Last week, at bar trivia, the host asked which nineteenth century English scientist is credited with formulating the modern theory of atomism. Unfortunately, my team did not know the answer (fortunately, no other team did either, so the question was thrown out and we got a new one we did know the answer to). I felt foolish after hearing it was John Dalton, as I am certain he was someone I studied when I was younger, and those are the types of facts I try to remember. Me and my friend (also a philosopher) were tempted to write down a list of all the atomists we could think of, as the philosophy of atomism was key part of our comprehensive exams, and so many names were flashing through our heads.
Reflecting on the incident led me to look up the recent work that has been done on atomism. It seems to fall primarily into two categories: papers looking at the role atomism played in the history of philosophy, and papers considering atomism in relation to new discoveries. Here are some of the more interesting papers I found.
- Travis Dumsday, “Some Ontological Consequences of Atomism,” Ratio, June 2015.
- Gil Santos, “Ontological Emergence: How is That Possible? Towards a New Relational Ontology,” Foundations of Science, November 2015.
- Alnoor Dhanani, “The impact of ibn Sina’s critique of atomism on subsequent Kalam discussions of atomism,” Arabic Sciences & Philosophy, March 2015.
- Anthony Shiver, “How do you say ‘everything is ultimately composed of atoms’?,” Philosophical Studies, March 2015.
- Helen Hattab, “Aristotelianism and Atomism Combined: Gorlaeus on Knowledge of Universals,” Perspectives on Science, May/June 2016.
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