Free «Titus Lucretius Carus» Essay Paper

Titus Lucretius Carus


Lucretius stands out as one of the most celebrated philosophers of his time, and though, nothing much about his life was ever presented in black and white. He left the world with food for thought in the De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things). In this title, Lucretius discussed and defended the Epicurean worldview stating that nothing is begotten from nothing, and that atomic materialism explains the existence, or the inexistent, of things both tangible and intangible. The celebrated philosopher defended his conception about the atomic materialism of the human mind and human spirit. He even disputed the existence of harmony between the human mind and human spirit. This paper presents a discussion on the Epicurean worldview in relation to the human spirit and human mind as discussed by Lucretius. The discussion is presented by answering questions on the topic. The objective of the discussion is to prove that though the Epicurean worldview of the human spirit and human life sounds logically correct, it has several weaknesses that draw attention to philosophical and scientific fallacy.

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What Is Lucretius’s View about the Nature and Composition of the Human Mind and Human Spirit, and of Their Relation to the Whole Living Human Being?

According to the Lucretius, in his discussion of the fear of death, the beginning of all things are atoms and the difference in all things comes due to the differences in the diverse shapes of atoms and how atoms in their own accord move through space. Using this Epicurean view, Lucretius explained that the human soul and the human spirit are formed in the same way as all other things, existent or inexistent; tangible or intangible.

Lucretius moved on to explain that the mind or human intellect, in which the power of reasoning is placed, is a part of human being not an iota less than other parts of the body such as eyes or limbs. While no science has ever placed the mind as a part of the body, Lucretius observed that many people classified good health as a vital characteristic of the body even though good health is intangible. On the soul or the life spirit as Lucretius called the human spirit, the philosopher observed that it was the warmth and the wind that moves in and out of life. Lucretius stated that the difference between death and life was the movement of the warmth (energy) and wind (air) that kept the body alive and warm or turned the body lifeless and cold. The explanations as to the composition of the human spirit and human mind were then explained to reflect the existence of Epicurean materialism in virtually all aspects of human life.

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Having explained atomic materialism of the human mind and human spirit, Lucretius moved on to explain the relation of the two to the whole human body. The first point of clarification was that just like health, the human mind and human spirit are not concentrated to any particular part of the body. However, this was not supposed to mean that all the parts of the body including the mind and the soul worked harmoniously. In fact, the author stated that harmony was just another term created by musicians to explain things that they could not explain stating that people used the word harmony to explain their things that then were without the name of their own. To illustrate his notion that there does not exist harmony in the body, soul, and spirit, Lucretius asserted that while one part of the body ached, another part of the body would be pleasuring. The inexistence of harmony, the philosopher asserted, is what happens when the mind is broken and full of negative energy, but parts of the body are excited.

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How Does This View Fit with the Reductive Atomist Worldview that He Sets Out in His Poem?

With the understanding of the composition of the human spirit and human mind as conceptualized by Lucretius, it is important to look into how the explanation fits with the reductive atomist worldview that he sets out in his poem. The reductive atomist view is a philosophical theory of materialism that explains the matter as the fundamental substance of all things including consciousness and mental phenomena. In relation to the mind and soul, Lucretius explained that reasoning the mind is the lord over the whole body. This was explained to mean that though harmony does not exist in the explanation of the nature of the body, reasoning and understanding has the capacity to sway the entire body from middle region of the breasts (the heart) for it is through the heart that fear and all other emotions throb and move to other parts of the body. This explanation relates to the reductive atomist view considering that Lucretius explains how changes in understanding (made of atomic materialism) influence the whole body. The material nature of the mind is best understood by considering the mind as impulses made of very fine particles and very fine atoms that are self-stimulated and which move exceedingly fast and specifically faster than any person can see. These particles are quick to rotate and with these rotations are the throbs of the heart, the wind that moves air through the veins, and the warmth that characterizes the live frame of the body. Up death, the soul and the mind leave the body in form of the warmth and wind leaving a lifeless fame of the body.

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What Are Some Objections to This View of Mind and Spirit, and Why Are They Problematic for the View?

There are several objections to this view of mind and spirit which poke holes into the philosophy of Lucretius as presented in the reductive atomist worldview. To start with, the Epicurean worldview asserts that the mind and spirit are made of extra-fine atoms. Atoms are the purest form of matter, and one characteristic of matter is that it has a mind. The death entails the leaving of the mind and soul from the body, and if the mind and soul were comprised of atoms, then it would be assumed that the mind and soul would be collectible into a mass. Consequently, the mass of the body would reduce upon death. Science has shown that the mass of the body does not reduce upon death, which means that the body loses nothing upon death and that life does not comprise of any mass. The objection would then be used to argue against the reductive atomist view leading to the conclusion that the mind and soul are not made of matter or atomic materials. The second major objection would be based on the fact that body parts work harmoniously to form the complete body system. For instance, the brain cannot function without heart and so are other parts of the body.

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How Might Lucretius Try to Rebut These Objections?

Lucretius would definitely try to rebut these objections. Following the line of his arguments, the philosopher would compare the mind and soul to the smell of a perfume or the flavor of wine. According to arguments provided in the title De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things), wine does not lose its mass when it loses its flavor or else when the flavor changes and neither does the perfume lose its mass when the smell is lost. Notably, both the flavor of wine and the smell of perfume are made of fine particles called atoms, and if proven that the loss of these atoms in wine and perfume does not result in a loss in mass, then it would be proven that the mind and the soul are also made of atoms. Additionally, Lucretius would argue that nature breaks up each thing again into its own first form, which means that the mind and the soul are broken into free atoms upon death. To discredit the argument about harmony in the body system, the philosopher would argue that one part of the body could be happy while the other is paining.

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Do These Rebuttals Succeed?

The rebuttals that Lucretius would offer appear to be logical. However, in the advent of scientific and technological developments, the rebuttals would not succeed. This is because using modern technology, it is possible to prove changes in mass down to the atomic mass unit. This means that in case the body loses any atoms upon death, the atomic mass unit would considerably change similar to the atomic mass unit in the atoms lost in form of the smell of a perfume or the changes in the flavor of wine. If proven that the body loses atomic mass upon death, then this information would support the arguments advanced by Lucretius. If proven that the body does not lose the atomic mass weight, then the arguments would be discredited. To date, the atomic mass weight of the body before and after death has not yet been proven.

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In conclusion, this paper discussed Lucretius’s view about the nature and composition of the human mind and human spirit. The philosopher argued that the human mind and the human spirit are made of atoms, and the loss of life is exhibited by the loss of warmth and the wind from the body which are the forms through which mind and soul are lost. However, the body does not lose mass, and this helps in discrediting the views of Lucretius. This paper, therefore, concludes that the view of Lucretius on mind and soul comprise of some scientific fallacies as evidenced by the objections presented herein.

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