necessarily included (...) in every concept. In this paper the entire problem is subject to an analysis and a solution is suggested, based on a distinction between two different kinds of conceptual containment: the primitive concepts do not contain the transcendentals formally, that is, as constituents thatcan be revealed by means of definitional analysis, but they nevertheless do contain them virtually, that is, they strictly imply them. It is noted that the germ of this solution is already present in Aristotle. (shrink)
The original conception of atomism suggests “atoms”, which cannot be divided more into composing parts. However, the name “atom” in physics is reserved for entities, which can be divided into electrons, protons, neutrons and other “elementary particles”, some of which are in turn compounded by other, “more elementary” ones. Instead of this, quantum mechanics is grounded on the actually indivisible quanta of action limited by the fundamental Planck constant. It resolves the problem of how both discrete and continuous (even (...) smooth) to be described uniformly and invariantly in thus. Quantum mechanics can be interpreted in terms of quantum information. Qubit is the indivisible unit (“atom”) of quantum information. The imagery of atomism in modern physics moves from atoms of matter (or energy) via “atoms” (quanta) of action to “atoms” (qubits) of quantum information. This is a conceptual shift in the cognition of reality to terms of information, choice, and time. (shrink)
Since the appearance of T. S. Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, scholars from various fields have sought to evaluate their disciplines in the light of Kuhnian criteria for scientific change. In this paper I argue that a new paradigm seems needed in high energy physics, and that there is no more reason to say that matter is made of elementary particles, than to say that it is not. My argument, that high energy physics is approaching a state of crisis, (...) and that a new paradigm is needed, is based on an examination of two events which, according to Kuhn, presage a conceptual revolution: (1) the "old" paradigm of normal science becomes unclear; and (2) this paradigm fails to support normal problem solving research, and scientists begin to use it as if it were merely definitional. After examining the elementary particles paradigm in the light of these two criteria, I conclude that high energy physics is moving from "normal science" to "extraordinary science." I argue neither that a new paradigm has been found, nor that a return to normal science is imminent; instead I attempt to briefly outline some of the conceptual problems in high energy physics to which Heisenberg, Feynman, and others have alluded, but which so far have not been spelled out in any great philosophical detail. No attempt is made to argue about what the specific consequences of these difficulties might be, but merely to begin to clarify the problems facing scientists dealing with elementary particles. (shrink)
A propositional logic with modal operators for logical necessity and possibility is formulated as a formal ontology for logical atomism (with negative facts). It is shown that such modal operators represent purely formal, Internal 'properties' of propositions if and only if the notion of 'all possible worlds' has its standard and not the secondary interpretation which it is usually given (as, E.G., In kripke model-Structures). Allowing arbitrary restrictions on the notion of 'all possible worlds', At least in such a (...) framework as logical atomism, Generates internal 'properties' of propositions with material instead of purely formal content. (shrink)
Modern atomism.J. Pasupathy (ed.) - 2017 - New Delhi: Project of History of Indian Science, Philosophy and Culture, Sub-Project: Consciousness, Science, Society, Value, and Yoga, Centre for Studies in Civilizations.details
Three kinds of "atoms" figure in russell's logical atomism, Though he seems to see no differences between them: logical atoms (the referents of logically proper names); epistemological atoms (things known directly or by acquaintance); and ontological atoms (basic constituents of the universe). This paper speculates on why russell believed that all three of these notions coincide, Thereby bringing out some of his unacknowledged background assumptions.
This work analyzes two perspectives, Atomism and Infinite Divisibility, in the light of modern mathematical knowledge and recent developments in computer graphics. A developmental perspective is taken which relates ideas leading to atomism and infinite divisibility. A detailed analysis of and a new resolution for Zeno's paradoxes are presented. Aristotle's arguments are analyzed. The arguments of some other philosophers are also presented and discussed. All arguments purporting to prove one position over the other are shown to be faulty, (...) mostly by question begging. Included is a sketch of the consistency of infinite divisibility and a development of the atomic perspective modeled on computer graphics screen displays. The Pythagorean theorem is shown to depend upon the assumption of infinite divisibility. The work concludes that Atomism and infinite divisibility are independantly consistent, though mutually incompatible, not unlike the wave/particle distinction in physics. (shrink)
Charles Taylor criticizes many liberal theories based on a kind of atomism that assumes the individual self-sufficiency outside the polity. This not only causes soft-relativism and political fragmentation but also undermines the solidarity of the community, that is, the very condition of the formation of autonomous citizens. Taylor thus argues for communitarian politics which protects certain cultural common goods for sustaining the solidarity of the community. However, Brenda Lyshaug criticizes Taylor’s communitarianism as suppressing plurality and enhancing hostility among cultural (...) groups. In the face of such controversies, I argue for modern Confucian familism which emphasizes the family as a common good that provides a safe, stable, and nurturing environment for nurturing children and cultivating civility for future generations with a sense of community and autonomy. I also defend Confucian familism from four possible criticisms: insufficiency of familism, hierarchical relationship in the family, the danger of nepotism, and challenge from postmodern families. I argue that unlike traditional Confucianism, modern moderation of the Confucian family can greatly reduce the hierarchical problem; its emphasis on the family as one of the foundations of politics can avoid the danger of being atomistic liberalism and suppressive communitarianism. (shrink)
Classical atoms—“part-less, ontologically irreducible simples” as the conference flyer puts it—are not the atoms of modern chemistry and analogies with the latter can be construed in various ways. They have figured in the historical development of concepts of chemical affinity but without, as Alan Chalmers and I have independently argued, making any significant contribution to empirically justified theories. A purely combinatorial conception of the formation of compounds by juxtaposing atoms is associated with Daltonian atomism. I review the merits of (...) this idea as a solution to problems posed by developments in early nineteenth century chemistry and go on to suggest that subsequent developments in chemistry are as much in agreement with ideas associated with Aristotle as with the ancient atomists, if not more so. The basic issues can be understood without getting involved in detailed chemistry and I hope what I have to say will be of interest to philosophers concerned with the metaphysics of matter but with no special knowledge of chemistry. (shrink)
While holism and atomism are often treated as mutually exclusive approaches to semantic theory, the apparent tension between the two usually results from running together distinct levels of semantic explanation. In particular, there is no reason why one can’t combine an atomistic conception of what the semantic values of our words are (one’s “descriptive semantics”), with a holistic explanation of why they have those values (one’s “foundational semantics”). Most objections to holism can be shown to apply only to holistic (...) version of descriptive semantics, and do not tell against any sorts of holistic foundational semantics. As Davidson’s work will be used to illustrate, by clearly distinguishing foundational and descriptive semantics, one can capture the most appealing features of both holism and atomism. (shrink)
In our recent book (Abraham and Roy 2010) we have repurposed a mathematical model for the quantum vacuum as a model of consciousness. In this model, discrete space and time are derived from a discrete cellular dynamical network. As our model is essentially atomistic, we included in our book a short support chapter on atomism. In this aticle we expand on the few pages of that chapter devoted to the history of atomism, to place the current revival of (...)atomism in a larger context. (shrink)
Many philosophers reject the view that well-being over a lifetime is simply an aggregation of well-being at every moment of one's life, and thus they reject theories of well-being like hedonism and concurrentist desire satisfactionism. They raise concerns that such a view misses the importance of the relationships between moments in a person's life or the role narratives play in a person's well-being. In this article, we develop an atomist meta-theory of well-being, according to which the prudential value of a (...) life depends solely on the prudential value of each moment of that life. This is a general account of momentary well-being that can capture different features of well-being that standard atomistic accounts fail to capture, thus allowing for the possibility of an atomism that is compatible with a variety of well-being theories. Contrary to many criticisms leveled against momentary well-being, this well-being atomism captures all of the important features of well-being. (shrink)