Lucretius, De rerum natura Book II, 216-262:

"Here I would wish that you would learn this too, that when primordia are being carried downwards straight through the void by their own weight, at times quite undetermined and at undetermined spots they push a little from their path, but only just so much as you could call a change of trend. But if they were not used to swerve, all things would fall downwards through the deep void like drops of rain, nor could collision come to be, nor a blow brought to pass for the primordia. So nature would never have brought anything into existence.

But if perhaps any one believes that heavier bodies, because they are carried more quickly straight through the void, can fall from above on the lighter bodies, and so bring about the collisions which can give creative mothions, then he wanders far away from true reason. For all things that fall through the water and thin air must increase the speed of their fall in proportion to their weights, just because the body of water and the thin nature of air cannot check each thing equally, but give way more quickly when overcome by heavier bodies. But on the other hand, the empty void cannot on any side, at any time, support any thing; but rather, as its own nature desires, it continues to give way. Therefore all things must be borne on through the calm void, moving at an equal rate with unequal weights. The heavier , then, will never be able to fall on the lighter from above, nor of themselves bring about the collisions which make diverse the movements by which nature carries on things.

And so, again and again, it has to be that the primordia swerve a little, yet not more than the very least amount, lest we seem to be imagining a sideways movement, and the truth refute it. For we can see plainly and evidently that bodies, as far as lies in them, cannot travel sideways, since they fall directly from above, as far as we can discern. But that nothing at all swerves from the straight direction of its path, what sense is there that can detect this?

And again, if every motion is always linked to another one, and the new motion always arises from the earlier one in a determined order, and if, by swerving, the primordia do not initiate a certain start of movement to break through the decrees of Fate, so that cause may not follow cause from infinite time, then where does free will for living things everywhere on earth come from? How is it, I ask, that this will of ours is taken from Fate, this will by which we move forward, where pleasure leads each one of us, and swerve likewise in our motions neither at determined times nor in a determined direction of place, but just where our mind carries us? For without doubt it is each person's own will which give to each person a start for this movement, and from the will the motions pass flooding through his limbs.


January 23, 2010 10:48 PM

John Paul Adams, CSUN

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional
Valid CSS!