Strato of Lampsacus

Strato of Lampsacus

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Strato of Lampsacus was a Peripatetic philosopher, and the third director (scholarch
Scholarch
A scholarch is the head of a school. The term was especially used for the heads of schools of philosophy in ancient Athens, such as the Platonic Academy, whose first scholarch was Plato himself...

) of the Lyceum
Lyceum
The lyceum is a category of educational institution defined within the education system of many countries, mainly in Europe. The definition varies between countries; usually it is a type of secondary school.-History:...

 after the death of Theophrastus
Theophrastus
Theophrastus , a Greek native of Eresos in Lesbos, was the successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. He came to Athens at a young age, and initially studied in Plato's school. After Plato's death he attached himself to Aristotle. Aristotle bequeathed to Theophrastus his writings, and...

. He devoted himself especially to the study of natural science
Natural science
The natural sciences are branches of science that seek to elucidate the rules that govern the natural world by using empirical and scientific methods...

, and increased the naturalistic
Naturalism (philosophy)
Naturalism commonly refers to the philosophical viewpoint that the natural universe and its natural laws and forces operate in the universe, and that nothing exists beyond the natural universe or, if it does, it does not affect the natural universe that we know...

 elements in Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

's thought to such an extent, that he denied the need for an active god to construct the universe
Universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...

, preferring to place the government of the universe in the unconscious force of nature
Nature
Nature, in the broadest sense, is equivalent to the natural world, physical world, or material world. "Nature" refers to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general...

 alone.

Life


Strato, son of Arcesilaus or Arcesius, was born at Lampsacus
Lampsacus
Lampsacus was an ancient Greek city strategically located on the eastern side of the Hellespont in the northern Troad. An inhabitant of Lampsacus was called a Lampsacene. The name has been transmitted in the nearby modern town of Lapseki.-Ancient history:...

 between 340 and 330 BC. It is not impossible that he might have known Epicurus
Epicurus
Epicurus was an ancient Greek philosopher and the founder of the school of philosophy called Epicureanism.Only a few fragments and letters remain of Epicurus's 300 written works...

 during his period of teaching in Lampsacus between 310 and 306. He attended Aristotle's school in Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

, after which he left Athens and went to Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 where he was the tutor of Ptolemy Philadelphus and also taught Aristarchus of Samos
Aristarchus of Samos
Aristarchus, or more correctly Aristarchos , was a Greek astronomer and mathematician, born on the island of Samos, in Greece. He presented the first known heliocentric model of the solar system, placing the Sun, not the Earth, at the center of the known universe...

. He returned to Athens after the death of Theophrastus
Theophrastus
Theophrastus , a Greek native of Eresos in Lesbos, was the successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. He came to Athens at a young age, and initially studied in Plato's school. After Plato's death he attached himself to Aristotle. Aristotle bequeathed to Theophrastus his writings, and...

 (c. 287 BC) and was chosen as his successor. He died sometime between 270 and 268 BC, and was succeeded as head of the Lyceum
Lyceum
The lyceum is a category of educational institution defined within the education system of many countries, mainly in Europe. The definition varies between countries; usually it is a type of secondary school.-History:...

 by Lyco of Troas
Lyco of Troas
Lyco of Troas, son of Astyanax, was a Peripatetic philosopher and the disciple of Strato, whom he succeeded as the head of the Peripatetic school, c. 269 BC; and he held that post for more than forty-four years.-Life:...

.

Strato devoted himself especially to the study of natural science, whence he obtained, or, as it appears from Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

, assumed the name of Physicus . Cicero, while speaking highly of his talents, blames him for neglecting the most important part of philosophy, that which concerns virtue and morals, and giving himself up to the investigation of nature. In the long list of his works, given by Diogenes Laërtius
Diogenes Laertius
Diogenes Laertius was a biographer of the Greek philosophers. Nothing is known about his life, but his surviving Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers is one of the principal surviving sources for the history of Greek philosophy.-Life:Nothing is definitively known about his life...

, several of the titles are upon subjects of moral philosophy, but the great majority belong to the department of physical science. None of his writings survive, his views are known only from the fragmentary reports preserved by later writers.

Philosophy



Strato emphasized the need for exact research
Research
Research can be defined as the scientific search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method...

, and, as an example of this, he made use of the observation of how water pouring from a spout breaks into separate droplets
Drop (liquid)
A drop or droplet is a small column of liquid, bounded completely or almost completely by free surfaces. A drop may form when liquid accumulates at the lower end of a tube or other surface boundary, producing a hanging drop called a pendant drop...

 as evidence that falling bodies accelerate
Acceleration
In physics, acceleration is the rate of change of velocity with time. In one dimension, acceleration is the rate at which something speeds up or slows down. However, since velocity is a vector, acceleration describes the rate of change of both the magnitude and the direction of velocity. ...

.

Whereas Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 defined time
Time
Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

 as the numbered aspect of motion
Motion (physics)
In physics, motion is a change in position of an object with respect to time. Change in action is the result of an unbalanced force. Motion is typically described in terms of velocity, acceleration, displacement and time . An object's velocity cannot change unless it is acted upon by a force, as...

, Strato argued that because motion and time are continuous whereas number is discrete, time has an existence independent of motion. He was critical of Aristotle's concept of place
Location (geography)
The terms location and place in geography are used to identify a point or an area on the Earth's surface or elsewhere. The term 'location' generally implies a higher degree of can certainty than "place" which often has an ambiguous boundary relying more on human/social attributes of place identity...

 as a surrounding surface, preferring to see it as the space which a thing occupies. He also rejected the existence of Aristotle's fifth element
Aether (classical element)
According to ancient and medieval science aether , also spelled æther or ether, is the material that fills the region of the universe above the terrestrial sphere.-Mythological origins:...

.

He emphasized the role of pneuma
Pneuma
Pneuma is an ancient Greek word for "breath," and in a religious context for "spirit" or "soul." It has various technical meanings for medical writers and philosophers of classical antiquity, particularly in regard to physiology, and is also used in Greek translations of the Hebrew Bible and in...

, ('breath' or 'spirit') in the functioning of the soul
Soul
A soul in certain spiritual, philosophical, and psychological traditions is the incorporeal essence of a person or living thing or object. Many philosophical and spiritual systems teach that humans have souls, and others teach that all living things and even inanimate objects have souls. The...

; soul-activities were explained by pneuma extending throughout the body from the 'ruling part' located in the head. All sensation is felt in the ruling-part of the soul, rather than in the extremities of the body; all sensation involves thought
Thought
"Thought" generally refers to any mental or intellectual activity involving an individual's subjective consciousness. It can refer either to the act of thinking or the resulting ideas or arrangements of ideas. Similar concepts include cognition, sentience, consciousness, and imagination...

, and there is no thought not derived from sensation. He denied that the soul was immortal, and attacked the 'proofs' put forward by Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 in his Phaedo
Phaedo
Plato's Phaedo is one of the great dialogues of his middle period, along with the Republic and the Symposium. The Phaedo, which depicts the death of Socrates, is also Plato's seventh and last dialogue to detail the philosopher's final days .In the dialogue, Socrates...

.

Strato believed all matter consisted of tiny particles, but he rejected Democritus
Democritus
Democritus was an Ancient Greek philosopher born in Abdera, Thrace, Greece. He was an influential pre-Socratic philosopher and pupil of Leucippus, who formulated an atomic theory for the cosmos....

' theory of empty space. In Strato's view, void
Void
-In science and engineering:*Void , the empty spaces between galaxy filaments*Lack of matter, or vacuum*Void, in boiling heat transfer, formed where there is a departure from nucleate boiling, causing a critical heat flux...

 does exist, but only in the empty spaces between imperfectly fitting particles; Space is always filled with some kind of matter. Such a theory permitted phenomena such as compression, and allowed the penetration of light
Light
Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye, and is responsible for the sense of sight. Visible light has wavelength in a range from about 380 nanometres to about 740 nm, with a frequency range of about 405 THz to 790 THz...

 and heat
Heat
In physics and thermodynamics, heat is energy transferred from one body, region, or thermodynamic system to another due to thermal contact or thermal radiation when the systems are at different temperatures. It is often described as one of the fundamental processes of energy transfer between...

 through apparently solid bodies.

The opinions of Strato have given rise to much controversy; but unfortunately the result has been very unsatisfactory on account of lack of information. He seems to have denied the existence of any god outside of the material universe, and to have held that every particle of matter has a plastic and seminal power, but without sensation or intelligence; and that life, sensation, and intellect, are but forms, accidents, and affections of matter.
Nor does his pupil Strato, who is called the natural philosopher, deserve to be listened to; he holds that all divine force is resident in nature, which contains, he says, the principles of birth, increase, and decay, but which lacks, as we could remind him, all sensation and form.


Like the atomists
Atomism
Atomism is a natural philosophy that developed in several ancient traditions. The atomists theorized that the natural world consists of two fundamental parts: indivisible atoms and empty void.According to Aristotle, atoms are indestructible and immutable and there are an infinite variety of shapes...

 (Leucippus
Leucippus
Leucippus or Leukippos was one of the earliest Greeks to develop the theory of atomism — the idea that everything is composed entirely of various imperishable, indivisible elements called atoms — which was elaborated in greater detail by his pupil and successor, Democritus...

 and Democritus
Democritus
Democritus was an Ancient Greek philosopher born in Abdera, Thrace, Greece. He was an influential pre-Socratic philosopher and pupil of Leucippus, who formulated an atomic theory for the cosmos....

) before him, Strato of Lampsacus was a materialist and believed that everything in the universe was composed of matter and energy. Strato was one of the first philosophers to formulate an atheistic
Atheism
Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities...

 worldview, in which God is merely the unconscious force of nature.

You deny that without God there can be anything: but here you yourself seem to go contrary to Strato of Lampsacus, who concedes to God a pardon from a great task. If the priests of God were on vacation, it is much more just that the Gods would also be on vacation; in fact he denies the need to appreciate the work of the Gods in order to construct the world. All the things that exist he teaches have been produced by nature; not hence, as he says, according to that philosophy which claims these things are made of rough and smooth corpuscles, indented and hooked, the void interfering; these, he upholds, are dreams of Democritus which are not to be taught but dreamt. Strato, in fact, investigating the individual parts of the world, teaches that all that which is or is produced, is or has been produced, by weight and motion. Thus he liberates God from a big job and me from fear.


Strato endeavoured to replace the Aristotelian teleology
Teleology
A teleology is any philosophical account which holds that final causes exist in nature, meaning that design and purpose analogous to that found in human actions are inherent also in the rest of nature. The word comes from the Greek τέλος, telos; root: τελε-, "end, purpose...

 by a purely physical explanation of phenomena, the underlying elements of which he found in heat
Heat
In physics and thermodynamics, heat is energy transferred from one body, region, or thermodynamic system to another due to thermal contact or thermal radiation when the systems are at different temperatures. It is often described as one of the fundamental processes of energy transfer between...

 and cold
Cold
Cold describes the condition of low temperature.Cold may also refer to:*Common cold, a contagious viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory system*Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease...

, with especially heat as the active principle. Although Strato's view of the universe can be seen as atheistic, he would probably have accepted the existence of lesser gods within the universe, and in the context of Greek religion it is unlikely that he would have regarded himself as an atheist.

Modern era


Strato's name meant little in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, however, in the 17th century his name suddenly became famous because of the supposed similarities between his system and the pantheistic views of Spinoza. Ralph Cudworth
Ralph Cudworth
Ralph Cudworth was an English philosopher, the leader of the Cambridge Platonists.-Life:Born at Aller, Somerset, he was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, gaining his MA and becoming a Fellow of Emmanuel in 1639. In 1645, he became master of Clare Hall and professor of Hebrew...

, in choosing to attack atheism in 1678, chose Strato's system as one of four types of atheism, and in doing so, coined the term hylozoism
Hylozoism
Hylozoism is the philosophical point of view that all matter is in some sense alive. This may include the view that "inanimate" matter has latent powers of abiogenesis, a widely held position in the scientific community...

 to describe any system where primitive matter is endowed with a life-force. These ideas reached Pierre Bayle
Pierre Bayle
Pierre Bayle was a French philosopher and writer best known for his seminal work the Historical and Critical Dictionary, published beginning in 1695....

, who adopted Strato and 'Stratonism' as key components of his own philosophy. In his Continuation des Pensees diverses, published in 1705, Stratonism had become the most important ancient equivalent of Spinozism
Spinozism
Spinozism is the monist philosophical system of Baruch Spinoza which defines "God" as a singular self-subsistent substance, and both matter and thought as attributes of such...

. For Bayle, Strato had made everything follow a fixed order of necessity, with no innate good or bad in the universe; the universe is not a living thing with intelligence or intent, and there is no other divine power but nature.

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